Fdd's overnight brief

December 1, 2022

FDD Research & Analysis

In The News


Toomaj Salehi is no stranger to controversy. Last year, the Iranian rapper was arrested for songs criticizing the government and denouncing those he described as apologists for the Iranian government abroad. – Washington Post 

The Iranian government has stepped up its efforts to kidnap and kill government officials, activists and journalists around the world, including in the United States, according to government documents and interviews with 15 officials in Washington, Europe and the Middle East, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss sensitive information. – Washington Post

Three Iranian teenagers are among 15 people who could face the death penalty over the killing of a pro-government paramilitary force member, the judiciary said Wednesday. – Associated Press 

Four people were sentenced to death on Wednesday by Iran’s judiciary for allegedly cooperating with the Israeli intelligence service and committing kidnappings, the semi-official Mehr news agency reported. – Reuters 

Iran has arrested a third female journalist from the reformist newspaper Shargh against the backdrop of nationwide protests sparked by Mahsa Amini’s death, the daily said Wednesday. – Agence France-Presse  

A man was killed by security forces in Iran after he honked his car horn to celebrate the country’s World Cup loss to the US, a human rights group said Wednesday — as anti-government protests erupted across the country following the defeat. – New York Post 

The Iranian regime is “fundamentally” misunderstanding its own citizens by blaming outside actors for the protests raging throughout the country, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken told CNN’s Christiane Amanpour on Wednesday. – CNN 

Iran has carried out several missile and drone strikes on the bases of Iranian Kurdish opposition groups based in northern Iraq in recent months. Tehran has labeled the exiled groups as “terrorist” and “separatist” organizations. Iranian officials have accused the groups of launching cross-border attacks against government forces. Tehran has even gone as far as threatening to invade Iraq’s Kurdish autonomous region, where the groups are based. – Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty

Bobby Ghosh writes: Having failed to redeem themselves in the eyes of the protesters, the players must now face the wrath of the regime, which is unlikely to forgive or forget their demurral over the anthem — the more embarrassing to the Islamic Republic for having taken place on the world’s largest stage. Victory against the US, the “Great Satan” of the Islamic Republic’s official demonology,  might have earned the team some leniency from Khamenei and his kind. But since the regime is unable to make any propaganda hay from the World Cup, it will be tempted instead to make an example of the players for their defiance. – Bloomberg

Nicholas Carl, Zachary Coles, Johanna Moore, and Frederick W. Kagan write: The nature of the planned protests furthermore suggests that at least some protest organizers are adapting to more effectively counter regime repression. The Tehran Neighborhood Youth released on November 30 its own call for demonstrations on December 5-7 and offered more specific instructions. The group advised against simultaneous protests and strikes because the reduction in regular traffic caused by strikes allows security forces to more easily crack down. – Institute for the Study of War

Russia & Ukraine

NATO nations must swiftly advance Ukraine’s proposed entry into the Western military alliance, a top Ukrainian official said Wednesday, calling the past decision to defer the country’s membership a “strategic mistake.” – Washington Post  

Russia’s unilateral postponement — citing “political reasons” — of a technical meeting with U.S. officials about the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty has called into question the future of the sole remaining strategic nuclear arms control treaty between Washington and Moscow, as Russia lashes out amid setbacks in its war on Ukraine. – Washington Post

War and winter have brought new misery to Kyiv after a long summer lull. Russia’s missile campaign to destroy Ukraine’s energy infrastructure has revived fears that had abated after Ukrainian forces drove Russian troops away from the capital in the spring. – Washington Post

Russia’s attacks on Ukraine’s civilian infrastructure are forcing millions of Ukrainian refugees who intended to return home to stay put, prolonging their ordeal and straining Europe’s ability to absorb one of the biggest flows of migrants in decades. – Wall Street Journal

When Russian troops were bearing down on Kyiv in the first months of their invasion, Vitali Klitschko, the former boxing champion who has been the mayor of the Ukrainian capital since 2014, had a clear message: “Better that we die than we give up.” Nine months later, his sentiment is the same, but the battle he is waging is in some ways very different. – New York Times

Russian forces tried to advance in eastern Ukraine and trained tank, mortar and artillery fire on Kherson in the south, the Ukrainian military said, as Western allies sought to buttress Ukraine and its neighbours against Moscow. – Reuters

Russia will pay special attention to building infrastructure for its nuclear forces in 2023, Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu said on Wednesday. – Reuters

The European Commission proposed a plan on Wednesday to compensate Ukraine for damage from Russia’s invasion with proceeds from investing Russian funds frozen under sanctions. – Reuters

Before its invasion, Russia was demanding legally binding guarantees that Ukraine would never be admitted to the U.S.-led transatlantic alliance. This remains a “red line” for Russia, which says NATO encroachment towards its borders represents an existential threat. – Reuters

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Wednesday condemned Russia’s weeks-long assault on Ukraine’s power grid and other infrastructure as an attempt to “freeze and starve” its people, with the war-torn country’s foreign minister renewing a call for advanced missile systems. – Associated Press 

Russian shelling hit a hospital in the city of Bilopillia, killing one teenager, Ukrainian authorities said Wednesday. – New York Post 

