Fdd's overnight brief

August 9, 2023

In The News


Russia on Tuesday aligned itself with its ally Iran in rejecting Western attempts to maintain curbs on Iran despite the collapse of a 2015 deal intended to restrain Tehran’s nuclear program in return for relief from sanctions. – Reuters

Canada on Tuesday imposed new Iran-related sanctions targeting seven people who Ottawa accused of being involved in activities threatening international peace and security, according to a statement from the Canadian foreign ministry. – Reuters

Iranian authorities have questioned or arrested over 90 journalists since nationwide protests rocked the Islamic Republic last year, local media reported Tuesday. – Agence France-Presse

Eli Cohen writes: This solution is no substitute for the ceaseless efforts of the international community, and of Israel, to prevent the Iranian ayatollah regime from attaining nuclear military capabilities. The way to achieve this is through international economic and diplomatic pressure and a credible military threat that will force the Iranian regime to recalculate its path and stop the race for a nuclear weapon once and for all. – Wall Street Journal

Doron Matza writes: It comes with a heavy price tag. Iran will become a superpower, with all that entails. Israel will have its hands tied behind its back and would be unable to attack even if it wanted to. Iranian nukes will transform Tehran into a much fiercer beast than it currently is, and the only thing that can save Israel from this nightmare scenario is Iran itself kicking the bucket. – Ynet

Russia & Ukraine

When Russian forces bore down on her hometown last year, Yaryna Yahodkina took her two young children and—along with millions of other Ukrainians—fled abroad, leaving her husband to fight. Now the family is back together in Ukraine, living under curfew just 60 miles west of the city of Bakhmut, the site of the longest and bloodiest battle of the war so far. – Wall Street Journal

Newly delivered, American-made cluster munitions have given fresh impetus to Ukraine’s campaign to retake territory captured by Russia, after weeks of little progress. – Wall Street Journal

Despite heavy sanctions intended to isolate Russia over the war in Ukraine, dozens of Russians connected to President Vladimir Putin or the Russian military are still welcome in European Union countries, drawing criticism from politicians and antiwar activists. – Washington Post

Britain moved to curb the supply of military and other vital equipment for the Russian war effort in Ukraine by expanding sanctions on Tuesday to include 22 individuals and companies based outside Russia. – New York Times

Russia said it had shot down two Ukrainian drones near Moscow on Wednesday, one near a major airport to the south of the city and one to the west of the capital. – Reuters

Ukrainian special services have foiled an attempt by Russian hackers to penetrate the Ukrainian Armed Forces’ combat information system, the SBU security service said on Tuesday. – Reuters

Russia’s lack of ships and Western grain traders’ shrinking appetite for business with Moscow are adding to rising costs of moving Russian wheat, at a time when the war in Ukraine has spilled perilously close to vital Black Sea supply routes. – Reuters

Russian President Vladimir Putin has signed a decree suspending double-taxation treaties with more than 30 countries that Russia has deemed “unfriendly.” – Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty

Editorial: Mr. Biden banned imports of Russian fossil fuels by executive order last spring, but U.S. nuclear plants continue to rely on Russian uranium for 12% of their fuel supply. The new national monument—the fifth of the Biden Presidency—will make it that much harder for the U.S. to replace Russian uranium. Vladimir Putin sends his thanks. – Wall Street Journal

David Ignatius writes: A fragmenting, demoralized Russia is a devil’s playground. In their disorientation, Russians seek order and victory. According to internal polls cited by Stanovaya, Russians support Putin more strongly than before the war, they’re angrier at the West and they express strong support for their troops. Russia’s internal disarray poses a severe dilemma for Putin, but it’s very dangerous for the West, too. The simple fact is that Russia is choking on Ukraine. The porcupine won’t get any easier to swallow, no matter how long the war lasts. – Washington Post

Tom Rogan writes: As Russia’s Security Council secretary, Patrushev seeks the restoration of Russian imperial power. He is a master of the darkest arts and an ardent anti-American. Were Putin to be assassinated, Patrushev would likely have both the political capital and the ruthlessness to quickly consolidate power. That would mean a more intractable war with Ukraine alongside a greater risk of nuclear escalation with the West. Top line: States should seek to act in their own self-interest. In that regard, it’s far from clear that the leadership assassination campaigns would be beneficial for either Ukraine or Russia. – Washington Examiner

Alexander J. Motyl writes: Putin’s political system falls short of totalitarianism, but it meets the definitional criteria of fascism and, like other fascist regimes, it too will break down — and arguably already is breaking down. After all, the central feature of fascism is the all-powerful, invincible, infallible, charismatic leader. Putin arguably fit the bill some 15 to 20 years ago. Now he’s weak, prone to error and all too mundane. Small wonder that he’s lost his magic and will soon lose his head. – The Hill

Brahma Chellaney writes: Just like the Cold War created an East and West Germany, a North and South Vietnam, and a still-existing North and South Korea, the likely outcome of the present war — however unpalatable it may seem — would be a Russian-held Ukrainian segment that serves as Moscow’s strategic buffer against NATO and a rump Ukraine aligned with (but not part of) NATO. – The Hill


