Fdd's overnight brief

August 14, 2023

In The News


Iran has significantly slowed the pace at which it is accumulating near-weapons-grade enriched uranium and has diluted some of its stockpile, people briefed on the matter said Friday, moves that could help ease tensions with the U.S. and allow the resumption of broader talks over its controversial nuclear program. – Wall Street Journal

But this year Ashura looked different. The mourners who gathered in Yazd last month and in many other cities across Iran diverged unexpectedly from the script to target the clerical rulers of Iran, turning religious ballads into protest songs about the suffering of Iranians. – New York Times

So the 51-year-old Iranian American businessman flew from his home in Dubai to visit his parents and attend a funeral in Iran. But he was arrested and charged with “collaborating with a hostile government” — an allusion to the United States — and eventually became the longest-held American citizen that Iran has acknowledged imprisoning. In January, he went on a hunger strike for seven days to bring attention to his ordeal. – New York Times

The White House stressed on Friday that there would be restrictions on what Iran could do with any funds unfrozen under an emerging agreement that has led to the release of five Americans from prison to house arrest in Tehran. – Reuters

Iran’s central bank chief said on Saturday that all of Iran’s frozen funds in South Korea had been unblocked and would be used for “non-sanctioned goods”. – Reuters

A record number of people registered to become candidates in Iran’s parliamentary elections scheduled for March, the Interior Ministry said Monday. – Associated Press

Iran’s intelligence ministry arrested nine members of the Baha’i faith on charges of smuggling medicine and financial wrongdoing, state media reported on Monday. – Associated Press

Western-backed maritime forces in the Middle East on Saturday warned shippers traveling through the strategic Strait of Hormuz to stay as far away from Iranian territorial waters as possible to avoid being seized, a stark advisory amid heightened tensions between Iran and the U.S. – Associated Press

Iran is exporting more than 1.4 million barrels of oil per day, the semi-official Mehr News Agency reported, citing the head of the country’s state-run Plan and Budget Organization. – Bloomberg

Iran’s easing treatment of US prisoners may be the overture in a wider diplomatic breakthrough — one that poses major reverberations for global energy markets. – Bloomberg

Iranian authorities have arrested four more suspects after detaining a lone gunman in the killing of at least one person at a Shiite Muslim shrine, state media reported on Monday. – Agence France-Presse

An Iranian journalist previously handed a two-year jail sentence after interviewing the father of the woman whose custody death sparked months of protests said Sunday she had been released from prison. – Agence France-Presse

A shooting Sunday at a Shiite Muslim shrine in Iran’s south killed at least four people, state media said, less than a year after a similar attack on the same site. – Agence France-Presse

Even as supporters of engagement with the Islamic Republic celebrate a tentative deal for the release of five American hostages, some are asking why, for a price tag of $6 billion, all the Americans held at Iran’s notorious Evan prison can’t be included in the swap. – New York Sun

Former US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has strongly criticized President Joe Biden’s decision to unfreeze $6 billion in Iranian funds as part of an agreement to secure the release of five detained US citizens. – Jerusalem Post

The Islamic Republic of Iran is close to possibly testing a nuclear weapons device and has sought to obtain illicit technology for its active atomic weapons program, according to a series of shocking European intelligence reports released in 2023. – Jerusalem Post

Editorial: The plight of imprisoned Americans is awful, and the decision of what to give up in return for their release is difficult for any President. We’ve been forgiving of prisoner swaps. But rewarding Iran with money for hostages amounts to financing its malign activities and encouraging it to take more American prisoners. – Wall Street Journal

Yonah Jeremy Bob writes: Of course, the ayatollahs’ fear of such a strike may keep them from crossing the nuclear weapons redline, but Israel’s opportunity to use the Russia-Ukraine-Iran angle to pressure the Islamic Republic on the nuclear issue may be limited. The West will need to keep a more watchful eye than ever on any new suspicious nuclear moves by Iran. – Jerusalem Post

Russia & Ukraine

Ukraine’s current campaign to retake territory occupied by Russian forces could still have many months to run. But military strategists and policy makers across the West are already starting to think about next year’s spring offensive. – Wall Street Journal

When classes begin next month, Russian high-schoolers will get fresh history textbooks rewritten to carry Kremlin-approved narratives about the “special military operation” in Ukraine and the rivalry with the West — part of a wider government effort to shape how young generations of Russians think about the war and Russia’s place in the world. – Washington Post

The U.S. Treasury Department on Friday imposed sanctions on Mikhail Fridman and Petr Aven, two Russian billionaires behind Alfa Group, a prominent financial services firm — a sign that the Biden White House is trying to increase pressure on Russian elites who have carved out international profiles while maintaining business operations in Russia. – Washington Post