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has elevated US concerns that Vladimir Putin’s government could use biological weapons, according to a top US State Department official who’s in Geneva for a review of the global treaty addressing such threats. – Bloomberg

President Zelensky on Wednesday said Ukraine is preparing a “powerful countermeasure” against Russian forces and planning “new solutions” to deal with continued attacks on Ukrainian infrastructure. – The Hill

Russian President Vladimir Putin “must be disabused of the notion” that his “savage” bombardment of Ukrainian energy infrastructure will buy time for Russian forces to regroup, according to Secretary of State Antony Blinken. – Washington Examiner

President Joe Biden’s national security adviser is set to brief top senators on Capitol Hill on the need for new U.S. aid to Ukraine as Russian forces continue the war. – Washington Examiner

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky warned in his nightly address on Tuesday that Russia is “planning something in the south.” “The situation at the front is difficult,” he said. “Despite extremely big Russian losses, the occupiers are still trying to advance in the Donetsk region, gain a foothold in the Luhansk region, move in the Kharkiv region, they are planning something in the south.” – Washington Examiner

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy on Wednesday urged Prime Minister-designate Benjamin Netanyahu to do everything in his power to save as many Ukrainians as possible. The Ukrainian leader said he has spoken to Netanyahu since the recent election in Israel and told him that Ukraine needs air defense systems to protect against drone attacks. – Arutz Sheva 

Russia’s new laws tightening the restrictions on the activities of “foreign agents” within Russia went into effect on Thursday after a majority vote by the Federal Assembly of the Russian Federation, according to Russian state news agency TASS. – Jerusalem Post

Elizabeth Stauffer writes: No doubt, the political agendas of the EU members have exacerbated this sad state of affairs, not least of which was their own climate policies forcing them to become so utterly dependent upon Russian energy in the first place. But a time of war is the wrong occasion to be capitalizing on an ally’s weakness. And unfortunately for the Biden administration, unlike many Americans, the Europeans are not buying the excuses Biden is selling. – Washington Examiner

Leonid Bershidsky writes: They are also, to a surprising degree, trying to reenact World War II, in which strategic bombing played an important, if not exactly decisive, role. The US, after all, has cooled on the concept since the 1990s, as what Pape called “decapitation” — precision strikes aimed at killing or isolating enemy leadership — gained precedence. Russia is either mentally stuck in a previous era of warfighting, technically ill-equipped to refocus in a similar way, or both. – Bloomberg

Ilan Berman writes: Sadly, though, none of this guarantees that Russia’s war effort will sputter any time soon. Russia’s president has made clear that he remains committed to his pet cause, even though the war in Ukraine has helped turn his country into an international pariah and rolled back decades of post-Cold War economic and strategic progress for the Russian state. – The Hill

Alexander J. Motyl writes: Could one really argue that designating Nazi Germany a terrorist state in 1944 would have hampered the democratic world’s cooperation with Berlin? In any case, the pressure on the Biden administration to make this leap will increase now that even the far more cautious Europeans have taken three bold steps. – The Hill

Howard J. Shatz, Khrystyna Holynska and William Courtney write: The West and Ukraine have some distance to go to develop strategies and consensus for reconstruction. The West could continue to demonstrate its support for Ukraine’s defense of its land and people by preparing now for post-war reconstruction. – The Hill

Benny Avni writes: Deterring Russian war crimes in Ukraine by threatening prosecution is a worthy goal. Yet, at least as far as America is concerned, investigations and possible trials should be conducted under Ukrainian law, rather than under the slippery slope of international venues. – New York Sun

Karolina Hird, Riley Bailey, Madison Williams, Yekaterina Klepanchuk, and Frederick W. Kagan write: Russian efforts around Bakhmut indicate that Russian forces have fundamentally failed to learn from previous high-casualty campaigns concentrated on objectives of limited operational or strategic significance. Russian forces have continually expended combat strength on small settlements around Bakhmut since the end of May; in the following six months, they have only secured gains on the order of a few kilometers at a time. – Institute for the Study of War

Lincoln P. Bloomfield Jr. writes: However, this crisis is qualitatively different from India-Pakistan, Greece-Turkey, Armenia-Azerbaijan, and other inter-state conflicts. Putin’s army is not fighting, to reference the classic motives often cited by LTG H.R. McMaster, for “honor” or “interest”; Russia has no legitimate claim to Ukraine’s territory or sovereignty. Its soldiers’ primary motive is “fear”—they kill Ukrainians wantonly because they themselves are exposed and ill-supported. – The National Interest


The Israeli military said Wednesday it is temporarily removing a unit of ultra-Orthodox soldiers out of the occupied West Bank after a 78-year-old Palestinian-American man died following an arrest by its soldiers early this year. – Associated Press

Israeli forces killed two Palestinians in the occupied West Bank on Thursday, Palestinian officials said, in heavy clashes that erupted in the Jenin refugee camp during a pre-dawn raid. – Reuters

The top U.S. official on Palestinian affairs reaffirmed on Wednesday that Washington wanted to reopen its Jerusalem consulate for Palestinians even as a new hard right government prepares to take office in Israel. – Reuters

