Fdd's overnight brief

November 24, 2023

FDD Research & Analysis

In The News

Israel

Israel and Hamas on Friday morning were set to begin a temporary pause of the nearly seven-week-long war, raising hopes that more than a dozen Israeli hostages would be freed later in the day in exchange for Palestinian prisoners. – Wall Street Journal

Neta Heiman Mina awoke Wednesday morning to news that Israel had reached a deal to release hostages held by Hamas, bringing some small measure of relief and hope that her 84-year-old mother might be among those freed. By the evening, she was tempering her expectations as media outlets started reporting that the deal might be delayed. A call from a military liaison officer, who is assigned to give her updates, confirmed her fear. – Wall Street Journal

Weeks of secret hostage negotiations with Hamas were hanging by a thread when President Biden phoned the emir of Qatar, a key emissary to the militant group, to deliver an urgent message. – Wall Street Journal

The Gaza Strip has become a war zone since Hamas on Oct. 7 conducted a surprise cross-border attack on Israel that killed about 1,200 people, mostly civilians, and abducted more than 200 people as hostages. In response, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu declared war and pledged to destroy the militant group. The fighting in Gaza has flattened neighborhoods, closed hospitals and severely curtailed supplies of medicine, electricity, food and water. Health authorities in the Hamas-run enclave say more than 13,000 people, most of them women and children, have been killed—a figure that doesn’t distinguish between militants and civilians. – Wall Street Journal

A planned release of 50 hostages held in Gaza along with 150 Palestinian prisoners and a pause in fighting have been delayed hours before it was set to begin on Thursday, Israeli, U.S. and regional officials said. – Wall Street Journal

The Israeli military has stepped up its efforts to produce evidence that Gaza’s largest hospital was a Hamas command center, as the humanitarian fallout from war and seizure of Al-Shifa Hospital has heaped pressure on Israel. – Wall Street Journal

The agreement between Israel and Hamas to pause their fight in the Gaza Strip brings hope for families of some of the 236 people believed to still be held hostage after being taken from Israel on Oct. 7, but it also risks providing the Palestinian militants time to regroup, complicating Israel’s objective of eliminating the group as a threat. – Wall Street Journal

With Israeli and Palestinian forces likely to resume hostilities after a planned four-day pause, the prospects for a more lasting peace in the Middle East remain dim. Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has vowed to utterly defeat Hamas, the Palestinian militant group that governs the coastal enclave and stunned the world with its killing spree on Oct. 7. For their part, Hamas officials have said they will conduct similar attacks again, as many times as is necessary to achieve the complete destruction of Israel. – Wall Street Journal

Israeli strikes on the Gaza Strip have left thousands of people dead, and the toll continues to climb, according to Palestinian health authorities. The Washington Post, like other news organizations, the United Nations and other international institutions, cannot independently verify death tolls in the war between Israel and Hamas. News reports cite figures released by the Gaza Health Ministry — an agency of the Hamas-controlled government. – Washington Post

When it was all said and done, the deal to release some of the hostages held by Hamas came down to two critical phone calls ultimately forcing each side to make a tough concession. The Israelis were insisting that it was not enough to free just 50 of the roughly 240 hostages. They had to have more, they said. At that point, President Biden had to talk Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel into accepting what was on the table and then keep working to recover the rest. – New York Times

President Biden and his aides are using an agreement for a brief halt to hostilities in Gaza to push the Israeli government to take broad measures aimed at lessening the harm to Palestinian civilians, including setting up safe areas, allowing in more medical aid and permitting larger deliveries of fuel, U.S. officials say. – New York Times

The Israeli decision on Wednesday to pause the invasion of Gaza to allow Hamas to release some hostages, a move now strongly supported by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, was the culmination of a weekslong dispute among Israel’s civilian and military leaders about whether such a deal would strengthen Hamas and endanger the remaining hostages. – New York Times

The spokesman of Hamas’ armed-wing called on Thursday for the escalation of the confrontation with Israel on all resistance fronts. – Reuters

The Israeli military sounded sirens in two villages near the Gaza Strip on Friday, warning of possible Palestinian rocket attacks from the Hamas-ruled enclave just minutes after a truce came into force. – Reuters

The Mossad has been instructed to act against Hamas leaders wherever they are, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told reporters on Wednesday night as he defended a partial hostage deal that includes a four- to nine-day pause in the Gaza war. – Jerusalem Post

The Israel Defense Forces said Thursday night it had killed the commander of Hamas’s naval forces in Khan Younis in an airstrike in the Gaza Strip, hours before the expected start of a temporary pause in the war amid a hostage release deal. – Times of Israel