Israeli Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich has frozen funds for Arab towns and Palestinian education programmes in East Jerusalem, citing crime and safety fears and prompting accusations of racism. – Reuters

An Israeli official brushed off on Tuesday the rare U.S. use of the term “terror attack” to condemn the killing of a Palestinian in the occupied West Bank, as a court ruled one of the Jewish settlers held as suspects be released to house arrest. – Reuters

Mayanei Hayeshua Medical Center in Bnei Brak was hacked overnight Monday, the Health Ministry and Israel National Cyber Directorate (INCD) announced Tuesday morning. – Jerusalem Post

Foreign Minister Eli Cohen said Tuesday that if the United States were to agree to a defense pact with Riyadh as part of a potential normalization deal between Saudi Arabia and Israel, it would reassure Gulf nations that they are protected from Iranian aggression, rendering their nuclear ambitions “unnecessary.” – Times of Israel

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

The Shin Bet security agency on Tuesday said it had foiled plans by a terror cell of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine in the West Bank to carry out attacks against Israeli civilians and troops. It said the cell received orders from an operative in Lebanon. – Times of Israel

Far-right National Security Minister Itamar Ben Gvir on Tuesday met with Cypriot Justice Minister Anna Koukkides-Procopiou in Limassol — the first time the controversial lawmaker has sat down with a European Union country’s official since assuming office. – Times of Israel

The Lebanese army mobilized naval forces against Israeli boats violating what was said to be Lebanon’s sovereignty, Beirut-based Al-Mayadeen reported. – Ynet

Yonah Jeremy Bob writes: Until Israel decides on any new regulation and any cyber law whatsoever, the Jewish state will remain behind the eight ball when cyberattacks on it succeed in various weak sectors. More gravely, Iran and other countries seeking to damage Israel in a broader way will continue to have opportunities to harm the country’s national security which could have been properly addressed. – Jerusalem Post

Avi Kumar writes: So, while Israel bends over backward for rapprochement with many nations having rocky ties at best, maybe the country should also shift attention toward those with a more positive disposition who will reciprocate with positive gestures. With so much trade, tourist potential and other relationships to build, especially as they need allies at the UN, maybe it’s time to give thought to Oceania in the quest to forge long-term alliances. – Jerusalem Post


Israel threatened on Tuesday to “return Lebanon to the stone age” in any war against Hezbollah, following weeks of friction with the armed Iranian-backed group along the countries’ border. – Reuters

Arab news websites reported on Tuesday night that the commander of the Quds Force of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards, Esmail Qaani, arrived in Beirut after concluding his visit to Syria. According to reports, Qaani is expected to meet Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah during the visit to Lebanon. – Arutz Sheva

A scientist working on the production of precision missiles was killed late on Sunday, in a strike attributed to Israel, in the Syrian capital Damascus, security officials believe. They also said that, although his demise would not cause a major change to weapons production, it would have a real chilling effect and could act as a deterrence. […]The complex, which operates under the guise of a civilian institute for scientific research, houses classified military facilities that serve the Syrian army, the Iranian regime, and Hezbollah, and is used for the production of precision missiles as well as others, which pose considerable danger to Israel. – Ynet


One man spent his childhood in the foothills of northeastern Afghanistan dreaming of being a soldier for the U.S.-backed government. The other secretly applied to a military academy — against his parents’ wishes — determined to prove himself on the battlefield. – New York Times

A U.S.-funded assessment of Afghanistan’s central bank found that it lacks independence from the Taliban administration and adequate safeguards against money laundering and terrorism financing, a U.S. watchdog told Congress on Tuesday. – Reuters

A Marine injured by a suicide bomber during the US military’s chaotic 2021 withdrawal from Afghanistan described a bizarre meeting with President Biden from his hospital bed — during which the commander-in-chief attempted to shake his missing hand. – New York Post

Catherine Rampell writes: There is a solution to cases such as Akbari’s: the Afghan Adjustment Act. This bill would, among other things, allow Afghans in the United States to apply for permanent legal status after undergoing additional vetting. This would be on top of the extensive vetting this population already endured when entrusted to protect U.S. service members’ lives in Afghanistan, and then again when paroled into the United States. – Washington Post


Syria has extended permission for the United Nations to deliver aid via two Turkish border crossings for three months, while a U.S. exemption expired on Tuesday that allowed some transactions linked to humanitarian assistance after a deadly earthquake. – Reuters

At least 10 Syrian soldiers were killed and others wounded in overnight clashes with the Islamic State group in the country’s northern province of Raqqa, a Syrian war monitor said Tuesday. – Reuters

The United States and its allies vowed Tuesday to keep Syria’s failure to account for its chemical weapons program in the spotlight at the U.N. Security Council every month despite opposition from Russia and China. – Associated Press

