Fdd's overnight brief

March 9, 2023

FDD Research & Analysis

In The News


The U.S. is imposing more sanctions on Iran, hitting people and firms accused of violating women’s rights during nationwide anti-government protests over the treatment of young women and girls. – Associated Press

Actor Nazanin Boniadi on Wednesday urged the world to back the protests in her native Iran calling for women’s rights and political change, saying despots fear nothing “more than a free and politically active woman.” – Associated Press

The U.S. and Europe’s top powers on Wednesday expressed alarm at Iran having produced a tiny amount of uranium enriched to 84% purity, very close to weapons grade, and said Iran must explain how it happened. – Reuters

The U.N. cultural agency on Wednesday expressed concern about the suspected poisoning of thousands of schoolgirls across Iran and called for investigations. – Associated Press

Rallies marking International Women’s Day took place around the world on Wednesday with a focus on Afghanistan, where girls are denied the right to education, and Iran, which has seen mass protests on women’s rights in recent months. – Reuters

A man from the Republic of Ireland who has been detained in Iran since October has been sentenced to six-and-a-half years in prison, his family have said. – BBC

British National Security Minister Tom Tugendhat recently revealed to the British Parliament that Iran attempted to gather intelligence on Israelis and Jews in the UK as part of preparations for a future attack against them, Sky News reported. – Ynet

Iran has not yet taken the main steps necessary in the field of weapons development which would enable it to produce a nuclear device that can be tested, according to an annual U.S. intelligence annual assessment. – Haaretz

Iran has provided Russia with about 100 million bullets, 300,000 artillery shells and ammunition for rocket launchers, grenades and mortars and is planning to send more ammunition, Sky News reported on Wednesday, citing a security source. – Jerusalem Post

Yair Albeck and Jonathan Schachter write: The place to begin is clear: renewed enforcement of U.S. sanctions against Iran and the activation of the JCPOA’s snapback mechanism, which would reimpose international sanctions and a ban on the transfer of arms to and from Iran. Doing so would help the United States achieve its goals — not just with Iran, but in Ukraine and around the world. – The Hill 

Jonathan Lis writes: “Iran started to break the agreement systematically only after the United States pulled out of it. It did so for two main reasons. Alongside the desire in principle to advance its nuclear abilities, the detected breaches were mostly tactical, to leverage pressures to resume the agreement and understanding the other side had breached the agreement anyway,” an Israeli official said. – Haaretz

Shaul Bartal writes: Actions by Islamic Jihad have the potential to aggravate the security situation and lead to suspension of Israel’s security cooperation with the Palestinian Authority, as occurred after the Jenin operation. Israeli decision-makers must understand the nature of the struggle and continue to act against Islamic Jihad’s entrenchment as a significant military force in the West Bank. This is essential in order to prevent the “unity of the fronts” that Iran is trying to achieve through the proxy organizations, with Islamic Jihad at the forefront. – Algemeiner

Michael Rubin writes: When change comes to Iran, it will be far more sudden than anyone now expects. It behooves not only Iran but also the entire region to be prepared. It is time for a paradigm shift in Washington and, more broadly, the West. Rather than remain mired in Iran’s past, it is time to prepare for Iran’s future. – 19FortyFive

Russia & Ukraine

The European Union plans to spend at least $1.1 billion on ammunitions for Ukraine and rebuilding member countries’ stocks, after a year of supporting Kyiv’s war against Russia. – Wall Street Journal 

Missiles rained down and blasts went off across Ukraine early Thursday. Russian missiles struck the Kharkiv region 15 times, the governor said on Telegram, while officials in Odessa said that they were experiencing a “massive” missile attack, with no casualties reported so far. In Kyiv, air raid alerts blared for more than four hours, the Kyiv regional military administration said on Telegram. – Washington Post

The Scranton Army Ammunition Plant, one of a network of facilities involved in producing the U.S. Army’s 155-mm artillery round, is ground zero for the Biden administration’s scramble to accelerate the supply of weapons that Ukraine needs if its military is to prevail in the war with Russia. – Washington Post

