Fdd's overnight brief

November 14, 2023

FDD Research & Analysis

In The News


Israeli troops reached at least one of the gates of Gaza’s largest hospital where Israel says Hamas conceals a major center of operations, while medical staff reported deteriorating conditions inside because of a lack of supplies and electricity. – Wall Street Journal

The Israeli army, deployed on multiple fronts and focused on the grinding war in Gaza, is relying increasingly on mass arrests and air power in the West Bank, though the strategy risks re-energizing the militant groups it seeks to contain. Nearly 400 Palestinians — fighters and civilians — have been killed across the territory this year by soldiers and settlers. – Washington Post

The United Nations said on Monday that its already dwindling reserve of fuel in the Gaza Strip would run out as soon as Tuesday, preventing the organization from receiving and distributing the desperately needed aid trickling in, and imperiling the only lifeline for the 2.2 million people in the coastal enclave. – New York Times

The plight of families desperately seeking the return of their loved ones abducted from Israel on Oct. 7 is painfully familiar to Aviram Shaul. His brother, Oron Shaul, was serving in the Israeli army when he was killed in 2014, during the last major war in Gaza. Israel says Hamas still has his body, along with that of Hadar Goldin, who was killed in the same war. The group is also believed to be holding two living Israeli civilians. – New York Times

The Israeli military shared video and photographs on Monday showing what it said were weapons stored by Hamas in the basement of a children’s hospital in Gaza where it also said hostages appear to have been held. – Reuters

US President Joe Biden said on Monday that hospitals in Gaza “must be protected”, after Israeli forces surrounded the strip’s largest medical facility, with air strikes and gunfire making it impossible for civilians to escape. – Financial Times

The armed wing of the Palestinian militant group Hamas said on Monday it told Qatari mediators the group was ready to release up to 70 women and children held in Gaza in return for a five-day truce with Israel. – Reuters

Israeli forces killed at least eight Palestinians in the occupied West Bank on Tuesday, seven of them in clashes during a raid in the town of Tulkarm near the boundary with Israel, Palestinian medics and local media said. – Reuters

Jordan’s King Abdullah rejected any plans by Israel to occupy parts of Gaza or to create security zones within the enclave, saying the root cause of the crisis was Israel’s denial of Palestinians’ legitimate rights, state media said on Monday. – Reuters

European Union foreign policy chief Josep Borrell set out proposals on Monday for how Gaza should be run after the war between Israel and Hamas, calling on Arab countries to play a greater role in a future Palestinian administration. – Reuters

Shortly after Hamas launched war on October 7, President Biden dispatched naval assets to the Mediterranean, hoping to deter Hezbollah and its Tehran patrons from aiding Hamas and launching an all-out regional war. Now, Washington seems intent on deterring Israel instead. – New York Sun

Israel supports US President Joe Biden’s inclusion of humanitarian aid for Gaza in the $106 billion national security package that he presented to Congress last month to fund Washington’s security support for Israel and Ukraine, a senior Israeli official told The Times of Israel. – Times of Israel

Editorial: While Biden Administration pessimism led it to withdraw from Afghanistan and surrender the territory, 6,000 miles away, to the Taliban, Israel doesn’t have that option. Gaza is next door. Ensuring “no use of Gaza as a platform for terrorism” will require a decisive Israeli victory and more flexibility than “Nos” and “Musts” allow. – Wall Street Journal

David Ignatius writes: The next few days will be delicate, as Israelis hold their breath waiting for the first group to be freed and united with their families — and worrying about those who will remain captive. After the pause, the brutal reality of the war will resume — and the Biden administration will remain torn between its support for Israel and its growing concern about the plight of Palestinian civilians. – Washington Post


U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin on Monday left open the possibility of more strikes against Iran-linked groups if attacks against American forces in Iraq and Syria don’t stop, hours after overnight U.S. air strikes in Syria. – Reuters

Iran hanged on Monday three men who were convicted of carrying out 2019 bombing attacks in the restive southeastern province of Sistan-Baluchistan, the judiciary said. – Agence France-Presse

