Fdd's overnight brief

October 14, 2022

In The News


What happened that day — already known in Iran as “Bloody Friday” — is by far the deadliest government crackdown against protesters since demonstrations began sweeping the country nearly a month ago. Internet service has been cut or severely disrupted in the region over the past two weeks, along with the cellular network, making it difficult to piece together how the violence unfolded. – Washington Post

The two teenagers — Nika Shakarami and Sarina Esmailzadeh — have become the new faces of the protests that have convulsed the country for the past month, the largest and most sustained bout of civil unrest to grip Iran since 2009. Their images appear on posters secretly plastered on walls in cities across Iran and on banners carried by protesters, their names a rallying cry for the fury being directed against the rulers of the Islamic Republic.  – New York Times

Iran’s president on Thursday accused the U.S. of conducting a “failed policy of destabilization” targeting his nation, as Iranian protesters continued to call for the downfall of its rulers despite a violent and wide-ranging crackdown. – Associated Press

Canada imposed new sanctions on Iran on Thursday in response to the government’s human rights abuses and destabilizing actions, the foreign ministry said in a statement. – Reuters

Iranian security forces stepped up their crackdown on Kurdish regions of the country overnight, deploying militia troops, as authorities pursued their deadly suppression of nationwide protests sparked by Mahsa Amini’s death in police custody. – Reuters

Editorial: The wide and unrelenting protests — oil field workers joined this week, and ethnic minorities, too — have been met by the regime with the usual mindless deployment of thugs, batons and guns. But what has become clear is how deeply and broadly Iranians yearn for normalcy and to be free of the dictatorial clerics. It is a spirit of disenchantment that cannot be arrested. – Washington Post

David Ignatius writes: Change begins with individual acts of courage. Right now, thousands of Iranian women are risking their lives to defy a regime whose feeble ideology is summed up in the slogan “Death to America” — which these days has become a rationale for barbarous cruelty against Iranians. We can’t make this revolution for them. But we can definitely applaud when it seems to be gathering momentum in the streets. – Washington Post

Joshua Muravchik writes: Officials, celebrities, and advocacy groups, beginning with American feminists, should embrace the protests. Young women are being bludgeoned to death. Where are the athletes who kneel against police brutality? Where is the Women’s March? Where is the Hollywood social conscience? Courageous Iranian women, and the men who stand with them, don’t need us to be their voice, but they do need to hear us shouting: We are with you. – Wall Street Journal

Ray Takeyh writes: The Islamists have made nearly all the same mistakes as the monarch they overthrew. The regime lacks an appealing ideology and shields itself in rhetoric that convinces no one. It is led by a corrupt and out-of-touch elite that relies on conspiracy theories to justify its conduct. It has pursued a foreign policy whose costs are more apparent than its benefits. And the mullahs have forgotten the most essential lesson of their revolutionary triumph: Persian armies don’t like killing their people en masse. – Commentary Magazine

Nicholas Carl, Kitaneh Fitzpatrick, and Frederick W. Kagan write: Simultaneous protests across Iran—in major cities and the border regions—could overwhelm security forces and prevent them from being able to control demonstrations in some locations. Such a scenario will not likely collapse the regime in itself, but it would certainly pressure it significantly. – Institute for the Study of War

Russia & Ukraine

On Monday, Russia fired 84 missiles, many at Ukrainian civilian infrastructure targets, causing power outages in many cities. On Tuesday, Russia launched another 28 cruise missiles. And on Thursday, the Ukrainian Armed Forced General Staff said Russia had hit more than 40 settlements since the day before. In all, more than three dozen people were killed. – Washington Post

Russia carried out a drone attack in the Kyiv region and struck a residential building in southern Ukraine with a missile, following days of strikes that have galvanized Western support for fortifying Ukraine’s air defenses. – Wall Street Journal

Russia hit Ukrainian cities from the air for the fourth day in a row on Thursday, and as new missiles fell and bodies from earlier barrages were pulled from the rubble, the death count rose to more than three dozen, officials said. – New York Times

