Fdd's overnight brief

December 14, 2023

FDD Research & Analysis

In The News


U.S. national security adviser Jake Sullivan is set to arrive in Israel on Thursday for the Biden administration’s latest bout of high-stakes diplomacy in the Middle East, amid mounting disagreements between President Biden and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. – Wall Street Journal

The Israeli military and Palestinian officials are reporting heavy losses in intense fighting in the Gaza Strip, as Israel faces pressure to quickly achieve its goal of eliminating Hamas. – Wall Street Journal

The Biden administration is holding back a shipment of more than 27,000 U.S.-made rifles intended for Israel’s national police over concerns they could end up transferred to extremist Israeli settlers in the West Bank, U.S. officials said. – Wall Street Journal

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is betting his political survival on opposing a Palestinian Authority role in postwar Gaza and blocking the emergence of any Palestinian state, a move that has put him directly at odds with President Biden, his most important ally in Israel’s war against Hamas. – Wall Street Journal

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) called for President Biden to cut proposed aid to Israel by $10.1 billion in a letter that called the Israeli military’s actions in Gaza a “mass atrocity” that the United States is complicit in. – Washington Post

Heavy rains pummeled southern Gaza on Wednesday, bringing mud, flooding and in some cases disease to the thousands of displaced Palestinians living in makeshift tents in this corner of the besieged enclave. – Washington Post

Three Palestinians were killed on Thursday in an ongoing Israeli raid on the occupied West Bank city of Jenin and its refugee camp, the Palestinian health ministry said. – Reuters

Israeli children, long free to wander, are now routinely chaperoned. Gun license applications are up by a factor of eight. Self-defense classes are oversubscribed. – Bloomberg

Calls are growing for the resignation of the United Nations’s special adviser on the prevention of genocide, Alice Wairimu Nderitu, as employees intensify pressure against officials who buck the predominant pro-Hamas view at the world’s governing body. – New York Sun

As President Biden’s national security adviser, Jacob Sullivan, lands in Israel on Thursday to advance a post-war peaceful vision that would replace Hamas’s leadership in Gaza with the West Bank-based Palestinian Authority, a reputable Ramallah-based pollster is issuing alarming data, recording a dramatic rise of support for war among Palestinians. – New York Sun

Israel declared its determination Wednesday to press on with its Gaza war “with or without international support,” after it came under mounting pressure even from key backer the United States. – Agence France-Presse

Biden administration staffers held a vigil outside of the White House Wednesday where they called for a cease-fire in Gaza. – The Hill

The United States sped capability updates to Israel’s F-35 fighters after Hamas’ Oct. 7 attack, the top officer in charge of the Joint Strike Fighter program said Tuesday. – Defense News

Eliot A. Cohen writes: After Oct. 7, however, Israelis will wonder whether they will live under the constant threat of an unshakably hostile and eliminationist coalition led by Iran and including Hezbollah, Hamas, Yemen’s Houthis and kindred groups that will use any means to weaken and eventually destroy their state. […]They may have to, for at least the foreseeable future. History cannot guarantee how that will turn out, but the first Israelis accepted that challenge and still managed to thrive. Their spirit thus far suggests that one should not doubt that their grandchildren and great-grandchildren are capable of doing the same. – Wall Street Journal

David B. Rivkin and Peter Berkowitz write: The pope’s comments to Mr. Herzog amount to a rejection of just-war theory and an embrace of primitive pacifism. They fail to understand that what happens in Gaza won’t stay in Gaza. If the laws of war were rewritten to preclude law-abiding powers like Israel and the U.S. from defending themselves against lawless combatants like Hamas, Hezbollah and Iran, lawlessness would inevitably prevail. – Wall Street Journal


Iran’s Defence Minister Mohammad Reza Ashtiani warned that a proposed U.S.-backed multinational task force to protect shipping in the Red Sea would face “extraordinary problems”, official Iranian media reported on Thursday. – Reuters

A top State Department official once again declined to explain on Wednesday the reason Special Envoy to Iran Rob Malley was placed on leave, 10 months after his absence began. – Washington Examiner

Akbar Jafari, a professor at Tehran’s Sharif University, has resigned after being summoned and interrogated by security agents over his support for protests last year sparked by the September 2022 death of Mahsa Amini while in police custody. – Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty

