Fdd's overnight brief

November 27, 2023

FDD Research & Analysis

In The News

Israel

Hamas released 17 Israeli and foreign hostages on Sunday, including a 4-year-old-girl with dual U.S.-Israeli citizenship, as negotiators remained locked in talks over a possible extension to the four-day deal that halted fighting. – Wall Street Journal

The previously unreported meeting of officials underscores how Biden’s handling of what is arguably the biggest foreign policy crisis of his presidency is dividing a White House that has prided itself on running a disciplined and united operation. The Israel-Gaza war has roiled the administration more than any other issue in Biden’s first three years in office, according to numerous aides and allies inside and outside the White House, as staffers agonize over their positions on highly emotional issues. – Washington Post

As Israel and Hamas near the end of a tense four-day pause in combat, outside parties have dared to hope that the break in violence will evolve into a more prolonged halt to a war that has already laid waste to much of Gaza. – Washington Post

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel visited his country’s troops in the Gaza Strip on Sunday, three days into a pause in fighting there, and vowed that “we are continuing until the end — until victory.” – New York Times

Hamas, the armed group that controls Gaza, said on Sunday that one of its top commanders had been killed in its war with Israel there. – New York Times

Human Rights Watch (HRW) said on Sunday that evidence suggested a misfired rocket was the likely cause of an explosion that resulted in heavy casualties at a hospital in Gaza on Oct. 17. – Reuters

Israel and Palestinian militant group Hamas have raised concerns over the lists of Israeli hostages and Palestinian prisoners set to be released on Monday, an official briefed on the matter told Reuters. – Reuters

Israel’s Foreign Ministry said Sunday that it would summon the Irish ambassador over a tweet celebrating the release of a 9-year-old girl from Hamas captivity, alleging the post didn’t adequately condemn the militant group. – Associated Press

Palestinian militants in a West Bank refugee camp shot and killed two alleged collaborators with Israel early Saturday, Palestinian officials said. Mobs then kicked the bloodied corpses and dragged them through alleys before trying to tie them to an electrical tower. – Associated Press

The Israeli government said Friday it would summon the Belgian and Spanish ambassadors following remarks by Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez and his Belgian counterpart Alexander de Croo on the war between Israel and Hamas. – Associated Press

US lawmakers should consider conditioning future aid to Israel on its compliance with international humanitarian law, Democratic Senator Chris Murphy said on Sunday, calling the civilian death toll in Gaza “unacceptable” and “unsustainable.” – Bloomberg

House Intelligence Committee Chair Mike Turner (R-Ohio) said conditioning U.S. aid for Israel on certain demands is a policy that would be consistent with U.S. policy with allied countries. – The Hill

Editorial: But every day the truce lasts the more time the jihadists have to regroup, slip out of Gaza, rearm, or plan more ambushes against Israelis. And the longer it lasts the more odds increase of an extended cease-fire, which is what Hamas really wants. The onus will fall on Israel to end the truce, though Hamas is unlikely ever to release all hostages, who are its only source of leverage. This is a terrible choice that Hamas doesn’t have to make because it considers civilians, including Palestinians, to be expendable weapons of war. That’s why it hides in hospitals, schools and mosques—and kidnaps women and children to serve its murderous ends. – Wall Street Journal

Editorial: Much is at stake in the war between Israel and Hamas. The conflict will help shape whether democracies under the rule of law or terrorists bound to fanaticism set the terms of international order. If, facing this question, the U.N. sees Israel as the immoral culprit, the U.S. should take action to set the international organization straight. – Washington Examiner

Ken Thomas and Annie Linskey write: The deal that Biden helped broker, he said, is a “win, win, win”—because it releases some of the most vulnerable hostages, allows humanitarian aid to Gaza and keeps Israel focused on the larger goal of removing Hamas. – Wall Street Journal

Matthew Hennessey writes: The families of the 240 hostages taken by Hamas have been in a living hell since Oct. 7. For some, the horror ended this weekend. For most, it goes agonizingly on. My daughter lives hundreds of miles away. I miss her like she lives on the moon. But the distance between us is only physical. She can come home whenever she wants. That’s something for which it’s worth giving thanks. – Wall Street Journal

Eugene Kontorovich and Itamar Marcus write: One of Hamas’s top leaders, Khalil al-Hayya, has said the broader goal of the attack was “putting the Palestinian issue back on the table.” When his terrorists invaded on Oct. 7, the plan was to race across the narrow waist of Israel and hook up with their comrades in the West Bank. Hamas wanted to cut the Jewish state in two. The Biden administration’s vision is a diplomatic version of this, connecting Gaza administratively to the West Bank. Israel will win this war. Hamas will be defeated. The international community can’t expect a victorious Israel to implement any version of its adversaries’ aims. Handing Gaza to the Palestinian Authority would do just that. – Wall Street Journal

