Fdd's overnight brief

August 10, 2023

In The News


Iran’s foreign ministry on Wednesday summoned Britain’s envoy to Tehran to protest his posts on social media calling for the government to release all people ”arbitrarily detained” in Iran, including journalists, the state-run news agency reported. – Associated Press

Iran said on Wednesday it has the technology to build supersonic cruise missile, Iranian state media reported, an announcement likely to heighten Western concerns about Tehran’s missile capabilities. – Reuters

For months, Iranian authorities did little to enforce the law on women covering their hair but now the country’s theocracy is pushing to make businesses the new battleground over the mandatory headscarf. The effort comes ahead of the first anniversary of nationwide protests that erupted after the Sept. 16 death of Mahsa Amini in the custody of the country’s morality police. A crackdown by security forces that followed saw more than 530 people killed and over 22,000 arrested. – Associated Press

Two Israelis were cleared Wednesday of charges that they spied for Iran, while a third was convicted on a related charge, wrapping up a case that began with serious espionage accusations against five nationals with either personal or family ties to the Islamic Republic. – Times of Israel

Saudi Arabia’s embassy in Tehran has resumed operations, state media in Iran reported Wednesday, following a thaw in ties seven years after the mission was closed. – Times of Israel

Salar Abdoh and Vali Khalili writes: As fall approaches, and with it, the anniversary of Mahsa Amini’s death and the months of protests that followed, Iran resembles a boxing ring surrounded by rabid spectators, with the regime and its supporters warming up on one side, and on the other—well, everybody else. – The Atlantic

Russia & Ukraine

A powerful explosion ripped through a warehouse on the grounds of a factory that has made optical gear for the Russian military outside Moscow on Wednesday, officials said, killing one person, injuring dozens and sending up an enormous plume of smoke visible for miles. – New York Times

A Kremlin official involved in what international prosecutors call the illegal deportation of Ukrainian children to Russia was associated online as a teenager with white supremacist and neo-Nazi movements, Reuters has found. – Reuters

Russia will build up forces at its western borders following Finland’s accession to the U.S.-led NATO alliance, Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu told the governing board of the ministry on Wednesday. – Reuters

Germany and Ukraine have agreed on the supply of additional Patriot air defence missile systems to Kyiv, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said in his evening address on Wednesday. – Reuters

Two people were killed and seven injured in an apparent missile attack by Russia on the Ukrainian city of Zaporizhzhia on Wednesday, Ukrainian officials said. – Reuters

The collapse of the Black Sea grain deal and Russian strikes on Ukrainian infrastructure have renewed the threat to the world’s food security from disrupted supplies, as Moscow pushes for a greater share of global grain exports. – Financial Times

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said he aims to revive the Black Sea grain deal with an “expanded scope,” calling on western countries to help turn the initiative into the basis for peace between Russia and Ukraine. – Bloomberg

Russia downed 11 Ukrainian drones nearing Crimea and two headed for Moscow, officials said Thursday, the latest in a blitz of airstrikes on Russian-held territory. – Agence France-Presse

The U.S. and its European allies are importing vast amounts of nuclear fuel and compounds from Russia, providing Moscow with hundreds of millions of dollars in badly needed revenue as it wages war on Ukraine. – Associated Press

Benjamin Jensen writes: Regardless of the package, the boneyard airframes are much cheaper to send than new aircraft. Washington and its partners would still need to train Ukrainian pilots and advise on creative combinations of air assets, but these costs would be manageable and in line with our current efforts. Even if the Ukrainians only use half the aircraft and cannibalize the rest for parts, it’d be a significant combat multiplier. Letting the machines gather dust in the U.S. does no one any good. – Wall Street Journal

Can Kasapoğlu writes: Given the transnational supply chain supporting Tehran’s ambitious arms manufacturing industry, only comprehensive intelligence cooperation among Western stakeholders can hope to stem the tide of Iranian weapons flooding the battlefield in Ukraine. – Hudson Institute


Israeli forces shot and killed a Palestinian man in the occupied West Bank, Palestinian health officials said Thursday, the latest death in an unabating wave of violence. – Associated Press