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has invited House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) to visit Ukraine, amid a growing divide among GOP lawmakers over whether the United States should continue to support the country’s efforts to fight off the Russian invasion. – Washington Post

Amid President Vladimir Putin’s crackdown on human rights activists, lawyers and journalists, Russian antiwar artists are going underground, reprising the covert exhibitions of Soviet times, meeting in secret and passing on details by word of mouth. – Washington Post

A six-month-old mystery could complicate Kyiv’s current-day war efforts. The undersea explosions that severely damaged the Nord Stream natural gas pipelines last September seemed like a distant memory as Ukrainian forces battled their Russian invaders this year, even if the question of the blast’s perpetrators remained. – Washington Post

It’s a major international mystery with global consequences: Who was behind the explosions that damaged the Nord Stream gas pipelines last year in the Baltic Sea? The answer has broad implications for European energy security but could also threaten Western unity over backing Ukraine in defending itself from Russia’s invasion. Or, it might shatter Russian and Chinese attempts to fix the blame on a hypocritical West. – Associated Press

The owner of Russia’s Wagner Group military contractor claimed Wednesday that his troops have extended their gains in the Ukrainian stronghold of Bakhmut, but it remained unclear how long the grinding fight might go on – Associated Press

Ukraine’s first lady on Wednesday offered spirited support to her nation’s people while visiting the United Arab Emirates, a country that still remains open to Russia despite Western sanctions. – Associated Press

The United States on Wednesday obtained a warrant to seize a Boeing aircraft owned by Russian oil company Rosneft (ROSN.MM) that is valued at over $25 million, the U.S. Justice Department said. – Reuters

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg warned Wednesday the eastern Ukrainian city of Bakhmut might fall to Russia in the coming days following months of intense fighting. – Agence France-Presse

A year after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the oil market has become more fragmented and uncertain, a dynamic expected to boost crude prices over the long term. – Agence France-Presse

House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) indicated that he has no immediate plans to visit Ukraine after receiving an invite from Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. – Washington Examiner 

Ukrainian troops will continue to defend the besieged town of Bakhmut, President Volodymyr Zelensky vowed, stressing that should Russian forces overtake the area, they will have access to seize nearby towns as well. – Washington Examiner

A small canal at the mouth of the Danube river has become a geopolitical flashpoint between Ukraine and Romania, sparking fears of Russian meddling and dwindling support in Bucharest for its war-torn neighbour. – Financial Times

Boris Pistorius, the defense minister of Germany, has outlined how NATO would respond should China transfer weapons to Russia in the ongoing war in Ukraine. – Newsweek

Russia’s high losses and wasted resources in Ukraine have made it less of a traditional military threat and will leave it reliant on “asymmetric” options such as nuclear weapons, cyberattacks, and space technology, and other countries like China, the US intelligence director said Wednesday. – Business Insider

A Russian state TV host suggested this week that people in the UK are being forced to eat squirrels because their country is spending so much money on military aid to Ukraine. – Business Insider 

The Spanish navy’s high-altitude patrol boat Centinela intercepted and began following and monitoring two Russian ships on Tuesday in the western Mediterranean Sea, according to a report from the Spanish Defense Staff (EMAD), a body of the Spanish Defense Ministry. – Jerusalem Post

Shyam Sankar writes: Ukraine is showing the world how the wartime view can produce the software necessary to win the fight. After Ukraine wins, there will be 300,000 war heroes who happen to be computer scientists. They will be as comfortable wielding Javelins as Jupyter notebooks. I can’t wait to see what they build. – Wall Street Journal 

Tom Rogan writes: As long as McCarthy shows apparent ambivalence over standing with Ukraine, he presents himself as an unreliable advocate of freedom in either case. China may now look at McCarthy’s latest comments and think that by simply making it too expensive to support Taiwan, it can make McCarthy waver. Yes, McCarthy is right to ask questions about where U.S. taxpayer support for Ukraine is going. He is right to ask how and where America intends to see this war end. But he is wrong to equivocate in taking a stand for human freedom. – Washington Examiner 

