Fdd's overnight brief

March 22, 2024

In The News

Israel

In the dark hours of a quiet early morning last month, explosions suddenly shattered the windows of Karan Saidam’s home in the Gaza Strip. More than 70 relatives woke up and huddled in the living room, as helicopters and jet fighters flew overhead and the sound of live ammunition ripped through the air. They had heard that their city, Rafah, was Israel’s next target in the war against Hamas, and Saidam said his first thought was: “They were taking Rafah by surprise.” – Wall Street Journal

The U.S. is set to bring a draft United Nations resolution calling for an immediate and sustained cease-fire in Gaza to a vote in the Security Council on Friday, a U.S. official said, raising the pressure on Israel to pause its five-month-old war with Hamas. – Wall Street Journal

Israeli security officials are quietly developing a plan to distribute aid in the Gaza Strip that could eventually create a Palestinian-led governing authority there, Israeli and Arab officials said, causing a fierce backlash from Hamas and creating divisions in Israel’s war cabinet. – Wall Street Journal

In the United States, even Israel’s closest friends have begun to say out loud that Benjamin Netanyahu stands as an obstacle to peace. The Israeli prime minister has pushed back on pressure from the White House and congressional Democrats, insisting that his government’s prosecution of the war in Gaza has mainstream backing in Israel — and there is polling to suggest he’s right. – Washington Post

Secretary of State Antony Blinken expressed optimism Thursday that a deal to pause fighting in the Gaza Strip and free hostages held there would eventually be reached, but he said he intends to deliver a tough message to Israeli leaders that a potential invasion of the packed city of Rafah would be a “mistake.” – Washington Post

The war in Gaza has cast a pall over the Islamic holy month of Ramadan, a time of fasting and reflection, charity and community. For Palestinians in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, the occasion is always bittersweet — marked by moments of joy and constant reminders of the Israeli occupation that shapes their lives. – Washington Post

The memories are unforgettable. A flood of screaming families carrying their bloodied loved ones through the doors of an already inundated hospital. A small boy trying to resuscitate a child who looked not much older than himself. A 12-year-old with shrapnel wounds to his head and abdomen being intubated on the ground. – New York Times

Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken, traveling in the Middle East on Thursday, pressed for a halt to fighting in the Gaza Strip as the United States prepared to introduce a resolution at the United Nations on Friday calling for “an immediate and sustained cease-fire.” – New York Times

Oil prices slipped on Friday on the possibility of a nearing Gaza ceasefire that could ease geopolitical concerns in the Middle East, while a stronger dollar and faltering U.S. gasoline demand also weighed on prices. – Reuters

A buzz saw gnashed against metal pipes in one corner of a cavernous warehouse being built in the foot hills of Jerusalem. Far on the other side of the dim hall, two workers grapple with a pit of unfinished flooring. All the rest is empty space. – Reuters

Israeli forces killed three Palestinians in separate incidents in the occupied West Bank on Thursday, increasing to 10 the number of Palestinians killed in the territory over 24 hours, the Palestinian news agency WAFA reported. – Reuters

Hamas and Islamic Jihad gunmen are holed up in the building of Al Shifa hospital’s emergency room in Gaza, where an ongoing army raid was expected to go on for a few more days, an Israeli military spokesperson said on Thursday. – Reuters

Israel will take control of Rafah even if it causes a rift with the United States, a senior Israeli official said on Thursday, describing the Gazan city packed with refugees as a final Hamas bastion harbouring a quarter of the group’s fighters. – Reuters

EU leaders will call for a sustainable ceasefire in Gaza at their summit in Brussels on Thursday, the EU’s foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said. – Reuters

Defense Secretary Austin will host Israeli Minister of Defense Yoav Gallant for a bilateral meeting at the Pentagon next Tuesday, Pentagon Press Secretary Sabrina Singh said Thursday. – Jerusalem Post

Stuart Halpern writes: Meantime, we will once more read the scroll of Esther. The Purim celebration will be tempered and the prescient text will ring timely. Along with it will come the whispered prayer that, like the victorious Jews in Esther’s day, we will merit “light and gladness, and joy and honor.” – Wall Street Journal

