Fdd's overnight brief

October 15, 2020

In The News


Iran said new U.S. sanctions targeting its banking system prevented the import of 2 million influenza vaccines, after government warnings that the penalties would hit trade in humanitarian goods. – Bloomberg

A “major” cyberattack targeted at least two government agencies in Iran recently, Iran’s National Computer Emergency Response Team (Maher) announced on Wednesday, according to Iranian media. – Jerusalem Post

More than 160 current and former United Nations officials are calling on Iran to end the “horror and pain” for two Iranian-American dual nationals who are currently spending their fourth and fifth year in Tehran’s Evin jail, respectively. – Radio Farda

The Director-General of the state-run Endowment (Awqaf) Organization in Golestan province, Ruhollah Soleimani Fard, says that the coronavirus epidemic has sharply reduced donations to the imamzadehs, or mausoleums, attributed to the descendants of the Twelver-Shi’ite Imams. – Radio Farda

Zvi Bar’el writes: Iran’s hopes are now pinned on the results of next month’s presidential election in the United States. There is probably no other country in the world whose future is as dependent on a Biden victory. But even if Joe Biden wins and takes steps to return the United States to the international nuclear agreement signed with Iran in 2015, Iran will have a hard time overcoming its crisis situation without aggressively taking stock of its economic structure and of the conduct of the regime. Its sorry state is not only the result of the sanctions. It has largely been spawned against the backdrop of corruption and of a failure of management on the part of the country’s leaders. – Haaretz

Alex Vatanka and Kasra Aarabi write: But while President Hassan Rouhani and his so-called “moderate” faction might claim that they seek “real” dialogue with Washington, the West should be careful not to misinterpret Tehran’s intent. As Rouhani himself conceded in a cabinet in a televised speech on June 24, the Khamenei-IRGC duet (the real powerbrokers in the Islamic Republic) are mainly interested in buying time and hedging. For them, extending a genuine olive branch to Washington, regardless of who the occupant of the White House is, does not at all appear to be in the cards. – Middle East Institute


Bombing of civilians by Syrian and Russian armed forces during a campaign against the last rebel bastion in northwest Syria may amount to crimes against humanity, U.S.-based Human Rights Watch (HRW) said in a report on Thursday. – Reuters

Samuel Ramani writes: Although Russia and China have consistently defended Assad from international opprobrium since the start of the Syrian civil war, the Caesar Act complicates plans by both countries to invest in Syria’s reconstruction process. In spite of their strident criticisms of U.S. sanctions policy, both Russia and China will likely take an incremental approach to investment in Syria and hope that a de-escalation of hostilities will dilute the Caesar Act in the months and years to come. – Middle East Institute

Eva Kahan writes: The mass release of these displaced persons risks providing new opportunities to ISIS by dispersing a vulnerable population into areas where ISIS is active. ISIS will capitalize on the mass release of Syrians to increase recruitment efforts and intimidation campaigns against these returnees, who may also face retributive violence within their own communities. The SDF is not adequately resourced to monitor or protect returnees unless the United States and the international community increase their support. – Institute for the Study of War


The European Union is unlikely to launch sanctions against Turkey at its summit starting on Thursday amid a gas dispute in the eastern Mediterranean, a German government source said. – Reuters

President Tayyip Erdogan urged Turkey’s parliament on Wednesday to legislate to curb the influence of medical associations and other institutions that have criticised his government’s response to the coronavirus pandemic. – Reuters

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Wednesday accused Greece and Cyprus of failing to fulfill “promises” made during negotiations within the European Union and NATO and said his country would continue to give them “the response they deserve.” – Associated Press

Gevorg Mirzayan, an Associate Professor at Moscow’s Financial University, is a hawk on Turkey. He believes that Turkish President Erdogan will settle for no less than a revived Ottoman Empire and anointing himself as caliph. Erdogan has prospered for the time being because the elites that oppose him on the world stage are at best mediocrities and they are divided. – Middle East Media Research Institute