Students at several Iranian universities have protested against intensified suppression of students by the Islamic Republic regime and university administrators in recent weeks. – Jerusalem Post

Erfan Fard writes: In light of the continued challenges posed by terrorism and Iran’s role as a state sponsor, it is incumbent upon the international community to take collective and decisive action. Only through concerted efforts can we effectively counter the sponsorship of terrorism and work toward fostering peace and stability in the tumultuous Middle East. This endeavor not only serves the cause of global security but also upholds the values of peace and cooperation that the international community holds dear. – Jerusalem Post

Danielle Pletka writes: Drawing on these two examples in current law, Congress could develop legislation to ensure (1) vigorous enforcement of existing economic sanctions on Iran, and (2) effective congressional oversight of and involvement in any future decision to relax sanctions on Iran. Until Congress stops the White House from ignoring US law on Iran, there will be no end to the inflow of cash to the Islamic Republic. – American Enterprise Institute

Ahmad Hashemi writes: The West must establish plausible deterrence while rejecting Iran’s game of plausible deniability concerning its terrorist activities in the Middle East region and beyond. The longer the U.S. and Israel avoid establishing military deterrence by directly holding the Iranian regime to account for Hamas and other proxy attacks, the more Washington and Jerusalem are going to be vulnerable to attacks by Iran’s proxies. – The Hill

Russia & Ukraine

Ukrainian partisans killed three Russian officers in a bomb attack over the weekend, military authorities said, in a sign that Kyiv is stepping up its harassment of Moscow’s forces in the absence of decisive territorial progress on the battlefield. – New York Times

Satellite imagery shows progress in the construction in Russia of a plant that will mass produce Iranian-designed kamikaze drones that Moscow is expected to target against Ukrainian energy facilities, a research organization said on Monday. – Reuters

As the Russian invasion grinds into a second winter and casualties — already estimated in the hundreds of thousands — continue to mount on both sides, combat training programs provided by Ukraine’s allies are helping it hold out and its odds of eventual victory. By continuing to prepare Ukrainian troops for battle even as the Israel-Hamas war diverts global attention, Ukraine’s backers also are making concrete their promises to stick with it for the long haul. – Associated Press

The reports from Russian state news agencies that Moscow’s troops were relocating from the Dnieper River in Ukraine appeared to be a major development Monday — for about 10 minutes, until the usually authoritative media withdrew the news. The next hours saw a flurry of claims from both Russia and Ukraine that each opposing side had faked the reports. The incident was a striking skirmish in the information war that hovers around the actual battlefields. – Associated Press

Daniel S. Hamilton and Angela Stent write: When the war in Ukraine eventually ends, the global order will look different than it did before Russia’s invasion. Middle powers will continue to seek new coalitions and to steer clear of great-power rivalries. Washington’s attention is now focused on the wars in Europe and the Middle East, but it should not neglect important steps to set itself up for success in the world that comes after. – Foreign Affairs


Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu issues a warning to Hezbollah amid escalating tensions in the north, saying the Lebanese terror group is “playing with fire.” – Times of Israel

Editorial: The imperative now is to seek stability in the region. This involves active engagement with allies to convey that the current situation will not be tolerated. The potential for a dangerous escalation, as hinted at by Hezbollah, necessitates a united front. The international community must stand firm and ensure that the terrorist group knows the current situation will not be tolerated. – Jerusalem Post

Tom Rogan writes: At present, it appears that Iran and Hezbollah do not want an escalation to full-scale war. But those calculations may change as Israel’s campaign against Hamas in Gaza continues. By responding hesitantly to Iranian proxy attacks on U.S. forces in Iraq and Syria, the U.S. risks fueling Iran’s belief that it can escalate without suffering significant counterforce. – Washington Examiner

Alexander Langlois writes: This concern is likely why Nasrallah balanced both speeches. Iran views Hezbollah as the crown jewel of the resistance and the critical factor in its broader regional deterrence strategy against its enemies. Tehran will not risk this group if it does not have to for its survival. Yet it may also struggle to control the group, just as it does with its proxies in Iraq. As such, Nasrallah portrayed an active fight against Israel and the chance of escalation to depict his group’s efforts to fight the enemy, likely hoping to subdue criticism for perceived inaction. – The National Interest