The Iranian judiciary has confirmed the execution of the person responsible for the April killing of Ayatollah Abbas Ali Soleimani, a powerful cleric and member of the Assembly of Experts. – Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty

The Iranian parliament has rejected the outlines of next year’s budget bill, a symbolic move as the administration has no way to balance the estimated deficit. – Iran International

Many Iranians are unable to afford the bread they need amid the ongoing economic crisis, Tehran’s economy minister has admitted. With inflation estimated to around 50 percent, Ehsan Khandouzi said he hopes for a future where vulnerable groups can meet their daily needs without anyone going to bed hungry. – Iran International

Iran’s President Ebrahim Raisi has canceled a planned trip to Geneva, Switzerland to attend the United Nations Global Refugee Forum amid international outcry over the participation of the Iranian leader, who faced a fresh legal complaint this week demanding Swiss authorities arrest him for “crimes against humanity.” – Algemeiner

Yonah Jeremy Bob writes: How do JCPOA critics plan to keep the Islamic Republic “in the box” for all of next year while there may not even be a potential diplomatic horizon in place? What happens if Khamenei finally decides to challenge Israel’s longtime threat (or call its bluff) to strike his nuclear program if the ayatollahs ever decided to break out and make a bomb? A diplomatic solution or delaying Iran with covert Mossad operations seem to be the only methods to delay Iran getting the bomb and potentially launching all out war. – Jerusalem Post

Russia & Ukraine

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, having failed to secure new commitments for weapons from the U.S. this week, shifts his attention to Europe, where a fight is deepening over how to keep Ukraine’s government running during its war with Russia. – Wall Street Journal

Russian authorities have opened a new criminal case against a Russian-U.S. journalist for Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty on an allegation that she spread false information about Russia’s military, according to the Russian state news agency TASS. – Wall Street Journal

Residents of Ukraine’s capital were weathering missile strikes and a cyberattack on a mobile-network operator that authorities called Russian efforts to sow chaos and sap national morale. – Wall Street Journal

Ukraine faces dwindling reserves of ammunition, personnel and Western support. The counteroffensive it launched six months ago has failed. Moscow, once awash in recriminations over a disastrous invasion, is celebrating its capacity to sustain a drawn-out war. – New York Times

President Biden and Democrats on Capitol Hill are seriously considering Republican demands for deeply restrictive immigration policies in exchange for billions of dollars in aid for Ukraine, a move that activists say would devastate America’s obligations to welcome desperate migrants fleeing war and oppression. – New York Times

After being diplomatically isolated at the United Nations over its invasion of Ukraine, Russia appears smug as the United States suffers a similar fate for its support of Israel and its war against Hamas in the Gaza Strip. – Reuters

When Russia’s invasion of Ukraine ignited into war, back in Moscow, a young Russian who now goes by the name of Karabas was plunged into despair. Shocked by images of what was happening to Ukrainians in Russian-occupied areas, he decided to act — against Russia, his home and country. – Associated Press

The US sanctioned businessman Ivan Tavrin, who’d benefited from his position as an unpenalized investor to become Russia’s biggest wartime dealmaker. – Bloomberg

Editorial: An overrun Ukraine would be a second Afghanistan for President Biden. The strategic damage—Mr. Putin victorious, an emboldened China—would be much worse than the debacle in Kabul. Republicans don’t want to co-own that world, and they will if they abandon Ukraine after its people have sacrificed so many lives for two years. A Ukraine-border deal would be good for the country and a tonic for America’s polarized politics. Kyiv isn’t the only world capital watching to see whether the American President and lawmakers can still accomplish something so clearly in the nation’s interest. – Wall Street Journal

Lee Hockstader writes: A failure on that scale — let alone actual defeat in Ukraine — would have much more lasting repercussions than Kyiv’s inability to break through Russian battle lines. It could raise the curtain on a new era of aggression by authoritarian states, unchecked by the world’s diminished democracies. – Washington Post

