Fdd's overnight brief

October 14, 2023

FDD Research & Analysis

In The News


The assassination of Iranian military commander Qassem Soleimani nearly four years ago was a gamble by the Trump administration aimed at weakening the power that Tehran wields across the Middle East through a network of armed groups. – Wall Street Journal

Palestinians and foreign nationals in the Gaza Strip—which is running short of electricity, food, fuel and water—are trying to flee to safety ahead of an anticipated Israeli ground invasion but are finding there is nowhere to run. – Wall Street Journal

Israeli infantry and artillery units are digging in along the country’s northern border with Lebanon, reinforcing a stretch of frontier that could become a dangerous second front if Iran-backed Hezbollah militants launch broader attacks. – Wall Street Journal

Saturday’s attack on Israel by Hamas militants, who killed more than 1,200 people and kidnapped many others back to the Gaza Strip, has upended fundamental assumptions about the Middle East. Now, as Israel, its enemies and its main partner, the U.S., respond to these shocking events, the new—and untested—rules of the game risk turning the bloody confrontation between Israel and Hamas into a much wider war. – Wall Street Journal

Six days of Israeli airstrikes have left more than 300,000 Palestinians in the Gaza Strip homeless, with two million residents facing critical shortages of food, water and fuel, while Israeli troops prepared on Thursday for a possible ground invasion after Hamas’s deadly weekend assault. – New York Times

Israel’s military asked civilians in Gaza to move to the southern part of the enclave, signaling a widening offensive and prompting the United Nations to warn of devastating humanitarian consequences. – Wall Street Journal

Hamas militants who flooded into southern Israel from Gaza last weekend carried detailed maps of the towns and military bases that they targeted. Some also carried tactical guides identifying weak spots on Israeli army armored vehicles. – Wall Street Journal

Video filmed on Wednesday of an Israeli strike on Gaza City port appears to show the use of white phosphorus, according to an analysis by Human Rights Watch. The controversial munition, which is commonly used to create smoke to mark targets, can cause severe harm when used against civilians. – Washington Post

On Wednesday, at around 6:30 p.m. local time, air sirens sent millions of people racing into shelters across northern Israel. The country’s Home Front Command had detected dozens of unknown aircraft, presumably drones, coming across the border and infiltrating Israeli towns. It turned out to be a false alarm, the result of what an Israeli military spokesman called “human error,” but panicked civilians probably feared that Hezbollah, Israel’s longtime enemy in neighboring Lebanon, had just opened a second front in the war. – Washington Post

Israel’s army said Thursday that it would seek the end of Hamas in Gaza as airstrikes on the besieged enclave targeted the group’s senior leaders and caused widespread civilian casualties. – Washington Post

Secretary of State Antony Blinken invoked his Jewish ancestry on Thursday in a markedly personal appeal to the Israeli public aimed at offering solidarity as the country reeled from the deadliest assault in its 75-year history. – Washington Post

When the alarm rang at dawn, Irene Repuela Torres had 15 seconds to usher the aged Israeli American couple she worked for as a caregiver into the bomb shelter. But her employer, whom she called her lola, the Filipino word for grandmother, insisted on going to the bathroom first. – Washington Post

The conflict in Israel and rising tensions across the Middle East are raising risks to the global oil market, as demand for crude is set to rise to a record in 2023, according to the International Energy Agency. –Wall Street Journal

Israel, already bombing intensively in Gaza, is gearing up for a major military operation there unlike any in the past, warning the world that for Israel, after the massacre of its citizens by Hamas on Saturday, the rules have changed. – New York Times

The two militants were just ahead of him, spraying gunfire from their motorcycle at passing cars. One militant was driving, the 50-year-old man said, and the other sat behind, shooting at any target he saw. At least one wore body armor. – Associated Press

The morgue at Gaza’s biggest hospital overflowed Thursday as bodies came in faster than relatives could claim them on the sixth day of Israel’s heavy aerial bombardment on the territory of 2.3 million people. – Associated Press

Less than a month before Hamas fighters blew through Israel’s high-tech “Iron Wall” and launched an attack that would leave more than 1,200 Israelis dead, they practiced in a very public dress rehearsal. – Associated Press

Israel has imposed a total blockade on the Gaza Strip after the Islamist militant group Hamas sent its fighters across the border early Saturday, where they killed more than 1,300 Israeli civilians and soldiers. – Reuters

British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak is deploying two Royal Navy ships and surveillance aircraft to the eastern Mediterranean to support Israel and reinforce regional stability, his Downing Street office said on Thursday. – Reuters

Gaza’s ruling Hamas militants called on Palestinians to rise up on Friday in protest at Israel’s bombardment of the enclave, urging Palestinians to march to East Jerusalem’s Al-Aqsa Mosque and clash with Israeli troops in the occupied West Bank. – Reuters

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas condemned violence against civilians on Thursday in the wake of the devastating attack by Hamas gunmen on Israel and the relentless bombardment of the Gaza Strip by Israeli jets that followed. – Reuters

Despite Israeli bombardment that has brought Gaza to the brink of a humanitarian meltdown, U.S. President Joe Biden is facing little pressure at home to rein in Israel’s military retaliation for an unprecedented attack by Palestinian Hamas militants. – Reuters

Israel’s government showed U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken and NATO defence ministers graphic images of dead children and civilians on Thursday, saying they were killed by Palestinian group Hamas as it builds support for its response. – Reuters

