Fdd's overnight brief

December 9, 2022

In The News


The European Union is set to agree new sanctions targeting Iran over human rights abuses in its crackdown on protesters in the country and the supply of drones to Russia, France’s foreign ministry spokesperson said on Thursday. – Reuters

The UK, France and Germany condemned Iran for executing a 23-year-old protester on Thursday, a move that signals the Islamic Republic is significantly escalating its crackdown on anti-government unrest. – Bloomberg 

The Biden administration is facing wariness even from some traditional global partners as it tries to get Iran kicked off a United Nations panel that promotes women’s rights, according to four people monitoring the effort. – Politico 

Medics treating protesters in Iran said they were seeing a difference in the type of injuries inflicted on men and women by the security forces — with the female activists often being shot in their faces, breasts and genitals. – New York Post 

Iranian democracy activists have told Newsweek that the execution of a man linked to protests in the Islamic Republic will fuel the agitation against the ruling regime even more, adding that the international community should also act against Tehran. – Newsweek

Such expressions of sympathy may not be enough. The Iranian supreme leader, Ali Khamanei, is yet to be  sanctioned personally under the Magnitsky Act, which authorizes the president to punish foreign leaders for human rights violations. America is yet to lean on allies in the European Union and the United Kingdom to impose any sanctions against Mr. Khamenei. Sooner or later America will have to make a public choice between the two sides. – New York Sun

The collaboration between a member of the Turkish president’s inner circle and Iran’s power elite is detailed in hundreds of pages of documents, including business contracts and bank transfers, many of which have also been posted on WikiIran, an opposition website. – Politico

Today, 220 lawmakers from Europe, the United States, and Canada urged Western democracies to designate Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) and its proxies, such as Hezbollah, as terrorist organizations. The legislators’ call for action against the regime’s state terrorism comes only days before EU foreign ministers are set to deliberate further measures against Tehran on Monday. – AJC Transatlantic Institute

Iranian authorities have arrested multiple members of the local Jewish community over the past several weeks, as Tehran struggles to clamp down on a nationwide protest movement against the country’s strict Islamic modesty laws, Iran International reported on Thursday. – Haaretz

Erfan Fard writes: Reasonably, regime change in Iran will be favorable to all the world, specifically the entire Middle East. This is the correct time to encourage this phenomenon. The success in changing the terrorist loving mullah’s regime in Iran means there will be no more regional chaos and terrorism. – Arutz Sheva

Anna-Michelle Asimakapoulou and Daniel Schwammenthal write: As the EU is slowly adapting its Iran policy, it must contend with the following facts: You cannot protect Ukrainian civilians without containing Russia’s key ally and weapons supplier, Iran. You cannot call for peace in the Middle East without countering the region’s biggest arsonist. And you cannot say you stand by the brave Iranian women and men fighting for freedom, and then refuse to punish their torturers. – Newsweek

Lela Gilbert writes: Human rights activists in Iran reported on Nov. 28, that “451 protesters and 60 security forces have been killed since the start of the unrest and that more than 18,000 people have been detained.” The regime admitted to 300 protestor deaths. Mansour Borji concluded, “This oppressive regime has proven to be fundamentally unable to reform. I have no doubt that they are on their way out. How long this will take? I am not sure. But people of Iran are determined to see them go, and they honor the many lives already lost in this revolution.” – Hudson institute 

Fariba Parsa writes: This global support not only encourages Iranian women to continue in their fight for freedom, but also it is undermining the international political and moral legitimacy of the Islamic Republic and making its government even more isolated among the nations of the international community. If there is to be any chance for real progress, however, women and men inside Iran and their supporters around the world will need to keep pushing for change. – Middle East Institute 

Russia & Ukraine

With freezing temperatures setting in, residents of Kyiv and other cities are not only asking where to find heat, water and electricity but also wondering if they can stay in Ukraine. Officials are warning of a humanitarian catastrophe for those who remain and a new refugee crisis if too many leave. – Washington Post

Russian President Vladimir Putin admitted on Thursday that Moscow is targeting Ukraine’s critical civilian infrastructure, and has vowed to continue the strikes — which as winter sets in, have left millions of people without heating, light and water. – Washington Post

WNBA star Brittney Griner has been released from Russian detention and is expected to land in San Antonio, a military official with knowledge of the effort told The Washington Post. – Washington Post

