Fdd's overnight brief

December 16, 2022

In The News


Four Iranians who plotted to kidnap a prominent Iranian American journalist in Brooklyn paid a private investigator to watch their target, using a woman in California as a go-between, the authorities said. – New York Times

In the early hours of Monday, protester Majidreza Rahnavard was publicly hanged in the religious city of Mashhad, a clear signal of Iran’s intent to crack down on the demonstrations that have swept the country in recent months. – Financial Times 

More than 200 Iranian civil activists, writers, and family members of victims of the Islamic republic have signed a statement inviting activists and unions in Iran to launch a campaign to stop executions there amid threats from lawmakers that harsher punishments are needed for protesters during the current wave of unrest. – Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty 

Politicians across Europe have begun sponsoring jailed Iranian protesters in the hope that by highlighting individual cases of injustice, the authorities will be forced to step back from handing down lengthy jail sentences or carrying out executions. – The Guardian 

Since the beginning of the uprising in Iran, Molavi Abdolhamid has strongly criticized the authorities for their brutality and for charging protesters with capital offenses. On December 2, 2022, the Sunni Imam said in a sermon that the Iranian regime should be held accountable for killing Sunni anti-regime protestors. He urged the regime to “sit down” with the protesters and reach a “middle ground,” adding: “Where criticism is prevented, tyranny is created.” – Middle East Media Research Institute  

Robert D. Kaplan writes: Obviously, less sanguine political scenarios are possible for Iran, such as a regime led by the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps, which would continue Iran’s radical foreign and defense policy, albeit with more social leniency at home. […]Nobody could imagine the end to the shah’s regime until it actually happened. Now we can realistically imagine the end of the clerical regime — and its regional and global implications. – Bloomberg

Zachary Faria writes: The U.N. cannot be reformed. The organization is toxic to its core, to the point that the most notable thing that it can do is overrule some authoritarian regimes to remove other authoritarian regimes from councils and committees that it put them on in the first place. Any global body that gives the U.S. the same vote as China on human rights or Iran the same seat at a women’s council as France or the United Kingdom is not worth anyone’s time, and it certainly isn’t worth billions in taxpayer dollars. – Washington Examiner

Ruthie Blum writes: His next assessment that if the above leadership weren’t in power, “there’s a very high probability that the extremist forces among Palestinians and Israelis would diminish, and true peace between the two peoples would prevail,” was less accurate. Yet it’s true that Tehran funds Palestinian terrorists and the absence of the money would put a dent in their annihilation machine. – Jerusalem Post

Nicholas Carl, Zachary Coles, and Frederick W. Kagan write: The Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) is likely conducting an information operation to discredit the neighborhood youth protest organizations among demonstrators […] These IRGC reports are the first major regime acknowledgement of the neighborhood youth groups, reflecting how seriously the regime perceives the threat they now pose. – Institute for the Study of War 

Russia & Ukraine

Ukraine said it struck a Russian ammunition depot and military base on occupied territory in the country’s east, as both sides ruled out the possibility of a Christmas cease-fire after almost 10 months of fighting. – Wall Street Journal

A wave of explosions and missile strikes were reported across Ukraine early on Friday — from the capital Kyiv, to Kharkiv and Sumy in the northeast, and Odessa in the south. At least two people were killed and five others injured after a residential building was hit in the central city of Kryvyi Rih, a local official said. – Washington Post

Nuclear-armed submarines slip in and out of the frigid waters along the coast of Russia’s Kola Peninsula at the northern edge of Europe. Missiles capable of destroying cities are stored by the dozens in bunkers burrowed into the inland hills. – Washington Post

Russia’s Foreign Ministry warned Thursday that if the U.S. delivers sophisticated air defense systems to Ukraine, those systems and any crews that accompany them would be a “legitimate target” for the Russian military, a blunt threat that was quickly rejected by Washington. – Associated Press

Ukrainian authorities said they thwarted a Russian attack on Kyiv and the surrounding region Wednesday as their air defense system destroyed 13 explosive-laden drones, although wreckage damaged five buildings, without causing casualties. – Associated Press

