CFR: Daily News Brief, March 28, 2023

Image Daily News Brief March 28, 2023
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British, German Tanks Reach Kyiv as Ukraine Prepares for Spring Offensive

The first deliveries of British Challenger tanks and German Leopard 2 tanks reached the Ukrainian capital (FT), German and Ukrainian officials confirmed. Meanwhile, Ukrainian forces completed training (The Guardian) in the United Kingdom on how to use the Challenger tanks. Poland sent tanks to Ukraine late last month, and Spain is expected to do so by the end of the week.
Ukraine’s spring counteroffensive against invading Russian forces will depend (BBC) on continued weapons support from the West, President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has said. He will give a virtual address today (AFP) to kick off U.S. President Joe Biden’s second annual Summit for Democracy. 
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Summit for Democracy Snubs for Two Troublesome U.S. Allies

Foreign Policy Sitrep

The Biden administration is inviting around 120 countries to join its Summit for Democracy next week, but two of its NATO allies aren’t getting a call.

Turkey and Hungary have been left off the invitation list for the major summit, which Team Biden bills as one of its hallmark foreign-policy initiatives, meant to shore up democracies worldwide and stanch the rise of autocracies.

Backsliding. The spurning of two NATO allies, confirmed by three U.S. officials who spoke to SitRep, reflects a mounting concern with the degree of democratic backsliding in Turkey and Hungary, even though Washington is relying on both to support the West’s strategy against Russia as the war in Ukraine rages on—and needs both to approve Finland and Sweden’s bids to join NATO as full-fledged allies.

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2023 World Happiness Report

World Happiness Report 2023

It has been over ten years since the first World Happiness Report was published. And it is exactly ten years since the United Nations General Assembly adopted Resolution 66/281, proclaiming 20 March to be observed annually as International Day of Happiness. Since then, more and more people have come to believe that our success as countries should be judged by the happiness of our people. There is also a growing consensus about how happiness should be measured. This consensus means that national happiness can now become an operational objective for governments.

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Why did China help Saudi Arabia and Iran resume diplomatic ties?

Photo: Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the People's Republic of China

Critical Questions by Jon B. Alterman, CSIS

Published March 10, 2023

On Friday, March 10, Saudi Arabia and Iran announced their agreement to reestablish diplomatic relations based on talks held in Beijing. China has portrayed itself as the broker of the agreement, and China’s senior diplomat congratulated the two countries on their “wisdom.”

Q1: Why did the two countries reestablish relations now?

A1: The agreement seems to have been moved forward during President Ebrahim Raisi’s visit to Beijing last month. For months, Saudi Arabia has put pressure on Iran through its reported support for Iran International, a foreign-based Persian-language broadcaster critical of the regime that is received in Iran. Since President Raisi took office in August 2021, he announced it was a priority to reduce tensions with regional neighbors. Saudi Arabia and Iran have had a wide variety of differences throughout the region, often fought through proxies. They span from Lebanon to Syria to Iraq to Yemen. Iran has supplied weapons to Houthi forces in Yemen that have threatened Saudi populations both on the border and in interior areas. Saudi Arabia has been increasingly interested in finding a way to end the conflict in Yemen, and this agreement is likely to move that forward.

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CFR Daily News Brief March 9, 2023

Daily News BriefMarch 9, 2023
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The Netherlands Announces Chip Export Curbs After U.S. Urging

The Dutch government announced that it will impose export restrictions (FT) on “the most advanced” semiconductor technology, citing security concerns. While it did not name China in the announcement, the restrictions come after U.S. officials urged the Dutch and Japanese governments to limit chip exports to China over fears that the tech could be used to make weapons and commit human rights abuses. Washington announced its own curbs on chip exports in October.  

U.S.-China tensions over technology access came up as U.S. intelligence officials testified to Congress yesterday during an annual hearing on security threats. CIA Director William Burns called tech innovation (Reuters) “the main arena for competition” with China. Additionally, Director of National Intelligence Avril Haines said China will increasingly try to undercut U.S. influence (CNN), though it will likely try to prevent tensions from spiraling into conflict.
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Annual Threat Asessment of the US Intelligence Community (Office of Director of National Intelligence)

February 6, 2023

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During the coming year, the United States and its allies will confront a complex and pivotal international security environment dominated by two critical strategic challenges that intersect with each other and existing trends to intensify their national security implications. First, great powers, rising regional powers, as well as an evolving array of non-state actors, will vie for dominance in the global order, as well as compete to set the emerging conditions and the rules that will shape that order for decades to come. Strategic competition between the United States and its allies, hina, and Russia over what kind of world will emerge makes the next few years critical to determining who and what will shape the narrative perhaps most immediately in the context of Russia’s actions in Ukraine, which threaten to escalate into a broader conflict between Russia and the West. Second, shared global challenges, including climate change, and
human and health security, are converging as the planet emerges from the COVID-19 pandemic and confronts economic issues spurred by both energy and food insecurity. Rapidly emerging or evolving technologies continue to have the potential to disrupt traditional business and society with both positive and negative outcomes, while creating unprecedented vulnerabilities and attack surfaces, making it increasingly challenging to predict the impact of such challenges on the global landscape.