President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia wants to prosecute his war in Ukraine in the same way he secured the freedom on Thursday of a major Russian arms dealer: inflict so much pain on Western governments that, eventually, they make a deal. – New York Times

Russian forces have installed multiple rocket launchers at Ukraine’s shut-down Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant, Ukrainian officials claimed Thursday, raising fears Europe’s largest atomic power station could be used as a base to fire on Ukrainian territory and heightening radiation dangers. – Associated Press

Struggling to maintain a steady supply of arms for its war in Ukraine, Moscow is looking to Iran once again to resupply the Russian military with drones and surface-to-surface missiles, according to two officials familiar with the matter. – Associated Press 

President Volodymyr Zelenskyy on Friday announced measures primarily targeting the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, which is one of two major Orthodox churches in Ukraine following a 2019 schism. Even though the UOC declared independence from Moscow in May, such a declaration is easier spoken than accomplished amid the complexities of Eastern Orthodox Christianity. Besides, many Ukrainians don’t believe it’s really free from Moscow. – Associated Press

The U.S. is sending an additional $275 million in military aid to Ukraine, including large amounts of ammunition and high-tech systems that can be used to detect and counter drones in its ongoing war with Russia, according to U.S. officials.its ongoing war with Russia, according to U.S. officials. – Associated Press

Ukraine’s finance minister says crucial Western financial support is “not charity” but “self-preservation” in the fight to defend democracy as his country deals with growing costs to repair electrical and heating infrastructure wrecked by Russian attacks. – Associated Press

The United States plans to impose new sanctions against Russia and China on Friday that include punishing Moscow for its use of Iranian drones in its war against Ukraine, two U.S. officials said on Thursday. – Reuters

Russian forces have shelled the entire front line in the Donetsk region in eastern Ukraine, Ukrainian officials said, as part of what appeared to be the Kremlin’s scaled-back ambition to secure only the bulk of lands it has claimed. – Reuters

Russia’s fleet shot down a Ukrainian drone over the Black Sea, the Russian-installed governor of Sevastopol, the largest city in the annexed Crimean peninsular, said on Thursday. – Reuters

Ukraine enforced new emergency power cuts on Thursday as it tried to repair energy infrastructure damaged in Russian air strikes which the national grid operator said had caused significant supply shortages. – Reuters

The Ukrainian Security Service (SBU) has detained a married couple suspected of spying for Russia in the Black Sea city of Odesa, one of Ukraine’s largest ports. – Reuters

The risk of Russian President Vladimir President Putin using nuclear weapons as part of his war in Ukraine has decreased in response to international pressure, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said in an interview published on Thursday. – Reuters

The Kremlin said on Thursday that its forces are still set on seizing parts of eastern and southern Ukraine that Moscow has claimed as its own. However, the Kremlin has not fully defined the goals of its military campaign, and Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov appeared to set a limit on the Ukrainian territory that Russia now sought to incorporate as its own. – Reuters

The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) gained access to both Ukrainian and Russian prisoners of war last week and more visits are planned in what it described in a Thursday statement as “important progress”. – Reuters

Variously dubbed “the merchant of death” and “the sanctions buster” for his ability to get around arms embargoes, Bout, 55, was one of the world’s most wanted men prior to his 2008 arrest on multiple charges related to arms trafficking. – Reuters

The European Union is set to boost the size of a fund to finance weapons for Ukraine by at least €2 billion ($2.1 billion) as early as next week and the facility could be topped up with even more money later, according to people familiar with the discussions. – Bloomberg 

At the Gorgany hiking equipment outlet a brisk five-minute walk from the bombed Taras Shevchenko park in central Kyiv, Artem Pomazan uses his head torch to help a customer choose a sleeping bag. Ukraine’s capital is grappling with power and heating outages and the 35-year-old sales assistant says demand for items like backpacks has been replaced by the more urgent need for warmth, especially after nightfall. – Bloomberg 

The top Republicans with oversight of foreign affairs are calling on an independent congressional watchdog to provide detailed information on the Biden administration’s delivery of economic and humanitarian support to Ukraine. – The Hill 

Ukrainian Nobel Peace Prize co-winner Oleksandra Matviichuk called for a special international tribunal to put Russian President Vladimir Putin and his military leaders on trial for alleged war crimes in Ukraine. –The Hill 