Eli Cohen writes: The U.N.’s betrayal of its own mandate is not new for Israel, which has been the object of double standards and hypocritical policies for decades. Narrow political interests displace basic values and human decency in Turtle Bay, enabling the world’s most violent anti-Western forces to exploit the U.N. and promote an agenda radically opposed to its charter and stated goals. Israel is today at the forefront of the struggle against those forces aimed at the destruction of the free world. The failure of the U.N.’s leader and institutions to stick to its values and to defend Israel is a bad omen indeed. – Wall Street Journal

Maayan Zin writes: I will bring messages from the parents and loved ones of the other 31 children believed to be in captivity. Some of those children no longer have their parents waiting for them back at home. Take me to Gaza, so that I can be their mother, too. I will tell them that they have not been forgotten, and that they are loved. That they are cherished, and that for their sake the world was created. – Washington Post

David Ignatius writes: In the political-military sphere, one of the hardest maneuvers is advancing forces against an information barrage to stop the conflict. After the joy of the hostage releases in the coming days, Israel will face that difficult challenge — of how to finish the job it started against Hamas without triggering renewed international outrage. – Washington Post

Benjamin Netanyahu writes: I hope and pray that civilized nations everywhere will back this fight because Israel’s fight is your fight. Because if Hamas and Iran’s axis of evil win, you will be their next target. That’s why Israel’s victory will be your victory. But make no mistake. Regardless of who stands with Israel, Israel will fight until this battle is won. And Israel will prevail. May God bless Israel, and may God bless all those who stand with Israel. – Jerusalem Post

Iran

Iran facilitated Friday’s release of 10 Thai hostages from Gaza, providing a list of names to Palestinian group Hamas after a request to do so by Thailand’s Foreign Ministry and parliamentary speaker, Iran’s embassy in Thailand said on social media on Saturday. – Reuters

An avalanche killed five mountain climbers and injured four others from an all-Iranian climbing team in west Iran, state media reported on Saturday. – Associated Press

Western powers have been reluctant to get tough on Tehran for fear of aggravating Middle East tensions as Iran grows its nuclear program and reduces cooperation with the UN watchdog, diplomats say. – Agence France-Presse

Editorial: When the Senate returns after Thanksgiving, it should immediately pass the SHIP Act unanimously or at least by a big margin. The United States should do all in its power to turn off the financial spigot for Iran’s state-supported terrorism. – Washington Examiner

Seth Cropsey and Shay Khatiri write: If the U.S. doesn’t enforce deterrence, the Islamic Republic will continue to escalate its proxy attacks, exploiting the administration’s fear of a new military front and possibly succeed in driving a wedge between Washington and Jerusalem. Experience debunks Washington’s fear of escalation with Tehran. The regime’s cautious approach to escalation and reluctance to directly attack American military personnel belie its rhetoric and expose Tehran’s rational fear of a confrontation with the U.S. military. Taking advantage of this fear will deter Iran. If the U.S. is serious about deterring Iran and protecting the lives and health of its forces in the region, it will use the Soleimani assassination as the prime example of a successful strategy. – The Hill

Mike Evans writes: In essence, the US could, in 72 hours, bankrupt Iran by destroying its ports and oil refineries. Iran has made $10 billion off the US under the Biden administration. An attack would stop these finances from promoting terror, and the people of Iran would have the power to overthrow the government. Another option would be to attack Kharg Island. This would send a signal to Iran of what is to come if they do not back down. The Kharg Island oil terminal reportedly exports 80% of the country’s daily 2.2 million barrels. The US needs to bankrupt Iran and its terror state to prevent an apocalyptic crisis that is on the horizon and to send a signal to any would-be terror. – Jerusalem Post

Anita Friedman writes: However, as the world aligns itself in the front of good versus evil, I also had a moment of hope. There, in Toronto, three very different men stood together, united in one statement against a common enemy – the Axis of Evil: the Ukrainian whose country was taken over by a hostile aggressive state; the Iranian whose country was taken over by an extremist leadership that oppresses its people; and the Jew who is now recovering from a murderous terrorist attack. It was a beautiful demonstration with many participants, in which the flags of Ukraine, Iran, and Israel were waved together. It was a demonstration of good against evil, it was called “pro-Israeli,” but I saw a pro-world, pro-humanity demonstration. – Jerusalem Post

Russia & Ukraine

Russia sent waves of explosive drones to strike cities across Ukraine in the largest attack since last winter that likely marks the start of a fresh campaign aimed at demoralizing and dislocating Ukrainians. – Wall Street Journal

He is one of three Ukrainian teenagers who fled Russia or Russian-occupied Crimea this summer and shared their experiences with The Washington Post in lengthy interviews in Kyiv and Kherson. They each described systematic efforts by Russian officials to keep them in Russian-controlled territory. – Washington Post

A Ukrainian strike on a power station in Russian-held territory in eastern Ukraine overnight cut power to towns and cities, the pro-Russian authorities there said on Sunday, less than a day after Moscow launched a record number of attack drones toward Kyiv, the Ukrainian capital. – New York Times