The Syrian government decided to increase prices of drugs by 50%, the head of the pharmacies syndicate in Damascus said Tuesday, as the Syrian pound hit new a low in recent days. – Associated Press

The Syrian regime has yet to fulfill its pledge to disclose to the UN’s chemical weapons watchdog the scope and activities of its chemical program, a senior UN official warned Tuesday, according to the Turkish Anadolu news agency. – Arutz Sheva


On a gentle knoll within plain view of the Pentagon he once labored to hold to account, Ian Fishback, an anti-torture whistle-blower during the U.S. occupations of Afghanistan and Iraq, was laid to rest Tuesday with full military honors on the nation’s most hallowed ground. – New York Times

Iraq’s official media regulator on Tuesday ordered all media and social media companies operating in the Arab state not to use the term “homosexuality” and instead to say “sexual deviance,” the regulator said. – Reuters

NATO is developing simulation facilities alongside the Iraqi Armed Forces in a bid to improve the force’s training methods and strengthen security. – Janes


Turkish Vice President Cevdet Yilmaz said on Tuesday there was agreement at a meeting of government officials and business leaders on the need for a patient and persistent approach to combat the country’s chronic high inflation. – Reuters

Britain said it had struck a deal with Turkey in a bid to slow the flow of illegal immigrants passing through the Mediterranean country on their way to Europe, including joint police operations against smuggler rings and the trade in boat parts. – Reuters

Azerbaijani economist Fazil Qasimov has been detained in Turkey and handed to Baku on unspecified charges, Azerbaijan’s Interior Ministry said on August 8. – Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty

The Turkish government has announced that Pakistan may officially join its fifth-generation Turkish Aerospace (TA) Kaan fighter aircraft programme. – Janes

Neville Teller writes: The total trade volume between Turkey and Israel in 2021 was approximately $8 billion (NIS 29 billion) – the highest in the history of the two countries to that point. But trade continued to mushroom, and the 2021 annual record was broken in the first 10 months of 2022, with a total trade volume of $8.6 billion (NIS 31 billion). Some 80% of that trade is represented by Turkish exports to Israel. This will no doubt be a cause for mutual congratulation when Erdogan eventually meets Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on his projected trip to Turkey, postponed on account of health and domestic issues. – Jerusalem Post

Michael Rubin writes: Visa requirements on Turks are not anti-Turk. They are a reflection of the reality of Turkey’s ruling regime. If Turkey were a democracy that upheld the rights of its citizens at home and respected democratic rights abroad, then two-way visa-free travel would be easy to establish, but Turkey’s intelligence service does not embrace such norms. Let Turks enter Europe, but each should undergo a thorough background check prior to arrival in any European port, airport, or border crossing. – 19FortyFive

Arabian Peninsula

The ruler of the United Arab Emirates, Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed, is a key American ally who counts on the United States to defend his country. […]These deepening relationships show how a Middle Eastern leader viewed by the U.S. government as an important partner is increasingly striking out on his own path. American officials have had limited success in persuading Sheikh Mohammed to align with U.S. foreign policy — particularly when it comes to limiting Chinese military ties and isolating Russia after the invasion of Ukraine. – New York Times

A Houston woman known online as the “Sassy Trucker” has left the United Arab Emirates after being stranded in Dubai for months over an altercation at a car rental agency. – Associated Press

Opposition leader and former prime minister Yair Lapid met with UAE Foreign Minister Abdullah Bin Zayed in Italy on Tuesday. – Times of Israel

Ziv Bar’el writes: Mohammed bin Zayed, the UAE’s ruler, must have smacked his lips when he read in the news about how many of Israel’s pilots had become redundant: He has almost an entire air force available for hire. – Haaretz

Clara Keuss writes: It is a start, and possibly a very good one. The UAE was satisfied with U.S. engagement at the level it has been for nearly 30 years; it is now a matter of maintaining that support. Otherwise, the UAE will be courted by those who have not lost interest – including Tehran, Beijing, and Moscow – and the U.S. will watch a longtime ally slip away. – Center for Maritime Strategy

Saudi Arabia

Saudi Arabia’s national oil company posted a 38% drop in quarterly profit due to lower energy prices and production cuts, but boosted its dividend by more than half—highlighting the kingdom’s dependence on oil revenues. – Wall Street Journal

Barrick Gold Corp (ABX.TO) is open to bringing in Saudi Arabia’s wealth fund as one of its partners in Pakistan’s Reko Diq gold and copper mine, Barrick CEO Mark Bristow told Reuters in an interview on Tuesday. – Reuters

The Saudi government has set up a new council, under the direct control of the king, to supervise the affairs of the two holiest mosques of Islam, Saudi state media said on Thursday. – Reuters

After months of shuttle diplomacy between Washington and Riyadh, the shape of the Biden administration’s blockbuster plan to normalise relations between Israel and Saudi Arabia — and in doing so reshape the region’s geopolitics — is coming into view. So are the obstacles. – Financial Times