These two strategic challenges will intersect and interact in unpredictable ways, leading to mutually reinforcing effects that could challenge our ability to respond, but that also will introduce new opportunities to forge collective action with allies and partners, including non-state actors. The 2023 Annual Threat Assessment highlights some of those connections as it provides the IC’s baseline assessments of the most pressing threats to U.S. national interests. It is not an exhaustive assessment of all global challenges. This assessment addresses both the threats from U.S. adversaries and functional and transnational concerns, such as weapons of mass destruction and cyber, primarily in the sections regarding threat actors, as well as an array of regional issues with larger, global implications.

Russia’s unprovoked full-scale invasion of Ukraine has highlighted that the era of nation-state competition and conflict has not been relegated to the past but instead has emerged as a defining characteristic of the current era. While Russia is challenging the United States and some norms in the international order in its war of territorial aggression, China has the capability to directly attempt to alter the rules-based global order in every realm and across multiple regions, as a near-peer competitor that is increasingly pushing to change global norms and potentially threatening its neighbors. Russia’s military action against Ukraine demonstrates that it remains a revanchist power, intent on using whatever tools are needed to try to reestablish a perceived sphere of influence despite what its neighbors desire for themselves, and is willing to push back on Washington both locally and globally. Besides these strategic competitors, local and regional powers are seeking to exert their influence, often at the cost of neighbors and the world order itself. Iran will
remain a regional menace with broader malign influence activities, and North Korea will expand its WMD capabilities while being a disruptive player on the regional and world stages.

At the same time, as the nations of the world strive to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic, they are beset by an array of shared, global issues. The accelerating effects of climate change are placing more of the world’s population, particularly in low- and middle-income countries, under threat from extreme weather, food insecurity, and humanitarian disasters, fueling migration flows and increasing the risks of future pandemics as pathogens exploit the changing environment. Efforts by Russia, China, and other countries to promote authoritarianism and spread disinformation is helping fuel a larger competition between [ 5 ] democratic and authoritarian forms of government. This competition exploits global information flows to gain influence and impacts nearly all countries, contributing to democratic backsliding, threats of political instability, and violent societal conflict through misinformation and disinformation.

Regional and localized conflicts and instability will continue to demand U.S. attention as states and nonstate actors truggle to find their place in the evolving international order, attempt to navigate great power competition, and confront shared transnational challenges. Regional challengers, such as Iran and North Korea, will seek to disrupt their local security environment and garner more power for themselves, threatening U.S. allies in the process. In every region of the world, challenges from climate change, demographic trends, human and health security, and economic disruptions caused by energy and food insecurity and technology proliferation will combine and interact in specific and unique ways to trigger events ranging from political instability, to terrorist threats, to mass migration, and potential humanitarian emergencies.

The 2023 Annual Threat Assessment Report supports the Office of the Director of National Intelligence’s transparency commitments and the tradition of providing regular threat updates to the American public and the United States Congress. The IC is vigilant in monitoring and assessing direct and indirect threats to U.S. and allied interests. As part of this ongoing effort, the IC’s National Intelligence Officers work closely with analysts from across the IC to examine the spectrum of threats and highlight the most likely and impactful near-term risks in the context of the longer-term, overarching threat environment. The National Intelligence Council stands ready to support policymakers with additional information in a classified setting.

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CFR – Daily News Brief – Feb. 17, 2023

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Munich Security Conference Focuses on Ukraine War Effort

Hundreds of Western officials are in Munich to discuss boosting support for Ukraine, which could include further military aid and stronger sanctions against Russia. In a video address to attendees, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy appealed for accelerated weapons deliveries (NYT) to defend against Russian forces. A report issued by the chair of the conference warned that “revisionist actors” are threatening the international order, but also said that the order should better address (DW) the interests of countries in Africa, Asia, and Latin America.

The leaders of countries including France, Germany, and the United Kingdom are expected to attend the security conference, while both Russia and Iran were uninvited (FT). Instead, the Belarusian and Russian presidents met separately to discuss their alliance. Meanwhile, Russian shelling in the eastern Ukrainian city of Bakhmut killed five people (Kyiv Independent) yesterday, Ukraine’s prosecutor general’s office said.
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CFR – Daily news brief Feb. 7, 2023

Daily News BriefFebruary 7, 2023
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WHO Predicts Death Toll in Syria, Turkey Quake Could Rise by ‘Thousands’

Syrian and Turkish officials said at least five thousand people were killed (NYT) by yesterday’s consecutive earthquakes at the Syria-Turkey border and their aftershocks, making the quakes one of the deadliest natural disasters to occur this century. As rescue efforts continue, an official from the Eastern Mediterranean office of the World Health Organization (WHO) has said the death toll could rise by thousands and that there is a “substantial” risk of another aftershock.
Aid teams from more than sixty-five countries have arrived in southern Turkey to support relief efforts, Hürriyet reported, and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has declared a three-month state of emergency in ten provinces. Meanwhile, the Syrian government is unable to receive direct aid from many countries because of sanctions on Bashar al-Assad’s government. Additionally, a border crossing used to deliver humanitarian aid to rebel-held northern Syria was damaged in the disaster. 
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Council on Foreign Relations – Daily news brief Jan. 10, 2023