The Israel Defense Forces on Wednesday published footage and details of a series of joint aerial exercises it held with the US military this week, simulating strikes against Iran and its regional terror proxies. – Times of Israel 

Outgoing Prime Minister Yair Lapid on Thursday morning commended the security forces for their operation overnight in Jenin. – Arutz Sheva

The Israeli Navy, the Directorate of Defense Research and Development (DDR&D) of the Israel Ministry of Defense and the Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) have successfully completed an interception test of a long-range BARAK interceptor, which is part of the defensive layer of the Israeli Navy’s Sa’ar 6-class corvette. – Arutz Sheva   

Israel’s Military Police Criminal Investigation Division opened an investigation on Wednesday following complaints by Palestinian drivers that IDF soldiers beat and abused them at the Maccabim checkpoint north of Jerusalem. – Haaretz 

The Israel Defense Forces on Wednesday announced the formation of a new co-ed light infantry battalion, which will be stationed along the West Bank security barrier. – Times of Israel 

Editorial: Equally unseemly, however, was Netanyahu’s silence – until he wrote his nine-word Facebook post – and that of the man likely to be his defense minister, Yoav Gallant. They both needed to speak out immediately, and firmly, against political interference in the IDF. – Jerusalem Post

John Lyndon writes: If the Israeli-Palestinian conflict seems irresolvable now, just wait until youth trends in these very young societies fully play themselves out. After three decades of failed top-down diplomacy, now is the time to invest in the bottom-up – and especially in the region’s youth. Doing so can avert a foreseeable and accelerating crisis, make weeks like those we’ve just lived though less likely and, over time, create the foundations that we know true conflict resolution requires. – Haaretz

Rachel O’Donoghue writes: While the piece references several incidents of Israelis being abused, as well as the particularly upsetting Shorrer incident (although it is framed merely as an allegation from the sports journalist), the story downplays the antisemitism and anti-Israel bigotry that has been so publicly displayed in Qatar. – Algemeiner


A midday bombing at a religious school for boys in the northern Samangan province of Afghanistan on Wednesday left at least 10 students dead and scores injured, government officials said. – Washington Post

The United Nations’ mission to Afghanistan said on Thursday they had asked the Taliban to hold a ‘credible investigation’ into reports of extrajudicial killings, including of children, in northern Daikundi province. – Reuters

Only elections can lead Afghanistan out of political crisis, even if they legitimise Taliban rule, Afghan anti-Taliban leader Ahmad Massoud told a conference in Tajikistan on Wednesday. – Reuters  

Beth Bailey writes: But any facade the Taliban retained of having changed their behavior since their prior regime has officially vanished. World leaders and humanitarian groups must step up efforts to aid Afghans living under the thumbs of the brutal Talibs. Simultaneously, international organizations must seek to make Taliban leaders accountable for their continued crimes. – Washington Examiner


U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin on Wednesday told his Turkish counterpart of his “strong opposition” to a new Turkish military operation in Syria and voiced concern over the escalating situation in the county, the Pentagon said. – Reuters

At least two Western embassies have been warned against fresh security threats in the Turkish capital Ankara and Serbia warned its citizens against travelling to the country, two weeks after a bomb exploded in the heart of Istanbul. – Reuters

Michael Rubin writes: This will be a miscalculation on his part—European fortitude is stronger than Sweden’s 2022 Stockholm syndrome might suggest. Wars often start because of such miscalculations, however. That is why clarity is so important. Stopping Turkish aggression against Kurds today can prevent a deadly conflict with Greece as Turkey’s elections approach. – 19FortyFive

Olli Pekka Suorsa and Brendon J. Cannon write: This novelty constitutes one more in a growing list of tools with which Turkey can pursue its increasingly ambitious regional policies. However, because Turkey’s drones remain vulnerable to modern air defenses, we argue that drone carriers have a place in low-intensity wars like the proxy wars in Libya and Syria. The drone carriers will help Ankara, for example, project power across long distances with less reliance on land basing. – War on the Rocks

Steven A. Cook writes: Amid all the recriminations, however, the status quo suits Washington and Ankara well. The United States will not choose between the YPG and Turkey because U.S. officials want someone to keep an eye on the Islamic State and can’t be sure the Turks will do it. On the flip side, Erdogan does not want the United States to choose because Washington’s relationship with Syria’s Kurds is too juicy a political target to willingly give up. – Foreign Policy

Saudi Arabia

Saudi Arabia executed 20 men over drug convictions in a two-week span earlier this month, quietly resuming capital punishment for drug-related crimes after an unofficial two-year moratorium. – Washington Post 

Saudi Arabia’s sovereign-wealth fund said Wednesday it raised a $17 billion, seven-year loan from banks, a fresh injection of cash for a kingdom pouring unprecedented amounts of capital into diversifying its oil-dependent economy. – Wall Street Journal

Saudi Arabia plans to host a Chinese-Arab summit on Dec. 9 attended by Chinese President Xi Jinping during his visit to the kingdom, three Arab diplomats in the region familiar with the plans said on Wednesday. – Reuters

Saudi Arabia’s defence ministry signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with Spanish state-owned Navantia company on Wednesday to build multi-mission combat ships for the Saudi Navy, the Saudi state news agency (SPA) reported early on Thursday. – Reuters