An Israeli invasion of Gaza will face an enemy that has built a formidable armoury with Iran’s help, dug a vast tunnel network to evade attackers and has shown in past ground wars it can exact a heavier toll on Israeli troops each time. – Reuters

The last word that Anat Moshe Shoshany got from her grandmother was a text message saying that armed men were inside her house in Nir Oz kibbutz near Gaza, pushing their way through the safe room door. –Reuters

The Biden administration has ruled out sending military personnel, including special forces, into Gaza as part of an attempt to free American hostages there. But the decision, which was announced by a top White House official, could be revisited. – Politico

Western governments are urging Israel to show restraint in its military campaign against Hamas in Gaza, as fears grow that the conflict could spiral out of control. On Thursday, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken and French President Emmanuel Macron combined their support for Israel’s right to retaliate with a warning: That response must be fair. – Politico

The ongoing war between Israel and Hamas has darkened the horizon for the world economy, already experiencing weak growth, IMF chief Kristalina Georgieva said Thursday. – Agence France-Presse

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky on Wednesday urged Western countries to rally around the people of Israel as they did around Ukraine after Russia’s invasion. – Agence France-Presse

Arab foreign ministers on Wednesday denounced Israel’s siege of Gaza following the shocking and murderous attack by Hamas terrorists on Israel, demanding that aid be “immediately” allowed to enter the blockaded enclave. – Agence France-Presse

Last weekend’s devastating attack on southern Israel was two years in the making, according to a senior Hamas official, who admitted the terrorist group was surprised by how successful it had been. – Washington Examiner

Even at this early stage in the war, armchair advisers and some allies are seeking to tie Israel’s hands in Gaza. Most Israelis are ignoring such calls, envisioning a “day after” when Hamas is no more and Gaza disarmed. – New York Sun

The White House says Americans in Israel who want to leave but have been unable to find or cannot afford commercial flights will be evacuated on government chartered planes beginning Friday. – New York Sun 

Israel is targeting Hamas’ political leaders in Gaza as well as military ones as it seeks to crush the Palestinian group that launched a brutal attack on its civilians last weekend, military spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Richard Hecht said.- Bloomberg

Israel’s military said it has confirmed that at least 97 people were taken as hostages when Hamas attacked southern towns and communities on Saturday. – Bloomberg

The military spokesperson for Islamic Jihad’s armed wing is warning Israel that fighting in the Middle East could soon expand to the West Bank, setting up a major escalation in the war between Israel and Hamas. – Newsweek 

Finance ministers from the world’s largest developed economies slammed Hamas for its attack against Israel. – Bloomberg

In the unprecedented American support of Israel amid its war with the Hamas terror group, the navy’s largest and most advanced aircraft carrier the U.S.S. Gerald Ford arrived in the eastern Mediterranean, complete with all of its 4,539 soldiers. The move serves only as a deterrent as the Americans, as National Security Council spokesman John Kirby said, have no intention of setting foot in either Israeli or PA territory or intervening in the fighting. – Ynet

An Islamic State flag was found among the personal artifacts of Hamas terrorists who viciously murdered civilians in Gaza border communities when they infiltrated Israel on Saturday, the military said on Thursday. – Ynet

IDF Spokesperson Brig. Gen. Daniel Hagari on Thursday morning conceded for the first time that there had been intelligence of a pending Hamas attack before the murderous invasion into bases and communities along the Gaza border but said the information was not concrete. “There were some indications, but nothing that could have warned of an attack at that scope, he said in an early morning briefing. – Ynet

The Pentagon has transferred to Israel the first missiles in US inventories for the Iron Dome air-defense system to intercept Hamas rockets, according to a US defense official. – Bloomberg

Editorial: Mr. Trump has an impressive record of support for Israel that he could stick to touting. This includes moving the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem, after other Presidents promised but failed to deliver. And there are the Abraham Accords between Israel and Arab states that Mr. Biden has supported and has been trying to extend to Saudi Arabia. But Mr. Trump can’t help himself from making everything about himself. That’s the same way he handled the Covid crisis, and it’s what voters would get in a second Trump term in a much more dangerous world. – Wall Street Journal

Meir Soloveichik writes: For many years after Yom Kippur in 1973, Jews in Israel marking Judaism’s holiest day remembered where they were when the siren sounded, the reserves were called up, and loved ones bid goodbye to soldiers, some of whom they never saw again. Countless Jews will now mark every year the completion of the Law of Moses and remember the Simchat Torah of 2023. The celebration will be rendered more profound in the knowledge that the story of the Jewish people continues, that its enemies have failed again, that the cycle of the Torah will begin once more, and that there will be many Jewish babies’ births celebrated in the year to come. – Wall Street Journal

Joseph C. Sternberg writes: Europe’s failures in Russia and China have triggered painful, albeit so far only partial, political recalibrations over the past year and a half. One result is a reinvigoration of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization as Europe discovered that military muscle still matters. A sign that Europe is really learning will be if a similar debate breaks out over Middle East policy now. – Wall Street Journal

Peggy Noonan writes: They must look to internal stability and security—fortify, build up defense positions, firm up security and intelligence on the borders and internally. Replenish arms and ammunition, continue making arms available to the people. Israelis have to begin feeling secure in their homes again. Do everything possible to proceed in attempting a return of the hostages. Be frank about this. Continue to unmuddy the moral waters. What Hamas did was stone evil. Tell the world and show the world, over and over. For now they must bury the dead and mourn. But something else. There is something Israel has shown to a heroic degree each day since that terrible Saturday morning. – Wall Street Journal

