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Daily news – February 8, 2022

News from: Al Jazeera, Astana Times, Atlantic Council, Brookings, Bruegel, Chatham House, CSIS, Defense News, Defense One, East Asia Forum, Foundation for Defense of Democracies, Global Times, Human Rights Watch, Japan Institute of International Affairs, Nextgov, Reuters, RFE RL, RUSI, StartMagazine, The Jamestown Foundation, Vatican 

AFGHANISTAN – USA

Where are the detailed Pentagon reports like the one on the Kabul bombing for civilian casualties? Sarah (Holewinski) Yager, Human Rights WatchU.S. military leaders held a press conference Friday to describe what happened last summer at the Kabul airport when a suicide bomber detonated during the US-led evacuation of Afghanistan. That day, 13 U.S. servicemembers and more than 150 Afghans were killed. Equipped with a PowerPoint, a laser pointer, and videos of the attack, officials gave a second-by-second breakdown of events. The level of detail was impressive. Especially so because when it comes to other deaths in conflict – those of civilians harmed by U.S. operations – the US military has offered the opposite: immediate denials of harm and questionable investigations. Where are the detailed Pentagon reports like the one on the Kabul bombing for civilian casualties? | Human Rights Watch (hrw.org)

AZERBAIJAN

Azerbaijan Returns Eight Captured Armenian Soldiers. RFE RLAzerbaijan has freed eight Armenian soldiers captured during deadly border clashes last year as the two sides look to hold new talks on easing their simmering border conflict. Azerbaijani officials said that the February 7 move was made on the basis of “humanist principles.”. Azerbaijan Returns Eight Captured Armenian Soldiers (rferl.org)

BAHRAIN

Bahrain: Boys Arbitrarily Detained in Orphanage. Human Rights Watch: Bahrain authorities are detaining six boys, ages 14 and 15, in a child welfare facility, the Bahrain Institute for Rights and Democracy and Human Rights Watch said today. The authorities have not provided the boys or their families with any written justification for their weeks-long detention and have denied parents’ requests to be present during their interrogations and to visit their sons. Bahrain: Boys Arbitrarily Detained in Orphanage | Human Rights Watch (hrw.org)

CHINA

Chinese financial regulators to establish legal standards for digital currency. Global Times: Four Chinese financial departments and regulatory agencies have vowed to steadily promote the establishment and development of legal standards for a digital currency, according to a statement from the country’s central bank on Tuesday. The People’s Bank of China (PBC), the State Administration for Market Regulation, the China Banking and Insurance Regulatory Commission, and China Securities Regulatory Commission jointly issued a development plan targeting standardizing the finance sector during the 14th Five-Year Plan period (2021-25)Chinese financial regulators to establish legal standards for digital currency – Global Times

CHINA – ARGENTINA – MALVINAS ISLANDS

China firmly supports Argentina’s legitimate claim of sovereignty over the Malvinas Islands: Chinese Embassy in UK. Global Times: The embassy of China in the UK said China’s position on the issue of the Malvinas Islands is consistent, and that China firmly supports Argentina’s legitimate claim to exercise full sovereignty over the Malvinas Islands. China firmly supports Argentina’s legitimate claim of sovereignty over the Malvinas Islands: Chinese Embassy in UK – Global Times

CHINA – KAZAKHSTAN

President Tokayev Meets with Chinese President, Attends Opening Ceremony of Winter Olympics in Beijing. Zhanna Shayakhmetova, Astana Times: Kazakhstan and China have built a foundation for a true strategic partnership in all areas of cooperation over the 30 years of diplomatic relations, said President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev during his meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on Feb. 5, reported Akorda. President Tokayev Meets with Chinese President, Attends Opening Ceremony of Winter Olympics in Beijing – The Astana Times

CHINA – PAKISTAN

CPEC to enhance Pakistan’s manufacturing industry. Global Times: Top leaders of China and Pakistan reaffirmed their support for the high-quality development of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), agreeing that CPEC has significantly contributed to Pakistan’s economic and social progress, according to a joint statement released by the two countries in Beijing on Sunday. GT Voice: CPEC to enhance Pakistan’s manufacturing industry – Global Times

CHINA – USA

Higher Education’s Confucius Institute Hangover. Craig Singleton, Foundation for Defense of DemocraciesThe conviction of acclaimed Harvard scientist Charles Lieber on charges stemming from his improper relationship with the Chinese government has sent shockwaves throughout U.S. higher education. Lieber’s case laid bare China’s efforts to blur the traditional boundaries between academia, defense research, and the private sector to advance its military and technological modernization. These under-the-radar tactics make illicit knowledge and technology transfer very difficult to detect. FDD | Higher Education’s Confucius Institute Hangover

Cosa farà l’America sui chip contro la Cina. Giuseppe Gagliano, StartMagazineNuovo episodio della guerra Washington-Pechino: venerdì la Camera dei rappresentanti ha adottato un disegno di legge per individuare la produzione di chip elettronici, essenziali per la produzione di smartphone e automobili, negli Stati Uniti. Il testo è stato votato, con 222 voti favorevoli, 210 contrari, poche ore dopo il lancio dei Giochi Olimpici Invernali di Pechino, che viene letta come una iniziativa che rafforza il soft power e che gli Stati Uniti hanno deciso di boicottare diplomaticamente. Cosa farà l’America sui chip contro la Cina – Startmag

Tutti i problemi americani della cinese Unicom. Giuseppe Gagliano, StartMagazine: Il terzo più grande operatore di telecomunicazioni cinese, Unicom, si è scontrato con la Federal Communications Commission (FCC) per motivi di sicurezza nazionale. Tutti i problemi americani della cinese Unicom – Startmag

WuXi Biologics sees little impact on addition to US unverified list, seeking talks with US commerce department. Global Times: Chinese pharmaceutical company WuXi Biologics said on Tuesday that it sees no impact on its business after two of its subsidiaries were placed on the US Commerce Department’s “unverified list” which requires US exporters to go through more procedures before shipping goods to the entities. WuXi Biologics sees little impact on addition to US unverified list, seeking talks with US commerce department – Global Times

