Fdd's overnight brief

August 28, 2023

In The News


Iranian authorities are arresting activists and pressuring citizens not to resume antigovernment protests, seeking to head off a new outbreak of civil disobedience around the anniversary of last year’s nationwide demonstrations. – Wall Street Journal

A potential prisoner swap between the United States and Iran — which “remains on track,” White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan told reporters this week — has renewed attention on the plight of other prisoners in Iran with Western passports who advocates say are being detained as bargaining chips. – Washington Post

Over the past 12 months, Iran has lurched from crisis to crisis. […]But then came a surprise announcement on Thursday that the country had been invited to join BRICS, a group of emerging economies aiming to act as a counterweight to Western dominance of the world order. Iranian officials immediately declared a victory, boasting about their country’s “historic achievement” and talking up its potential as a trade partner and as an ideological disrupter of Western hegemony. – New York Times

Iran’s enrichment of uranium continues based on a framework established by the country’s parliament, nuclear chief Mohammad Eslami said on Sunday when asked about reports regarding Tehran slowing down its 60% enrichment. – Reuters

Iran on Friday launched exercises to test its “electronic warfare” capabilities against mock enemy drones, fighter jets and helicopters, state television reported. – Reuters

Washington should explain its links to the Iranian-German national Jamshid Sharmahd sentenced to death in Iran, the Iranian foreign ministry spokesperson Nasser Kanaani said on Monday. – Reuters

A U.S. envoy for Iran met on Friday with the family of Iranian-German national Jamshid Sharmahd, who was sentenced to death in February in Iran after being convicted of heading a pro-monarchist group accused of a deadly 2008 bombing. – Reuters

Russia’s military cooperation with Iran will not succumb to geopolitical pressure, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said, following a report that Washington has asked Teheran to stop selling drones to Moscow. – Reuters

An oil leak has hit a transmission pipeline linking Iran’s Kharg island to the country’s mainland port of Genaveh, the semi-official Tasnim news agency reported on Sunday, without specifying the magnitude of the spill. – Reuters

While Iran and the US make wary diplomatic overtures, a return to their lapsed nuclear agreement remains a distant prospect. But for world oil markets, a pact is already taking effect. – Bloomberg

A number of Iranian professors who expressed support for protesting students during the demonstrations that swept Iran after the killing of Mahsa Amini last year have been fired or suspended in the weeks leading up to the anniversary of Amini’s death, according to reports by student unions and opposition-affiliated media. – Jerusalem Post

Ilan Berman writes: Every American should naturally applaud steps that help bring our unjustly imprisoned countrymen home. But anyone who understands the dangers posed by the Islamic Republic should also be deeply concerned about the costs incurred by doing this in the way Biden has chosen. – The Hill

Seth J. Frantzman writes: Iran’s ability to import and export more defense products will increase this year as more sanctions related to the JCPOA are likely to expire in October. The looming October 2023 sunset for some sanctions could increase Iran’s ballistic missile and drone programs and is a concern for the US and Europe. – Jerusalem Post

Salem Alketbi writes: This scenario is highly plausible, given the current circumstances. The only element yet to be unveiled is the official announcement, as the final touches are being formally applied to introduce the anticipated comprehensive agreement. What we are witnessing, including the events linked to the reinforcement of the US military presence around the Gulf and Iran’s reactions to American “provocations,” constitutes merely a portion of the planned strategy for negotiating the official agreement. – Jerusalem Post

Abraham Cooper and Johnnie Moore write: But paying isn’t the only way to win their freedom. Say what you want about the previous and flawed administration, but there’s one fact worth remembering: Many imprisoned Americans were brought home, from Andrew Brunson to Xiyue Wang, without the US unloading forklifts of cash. We need to return to a policy when America made the cost of keeping Americans imprisoned unsustainable. In 2023, we need the president of the United States, acting on behalf of all Americans, to change course. To help the people of Iran, to protect American citizens at home and abroad, to serve the cause of human dignity, the US must project its power, economic, military, and moral. – Jerusalem Post

Russia & Ukraine

Russia officially confirmed the death of Yevgeny Prigozhin, the Wagner paramilitary-group boss who controlled a vast business empire in Africa and led a short-lived rebellion against the country’s defense establishment before being killed in a plane crash Wednesday. – Wall Street Journal

Lawyers for jailed Wall Street Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich have appealed a Moscow court’s decision to extend his pretrial detention until Nov. 30. – Wall Street Journal

The FBI and German investigators are probing the possible poisoning of two Russian journalists and a Russian activist based in the U.S. and Europe and critical of the Kremlin, according to people familiar with the investigations. – Wall Street Journal

Three Ukrainian pilots were killed in a collision between two combat training aircraft in the west of the country, casting a shadow over the start of training on F-16 jet fighters by the U.S. and its allies abroad. – Wall Street Journal

As Russia squeezes Ukraine’s ability to export its huge grain harvests, it is farmers like Valery Kolosha who are counting the cost. Russia last month pulled out of an international agreement that facilitated Ukrainian exports via the Black Sea and has since launched a series of attacks on port facilities in the country. Together, those actions have hindered the exit points for three-quarters of Ukraine’s grain. – Wall Street Journal

The Aperol Spritz is so popular that the cocktail is practically synonymous with summer in Europe, where connoisseurs cram onto patios and around bar tops to guzzle down the bubbly, orange aperitif. But in Ukraine, many bars that once served the quintessential drink are now boycotting it, citing the decision of the brand’s owner, Italy-based Campari Group, to continue operating in Russia. – Washington Post

Russia said Ukraine fired a string of drones over the weekend in an attempt to attack border regions and the capital, Moscow, in the latest strikes deep inside Russian borders. – New York Times

A powerful Russian businessman who has been under financial sanctions for nearly a decade has nevertheless used American and European banks to raise money for orphanages in a region that is at the heart of the Kremlin’s program of deporting Ukrainian children to Russia, records show. – New York Times