Emma Osman writes: As the war grinds on in Israel and Gaza, many who post on social media will forget their brief stints of activism. But my generation in Israel and those who support it will keep fighting for what some of those Instagram posters claim to care about: freedom, liberty and democracy. It’s time to look up from our screens. – Wall Street Journal

David Brooks writes: As I went back and revisited all these events, I was struck by how negotiators on both sides were immersed in resolving practical issues. Now politics is mostly theater and psychodrama. Hamas and its followers cultivate the fantasy that Israel, a permanent Middle Eastern nation, will magically cease to exist. Its terrorists seek to avenge the wounds of injustice and humiliation with mass murder, without anything remotely resembling a firm plan to improve the quality of Palestinian lives. – New York Times

Michelle Goldberg writes: Though perhaps that’s too grandiose an analogy for an amorphous campus-bred left-wing tendency that communicates in hashtags and sound bites. On social media, some scholars and activists are repeating the line “Decolonization is not a metaphor,” suggesting that the homicidal spree we just saw in Israel is not a departure from their ideology but the embodiment of it. I suspect they will come to regret it if people take them at their word. – New York Times

David Petraeus and Andrew Roberts write: To that end, Israel must have a plan for what to do if it decides to occupy the Gaza Strip for months or even years, as it did up until 2005. When the several-day battle for Najaf, Iraq, was complete on April 3, 2004, I (Gen. Petraeus) radioed my boss, Lt. Gen. William Wallace, that I had good news and bad news. “The good news,” I reported, “is that we own Najaf.” “What’s the bad news?” he asked. “The bad news,” I responded, “is that we own Najaf. What do you want us to do with it?” – Wall Street Journal 

Rachel Goldberg writes: I don’t know if I will see him again. My last glimpse of him was on Friday night, when I kissed him goodbye after a dinner with friends to celebrate Shabbat and Simchat Torah. He was wearing his backpack and ready for an adventure. He—and we—got a nightmare instead. – Wall Street Journal 

Hugh Hewitt writes: We have seen the madness that consumes Hamas, just as it surely consumes Hezbollah in Lebanon and the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps and Quds Force in Iran. It is a madness that they would will upon the world. We have no excuse now to indulge the belief that the Nazi trials at Nuremberg offered a final and binding judgment that all nations would respect. – Washington Post

Paul Waldman writes: Which some on both left and right surely have. Little good comes of the granular analyses of the latest round of condemnations. Nor does it bring us closer to a future in which the horrors in Israel and Gaza are less likely to recur. – Washington Post

David French writes: Every violation of the law should carry a consequence, but the law of war does not prevent Israel from destroying a terrorist army embedded in a civilian population. It can be done. It has been done. And as Israel embarks on perhaps its most difficult military operation since its war for independence, public clarity about the law of war will be indispensable for depriving Hamas of one of its chief propaganda weapons, and continued enforcement of the law of war can prevent atrocities that could fuel this conflict for generations to come. – New York Times

Pankaj Mishra writes: One can only hope that the heightened sense of mutual vulnerability among Israelis and Palestinians will reopen the path to negotiations. It has always been clear what true normalization looks like: the end of the Israeli occupation and emergence of a sovereign Palestinian state where terrorist organizations such as Hamas can no longer feed off misery and hopelessness. Failing that, we must all prepare for days darker than those after 9/11.- Bloomberg

Alan Dershowitz writes: It is obvious that only Iran can permanently put an end to the recurring violence. And the only way to persuade Iran to terminate its role as the primary supporter of terrorism in the Middle East, would be to punish the regime if it persists in facilitating such abominations: every act of Iran-inspired terrorism shall be countered with punitive actions. – New York Sun 

Lawrence Kudlow writes: The reality is, Congress has mandated the tools to keep Iran in poverty and thus deny Hamas all the financing to cut off babies’ heads and murder grannies in bed. Trouble is, the Bidens won’t execute the congressional law. – New York Sun

Johannes Lang writes: Today, a massive Israeli army is lining the border of the Gaza Strip. Defense Minister Gallant has pledged to “set Gaza back 50 years.” Americans are rightly appalled at the terrible loss of life in Israel and Gaza. There will be a time for mourning and a time for assigning blame. Now is the time to stop the violence. Do not sit back and allow this response to spiral into ethnic cleansing. Do not give carte blanche to Netanyahu. – The Hill

Grant Rumley writes: The Gaza war will further require the United States to commit forces and materiel to support Israel. If Washington wants to continue supporting its global partners while preparing for long-term competition with China, it will need continued creative thinking in deployment of military forces and a concerted bipartisan effort to expand the defense industrial base to provide lasting and meaningful support to partners abroad. – Washington Institute

Matthew Levitt writes: Using Gaza as a safe haven, Hamas recruited and trained a large fighting force and built the capability to produce its own rockets and mortars and dig sophisticated tunnels. Rather than adhere to a long-term cease-fire that allowed Gazans to work in Israel and develop their economy, Hamas opted to start a war that, in the words of its political leadership, has only one ending. “This is the ultimate jihad,” Haniyeh crowed as the October 7 attack played out, “the outcome of which can only be victory or martyrdom.” – Foreign Affairs