Israeli security forces reportedly killed an armed member of the Al-Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigade overnight on Wednesday night after he shot at them during IDF activity in a Palestinian town near Nablus in the West Bank, according to Army Radio citing Palestinian reports. – Jerusalem Post

Members of Israel Police’s Gideonite (33) Unit within the Lahav 433 crime-fighting organization arrested a Jericho resident last week who was suspected of planning to carry out a terror attack in Israel, according to a Thursday morning police statement. – Jerusalem Post

Israeli troops operating in the West Bank killed a wanted Palestinian terror suspect early on Thursday, according to Palestinians reports. – Haaretz

An Israeli settler suspected of involvement in the killing of a 19-year-old Palestinian man in the West Bank last week was released from detention on Wednesday and transferred to house arrest, a Jerusalem court said. – Associated Press

The Israeli Navy on Tuesday received the first of two new landing crafts from a shipyard in the United States, though the vessel will only be delivered in the coming months. – Times of Israel

The Biden administration on Wednesday doubled down on its pushback against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s persistent claim that US President Joe Biden has invited him to the White House, an apparent effort to raise the meeting’s profile. – Times of Israel

Israeli security guards at the Erez border crossing into the northern Gaza Strip foiled an attempt to smuggle small drones into the Palestinian enclave, the Defense Ministry announced Wednesday. – Times of Israel

Israeli officials are divided on the question of whether a Saudi Arabian civilian nuclear program would be too risky, as the kingdom and the US make progress on talks towards an Israel-Saudi normalization agreement. – Jerusalem Post

Editorial: It is no coincidence that Defense Minister Yoav Gallant paid a visit to Israel’s border with Lebanon on Tuesday. Despite the ever-present threat emanating from Gaza terror groups Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad in the South that could literally explode at any moment, it is the northern border and the threat from Hezbollah that is the current main focus of those tasked with defending the country’s well-being.- Jerusalem Post

Gil Troy writes: True, the problems in both countries are real, the divisions run deep. But the less we interact through social media and mass media, and the more we try some person-to-person, community-to-community, and sector-to-sector dialogue – especially with fellow citizens who dare to disagree with us – the more we will remember the stirring words of Yitzhak Rabin. – Jerusalem Post

Eric R. Mandel writes: Let’s hope the isolationists and those who want to harm Israel are seen for who they are, and that American interests in the Middle East will continue to be served. Of the 1% of the US budget that goes to foreign aid, the part that goes bolsters Israel’s military presence in the Middle East is a wise investment. – Jerusalem Post

Douglas Bloomfield writes: Israel and Saudi Arabia have quietly been making peace for the past several years. It began with intelligence sharing in response to the Iranian threat and has expanded to commerce and trade. Neither country appears in a big hurry to accelerate the process despite optimistic talk in Israel. One thing holding things back is what it means for the Palestinians and the Americans. – Jerusalem Post


A truck belonging to the militant Hezbollah group overturned on a mountain road near the Lebanese capital Wednesday and was followed by a shooting that left two people dead, security officials and Hezbollah said. – Associated Press

Two people were killed in Lebanon on Wednesday in an exchange of fire between Hezbollah members and residents of a Christian village after a truck belonging to the heavily armed Shi’ite group overturned in the area, security sources said. – Reuters

The Lebanese army said on Thursday that ammunition was on board a truck that overturned the previous evening and prompted a clash that left two people dead in a mountain village southeast of Beirut. – Reuters


A Syrian reporter and two Syrian soldiers were killed on Wednesday by an explosive device in the country’s southern Deraa governorate, Syrian state media said in a statement – Reuters

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad on Wednesday tamped down expectations for his country’s renewed ties with the Arab world, in his first televised interview since Damascus’s membership of the Arab League was restored in May. – Reuters

Syrian President Bashar Assad slammed Turkey in comments published Wednesday, blaming Ankara for the uptick in violence in his war-torn country and insisting on the withdrawal of Turkish forces from Syria. – Associated Press

The agreement the United Nations reached with Syria to reopen the main border crossing from Turkey to its rebel-held northwest for six months “safeguards” the independence of U.N. operations and allows it to provide aid to all parties, the U.N. said Wednesday. – Associated Press

