Fdd's overnight brief

August 18, 2022

In The News


Iranian demands for guarantees from the U.S. have once again stalled efforts to revive a 2015 nuclear pact, leaving Washington and European capitals unsure if a deal is possible. – Wall Street Journal

The man accused of stabbing Salman Rushdie said he respected Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini but would not say if he was inspired by a fatwa issued by the former Iranian leader, according to a New York Post interview published on Wednesday. – Reuters

Iran is ready to swap prisoners with the United States, its foreign ministry spokesman was quoted as saying on Wednesday, calling on President Joe Biden’s administration to “act instead of performing theatrical shows”. – Reuters

Israel believes Iran is close to inking a nuclear agreement with world powers, and has started preparing for the announcement of a deal, an Israeli official said Wednesday. – Times of Israel

A hacking group that appears to be linked to Iran has been targeting Israeli shipping in recent years, as the shadow war between Israel and Iran began to play out at sea after mainly being waged on land and in the air, a leading US cybersecurity firm said Wednesday. – Times of Israel

Former US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Wednesday called on the Biden administration to deny Iran’s President, Ebrahim Raisi, a visa to enter the United States and attend UN ceremonies next month, citing Tehran’s active plots to assassinate him and other top US officials. – Arutz Sheva

Jason Rezaian writes: The attempt on Rushdie’s life, and Tehran’s disgusting response to it, are important reminders of Iran’s inability to adhere to international laws and norms. It considers critics, dissidents and anyone who questions its worldview to be subhuman, unworthy of basic protections, a target to be eliminated. – Washington Post

Farhad Rezaei writes: While the Biden administration has periodically warned Iran of “grave consequences,” a messaging strategy reiterated by National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan after the Department of Justice’s recent announcement, by all indications, the regime is unimpressed. In fact, their willingness to press these attacks as Biden’s envoys supplicate themselves to resurrect the JCPOA are indicative of the low regard they hold for a president they routinely describe as a “wet noodle.” Endless patience and restraint will not improve America’s safety. Strong punitive action is needed to deter the leaders in Tehran. – Jerusalem Post

Bobby Ghosh writes: The IRGC will count on this to enhance its image — among its own ranks, its proxies and potential recruits — as an international player, inviting comparisons with America’s CIA and Israel’s Mossad. That, more than the quatrains of Omar Khayyam or the gorgeous rugs of Kerman, is the soft power that matters to Tehran. – Bloomberg

Bahman Azar writes: Although the Islamic Republic aimed to integrate its economy with the rest of the world in the early 1990s through free trade zones under President Rafsanjani, severe miscalculations at the hands of Iranian officials prevented this goal from becoming a reality. With non-existent infrastructure and no target market in mind, the zones instead became yet another source of profit for kleptocratic administrators, ultimately feeding into an ongoing system of corruption in Iran. – Washington Institute

Russia & Ukraine

Ukraine is hoping that a new strategy of attacking key military targets deep inside Russian-occupied territory will undermine Moscow’s ability to hold the front lines ahead of an eventual Ukrainian counteroffensive to reclaim territory, Ukraine’s defense minister said Wednesday. – Washington Post

But the sleepy port of Alexandroupoli in northeastern Greece has taken on a central role in increasing the U.S. military presence in Eastern Europe, with the Pentagon transporting enormous arsenals through here in what it describes as the effort to contain Russian aggression. That flow has angered not only Russia but also neighboring Turkey, underlining how war in Ukraine is reshaping Europe’s economic and diplomatic relationships. – New York Times

Slipping back and forth across the front lines, the guerrilla fighters are known in Ukraine as partisans, and in recent weeks they have taken an ever more prominent role in the war, rattling Russian forces by helping deliver humiliating blows in occupied areas they thought were safe.  – New York Times

One more ship carrying grain has left Ukraine’s Chornomorsk port, Turkey’s Defence Ministry said on Thursday, bringing the total number of vessels to leave Ukraine’s Black Sea ports under a U.N.-brokered grain export deal to 25. – Reuters

One person died and 18 were wounded on Thursday in pre-dawn shelling of a residential area in the eastern Ukrainian city of Kharkiv, Oleh Synehubov, the regional governor said. – Reuters

U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres will meet Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy and Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan in Ukraine on Thursday, with grain exports and concerns about the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant to top the agenda. – Reuters