In a sign that continuing and sustained Ukrainian military gains along the southern front are worrying the Kremlin, Russia is promising free accommodation to residents of the partially occupied Kherson region who want to evacuate to Russia. – Associated Press

With Russia expected to soon carry out large-scale drills of its nuclear forces as President Vladimir Putin threatens to use them, the United States and its allies will be challenged to ensure they can spot the difference between exercises and the real thing. – Reuters

Moscow and NATO are both proceeding with nuclear exercises, even as tensions escalate over President Vladimir Putin’s threats to use “all means available” — including atomic weapons — to defend land he claims to be Russian.- Bloomberg

The Russian military received a batch of overhauled and modernized self-propelled artillery guns that Russian state media made a special note on Wednesday can be used to launch chemical and nuclear shells. – Jerusalem Post

Michael McFaul writes: The best way for Putin to hold on to power is to end his invasion today. He could declare victory regarding the defense of Donbas, and then order his diplomats to settle into a long negotiation about the borders and political rights of those living in Donbas. Most Russians — elites and the masses — would support him. Fanatic imperialists do not have the means nor popular appeal to overthrow Putin. That is pure fantasy. – Washington Post

Vladimir Kara-Murza writes: I am sorry that I am not able to join you in person today — but I look forward to being back here in Strasbourg when a peaceful, democratic and Putin-free Russia returns to this Assembly and to this Council; and when we can finally start building that whole, free and peaceful Europe we all want to see. Even today, in the darkest of hours, I firmly believe that time will come. – Washington Post

Peggy Noonan writes: We’ll be helping dissidents only if we show now seriousness and sobriety and gravity, and repeat again the old Cold War distinction: We are against the Russian government’s actions but feel only respect and regard for the people of Russia, with whom we only want peace. – Wall Street Journal

Andreas Kluth writes: It’s always good to keep looking for off-ramps, in case we have overlooked any. But the reality is that we are back in the darkest scenarios of the Cold War, playing out game theory about prisoners’ dilemmas and chicken, and signaling threats of mutual assured destruction. MAD it is. That is Putin’s legacy. – Bloomberg

Lionel Laurent writes: The glass-half-full view of this crisis is that the EU pursues closer defense integration as a result, according to Lucie Béraud-Sudreau, of the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute. NATO could also improve coordination. Tough decisions are approaching for European governments. Gainsbourg’s bittersweet music is a sign of things to come. – Bloomberg

Mark Gongloff writes: Then again, many of those same allies are still buying up Russia’s liquefied natural gas, as Javier Blas notes, helping bankroll Putin’s massacres. Putin remains doomed to failure, but he can also take a lot of people out with him. – Bloomberg

Seth J. Frantzman writes: Nevertheless, the showing at the UN illustrates that many countries oppose Russia’s annexation and are willing to go on record at the UN to condemn Moscow. Although this is a success for the West and the US – and for democracy and the rule of law – much work remains. – Jerusalem Post

Seth J. Frantzman writes: As the world watches the war in Ukraine, everyone is beginning to understand that drones are not just a growing threat, but that Iran’s are increasingly a threat to the region and the world. – Jerusalem Post

Ian Williams writes: Putin may hope that by increasing the misery of the Ukrainian people, President Zelensky may be more inclined to negotiate a settlement that allows Russia to retain some stolen territory in the east or Crimea. This is unlikely as well. A quick look at history shows that the strategic bombing of civilians is an ineffective way to achieve a political aim. Putin may be trying to show strength, but he is broadcasting weakness and desperation. – Center for Strategic and International Studies

Kateryna Panasiuk and Mykyta Vorobiov write: Many more battles will be fought, and victories won, and many more will suffer and will require transfusions. The Ukrainian nation is now literally united by blood. – Center for European Policy Analysis