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky fired all the heads of his country’s regional military recruitment centers Friday. The sweeping move was aimed at combating corruption and ensuring that the recruitment system is “run by people who know exactly what war is,” he said. – Washington Post

Russian shelling ripped into homes in the Kherson region of southern Ukraine on Sunday morning, officials said, an assault that killed at least seven people, including a family of four, in an area that had already borne a heavy toll from relentless Russian bombardment. – New York Times

After months of inching through minefields, villages and open steppes in grueling combat, Ukrainian forces are making somewhat bigger advances along two major lines of attack, according to analysts, Ukrainian officials and Russian military bloggers. – New York Times

Ukraine said its air defenses shot down a ballistic missile over Kyiv on Friday, a rare midmorning assault on the Ukrainian capital as Russia stepped up its assaults on towns and cities across the country. – New York Times

Jailed Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny admonished the Russian elite on Friday for its venality, expressing hatred for those who squandered a historic opportunity to reform after the 1991 fall of the Soviet Union. – Reuters

Russia’s Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu inspected remote Arctic garrisons of the Northern Fleet, the ministry said on Saturday, as a detachment of warships was sent to the Arctic Ocean to perform tasks. – Reuters

Russia is in the process of equipping its new nuclear submarines with hypersonic Zircon missiles, the head of Russia’s largest shipbuilder told the RIA state news agency in an interview published on Monday. – Reuters

The Russian navy opened fire on a cargo vessel in the Black Sea to force it to stop for checks, the defense ministry said, the first such confirmed incident since Moscow withdrew from a key grain export deal in July. – Bloomberg

Russia said Friday it had destroyed a Ukrainian drone over the western outskirts of Moscow, the latest in a growing number of aerial attacks on the capital. – Agence France-Presse

John Bolton writes: More Ukrainian military progress may come as the offensive continues, but it’s vital that the Biden administration start formulating a new strategy. The White House must make midcourse corrections to its strategic errors of the past 18 months if it’s to bolster domestic U.S. support for Ukraine and revitalize and broaden the anti-Russia coalition. It’s time to get moving. – Wall Street Journal

Josh Rogin writes: If more candidates traveled to Ukraine, as Christie and Pence did, and heard from Ukrainians directly about what’s really going on there, at least the current discussion would be more firmly based in reality. The truth is the very least that Americans (and Ukrainians) deserve from anyone who is vying to be leader of the free world. – Washington Post

Colin P. Clarke writes: Niger’s coup, the latest addition to the “corridor of coups” shaping up across north-central Africa, is a dramatic setback for the millions of Nigeriens who voted for Mr. Bazoum in the 2021 elections and for Western countries seeking to keep regional terrorist networks in check. It’s not clear, as a bloc of West African states threatens military intervention and internal resistance to the coup grows, what happens next. But if the Sahel devolves into a patchwork of jihadist statelets, the West will have few, if any, options to contain the growing menace. For Wagner and Russia, it would mean more money in the bank — and more influence in the region. – New York Times

Alexander J. Motyl writes: Russia’s neighbors and the West have been living with a deeply unstable and unpredictable Russia for three decades. Whatever the reasons for this state of affairs, there is almost zero likelihood that Russia will suddenly shed its instability and unpredictability and stop its slide toward disintegration. As Bugajski, Ignatius and Stanovaya recognize, instability and unpredictability are a product of Russia’s internal affairs. As such, they will continue to take their course, regardless of what the West or Ukraine do. All that the West and Ukraine, as well as Russia’s other neighbors, can do is win the war, insulate themselves from Russia’s mayhem and imagine what will need to be done to make sure that Bugajski’s vision proves durable. – The Hill


Danish Defence Minister Jacob Ellemann-Jensen dismissed his ministry’s permanent secretary of state on Friday after criticism over the handling of an artillery arms purchase from Israel. – Reuters

Israel’s intelligence agency Shin Bet said it thwarted an Iranian espionage attempt on Friday when it detained and then deported a Jewish Iranian who flew in to the country with a tissue box it said was meant to hide surveillance equipment. – Reuters

Israeli police downgraded a homicide charge on Friday against a Jewish settler suspected of killing a Palestinian in what the United States has described as a “terror attack”. – Reuters

The Israeli military stormed into a refugee camp in the northern occupied West Bank on Friday, sparking a firefight with Palestinian gunmen and killing a Palestinian man, medics said. – Associated Press

Former Treasury Secretary Jack Lew is the leading candidate to be the new U.S. ambassador to Israel and could be nominated by President Biden in the coming weeks, according to three people familiar with the matter. – Axios