Ismail Haniyeh, the Hamas leader based in Qatar, has been the tough-talking face of the Palestinian group’s international diplomacy as war has raged back in Gaza where his family home was destroyed in an Israeli air strike in November. – Reuters

Dominic Green writes: Two other clocks are ticking: the countdown to Iran’s nuclear breakout and the countdown to what Mr. Oren calls the “crunch” moment when an Iranian missile takes American lives or hits a U.S. Navy vessel. That would also be a direct hit on “the contradictions of American policy.” Time is tight for Israel, but the U.S. is approaching a fateful moment too. – Wall Street Journal

Jason Willick writes: In fact, while Netanyahu’s rule has reflected Israel’s hawkish impulses, it has also managed and contained them. And his subtle alignment with the Biden administration on key points in the war should underscore to Israel’s American critics that a tight embrace might be more effective than a cold shoulder if they want to influence and restrain the Jewish state. – Washington Post

Andreas Kluth writes: Where this week’s pause in the fighting leads, and whether the region can ever rise above its enmities, remain open questions. That’s also true about other conflicts, from Ukraine to the Taiwan Strait. What’s clear, though, is that America is indispensable in stabilizing this chaotic world, and must assert its power and presence without apologies but with finesse. And that Biden has just done. – Bloomberg

Iran

Iran’s barring of some of the U.N. nuclear watchdog’s most experienced and expert inspectors from the team allowed to operate there is a “very serious blow” to the agency’s work, the watchdog’s chief Rafael Grossi said on Wednesday. – Reuters

A major Iranian-backed militant group in Iraq warned it may strike additional U.S. targets after U.S. warplanes killed multiple militants in response to the first use of short-range ballistic missiles against U.S. forces at Al-Asad Air Base Monday. – Associated Press

Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei warned that the IDF’s operations in the Gaza Strip would not go unanswered, in a post on X (formerly Twitter) in Hebrew on Thursday. – Jerusalem Post

Roya Hakakian writes: In 1978, Iranians euphorically followed a Shiite cleric in pursuit of what they thought was a noble cause and staged a popular resistance that was to deliver greater freedom and democracy to them. But he quickly led them into war, chaos, global isolation, and economic ruin. This is the dark legacy of Hamas’s chief patron. Those who have embraced Hamas have yet to know this truth—that their heroes are not liberators but brutal tyrants detested by their people. – The Atlantic

Matthew Levitt writes: For decades, Iran, a US-designated state sponsor of terrorism, has provided a wide range of material support to Hamas, without which Hamas could never have become the capable and deadly terrorist organization it is today. Jake Sullivan is right. “They have provided training, they have provided capabilities.” Tehran played a critical role in creating the monster that is Hamas, which is why Iran shares the blame and responsibility for the brutal attack. – The Jerusalem Strategic Tribune

Russia & Ukraine

Russian and Chinese business executives with government ties have held secret discussions on plans to build an underwater tunnel connecting Russia to Crimea in hopes of establishing a transportation route that would be protected from attacks by Ukraine, according to communications intercepted by Ukraine’s security services. – Washington Post

The death toll in a Russian strike on a hospital in Ukraine’s southern town of Selydove has risen to three as rescuers finished clearing rubble a day after the attack, emergency services reported on Wednesday. – Reuters

Ukraine’s efforts to revive sea exports in defiance of Russia’s military blockade have given a glimmer of hope to a teetering farm sector in which loss-making producers are abandoning some land in one of the world’s biggest grain belts. – Reuters

For generations of Soviets, “crossing the Dniepr” evokes the epic 1943 battle that pitted three million Soviet soldiers against one million Nazi defenders. As memorialized in monuments and murals, Soviet soldiers used small boats, rafts, and logs  to cross a river as wide as the Mississippi. By the end of a four month long amphibious assault, more than one million Soviet soldiers were killed, wounded, or missing. However, by surmounting Ukraine’s water wall, they broke the back of Nazi power in Eastern Europe. – New York Sun

Mark Toth and Jonathan Sweet write: Yet, by bargain hunting, Biden is allowing Putin to outspend Ukraine nearly 3:1 ($15 billion to $5 billion) according to Andrei Illarionov, a former senior economic policy adviser to Putin during his early years in office. During an interview with Jason Jay Smart for the Kyiv Post, Illarionov noted that no country since Clausewitz’s times had won a major western war while being outspent by the enemy. Nor is it likely the U.S. can win its ideological war against Russia and China if it allows itself to be outspent. Nor by enabling Putin to outfox the West in Ukraine by negotiating a ceasefire that would only be a pause so that he can regroup. – The Hill

