WORLD BRIEFING: February 4, 2024

The Houthis vow to respond after US and UK strike 36 targets across 13 locations in Yemen. The Houthis in Yemen, who are backed by Iran, started targeting commercial vessels in the Red Sea in November, disrupting global supply chains. Shipping companies have stopped using the Red Sea, which usually carries almost 15% of global seaborne trade, and are using a much longer route around southern Africa instead. The Houthis say they are targeting Israeli-linked ships in solidarity with the Palestinians; however, many attacked vessels have had no connection to Israel - BBC

Meanwhile, UK Defence Secretary Grant Shapps said the latest strikes were "not an escalation", and the Houthis' attacks on vessels in the Red Sea were "illegal and unacceptable.” The joint strikes come after the US targeted 85 locations in Syria and Iraq on Friday in response to a deadly drone attack on a US military base in Jordan - BBC


The U.S. Senate is expected to unveil and vote on a supplemental package this weekend that would fund new measures to control the historic flow of migrants at the U.S.-Mexico border, while fulfilling President Biden’s $106 billion request to also aid Ukraine, Israel and the Indo-Pacific region.  But House Republicans’ have issued a surprise announcement to send the Senate a stand-alone Israel funding bill sets up dueling votes in both chambers, which remain apart on how to fund border security and Ukraine in divided government. Notably absent from the proposal is any funding for Ukraine, which has faced significant dwindling of support by the House GOP majority. The measure also does not include a border security proposal as House Republicans have insisted the Senate take up their bill passed last year - Washington Post

The opposition Canadian Conservatives are demanding that the Liberal government donate to Ukraine tens of thousands of surplus air-to-ground rockets that are slated for disposal. The Canadian Defense Ministry has confirmed that the donation is under consideration. The Canadian Armed Forces reportedly store 83,303 CRV7 air-to-ground unguided rockets, which were introduced in the 1970s and taken out of service in the early 2000s. While Ottawa signed a contract three years ago to dispose of the rockets, the Conservatives believe they could still be of use in Ukraine. "It's time for less talk and more action," said Pierre Poilievre, the leader of the opposition and the Conservative Party's chief. "Instead of making Canadians pay millions of dollars to decommission these weapons," he said they should be provided to "Ukraine, who can use them in the defense of sovereignty” - CBC


Whereas recently as this summer, Ukraine’s artillery enjoyed parity with, if not superiority over, Russia’s own artillery, today the Russians have a fivefold advantage. Ukrainian batteries fire around 2,000 shells a day. Russian batteries fire 10,000. And as a result, Russian gunners are getting cocky. Unworried by the risk of Ukrainian gunners firing back at them, the Russians are concentrating their biggest guns and launchers for devastating salvos targeting Ukrainian positions in front-line cities. Ukrainian analysis group Frontelligence Insight detected the trend in satellite imagery of the 600-mile front line of Russia’s 23-month wider war on Ukraine. “In January alone, Frontelligence Insight recorded over 14 concentrations of artillery and enemy forces,” the group reported. “Our analysis suggests that this resurgence signals a decreasing fear among Russian forces, possibly fueled by renewed ammunition shortages on the Ukrainian side.” The group highlighted one cluster of nearly 20 revetments for artillery or other vehicles outside Lysychansk, five miles from the line of contact in eastern Ukraine’s Luhansk Oblast - Forbes


Russia said on Sunday that Ukraine killed at least 28 people, including nine women and a child, when its armed forces struck a bakery and restaurant in Russian-controlled eastern Ukraine with Western-supplied rockets. Russian-backed officials said that Ukraine struck the bakery in the city of Lysychansk at about 1230 GMT on Saturday with U.S.-supplied High Mobility Artillery Rocket System (HIMARS) - Reuters

President Macky Sall postponed Senegal's planned Feb. 25 presidential election, announcing in a televised address to the nation on Saturday that he had cancelled the relevant law due to electoral issues he warned would fuel disputes. With little more than three weeks to go before the vote, the unprecedented step of delaying the poll, to an unspecified date, pitches Senegal into uncharted constitutional waters that some opposition and civil society groups said amounted to an "institutional coup” - Reuters


Moldova's pro-Russia separatist region of Transdniester said on Feb. 3 that it needs more Russian natural gas to operate its industry. Moldova long depended on Russia for gas but last year met its needs from European markets, leaving all available gas from Russian giant Gazprom for the breakaway eastern region. Moldova's pro-European president, Maia Sandu, has backed the switch to European gas in her drive to abandon the country's Soviet legacy and join the EU. Transdniester split from Moldova before the 1991 Soviet collapse and fought a brief war against the newly independent state. Russia maintains troops in the separatist territory - RFE/RL

This review is reprinted with the author’s permission from his World Briefing blog. See the original here.

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