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Saturday came out against a tentative deal reached by the US and Iran for the latter to release five American detainees in exchange for the release of several billion dollars in frozen Iranian assets. – Times of Israel

Ed Husain writes: But that will work to our advantage only if we’re actually responsive to such countries’ needs. Other nations will join the American-led regional order and make peace with Israel when they see the U.S. extend reliable military support to its allies. This crescendo effect awaits America if we deliver on the promise of the Abraham Accords. – Wall Street Journal

Michael Makovsky and Chuck Wald write: While an Israeli strike would mark the failure (and rescue) of decades of U.S. policy, and while Washington may have misgivings about Israeli action, the most effective way to address Iran’s nuclear program already has been articulated by President Biden and communicated by America’s ambassador in Jerusalem: “Israel can and should do whatever they need to deal with it, and we’ve got their back.” – The Hill

Amos N. Guiora writes: The U.S.-Israel friendship requires brutally frank, direct conversations. That is in the best interest of all parties. Failure on Netanyahu’s part to understand cold reality must have consequences. Joe Biden must channel his inner Harry S. Truman. – The Hill


Lebanon’s top Christian cleric called for state control over weapons on Sunday, days after a deadly clash between Christian villagers and the heavily armed group Hezbollah over an overturned truck of ammunition. – Reuters

A Hezbollah operative in Lebanon, whose identity is known to Israeli security forces, hurled a Molotov cocktail at the Israeli border on Sunday afternoon, the Israel Defense Forces said. – Times of Israel

Several days after a Hezbollah truck carrying ammunition overturned near Beirut, killing two people and sparking clashes with residents of a local Christian town, security sources reportedly estimated that the vehicle had been transporting anti-tank missiles sent from Iran. – Times of Israel

The next war between Israel and Hezbollah will take place in Israel’s Galilee region, a senior commander in the Lebanese terror group warned on Saturday, the latest threat in an escalating war of words between the two sides. – Times of Israel


In parched brown hills in north Afghanistan, Abdul Hahad tears stalks of wheat out of the arid earth. In the third year of water shortages and high temperatures, his harvest is barely enough to support his family. – Reuters

Here is a look at key dates since the Taliban came back to power two years ago, as U.S. and NATO forces withdrew from the country: – Associated Press

The Taliban have settled in as rulers of Afghanistan, two years after they seized power as U.S. and NATO forces withdrew from the country following two decades of war. – Associated Press

When the Taliban took control of Afghanistan, Shukria Sediqi knew her days in safety were numbered. As a journalist who advocated for women’s rights, she’d visited shelters and safe houses to talk to women who had fled abusive husbands. She went with them to court when they asked for a divorce. – Associated Press

He was America’s point man on Afghanistan, one of the toughest assignments in U.S. diplomacy. Two years after the Taliban seized control, Zalmay Khalilzad is determined not to let U.S. failures there be his legacy. – Politico

A bipartisan group of lawmakers, featuring the co-chairs of the Congressional Soccer Caucus, is asking the president of FIFA to allow the Afghanistan Women’s Football team to represent its country in global events. – The Hill


The Jordanian military on Sunday downed a drone carrying crystal meth that was flying into Jordanian territory from neighbouring Syria, the state news agency Petra reported. – Reuters

The United Nations refugee agency said Friday it was “extremely concerned” over the return of more than 100 Syrian nationals from Cyprus to Lebanon without being screened to determine whether they need legal protection and who may be deported back to their war-wracked homeland. – Associated Press

The sound of repeated explosions could be heard in the area around the Syrian capital before dawn on Sunday, state media and Damascus residents said. – Associated Press

The Islamic State group claimed responsibility for an ambush in eastern Syria that killed and wounded dozens of soldiers as opposition activists said the death toll rose Saturday to at least 33 as some of the wounded succumbed to their injuries. – Associated Press


Iraq’s telecoms ministry said it will lift a ban on the Telegram messaging app on Sunday, which was imposed earlier this week, citing security concerns and data leaks of official state institutions and citizens. – Reuters

A Turkish drone strike on Friday killed three people including a senior member of the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), Iraqi Kurdistan’s counter-terrorism service said in a statement, making it the fifth drone attack this week in northern Iraq against Kurdish militants. – Reuters

A drilling subsidiary of China National Petroleum Corp has won an engineering, procurement and construction contract worth 1.4 billion yuan ($194 million) to drill wells with two rigs in Iraq’s Rumaila oilfield, the company said late on Thursday. – Reuters

Nawras Jaff writes: With Iran wielding such effective influence campaigns on both the political and cultural levels, all signs point to Iranian soft power continuing to grow in the KRI. Though the impact of these soft power efforts only tends to become evident over time, the current signs of Iranian influence in the KRI’s political, religious, and educational life suggest that this movement will remain effective in the future. – Washington Institute


