Fdd's overnight brief

April 19, 2023

In The News


Belgium submitted a request to Iran on Tuesday that jailed aid worker Olivier Vandecasteele be sent back to his country, which has agreed a prisoner transfer treaty with Iran. – Reuters

Iran’s supreme leader on Tuesday ruled out the holding of popular referendums on state policies. Iran faced calls for a referendum on the Islamic Republic itself during anti-government protests last year, and a moderate former president recently suggested such votes should be held to decide major policies as a way of reducing divisions. – Associated Press

Iran’s president Tuesday reiterated threats against Israel while marking the country’s annual Army Day, though he stayed away from criticizing Saudi Arabia as Tehran seeks a détente with the kingdom. – Associated Press

Andrew Peek writes: Iran’s revolutionary ideology would also be a spent force. Iran’s militias like Hezbollah would most likely try to entrench themselves forcefully further into their host governments, creating military dictatorships in all but name. That is the way Mr. Putin and the security services conquered Yeltsin’s Russia. Russia would be willing to supply the guns to these states, if they survived, but a distracted Russia would be far less of a concern than an aggressive Iran. The Iran Mr. Pahlavi invoked at the Western Wall would be the most important international development since the fall of communism. It would not end extremism, nor violence, nor poverty: but the fall of Khomeinism would make the world a better place, for Iranians and Israelis alike. – New York Sun

Seth J. Frantzman writes: There won’t likely be a peace dividend from this shift, as Raisi indicates that Iran’s overall goal is regional hegemony right now. It intends to slowly chisel away at the US role in the region as it pushes its forces closer to Israel, ratcheting up its genocidal threats on Jerusalem. – Jerusalem Post

Russia & Ukraine

Russian President Vladimir Putin and his Ukrainian counterpart, Volodymyr Zelensky, both visited troops in Ukraine within a day of each other this week as the leaders try to shore up morale ahead of an expected offensive by Kyiv to wrest territory from Moscow’s grip. – Wall Street Journal

A Moscow court on Tuesday upheld the detention of Wall Street Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich, who was arrested while on a reporting trip last month and held on an allegation of espionage that the Journal and the U.S. government vehemently deny. – Wall Street Journal

Federal authorities charged four Americans on Tuesday with roles in a malign campaign pushing pro-Kremlin propaganda in Florida and Missouri — expanding a previous case that charged a Russian operative with running illegal influence agents within the United States. – Washington Post

Late last month, American and European Union officials traded information on millions of dollars’ worth of banned technology that was slipping through the cracks of their defenses and into Russian territory. – New York Times

Russia is pounding the Bakhmut in eastern Ukraine ever more fiercely with aerial attacks and artillery strikes, but Ukrainian forces remain in control of the embattled city, the commander of Kyiv’s ground forces, Gen. Oleksandr Syrsky, said on Tuesday. – New York Times

The U.S. and its NATO allies must remain alert for signs Russian President Vladimir Putin could use a tactical nuclear weapon in a “managed” escalation of his war in Ukraine, the second-highest U.S. diplomat said on Tuesday. – Reuters

Moscow authorities are using the Russian capital’s vast system of facial recognition cameras to track down young men eligible for military service, the state-owned news agency TASS reported on Tuesday, citing the city’s chief enlistment officer. – Reuters

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov will discuss the Ukraine Black Sea grain export deal with U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres in New York next week, just weeks before the pact could expire unless Russian demands regarding its own exports are met. – Reuters

Senior Russian officials privately raised concerns some 10 months ago about the risks of becoming too dependent on Chinese technologies after sanctions by the US and the European Union shut off access to alternative suppliers. – Bloomberg

Two former Wagner PMC mercenary commanders testified how they had been ordered to execute Ukrainian children and civilians, shoot deserters, and kill prisoners of war often at the direction of Russian oligarch Yevgeny Prigozhin, according to a video published by Russian human rights NGO Gulagu. – Jerusalem Post

Tom Rogan writes: The question stands: Why is the Biden administration happy to engage with a firm that seems determined to provide service to the Kremlin elite? To facilitate this energy activity while restricting domestic energy extraction does not appear to be in the U.S.’s national interest — nor, for that matter, in the interest of U.S. foreign policy priorities such as supporting Ukraine. – Washington Examiner