Gulf States

Last week, Qatar’s emir, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani, and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman of Saudi Arabia clasped hands and grinned at the opening ceremony of the soccer World Cup in Qatar, showing off the repair of a rift that reshaped the Gulf. – New York Times

The leader of Bahrain, one of Qatar’s closest neighbors, didn’t attend the opening ceremony. And fans from Bahrain still can’t get direct flights to Doha, which have remained suspended since 2017, when Saudi Arabia and three other Arab nations, including Bahrain, imposed a punishing trade boycott on Qatar. – Bloomberg 

The FIFA World Cup opening ceremony in Qatar was marked by displays of Gulf harmony unthinkable just a couple of years ago. But the lovefest had its limits […] The rift ended in 2021, with aviation and trade links restored between Qatar and Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Egypt. But Bahrain has remained the exception. – Bloomberg

Jane Biran writes: If these things had been made clear in advance, in addition to all the other reasons the choice of Qatar for the World Cup was questionable, the case for a mass protest would have been made and those who were in it for the money may have had cause to think again. Qatar and the World Cup make it clear that where there are strong grounds for complaints against any scheme affecting the lives of millions, they should be acted upon not at the eleventh hour but from day one. – Jerusalem Post


Airbus SE agreed to pay €15.9 million ($16.5 million) to end French probes into corruption allegations linked to sales campaigns in Libya and Kazakhstan, following a record €3.6 billion bribery settlement nearly three years ago. – Bloomberg

High-profile European politicians, including the EU’s former foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini, Italy’s current and former interior ministers and the current and former prime ministers of Malta, have been named as the subjects of a criminal complaint at the international criminal court alleging they conspired with Libya’s coastguard to illegally push back refugees trying to cross the Mediterranean Sea into Europe. – The Guardian

Libya’s central bank governor said the war-torn OPEC nation needs to boost oil production to enact sweeping development plans and diversify an economy heavily reliant on energy exports. – Bloomberg

Middle East & North Africa

No Israelis complained to the diplomats stationed in Qatar for the World Cup of mistreatment, contrary to the impression from videos on social media, Iris Ambor, head of the Foreign Ministry’s delegation to Doha, said on Wednesday. – Jerusalem Post

The inscriptions on the dark grey granite slab became the seminal breakthrough in deciphering ancient Egyptian hieroglyphics after it was taken from Egypt by forces of the British empire in 1801. Now, as Britain’s largest museum marks the 200-year anniversary of the decipherment of hieroglyphics, thousands of Egyptians are demanding the stone’s return. – New York Post 

President Isaac Herzog is expected to visit Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates starting this coming Sunday, but security officials have identified online protests against the visit which include threats to his life, and a clear call for him not to come, Channel 12 News reported on Wednesday. – Arutz Sheva

The UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) for Palestine refugees announced on Tuesday that it located an underground tunnel below an elementary school it operates in Gaza. – Haaretz

Alex Grinberg writes: Besides the physical threat that Algeria may pose, Algeria’s natural gas supplies provide another tool in its arsenal. Algeria has already weaponized its gas supplies and can undoubtedly do it again. The notion that Europe should turn to Algeria, a Russian ally, in its moment of weakness is counterproductive and even dangerous. It’s time the United States and Europe recognize what Algeria stands for, take necessary precautions against its global orientation, and levy sanctions as should already be done under U.S. law. – The National Interest

Korean Peninsula

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un called for a major political conference before year’s end where he’s expected to address his increasingly tense relations with Washington and Seoul over the expansion of his nuclear and missile programs. – Associated Press 

The United States is working a new round of sanctions against North Korea, U.S. National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan said on Thursday, as Pyongyang forges ahead with banned missile development and signals a possible new nuclear test. – Reuters

Over the next few years, the United States will likely press allies like South Korea harder to be ready for a conflict with China that may arise over Taiwan’s future, a leading scholar on global affairs at Johns Hopkins University said Tuesday. – USNI News


The groundswell of discontent that has gripped at least a dozen major Chinese cities in recent days was triggered primarily by resentment of the draconian measures the government has maintained to quickly snuff out, if not prevent, coronavirus outbreaks. But the protests in Beijing and elsewhere have also exposed many people’s apprehension over President Xi Jinping’s broader nationalist vision — which increasingly prioritizes stability and national security over individual freedoms. – Washington Post

They are showing up at homes in the middle of the night, stopping people and searching their phones for banned apps, summoning individuals for questioning at police stations and holding them for more than 24 hours. Through these and other tactics, Chinese authorities are quietly trying to stamp out the demonstrations and vigils that have spread across the country within the past week, challenging the Communist Party’s authority in a way not seen since the 1989 Tiananmen protests. – Washington Post

Twitter is banned in China, but it is proving a critical platform for getting videos and images of protests occurring across the nation out to the rest of the world. – Wall Street Journal

For years now, the United States has been trying to pivot its foreign policy focus to Asia, to face a potential threat from a more powerful China, and to get its NATO and European allies to take the challenge posed by Beijing more seriously. – New York Times

Workers and residents rebelling against a pandemic lockdown in an industrial district of southern China clashed with riot police in white hazmat suits twice this week, the latest flare-up of anger against “zero Covid” restrictions that have spawned protests across the country. – New York Times