A German lawmaker said on Sunday she was detained for several hours when entering Turkey earlier this month based on social media posts she made in 2019, adding that she would still travel to Turkey and speak her mind about its government. – Reuters

Under a new agreement, an unmanned aerial vehicle designed and produced in Saudi Arabia will be produced by Turkey, a first-of-its-kind deal to have Saudi intellectual property produced outside of the Kingdom. – Breaking Defense

Russia was sending a clear message to Turkey when it bombed Ukrainian business Motor Sich, which makes engines for Turkish aircraft, analysts have told Defense News. – Defense News


An audit of Lebanon’s central bank urged action to mitigate further risks from “misconduct” at the institution and says its former governor had “unconstrained” discretion as he pursued costly financial engineering policies. – Reuters

A forensic audit into Lebanon’s central bank by a New York-based company has revealed yearslong misconduct by the bank’s former governor and $111 million in “illegitimate commissions,” according to a report by the company. – Associated Press

Days of fighting in the largest Palestinian refugee camp in Lebanon displaced several hundred families, destroyed up to 400 houses and left half the camp still off-limits and considered “a hot area,” a senior U.N. official said Thursday. – Associated Press

Hanin Ghaddar writes: Moreover, some LAF institutions—such as the military courts and army intelligence—are more infiltrated and controlled by Hezbollah than others. U.S. aid to these institutions could serve the militia’s interests more than the army’s capabilities and Lebanon’s stability. Washington should also pay extra attention to military and security appointments, since these play a key role in Hezbollah’s efforts to take over decisionmaking in this sector. – Washington Institute


After Egypt agreed it wouldn’t send weapons to Russia, it is now resisting requests from senior U.S. leaders to send them to Ukraine, Egyptian and American officials say, posing an obstacle for the Biden administration’s push to generate arms for a Ukrainian counteroffensive. – Wall Street Journal

On Aug. 14, 2013, Egyptian security forces used live ammunition to disperse anti-government sit-ins in Cairo. More than 800 people died, rights groups said, in one of the largest single killings of demonstrators anywhere in recent history. The government put the death toll at 624. The exact number may never be known. – Washington Post

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas is scheduled to meet with Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah al-Sissi and Jordan’s King Abdullah II in Egypt on Sunday, against the backdrop of reported progress in talks between the United States and Saudi Arabia regarding an agreement that will include Israel. – Haaretz

Arabian Peninsula

A team of international experts led by the United Nations finished a risky operation to siphon more than a million barrels of oil from a rusting tanker moored off Yemen’s Red Sea coast, where for years it threatened to explode or spill and cause an ecological and humanitarian disaster. – Wall Street Journal

The Spanish league has filed a complaint with the European Commission regarding the “funding mechanisms” used by Qatari-owned Paris Saint-Germain. – Associated Press

Five United Nations staff members who were kidnapped in Yemen 18 months ago by an al-Qaida affiliate have walked free, U.N. officials said Friday. – Associated Press

Saudi Arabia

Saudi Arabia has appointed its first envoy to the Palestinian administration in the Israeli-occupied West Bank, a move widely seen as linked to efforts led by the United States to forge diplomatic ties between Saudi Arabia and Israel. – New York Times

Israel ruled out on Sunday any eventual physical mission in Jerusalem for the first Saudi envoy to the Palestinians, even as they cast his appointment as endorsement of their goal of a state that would include part of the city as its capital. – Reuters

Saudi Arabia is pushing the UK, Japan and Italy to allow it to become a full partner in the landmark next-generation fighter jet project that the three countries signed in December. – Financial Times

A prominent Saudi scholar and Snapchat influencer has been arrested by Saudi authorities in what experts said was evidence of the kingdom’s extreme crackdown on social media users. – The Guardian

Korean Peninsula

They have done the diplomatic courtship. Now the U.S., Japan and South Korea are trying to make their three-way relationship more permanent—in particular on military matters with annual joint exercises. – Wall Street Journal

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken will hold a virtual meeting with Japanese Foreign Minister Yoshimasa Hayashi and South Korean Foreign Minister Park Jin on Monday, the U.S. State Department said. – Reuters

The U.N. human rights office expressed grave concern over the forced repatriation of North Koreans from China and elsewhere after facing criticism from rights groups for its “unacceptable silence” on the issue. – Associated Press

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un called for the increased production of missiles as he toured plants making weapons to strike America’s allies, just ahead of a summit among the leaders of Japan, South Korea and the US this week. – Bloomberg


China’s deepening economic slump is damaging the fortunes of big American companies deeply rooted there, with some growing increasingly pessimistic that the country’s long-awaited postpandemic boom will materialize. – Wall Street Journal