Kseniya Kirillova writes: But in the end, it must also be stated that countries which wage wars of aggression against their neighbors must accept that they have lost, and that this is no one’s fault but their own. This is not merely a whim of the victors, but a natural consequence of the crimes of the Putin era. – Center for European Policy Analysis


Israel said Thursday it was beefing up the security arrangements in Jerusalem after violent overnight clashes between Israeli police and Palestinians, as recent unrest in the West Bank spread to the holy city during an important Jewish festival. – Wall Street Journal

The Israeli military shot and killed two Palestinians on Friday during a raid into the Jenin refugee camp in the occupied West Bank, the Palestinian Health Ministry reported, the latest bloodshed in the deadliest round of fighting in the area in seven years. – Associated Press

The Palestinian president on Thursday used an audience with Vladimir Putin to denounce the United States, telling the Russian leader that he has no faith in Washington as a Mideast peace broker. Abbas spoke with Putin at a regional summit in Astana, Kazakhstan. His comments about the U.S., traditionally the main broker between Israel and the Palestinians, came at a time when the U.S. and Russia are at loggerheads over Putin’s invasion of Ukraine. – Associated Press

Israel rebuffed a PA bid to include language on the conflict between them in the Astana declaration issued Thursday during the sixth summit of a major regional Asian forum in Kazakhstan, according to Foreign Ministry Deputy Director-General Simona Halperin. – Jerusalem Post

Ultra-nationalist Knesset Member Itamar Ben Gvir brandished a gun during a tour of an East Jerusalem neighborhood amid intense clashes between Jewish Israelis and Palestinians Thursday night, drawing fire from political opponents. – Times of Israel

Prime Minister Yair Lapid on Thursday held a security consultation with senior law enforcement officials following fierce clashes in East Jerusalem the previous night, as police braced for further violence. – Times of Israel

Anti-Zionism is becoming one of the “core elements of collegiate life” in America, according to the Anti-Defamation League Center on Extremism’s annual report on anti-Israel activism on college campuses. – Algemeiner 

The ominous signs continue to gather. We are in the midst of the grimmest series of events in the West Bank since the mini-intifada of stabbing and car-ramming attacks that began in the fall of 2015 and died out the following spring. – Haaretz

Seth J. Frantzman writes: Israel has concerns about Russia and its air defenses in Syria, which impacts policymaking in regard to Ukraine. Moscow has S-300s and S-400s in Syria, and Israel and Russia have deconfliction agreements regarding Israel’s northern enemy amid Jerusalem’s war between the wars campaign against Iran’s trafficking of weapons to Syria. So Israeli air defense systems in Ukraine would clearly provoke Moscow. – Jerusalem Post

Alex Rose writes: What did Yair Lapid mean by his foregoing statement? Did he mean 2 states in an undivided Jerusalem or Jerusalem undivided as an Israel state with the Palestinian Arab state established elsewhere? If the former, he would find a majority in Israel would not accept this. If the latter, no Palestinian Arab or Arab leader would accept it. – Arutz Sheva

David Makovsky writes: The proximity of Israel’s election is distracting from the fact that the maritime deal with Lebanon represents a significant milestone for both countries. In pushing the agreement through, Lapid’s coalition government is betting that the concessions it has made will be offset by increased stability and mutual economic opportunities in a key maritime area. – Washington Institute


Thousands of Afghan girls and women sat university entrance exams on Thursday under the guard of Taliban snipers, two weeks after a bomber killed dozens of students preparing for the tests. Since the Taliban returned to power last August, many girls have been banned from secondary education. – Agence France-Presse

The Taliban has ordered male teachers and high-school students in the southern province of Kandahar to sign a written pledge that they will adhere to the militant group’s extremist interpretation of Islamic Shari’a law. – Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty

Afghans living in a makeshift refugee camp in the United Arab Emirates staged demonstrations this week protesting the uncertainty of their status, participants told Reuters, and one refugee now in Canada said they are “psychologically suffering.” – Reuters