Russian President Vladimir Putin must contend with faltering morale at home and on the front lines of the war in Ukraine.“The Russian soldiers are having a terrible, terrible time in the field,” former U.S. Ambassador Kurt Volker, a one-time special envoy for the Ukraine crisis, observed to the Washington Examiner. “They’re freezing to death, some of them. They’re poorly organized. The least-trained are getting thrown up to the front lines as cannon fodder. It is absolutely abysmal for the Russian troops.” – Washington Examiner 

As the Biden administration celebrates the homecoming of one prominent American detained in Russia — basketball star Brittney Griner — it’s pledging to continue working to secure the release of another who’s been there even longer. – NPR

The scene on Sunday in the frontline city of Donetsk province is one that troops say has played out repeatedly in recent days as Russia, desperate for a battlefield victory after humiliating defeats in Kharkiv and Kherson this autumn, refocuses its offensive in an area Russian president Vladimir Putin first invaded in 2014 and claimed to have annexed in September. – Financial Times

With Kyiv bringing the fight against Russian aggression closer to Moscow, as a pair of attacks at military bases inside Russia earlier this week apparently showed, the reactions from some of its Western allies — Washington included — have been tempered. – New York Sun

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said on December 8 that he believes “mine terror” will be one of the charges against Russia when it is held to account for its invasion of Ukraine. – Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty

Moscow’s envoy in Washington has defended Russian President Vladimir Putin’s rhetoric on nuclear deterrence against U.S. criticism, telling Newsweek the Kremlin’s approach was part of a successful self-deterrence doctrine and one not unlike that of the White House. – Newsweek

Despite Moscow denying it has links to far-right terror groups in Germany, following the arrests of 25 people suspected of plotting to overthrow its government, there is a Russian dimension to the extraordinary case. – Newsweek

​​Explosions were heard on Thursday morning in Crimea, the Black Sea peninsula annexed by Vladimir Putin, and in Belgorod, near Russia’s border with Ukraine, as the Kremlin said it was vulnerable to Ukrainian attacks. – Newsweek

Russia’s Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov warned on Thursday about the “soaring” risks of NATO engaging with Russia over Russian President Vladimir Putin’s ongoing war in Ukraine. – Newsweek

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Russia has no plans to seize more territory from Ukraine. According to Reuters, Russia instead will focus its efforts to liberate the four territories it annexed from Ukraine in September—Donetsk, Luhansk, Kherson and Zaporizhzhia. Foreign governments, including the United States, said the move is illegitimate. – Newsweek

A wave of strikes on air bases deep inside Russia this week exposed vulnerabilities in the country’s defenses, with Russian state TV lamenting the apparent lack of satellites. – Newsweek

Fareed Zakaria writes: The United States has persuaded most of its allies to act forcefully to punish Russia, and many others to at least aid Ukraine. All this has helped to create a moment of unusual Western unity that could help restore and rebuild a rules-based international system. – Washington Post

Dean Karayanis writes: If you’re an average citizen traveling abroad or tribesman in an African nation at war, you’re out of luck. Mr. Biden has unleashed the Merchant of Death, and what we got in return was not only a beloved basketball player but a more dangerous world, and victims to be named later. – New York Sun

James Brooke writes: The challenge for Russia is that its air defense systems are stretched thin, trying to patrol a 500-mile-long front line in Ukraine. If Russia cannot protect air bases designed for nuclear capable bombers, one solution may be to disperse its strategic bomber fleet among smaller bases. – New York Sun

Robert B. Murret writes: Ukraine presents a threat to Putin and his inner circle because of their warfighting skills, but more importantly because of what they stand for: an open, free and authentic democracy, and a proud people determined to choose their own destiny and to protect that right for future generations of Ukrainians. That reality represents a genuine, long-term and existential threat to the Kremlin leadership.  – The Hill 

Kaja Kallas writes: What is at stake in Ukraine is not just Ukraine’s existence but Europe’s security architecture, with its core principles of territorial integrity, sovereignty, and prohibition of the use of force. We cannot allow the fundamental principles of the UN Charter and the European security architecture to be trampled underfoot. For that reason, Ukraine must win, the Russian aggressor must fail, and war criminals must face justice. No peace that is reached before these goals are achieved can ensure anyone’s security – Foreign Affairs 