As Kyiv and Washington debate where Ukraine should commit troops along the war’s front line, Ukraine’s top general in the east has called for more reinforcements in a patch of territory where Russia is threatening to make additional gains. – New York Times

The Kremlin on Friday heatedly denied blame for the presumed death of the mercenary chief Yevgeny V. Prigozhin, dismissing the idea that the Russian government had destroyed a business jet reportedly carrying Mr. Prigozhin as Western propaganda aimed at smearing President Vladimir V. Putin. – New York Times

Ukraine has increased its frequency of drone attacks on Russia in recent weeks, a tactic U.S. officials say is intended to demonstrate to the Ukrainian public that Kyiv can still strike back, especially as the counteroffensive against entrenched Russian troops moves slowly. – New York Times

Russia’s Ministry of Defense said on Friday that Ukraine had launched 42 drones at Crimea and fired a missile not far from Moscow overnight, in a volley that could be one of the biggest known aerial assaults on Russian-held territory since the war began. – New York Times

Russia is intensifying its efforts to spread pro-Russia and anti-Ukraine messages in the United States and the West, using influence-laundering techniques to hide the efforts of its intelligence agencies to manipulate public opinion, according to a newly declassified American intelligence analysis. – New York Times

Russia on Friday scolded U.S. President Joe Biden for expressing his lack of surprise that Wagner mercenary chief Yevgeny Prigozhin had been killed in a plane crash and cautioned that it was not appropriate for Washington to make such remarks. – Reuters

A Russian SU-30 military plane escorted a U.S. reconnaissance Reaper drone on Sunday over the Black Sea, RIA news agency reported, citing the Russian defence ministry. – Reuters

A senior European Union official urged Russia on Saturday to renew a deal to allow the safe export of Ukrainian grain through Black Sea ports, after Russia quit the agreement last month. – Reuters

Russia’s top domestic security agency said Monday that a detained former employee of the U.S. Consulate in Vladivostok is accused of collecting information about Russia’s action in Ukraine and related issues for U.S. diplomats. – Associated Press

Russian President Vladimir Putin won’t attend the Group of 20 summit in India next month, forgoing another gathering of international leaders after he also skipped the meeting of BRICS emerging economies in South Africa this week. – Bloomberg

A rare photo of the Wagner group’s military commander shows a man with a shaved head, a cold stare and the Nazi SS symbol tattooed on both sides of his neck. Dmitry Utkin, a veteran of Russia’s military intelligence division, the GRU, was reportedly beside Wagner boss Yevgeny Prigozhin on the plane that crashed on Wednesday north of Moscow, killing all on board. – Agence France-Presse

The Kremlin issued an executive order that could require members of the Wagner Group to take an oath to Russia Friday. – The Hill

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky evoked Israel during an interview aired Sunday when noting the need for society to get used to prolonged conflict. – Times of Israel

Editorial: President Biden’s political fortunes are tied to Ukraine’s success, much as he likes to avoid the subject. Ukraine’s critics have been quick to declare the counteroffensive a failure, but Mr. Biden can still increase the odds of success, which is a better strategic and political outcome for America and Ukraine than stalemate. – Wall Street Journal

Michael Kimmage writes: The first person to pull the rug out from under this political quietude was Yevgeny Prigozhin. He did not wait around the halls of power for opportunity to come his way. Of his own volition, he took his ragtag army to within a few hundred miles of Moscow. When he failed to go further, Putin did not have him jailed or sent into exile. Prigozhin remained conspicuously in public view until he died in public view. The ugliness of the fight for power is no longer hidden. Nor, to borrow from another Churchill quote about Russia, is there much of an enigma or a riddle or a mystery to Putinism. It is only and self-evidently a dogfight. This may be a workable recipe for Putin’s survival within Russia. It is not the foundation for any kind of enduring global leadership. – Wall Street Journal

Ann M. Simmons writes: Moreover, Putin is unlikely to counter the perception that the price for crossing him is so high, despite the Kremlin’s denials. “For politics in Russia and beyond, this is the only thing that matters,” Russian political analyst Alexander Kynev said Thursday on Telegram. “If there is a widespread belief that it is punishment for rebellion, then this is the starting point.” – Wall Street Journal

Jack Keane writes: It is a vital national-security interest for the U.S. that Ukraine liberate its land and its people from Russian aggression. America should stop the criticism about what Ukraine is doing and focus instead on helping Ukraine achieve our common aims as rapidly as possible. That would be sound strategy. – Wall Street JournalAlexander Baunov writes: This rejection of democratic institutions and the legal system will likely continue after the current Russian electoral cycle, which could end in a complete abandonment of Western-style political and legal systems. Instead, Russia may evolve into something worse by keeping with the Kremlin ideology of Russia being a unique and distinct civilization. – Wall Street Journal

David Ignatius writes: Perhaps the best example in military history of a long bloody fight against a stronger power that ended in eventual victory was the American Revolution. Along the way, there were many periods of demoralization, backbiting, complaints about insufficient foreign support and, occasionally, despair. But the rebels stayed in the field, and the British eventually withdrew. Ukraine has entered a season of discontent, with recriminations on all sides, because of the sluggish counteroffensive. But this war is far from over. – Washington Post

Jim Geraghty writes: But the people around me react like it’s a car alarm going off in the middle of the night: no panic or even much movement in the direction of shelters. In the past year and half, Ukrainians have been forced to adapt to a lot. They appear resolved to endure much more. – Washington Post

Tatiana Stanovaya writes: While Mr. Prigozhin’s death would not entirely restore Mr. Putin’s standing as a decisive leader — a destroyed business jet is hardly the most persuasive symbol of strength — it could offer some solace to hard-liners concerned about the president becoming out of touch, hesitant or unable to manage his own circle. For Russia’s elites, the incident serves as a clear warning. Challenging the regime, whatever your achievements, inevitably leads to your downfall. – New York Times

Lucja Swiatkowski Cannon writes: In Poland, the crash of the presidential plane resulted in great political polarization between those who accepted the official cause of the crash and those who did not. The same will happen in Russia. It will lead to destabilization and increased efforts to take Putin’s place by his rivals. Further, Prigozhin’s surviving Wagner associates are vowing revenge. The political repercussions of these events will be significant and long-term. – Washington Examiner