In an apparent move to solidify Moscow’s hold over European energy markets, President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia on Thursday offered to export more gas via Turkey and turn the country into a regional supply hub for Russian gas exports to European countries. – New York Times

Turkey’s parliament passed a contentious bill Thursday that amends press and social media laws with the stated aim of combatting fake news and disinformation. Critics fear that as elections loom, the measure will be used to further crack down on social media and independent reporting. – Associated Press

Bobby Ghosh writes: If he decided to move against the YPG, expect Erdogan to take his time in stoking up nationalist passions and preparing his countrymen for any casualties. When that happens, the Biden administration will have some time to plead on behalf of the Kurds. But that, too, will probably be mostly performative. – Bloomberg

Soner Cagaptay writes: On the other hand, if the Turkish economy muddles through, thanks to fresh injections of cash from Russia and the wealthy Gulf countries, with which Erdogan is trying to reset Ankara’s ties, he could narrowly win the 2023 elections; he could also embrace further autocratic measures and—simultaneously—double down on his nativist populist policies, targeting women, the LGBTQ community, Kurdish nationalists, liberals, leftists, and other vulnerable and opposition groups across the Turkish society. – Washington Institute

Murat Kubilay writes:  Turkey is declining to the bottom among emerging markets and getting closer to the group of countries — including Pakistan, Tunisia, and Egypt — where foreign lenders are highly skeptical about their ability to pay debts back on time. Therefore, the right policies and strong public support will not be sufficient to achieve medium-run goals in this challenging international environment. Regardless of what happens in June 2023, Turkey faces a difficult road ahead economically. – Middle East Institute



A new Iraqi president was elected Thursday by the country’s parliament, a full year after early parliamentary elections that have failed to put an end to persistent political gridlock and dysfunction. – Washington Post

Nine katyusha rockets struck Baghdad’s fortified zone on Thursday, injuring security personnel and civilians, according to Iraq’s government. – Bloomberg

Iraq is at a crossroads. For more than a year, the country has been without a properly functioning government, as politicians failed to agree on who to lead it. – BBC


Lebanon’s President Michel Aoun said Thursday that the cash-strapped country has approved a U.S.-mediated maritime border deal with Israel. Lebanon and Israel both claim around 860 square kilometers (330 square miles) of the Mediterranean Sea that are home to offshore gas fields. – Associated Press

International Monetary Fund Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva on Thursday said talks with Lebanon remain stuck as the country’s officials haven’t yet implemented the prior actions needed to receive an IMF financing programme. – Reuters

The Biden administration’s energy envoy on Thursday insisted that the maritime deal he brokered between Israel and Lebanon will ensure the Jewish state’s security, pushing back against claims that Jerusalem had caved to terrorist threats. – Times of Israel

Saudi Arabia

The White House exchanged rebukes with Saudi Arabia on Thursday after the Biden administration threatened to retaliate for last week’s major oil-production cut by Saudi-led OPEC and its Russia-led allies, deepening Washington’s quarrel with a major Middle East partner. – Wall Street Journal

Saudi Arabia said Thursday that the U.S. had urged it to postpone a decision by OPEC and its allies — including Russia — to cut oil production by a month. Such a delay could have helped reduce the risk of a spike in gas prices ahead of the U.S. midterm elections next month. – Associated Press

Adam Taylor writes: Now, by pushing a production cut at OPEC Plus, Saudi Arabia isn’t just indirectly supporting Russia or pushing the world closer toward a recession — it’s shaking the very slippery, oil-based foundations of its relationship with the United States. And if Biden listens to some Democratic lawmakers, this marriage of convenience could finally be heading for a divorce. – Washington Post


Middle East & North Africa

A bomb exploded near a Syrian military bus Thursday, killing 18 soldiers and wounding 27 others, Syrian state media reported citing a military source. – Associated Press

