Fdd's overnight brief

March 17, 2023

In The News


A senior Iranian official visited the United Arab Emirates on Thursday, just days after Tehran agreed to restore diplomatic relations with Saudi Arabia in a Chinese-brokered deal that raised hopes of a broader rapprochement across Middle East. – Associated Press

Eager to end its political and economic isolation, Iran had been trying for two years to restore ties with its long-time rival Saudi Arabia, an Arab heavyweight and oil powerhouse. – Reuters 

European lawmakers called on the UN Human Rights Council on Thursday to conduct an independent investigation into a wave of poisonings that have hit schoolgirls in Iran. – Reuters

A magnitude 5 earthquake struck the Iraqi-Iranian borderline, the Iraqi state news agency INA reported on Thursday. – Reuters

The death of a man while in the custody of security forces has sparked fresh anti-government protests in the northwestern Iranian city of Bukan. – Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty

Iranian labor activist Sepideh Gholian has been rearrested by security forces just hours after her release from Tehran’s notorious Evin Prison, where she served almost five years after being forced to confess to treason. – Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty 

Michael Singh writes: Finally, the United States should be honest but resolute about its own commitments. U.S. credibility with partners boils down to two things — candor with partners about our strategy, and how, especially in the Middle East, it is changing on account of our increasing focus on competition with China and war in Europe. And, perhaps most important of all, we need to muster the will to back up our words with action. – Washington Post

Ahmad Hashemi writes: Third, the U.S. needs to give Ukraine training and weapons. America can exhaust Russia and defuse the Iranian-made drones in Ukraine by providing the Ukrainian forces with new weapons, advanced drones, fighter jets, and training to improve Ukraine’s chances of shooting down Iranian-made drones and targeting Russian sites where those drones are being prepared for launch. – Washington Examiner

Suzan Quitaz writes: Yazdanpana supports regime change in the country and the demands for the self-determination of Kurds, Balochs, Azeri, and Ahwazis, which have been subjugated and oppressed through a brutal assimilation policy. He believes that the dissolution of the Iranian state into ethno-states will democratize the region, slow down terrorism and militarism, strengthen the economy and trade, and bring regional peace. – Middle East Media Research Institute 

Yaqoub Beth-Addai writes: In the face of strong unity amongst the Christian community and the leading Bishops of the Nineveh Plains the NPU petitioned on March 13 to be removed from the Kataib Babiliyoun brigade order of battle and placed in their prior status – as a Tribal Mobilization Force under the Nineveh Operations Command. During the separation negotiations on March 14 – at the PMF provincial office in Mosul – seven members of the NPU delegation were seized under charges of insulting the PMF and sent to Baghdad. Though their release was quickly achieved on March 16, this is unlikely to be the last retaliatory action by Kataib Babiliyoun. – Washington Institute 

Faris Almaari writes: Apart from any further action on the 1998 and 2001 agreements, policymakers should watch for diplomatic steps such as reopening embassies, dispatching ambassadors, and establishing minister-level relations on various issues. Also notable will be how the two governments handle Iranian participation in the upcoming Hajj pilgrimage, which has often been a contentious issue. They signed a memorandum of understanding on that matter in early January, so they may find coordination and cooperation easier this year. – Washington Institute

Annika Ganzeveld, Amin Soltani, Johanna Moore, Nicholas Carl, and Frederick W. Kagan write: Some Iranian leaders are likely concerned about their ability to convince the population that the national Iranian identity is inextricably interwoven with the regime’s religious ideology. Iranian officials and state media have scaled back their discussion on the recent student poisonings—an unusual response to this recent, large-scale security crisis. […]At least five protests occurred in five cities across two provinces. – Institute for the Study of War 

Russia & Ukraine

Russia is using a fleet of older, poorly insured tankers to sidestep Western sanctions on its fossil fuels, raising fears of a potentially catastrophic accident or oil spill as the Kremlin works to finance its invasion of Ukraine, policymakers and environmental advocates said. – Washington Post

The forcing down of a U.S. drone by Russian fighter jets over the Black Sea on Tuesday spiraled into a diplomatic incident and fueled concern about the potential for the war in Ukraine to escalate into direct conflict between the two superpowers. – Washington Post 

A building for the border patrol of Russia’s Federal Security Service, or FSB, exploded in flames on Thursday in the southern city of Rostov-on-Don, killing at least one person and injuring at least two, according to Russian media and local officials. – Washington Post 

The White House on Thursday accused the Kremlin of “flat-out lying” as the Pentagon declassified video appearing to refute Moscow’s claims that the United States — not Russia — was the aggressor in a midair clash resulting in the downing of an American surveillance drone, an altercation that has raised alarm about the prospect of direct conflict between the nuclear powers and worsening the crisis in Ukraine. – Washington Post 

A Ukrainian battalion commander who gave an interview to The Washington Post describing how ill-trained troops were weakening Ukraine’s position on the battlefield quit his post this week, after his superiors demoted him because of his remarks, he said. – Washington Post 

China’s foreign minister on Thursday spoke by telephone with his Ukrainian counterpart as Beijing continues to signal its desire to play a part in ending that country’s war with Russia. – Wall Street Journal 