The deaths of Chinese Communist leaders are always fraught moments of political theater, and especially so now with the passing of Jiang Zemin soon after a wave of public defiance on a scale unseen since Mr. Jiang came to power in 1989. – New York Times

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov on Thursday accused NATO of whipping up tensions near China in a way that posed risks for Russia. – Reuters

Hong Kong’s security minister on Wednesday warned that the city’s protests against China’s anti-virus restrictions were a “rudiment of another color revolution” and urged residents not to participate in activities that might hurt national security. – Associated Press 

The US has accused Beijing of providing Chinese-made COVID-19 vaccines of questionable efficacy to foreign nations “for strategic political purposes” — often demanding concessions such as cutting diplomatic ties with Taiwan in exchange. – New York Post 

U.S. officials believe the protests that erupted in a number of Chinese cities over the weekend are unlikely to spread or spark a wider movement against Beijing’s authoritarian rulers, according to U.S. government communications obtained by POLITICO. – Politico

China has enlisted tech giants Alibaba and Tencent to aid its efforts in designing semiconductor chips, as Beijing braces for further US-led sanctions aimed at suppressing Chinese computing power. – Financial Times

Chinese President Xi Jinping called for efforts to bring calm to the war in Ukraine in talks with European Council President Charles Michel, a sign that Beijing may be trying to address one of its biggest points of friction with Europe. – Bloomberg

A Hong Kong court delayed media mogul Jimmy Lai’s foreign collusion trial, as China mulls a local government request to bar overseas-based lawyers from representing defendants in national security cases. – Bloomberg

A sortie of Chinese bombers landed at a Russian air base for the first time, the Russian government said Wednesday, as Western leaders contemplated China’s emergence as a threat to NATO members. – Washington Examiner

Britain’s relationship with China is under the spotlight as Beijing squelches anti-government Covid lockdown protests, with some British lawmakers calling for the expulsion of Chinese diplomats from London. Some of the mounting dissatisfaction with Beijing is also being directed at the new British prime minister, Rishi Sunak, whose stance against Communist China has been seen as less than robust by a growing number of influential lawmakers in his own governing Conservative party. – New York Sun 

Nicholas Kristof writes: Chinese netizens these days discuss “banana peels” (xiang jiao pi) and “shrimp moss” (xia tai). Why? Because the former has the same initials as Xi Jinping. And “shrimp moss” sounds like the Chinese for “step down.” A dictator’s dilemma: How do you arrest people for posting about banana peels without adding to the ridicule that undermines your rule? – New York Times

Spencer Bokat-Lindell writes: The protests are the greatest public challenge to China’s government in years. After nearly three years of pandemic restrictions, how and why did they take off now? And will they succeed in pressuring the government to change course, or will they peter out as a fleeting exception that proves the resilience of Xi’s rule? – New York Times

Wu Qiang writes: When the demonstrators took to the streets, it evoked the moment Julius Caesar crossed the Rubicon. The die has been cast. China’s future belongs to those people on the streets. – New York Times

Patty-Jane Geller and Nathan Waite write: To avoid the worst of these outcomes, the United States needs to prioritize the strengthening of its own nuclear forces. That effort entails both continuing to modernize existing capabilities while enhancing the number and types of U.S. nuclear capabilities required to address the growing Chinese threat. – Washington Examiner

Andreas Kluth writes: If the cause is just and the goal is liberty, I would march with, under and behind any of these symbols. But the blank sheet and the bare scalp may be the most powerful so far. It’s possible that I feel that way because the stakes are so high. In Iran as in China, people are taking big risks to demand human dignity from regimes that draw their might not from legitimacy but from oppression. – Bloomberg

Matthew Brooker writes: For outsiders, Jiang’s death is a reminder of a more freewheeling and hopeful age that has long since faded […] Such behavior is difficult to imagine from the current incumbent, who sticks to scripted appearances and doesn’t do interviews. Since Jiang left the stage, China has become richer and more powerful, though less popular overseas and (the protests would suggest) more dissatisfied at home. It’s hard not to conclude that something has been lost. – Bloomberg

Elisabeth Braw writes: Two new blocs are forming, though unlike the cold war, when adversaries squared off over territory, the competition now is economic. The emerging western bloc has an opportunity to gain the upper hand by collectively building a top-notch and safe 6G model. There would be diplomatic benefits as well as technological ones. – Financial Times

Michael Rubin writes: First (and most important), the United States can speak on behalf of principle beyond the right of peaceful protest. The battle today is for the liberal order. The White House, for example, might speak about the virtues of democracy, government accountability, and freedom. The issue across China is not simply the people’s right to protest, but rather the abuses of power that lead the Chinese people down this path. It is about individual liberty. The Chinese Communist Party repeatedly argues that its system is superior to Western democracy. […]Now is Biden’s time to show Western democracy to be superior. – 19FortyFive

Patty-Jane Geller writes: China is also developing advanced capabilities like a fractional orbital bombardment system that would enable a nuclear missile to orbit the globe before flying to its target on a hypersonic trajectory. Compared to traditional ballistic missiles, such a system would be difficult for the U.S. to detect and track. – Heritage Foundation

