Fdd's overnight brief

August 25, 2022

In The News


As Washington and Tehran edge closer to restoring the nuclear deal, Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid on Wednesday slammed the agreement being negotiated, saying it wouldn’t stop Iran from developing a nuclear weapon and would hand Tehran a significant financial boon. – Wall Street Journal

The US has sent its response to the European Union’s latest proposal to revive the multinational accord that limited Iran’s nuclear program in exchange for the lifting of related economic sanctions, a fresh sign that an agreement may be within reach. – Bloomberg

Iran said it’s reviewing the Biden administration’s response to an EU-drafted plan to rescue the 2015 nuclear accord, including US comments on amendments suggested by Tehran. – Bloomberg

Iran on Wednesday launched exercises to test its combat and reconnaissance drones, state media reported, amid U.S. concerns over the possible supply of Iranian-made unmanned aircraft to Russia for use in the war in Ukraine. – Reuters

The U.S. and Iran are closing in on an agreement to restore the 2015 nuclear deal after almost 17 months of negotiations. The United States relayed to the EU on Wednesday its much-awaited response to Iran’s comments on the draft proposal to restore the nuclear deal, a U.S. official familiar with the matter told POLITICO. – Politico

Amid reports in the global media that Iran and the superpowers, headed by the U.S., are close to renewing the nuclear deal, many articles in the Saudi and Emirati press express concern regarding the emerging agreement. They note that, like the deal of 2015, the renewed one does not address the demand of the Gulf states to restrain Iran’s problematic conduct in the region, and does not include firm restrictions on Iran’s missile program or the terrorist militias it deploys in Arab countries. – Middle East Media Research Institute

Iran is looking to fill Russia’s market share for oil in Europe if a new nuclear deal with world powers goes through. Tehran’s plan comes amid stiff competition with its ally Russia in the international oil markets as both heavily sanctioned countries are slashing prices to sell to non-sanctioning buyers such as China and India, Bloomberg reported in July. – Business Insider

Amid a critical moment for the effort to restore a nuclear deal, Iran has accused the United States of a terrorist act in Syria after President Joe Biden ordered an airstrike on positions said to be linked to Tehran’s elite Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps. – Newsweek

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) on Tuesday decried the possible revival of the 2015 nuclear agreement with Iran and vowed to fight its implementation. – Jerusalem Post

David Ignatius writes: The budding Moscow-Tehran alliance adds a new obstacle to renewing the 2015 nuclear agreement. U.S. officials remain convinced that its limits on Iranian enrichment of uranium would bolster the security of both the United States and Israel. But Tehran has demanded concessions, outside the framework of the agreement, that the Biden administration has so far refused to make. – Washington Post

Bobby Ghosh writes: But if predictions of GOP gains in the November midterm elections are borne out, the party can use its influence in Congress to slow-roll the lifting of existing sanctions and even impose new ones in response to Iranian activities that Biden has been reluctant to punish — those assassination plots, for instance. Getting that message out now would cool the enthusiasm of companies that might be interested in doing business with Iran. And it would provide a modicum of reassurance to America’s friends in the Mideast that Iran won’t have free rein to darken their skies. – Bloomberg

Mark D. Wallace, Norman Roule and Frances F. Townsend write: Tehran will respond defiantly. We should expect attacks on our forces in Iraq or Syria to test our fortitude. Nevertheless, a serious multipronged approach will ignite debate among Iran’s leadership as to whether “state” terrorism is worth the potential costs, including a military conflict. Absent a different approach to Tehran’s aggression, we risk Iran achieving a catastrophic success that cannot be viewed as anything other than an act of war resulting in war. Our restraint should not be the very cause of such a disastrous outcome. – The Hill

Seth J. Frantzman writes: In addition, Iran will continue to export drone and missile threats regardless of a deal and will continue to work toward a bomb on its own timeline. A deal is merely a piece of paper that Iran can use to get around some sanctions; its behavior will continue, and it is already emboldened with a feeling of impunity in the region. – Jerusalem Post

Russia & Ukraine

The U.S. promised nearly $3 billion more in long-term security aid to Ukraine, the White House said, the biggest U.S. weapons assistance package since Russia invaded six months ago. – Wall Street Journal