Stephen Blank writes: Not doing so immediately only prolongs Kyiv’s agonies, as well as the administration’s own, while needlessly aggravating U.S. polarization and discord as well as international insecurity. If it continues to avoid taking the public into its own confidence, that decision might, in turn, contribute to the public’s refusal to give the administration a second term, for it is already clear that public support for Ukraine is waning. – The Hill

Bob Seely writes: These countries’ styles of fighting show that conflict is rarely a binary—either war or peace. It is, instead, a continuum that involves multiple aspects of state power. In reality, Russia’s military doctrine is not so much a doctrine for war as it is a doctrine for statecraft, one that it and other states will use to undermine the Western alliance and the international order. Stopping these revisionist powers is essential to protecting democracies from authoritarian countries. But it will not be easy. Like Tsunami’s soldiers on the frontline, we have many miles left to travel. – Foreign Affairs

Hezbollah

Terror organization Hezbollah will “respect” the temporary ceasefire deal between Israel and Hamas, a source in the Lebanese group told Al Jazeera on Wednesday. Therefore, as per the reported source, the ceasefire in Gaza and the pause in military operations there will also apply to southern Lebanon. There has been no Israeli confirmation of Hezbollah’s claim. – Jerusalem Post

Hezbollah launched dozens of rockets at northern Israel on Thursday in one of the largest barrages fired from Lebanon since October 7, sending thousands of people in northern towns and communities rushing to bomb shelters. – Times of Israel

Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian met with Hezbollah terror group leader Hassan Nasrallah on Thursday, at an undisclosed location in Lebanon. Amir-Abdollahian arrived in Beirut a day earlier for his second visit to the country since the October 7 massacre. Their previous meeting was on October 14. – Times of Israel

Turkey

Turkey began talks with European states on buying 40 Eurofighter Typhoon jets after recognising that its request for F-16 jets from the United States might not work out, a Turkish defence ministry source said on Thursday. – Reuters

Turkish Islamists are planning to sail toward Gaza, possibly repeating a 2010 incident that triggered an international crisis. Will American naval assets, sent to the Mediterranean to avert a widened war, prevent the looming clash? – New York Sun

Steven A. Cook writes: The ways in which the Turkish leadership has attempted to meddle in White House decision-making betray a misconception about how the justice system works in the United States, but so do the smaller cases of that have ensnared lawmakers, a former national security adviser and now Mayor Adams. In all of these cases, whether graft, corruption or influence-peddling, Erdoğan and his advisors have imposed the way they do business in Istanbul and Eskisehir onto municipalities here. Erdoğan’s patronage machine at home is run through the construction industry. It seems he wants to extend that system all the way to New York City. – Politico

Zach D. Huff writes: Delisting PJAK could help underscore US seriousness and leverage, without causing any threat to Turkey. Additionally, it could help build stronger American rapport with the PKK to further shift their tactics, and open the door to brokering an eventual conclusion to the Turkey-PKK conflict. Even in a world without the Hamas attacks, the Biden administration’s plan B vs Iran is unclear, following their failures at the nuclear negotiating table. The US is not postured to lead a coalition that could resume the “maximum pressure campaign” of sanctions of the Trump administration. It could start by resurrecting and expanding the coalition that successfully ended ISIS’s reign of terror. – Jerusalem Post

Lebanon

Rose Rostom, Nahida Mashouz and Ammar Hajeh have had their lives uprooted many times – by Palestinian militants, Syrian warplanes, Islamic State, Western-backed forces or the Israeli army. – Reuters

Hundreds of mourners paid their respects in Beirut on Wednesday to two reporters working for pan-Arab station Al Mayadeen who were killed the previous day in an Israeli air strike on south Lebanon. – Reuters

An Israeli strike on the village of Beit Yahoun in south Lebanon on Wednesday evening killed five Hezbollah fighters, including the son of a senior Hezbollah member, according to Hezbollah and three sources with knowledge of the situation. – Reuters

Salem Alketbi writes: In his speech, Nasrallah also wanted to convince the world that he was a man of his word, but he failed miserably, not only because he did not announce anything new, but because his speech contained glaring lies and inconsistencies. Further, he attempted to evade any responsibility for his militia’s part in igniting the Gaza conflict by throwing arbitrary accusations at the Arab countries, and asserting that the first goal he was working on was to stop the war in Gaza. – Jerusalem Post