Canada’s Liberal Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Friday said his main political rival on the right was abandoning Ukraine under the influence of Donald Trump, the Republican frontrunner in next year’s U.S. election. – Reuters

Russia has added the spokesman of U.S. technology company Meta, which owns Facebook and Instagram, to a wanted list, according to an online database maintained by the country’s interior ministry. – Associated Press

Russian President Vladimir Putin on Friday announced a plan to endorse a national strategy for the development of artificial intelligence, emphasizing that it’s essential to prevent a Western monopoly. – Associated Press

A Russian lawmaker and staunch supporter of President Vladimir Putin has denied media allegations that he adopted a missing 2-year-old girl who was removed from a Ukrainian children’s home and changed her name in Russia. – Associated Press

NATO member North Macedonia said Friday it would briefly lift a ban on flights from Russia next week, which would enable Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov to attend an international conference in the country should he accept the invitation. – Associated Press

President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said that special convoys will accompany vessels carrying key exports from Ukraine, including foodstuffs, via the Black Sea to ensure safe passage. – Bloomberg

Sen. Michael Bennet (D-Colo.) said Sunday that the proposed aid package to Ukraine should be approved without negotiations on the U.S.-Mexico border. – The Hill

Michael Khodarkovsky writes: Historically, this returns Russia to the realm of what in 19th-century Europe were known as “Asiatic despotisms”—the empires of the Russians, Ottomans, Persians and Chinese. It is no coincidence that the current heirs to these empires, Russia, Turkey, Iran and China, are authoritarian regimes ruled with various degrees of repression. Mr. Putin’s attempt to present Alexander Nevsky’s collaboration with the Golden Horde as an act of Russian patriotism can’t hide his desperate search for support from other dictators. – Wall Street Journal

Afghanistan

Pakistan’s military said its forces raided a militant hideout in a former stronghold of local Taliban in the country’s northwest near the border with Afghanistan, triggering an intense shootout that killed eight militants. – Associated Press

Taliban authorities in Afghanistan arrested four local employees of Germany’s main government-owned aid agency, according to the German Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development. – Associated Press

Many of the Afghan families being driven out of Pakistan have no homes to return to and will struggle to feed themselves through the harsh winter, the United Nations warned on Friday. – Agence France-Presse

A female Afghan special forces soldier who risked her life working in a unit that was set up, trained and paid for by the British armed forces is living in hiding after her application for sanctuary in the UK was rejected. – The Independent

Syria

An Israeli airstrike Sunday hit the international airport in the Syrian capital of Damascus and put it out of commission, Syrian state media said. – Associated Press

Syrian government forces shelled a northwestern village Saturday killing at least 10 people, including seven children, as they picked olives, a paramedic group and relatives of the victims said. – Associated Press

Jonathan Spyer writes: The main action in which the Iran-led militias are engaged at present is the ongoing campaign of harassment of US forces in the country. This campaign also appears to be directed from within the area of exclusive Iranian control in Syria, and to be taking place without the involvement of, and probably without prior consultation with, the Assad regime. – Jerusalem Post

Turkey

Turkey must forge ahead with its new and more sustainable economic strategy in order to draw back foreign investors, EBRD President Odile Renaud-Basso told Reuters as the bank itself invested record levels in the country. – Reuters

Several hundred mourners gathered outside a mosque in Istanbul on Friday to lament the death of two Turkish men who militant Islamist group Hamas said were killed earlier this week in Israeli strikes on south Lebanon. – Reuters

A top US Treasury official is set to visit Turkey next week for talks on American sanctions against Russian entities and the illicit activities of Palestinian militant group Hamas, according to people familiar with the discussions. – Bloomberg

Lebanon

The United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) said on Saturday that one of its patrols was hit by Israeli gunfire in the vicinity of Aytaroun of southern Lebanon, although there were no casualties. – Reuters

The U.S. embassy in Lebanon on Friday said there had been 12 hours of calm along the Blue Line marking the border with Israel, where daily exchanges of fire had been taking place between armed group Hezbollah and Israel. – Reuters

With a cautious calm prevailing over the border area in south Lebanon on Saturday, the second day of a four-day cease-fire between Hamas and Israel, villages that had emptied of their residents came back to life — at least briefly. – Associated Press

The IDF said early Saturday morning that a missile was fired from Lebanon towards on IDF aircraft that was remotely piloted in the Haifa area. – Jerusalem Post

Elie Podeh and Eitan Ishai write: Israel has chosen to focus its efforts on the southern theater, refraining from broadening the conflict in the North. Nonetheless, the ongoing war in Gaza, particularly its aftermath, could present Israel with an opening to alter the power dynamics concerning Hezbollah, whether through military or diplomatic measures. Meanwhile, Hezbollah has chosen to join the ceasefire by Israel and Hamas, but the Israeli-Hezbollah confrontation is far from over. – Jerusalem Post