Anthony Grant writes: The timing of the chaos in Sudan may have been unpredictable, but there is no doubt that the pressure has been building for a long time, particularly following a military coup in October 2021. Yet with their firm footprint and Kremlin-backed connivances, the Wagner mercenaries, insofar as they have any strategy besides plunder, may be trying to put out a fire with gasoline. President Putin’s is one hell of a church. – New York Sun

Leonid Bershidsky writes: Putin’s investment in Russia’s “civilizational inflection point,” to use Michta’s expression, is far greater than that of the likes of Prigozhin or Strelkov: He’s staked his enormous power on it, and he’ll only allow even partially dissenting voices if they sing harmony with each other and, ultimately, with him. Only a massive military defeat could, in theory, change that. – Bloomberg

Mackenzie Eaglen writes: Unpredictable timelines make speed all the more important. With no guarantee of success in the future with current efforts to bolster deterrence, the pace at which government moves now is critical. Supporting Ukraine while confronting a formidable competitor in China that is gaining in both capability and capacity over the United States demands increased purchasing and more rapid fielding of combat power. – American Enterprise Institute


A suspected Palestinian gunman opened fire at a vehicle in Jerusalem on Tuesday wounding two Israelis and at least six Palestinians were injured during clashes with Israeli forces during an arrest raid in the occupied West Bank, officials said. – Reuters

Esther Paran navigated her way in a wheelchair through the throngs of Israelis marching through Tel Aviv in protest at government plans to overhaul the country’s judicial system. – Reuters

China’s foreign minister told his Israeli and Palestinian counterparts that his country is ready to help facilitate peace talks between the two sides, in its latest effort at mediation in the region. – Associated Press

Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) announced on Tuesday that he will address the Israeli Knesset during an upcoming trip to the country, making him the second Speaker in history to deliver a speech before the legislative body. – The Hill

Americans view Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu more negatively than positively overall, according to a Pew Research Center study written by researchers Jacob Poushter and Moira Fagan and published on Monday. – Jerusalem Post

Reza Pahlavi, the son of the last shah of Iran, paid a condolence call to the bereaved Dee family at their home in the West Bank settlement of Efrat on Tuesday, after the deaths of sisters Maia and Rina and their mother Lucy in a deadly terror shooting during the Passover holiday. – Times of Israel

A Palestinian man was sentenced to 30 years’ imprisonment on Wednesday for the attempted murder of 12 soldiers in a Jerusalem car-ramming terror attack in 2020. – Times of Israel

In an unusual incident, an entire company of troops in the military’s Golani Brigade left their training base on Tuesday in apparent anger over being given a new commander. – Times of Israel

Foreign Minister Eli Cohen was slated to take off on Tuesday for a three-day visit to Azerbaijan, a key ally on Iran’s northern border. – Times of Israel

Foreign Minister Eli Cohen will fly from Azerbaijan to Turkmenistan on Wednesday night, becoming the first Israeli minister to visit the central Asian state in nearly three decades. – Times of Israel

Editorial: Dehumanizing people by referring to them as “settlers,” as Albanese has done repeatedly, is a despicable and transparent way of attempting to justify attacks against them. Excusing or justifying Palestinian terrorism, denying Israelis the right to self-defense and engaging in anti-Jewish rhetoric to encourage more terrorism. Albanese’s deeply biased approach to the issues on which she is supposed to report impartially is immoral and inexcusable, and it is entirely at odds with the conduct expected of a senior UN official. It is time Guterres and Türk took responsibility and fired her, in the name of the values their organization is meant to protect. – Jerusalem Post

Geoffrey S. Corn writes: One thing is clear: U.S. support for Israel’s military readiness is, and will remain, critically important by both ensuring the protection of Israel from unlawful missile attacks and enabling highly precise and decisive action in self-defense. There may be aspects of Israeli policies that justify criticism, but its supporting its ability to defend itself from the threats from all sides should be a source of unity for Americans, regardless of their politics. – Newsweek


Afghanistan’s economy will contract, inflation will rise and liquidity will fall if there is a 30% drop in international aid as feared, according to an analysis by the United Nations’ development agency released on Tuesday. – Reuters

The reclusive top leader of the Taliban released a message Tuesday lauding the changes in Afghanistan since the Taliban takeover and the measures they imposed after seizing the country following two decades of war. – Associated Press