Antonio De Loera-Brust writes: Of course, making Democrats choose their political wound is what Republicans’ brinkmanship is all about. But for the sake of domestic unity, global opinion and the very real values that drive the United States’ commitment to Ukraine, this is a trap that those who support Ukraine must not fall into. Forcing Latin American migrants and asylum seekers to pay the price for a European war is bad policy and bad politics. True champions of Ukraine must reject this cruel deal. – Washington Post

James Stavridis writes: Patience is never an American strong suit, and as support for Ukraine diminishes, the likelihood of a stalemate increases. How can we ensure Putin does not win this illegal and immoral war? For now, by granting Zelenskiy’s relatively modest requests — not for Western troops, but for the tools of war to defend his nation. – Bloomberg

Michael O’Hanlon and Caitlin Talmadge write: With this kind of more realistic talk about how the United States views the war in Ukraine, the Biden administration may improve its chances of convincing a wary Congress to provide another big assistance package for Kyiv. Now is the moment to help Ukraine prepare the proper offensive that it has not yet had the time, resources or strategic dexterity to prosecute. But that window will not, and should not, last forever — and defeating Putin comprehensively at all costs should not be our central goal. – The Hill


The British data regulator said on Wednesday it had fined the defence ministry for a series of email data breaches that revealed details of over 265 Afghans who were seeking relocation to Britain after the Taliban took control of Afghanistan. – Reuters

Pakistan has protested to Afghanistan’s Taliban government over the killing of 23 soldiers in an attack on a military base, demanding action against the perpetrators, Islamabad said as it grapples with security challenges ahead of elections next year. – Reuters

Taliban officials are sending Afghan women to prison to protect them from gender-based violence, according to a U.N. report published Thursday. – Associated Press

Afghan and international media watchdogs have condemned Afghanistan’s hard-line Islamist Taliban rulers for handing down a one-year sentence to journalist Sultan Ali Jawadi on unspecified charges and called for his immediate release, along with the freeing of another recently detained media member. – Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty

A stone’s throw from the US border and around the corner from Tijuana’s seedy red-light district, Afghan families say they feel safe inside a first of its kind Muslim-only shelter. – BBC


Iraqi voters go to the polls Monday to select members of the powerful provincial councils, in the first election of its kind in a decade. Experts warn that, in an oil-rich country riven by graft, the councils will only serve to entrench Iraq’s ruling elite, especially powerful pro-Iran groups. – Agence France-Presse

Iraq’s parliament postponed until further notice its planned vote for a new speaker on Wednesday, local media reported, with MPs focused on local elections. – Agence France-Presse

Iran has made two humanitarian transactions using funds from its energy trade with Iraq that were released under a sanctions waiver from the U.S. earlier this month, a Treasury Department official revealed yesterday. – Jewish Insider

Hiwa Abdullah Hussein writes: Once the dust settles on the provincial elections and Iraqis find out who will become their new local representatives, it is possible that some Iraqis will resume demonstrating against the regime. For their part, civil and opposition forces participating in the elections have one more week to convince voters that they can reform the political system and win votes. But beyond this election cycle, they must work to develop a clear and mature political program based on the candidates’ political and professional experience, proposing actionable solutions rather than empty promises. Nevertheless, the main goal of these forces should ultimately be to bring about real democratic change in Iraq, and to end the rule of power and money. Continuing the status quo will mean that Iraqi citizens’ faith in electoral change or the possibility of reform through new political movements will only continue to erode. – Washington Institute


An Israeli lawmaker said on Wednesday his government was seeking to use diplomatic channels to push Lebanon’s Hezbollah fighters away from the border to avoid a war flaring there, although an official close to the group said such ideas were “unrealistic”. – Reuters

Lebanon’s compounding crises are having a “devastating” impact on children and their education, a United Nations agency said Wednesday, warning of additional pressure as the Israel-Hamas war spills over into the country. – Agence France-Presse

Following a wave of rocket fire from Lebanon, the IDF on Wednesday struck Hezbollah sites in the southern part of the country, as the hostilities along the border continued unabated. – Times of Israel

Following the siren that sounded in Kibbutz Rosh Hanikra in northern Israel, a number of launches from Lebanon toward Israel were identified. The launches fell inside Lebanon. Several other launches from Lebanon toward a number of locations in northern Israel were also identified.Earlier today, IDF tanks and fighter jets struck Hezbollah terror targets in Lebanon. IDF soldiers also struck a number of terrorist cells in different locations along the Lebanese border. – Arutz Sheva