U.S. officials forged an uneasy compromise to let DuPont sell its sustainable-materials business last year to a Chinese company while ensuring the technology behind it never left the U.S. – Wall Street Journal

China is unlikely to hit back at the U.S. blow for blow over the Biden administration’s new investment ban on certain Chinese tech companies. That’s because Beijing is limited both in its ability and desire to fire a big salvo, analysts say. – Wall Street Journal

President Biden warned on Thursday that China’s struggles with high unemployment and an aging work force make the country a “ticking time bomb” at the heart of the world economy and a potential threat to other nations. – New York Times

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi urged the Philippines to work with China to seek an effective way to defuse tensions in the South China Sea, the official Xinhua news agency said on Saturday. – Reuters

China’s defence minister Li Shangfu will visit Russia and Belarus from Aug. 14-19, the ministry said in a statement on Monday. – Reuters

Chinese state media on Saturday rejected a Western claim that developed nations were shunning the country’s Belt and Road Forum, while saying most of the leaders invited this year were from developing nations. – Reuters

Jimmy Lai, a former newspaper publisher and one of Hong Kong’s most prominent pro-democracy activists, spends around 23 hours a day in solitary confinement in a maximum-security facility while he awaits a trial that could send him to prison for life. – Associated Press

Editorial: Entrepreneurship is the best solution, if Mr. Xi unshackled China’s millions of innovative and hard-working citizens. His crackdown on private tech companies amid the real-estate upheaval doesn’t augur well. But without the property sugar rush, Mr. Xi will soon run out of other options for delivering the growth Chinese citizens expect. – Wall Street Journal

South Asia

A senator known for solid links to Pakistan’s powerful military was named Saturday as the interim prime minister, meant to oversee the period leading up to the next election, but the timing of those polls remains unclear. – Wall Street Journal

The Indian government has moved a proposal to overhaul the colonial-era criminal justice system, which would see the contentious law on sedition being repealed to add new rules to deal with offenses of endangering the sovereignty of the nation. – Bloomberg

Balochistan Liberation Army militants claimed responsibility for an attack on a convoy of Chinese engineers in the southwest of Pakistan on Sunday, Agence France-Presse reported. – Bloomberg


After Taiwan’s president traveled through the U.S. this spring, China responded with three days of live-fire military drills and a barrage of condemnations asserting its claims to the self-governing island. – Wall Street Journal

Ever since Chinese human rights lawyer Lu Siwei was detained in Laos, the first stop on his journey to the United States, a frantic effort has been underway to prevent him being sent back to China and almost certain imprisonment. – Washington Post

Japan and the U.S. will agree this week to jointly develop an interceptor missile to counter hypersonic warheads being developed by China, Russia and North Korea, Japan’s Yomiuri newspaper said on Sunday. – Reuters

Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese said he would travel to the Philippines in September to discuss defence and security cooperation, the first Australian leader to visit in 20 years. – Reuters

China, Iran and Russia are engaged in foreign interference in New Zealand, the nation’s domestic intelligence agency said Friday after making its threat assessment report public for the first time. – Associated Press

Taiwan’s vice president left Saturday on a trip to Paraguay to reinforce relations with his government’s last diplomatic partner in South America at a time when China is stepping up efforts to isolate the self-ruled island democracy. – Associated Press

Armenia called on the U.N. Security Council to hold an emergency meeting on the worsening humanitarian situation in Azerbaijan’s Nagorno-Karabakh region, which is mostly populated by Armenians. – Associated Press

China’s foreign minister visited Cambodia over the weekend to reaffirm his country’s commitment to the southeast Asian country after its incumbent prime minister handed off the job to his son following a one-sided election last month, officials said. – Associated Press

David Ignatius writes: The message to the world was simple, as I wrote at the time: We aren’t moving. That’s still true. Nagorno-Karabakh may be part of Azerbaijan legally, but it’s going to be populated by ethnic Armenians who need protection of their human rights. It’s time for all parties to accept both sides of that equation. – Washington Post

Will Marshall writes: Perhaps the best news here is that Putin’s failure in Ukraine dramatically raises the risks to Xi of “pulling a Putin” by attacking Taiwan. Like Ukrainians, the Taiwanese won’t give up their freedom without a fight, and with robust support from the liberal democracies, they just might win too. – The Hill


Since the beginning of Russia’s full-scale invasion, Poland has been among Ukraine’s staunchest supporters, providing military and economic aid, taking in millions of Ukrainian refugees, championing Kyiv’s position in international forums, and transforming its territory into the main conduit for Western arms shipments bound for the front lines. – Washington Post