The U.S. and Qatar have agreed to deny Iran access to $6 billion in oil proceeds that Washington had previously freed up as part of a prisoner swap reached last month, according to people familiar with the matter. – Wall Street Journal

Iran’s top envoy accused Israel of seeking “genocide” by enforcing a siege against the Gaza Strip, Iranian state TV reported on Thursday, as he began a regional tour to discuss the conflict between Tehran’s Palestinian ally Hamas and Israel. – Reuters

Iran’s Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian said on Thursday that the continuation of crimes against Palestinians will receive a response from “the rest of the axis” and Israel will be responsible for the consequences. – Reuters

Saudi Arabia’s de facto ruler and Iran’s president spoke by phone about the war between Israel and Hamas which erupted after the terror group’s massive weekend assault on the Jewish state, Saudi state media said early Thursday. – Agence France-Presse

Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi has called on Islamic and Arab countries to cooperate in confronting Israel as it wages war against Hamas in a conflict triggered by an devastating shock attack by the Palestinian terror group. – Agence France-Presse

The mullah regime in Iran has been ramping up its diplomatic activities, making no secret of its intentions to rally the Arab world in support of Hamas’ ongoing conflict with Israel, and potentially future Hezbollah involvement as well. – Ynet

U.S. troops stationed across the Middle East are on the lookout for Iran’s regional network of allied militias potentially opening new fronts in the most serious flare-up of Israeli-Palestinian violence in decades. – Newsweek

As fears mount over Tehran’s involvement in the Israel-Gaza conflict, the Biden administration has sent a clear message to Iran’s regime: exercise caution. – ABC News

Republican Presidential candidate Chris Christie weighed in on the ongoing war between Israel and Hamas and the deal between the United States and Iran, calling Iran the “greatest” source of the world’s terrorism. –The Hill

Liz Peek writes: Whether Iran helped plan the attacks or simply provided the funding, training and munitions is beside the point. Almost certainly Hamas would not have been able to pull of such a sophisticated multi-pronged assault without the help of Tehran, and would not have dared do so without the mullahs’ approval. Hence, there is a clear need for reprisals. Yes, we have agreed to send weapons and arms, but our stocks are depleted, thanks to our backing of Ukraine. For that information we have no less an authority than the president himself, who indiscreetly admitted in July that we were “low” on munitions. – The Hill

Russia & Ukraine

Alongside Ukraine’s assault on Russian front lines, the country is conducting a second—and potentially more critical—campaign: destroying enemy command centers, ammunition depots and logistics lines that Moscow relies on to keep fighting. – Wall Street Journal

Intense fighting raged around the eastern Ukrainian city of Avdiivka for a third day, local officials said Thursday, after Russian forces launched a major attack on the city, mobilizing thousands of troops and columns of armored vehicles. – Washington Post

The Treasury Department placed sanctions on two shipping companies Thursday for violating a $60-per-barrel price cap on Russian oil, marking the first penalties intended to enforce what experts say is a widely flouted rule. – Washington Post

In his first known international trip this year, Russian President Vladimir Putin arrived Thursday in Kyrgyzstan, where he will meet with Eastern European leaders. – Washington Post

Since the attacks by Hamas on Israel last weekend, Ukraine has sought to position itself as a friend of Israel, while asserting that Moscow would try to use the conflict to drive a wedge between Ukraine and the countries that support it. Russia, for its part, has said that Israel’s war in Gaza shows the failure of the West and in particular U.S. policy in the region. –New York Times

Finance ministers from the Group of 7 nations pledged on Thursday to continue providing economic support for Ukraine and backed a plan that would help finance the nation’s reconstruction with proceeds from Russian assets that have been frozen by Western nations. – New York Times

Russia stepped up its shelling of Kherson, striking the southern Ukrainian region 100 times in 24 hours, killing civilians and causing widespread damage, a regional official said on October 13, as the military said Moscow was continuing its attempts to overrun Avdiyivka, a town just south of the eastern city of Donetsk. – Radio Free Europe/ Radio Liberty

Drew Goins writes: VKM writes that Russian dictator Vladimir Putin pulled together a commission to create a new set of high school history texts, which went into circulation with the new academic year. “As could be expected from a regime led by a KGB officer who spares no effort to whitewash and glorify the Soviet past,” Vladimir says, “the new textbooks have very little to do with actual history.” – Washington Post

Norm Ornstein and Dennis Aftergut write: Beyond legal authority and precedent, the moral imperative for transferring Russia’s funds in the U.S. to Ukraine is compelling. It is particularly just to give the invader’s frozen assets to the nation attempting to defend itself. Biden can simultaneously protect our national security, enhance world stability and burnish America’s image by helping a victim of aggression resist an aggressor with the invader’s own resources. – The Hill

Samuel Ramani writes: While Russian propagandists fire off anti-Israeli diatribes and Chechnya’s leader Ramzan Kadyrov boasts of his ability to deploy peacekeepers to support Palestine, the Kremlin’s real attitude towards the Gaza War is more circumspect. Russia will likely continue its shuttle diplomacy, while quietly rooting for a long war in Gaza that does not extend far beyond its borders. – Center for European Policy Analysis


Will Lebanon’s heavily armed Hezbollah militia join the Israel-Hamas war? The answer could well determine the direction of a battle that is bound to reshape the Middle East. – Associated Press