Egypt

A future Palestinian state could be demilitarised and have a temporary international security presence to provide guarantees to both it and to Israel, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi said on Friday. – Reuters

Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah Al Sisi thanked Qatar’s Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani on Sunday for his work in mediating a truce for Gaza and the exchange of prisoners between Hamas and Israel. – Reuters

Egypt said on Saturday it had received positive signals from all parties over a possible extension of the Gaza truce for one or two days. – Reuters

Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry received a call from U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Sunday to discuss obstacles threatening Israel’s truce with Hamas and ways to reach a comprehensive ceasefire, Egypt’s foreign ministry said. – Reuters

Arabian Peninsula

Qatar’s diplomacy in the Gaza war, including help in arranging a temporary cease-fire and hostage-release deal that took effect Friday, cements the ultrarich Muslim nation as Washington’s preferred interlocutor with extremist groups and pariah states—in the Middle East and increasingly around the world. – Wall Street Journal

U.S. naval forces on Sunday thwarted the attempted hijacking of a tanker owned by an Israeli billionaire as the vessel transited near Yemen in the Gulf of Aden, according to U.S. officials and the tanker’s parent company. – Washington Post

Qatar’s prime minister said Sunday that the location of the Hamas leader believed to have planned the Oct. 7 attack in Israel is currently unknown, saying that information was likely only known by those close to him. – The Hill

Qatari Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman al-Thani said Sunday that a pause in fighting between Israel and Hamas could be extended if the militant group releases more hostages than was agreed upon days earlier in a deal in which a total of 50 people are expected to be released. – The Hill

Dore Gold writes: Iran has been supplying the Houthis with state-of-the-art ballistic missiles and advanced drones which have been employed to strike Israel. Houthi drones have destroyed Saudi oil installations and refineries in Abu Dhabi, causing tremendous damage. They have now threatened Israel’s southern port of Eilat as well. The Houthis have used Hezbollah as a key ally to extend their power and influence in the  Arabian Peninsula and around Israel.It has now become critical for the IDF to neutralize this problem. – Jerusalem Post

Gulf States

Even before visitors leave the baggage claim here, they have a sense of the vision the United Arab Emirates wants to project: A billboard-sized image shows rows of solar panels extending across the desert. The country’s leaders tout a “groundbreaking” transition to a green economy. Even the UAE’s oil company frames itself as a climate-conscious pioneer, with a plan to be net zero by 2045. – Washington Post

Kuwait’s highest court on Sunday sentenced former defence and interior minister Sheikh Khalid al-Jarrah al-Sabah to seven years in prison for mishandling military funds. – Reuters

James Rogan writes: Most importantly, as the price of oil rises, U.S. production will increase. It is all a matter of price. And as the price increases, demand will fall. The market, not Saudi Arabia and Russia, sets the price of oil. Ignore the noise, and focus on the supply and demand data. – Washington Examiner

Middle East & North Africa

A container ship managed by an Israeli-controlled company was hit by a suspected Iranian drone in the Indian Ocean, causing minor damage to the vessel but no injuries, a U.S. defence official said on Saturday. – Reuters

Jordan’s Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi said Sunday he hopes a meeting of Mediterranean officials will help bridge a gap between Arab and European countries in calling for a humanitarian pause in Gaza to become a permanent cease-fire. – Associated Press

The group disseminated a video of masked gunmen leading the hostages, six women and seven children ranging in age from 8-13, to the Red Cross vehicle that would take them out of the Strip. The video quickly circulated online, with some of those sympathetic to the terrorist group presenting it as a vindication of their behavior, on the basis that the kidnapped Israelis appeared grateful or warm toward their captors. Others presented it as further evidence of Hamas’s cruelty. – Jerusalem Post

Hamdi Malik and Michael Knights write: The fact that Abu Hussein, in an unusual move, chose to name the militias who participated in this military campaign shows that the old argument between various Iran-backed militias about who truly belongs to the muqawama is still very fresh. It also underlines that working within the Islamic Resistance of Iraq shared claim mechanism was taxing for the factions, who still want individual recognition for the militant work they do. The facade strategy requires a sacrifice of ego, which is not something they can keep up for very long. – Washington Institute

Korean Peninsula

The top diplomats of the United States, South Korea and Japan held a call on Friday to discuss North Korea’s recent launch of a spy satellite which they strongly condemned, the U.S. State Department said on Friday. – Reuters

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un inspected photos taken by the country’s new spy satellite of “major target regions”, including the South Korean capital of Seoul and cities that host U.S. military bases, state media said on Saturday. – Reuters

North Korea appears to have deployed soldiers and weapons to guard posts near the border that were shut in a 2018 deal with South Korea as tensions between the neighbors ratchet up in the wake of Pyongyang’s recent spy satellite launch. – Bloomberg

Japan’s Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said he’ll intensify efforts to realize a meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, according to Kyodo News Sunday. – Bloomberg