U.S. and international forces in northeastern Syria were attacked with drones and rockets at least four times in the past 24 hours, though there were no casualties and only minor damage, a U.S. military official said on Monday. – Reuters

Syria has extended permission for the United Nations to deliver aid to opposition-held areas in the northwest of the country via two Turkish border crossings for another three months, the United Nations said on Monday. – Reuters

Josh Rogin writes: The Assad regime has now morphed into more of a mafia organization than a government — and the international community should treat it like one. Unless Syria is stopped from using trafficking to finance and fuel regional violence, the plagues of both drugs and terrorism will only worsen. – Washington Post

Samer al-Ahmed writes: Through its recent escalatory actions, Iran seeks to demonstrate the breadth of its sway and its cohesive, unified command over operations spanning from southern Lebanon through eastern Syria to Iraq and reaching as far as the Houthis in Yemen. This strategic posturing could potentially give Iran leverage in any forthcoming political negotiations, positioning it to emerge as the sole beneficiary of the ongoing turmoil in the region, to the detriment of the local inhabitants of these areas. – Middle East Institute

Middle East & North Africa

An Iraqi television station posted a video Monday purporting to show a kidnapped Israeli-Russian researcher for the first time since her disappearance seven months ago, when she was seized off the streets in Baghdad. – New York Times

Crude oil flows from northern Iraq to Turkey halted for more than seven months could start flowing again this week after Baghdad said it had reached “an understanding” with Istanbul. – Reuters

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s rejection of the Palestinian Authority returning to the Gaza Strip is undermining US efforts to rally like-minded Arab countries around a strategy for stabilizing the coastal enclave after the Israel-Hamas war, an administration official and two senior Arab diplomats told The Times of Israel. – Times of Israel

Korean Peninsula

North Korea criticised the Group of Seven countries as a “remnant of the Cold War” that causes conflicts for their own interests and violates other countries’ sovereignty, its state media KCNA said on Tuesday. – Reuters

U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said on Tuesday U.N. member states enforcing the Korean War armistice are concerned that China and Russia are helping North Korea expand its military capabilities by enabling Pyongyang to evade U.N. sanctions. – Reuters

South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol slammed the purported illicit arms deal between North Korea and Russia, saying he’ll emphasize its far-reaching security implications and discuss international response during the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit in San Francisco this week. – Associated Press

Susan A. Thornton and Juliet Lee write: If the U.S. and China are not working together, there is almost no chance of progress on the North Korea issue; the most likely outcome is further advancement of North Korea’s weapons programs (possibly with Russia’s help) and heightened tensions or crisis. – The National Interest


China’s increasingly aggressive activities around Taiwan — and its refusal to speak to the U.S. military through channels designed to avoid conflict — is fueling fears that the United States could be drawn into a third major war in the world. – Washington Post

But back in China, in meetings with the military, Mr. Xi was warning in strikingly stark terms that intensifying competition between a rising China and a long-dominant United States was all but unavoidable, and that the People’s Liberation Army should be prepared for a potential conflict. – New York Times

Top business leaders in the United States are expected to dine with Chinese President Xi Jinping in San Francisco on Wednesday as he seeks to court American companies and counter his country’s recent struggles to entice foreign investment. The dinner on the margins of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum will follow a day of talks between Xi and U.S. President Joe Biden, aimed at stabilizing fraught ties between the world’s two largest economies. – Reuters

John Authers writes: That apparently warm and enduring bond contrasts with the tough stance Xi has adopted as China’s top leader toward the US. It’s hard to know what to make of it. But if the Iowan folks have some soft power over Xi, as well as American presidential aspirants, that’s cause for hope. – Bloomberg

South Asia

The government in Nepal said on Monday that it was banning the popular social media app TikTok, saying the platform’s refusal to curb hate content was affecting “social harmony.” – New York Times

The Taliban’s acting commerce minister met Pakistan’s foreign minister in Islamabad this week, an Afghan embassy statement said on Tuesday, discussing trade and how the thousands of Afghan citizens Pakistan is expelling could take cash and other assets back to their homeland. – Reuters