Yulia Latynina writes: As a result, Putin destroyed the best part of the Russian fighting machine and had to sideline his ablest generals, who tended to favor it. This well may cost him his war and his life, for there are two lessons from the warlord’s demise. One: Never believe in Putin’s promises. Two: If your tanks are 120 miles from the Kremlin, don’t stop. – The Hill

Harley Lippman writes: Putin’s money belongs to the oligarchs that surround him and vice-versa. As a result, Western allies must coordinate their application of sanctions against elites while realizing that the oligarchs are Putin and that both are the state. This comprehensive approach will pressure Putin’s finances and his ability to sustain Russia’s war machine in Ukraine. – The Hill


In response to Maayan’s case, and several similar cases in recent weeks, hundreds of Israelis on Thursday marched through the streets of Bnei Brak, Israel’s largest Haredi city, calling for democracy and equality. Haredi political parties are key supporters of efforts to limit the powers of Israel’s Supreme Court, a move that protesters argue would allow the government to pass legislation that would discriminate against women. – Wall Street Journal

Papua New Guinea will open an embassy in Jerusalem next week during a visit by Prime Minister James Marape, a spokesperson for his office said on Monday. – Reuters

The Palestinian news agency reported Saturday that a 20-year-old died of wounds a month after being shot during an Israeli army raid in the occupied West Bank. – Associated Press

Israel’s far-right national security minister lashed out at supermodel Bella Hadid on Friday for criticizing his recent fiery televised remarks about Palestinians in the occupied West Bank. – Associated Press

The Dutch Supreme Court on Friday upheld a ruling that a Palestinian man cannot sue Israel’s former defense minister and another former senior military officer over their roles in a deadly 2014 Gaza airstrike. – Associated Press

Israel’s government established a commission to investigate whether police misused spyware in an inquiry that the attorney general warned could potentially obstruct the criminal case against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. – Bloomberg

Israel will have partial laser defenses by this time next year, Rafael Advanced Defense Systems chairman Yuval Steinitz told Army Radio on Sunday. – Jerusalem Post

US Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark A. Milley said that he intends to visit Israel again after retiring from his position in the military in an interview with the IDF Spokesperson’s Unit on Friday. – Jerusalem Post

Prosecutors filed an indictment against Rahat resident Hamza Abu Zaila on Friday morning in the Southern District Court in Beersheba after he was accused of being a member of ISIS and trying to recruit others to the organization. – Jerusalem Post

Israelis gathered on Saturday evening across the country to demonstrate in protest of the government’s judicial reform for the 34th weekend in a row. – Jerusalem Post

Four Palestinians were shot and wounded by Israeli troops after they allegedly hurled explosive devices at an army post in the northern West Bank early Monday morning, according to the military. – Times of Israel

Sierra Leone said Friday that it would open an embassy in Jerusalem, making the West African nation the sixth to commit to basing its diplomatic mission in the Israeli capital. – Times of Israel

A former Mexican law enforcement official who is seeking asylum in Israel amid a request from Mexico to extradite him in connection with the alleged coverup of the 2014 disappearance and suspected murders of 43 students in the southern part of the country, told Israeli TV that he was being persecuted politically and ultimately wanted to return to his family and his country. – Times of Israel

Benny Avni writes: Even as the state department increasingly expresses criticism of the Israeli government’s policies, it apparently recognizes the dangers involved in an adverse ICJ ruling in this case. For now, it seems, its brief is calling on the Hague court to drop the case — much to the chagrin of a growing pro-Palestinian chorus. – New York Sun

Seth J. Frantzman writes: Considering the widespread focus on how crime and criminal networks can also be linked to extremist groups, it appears that Israel’s security concerns regarding rising violence in parts of Israeli society, particularly in minority community areas, is a natural area of concern for what might come next. […]The threat of extremist groups working with criminals in Israel is already clear. The rise of violence, the discussion of how to confront it, and recent threats against officials and civilians, illustrate the emerging threat of a new phase of terrorism. – Jerusalem Post

Seth J. Frantzman writes: Iran has a political track to this threat as well. It wants the Syrian regime to be legitimized in the region, while it views with suspicion any potential Saudi-Israel ties. If it can increase the legitimacy of Syria, where it operates, while inflaming the West Bank to force Israel to concentrate closer to home, it may see this as a major success. – Jerusalem Post


The Taliban will use security forces to stop women from visiting one of Afghanistan’s most popular national parks, according to information shared by a spokesman for the Vice and Virtue Ministry. – Associated Press

Afghanistan’s Taliban-led government is working with Huawei Technologies to install a wide-ranging surveillance system across the country in an effort to identify and target insurgents or terrorism activities, according to a person familiar with the discussions. – Bloomberg

Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes demanded answers from President Joe Biden two years after the attack on the Kabul International Airport. – Washington Examiner

President Joe Biden honored 13 service members who died during an attack while the U.S. was withdrawing from Afghanistan two years ago in a statement Saturday. – The Hill

House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) announced Saturday that he ordered the flags at the U.S. Capitol to be put at half-staff in honor of 13 American service members who died in Afghanistan while attempting to help allies flee the country during the U.S. exit two years ago. – The Hill

Far-right lawmaker Rep. Cory Mills (R-Fla.) introduced articles of impeachment Friday against Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, accusing the Pentagon chief of ignoring key intelligence and pushing through a chaotic 2021 retreat from Afghanistan that resulted in the deaths of 13 American service members. – The Hill

U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin on August 26 recalled the “horrific terrorist attack” two years ago outside Kabul’s airport that killed 13 Americans and an estimated 170 Afghan citizens. – Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty

An Iranian journalist who was detained in Afghanistan has reportedly been released to the Iranian embassy in Kabul. The Tasnim News journalist was detained last week when he was trying to leave Afghanistan. – Jerusalem Post