Syrian President Bashar Assad said Israeli airstrikes in Syria were targeting his country’s military, and not Iranian forces, in an interview broadcast on Wednesday. – Times of Israel

Saudi Arabia

The U.S. and Saudi Arabia have agreed on the broad contours of a deal for Saudi Arabia to recognize Israel in exchange for concessions to the Palestinians, U.S. security guarantees and civilian nuclear help, according to U.S. officials. – Wall Street Journal

The White House said on Wednesday there was no agreed framework to codify a deal that would have Saudi Arabia recognize Israel, adding a lot of talks would be needed before any such agreement could be signed. – Reuters

There sure is a lot of excitement about a potential U.S.-brokered Israel-Saudi Arabia deal, but even the Biden administration insists an agreement isn’t close to happening. – Politico

Robbie Corey-Boulet writes: Even then, though, a genuine rupture was never seriously considered, as the Saudis were simultaneously pitching normalization terms that would lock in long-term cooperation with Washington. […]The new US-Saudi closeness has not gone unnoticed elsewhere, including among Palestinian officials who hope Riyadh will insist on an independent Palestinian state. – Times of Israel

Gulf States

When a cargo plane landed in Uganda’s busiest airport in early June, its flight documents said it was carrying humanitarian aid sent by the United Arab Emirates for Sudanese refugees. Instead of the food and medical supplies listed on the aircraft’s manifest, Ugandan officials said they found dozens of green plastic crates in the plane’s cargo hold filled with ammunition, assault rifles and other small arms. – Wall Street Journal

Turkish drone strikes on Wednesday killed two Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) militants in two separate attacks in Iraq’s northern province of Sulaimaniya, according to Iraqi Kurdistan’s counter-terrorism service and a security source. – Reuters

On August 6, citing a national security directive issued by “higher authorities” (i.e., Prime Minister Mohammed Shia al-Sudani), Iraq’s Ministry of Communications ordered telecom providers to prevent local access to the messaging app Telegram. – Washington Institute

Middle East & North Africa

Israeli officials are divided on the question of whether a Saudi Arabian civilian nuclear program would be too risky, as the kingdom and the US make progress on talks towards an Israel-Saudi normalization agreement. – Jerusalem Post

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has reportedly told aides that he is not ready to fully normalize ties with Israel and is not eager to reach an agreement with the current hardline government led by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. – Times of Israel

Khaled Abu Toameh writes: Even though Saudi Arabia does not provide the Palestinians with hundreds of millions of dollars every year, the kingdom’s political support is not less significant for that. Furthermore, the PA leadership cannot afford to lose the political backing of Saudi Arabia, whose policies have always been very supportive of the Palestinians. At this stage, it is not clear how Abbas is involved in the diplomatic effort to forge a deal between Israel and Saudi Arabia. On Tuesday, he flew to Amman, where he met with Jordan’s King Abdullah, who maintains close relations with the Saudis. –  Jerusalem Post

Noam Raydan writes: Yet none of these efforts will be possible without a political consensus to end Lebanon’s nine-month presidential vacuum and form a new cabinet that can seriously address urgent reforms in various sectors. The country’s rival political parties have long required foreign mediation to end their bickering, so Washington and its European and Arab partners should be more active in persuading them to end the impasse and enact sound legislation that expedites emergency reforms. – Washington Institute

Steven A. Cook writes: Recently, an astute Egypt analyst tweeted, “I can honestly say I no longer see a way out from this.” By “this,” I suspect she meant the ruin that Sisi has made of Egypt. A decade or so after Egyptians rose up demanding bread, freedom, and social justice, they have none of those things. – Foreign Policy

Korean Peninsula

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un replaced the military’s top general and called for more preparations for the possibility of war, a boost in weapons production, and expansion of military drills, state media KCNA reported on Thursday. – Reuters

South Korea said on Wednesday its ban on the sale of arms to Myanmar remained in place even though it had invited an envoy appointed by its military rulers to an event promoting the sale of weapons – Reuters

North Korea leader Kim Jong Un discussed a plan to strike South Korea, dialing up tensions days before its neighbor holds joint military drills with American forces and its president meets the leaders of the US and Japan. – Bloomberg