As the Biden administration explores the potential shape of an Israel-Saudi Arabia normalization agreement, one of the outstanding questions is how much the Americans and Saudis will insist Israel makes significant commitments toward the Palestinians. – Haaretz

Up to 70% of the Bayraktar Akıncı unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) that will be built for the Saudi military will be locally produced, Saudi Arabian Military Industries (SAMI) said after the signing of memorandums of understanding (MOUs) with Turkish defence companies on 6 August. – Janes

Middle East & North Africa

After a decade lampooning the region’s kings, autocrats and despots, the website AlHudood has been blocked in Jordan, where it was founded in 2013, with Uraiqat and his team of writers now effectively personae non gratae. Their offense? Mocking the lavish wedding of the kingdom’s crown prince. – Wall Street Journal

The Chairman of the Suez Canal Authority Osama Rabie announced on Tuesday the success of an operation to recover a sunken tugboat, according to a statement. – Reuters

Exhausted, pregnant and weeping, Sudanese nurse Tafaul Omar sat under the scorching desert sun along with 14 other migrants who said they had been arrested by Tunisian authorities and dumped in the border area with Libya – a practice Tunisia denies. – Reuters

The Jordanian military said Tuesday one man died and two others were arrested during an attempt to infiltrate the country. – Associated Press

The Washington Post came under fire Monday for publishing what critics called a fawning puff piece about a Palestinian terror cell in the West Bank. The outlet was accused of “legitimizing” the terrorist group with sympathetic reporting driven by an alleged anti-Israel bias at the paper. – Fox News

Australia will officially reinstate the term “Occupied Palestinian Territories,” and will harden its objections to settlements in the West Bank, the country’s Labor party said Tuesday. – Times of Israel

A senior United Nations official condemned the Gaza Strip’s terrorist rulers Hamas Monday for issuing a series of death sentences a day earlier. – Times of Israel

Gianluca Pacchiani writes: Given the near-complete absence of free media in the Strip, it is difficult for outside analysts to gauge how many people participated in the latest round of protests. According to videos circulating on social media, numbers seemed to be significantly larger in the first demonstration than in the second, when Hamas’s security apparatus adopted preventive measures. […]But on social media, at least, it appears that the protest movement is maintaining its momentum. – Times of Israel

Hamidreza Azizi writes: As for the West’s role in the region, its options are limited from a values-promotion perspective. It encounters two categories of authoritarian political systems: relatively aligned, conservative regimes such as Saudi Arabia and revisionist, if still non-democratic, governments such as Iran and its proxies. Both camps are also strengthened by engagement with authoritarian great powers seeking greater influence from outside the region. Regardless of whether the West increases interaction or reduces its engagement, its actions will contribute to the further fortification of authoritarian forms of government. – The National Interest

Korean Peninsula

South Korea’s jobless rate climbed in July for a second month and hit the highest since January, with job growth its slowest in nearly 2-1/2 years. – Reuters

Dozens of flights and ferry services were grounded in South Korea on Wednesday ahead of a tropical storm that has dumped heavy rain on Japan’s southwestern islands for more than a week. – Associated Press

Cybersecurity firm CrowdStrike said it detected a surge in attempted breaches of the financial service sector in the past year, with North Korean cyberattackers being the most aggressive state-sponsored hackers to aim at the industry. – Washington Times


The U.S. is set to ban private-equity and venture-capital investments in some Chinese technology companies under an executive order the Biden administration will release Wednesday, escalating Washington’s efforts to prevent Beijing from developing cutting-edge technology for its military. – Wall Street Journal

China released draft rules on Tuesday to curb uses of facial recognition, taking a step to limit the expansion of a polarizing technology while leaving large carve outs for national-security-related uses. – Wall Street Journal

Two U.S. lawmakers on Tuesday asked the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to address questions about potential security concerns involving cellular modules made by Chinese companies including Quectel (603236.SS) and Fibocom Wireless (300638.SZ). – Reuters

The mother of a U.S. Navy sailor charged with providing sensitive military information to China encouraged him to cooperate with a Chinese intelligence officer, telling her son it might help him get a job with the Chinese government someday, the prosecution said Tuesday. – Associated Press

TED, the US non-profit famous for snappy speeches from visionary leaders, espouses the belief that there is no greater force for changing the world than an idea. But the group’s days of spreading ideas to China’s 1.4bn people are now in question after it drew the ire of another powerful force: the Chinese Communist party’s security hawks. – Financial Times

Editorial: If China wants to play a constructive role advancing peace, it should do more than attend a follow-up conference called by Ukraine. It should also take the opportunity to promote a truthful statement making clear that Ukrainian territory has been illegally occupied by Russia for nearly a decade, and that Mr. Putin’s full-scale invasion nearly 18 months ago has further compromised Kyiv’s sovereign right to protect its internationally recognized borders and rule its own land. Short of that, the world will continue to see Chinese maneuvering for what it has been — a smokescreen to obscure its enabling of an unjustified war. – Washington Post