CHINA – USA – AUSTRALIA

US, Australia to add more tensions in Pacific while China holds Olympics to promote world peace.  Yang Sheng, Xu Yelu, Global Times: When China is holding the Olympic Winter Games in its capital city Beijing to bring more certainty to world peace, the US and its ally Australia are still ramping up tension in the Asia-Pacific by tightening alliances to serve military confrontation, as the top US diplomat visits Australia for the Quad foreign ministers’ meeting and Australia’s defense chief tries to push Washington to be more hostile and radical against China. US, Australia to add more tensions in Pacific while China holds Olympics to promote world peace – Global Times

CHINA – USA – SOUTH CHINA SEA

Leaked F-35C crash video highlights US military’s excessive troop deployment, loose management. Liu Xuanzun, Guo Yuandan, Global Times: After the US Navy confirmed the authenticity of a video and photograph of the crash of an F-35C stealth fighter jet on a US aircraft carrier in the South China Sea at the end of last month, another video online that appears to give a clearer and more detailed look of the mishap shows the aircraft slamming on the carrier’s flight deck and being wrapped in fire before skidding into the sea. Leaked F-35C crash video highlights US military’s excessive troop deployment, loose management – Global Times

DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF THE CONGO

DR Congo: Sham Trial for Murders of UN Experts. Human Rights WatchA four-year trial in the Democratic Republic of Congo failed to uncover the full truth about the 2017 murders of two United Nations investigators, Zaida Catalán and Michael Sharp, and the fate of their Congolese interpreter and motorbike drivers, Human Rights Watch said today. Despite UN assistance, the court ignored leads pointing to the involvement of senior Congolese officials. The United Nations, United States, and Sweden should urgently open a credible international inquiry into the killings and the role of Congolese officials. DR Congo: Sham Trial for Murders of UN Experts | Human Rights Watch (hrw.org)

ETHIOPIA

Fighting in Ethiopia’s Afar region displaces 300,000, aid blocked to Tigray. Reuters: The government of Ethiopia’s Afar region says more than 300,000 people have been displaced by warfare there since December and it accused Tigrayan forces of killing civilians and looting. Fighting in Ethiopia’s Afar region displaces 300,000, aid blocked to Tigray | Reuters

EUROPE

A new EU treaty to fight climate change. Maria Demertzis, Bruegel: The Maastricht treaty, signed thirty years ago this year, committed European Union countries to the greatest step in integration they’d so far taken. It established European citizenship, free movement for people, capital and goods, and set in motion the Economic and Monetary Union. A new EU treaty to fight climate change | Bruegel

FRANCE

France’s new mantra: liberty, equality, digital sovereignty. Kenneth Propp, Atlantic Council: When European governments declared January 28 to be “Data Protection Day” back in 2006, few in the United States took the move seriously. It took three years for the US Congress to follow suit and recognize that date as an occasion to commit to data privacy. Now, as France takes fresh steps to reduce Europe’s exposure to American (and to some extent Chinese) technological dominance, the United States can’t afford to be caught napping. France’s new mantra: liberty, equality, digital sovereignty – Atlantic Council

GERMANY – UKRAINE

German Security Assistance to Ukraine Perpetually on Hold (Part Two). Vladimir Socor, The Jamestown Foundation: An itemized list of Ukraine’s latest request for German security assistance has found its way into two major German papers (Süddeutsche Zeitung, Der Spiegel, February 5). The Ukrainian embassy and the military attaché’s office in Berlin addressed this request to the German Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Ministry of Defense, respectively. Citing the “very tense situation and threats of Russian aggression,” Ukraine seeks “undelayed assistance and urgent procurement” of: modern medium-range air-defense systems and missile-defense systems, anti-drone rifles, automatic cannons, ammunition for the above-mentioned weapons, night-vision devices, surveillance cameras, electronic tracking systems, as well as 100,000 helmets and an equal number of bullet-proof vests for Ukrainian territorial defense volunteers (the quantities requested have not leaked out except for the helmets and vests). German Security Assistance to Ukraine Perpetually on Hold (Part Two) – Jamestown

HONG KONG

No one should use press freedom as a shield to undermine natl security in HK: central govt authority. Global Times: Any attempt to interfere with Hong Kong affairs and exert pressure in the name of press freedom is doomed to failure and the historical trend of Hong Kong’s transition from chaos to prosperity is irreversible, the Office of the Commissioner of the Chinese Foreign Ministry in Hong Kong said on Tuesday, in response to a statement from the so-called media freedom coalition, which slandered Hong Kong’s press freedom and smeared the HKSAR government’s law enforcement activities. No one should use press freedom as a shield to undermine natl security in HK: central govt authority – Global Times

HORN OF AFRICA

UN: 13 million face hunger in Horn of Africa as drought worsens. Al JazeeraAn estimated 13 million people in the Horn of Africa are facing severe hunger, the United Nations’ World Food Programme (WFP) has said. Drought conditions have affected pastoral and farmer populations across southern and southeastern Ethiopia, southeastern and northern Kenya and south-central Somalia, with forecasts of below-average rainfall threatening to worsen already dire conditions in the coming months. UN: 13 million face hunger in Horn of Africa as drought worsens | News | Al Jazeera

HUNGARY – RUSSIA

Hungarian Prime Minister Visits Moscow, Seeking Additional Gas Supplies From Russia. Mateusz Kubiak, The Jamestown Foundation: On January 20, Hungarian Minister of Foreign Affairs Peter Szijjártó gave an exclusive interview to the state-owned Russian news agency TASS, advocating for long-term agreements for natural gas imports to Europe and voicing hopes that Hungary’s own supply contract with Gazprom will be extended (TASS [1], [2], January 20). The interview, however, was only a prelude to Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán’s visit to Moscow on February 1. Orbán’s meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin lasted for five hours (much longer than scheduled), and one of its outcomes was an initial agreement regarding the increase of Russian gas supplies to Hungary (Kremlin.ru, February 1)—in line with what Szijjártó lobbied for almost two weeks earlier. Hungarian Prime Minister Visits Moscow, Seeking Additional Gas Supplies From Russia – Jamestown