China has at least a 70% dependence on the U.S. and its allies for more than 400 items, ranging from luxury goods to raw materials needed for Chinese industries, a new analysis of trade data has found. – Wall Street Journal

After years of blacklisting Chinese companies and scrutinizing their investments in the U.S., the Biden administration is sending an unmistakable signal to American business to steer investment away from China. – Wall Street Journal

Canada said Wednesday it is “highly probable” that China helped orchestrate an online disinformation campaign against a Conservative Party lawmaker in May, as officials step up efforts to detect and deter what they say is Chinese interference in Canadian politics. – Wall Street Journal

China will require all mobile app providers in the country to file business details with the government, its information ministry said, marking Beijing’s latest effort to keep the industry on a tight leash. – Reuters

China is going after licenses to boost its access to German technology as investment regulation makes company acquisitions in the sector increasingly difficult, the Handelsblatt newspaper reported on Wednesday, citing a study. – Reuters

The trade-policy hammer that Washington has threatened to wield for years is starting to look like a scalpel. The White House on Wednesday took the wraps off its proposal for screening investments U.S.-based funds make abroad, giving President Joe Biden a new tool for “de-risking” from China. But while the government’s inbound-investment reviews have often proven onerous, the pitch for outbound screening should placate investors and even diplomats. – Reuters

China sent navy ships and a large group of fighter jets toward Taiwan, continuing its military pressure on the island, Taiwan’s defense ministry said Thursday. Taiwan’s defense ministry said the Chinese People’s Liberation Army sent 33 warplanes and 6 navy vessels between 6 a.m. Wednesday to 6 a.m. Thursday. The J-10 and J-16 fighter jets flew across the midline and to the southwest of Taiwan. – Associated Press

Rishi Sunak is weighing whether to follow US president Joe Biden in restricting outbound investment into the Chinese tech sector, including artificial intelligence, chips and quantum computing. – Financial Times

President Xi Jinping’s anti-spying crackdown is having another knock-on effect on China’s $18 trillion economy: It’s making investor meetings boring. – Bloomberg

Hong Kong’s government said judges should have followed the wishes of the city’s leader and banned a controversial protest song from the internet, raising questions about the future of judicial independence in the financial hub. – Bloomberg

As Americans tire of aiding Ukraine’s war efforts, hopes for breaking up the Beijing-Moscow alliance are on the rise. Yet any idea that Chairman Xi is about to drop his “friendship without limits” with President Putin just to help America get out of Europe is as realistic as the notion that this time Lucy will let Charlie Brown kick the football. – New York Sun

Matching Beijing’s military might does not appear to work as a deterrent, some experts said this week, as China’s military expansion continues to increase regional tensions. – USNI News

Zachary Keck writes: Washington and its allies could propose a ban on putting many warheads on land-based intercontinental ballistic missiles, or prohibiting the commingling of nuclear and conventional missiles. China’s nuclear expansion makes dialogue and negotiations imperative. Quiet diplomacy isn’t working. The details can be hashed out, but Washington must turn up the public pressure on Beijing. – Wall Street Journal

Michael Schuman writes: In other words, Xi’s secrecy could imperil his ambitions for China and its role in the world. The Qin Gang mystery is thus a warning sign of profound and dangerous weaknesses in the Chinese political system that have emerged under Xi’s rule and are likely to continue to deepen. – The Atlantic

South Asia

India’s Parliament on Wednesday passed a data-protection bill years in the making that the government says is needed to regulate tech companies and protect citizens, but that rights groups say gives New Delhi too much power. – Wall Street Journal

Pakistan’s prime minister dissolved Parliament, in a move that will give the country’s government more time to hold the next election. – Wall Street Journal

The legal team for the former prime minister of Pakistan, Imran Khan, appealed his three-year prison sentence on Wednesday, kicking off a high-stakes and hotly contested legal fight that will determine Mr. Khan’s future and the country’s political climate as it heads into general elections later this year. – New York Times

The United States is watching “with concern” events in Pakistan, White House national security spokesman John Kirby told a briefing on Wednesday. – Reuters