Garo Paylan writes: Militant nationalism and authoritarianism can neither solve our domestic problems nor help the region. A better choice for my country will always be to seek regional peace and cultivate better ties with our neighbors. Turkey must encourage Armenia and Azerbaijan to return to peace talks and facilitate a lasting settlement to the Nagorno-Karabakh dispute. – New York Times


Lebanese and Israeli officials held talks Wednesday about their disputed maritime boundary, the first time in nearly four decades that the two countries have discussed a nonmilitary matter. – Washington Post

Israel approved more than 1,300 new settler homes in the occupied West Bank on Wednesday in the first such go-ahead since it suspended annexation plans in the territory. – Reuters

Palestinians expressed outrage after militants from the Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) movement allegedly stormed the al-Ansar Mosque in Khan Younis in the Gaza Strip, kidnapping and beating three worshipers on Wednesday, according to Palestinian reports. – Jerusalem Post

More Israelis want the country to deepen relations with Saudi Arabia than with any other country in the region, a new poll by Mitvim – The Israeli Institute for Regional Foreign Policies found. – Jerusalem Post

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has bowed to requests to appear before the Knesset to explain classified portions of the normalization agreement with the United Arab Emirates – but not before Thursday, when the Knesset plenum votes to approve it. – Jerusalem Post

F-35 stealth fighters jets from the US and Israeli air forces were seen in the skies above the Jewish state earlier this week as they took part in a joint training exercise. – Algemeiner

Gershon Baskin writes: Palestinians will not win by selecting leaders who compete on their belligerency towards Israel. […]The challenge is to present a vision, a plan, an idea that can inspire people to imagine a future which will bring peace, national dignity, pride and freedom. I don’t know what that vision is and I have nothing to propose to the Palestinian people. My hope is that the young generation of Palestinians will lead the way and that their vision will, in fact, lead us all to peace. – Jerusalem Post


U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Wednesday the United States was pleased that the Iraqi government was doing more to protect the U.S. embassy in Baghdad from Iran-backed Shiite Muslim militias but declined to provide an update on whether Washington was still considering to shut down its embassy. – Reuters

Iraq has cancelled a contract signed with a group led by Turkish Petroleum Corp (TPAO) to develop its Mansuriya gas field near the Iranian border, state news agency INA cited the oil minister as saying on Thursday. – Reuters

Luay Al-Khatteeb writes: Iraq’s stability is an integral part of global security, and the international community must support efforts in Iraq to achieve energy stability in order to advance regional security. Failing to work toward this objective could jeopardize Iraq’s security and thereby upend the uneasy sense of peace that the region has generally settled into since the defeat of the Islamic State. A stable Iraq upholds the world’s energy security and, by extension, the global economy. – Foreign Policy


Lebanon’s President Michel Aoun has postponed by a week consultations aimed at choosing a prime minister to form a new government to tackle the country’s worst economic crisis since its 1975-1990 civil war, the presidency said on Wednesday. – Reuters

The parliamentary bloc of Lebanon’s Shi’ite Amal party warned on Wednesday against any “ill-considered moves towards lifting subsidies on key goods”, particularly wheat, fuel and medicine. – Reuters

Lebanese Free Patriotic Movement Vice President May Khreich said in an interview on Sawt Beirut Radio (Lebanon) that if she must choose between Saudi Arabia and Iran, she would prefer Iran, reports the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI). – Arutz Sheva


Two Americans held hostage by Iran-backed Houthi militants in Yemen were freed on Wednesday as part of a U.S.-backed trade that returned more than 200 of the group’s loyalists to the fractured Middle East country, according to U.S. and Saudi officials. – Wall Street Journal

A United Nations team will have to wait several weeks to access a deteriorating tanker off Yemen’s shore that is threatening to spill 1.1 million barrels of crude oil in the Red Sea, two U.N. sources told Reuters. – Reuters