Can Kasapoğlu writes: Along with the AGM-88 anti-radiation missiles Ukraine received last year, the Boeing JDAM-ER marks one of the most important efforts to arm Ukraine’s Soviet-Russian aircraft with Western aerial weapons that are up to NATO standards. It remains to be seen which aircraft types (Mig-29, Su-24, or Su-27) would be given the privilege of flying with these high-precision bombs. – Hudson Institute

Comfort Ero writes: Policymakers around the world want to protect the sovereign freedoms in the diplomatic arena that Ukrainians are fighting for. Ukraine and its allies have every right to ask other countries for their support in what looks like an open-ended war against Russia. But they will find it easier to win and maintain that support if they show respect for other countries’ fears and interests. – Foreign Policy 


At least three Palestinian militants were killed in a shootout with Israeli troops on Thursday, the latest incident of near-daily bloodshed in the occupied West Bank. – Associated Press

U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin was forced to change the schedule of a planned visit to Israel due to anti-government protests that are expected to paralyze traffic across the country, U.S. and Israeli officials said Wednesday. – Associated Press

The United States is concerned that escalating tensions in the West Bank could distract Tel Aviv and Washington’s attention from Iranian activities, a U.S. official said, a message Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin intends to deliver in Israel on Thursday. – Reuters

Tensions related to security needs and internal Israeli turmoil came to a sharp focus Wednesday after the American secretary of defense, Lloyd Austin, was forced to cut short a visit to Israel to discuss the growing Iranian threat. – New York Sun

The UN Middle East peace envoy on Wednesday urged Israel and the Palestinians to calm surging violence in the occupied West Bank, a day after the latest Israeli raid killed six people. – Agence France-Presse

A Republican senator on Tuesday issued a scathing rebuke of U.S. President Joe Biden and the Democratic Party which he accused of “trying to sabotage” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. – Ynet 

The South African parliament voted this week to downgrade the status of the South African embassy in Israel, “in solidarity” with Palestinians. – Ynet 

The police are requesting that the closure of the West Bank that began on Monday for the Purim holiday be extended an extra day due to concerns of revenge attacks in response to the IDF raid in Jenin on Tuesday, Army Radio reported on Wednesday. – Jerusalem Post

Senior Biden administration officials have declined an invitation to speak at a conference hosted by Israel Bonds next week after the organizers refused to cancel the appearance of Bezalel Smotrich, Israel’s finance minister, who said a West Bank village should be “wiped out,” according to sources familiar with the internal discussions. – Haaretz

A previously unknown Israeli cyberoffense firm is selling advanced spyware and digital surveillance technologies to foreign countries, according to documents obtained by Haaretz. – Haaretz

A group of Israeli settlers hurled stones at the home of a Palestinian activist in the West Bank city of Hebron on Wednesday, footage showed, before some were detained by soldiers. – Times of Israel

Akiva Van Koningsveld writes: It is safe to say that the PA’s record of compliance with the Oslo Accords, which are binding agreements under international law, has been poor in recent years, likely to the point where it justifies Israeli countermeasures in accordance with the Vienna Convention. With Ramallah seemingly skirting its obligation to apprehend, prosecute, and jail terrorists, Israeli raids on Palestinian terror hubs are not a “violation of international law.” – Algemeiner


A Marine sergeant who survived a suicide blast in Kabul and an Army medic who tended to those on the scene tearfully told Congress on Wednesday that they sustained physical and mental scars during the chaotic withdrawal from Afghanistan in 2021, putting a human dimension on a grim chapter for the Biden administration as Republicans opened an inquiry into what went wrong. – New York Times

Those policies have come to define the Taliban’s government in the eyes of the West, and have caused tension within the movement’s leadership. The changes threaten the aid offered by Western donors amid the country’s dire humanitarian crisis. And they have been universally condemned, including by other Islamic governments like Iran’s and Saudi Arabia’s, and set Afghanistan on course for near-total isolation in the world. – New York Times

Afghan broadcaster Tolo News on Wednesday aired an all-female panel in its studio with an audience of women to mark International Women’s Day, a rare broadcast since the Taliban took over and many female journalists left the profession or started working off-air. – Reuters