President Joe Biden says the US will keep supplying Ukraine the weapons it needs to fight Russia for “as long as it takes.” Honoring that pledge is forcing the Pentagon and its NATO counterparts to change the way they do business. – Bloomberg

European Union member states reached a deal on a ninth package of sanctions on Russia over its invasion of Ukraine, targeting Moscow’s access to drones, additional banks as well as officials responsible for allegedly abducting children from Ukraine. – Bloomberg

Russian President Vladimir Putin is apparently growing “uncertain” about his ability to control the national narrative about the war in Ukraine amid heavy frontline losses and a country beginning to feel the weight of crushing international sanctions. – Newsweek

Instead of being chastened by the nuclear danger, the Americans have steadily weakened strategic nuclear stability by abandoning agreements under successive administrations. Karpovich charges that the US ” make no secret of its desire to maximally destabilize our country to the point of its [Russia’s] disintegration, while at the same time preparing for a limited nuclear confrontation. In this context, arms control talks make no sense and they should be shelved until Russia has achieved victory in Ukraine. – Middle East Media Research Institute  

Wally Adeyemo writes: Of course, there is more work to be done. But there is no doubt that what the United States and its allies have accomplished is historic—and heartening. […] We will remain focused on holding Russia accountable as the country wages its brutal war and will keep supporting Ukraine for as long as it takes. Years or decades from now, Russia’s invasion and the resulting, collective response will be viewed as a moment in which the international economic system, when faced with an enormous challenge, cemented its essential role. – Foreign Affairs 

David M. Allison writes: Since Putin has never been shy about making threats or boasting of Russia’s willingness to use its military might, we should be reassured that his nuclear rhetoric remains circumspect […] As much as Putin may rattle his nuclear saber, it remains firmly sheathed. With no alarm bells ringing from any quarter, the risk of nuclear use is low—for now. – The National Interest

Karolina Hird, George Barros, Riley Bailey, Madison Williams, and Frederick W. Kagan write: Russia may be setting conditions to conduct a new offensive against Ukraine—possibly against Kyiv—in winter 2023. Such an attack is extraordinarily unlikely to succeed.  A Russian attack from Belarus is not imminent at this time. Russian President Vladimir Putin’s objectives in Ukraine have not changed. Putin is using two simultaneous military efforts to pursue his objective of conquering Ukraine and securing major concessions. – Institute for the Study of War 


Benjamin Netanyahu, expected to become Israel’s prime minister, told a Saudi media organization that President Joe Biden should reaffirm the US’s relationship with Saudi Arabia. – Bloomberg

Presumed incoming prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu insisted Thursday that he would retain ultimate decision-making power in the West Bank as part of an agreement with the far-right, before later conceding that he won’t be calling all the shots there. – Times of Israel 

Presumed incoming prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu insisted Thursday that he would retain ultimate decision-making power in the West Bank as part of an agreement with the far-right, before later conceding that he won’t be calling all the shots there. – Jerusalem Post

Drones have a crucial impact on almost every single offensive or defensive operation in which the IDF is involved, Artillery Commander Brig.-Gen. Neri Horovitz said at the 40th graduation ceremony for drone pilots. – Jerusalem Post

Mousa Abu Marzouq, the deputy leader of Hamas who is responsible for foreign affairs, referred to the Israeli Arabs as “the first line of contact” in the fight against Israel. – Arutz Sheva 

Palestinian Authority (PA) cabinet leader Mohammed Shtayyeh on Thursday called on the European Union to set a red line for the new Israeli government, which he called “extremist”. – Arutz Sheva 

Editorial: By reacting so quickly to the circumstances and likely cause of Zakarneh’s death, the IDF is beginning to realize that and do something about it. By calling Zakarneh’s death “shocking” and urging an investigation, the UN is demonstrating that it doesn’t have a clue. Unfortunately, there’s nothing shocking about that. – Jerusalem Post