Eric Mandel writes: This could turn into a regional war, but if the U.S. supported Israel in degrading Hezbollah, Iran would be humiliated, America’s standing as a reliable ally would be enhanced worldwide, and the Iranian people would be encouraged to try again to overthrow their heinous regime. There are plenty of what-ifs and risks, but it could be the best chance for stability in the Middle East, a peaceable Iran, and a healthy respect for America. Israel does not want to fight a two-front war, but with the campaign to rid Gaza of Hamas likely to be over in a few months, conflict is likely in the north. – The Hill


Two missiles fired from territory held by Yemen’s Houthi rebels missed a commercial tanker loaded with Indian-manufactured jet fuel near the key Bab el-Mandeb Strait on Wednesday, two U.S. officials said. It is the first time they target an energy shipment heading to the Suez Canal. – Associated Press

The US is working with allies to create a multinational effort to protect ships passing through the Red Sea in an effort to stem a surge in attacks by Houthi fighters that has provoked unease about commercial trade passing through one of the world’s most vital waterways. – Bloomberg

Ralph Savelsberg writes: They do not have the industrial base for building these missiles themselves, so despite the arms embargo, such larger and increasingly capable missiles are still finding their way to Yemen, most likely from Iran. Furthermore, although pre-war Yemen had Scud missiles, it seems likely that they can only operate the newer Tufans with Iranian training and assistance. – Breaking Defense

Saudi Arabia

Iranian pilgrims will for the first time in eight years begin regular travel to Saudi Arabia from Dec. 19, Iranian media reported on Wednesday in the latest sign of thawing relations between the two oil-producing rivals in the Gulf. – Reuters

At least 15 people who registered for Saudi Arabia’s delegation to the COP28 climate conference in Dubai appear to be undeclared employees of the Saudi state oil company, according to research by an environmental nonprofit. – Associated Press

US National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan met with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in Saudi Arabia on Wednesday to discuss the ongoing Israel-Hamas war, according to people familiar with the matter. – Bloomberg

Middle East & North Africa

A Tunisian military court on Wednesday handed down a one-year suspended jail sentence on Chaima Issa, a prominent opponent of President Kais Saied, in what the opposition said was part of a broader crackdown on dissent. – Reuters

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin will travel to the Middle East next week, the Pentagon announced, as the Biden administration works to manage a spike in Iran-backed attacks on American forces in the region and contain the Israel-Hamas conflict. – Politico

Libya on Tuesday repatriated nearly 1,000 migrants from Egypt and Nigeria who had been staying in the North African country illegally, officials and AFP journalists said. – Agence France-Presse

The Algerian coastguard has arrested three Moroccan nationals who crossed its western maritime border on a jet ski, Algeria’s defence ministry said Wednesday. – Agence France-Presse

Korean Peninsula

Home is a complicated place for many survivors of the Korean War. No one knows how many Koreans were displaced in the lead-up to that conflict, which began when North Korean troops invaded the South on June 25, 1950, and during the three years of fighting. An estimated 1 million to 5 million people were forced to leave their homes. Most thought it would be temporary. – Washington Post

South Korea’s defence minister threatened on Wednesday to unleash a “hell of destruction” on neighbouring North Korea in retaliation for any reckless actions. – Reuters

Senior North Korean economic officials met with the governor of a Russian region along the Pacific coast for discussions on boosting economic cooperation between the countries, North Korean state media said Wednesday. – Associated Press

The Netherlands and South Korea are stepping up cooperation in the field of semiconductor chips as part of a deepening “strategic partnership,” caretaker Prime Minister Mark Rutte said Wednesday. – Associated Press

South Korea scrambled fighter jets after two warplanes from China and four from Russia briefly entered an air identification zone maintained by Seoul, raising tensions on the highly militarized peninsula. – Bloomberg

Donald Trump is considering a plan to let North Korea keep its nuclear weapons and offer its regime financial incentives to stop making new bombs, according to three people briefed on his thinking. – Politico


A House panel moved toward advancing four measures intended to make the US Commerce Department tougher on China, including bills that would mandate more transparency about licensing decisions and give other agencies more say in which technologies and firms are restricted. – Bloomberg