The Ukrainian military is firing thousands of artillery shells a day as it tries to hold the eastern city of Bakhmut, a pace that American and European officials say is unsustainable and could jeopardize a planned springtime campaign that they hope will prove decisive. – New York Times

“You were an offender, now you’re a war hero,” Prigozhin tells one man in the clip. It was the first video to depict the return of some of the thousands of convicts who joined Wagner in return for the promise of a pardon if they survived six months of war. – Reuters

President Vladimir Putin urged Russia’s billionaires on Thursday to put patriotism before profit, telling them to invest at home to shore up the economy in the face of Western sanctions. – Reuters At least one person was killed and two were injured on Thursday in a blast and fire at a building belonging to Russia’s FSB security service in the southern city of Rostov-on-Don, according to officials quoted by Russian news agencies. – Reuters

Russia has committed wide-ranging war crimes in Ukraine such as wilful killings and torture, a U.N.-mandated investigative body said on Thursday, in some cases making children watch loved ones being raped and detaining others alongside dead bodies. – Reuters 

Russia sent a team of saboteurs on a mission to interfere with Western military aid to Ukraine, according to Polish authorities who say they foiled the plot. – Washington Examiner 

Frustrated by the protracted battle for Bakhmut, Kremlin propagandist Vladimir Solovyov has called for Russian forces to carpet bomb the Donetsk city. – Newsweek 

A British diplomat has said that hundreds of Russian soldiers are being killed for every kilometer of ground seized around the city of Bakhmut. For months, it has been one of the hottest portions of the 600-mile front. – Newsweek

Ukraine has issued a warning over Russia’s “atypical activity” in the Black Sea. Speaking during a national broadcast on Thursday, Ukraine’s Southern Command spokesperson Natalia Humeniuk said Russia has deployed 20 ships, including missile carriers, and a large number of units of auxiliary fleet ships in the Black Sea. – Newsweek 

In an update on Thursday, the General Staff of Ukraine’s Armed Forces said that 1,040 Russian troops had been killed over the previous 24 hours. This took its estimate of the total number of Russian troop losses since the start of the war to 162,560. – Newsweek 

Wagner Group financier Yevgeny Prigozhin claimed on Thursday that he received a question from a Russian news outlet regarding discussions among Kremlin leaders to “neutralize” his mercenary group. – Newsweek 

The Russian military advance against the Donetsk town of Vuhledar has stalled in part due to Ukraine’s use of artillery-launched anti-armor cluster mines, the United Kingdom’s Defense Ministry assessed in a Thursday morning intelligence update. – Jerusalem Post

As former President Donald Trump and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis air their disinterest in more U.S. aid to Ukraine, a number of Senate Republicans are open about wanting a GOP standard-bearer who takes a different approach. – Politico 

Editorial: The wobbliness of the two Republican front-runners for president raises the stakes for Ukraine’s counteroffensive this spring, which is all the more reason for Western leaders to rush needed equipment to Ukraine and expedite the necessary training.[…]As things stand, the 2024 presidential election is already shaping up to become one of the biggest battles in Ukraine’s war for survival. – Washington Post

Editorial: Russia isn’t the only adversary testing what the U.S. will tolerate. Beijing has been harassing American assets in the Pacific, with a Chinese fighter jet coming within 20 feet of a U.S. Air Force reconnaissance plane in December. If the world seems volatile now, it will be more so if America’s enemies feel empowered to provoke the U.S. without fear of a response. – Wall Street Journal 

Editorial: The whole silly affair highlights the larger problem with Biden’s “dribs and drabs” approach. It’s totally reactive to Putin, allowing him to determine the contours of the fight — and leaves the Ukrainians in a bloody, endless limbo while Poland has to lead the charge on tanks and planes. Putin’s war, no matter the moaning of left and right isolationists (or the triangulating of presumptive GOP presidential candidates), does represent a real threat to US interests. – New York Post

David French writes: Forty years ago, Reagan spoke with truth and conviction about the nature of foreign threats. This week, Ron DeSantis and Donald Trump failed. Two men who’ve built their political brands around fighting their domestic political enemies now wilt in the face of inferior Russian arms. If one of these men prevail, then the Reagan Republican Party is truly lost, its moral clarity is gone, and the preservation of the international order will fall to a Democratic Party that now shows more confidence than the G.O.P. in the moral and military power of the United States. – New York Times

William Nattrras writes: The onus is on Ukraine to prove that continued US support is worth it. But if meaningful gains can’t be achieved on the battlefield this year, European leaders who have put their all into supporting Ukraine — and the Ukrainians fighting for their freedom — will go from uneasiness about the US presidential election to full-blown panic. – New York Post

Karolina Hird, Riley Bailey, Angela Howard, George Barros, Nicole Wolkov, Layne Philipson, and Frederick W. Kagan write: The Russian Federal State Security Service (FSB) appears to be trying to penetrate the Russian defense industrial base (DIB) in a way that is reminiscent of the KGB’s involvement with the Soviet military and industrial base. Wagner Group financier Yevgeny Prigozhin claimed that he received a press question exposing a plot spearheaded by Russian President Vladimir Putin and Russian Security Council Secretary Nikolai Patrushev to undermine and “neutralize” the Wagner Group. – Institute for the Study of War 