Gulf States

Bahrain has been walking a political tightrope since war erupted in Gaza as it seeks to ease public fury at a conflict that has killed thousands of Palestinians while preserving a deal with Israel that brought the Gulf state closer to the United States. – Reuters

Russian firms based in the United Arab Emirates are coming under greater scrutiny from local banks as the Gulf state faces increased US pressure to tackle sanctions evasion and ramps up efforts to get off a global organization’s watch list. – Bloomberg

Neville Teller writes: Qatar’s bid to punch well above its weight has succeeded. The tiny state – less than half the size of Israel – has followed its own star by maintaining good relations with a vast spectrum of global players while still being a strategic partner to the US. In doing so, it has placed itself at the very heart of world affairs. – Jerusalem Post

Yoel Guzansky writes: The Gulf states witness the US military, economic, and diplomatic assistance to Israel in its time of need – factors that might encourage them to edge closer to Israel and the US in the post-war era. Already, the joint effort of Saudi Arabia, the US, and Israel against the Houthi missile attacks indicates successful cooperation that could expand. – Jerusalem Post

Seth Mandel writes: Qatar will be allowed to continue its double game so long as the White House believes its usefulness offsets the damage it does to Western interests. Whether that is still the case gets murkier by the day, and the Biden administration should tell the Qataris as much. – Commentary

Middle East & North Africa

The entire front page of a Lebanese newspaper this month displayed President Biden’s face superimposed over pictures of dead Palestinian children, under a headline declaring “Western genocide.” In Egypt and some Persian Gulf states, once-bustling Starbucks and McDonald’s outlets sit empty thanks to a boycott of U.S. brands. And in Beirut, Tunis and other Arab capitals, protesters have marched on U.S. diplomatic missions, sometimes burning American flags, to vent their fury at the staggering death toll in Gaza. – Washington Post

U.S. President Joe Biden spoke to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and the leaders of Qatar and Egypt on Wednesday in the aftermath of a deal to secure the release of dozens of hostages held by Hamas, the White House said. – Reuters

The United States shot down multiple one-way attack drones launched from Houthi-controlled areas in Yemen on Thursday morning local time, U.S. Central Command said on X. – Reuters

U.S. forces were attacked four times in Iraq and Syria on Thursday with rockets and armed drones, but there were no casualties or damage to infrastructure, a U.S military official said. – Reuters

Avi Melamed writes: Unwavering commitment to this policy would not only further the U.S.’s restored status and image but also reinforce its influence in the region, counteracting rivals like Iran, China and Russia. Equally important is the opportunity this presents for the U.S. to lead a positive and effective path in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. – The Hill

Sabina Henneberg and Amine Ghoulidi write: Finally, U.S. officials should bear in mind that Morocco’s diplomatic ties with Israel could contribute to humanitarian and reconstruction efforts in Gaza after the war. Absent consistent U.S. support and a robust vision for an Israel-Palestinian peace process, however, Rabat will find it difficult to commit to U.S.-led initiatives in Gaza, especially if they may entail considerable domestic or reputational costs. – Washington Institute

Jennifer Kavanagh and Frederic Wehrey write: These changes would amount to a major shift for U.S. policy in the Middle East, away from a U.S.-led security-heavy model toward a more balanced approach that carries less of a risk of escalation or overstretch and that allows regional powers to take the lead. This new approach would not be a guarantee against future regional security crises, but it would protect Washington’s military and diplomatic flexibility, reduce the odds Washington ends up embroiled in another Middle East war, and preserve greater military capacity for other national security priorities. If Washington fails to alter its course, though, it could end up going down an all-too-familiar road. – Foreign Affairs

Korean Peninsula

A key symbol of a brief period of detente on the Korean Peninsula half a decade ago is now gone. This week, North and South Korea suspended an inter-Korean military agreement struck in 2018 to reduce the risk of conflict along the shared border. A liaison office, also dating to that period, was blown up by North Korea in 2020, and any hopes of resurrecting that era’s denuclearization talks have disappeared in a hail of missile launches by Pyongyang. – Wall Street Journal

South Korea suspended a no-fly zone on the border with North Korea on Wednesday, paving the way for it to resume surveillance flights there a day after the North successfully placed its first military spy satellite into orbit. – New York Times

After being held for months on an immigration violation, a Chinese dissident who traveled from China to South Korea on a Jet Ski-type vehicle in August was given a suspended sentence on Thursday. His prospects remain unclear. – New York Times