The bounties and blessings of Chinese friendship as bestowed on Vietnam by President Xi during his visit to Hanoi this week hardly matched the good-will inspired by President Biden as he won hearts and minds when he was there in September. – New York Sun

President Joe Biden and his Chinese counterpart last month touted an agreement to resume military communications as a step toward better relations. But almost four weeks later, the two sides appear no closer to ending the 16-month standoff between defense teams. – Politico

Editorial: If China disrupts clean water or power supplies to Hawaii, then Hainan island, Guangzhou, and Hong Kong will also lose power and clean water. If the Port of Los Angeles is disrupted, the ports of Shanghai and Shenzhen will also cease functioning. The abiding interest is that of deterrence: encouraging Beijing to avoid actions that will ultimately cause far greater harm to its own interests. But the risk is clear. If Biden even indirectly facilitates Xi’s belief that he can get away with targeting U.S. utilities, he risks Xi deciding to roll those dice the day that war comes. – Washington Examiner

Hal Brands writes: To be clear, sanctions can play an important role in a protracted US-China conflict. Over time, measures that constrict China’s trade, impede its high-tech innovation and reduce its access to financial resources could make it harder for Xi to stay in the fight. But the US will only get to a long war if it has the military power to avoid being defeated in a short one. A country that ignores that reality may invite the very conflict it aims to avoid. – Bloomberg

South Asia

Pakistan’s top court on Wednesday allowed military courts to resume the trials of more than 100 supporters of former Prime Minister Imran Khan on charges of attacking military installations during violent demonstrations that broke out following Khan’s arrest in May. – Associated Press

Two people breached the lawmakers’ area of India’s new parliament, setting off smoke cans and shouting slogans in a security breach on the anniversary of a deadly attack on the legislative complex more than two decades ago. – Bloomberg

A Pakistan court charged former prime minister Imran Khan of violating the Official Secrets Act when he allegedly made public a secret diplomatic cable while in office, adding to his legal woes and further jeopardizing his chances of contesting national elections. – Bloomberg


Taiwan’s longest-serving foreign minister since the island became a democracy plans to vacate his post in the coming months, ending an eventful tenure during which he helped bring Taipei closer to Washington while flashing defiance at Beijing. – Wall Street Journal

The acting commander gave his most trusted soldier one final task: Tell the troops to grab anything white they could find. It was time to surrender. For more than four days, bombs had rained down on the Myanmar military base where the 125th Infantry Battalion was headquartered. Troops and their families had split into small groups and were hiding in shelters. – Wall Street Journal

China condemned Canada’s support for the Philippines over what it said were violations of China’s sovereignty in the South China Sea, according to a statement by a Chinese embassy spokesperson in Canada. – Reuters

A leader of Taiwan’s main opposition Nationalist Party is visiting rival China less than one month before the self-governing island republic holds elections for president and the legislature under intense pressure from Beijing. – Associated Press

Myanmar’s military government has arrested two journalists with a local online news service, their editor said Wednesday, in its latest crackdown on media freedom since seizing power nearly three years ago. – Associated Press

Armenia and Azerbaijan on Wednesday exchanged prisoners of war, in line with an agreement announced last week that also promised the two countries would work towards a peace treaty and was hailed by the European Union as a major step toward peace in the tumultuous region. – Associated Press

Chinese President Xi Jinping wrapped his first visit to Vietnam in six years by calling on the Southeast Asian country to stop external forces from causing problems in the Asia-Pacific. – Bloomberg

The Philippines deported 180 Chinese nationals on Thursday after they were detained in a raid on a suspected sex-trafficking and online scam operation in the capital Manila, officials said. – Agence France-Presse

Elisabeth Braw writes: China didn’t launch its maritime harassment with friendshoring in mind. But being able to delay or even thwart friendshoring has turned out to be one of the benefits of the harassment. And because it’s not military aggression, it’s unclear what the response should be. One thing is clear, though: If the world wants friendshoring to succeed, China’s maritime harassment will need to be stopped. The question is by whom. – Foreign Policy