Ukrainian forces said on Thursday they had beaten back a Russian attack in the southern region of Kherson, while the death toll from Russian shelling of Kharkiv city in Ukraine’s northeast climbed as the nearly six-month war grinds on without let-up – Reuters

Russia’s Black Sea fleet based in annexed Crimea has installed a new commander, RIA news agency cited sources as saying on Wednesday, after Russian military bases on the peninsula were rocked by explosions in the past nine days. – Reuters

Ukraine expects five ships to arrive at its Chornomorsk Black Sea port on Wednesday for loading with more than 70,000 tonnes of agricultural products, the largest convoy so far under a U.N.-brokered grain export deal. – Reuters

On a June night under the chandeliers of Russia’s United Nations mission in New York, dozens of U.N. ambassadors from Africa, the Middle East, Latin America and Asia attended a reception to mark the country’s national day – less than four months after its forces invaded neighboring Ukraine. – Reuters

A senior Russian official met the commander of Palestinian security forces to discuss military and intelligence co-operation, Moscow’s defence ministry said on Wednesday – Reuters

The Kremlin has reportedly ousted the head of its Black Sea Fleet after a series of apparent Ukrainian attacks on occupied Crimea, where the fleet is based. Vice-Admiral Viktor Sokolov was made head of the fleet Wednesday, Russian state-run outlet RIA reported, citing unnamed sources. Sokolov ousts Admiral Igor Osipov, who’s commanded the fleet since 2019. – New York Post

Editorial: He is also a stalwart fighter for a Russia free of the Putin stain. When Russia eventually emerges from the petty authoritarianism misruling the country, Mr. Navalny’s fellow citizens must remember his sacrifice. – Washington Post

Oleg Kashin writes: If members of the ruling elite aren’t able to topple Mr. Putin, then perhaps the professional middle classes could? But there, too, the outlook is grim. For those who step out to criticize the war, the fate of Marina Ovsyannikova, an editor at the state-controlled Channel 1, is instructive. After staging a high-profile protest — during a live broadcast of a popular evening news program, she stood behind the announcer and held a poster that read, “Stop the war” — she fled the country to avoid arrest, leaving her family behind in Moscow. – New York Times

Debra Cagan, John Herbst, and Alexander Vershbow write: The stakes are clear for us, our allies, and Ukraine. We should not fool ourselves. We may think that each day we delay providing Ukraine the weapons it needs to win, we are avoiding a confrontation with the Kremlin. To the contrary, we are merely increasing the probability that we will face that danger on less favorable grounds. The smart and prudent move is to stop Putin’s aggressive designs in Ukraine, and to do so now, when it will make a difference. – The Hill

Hal Brands writes: The potential for violence in Central Asia remains high, as shown by an anti-government revolt in Kazakhstan, which precipitated Russian intervention earlier, this year. A change of government or a military mutiny in Belarus — neither of which can be excluded due to severe dissatisfaction with Aleksandr Lukashenko’s autocratic regime — could start a fight over that country’s place between Russia and the West. In early 1992, one American newspaper warned that the troubles caused by the “still-fragmenting, nuclear-armed shards of the world’s last great empire” were only beginning. Even when – Bloomberg


Israel and Turkey said Wednesday they had agreed to restore full diplomatic ties by reappointing ambassadors to Ankara and Tel Aviv, after a four-year hiatus, in the latest demonstration of warming relations between the former rivals. – Wall Street Journal

The German government summoned the Palestinian representative in Berlin in protest over a comment by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas on Tuesday accusing Israel of committing 50 Holocausts since it was founded. – Wall Street Journal

Several influential Palestinians on Wednesday expressed support for Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, who has been facing widespread criticism after he accused Israel of perpetrating “50 holocausts” and practicing “apartheid,” during his visit to Germany. – Jerusalem Post

During an arrest operation in the West Bank, Israeli security forces, including the IDF, Shin Bet and Border Police closed down seven institutions that had ties to the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), Including six that Defense Minister Benny Gantz previously declared as terrorist organizations. – Jerusalem Post

A Palestinian teenager was killed as heavy clashes broke out in Nablus late Wednesday and early Thursday while Jewish worshippers held a monthly pilgrimage to a shrine in the Palestinian West Bank city under military guard. – Times of Israel

On August 16, 2022, Palestinian Authority (PA) President and Fatah head Mahmoud ‘Abbas met in Berlin with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz as part of an official visit to Germany. At the close of the two leaders’ joint press conference, ‘Abbas was asked if he would to apologize to Israel for the terrorist attack on the Israeli athletes during the 1972 Munich Olympics, in which 11 members of the Israeli Olympic delegation were murdered by Fatah’s Black September terror organization. – Middle East Media Research Institute