Seth J. Frantzman writes: Meanwhile, in Gaza, Hamas is not remaining stagnant either. It is trying to improve its terror infrastructure after setbacks in the May 2021 war. This includes a focus on underwater threats, such as using dual-use diving propulsion vehicles and other means to threaten Israel. – Jerusalem Post

Peter Marko Tase writes: Ultimately, paying closer attention to South America as a core component of Israel’s foreign policy would constitute a crucial step in the country’s efforts to combat regional and international terrorism, as well as crimes against humanity. – Jerusalem Post

Matthew Continetti writes: Tyrannical governments in China, Iran, Venezuela, and the West Bank and Gaza Strip murder, unjustly imprison, and violate the dignity and human rights of individuals every day, yet the Biden administration sees fit to crack down on Israel. It’s hard to decide whether to be more outraged at Biden’s appeasement of Israel’s enemies or at the confusion and incompetence of his lieutenants. – Commentary Magazine 


A senior Hezbollah official on Thursday said an “unintentional incident” had led to the death of an Irish soldier on a U.N. peacekeeping mission in southern Lebanon the previous evening, saying the armed group was not involved. – Reuters

An Irish soldier is the latest victim of the chaos in the Hezbollah-dominated country of Lebanon. Private Seán Rooney’s death Wednesday night underlines the growing danger the Iranian-backed terror group poses to the region and beyond. – New York Sun 

Amos Harel writes: Nonetheless, over the years a clear impression has been created that Israel would usually rather not attack Hezbollah targets within Lebanon. Despite intelligence on the construction of underground production lines for the precision guidance kits in the Beirut area, Israel has chosen to expose their location – in a public speech by then-Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the United Nations General Assembly in New York – and not bomb them in a way that could have brought about war with Hezbollah. – Haaretz 



Armed men opened fire in the Longan Hotel on Monday, part of what analysts said appeared to be a trend of attacks aimed at scaring off any foreign investors or partners interested in working with Afghanistan’s Taliban-led government. – Reuters

Eight Afghan journalists who worked for the BBC and other British media organisations are challenging the British government’s refusal to relocate them, arguing that they are at high risk of being killed by Afghanistan’s Taliban rulers. – Reuters

Britain’s defence ministry announced on Thursday an inquiry into allegations that its special forces carried out dozens of extrajudicial killings during night raids in Afghanistan. – Reuters

When the United States withdrew its forces from Afghanistan after 20 years in the country, it did so on a promise that the Taliban once back in government would provide no haven for terrorist groups. […]But the recent break down of an already shaky year-long ceasefire in neighboring Pakistan between the TTP and Islamabad raises some troubling questions over whether that promise will hold. – CNN 


Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said he wants a three-way meeting with Syria’s Bashar Al-Assad and Russia’s Vladimir Putin, signaling a thaw with Damascus that could help end the war in Syria. – Bloomberg

Thousands of people rallied in Turkey on Thursday to oppose the conviction and political ban of Istanbul Mayor Ekrem Imamoglu, chanting slogans criticising President Tayyip Erdogan and his ruling AK Party before elections next year. – Reuters 

Turkish defence firm Baykar said its first jet-powered unmanned aerial combat vehicle (UCAV) completed its maiden flight on Wednesday, as the company continues to gain popularity globally, most recently by helping Ukraine’s army fight Russian forces. – Reuters

Eight Turkish police officers were wounded on Friday when a bomb exploded in a roadside vehicle as their minibus passed on a highway in the southeastern province of Diyarbakir, security sources said. – Reuters 

Michael Rubin writes: Erdogan may be Turkiye’s leader today but, beginning next year, Washington should instead treat him as the usurper he is. It is time to side with Turkish democracy and the Turkish people rather than with a self-serving, illegitimate dictator. – 19fortyfive 

Saudi Arabia

Israel’s designated prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, on Thursday vowed to seek full diplomatic relations with Saudi Arabia once he takes office, claiming that doing so would also promote peace with the Palestinians. – Associated Press

Israeli Prime Minister-designate Benjamin Netanyahu urged key ally the United States to reaffirm its commitment to Saudi Arabia and pledged to pursue formal Israeli ties with Riyadh for a “quantum leap” in peace, Al Arabiya English said on Thursday. – Reuters