The head of the U.N. Palestinian refugee agency (UNRWA) denounced a move by Switzerland to cut aid as the Gaza Strip faces a humanitarian crisis described as apocalyptic by the United Nations. – Reuters

The UK, Italy and Japan signed a treaty in Tokyo on Thursday to crystallize their joint plan to develop a stealth fighter jet, as the nations look to bolster their security ties amid threats from the likes of an assertive China. – Bloomberg

The European Union decided to release more than €10 billion ($10.8 billion) of aid earmarked for Hungary, a major win for Prime Minister Viktor Orban ahead of a crucial summit on Ukraine that the nationalist leader is threatening to torpedo. The forint extended gains against the euro. – Bloomberg

Dutch far-right politician Geert Wilders said the Netherlands should cut its military support to Ukraine as Kyiv struggles to secure aid from key Western allies. – Bloomberg


Democratic Republic of Congo’s government has asked the United Nations to allow its peacekeeping mission to help with the logistics of organising national elections next week, according to a letter seen by Reuters. – Reuters

Around two dozen soldiers and at least five civilians were killed when militants attacked a military camp and a village in central Mali on Tuesday, a local official said. – Reuters

The United States intends to resume security and development cooperation with Niger provided it takes steps to restore democracy, a U.S. diplomat said on Wednesday after meeting the military leaders who took power in a coup in July. – Reuters

Six people, including four soldiers, were killed while two South Korean employees were kidnapped after gunmen ambushed their convoy in Nigeria’s oil-producing Niger Delta, a security source and the army said on Wednesday. – Reuters

Ethiopia’s peace minister has been fired and arrested for having alleged links to an outlawed rebel group after he made a series of social media posts criticizing the government. – Associated Press

Conflict, coups and poverty are rising at alarming rates in Africa, where the number of armed groups have more than doubled over the past decade, the International Rescue Committee said. – Bloomberg

Chadians vote on Sunday on a new constitution, in a key step towards elections promised, but postponed, by the ruling junta and seen as a test of legitimacy for the Deby dynasty’s more than 30-year rule. – Agence France-Presse

In a rare video appearance, a main jihadist leader in the Sahel has lashed out at the military regimes in Mali, Burkina Faso and Niger and their Russian allies. The leader of the Al-Qaeda-linked Group for the Support of Islam and Muslims (JNIM), Iyad Ag Ghaly, urged local Muslims to support his fighters against the “treacherous governments” of Mali, Burkina Faso and Niger and against the Russian paramilitary group Wagner, which is active in Mali. – Agence France-Presse

At least 200 members of the ADF rebels affiliated to the Islamic State group were killed in air strikes led by Uganda in September in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Uganda’s president said Wednesday. – Agence France-Presse

Somalia is set to receive debt relief of $4.5 billion from international creditors, the International Monetary Fund and World Bank announced Wednesday, as part of a debt forgiveness initiative overseen by both organizations. – Agence France-Presse

The World Food Programme warned on Wednesday that Sudan faces a “hunger catastrophe” if it cannot deliver regular food aid there, eight months after fighting erupted between rival generals. – Agence France-Presse

Michael Rubin writes: The White House may consider Eritrea an irritant undeserving of attention, but to protect the sanctity of charitable giving, it behooves the Biden administration to shake loose the Treasury Department bureaucracy and take action to ensure that Americans can give to charity without fear that doing so might inadvertently bolster a dictator and unintentionally contravene sanctions law. – American Enterprise Institute

Latin America

Ambassador Manuel Rocha was a rags-to-riches all-American success story until his arrest earlier this month on charges that include being a secret agent for Cuba’s Communist government for more than 40 years. – Wall Street Journal

Argentina’s radical, anarcho-capitalist President Javier Milei may turn out to be pretty conventional. That comes with good and bad news for investors. – Wall Street Journal

Argentina’s brash new far-right, avowedly libertarian president, Javier Milei, began his first term in office this week with a warning: prepare for an economic shock treatment. Among a raft of drastic campaign promises pitched as tough medicine to bring the spiraling economy into line, one promise in particular has gained close attention in the United States: a plan to scrap the Argentine peso entirely and replace it with the U.S. dollar. – Washington Post