Indian Interior Minister Amit Shah on Wednesday blamed the unrest in Myanmar for the ethnic conflict in the neighbouring northeastern Indian state of Manipur, urging both sides in the Manipur dispute to resolve their dispute through dialogue. – Reuters

Michael Kugelman writes: Five years is a long time in Pakistani politics. Circumstances could change, creating new opportunities for Khan. The country’s history is full of leaders who made comebacks after serving jail sentences—including Shehbaz Sharif, who just concluded his term as prime minister this week. Of course, this isn’t always the case. Former Prime Minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, another charismatic populist, was executed after being imprisoned on charges of plotting to kill an opponent. Still, in a country where many politicians seem to have nine lives, it would be premature to write Khan’s political obituary. – Foreign Policy

Husain Haqqani writes: Democracy requires a civil opposition as much as a government limited by norms and rules, and Pakistan currently has neither. Experience suggests that recent developments have only prolonged hybrid rule in Pakistan—and indefinitely postponed the advent of full democracy. – Foreign Policy


For the first time in decades, foreign and defence policy are in the electoral spotlight in New Zealand, as opinion surveys show public concern about the security environment and the major parties wrestle with how to respond to an assertive China. – Reuters

Former Japanese Prime Minister Taro Aso’s remark on Tuesday that his country must show “the resolve to fight” to defend Taiwan from attack was in line with Tokyo’s official stance, a lawmaker close to Aso told a TV show late on Wednesday. – Reuters

Vanuatu Prime Minister Ishmael Kalsakau said political instability in the Pacific Islands nation could impact investment and tourism, after his government boycotted a no-confidence vote in parliament on Thursday. – Reuters

Thailand’s Pheu Thai party announced on Wednesday it had the support of six more parties in its attempt to form a government, still short of the required backing nearly three months after an election. – Reuters

Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos Jr on Wednesday denied making an agreement with China to remove a grounded warship that serves as a military outpost in South China Sea, and said if there ever were such a deal, it should be considered rescinded. – Reuters

China has notified Japan that it is considering holding talks between their leaders in Indonesia in September, Kyodo news agency reported on Wednesday. – Reuters

Indonesia’s parliament plans to amend the constitution to allow elections to be delayed in the event of an emergency, a deputy speaker said on Wednesday, but any change would only be discussed after the scheduled 2024 vote. – Reuters

President Joe Biden will welcome Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese to the White House on Oct. 25 for the visit and state dinner that the U.S. promised when Biden had to scrap a stop in Australia earlier this year to focus on debt limit talks in Washington. – Associated Press

The former chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Court warned that Azerbaijan is preparing genocide against ethnic Armenians in its Nagorno-Karabakh region and called for the U.N. Security Council to bring the matter before the international tribunal. – Associated Press


Police in Northern Ireland have apologized for mistakenly leaking personal details of all their officers in the province, where security forces historically have been targeted for assassination – Washington Post

Poland will send an additional 2,000 troops to reinforce its border with Belarus, a deputy interior minister told Poland’s state news agency on Wednesday, amid heightened tensions in the area related to Russia’s war in Ukraine. – Washington Post

Hundreds of opponents of Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko marched through the Polish capital Warsaw on Wednesday to mark the third anniversary of their unsuccessful attempt to unseat him in an election they say was rigged. – Reuters

Romania’s defence ministry said late on Tuesday it has cancelled a long-delayed deal to buy four warships from French firm Naval Group after the company and a junior partner failed to meet a deadline to sign a contract. – Reuters

The United States and Canada issued new sanctions against Belarus on Wednesday, designating several entities and individuals over alleged human rights abuses and support for Russia amid the war in Ukraine. – Reuters

The leader of Northern Ireland’s biggest pro-British political party hopes to receive a “definitive” response from the British government on its concerns over post-Brexit trade within weeks, but it could be months before that ends a political stalemate. – Reuters

Senior lawmakers from the United States and Europe are calling for a change in the Western diplomatic approach toward Serbia and Kosovo amid concern that tensions between the two could rapidly spiral out of control. – Associated Press

A German citizen was arrested on Wednesday on allegations that he tried to spy for Russia, authorities said. The suspect, who was only identified as Thomas H., in line with German privacy rules, was arrested at his home in the western city of Koblenz, and his apartment and workplace were searched. – Associated Press