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un heralded a “new era of space power” Thursday after his government reportedly launched a spy satellite earlier in the week. – The Hill

Dov S. Zakheim writes: The costs, the technologies, and operational realities all weigh against South Korea acquiring nuclear-powered submarines. If that were not enough, America’s recent commitment to bolster the nuclear umbrella that it has long provided to South Korea and that is so critical to its deterrent should settle the argument once and for all. – The Hill

Michael Freund writes: Kim Jong Un may be pudgy and puerile, but he is perilous too. It is therefore essential that Israel take a more forceful public stand against North Korea and continue to strengthen relations with South Korea, which can serve as an important partner in trying to contain Pyongyang’s Middle Eastern mischief. And we must raise greater awareness about North Korea’s support for groups such as Hamas, which underlines how Kim’s regime is a force for instability not only in the Far East but around the globe. Simply put, North Korea has Jewish blood on its hands. It cannot be allowed to act with impunity. – Jerusalem Post

China

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi warned his South Korean counterpart on Sunday not to politicise economic and tech issues as the two prepared to meet Japan’s top diplomat on the sidelines of a trilateral meeting aimed at boosting cooperation. – Reuters

Beijing called for a cease-fire in Myanmar after a coalition of ethnic fighters seized several crossings along Myanmar’s border with China in the past month. – Associated Press

French Foreign Minister Catherine Colonna said Friday that China’s cooperation is vital on an issue that has divided it and much of Europe: ending the war in Ukraine. – Associated Press

Three Hong Kong regulators made a rare call for members of their industry to participate in upcoming local elections, after the government dramatically revamped the system to cement Beijing’s control. – Bloomberg

China has started military exercises along its border with Myanmar, the official Xinhua News Agency reported. – Bloomberg

The foreign ministers of China, Japan and South Korea agreed to push for a leaders’ summit of their three nations in the near future, restoring a process that had been on hold since 2019 due to the pandemic and political tensions. – Bloomberg

Leta Hong Fincher writes: The Communist Party has faced many opponents and dissenters in its decades of rule, quickly silencing and consigning them to oblivion. In the nation’s young women, the party’s male leaders may now be facing their most implacable challengers yet. – New York Times

Christopher Tremoglie writes: Moreover, it will be interesting to see how this might impact future relations between the United States and the communist country. Will China exploit these apparent public opinion deficiencies for its own gain in international relations? Will other countries? And, if it does, will U.S. voters hold the Biden administration accountable come election time? – Washington Examiner

Eric Miller writes: The House Select Committee on China, a genuinely bipartisan body, is reportedly planning events to discuss ways to penalize China for intellectual property theft while boosting trade with allies. Its report is due to be released by the end of 2023. It should include a detailed plan on RISC-V and the broader open-source loophole in U.S. law. This loophole risks allowing open-source semiconductor and artificial intelligence technology to freely flow to China.If America is going to win this new technology war, it cannot afford to leave stones unturned. When it comes to semiconductors, direct and timely policy action is required so that issues such as open-source technology like RISC-V are handled before they spiral any further out of control. – The Hill

South Asia

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi will visit UAE to attend the U.N. climate conference (COP28) in Dubai starting this week, underlying the country’s commitment to the issue of climate change, the government said in a statement. – Reuters

More than 2,000 people took part in a gay pride event in New Delhi, waving rainbow flags and multicolored balloons as they celebrated sexual diversity in India but also raised concerns over the country’s restrictive laws. – Associated Press

The governor of Sri Lanka’s Central Bank said Friday he’s confident it will receive the second instalment of a $2.9-billion bailout package from the International Monetary Fund before the end of the year, after payment was delayed due to inadequate oversight and debt restructuring. – Associated Press

Indian authorities have released a prominent Kashmir journalist on bail nearly two years after he was arrested on accusations of publishing “anti-national content” and “glorifying terrorism” in the disputed Himalayan region. – Associated Press

India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi flew a sortie on the Tejas, a locally-made Light Combat Aircraft, in a show of support for the nation’s defense technology. – Bloomberg

Mihir Sharma writes: Let’s hope the Indian statement noting that such killings are not policy is true now — even if it wasn’t exactly the case a few months ago. There’s no persuasive realist argument for targeted killings of Sikh separatist sympathizers in the West, and the costs to our relationship with fellow democracies are swiftly adding up. Some Indians may be proud that we can project our power onto other nations’ soil. But surely many of us would be prouder if we felt no need to do so. – Bloomberg

Asia

For weeks, Taiwan’s two main opposition parties were edging toward a coalition, in a bid to unseat the island democracy’s governing party in the coming presidential election, an outcome that Beijing would welcome. The election, one elder statesman from Taiwan’s opposition said, was a choice between war and peace. – New York Times

Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan said on Friday that Russia had not yet delivered weapons his country had paid for and that talks were underway to try to find a solution, Russian state news agency TASS reported. – Reuters