The Biden administration had agreed to ease oil and gas sanctions for six months — and, in exchange, had set a Nov. 30 deadline for Venezuela to release political prisoners. […]The Nov. 30 deadline, however, came and went without Venezuela’s compliance — despite U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken’s warning that “failure to abide by the terms of this arrangement will lead the United States to reverse steps we have taken.” Though the department initially stopped short of committing to restoring sanctions, a spokesperson told The Washington Post on Monday that such steps could follow the recent slate of “arbitrary arrests” and “lack of progress” on releases. – Washington Post

Argentina’s President Javier Milei has sent a letter to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), formally requesting to start accession talks and do so “as fast as possible”, according to three sources. – Reuters

Ecuador expects to seal a deal for the United States to provide $200 million worth of security equipment and support as it tackles rising violence on the streets and in prisons blamed on drug trafficking gangs, the government said on Wednesday. – Reuters

A top U.S. official from the National Security Council met senior members of the administration of Argentine President Javier Milei on Wednesday and discussed plans for the South American nation’s economy and U.S. investment in it, the White House said. – Reuters

Robinson Flores, a Venezuelan who has been living in Essequibo for years, has no time for politicians fighting over the disputed oil-rich region run by Guyana. – Agence France-Presse

Bolivia, home to some of the world’s biggest lithium reserves, signed a $450 million deal Wednesday with Russian state firm Uranium One Group to produce the key battery and electric vehicle components. – Agence France-Presse

Mexico and other major South American countries insisted Wednesday that Guatemala’s outsider president-elect be allowed to take power on schedule, as he battles a slew of legal challenges from the establishment political elite. – Agence France-Presse

The presidents of Venezuela and Guyana will meet Thursday for talks that analysts say could “de-escalate” tensions but will do little to resolve their countries’ long-standing territorial dispute. – Agence France-Presse

James Brooke writes: With many analysts predicting that Venezuela will soon provoke border skirmishes, Washington’s stance is crucial. Last Thursday, the day after Guyana’s military helicopter crashed, Washington said the United States Southern Command was conducting  joint air patrols with Guyana. […]In 1982, the Argentines invaded the Falkland Islands, triggering the war in which Britain sent forces to retrieve the islands. In doing so, Prime Minister Thatcher showed great courage. The following year it helped boost her to the biggest electoral victory in two generations. Could that history tempt President Biden to deploy American gunboats? – New York Sun

United States

The House voted Wednesday to condemn the testimony of the three university presidents whose comments on campus antisemitism last week sparked calls for their resignation. – Wall Street Journal

A judge temporarily froze criminal proceedings against Donald Trump in the federal case alleging he plotted to overturn the 2020 election results, saying the prosecution shouldn’t advance toward trial while the former president presses immunity claims in higher courts. – Wall Street Journal

The Supreme Court on Wednesday agreed to consider whether prosecutors exceeded the scope of federal obstruction laws in hundreds of criminal cases relating to the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol, including special counsel Jack Smith’s prosecution of former President Donald Trump. – Wall Street Journal

A 13-year-old was charged with plotting a mass shooting at an Ohio synagogue. […]The threat was discovered on Sept. 1. The suspect is now being charged with two misdemeanors — juvenile counts of inducing panic and disorderly conduct. – Washington Examiner

Editorial: Mr. Lowell’s hardball strategy may win sympathy from Democrats, but it also may earn Hunter a contempt of Congress citation. His resistance helped to solidify House GOP support Wednesday to begin a formal impeachment inquiry into the President—on grounds it’s the only way to obtain crucial information. Cooperation might have been the wiser course. – Wall Street Journal

Editorial: The Supreme Court should grant the special counsel the speedy hearing he has asked for, because of the public interest in a decision that is quick, carefully considered and, crucially, final. If it does not the justices should at least instruct lower courts to move briskly, after which they should promptly choose once and for all whether to review the case. This procedural matter will swallow up the substance of the case unless the courts decide not to let it. – Washington Post

Alan Goldsmith writes: The Biden administration and US allies should use their leverage to ensure UN Women makes the right choice. America contributed $10 million to the organization in 2022. The US and other leading donors should make clear to UN Women that their funding is conditioned on performance and integrity. Women and girls around the world—including those murdered, sexually assaulted, and kidnapped on October 7—deserve much better. – Times of Israel