The U.N. special envoy for Yemen on Thursday blamed Houthi rebels for the failure to renew a six-month-long truce and called on the warring parties to demonstrate “leadership, compromise and flexibility.” – Associated Press

A Qatari sheikh who has become a media sensation in his home country after installing a gigantic stone replica of the World Cup soccer trophy outside his home, called Thursday for normalization with the Jewish state in an interview with Israeli media. – Times of Israel

Korean Peninsula

South Korea scrambled fighter jets overnight Thursday after North Korean warplanes flew close to the border dividing the two countries. The move, which was widely seen as provocative even by Pyongyang’s standards, came as the North launched another ballistic missile early Friday morning, the latest of several recent weapons tests by Kim Jong Un’s regime. – Washington Post

For decades North Korea has threatened to turn enemy cities into a “sea of fire,” even as it doggedly worked on building a nuclear weapons program that could back up its belligerent words. – Associated Press

South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol on Friday said his government has been working on building a watertight readiness posture against North Korea’s provocations since he took office, following North Korea’s missile test and deployment of military aircraft that flew near the border dividing the two countries. – Reuters

With political stability in the Korean Peninsula balanced on a knife-edge, Kim Jong Un decided to escalate tensions even further on Thursday by warning the West that his nuclear forces are ready for “actual war.” – The Daily Beast


In his first years as China’s leader, Xi Jinping paid for his own steamed dumplings in a cheap diner, casually rolled up his trouser legs to avoid splashes in the rain, and was serenaded with sugary pop tunes. His image-makers cast him as “Xi Dada,” the people’s firm but genial “Uncle Xi.” – New York Times

Anyone wondering what Chinese people think about Xi Jinping as he is about to ascend to a precedent-breaking third term in power will have a hard time finding clues. In China, where independent opinion polls are virtually nonexistent, social media has been a way to gauge people’s opinions, even under censorship.  – Wall Street Journal

Chinese censors have taken the extreme step of restricting the search term “Beijing” on social media, after a rare public denouncement of President Xi Jinping days before his highly anticipated crowning moment in the capital. – Reuters

China’s ruling Communist Party will reshuffle its leadership when it holds a once-in-five-years Congress starting Oct 16, with Xi Jinping widely expected to stay on for a third term as general secretary, China’s senior-most position. – Reuters

Chinese President Xi Jinping will take the stage on Sunday to kick off a historic congress of the ruling Communist Party, where he is poised to win a third term that solidifies his place as China’s most powerful ruler since Mao Zedong. – Reuters

The Chinese government on Thursday accused Washington of “Cold War thinking” and appealed for efforts to repair strained relations after President Joe Biden released a national security strategy that calls for “out-competing China” and blocking its efforts to reshape global affairs. – Associated Press

But that centralisation has come with enormous risks. It could dull the dynamism that has been China’s hallmark since economic reforms began more than four decades ago. And it could deprive China of the mechanisms for self-correction that the Communist party has put in place in recent decades — exposing the life of a nation of 1.4bn people to the whims of a single leader. – Financial Times

Josh Rogin writes: The one-China policy is only a symbol of the long-standing, tacit agreement between the two countries to leave the Taiwan question unresolved. It’s a policy worth saving, if possible. But it’s not an agreement the United States can uphold alone. Right now, the one-China policy looks fragile, but it’s Xi — not Biden — who will decide whether the policy and the peace it preserves will survive. – Washington Post


South Asia

Two judges on India’s top court on Thursday differed over a ban on the wearing of the hijab, a headscarf used by Muslim women, in educational institutions and referred the sensitive issue to a larger bench of three or more judges to settle. – Associated Press

India scrapped on Thursday a rule granting voting rights to new residents of its Jammu and Kashmir region after widespread anger among political parties, who labelled it a bid to change the demographics of the country’s only Muslim-majority region. – Reuters

The Paris Club creditor nations last month reached out to China and India seeking to coordinate closely on Sri Lanka’s debt talks, but is still awaiting a reply, a source with direct knowledge of the matter told Reuters on Thursday. – Reuters