The United Nations is ready to take the “heartbreaking” decision to pull out of Afghanistan in May if it can’t persuade the Taliban to let local women work for the organization, the head of the U.N. Development Program said. – Associated Press

The United Nations made a renewed appeal for international aid for Afghanistan, warning that a cut in funding in response to the Taliban government banning women from education and jobs would perpetuate extreme poverty that lasts for decades. – Bloomberg

Afghanistan’s southern city of Kandahar is the historical birthplace and the political base of the Taliban. Now, the country’s second-largest city appears to be becoming the de facto capital under the militant group’s rule. – Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty


Tunisian President Kais Saied met Tuesday with Syria’s chief diplomat and said his country wants to boost bilateral cooperation and preserve “historical ties of brotherhood” with Damascus, the official TAP news agency reported. – Associated Press

Saudi Arabia’s top diplomat arrived in the Syrian capital on Tuesday, the first official visit by an official from the kingdom in more than a decade, the Syrian government said. – Associated Press

Syrian journalists and opposition figures accused the IDF of attacking positions identified with Hezbollah members and members of pro-Iranian militias in the town of Kunitra in the eastern Golan Heights, Walla reports. – Jerusalem Post

Seth J. Frantzman writes: So far the reconciliation has moved at a slow pace but it gathering speed now. Now there are discussions of resuming consular services and flights between Saudi Arabia and Syria. There is also a comprehensive road map of 10 items that includes humanitarian, political and diplomatic initiatives to restore Syria to its Arab surroundings, the report at Al-Ain said. The report praised the “Emirati vision” that had helped pave the way for the Saudi visit. – Jerusalem Post


The Hatay international airport was meant to be a gleaming model for what the government called “the New Turkey,” kicking off one of the biggest building booms of the 21st century. Danger signs were flashing from the start. The airport was constructed on top of both a major fault line and a drained lake. Inspectors who had approved the location, near the country’s border with Syria, were unqualified, a southern Turkish court ruled in 2003, just four years after a quake near Istanbul had killed 17,000 people. – Wall Street Journal

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s chief rival in next month’s election defended Kurdish rights on Tuesday and accused the Turkish leader of stoking ethnic tensions for political gain. Kemal Kilicdaroglu’s comments followed weeks of attempts by Erdogan to link the opposition with Kurdish militants who have been waging a deadly insurgency against the Turkish state. – Agence France-Presse

Seth J. Frantzman writes: This leads to questions about claims that Ankara has customers lined up for its drones and other weapon systems that it continues to show off. Turkey recently announced a new warship to carry drones and said it launched a new observation satellite over the weekend. Without the upgrades for all its F-16s and the ability to buy more, it is unclear where Turkey will turn to make sure its air force has the latest technology. – Jerusalem Post


Iraq on Tuesday shut down a camp housing internally displaced Iraqis with alleged ties to the Islamic State group, the migration and displacement ministry announced. The statement said the camp’s closure came as part of a government program aiming to “end the displacement file” in the country, where 1.2 million Iraqis remain internally displaced after years of conflict. – Associated Press

Iraqis today remember the pervasive fear of that era, but with so many bombings, the specifics of individual attacks may have faded. This series of composites joins some of my photos from the years of the U.S. occupation and new ones from today, aiming to bring together past and present. Here are the stories behind a few of them. – Associated Press

Bilal Wahab writes: A better-functioning Iraq could become a more stable, secure and fully sovereign country that can defend itself against the Islamic State and other militias, while freeing itself from Iranian influence. The question is whether America has the foresight to support the nation now lest it be dragged back into conflict later. – Wall Street Journal


An alleged financier of U.S.-designated terrorist group Hezbollah was charged with a scheme to evade American sanctions and illegally import and export hundreds of millions of dollars worth of fine art and diamonds. – Wall Street Journal

Britain has sanctioned an individual suspected of financing Lebanon’s Iran-backed Hezbollah movement, as part of an effort to “disrupt an international terrorist-financing operation”, the British government said on Tuesday. – Reuters

Lebanon’s parliament Tuesday voted to extend the terms of local officials, paving the way to postpone municipal elections for up to a year for a second time. Some lawmakers were concerned the government wouldn’t be able to secure the needed funding in time for polling. – Associated Press