As Ukraine observed both its Independence Day and the six-month anniversary of Russia’s invasion on Wednesday, Moscow aimed a deadly missile strike at a train station in the country’s southeast, killing at least 22 and injuring dozens more, President Volodymyr Zelensky said. – Washington Post

So Boris Johnson popped up in Ukraine on Wednesday. The unannounced appearance shocked, but it did not really surprise. Wartime Ukraine has offered a kind of respite for the embattled British prime minister, who has only a few weeks left as head of government. The visit to Kyiv, to celebrate Ukraine’s independence day, was his third to Ukraine since Russia invaded six months ago. – Washington Post

A hail of shrapnel from kamikaze drones ripped through the tent where off-duty Ukrainian border guards were sleeping near a crossing with Belarus, three hours north of Ukraine’s capital. – Washington Post

The Ukraine war has hit a shocking milestone: Six months after Vladimir Putin invaded, it’s still on. Virtually nobody—and certainly not Putin himself—thought Ukraine could hold the mighty Russian military at bay, from late February through August, with only a moderate infusion of weapons from the West, some supportive declarations from Western leaders and a smattering of “We Stand with Ukraine” signs on U.S. lawns. – Newsweek

The former Ukrainian president who was poisoned by Russians in 2004 said Wednesday that Russia has already been defeated, but Ukraine hasn’t necessarily won the war. Viktor Yushchenko, who was Ukraine’s third president, made remarks on his country’s Independence Day and, ironically, the half-year mark of the current war with Russia. – Newsweek 

Editorial: While Europe has maintained admirable solidarity in the face of economic pain related to reducing dependence on Russian energy, France and Germany have lagged the United States, Britain, Poland and even Norway in terms of aid to Ukraine relative to their total economic output, according to the Ukraine Support Tracker database at Germany’s Kiel Institute for the World Economy. If the U.S.-led Western alliance has a weakness, “burden sharing” is it. If Ukraine is to have any chance of success, the alliance must solve that chronic problem, once and for all. – Washington Post

Adam Taylor writes: Now two have. And the threat may not be limited to Ukraine, nor to physical conflict: In March, the United States unsealed charges on four Russian officials of carrying out a series of cyberattacks targeting U.S. infrastructure. One apparent target? A nuclear power plant in Kansas. – Washington Post

Jonathan Sweet writes: Gen. George Patton once said, “You are not beaten until you admit it.” Russian forces and their surrogates are close to that point. Are we any closer to a Russian battalion tactical group refusing to follow orders, or worse, surrendering? Ukraine’s continued success on the battlefield, such as Tuesday’s strike on a building that housed the local administration headquarters in the center of separatist-controlled Donetsk, will determine that, but we are approaching a breaking point. Losing can be contagious. – Washington Examiner

Joshua C. Huminski writes: Managing expectations at a political level is a precursor to managing public expectations within the countries providing critical support to Ukraine. This is even more important as the conflict continues beyond the 240-character attention span of most citizens (and politicians), beyond the six months fought thus far and well into 2023 and beyond. Indeed, if 2014 is anything to go by, will the West be willing to sustain support to Ukraine for the next eight or more years? – The Hill

Joel Hickman writes: But whatever pyrrhic victory Putin tries to claim in Ukraine, Russia’s relegation from the top tier of military-industrial producers and exporters appears all but certain. Its economic predicament verges on existential, and its military losses are truly eyewatering for a 21st century conflict. The long-term effect this will have on its global military aspirations, and influence over a rapidly shrinking international client base, may yet prove its greatest defeat. – Center for European Policy Analysis

Fiona Hill and Angela Stent writes: As he looks toward a quarter century in power, Putin seeks to build his version of a Russian empire. […] During his reign, Peter the Great opened a window to the West by traveling to Europe, inviting Europeans to come to Russia and help develop its economy, and adopting and adapting European artisans’ skills. Vladimir Putin’s invasions and territorial expansions have slammed that window shut. They have sent Europeans and their companies back home and pushed a generation of talented Russians fleeing into exile. Peter took Russia into the future. Putin is pushing it back to the past. – Foreign Affairs


Dozens of Islamic Jihad militants displayed life-sized replicas of their rockets during a parade in the Gaza Strip on Wednesday, in a show of defiance after three days of heavy fighting with Israel earlier this month. – Associated Press