Finland should aim to leave the European Union in the long term, but Russia’s invasion of Ukraine means European unity should be the priority for now, the far-right Finns Party’s Jussi Halla-aho said ahead of a party congress on Saturday. – Reuters

Bosnia has charged Serb nationalist leader Milorad Dodik with defying decisions by the international official overseeing peace in the country, the state prosecutor’s office said on Friday. – Reuters

Ukraine has begun holding consultations with Britain to secure security guarantees and Kyiv aims to have the first such agreements in place by the end of the year, a senior Ukrainian official said on Friday. – Reuters

Poland has detained two Russians for allegedly disseminating propaganda for the Wagner Group and accused them of spying. – Bloomberg

Latvian authorities need to take into account new US sanctions against Russian tycoon Petr Aven as they decide whether to revoke his citizenship, Prime Minister Krisjanis Karins said. – Bloomberg

Latvia’s premier said he’ll seek to form a new government with the country’s opposition after his coalition allies balked at a set of demands. – Bloomberg

Janusz Bugajski writes: Putin stated that any “aggression” against Belarus would directly involve the Russian Federation, which would “respond using all means at our disposal.” Despite its depleted capabilities due to massive military losses in Ukraine, Moscow has announced that it will build up its forces along its western border. Sergei Shoigu, Russia’s defense minister, charged Poland with being the main instrument of Washington’s “anti-Russian policy” and its “increasing militarization” with threatening the occupation of Russian territory. The fear of federal collapse is becoming more palpable in Moscow after the Wagner mutiny and growing dissent within the military over the failing war in Ukraine, and Poland is now the Kremlin’s primary scapegoat. – Washington Examiner


Leaders of 11 West African nations this week reinforced their threat to use force to reverse Niger’s coup d’état, but Western and African officials say it could take months to attempt such an ambitious operation. – Wall Street Journal

The three-page missive said Britain’s Home Office wouldn’t even consider the substance of his asylum claim before exhausting whether he could be sent to another country, including the central African nation with which it has a new deal. – Washington Post

Fighting between Ethiopia’s military and a local ethnic militia in the northwestern Amhara region has intensified in recent weeks, pushing the government to block the internet and declare a state of emergency and leading Israel to evacuate more than 200 Ethiopian Jews and Israelis. – New York Times

The United Nations’ peacekeeping mission in Mali on Sunday said it had sped up a planned withdrawal from the town of Ber in northern Mali due to worsening security, as fighting in the area raised fears of a revival of a separatist uprising. – Reuters

Tanzanian police have arrested a lawyer and an opposition politician and accused them of incitement and planning to organise nationwide demonstrations aimed at bringing down the government. – Reuters

The European Union will send an observation mission (EOM) to Liberia ahead of the country’s general election in October, the EU said on Friday. – Reuters

Seven people died after a mosque filled with worshippers caved in on Friday in Nigeria’s northern city of Zaria, in Kaduna state, with several others injured. – Reuters

Nearly four months of violent street battles between the Sudanese Army and the paramilitary known as the Rapid Support Forces (RSF) have made funerals a near impossibility in Khartoum. Amid the chaos, residents and local medical groups say corpses lie rotting in the capital’s streets, marooned by a conflict that shows few signs of easing. – Associated Press

Two Nigerian men have been extradited to the U.S. after they were indicted for allegedly sexually extorting teenage boys and young men in Michigan and across the country, a prosecutor said Sunday. – Associated Press

The only way to avoid conflict in Niger between mutinous soldiers who ousted the president and regional countries threatening an invasion to reinstate him is to recognize the new regime, a rights defender with ties to the junta told The Associated Press. – Associated Press

Niger’s self-declared military leadership vowed to prosecute deposed President Mohamed Bazoum, even as it said it’s prepared to reopen talks with a West African regional economic bloc that has demanded the junta cede power. – Bloomberg

The Biden administration is soliciting responses on how it can boost left-leaning diversity, equity, inclusion and accessibility practices at an agency in the landlocked African country of Ethiopia, documents show. – Washington Examiner

Mamadou Kiari Liman-Tinguiri writes: Allowing President Bazoum to die at the hands of his captors would be a strategic error that would empower the terrorist threat to our collective security. Military inaction would signal a turn away from the same democratic values that are under threat from a declining Russia, which is trying to remain relevant by sowing seeds of chaos around the world. Paraphrasing Lincoln at Gettysburg, the world will forget these words but will long remember the choices made in the coming hours. The stakes are clear; it’s time for America to choose. – Wall Street Journal

Latin America

Christian Zurita, a well-known investigative journalist, said Sunday he will run for president of Ecuador in place of his close friend and colleague Fernando Villavicencio, who was assassinated Wednesday by gunmen. – Wall Street Journal