A former Twitter employee was sentenced to 42 months in prison on Thursday after he was convicted of accepting bribes from a Saudi Arabian official in exchange for providing the kingdom with user information from the platform. – The Hill  

Middle East & North Africa

One senior police officer was killed on Thursday in clashes with demonstrators in the southern Jordanian city of Maan during protests over high fuel prices that spread to several cities across the kingdom, police and witnesses said. – Reuters

Patricia Karam writes: As much as the Ukraine crisis has given the Algerian regime a lifeline, Western governments also have an opportunity to use this moment to push for democratic reforms. Algeria has an enormous amount to gain from renewed engagement with the U.S. and Europe; accordingly, the prospect of more extensive regional energy collaboration should be tied to efforts to hold the Algerian government accountable for its undemocratic policies. Such support would be a significant help to the activists engaged in the uphill battle to curb abusive practices and promote inclusive governance. – The Hill  

Matt Godwin writes: The West’s “pivot to Asia” was nothing short of an invitation to China and Russia to deepen their influence in the Middle East, an invitation they accepted with relish. Continued disjointed, transactional engagement with a region that will feature large in this century’s global politics and economy is short-sighted. People in the Middle East want to partner with the West, but it remains to be seen whether the West is willing to work for it. – Newsweek

David M. Weinberg writes: Should all sides deescalate? What is the status quo? What of the sanctity of holy sites? What the heck are they talking about? There is only one side, the Arab side, that purposefully has escalated the violence in Jerusalem and defiantly defiled the Temple Mount over the past 25 years. It is the Palestinians who have turned al-Aqsa and the entire mountain plaza into extra-territorial headquarters for the propagation of blood-curdling big lies about Israel. – Jerusalem Post

Michael Harari writes: The improved Israeli-Arab relationship can and should proceed along political lines between Israel and the Palestinian Authority, despite, and perhaps even more so now, considering the twilight of Mahmoud Abbas’s rule. – Jerusalem Post

Sabina Henneberg writes: On the cultural front, Algeria recently announced plans to teach English in primary schools as part of a gradual effort to replace French (notably, the government did not send representatives to the recent Francophonie Summit in Tunisia). Such changes give Washington a rare opportunity for constructive engagement on top of high-level diplomacy and efforts to deepen military ties. – Washington Institute 

Mohanad Faris writes: What is clear is that Stephen Troell has become one of the latest of many victims killed due to Iraq’s current security unrest. Although the identity and motives of the perpetrators are unlikely to be revealed, Troell’s killing has further emphasized that a turbulent future lies ahead if the struggle between political parties’ armed factions over posts in the new Iraqi government continues. – Washington Institute 

Yair Lapid writes: Henry Kissinger insisted that the great dilemma of leadership is that we have to make decisions about the future without knowing what the outcome will be […] Stop looking at countries as whole units, and instead work with them on the basis of shared challenges and shared interests. This is the essence of the CS approach, and this is the direction in which global foreign policy needs to move. – Foreign Affairs 

Korean Peninsula

North Korea said on Friday that it had ​s​uccessful​ly tested a powerful new missile engine this week, indicating that ​the country was ​working to build a ​​solid-fuel intercontinental ballistic missile​, a new weapon that its leader, Kim Jong-un, wanted to add to his growing nuclear arsenal. – New York Times

International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) chief Rafael Grossi said on Thursday the IAEA would make an all-out effort to stop North Korea’s nuclear programme and preserve international non-proliferation, according to South Korea’s presidential office. – Reuters

A Russian tanker chartered by a South Korean company has been spotted conducting a fuel transfer to a Chinese vessel bound for North Korea, a rare sighting that illuminates the murky world of the east Asian oil trade. – Financial Times

Call them America’s spacemen and spacewomen or space cadets, but the first of them to be deployed overseas are now on the ground in South Korea eyeing what the North Koreans are doing with their missile program and figuring how to shoot them down if the North ever actually fires one. – New York Sun 