The U.N. envoy in Afghanistan warned on Wednesday that a Taliban administration crackdown on women’s rights is likely to lead to a drop in aid and development funding in the country, where women fear being cut from public life as much as violent death. – Reuters

The United States left behind more than $7 billion in military equipment in August 2021 amid a chaotic and disastrous U.S. military withdrawal from Afghanistan, with the weapons and specialized technologies likely now in the hands of the Taliban. – Washington Examiner

Afghanistan is the most repressive country for women in the wake of the Taliban takeover in 2021, after which it stripped women and girls of many of their fundamental human rights, the United Nations declared on Wednesday. – The Hill

Editorial:  United Nations officials should keep pressing Taliban leaders for local exemptions to their harsh edicts. They ought to be reminded how many of their own daughters have benefited from schooling in places such as Pakistan and the Gulf. The US in particular can do more, especially to help women’s rights activists emigrate if they wish. America’s long involvement in Afghanistan gave many women and girls hope for a better future. They shouldn’t be forgotten now. – Bloomberg

Lynne O’Donnell writes: With widespread concerns that the United States is planning to reduce aid to Afghanistan, Egeland said: “We are really trying to fight that tendency. It is not going to be the Taliban leadership that starves; it will be women and children and minorities that starve.” – Foreign Policy 

Xanthe Scharff writes: “It’s very painful and sad,” Joya told actress Angelina Jolie in an interview for Time magazine’s Women of the Year. “Honestly, we don’t do simple journalism these days; we are trying to write for our freedom.” She is ready to do her part to pull Afghanistan back. She wants to hire more journalists, tell more stories, and maintain the freedom of expression she sees as her birthright. That is democracy building worthy of investment. – Foreign Policy 


A top United Nations official called Wednesday for renewed attempts to reach a political solution to the country’s nearly 12-year-old civil conflict in the wake of last month’s devastating earthquake. – Associated Press

The United States said on Wednesday it would be concerned if there is a prolonged disruption to humanitarian aid deliveries in Syria after the Aleppo airport was knocked out of service by an air strike that Syrian state media blamed on Israel. – Reuters

The House voted 103-321 on Wednesday against pulling U.S. troops out of Syria, rejecting a war powers resolution to do so introduced by Rep. Matt Gaetz. – Defense News

Middle East & North Africa

A United Nations official said Wednesday that a suspected Israeli airstrike that shut down a Syrian airport has obstructed international efforts to aid millions of earthquake victims. – Wall Street Journal 

U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said Wednesday that America’s defense partnership with Egypt is an “essential pillar” of Washington’s commitment to the Middle East. – Associated Press

The U.N. Security Council approved a resolution Wednesday renewing an arms embargo and other sanctions imposed over violence in Sudan’s western Darfur region that began in 2004. – Associated Press

French authorities have asked Lebanese prosecutors to detain two people suspected of involvement in a 1983 bombing in Beirut that killed dozens of French troops, Lebanese judicial officials said Wednesday. – Associated Press

Two parties in Turkey’s main opposition bloc said they would support talks with the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) on backing their challenger to Tayyip Erdogan in elections on May 14, despite concern it would deter nationalist voters. – Reuters

Turkish riot police fired pepper spray to disperse a group of protesters pushing back against a line of police on Wednesday as a rally to mark International Women’s Day was winding down in central Istanbul. – Reuters

Saudi Arabia will allocate $800 million through the Saudi Fund for Development to finance development projects for the Least Developed Countries in regions including Africa and Asia, a statement by the ministry of economy and planning said on Thursday. – Reuters

The 2003 U.S.-led invasion of Iraq was meant to topple a dictator who had inflicted reckless wars and economic misery on his fellow Iraqis, and then to usher in a thriving democracy. Instead, Iraqis faced years of upheaval and chaos. – Reuters

A U.S. Senate committee backed legislation on Wednesday to repeal two authorizations for past wars in Iraq, paving the way for a possible vote in the full Senate before the 20th anniversary of the last invasion by American troops. – Reuters