Four days before he was shot dead, presidential hopeful Fernando Villavicencio traveled to a dusty town near Ecuador’s Pacific coast, defying one of the country’s most ruthless drug gangs on its home turf. […]His brazen killing on Wednesday in the capital, Quito—the first time a presidential candidate has been assassinated in Ecuador—shines a spotlight on the corrosive impact of a booming cocaine trade and the emboldened gangs fueling brutal violence. – Wall Street Journal

International security assistance for Haiti’s police should include safeguards to prevent abuses, Human Rights Watch (HRW) said, as debate intensifies over a Kenya-led force to help stem worsening gang violence. – Reuters

Venezuela’s top prosecutor launched an investigation on Sunday into death threats against a presidential candidate, as fears of political violence in the region have risen following last week’s assassination in Ecuador. – Reuters

The International Monetary Fund said on Friday it has reached a staff-level agreement with Honduras for a 36-month credit facility for about $830 million to support the country’s economic reform policies. – Reuters

Peru announced an air security agreement with the United States on Saturday in what the government described as a push to stop planes belonging to drug gangs from entering the South American country’s airspace. – Reuters

Ecuador will hold six Colombian men for at least a month as the country probes their involvement in the slaying of a presidential candidate whose life’s work was fighting crime and corruption, the national prosecutor’s office said Friday. – Associated Press

Editorial: The Biden administration should consider helping Ecuador — again, assuming political compatibility — regain control of its prisons, which the gangs have taken over and turned into de facto command centers. The United States, together with its partners in Europe, also needs to step up intelligence-gathering on the transnational groups, originating in Albania, that increasingly compete with Mexican cartels for control of cocaine exports out of Ecuador — much of it bound for Europe. Organized crime menaces Latin American democracies, from the Rio Grande to Tierra del Fuego; if they are to avoid the temptation to respond with authoritarian methods, the United States will have to help them show that lawful ones can work. – Washington Post

Mary Anastasia O’Grady writes: The Bitkovs got the CICIG “cage” treatment for public consumption, and Igor and Irina’s 3-year-old Guatemalan-born son was thrown into an orphanage. Anastasia was a minor at the time of the document issuance, but all three received prison sentences of 14 years or more. Joe Biden says he’s taking on Mr. Putin. But don’t ask him to choose between the truth about CICIG and his dream of more socialism for Latin America. – Wall Street Journal

Gabriel Pasquini writes: After Villavicencio’s death, Lasso decreed a state of emergency, suspending constitutional liberties in Ecuador (once again). Will Ecuador follow in the footsteps of El Salvador and try to trade freedom for safety? Will it make a risky pact with criminal forces as Salvadorans have tried in vain? Will it just keep striving to steady a ship being sucked into a vortex of anomie and violence? Or is there space for a completely different (and as yet unimagined) policy — one that would require the country to overcome its deep and abiding political polarization? These are the unenviable options that whoever wins the elections in little more than a week will have to face. – Washington Post

United States

Hunter Biden’s legal team said late Sunday the Justice Department had decided to “renege on the previously agreed-upon plea agreement,” escalating a dispute that is threatening to become a factor in the 2024 presidential race as President Biden seeks re-election. – Wall Street Journal

When President Biden nominated Merrick Garland to be attorney general, he said he wanted an independent chief law-enforcement officer who would follow the facts, unencumbered by politics. He got one, and now Garland is presenting the president’s re-election campaign with the prospect that the travails of Biden’s son Hunter will be at least a sideshow to the 2024 presidential race, one that bears the risk of affecting voters’ view of the president. – Wall Street Journal

Georgia has become ground zero for exhaustion over the legal drama surrounding Donald Trump—and the GOP debate about whether to stick with him in 2024. – Wall Street Journal

After four years of decline during Donald Trump’s presidency, America’s reputation abroad is bouncing back. That’s a major takeaway from a new Pew Research Center survey on international views toward the United States. – Washington Post

Editorial: Mr. Garland claims he has done all this to remove any political taint from the investigations, but this is having the opposite effect. We are now going to have a presidential election debate adjudicated in effect by special counsels. Don’t expect any of this to calm our partisan furies or restore faith in nonpartisan justice. – Wall Street Journal

Editorial: Nevertheless, Mr. Garland’s move was justified. Under the special counsel regulations, Mr. Weiss will not only be clearly authorized but also required to produce a report, almost certain to be made public, on his investigation. The report will allow Mr. Weiss to explain the prosecutorial choices he has and will make. The fact that he has to write one will also give him a greater incentive to proceed by the book. The imperative in this case remains what it has always been: to treat Hunter Biden, as far as possible, like any other defendant. Mr. Weiss has all the independence and resources he needs. – Washington Post