Polina Beliakova and Rachel Tecott Metz write: Of course, Ukrainians are responsible for coming up with and pursuing many reforms and innovations since the 2022 invasion. But weapons and ammunition from Western countries were essential to Ukraine’s ability to sustain the fight against Russia. Ukraine’s success does not demonstrate that U.S. security assistance works writ large but, rather, that U.S. security assistance is most useful in the cases when those receiving the aid are driven to do whatever it takes to strengthen their forces. – Foreign Affairs 

Kevin Brown writes: China ultimately wants to show it can behave responsibly by proposing solutions to international challenges. Beijing hopes to paint Washington as reckless while signaling a perception that it is trying to build a coalition of countries to end the war in Ukraine through diplomacy. In contrast, the Biden administration’s support for unconditional Ukrainian victory is giving Xi an opportunity to label the United States as an aggressor and isolate it on the world stage. – The National Interest 


Eleven weeks into his third stint as Israel’s prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu has yet to be received at the White House, signaling apparent U.S. unhappiness over the policies of his right-wing government. – Reuters

Jerusalem woke on Thursday to the sight of a long red line painted by protesters along roads leading to Israel’s Supreme Court, hours after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu rejected a compromise deal for his government’s planned judicial overhaul. – Reuters

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz on Thursday urged Israel to preserve its status as a liberal democracy and expressed concerns to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu about a planned judicial overhaul that has plunged his country into crisis. – Reuters

Israeli forces killed four Palestinians, including at least two gunmen and a teenager, during a raid in the occupied West Bank on Thursday, Palestinian medics and militants said. – Reuters

Israeli Defence Minister Yoav Gallant on Thursday said those responsible for a rare roadside bomb attack this week which officials said may have involved Lebanon’s Hezbollah, would be found and held accountable. – Reuters

For the first time since the Russian invasion of Ukraine, Israel has authorized the sale of defensive military equipment to Kyiv, a report said Thursday. – Times of Israel

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Thursday that he is paying attention to the protests against his government’s judicial overhaul plan, and intends to work toward a compromise deal while rejecting the one put forward by President Isaac Herzog. – Times of Israel 

United Arab Emirates AE President Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan has ordered that $3 million be given to rehabilitate the West Bank Palestinian town of Huwara, where Israeli settlers rampaged last month in revenge for a deadly terror attack. – Times of Israel 

The editorial argues the Netanyahu government’s effort to restructure the judiciary threatens a constitutional crisis, with the Jewish state particularly vulnerable to internal discord. – Times of Israel  

A Michigan high school has apologized after a Palestinian American anti-Israel activist was invited to a student-led diversity event where she went on a hateful tirade against Israel. – Arutz Sheva 

Foreign Ministry Director-General Ronen Levi (Maoz) today (Thursday) led a delegation to Warsaw that met with members of the Polish government and in principle reached an agreement that would enable the resumption of Israeli youth delegations to Poland. The delegation included representatives of the Foreign Ministry, the Education Ministry, and the Israel Security Agency. – Arutz Sheva 

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz Thursday afternoon in Berlin. – Arutz Sheva 

Israel recently approved the export licenses for the possible sale of anti-drone jamming systems that could help Ukraine counter Iranian drones used by Russia during the war, three Israeli and Ukrainian officials told Axios on Wednesday. – Arutz Sheva 

In his March 12, 2023 column in Qatar’s Al-Watan daily, titled “The Time Has Come For You To Get Out,” Palestinian journalist Samir Al-Barghouti, who frequently writes in favor of armed struggle against Israel, stated that it was time to expel the Israelis “from Huwara to Tel Aviv…  from the river to the sea,” and to fight them in brigades and with lone attackers. […]In conclusion, he addressed the Israelis, saying: “We will fight [you] as long as we live, and you will never enjoy a good life on land that rejects you.” – Middle East Media Research Institute  

A Gallup poll published on Thursday shows an increasing trend of American Democrats sympathizing with Palestinians. – Ynet

Itamar Ben Gvir writes: Rather than being enemies, I believe that most people living in Israel and the broader region—Jews, Bedouins, Circassians, Druze, Arabs, and others—share a covenant of life. With the help of God, I am confident that the efforts of the Israeli government to provide security for all will allow peace-loving residents to enjoy a bright future in the Holy Land. – Newsweek 

Yonathan Arfi writes: As Israel is facing a new wave of terrorism and Iran is on the threshold of a nuclear weapon, the solidarity of French Jews with Israel must not weaken in these times of crisis: on the contrary, it is growing in the conviction that it is in their heritage, both Jewish and democratic, that the Israelis will find a modus vivendi. – Jerusalem Post 

Melanie Phillips writes: The less charitable explanation, meanwhile, is that some of those promoting the Palestinian Arab cause are motivated by malign hatred of Israel and the Jewish people. In the Biden administration, several such individuals are working in sensitive Middle East policy positions. In Britain’s Foreign Office, its history of antisemitism going back to its shameful administration of the Palestine Mandate in the last century continues to this day, fueled by anti-Zionist “intersectionality” that has become the orthodoxy in much of Britain’s official class and many of its institutions. – Arutz Sheva