When the North Korean men’s soccer team took the field for two 2026 World Cup qualifying matches this month, close observers noticed an important roster change. Han Kwang-song, a high-profile striker, was back, more than three years after vanishing from public view for reasons beyond his control: United Nations-imposed sanctions on North Korean nationals over Pyongyang’s nuclear program. – New York Times

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un said the country’s recent launch of a spy satellite was an exercise of its right to self-defence, as Pyongyang celebrated the event as showing it could strike anywhere in the world, state media reported. – Reuters

North Korea got help from Russia for its successful launch of a reconnaissance satellite this week, South Korean lawmakers said on Thursday, citing the country’s intelligence agency. – Reuters

China’s foreign ministry said it is in the interest of all parties to ensure peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula after North Korea claimed it successfully placed its first spy satellite in orbit, vowing to launch more in the near future. – Reuters

Bruce Bechtol writes: Israel’s intelligence services and the IDF will need to critically reevaluate its analysis of the threat from North Korea when the Gaza war is won. The Jewish state no longer has the luxury of assuming outlaw regimes like the one in Pyongyang create only a marginal threat when their hidden hand in supplying Iran is now very clear. – Jerusalem Post

Bruce Klingner writes: The historic trilateral Camp David Summit in August paved the way for greater American-led military, economic, and technological cooperation against common security threats in the Indo-Pacific. The three leaders, however, will need to operationalize the extensive security agreements they reached as well as commit greater resources to offset advancing Chinese and North Korean military capabilities represented by this launch. – The National Interest

China

For months, China has tried to break up cybercrime syndicates that operate from shadowy compounds across the border in neighboring countries and swindle people around the world. The scammers call the fraud “pig-butchering”: They “fatten” victims by gaining their trust online, convince them to transfer large sums of money and then “butcher” them by absconding with the loot. – Wall Street Journal

For years, Beijing hoped to win control of Taiwan by convincing its people their economic futures were inextricably tied to China. Instead, more Taiwanese businesses are pivoting to the U.S. and other markets, reducing the island democracy’s dependence on China and angering Beijing as it sees its economic leverage over Taiwan ebb. In one sign of the shift, the U.S. replaced mainland China as the top buyer of Taiwanese agricultural products for the first time last year. – Wall Street Journal

Boeing’s commercial aircraft sales to China have slowed to a trickle as U.S.-Chinese relations have soured. But there are new prospects for the company to regain traction. A meeting this month between President Biden and President Xi Jinping of China did not yield public progress toward resuming plane sales, but it may ease tensions between the two countries, boding well for Boeing, a giant of American manufacturing. Perhaps more important, Boeing and China still need each other. – New York Times

The World Health Organization said that China had shared data about a recent surge in respiratory illnesses in children, one day after the agency said it was seeking information about the possibility of undiagnosed pneumonia cases there. – New York Times

The U.S. Navy was “excited” by the prospect of improved operational communications with the Chinese military amid roiling regional tensions, but work was still needed to solidify the next steps, a senior U.S. naval officer said on Friday. – Reuters

China’s ambassador to Myanmar has met top officials there for talks on stability on their common border, Myanmar media reported on Friday, after recent signs that their relationship has been coming under rare strain. – Reuters

The United States and the Philippines are conducting joint air and maritime patrols in the South China Sea, which come as the two countries step up cooperation in the face of growingly aggressive Chinese activity in the area. – Associated Press

Lawyers for a Chinese refugee claim the tough new measures rushed through Australia’s Parliament to mandate curfews and electronic tracking bracelets on some foreigners with criminal records are unconstitutional, challenging them in the High Court. – Associated Press

Andrew Latham and Eliora Hansonbrook write: Finally, it demands engaging with China in a constructive but firm manner, maintaining dialogue and seeking solutions while standing firm against its authoritarian actions. By pursuing this approach, the international community can effectively manage China’s challenge to the rules-based international order, preserving the values of that system and promoting a more just and equitable world. – The Hill

Wang Jisi writes: The Biden-Xi meeting has put the two countries on a less threatening trajectory in the short term. But one meeting alone cannot halt the long-term momentum in the direction of conflict. Influential citizens in both countries must mobilize to find ways beyond official engagement to promote the common good. Whatever new paradigm leaders in Beijing and Washington choose must do more than just avoid a new cold war; it must prevent a hot one, as well. – Foreign Affairs

South Asia

For the second time in recent months, the Indian government is facing questions about whether it was involved in an assassination plot on Western soil, as American officials said they had expressed concerns to New Delhi about a thwarted plan to kill a dual U.S.-Canadian citizen. – New York Times