The U.S. said it would add China’s most advanced memory-chip manufacturer to an export blacklist on Thursday, ratcheting up restrictions aimed at holding back the development of the country’s semiconductor industry. – Wall Street Journal 

The Biden administration on Thursday stepped up its efforts to impede China’s development of advanced semiconductors, restricting another 36 companies and organizations from getting access to American technology. – New York Times

SPB Exchange plans to offer trading in more than 500 Hong Kong-listed Chinese shares in 2023 and expand to markets such as India, Brazil and South Africa, the head of Russia’s second-largest bourse said on Thursday. – Reuters

US officials said they gained sufficient access to audit documents on companies in China and Hong Kong for the first time, a breakthrough that removes the acute threat of delisting for about 200 companies on New York exchanges. – Bloomberg

The city of Beijing rode out the pandemic for almost three years, crushing Covid-19 outbreaks before the virus could overwhelm it. When dozens of cases flared in June 2020, the head of the Chinese capital’s Communist party committee vowed to take “the most resolute, decisive and stringent measures to block transmission and control the situation”. – Financial Times

Beijing’s retreat from its zero-Covid policy is causing chaos in the country’s Rmb29tn ($4.1tn) market for wealth management products, with some fund managers having to freeze withdrawals or sell down their holdings as they struggle to cope with a rush of redemptions by investors. – Financial Times

On November 24, 2022, a fire broke out in a residential building in the southern part of Urumqi, the capital of the Xinjiang Province, China, which had been locked down for three and a half months due to the CCP’s “Zero-COVID”” policy. […]The incident also drew media attention due to the relatively large number of Uyghur residents in the district. – Middle East Media Research Institute  

Donald Kirk writes: That’s all the more reason to defend the South against China’s resurgent, aggressive leadership that’s a throwback to the one we were courting half a century ago while betraying our South Vietnamese friends in their hours of greatest need. – The Hill  

Jon Bateman writes: A partial American decoupling from China was both inevitable and warranted. But there must be some stopping point. With each new restrictive measure, the risks of interdependence diminish and the odds of overkill grow. Yet U.S. restrictions are speeding up, not slowing down, and calls for caution have gotten quieter, not louder. This is dangerous. If Washington doesn’t take a breath and steady itself, it might tumble over the edge. – Politico 

John Calabrese writes: Heightened concerns about lagging competitiveness plus critical vulnerabilities and dependencies have converged with intensifying strategic competition to spur US policymakers to action. […]This not only serves as additional confirmation that the ‘China hawks’ are ascendant in Washington but portends harsher US measures in other tech sectors, a further attenuation of US-China relations, and a ratcheting up of the pressure on third parties, including MENA countries and companies, to choose sides or take cover. – Middle East Institute  

South Asia

India on Thursday successfully test-fired a long-range “Agni-5” intercontinental nuclear-capable ballistic missile, a government minister said, that is expected to strengthen its deterrence against long-time rival China. – Associated Press

After the U.N. Security Council adopted a statement Thursday warning of increasing dangers of terrorism, envoys from India and Pakistan heatedly traded accusations blaming each other for terror attacks. – Associated Press

Pakistan has lifted a ban on sugar exports, the finance ministry said on Thursday, in a move that government sources indicated was aimed at boosting foreign reserves. – Reuters

Clashes erupted once again between the border forces of Afghanistan and Pakistan near the key Chaman-Spin Boldak border crossing on Thursday, resulting in one death and over a dozen injuries, Pakistani officials said. – Reuters

Hamid Mir writes: The Russian invasion of Ukraine has diverted attention from the brewing conflict between Pakistan and Afghanistan. Yet the tensions between the two countries deserves coverage as well. It has the potential to bring a new catastrophe to South Asia when the region can least afford it. – Washington Post

Michael Rubin writes: There is no magic formula in South Asia, but reality matters. To recognize the Bangladesh genocide might not only help develop relations with an important but often neglected South Asian state, but it would also force much-needed introspection in Islamabad, and within the State Department. – 19FortyFive 