HYPERSONIC WEAPONS

China Wants to Own the Hypersonic ‘Domain,’ DOD Official Says. Patrick Tucker, Defense One: China sees the area of hypersonic weapons—those that can maneuver at Mach 5 or faster—not as a missile race but as an entirely new domain of warfare, Gillian Bussey, director of the Defense Department’s Joint Hypersonics Transition Office, said Monday. One consequence: the United States will have to rely on a wide range of layered defenses to protect military assets from a potential onslaughtChina Wants to Own the Hypersonic ‘Domain,’ DOD Official Says – Defense One

Complex Air Defense: Countering the Hypersonic Missile Threat. Tom Karako, Masao Dahlgren, CSIS: Hypersonic weapons combine the speed of ballistic missiles with the maneuverability and detectability challenges of cruise missiles, leaving little time to react. In the past five years, Russia, China, and others have accelerated their development of hypersonic missiles to threaten U.S. forces in the homeland and abroad. The current Ballistic Missile Defense System, largely equipped to contend with legacy ballistic missile threats, must be adapted to this challenge. The same characteristics that make hypersonic missiles attractive may also hold the key to defeating them. A new hypersonic defense architecture should exploit hypersonic weapons’ unique vulnerabilities and employ new capabilities, such as a space sensor layer, to secure critical nodes. These changes are not only necessary to mitigate the hypersonic threat but to defeat an emerging generation of maneuvering missiles and aerial threats. Complex Air Defense: Countering the Hypersonic Missile Threat | Center for Strategic and International Studies (csis.org)

INDIA – KASHMIR

India: Kashmiri Journalist Held Under Abusive Laws. Human Rights Watch:  Indian authorities have arrested the prominent Kashmiri journalist Fahad Shah on politically motivated charges as part of the government’s crackdown on the media and civil society groups in Jammu and Kashmir, Human Rights Watch said today. Since 2019, at least 35 journalists in Kashmir have faced police interrogation, raids, threats, physical assault, or fabricated criminal cases for their reportingIndia: Kashmiri Journalist Held Under Abusive Laws | Human Rights Watch (hrw.org)

IRAN

Iran is preparing public opinion for a revival of the JCPOA. Atlantic Council: A new Iranian negotiating team appointed after the election of President Ebrahim Raisi took its time about returning to talks in Vienna and initially presented a very hardline stance. But, as US officials have warned that the “window is closing” for the effective revival of the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), Iranian officials are softening their demands and hinting at a deal in the near future. Iran is preparing public opinion for a revival of the JCPOA – Atlantic Council

IRAN NUCLEAR TALKS

What to expect as Iran nuclear deal talks restart in Vienna. Maziar Motamedi, Al JazeeraRepresentatives of Iran and world powers will reconvene in Vienna to try to salvage the 2015 nuclear deal whose fate is set to affect the region and beyond. Political delegations from Iran, China, Russia, France, Germany, the United Kingdom and the United States are expected back in the Austrian capital on Tuesday to engage in the final stretch of negotiations that began in April last year. What to expect as Iran nuclear deal talks restart in Vienna | Nuclear Energy News | Al Jazeera

IRAN NUCLEAR TALKS – USA

US Republicans call for review, vote on any Iran nuclear deal. Al JazeeraThirty-three Republicans in the United States Senate have pledged to thwart a new Iran nuclear deal if the administration of President Joe Biden does not present its terms to Congress for approval. The latest threat from Republicans, who widely opposed the initial 2015 deal and its revival, came on Monday, a day before talks between Iran and other signatories to the accord were set to resume in Vienna. The US is participating indirectly in the negotiations, which all sides have indicated could be reaching an endgame. US Republicans call for review, vote on any Iran nuclear deal | Nuclear Weapons News | Al Jazeera

IRAQ

Why Iraqi lawmakers failed to elect a new president. Al JazeeraIraqi lawmakers have failed to elect a new president as key factions blocked the process by boycotting Monday’s parliament session. A two-thirds quorum of the legislature’s 329 members is required for an electoral session. Explainer: Why Iraqi lawmakers failed to elect a new president | News | Al Jazeera

ISRAEL

Pegasus: What you need to know about Israeli spyware. Al Jazeera: Pegasus, spyware made by the Israeli technology company NSO Group, is making headlines again after it was reported that the Israeli police used it for spying on dozens of its own citizens – including senior government officials and protesters rallying up against former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. The report brought a months-long international scandal into the world’s most infamous hacker-for-hire company back to full circle, following reports that it was used by governments across the world to spy on activists, journalists, and even heads of state. Pegasus: What you need to know about Israeli spyware | Spy Cables News | Al Jazeera

ISRAEL – WEST BANK

Israeli forces kill three Palestinian militants in West Bank. Reuters: Israeli forces killed three Palestinian gunmen travelling in a car in the occupied West Bank on Tuesday, Israel’s domestic security service said. Israeli forces kill three Palestinian militants in West Bank | Reuters

JAPAN

Kishida’s new capitalism raises more questions than it answers. Aurelia George Mulgan, East Asia Forum: Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida’s new economic program is gradually taking shape via a series of major policy announcements and record-breaking government spending initiatives. These include ‘an economic stimulus package that dwarfs anything announced by his predecessors’, the biggest supplementary budget in history amounting to 36 trillion yen (US$314 billion) for fiscal year 2021, a national budget plan allocating 107 trillion yen (US$933 billion) for fiscal year 2022 and a fiscal year 2022 tax reform plan. Kishida’s new capitalism raises more questions than it answers (eastasiaforum.org)

JAPAN – CHINA

Japan Calls for Monitoring China’s Human Rights Situations. Teppei Kasai, Human Rights Watch: Just days before the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics opening ceremony, Japanese lawmakers passed a Diet resolution highlighting human rights issues in Xinjiang, Hong Kong, Tibet, and Inner Mongolia. Specifically, the February 1 resolution calls for the “monitoring of serious human rights situations in cooperation with the international community,” and “implementation of comprehensive relief measures.”. Japan Calls for Monitoring China’s Human Rights Situations | Human Rights Watch (hrw.org)