The Palestinian Authority urged Palestinians not to take advantage of concessions promised by Israel that would allow them to travel through Ramon aiport in southern Israel, saying they should have their own airport. – Reuters

Israel is waging a “last-minute” offensive to convince its allies to halt talks on reviving the Iran nuclear deal with a flurry of diplomatic trips, calls to Western leaders and press briefings. As the United States responded to Iran’s suggestions on reviving the landmark 2015 deal, Israel warned Wednesday of the consequences of going back to the accord. – Agence France-Presse

Israeli Air Force F-35 advanced fifth-generation fighter jets penetrated Iranian airspace multiple times over the last two months, according to the Saudi media outlet Elaph. Both Iranian and Russian radars failed to locate them, according to the report. – Jerusalem Post

An IDF soldier was lightly injured after he was shot in the hand by terrorist fire during operational activities overnight in the village of Burkin located near Jenin in the area of the Menasha regional division, an IDF spokesperson said Thursday morning. – Jerusalem Post

The Hamas terror group that rules the Gaza Strip launched a campaign Wednesday against a Spanish tourist who posted pictures in what the group called “immodest” clothes while visiting the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem. – Times of Israel

The Biden administration has urged the Palestinian Authority (PA) not to pursue a vote at the UN Security Council on gaining full UN membership, stressing it will likely veto any such move, US and PA sources told Barak Ravid of Axios on Wednesday. – Arutz Sheva

Defense Minister Benny Gantz on Wednesday night took off for an official visit to Washington, which will be followed by a stop in Japan. – Arutz Sheva

Lahav Harkov writes: Unfortunately, it seems that neither playing nice with the White House nor being aggressive is enough to stop an administration determined to sign a deal with Iran, but it could play a pivotal role in Israel in November. – Jerusalem Post

Jonathan Lis writes: Jerusalem is pressuring the Biden administration to stand firm on other issues as well: to not lift sanctions on Iran that are not part of the original agreement, and to not grant it economic guarantees, in the event that the United States will eventually decide to withdraw from the agreement for a second time. In any case, Israel’s political leaders are well aware that Washington is not interested in fulfilling the main request they presented in recent years – establishing a significant and intimidating military threat against Tehran. Israel has no such capabilities in any event, officials believe. – Haaretz 


Afghan women’s rights activists opened a library in Kabul on Wednesday, hoping to provide an oasis for women increasingly cut off from education and public life under the ruling Taliban. – Reuters

As the Taliban intensifies its war against Islamic State-Khorasan (IS-K), religious clerics associated with the rival militant groups are being caught in the crossfire. – Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty

GOP veterans in Congress who served in Afghanistan said President Biden’s botched withdrawal is “haunting” Americans, while vowing that Republicans will “lead the charge” in ensuring Americans know that freedom, safety and security of the homeland came with sacrifice — and that those sacrifices “will not be in vain. – FOX News

It has been described as Afghanistan’s brain drain, after the Taliban’s return to power last year precipitated an exodus of politicians, academics and journalists who fled in anticipation of reprisals and censorship under the militant group’s draconian regime. For a small group of Afghan women, however, the work of running the country has not stopped, even in exile. – The Guardian


Three U.S. troops were injured in two separate rocket attacks on bases housing American service members in Syria, the Pentagon announced Wednesday. – The Hill

U.S. military airstrikes in eastern Syria were a message to Iran and Tehran-backed militias that targeted American troops this month and several other times over the past year, the Pentagon said Wednesday. – Associated Press

Iran denied having any link to sites targeted by the United States in Syria, Iranian foreign ministry spokesperson Nasser Kanaani said on Wednesday, according to the ministry’s telegram channel. Reporting by Dubai Newsroom. – Reuters


A conservative think tank filed a petition to the High Court of Justice on Wednesday after the government said it would not submit a deal with Lebanon solving a maritime border dispute to a national referendum in the event such an understanding is reached. – Agence France-Presse

Lebanon’s interior minister on Wednesday asked security forces to investigate death threats against the Saudi embassy in Lebanon after Saudi Arabia’s ambassador to Lebanon shared a recording containing such threats on his Twitter account. – Reuters

Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah met with Palestinian Islamic Jihad chief Ziyad Nakhaleh in Lebanon on Wednesday and discussed regional developments, including in Gaza and the West Bank, according to the Hezbollah-affiliated Lebanese news outlet Al Mayadeen. – Times of Israel


A series of violent crimes against women in Egypt has drawn attention to gaps in legal and social protections that leave female citizens vulnerable to attacks and harassment, victims and activists say. – Reuters

Cairo and Jerusalem are at odds over the Egyptian-brokered truce that ended the Gaza violence earlier this month. The fragile quiet on Israel’s southern border is dependent on a hastily reached truce fraught with confusion. – Jerusalem Post

Zvi Bar’el writes: Military, diplomatic and intelligence cooperation between Israel and Egypt are at an all-time high, but this didn’t happen on its own. Both countries paid and are still paying a price to maintain and even deepen it. Managing Gaza has also made them dependent on each other, and this interdependence is a shared strategic asset. But it requires nurturing. Above all, this means coordination and respect for any understandings that are reached. – Haaretz 

Arabian Peninsula

Yemen’s HSA Group on Thursday became the first private entity to pledge funds for a United Nations operation to avoid an oil spill from a tanker stranded off the coast of Yemen, as the U.N. urgently tries to secure an initial requirement of $80 million. – Reuters

A delayed sixth round of talks between Saudi Arabia and Iran in Baghdad will take place when the conditions are right in Iraq, Iran’s ambassador to Kuwait said in published remarks confirmed by his embassy on Wednesday. – Reuters

Ethen Kim Lieser writes: The Biden administration’s emerging nuclear deal with Iran is not sitting well with Saudi Arabia. According to Dan Eberhart, CEO of Canary, a Denver-based drilling-services company, it is definitely not a coincidence that the Saudi’s oil-production cut threat comes as President Joe Biden is heading toward reviving a 2015 nuclear deal with Iran, which offered sanctions relief in exchange for curbs on the country’s nuclear program. – The National Interest

Middle East & North Africa

Emmanuel Macron travels this week to Algeria, a former French colony and one of the world’s largest gas producers. But it’s unlikely the French president will return with the one thing that has European leaders scouring the globe for: commitments for alternative supplies of liquefied natural gas. – Bloomberg

The United States promised on Wednesday to expand its visa processing capacity in Turkey, moving to defuse a dispute that has threatened to further strain already difficult relations between the NATO allies. – Reuters

Wednesday marks six months since the Kremlin launched its invasion of Ukraine. As Russia bombs its neighbor, what has become the biggest European war since 1945 has had an outsized impact far south, in the Middle East. A volatile region with an array of existing problems, the Middle East was no exception to the disruptions brought on by the conflict in Europe — with food shortages and inflation causing fear of political unrest amid a tug-of-war for allies between Russia and the West. – CNN

George Monastiriakos  writes: Nicosia’s pivot away from Russia, coupled with the Russian withdrawal from Cyprus and Turkey’s ambivalence in the eastern Mediterranean provides the U.S. with the perfect opportunity to re-engage with the region. Including Cyprus in U.S. grand strategy would enable it to project power on three different axes while safeguarding the rules-based international order and balancing revisionist powers in the region. It may even hold the key to reunifying Cyprus. – Newsweek

David Schenker writes: As Washington appears to inch closer to a nuclear deal with Tehran, countering the latter’s meddling in Baghdad has taken on added urgency—both for the United States and for its regional partners. After Iraqis bravely voted for parties opposed to Iranian domination, the Biden administration’s subsequent hands-off approach to the government formation process has allowed the mullahs to steal victory from the jaws of defeat. Inexplicably, it appears that Iraq—where the United States has fought two major wars in recent decades—is no longer a priority for Washington. Unfortunately, it is for Tehran. – Foreign Policy

Korean Peninsula

South Korea’s trade minister will visit the US next month to lobby against President Biden’s new climate and energy tax laws that aim to increase domestic production of electric cars and reduce reliance on China for battery components and materials. – Bloomberg

South Korea will seek cooperation with the European Union over the U.S. Inflation Reduction Act that excludes electric vehicles (EVs) assembled outside of North America from tax credits in the United States, the country’s industry ministry said on Thursday. – Reuters