Editorial: Abbas’s true colors once again emerged in Berlin on Tuesday. His latest statements not only reinforce the libel of his unique Holocaust denial, but demonstrate once again that the 87-year-old Palestinian leader is not a partner for peace with Israel. – Jerusalem Post


A bomb blast in a mosque in the Khair Khana area of Afghanistan’s capital Kabul killed 21 worshipers including a prominent prayer leader on Wednesday evening, said the Taliban officials and residents. – Washington Post

Taliban military aircraft roared over the Afghan capital on Wednesday as the group’s defence ministry tested out recently repaired hardware, much of it left behind by foreign militaries and acquired since the Taliban seized power a year ago – Reuters

The Taliban killed one of their former leaders who was known as the first commander of the group hailing from the minority Shi’ite Hazara community, officials confirmed on Wednesday, adding that he had rebelled against the de facto government – Reuters

The last text message Darin Taylor Hoover sent his mother from Kabul’s airport a year ago was short but one she still reads every day. “Mamma I’m safe, I love you,” the 31-year-old Marine Corps staff sergeant wrote as he worked to keep some semblance of order while thousands of desperate Afghans tried to get on the last few evacuation flights. – Reuters

A group of surviving relatives of 9/11 attack victims has asked President Biden to reverse plans to withhold $3.5 billion belonging to the Afghan central bank in order to satisfy a 15-year-old legal judgment against the Taliban in U.S. courts. – New York Sun

Hundreds of Americans were stranded in Afghanistan following last year’s chaotic pullout of US troops — and the Biden administration has no plan to help thousands of Afghans who aided the US during its 20-year war against the Taliban and are still marooned in the collapsing country, the top Republican on the House Foreign Affairs Committee claimed in a damning report released Wednesday. – New York Post

In a possible reversal of history, Kabul is courting Moscow — but for the moment the dance is less about politics than money. According to a new report in the state-run Russian news agency RIA Novosti, the Taliban this week dispatched a delegation of industry and trade officials to Moscow to meet with their Russian counterparts to discuss Afghanistan’s plans to purchase one million barrels of Russian oil. – New York Sun

United Against Nuclear Iran (UANI) Chairman Senator Joseph I. Lieberman and CEO Ambassador Mark D. Wallace issued the following joint statement today calling for the designation of the Islamic Republic of Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei as a Specially Designated Global Terrorist under U.S. Executive Order 13224 and other international terrorism authorities. – United Against Nuclear Iran

Delivering a Friday sermon at a mosque in Kabul, Hizb-i-Islami Afghanistan (HIA) leader Gulbuddin Hekmatyar condemned the July 31, 2022 drone strike that killed Al-Qaeda leader Ayman Al-Zawahiri, saying it is an act of terrorism and an attack on Afghanistan’s territorial integrity. – Middle East Media Research Institute

Editorial: The families had previously “proposed a deal to divide the $7 billion among three categories of recipients if the Biden administration backs them in court,” the New York Times noted in November. It will be easier to resolve the disagreement among the 9/11 families now that the Biden administration has jettisoned its proposal to give away half of the Afghan billions to one of the groups most responsible for 9/11, the Taliban. – New York Sun

Karl Rove writes: But if Republicans win the House this fall and Mr. McCaul becomes Foreign Affairs chairman, they’ll be able to give this preventable disaster the attention it deserves. Meanwhile, the Afghan people are being terrorized and brutalized every day, especially women and girls. It didn’t have to happen this way. – Wall Street Journal

Judah Waxelbaum writes: Afghanistan is spiraling toward the way the global community found it at the beginning of the millennium. With this result, there is no good answer for what was accomplished with all the blood and treasure lost. I am not advocating for another 20 years in Afghanistan, but I refuse to concede this was the destined outcome. The world requires a beacon on a hill, and for the moment, it feels as if President Biden has decided that light should stop short of Afghanistan. – Jerusalem Post

Harry Kazianis writes: Biden wanted to end the war, but how wars end matters. Biden sought to exit before the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks. That was an artificial, political deadline. Had he waited until winter, he could have enabled the U.S.-trained Afghan forces to dig in and prepare for several months until snows melted and the beginning of the next fighting season. […]Biden may have wanted to end a “forever war” but his team’s incompetence ensured new ones across the globe. – 19fortyfive