Amos Harel writes: In addition, relations between Israel and the United Arab Emirates have been cooling off. It appears that some of the defense agreements between the two sides are proceeding sluggishly. The Emirates postponed at the last minute a conference to be attended by Israeli journalists, scheduled in Abu Dhabi with participants from all the countries that were signatories to the Abraham Accords. – Haaretz 

Amos Harel writes: But there is also an opposite process, on the backdrop of the current regime overhaul, which justifiably identifies the exemption for Haredi youths as a cause that brings previously apathetic secular people out on the streets. This was demonstrated on Thursday, with protesting reserve soldiers setting up a symbolic “draft center” in Bnei Brak, an ultra-Orthodox city, clashing for the second consecutive day with Haredi residents. – Haaretz 

Clara Keuss writes: The Abraham Accords are serious, in part because they included real policy that addressed real problems: free trade deals for the economy, formal defense ties for national security. Could talks between Israel and Palestine ever be that productive? Perhaps, actually—but only if upcoming meetings are treated not as public exercises of “good faith,” but as real policy workshops. – American Enterprise Institute 


The Biden administration will grant temporary deportation relief and work permits to Afghans without permanent legal status but who are currently in the U.S., a move that could aid those evacuated after last year’s U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan. – Reuters

The ISIS group operating in Afghanistan will likely be capable of conducting “external operations” against the U.S. and Western allies within just six months, a U.S. commander testified Thursday. – Fox News

The United Nations Security Council on Thursday asked Secretary-General Antonio Guterres to provide an independent assessment on how to deal with Afghanistan’s Taliban administration and combat challenges including its crackdown on women and girls’ rights. – Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty 


Almost exactly 20 years after US forces invaded Iraq to remove Saddam Hussein from power, the US Senate moved Thursday to revoke the law that authorized then-president George W. Bush to launch the war. – Agence France-Presse

Joe Lieberman writes: It is understandable this progress in Iraq will not convince people it justifies the war’s enormous costs in life and treasure, but it does argue that the brave and effective service of the Americans who fought, worked and died there should give us gratitude, pride and guidance as the United States faces a world full of challenges to our values and threats to our security in Europe, Asia, the Middle East and beyond. – New York Post

Domènec Ruiz Devesa and Emiliano Alessandri write: As the anniversary of the 2003 U.S. military operation approaches, and with events in Ukraine providing a daily reminder of the horrors associated with military conflict, any contribution to replacing a geopolitics of confrontation with one of engagement should be welcome. Despite its recent tumultuous history — or perhaps precisely because of it — Iraq should be front and center as part of a new positive regional agenda. With the right vision and sufficient political will, the EU, together with the U.S. and relevant MENA partners, can be a lead promoter of this new approach. – Middle East Institute 

Saudi Arabia

Whether fixing ties with Iran or reaching out to Israel, Mohammed bin Salman has one top priority: ensuring his multi-trillion-dollar vision to transform Saudi Arabia stays on track. – Bloomberg

Russia’s Deputy Prime Minister Alexander Novak met with Saudi Arabia’s oil chief in Riyadh on Thursday as a rout in crude prices turned the market’s attention to whether OPEC+ will be forced to step in. – Bloomberg

Whether fixing ties with Iran or reaching out to Israel, Mohammed bin Salman has one top priority: ensuring his multi-trillion-dollar vision to transform Saudi Arabia stays on track. – Bloomberg 

Middle East & North Africa

The U.N. special envoy for Yemen said Wednesday that intense diplomatic efforts are underway to end the eight-year war in Yemen. He cited new regional and international momentum, including the recent restoration of diplomatic ties between Saudi Arabia and Iran, who back rivals in the conflict. – Associated Press

A meeting of the deputy foreign ministers of Russia, Turkey, Iran and Syria, scheduled for this week, has been postponed to an unspecified date, a source from the Turkish foreign ministry said on Thursday. – Reuters

The draft election manifesto of Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan’s AK Party marks a return to more orthodox, free market economic policies, four sources familiar with the matter told Reuters. – Reuters

Two U.S. military leaders stressed to lawmakers the growing presence and threat posed by China in both the Middle East and Africa. China brokered an agreement between Saudi Arabia and Iran to restore full diplomatic relations, which was announced last week. The deal was the culmination of years of negotiating and fighting between the rival countries, though Beijing only became involved in these talks in the past several months. – Washington Examiner 

Yossi Yehoshua writes: Another topic to be addressed is communication on social media and during emergencies in general. Over the past two days, there has been a concerning proliferation of fake news, stirring panic and anxiety among hundreds of thousands of residents in northern Israel. During times of emergency, it is important for citizens to be responsible and avoid spreading rumors, recognizing that the enemy may also be spreading misinformation to sow chaos. – Ynet

Bahadırhan Dinçaslan writes: The emergence of an independent nationalist candidate in this context might have a large impact disproportionate to the percentage of votes he or she might get—even a few percentage points could make a big difference. If an independent nationalist candidate took several percentage points from the MHP base, neither Kılıçdaroğlu nor Erdoğan would win in the first round. In the second round, the atmosphere would be much more in favor of the opposition. – Washington Institute