Deepening Canada’s military and economic ties with Asian democracies is a top priority, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s top diplomat said as she wraps up a week-long visit to Japan and South Korea. – Bloomberg

Australia wants to strike an “ambitious” security treaty with neighbour Papua New Guinea that will see navy, airforce and army personnel from each nation working alongside each other more often, Defence Minister Richard Marles said in Port Moresby on Thursday. – Reuters

President Vladimir Putin used a speech to Asian leaders on Thursday to develop a theme that he has pressed more intensely as Russia’s military fortunes have waned: that Moscow is fighting the West to establish a fairer world. – Reuters

Police in Kazakhstan’s largest city, Almaty, have detained an activist who openly protested against Russian President Vladimir Putin’s visit to Kazakhstan to participate in a two-day summit in the capital, Astana. – Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty

Moscow has slammed as “unacceptable” a comment by French President Emmanuel Macron that Moscow was “destabilizing” the peace process between Armenia and Azerbaijan. – Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty

Emil Avdaliani writes: Yet, the growing evidence of the potential deal is nevertheless highly promising. It signals a major shift from Russian-dominated efforts to Western-led initiatives. With Russia militarily overstretched, it might be unable to reverse its loss of influence in the South Caucasus. – Center for European Policy Analysis


Pleas from Ukraine for air defense support, after a barrage of Russian strikes on civilian targets, prompted new pledges from Britain, Spain and France — and more encouraging words from other defense ministers gathered for a two-day NATO meeting at alliance headquarters. – Washington Post

When German business chiefs got wind last month of an economy ministry proposal to screen all company investment going into China as part of a raft of new measures, there was uproar. – Reuters

NATO allies must take Russian threats to use nuclear weapons in Ukraine seriously, but shouldn’t let them disrupt international efforts to support the government in Kyiv, said German Defense Minister Christine Lambrecht. – Bloomberg

After Emmanuel Macron said that France wouldn’t respond to a nuclear strike in Ukraine with nuclear weapons, an official in his office insisted the French president would evaluate the need to use such a weapon on a case-by-case basis, an apparent bid to staunch criticism of Macron’s comments. – Bloomberg

European Union member states gave Hungary an extra two months to comply with demands to rein in corruption before deciding whether the bloc should withhold access to billions of euros in funding. – Bloomberg

Belarus has given its security forces broad powers under to prevent or respond to provocations from neighbouring countries, Foreign Minister Vladimir Makei told the Russian Izvestia newspaper in an interview published on Friday. – Reuters

Serbia must adapt to European Union visa policy if it wants to join the bloc, Germany’s interior minister said in Luxembourg on Friday. – Reuters

Norwegian police on Friday investigated reports of a drone that was spotted flying over the Kaarstoe gas processing plant in southwest Norway in potential violation of security protocols, newspaper Stavanger Aftenblad reported. – Reuters

Prime minister Liz Truss has been urged by foreign policy experts to rethink her government’s review into moving the British embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, as fears grow that a relocation could damage the UK’s reputation and jeopardise security in the region. – Financial Times


A rebel group operating from Sudan’s Nuba Mountains handed over nine prisoners of war to Khartoum authorities on Thursday after neighbour South Sudan’s mediation, potentially boosting chances for the two sides to reach a final and permanent accord. – Reuters

A Nigerian separatist leader accused of terrorism and instigating violence in the country’s southeast was acquitted Thursday by a local court, his lawyer told The Associated Press. – Associated Press

Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni has signed into law legislation criminalizing some internet activity despite concerns the law could be used to silence legitimate criticism. – Associated Press

The United States is sending $60 million in “rapid assistance” to help struggling Tunisian families amid ongoing economic shocks that have plagued the North African nation and been exacerbated by the war in Ukraine. – Reuters

At least 11 people were killed and 53 injured when a bus hit an explosive device in central Mali on Thursday, according to a hospital source. – Agence France-Presse