Marlene Laurelle writes: This refederalization of Russia would be possible only if accompanied by a national reckoning on the legacy of Russia’s colonialism. This reappraisal would be important for ethnic Russians as well as for minorities. But as in the United States and Europe, that societal transformation will take decades. It is worth pursuing, however. Only a Russia that decentralizes politically and culturally can reform itself from the inside out – Foreign Affairs 

Koichiro Takagi writes: It is also engaging in terrorism from above, attacking Ukrainian power generation facilities and targeting the cognition of the Ukrainian people. However, history has proven that wars cannot be won through such terrorism. Nor will European governments and citizens be easily influenced by Russia’s cognitive warfare. This winter’s Russo-Ukrainian war will depend on the unity of Ukraine and the international community in support of Ukraine. – Hudson Institute

Kristi Raik writes: Thankfully, the West is now relearning deterrence—including clear messaging to Russia about the devastating consequences it would suffer if it were to follow through on its nuclear threats. It is in the interest of global stability that the Kremlin does not succeed in using nuclear blackmail to eke out a victory in Ukraine. What’s more, Russia resorting to nuclear weapons carries great risk for Putin and is therefore highly unlikely. Russia using conventional force to occupy territories in neighboring countries, unfortunately, is a devastating reality. – Foreign Policy 


Israeli forces killed four Palestinians in separate incidents in the occupied West Bank on Thursday, the Palestinian Health Ministry said, the latest violence to shake the region after months of unrest. – Associated Press

Saudi Arabia is likely to join the Abraham Accords and normalize ties with Israel within the next year, former ambassador to the UN Danny Danon said on Thursday. – Jerusalem Post

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas said Wednesday in a rare interview that he is opposed to taking up arms against Israel, but warned he might change his mind in the future. – Times of Israel

A new bill submitted by extremist Otzma Yehudit party chief Itamar Ben Gvir will radically redefine the relationship between police and politicians, giving the police minister far more authority over cops than ever before in the history of the state, according to a copy of the proposal released Thursday. – Times of Israel

Lazar Berman writes: While Israel works to allay Bahraini concerns, and while the Saudis observe from the sidelines, there were signs of a possible breakthrough on another, more unlikely front. – Times of Israel 

Seth J. Frantzman writes: Countries like Israel and other American partners, whether Japan or countries in the Gulf, all will want a new generation of helicopters. These systems are costly, but the conflict in Ukraine is showing countries that they need to rapidly upgrade their systems to prepare for the next scenario. The era when countries could sit and relax with old models that date from the 1980s or 1990s is ending. – Jerusalem Post


The Biden administration is imposing sanctions on a prominent Turkish businessman reportedly close to Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan for violations of U.S. restrictions on the sales of Iranian oil. – Associated Press

Turkey’s maritime authority said on Thursday it would continue to block the passage of oil tankers without appropriate insurance letters, adding that the insurance checks on ships in its waters was a “routine procedure.” – Reuters

Michael Rubin writes: There is something very wrong when Americans who have never interacted with or confronted the Syrian Kurdish leadership with their concerns, let alone bothered to visit the region to see whether Erdogan’s characterizations are accurate, seek to be more Turkish than the most ardent, intolerant, and extreme Turkish political groupings. The tragedy is that such academic malpractice can lead to very real consequence with the furtherance of conflict and the murder of even more innocents. – 19FortyFive.com


President Michel Aoun, an ally of Iran-backed Hezbollah, completed his six-year term on Oct. 30. Lebanon’s deeply-divided parliament has met nine times to elect a successor and failed every time, worsening political paralysis and stalling measures to alleviate a crippling economic crisis that has pulled three-quarters of the population into poverty. – Associated Press

Lebanon’s energy ministry said on Thursday it has begun hiring for a key power sector regulatory body, taking the final step towards unlocking World Bank financing for regional gas import deals to ease long-standing electricity shortages. – Reuters

The IRGC-affiliated Meraj Airlines has begun flights to Beirut in recent days, raising concerns that Iran could use the flights to transfer weapons directly to Hezbollah in Lebanon instead of using Damascus. – Jerusalem Post