Adnan Nasser writes: In Lebanon’s sectarian system, the top posts are typically divided among the country’s different religious confessions. The presidency belongs to the Maronite Christians. In a manner of speaking, the position has become a seat for the voiceless. This time, however, there is a candidate who may become president but has no Maronite Christian backing. Of course, in the unforeseeable world of Lebanese politics, anything is possible. But as of now, the response to Frangieh is a resounding no. – The National Interest 

Seth J. Frantzman writes: The incident appears to show that Iran continues to try to use Syria to move weapons to Hezbollah or to move weapons to Syria. There have been reports that Iran would like to move air defense systems to Syria. The fact that Iran may use the cover of earthquake aid to move weapons is a serious threat and shows how Iran exploits suffering in Syria for its own agenda. – Jerusalem Post

The  25th Arabian Gulf Cup football tournament, held in January 2023 in Basra, Iraq, sparked diplomatic tensions between Iraq and Iran by reigniting the old argument over the use of the name Arabian Gulf, favored by Saudi Arabia and the Gulf countries, as opposed to Persian Gulf, which is favored by Iran. – Middle East Media Research Institute 

Korean Peninsula

South Korea said it had approved the export of its weapons components to Ukraine last year, as the country faces pressure to provide military aid directly to Kyiv. – Wall Street Journal 

South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol on Tuesday defended his government’s contentious plan to use local funds to compensate Koreans enslaved by Japanese companies before the end of World War II, saying it’s crucial for Seoul to build future-oriented ties with its former colonial overlord. – Associated Press

Surprise. She’s at it again. North Korean leader Kim Jong-un’s little sister, Kim Yo-jong, is rhetorically blasting away at the Americans and South Koreans in the run-up to their most intensive joint war games in five years. – New York Sun


China’s government is increasingly convinced it can only make itself the pre-eminent power in Asia, and a major power globally, by diminishing American influence, the top U.S. intelligence official said Wednesday. – New York Times

China said on Wednesday it was “seriously concerned” by Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen’s “transit” plans and had asked Washington for clarification, amid reports she will meet U.S. House Speaker Kevin McCarthy in the United States. – Reuters

China will deepen its cooperation with Russia to try to challenge the United States despite international condemnation of the invasion of Ukraine, the leaders of U.S. intelligence agencies said on Wednesday. – Reuters

President Xi Jinping called on China to boost its military might via technological innovation and accelerate its push to achieve an advantage over international rivals. – Bloomberg

The Dutch government has said it will impose export restrictions on the “most advanced” semiconductor technology, giving the first public details of the deal that The Hague and Tokyo struck with the US in January to limit sales to China. – Financial Times

Favorable views of China in the United States have nosedived this year, according to the results of a Gallup survey published on Tuesday, after already negative sentiments fell further in the fallout of last month’s spy balloon saga. – Newsweek

China’s leader Xi Jinping has called for “more quickly elevating the armed forces to world-class standards,” in a speech days after he warned the country was threatened by a U.S.-led campaign of “containment, encirclement and suppression of China.” – Associated Press

China’s foreign minister has warned Washington of “conflict and confrontation” if it fails to change course in relations with Beijing, striking a combative tone amid conflicts over Taiwan, COVID-19 and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. – Associated Press

President Xi Jinping accused Washington this week of trying to isolate his country and hold back its development. That reflects the ruling Communist Party’s growing frustration that its pursuit of prosperity and global influence is threatened by U.S. restrictions on access to technology, its support for Taiwan and other moves seen by Beijing as hostile. – Associated Press

The new U.N. human rights chief said Tuesday that his office has opened “channels of communication” to help follow up on concerns about the rights of minorities in China, including Uyghur Muslims and Tibetans. But this fell short of activists’ hopes for a stronger message to Beijing. – Associated Press

Editorial: Xi is now fully embarked on what he regards as a course of destiny. He will either arrive at his intended destination or be prevented from doing so. But he will not stop voluntarily. The future peace, prosperity, and freedom of Americans and citizens of other free countries require that Xi be obstructed. – Washington Examiner 

Aharon Friedman writes: Upholding international law that respects each country’s right to make its own domestic policy is crucial given Beijing’s threats to other nations’ sovereignty. It’s also imperative that our policy makers respect Congress’s sole authority over our tax law.[…]As Ms. Yellen testifies before the House Ways and Means Committee Friday, lawmakers would do well to ask whether she will defend U.S. sovereignty by threatening to impose countermeasures on undertaxed-profits-rule action or continue to flout the Constitution. – Wall Street Journal 