The US State Department today (Tuesday) announced a $7 million reward for information leading to the arrest of Ibrahim Aqil, a senior member of the Hezbollah terrorist organization. – Arutz Sheva

Saudi Arabia

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas met Wednesday with Saudi Arabia’s de facto ruler, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, in the kingdom’s port city of Jeddah. – Times of Israel

A senior delegation representing the Palestinian terror group Hamas has been filmed in Saudi Arabia, seemingly confirming reports that the officials were in the kingdom on a mission aimed at repairing ties with Riyadh. – Times of Israel

Benny Avni writes: Mr. Biden may, or may not, want to remain relevant and shape events in a Mideast where MbS is increasingly a top player. If he does, the president needs to work hard, change course, and perhaps eat some crow as well. He also must do so soon, before he launches his expected presidential re-election campaign. – New York Sun

Middle East & North Africa

Russian natural gas giant Gazprom (GAZP.MM) is setting up a Middle East unit, the company said in a regulatory disclosure on Tuesday. – Reuters

Qatar and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) are restoring diplomatic ties and reopening embassies, officials said on Tuesday, more than two years after Arab states ended a boycott of Doha that had shattered the Western-allied Gulf Arab bloc. – Reuters

Tunisia’s president vowed a “relentless war” against those he claimed were damaging the country, signaling a possible escalation in the crackdown against opponents shortly after the detention of his most vocal critic. – Bloomberg

Two people from the Middle East participated in this year’s March of the Living, speaking to Israel National News on Tuesday about their experience visiting Auschwitz. – Arutz Sheva

David Ignatius writes: The Biden administration is rediscovering diplomacy, too, after decades of American wars in the region. We’re brokering deals with Iraqis, Lebanese, Emiratis, Kurds, Saudis and maybe, eventually, some Syrians, too. Some of our partners are distasteful, but that’s part of diplomacy. We’ve had too many decades of ugly wars; it’s time for some ugly peace. – Washington Post

Danielle Pletka writes: There’s no doubt that many U.S. partners in the Middle East — Israel included — feel the need to hedge their bets, calculating that they can no longer count on a Washington that has pivoted away to Ukraine and China. Whether that is a wise choice for them is a different question. But from the U.S. perspective, it cannot proceed with billions in taxpayer-funded aid to countries that do not support American foreign policy, do not need American money, and don’t share — particularly in the case of Egypt — American values. It’s time to reassess. – The Hill

Seth J. Frantzman writes: Overall, the fighting in Sudan and the arrests in Tunisia represent important shifts in both countries. These are shifts that likely make the chances for civilian democratic rule returning even more distant. – Jerusalem Post

Alan Baker writes: Jordan’s delicate strategic status, both internally and in the intra-Arab context, should not serve as a cover and pretext for echoing knowingly false and flawed accusations against its neighbor Israel. In doing so, Jordan risks prejudicing the extensive benefits in many spheres that it enjoys from its peace treaty with Israel. One might hope that the king will exercise his authority to stem this dangerous threat to peace with Israel. – Jerusalem Post

Korean Peninsula

South Korea might extend its support for Ukraine beyond humanitarian and economic aid if it comes under a large-scale civilian attack, President Yoon Suk Yeol said, signalling a shift in his stance against arming Ukraine for the first time. – Reuters

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un ordered the launch of a military spy satellite, a move that could allow him to keep an eye on US allies as well as advance his state’s ability to deliver a nuclear warhead to the American mainland. – Bloomberg

A top US official urged Japan and South Korea to follow through with commitments to repair strained ties while saying the Biden administration should resist the urge to become more involved in diplomacy between two key allies. – Bloomberg

Tom Rogan writes: If this is the game Xi is playing, the U.S. shouldn’t be a party to it. Washington’s better response is to show up Xi’s antics to the world, especially to European leaders who might be tempted by Macron’s absurd notion that Xi ultimately seeks global cooperation. That argument isn’t terribly compelling when Xi’s North Korean patron is threatening nuclear war every other week. The U.S. should maintain pressure on Kim while making clear that it seeks a durable diplomatic resolution to Kim’s nuclear program. But Washington must not dance to Beijing’s North Korean waltz. – Washington Examiner