Eric Gozlan writes: At the beginning of October, 2020 several Yemeni associations representing civil society, and hostile to the Houthis, met in Geneva with the International Council for Diplomacy and Dialogue in concert with the meeting of the United Nations Human Rights Council. This meeting showed that, while there are differences between Yemeni associations, they are unified in condemning the crimes of the Houthis. – Times of Israel

Gulf States

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Wednesday urged Saudi Arabia to consider normalizing relations with Israel as he met with the Gulf country’s foreign minister, also saying that Washington supports a “robust program of arms sales” to it. – Reuters

A stunning new poll conducted by an Arab-American pollster has found that the people of Saudi Arabia are increasingly receptive to “normalization” of relations with Israel. – All Arab News

Muhammad Shehada writes: The UAE-Saudi axis has moved on from throwing the Palestinians under the bus, to actually driving that bus over them. By doing so, they have realized Netanyahu’s dream, effectively doing the bidding of Israel’s hard right: They are erasing the Palestinian cause from the minds of the Arab public. – Haaretz

Middle East & North Africa

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin plans to travel to the Middle East next week for the first time since the pandemic, as prospects dimmed for the U.S. stimulus legislation he’s been negotiating. – Bloomberg

In a first, a passenger plane from the United Air Emirates flew over Israel on its way from Milan to Abu Dhabi. – Times of Israel

Saudi Arabia and Jordan have engaged in a twin-pronged attack on the PLO and Hamas seemingly intended to get them to bury the hatchet and begin negotiations with Israel on allocating sovereignty in Gaza and Judea and Samaria (‘West Bank’) under President Trump’s 2020 Peace Plan. – Arutz Sheva

Libya’s internationally recognised Government of National Accord (GNA) has detained Abdalrahman al-Milad, a coastguard commander sanctioned by the United Nations for alleged human trafficking and migrant smuggling, its interior ministry said on Wednesday. – Reuters

Ivan Levingston, Zainab Fattah, and Vivian Nereim write: For Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Turkey and Egypt, relations with a Biden White House would be stiffer; their leaders would face more of the traditional American scolding over human rights and a restoration of the diplomatic norms bypassed by Trump.[…]Biden may seek to re-engage the Palestinians but he’s unlikely to reverse the embassy move, or to jeopardize nascent ties between Israel and Arab countries. – Bloomberg

Seth J. Frantzman writes: It’s unclear what a new US administration will bring. Most countries in the region assume the US is drawing down its role. This means larger regional and global powers such as Russia, China, Iran and Turkey will play a leading role in the Middle East. The West’s role is declining. If we look back at that Sirte meeting 10 years ago, it represented the end of an era of powerful Arab leaders. Today the region is more about Erdogan and Iran, alongside an emerging Israel-Gulf-Greece alliance system. – Jerusalem Post

Ahdeya Al Sayed writes: Israel is officially a friend today, a friend we trust. And I truly believe that the moment those agreements were signed, all the parties involved had great intentions and will work closely together to make sure no one’s rights are violated and that the people of the region will eventually live in peace. A new dawn has finally begun. – Jerusalem Post

Korean Peninsula

U.S. Defense Secretary Mark Esper on Wednesday said North Korea’s nuclear and missile programs pose a global threat, after Pyongyang’s unveiling of previously unseen intercontinental ballistic missiles at a predawn military parade. – Reuters

A U.N. human rights official has called on the international community to urgently consider lifting sanctions on North Korea that may be worsening problems from its coronavirus lockdown, according to a draft report released on Thursday. – Reuters

President Trump’s former national security adviser John Bolton lamented the president’s “failed diplomacy” with North Korea and said the country is more dangerous now than in the past. – Washington Examiner


China is expanding distribution of its coronavirus vaccines outside of clinical trials, with a state-owned company offering them to students going abroad amid a campaign by officials to boost public confidence in homegrown inoculations. – Wall Street Journal