James Stavridis writes: The US must thus continue to strongly support the South Koreans, and not just as a matter of upholding its treaty obligations. Although US support for Ukraine has mitigated some of the damage done to US credibility by its Kabul withdrawal, its behavior is being closely watched. Our NATO partners are following events in the Pacific as they decide how strongly to support US leadership on Ukraine in the cold winter ahead. So will President Xi Jinping of China, as he calculates his next move on Taiwan. A lot is riding on the successful execution of these exercises — with consequences that will ripple far beyond the peninsula. – Bloomberg


China’s government unveiled tens of billions of dollars of economic support for its power and agricultural industries, which have been grappling with a record heat wave and drought that have cut into industrial production. – Wall Street Journal

While China likely still lacks the ability to quickly invade and seize Taiwan, it could try to impose a blockade to force the island into concessions or as a precursor to wider military action. In this scenario, China would attempt to subdue Taiwan by choking it and its 23 million people in a ring of ships and aircraft, cutting it off physically, economically and even digitally. – New York Times

China is using its vast cyber army and a network of low-level diplomats to “manipulate and dominate” global public opinion on its repression of Muslim minorities in Xinjiang, according to a new State Department report, which details the depth and scale of Beijing’s most prominent disinformation campaign. – Newsweek

China should not use a planned visit to Taiwan by Canadian lawmakers as pretext for either military or economic aggression, a spokesperson for Foreign Minister Melanie Joly said on Wednesday. – Reuters

A senior member of Taiwan’s main opposition party, the Kuomintang (KMT), has told a top Chinese official of Taiwanese people’s concerns about Beijing’s war games near the island, in what the party described as “frank” talks. – Reuters

Both the United States and China need to be on board to ensure peace and bring action on climate change, Tuvalu’s foreign minister said on Thursday. – Reuters

It’s been four years since a committee of United Nations experts called attention to “credible reports” that more than 1 million Uyghur and other Muslim minority peoples were interned in extrajudicial camps in Xinjiang in northwestern China for “re-education” and indoctrination. […]The deadlock between countries in the Human Rights Council over how to respond to the allegations is one reason why those who have sought to hold China to account — including the overseas family members of Uyghur people in Xinjiang — are closely watching the release of Bachelet’s report. – CNN

Dan Newhouse and Sarah Chamberlain write: But it’s not too late for Congress to force the administration’s hand. We are sponsoring and supporting a bill to prevent the purchase of American farmland by China. Passage of this bill is more critical than ever in the wake of escalating tensions surrounding Taiwan. As we track these troubling developments in the Taiwan Strait, we must recognize that the CCP’s strategy is not contained to the other side of the world. China is here, inside our gates, gaining control that it could use against us at any moment. If we wait much longer to stop these purchases, it could soon be too late. – FOX News

South Asia

Former Pakistani prime minister Imran Khan was granted temporary bail by Islamabad’s anti-terrorism court, a move expected to alleviate escalating tensions between the former leader and the current government, after the power struggle threatened to erupt into violence this week. – Washington Post

Gautam Adani, the richest man in Asia and a close ally of prime minister Narendra Modi, owns some of India’s busiest airports and seaports, coal mines and power plants. This week, Adani made a foray into a new field — television — in a move that could reshape India’s media landscape. – Washington Post

Hundreds of thousands of Rohingya refugees on Thursday marked the fifth anniversary of their exodus from Myanmar to Bangladesh, while the United States, European Union and other Western nations pledged to continue supporting the refugees’ pursuit of justice in international courts. – Associated Press

Pakistan rejected India’s closure of the incident of the firing of a supersonic missile into Pakistani territory on March 9, and reiterated its demand for a joint probe, according to a statement Wednesday from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. – Reuters

Debasish Roy Chowdhury writes: At 75, after decades of institutional abuse, India’s democracy is too frail to withstand a strongman taking a sledgehammer to its weak foundations. Mr. Modi calls the Parliament building a “temple of democracy.” But the institution’s new premises in New Delhi are instead a monument to the demi-democracy he is building — a hollowed-out facade that exists to legitimize authoritarian rule. – New York Times

Mihir Sharma writes: The Pakistan army has long modeled itself on modern Turkey’s, imagining itself the resolute defender of national identity and of Western alliances. It should take a look at what happened when the Turkish army came up against a real populist with a taste for confrontation. If the current standoff doesn’t end up shrinking the uniforms’ power over Pakistani politics, it could well lead to a dangerous new axis between illiberal populism, Islamism and militarism. – Bloomberg