When President Bola Ahmed Tinubu of Nigeria took the helm of the West African regional bloc of countries last month, he thundered before a roomful of his presidential peers that he would show no tolerance for military coups in an area that had faced five in less than three years. – New York Times

Niger’s deposed president is running out of food and under increasingly dire conditions two weeks after he was ousted in a military coup and put under house arrest, an adviser said Wednesday. The U.S. State Department expressed deep concern about the “deteriorating conditions” of his detention. – Associated Press

West African heads of state hold a summit on Thursday aiming to agree on a plan of action for Niger, where coup leaders have refused to stand down despite the bloc’s threat that it could use force to restore democracy. – Reuters

U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres is very concerned about the reported “deplorable living conditions” of Niger’s President Mohamed Bazoum and his family in arbitrary detention, a U.N. spokesperson said in a statement on Wednesday. – Reuters

A Romanian security officer who was kidnapped from a manganese mining project in Burkina Faso in 2015 has been freed and safely returned to Romania, the foreign ministry said on Wednesday. – Reuters

European Union countries have started laying the groundwork to impose the first sanctions on members of the junta that seized power in Niger last month, European sources told Reuters on Wednesday. – Reuters

Ethiopia’s military has pushed local militiamen out of two towns in the Amhara region, residents said on Wednesday, in its first big battlefield breakthroughs since fighting erupted last week. – Reuters

The World Bank said on Tuesday it would halt new lending to the Ugandan government after concluding that its anti-LGBTQ law, which has been condemned by many countries and the United Nations, contradicts the bank’s values. – Reuters

A former rebel leader and politician in Niger, Rhissa Ag Boula, has created a political movement called the Council of Resistance for the Republic (CRR) to restore ousted President Mohamed Bazoum to power, he said in a statement seen on Wednesday. – Reuters

Nigerien tailor Yahaya Oumarou carefully ran cuts of white, blue and red fabric under his sewing machine, assembling them into the three horizontal bands of Russia’s flag. The flags have been in demand since President Mohamed Bazoum was toppled late last month in a military takeover, leading to some Russian support among crowds that celebrated the coup. – Reuters

Last month’s coup in Niger has raised questions over whether the United States can continue the 1,100-strong military presence in the country that officials and analysts say has been key to fighting Islamist militants in the Sahel region. – Reuters

Niger’s military junta met with two Nigerian envoys on Wednesday, offering hope for dialogue before a summit with regional leaders that could result in military action to restore democracy. – Reuters

Bola Tinubu, barely two months into the job as Nigeria’s president, has led regional efforts to reverse last month’s coup in neighboring Niger, if necessary by force. But with a deadline for Niger’s new junta come and gone, Tinubu’s gamble already looks reckless to some, with one Lagos-based newspaper accusing him of “dangerous warmongering”. – Financial Times

The military coup in Niger is threatening to engulf the region in a broader conflict while endangering a key U.S. security partnership in West Africa, where instability has given rise to growing terrorist threats. – The Hill

A decision by a bloc of West African nations to shut down their borders with Niger as a way of sanctioning its coup plotters is harming local businesses in northern Nigeria, where a cross-border economy has boomed for years. – Associated Press

Flaming cars, violent clashes, dozens of people detained. As one of the world’s most repressive countries marks 30 years of independence, festivals held by Eritrea’s diaspora in Europe and North America have been attacked by exiles the Eritrean government dismisses as “asylum scum.” – Associated Press

Nosmot Gbadamosi writes: Financial sanctions have also been put in place by ECOWAS and the United States. Tinubu has ostensibly closed Nigeria’s border with Niger, but crossings on foot are practically impossible to control. Any trade sanctions that Nigeria imposes would inevitably impact ordinary Nigeriens, who consistently rank among the world’s poorest people, a fact unlikely to encourage Niger’s citizens to support foreign intervention. – Foreign Policy

Jaynisha Patel writes: Now is an opportune moment for the West to present a more reliable, stable, and mutually beneficial alternative to alliances with Russia. In tandem, African leaders and nations must recognize this window of opportunity, for in their decisions lies the potential to steer a positive course toward sustained development. – Foreign Policy