Minxin Pei writes: Cheering gridlock in Washington might make some leaders in Beijing feel good. But it’s not likely to accomplish much else. If China truly wants to challenge US power, it will need to look more honestly at its own mistakes rather than counting on its adversary to self-destruct. – Bloomberg

Benny Avni writes: Mr. Xi would like to “help” that effort, but only in a way that would assure a Russian victory and thus strengthen his side of Cold War II. As Ms. Haley, who has honed her foreign policy chops at the United Nations, says, “a win for Russia is a win for China.” – New York Sun

South Asia

Pakistan’s election commission on Tuesday disqualified Imran Khan from holding public office for five years, days after he was arrested on corruption charges, in the latest setback for the embattled former prime minister. – Washington Post

Jailed former Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan said he’s been kept in a jail cell meant for terrorists and is seeking a court order to be moved to upgraded facilities after his conviction in a corruption case. – Bloomberg

Last year, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said India could feed the world. This year, the world’s top rice exporter is instead curbing grain sales, rushing to ease rising food inflation at home as next year’s general election approaches. – Bloomberg

Prime Minister Narendra Modi might address the deadly ethnic violence in northeast India before a no confidence vote brought by the opposition this week in an attempt to force a debate in a legislature dominated by his allies. – Bloomberg

Farzana Shaikh writes: For any elections (whenever they are held) to enjoy even a semblance of credibility requires, at the very least, a voice for millions in Pakistan who have clearly signalled their impatience with old habits of political engineering. Khan may no longer be able to be that voice, but the military would be unwise to think they’ve just had the last word. – TIME


Australia has put the climate and job creation in the Pacific at the center of its new foreign aid policy, part of an effort to woo back island nations that have fallen under China’s deep-pocketed influence. – Washington Post

Japan on Tuesday signed an agreement with Namibia to jointly explore for rare earth minerals as part of its broader plan to develop supply chains for cobalt and other minerals used in making electric vehicle batteries. – Reuters

Australia’s third largest pension fund will stay active in Japanese markets in the coming months and is neutral about China despite growing investor aversion to the country’s markets, a senior executive said on Tuesday. – Reuters

Ten Chinese air force aircraft entered Taiwan’s air defence zone on Wednesday accompanying five Chinese warships engaged in “combat readiness” patrols, the island’s defence ministry said, the second such incursion this week. – Reuters

China and Russia have submitted technical queries to Japan questioning the country’s plan to release radioactive water from the Fukushima nuclear power plant into the sea, China’s foreign ministry said in a statement on Wednesday. – Reuters

Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Hirokazu Matsuno said on Wednesday that Japan has lodged a protest with Russia over Moscow’s suspension of tax treaties. – Reuters

The estranged son of Thailand’s King Maha Vajiralongkorn visited a daycare center for underprivileged children in Bangkok on Tuesday following a surprise return to the country after 27 years of living abroad. – Associated Press

Myanmar’s military and affiliated militias are committing increasingly frequent and brazen war crimes, including aerial bombings targeting civilians, a group of investigators established by the United Nations said Tuesday. – Associated Press

President Joe Biden said he plans to travel to Vietnam soon as the US seeks to bolster its ties with Asian nations and reduce China’s influence on the region. – Bloomberg

Pheu Thai, a party backed by former premier Thaksin Shinawatra’s family, has added six more partners in a coalition it’s steering to form a government and end a political stalemate following the May general election. – Bloomberg

The aptly named Australian counter-drone firm DroneShield is riding the global wave of interest in counter-unmanned aerial systems (cUAS) capabilities, looking to expand its “footprint” into the Middle East, according to the firm’s CEO. – Breaking Defense

Harun Karčić writes: Regional political rearrangements are already visible, both regarding relations with outside powers and intra-regional cooperation dynamics. Equally profound for the region and for Kazakhstan’s future per se is the ongoing “decoupling” between China and the West, and Astana’s search for a new equilibrium. The multitude of military, political, economic, and cultural links between Russia and Central Asia developed over the past century or so will not disappear overnight. But the overt disapproval of Moscow’s actions in Ukraine, nonetheless, shows that the Central Asian states are no longer satellites of Moscow. – The National Interest


Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. will build its first European chip factory with support from the German government, the latest move to make the continent less dependent on high-tech imports out of Asia. – Wall Street Journal

A man was wounded in a stabbing outside the British Museum in central London on Tuesday, the Metropolitan Police said, adding that it was an isolated incident and was not being treated as related to terrorism. – New York Times

German gun maker Heckler & Koch has filed a complaint with the Finnish Market Court over Finland’s direct arms purchase from a local manufacturer, bypassing competition rules, court documents seen by Reuters showed on Tuesday. – Reuters

Germany has offered to extend the deployment of three Patriot air defence units in Poland until the end of 2023, the defence ministry in Berlin said on Tuesday. – Reuters

Dozens of second-hand Leopard 1 tanks that once belonged to Belgium have been bought by another European country for Ukrainian forces fighting Russia’s invasion, the arms trader who did the deal said Tuesday. – Reuters