Gov. Ron DeSantis’s (R-FL) campaign is hitting former President Donald Trump for his “pathetic cleanup attempt” regarding comments he made that some claim complimented Hezbollah. – Washington Examiner

Hanin Ghaddar writes: Likewise, Iran and the IRGC need to be made aware of the risks to their own political and military infrastructure if Hezbollah intervenes. The decision is in Tehran’s hands—before the regime makes up its mind, Washington should make clear what will happen if it continues using Arab proxies to target Israelis and Americans. – Washington Institute


Syria said Israeli forces launched simultaneous missile attacks on the airports in its capital Damascus and the northern city of Aleppo on Thursday, damaging the runways and putting both hubs out of service. – Reuters

Israel’s airstrikes on Syria on Thursday violated its sovereignty and international law, the Russian Foreign Ministry said. – Reuters

United Nations humanitarian officials sounded an alarm Thursday over a humanitarian crisis in rebel-held northwestern Syria, warning that intense shelling by government forces displaced almost 70,000 people in recent weeks. – Associated Press


As Israeli warplanes pound Gaza, killing more than 1,500 people and crushing buildings in response to last weekend’s unprecedented attack by Hamas, Israel’s leadership has repeatedly urged civilians to flee the territory while they can. – New York Times

But the only viable exit is a border crossing into Egypt, and that country, as ever in times of war, is keeping it firmly shut. The Egyptians are adamantly opposed to allowing Gazans to cross the border for fear the country could become sucked deeper into the crisis — even as Israel presses ahead with a punishing siege that is rapidly escalating into a dire humanitarian crisis. – New York Times

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi said in a speech on Thursday that Egypt is exerting every effort to contain the escalation in the Israel-Hamas conflict and is trying to reach a ceasefire. – Reuters

Middle East & North Africa

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Friday met with Jordanian King Abdullah in Amman, the second stop of his most extensive Middle East tour yet as Israel prepares for a sweeping ground offensive in Gaza, and he urged people in Gaza city to evacuate to the south. – Reuters

Oil prices were up on Friday after the U.S. tightened its sanctions programme against Russian crude exports, raising supply concerns in an already tight market, and global inventories are forecast to decline through the fourth quarter. – Reuters

Turkey’s foreign ministry urged citizens in Lebanon on Friday to stay away from the country’s south because of fighting between Israeli and Palestinian forces there, and advised them to stay north of the Litani river. – Reuters

Walter Russell Mead writes: Finally, there is the question of whether American and Western opinion will awaken to the new state of the world. In a horrible way, the descent of death-dealing paragliders into a peaceful music festival in Israel is an apt symbol of our times. The post-Cold War trance of the West, reaping peace dividends, celebrating flower power, and generally living as if utopia had already arrived, has left us mentally and morally disarmed. The revisionist powers that recognize no moral limits on their power as they seek to overturn the existing world system in an ocean of blood are descending onto our festival of folly like the hell-bound paragliders of Hamas. We cannot and should not respond with irrational panic and random outbursts of violence. We must soberly and deliberately address a mortal danger to everything we hold dear—and we must at long last wake up. – Wall Street Journal

Nadim Koteich writes: The Middle East can embrace this new era of yes or revert to a past of no. While Washington can assist, only regional leaders fortified by moral courage can accomplish sustainable peace. Demand peace today, enforce it tomorrow, and sustain it always. Anyone who chooses otherwise should be left behind. – Wall Street Journal

Michael Koplow writes: Another way that the U.S. can establish stronger deterrence against Hezbollah is by urging Saudi Arabia, the UAE, and other America partners that have provided reconstruction assistance to Lebanon in the past to make it clear to Hezbollah that no future assistance will be coming if it opens up a Lebanese front against Israel. Lebanon’s dire economic situation has been presumed to have acted as a check on Hezbollah, as it does not want to risk the state collapsing entirely. Other states in the region should eliminate any ambiguity about what the consequences will be if Hezbollah initiates hostilities that are met with a crippling Israeli response. – The Hill

Joe Buccino writes: For the U.S., this revelation carries profound implications. It demands an immediate reassessment of foreign policy priorities in the Middle East and a recalibration of American engagements with regional allies. The U.S. must now navigate a landscape in which old rivalries will reemerge. So, too, will traditional Arab alliances against Israel. The alignment of Israel with Arab militaries was always too ambitious an endeavor. The Hamas attack and the responses from regional powers emphasize a crucial lesson, one advocated for many decades by Henry Kissinger: shared adversaries, even ones as significant as Iran, are insufficient to bridge the deeply entrenched divides of the Middle East. – The Hill

Ghaith al-Omari writes: Ultimately, however, events on the ground in Gaza in the coming days and weeks will shape what is diplomatically possible. The United States needs to remain focused on it goal, as articulated by U.S. leaders, of ensuring that Hamas will never again be able to mount the kind of terror it did on October 7. – Foreign Affairs

Kenneth M. Pollack writes: The actors who could most easily inflame the current conflagration all have strong reasons to avoid escalation. Hamas’s slaughter in Israel and the mounting civilian toll in Gaza are bleak developments, and still more horrors loom. But as awful as this new war is, it seems unlikely at this point to explode into a wider one that engulfs the entire region. – Foreign Affairs