Korean Peninsula

North Korea said that Thursday’s launch was its largest Hwasong-17 intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM), fired during a drill to demonstrate a “tough response posture” to ongoing U.S.-South Korea military drills, state media reported. – Reuters

The leaders of Japan and South Korea hailed “a new era” of diplomatic relations at the two countries’ first summit in 12 years as they eased trade tensions and agreed to resume intelligence sharing. – Financial Times

Motoko Rich and Choe Sang-Hun writes: In a recent survey, 81 percent of South Korean respondents expressed negative or very negative sentiments toward China, according to the Sinophone Borderlands project. “I do think that perhaps anti-Chinese sentiment may cushion the potential backlash against the Japan-South Korea deal,” said Ms. Bang. “It becomes a little easier to stomach, because Japan does pose more of a lucrative country to cooperate with.” – New York Times

Bruce Klingner writes: Yoon’s initiative is another positive step forward in South Korea assuming a more influential and pivotal role commensurate with its diplomatic, security, and economic strengths. The U.S. should build on the momentum by urging even greater cooperation amongst its allies, including trilateral meetings of defense and foreign ministers and coordinated contingency planning against regional threats. – 19fortyfive 

Ramon Pacheco Pardo writes: The above isn’t a call for South Korea to go nuclear. That decision belongs to the South Korean leadership and people, and the Yoon government has reiterated that it does not plan to go down this route. But the developments leading Seoul to consider the nuclear option are not going to reverse any time soon, and it’s not out of line to suggest that Seoul could probably develop nuclear weapons without facing major long-term repercussions. – Foreign Policy 


Fresh off a legislative congress where he cemented his vision for governing China, Xi Jinping turned to how he would create a better world order. It would be based on mutual respect, tolerance and equality — and China would be its natural leader, he told heads of political parties for an array of countries, including Russia and South Africa, Nicaragua and East Timor. – Washington Post 

China’s Communist Party unveiled a broad overhaul strengthening its role in managing finance, social affairs and technological development, as part of leader Xi Jinping’s efforts to entrench his brand of top-down rule. – Wall Street Journal 

China’s top leader, Xi Jinping, has cast himself as a global statesman, helping Saudi Arabia and Iran broker a deal to restore diplomatic ties while extolling the virtues of “Chinese solutions and wisdom” in solving the world’s biggest security challenges. Now, Mr. Xi is putting himself at the center of Russia’s war with Ukraine, potentially positioning himself as a mediator to end the protracted fight. – New York Times

China says President Xi Jinping will visit Russia from Monday to Wednesday in an apparent show of support for Vladimir Putin, the foreign ministry said Friday. – Associated Press

United States Indo-Pacific Command chief Adm. John Aquilino said Thursday that Washington does not seek to contain China, nor seek conflicts in the region, but it would take action to support the region against coercion and bullying by authoritarian regimes. – Associated Press

Top Republicans are urging the White House to crack down on nuclear co-operation between Russia and China following reports that Moscow’s state-owned nuclear energy company is providing highly enriched uranium to Beijing. – Financial Times

Chinese companies, including one connected to the government in Beijing, have sent Russian entities 1,000 assault rifles and other equipment that could be used for military purposes, including drone parts and body armor, according to trade and customs data obtained by POLITICO. – Politico 

The U.S. still has not seen any intelligence to indicate China has supplied Russia with lethal aid for the use in Ukraine. U.S. officials have said for about a month now that Beijing was considering such a move, which they warned would incur significant consequences. Pentagon spokesman Brig. Gen. Patrick Ryder told reporters on Thursday that they still haven’t seen it happen yet. – Washington Examiner 

With tensions high between the U.S. and China, one small island in the Pacific stands as a nuclear-capable front line in what has the potential to be one of the devastating wars the world has ever seen. – Newsweek 

A Chinese-manufactured drone was shot down by soldiers last weekend in eastern Ukraine. Soldiers from the 111th Brigade of the Territorial Defense Forces of Ukraine and situated near the city of Sloviansk shot down the Mugin-5 unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) with AK-47s at about 2 a.m. March 10, according to CNN. – Newsweek 

China has not responded to any of U.S. Indo-Pacific Command’s requests to establish direct communication channels between its commander and the commanders of China’s main military commands, Adm. John Aquilino said Thursday. – USNI News

David Ignatius writes: The truth is that a unipolar Middle East, where a dominant United States was encouraged in confrontational policies by its allies Saudi Arabia and Israel, wasn’t a very stable region. A multipolar Middle East, with its ceaseless hedging and balancing, will have its own dangers. And as Kissinger suggests, it will be a new game with new rules. – Washington Post 

Hugioi Gordon writes: The task of decoupling America from China is hugely difficult if it is at all possible. Our economies seem inextricably entangled. Most manufactured goods we buy are made at least partly in China. It will be immensely hard to get the public to understand the importance of abandoning the convenience and low costs they’ve become accustomed to, let alone accept the pain it would involve.- Washington Examiner 