Middle East & North Africa

Syria denied on Wednesday it is holding U.S. journalist Austin Tice or other Americans after President Joe Biden accused the Syrian government of detaining him. – Associated Press

Iraq’s main political leaders — but not firebrand Shiite cleric Moqtada Sadr — agreed Wednesday to work on a roadmap aimed at ending the country’s political impasse, after talks called by the premier. – Agence France-Presse

The Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PID) terrorist organization is still engaged in talks with the Egyptian mediator regarding the state of calm in the Gaza Strip following the latest round of fighting, Operation Breaking Dawn. The organization is concerned that Israel is trying to renege on certain clauses it claims are part of the ceasefire agreement. – Arutz Sheva

The stabbing of author Salman Rushdie has laid bare divisions in Lebanon’s Shiite Muslim community, pitting a few denouncing the violence against fervent followers of the Iran-backed Shiite militant Hezbollah group who have praised the attack. One Rushdie defender received death threats. – Associated Press

Relatives of a Lebanese American man said they are happy to proceed with their lawsuit alleging that Lebanon’s security agency kidnapped and tortured him before he died in the U.S., now that a judge has rejected the agency’s attempt to strike the allegations. – Associated Press

Korean Peninsula

Talks with North Korea should not be for political show but contribute to establishing peace, South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol said on Wednesday, just hours after the North test fired two cruise missiles into the sea. – Reuters

South Korea doesn’t back the use of force to bring down the North Korean regime, President Yoon Suk Yeol said, adding he is open to speak with leader Kim Jong Un if he’s willing to end his atomic ambitions. – Bloomberg

State Department spokesperson Ned Price this week expressed “concern” about cooperation between North Korea and Iran on nuclear proliferation. – The National Interest


The People’s Liberation Army of China said it would join military exercises led by Russia in the latest demonstration of partnership between the two U.S. rivals.Building on a “no limits” pact their presidents signed this year, the Russian and Chinese militaries will drill side-by-side starting later this month in the Russian Far East, according to China’s Ministry of Defense.  – Wall Street Journal

Chinese troops will travel to Russia to take part in joint military exercises led by the host and including India, Belarus, Mongolia, Tajikistan and other countries, China’s defence ministry said on Wednesday. – Reuters

It is “reasonable to conclude” that forced labour of members of minority groups has taken place in China’s western Xinjiang region, the UN’s top expert on slavery said in a report released this week, prompting a fierce response from Beijing. – Reuters

On Taiwan’s windswept Matsu islands, close to China’s coast, one topic has been driving conversations in recent days: prospects of an invasion by China since it began military exercises in response to visits to Taiwan by U.S. lawmakers. – Reuters

China’s President Xi Jinping has made his first public appearance in two weeks, in a sign that the Communist Party’s annual secretive summer retreat on the Yellow Sea has ended. – Bloomberg

Chinese forces could invade Taiwan “perhaps even tomorrow” if political conditions on the island necessitate it, according to a senior Chinese envoy. “Actually the ball right now is in the hands of the Americans, not the Chinese,” Chinese Ambassador Yi Xianliang told a Norwegian media outlet. “If the US would like to take some measures to damage China’s core interest or fundamental interest, then we have to act. But I do believe, it will not happen.”. – Washington Examiner

The United States is worried about China and Russia’s “burgeoning relationship” after Russian President Vladimir Putin criticized House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s trip to Taiwan earlier this month, the State Department admitted Wednesday. – New York Post

One of China’s top diplomats warned Israel last week not to allow U.S. pressure to damage its relations with Beijing, according to senior Israeli Foreign Ministry officials with direct knowledge of the issue. – Axios

George F. Will writes: A 20th-century paradox: If the 1917 revolution had not infected Russia with communism, there would have been no Cold War; but communism’s stultifying irrationalities determined the war’s fortunate outcome. A 21st-century probability: China’s Leninism — everything is subordinated to the party’s “vanguard” function, and the party is the vanguard of ignorance — will similarly determine China’s trajectory. – Washington Post

Josh Rogin writes: The Chinese government is trying to stage a charm offensive in Washington. But the effort is falling flat because Beijing’s diplomats are pushing talking points based on claims that simply don’t match reality. China’s reliance on alternative facts is undermining its credibility in the United States and making an already tense relationship even more difficult to manage. – Washington Post