Latin America

Fernando Villavicencio, an Ecuadorian presidential candidate who vowed to crack down on drug trafficking, was assassinated by gunmen at a political rally in Quito on Wednesday night, less than two weeks before the country’s elections, police said – Washington Post

A dozen rainforest countries formed a pact on Wednesday at a summit in Brazil to demand developed countries pay to help poorer nations combat climate change and preserve biodiversity. – Reuters

Venezuela’s government won a legal battle to recover $1.5 billion of assets in Portugal, the country’s information minister announced on Wednesday, in the latest battle over sanctions and frozen funds targeting the South American nation. – Reuters

Nicaraguan authorities froze the bank accounts of the country’s top private university, a source from the institution told Reuters, marking the latest move against a Catholic-led institution in an ongoing crackdown by the government. – Reuters

The U.S. Treasury Department sanctioned three Mexican citizens Wednesday for alleged involvement in the production and trafficking of the powerful synthetic opioid fentanyl. – Associated Press

United States

Presidents and other public figures always run the risk that one unscripted sentence or sound bite will end up defining their reputation for centuries to come — Marie Antoinette’s moment involved a tactless evocation of baked goods. – New York Sun

Editorial: The Pentagon is set to undergo a broad modernization of its nuclear triad that is expected to cost $756 billion, if not more, over the next 10 years. The Editorial Board has said that some of those moves make sense while others could be slowed, or even halted, without endangering our security. But bringing back shorter-range nuclear weapons, especially those removed for good reason decades ago, would prove both expensive and dangerous. – Washington Post

Sam Mundy and Mick Mulroy write: Competing against China, Russia, and other adversaries demands that we reevaluate and, where sensible, strengthen our diplomatic and military tools. Creating an enhanced major non-NATO ally category would ensure that allies who don’t fit neatly into the Five Eyes or NATO categories have the necessary hardware, skills, and training to succeed alongside us. – Defense News


The British government has published a new National Risk Register that for the first time is “based directly on the government’s internal, classified National Security Risk Assessment,” including several scenarios covering the impact of cyberattacks on critical sectors. – The Record

Threat actors have been using the phishing toolkit EvilProxy to take control of cloud-based Microsoft 365 accounts belonging to executives at prominent companies, researchers have found. – The Record

The 16 hospitals run by Prospect Medical Holdings are still recovering from a ransomware attack announced last Thursday that caused severe outages at facilities in four states. – The Record

Russian hackers targeting Ukraine have pivoted away from disruptive attacks and are increasingly focusing on collecting data of use to Russian forces on the battlefield, Victor Zhora, a top Ukrainian cybersecurity official, said during a panel appearance at the Black Hat security conference in Las Vegas. – CyberScoop


The United States needs to work to shape Chinese President Xi Jinping’s thinking that violence is not the only option, said Ezra Cohen, an adjunct fellow at Hudson Institute. Overwhelming force is not working as a deterrent against China’s across-the-board military modernization and expansion. – USNI News

The U.S. Army has begun developmental testing of its future missile defense radar in a new, two-phased approach, according to Brig. Gen. Frank Lozano, the service’s program executive officer for missiles and space. – Defense News

The U.S. Missile Defense Agency is planning a first flight test of some elements that will make up the air and missile defense architecture of Guam in December 2024, the agency’s acting director said Aug. 9 at the Space and Missile Defense Symposium. – Defense News

The U.S. Army could tap several companies to supply tank-busting drones under the fledgling LASSO program, according to one acquisition leader. – Defense News

Editorial: This month, as House and Senate conferees begin to iron out differences between the two chambers on a nearly $900 billion Pentagon spending bill for next fiscal year, both the House and Senate armed services committees want to place a new generation of nuclear-armed sea-launched cruise missiles (known as SLCM-Ns) back on Navy vessels. That would be a mistake. – Washington Post

Editorial: The key takeaway from China and Russia’s escalating military cooperation is the most obvious one — that it shows why the U.S. needs to be better prepared for conflict with both these powers, not just one. Contrary to the delusion of some, Moscow is not America’s friend. It is Beijing’s subordinate partner. – Washington Examiner