James G. Lindsay writes: Whichever path donor countries take—reform or dissolution—the result will be a dramatic improvement over the bloated, politicized, anti-Semitic, reportedly terrorist-infiltrated UNRWA of today. There are two prerequisites to achieving this objective—the dismantling of Hamas rule in Gaza, which will end its regime of fear imposed on the local population, and the persistence, determination, and spine of donors, led by the United States. – Washington Institute

Iran

Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei and President Ebrahim Raisi refrained from addressing economic challenges like poverty and soaring inflation in their Norouz Iranian New Year messages. – Iran International

The US Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) has informed a House panel that Iran is resolute in its intentions to carry out various attacks on US soil, including assassinations. – Iran International

US Secretary Of State, Antony Blinken has come under fire for his mollycoddling of Iran, requesting they tell the Iran-backed Houthis “to stop” attacks on shipping in the Red Sea. – Iran International

European Union Foreign Policy Chief Josep Borrell once again finds himself embroiled in a diplomatic battle over Iran sanctions, as revealed exclusively by the Wall Street Journal. – Iran International

Following a German court’s ruling attributing Iran’s regime to a foiled 2022 terrorist plot targeting a synagogue in Bochum, many have urged Berlin to close Tehran’s embassy and designate the IRGC as a terrorist entity. – Iran International

Michael Singh writes: Yet by sidelining the issue and presenting a divided front, they risk further emboldening those elements in Tehran who may believe the regime can produce nuclear weapons without provoking a catastrophic Western response. Continued Western disunity could also lead discouraged regional partners to pursue additional hedging strategies, including in the nuclear realm. – Washington Institute

Russia & Ukraine

In August, a Ukrainian assault team steered an armored vehicle silently for 2.5 miles before firing 300 bullets at a group of startled Russian soldiers. The vehicle had no driver or gunner, and was instead a land drone, an early example of the robot-like vehicles that Ukraine is increasingly using to hit enemy forces, clear and lay land mines and rescue injured soldiers. – Wall Street Journal

Western firms bought hundreds of millions of dollars of titanium metal from a Russian company with deep ties to the country’s defense industry after the 2022 invasion of Ukraine, according to a review of Russian export data. – Washington Post

In the aftermath of Moscow’s full-scale invasion, allies froze more than $300 billion in assets, confidently vowing to “make Russia pay” to rebuild Ukraine. – Washington Post

Russian missiles streaked into Kyiv early Thursday in the biggest assault on the Ukrainian capital in weeks, injuring at least 13 people and damaging several residential buildings and industrial facilities, according to local officials. – New York Times

Russia and Ukraine both believe the conflict will end through negotiations, China’s special envoy for Eurasian affairs said on Friday, even though the warring states view the prospect of peace talks very differently and are adamant in their positions. – Reuters

Ukraine could dismantle within days its “sponsors of war” blacklist, central to Kyiv’s campaign to expose companies doing business with Russia, after a backlash from countries including China and France, two people familiar with the matter said. – Reuters

Russia said on Thursday that the United States was unlikely to agree to a Ukrainian proposal to lower the price cap on Russian oil to $30 a barrel because it would roil global energy markets and damage the U.S. economy. – Reuters

NATO Military Committee Chief Rob Bauer said during a visit to Kyiv on Thursday that Ukraine’s allies should not be too pessimistic about its ability to repel Russian troops and called for important aid to be delivered quickly. – Reuters

A Russian missile attack on Ukraine’s southern city of Mykolaiv on Thursday killed at least one person and injured four others, a local official said. – Reuters

Ukraine’s state hydropower company said on Friday a Russian strike hit Ukraine’s largest dam, the DniproHES in Zaporizhzhia, but that there was no risk of a breach, while power infrastructure in other regions was also hit, officials said. – Reuters

Russia’s defence minister said on Thursday that artillery shell production had risen by nearly 2.5 times in the past year, while artillery component production had soared by a factor of 22 as Moscow races to rearm faster than the West can supply Ukraine. – Reuters

Amy Knight writes: Although the war is now going well for Russia, it is nonetheless taking a toll on those in Russia’s privileged classes. Sanctions have caused them financial losses and isolation from Western pleasures. Mr. Putin recently made clear that tax increases for wealthier Russians and business enterprises will be necessary to pay for mounting war costs. That’s not to mention Mr. Putin’s threats of nuclear retaliation against the West, which are enough to cause any normal Russian disquiet. – Wall Street Journal