Michelle Steel writes: They have no regard for the sovereignty of any nation or human rights. If left unchecked, the CCP’s manipulation and destruction would know no bounds. Xi Jinping’s dictatorship is the antithesis of everything we value. We must protect democracy by any means and stand strong against anyone who threatens it. I look forward to working with my friends in the House and the Senate to see this legislation to the president’s desk. – The Hill 

Donald Kirk writes: Russia, with China looking on, could consolidate gains and go on to wage another war. As an “honest broker,” China could be sure the Russians would reward the Chinese handsomely for serving their interests in a low-risk job that cost them nothing. – The Hill 

Edward Luce writes: Here is another way to look at it. The US still holds more of the cards. It has plenty of allies, a global system that it designed, better technology and younger demographics. China’s growth is slowing and its society is ageing faster. The case for US resolve and patience is stronger today than it was when Kennan was around. Self-confident powers should not be afraid to talk. – Financial Times

James Palmer writes: Meanwhile, Chinese firm DJI—the world’s dominant producer of civilian drones—is struggling with being drawn into the war’s politics. Both sides have made extensive use of civilian drones, mostly sourced secondhand from DJI. The company pulled direct orders from Ukraine and Russia last April, but it has now made its products unavailable on other vendors’ sites, such as AliExpress—possibly in response to the story that another Chinese firm was negotiating drone sales with the Russian military. – Foreign Policy 

Covell Meyskens writes: Until Chinese leaders move away from their current policy of fueling Chinese nationalism with a steady diet of anti-Americanism, any U.S. efforts to mend fences with Beijing will run into the CCP’s determination to convince the Chinese people that there is little to learn from or like about the United States, and much to loathe, lambast, and look down upon. – Foreign Policy 

South Asia

During the day, the men are drivers, shopkeepers and farmers. At night, they are members of a once-dormant local militia that the Indian government is reviving in the Jammu and Kashmir region in response to deadly militant attacks targeting Hindu families. – New York Times

Pakistani police lobbed tear gas shells and baton-charged supporters of former prime minister Imran Khan in clashes which injured several on both sides on Wednesday, a government minister and his party said. – Reuters

Sri Lanka’s president said Tuesday that China has given crucial debt restructuring assurances that mean the bankrupt Indian Ocean nation could get its $2.9 billion bailout package approved soon. – Associated Press


The Philippine coast guard has launched a strategy of publicizing aggressive actions by China in the disputed South China Sea, which has countered Chinese propaganda and sparked international condemnation that has put Beijing under the spotlight, a Philippine official said Wednesday. – Associated Press

U.S. President Joe Biden will host leaders of Australia and Britain in San Diego next week to chart a way forward for provision of nuclear-powered submarines and other high-tech weaponry to Australia, sources familiar with the plans said. – Reuters

Georgia’s ruling party said on Thursday it was dropping a bill on “foreign agents” after two nights of violent protests against what opponents said was a Russian-inspired authoritarian shift that imperilled hopes of the country joining the European Union. – Reuters

Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen plans to stop off in Los Angeles and New York as part of a visit to Central America, a government minister said on Thursday, a sensitive itinerary Tsai’s office has yet to confirm. – Reuters

South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol and his wife will visit Japan from March 16-17 at Tokyo’s invitation, his office said on Thursday, the first such visit in 12 years after Seoul announced a plan to end a protracted dispute over wartime forced labour. – Reuters

Singapore’s top trade official said the city-state is willing to facilitate a dialogue between the US and China to repair their relationship, as he described growing tensions between the world’s biggest economies as detrimental to the world. – Bloomberg

The South Korean government has appealed a court order to compensate a Vietnamese victim of atrocities during the Vietnam War when about 300,000 South Korean troops fought alongside U.S. forces, the defence ministry said on Thursday. – Reuters

Australia’s new fleet of nuclear-powered submarines will be based on a modified British design with US parts and upgrades, people familiar with the matter said, as the three countries press ahead with a security partnership meant to counter China. – Bloomberg