Beth Bailey writes: In addition to passing this legislation, Congress, the Biden administration, and bureaucratic leaders must acknowledge the dangers that plague our overseas allies by increasing processing speeds while alleviating hardships for allies who have escaped the violence of their homeland to seek asylum at the southwestern border. – Washington Examiner

Jim Cook writes: Despite the risks, Biden is unlikely to announce major policy changes anytime soon; especially as the hyper-charged presidential election cycle begins in earnest. Instead, the administration will continue muddling through the post-U.S. withdrawal era and redirecting its foreign policy focus—and the public’s attention—on geopolitical challenges in Ukraine and the Indo-Pacific. If these efforts to “turn the page” are successful, Afghanistan will remain an afterthought that only resurfaces during emotionally charged congressional hearings and annual remembrances. – The National Interest


Protests against the government of President Bashar al-Assad have spread across southern Syria in the days following a government decision to slash fuel subsidies, amid growing desperation as hyperinflation sends prices soaring. – Washington Post

On the spot where a three-story building completely collapsed after a devastating earthquake struck northwestern Syria in February, a small tent encampment has sprung up. Residents call it “the camp of the forgotten.” – New York Times

An Israeli airstrike hit the international airport in the city of Aleppo in northern Syria early on Monday, damaging a runway and putting it out of service, Syrian state media said. – Associated Press

Three Republican members of the U.S. Congress made a quick trip Sunday into opposition-held northwest Syria in the first known visit to the war-torn country by American lawmakers in six years. They urged the Biden administration and regional partners to keep up the pressure on Syrian President Bashar Assad. – Associated Press

Insurgents in northwest Syria attacked an army position Saturday killing and wounding more than 30 troops, opposition activists said. – Associated Press

Jihadists killed at least 11 soldiers in northwestern Syria Saturday when they detonated explosives placed in tunnels dug underneath army positions before attacking them, a monitor said. – Agence France-Presse

Alexander Langlois writes: The unfortunate reality is that Assad is here to stay, leaving strictly bad policy outcomes for policymakers. It is beyond clear that world leaders will not overthrow the regime, nor that a U.S. military presence is legal or necessary in the country’s northeast. In a situation in which economic pressure and diplomatic censure have not worked, it is long past time to apply the diplomatic tools needed to finally end Syria’s war, especially if the current approach only leaves the country in an ongoing conflict and economic nightmare that will worsen with time—leaving increasingly negative impacts on the region as well. – The National Interest


Iran and Iraq have reached an agreement that “armed terrorist groups” in Iraq’s Kurdistan region will be disarmed and relocated next month, Iran’s foreign ministry said on Monday. – Reuters

Turkey is attempting to broker a deal between the central Iraqi government and the semi-autonomous Kurdish administration over how to resume Iraqi crude-oil exports via its territory, according to Turkish officials. – Bloomberg

Emir Gurbuz writes: It is not too late to resolve the situation. But central to moving forward is the need for Turkey to recognize that if the KRG falls, the resulting destabilization in Iraq will create far bigger problems, including opening the door for its historic rival, Iran. To avoid the most damaging of outcomes, the international community must realize the conflict has always extended further than oil. Swift, careful, and diplomatic intervention is needed to prevent potentially calamitous regional instability. – Foreign Policy


Russian President Vladimir Putin is expected to hold talks in person with Turkey’s President Tayyip Erdogan soon, the Kremlin said on Friday, as Ankara attempts to persuade Moscow to return to the Black Sea grain deal. – Reuters

The Turkish and Ukrainian foreign ministers said on Friday that other solutions to the export of Ukrainian grain than the Black Sea grain deal, which ended after Russia quit last month, were less optimal. – Reuters

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy met Turkish Foreign Minister Hakan Fidan in Kyiv on Friday, and discussed the Black Sea grain export deal that Russia quit last month. – Reuters

Turkey and the US held their largest joint military exercises in at least seven years, a sign of improving ties as President Recep Tayyip Erdogan seeks another meeting with Joe Biden next month. – Bloomberg

Turkey and Saudi Arabia discussed expanding trade as Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan seeks to repair bilateral ties and attract more foreign investment for his country’s embattled economy. – Bloomberg

Jonathan Spyer writes: If the latter course is taken, paradoxically, continued Turkish patronage and protection are likely to ensure that the sanctions will have little effect on the fates of these men and others like them. Experience shows that pressure on Turkey can lead to results with regard to the activities of its proxies. It remains unclear, however, if the requisite pressure will be applied. – Jerusalem Post


A three-year probe against Lebanon’s caretaker prime minister and his family over corruption allegations has been closed by Monaco’s judicial authorities for lack of evidence, the premier’s office said Friday. – Associated Press

Lebanon’s interim central bank governor called on the country’s ruling class Friday to quickly implement economic and financial reforms warning that the central bank won’t offer loans to the state and does not plan on printing money to cover the huge budget deficit to avoid worsening inflation. – Associated Press

An Israeli spy network was arrested at the Beirut–Rafic Hariri International Airport in the Lebanese capital, local media reported citing comments made by Elias al-Baysari, the acting director-general of Lebanon’s General Directorate of General Security. – Jerusalem Post

Ziv Bar’el writes: Thus, a conflict between Israel and Hamas or Islamic Jihad in Lebanon might violate Hezbollah’s strategy; it’s ready to assist, train and equip Palestinians fighting Israel as long as this effort takes place in the Palestinian territories. Hezbollah doesn’t want to be dragged into the fight against its will or let the Palestinians set the rules. – Haaretz


Egypt hopes its imminent inclusion in the BRICS bloc of developing nations will help ease its shortage of foreign currency and attract new investment, but analysts say it may take time before any benefits appear. – Reuters

Egypt, Ethiopia and Sudan resumed their years-long negotiations Sunday over the controversial dam Ethiopia is building on the Nile River’s main tributary, officials said. – Associated Press

A young Israeli man was arrested Thursday while crossing over to Egypt through the southern Taba Crossing after five handgun bullets were found in his bags. – Times of Israel