Tom Rogan writes: Put another way, it might be in America’s interest to avoid Xi’s engagement on internet rule of law. Just as his minions use the internet to steal whatever they deem valuable, they want to build a new internet that subjugates any thought deemed undesirable, wherever in the world the thinker happens to live. – Washington Examiner 

Robby Stephan Saunders writes: U.S. investors don’t want to support China’s repression of Uyghurs in Xinjiang. It’s time for Congress to force the issue by conditioning access to America’s financial markets on ending corporate complicity in China’s egregious human rights abuses. – The Hill

David P. Goldman writes: The United States should lead a consortium of firms from friendly countries including Sweden, Finland, South Korea, and Japan to create products that can compete with China’s offerings. Huawei alone spent $22 billion on R&D last year, compared to $4.8 billion for Nokia and $4.7 billion for Ericsson, its two largest competitors. Huawei’s R&D budget, moreover, has twice the punch in China, where costs are much lower than in the West. – Newsweek 

Anushay Hossain writes: “We have also determined that the Chinese government has committed genocide and crimes against humanity against the predominantly Muslim Uyghurs and other ethnic and religious minority groups in Xinjiang,” Thomas-Greenfield said. “The international community must continue to condemn these atrocities,” she added. “We must continue to demand accountability. And we must continue to call for all those unjustly detained in [China] to be released and reunited with their families.” – Newsweek 

Michael Cunningham writes: Beijing will initially have to tread lightly to keep businesses and investors engaged. But its efforts to attract investment and appease businesses are just means to facilitate Beijing’s bigger plan of restructuring its economy in line with its domestic and global ambitions. The days when economic growth reigned supreme in China are long gone. China’s leaders have, once again, signaled they have bigger priorities than keeping investors happy. – 19fortyfive 

Jacob Heilbrunn writes: Figure out some way to not ban TikTok but to force it to keep all Americans’ data on servers in the United States without any backdoors. It does store data in the United States but that data has also been accessed from China many times. – The National Interest 

Joshua Eisenman writes: The same conditions that have precipitated China’s investments in the African media sector—the continent’s youthfulness and its growing population—should also be attractive to the United States. Despite decades of neglect and China’s best efforts, Africans in many countries continue to hold favorable views of the United States. By investing in objective, high-quality local reporting and juxtaposing this grassroots approach with China’s heavy-handed censorship, the United States can offer an alternative to China’s propaganda on the continent. – Foreign Policy 


The U.S. and Taiwan moved a step closer toward a bilateral trade and investment initiative, with both sides signaling progress in the talks at a time of heightened tensions between Washington and Beijing. – Wall Street Journal 

At least 22 people, including three Buddhist monks, were shot dead at close range in central Myanmar last week, according to a doctor’s post-mortem report, in what opponents of military rule say was a massacre of civilians conducted by the army. – Reuters

Top business leaders from Japan and South Korea met in Tokyo on Friday, pledging greater economic cooperation as they seek to pivot away from years of strain and acrimony over compensation for forced wartime labour. – Reuters

India on Thursday approved purchases of missiles, helicopters, artillery guns and electronic warfare systems worth $8.5 billion as it sought to add more teeth to its military. – Reuters

The US State Department approved a potential sale of Tomahawk missile systems worth $895 million to Australia, further tightening security ties between the two nations. – Bloomberg

Smarting from mass protests that led to a government climbdown last week, the Georgian ruling party found a culprit: what it said was a group of anarchists and satanists, operating with a $100 million budget. – Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty 

Days after the official announcement for how Australia will get nuclear-powered submarines under the AUKUS agreement, two former prime ministers have come out against the plan — but they appear to be among the few opposed to the deal as currently constructed. – Breaking Defense 

Charles Edel writes: An additional hurdle for AUKUS is the stringent export controls regime in the United States. The United States rightly guards its sensitive technology and U.S. companies’ intellectual property. However, without changes to the current rules governing export controls, the United States will not be able to move forward with the true technological integration required in order to make AUKUS a success. Whether there will be sufficient movement in Congress to change the U.S. export control system, or if this can be accomplished through regulatory reform, remains to be seen. – Center for Strategic and International Studies


Poland said it would send four MiG-29 jet fighters to Ukraine in coming days, making it the first Western nation to supply warplanes to Kyiv, which is preparing a counteroffensive against Russia’s invading forces. – Wall Street Journal 

On Sept. 6, a small group set out from Rostock aboard a rented yacht, the Andromeda, a slender 50-foot-long, single-masted sloop, ostensibly on a pleasure cruise around Baltic Sea ports. Within two weeks, the group returned the boat and disappeared. Not long after, on Sept. 26, a series of underwater explosions, powerful enough to register with seismologic measuring stations, tore apart three of the four main Nord Stream pipes, built to carry natural gas from Russia to Germany. – Wall Street Journal 

French President Emmanuel Macron’s government bypassed Parliament and invoked special constitutional powers on Thursday to raise the country’s retirement age, a step that places him at odds with France’s legislative branch and millions of protesters. – Wall Street Journal 

Poland on Thursday said it had detained nine foreigners accused of spying for Russia and preparing sabotage operations to disrupt the flow of Western arms into neighboring Ukraine. – New York Times