Bart Marcois writes: As Washington counts every dollar sent to Ukraine, we should direct some of that money specifically to clandestine Ukrainian efforts to deprive Vladimir Putin of his revenue stream. We should spend our money to bankrupt Putin, not America. – The Hill

Alexander J. Motyl writes: In any case, even if one rejects these Russians’ analysis, it’s clear that Putin will have to perform some magic to get the economy moving again. Like Leonid Brezhnev, who was mired in “old thinking” and came to be associated with what Mikhail Gorbachev called the “era of stagnation,” Putin is the last man in the Kremlin to produce fresh ideas for reforming Russia’s economy. As with the USSR, the primary obstacle to reform is the regime: Brezhnev had to go for the Soviet Union to experience perestroika, and Putin will have to go for the same to happen in Russia. – The Hill

Mark Toth and Jonathan Sweet write: Putin’s calculus could be that Washington and Brussels are unwilling to risk World War III by fulfilling their NATO obligation to defend the Baltic States. In that regard, he might prove right, or at least create considerable chaos inside of NATO as the alliance seeks consensus on how to respond. – The Hill

Hezbollah

Israel Defense Force jets struck a Hezbollah cell in southern Lebanon’s Tayr Harfa on Thursday afternoon, the military said, after multiple projectiles, including anti-tank missiles, were fired at northern Israel’s Metula from Lebanon. – Times of Israel

Displaced residents of Israel’s northernmost town have learned to dread hearing from David Azulay — the man who calls when Hezbollah rockets have smashed into their abandoned homes. – Times of Israel

Elliot Kaufman writes: If a deal is struck, Israelis know that no one will enforce it but themselves. The U.N. and U.S. can always find reasons to let violations slide as Hezbollah returns to the border. They would urge Israel not to overreact but to preserve peace and quiet. For the north of Israel, sheket hu refesh, as an old Zionist song has it: “Quiet” is sludge. – Wall Street Journal

Seth G. Jones, Daniel Byman, Alexander Palmer, and Riley McCabe write: Consequently, the United States should focus its efforts on implementing a policy of coercive diplomacy (Option 4). There has been some movement toward negotiations. For example, U.S. officials like Amos Hochstein have made energetic efforts to restore stability and discussed a proposal that calls for the withdrawal of non-state armed actors from southern Lebanon, a deployment of Lebanese armed forces, and a development plan for southern Lebanon. In addition, France presented a three-step proposal to Israel, Lebanon’s government, and Hezbollah (and briefed it to the United States) that outlines a 10-day process of de-escalation and calls for Hezbollah to withdraw its fighters to a distance of about six miles (10 kilometers) from the border. Negotiations are critical, but they will not be easy. Hezbollah has formally rejected negotiating a de-escalation proposal until the war in Gaza ends. U.S. leadership will be important. – Center for Strategic and International Studies

Yemen

A merchant vessel reported shots from a skiff approximately 109 nautical miles south of Yemen’s Nishtun, British security firm Ambrey said on Thursday. Four armed people aboard a skiff approached the vessel and reportedly shot at the merchant vessel, and a private armed security team aboard returned fire, Ambrey added. – Reuters

The EU’s naval mission in the southern Red Sea said on Thursday it had destroyed three ballistic missiles and a Houthi seaborne drone to protect merchant ships. – Reuters

Two tankers, containing oil and toxic waste, are stuck in the Red Sea in the firing line between Western naval forces and Yemen’s Houthi militants despite repeated efforts by the United Nations to empty and move the ships to avoid a spill. – Reuters

The U.S. military on Thursday said it had destroyed two anti-ship ballistic missiles and an unmanned surface vessel launched by Houthis from Yemen. – Reuters

While Biden officials and a few British focused on the Gaza Strip, Iran-backed Houthis firing missiles are — for the first time — striking in or near Israel’s southern port city of Eilat. – New York Sun

The Yemen-based Houthis have told China and Russia their ships can sail through the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden without being attacked, according to several people with knowledge of the militant group’s discussions. – Bloomberg

Gulf States

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said on Thursday he believed talks in Qatar could still reach a Gaza ceasefire agreement while Israel attacked Hamas gunmen in the enclave’s Al Shifa hospital and evacuated patients. – Reuters

Turkey and the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) have signed a deal to launch negotiations for a Free Trade Agreement (FTA), Turkish Trade Minister Omer Bolat said on Thursday, as Ankara steps up efforts to expand economic ties with the region. – Reuters