Editorial: A group of 11 House members, including Gregory W. Meeks (N.Y.), the ranking Democrat on the Foreign Affairs Committee, has written to Secretary of State Antony Blinken urging the administration to withhold the full $320 million until Egypt’s record improves. It is time to end the charade and demand real progress protecting human dignity and free expression in Egypt — including the release of Mr. Kassem and other political prisoners. – Washington Post

Arabian Peninsula

More than 700 prisoners are staging the largest hunger strike in Bahrain’s history, catalyzing rare street protests and raising concerns in Washington about stability in a key Persian Gulf ally. – Wall Street Journal

Qatar is balancing its relationships with both the United States and China and one link does not damage the other, Prime Minister Sheikh Mohammed Bin Abdulrahman al-Thani said on Friday. – Reuters

The prime minister of Qatar said on Friday that his country does not “have a war with Israel,” but stressed that the Jewish state must reach a peace deal with the Palestinians. – Times of Israel

Saudi Arabia

Last fall, American diplomats received grim news that border guards in Saudi Arabia, a close U.S. partner in the Middle East, were using lethal force against African migrants who were trying to enter the kingdom from Yemen. – New York Times

The Biden administration told the Israeli government last week that it would have to make significant concessions to the Palestinians as part of any possible mega-deal with Saudi Arabia that includes normalization between the kingdom and Israel, four U.S. officials and a source briefed on the issue told Axios. – Axios

A delegation of senior Palestinian officials is set to travel to Saudi Arabia in the coming weeks to discuss the demands Riyadh is set to make of Israel as part of a potential normalization agreement, according to a Sunday report. – Times of Israel

Shira Efron and Evan Gottesman write: The Israeli-Palestinian conflict is just one consideration among many that the United States, Saudi Arabia, and Israel may address in normalizing ties. NATO-style security guarantees for Riyadh, U.S. support for Saudi Arabia’s civilian nuclear energy program, deepening Saudi ties with China are all important topics that have already come up and which policymakers on all sides will need to carefully assess. If the Biden administration decides that what the Saudis want aligns with U.S. interests, then they will also have their work cut out for them when it comes to fitting in the Israeli-Palestinian piece. Whether an agreement comes in five months or five years, the U.S. needs to be ready with a plan — and one that ensures that Arab-Israeli normalization doesn’t come at the expense of a viable two-state solution. – The Hill

Bilal Y. Saab writes: Saudi Arabia’s deterrence options against Iran are not great, but Washington’s options for preventing Saudi Arabia from pursuing them are worse. So long as the United States has (legitimate) concerns about providing Riyadh with a formal defense pact, the Saudi leadership will use any means necessary to achieve a deterrent against Iran. – Middle East Institute


French judges ordered former President Nicolas Sarkozy to stand trial over allegations that he accepted millions of euros in cash from the regime of Libyan strongman Moammar Gadhafi to finance his 2007 campaign. – Wall Street Journal

Khalifa Haftar’s Libyan National Army (LNA) said it launched air strikes against “foreign armed groups” near the border with Chad on Friday, after fighting near the area between the government of Chad and a rebel group trying to unseat it. – Reuters

Libya suspended its foreign minister after she and her counterpart from Israel had what Israeli officials described as an “historic” meeting that could herald stronger ties between the two countries, which have no formal relations. – Bloomberg

The uproar caused in Tripoli by Foreign Minister Eli Cohen’s “amateurish” publication of his meeting with his Libyan counterpart proves that this government can’t be trusted to handle sensitive diplomatic issues, opposition head MK Yair Lapid charged on Monday morning. – Jerusalem Post

Middle East & North Africa

Gaza’s students began their new school term on Sunday, but it is unclear if they will be able to complete the year uninterrupted due to a funding crisis at the United Nations’ Palestinian refugee agency. – Reuters

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu responded on Sunday to threats of an escalation over the weekend from a Hamas leader, saying anyone carrying out terrorist activity “will pay the full price.” – Times of Israel

The Israel Defense Forces on Sunday cleared for publication that security forces foiled an attempt to smuggle Iranian-made explosives into Israel from Jordan last month. – Times of Israel

After three days of meeting, Fatah’s Revolutionary Council (FRC) ended its latest session on Saturday with a call for an “escalation of the unarmed resistance” to end the Israeli occupation, and a call on all Palestinian factions to join the struggle. – Times of Israel

The deputy head of the Gaza-ruling Hamas terror group’s politburo has warned Israel against resuming targeted killings of terror leaders, saying the move could spark a “regional war.” – Times of Israel

Korean Peninsula

South Korea said on Monday it will toughen sentencing for stealing industrial secrets, after concerns that current regulation was not strong enough to deter attempts to funnel technologies from companies like Samsung (005930.KS). – Reuters

Protesters gathered in the capital of South Korea on Saturday to demand that the government take steps to avoid what they fear is a looming disaster from Japan’s release of treated radioactive water from the Fukushima nuclear power plant. – Reuters

In a defiant speech to the UN Security Council, North Korea insisted its efforts to launch a spy satellite into space are transparent and within “its legitimate right as a sovereign state.” – CNN

North Korea is increasingly turning to solar power to help meet its energy needs, as the isolated regime seeks to reduce its dependence on imported fossil fuels amid chronic power shortages. – Financial Times


Ideology is driving China’s economic policy to a degree not seen since the country’s opening to the West nearly half a century ago, deterring its leaders from taking steps to spur the sputtering economy. – Wall Street Journal

Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo said she would use a four-day visit to China this week to ensure an easing in tense relations while standing firm in confrontations over technology restrictions and Chinese trade practices. – Wall Street Journal

China’s “aggressive behaviour” in the South China Sea, including the use of water canon by its coast guard against a Philippine vessel, must be challenged and checked, the commander of the U.S. Navy’s Seventh Fleet said on Sunday. – Reuters

China has sent police experts and equipment to the Pacific nation of Vanuatu in the midst of a political crisis that saw the Supreme Court rule the prime minister lost a no-confidence vote in parliament. – Reuters