Japan called China its biggest security challenge and said it would sharply raise military spending including for missiles that can hit other countries, marking one of Tokyo’s biggest post-World War II shifts away from pacifism. – Wall Street Journal 

U.S. defence firms have discussed supplying military gear, including helicopters and drones, to Vietnam in talks with top government officials, two sources with knowledge of the dialogue told Reuters, a new sign the country may reduce its reliance on Russian arms. – Reuters

A tax panel of Japan’s ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) on Thursday agreed to raise the country’s key taxes to pay for the defence budget, but stiff opposition among lawmakers effectively delayed a decision on when to implement the politically unpopular move. – Reuters

Tensions between Armenia and Azerbaijan escalated further on December 15 over the blockage by groups of protesters of the Lachin Corridor, which links Armenia to the enclave of Nagorno-Karabakh. – Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty 

Aviolent skirmish in June 2020 involving Indian and Chinese patrols in a Himalayan ravine was the first deadly clash along the disputed border in nearly half a century. That same summer also saw rare warning shots ring out on the 2,100-mile line of actual control, over which the two giants fought a bloody war in 1962. – Newsweek

Timothy Jemal writes: Armenia is an increasingly healthy democracy within an authoritarian orbit. Nurturing it is as much an American interest as seeing Ukraine keep its freedom. The only difference between the two is that nurturing democracy in the South Caucasus will cost the United States nothing. – Newsweek

Mark Regev writes: While unable to seriously threaten the reins of power, the Islamists constitute a force the Indonesian leadership cannot ignore. In Jakarta, barring an unexpected development, the American adage “all politics is local” will continue to apply. – Jerusalem Post

Gregory B. Poling and Andreyka Natalegawa  write: Given current force posture, weak alliance coordination, and political uncertainties, the U.S.-Australia-Philippines security triangle would face considerable challenges in responding to a South China Sea contingency. – Center for Strategic and  International Studies 


Countries in the European Union are set to start collecting additional taxes in 2024 under a long-stalled global deal to set a minimum rate on company profits, after Hungary and Poland dropped their objections to the move. – Wall Street Journal

The European Union cemented its pledge to provide Ukraine with more than $19 billion in funding next year after Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban backed down from threats to block the EU proposal. – Wall Street Journal

European Union leaders raised concerns about a corruption scandal at the bloc’s Parliament on Thursday amid growing worries that the bloc’s reputation would be tarnished by allegations that EU legislators took bribes from Qatar. – Wall Street Journal

A gift that Poland’s top police commander received during a recent visit to Ukraine exploded at national police headquarters in Warsaw, causing the commander and a civilian employee to suffer minor injuries, the Polish Interior Ministry said Thursday. – Associated Press

Serbia on Thursday formally demanded that its security forces return to the breakaway former Serbian province of Kosovo, despite warnings from the West that such calls are unlikely to be accepted and only add to tensions in that part of the Balkans. – Associated Press

Ireland’s foreign minister says “the world is a crazy and tragic place at the moment,” pointing to the war in Ukraine and other conflicts, looming famine in the Horn of Africa, Iran’s expanding nuclear program, global impacts of climate change and a polarized U.N. Security Council as some of the major challenges. – Associated Press

European Union added Bosnia to the list of official candidates to join the wealthy 27-nation bloc, diplomats said Thursday. – Associated Press

Kosovo’s prime minister on Thursday formally tabled his country’s application to be granted candidacy status for membership in the European Union, a first step in what looks set to be a very long path to eventual membership. – Associated Press

Francesco Giorgi, the partner of ousted European Parliament vice-president Eva Kaili, has confessed his role in a Qatar graft scandal, two sources with direct knowledge of the matter told Reuters. – Reuters

Mike Watson writes: Though Congress just authorized an increase in the defense budget, it barely keeps pace with inflation and leaves the U.S. military stretched too thin. Marine Corps Commandant Gen. David Berger recently warned that no one should “be comfortable with where we are or the rate at which we’re moving” in the Indo-Pacific. As the region destabilizes, the U.S. needs to send more forces there. But that doesn’t mean drawing back from Europe, which would also hurt our interests. The only solution is to meet greater challenges with greater resources. – Wall Street Journal 