The United States and Saudi Arabia have made “good progress” in talks on normalising ties between the kingdom and Israel, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said on Thursday without providing a timeline for concluding a deal. – Reuters

Middle East & North Africa

Israel’s spy chief was due to travel to Qatar on Friday for ceasefire negotiations while the U.S. planned to put a resolution calling for an immediate truce in Gaza to a vote of the U.N. Security Council, intensifying pressure on its ally. – Reuters

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said on Thursday the “the gaps are narrowing” in talks in Doha toward an agreement on the release of hostages and a ceasefire in Israel’s conflict with Hamas in Gaza. – Reuters

Arab ministers and a top Palestinian official briefed U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Thursday on their vision for a ceasefire in Gaza followed by concrete measures to implement a two-state solution, Egypt’s foreign ministry said. – Reuters

The United States is working hard to prepare a landing jetty which would facilitate aid to Gaza by sea, a senior U.S. official said on Thursday, saying it could be ready before May 1. – Reuters

A stalled investigation into an alleged clandestine military-nuclear facility in Syria was renewed this week, signaling President Bashar al-Assad may be ready to resolve questions about a site bombed by Israel almost two decades ago. – Bloomberg

Oil may be the lifeblood of many Middle Eastern economies, but some of the region’s biggest players are now setting their sights on another booming energy sector: critical minerals. – Foreign Policy

Tara D. Sonenshine writes: So, what should be done to minimize the impact of these groups? First go to the source: Iran. The administration needs a dual strategy of sticks and carrots with Iran; engage as it has been quietly doing to pressure them to call off their proxies, but be prepared, if they do not, to continue sanctions or move to military strikes on oil facilities or cyberstrikes on infrastructure. Second, we need a more vigorous anti-disinformation campaign to call out the falsehoods of countries like China, Iran and Russia. […]Third, we need to avoid creating our own violent ideologies and begin engaging in the kind of dialogue and discourse befitting a democracy — devoid of insults, ugly rhetoric and physical harm against innocents. We must revert to the days of commonality, community and conversation in a rational way. We must watch and learn. – The Hill

Emily Milliken and Caitlin Miller Hollingsworth write: These possibilities call into question whether the United States will continue to permit the Jordanian government to slip into such a level of unrest. Recognizing that an Iranian-sponsored Hamas campaign is the spark that ignited Jordan’s current turmoil, Washington needs a comprehensive, long-term plan to prevent Tehran from future efforts to destabilize the region. In the interim, the United States—and Gulf partners—should continue to support Jordan with economic and political assistance that could quiet unrest, encourage new investment, and ensure a more stable future. For instance, Washington should promote programs for job creation and make much-needed reforms to the country’s electric and water sectors. Without these types of reforms, Jordan has the potential to transform from a U.S. security asset in the region to a liability. – The National Interest

Korean Peninsula

North Korea has sent a delegation to China, Vietnam and Laos, state media KCNA said on Friday, as the isolated country expands its diplomatic engagement after COVID-19 lockdowns. – Reuters

Lisa Curtis, Evan Wright, and Hannah Kelley write: The trilateral partnership offers a novel opportunity for Tokyo, Seoul, and Washington to reset relations and create a new partnership equipped to address the increasingly severe security environment facing the Indo-Pacific. Time will tell whether the significant progress achieved by the three leaders over the past two years will be durable enough to meet the critical challenges ahead. – Center for a New American Security

China

Chinese leader Xi Jinping plans to meet a group of U.S. business leaders next week after a government-sponsored forum as Beijing steps up efforts to woo American firms amid an exodus of foreign capital. – Wall Street Journal

When it comes to the artificial intelligence that powers chatbots like ChatGPT, China lags behind the United States. But when it comes to producing the scientists behind a new generation of humanoid technologies, China is pulling ahead. – New York Times

China’s coast guard said a number of Philippine personnel ignored its warnings and illegally landed on a reef that is part of the Spratly Islands in the South China Sea on March 21. – Reuters

Beijing is under unprecedented U.S. and EU pressure to be tough on Moscow, the Kremlin said on Thursday, commenting on the refusal of some Chinese banks to accept payments from Russia. – Reuters

U.S. senators introduced legislation on Thursday to harden the ban on selling crude oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve (SPR) to China. – Reuters