Jennifer Lind and Daryl G. Press write: Whatever deal they might strike, Seoul and Washington should confront the growing deterrence problem together. They should explain that the source of the problem is North Korea’s illegal nuclear arsenal, and the Kim regime’s threats to use it. If Pyongyang decides to reduce its own nuclear capabilities, South Korea’s efforts to nuclearize could be shelved. But if not, reasonable South Korean leaders may decide to take meaningful steps toward further nuclearization. And the world should understand. – Foreign Affairs


The Chinese military could soon deploy a high-altitude spy drone that travels at least three times the speed of sound, according to a leaked U.S. military assessment, a development that would dramatically strengthen China’s ability to conduct surveillance operations. – Washington Post

The top diplomats from the Group of Seven major industrial democracies stressed the need to unite against China’s economic, military and cyber assertiveness, in a display of solidarity Tuesday after differences emerged recently over the fate of Taiwan. – Washington Post

Despite the rollback of China’s one-child policy, and even after more recent incentives urging families to have more children, China’s population is steadily shrinking — a momentous shift that will soon leave India as the world’s most populous nation and have broad rippling effects both domestically and globally. – New York Times

U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen on Thursday will lay out the Biden administration’s principal objectives for the U.S.-China economic relationship in a speech in Washington, the Treasury said on Tuesday as tensions between the world’s two largest economies has thwarted high-level meetings. – Reuters

There was “some evidence” that China wants the dollar to weaken as the international reserve currency, said a White House nominee for a top economist position on Tuesday, and he urged Congress to raise the U.S. debt ceiling to protect the dollar’s value. – Reuters

China is increasing its Antarctic footprint according to new satellite imagery collected by a Washington-based think tank that shows construction has resumed for the first time since 2018 on the country’s fifth station in the southern polar region. – Reuters

China said a communique by the G7 meeting grossly interfered in its internal affairs, and maliciously smeared and discredited the country, the Chinese foreign ministry said on Tuesday. – Reuters

China denied all accusations of an overseas police presence, saying Tuesday that the United States was making “groundless accusations” after U.S. law enforcement arrested two men in New York for establishing a secret police station. – Associated Press

China revealed new details of sanctions it previously announced against two U.S. weapons manufacturers Tuesday, including a ban on Chinese companies doing business with them. – Associated Press

China will have a stockpile of 1,500 nuclear warheads “by 2035,” according to Western officials who worry that technological advances and geopolitical acrimony have raised the potential for nuclear conflict. – Washington Examiner

NATO wants to strike a deal with China over rules outlining the responsible use of artificial intelligence and other disruptive technologies in the military domain, the alliance’s chief Jens Stoltenberg said Tuesday. – Bloomberg

Senior US defense officials warned lawmakers about the growing risks of Chinese military power and the need to accelerate US development of hypersonic weapons. – Bloomberg

Joseph Bosco writes: Biden needs to re-galvanize both his own will and that of the West, including Japan and South Korea, to confront the increasingly coordinated effort by our common adversaries, led by China and Russia. If the West does not win Cold War II, it will face a new two-front shooting war. – The Hill

Charles A. Williams writes: Readiness, lethality and presence to engage must be our priority or the U.S. no longer remains a superpower; we’d be subject to the whims of others. Yes, we should supply weapons to Taiwan as quickly as possible, but equally important we must build a stronger fleet, prioritizing submarines and prepositioning munitions and fuel in the South China Sea. There are other steps to be taken, let me emphasize now. – The Hill

Tom Rogan writes: Its rosy rhetoric is utterly undermined by its own espionage. Chinese spies are globally tasked with stealing whatever they cannot more easily buy. They do so without regard for intellectual property laws or the innovative efforts of others. They do so because Xi Jinping regards China’s innovation as the critical component of his nation’s long-term economic development and global political supremacy. And as Xi further obliterates domestic entrepreneurship in order to centralize the Communist Party’s power, his need to steal technology from abroad will only increase. Put simply, Akerboom isn’t saying anything controversial. And China has no credible rebuttal. – Washington Examiner

South Asia

India’s leaders rarely miss a chance to cheer the nation’s many distinctions, from its status as the world’s largest democracy to its new rank as the world’s fifth-largest economy, after recently surpassing Britain, its former colonial overlord. Even its turn this year as host of the Group of 20 summit is being celebrated as announcing India’s arrival on the global stage. – New York Times