Security chiefs and corporate lawyers are wrestling with how much information to report about cyberattacks under new disclosure rules, worried that saying too much might invite lawsuits and more hacks. – Wall Street Journal

When U.S. officials were busy resupplying Ukraine’s depleted forces in the spring for what was expected to be a coming counteroffensive against entrenched Russian troops, the Pentagon sprung a leak. Photographs of about 50 highly classified documents — detailing secret intelligence on challenges as diverse as the war in Ukraine, Iran’s nuclear program, Chinese aircraft carriers and the killing of Islamic State terrorists — started appearing online. – Washington Post

A hacking group believed by Kyiv to be affiliated with Russian military intelligence claimed responsibility on Wednesday for a cyberattack that knocked Ukraine’s biggest mobile network operator offline. – Reuters

X, the platform formerly known as Twitter, experienced brief but widespread issues Wednesday, with hyperlinks not opening properly. – The Hill

Democrats urged President Biden to pursue trade policy that supports the European Union’s new regulations targeting the market power of tech giants, and to reject claims that the rules create barriers to trade, according to a letter sent Wednesday. – The Hill

Apple will now require a court order or search warrant to give push notification data to law enforcement in a shift from the previous practice of accepting a subpoena to hand over data. – The Hill

Sarah Silverman, Michael Chabon, Ta-Nehisi Coates and other authors accused Meta on Monday of using their copyrighted books to train its artificial intelligence (AI) models despite warnings from the company’s legal team. – The Hill


The Senate on Wednesday passed the annual defense policy bill, delivering a rebuke to hard-right House conservatives who sought to infuse the legislation with a wish list of provisions to undo Pentagon policies encompassing abortion access, LGBTQ+ rights and diversity initiatives. – Washington Post

In September, Millennium Space Systems played a key role in a Space Force mission to demonstrate the ability to deliver a spacecraft and launch it on rapid timelines. The company now says it wants to apply lessons from that mission, dubbed Victus Nox, to other areas including the Space Force’s Missile Track Custody program. – Defense News

The Pentagon’s program to upgrade the F-35′s engines could start to run out of money early next year if a budget is not passed in time, officials told lawmakers Tuesday. – Defense News

Mike Gallagher and Kevin Wallsten write: Reagan suggested we should “teach history based not on what’s in fashion but what’s important,” and better emphasize civic ritual, with an understanding that the No. 1 lesson is that “all great change in America begins at the dinner table.” Reagan’s words are a reminder that all Americans have a role to play in the defense of our country and in defense of our allies. We can’t outsource civic education to woke school administrators, ideologically captured news organizations or foreign-owned social-media apps. – Wall Street Journal

Long War

The United States and Britain on Wednesday imposed an additional round of sanctions on people in Turkey and elsewhere who are linked to the Palestinian Hamas militant group, the U.S. Treasury Department said. – Reuters

The European Union is taking steps to create a new authority aimed at countering money laundering and terrorism financing, following a provisional agreement between the Council and the bloc’s Parliament. – Bloomberg

Tom Rogan writes: After all, our heavily restricted airport experiences have endured long after the two men died. These rules might be designed to save lives, but they ultimately impose vast costs of time, inconvenience, and economic friction. Top line: al Asiri and Rauf continue to score victories even in death. It’s time to lessen these restrictions. The porous U.S.-Mexico border is now a preeminent counterterrorism concern. That said, it is very complicated for U.S.-based terrorists to construct explosive devices successfully and then deploy them onto airliners undetected. This would still be the case even without the shoe and liquid restrictions. The time has come to end Rauf and al Asiri’s immortality in favor of easier airline travel. – Washington Examiner

Benny Avni writes: Targeting designated terrorist financiers entails freezing their banks’ access to dollar-based transactions. As the greenback is the leading global currency, allowing terrorists to maintain accounts could doom a banking institution. As Washington targets terror financing, President Erdogan’s Islamist ideology may result in weakening Turkish banks, which could further hurt the already ailing economy. Jerusalem officials say the war may last months. Efforts to interrupt Hamas’s complex fund-raising could help speed up Israel’s mission: eliminating the group that on October 7 committed one of the most atrocious terrorist acts in history. – New York Sun