Victor Shih writes: Although China under Jiang was not a free or democratic place, many people in the region may be nostalgic now—pining for his steadiness, his openness, and his willingness to expose the regime to some criticism from the press and from society at large. – Foreign Policy

Austin Horng-En Wang writes:  If the United States and Taiwan can speed up the negotiation of a bilateral trade agreement, future economic pressure from China will be largely mitigated. For now, the China factor will remain the most important consideration for Taiwanese voters in presidential elections. – The National Interest

South Asia

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s home state of Gujarat began voting on Thursday with his Hindu nationalist party expected to win a seventh straight term, but any unexpected slip could herald a tighter contest in national polls due by 2024. – Reuters

India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi hinted at Russia’s war in Ukraine as one of crises that will face the Group of 20 nations as the South Asian nation took over the presidency of the collective Thursday. – Bloomberg

Pakistan tops the list of countries at the highest risk of experiencing new mass killings, according to a new report that cites violence by a local offshoot of the Taliban as one of the main challenges for the nation already facing political and economic crises. – Bloomberg

Benjamin Parkin and Chloe Cornish writes: Analysts say the problems stem in part from the lack of regulation and transparency around how private companies lobby and liaise with Indian authorities overseas.But this remains a project in its infancy. Even as critics in India and elsewhere point to the shortcomings of China’s BRI, they say it will take years for India to prove it can scale up its ambitions to those of its larger neighbour. – Financial Times


Australia’s former Prime Minister Scott Morrison on Wednesday listed his achievements in government including standing up to a “bullying“ China as he unsuccessfully argued against being censured by the Parliament for secretly amassing multiple ministerial powers. – Associated Press 

The former head of a Japan-China friendship group who recently returned to Japan from six years in a Beijing prison for what he said were false spying charges said he still hopes to see China become a global leader but with better treatment of human rights. – Associated Press

The U.S. Navy on Tuesday dismissed Beijing’s protests over a “freedom of navigation operation” conducted near a Chinese-held island in the South China Sea, in the latest incident drawing new attention to one of the world’s potential military flashpoints. – Associated Press 

China has warned the United States to not interfere in its relationship with India following deadly border skirmishes between the Asian giants in 2020, the Pentagon said in a report. – Reuters 

U.S. President Joe Biden plans to travel to Taiwanese chip manufacturer TSMC’s Arizona facility on Dec. 6 to promote the administration’s push to boost U.S. semiconductor manufacturing, the White House said. – Reuters

Singapore and Hong Kong start-ups are sidestepping their home stock exchanges to merge with special purpose acquisition companies (Spacs) in the US, as fundraising vehicles in the Asian financial hubs have yielded little on their exit plans. – Financial Times 

Nato members held their first dedicated debate on Taiwan in September, as the US encourages other members of the transatlantic security alliance to pay more attention to the rising threat of China to the island. – Financial Times 

The UK and Japan have wound up their first military exercise in three years as commanders warn of “sharp destabilisation” in the security environment caused by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and an increasingly assertive China. – Financial Times 

Editorial: Whatever one might say about Chiang Kai-shek — for he was not without profound faults — cozying up to Beijing is not an error he would have made or condoned. It would be a mistake to make too much of his great-grandson’s election in Taipei but also to make too little of it. It’s a moment to think of possibilities. For if Chiang’s ghost troubles the Far East today, it could be because he left behind at his death a great deal of unfinished business. – New York Sun 

Stacie L. Pettyjohn, Andrew Metrick and Becca Wasser write: Since the end of the Cold War, the U.S. military has operated from airbases almost totally secure from air and missile attacks. The sanctuary era is long over, especially in the Indo-Pacific due to China’s acquisition of a large number of accurate long-range missiles and increasingly modern air forces. Conventionally armed Chinese missiles can range most American bases in the region, including Guam, but the level of the threat varies considerably and is directly tied to the base’s distance from China. – War on the Rocks


The two held a news conference in Auckland, New Zealand, on Wednesday after their first face-to-face meeting — which Ardern described as a “historic occasion” marking the country’s first visit from a Finnish prime minister. – Washington Post 

France has prepared a contingency plan to conduct rolling blackouts this winter if its electrical grid comes under severe stress, officials said, as the country struggles to ramp up its fleet of nuclear reactors after a rash of outages. – Wall Street Journal

The Ukrainian Embassy in Madrid and a Spanish arms manufacturer whose weapons are being used in Kyiv’s defense against Russia received letter bombs on Wednesday, with the former delivery causing a minor injury to a worker at the diplomatic mission. A third suspected bomb was discovered at a Spanish air force base near Madrid, the Spanish newspaper El Mundo reported Thursday morning. – Washington Post

French President Emmanuel Macron addressed U.S. lawmakers from both political parties on Wednesday and pushed back over new American subsidies that are riling European leaders, according to a participant in a closed-door meeting. – Reuters

France’s President Emmanuel Macron fired an undiplomatic volley at his American hosts on the first day of a rare state visit to Washington, telling lawmakers Wednesday that US industrial subsidies are “super aggressive” against French competitors. – Agence France-Presse