The government of Slovakia said on Friday that it would send 13 Soviet-designed fighter jets to Ukraine, a day after a similar announcement by Poland’s president, marking a possibly significant shift from NATO allies in increasing arms supplies for Kyiv. – New York Times

Turkey is nearing ratification of Finland’s accession into NATO, which would bring the military alliance a step closer to welcoming its 31st member as the effects of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine spread across the European security landscape. – Bloomberg

Demonstrations involving some 10,000 protestors opposed to a Russia-style “foreign agent” law took to the streets of Tbilisi, the capital of the Republic of Georgia, last week. They were met in front of the Parliament building by police who used water cannons and tear gas in an attempt to disperse the crowds – Newsweek 

Russia’s intelligence services, though busy with the Kremlin’s quagmire in Ukraine, still pose a threat to Western nations, the former intelligence chief of a front line NATO nation has said. – Newsweek 

A decision to impose sanctions against the former director of Bosnia-Herzegovina’s intelligence and security agency and two other individuals associated with the Balkan country was made after a lengthy and thorough investigation, a U.S. official said on March 16. – Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty

Editorial: The dilemma for welfare-state democracies is that their expansive entitlements are unaffordable but politically entrenched. Elected officials are reluctant to ask their citizens to make any kind of sacrifice. Mr. Macron has been an exception, and his political ordeal is probably America’s future too. – Wall Street Journal

Adrian Wooldridge writes: Boris Johnson, the former prime minister but one, was fond of quoting Cicero’s injunction about the health of the population being the supreme law (“salus populi suprema lex esto”). The deteriorating health of Britain is not only the supreme condemnation of recent government policy but may prove to be the toughest barrier to improving the economy long-term. – Bloomberg

Sadanand Dhume writes: Fortunately, some politicians are willing to stand up to radicals, while at the same time being careful not to tar peaceful Muslims. In a recent op-ed in the Times, Home Secretary Suella Braverman flatly declared that “we do not have blasphemy laws in Great Britain, and must not be complicit in the attempts to impose them.” Ms. Braverman is right. Britain’s Enlightenment project may have run aground in today’s Pakistan. But the least we can expect is that it doesn’t run aground in Britain too. – Wall Street Journal 

Aura Sabadus writes: These measures would transform the Romanian energy market. They would increase national income, improve energy security, bolster the country’s reputation as a destination for foreign investment, ease the burden on consumers, and improve regional relations. – Center for European Policy Analysis 

Bill Wirtz writes: Even and especially with Republicans controlling the House, growing the U.S farming sector while supporting European allies at a crucial moment through trade should be a bipartisan priority. The Biden administration can do well by the American farm sector by embarking on renewed negotiations with the European Union, setting an example for innovative agriculture, and creating economic opportunities for all. – The National Interest 

Ivan Krastev and Mark Leonard write: The biggest threat to the new marriage of nationalists and cosmopolitans comes from outside the EU, however. Ironically, it has less to do with Moscow than with Washington. One of the major effects of the war has been to expose Europe’s dependence on the United States’ security umbrella. […]His readiness to sacrifice Ukraine could cause a major change not just in the way that Europeans see the future of the war, but even in how they see the future of the EU. – Foreign Policy

Laura Thornton writes: The protests have shown that an angry citizenry is clearly not afraid to fight for Georgia’s democracy. But this is not only a domestic struggle. Russian imperialist ambitions are expansive, and the Kremlin will continue its influence operations to ensure Georgia stays on a track away from democracy and the West. U.S. and European leaders, in turn, should raise the pressure on the GD government to implement reforms and, at the same time, find ways to support and encourage Georgia’s civil society, including independent media and democratic activists. – Foreign Policy   


Secretary of State Antony Blinken concluded a visit to Ethiopia on Thursday seeking to restore relations with one of Washington’s most important partners in Africa without appearing to give it a pass for the atrocities that took place during a devastating two-year civil war. – Washington Post 

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken announced $150 million in direct assistance to Africa’s Sahel region Thursday as he visited Niger, seeking to strengthen ties with a country that has so far avoided the recent spate of military coups and Russian mercenaries destabilizing its neighbors. – Associated Press

The South African rand gained against a weaker dollar early on Friday, capping a volatile week fuelled by fears of a global banking crisis and the implications for monetary policy. – Reuters

The West African troops silently pulled their small boats up to a rust-stained ferry and swarmed up its sides on grappling hooks to disarm the mock kidnappers onboard. – Reuters  

The Americas

Unable to fly through Russian airspace because of the war in Ukraine, U.S. airlines are stepping up a lobbying campaign on Capitol Hill and at the White House to address what they say is a growing problem: They are losing business to foreign competitors who can take passengers between the United States and Asia faster and more cheaply. – New York Times

A high-ranking envoy of President Joe Biden will travel to Panama and Honduras this month, the U.S. Department of State said on Thursday, days after Taiwan ally Honduras said it would establish formal diplomatic ties with China. – Reuters

Honduras’ decision to cut diplomatic ties with Taiwan in favor of China is yet another sign of growing Chinese influence in Latin America. – Associated Press

Brazil’s new President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva has so far shown little concern about defying consensus in the West on foreign policy — even when it comes to dealing with authoritarian governments. – Associated Press