Afghanistan’s embassy in New Delhi has closed as diplomats appointed by the Afghan government ousted by the Taliban two years ago failed to secure visa extensions from their Indian hosts, the outgoing ambassador said in a statement on Friday. – Reuters

The U.N. refugee agency on Wednesday urged Pakistan to halt deportation of undocumented Afghan refugees during the harsh winter season, as police continued to search homes and expel Afghanis who had not already left. – Reuters

Police in Nepal on Thursday used rattan sticks, tear gas and water cannon to scatter thousands of protesters demanding the restoration of the monarchy abolished 15 years ago. – Reuters

Suspected militants killed five people on Wednesday, including two soldiers, in a pair of bomb attacks targeting security forces in northwest Pakistan, near the Afghan border, officials said. – Associated Press

Five Indian soldiers were killed in gunbattles with rebels fighting against New Delhi’s rule in disputed Kashmir, officials said Thursday. The Indian army said two suspected militants were also killed. – Associated Press

Mihir Sharma writes: Policymakers need to take a step back and re-evaluate their approach. Few want the Himalayas to be left entirely untouched. But, certainly, something has gone wrong with either the scale, the planning, or the execution of public works in the mountains. We risk sending costs spiraling, and causing irreparable damage to a unique ecosystem — alongside, I fear, large-scale loss of life. Build in the Himalayas, sure. But build a bit more carefully. – Bloomberg

Oshrit Birvadker writes: India must delicately navigate its foreign policy to protect its strategic and economic interests in the Middle East and maintain its position in the Global South while bolstering its support for Israel publicly but, most importantly, behind closed doors. With its commitment to combating terrorism and upholding democratic values and institutions, India’s response to the Israel-Hamas War carries significant weight and is unprecedented. – New York Sun

Asia

Almost six weeks after its general election, New Zealand finally has a government. Leaders of three conservative parties announced Friday that they had reached a coalition agreement, ending weeks of closed-door negotiations and cementing the nation’s shift to the right — although it will be a modest one compared to the recent elections in Argentina and the Netherlands. – Washington Post

For decades, Myanmar’s ethnic minorities have rebelled against the country’s military, but mostly on their own and with little success. Now, however, nearly three years after a military coup ousted Myanmar’s democratic government and triggered a civil war, it’s these ethnic rebels, camped out in the country’s mountains and jungles, who pose the biggest potential threat to the ruling junta. – Washington Post

The Philippines is considering resuming membership of the International Criminal Court (ICC) nearly five years after it withdrew over objections to a bid by the court to investigate a bloody anti-narcotics campaign, the president said on Friday. – Reuters

Taiwan’s opposition parties, which seek closer China ties, registered separate presidential candidates on Friday after a dramatic split, potentially easing the way for the ruling party, which has defied Beijing’s pressure, to stay in power. – Reuters

The foreign ministers of South Korea, China and Japan will meet for talks in South Korea on Sunday, South Korea’s foreign ministry said on Friday, as the three countries seek to hold their first leaders’ summit in four years. – Reuters

The Philippines has enlisted “foreign forces” to patrol the South China Sea and has been stirring up trouble, China’s military said on Thursday, referring to joint patrols this week by Philippine and U.S. forces. – Reuters

Vietnam’s president, Vo Van Thuong, will visit Japan next week, a Vietnamese foreign ministry spokesperson said on Thursday, as the two countries discuss strengthening their relations. – Reuters

The junior coalition partner of Japan’s ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) has sent a delegation to Beijing to meet with China’s top leadership team as Asia’s two largest economies seek to improve strained ties. – Reuters

Myanmar ’s military-controlled government said Thursday that almost half of more than 250 cargo trucks stranded by fighting against ethnic minority armed groups near the northeastern border with China have been destroyed in a fire caused by bombs dropped by drones. – Associated Press

The US will continue to work with allies to counter Beijing’s growing maritime capabilities, Washington’s new chief of naval operations said. – Bloomberg

David A. Merkel writes: Russia and China compete in Central Asia, where Washington is trying to seek influence after wasting thirty years not doing so during more advantageous times. This has resulted in Putin and Xi aligning their interests. Alternatively, we could recognize that our absence advanced our interests, thereby illuminating Moscow and Beijing’s policy divergence. The seeds of division between Moscow and Beijing may be found in Central Asia. We should give them some sun. – The National Interest