Singapore’s Armed Forces and China’s People’s Liberation Army are set to resume a bilateral exercise in the city-state after it was put on hold due to the pandemic, according to Singapore’s Ministry of Defence. – Bloomberg

Hal Brands writes: Biden understands this: It’s presumably why he has said, several times, that the US won’t stand aside if China attacks. But would it really be so crazy for Xi to conclude, with Ukraine in mind, that America’s actions speak louder than its words? Nuclear statecraft is replete with ironies. One of them is that deterring a future war in the Western Pacific may require convincing China not to draw too many conclusions from the current war in Ukraine. – Bloomberg

South Asia

From those days, the Indian Space Research Organisation has turned the country of 1.4 billion into a major space power—for a fraction of the hundreds of billions of dollars that first-generation space powers such as the U.S. and Russia have spent on their space programs. On Wednesday, when India became the fourth country ever to safely land a spacecraft on the moon, proud Indians were quick to note the achievement, estimated to have cost about $70 million, was far cheaper than making the Hollywood sci-fi epic “Interstellar.” – Wall Street Journal

A Pakistani court dismissed murder abetment charges against former Prime Minister Imran Khan on Monday, his lawyer said, providing some relief for the cricket hero turned politician who was jailed on corruption charges earlier this month. – Reuters

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi said there is a risk of a “new model of colonialism” if nations with critical minerals do not regard custodianship as a “global responsibility”, as firms race to secure resources central to energy transition goals. – Reuters

India is free to join the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), China’s Vice Commerce Minister Wang Shouwen said on Friday in New Delhi, adding that it would boost trade between India and China which is growing “very fast”. – Reuters

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi said the country’s role as the G20 host this year would focus on highlighting the concerns of the developing world, and has proposed the African Union to become permanent members of the forum. – Associated Press

India’s prime minister and China’s leader agreed Thursday to intensify efforts to de-escalate tensions at the disputed border between them and bring home thousands of their troops deployed there, according to an official from India’s foreign ministry. – Associated Press

The United Nations children’s agency on Friday warned that a year on from Pakistan’s devastating floods, an estimated 4 million children continue to need humanitarian assistance and access to essential services as a shortage of funds remains a hurdle in recovery. – Associated Press

India and Greece pledged to deepen ties in areas including trade and defense after the first visit by an Indian premier to the southern European nation in four decades. – Bloomberg

Knox Thames writes: The church burnings are not an outlier but a symptom of repression and discrimination that is aided and abetted by the state. While positive Pakistan’s political leadership expressed solidarity, visited the Christian community, and condemned the violence, election seasons present politicians opportunities to curry favor with extremists. In Pakistan’s unstable environment, religious minorities provide useful strawmen for creating scapegoats and justifying promises of “reform.” One party will win, but without real reform and accountability for violence, religious minorities will lose regardless of the outcome. – The Hill


Taiwan’s leading presidential candidate warned of Chinese meddling in a pivotal election set to take place early next year and blamed Beijing for heightened tensions across the Taiwan Strait. – Wall Street Journal

United States Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin stressed the importance of modernising Indonesia’s military in a meeting with its defence chief, as Washington shores up ties in Southeast Asia amid geopolitical rivalry with China. – Reuters

Myanmar’s military-installed government has ordered East Timor’s senior diplomat to leave the country in retaliation for the East Timorese government holding meetings with Myanmar’s main opposition organization, the Foreign Ministry said Sunday. – Associated Press

Taiwan’s defense ministry said Saturday that China sent dozens of aircraft and vessels toward the island, just days after the United States approved a $500-million arms sale to Taiwan. – Associated Press

New Zealand will offer residency to Ukraine war refugees who arrived under a special visa unveiled last year, the government announced Saturday. – Bloomberg

Japan’s government warned its citizens to take precautions when visiting China, after reports of harassment in response to Tokyo’s discharge of treated wastewater from the Fukushima nuclear plant into the ocean. – Bloomberg

The frontrunner in Taiwan’s presidential race said Beijing’s suspension of Taiwanese mango imports highlights Taipei’s need to deepen ties with major democratic nations and reduce its reliance on China. – Bloomberg

Editorial: But the United States must not turn a blind eye to any country, including (or especially) an ally, sliding further into authoritarianism. The Biden administration needs to let Mr. Srettha and the generals know that relations, strained by the 2014 coup, cannot reach their fullest potential until the expressed will of the people is respected and elections are meaningful. The military needs to allow Mr. Srettha to govern free from pressure. Human rights, including the right to peaceful protests, must be respected. And military coups must become a thing of the past — including a coup by constitution, which is what just happened. – Washington Post


Denmark’s government said on Friday that it would move to criminalize the public mistreatment of religious objects, setting aside free-speech concerns with what one minister called a “targeted intervention” after a spate of public Quran desecrations caused furors in many Muslim-majority countries. – New York Times

Nicolas Sarkozy, the former French president, was once known as “Sarko the American” for his love of free markets, freewheeling debate and Elvis. Of late, however, he has appeared more like “Sarko the Russian,” even as President Vladimir V. Putin’s ruthlessness appears more evident than ever. – New York Times

Poland, Bulgaria, Hungary, Romania and Slovakia support extending a EU ban on Ukrainian grain import to those countries until the end of the year, Polish agriculture minister Robert Telus said on Friday. – Reuters

A senior U.S. State Department official on Friday voiced hope that North Macedonia will be able to approve politically difficult constitutional changes that would help its bid to join the European Union. – Associated Press

The sprawling U.N. compound in Geneva was briefly shut down Friday after an intruder broke through the security perimeter, a spokesperson said. – Associated Press

UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak will not attend the United Nation General Assembly in New York next month, a Downing Street spokesperson said in an emailed statement. – Bloomberg

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen will interview Dutch Foreign Minister Wopke Hoekstra for a top job on the European Union’s executive body. – Bloomberg

Cyprus turned down a plan submitted by a Chevron Corp.-led consortium to develop the country’s Aphrodite gas field, Energy Minister Giorgos Papanastasiou said. – Bloomberg

Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko said the plane crash that killed Yevgeny Prigozhin was too unsophisticated to have been an assassination plot by Vladimir Putin, even as he said he warned the Wagner leader his life was in danger. – Bloomberg

Estonian Prime Minister Kaja Kallas’s husband said he’ll exit a logistics company that exports to Russia as the premier faces increasing pressure to resign. – Bloomberg


Emmerson Mnangagwa, who became president of Zimbabwe after ousting longtime strongman Robert Mugabe in a 2017 coup, was declared the winner of the country’s presidential election, which had been widely criticized by international observers. – Wall Street Journal

Wagner’s African allies—a mix of military juntas, autocrats and warlords—have rushed to play down the impact of Yevgeny Prigozhin’s death, but the loss of the group’s top leadership could disrupt a key part of the Kremlin’s efforts to project power and raise resources in the face of Western sanctions. – Wall Street Journal

Roughly one month after military officers seized power, there is little obvious consensus within Niger about whether to support the coup leaders or Bazoum, who is being held captive by the military. What is clear is the toll of the crisis. Electricity shortages that followed Nigeria’s decision to shut off its supply of power to Niger in an effort to pressure coup-makers have disrupted small businesses and caused food spoilage. Border closures have crippled businesses like Hassan’s and jeopardized the delivery of humanitarian assistance, including nutritional supplements for children. – Washington Post

Mr. Prigozhin’s presumed death could have profound consequences for African client states and warlords who, in the span of a few years, helped turn a mercenary enterprise into one of Russia’s most powerful and recognizable assets on the continent. – New York Times

Sudan’s paramilitary Rapid Support Forces said it was open to a long-term ceasefire with the army and presented its vision for a “Sudan Reborn”, an initiative that could revive efforts to hold direct talks between the warring parties. – Reuters

The president of Ethiopia’s Amhara region, which has been convulsed by deadly clashes over the past month between the army and local militiamen, resigned on Friday and has been replaced, state-run media reported. – Reuters

Sudan’s military ruler visited army bases near Khartoum on his first trip away from the capital since an internal conflict broke out in April, as the United Nations warned that the war could tip the entire region into a humanitarian catastrophe. – Reuters

Nigeria’s President Bola Tinubu will meet U.S. President Joe Biden on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly in New York next month, his spokesman said on Saturday. – Reuters

The junta in Niger has ordered its armed forces to go on highest alert, citing an increased threat of attack, according to an internal document issued by its defence chief on Friday that a security source in the country confirmed was authentic. – Reuters

At least 12 people have been kidnapped in two separate incidents in northern Nigeria, officials and witnesses said on Saturday. – Reuters

The United States on Friday condemned pervasive conflict-related sexual violence in Sudan, which the State Department said that credible sources including victims have attributed to Paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF) and their allied militias. – Reuters

Niger’s Foreign Ministry has told the U.S. government that images of letters circulating online calling for the departure of certain American diplomatic personnel were not issued by the ministry, a U.S. State Department spokesperson said. – Reuters

Forty-nine women kidnapped by Boko Haram earlier in the week near Maiduguri, in Nigeria’s northeastern Borno state, regained their freedom early on Friday after a state official paid a ransom for their release, two of the victims and a local leader said. – Reuters

The conflict in Sudan is fueling “a humanitarian emergency of epic proportions” that threatens the entire country, the U.N. humanitarian chief warned on Friday. – Associated Press

Gabon blocked internet access during elections held Saturday that is likely to see President Ali Bongo extend the 56-year stranglehold his family has had on political power in the oil-producing central African nation. – Bloomberg

Niger’s military leadership expelled the French ambassador just as talks to restore democracy between the West African nation and its regional partners were making progress. – Bloomberg

The Americas

A gang vying for control of a swath of Haiti’s capital, Port-au-Prince, opened fire on Saturday on protesters organized by a church leader, killing at least seven people, human rights groups said. The shooting points to escalating violence around the city. – New York Times

Canada’s Environment Minister Steven Guilbeault on Saturday leaves for Beijing to join talks on fighting climate change and preserving biodiversity, the first Canadian minister to go to China in four years. – Reuters

Group of Seven leaders understand that the war in Ukraine may be lengthy but are prepared to support the country for as long as it takes, Canada’s prime minister said in an interview. – Bloomberg

James Stavridis writes: There is no quick or easy fix to the challenges facing Haiti. But it is a neighbor in desperate need, and if the US can lead an improved UN mission — this time with US personnel — it would be in our interests to help Haiti get back on its feet. – Bloomberg

Latin America

A mayor in Honduras was arrested on Sunday on charges of working with drug cartels to smuggle 90 tons of cocaine to the United States by boat and plane. – Reuters

A U.S. judge has canceled a hearing on a $10 billion lawsuit filed by Mexico seeking to hold U.S. gun manufacturers responsible for facilitating arms trafficking to drug cartels, Mexico’s foreign ministry said on Saturday. – Reuters

Publishers and book stores in Venezuela are trying to survive the country’s long economic crisis and sky-high inflation by selling used texts and a handful of new books from Venezuelan writers, booksellers said. – Reuters

Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva said on Friday his country wants to support Angola in efforts to diversify its economy, noting there is room for trade between the two nations to grow. – Reuters

Two presidential contenders vying for the coveted spot as the candidate of Mexico’s ruling Morena party in upcoming elections closed their campaigns for the nomination this weekend. – Associated Press

Nicolas Maduro is cracking down on the Venezuelan elite’s growing obsession with padel tennis, blocking the construction of courts as the sport’s disorderly proliferation begins threatening the capital’s green spaces. – Bloomberg

Sanctions relief could boost Venezuelan production to just short of 1.1 million barrels a day by the end of 2024, with most of those barrels coming to the US, according to Rapidan Energy Advisors. – Bloomberg

United States

The U.S. presidential election is more than a year away, but allies and adversaries around the world have already begun to contemplate—and even plan for—the return of Donald Trump to the White House. – Wall Street Journal