Liana Fix and Thorsten Benner write: Scholz warned in Foreign Affairs against returning to a Cold War paradigm, arguing that the world has entered a multipolar era distinct from that period. This assertion applies to Germany as well: the country must bury its own illusions about the lessons of 1989. Instead of “change through trade,” Germany—in conjunction with other Western partners—will need to employ a “peace through strength” approach to dealing with Russia and China. Such are the realities of a more confrontational world. – Foreign Affairs 

Max Bergmann and Federico Steinberg write: Finally, the United States and European Union should use this moment to elevate the ambition of transatlantic relations and forge a stronger economic partnership. The German government has suggested the possibility of negotiating a new U.S.-EU trade agreement […] Instead of letting U.S. climate action undermine this partnership and weaken the alliance, the IRA should be the catalyst to forge an even stronger partnership. – Center for Strategic and  International Studies 


The head of the World Health Organization, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, said Wednesday that his uncle was “murdered” by Eritrean forces in Ethiopia’s restive province of Tigray. – Washington Post

President Biden’s summit with African leaders is part of a U.S. push to gain influence across the continent. A sign of the challenge came earlier this year in Uganda, a longtime U.S. ally that has been drawn deeper into Russia’s orbit. – Wall Street Journal

President Joe Biden said Thursday he will visit sub-Saharan Africa next year, the first U.S. president to travel there in a decade. He announced the trip — still unscheduled — as he wrapped up a U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit by stressing he’s serious about increasing U.S. attention to the growing continent. – Associated Press

The International Criminal Court on Thursday confirmed the convictions of Dominic Ongwen, a former Ugandan child soldier who rose to be a commander in the notorious Lord’s Resistance Army, and upheld his 25-year sentence for rape, murder and child abduction. – Reuters

The US plans to push for more transparency around the terms of debts that African nations owe to China as they struggle to make repayments, a senior government official said. – Bloomberg

Russian oligarch Yevgeny Prigozhin’s infamous Wagner Group has left a trail of havoc and violence “quite literally across the continent of Africa” in pursuit of mineral wealth and other “exploitative goals,” according to Secretary of State Antony Blinken. – Washington Examiner

As President Joe Biden prepared to preside over the second-ever U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit, the White House criticized China’s growing inroads across the continent, even while Beijing adopted a nominally more diplomatic approach to the intensified competition there between the world’s top two powers. – Newsweek

Michael Rubin writes: To reinforce democracy in Somaliland and/or Liberia and then build wealth through guaranteeing private sector investment rather than virtue. Signaling with American aid would be a far more potent signal than any Washington conference that the United States is serious about the continent and can deliver something that China, Russia, and Turkey cannot. – 19FortyFive 

The Americas

Mexico’s Congress on Thursday passed legislation that will reduce the powers of the National Electoral Institute, a government agency that has won praise internationally for putting an end to decades of blatant voting fraud and setting the country on a course to democracy in the 1990s. – Washington Post

European Union leaders sought ways Thursday to stand up to the United States over its new green technologies plan that they say unfairly discriminates against Washington’s best global ally and demanded the same concessions as American free trade partners Canada and Mexico. – Associated Press

Honduras and the United Nations on Thursday signed an agreement that paves the way for a new international anti-corruption commission in the Central American nation, where widespread graft has fueled violence and spurred mass migration. – Reuters 

The U.S. House passed a bill Thursday that would allow Puerto Rico to hold the first-ever binding referendum on whether to become a state or gain some sort of independence, in a last-ditch effort that stands little chance of passing the Senate. – Associated Press

The top Democrats and Republicans on congressional committees dealing with foreign affairs are pressing to include money to shore up Taiwan’s defenses and aid Ukraine in a year-end government funding package. – Bloomberg

Just weeks before US President Joe Biden’s planned visit to Mexico, talks on the neighbors’ biggest trade dispute have stalled due to the departures of negotiators from the Latin American nation’s side and its reluctance to make concessions, according to people familiar with the matter. – Bloomberg