JAPAN – USA

US and Japan reach deal to remove steel tariffs from Trump era.  The U.S. and Japan reached a truce that will allow most steel shipments from the Asian nation to enter tariff-free for the first time since 2018 and sees the countries working together to combat Chinese trade practices that harm the industry. Washington will suspend the 25% levy on incoming steel imports from Japan up to 1.25 million metric tons a year, officials from the Commerce Department and U.S. Trade Representative’s office told reporters on Monday. Anything beyond that will still be subject to additional charges. The agreement will take effect April 1, the officials said. US and Japan reach deal to remove steel tariffs from Trump era | International Trade | Al Jazeera

KAZAKHSTAN

What chance for genuine change in Kazakhstan? Annette Bohr, Chatham HouseVirtually overnight, the international image of a prosperous and stable Kazakhstan became stained by anarchy, violence, and social inequality. The multidimensional nature of the turbulence during ‘Bloody January’, which brought together peaceful protestors, marauding mobs, organized criminal groups, and an inter-elite power struggle, does not fit easily into any analytical template. The government of President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev is unlikely to engage in full disclosure regarding human rights violations and the identities of the perpetrators, given its disinformation tactics to date. What chance for genuine change in Kazakhstan? | Chatham House – International Affairs Think Tank

Hundreds Rally In Restive Kazakh Town Following Deadly Mass Protests. RFE RLHundreds of residents of Kazakhstan’s restive town of Zhanaozen have rallied for several days to demand jobs after deadly anti-government protests that shook the country last month. The protesters gathered in front of the town’s administration on February 7, the sixth day of their rallies, saying that 2,500 men and women demand jobs in the local oil industry from the local and central government. Hundreds Rally In Restive Kazakh Town Following Deadly Mass Protests (rferl.org)

LIBYA

Libya’s parliament to appoint new PM amid rise in tensions. Al JazeeraLibya’s parliament will name a new prime minister to head the transitional government this week, raising concerns over the possibility of a new power struggle. Two candidates, former Interior Minister Fathi Bashaga and Minister-Counsellor Khalid al-Baibas, appeared in a parliamentary session on Monday in the eastern city of Tobruk to present their plans and submit their bids to replace Prime Minister Abdul Hamid Dbeibah. Libya’s parliament to appoint new PM amid rise in tensions | News | Al Jazeera

NATO

Is NATO About to Waste a Good Crisis? Sam Cranny-Evans and Dr Sidharth Kaushal, RUSI: Prime Minister Boris Johnson has ordered additional British troops to a number of NATO member states; included are land, air and sea assets that would double the UK’s current troop contribution. Deployments are expected to begin this week and undoubtedly represent a welcome signal of intent for the Baltic states. The announcement also demonstrates that Global Britain is underwritten by an administration that is – in facing Russia at least – determined to be judged by its actions, rather than its words. Is NATO About to Waste a Good Crisis? | Royal United Services Institute (rusi.org)

Regional security not guaranteed by strengthening or expanding military bloc: Chinese Mission to the EU responds to NATO remarks. Global Times: Regional security should not be guaranteed by strengthening or expanding a military bloc, the spokesperson of the Chinese Mission to the EU said in response to a question concerning the remarks by NATO Secretary General on China-Russia joint statement. Regional security not guaranteed by strengthening or expanding military bloc: Chinese Mission to the EU responds to NATO remarks – Global Times

Low-flying threats challenge NATO’s deterrence in the East. According to U.S. Air Force Gen. Jeffrey Harrigian, the commander of U.S. Air Forces in Europe and Air Forces Africa, the service has found “opportunities to go train, largely with our partners across Europe,” on close air support. He confidently asserted that he was “very comfortable that we…[can] operate with their joint terminal air controllers, their entities on the ground, from the Baltics down into the Med and even into Romania,” pointing out the “continued interaction with them that has allowed us to keep our close air support capabilities at the right level and continue to improve our readiness.”. But such confidence is misplaced. Low-flying threats challenge NATO’s deterrence in the East (defensenews.com)

NORD STREAM 2

Perché Scholz non fa troppo l’amerikano sul Nord Stream 2. Pierluigi Mennitti, StartMagazine: La verità sta spesso nei dettagli, nelle cose non dette. E a pronunciare esplicitamente il nome di Nord Stream 2, nella prima giornata del viaggio di Olaf Scholz negli Stati Uniti non è lui, il cancelliere invisibile, ma Joe Biden, nella conferenza stampa congiunta. Se la Russia invade l’Ucraina, per il gasdotto è finita: sarebbe “un progetto strano”, dice letteralmente il presidente americano. Perché Scholz non fa troppo l’amerikano sul Nord Stream 2 – Startmag

NORTH KOREA

Undeclared North Korea: Hoejung-ni Missile Operating Base. Joseph S. Bermudez Jr., Victor Cha, Jennifer Jun, CSIS: Located 338-kilometers north of the demilitarized zone and only 25-kilometers from the Chinese border in Chagang Province, the Hoejung-ni missile operating base will, according to informed sources, likely house a regiment-sized unit equipped with intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBM); Should operational ICBMs not become available in the near term, it is likely that intermediate range ballistic missiles (IRBMs) will be deployed. A Hwasong-12 IRBM was launched from Chagang Province on January 30, 2022; North Korea is not known to have ever made specific references to the existence of the Hoejung-ni missile operating base. This is the first in-depth open-source reporting confirming the ICBM base, though previous reports of an older base at Yongjo-ni surmised of its existence; Although construction began almost 20 years ago, the Hoejung-ni missile operating base represents one of the latest Strategic Forces bases to be completed; This long construction timeline suggests a considerable level of prior development planning that is rarely appreciated and was likely linked to projected ICBM developments and basing needs; The base is one of approximately 20 ballistic missile operating bases that have never been declared by North Korea. Additionally, it does not appear to have been the subject of any denuclearization negotiations previously conducted between the United States and North Korea.