The Prince and Princess of Wales embarked Wednesday on their first overseas trip since the death of Queen Elizabeth II, aiming to showcase the younger face of a monarchy that is tackling important issues like climate change as it attempts to remain relevant in a modern, multicultural Britain. – Associated Press 

Albanian prosecutors on Wednesday asked for the house arrest of five public employees they blame for not protecting the country from a cyberattack by alleged Iranian hackers. – Associated Press 

Germany’s parliament on Wednesday approved a resolution recognizing as genocide Ukraine’s 1930s “Holodomor,” a famine believed to have killed more than 3 million Ukrainians under the repressive rule of Soviet leader Josef Stalin. – Associated Press 

The European Union’s executive branch recommended Wednesday that billions of euros of EU funds allocated to Hungary remain frozen over its failure to implement solid rule-of-law reforms, a move highlighting the growing rift between the EU’s traditional Western democratic values and its partner’s democratic backsliding. – Associated Press 

Spanish police are investigating reports of a small blast at the Ukrainian Embassy in Madrid on Wednesday, the Interior Ministry said. – Associated Press 

The European Union’s asylum agency said Wednesday that the number of people seeking asylum in Europe has hit a six-year high, with Syrian nationals once again seeking international protection more than people from any other country. – Associated Press 

Spain’s interior minister on Wednesday flatly rejected new media allegations of possible deaths on Spanish soil during a June storming by migrants of the border fence separating its north African enclave of Melilla from Morocco when at least 23 people died. – Associated Press 

Germany and Norway want to start a NATO-led alliance to protect critical underwater infrastructure, their leaders said on Wednesday, weeks after explosions hit two key gas pipelines in the fallout from the war in Ukraine. – Agence France-Presse

Emmanuel Macron warned that the US risked “fragmenting the west” with a flagship climate law that the French president said would distort competition by massively subsidising American companies to the detriment of European industries. – Financial Times 

Alan Beattie writes: The two trade behemoths also have contrasting priorities. The US is focused on besting China and as such regards green investment as an issue of overwhelming national security importance, the same attitude that animates its export controls on semiconductors. The EU is more concerned with decarbonising its economy and trying to catch up in green technology. – Financial Times

Mathieu Droin, Nilanthi Samaranayake, Zack Cooper and Celine Pajon write: The “robust collaboration” that the two presidents have been calling for certainly requires further efforts to increase mutual understanding and cooperation. The set-up of a bilateral dialogue at the official level dedicated to the cooperation in the Indo-Pacific, and supported by a Track 1.5 initiative, could help allies support this objective. Strategic fault lines might be hard to bridge, but that should not prevent the two allies from collaborating given the importance and magnitude of the challenges in the region. – Center for Strategic and International Studies


Cyril Ramaphosa on Wednesday moved to the brink of becoming the first South African president to face impeachment after a report found evidence that he might have broken the law in relation to a stash of money stolen at one of his properties. – New York Times

The three Nigerian stowaways found on an oil tanker’s rudder after an 11-day ocean voyage from Lagos, Nigeria to Las Palmas in the Canary Islands are seeking asylum in Spain, a spokesperson for the Spanish government delegation in the Canaries said Wednesday. – Associated Press 

Africa’s transition to cleaner fuels and power generation presents investors with opportunities across the value chain, but more direct financing is needed on projects, the head of a South African independent power producer, said on Thursday. – Reuters

Latin America

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro said the easing of an oil embargo on his country by the United States was not enough, and called Wednesday for the total lifting of sanctions. – Agence France-Presse

China, Russia, Algeria and Turkey have pledged to restructure Cuba’s debt, provide new trade and investment financing, and help ease an energy crisis, Cuban President Miguel Diaz-Canel told state-run media following a rare trip abroad last week. – Reuters

Journalists from an investigative news outlet in El Salvador sued NSO Group in United States federal court Wednesday after the Israeli firm’s powerful Pegasus spyware was detected on their iPhones. – Associated Press 

Peruvian President Pedro Castillo is facing a third impeachment proceeding after a request backed by 67 lawmakers filed Tuesday set the stage for the latest clash between his leftwing government and the opposition-led legislature. – Bloomberg

Editorial: It’s not easy to topple a dictatorial regime by sanctions, as the Trump policy showed. It’s also not easy to use calibrated sanctions relief to cajole a dictator into negotiating his own possible defeat at the polls. The Biden administration has embarked on its new policy at least partly in the hope of mitigating the chaos Mr. Maduro’s rule has spread across the entire hemisphere — including through a migration wave crashing over the southern U.S. border. Stability is indeed a vital U.S. national interest; but in Venezuela it is impossible without democracy. – Washington Post 

Editorial: North America is facing a possible 2023 recession, and billions of dollars in U.S. and Canadian energy investment in Mexico are in limbo. If Mr. López Obrador thinks he can honor the parts of the USMCA he likes but disregard what is inconvenient, the Biden Administration has no reason to delay arbitration and a likely ruling against Mexico. – Wall Street Journal

Editorial: Biden already took national policy to new heights of selfishness when he opened up the Strategic Petroleum Reserve just to save his own party’s political hide in November. But that was nothing compared to this. In giving aid and comfort to Maduro, Biden is actively joining forces with evil at this point. If Republicans in Congress want someplace to start, they should start looking at why this is happening and what they can do using the power of the purse to prevent it. – Washington Examiner