A Thai Muslim group that spoke directly with Hamas said its efforts were key to ensuring that Thai hostages were among the first to be released in Gaza during a temporary truce with Israeli forces. – Reuters

Australia’s Prime Minister Anthony Albanese said on Saturday a truce in the Israel-Hamas war marked “important progress” in the conflict, as he welcomed the release of hostages by Palestinian Islamist group Hamas. – Reuters

Christopher Luxon was sworn in as New Zealand’s prime minister on Monday and said his top priority was to improve the economy. – Associated Press

Singapore’s President Tharman Shanmugaratnam will hold a working visit to New York from Nov. 27 to Dec. 4, Channel News Asia reports, citing his office. – Bloomberg

The Philippines and Australia kicked off their first joint maritime patrols on Saturday, days after the Southeast Asian nation concluded a similar activity with the US in the South China Sea amid heightened tensions with Beijing over the contested waters. – Bloomberg

Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Lisa Franchetti this week emphasized the military’s focus on the Indo-Pacific during a weeklong visit to the region, which followed a high-profile meeting between President Biden and Chinese leader Xi Jinping earlier this month. – The Hill

Editorial: The U.S. will wish it had deterred the crisis when faced with these grim choices. Far better to avoid this conflict than to fight it in any form. Call it an early new year’s resolution for President Biden: Arm Taiwan at a faster clip, and show U.S. national will by building up America’s Pacific defenses so Mr. Xi believes that taking Taiwan isn’t worth the cost. – Wall Street Journal

Europe

Fast forward to 2023, when historic political momentum has given the far right a seat at Europe’s table and a chance to reshape the region’s politics and policies. The latest victory came in the socially liberal Netherlands, where hard-right icon Geert Wilders and his anti-European Union, anti-Muslim and anti-immigration Party for Freedom landed a shocking first place finish this past week in parliamentary elections. – Washington Post

Canada and the European Union said Friday they are making strides toward new partnerships on green energy, digital transformation and research funding, as a Canada-EU Summit got underway in the Atlantic coast province of Newfoundland. – Associated Press

Slovakia’s new prime minister, Robert Fico, said on Friday he considers the war between Ukraine and Russia a frozen conflict that cannot be solved by sending arms to the Ukrainian armed forces. – Associated Press

A group of member states is pushing to dilute proposals by the European Union aimed at cracking down on the circumvention of sanctions on Russia through third countries, according to people familiar with the matter. – Bloomberg

A senior Ukrainian official accused Polish authorities of inaction as blockades staged by protesting truckers at the border cause traffic chaos in which two drivers have died. – Bloomberg

A broad majority in the Danish parliament agreed to boost military support for Ukraine in the coming years, which the government said will help the Nordic nation meet the spending target of the NATO defense bloc through 2030. – Bloomberg

Eliot Wilson writes: The indications are still that the current government will face electoral defeat within the next 12 months. The presence in the Cabinet of Lord Cameron of Chipping Norton is unlikely to have a major effect on that overall trajectory. What it may do, with a fair wind, is give Britain a little more charm and clout on the world stage at a time of exceptional and interlocking crisis. That may not be the gamechanger for which Sunak is hoping, but, given the current fortunes of the British government, the philosophy of incremental gains should not be underestimated. – The Hill

Africa

More than 100,000 women may have been raped during the two-year civil war in Ethiopia’s northern Tigray region, according to the most comprehensive study so far of these attacks in research conducted by the Columbia University biostatistician Kiros Berhane. And countless women who gave birth as a result are struggling with a hidden agony, often ostracized even by their families. They have been victimized twice, once during the conflict that pitted Ethiopia’s military and allied soldiers from Eritrea against Tigrayan rebels, and a second time by their own communities, even after a cease-fire a year ago quieted the hostilities. – Washington Post

The authorities in Sierra Leone said on Sunday that they had arrested most of the leaders of a thwarted effort to break into one of the West African country’s key military armories and barracks, hours after they had declared a nationwide, open-ended curfew in response to the overnight attacks. – New York Times

The Russian Defense Ministry has sought to absorb some of Wagner’s activities, while preserving its influence and maintaining its wealth of knowledge about the continent. But a senior Western diplomat said that the uncertainty around Wagner in the Central African Republic provided a “window of opportunity” for the United States and France to counter Russian influence. – New York Times

The East African Community trade bloc admitted Somalia as its eighth member on Friday, a move Somali authorities and businesses hope will boost the country’s war-ravaged economy. – Reuters

An international watchdog urged the United Nations Security Council on Monday to consider all options to protect civilians in Sudan’s Darfur region after the latest attacks on non-Arabs killed hundreds of civilians. – Associated Press

Militants from a shadowy extremist organization with ties to the Islamic State Group killed at least 14 farmers in Congo’s hard-hit eastern region, a local official said Saturday. – Associated Press

Three West African nations led by military juntas met this week to strengthen a newly formed alliance described by some analysts on Friday as an attempt to legitimize their military governments amid coup-related sanctions and strained relations with neighbors. – Associated Press