A bill that would ban any “agent” of China from buying farmland or land near military installations in Georgia passed the state House on Thursday over the objections of Democrats who said it would lead to discrimination against Asian Americans and not promote national security. – Associated Press

Tao Wang writes: Despite the prevalence of extreme nationalism, Chinese public opinion is more divided on Taiwan than it seems, and these divisions are only likely to increase. What concerns most ordinary Chinese are decent jobs, good income, accumulating savings for retirement, and getting affordable access to health care and housing. So long as the economy is struggling and people’s livelihoods are threatened, there is no guarantee that the CCP’s attempts to exploit nationalism will work; quite the opposite, it could be faced with plenty of pushback. – Foreign Policy

South Asia

Indian law enforcement officials on Thursday arrested Arvind Kejriwal, the chief minister of Delhi and an up-and-coming opposition leader, in an alleged money-laundering case that his supporters say has been trumped up by the country’s ruling Bharatiya Janata Party. – Washington Post

China strongly opposes the United States saying Arunachal Pradesh is part of India, a spokesperson for the Chinese foreign ministry said on Thursday, as tensions simmer over a contested border shared by both countries. – Reuters

India reversed a laptop licensing policy after behind-the-scenes lobbying by U.S. officials, who however remain concerned about New Delhi’s compliance with WTO obligations and new rules it may issue, according to U.S. trade officials and government emails seen by Reuters. – Reuters

The Kremlin said on Thursday that Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi had an open invitation to visit Russia and that a meeting with President Vladimir Putin would take place, though details were still to be worked out. – Reuters

The Islamic State group claimed responsibility for a deadly bombing that targeted Taliban trying to collect their salaries at a bank in southern Afghanistan. The bombing Thursday at a branch of New Kabul Bank in Kandahar city killed three people and wounded 12 others. – Associated Press

A roadside bomb exploded near a security convoy in northwestern Pakistan on Thursday, killing two soldiers and wounding 15 others, officials said. – Associated Press

Asia

As the world’s postpandemic economic order takes shape, the U.S. has emerged as an unexpected winner. Asian economies that fared relatively well during the pandemic—especially China, but also advanced economies such as Japan and Taiwan—have struggled to maintain steam. – Wall Street Journal

Dozens of Rohingya were rescued Thursday after spending the night on the overturned hull of a capsized boat off the Indonesian coast, according to media reports, as an international charity expressed alarm about the numbers of unaccompanied Rohingya minors making the perilous voyage. – Washington Post

China is considering launching talks on maritime affairs with Australia, a foreign ministry spokesperson said on Thursday, as increased tension among several nations bordering the South China Sea threatens regional security. – Reuters

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi met former Australian Prime Minister Paul Keating on Thursday and highlighted Beijing’s desire for U.S. ally Australia to have an independent foreign policy, Beijing said. – Reuters

Europe

British Foreign Secretary David Cameron said on Friday the UK would work with whomever becomes U.S. president in November, when asked whether the election of Donald Trump would endanger the AUKUS military alliance. – Reuters

Moldova’s Parliament on Thursday endorsed an appeal to press on with a drive to join the European Union, but the opposition walked out of the vote and separatists in the Transdniestria region urged authorities to drop their claim to the enclave. – Reuters

The threat of terrorism in Denmark and against its interests abroad has risen because of Israel’s war against Hamas militants in Gaza and a series of Koran burnings in Denmark last year, the Danish security and intelligence service PET said on Thursday. – Reuters

Leaders from pro-nuclear European countries and energy experts called for a nuclear energy revival on Thursday at a summit in Brussels, seeking to rebuild the European industry after years of gradual decline. – Reuters

The European Union executive Commission said on Thursday it regretted Slovakia dissolving its dedicated state graft prosecution unit and warned the bloc “will not hesitate” to act to safeguard its financial interests. – Reuters

European Union leaders on Thursday debated fresh ways to help boost arms and ammunition production for Ukraine amid a new sense of urgency about the future of the war-torn country. – Associated Press

European Union leaders agreed in principle Thursday to open membership negotiations with Bosnia-Herzegovina, even though the Western Balkan country must still do a lot of work before talks can begin. – Associated Press

France’s Senate voted overwhelmingly Thursday to reject legislation to ratify a 2017 trade deal between the European Union and Canada that has been criticized by farmers as bringing unfair competition from abroad. – Associated Press