Juan P. Villasmil writes: It is one thing if a few South American leaders hate us, it is another if China meddles in our proximity to secure dependents, not allies, that will advance their primary objective: weakening the United States. Hence, today more than ever before, when it comes to Latin America, pressure, not compassion, is the answer. An absent America means a present China, and one does not need to be an expert to ponder what may occur when our neighbors grow antagonistic with the help of our most powerful adversary. – The National Interest

United States

House Democrats ushered in a new generation of leaders on Wednesday with Rep. Hakeem Jeffries elected to be the first Black American to head a major political party in Congress at a pivotal time as long-serving Speaker Nancy Pelosi and her team step aside next year. – Associated Press 

When asked about US President Donald Trump’s recent dinner with prominent antisemites Kanye West and Nick Fuentes at his Florida resort of Mar-a-Lago, Netanyahu said that the former President had made a “mistake,” which he hoped he would not repeat, but he recalled all of the good Trump did for Israel during his time in office. – Arutz Sheva 

Edward Luce writes: The history of great power screw ups is frequently about mistaking proactiveness for being in control. In reality, acting pre-emptively is often the quickest way to lose control. George W Bush, like Putin, is living proof of that. An economic policymaker once said: “Plan beats no plan.” In foreign policy, the reverse is more often the case. Biden had no plan for Ukraine. The fear is that America does have a plan for China. – Financial Times


A top European Union official warned Elon Musk on Wednesday that Twitter needs to beef up measures to protect users from hate speech, misinformation and other harmful content to avoid violating new rules that threaten tech giants with big fines or even a ban in the 27-nation bloc. – Associated Press 

Twitter owner Elon Musk said he met with Apple chief Tim Cook on Wednesday and “resolved the misunderstanding” that prompted him to declare war on the iPhone maker’s App Store. – Agence France-Presse

The hackers leaking stolen Australian health records to the dark web on Thursday appeared to end their extortion attempt by dumping a final batch of data online and declaring:”Case closed.” – Agence France-Presse

Elon Musk is under renewed pressure from the US and EU over his ownership of Twitter, as regulators clamp down on the billionaire’s push to transform the social network into a freewheeling haven of free speech. – Financial Times 

New Twitter CEO Elon Musk said his company will be more “even-handed” under his watch while condemning previous election interference from the platform. – Washington Examiner

A Spanish company that offers “tailor made Information Security Solutions” may have exploited vulnerabilities in Chrome, Firefox and the Microsoft Defender antivirus program to deploy spyware, researchers with Google’s Threat Analysis Group said Wednesday. – CyberScoop

Sally Greenberg writes: The U.S. is the leader of the world when it comes to technology and innovation. Yet, we are among a small subset of countries that do not have a federal privacy protection law. Other countries are getting more aggressive about privacy. As a result, the U.S. is falling behind and reacting to them instead of leading the way and setting the goal posts. – The Hill


The U.S. Army awarded a $1.2 billion contract to Raytheon Technologies Co (RTX.N) for six National Advanced Surface-to-Air Missile Systems (NASAMS) for Ukraine on Wednesday, the Pentagon said. – Reuters

With the deadline to pass the annual defense authorization bill looming, GOP lawmakers are throwing a potential wrench into the timeline. At the center of the issue is the Biden administration’s military COVID-19 vaccine mandate. – The Hill

A bill to halt the government’s purchase of Chinese-made drones is being stalled by demands for a carve-out for the intelligence community, sources said of discussions with the House Intelligence Committee. – Washington Examiner

The American public’s historically low confidence in the military as a public institution is not due solely to the action of civil or uniformed military leaders, according to an annual survey from the Reagan Institute. – Defense News

The Senate on Wednesday confirmed Robert Storch to serve as the Defense Department inspector general in a 92-3 vote, making him the first Senate-confirmed official to assume the role since Jon Rymer left the post in January 2016. – Defense News

Editorial: The Pentagon denies this is a problem, but it surely is if half the public believes it. The military relies on young Americans to sign up amid many other career opportunities. Fewer are doing so. Americans on the left have their own reasons for declining confidence in the military: 46% cited right-wing extremism, even though this scourge has been wildly overstated. – Wall Street Journal

Lars Erik Schönander writes: All federal agencies should undergo an inspection to reveal the size and composition of their drone fleets. At the moment, there is no requirement for agencies to disclose the number and types of drones they are buying. Federal agencies shouldn’t be allowed to buy products from companies that threaten America’s security. – Wall Street Journal

Long War

Islamic State said Wednesday that its top leader died recently in fighting, less than a year after the terrorist group’s previous commander was killed during a U.S. military raid in Syria. – Wall Street Journal

Four of the defendants arrested in connection with a 2016 Islamic extremist attack that killed 19 people on an Ivory Coast tourist beach appeared in court Wednesday to face murder and terrorism charges. – Associated Press 

The IDF, Israel Security Agency (Shabak) and Israel Police forces on Wednesday night conducted counterterrorism activities in Judea and Samaria, and two senior terror operatives were killed during an operation in the town of Wadi Bruqin. – Arutz Sheva