Europe

The European Union will help Finland bolster its borders following a recent surge of migrants trying to enter the country from Russia, whom Helsinki has accused of facilitating their passage. – Wall Street Journal

The electoral win by Geert Wilders, the Dutch far-right leader who has championed draconian policies against immigration and Islam, reflects how intractable the issue of migration remains in Europe—and in much of the West. – Wall Street Journal

Turkey has informed NATO that ratification of Sweden’s membership bid will not be completed in time to allow the country’s accession ceremony at a meeting of alliance foreign ministers next week, two sources familiar with the matter said on Wednesday. – Reuters

Finland will close all but the northernmost crossing point on its border with Russia from midnight on Friday in a bid to halt a flow of asylum seekers to the Nordic nation, Prime Minister Petteri Orpo said on Wednesday. – Reuters

Three major Greek shipping firms have stopped transporting Russian oil in recent weeks in order to avoid U.S. sanctions now being imposed on some shipping firms carrying Russian oil, four traders told Reuters and shipping data showed. – Reuters

NATO has warned its members that too much red tape is hindering troop movements across Europe, a problem that could cause major delays were a conflict with Russia to erupt. – Reuters

Dutch Muslims expressed shock on Thursday at the election win of far-right populist Geert Wilders, who has previously called for mosques and the Koran to be banned in the Netherlands. – Reuters

Irish police guarded looted stores and firefighters cooled down smouldering vehicles in the heart of Dublin’s city centre early on Friday after the stabbing of three young children sparked a night of rioting rarely seen before in the capital. – Reuters

German authorities searched 15 properties on Thursday in connection with a recent ban on activities of Hamas as well as pro-Palestinian group Samidoun, the German interior ministry said in a statement. – Reuters

France is committed to dialogue with China, French Foreign Minister Catherine Colonna said on Friday, affirming ties after a European Union anti-subsidy probe backed by Paris into Chinese-made electric vehicles rankled Beijing. – Reuters

Hungary is set to receive 900 million euros ($981 million) in European Union money, the EU’s executive arm said Thursday, despite the Hungarian prime minister’s attempts to scupper the bloc’s support for Ukraine. – Associated Press

A Russian attack using cluster munitions killed three people Thursday in a suburb of Ukraine’s southern city of Kherson, a Ukrainian official said, bringing the number of civilians to die in a day of war to at least six. – Associated Press

The Swiss government will draft a law to ban Hamas, designating it as a terrorist organization, according to a statement. – Bloomberg

Marc Champion writes: Orban, Wilders and others must be free to enact the policies voters choose. Liberalism is not sacrosanct. Yet within the EU, democracy must be, and there is no such thing as illiberal democracy. It’s simply not democracy. Dismantling the institutions that ensure rule of law, media freedom and political opposition restricts the future ability of voters to choose who will govern them, liberal or otherwise. That enables cronyism, corruption and the abuse of power, running counter to everything the EU was built to achieve. The bloc should be unstinting in exacting a price for each of Orban’s actions that threatens those fundamentals, leaving him diplomatically isolated and under the microscope for how Hungary spends the EU funds it does receive. It’s a fight he has chosen and it should be bruising. – Bloomberg

Africa

A rebel group with alleged links to neighboring Rwanda claimed Wednesday to have seized a key town in Congo’s conflict-hit eastern region amid intense fighting, raising further security concerns ahead of the country’s Dec. 20 presidential election. – Associated Press

The latest round of peace talks between Ethiopia’s federal government and a militant group waging a long-running conflict in the country’s Oromia region have broken up in Tanzania without an agreement, both sides said Tuesday. – Associated Press

Nigeria will seek to become a member of the BRICS group of nations within the next two years as part of a new foreign policy push to have its voice heard in important global organizations. – Bloomberg

The Americas

Uruguayan President Luis Lacalle Pou and Chinese Premier Li Qiang are keen to keep working on a bilateral free trade agreement as well as pursue one between China and the wider Mercosur trade bloc, according to a joint statement. – Reuters

Former U.S. President Donald Trump will visit Buenos Aires to meet with Argentine President-elect Javier Milei, the latter’s press office said in a statement on Thursday following a call between them. – Reuters

Argentine President-elect Javier Milei on Wednesday thanked Chinese President Xi Jinping for a letter congratulating him on last Sunday’s elections results, a softening of tone from earlier harsh criticism of China’s communist leadership. – Reuters

Haitian law enforcement authorities said a man belonging to a violent gang accused of kidnapping four U.S. citizens has been extradited to the U.S. – Associated Press