Former Malaysian Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin is expected to be charged in court on Friday for corruption-related offenses, Bernama reported, citing the nation’s anti-graft authority. – Bloomberg


U.S. officials are investigating the possibility that a pro-Ukrainian group was responsible for last year’s attack on the Nord Stream natural-gas pipeline in the Baltic Sea, a senior U.S. official said, while Germany said its investigators have searched a ship in connection with the sabotage. – Wall Street Journal 

The U.S. and European Union are moving forward with crafting a trade agreement focused on critical minerals, with President Biden and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen expected to discuss on Friday the plan to reduce their dependence on China. – Wall Street Journal 

A top European Union court Wednesday struck down sanctions on the mother of one of Russia’s most powerful figures, Yevgeny Prigozhin, the first legal blow to the bloc’s sanctions against Russia and a decision that could set a precedent for other listings. – Wall Street Journal 

Leaders of nine Social Democratic parties in Europe declared unwavering support Wednesday for Ukraine’s defense against Russia’s invasion and discussed future European security. – Associated Press

French energy group EDF has reported discovering a significant new crack in a cooling pipe at a nuclear power plant on the Channel coast, in the latest such incident to plague the energy sector. – Agence France-Presse

The U.S. is trying to charm and cajole Europe into linking arms to confront China. But Europe has other priorities in mind. Ahead of President Joe Biden’s meeting with European Union chief Ursula von der Leyen in Washington on Friday, U.S. officials have been offering Europe both urgent warnings about Beijing and pledges to smooth over trade disputes. – Politico 

Editorial: Europe would do well to forge a more unified front before next year’s U.S. presidential elections. John Bolton, former national security adviser to Donald Trump, has said that Mr. Trump might very well have pulled the United States out of NATO had he been reelected in 2020. A future president might do the same, leaving an underprepared Europe dangerously vulnerable. – Washington Post

Lionel Laurent writes: Finding common ground will be a long process, therefore. Nuclear energy is one option: It’s an issue close to Macron’s heart and the UK is more alive to its possibilities than Germany. Security and defense may also provide fertile ground, given existing military cooperation agreements between the UK and France signed in 2010 have been left to wither. Support for Ukraine would benefit from a more invested Franco-British alliance. – Bloomberg

John Christianson and Matthew Hanson write: In the case of big-ticket items like tankers, it can get smaller nations into a capability they could not otherwise afford. Alternatively, for high-volume items like munitions and expensive necessities like electromagnetic warfare systems, consortiums can greatly improve buying power, thereby increasing magazine depth across the alliance. There are no quick solutions to NATO’s challenges, but these proposals will keep NATO on a positive track while discouraging adversaries large and small. – Center for Strategic and International Studies


Facing attacks, arrest and discrimination in Tunisia, sub-Saharan African migrants are fleeing the country as a government crackdown on illegal immigration spirals into vigilante violence against Black people. – Washington Post

A Nigerian judge on Wednesday refused a request by one opposition candidate who lost last month’s presidential election to stop the electoral body from reconfiguring a voting system for state elections on Saturday. – Reuters

South Sudanese President Salva Kiir has sacked his foreign minister, less than a week after dismissing the defence and interior ministers. – BBC

Mvemba Phezo Dizolele, Catherine Nzuki, William Mark Bellamy, Mimi Alemayehou, Maria E. Burnett, Emilia Columbo, Ryan Cummings, Cameron Hudson, and Laird Treiber write: Whether the enrollment will be delayed in the conflict areas or the vote itself be postponed due to other contingencies as has been the case in previous elections, CENI leadership needs to be forthcoming and proactive in its communication with the populations to reassure the voters. There are no shortcuts to legitimacy and more public discontent can only fuel insecurity. – Center for Strategic and  International Studies

The Americas

Mexican and U.S. authorities are searching for the armed men who kidnapped four Americans in the volatile border city of Matamoros last week. Two of the victims were found dead Tuesday; the two survivors were returned to Brownsville, Tex., where they were receiving medical care. – Washington Post