Paul Dabbar writes: During my tenure, the department developed and rolled out four orders to restrict China’s recruiting and appropriation of innovation. First, mandate disclosure and develop conflict-of-interest policies for department and national-lab employees regarding countries of risk (China, Russia, Iran and North Korea), including a ban on TTP membership. […] Fourth, require that any researcher supported by a department grant (including at U.S. universities) not be a member of a TTP. – Wall Street Journal

Tom Rogan writes: Contrary to its claims, China does not seek the give and take of “win-win cooperation” with the world. Instead, it stands ready to subjugate anyone who stands in its way. Tolerating this injustice in their slathering pursuit of communist gold, American businesses such as Coca-Cola, Dell, Johnson & Johnson, Pepsi-Cola, and Walmart (and the most pathetic of all, Intel) shame themselves and their country. – Washington Examiner

John Lee writes: China hopes the US and its allies will adopt a cautious, gradualist, and ineffective approach to countering Beijing’s strategy and objectives. The Chinese Communist Party knows the US and other advanced economies still have immense advantages despite clever Chinese messaging to the contrary. The US and its allies continue to enjoy considerable leverage and remain well placed to partially decouple from China on their preferred terms, but they need to act quickly, collectively, and decisively. – Hudson Institute

Michael Sobolik writes: The speaker said the quiet part out loud. There were no substantive talks before her trip; in fact, Beijing had already scuttled and slow-walked many of these initiatives. […]She made clear that the CCP is exploiting the potential for U.S.-China collaboration to divide Americans. Instead of a clear-eyed focus on Xi Jinping’s culpability, Washington is busy assigning domestic blame for destabilizing the bilateral relationship. A divided America isolates our friends and empowers our adversaries. As it turns out, “responsible competition” is deeply irresponsible. – American Foreign Policy Council

Min-Hua Chiang writes: The Indo-Pacific Economic Framework is a starting point, but more concrete measures are needed to strengthen U.S.-Asia economic relations. Reviving an American-led, free market-based order is essential to maintaining U.S. economic influence and the region’s prosperity and security. – The National Interest

South Asia

Sri Lanka’s former president Gotabaya Rajapaksa will return to the island nation next week after fleeing in July amid mass protests, local broadcaster Newsfirst reported on Wednesday, citing a former ambassador. – Reuters

India’s home ministry said on Wednesday that Rohingya refugees in the capital New Delhi would be held at a detention centre and then deported, contradicting a minister’s earlier statement promising flats and security to members of the Muslim minority. – Reuters

Mihir Sharma writes: In fact, as far as the subcontinent is concerned, the ayatollahs of the world are latecomers to the politics of blasphemy. What the Rushdie attack really illustrates is something both India and Pakistan are increasingly suffering from — the high cost of prizing religious identity over the defense of liberty – Bloomberg

Tom Rogan writes: The U.S. should seek a very close partnership with India, perhaps one day even forging a formal alliance. But as the U.S. has learned the hard way in Europe that alliance without reciprocity is a bad ingredient for foreign relations in the U.S. interest. Washington must demand more of New Delhi if its recent shows of kinship are to continue. – Washington Examiner


The United States and Taiwan said they are set to begin formal trade negotiations, as Washington shows its support for the island democracy facing Beijing’s ire for hosting high-ranking U.S. congressional delegations. – Washington Post

Myanmar’s military leadership on Wednesday lashed out at the ASEAN grouping of Southeast Asian countries for excluding its generals from regional gatherings, accusing it of caving to “external pressure”. – Reuters

Military-ruled Myanmar plans to import Russian gasoline and fuel oil to ease supply concerns and rising prices, a junta spokesperson said, the latest developing country to do so amid a global energy crisis – Reuters

A senior U.N. official said she had urged Myanmar’s military ruler to release political prisoners and stop executions on Wednesday, in a rare, high-profile visit that comes amid growing violence in the country – Reuters

Explosions and fires ripped through at least 17 locations in southern Thailand on Wednesday, authorities said, in what appeared to be multiple coordinated attacks that injured seven people. – Reuters

China’s aggressive military response to U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan has increased interest from other countries’ parliaments in similar trips, the island’s de facto ambassador to the United States said on Wednesday – Reuters

China’s efforts to coerce and undermine Taiwan risk miscalculation and its pressure campaign will most likely continue, Daniel Kritenbrink, the top U.S. diplomat for East Asia, said – Reuters

Japan’s national security adviser Takeo Akiba held talks with China’s top diplomat Yang Jiechi on Wednesday, news agency Jiji reported on Thursday. – Reuters