Michael Kimmage and Hanna Notte write: As tensions in the Middle East boil over, great-power competition—classically understood—cannot be the world’s sole focal point and means of analysis. This is not an era of strengthening international order. It is not merely another era of great-power competition. It is a moment of anarchically fragmenting power, an age of great-power distraction. – Foreign Affairs

Korean Peninsula

China appeared to have repatriated a large number of North Koreans this week, despite international pressure given the harsh punishment the returnees likely face back in the Kim Jong Un regime. – Wall Street Journal

North Korea denied on Friday its weapons were used by Hamas in the attack against Israel, saying the claim made in some media reports was a bid by Washington to divert the blame for the conflict from itself to a third country. – Reuters

South Korea said on Friday it had protested to China over the suspected forced repatriation of a large number of North Koreans, who rights groups say face imprisonment and abuse at the hands of North Korean authorities. – Reuters

North Korea lashed out Friday at the arrival of a U.S. aircraft carrier battle group in South Korea, calling it a provocation and again raising the specter of using nuclear weapons to defend itself. – Associated Press


At speeds of almost 100 miles an hour, the Chinese-built train zips over the Mekong River and careers through dozens of newly bored tunnels as it travels north from the capital. At its last stop, near the Chinese border, brand-new residential towers rise out of the jungle – Washington Post

Many employees of Chinese smartphone maker Vivo and its Indian affiliates concealed their employment when seeking visas, and some breached rules by visiting the “sensitive” Himalayan region of Jammu and Kashmir, India’s financial crime agency has said. – Reuters

China’s foreign ministry on Thursday urged the United States not to interfere in China’s handling of legal cases, after Washington called on Beijing to provide information on the whereabouts of a Chinese human rights lawyer whose family said was deported from Laos. – Reuters

China said on Thursday it had sent fighter jets to monitor and warn a U.S. Navy patrol aircraft that flew through the Taiwan Strait. – Reuters

China has for the first time issued a notice prohibiting domestic brokerages and their overseas units from taking on new mainland clients for offshore trading, according to an official document seen by Reuters and confirmed by four sources. – Reuters

General Liu Zhenli, the head of the military body responsible for China’s combat operations and planning, has emerged as the top contender to replace the country’s defence minister, who has not been seen in public for more than six weeks, according to five people familiar with the matter. – Reuters

China appears to have decided that its road to greater global clout lies through the Palestinians — no matter what hits it takes for going soft on Hamas. Beijing’s initial statement failing to condemn Hamas for this weekend’s attack drew immediate backlash from Israeli and U.S. officials for minimizing the brutality the Palestinian militants had visited on Israel. – Politico

Jerome A. Cohen and Yu-Jie Chen write: The ball would then be in Beijing’s court to consider whether, in view of the failure of its anti-Tsai policies, it makes more sense to react more flexibly to the new Democratic Progressive Party regime in the hope that honey will yield better results than poison. Xi Jinping faces an array of challenges threatening his rule’s legitimacy, with a sluggish economy at the forefront. It behooves him to abandon the rigidity that has distinguished him from Deng Xiaoping and Deng’s successors. The continuing failure of his Taiwan policy will only magnify Xi’s many quandaries. – The Hill

Saman Rizwan writes: Shiangfu’s disappearance adds a layer of volatility to China’s military and foreign policy landscape, especially given his close ties to Xi Jinping and his control over one of the world’s most formidable military machines. – Newsweek

Nicole Robinson writes: In response to Middle East partners that are cozying up to China, a top Pentagon official at the 2022 Manama Dialogue in Bahrain stated, “don’t compare me to the almighty, compare me to the alternative.” The alternative—China—is only interested in its own survival and therefore will never act as a positive force in the Arabian Gulf. The U.S., however, established a stable political and security environment for Arabian Gulf countries to flourish. To pull U.S. allies away from China’s orbit, the United States must articulate why it is dangerous to work with China and provide alternative investments and technologies that align with the development priorities of its Gulf allies. – Heritage Foundation

South Asia

India considers the weekend attack by Hamas militants in Israel a “terrorist attack”, a spokesperson for the country’s foreign ministry said Thursday, while reiterating its longstanding position for an independent Palestine. – Reuters

Canada’s Senate speaker will not attend a two-day G20 event in New Delhi this week, India said on Thursday, as ties remain frozen after Canada said it is investigating allegations linking Indian agents to the killing of a Sikh separatist leader. – Reuters

Russia and India are in discussions about a summit between President Vladimir Putin and Prime Minister Narendra Modi this year, India’s ambassador to Moscow was quoted by Russian news agency RIA as saying. – Reuters

Human Rights Watch (HRW) called on the United Nations and international donors to press Pakistan to end abuses and protect Afghan asylum seekers, saying the forcible deportation would put them “at grave risk of being returned to persecution and other abuse.” – Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty

The United States is providing $12 million in immediate humanitarian assistance to respond to earthquakes in Afghanistan this month that have killed and injured thousands, according to a U.S. Agency for International Development statement seen by Reuters on Thursday. – Reuters


Fifteen months after former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe was assassinated, the Japanese government on Friday asked a court to dissolve the church that Abe’s accused shooter had denounced. – Wall Street Journal

Armenia urged the United Nations top court on Thursday to impose new interim orders on Azerbaijan to prevent what the leader of Armenia’s legal team called the “ethnic cleansing” of the Nagorno-Karabakh region from becoming irreversible. – Associated Press