Joseph Bouchard writes: Despite his libertarian populist tendencies, Milei will provide the United States with a new ally in its backyard, sharing a broad liberal vision for the region at a time when Latin America is increasingly governed by far-Left or far-Right governments that do not share such a vision. Milei will hopefully make Argentina a greater partner in economic, monetary, security, and energy policy and distance Argentina from its recent past of Peronist governance. Ojalá, Washington should ensure Milei stays true to his promised liberal vision and does not adopt the authoritarian path of some of his right-wing contemporaries, like Nayib Bukele, Jair Bolsonaro, and Guillermo Lasso. – The National Interest

United States

A who’s-who of U.S. conservative organizations has formed a national task force to fight antisemitism at home and abroad, underlining the growing chasm between the staunchly pro-Israel right and rising anti-Israel and pro-Hamas sentiment on the left. – Washington Times

U.S. President Joe Biden is more aggressively going after his likely 2024 election rival Donald Trump as polls show efforts to campaign on his own economic record are not working. – Reuters

Tom Rogan writes: Tensions between the U.S. and China are now persistent in the Taiwan Strait and growing rapidly in the South China Sea. The U.S. Navy has just begun a joint patrol with the Philippines in waters that China unjustly claims. Chinese coast guard vessels are escalating their use of water cannons and ramming tactics against Philippine vessels in these waters. Considering that Manila is a U.S. defense treaty ally, the potential for its escalation with Beijing leading to a U.S.-involved conflict is no small concern. And that’s before we consider the potential of miscalculation. Put simply, then, Key’s force posture should be welcomed in Washington. He is showing his respect for an unpredictable world and his value for the special relationship. – Washington Examiner

Cybersecurity

Microsoft has uncovered a supply chain attack by North Korean hackers who attached a malicious file to a legitimate photo and video editing application installer. – The Record

The pro-Russia hacktivist group Killnet is under increased scrutiny this week after a news website appeared to reveal the identity of its leader. Known online as Killmilk, he became famous during Russia’s war in Ukraine for representing a collective of politically motivated hackers. He’s actually a 30-year-old Russian citizen named Nikolai Serafimov, according to a report published Tuesday by Russia-based Gazeta.ru. – The Record

A rebel group in northern Myanmar is preparing to lay siege to the city of Laukkaing — a hub of the country’s flourishing cyber-scamming industry that has drawn criticism from Beijing. – The Record

Defense

USS Jimmy Carter Spy Submarine, An Explainer: Over the past two decades, the United States Navy has operated a very special submarine that has gotten little attention in the media – likely because its missions have been classified. In fact, we likely won’t ever know some of the places this boat has sailed or what those missions may have been. – The National Interest

Peter Suciu writes: In other words, there seems to be a lot of bragging that the U.S. aircraft that has been described as the absolute best air superiority fighter in service was able to successfully approach another aircraft from the 1960s without being seen. We shouldn’t be surprised or elated; we should have expected this outcome. As the F-22 is also the most expensive fighter ever built, we should be disappointed if it couldn’t have conducted such an operation. – The National Interest

Maya Carlin writes: Now that tensions between Washington and Beijing are peaking, alongside the geopolitical crises unfolding in Eastern Europe and the Middle East, the U.S. Navy’s capabilities are even more significant. – The National Interest

Long War

A Nigerian Masters student faces jail and deportation after a jury found him guilty of making terrorist threats against Dundee University. Somtochukwu Okwuoha claimed he had enlisted Isis to help bomb the university and told staff he planned to target the city in a chemical attack. – BBC

Michael B. Mukasey and Jamil N. Jaffer write: Hypothetical concerns over privacy shouldn’t divert Congress from its duty to protect Americans. Allowing the law to expire or hamstringing our national-security agencies with needless regulations is unacceptable. If Congress does so and returns to a pre-9/11 mindset, we will all know who is to blame. – Wall Street Journal

Brian Michael Jenkins writes: The U.S. Criminal Code makes a distinction between terrorism, which is aimed at influencing policy, and hate crimes, which are simply aimed at racial, ethnic, religious or other minorities. Most of what we may see will fall in the category of hate crimes aimed at easy targets — ordinary Jewish and Muslim citizens. More than political agendas, the motive underlying such violence is animus — revenge, retribution and religious and ethnic hatred, all of which are likely to be reflected in the quality of the violence itself. A lot of the violence to come may more closely resemble the savagery of the Oct. 7 attacks in Israel — unrestrained, deliberately bloody, gestural cruelty. – The Hill