Undeclared North Korea: Hoejung-ni Missile Operating Base

PACIFIC ISLANDS

Pacific resilience tested on multiple fronts.  Tess Newton Cain, East Asia Forum: It was quite the year for the Pacific islands in 2021. Countries have had to negotiate the ongoing impacts of COVID-19, while climate change has continued to be a focal point. But while there has been plenty of commentary too narrowly focussed on the impacts of geostrategic competition, domestic and regional politics is where the rubber has really hit the road. Pacific resilience tested on multiple fronts (eastasiaforum.org)

QATAR

Qatar: Arbitrary Travel Bans. Human Rights Watch: Qatari state security authorities have imposed indefinite arbitrary travel bans against at least four citizens without a judicial process or a clear legal basis, Human Rights Watch and the Gulf Centre for Human Rights (GCHR) said today. State security forces arrested one of the men in October 2020 after he posted tweets criticizing arbitrary travel bans against himself and others, and he remains in detention. Qatar: Arbitrary Travel Bans | Human Rights Watch (hrw.org)

RUSSIA

Navalny To Face Another Trial Inside Penal Colony Next Week. RFE RLJailed Russian opposition politician Aleksei Navalny will face a new trial next week inside the penal colony where he is being held, a move that could see as many as 10 more years tacked on to his prison time. Navalny’s press secretary Kira Yarmysh tweeted on February 8 that Moscow’s Lefortovo district court’s judges will travel to the region of Vladimir, some 200 kilometers east of Moscow, to try the outspoken Kremlin critic in Correctional Colony No. 2 on charges of embezzlement from his now defunct and banned Anti-Corruption Foundation (FBK) and for contempt of a Moscow court. Navalny To Face Another Trial Inside Penal Colony Next Week (rferl.org)

Russian Orthodox Cleric Who Supported Navalny Flees Country. RFE RL: A Russian Orthodox cleric who supported jailed opposition politician Aleksei Navalny has fled Russia for Poland over safety concerns. Russian Orthodox Cleric Who Supported Navalny Flees Country (rferl.org)

Russian Teacher ‘Forced To Quit Job’ For Reading Poems By Authors Persecuted Under Stalin. RFE RL: A Russian teacher says she was forced to quit her job at a school in the city of St. Petersburg after she read poems to her class by two authors who had been persecuted during Soviet dictator Josef Stalin’s purge in the 1930s and 1940s. Russian Teacher ‘Forced To Quit Job’ For Reading Poems By Authors Persecuted Under Stalin (rferl.org)

‘Classic Censorship’: Kremlin’s Bid To Silence Putin’s Political Enemies Puts Media In A Bind. Yelena Rykovtseva, Robert Coalson, RFE RL: Russia’s media-monitoring agency, Roskomnadzor, last week began sending out dozens of letters to media organizations ordering them to remove online articles about corruption investigations conducted by a banned organization created by imprisoned opposition leader Aleksei Navalny — or risk having their websites blocked. ‘Classic Censorship’: Kremlin’s Bid To Silence Putin’s Political Enemies Puts Media In A Bind (rferl.org)

RUSSIA – BLACK SEA

Six Russian Warships Sailing From Mediterranean To Black Sea For Drills. RFE RL: Russia says six warships from its navy are heading to the Black Sea from the Mediterranean to take part in military maneuvers amid heightened tensions with the West over Moscow’s troop buildup on its border with Ukraine, which has raised fears of a possible invasion of the former Soviet republic. Six Russian Warships Sailing From Mediterranean To Black Sea For Drills (rferl.org)

RUSSIA – UKRAINE

Ukrainian Air Defence Options in the Event of a Russian Attack. Justin Bronk, RUSI: As Russian forces continue to build up around the Ukrainian borders with both Russia and Belarus, the disparity of forces on the ground and at sea is matched in many ways in the air domain. This significantly limits the options available to Kyiv in the event of a Russian invasion or strike campaign, but it does not mean that Russian aircraft would have complete freedom to operate in Ukrainian skies. Ukrainian Air Defence Options in the Event of a Russian Attack | Royal United Services Institute (rusi.org)

RUSSIA – UKRAINE – CHINA

Putin Takes His Ukraine Crisis to Beijing. Pavel K. Baev, The Jamestown Foundation: The opening ceremony of the 2022 Winter Olympic Games in Beijing last Friday (February 4) may be remembered not only for its spectacular fireworks and extra-tight pandemic measures but also as a turning point in the brewing crisis on the border of Ukraine—a crisis the Kremlin manufactured to shake the foundations of the European security order. President Vladimir Putin had no reasons to be satisfied with the response to his ultimatum that the United States and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) delivered on January 26; nonetheless, he delayed his decision on a further course of action (Carnegie.ru, January 27; see EDM, February 3). Predictably, the US and the North Atlantic Alliance rejected his exorbitant demands that all Western support for Ukraine cease immediately, and the Euro-Atlantic community refused to preclude any theoretical future NATO enlargement. Putin, therefore, promised to take strong “military-technical measures” in response. But before escalating the confrontation to a new level, he sought to—and perhaps even had to—secure consent for this high-risk brinkmanship from Russia’s key strategic partner, China. Putin Takes His Ukraine Crisis to Beijing – Jamestown

RUSSIA – UKRAINE – FRANCE

In Kyiv, Macron Says He Managed To ‘Freeze The Game’ In Talks With Putin. RFE RL: French President Emmanuel Macron is holding talks in Kyiv with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy on February 8 on the second leg of his shuttle diplomacy aimed at easing the standoff prompted by Russia’s military buildup near Ukraine. Macron came to Kyiv a day after meeting in Moscow with President Vladimir Putin as fears grow that Moscow, which has amassed more than 100,000 troops near the border, could be preparing to invade its neighbor. In Kyiv, Macron Says He Managed To ‘Freeze The Game’ In Talks With Putin (rferl.org)

RUSSIA – UKRAINE – SPAIN

Spain’s Albares to visit Ukraine, says all efforts focus on peaceful outcome to Russia dispute. Reuters: Spanish Foreign Minister Jose Manuel Albares will travel to Kyiv later on Tuesday in a show of solidarity with Ukraine and a bid to help de-escalate tensions with neighbouring Russia that has massed troops on its border. Spain’s Albares to visit Ukraine, says all efforts focus on peaceful outcome to Russia dispute | Reuters