Middle East & North Africa

Chinese leader Xi Jinping met Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in a pivotal visit to the Middle East, where the world’s top oil importer deepened relations with the top exporter, in commercial agreements that included energy and technology deals but stopped short of explicitly expanding military cooperation. – Wall Street Journal 

Chinese President Xi Jinping meets with Arab leaders on Friday at “milestone” summits hosted by Saudi Arabia in a show of strength by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman as an aspiring leader of the Middle East and key partner for global powers. – Reuters

Yemen’s Saudi-backed government and its Houthi enemies are escalating an economic war as peace efforts stall, with tit-for-tat moves aimed at disrupting state oil revenues and fuel flows, leading to more humanitarian pain. – Reuters

The United Arab Emirates president and Saudi crown prince led mediation efforts that secured the release of U.S. basketball star Brittney Griner in a prisoner swap with Russia, a joint UAE-Saudi statement said on Thursday. – Reuters

The White House on Thursday disputed a joint statement issued by the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia that said the countries were involved in mediations efforts related to Brittney Griner’s release from detainment in Russia. – The Hill 

Seth J. Frantzman writes: Some argue that because there are elections coming up in Turkey, that there will be an invasion before the elections. In that bizarre sense, the people of eastern and northern Syria have to see their homes bombed every time there are Turkish elections. That’s not how democracy was supposed to work – or how the defensive alliance NATO was originally envisioned – but it’s what seems to be happening in Syria today. – Jerusalem Post

Korean Peninsula

To keep his promises, Mr. Kim needs cash urgently. He told Parliament in September that the government’s most important task was to solve the problem of the people’s living standards. Missile tests this year alone cost North Korea hundreds of millions of dollars, according to estimates by South Korean and American researchers. – New York Times

The U.S. Special Representative on North Korea Sung Kim told his Chinese counterpart on Korean Peninsula affairs Liu Xiaoming the United States was concerned by an “unprecedented” number of ballistic missile launches from Pyongyang, the State Department said. – Reuters

Sung-Yoon Lee writes: The North Korean military this month fired about 130 artillery shells into the sea off its east and west coasts; some shells landed in the buffer zone between the North-South sea border. Another barrage of some 100 artillery shells into the sea ensued the next day. How should Washington and Seoul respond to these psychological and military operations?  – The Hill 

Adam Mount and Jungsup Kim write: Washington and Seoul cannot afford to trust that their existing posture will deter North Korea’s new nuclear doctrine. As alarming as North Korea’s ICBMs are, its tactical nuclear weapons are now tasked with not only retaliation but a variety of missions to level the balance of power on the peninsula, which has been tipping against Pyongyang for decades. For these reasons, they are the likeliest of any nuclear weapons in the world to be used in war. – Foreign Policy 


China wants stabilized relations with the United States in the short term as it faces domestic economic challenges and push back in Asia to its assertive diplomacy, White House Indo-Pacific coordinator Kurt Campbell said on Thursday. – Reuters

The U.S. Commerce Department will continue to deny three U.S.-based firms’ export privileges, the government announced on Thursday, saying the companies had illegally exported satellite, rocket and defense technology to China. – Reuters

U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen on Thursday said she was “open” to visit China as she seeks to deepen economic engagement with Beijing after the leaders of the world’s two largest economies met last month, signaling a possible easing of tensions. – Reuters

China is building capabilities that put most U.S. space assets at risk, and China sees the domain as crucial to their military strategy, the head of the U.S. Space Command said on Friday. – Reuters

Russia’s Gazprom (GAZP.MM) said on Thursday it was increasing gas supplies to China in December in response to a request from Beijing. Gazprom said deliveries to China through its Power of Siberia pipeline set a new daily maximum on Dec. 7, with flows 16.1% above previously contracted volumes. – Reuters

China’s assertive diplomacy in recent years has “backfired” and Beijing now seeks a more predictable relationship with the US as the country’s economy slows and the government tries to loosen its strict Covid-19 curbs, the Biden administration’s top Asia official said.  – Bloomberg 

One method of getting around social media censors is by communicating with people outside of the country, sending them videos, photos, and other materials that would otherwise be wiped from Chinese platforms. Once those materials are posted to a non-censored platform like Twitter, users in China would then be able to re-import and reshare them, using oblique language and rotating, editing or flipping the videos to bypass filters. – NPR