Holman W. Jenkins, Jr. writes: The elder Mr. Biden’s avoidance of the press, if that’s his campaign strategy, will be viable against one opponent only: the now thrice-indicted Mr. Trump. The president’s supporters in the liberal-left media may yet hold their noses and protect him from the Hunter fallout, but again it will be for one reason only: because Mr. Trump is his likely opponent. Now you might know why the same Justice Department that is trying so hard to finesse the Hunter matter is also working hard to make sure the furor surrounding Mr. Trump drowns out anybody who could otherwise challenge him for the nomination. – Wall Street Journal

Jason Willick writes: The legal proceedings will render a judgment on Trump’s efforts to subvert the electoral count. But we might look back and decide that this prosecution was so consumed with vindicating the last election in the eyes of some Americans that it ended up poisoning the next one in the eyes of others. – Washington Post


This weekend an expected 3,000 hackers will be kicking the tires on some of the crown jewels of generative AI, including software built by Google, Meta and OpenAI. In a giant conference hall just off the Las Vegas Strip, they will be trying to find previously undiscovered bugs in the AI technologies behind those products, which have garnered buzz for their humanlike conversation. – Wall Street Journal

The King of Jordan approved a bill Saturday to punish online speech deemed harmful to national unity, according to the Jordanian state news agency, legislation that has drawn accusations from human rights groups of a crackdown on free expression in a country where censorship is on the rise. – Associated Press

Pornhub sued Texas over a law requiring online platforms to verify users’ ages before allowing them access to pornography, an act that it claimed violates the First Amendment. – Washington Examiner

Hudson Crozier writes: Fortunately, some in the judiciary are not falling for the government’s defense of censorship-by-proxy under the First Amendment. During oral arguments for the Missouri v. Biden case on Thursday, Judge Jennifer Elrod saw right through it. “In these movies that we see with the mob … they don’t say and spell out things, but they have these ongoing relationships,” she said. “They never actually say, ‘Go do this or else you’re going to have this consequence.’ But everybody just knows.” Precisely. And it’s time to stop the Biden mob from carrying out its hit job on the right to free speech. – Washington Examiner


Thomas Boxler was at home in California when he saw the front-page news. A top-secret U.S. military underwater listening system had helped searchers pinpoint the Titan submersible lost near the Titanic in late June. – Wall Street Journal

At the Redstone Arsenal in Alabama, a major hub of the U.S. military’s space and missile programs, a key officer is supposed to be leaving his post for a critical new job leading the agency responsible for America’s missile defense. – Washington Post

The observable success of electronic warfare in the Russia-Ukraine war is motivating the U.S. Army to get its own in-development jammers deployed as soon as possible, according to an acquisition official. – Defense News

The U.S. Army is working through a variety of challenges with directed-energy weapons for air defense, including how to affordably manufacture the high-tech capability and sustain it on the battlefield, according to service officials with knowledge of the effort. – Defense News

As U.S. Space Command eyes a future where satellites are designed to maneuver in space, the Space Force’s rapid acquisition team is working to ensure the service’s ground infrastructure is ready to operate those systems. – Defense News

Mike Weigand writes: To put an even finer point on it: These practices must be implemented now. They cannot wait. The threat could not be more stark, and the opportunity to make demonstrable change could not be more clear — the Department must act now to better protect their national security assets on which our warfighters and intelligence professionals depend. Let’s get our data straight and secure our systems, to be best postured to deter aggression. – C4ISRNet

Long War

Deep in Congo’s forested ravines, a local affiliate of the Islamic State has been growing increasingly deadly — seizing children to swell its ranks, honing its bombmaking skills, and launching ferocious attacks on villages, churches and clinics — without attracting much international attention. – Washington Post

Now, Ms. Weiner, 46, has been named the New York Police Department’s deputy commissioner of intelligence and counterterrorism, commanding about 1,500 people spread throughout the city. The bureau includes dozens of analysts and hundreds of officers and investigators who monitor threats like bomb plots, mass shootings and spontaneous chaos like a social media influencer’s video game giveaway that drew thousands of rowdy teenagers to Union Square this month. – New York Times

Sitting in a bullet-scarred building in the city of Jenin, two fighters from Islamic Jihad – a militant group funded by Iran – celebrated what they said was a victory for Palestinians over the biggest Israeli operation in the West Bank in decades. – Reuters

The Shin Bet thwarted a Hamas terror cell planning to kidnap an IDF soldier, as well as carry out attacks against Israeli forces in the Binyamin region of the West Bank, the Israeli security agency said on Monday. – Jerusalem Post