Fareed Zakaria writes: Biden campaigned on undoing many of these policies, but once he took office he found it politically easier to just go along with the tough line. All this evokes the inertia of an aging empire. Today, our foreign policy is run by an insular elite that operates by mouthing rhetoric to please domestic constituencies — and seems unable to sense that the world out there is changing, and fast. – Washington Post 


State-sponsored hackers from China have developed techniques that evade common cybersecurity tools and enable them to burrow into government and business networks and spy on victims for years without detection, researchers with Alphabet Inc.’s Google found. – Wall Street Journal

Britain on Thursday became the latest Western country to prohibit the use of TikTok on “government devices,” citing security fears linked to the video-sharing app’s ownership by a Chinese company. – New York Times

New Zealand said on Friday it would ban TikTok on devices with access to the country’s parliamentary network due to cybersecurity concerns, becoming the latest nation to limit the use of the video-sharing app on government-related devices. – Reuters

China accused the United States on Thursday of spreading disinformation and suppressing TikTok following reports that the Biden administration was calling for its Chinese owners to sell their stakes in the popular video-sharing app. – Associated Press

A pro-Russian prankster impersonates a former US ambassador to Moscow in live video calls, part of a disinformation campaign that researchers say seeks to ensnare high-level Western officials since the invasion of Ukraine. – Agence France-Presse

A new espionage campaign by a hacking group with suspected ties to Moscow targeted government agencies and telecom operators in Ukraine, India and Europe, researchers said Thursday. – The Record

Jason Oxman writes: With the hard work of cybersecurity professionals, the leadership of the technology industry and the strategic support of the federal government, we can work toward a U.S. cybersecurity posture that is fit for purpose and reflects the constantly evolving global threat landscape. Our economy and national security depend on it. Let’s get to work. – Cyber Scoop 

Andrei Soldatov and Irina Borogan write: According to our sources, more and more Russian IT specialists who fled mobilization are returning to Russia after months of languishing in self-imposed exile. Putin’s government is promising to shield them from mobilization and the battlefield. The Kremlin clearly has a strategy on how to deal with Russian IT specialists, but does the West? – Center for European Policy Analysis 

Natalie Montoya and R. Scott Kemp write: As such, the United States would suffer no meaningful loss of capability and should update its policy to eliminate the Launch Under Attack option in order to reduce risks of accidental nuclear war caused by technical glitches, human error, or cyber-attack. Revising this policy does not lock the United States into any particular posture: If technologies change, the policy could be reinstated. […]There has not yet been a false alarm that prompted an actual nuclear launch, but there’s no need to bet the entire world on the hope it will never happen. – War on the Rocks 


Australia said it’s planning to buy up to 220 Tomahawk cruise missiles from the United States after the U.S. State Department approved the sale Friday. – Associated Press

The first flight of Northrop Grumman Corp.’s B-21 Raider has slipped a few months even as the Air Force seeks congressional approval for increased procurement funding for the bomber, according to Air Force Secretary Frank Kendall and budget documents. – Bloomberg

The head of U.S. Indo-Pacific Command says he has not had contact with his Chinese counterparts, despite a previous agreement between the U.S. defense secretary and the Chinese defense minister. – Defense News

The Army and Navy scrubbed their latest hypersonic test flight due to a battery failure during a pre-launch check, the Navy’s top officer for strategic programs said Friday. – USNI News

The Defense Department is set to begin the first round of experiments this year under an effort aimed at addressing capability gaps and delivering emerging technologies quicker to warfighters, according to Under Secretary of Defense for Research and Engineering Heidi Shyu. – Breaking Defense 

A new, “subtle” loosening in US policy regarding export licensing for satellites and satellite components will have “major business implications” for American satellite firms looking to hawk their wares to friendly foreign nations, according to a top Commerce Department official. – Breaking Defense

Vasabjit Banerjee and Benjamin Tkach write: There is no one silver munition to resolve the current crisis, but a number of concrete steps could go a long way. The government should put forward a policy package that eases contracts, includes allies in the manufacturing base, expands and modernizes existing government-owned, contractor-operated facilities, and encourages research to save costs and incentivize private reinvestment. […]Whatever contingencies may arise in the future, Washington will want to have enough ammunition for them. – War on the Rocks 

Morgan D. Bazilian, Emily J. Holland, and Joshua Busby write: Over the past few years, the Pentagon has pushed to strengthen domestic production of critical minerals. A framework for this plan was pursued under the 2019 use of the Defense Production Act and was expanded under the Biden administration to include battery materials. But the Pentagon cannot work alone. To overcome regulatory and legal hurdles that have hamstrung U.S. mining, production, and supply chain sectors for decades, elected officials, regulators, and environmental groups must put aside their differences and work together. – Foreign Policy 

Cmdr. Jared Harlow writes: By building and operating modular reactors to power U.S. domestic bases, the military could help address the existential challenge of climate change by reducing the department’s carbon footprint. Since the military has a long history of operating nuclear power reactors and has high security — and often remote bases to house them — there may be less public pressure against building military nuclear power facilities than there would be against the immediate expansion of civilian facilities. – Defense News