Thailand’s prime minister, Prayuth Chan-ocha, has been suspended from duty by the country’s constitutional court as it rules on whether he has exceeded his term limit, the latest test of the former army chief’s increasingly strained grip on power. – Wall Street Journal

Taiwan announced Thursday a record jump in defense spending for next year as the self-governing democracy eyes new fighter jets and anti-ship missiles to deter a Chinese military invasion. – Washington Post

Taiwan proposed raising its total spending on the military by almost 14% next year, contributing to what’s expected to be a record increase in the government’s budget as it bolsters its defenses from a surge in Chinese military activity. – Bloomberg

The Solomon Islands government threatened to ban “disrespectful and demeaning” journalists from entering in response to an Australian documentary that alleged widespread Beijing influence in the Pacific country. – Bloomberg

Authorities in Myanmar have detained Britain’s former ambassador to the Southeast Asian nation, two people with knowledge of the situation said on Thursday. – Reuters

Taiwan proposed $19 billion in defence spending for next year on Thursday, a double-digit increase on 2022 that includes funds for new fighter jets, weeks after China staged large-scale war games around the island it views as its sovereign territory. – Reuters

Taiwan will next year begin deploying drone defence systems on its offshore islands, the defence ministry said, after footage emerged of Taiwanese soldiers throwing stones at a Chinese drone that buzzed a guard post near China’s coast. – Reuters

Authorities in Myanmar have detained Britain’s former ambassador to the Southeast Asian nation, where a military junta seized power last year, three people with knowledge of the situation said on Thursday. – Reuters

Japan will start preparations to hold ‘two-plus-two’ talks between its foreign and defence ministers and their Indian counterparts as soon as early September, the Nikkei reported on Thursday. – Reuters

Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said that his country would restart its idled nuclear power plants and weigh the construction of new facilities, a major pivot in energy policy following the 2011 Fukushima disaster. – Washington Examiner

Gearoid Reidy writes: Kishida should be applauded for taking these challenges on. As the most prominent politician from Hiroshima, the first city to suffer attack by an atomic bomb, he’s an unlikely face for the nuclear movement. But just as with his support for increased defense spending, his background gives him cover for an idea that other politicians would find a hard sell. Now the difficult part begins. – Bloomberg

Yu-Hua Chen writes: Japan, Australia, and Taiwan’s balancing strategies have profound implications for international relations theories and the future of politics in the Indo-Pacific. […] Hedging scholars missed the impact anarchy would have in the case of a U.S. retreat. From a social constructivist perspective, if this new established state deepens and is reinforced by how the three states interact with one another, we may see these three countries remain steadfast order maintainers across different governments in the future. It appears that the age of hedging is over. – The National Interest


Germany and the families of Israeli athletes killed in a terrorist attack at the 1972 Olympic Games in Munich have been unable to reach an agreement on compensation, putting the families’ participation in a 50-year anniversary ceremony in doubt. – Wall Street Journal

Even as Sweden prepares to join NATO, Sweden’s air force has a problem. Its most experienced fighter pilots are quitting. – Business Insider

British steel producers will have to pay a 25 per cent tariff to sell certain construction products into Northern Ireland after EU quotas for global imports were exhausted earlier than expected. – Financial Times

The French transport minister called on Thursday for an investigation into whether French oil major TotalEnergies (TTEF.PA) was involved in supplying jet fuel to the Russian military through a local joint venture. – Reuters

Maria Tadeo writes: If Europe fails to deliver a comprehensive solution for its citizens facing financial stress, the impact on the continent’s social fabric will be enormous. And it will feed right into the hands of Russian propagandists. Last week, Emmanuel Macron, while paying homage to the liberation of the Bormes-les-Mimosas from Nazi occupation, suggested freedom has a price — and it is a price worth paying. But it must be fair too. – Bloomberg

Laurence Boone writes: It is within this context that we ought to understand the historic step of granting candidate status to Ukraine and Moldova, recognising the European perspective in Georgia, as well as the opening of accession negotiations with North Macedonia and Albania. The EU must anchor the Western Balkans in the European family, to which they belong geographically, historically and culturally. – Financial Times