When China first opened to overseas investors, the country was desperate for foreign technology to revive its growth. Now, as China faces rising global barriers, its leader, Xi Jinping, is urging greater domestic innovation. – New York Times

The U.S. State Department has submitted a proposal for the Trump administration to add China’s Ant Group to a trade blacklist, according to two people familiar with the matter, before the financial technology firm is slated to go public. – Reuters

China said on Thursday the United States was seriously undermining peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait after a U.S. Navy destroyer sailed through the waters amid escalating tensions between Beijing and Taipei. – Reuters

China has opened a new front in its pressure campaign against Taiwan with a series of spying allegations and confessions aired on state television, denounced on the democratic island as entrapment and another reason for people to fear visiting China. – Reuters

China said Wednesday its reelection to the United Nations Human Rights Council, despite stiff opposition from leading democratic states and rights groups, was proof of the international community’s “high recognition” of its achievements in the field. – Associated Press

Chinese officials defended their labor practices in Tibet, in the face of growing concerns about rights abuses in the region and the Trump administration’s appointment of a senior official to scrutinize Tibetan affairs. – Bloomberg

President Xi Jinping called for new measures to encourage young people from Hong Kong to move to China, part of measures to integrate the semi-autonomous territory with the mainland following student-led protests last year. – Bloomberg

A museum in France has decried what it calls “censorship” by the Chinese government, after pressure from Beijing prompted the institution to postpone a planned exhibit about the Mongol emperor Genghis Khan. – Newsweek

A Chinese government newspaper sought to shame President Donald Trump and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Tuesday by quoting Abraham Lincoln. – Newsweek

For years, China watchers such as Anne-Marie Brady and media experts like Martha Bayles have tracked the growth of Chinese propaganda communicated through popular media. Both have commented on the runaway success of the Chinese action film “Wolf Warrior 2” (2017), a jingoistic movie featuring Chinese heroes and American villains which seems to epitomize cinematic “thought work” in the Xi Jingping era. – Middle East Media Research Institute

In September 2020, veteran Chinese diplomat Yuan Nansheng published an essay, which prompted a wave of reactions, titled “My Thoughts On Sino-U.S. Relations After The Coronavirus Pandemic,” analyzing past, present, and future Sino-U.S. relations. In his article, Yuan stresses that Beijing should stop following an aggressive diplomacy, since it is in Beijing’s interest to stabilize relations with Washington. – Middle East Media Research Institute

Chinese troops should “put all [their] minds and energy on preparing for war,” President Xi Jinping said Tuesday during a visit to a Guandong military base. – CNN

Tom Rogan writes: A devout authoritarian on a mission to replace the U.S.-led liberal international order, Xi isn’t going to shy away from the challenge. This is a leader who truly believes that foreign technological developments belong to Beijing. […]Indeed, Xi must engage in that thievery if he is to have any hope of maintaining China’s economic growth model and advancing its market share in the high-value technology sector. The U.S. and its allies will therefore need to redouble their own commitment to deterring and, if necessary, punishing Xi. – Washington Examiner


A Taliban offensive in southern Helmand province has raised concerns here that a growing wave of insurgent violence could undercut fledgling intra-Afghan peace talks in Qatar and sabotage a U.S.-Taliban pact reached in February. – Washington Post

Afghanistan’s top peace negotiator says Washington has given the Taliban the upper hand in talks after Donald Trump pledged to withdraw all US troops by Christmas. – Financial Times

Australian authorities on Thursday dropped an investigation into a journalist accused of receiving classified information to produce a report on alleged troop misconduct in Afghanistan, the second media probe dismissed amid concerns over press freedom. – Reuters

South Asia

Indian authorities on Tuesday released a top Kashmiri politician from detention more than a year after New Delhi scrapped Indian-controlled Kashmir’s special status, a move that triggered widespread anger and economic ruin amid a harsh security clampdown. – Associated Press