The Americas

The U.N. Security Council is considering creating a sanctions regime to impose an asset freeze, travel ban and arms embargo on anyone who threatens the peace, security or stability of Haiti, according to a draft resolution seen by Reuters on Thursday. – Reuters

The United States has imposed visa sanctions on 11 individuals, Assistant Secretary of State Brian Nichols said on Thursday during a visit to Haiti, a day after the State Department said it was taking action against those who support Haitian gangs. – Reuters

The United States promised Thursday to do more to combat arms smuggling with Mexico, which said that early efforts have succeeded in denting the country’s long dire homicide rate. – Agence France-Presse

A gunman killed five people, including an off-duty police officer, in a shooting Thursday night that turned a normally calm residential area of Raleigh, N.C., into a sprawling crime scene. – New York Times

The G20 closed talks in Washington on Thursday without issuing a joint communique, as a growing US-Saudi feud created new tensions in a group already divided over Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. – Agence France-Presse

Latin America

Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken met with Mexico’s foreign minister on Thursday for the second time in just over a month, as the Biden administration focused on Latin America amid politically perilous levels of migration at the southern U.S. border. – New York Times

A Florida-based oilman who pleaded guilty for taking part in a $1 billion conspiracy to pay bribes to Venezuelan officials received a major break in sentencing after providing standout cooperation to U.S. prosecutors investigating corruption at the country’s state-run oil monopoly. – Associated Press

Venezuelan migrants stranded on the U.S.-Mexico border on Thursday worried they might never reach the United States after a bilateral deal this week sought to put a lid on a recent sharp increase in crossings by the South Americans. – Reuters


Elon Musk’s SpaceX said it can no longer pay for Starlink in Ukraine, which has become a critical satellite service apparatus as the country fights to fend off a Russian invasion, in a request to the Pentagon to take over funding the endeavor. – Washington Examiner

A long-running Chinese-linked cyberespionage group targeted a U.S. state legislature’s network in July, marking the outfit’s first confirmed attack against the U.S. in years, according to analysis published Thursday. – CyberScoop

Today, most U.S. political discourse around TikTok is misguided. We focus on the news of China’s data theft and connect the dots from Experian, the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, Anthem Insurance, U.S. government payrolls and intellectual property theft to TikTok. If new information suggests China is up to no good (again) with TikTok, we are primed to believe that data theft is the real threat. But that’s not it at all. It’s our very public discourse that is at risk — not from theft, but malign influence. – CyberScoop

Binyamin Appelbaum writes: Many social media critics, including some in Congress, also favor direct restrictions on content. But America’s permissive speech laws are a source of national strength. Rather than censorship, the focus should be on the accountability of social media sites to their users. – New York Times


Truck-mounted launchers blasted off rockets and U.S. stealth fighter jets streaked across the northern Philippine sky on Thursday in a combat drill that marked the latest display of American firepower in a region where Washington has tried to deter what it warns as China’s growing aggression. – Associated Press

U.S. Army officials overseeing long-range weaponry are urging their counterparts in Europe to link artillery capabilities with those of NATO members, as the war in Ukraine highlights the importance of the weapon. – Defense News

The U.S. Navy and its partners in the Middle East are scaling up the number and the complexity of unmanned boats and artificial intelligence tools operating under Task Force 59, creating an extensive web that can flag unusual activity for human operators. – Defense News

The Army is just weeks from revealing its choice for a future long-range assault aircraft, according to the service’s acquisition chief. – Defense News

For the first time in decades, the Army is pursuing a new watercraft effort in a bid to prepare for operations in the Indo-Pacific theater […] The plan is to ultimately procure 13 of the MSV(L)s, but the Army is reevaluating its delivery schedule due to supply chain challenges Vigor encountered when a vendor went into bankruptcy. Following court proceedings, the company was able to bring in a new vendor to finish up the work. – Defense News