RUSSIA – UKRAINE – USA – GERMANY

Germany, US Agree To Condemn Russian Violence in Ukraine. Jacqueline Feldscher, Defense OneGerman and American leaders on Monday sought to present a united front against Russian aggression in Ukraine during German Chancellor Olaf Scholz’s first visit to the White House. The message of solidarity follows weeks of speculation about whether Berlin will step up alongside other NATO members to deter Moscow. As other allies, including the United States, have sent more lethal aid to Ukraine, including ammunition, anti-tank and anti-aircraft missiles, Berlin was mocked for its offer to send Kyiv 5,000 helmets. Germany also blocked Estonia from exporting weapons made in Germany to UkraineGermany, US Agree To Condemn Russian Violence in Ukraine – Defense One

Biden, Germany’s Scholz tout unity on Ukraine-Russia standoff. Sebastian Sprenger, Defense NewsPresident Joe Biden and German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said Monday the two countries are in agreement about confronting Russia in the event of further invasion of Ukraine, as both leaders sought to dispel the notion Berlin is an unreliable partner in the West’s managing of the crisis. On his first visit to Washington since taking office, Scholz repeatedly sidestepped questions about the future of Germany’s Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline should Russian President Vladimir Putin order an attack on Ukraine. Critics argue NS2 gives Russia outsize influence over the German and European energy markets. Biden, Germany’s Scholz tout unity on Ukraine-Russia standoff (defensenews.com)

RUSSIA’S REPUBLIC OF TATARSTAN

Tatarstan’s Supreme Court Upholds Islamic Scholar’s Sentence For Activities Of Banned Religious Group. RFE RL: The Supreme Court of Russia’s Republic of Tatarstan has rejected an appeal filed by a prominent Islamic scholar who was sentenced to 6 1/2 years in prison in November for running a branch of a banned religious group. Gabdrakhman Naumov’s lawyer, Ruslan Nagiyev, told RFE/RL that the Supreme Court upheld his client’s sentence on February 8. Tatarstan’s Supreme Court Upholds Islamic Scholar’s Sentence For Activities Of Banned Religious Group (rferl.org)

SOUTH KOREA

The ROK’s Domestic politics and 20th presidential election. Hideki Okuzono, Japan Institute of International Affairs: The Republic of Korea’s (ROK’s) 20th presidential election will be held on March 9, 2022. Elections are conducted by direct popular vote, and there is no runoff vote among the top vote-getting candidates; the candidate who gets the plurality of votes in a single round of voting is to be elected. The term of the president is five years and reappointment is not permitted, so the incumbent President Moon Jae-in cannot run. How will this election to select the country’s eighth president under the current constitution that came into effect after democratization in June 1987 be positioned in the ROK’s modern political history? This paper will consider that point while tracing the history of the ROK, focusing especially on the significance of President Park Geun-hye’s impeachment and dismissal as well as the birth of the Moon Jae-in government. https://www.jiia.or.jp/en/column/2022/02/korean-peninsula-fy2021-05.html

SRI LANKA

Sri Lanka: Grave Abuses Under Discredited Law. Human Rights Watch: The Sri Lankan government is using the discredited Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA) to commit prolonged arbitrary detention and torture, Human Rights Watch said in a report released today. The European Union, other trading partners, and donors, should press for time-bound action to repeal the abusive law and reject the government’s proposed amendments, which would not end widespread abuses. Sri Lanka: Grave Abuses Under Discredited Law | Human Rights Watch (hrw.org)

SUDAN

Security forces fire tear gas at protesters in Sudan. Al JazeeraSecurity forces fired tear gas to disperse protesters in Sudan’s capital Khartoum, where thousands took to the streets on Monday in the latest of a months-long string of demonstrations. The demonstrators are denouncing the October military coup that plunged the country into turmoil. Photos: Security forces fire tear gas at protesters in Sudan | Gallery News | Al Jazeera

TAIWAN – CHINA

Why is unification so unpopular in Taiwan? It’s the PRC political system, not just culture. Shelley Rigger, Lev Nachman, Chit Wai John Mok, Nathan Kar Ming Chan, Brookings: Political science research consistently shows two things for Taiwan’s electoral politics. First, how people identify — as Taiwanese, Chinese, or both — remains paramount for understanding voting behavior. And second, one’s preference for independence, unification with the People’s Republic of China (PRC), or the status quo is still the most important political question for voters. Surveys constantly ask Taiwan’s citizens about these two topics. Rarely do we need to speculate about how Taiwan people identify or how they feel about Taiwan’s future, because we have consistent polling data on both. Why is unification so unpopular in Taiwan? It’s the PRC political system, not just culture (brookings.edu)

TAIWAN – CHINA – USA

China vows to take powerful measures against US’ latest arms sale to Taiwan island. Guo Yuandan and Liu Xuanzun, Global Times: China on Tuesday vowed to take countermeasures after the US announced a plan to sell $100 million worth of Patriot missile upgrades to the island of Taiwan, which would be the first US arms sale to the island in 2022 and the second under the Biden administration. China vows to take powerful measures against US’ latest arms sale to Taiwan island – Global Times

TAJIKISTAN

Tajikistan: Restore Internet in Autonomous Region. Human Rights Watch: The Tajikistan authorities should immediately restore full internet connectivity in the autonomous region of Gorno-Badakhshan (GBAO), Human Rights Watch said today. Internet access was cut on November 25, 2021, following large protests over the killing of a local man in the capital, Khorog. Tajikistan: Restore Internet in Autonomous Region | Human Rights Watch (hrw.org)

TUNISIA

Tunisia’s Authoritarian Turn. Jack Senogles, RUSI: Several weeks ago, Noureddine Bhiri, deputy chairman of Tunisia’s Ennahda Party, was arrested on terrorism charges. Bundled away in the middle of the night, Bhiri’s arrest is part of an ongoing crackdown in the country which threatens to reverse Tunisia’s democratic gains. As well as arresting political opponents, President Kais Saied’s government has been accused of turning a blind eye to police violence against journalists and of meeting public protests with repression. Saied’s tactics are a worrying echo of those used by Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali’s regime, as state internal security forces use overly broad anti-terror legislation to threaten political opponents, students, human rights activists and journalists. Tunisia’s Authoritarian Turn | Royal United Services Institute (rusi.org)