Each of the 19 defendants indicted in the Georgia 2020 election case turned themselves in by noon Friday, the deadline set by a local prosecutor. Now some of their different legal strategies are taking shape. – Wall Street Journal

A man who ran for a local school board position in Chesapeake, Va., last year was arrested this week and accused of assaulting police officers during the Jan. 6, 2021, riot at the U.S. Capitol. – Washington Post

President Joe Biden said “there’s no such request and no such interest” for him to sit for an interview with the Department of Justice’s special counsel regarding his previous handling of classified materials. – Bloomberg

Bill Richardson, the Democrat who parlayed a political career into a unique role as a global crisis negotiator, has been nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize for his efforts to free hostages and political prisoners around the world. – The Hill


The photos of Madison, who was just starting a marketing job in Florida, were from behind the scenes of a shoot she had done in college — a blip in her former modeling and acting career. Any photos that showed her nude were not supposed to be public. She suspected that they had been obtained when the photographer’s proofing site probably was hacked a year earlier in a campaign targeting similar photographers’ portfolios. Now the photos along with her name and contact information were on 4chan, a lawless website that allows users to post anonymously about topics as varied as music and white supremacy. – Washington Post

Social media companies are receding from their role as watchdogs against political misinformation, abandoning their most aggressive efforts to police online falsehoods in a trend expected to profoundly affect the 2024 presidential election. – Washington Post

London’s Metropolitan Police force says it has stepped up security after a company that holds details of its officers and staff was hacked. – Associated Press

Michael P. Ferguson writes: AI itself poses less of a risk to humanity than malign actors who seek to abuse it or those who put misplaced faith in its role as a gatekeeper of human knowledge. If Washington and Silicon Valley wade into the age of artificial truth without a clear strategy for managing its risks, America could end up drowning in a sea of incoherence. – The Hill


Three U.S. Marines died after their Osprey aircraft crashed on a remote island in northern Australia while supporting a training exercise, U.S. military officials said. – Wall Street Journal

But what really distinguishes the Air Force’s pilotless XQ-58A Valkyrie experimental aircraft is that it is run by artificial intelligence, putting it at the forefront of efforts by the U.S. military to harness the capacities of an emerging technology whose vast potential benefits are tempered by deep concerns about how much autonomy to grant to a lethal weapon. – New York Times

A court-martial has been scheduled early next year for a New Hampshire National Guard officer who is expected to be charged with assault and sexual harassment, according to the U.S. Army. – Associated Press

The U.S. Army has re-designated Virginia’s Fort A.P. Hill to Fort Walker — making it the first installation to be named solely after a woman. – The Hill

An F-18 military jet crashed close to San Diego, Calif., on Thursday night, the U.S. Marines said in a statement. – The Hill

Niall Ferguson writes: The Biden national security team believes it can rebrand economic de-coupling as “de-risking” and then line up some high-level meetings in Beijing. But that is not the path to a meaningful détente. The US and China need to talk about substantive issues, and arms control — not just of AI, but also of nuclear, biological and other weapons of mass destruction — is the right place to start. Indeed, I would not be surprised if the Chinese were the ones to suggest it. The initiative for arms control in a cold war tends to come from the side that fears it may lose the arms race. – Bloomberg

Mike Gonzales writes: That fallacy was the result of a purposeful manipulation of the facts by the architects of BLM, Marxists with a plan to overhaul society. The Biden administration is now using it for “entryism.” We can thank Tuberville, who posted this month that “The Biden Administration’s liberal and woke policies are the real threat to military readiness,” for standing in the way. – Washington Examiner

Kathy Roth-Douquet writes: As recently as seven months ago, Sen. Tuberville boasted of his support for the military and his efforts to improve recruitment. I am sure he means what he says. So I am asking him, and the families who serve are asking him, to think again about the effect he is having on the morale of the military and of the families who are truly a component of our force today. There are 8,712 active-duty military members in his home state and about 26,000 military members and families in his state alone, and hundreds of thousands more across the country. It’s time to release the hostages. – The Hill

Long War

In other words, Colonel Acosta found that the “clean team” interrogations at Guantánamo, as they were called, could not undo the damage of C.I.A. torture and years of conditioning to compel prisoners to answer questions on demand. The 50-page ruling is the first major decision, based on evidence presented in pretrial hearings, about the admissibility of interrogations by federal agents who were supposed to build fresh cases against men who had spent years in secret C.I.A. prisons known as black sites. – New York Times

The U.S. military on Sunday said it believed it had killed 13 al Shabaab fighters in southern Somalia in what it called a “collective self-defense airstrike” at the request of the Somali government. – Reuters

Somalia’s army and allied fighters on Friday captured the town of El Buur, the al Shabaab militia’s main stronghold in the country’s central region, a significant breakthrough in the government’s campaign against the al Qaeda-linked group. – Reuters

A Pakistani doctor and former Mayo Clinic research coordinator who sought to join the Islamic State terrorist group to fight in Syria and expressed interest in carrying out attacks on U.S. soil was sentenced Friday to 18 years in prison. – Associated Press

Islamic State extremists have almost doubled the territory they control in Mali in less than a year, and their al-Qaida-linked rivals are capitalizing on the deadlock and perceived weakness of armed groups that signed a 2015 peace agreement, United Nations experts said in a new report. – Associated Press

The United States warned Friday that the string of military takeovers in Africa’s Sahel region will hamper the fight against terrorism and demanded that Afghanistan’s Taliban rulers deny safe haven to terrorist groups including al-Qaida and the Islamic State. – Associated Press

The military commander of Islamic State’s Mozambique affiliate, which has held up natural gas projects by TotalEnergies SE and ExxonMobil Corp. worth about $50 billion, has been killed in battle, the government said. – Bloomberg

On August 24 the US military announced that US Army Maj.-Gen. Joel ‘JB’ Vowell had assumed command of the anti-ISIS operation known as Operation Inherent Resolve. – Jerusalem Post