Pakistan on Monday opened three new border crossings to expedite the deportation of Afghans living in the country illegally, officials said. – Associated Press

Sri Lanka’s president set “ambitious” tax revenue goals in his budget that may be difficult to meet, analysts said, potentially raising risks around its loan program with the International Monetary Fund. – Bloomberg


President Biden and President Joko Widodo of Indonesia met at the White House on Monday to announce a new strategic partnership, but their differing views on the conflict in Gaza came into view when Mr. Joko asked for the United States to “do more” to stop the war. – New York Times

President Joe Biden is looking to use this week’s summit of Asia-Pacific leaders to show world leaders the United States has the gumption, attention span and money to focus on the region even as it grapples with a multitude of foreign and domestic policy crises. – Associated Press

Taiwan is working on securing a one-on-one meeting with U.S. President Joe Biden and the island’s representative at this week’s APEC summit in San Francisco, but there is no message planned for China, a senior Taiwanese official said. – Reuters

Australia scored a significant win for influence in the Pacific Islands region with a trump card that China, seeking to expand security ties, doesn’t have: the opportunity of resettlement. – Reuters

Anti-junta fighters in Myanmar’s Chin state were aiming to gain control of part of a porous border with India, after tasting early success with the takeover of two military outposts on the remote mountainous frontier, a senior rebel commander said. – Reuters

Indonesia’s presidential front-runner Prabowo Subianto on Monday criticised the European Union over its ban on palm oil imports and said Europeans during colonial times were also guilty of deforestation. – Reuters

U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen called on Pacific Rim finance ministers on Monday to boost the productive capacity of their economies while working to finance the transition to low-carbon energy and provide more opportunities for the poor. – Reuters

Thailand’s Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin said there was no plan to invite Chinese police officers to patrol local tourist destinations, seeking to clear the air after comments by the country’s tourism authority about such a program created a furor. – Bloomberg

Ramon Marks writes: Washington is only beginning to find ways to grapple with the reality that economic factors can have as much impact on U.S. national security interests as military threats. The military cannot do it alone. Economic competition with China has become a critical component of safeguarding U.S. national security in the Asian Rim. There is much more to the China challenge in the Philippines than the South China Sea. – The National Interest


U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken and newly appointed British foreign minister David Cameron discussed the Israel-Hamas conflict, relations with China and help for Ukraine during a telephone call on Monday, the State Department said. – Reuters

Red is a Romanian fighter pilot with hundreds of flight hours and countless air policing missions on the NATO state’s now retired fleet of MIG21 LanceR jets who will be flying Lockheed Martin F-16 planes as early as December. – Reuters

David Cameron’s appointment as British foreign minister may have raised eyebrows in EU capitals, but the bloc sees the return of the man who triggered the Brexit referendum more as a continued defrosting of relations than a lurch back to turbulent times. – Reuters


Negotiators working on the world’s first treaty to curb plastic pollution need to hurry up and strike a deal, Kenyan President William Ruto said on Monday at the start of talks in Nairobi. – Reuters

Rebels from Ethiopia’s Oromiya region said on Monday they were in Tanzania for a second round of talks with the Ethiopian government to try to end decades of fighting. – Reuters

China called on Zambia’s other creditors to shoulder a “fair burden” in the country’s debt restructuring, after the IMF and official creditors including Beijing “expressed reservations” about a deal Zambia struck with overseas bondholders. – Reuters

Michael Rubin writes: In the Middle East, the Biden team appeased Iran and drew a moral equivalence between democracies and terror-embracing regimes. National security adviser Jake Sullivan now looks foolish for bragging this brought calm and advanced peace. The same lesson should apply to Africa: Appeasing regressive, hateful, and corrupt elements does not bring calm. Common sense must prevail. American policy must stop punishing allies and coddling kleptocracies and instead consolidate democracy and the rules-based order. As China fans the flames of conflict, time is running out. – Washington Examiner

The Americas

U.S. President Joe Biden will meet with Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador on Friday on the sidelines of the APEC Economic Leaders’ forum in San Francisco, the White House said. – Reuters

Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva on Monday welcomed 32 nationals that his government managed to rescue from the Gaza Strip this week following a month of negotiations, receiving them at the Brasilia Air Base after a nearly day-long flight. – Reuters

Brazilian police on Sunday arrested another man suspected of links to the Lebanese militant group Hezbollah, bringing the number of detainees suspected of involvement with the group to three, two sources with knowledge of the matter told Reuters on condition of anonymity. – Reuters

Venezuela wants United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres to intervene in its longstanding dispute with Guyana over a 61,600 square-mile territory known as the Essequibo, President Nicolás Maduro said Monday evening on his TV show. – Bloomberg

United States

A group of civil society organizations urged the Biden administration on Monday to forgo supplying artillery shells to Israel, reflecting the mounting pressure the United States faces over its support for the Israeli campaign against Hamas militants in the Gaza Strip. – Washington Post

Moving to address dissent within the ranks of the State Department over the Biden administration’s policy on Israel and the war in Gaza, Secretary of State Antony Blinken told department employees on Monday that “we’re listening” to those who “disagree with approaches we are taking.” – Washington Post

That gap, they said, offered evidence that the app, owned by the Chinese tech giant ByteDance, was being used to boost propaganda and brainwash American viewers. But Facebook and Instagram, TikTok’s U.S.-based rivals, show a remarkably similar gap, their data show. – Washington Post


The number of cyberattacks reported to Britain’s National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) hit an “all-time high” over the past year, the agency announced on Tuesday. – The Record

Airplane maker Boeing said it is investigating data leaked by a prominent Russia-based ransomware gang that was allegedly stolen from the company. – The Record

Mark Montgomery and Eric Sayers write: The U.S. is still fighting a battle on 5G infrastructure in the developing world. If we do not move swiftly to secure our leadership position on cloud computing, we risk waking up in a few years and wondering how we allowed the same thing to happen all over again. As PRC cloud companies race to build cloud infrastructure around the world, the U.S. must better position itself to lead in cloud services, or risk losing our technological edge over China. – The Hill


One of the U.S. Air Force’s nuclear missile programs is “struggling” and could see costs rise, the service’s secretary said Monday. Frank Kendall, speaking at an online event hosted by the Center for a New American Security think tank, said he is “more nervous” about the LGM-35A Sentinel intercontinental ballistic missile than the B-21 Raider stealth bomber. – Defense News

The U.S. Navy intends to sell Australia used Virginia-class attack submarines in 2032 and 2035, plus a new boat in 2038, leaders said. – Defense News

The Biden Administration’s budget package of roughly $106 billion in emergency supplemental funding includes a $1.2 billion investment in Israel’s directed energy weapon system, “Iron Beam,” which the U.S. Army could consider as an alternative laser weapon for its own needs, according to the service’s acquisition chief. – Defense News

Sean Kennedy writes: Moreover, funding an unnecessary second engine would contribute to the high costs and delays that have become the hallmark of the JSF program. With projected lifetime operations and maintenance costs of $1.727 trillion, trimming costs in the most expensive weapons system in history are vital. It took several years to kill the first version of the alternate engine.  Congress should get rid of it for good in a few months this time. – The Hill

John James writes: The shape of tomorrow’s threats at sea are coming into focus. With a reduced comparative cost and a diminished human footprint, marine autonomous vehicles will inexorably shape the future of naval warfare and maritime security. The development of a strong, clear-eyed response strategy, and the engagement of private capital alongside government resources, will communicate a resolute message to adversaries and strengthen deterrence. – War on the Rocks

Long War

At least 70 civilians have been killed, mainly elderly people and children, in an attack on a village in northern Burkina Faso earlier this month, a prosecutor said in a statement on Monday. – Reuters

A commander in an Islamic State-allied rebel group was charged on Monday with nine offences including the murder of a honeymooning tourist couple and their aide in Uganda’s Queen Elizabeth National Park, court papers showed. – Reuters

A British convert to Islam who was convicted in Turkey of being part of the Islamic State group was sentenced to eight years in prison in Britain on Monday after he pleaded guilty to terrorism charges. – Associated Press