A Chinese-born journalist credited the Australian government for her return to Australia “in one piece” after her three-year detention in China in an espionage case that strained bilateral ties. – Associated Press

Taiwan is closely watching the war in the Middle East sparked by the unprecedented attack on Israel by Hamas militants from Gaza for lessons amid what the self-governing island says is a campaign of intimidation and threats by China. – Associated Press

Australian police are considering applying special stop-and-search powers for the first time in almost two decades for people attending a pro-Palestinian rally on Sunday, as tensions rise after the bloody Hamas incursion into Israel. – Reuters

Peter Briggs writes: Leaving the decision for a later government will mean greater expense and increase the risk that the program doesn’t produce the needed strategic capability, while stripping funds from other key defence capabilities. A lack of decision, along with Australia’s failure to join the AUKUS SSN initial design effort, indicates inadequate commitment. A ‘damn the torpedoes’ transition to SSNs could leave us with no submarine capability. If Australia is not prepared to, or cannot, invest the resources to achieve a viable SSN force, we are better off not continuing down this path. – Australian Strategic Policy Institute


A surprise visit to NATO headquarters by President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine — his first — injected a bit of flair to high-level meetings this week among the alliance’s defense ministers. Beyond that, much of the rest of the two-day agenda was consumed with the kind of routine but necessary discussions that mark the semiregular gatherings: going over defense and deterrence plans, and getting updates on stability operations in Iraq, Kosovo, and Bosnia-Herzegovina. – New York Times

Russia’s foreign ministry on Thursday criticised a Finnish government plan to speed the confiscation of Russian-owned real estate in Finland, warning the Nordic country of countermeasures. – Reuters

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said on Thursday the United States would support Finland and Estonia as they probe damage to a gas pipeline and a telecommunications cable under the Baltic Sea. – Reuters

Hungary will not allow any rallies supporting “terrorist organisations,” Prime Minister Viktor Orban told public radio on Friday, adding that all Hungarian citizens should feel safe, regardless of their faith or origin. – Reuters

Poland and the Czech Republic will extend temporary controls on their borders with Slovakia into November as countries seek to restrict the flow of illegal migrants. – Reuters

Germany will ban the pro-Palestinian group Samidoun, Chancellor Olaf Scholz said on Thursday, adding that its members were celebrating Islamist Hamas “terror” in Israel on German streets. – Reuters 

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg on Thursday pressed Turkey to quickly ratify Sweden’s membership in the military organization, three months after President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said he would help hasten the process in the Turkish parliament. – Associated Press

Romanian authorities said Thursday they found a crater from a suspected drone that may have exploded on impact on its territory near the border with Ukraine, reviving concerns about possible spillover of Russia’s war in Ukraine onto a NATO member country. – Associated Press

The Israel-Hamas war has forced Russia into a delicate balancing act, with Moscow urging a quick end to the fighting without apportioning blame. – Associated Press

French prosecutors are investigating a suspected poisoning Thursday of a Russian journalist who fled after denouncing the war in Ukraine on live TV. Marina Ovsyannikova called emergency services and was hospitalized after suddenly falling ill as she left her Paris apartment and said she suspected she was poisoned, the Paris prosecutor’s office said. – Associated Press

France’s interior minister on Thursday ordered local authorities to ban all pro-Palestinian demonstrations amid a rise in antisemitic acts since Hamas attacked Israel over the weekend. President Emmanuel Macron urged French people not to allow the war in the Mideast erupt into tensions at home. – Associated Press

Finnish police said Wednesday they have launched a criminal investigation into possible sabotage of an undersea gas pipeline between Finland and Estonia that was shut down over the weekend following a leak. – Associated Press

NATO will hold a major nuclear exercise next week, the alliance’s chief said on October 12, an announcement that came after Russia warned it would pull out of a global nuclear test-ban agreement. – Radio Free Europe/ Radio Liberty

Editorial: For Europe, balancing carrots and sticks will be tricky, especially if Poland goes in an even more populist direction. Yet Poland’s post-Communist identity is deeply rooted in its EU membership — it’s the largest beneficiary of EU transfers, after all — and the trans-Atlantic alliance. That gives Poland’s friends no small influence. They should use it to hold Polish leaders accountable for their actions and to offer incentives for reforms. The goal is a Poland that’s thriving, stable and democratic. The rest is for voters to decide. – Bloomberg


With little over two months until a general election, Congolese President Felix Tshisekedi on Thursday said some conditions of military rule in conflict-hit eastern provinces would be eased, partly to encourage participation in the vote. – Reuters

Eight U.N. peacekeepers in Democratic Republic of Congo have been detained over allegations of sexual abuse, sources told Reuters on Thursday, as the U.N. said it would investigate unspecified serious misconduct. – Reuters

Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni is set to delay until early next year a summit with African leaders, aimed at strengthening cooperation on issues including energy and migration, because of the conflict between Israel and Hamas. – Bloomberg

Zambia is close to signing an agreement to reorganize its loans with official creditors, the International Monetary Fund said, clarifying an earlier comment by the lender’s managing director. –Bloomberg

United States

Rep. Randy Weber (R-Tex.) was eager to show a reporter his tie. It wasn’t just that it was an Israeli flag tie, a symbol of his unwavering support. He wanted her to see the back of the tie too, where a frayed tag served to indicate its age. – Washington Post