A Russian diplomat has been declared persona non grata in Slovenia and ordered to leave the European Union country within seven days, its Foreign Ministry said Thursday. – Associated Press

Four Central European countries remain deeply divided over how to resolve Russia’s war against Ukraine, their foreign ministers said Thursday. – Associated Press

In the shadow of a massive monument glorifying nuclear power, over 30 nations from around the world pledged to use the controversial energy source to help achieve a climate-neutral globe while providing countries with an added sense of strategic security. – Associated Press

Paul Hockenos writes: Above all, Moldovans fear being squashed in a power struggle in which they have no say. Many observers see a slow, gentle reintegration of Transnistria into a federally structured Moldova as a first step in the right direction—Sandu’s chosen path. The Sandu government is seizing the moment as a unique opportunity to reconnect with Transnistria—and from there, to bring the entire country, as one, into the EU. The carrots of cross-border employment prospects, full Schengen Area travel rights, European structural and investment funds, minority rights guarantees, and higher wages could be enticing to everyone—save, of course, Transnistria’s criminals. – Foreign Policy

Africa

Days after Niger’s military junta declared the presence of U.S. troops in that West African nation to be “illegal,” American officials are seeking in closed-door talks to determine if they can retain some sort of security presence in the country, which has been the United States’ closest regional ally. – Washington Post

In Senegal, the president tried to cancel an election. In Niger, a military coup d’état toppled an elected president, who eight months later is still imprisoned in the presidential palace. In Chad, the leading opposition politician was killed in a shootout with security forces. And in Tunisia, once the only democratic success story of the Arab Spring rebellions, the president is steering the state toward increasing autocracy. – New York Times

As a speed boat carrying more than a dozen Somali pirates bore down on their position in the western Indian Ocean, the crew of a Bangladeshi-owned bulk carrier sent out a distress signal and called an emergency hotline. – Reuters

The United States hopes for a relaunch of talks aimed at ending the conflict in Sudan and opening up humanitarian access soon after Ramadan ends in mid-April, Washington’s newly appointed envoy said on Thursday. – Reuters

Algeria’s president Abdelmadjid Tebboune has decided to hold presidential election on Sept. 7, the presidency said on Thursday. – Reuters

Legislation that seeks to block further court challenges to British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s plan to deport asylum seekers to Rwanda will next be debated in parliament on April 15. – Reuters

An International Monetary Fund staff mission is in Ethiopia, a senior finance ministry official said on Thursday, as the nation faces a deadline with major creditor countries to secure a loan from the international lender. – Reuters

Women slain with babies wrapped against their bodies, lifeless children intertwined together, a 2-month-old face-up on the ground with puppies crawling on his tiny frame. The scenes were horrifying, but the 32-year-old farmer felt he had to document them, as proof of the carnage in his central Burkina Faso village. – Associated Press

The U.S. announced more than $47 million in humanitarian aid for war-torn Sudan and two neighboring countries, to where at least a million people have fled in the nearly 1-year-old conflict. – Associated Press

A legal adviser to the European Union’s top court recommended Thursday that it annul an agreement with Morocco which would have allowed European boats to fish off the disputed Western Sahara ‘s coast. – Associated Press

The nearly year-long conflict between Sudan’s military and paramilitary forces has put the African nation on course to become the world’s worst hunger crisis with malnutrition soaring and already claiming children’s lives, the U.N. humanitarian office warned Wednesday. – Associated Press

Western commitments to Africa are deteriorating, while malign actors are making inroads on the continent to extract its resources and aggravate the worst debt crisis the developing world has seen in a generation. That’s the warning from a former president of the World Bank, David Malpass, to fellows at a conservative think tank, the Hudson Institute. – New York Sun

Catherine Nzuki writes: Amid geopolitical contestation by the United States, China, and Russia, African governments are presented with more choices for security partners. The Sahel too is undergoing tremendous change, with younger and connected citizens that are demanding better from their foreign partners. In a multipolar world, options are numerous and the cost of paternalization is high. It is increasingly clear that the United States, France, and others need to drop patronizing attitudes not just as a matter of courtesy, but for their strategic interests in Africa. – Center for Strategic and International Studies

The Americas

The U.S. government on Thursday airlifted more than 30 stranded Americans out of the Haitian capital, as the gang violence racking this city showed no signs of abating and an already dire humanitarian crisis worsened. – Washington Post