Sri Lanka is considering a proposal by a Chinese private company to export 100,000 endemic monkeys to China, a government minister said on Tuesday, sparking protests from animal protection groups. – Reuters

India and Russia on Tuesday agreed to address trade deficit and market access issues, the Indian foreign ministry said, as New Delhi seeks to narrow trade imbalance after a more than four-fold rise in imports from Russia since the war in Ukraine. – Reuters

India is planning to appeal against a ruling from a panel at the World Trade Organization (WTO) that the Asian country violated global trading rules by imposing tariffs on some IT products, a government source said. – Reuters


Indonesia’s military chief on Tuesday dismissed a separatist group claim that they had killed more than a dozen government soldiers who were searching for a New Zealand pilot taken hostage by the rebels in the restive Papua region. – Associated Press

For connecting to the outside world, Matsu’s 14,000 residents rely on two submarine internet cables leading to Taiwan’s main island. The National Communications Commission, citing the island’s telecom service, blamed two Chinese ships for cutting the cables. It said a Chinese fishing vessel is suspected of severing the first cable some 50 kilometers (31 miles) out at sea. Six days later, on Feb. 8, a Chinese cargo ship cut the second, NCC said. – Associated Press

China’s Foreign Minister Qin Gang will visit the Philippines this week to boost ties and tackle regional security issues as the Southeast Asian nation bolsters its defense alliance with the US. – Bloomberg

The U.S. commander of the Indo-Pacific region dismissed the prevailing assessment for a Chinese invasion of Taiwan in 2027. – Washington Examiner

Yingtai Lung writes: Taiwan is set to hold a pivotal presidential election in January, and the question of whether to confront China or pursue conciliation will have significant implications for us all in the months ahead. If the K.M.T. wins, tension with China might ease; if the D.P.P. retains power, who knows? Mr. Chen says it won’t matter anyway: The United States and China decide our fate. – New York Times


Joe Kennedy III had the kind of arrival in Northern Ireland that any American diplomat would envy: disembarking Air Force One steps behind President Biden, his shock of red hair tousled by the breeze as Mr. Biden introduced him to a waiting Prime Minister Rishi Sunak of Britain. – New York Times

The troubled banking giant Credit Suisse is facing new accusations that it has not been fully forthcoming about the scope of its historical assistance to Nazis, a quarter-century after it agreed to take part in a $1.25 billion settlement of lawsuits by Holocaust survivors. – New York Times

European Union lawmakers on Tuesday gave the green light for citizens from Kosovo to travel freely in Europe without visas from next year. The move means that Kosovo’s citizens will be able to travel in the 27-nation Schengen passport free area, which includes most EU countries plus Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland, for periods of up to 90 days every six months. – Associated Press

The first time George Mitchell came to Belfast, it was a war-scarred city of bomb damage and barbed wire. This week the former U.S. senator returned, perhaps for the last time, to a city at peace — a peace he was crucial to forging. – Associated Press

Former U.S. President Bill Clinton said Tuesday he was optimistic that one of Northern Ireland’s main political parties would soon end a boycott that has kept the regional government on ice for more than a year. – Associated Press

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen called on the European Union to maintain a common position toward China after French President Emmanuel Macron sparked outrage by suggesting that the bloc should avoid being dragged into a dispute with Beijing by the US. – Bloomberg

James Brooke writes: Ukraine’s counter-offensive against Russia this summer could deal a knockout blow to the Russian army and knock Mr. Putin off the throne. More likely is that the American public may face the prospect of peace in Ukraine through a Korean-style armistice, enforced by NATO and by American boots on the ground in eastern Ukraine. – New York Sun


On the fourth day of a lethal power struggle between Sudan’s top two generals, the situation of many of the country’s 45 million people was getting increasingly desperate. – Wall Street Journal

With the midday sun high over Chad’s capital N’Djamena, Alhadj Barh embraced his wife for the first time in more than two years. It marked a new start for a man who, until earlier that day, had been in jail for fighting in a rebel army accused of killing the president. – Reuters

Japan’s defense ministry has begun preparations to evacuate its citizens from Sudan amid deadly fighting, a top government spokesperson said on Wednesday. – Reuters

Eight Nigerian secondary school students kidnapped by gunmen in northern Kaduna state two weeks ago escaped from their captors and were found by villagers who alerted security forces on Tuesday, the state’s internal security commissioner said. – Reuters