Russian shipments of donated grain are due to begin landing in Africa within days, giving fresh impetus to its bid to bolster its influence in the continent. – Bloomberg

Latin America

A special European Union envoy said on Friday that U.S. sanctions are worsening the human rights situation in Cuba while reiterating the EU’s call on the communist-run government to release prisoners detained during mass protests in July of 2021. – Reuters

Argentina President-elect Javier Milei said on Friday he had spoken with the director of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), Kristalina Georgieva, regarding plans to adjust the country’s fiscal policy and monetary program. – Reuters

The U.S. government thanked Mexico for arresting a hyper violent alleged Sinaloa cartel security chief, but according to details released Friday, the detention may have been highly personal for the Mexican army. – Associated Press

Less than 48 hours into his term, Ecuador President Daniel Noboa on Friday repealed controversial guidelines established by the country’s left a decade ago that eliminated penalties for people found carrying illegal drugs under certain amounts. – Associated Press

Argentina President-elect Javier Milei heads to the US on Sunday night while his incoming foreign minister traveled to Brazil to invite President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva to the Dec. 10 inauguration. – Bloomberg

Canada is looking to restore ties with President Nicolás Maduro’s socialist government in Venezuela, falling in line with other allies after a push to install a rival leader collapsed. – Bloomberg

Mary Anastasia O’Grady writes: Argentina is in for a painful adjustment. The best Mr. Milei can do is minimize the damage from the explosion while trying to protect his political capital. A controlled devaluation over time—leading to the end of the pegged exchange rate and free capital flows—if accompanied by structural reforms could soften the blow. But that’s a lot of “ifs.” The larger imperative of terminating the abusive power of the state to print money won’t go away. Argentina needs a hard currency. – Wall Street Journal

Gabriel Pasquini writes: Equipped with little more than his cunning, Milei will try again to apply a program that has failed twice before. But in a country that does not shy away from toppling presidents for not delivering, I wonder if both the new president and the old program can survive together — or if one of them will have to go. – Washington Post

Jon Miltimore writes: If Americans fall for the same lie — that they can enrich themselves by creating a society that allows them to plunder their neighbor — their economic future will be similar to Argentina’s. And they may not have a Javier Milei to rescue them. – Washington Examiner

United States

A shooting that wounded three young men of Palestinian descent in Burlington, Vt., is being investigated as a possible hate crime, officials there said Sunday. – Wall Street Journal

The Israel-Hamas war in the Middle East has sparked concerns about religious discrimination in the U.S., creating new fissures in a divided American electorate that could help shape next year’s presidential election. – Wall Street Journal

Hundreds of protesters from an anti-Zionist Jewish group shut down the Manhattan Bridge on Sunday, snarling city traffic for hours. – New York Times

Editorial: In Canada, police told pro-Israel protesters, who had a permit, that they had to leave because the police could not guarantee their safety from a largely foreign anti-Israel mob. In England, veterans who wanted to carry the Union Jack were told to go home for their safety because of, again, a largely foreign anti-Israel mob. If we do not want similar scenes in our country, we need to become much more serious about who we let in, and for those who have not yet been granted citizenship, we need to get much more serious about throwing out those who don’t share our values. – Washington Examiner

Liz Truss writes: Whether it be the anticapitalist excesses of extreme environmentalists or the radical woke agenda being promoted in our schools and on our campuses, we urgently need to counter ideologies that undermine our way of life and give succor to our enemies. The future of the West depends on it. – Wall Street Journal

Sherrilyn Ifill writes: The 14th Amendment has once again proved too bold for the judges empowered to interpret it. Political forces are at play again, this time fearful of a backlash if Trump is removed from the ballot. As this case makes its way through the appellate process and, most likely, to the Supreme Court, it should be understood in the context of how the timidity and unwillingness of judges to acquiesce to the judgment of the 14th Amendment’s framers effectively derailed our democracy’s promise after Reconstruction and until the mid-20th century. We must ensure that it does not do the same in the 21st. – Washington Post

Liz Peek writes: When Johnson announced he would abide by an earlier promise and make the tapes public, Democrats were furious, accusing him and his GOP colleagues of breaching the security of the Capitol. Their complaints make it look like they have something to hide and further the distrust they have sown. Make no mistake — the riot on Jan. 6 should never have happened. But voters doubt they have the whole story; they are probably right. Maybe the Times will lead a more balanced review. – The Hill

Cybersecurity

Companies have spent millions of dollars training employees to stay safe from phishing. But to a large extent, it isn’t working. They might consider a powerful but underused weapon: storytelling. – Wall Street Journal

Australia’s competition watchdog said on Monday new competition laws were required in response to the rapid expansion of digital platforms such as Amazon (AMZN.O), Apple (AAPL.O), Google (GOOGL.O), Meta (META.O) and Microsoft (MSFT.O) in the country. – Reuters