Attacks, including a shooting that left a gang leader dead, flared in Haiti’s capital, Port-au-Prince, on Thursday as political groups appeared nearer to finalizing a transition council to take over from an absent government. – Reuters

Mexico has signed an agreement with Venezuela to deport migrants and reached deals with Mexican and Venezuelan companies to employ them, Foreign Minister Alicia Barcena told a news conference on Thursday. – Reuters

Ambassador J. Peter Pham writes: Pulitzer-winning theater critic Walter Kerr once memorably dismissed an upstart actor as “suffering from delusions of adequacy.” Regrettably, the same can be said about the Washington bureaucracy’s dogged insistence on “one Somalia” when such an entity has not existed for more than three decades—a period now longer than the unhappy cohabitation between the former British Somaliland and Italian Somalia. Unfortunately, in the real world—where terrorism, conflict, and famine loom large over the Horn of Africa—such fantasies exact an all-too-heavy toll. – The National Interest

Latin America

Lawmakers in Venezuela allied with the government of President Nicolas Maduro on Thursday approved the creation of a new state in a territory that is the subject of a long dispute with neighboring Guyana, despite an ongoing international court case. – Reuters

Peace talks in Colombia between the government and the Estado Mayor Central are in crisis, threatening to end negotiations and ramp up clashes between the armed group and the country’s military, analysts said on Thursday. – Reuters

The United States on Thursday sanctioned Nicaragua’s attorney general for her role in the government’s “unjust persecution of political prisoners and civil society,” the U.S. Treasury Department said. – Reuters

North America

After years of bowing to U.S. pressure to help slow migration, Mexico is drawing the line at a Texas law that would give the state a dramatically bigger role in border enforcement, including the right to deport undocumented migrants. – Washington Post

Mexico filed a court brief supporting the U.S. Department of Justice’s opposition to a Republican-backed Texas law that would empower state authorities to arrest and prosecute people suspected of illegally crossing the U.S.-Mexico border. – Reuters

Editorial: But Israel must pursue it, and the Canadian government should know that. If it is to survive in this region, Israel must destroy Hamas – because if that terrorist organization remains standing as a significant force after what it did on October 7, then other equally evil forces in the region, such as Hezbollah and Iran, will try to duplicate Hamas’s actions. Only by utterly degrading Hamas’s capabilities will those other forces be deterred. – Jerusalem Post

Eduardo Porter writes: There is an old analysis sitting in the CIA archives that notes Castro stopped the Mariel exodus when he saw the political damage it inflicted on Carter and the boost it gave to the candidacy of Ronald Reagan, “who is viewed with grim foreboding in Havana.” It was too late. Reagan won. And the 125,000 Cubans that made their way to Miami turned Florida, and American politics, even more hostile toward the island. Sheinbaum might want to have a conversation with her patron about the substantial risks that can flow from the migration authority running out of money. – Washington Post

United States

The U.S. government should consider immediate consequences, including sanctions, against authoritarian countries that wrongfully detain reporters, an executive for the publisher of The Wall Street Journal said Thursday. – Wall Street Journal

Speaker Johnson says he will soon invite Israel’s prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, to address Congress amid Democrats criticizing the premier’s performance. Just one week ago, Senator Schumer called for new elections in Israel but now says he would be willing to hear from Mr. Netanyahu directly.  – New York Sun

Nearly six months into the war between Israel and Hamas, a new survey finds that most Americans believe Israel’s reasons for fighting are valid, but they are divided on how Israel has been conducting the war. – New York Sun

Stuart Holliday writes: We must fully fund and resource our State Department and diplomatic infrastructure. We need to maintain a strong defense and national security capability. We also need to accelerate the advent and evolution of open diplomacy by equipping critical sectors with the networks, skills and capabilities to function effectively internationally. If we do this, we will create a force multiplier effect for U.S. diplomacy. We must understand our shared values and leverage the full range of American power, engagement, commerce and innovation at home and abroad. – The Hill

Robert Peters and Ryan Tully write: Deterring a strategic attack on the U.S. is the government’s top priority. There is no greater mission, and the nuclear arsenal is America’s most effective means of deterrence. Yes, the costs associated with the above recommendations are significant. But the costs of deterrence failure are incalculably greater. The longer we wait, the more acute the danger becomes. – Washington Examiner