China is starting to under-report coronavirus cases and fatalities, which experts warn is obscuring the scale and severity of the health crisis just as the world’s most populous country enters its deadliest phase of the pandemic. – Financial Times

Alibaba co-founder Jack Ma has stepped down as president of an important business group in his home province, as the Chinese billionaire continues to shun the limelight while spending time abroad. – Financial Times

Patty-Jane Geller writes: A Chinese advantage in capacity to produce warheads provides President Xi Jinping a path to nuclear superiority, should he choose to pursue it. The U.S., for its part, would have few options to respond if China decided to continue building beyond 1,500 warheads. As China continues to improve infrastructure to support nuclear expansion, America may need to reevaluate its own warhead production plans to ensure we can pace the growing Chinese nuclear threat . – Washington Examiner 

John D. Maurer writes: If, faced with these developments, Chinese leaders come to their senses and agree to limits on their nuclear expansion, then the threat can be reduced and American security guarantees reinforced. If they refuse to limit their nuclear expansion, then modernized forces and closer partnerships will provide the best chance to deter Chinese aggression in the decades to come. – Washington Examiner 

P. Carrol writes: China is not expanding its footprint in this key region simply for economic reasons. Xi’s regime wishes to harm the U.S. through an aggressive projection of power in the Western Hemisphere. It is thus incumbent upon U.S. officials and diplomats to treat Latin American partners with respect as the equals they are. We must acknowledge the essential importance of the region to U.S. security and prosperity. – Washington Examiner 

Morgan Ortagus writes: The Biden administration must stop treating fentanyl as some mere public health issue. Together, drug cartels and Chinese companies are slaughtering our children without mercy or remorse. A chemical war is being waged on American citizens. We must starve the cartels of funding and bring justice to our enemies. – Washington Examiner 

Max Bergmann writes: Looking forward, the fallout from Russia’s war in Ukraine threatens the long-term ability of the Kremlin to carry its weight in its partnership with Beijing. On the other hand, Russian efforts to react to Western-led economic sanctions and support for Ukraine could provide the Chinese leadership with an important guide as to how their own country could resist Western pressure during a crisis in the Indo-Pacific region. – Center for Strategic and  International Studies

George Yean writes: The CCP’s absolute dominance at home and extreme suspicion of a liberal world set it apart from other realist states like India, Vietnam, or even Vladimir Putin’s Russia before the war. In fact, the building of China’s own economic and security spheres, combined with its superpower capacity, is hardly an indicator of a defensive or preserving strategy. If the CCP’s leaders are still rationalists, it then depends on which approach works best for maximizing their goals. – The National Interest 

South Asia

The heavy and constant surveillance has reduced the number of terror attacks, but a wave of assassinations of minority Hindus and the continued recruitment of militants suggest that the root cause of the problem — a separatist militancy that feeds on local grievances about the heavy-handedness of the Indian state — bubbles underneath. – New York Times

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi won’t be holding an annual in-person summit with Vladimir Putin after the Russian president threatened to use nuclear weapons in the war in Ukraine, according to people with knowledge of the matter. – Bloomberg 

An Indian state agency released nearly 27,000 Vivo Mobile Communications Co. smartphones for export after withholding the shipment for more than a week over alleged rule violations. The federal finance ministry’s revenue intelligence unit late on Wednesday allowed the Chinese company to collect the devices it was holding at the New Delhi Airport over an alleged mis-declaration of phone models and their value, people familiar with the matter said, asking not to be named discussing a sensitive matter. – Bloomberg 

Protests sparked by power cuts and fuel price hikes have erupted across the country in recent months, demanding that Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina step down in favour of fresh elections under a caretaker government. – Agence France-Presse

Sadanand Dhume writes: It would make more sense to put the cash earmarked for favored companies toward fixing the structural issues that made India uncompetitive with China in the first place—an unskilled workforce, socialist-era labor regulations, poor infrastructure and government red tape. In the 1950s, Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru tried to kickstart industrialization by pouring government funds into shiny steel factories and big dams. Mr. Modi thinks his approach will be more successful, but the jury is out. – Wall Street Journal 


Japan announced Friday that it will jointly develop its next-generation fighter jet with the U.K. and Italy as Tokyo looks to expand defense cooperation beyond its traditional ally, the United States. – Associated Press