Less than 24 hours after condemning terrorism in the Middle East in one of the most powerful speeches of his tenure on Tuesday, President Biden was back before television cameras for another statement. – New York Times

Top American counterterrorism officials on Thursday said there was no credible or specific intelligence pointing to a current threat to the United States related to the Hamas terrorist attacks on Israel or the ensuing war. – New York Times

The United States must prepare for possible simultaneous wars with Russia and China by expanding its conventional forces, strengthening alliances and enhancing its nuclear weapons modernization program, a congressionally appointed bipartisan panel said on Thursday. – Reuters

U.S. law enforcement agencies have escalated security measures to safeguard Jewish and Muslim communities ahead of global pro-Palestinian protests expected on Friday but urged members of the public to go about their daily routines. – Reuters

Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) said he believes people in the West are “incredibly naïve” for thinking agreements can be made with “radical Islamic regimes” in the wake of the deadly Hamas attack. – The Hill

New York state and city officials on Friday are increasing security around potentially vulnerable sites like schools and houses of worship after a former Hamas leader called for a global day of violence. –Politico

Editorial: Republicans are right to be frustrated with Mr. Biden’s policy in Ukraine, but Kyiv’s detractors in Congress are in a political bind on a combined aid package because they badly misjudged the world moment. They want a separate vote on aid to Ukraine and Israel so they don’t offend the isolationist sentiment on the right that they have ginned up. The fantasy that the U.S. can abandon Europe and the Middle East to focus on China imploded on Oct. 7. The threats to the U.S. and its allies are growing worldwide, and Congress has an obligation to rearm to meet them. – Wall Street Journal

Giselle Donnelly writes: Biden can be—may already be—the most pro-Ukraine and pro-Israel president in American history, judging by rhetoric. But his promises and exhortations will count for nothing if he cannot lead the United States to a place where it is willing—politically, economically, militarily—to back up the Israelis. – The Bulwark

Michael Rubin writes: The lack of strategic patience has a real cost, not only upon allies increasingly reticent about America’s loyalty and resolve but upon U.S. security itself. Many traditional Republicans might still lionize President Ronald Reagan, but it was his decision to withdraw from Lebanon under fire that inspired al Qaeda leader Osama Bin Laden to believe that terrorism could defeat America. As revisionists, reactionaries, and rogues challenge the rules-based order, a sense that Americans do not value freedom enough to fight for it risks creating a self-fulfilling prophecy. – Washington Examiner

James Jay Carafano writes: The president could not even bring himself to mention Iran in his speech on Tuesday. That’s a clear signal the administration is clueless what to do now that it’s been hit with irrefutable evidence that its Iran policy has utterly and completely failed. […]All we have from the White House is that Ukraine can expect a blank check for as long as it takes. For Israel, we get finger-wagging at Israel not to over-react. The signal this sends to both Moscow and Tehran is that Washington is just making this up as it goes along. […]The odds that they’re the only ones are less than zero. Yet in his speech Tuesday, the president had nothing to reassure Americans that he’s prepared to safeguard Americans from the next 9/11. […]The White House staff is probably proud that Biden could muster the energy, after hosting a BBQ, to deliver what was largely a boilerplate speech. But Americans looking for real leadership can’t help being disappointed by a president who appears to be going through the motions at a uniquely critical time. – Heritage Foundation


European Union regulators on Thursday opened an inquiry into X, the social media platform owned by Elon Musk, over the prevalence of gory videos and images, terrorism content and other illicit material it is carrying related to the Israel-Hamas war. – New York Times

As Israeli children listened to their teacher over Zoom, the image of a gun-toting man in fatigues appeared on the screen, according to a screenshot shared with Reuters. In another case, a video showed a billboard in the central Israeli city of Holon displaying images of rockets and a burning Israeli flag. Israeli information security professionals are banding together to provide free cybersecurity services to Israeli companies amid a spike in hacktivist activity sparked by the war in Gaza, volunteers said. – Reuters

The Biden administration is considering closing a loophole that gives Chinese companies access to American artificial intelligence (AI) chips through units located overseas, according to four people familiar with the matter. – Reuters

Henry Kissinger and Graham Allison write: If Biden, Xi, and other world leaders act now to face the challenges posed by AI as squarely as their predecessors did in addressing nuclear threats in earlier decades, will they be as successful? Looking at the larger canvas of history and growing polarization today, it is difficult to be optimistic. Nonetheless, the incandescent fact that we have now marked 78 years of peace among the nuclear powers should serve to inspire everyone to master the revolutionary, inescapable challenges of our AI future. – Foreign Affairs


A day after the United States’ first package of security aid arrived in Israel, a senior Pentagon official said more will be on the way. – Defense News

The Pentagon needs a third shipyard that can build nuclear-powered ships so the U.S. can keep pace with China and Russia’s nuclear modernization, a congressional commission said in a new report published Thursday. – USNI News

The White House said Thursday that U.S. military combat support in Israel is for now firmly off the table, drawing a bright line as the bloody war with Hamas continues to develop and the USS Gerald Ford carrier strike group remains in the region. – Military.com

Bradley Bowman and Ryan Brobst write: Israel is suffering from the worst terrorist attack in its history. America’s closest ally in the Middle East needs Washington’s help. The Biden administration has responded with admirable clarity and speed since Saturday. But additional steps are needed — and fast. – Defense News