Fighting erupted Wednesday near the border of Ethiopia’s Tigray region, ending a months-long cease-fire and launching a new phase in a civil war that has had devastating humanitarian consequences. – Washington Post

A mountain of debt, nearly two-thirds of it owed to China, is eating up the gains of Angola’s burgeoning oil boom and could upend nearly five decades of one-party rule in Wednesday’s general election. – Wall Street Journal

Provisional results on Thursday from ballot counting in Angola’s election indicate the ruling party MPLA, in power for nearly five decades, holds a strong lead over the main opposition UNITA, which said the initial outcome was not reliable. – Reuters

Latin America

An appeals court overturned a Florida federal judge’s order seizing the U.S. fortune of a sanctioned Venezuelan billionaire with alleged cartel ties to satisfy a $318 million judgment for the American victims of a Colombian terrorist kidnapping. – Associated Press

Latin American leaders sent their support to Argentina’s Vice President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner on Wednesday, after a federal prosecutor asked for extensive prison time in her corruption proceedings. – Reuters

Michael Stott writes: Major cartels have moved well beyond trafficking drugs. They now smuggle refugees, extort from businesses, kidnap the wealthy, and trade illegal Amazon timber or gold. Chilean organised crime has dipped into illicit fishing, while the latest business for Mexican gangs, according to Verisk’s Blanco, is smuggling abortion pills over the border to the US. – Financial Times

North America

The New York Times has come under fire by pro-Israel outlets for employing multiple freelancers who have a history of making anti-Semitic posts on social media. – New York Post

Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador on Wednesday rebuked Israel’s government for what he called its protection of a top former official wanted in Mexico on accusations he manipulated a probe into the 2014 disappearance of 43 students. – Associated Press

Julian Spencer-Churchill writes: Traditional anti-American sentiment in the Canadian Liberal party, combined with the incentives of alienating Canada’s Chinese community from voting for the Conservative Party, is just enough incentive to sap courage out of Justin Trudeau’s China policy. Washington policymakers need to remind Ottawa of its place in North America and within the community of democratic trading states, especially its legal and moral obligations to that community. – The National Interest


A covert online persuasion campaign to cast the US and its allies in a positive light in the Middle East and Central Asia — as well as to bash its adversaries — was disrupted by Meta Platforms Inc. and Twitter Inc., which have removed the “inauthentic” accounts from their platforms, according to internet researchers. – Bloomberg

A Coinbase Inc. account holder says he spent days trying to reach customer support at the cryptocurrency exchange before he was finally able to get help after hackers took over and drained his account. – Bloomberg

Accusations from a former Twitter Inc. executive that the social network had lax data protections have sparked concerns among lawmakers and cyber experts that the alleged vulnerabilities pose a threat to national security. – Bloomberg

Elon Musk’s lawyers jumped Wednesday on the revelations of a Twitter whistleblower to try to force the platform to surrender vast amounts of information for their fight to cancel the billionaire’s buyout bid. – Agence France-Presse

The Twitter executive who unveiled several security problems with Twitter’s practices will testify before Congress next month. – Washington Examiner

Facebook experienced an odd glitch Wednesday morning that caused some users to see an abnormally large number of celebrity-related posts in their content feeds. – New York Post


BAE Systems’ U.S. subsidiary has won a nearly $108 million contract from the U.S. Navy to repair the guided-missile destroyer USS Ross — a process that will take more than 500 days, according to a company news release issued Wednesday. – Defense News

The U.S. Army will make swift, significant strides in cloud migration and utilization in the coming 12 months, according to the service’s top uniformed information technology official. – Defense News

A recent US Army Futures Command (AFC) live-flight demonstration of a solar-powered, stratospheric unmanned aerial system (UAS) could play into service-led efforts to extend intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) capabilities, as well as enable new long-range, beyond-line-of-sight (BLOS) communications programmes. – Janes

The Czech Republic will receive eight additional H-1 helicopters from the United States for free, Defence Minister Jana Černochová announced during a visit to the 24th Air Transport Base in Kbely outside Prague on 19 August. She said the US would gift two UH-1Y Venom utility helicopters and six AH-1Z Viper attack helicopters. This will bring the number of UH-1Y and AH-1Z helicopters that the Czech Republic will receive to 10 each. – Janes