Reflecting on her five years as New Zealand’s leader, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said China has undoubtedly become more assertive in the region over that time, but cautioned that building relationships with small Pacific nations shouldn’t become a game of one-upmanship. – Associated Press

Azerbaijan’s state oil firm SOCAR has paused purchases of Russian crude oil for its Turkish refinery, industry sources said, in a sign Western sanctions are starting to hit steady streams outside Europe and the United States. – Reuters 

Australian police charged four Chinese nationals on Friday over an online investment scam based mainly in the United States, which authorities said caused losses of more than $100 million across the world. – Reuters

Japan, Britain and Italy are merging their next-generation jet fighter projects in a ground-breaking partnership spanning Europe and Asia that is Japan’s first major industrial defence collaboration beyond the United States since World War Two. – Reuters

China has dramatically scaled back purchases of Taiwanese fish this year, as Beijing seeks to punish the island’s democratically elected government for expanding ties with the US and its allies. – Bloomberg

Foreigners in Indonesia should not worry about getting prosecuted for potentially breaching the country’s new criminal code that penalizes sex outside of marriage, a minister said. – Bloomberg

Twenty-seven people have been lashed in public in the northern Afghan province of Parwan as punishment for alleged adultery, theft, drug offenses, and other crimes, Obaidullah Aminzadeh, the Taliban provincial governor, told RFE/RL. – Radio Free Europe/ Radio Liberty

Christopher B. Johnstone writes: The Kishida government’s new national security strategy represents an inflection point—one that sets in motion a material transformation in Japan’s defense posture that builds upon the policy and legal reforms that Abe put in place. These changes were unimaginable only a few years ago and represent a vast opportunity for the U.S.-Japan alliance. – Center for Strategic and  International Studies

Le Dong Hai Nguyen writes: Further accommodation towards the Tatmadaw is, at best, serving to legitimize its regime and, at worst, destructive to the bloc’s international standing. ASEAN needs to show the junta and, more importantly, the international community that “it means business,” as the Malaysian Foreign Minister recently urged. – The National Interest 


U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen told reporters on Thursday that the Biden administration had no reason to believe the Russian government was involved in a decision by Turkey to block ships from transiting to the Mediterranean Sea. – Reuters

Finland’s defence minister Antti Kaikkonen said the sooner Turkey ratifies its NATO membership bid the better and it would consider granting arms export permits to Turkey on a case by case basis. – Reuters

The United States will deploy additional infantry troops to the Baltic country of Estonia “in the coming weeks” to strengthen defenses on NATO’s eastern flank, Estonian defense officials said Thursday. – Associated Press

The leaders of nine Mediterranean and Southern European countries planned to meet Friday in Spain, with the energy crisis triggered by the Russian invasion of Ukraine likely to top the agenda. – Associated Press

Kosovo law enforcement on Friday said one officer was injured by gunmen after increasing police presence fearing tension in northern areas dominated by the ethnic Serb minority. – Associated Press

Many Poles, like others in central Europe, have been critical of Germany’s stance toward Russia in the years leading up to Russia’s Feb. 24 invasion of Ukraine, particularly for gas deals that created dependence on Russian energy and helped Russia build up its war chest. – Associated Press

The EU on Thursday approved Croatia as the newest member of the border check-free Schengen zone from next month, but Austria and the Netherlands blocked Romania and Bulgaria from joining. – Agence France-Presse

Dutch officials are planning new controls on exports of chipmaking equipment to China, according to people familiar with the matter, potentially aligning their trade rules with US efforts to restrict Beijing’s access to high-end technology. – Bloomberg 

Lawrence Kudlow writes: Believe it or not, Europe’s paying Russia just short of 30 billion euros for the imports, and the EU collectively is sending about 29 billion euros in military and financial assistance to Ukraine. Go figure. – New York Sun


The European Union has added eight individuals to its sanctions list relating to the conflict in Democratic Republic of Congo, including rebel leaders and a Belgian businessman, it said on Thursday. – Reuters

The M23 armed group executed at least 131 villagers in reprisal killings in east Democratic Republic of Congo late last month as part of a campaign of murder, rape, kidnapping and looting, the United Nations said on Thursday. – Reuters

Hundreds of protesters took to the streets of Sudan’s capital Thursday, demanding the ouster of its military rulers and rejecting a deal for the gradual transfer of power to civilian leaders. – Associated Press