Giorgia Meloni’s economic policy has just taken a sharply populist turn, launching an assault on bank profits and vying to tighten its grip over corporate Italy. The prime minister’s nine-month-old far-right coalition government is doubling down on a state-led approach to managing prosperity with a program unveiled on Monday that unsettled investors and threatened to overshadow relations with China. – Bloomberg

A group of artists apparently from China whitewashed a wall long decorated by artists in London and then spray painted characters listing the Communist Party’s 12 “core socialist values,” setting off a graffiti battle over the Asian nation’s politics. – Bloomberg

France’s interior minister on Monday said he had ordered his department to dissolve Civitas, a far-right party of mostly ultra-traditional Catholics, because of its antisemitism. – Agence France-Presse


American military commanders were dismayed last month when a clique of top army officers seized power in Niger, the U.S.’s main ally in the fight against Islamist militants in West Africa. – Wall Street Journal

Niger’s new junta refused to allow a U.S.-backed peace mission to visit from neighboring Nigeria on Tuesday, saying it couldn’t assure their security in a capital whose roads are now barricaded by nationalist youth. – Wall Street Journal

Russia and the Wagner mercenary group have “tried to take advantage” of instability in Niger, Secretary of State Antony Blinken warned Tuesday, two weeks into a bloodless military coup that ousted Niger’s U.S.-allied president. – Washington Post

Niger’s military coup is hampering United Nations’ humanitarian efforts in one of the world’s poorest countries as border and airspace closures have cut off supplies of medicine and food, a U.N. official said on Tuesday. – Reuters

The U.N. World Food Programme (WFP) said on Tuesday it had resumed distributing food aid in parts of Ethiopia’s Tigray region after a three-month pause. – Reuters

Five people have been killed in the South African city of Cape Town as a strike by mini-bus taxi drivers that began last week turned violent, authorities said on Tuesday. – Reuters

Niger was slapped with more sanctions on Tuesday, hours after its new military leaders rejected the latest diplomatic mission aimed at restoring constitutional order following a July 26 coup. – Reuters

When Ethiopia’s government and rebellious forces from the Tigray region agreed in November to end their conflict, diplomats hailed the peace deal as a new dawn for Africa’s second most populous nation. – Reuters

The World Trade Organization’s director-general said on Tuesday she discussed measures, including support from the agency, with Nigerian President Bola Tinubu that could help cushion the impact of ending a subsidy on petrol that has increased the cost of living in Africa’s largest economy. – Reuters

Survivors of Rwanda’s 1994 genocide criticized Tuesday a call by appeals judges at a United Nations court to indefinitely halt the trial of an alleged financer and supporter of the massacre due to the suspect’s ill health. – Associated Press

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

The World Bank said it will not consider new loans to Uganda after the East African country earlier this year enacted an anti-gay bill that rights groups and others have condemned. – Associated Press

A Kenyan police official said Tuesday that dead bodies were planted to accuse police officers of using excessive force during recent anti-government protests, which rights groups say left dozens of demonstrators dead. – Associated Press

Nearly two weeks have passed since the coup in Niger, and the two men making competing claims to power have gone quiet in recent days. One is the ousted president, who said last week he’s being held hostage and has been publicly silent since then. The other is the military junta leader who asserts he acted out of concern for the country’s security and has encouraged Nigeriens to defend it from any foreign intervention. – Associated Press

Sudan’s escalating conflict has driven more than 4 million people from their homes, including over 884,000 who have fled to neighboring countries, a U.N. official said Tuesday. – Associated Press

The Central African Republic voted to abolish term limits in a July 29 constitutional referendum, which may result in President Faustin-Archange Touadera seeking reelection in 2025. – Bloomberg

Anthony Grant writes: French influence and prestige in Africa is clearly on the wane, but things like a preference for English over French and burning French flags at demonstrations are probably the least of President Macron’s concerns. Nearly 1,500 French military personnel are still stationed at an air base at Niamey as Niger flirts with complete anarchy. There are a  thousand troops parked in adjacent Chad. Mr. Macron is taking a long holiday, but once it is over he may find the political heat from Africa to be more stifling than forecast at Paris, too. – New York Sun

Howard W. French writes: Those who take this as a suggestion that African countries must fight each other as an obligatory step toward the development of capable states, as the European nations that Tilly studied once did, will have misunderstood me. What I mean, rather, is that working out an ever-deeper sense of mutual interest in regional political development, stability, and economic cooperation through deeper statecraft and engagement is going to be required of African nations if they are to get anywhere. And relying on outsiders to play front-line roles at the first sign of trouble will always be inimical to that. – Foreign Policy

John A. Lechner and Marat Gabidullin write: Wagner does not have a permanent structure; it morphs, adapting rapidly depending on the situation and circumstances. For African operations, Belarus can provide equipment and state backing. In return, Minsk will get a cut of some projects in Africa and shore up its military with training. And Wagner will continue to pursue its projects, framing its efforts as furthering Russia’s, and now Belarus’s, national interests. – Foreign Policy