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Leaders of U.S., Canada, Mexico Meet 

U.S. President Joe Biden, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, and Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador are meeting in Mexico City (AP) for the North American Leaders’ Summit. Their discussions are expected to produce agreements (Reuters) on migration, semiconductors, climate change, and antidrug cooperation.
In a meeting between López Obrador and Biden yesterday, the two presidents pledged to step up cooperation (Reuters) on curbing fentanyl trafficking to the United States. Meanwhile, U.S. business leaders have voiced concern over López Obrador’s policies favoring state control in the economy. U.S.-Mexico trade increased by 19 percent (WaPo) in the first eleven months of 2022 as U.S. companies moved business away from China.
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Council on Foreign Relations – Daily News Brief Jan. 3, 2023

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IMF Director Warns One-Third of World Could Face Recession This Year

For most of the global economy, 2023 will be “tougher than the year we leave behind,” International Monetary Fund (IMF) Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva said in a CBS interview. She said the economies of the United States, China, and the European Union (EU) are all slowing down. While Georgieva said the United States “may avoid a recession,” the Wall Street Journal found that more than two-thirds of economists at twenty-three large financial institutions are projecting a U.S. recession this year. Georgieva also said that the war in Ukraine and COVID-19 will continue to strain the economies of the EU and China, respectively. She added that countries should work to secure their supply chains but warned that dividing the global economy into U.S. and Chinese blocs could “chop $1.5 trillion” from global gross domestic product (GDP) each year. 
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Council on Foreign Relations – Daily News Brief Dec. 27, 2022

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China Makes Sweeping Changes to COVID-19 Travel Restrictions

From January 8, China will no longer require (Nikkei) passengers to undergo mandatory testing and quarantines upon arrival and will relax limits on the number of flights entering the country, authorities announced yesterday. The policy shift follows the easing (NYT) of domestic pandemic restrictions in the wake of mass protests over the country’s harsh zero-COVID strategy.
Beijing also said that citizens will regain permission to go abroad “in an orderly manner” after almost three years of what was effectively a ban on nonessential travel. Amid the reopening, COVID-19 has strained health-care facilities across the country and Beijing has limited official reporting on the number of cases and deaths. In response, Japan announced that it will require negative tests upon arrival (SCMP) from travelers from mainland China.
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Council on Foreign relations – Daily News Brief Dec. 21 2022

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Zelenskyy Visits Washington in First Foreign Trip Since Russia’s Invasion

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy is scheduled to meet with U.S. President Joe Biden (WaPo) and address Congress today in his first trip outside of Ukraine since Russia invaded in February. During the meeting, Biden is expected to announce a $2 billion military aid package for Ukraine that will reportedly include the Patriot missile system, the most advanced air defense system in the U.S. arsenal.
Zelenskyy’s visit comes as U.S. lawmakers consider a spending package (NYT) that includes $45 billion in emergency and economic aid to Ukraine. If approved, it would bring the total U.S. aid to Ukraine to more than $100 billion. Some lawmakers from the Republican Party, which will soon take control of the House of Representatives, have objected to the new funding. 
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Council on Foreign relations – Daily news brief Dec. 19, 2022

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Countries Reach Landmark Deal on Protecting Biodiversity

At a UN biodiversity summit in Canada, nearly two hundred countries agreed to extend protected status (AP) to more than 30 percent of the world’s land and water by 2030, a goal known as 30×30. Currently, about 17 percent of all land and 10 percent of marine areas are protected. 
China held the presidency of the conference and pushed for the final deal (The Guardian) despite objections from African countries that sought a new fund for biodiversity. The deal calls on rich countries to provide $20 billion per year by 2025 and $30 billion per year by the end of the decade to prevent biodiversity loss in poor countries. It also mandates reform of $500 billion in environmentally damaging subsidies in areas such as food and fuel and emphasizes that Indigenous communities should lead conservation efforts.

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Council on Foreign relations – Daily news brief Nov. 28, 2022

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Outrage Over COVID-19 Restrictions Prompts Rare Protests in China

Tens of thousands of people joined demonstrations (FT) in at least ten cities across China over the weekend, at times clashing with security forces. In addition to objecting to harsh restrictions under the country’s zero-COVID policy, many protesters denounced limitations on freedom of speech and some called for Chinese President Xi Jinping to step down (NYT).  The protests were sparked by a deadly fire in a locked-down area of the Xinjiang region on Friday. Demonstrators marched in urban centers and at universities, and today police patrolled areas of Beijing and Shanghai (Reuters) where the demonstrations occurred. Authorities eased some pandemic restrictions (AP) in Beijing and Guangzhou today, but did not mention the demonstrations. 

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