The Americas

The infighting within a political class that’s widely seen as criminally venal has alienated ordinary Peruvians to the point where half no longer “support” democracy — the third lowest level in Latin America, behind only uber-violent Honduras and perennially beleaguered Haiti. – Washington Post

President Pedro Castillo, facing possible impeachment Wednesday on corruption charges, tried to dissolve congress to rule by decree. Lawmakers voted overwhelmingly to remove him from office, and he was soon arrested. Dina Boluarte, Castillo’s vice president, was sworn in as his successor, becoming the 200-year-old nation’s first female president. – Washington Post

The rapprochement is driven, in part, by the Biden administration’s desire to do whatever it can to smooth out oil market disruptions that have sent prices soaring. Although years of government mismanagement has decimated Venezuela’s petroleum industry—oil production now averages about 690,000 barrels a day, compared with more than 2 million a day in 2017—the country still sits atop the world’s largest reserves. – Bloomberg

Canada on Friday imposed fresh sanctions on Russia, Iran and Myanmar, citing alleged human rights violations by their governments. – Reuters

Close to 60% of Haiti’s capital is dominated by gangs whose violence and sexual attacks have caused thousands to flee their homes, the U.N. humanitarian chief in the Caribbean nation said Thursday. – Associated Press

Michael Stott writes: Peru is saddled with the legacy of Fujimori’s authoritarian constitution: a unicameral legislature and a president empowered to dissolve congress if his nominee as prime minister loses two confidence votes. Equally absurdly, congress has the power to depose the elected president on the grounds of “moral incapacity” — a phrase which could mean just about anything. – Financial Times


The real privacy concern with Lensa comes from a different angle. The giant collection of images used to train the AI, called LAION, was scraped from the internet without much discretion, AI experts say. That means it includes images of people who didn’t give their consent. – Washington Post

As part of an ongoing privacy push, Apple said Wednesday it will now offer full end-to-encryption for nearly all the data its users store in its global cloud-based storage system. That will make it more difficult for hackers, spies and law enforcement agencies to access sensitive user information. – Associated Press

Twitter is expected to raise the price of its verified subscription feature for users paying through the app on iPhones, according to The Information. Twitter Blue is priced at $7.99 a month, the company says on its website. But this could change for some users as Twitter plans to charge $11 for payments via its iPhone app, a person familiar with the situation told The Information. – Business Insider 

U.S. National Cyber Director Chris Inglis plans on traveling to Japan later this month to advise government officials there on bolstering cybersecurity defenses, according to a source briefed on the upcoming trip. – CyberScoop


Google, Oracle, Microsoft and Amazon will share in the Pentagon’s $9 billion contract to build its cloud computing network, a year after accusations of politicization over the previously announced contract and a protracted legal battle resulted in the military starting over in its award process. – Associated Press

Design and testing hiccups on the Air Force’s new T-7A Red Hawk training jet, in development at Boeing, have pushed aircraft production into 2024, Air Force Times has learned. – Defense News

The U.S. Navy is moving quickly to link its fleet through its Project Overmatch initiative, which has been kept almost entirely secret for two years. Shielded from public view, the service has undertaken a flurry of work: simulating current pathways for data, writing software code to close gaps, testing it in a lab and at sea, and providing feedback to coders to improve future iterations. – Defense News

With December’s public debut of the B-21 Raider, the U.S. Air Force’s preparations to receive its newest stealth bomber — and transform its bomber fleet — will kick off in 2023. – Defense News

The House, on Thursday, passed the compromise Fiscal Year 2023 defense policy bill that authorizes $858 billion for national defense. In a 350 to 80 vote, lawmakers authorized legislation that approves $32.6 billion for the Navy to buy 11 battle force ships, an increase from the eight battle force ships the service sought in its original budget request. – USNI News

After years of fighting back, Congress is allowing the Air Force to part ways with a portion of its A-10 Warthog fleet, approving the service’s plans to retire 21 A-10s in fiscal 2023. – Breaking Defense

With relations between Washington and Jerusalem feeling shaky over the potential appointment of two controversial right-wing politicians to key security roles, the Israeli Defense Forces and US military this week sent a strong signal to shore up the mil-to-mil relationship between the two nations. – Breaking Defense