Folahanmi Aina writes: As ECOWAS mobilizes for military action in Niger, the prospect of a failed intervention far outweighs any projected gains. Rather, ECOWAS should tread with caution while exploring robust, diplomatic responses to the crisis. Time should also be given for ongoing mediation efforts to take root. Human lives are at stake; a non-military solution must be prioritized above all else. – Foreign Policy

The Americas

A Colombian drug kingpin who was once one of that country’s most wanted fugitives was sentenced in Brooklyn federal court Tuesday to 45 years in prison for overseeing the smuggling of more than 100 tons of cocaine into Central America and the U.S. – Wall Street Journal

The U.S. Embassy in the Haitian capital of Port-au-Prince said it was closed on Tuesday, with all personnel restricted to embassy compounds until further notice due to gunfire in the vicinity. – Reuters

Colombia’s attorney general’s office is investigating an alleged planned attack by National Liberation Army (ELN) rebels against top prosecutor Francisco Barbosa, it said on Tuesday. – Reuters

Venezuela’s opposition-led National Assembly approved an offer to creditors to extend a legal deadline on the nation’s defaulted bonds until 2028. – Bloomberg

Mexico and Canada have replaced China as the top providers of goods to the US as a nearshoring push encourages more diversified supply chains. – Bloomberg

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., said she hopes to discuss “post-colonial foreign policy” during an upcoming trip to South America with four other House Democrats. – Fox News

United States

The judge overseeing the criminal case against Donald Trump alleging he conspired to undo the 2020 election results set a court hearing for Friday morning to resolve disputes over what information the former president and his legal team can access and potentially publicly expose. – Wall Street Journal

More than a week into the August recess, some lawmakers are diving back into their efforts to fund the government for fiscal 2024, seeking to gain a negotiating edge when Congress returns in September. – Wall Street Journal

Lawyers for former president Donald Trump asked a federal judge Tuesday to tap the brakes on prosecutors’ scheduled push later this week for a trial date in his criminal election interference case, as both sides dueled over Trump’s related resistance to agreeing to keep government evidence turned over in the case secret pending trial. – Washington Post

Holman W. Jenkins, Jr. writes: A flutter of hope passed through the electorate with the prospect of a TV debate between Florida’s Ron DeSantis and California’s Gavin Newsom, perhaps starting a groundswell for an alternative presidential slate in 2024. A widely read interview with Obama biographer David Garrow, of “Eyes on the Prize” and Martin Luther King Jr. biography fame, put the question of Obama-style cynicism on the table. Joe Biden cultivated a belief in millions of voters that he would he wave away their student debt though he knew he couldn’t. Mr. Biden is doing all he can now to make sure the country must choose between him and Mr. Trump. But many a slip occurs between cup and lip—a health crisis, a Hunter blowup, a Trump acquittal, a reverse in Ukraine—that could make Messrs. Biden and Smith the men who delivered the White House to Donald Trump. – Wall Street Journal

Joseph Bosco writes: Whichever party changes its nominee will almost certainly win the election. If both do, the country will win with a decent, healthy contest between two ethically, intellectually and physically fit candidates. If neither changes, a third candidate may either win or throw the election to the House of Representatives. – The Hill


Britain’s Electoral Commission announced Tuesday that it had identified a cyberattack, which went unnoticed for at least 14 months, that gave “hostile actors” access to its systems. – Washington Post

The Howard event, which drew a few dozen students and amateur AI enthusiasts from the D.C. area on July 19, was a preview of a much larger, public event that will be held this week at Def Con, the annual hacker convention in Las Vegas. Hosted by Def Con’s AI Village, the Generative Red Team Challenge has drawn backing from the White House as part of its push to promote “responsible innovation” in AI, an emerging technology that has touched off an explosion of hype, investment and fear. – Washington Post

Canadian news industry groups on Tuesday asked the country’s antitrust regulator to investigate Meta Platforms’ (META.O) decision to block news on its platforms in the country, accusing the Facebook parent of abusing its dominant position. – Reuters

Meta Platforms (META.O) is asking a court in Norway to stop a fine the Nordic country’s data regulator imposed on the owner of Facebook and Instagram for breaching users’ privacy, according to a court filing. – Reuters

A cross-border investigation into West African criminal groups scamming internet users has resulted in more than 100 arrests and the seizure of over 2 million euros, Interpol said on Tuesday. – Reuters

The White House on Tuesday held its first-ever cybersecurity “summit” on the ransomware attacks plaguing U.S. schools, in which criminal hackers have dumped online sensitive student data, including medical records, psychiatric evaluations and even sexual assault reports. – Associated Press

The US warned Japan over the course of a year that Chinese state hackers had infiltrated its defense networks before Tokyo took sufficient action to try to secure them, according to current and former US officials. – Bloomberg

A duo of Georgia Republicans have announced a legislative push to require children to have their parents’ permission to use certain social media accounts. – The Hill

Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.) sent a letter to Google leaders Tuesday, warning the company over its testing of Med-PaLM 2 artificial intelligence (AI) in hospitals. – The Hill

Michael Wilkowski writes: Right now you can still tell the difference between real and deep-fake content, like de-aged action heroes. But soon, you won’t be able to, because these programs are becoming smarter and more accurate. Nevertheless, I think by this time, we will have become so used to the concept of deep-fake content that we will neither mind nor notice that we’re no longer communicating with humans. – The Hill

Roger Cochetti writes: Alternatives such as government funding are widely seen as opening the door to government control, and conversion to a non-profit model leaves enormous unanswered questions. Much of internet platform leadership fears that detailed government control of revenue-sharing for the media is not only a step towards rate-regulation, but that it would immediately open the door to a wide range of other non-media providers of content and infrastructure, which would similarly claim that fairness and social benefits requires revenue-sharing with them. Quiet negotiations are probably the best hope for both groups. – The Hill

Shane Tews writes: While the Cyber Trust Mark program represents a significant advancement in IoT device security, it is still in its early stages. The FCC is collaborating with manufacturers and stakeholders to finalize the security criteria and labeling system; Rosenworcel aims to have the labeling system in place by 2024. The program is a crucial step forward in combating malware and network cyberattacks with IoT devices. By offering consumers detailed information about IoT device security, it can safeguard both individuals and businesses from a growing list of potential harms. – American Enterprise Institute

Jose M. Macias and Brandon Valeriano write: Our report highlights that in war, cyber operations serve as tools of political warfare. It is not difficult to imagine how cyberspace potentially endangers civil liberties and freedoms when cyber-attacks are directed at dissatisfied populations demanding change. As the community mistakenly focuses on cyber war, states will continue to face few restrictions on the practice of cyber repression shaping global discontent. The Biden administration should focus on enabling integrated deterrence, including target hardening and operations supported by wargames, building stronger public-private partnerships. Meeting the challenge of disinformation and global attempts to distort public opinion through information operations will require a rethinking of how we frame cyber operations in public discourse. – The National Interest


Veterans have one day left to take full advantage of the largest expansion to their benefits since the GI Bill. – Wall Street Journal

The White House on Tuesday pounced on Sen. Tommy Tuberville’s (R-Ala.) hold on hundreds of military promotions, saying that Americans have had enough with him and Senate Republicans playing politics with service members. – The Hill

Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) on Tuesday accused Sen. Tommy Tuberville (R-Ala.) of being “prepared to burn the military down” with his hold on hundreds of military promotions over the Pentagon’s abortion policy. – The Hill

Republican presidential candidate and former U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley criticized Sen. Tommy Tuberville’s (R-Ala.) months-long hold on hundreds of military promotions on Tuesday, arguing that “there’s got to be other ways” to protest the Pentagon’s abortion policy. – The Hill

A new Pentagon inspector general report found military recruiters have failed to comprehensively screen applicants for their connections to political extremist groups and criminal gangs. – The Hill

Marine Unmanned Aerial Vehicle Squadron 3 (VMU 3) introduced its new Reaper unmanned aerial vehicles in a ceremony at Marine Corps Air Station Kaneohe Bay, Hawaii, last week. – USNI News

Mackenzie Eaglen writes: This has all culminated in a US defense budget which has failed to have any real growth under record inflation. Our troops are expected to do the same or more with less, and as the years have dragged on, the cracks are starting to show, leading to a shrinking and increasingly hollow force which is declining in capability. With all these trends considered, it’s no wonder Pentagon leaders are worried. Reversing these trends will require real growth in America’s military budget. If we want to correct these trends and adequately deter an increasingly belligerent China, we’ll first need to make up for lost time and fully fund the military. – American Enterprise Institute

Long War

For years, the main worries for US forces deployed to Syria were their counterterrorism operations and taking out Islamic State militants. But regional rivals are becoming an increasingly troubling distraction, and it’s threatening the American military’s mission. –  Business Insider

Tom Rogan writes: This terrorist concern might be the major one, but there are numerous other risks here. Criminals associated with organized crime and the drug trade may also exploit the leak. Knowing which officers are assigned to ports security, background checks, and organized crime investigations, criminals could offer bribes or threats in return for corrupt service, for example. In sum, this is a screw up of monumental proportions. Those responsible should be held accountable. Other police forces around the world should take precautions to ensure they never make the same mistake. – Washington Examiner

Salem Alketbi writes: This loud hush from the relevant authorities in European countries, combined with the repeated offensive violations against the sentiments of all Muslims, is creating a serious political headache for governments of Islamic countries. It is undermining their efforts to root out extremism and radical ideologies from their societies. […]Moreover, such decisions and stances have catastrophic consequences for the culture of tolerance and coexistence, which serves as the sole lifeline for humanity to steer clear of the epidemic of violence and terrorism and hopefully eradicate them completely. – Jerusalem Post