TURKEY

Voices of discontent spread in Turkey as energy prices surge. Dilara Senkaya, Daren Butler, Reuters: Shopkeepers, city councils and a religious community group spoke out over surging energy bills in Turkey on Tuesday, while doctors held a one-day strike over working conditions as a wave of inflation-fuelled discontent spread across the country. Voices of discontent spread in Turkey as energy prices surge | Reuters

UKRAINE

Crypto donations soar to groups backing Ukraine’s government – report. Tom Wilson, Reuters: Bitcoin donations have soared to Ukrainian volunteer and hacking groups, some of which have supplied equipment to government forces, according to a report showing such groups received more than $550,000 worth of cryptocurrency in 2021. Crypto donations soar to groups backing Ukraine’s government – report | Reuters

USA

IRS Suggests Need to Disclose Crypto Exchange Information to Law Enforcement. Mariam Baksh, NextgovSharing information with law enforcement about the beneficial ownership of companies trading cryptocurrencies and related entities is one of several ways the Internal Revenue Service could help combat cyber attackers that use decentralized ledger technology as a cloak for their escape, according to the bureau. “The IRS generally may not share information it collects with [the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network] or other law enforcement agencies, like the FBI, currently receiving” reports regarding income in excess of $10,000, the bureau said in a recent letter to Sen. Maggie Hassan, D-N.H. “If those agencies can’t receive digital asset transaction information, it will significantly degrade the utility of the information they do collect.”. IRS Suggests Need to Disclose Crypto Exchange Information to Law Enforcement – Nextgov

New App Tracks Terrorism-Linked Events in Local U.S. Communities. Brandi Vincent, NextgovThe National Counterterrorism Center or NCTC designed and launched a new mobile app and website that provide unclassified intelligence reports, training materials and breaking alert notifications tracking terrorist-associated events. Dubbed “aCTknowledge,” this new digital tool was produced with—and explicitly for—U.S. law enforcement officers, first responders and homeland security professionals. It will be frequently updated based on their feedback going forward. New App Tracks Terrorism-Linked Events in Local U.S. Communities – Nextgov

IRS Backs Away From Facial Recognition Technology. Natalie Alms, NextgovThe Treasury Department is directing the Internal Revenue Service to back away from the use of the online identity proofing service ID.me as part of a new process for filing tax returns online. The ID.me system required users to submit a selfie video as part of the identity verification process used for taxpayers who want to file their tax returns directly to the IRS – a new service being offered for the first time this filing season. IRS Backs Away From Facial Recognition Technology – Nextgov

USDA, Justice Launch Website To Report Anticompetitive Behavior in Agriculture. Alexandra Kelley, Nextgov: The Departments of Justice and Agriculture launched a new portal for civilian agricultural workers to report instances of anticompetitive practices within the industry. The website, farmerfairness.gov, is part of the larger mission of the Biden-Harris administration to promote fair pricing and competition. USDA, Justice Launch Website To Report Anticompetitive Behavior in Agriculture – Nextgov

FDA’s Modernization to Focus on Agency Mission and People. Alexandra Kelley, NextgovAutomation is a key pillar in the Food and Drug Administration’s digital transformation plan, with user experience at the forefront of modernization efforts, according to the agency’s acting Chief Technology Officer Sohail Chaudhry. Speaking on a GovFocus panel on Thursday, Chaudhry discussed the FDA’s priorities surrounding modernization. As its recently-created Office of Digital Transformation oversees the implementation of new technologies, the agency remains mission-driven. FDA’s Modernization to Focus on Agency Mission and People – Nextgov

Increasing Transparency, Diversity and Innovation in the Intelligence Community. Maisha Glover, NextgovMany parts of the intelligence community operate within a veil of secrecy—and for good reason. But to attract and retain the diverse and highly technical talent the IC needs in order to counter the new and increasingly complex threats posed by our adversaries, it’s time to think more creatively. The impenetrable quality that the IC created has made it difficult for outsiders, and especially potential employees, to gain a meaningful understanding of the impactful and fulfilling work the IC leads. While it’s critical to shroud certain activity in secrecy, in today’s national security environment there is increasing importance around “open source intelligence”—unclassified information drawn from social media, online material and commercial data sources. Therefore, coveting everything alike has its drawbacks. With a lack of reliable information, the public tends to base its understanding of the IC on what is depicted in popular culture, which too often portrays a narrow ideal. Increasing Transparency, Diversity and Innovation in the Intelligence Community – Nextgov

Congress Is Heading Toward Yet Another Stopgap Spending Bill This Week to Avoid a Shutdown. Eric Katz, NextgovCongress appears headed toward another stopgap funding bill, with Democrats now pushing a short-term measure to give appropriators more time to hammer out full-year spending levels. The House is likely to vote on a continuing resolution this week, House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, D-Md., said on Sunday. Current funding is set to expire Feb. 18 and negotiators have yet to have a breakthrough to move forward on appropriations bills for the remainder of fiscal 2022. They have expressed some notes of optimism, however, and Hoyer expressed hope that a short extension would allow for a deal and final votes while avoiding a shutdown. Congress Is Heading Toward Yet Another Stopgap Spending Bill This Week to Avoid a Shutdown – Nextgov

It Could Be Months Before the Biden Administration Submits Its FY23 Spending Proposal. Marcus Weisgerber, Defense OneMonday was the day the Biden administration should have sent its 2023 spending proposal to Capitol Hill. But it’s waiting on Congress, who have yet to pass a budget for the four-month-old fiscal 2022—and lawmakers are looking to kick that can until at least March. For some, like six think-tank analysts who got together on Zoom on Monday afternoon, it was supposed to be a kind of holiday. But without thousands of pages of new budget data to comb through, they mused instead about the current fiscal situation. It Could Be Months Before the Biden Administration Submits Its FY23 Spending Proposal – Defense One