The World Health Organization’s chief called on Tuesday for the parties in the conflict in Sudan to provide access to medical facilities to all those requiring care, warning that medical supplies and personnel in the capital are running low. – Reuters

The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies said on Tuesday it was nearly impossible to provide humanitarian services around the Sudanese capital Khartoum and warned the country’s health system was at risk of collapse. – Reuters

Swiss prosecutors said Tuesday they have charged a former interior minister of Gambia with crimes against humanity for his alleged role in years of repression by the west African country’s security forces against opponents of its longtime dictator. – Associated Press

A 24-hour cease-fire between Sudan’s military and a paramilitary group appeared to be only partially observed in the capital Khartoum, indicating the deadly conflict for control of the North African country is far from over. – Bloomberg

Sudan’s capital was rocked by multiple airstrikes early Wednesday after a proposed cease-fire to halt four days of fighting between the army and a paramilitary group failed to hold. – Bloomberg

Jeffrey Feltman writes: Until now, Sudan’s civilians have faced a unified front in Burhan and Hemedti. Assuming it survives, it is conceivable that a civilian authority will be able to better face down a possibly divided and battered security apparatus less able or willing to enforce its rule. Such an outcome may prove unlikely. But it is the only glimmer of hope one can find in this awful tragedy. – Washington Post

Ariel Cohen writes: Russia’s influence in Africa remains purely disruptive and predatory. The Kremlin will use Wagner as a cudgel to secure natural resources across Africa and push the U.S. out, just as they evicted France. To keep up, Washington should expand diplomatic engagement, intelligence operations, and sanctioning of all entities linked to Wagner in Africa. The U.S. should launch, with its allies, a robust program of military training and arms sales to boost pro-Western governments in the areas where China, Russia, and ISIS are on the prowl. – The Hill

Bobby Ghosh writes: Hamdok managed all that despite having to work with the military in a transitional government, a cumbersome arrangement that gave the men in fatigues too much authority. Burhan had him removed, arrested, then reinstated. Eventually, Hamdok resigned in frustration. Imagine how much more Hamdok, or someone like him, might achieve without interference or intimidation. Impoverished by decades of misrule by the military, Sudan needs Burhan and Hemedti to do more than just lay down their weapons. It needs them to fade away. – Bloomberg

Michael Rubin writes: By casting aspersions at Somaliland, it appears less the State Department is interested in democracy and more that it wants to distract from any substantive waste, fraud, and abuse investigation into its recent Somalia funding. Africans deserve to live terror free, and by the same standards of security that the rest of the world enjoys or aspires to achieve. Increasingly it seems that, for Biden, Black Lives Matter, except in Africa. – American Enterprise Institute

Latin America

Russia has embarked on an effort to shore up support in Latin America for its war in Ukraine, with foreign minister Sergei Lavrov visiting Brazil before arriving in Venezuela on Tuesday afternoon as part of a four-country tour. – Wall Street Journal

Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva on Tuesday condemned the violation of Ukraine’s territorial integrity by Russia and again called for mediation to end the war, a peace initiative that was criticized by the Ukrainian government. – Reuters

Police in Mexico City arrested one of the most wanted leaders of the notorious Mara Salvatrucha gang accused of multiple crimes in the United States, officials said on Tuesday, in a fresh blow to one of Central America’s most violent criminal groups. – Reuters

Nicaragua has withdrawn its approval of the European Union’s ambassador to the country, the Central American nation’s foreign ministry said Tuesday, after an EU statement calling for a “return to the rule of law” in Nicaragua. – Reuters

U.S. guns, many of them exported legally, are flowing into Latin America in an “iron river” ending in the hands of drug cartels and abusive security forces, activists said Monday, calling for greater oversight from U.S. law and federal agencies. – Reuters

Brazil’s federal police said on Tuesday they were carrying out new raids as part of an investigation into the Jan. 8 riots in Brasilia, in which supporters of former President Jair Bolsonaro stormed government buildings. – Reuters

Russia and Venezuela reviewed some of their hundreds of bilateral agreements covering the financial, energy, agricultural and other sectors during discussions between their top diplomats and other high-level officials Tuesday in the South American country. – Associated Press

Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Orbrador accused the Pentagon of spying on his government and vowed to restrict information from the country’s armed forces on Tuesday, following a Washington Post report based on leaked U.S. intelligence documents. – The Hill

US National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan spoke to his Brazilian counterpart on Tuesday after that country’s president, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, accused America of “encouraging war” while on a visit to China. – Bloomberg

United States

As the U.S. government scrambles to protect classified documents following a leak of highly classified material on social media, some officials are expressing concern the effort will go too far, curtailing legitimate access for those who depend on sensitive information to do their jobs. – Wall Street Journal

After spending over two years in digital exile, former President Donald Trump made his return to Instagram on Tuesday. – Washington Examiner

Former Gov. Chris Christie slammed former President Donald Trump’s character over hush money payments made to porn star Stormy Daniels. – Washington Examiner

Editorial: Mr. Trump these days attacks Republicans more than Democrats. On Tuesday he trashed his former chief of staff Mick Mulvaney as a “born loser” and “perhaps the dumbest person, along with John Bolton, working at the White House.” So why did he appoint them? If he gets elected President again, who would volunteer for such abuse by working for him? Maybe he can ask Mr. Iger for a hand. – Wall Street Journal


The Canadian Broadcasting Corp. said it would halt activities on Twitter in protest of the social media platform’s decision to label the CBC as “government-funded media” — a tag that implies potential government control over editorial content. – Washington Post

The Israelis had come to Mexico to clinch a major sale: The Mexican military was about to become the first client ever to buy their product, the world’s most advanced spyware. But before they could close the deal, an argument erupted over price and how quickly the spy tool could be delivered. A Mexican general overseeing the negotiations called for a pause until later that evening, according to two people present and a third with knowledge of the talks. – New York Times

The European Commission on Tuesday announced a 1.1-billion-euro ($1.2 billion) plan to counter growing cybersecurity threats, underscoring mounting concerns about a series of high-profile hacking incidents. – Reuters

Companies using generative artificial intelligence tools like ChatGPT could be putting confidential customer information and trade secrets at risk, according to a report from Team8, an Israel-based venture firm. – Bloomberg

Russia-aligned hackers are attempting to damage or destroy the UK’s critical national infrastructure, a top British government official is expected to warn on Wednesday. – Bloomberg

Editorial: No system is foolproof, so deterrence is crucial. People working in national-security fields should be reminded of the consequences of betraying the public trust. Over the past decade, the government’s record for punishing leakers has been spotty at best, from the failure to arrest Snowden to President Barack Obama’s decision to commute the sentence of former Army Private Chelsea Manning. In some quarters, their crimes are even seen as commendable. Perhaps this encourages others to think such treachery isn’t grave. They need to be disabused. – Bloomberg

Jason L. Riley writes: Nor is it helpful to tell parents that a Chinese-owned social media app is mostly to blame for the mental-health problems of American youth. Social media has certainly made raising children more challenging insofar as it can exacerbate teenage anxiety and self-esteem issues. But blaming TikTok is passing the buck rather than meeting the challenge. The bigger problem has to do with today’s child-rearing culture. If we have raised a generation of young people who seem too distracted or too sedentary or too self-absorbed to function properly, then we are to blame, not China. – Wall Street Journal


The Air Force has removed the intelligence mission from the unit where a 21-year-old Air National Guardsman had access to potentially hundreds of classified documents leaked over the internet, service officials revealed Tuesday. – The Hill

As technological improvements make drones smaller, more affordable and harder to detect, manufacturers of counter-drone technologies say defenses need to be effective regardless of type, aka “drone agnostic.” – Defense News

As countries look to strengthen their space capabilities, the U.S. Department of Defense is fielding more requests for the Space Force to export satellites and other capabilities. – Defense News

Lockheed Martin’s Sikorsky said Tuesday it won’t sue the U.S. Army after the Government Accountability Office rejected its protest of the service’s decision to choose Textron’s Bell to build the Future Long Range Assault Aircraft. – Defense News

Lockheed Martin may not be able to deliver as many F-35s as it had hoped this year due to delays involving the fighters’ upcoming Technology Refresh 3 upgrades. – Defense News

The U.S. Navy’s fleet would never reach the statutorily required 355 ships under two of the three scenarios outlined in the service’s latest long-range shipbuilding plan. – Defense News