Douglas Bloomfield writes: Television coverage of the fighting, the destruction, and the humanitarian crisis will be closely watched by all sides for the role they will play on November 5 when Americans go to the polls. This may be an inflection point in US-Israel relations, a time when one of the last consensus issues in American politics succumbs to the era’s bitter divisions. – Jerusalem Post

Anna Fotyga writes: We are so close to a watershed moment: a new era of safe, reliable, and secure energy suppliers from our closest geopolitical ally. Reliance on Russian dictators must be consigned to the past. To achieve that, Europeans must engage in frank discussions about deepening our transatlantic bond by strategic energy cooperation. That course of action would benefit not only U.S. industry and workers but also Europe’s security, economy, and moral authority. European leaders need to get off the fence and fight for that outcome. We shouldn’t transfer wealth, security, and leverage to untrusted partners. We cannot transition from one risk to another—it would be Putin’s victory. – The National Interest

Cybersecurity

In a landmark vote Wednesday, the U.S. House of Representatives unanimously approved a measure that would restrict the sale of Americans’ data to adversarial nations, but privacy groups that for years have pushed Congress to take action against the data brokers industry remain largely unimpressed by the measure. – CyberScoop

The updated version of the malware used by Russian military hackers to hobble thousands of modems linked to the Viasat internet and satellite communications company at the onset of the Russian invasion may have been used in attacks on four Ukrainian internet service providers, researchers said Thursday. – CyberScoop

A hacker allegedly connected to the People’s Republic of China has been exploiting two popular vulnerabilities to attack U.S. defense contractors, U.K. government entities and institutions in Asia. – The Record

Thousands of people have had their information accessed by hackers following attacks on multiple state and local governments in recent months, according to new regulatory filings. – The Record

German police said they seized the infrastructure of the popular illegal darknet marketplace known as Nemesis and took its website down. – The Record

Rishi Iyengar writes: One notable absence from the resolution is the potential military use of AI, and that was largely by design. “In looking across the broad sweep of AI considerations in the world, we made a purposeful choice in pursuing a consensus-based U.N. resolution to not include the military uses discussion in this resolution,” one of the officials said, adding that several diplomatic and multilateral conversations about military applications of AI are already ongoing across the U.N. and other forums. “We believed there was an opportunity to talk about safe, secure, and trustworthy AI in a civilian, non-military context, which was very important and deserved and merited its own attention and focus.” – Foreign Policy

Zachary Karabell writes: TikTok is one of several platforms where ideas flow—maybe not in complete anarchic freedom, but certainly they do flow. That’s also why the app is not available in China. Removing it in the name of security may feel like a positive step in a dangerous time. In truth, it is a hollow gesture that sacrifices openness for the illusion of action. – Foreign Policy

Defense

The U.S. Navy and Lockheed Martin have developed and fielded software updates for destroyers shooting down Houthi missiles and drones in the Red Sea, thanks to a team of technical experts that mined data from all the shootdown events since October. – Defense News

The House and Senate on Thursday released the compromise text of their fiscal 2024 defense spending bill, nearly halfway through the fiscal year that began in October. – Defense News

Reps. Kay Granger and Ken Calvert write: Undoubtedly, the bill invests in a more modern, innovative and ready fighting force. In the midst of unparalleled threats to the United States and its interests, this sends a strong message that we are prepared to meet and defeat any adversary. – Defense News

As the Defense Innovation Unit takes on a more central role in the Pentagon’s innovation ecosystem, Congress is proposing a nearly $800 million boost to the organization’s funding in fiscal 2024. – Defense News

Jake Chapman writes: Even the most patriotic investors can only take so much friendly fire before succumbing. To end on a slightly brighter note, while the fellowship may not exist anymore, the fellows themselves are all hard at work fighting to support the United States. Some of the fellows are in industry, some are back in the Department of Defense, and several have joined me at Marque ventures. Wherever they are, I know that we have only begun to see the good that they can do. – War on the Rocks

Dan Patt and Bryan Clark write: Creating dedicated units for specific geographies and scenarios runs counter to decades of DoD force planning, which has pursued standardization and efficiency since the Soviet Union fell. With the era of U.S. military dominance ending, the DoD will need to embrace the specialization of hedge forces or risk losing America’s capacity to protect its allies and interests. – Defense One