Air Force Commits Millions to Experiment with ‘Space Internet’, Brandi Vincent, Defense OneThe Air Force plans to enable and demonstrate a space internet that the military can use to connect and communicate via constellations of commercial spacecraft operating in various orbits. In a presolicitation the Air Force Research Laboratory released this week, officials confirmed intent to award two to five contracts worth up to $40 million each for “multi-band, multi-orbit communication experiments.”. Air Force Commits Millions to Experiment with ‘Space Internet’ – Defense One

New Pentagon strategy wants to elevate software factories. Courtney Albon, Defense NewsThe Pentagon’s new software modernization strategy calls for establishing an enterprise-level software factory ecosystem to make the tools and applications used by its development hubs a more regular part of doing business. The document, released late last week, says the 29 software factories that exist today across the military services have made significant progress, but the Department of Defense needs to better take advantage of that innovation. Danielle Metz, deputy chief information officer for the information enterprise, told reporters on Monday the goal is to harness the success of those factories and “inculcate that into the DNA of the department.”. New Pentagon strategy wants to elevate software factories (defensenews.com)

New Naval Safety Command will help units better assess, mitigate their own risk, Megan Eckstein, Defense NewsThe U.S. Navy has elevated its Naval Safety Center to a two-star Naval Safety Command, increasing the organization’s ability to help the service better understand and mitigate risks it takes during everyday operations. Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Michael Gilday said at the Feb. 4 standup ceremony that Naval Safety Command will use data to help commands understand risk and mitigate it before mishaps occur. New Naval Safety Command will help units better assess, mitigate their own risk (defensenews.com)

USA – MEXICO

‘Remain in Mexico’: Overview and Resources. Human Rights Watch: On January 25, 2019, US President Donald Trump and Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador began the “Remain in Mexico” or MPP (Migrant Protection Protocols) program. Under it, US border officials return non-Mexican asylum seekers to wait for months or years in dangerous locations in Mexico while their claims are adjudicated in US immigration courts. From January 2019 to January 2021, the Trump administration sent more than 71,000 asylum seekers, including tens of thousands of children and people with disabilities or chronic health conditions, to Mexico under the program. ‘Remain in Mexico’: Overview and Resources | Human Rights Watch (hrw.org)

USA – TAIWAN

US approves support deal for Taiwan patriot missiles. Al JazeeraThe United States has approved a $100 million support contract with Taiwan aimed at boosting the island’s missile defence systems amid heightened tensions with China. The funds would be used to “sustain, maintain, and improve” the self-ruled island’s Patriot missile defence system, the Pentagon said on Monday. US approves support deal for Taiwan patriot missiles | Military News | Al Jazeera

VATICAN

Former Pope Benedict acknowledges ‘errors occurred’ in handling of Munich abuse allegations, Philip Pullella, Reuters: Former Pope Benedict on Tuesday acknowledged that errors occurred in handling sexual abuse cases when he was Archbishop of Munich and asked for forgiveness, as his lawyers argued he was not directly to blame. Former Pope Benedict acknowledges ‘errors occurred’ in handling of Munich abuse allegations | Reuters

VENEZUELA

Venezuela demands probe after baby dies in migrant boat incident. Al JazeeraVenezuela has demanded Trinidad and Tobago launch an “exhaustive investigation” into a deadly incident at sea, in which a baby perished and his mother wounded on board a boat carrying about 40 migrants. Trinidad and Tobago’s Prime Minister Keith Rowley said the incident occurred on Saturday when coastguard officers attempted to shoot the vessel’s engines after repeatedly ordering to stop during what the island nation’s authorities called “security operations” involving human traffickers. Venezuela demands probe after baby dies in migrant boat incident | Human Rights News | Al Jazeera

WEST AFRICA – ECOWAS

As militarisation spreads, ECOWAS faces credibility crisis. Mucahid Durmaz, Al JazeeraAdama Cisse was among the thousands of Malians who took to the streets last month after the military government called for protests against sanctions imposed by the Economic Community of West Africa States (ECOWAS) regional bloc over delayed elections. “It’s not ECOWAS or France who are going to make decisions in our country,” the 40-year-old teacher said, also referring to Mali’s former colonial power. “Down with ECOWAS,” he chanted, alongside others in the capital, Bamako. As militarisation spreads, ECOWAS faces credibility crisis | Military News | Al Jazeera

ZIMBABWE

Addressing Zimbabwe’s inflation: The role of the digitalization of financial transactions. Mtuli Ncube, Brookings: When I was sworn in as Zimbabwe’s minister of finance and economic development in September 2018, our economy was characterized by sustained fiscal imbalances, financial sector vulnerabilities, and cash shortages. Since 2013, the Government had been incurring budget deficits as high as 12.9 percent in 2017, up from 1.3 percent of GDP in 2013. As a result, I immediately introduced a set of economic and structural reforms to stabilize the economy. Addressing Zimbabwe’s inflation: The role of the digitalization of financial transactions (brookings.edu)

COUNTERTERRORISM

Death of Islamic State leader was necessary, but there’s a better way to fight terrorism. Ben Connable, Atlantic Council: Islamic State leader Abu Ibrahim al-Hashimi al-Qurashi detonated a suicide vest last week, according to US officials, as American special operators closed in on his position. He will not be missed. Al-Qurashi was directly and indirectly responsible for atrocities that included murder, rape, and torture. US President Joe Biden described him as a “horrible person.” There is at least some inherent good to be found in his death. Death of Islamic State leader was necessary, but there’s a better way to fight terrorism – Atlantic Council

TECHNOLOGICAL REVOLUTION

Rep. Ro Khanna on democratizing our digital transformation. Darrell M. West, Brookings: Digital technology has transformed virtually every aspect of human existence. We have online education, telemedicine, remote work, and e-commerce. Many of us spend hours a day online either communicating with other people, reading or watching media, or engaging in digital transactions. Yet there are several problems we must confront as we make this transition to a digital world. TechTank Podcast Episode 37: Rep. Ro Khanna on democratizing our digital transformation (brookings.edu)

The Global Eye is published in cooperation with The Science of Where Magazine