Haitian rights activists on Wednesday called for a stop to the trafficking of weapons into Haiti, as the Caribbean state faces a humanitarian crisis driven by gangs who rights groups say now control most of the country. – Reuters

A dispute over $3 million worth of jewelry allegedly from Saudi Arabia is set to present another headache for former Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro when he returns home from his US vacation. – Bloomberg

Medical charity Doctors Without Borders says gang violence in Haiti’s capital has forced the temporary closure of its hospital in Port-au-Prince. It said that patients and staff at its facility in the Cité Soleil district had been put at risk. – BBC

Michael Rubin writes: None of this was preordained, but the U.S. will not pay the price in regional influence for its two decades of ignoring corruption and poor governance.[…]In effect, they gifted not only billions of dollars but also geopolitical positioning to America’s rivals. That they did so upon the hopes of democracy and liberty only compounds the tragedy. There are no shortcuts nor such a thing as cost-free corruption in international affairs. – Washington Examiner 


TikTok has announced out a new data security regime, nicknamed “Project Clover”, amid growing pressure from lawmakers on both sides of the Atlantic. – Reuters

FBI Director Christopher Wray said TikTok could be used to control data and software on millions of devices in the US and drive narratives to divide Americans while even intelligence agencies might miss manipulation by the Chinese-owned video app. – Bloomberg

Molly Roberts writes: Today, something ineffable on Twitter is missing, perhaps because no one really believes anymore that the site is theirs. […] Whatever Twitter was, after years of memes and main characters and controversies and conversations, was delicate. And regardless of whether links lead somewhere and photos load, it is broken. – Washington Post

Noam Chomsky, Ian Roberts and Jeffrey Watumull write: They either overgenerate (producing both truths and falsehoods, endorsing ethical and unethical decisions alike) or undergenerate (exhibiting noncommitment to any decisions and indifference to consequences). Given the amorality, faux science and linguistic incompetence of these systems, we can only laugh or cry at their popularity. – New York Times

Anja Manuel writes: It is true, as sceptics may argue, that even 75 years of painstakingly negotiated arms control agreements have not banished nuclear weapons from the world. Those negotiations have, however, succeeded in the most important measure of all: since the horror of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, nuclear weapons have not once been used in war. – Financial Times


The U.S. will speed up Australia’s acquisition of nuclear-powered submarines by arranging for Canberra’s first few subs to be built in the U.S., according to people familiar with the still-confidential plan. – Wall Street Journal 

The U.S. Army is already executing on a plan to send M1 Abrams tanks to Ukraine, the Army’s acquisition chief said Wednesday. – Defense News

President Joe Biden nominated Vice Adm. Karl Thomas, commander of the U.S. Navy 7th Fleet in Japan, to become a top information warfare official. – Defense News

The Air Force is ramping up plans for incorporating drone wingmen into its fleet, and envisions 1,000 of the so-called collaborative combat aircraft in service as it sketches out ideas. – Defense News

Nick Bono and Bharat Patel write: If the Army learns from the path that Project Maven paved, and if governance and interoperability keep pace with the technical and ethical challenges in the AI space, the Army will be able to keep ahead of its adversaries. Project Linchpin is the first program that aims deliver trusted and operationally relevant AI capabilities. However, as its name implies, it may serve an even more important purpose: ensuring that the Army develops strategic guidance about the responsible use of AI for the next generation of AI industry partners that can fuel the Army of 2030 and beyond. – War on the Rocks 

Long War

The U.S. military on Wednesday repatriated a U.S.-educated Saudi engineer who had been held for more than 20 years ‌at Guantánamo Bay under suspicion of having made bomb‌s for Al Qaeda, but ‌was never ‌brought to trial. – New York Times

The Taliban governor of Afghanistan’s northern Balkh province was killed in a blast Thursday, according to the Taliban spokesman. […] The Islamic State group has carried out past attacks against civilians, the Taliban and foreign targets in Afghanistan. – Washington Post 

Palestinians set off an explosive device on Wednesday near Israeli soldiers operating on the border with the Gaza Strip, the military said. Israeli tanks fired shells at a Hamas observation post in response. – Times of Israel