India’s government on Friday warned social media firms including Facebook (META.O) and YouTube to repeatedly remind users that local laws prohibit them from posting deepfakes and content that spreads obscenity or misinformation, two sources told Reuters. – Reuters

Gulf Air said its data was breached on Friday but its operations and vital systems were not affected, Bahrain’s news agency BNA reported on Saturday. – Reuters

Some law enforcement agencies are encouraging iPhone users to be cautious following a new update. The Middletown Division of Police in Ohio posted a warning to parents on Facebook over the weekend regarding the “NameDrop” feature included in the iOS 17 update. – The Hill

Editorial: The same UNESCO report calls for a ban on smartphones at school no matter what age the user, and recommends it worldwide. This would reinforce a “human-centered” vision of education, the report says. Countries that have already adopted such policies have seen positive results; reductions in bullying in Spain and improved academic performance in Norway and Belgium. The United States would do well to follow their lead. In the face of today’s evidence, one could plausibly argue that children shouldn’t have access to smartphones at all. But at least keeping the devices out of schools? It’s an idea whose time has come. – Washington Post

Alan Thomas writes: OMB’s guidance is an innovative and transformative step in the right direction that reflects the realities of today’s and tomorrow’s cloud computing market. Only commercial clouds can provide the compute power necessary to run widespread AI workloads and the security to protect our nation’s technology from nation-states who wish us harm. Cyberattacks on cloud systems nearly doubled in 2022, and in a notable instance earlier this year, Chinese hackers breached U.S. government email accounts through a vulnerability in a widely used email service. Let’s give the U.S. government access to the same cutting-edge cloud technology and security that the private sector enjoys. The American people whom our government serves deserve nothing less. – The Hill 

Mark Weinstein writes: Of course, these three legislative recommendations won’t solve all the issues when it comes to keeping our youth safe online. Akin to the first seatbelt laws, they are necessary first steps. Social media has veered dangerously out of control. We don’t need more proof. The whistle has been blown. – The Hill

Rikki Schlott writes: It’s time the truth comes out. And, as a Gen Zer who has been on social media since my tween years, I’m heartened to see a bipartisan coalition of nearly every attorney general in the United States banding together in defense of youth mental health. Companies like Meta who are knowingly perpetuating suffering need to be held to account — not just for the teens they’ve harmed but also for the next generation who might be spared the same fate. – New York Post

Alex Tapscott writes: AI could alter humanity’s fate profoundly. But so far, just a select few — Altman and Nadella among them — are determining its future behind closed doors. They claim to represent the interests of all of humanity, but no one really knows. Neither do we know why OpenAI initially sent Altman packing last week. But a lack of “consistent candidness” — a k a “transparency” — was cited by his detractors. Back where it all began, Altman will likely emerge stronger than ever. Now he must use that strength to advance the core “openness” OpenAI has always claimed to hold dear. – New York Post

Defense

Campaigning in Iowa this year, Donald Trump said he was prevented during his presidency from using the military to quell violence in primarily Democratic cities and states. – Associated Press

Artificial intelligence employed by the U.S. military has piloted pint-sized surveillance drones in special operations forces’ missions and helped Ukraine in its war against Russia. It tracks soldiers’ fitness, predicts when Air Force planes need maintenance and helps keep tabs on rivals in space. – Associated Press

Christopher Tremoglie writes: Boebert deserves applause and praise for a job well done. In just a few months, she accomplished what the government that Sergeant First Class William Montgomery enlisted to protect failed to do for fifteen years. The congresswoman from Colorado got the job done when no one else in the nation’s government would. – Washington Examiner

Long War

A new front has emerged in Israel’s fight against the funding of Iran-backed militant groups from Hamas to Hezbollah: A fast-growing crypto network called Tron that until recently attracted less scrutiny than Bitcoin. […]Almost two-thirds of Israel’s Tron seizures – 87 – were this year, including 39 wallets that Israel said in June were owned by Lebanon’s Hezbollah, and 26 it said in July belonged to Palestinian Islamic Jihad, a Hamas ally that joined the assault on Israel from Gaza. – Reuters

The armed wing of the Palestinian militant group Hamas announced on Sunday the killing of four of its military commanders in the Gaza Strip, including the commander of the North Gaza brigade Ahmad Al Ghandour. – Reuters

The social media platform TikTok released an announcement on Sunday in which they stated that they will continue to enforce their censorship of hate content, violative content, and content promoting Hamas. – Jerusalem Post

Editorial: There were reports on Thursday night that Hamas was demanding that the IDF withdraw from Shifa as part of the hostage deal, a demand that Israel rightly rejected. The longer Israel stays in Gaza, the more it is discovering about Hamas’s web of evil and its cynical use of civilians, especially the infirm, to provide a cover for their murderous actions. The world should be coming together to back Israel’s actions and encourage it to continue its efforts to uproot the terror that has held Gaza captive for close to two decades. – Jerusalem Post