Taiwanese F-16 fighters roared into the night sky on Wednesday in a show of force in front of the media, demonstrating the military’s determination to defend the democratically governed island in the face of days of Chinese war games. – Reuters

A delegation of Canadian lawmakers plans to visit Taiwan in October to seek economic opportunities in the Asia Pacific region, Liberal Member of Parliament Judy Sgro said on Wednesday, a move that could further stoke tensions between China and the West. – Reuters

Taiwan is staging military exercises to show its ability to resist Chinese pressure to accept Beijing’s political control over the self-governing island, following new rounds of threatening drills from China. – Associated Press

Hilton Yip writes: It would be foolhardy to dismiss China’s actions as noise or mere gestures of intimidation. Having carried the drills out this time, China has the ability to repeat them or conduct even more extensive ones in the near future, not to mention regular so-called patrols. There might even come a time when Chinese maneuvers will not be drills. Taiwan as well as the United States must be prepared to accept this new reality and act accordingly. – Foreign Policy


A Spanish judge has ruled the death of Angola’s former President Jose Eduardo dos Santos in Barcelona in July was from natural causes, discarding foul play, and allowed the release and repatriation of his body, the court said on Wednesday. – Reuters

NATO will increase its peacekeeping force in Kosovo if there is an escalation of tensions with neighbouring Serbia, the alliance’s chief said on Wednesday, on the eve of EU-facilitated talks between the estranged western Balkan neighbours. – Reuters

Wartime rivals Serbia and Kosovo are holding high-level crisis talks on Thursday which European Union mediators hope will de-escalate growing tensions in the Balkans, where Russia has tried to further increase its influence amid the war in Ukraine. – Associated Press


The World Health Organization’s director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus has suggested that racism is behind a lack of international attention being paid to the plight of civilians in Ethiopia’s war-shattered Tigray region. – Reuters

Suspected rebels have killed civilians and damaged a major hydropower plant under construction in Virunga National Park in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, the park operator said on Wednesday – Reuters

A U.S. congressional delegation has arrived in Kenya to meet with the new president-elect and the opposition figure likely to file a court challenge to his election loss in the latest electoral crisis for East Africa’s most stable democracy. – Associated Press

Defense officials on Wednesday claimed a U.S. airstrike against al-Shabaab fighters in Somalia killed 13 militants, the deadliest such strike against the extremist group in months.  – The Hill

Catherine Nzuki and Mvemba Phezo Dizolele write: The current U.S. approach to engaging with African states is marred by a history of paternalism and a dismissal on the international stage. Unrooting this practice will be incredibly difficult work but is nonetheless crucial for genuine engagement with African states as partners first. With a remarkably young populations and growing economies, Africa offers bold ideas anchored in innovation that would benefit from sustained long-term engagement with the United States. – Center for Strategic and International Studies

The Americas

U.S. authorities have seen a spike in weapons smuggling to Haiti and the Caribbean in recent months, officials said on Wednesday, promising to boost efforts to combat the trade that is fueling rampant gang violence in Haiti and rising crime in the region. – Reuters

The global geopolitical situation shaped by the war in Ukraine is an opportunity for Argentina to continue adding support for its sovereignty claim over British-run Falkland Islands, an Argentine official told Reuters. – Reuters

The United States is studying the case of women’s rights activist Salma al-Shehab, who was sentenced to 34 years in prison in Saudi Arabia, the State Department said on Wednesday. – Reuters

Nolan Rappaport writes: USCIS isn’t the only agency facing a backlog crisis. As of the end of July, the immigration court had a backlog of more than 1.8 million cases, with an average wait time for a hearing before an immigration judge of 818 days. How much worse do things have to get before the administration and congress realize how serious this situation is? – The Hill

Long War

UK police lifted the lid Wednesday on a years-long probe into the notorious Islamic State (IS) kidnap-and-murder cell dubbed the “Beatles” by their captives. Counter-terrorism officers said the hostages’ recollections helped “zero in” on three of the British captors. – Agence France-Presse

The top official in Russian-annexed Crimea said on Wednesday that the FSB security service had broken up what he described as a six-person terrorist cell of a banned Islamist group, a day after explosions rocked one of Russia’s military bases there. – Reuters

Palestinian Authority security forces last week arrested two members of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad terror group who had in their possession 17 kilograms (37 pounds) of explosives, according to a report on Tuesday. – Times of Israel