Latin America

Outside a detention center at the foot of the Andes Mountains, a camp has formed in recent days, with as many as 1,000 people traveling hundreds of miles to demand freedom for the highest-profile detainee: their former president, Pedro Castillo. – New York Times

A Peruvian judge on Thursday ordered ousted President Pedro Castillo to remain in custody for 18 months as nationwide protests set off by the political crisis showed no signs of abating and the death toll rose to at least 14. – Reuters 

Peru’s political crisis is threatening to widen rifts in Latin America, with the administration of President Dina Boluarte saying late Wednesday that it had received the backing of governments in Chile, Ecuador, Uruguay and Costa Rica. – Bloomberg 

Russian deputy prime minister Alexander Novak said on Thursday that Russia was interested in increasing oil output as part of projects in Venezuela, the TASS news agency reported. – Reuters


Self-proclaimed free speech warrior Elon Musk’s more unfettered version of Twitter could collide with new rules in Europe, where officials warn that the social media company will have to comply with some of the world’s toughest laws targeting toxic content. – Associated Press

The tech industry is asking the Supreme Court to protect their First Amendment rights to remove extremist and hate content from platforms like Facebook and Twitter — arguing that a Texas law banning “censorship” of viewpoints is unconstitutional. – Politico 

The US Senate has passed a bill that bars federal employees from using TikTok, the short video-sharing app, on government-issued devices in the latest move by Washington to target Chinese technology companies. – Financial Times

Several high-profile journalists were suspended on Twitter Thursday, without explanation from CEO Elon Musk or the company, in an apparent effort by Musk to crack down on users who have been critical of his recent activities. – Newsweek

The Defense Intelligence Agency disclosed the winner of a “significant” IT modernization contract it announced this week: Washington, D.C.-based cybersecurity firm Invictus. – Defense News

Zack Smith writes: But it’s not. With the recent downfall of FTX and the fallout from it, all eyes are on the future of cryptocurrency regulation and holding bad actors accountable. No one wants cryptocurrency to be a place where the Wolf of Wall Street can run amok with no accountability and no recourse like the Wild West of yesteryear. – Heritage Foundation 


The Department of Defense announced an expansion of its training of Ukrainian forces, Pentagon spokesman Brig. Gen. Pat Ryder announced from the podium on Thursday. – Washington Examiner

The Senate on Thursday passed the annual defense authorization bill, sending the $858 billion measure to President Biden’s desk for signature just before the year-end deadline. – The Hill  

Editorial: Some Republicans may grouse that Taiwan deserves Patriot priority, but the U.S. doesn’t have the luxury of defending its interests in only one part of the world. The Patriot shortage underscores how derelict Washington has been in preparing for an increasingly dangerous world. – Wall Street Journal 

Bryan Clark and Dan Patt write: China will eventually circumvent Washington’s restrictions on chipmaking equipment and know-how and may even become able to build its own leading-edge chips. In the narrow window before that happens, the Pentagon needs to exploit America’s commercial microelectronics advantage. By harnessing the torrent of chips, circuits, and antennas coming out of U.S. and allied factories, the U.S. military could field the fleets of air and maritime drones it will need to keep China at bay. – Hudson Institute 

Long War

A local police official, Khalid Wazir, said the bombing appeared to target a convoy of security forces passing by the town of Miran Shah in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province near the Afghan frontier. The blast damaged nearby shops but the injured were mostly troops, the official added. […] Local Taliban have stepped up attacks on security forces in recent weeks after unilaterally ending a monthslong ceasefire with Pakistan’s government last month. – Associated Press

Burkina Faso has allegedly become the latest country in Africa to contract mercenaries from Russia’s Wagner Group to fight insurgents, according to Ghana’s president. – Financial Times

Three Americans and a Canadian were charged with providing material support to the Islamic State (ISIS), the Justice Department announced Thursday, accusing them of fundraising for the terrorist organization and using misleading and covert communications and posts to avoid scrutiny. – CBS News