Pakistan’s Navy is racing to plug operational and technological gaps as part of an unprecedented modernization effort, according to the outgoing naval chief, but analysts are divided on whether the move will deter adversaries. – Defense News

Tun Khin writes: For my people, and other ethnic communities, military rule continues unabated. The approaching election in Myanmar highlights the civilian government’s complicity with the generals’ continuing abuse of power. We count on democratic countries around the world, including the United States, to stand with us in our struggle. – Washington Post


Trade Minister Simon Birmingham said the government is “working through normal diplomatic channels” to clarify reports in two trade publications that Chinese authorities have told several state-owned steelmakers and power plants to stop importing Australian coal. – Wall Street Journal

For two decades, Prabowo Subianto, a former Indonesian general, was a pariah in international affairs. […]But now, Mr. Prabowo is Indonesia’s minister of defense and the ban has been lifted. At the invitation of Defense Secretary Mark T. Esper, Mr. Prabowo arrived in Washington this week and is expected to meet with top officials at the Pentagon on Thursday. – New York Times

She wrote a letter last year and gave it to an American friend with instructions to release it upon her arrest. In the letter, she asked that her friends not just campaign for her freedom but use her incarceration to fight for free elections and an end to single-party rule in Vietnam. – New York Times

For months now, pro-democracy protesters have gathered by the thousands to call for reforms to the monarchy and military, influential institutions that have dominated Thailand’s power structure for decades. – New York Times

The U.S.-Taiwan security relationship has been purposely ambiguous for four decades. But amid increasing Chinese threats of invasion, America’s commitment to Taiwan needs to be clearer, the island’s de facto ambassador to the United States said this week. – Washington Post

The U.S. State Department on Wednesday warned international financial institutions doing business with individuals deemed responsible for China’s crackdown in Hong Kong that they could soon face tough sanctions. – Reuters

Kyrgyz President Sooronbai Jeenbekov accepted the appointment on Wednesday of a political opponent as prime minister, but immediately defied him by refusing to step down until a new election could be held following a popular uprising. – Reuters

Three Australian citizens of Chinese ethnicity who were asked to condemn the Chinese Communist Party as they appeared before a government inquiry into diaspora issues have criticised the incident as like “McCarthyism”. – Reuters

Australia said on Wednesday it was deeply concerned that Australian writer Yang Hengjun is facing trial in China charged with espionage, adding his treatment fell short of “basic standards of justice”. – Reuters

An Australian politician at the centre of a corruption probe told an inquiry on Wednesday that he had received envelopes full of thousands of dollars in cash at his parliament office as part of a scheme for Chinese nationals to fraudulently acquire visas. – Reuters

The Trump administration on Wednesday appointed a senior U.S. human rights official as special coordinator for Tibetan issues, a move likely to anger China amid increasingly tense relations between Washington and Beijing. – Reuters

Hong Kong police raided the private offices of media tycoon and pro-democracy activist Jimmy Lai on Thursday, according to Lai’s aide. – Associated Press

Hong Kong demanded the U.S. withdraw its pending regulation to label goods manufactured in the city as ‘Made in China,’ expressing its “strong objection” to the requirement at a meeting of the World Trade Organization. – Bloomberg

South Caucasus

Turkey’s military exports to its ally Azerbaijan have risen six-fold this year, with sales of drones and other military equipment rising to $77 million last month alone before fighting broke out over the Nagorno-Karabakh region, according to exports data. – Reuters

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said on Wednesday that fighting between ethnic Armenian and Azeri forces in the Nagorno-Karabakh region should stop immediately and that the conflict should be resolved through diplomatic means. – Reuters

Azerbaijan accused Armenia on Wednesday of trying to attack its gas and oil pipelines and warned of a “severe” response as tensions rose sharply around a fraying ceasefire in the mountain enclave of Nagorno-Karabakh. – Reuters

Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu urged Armenia and Azerbaijan to observe a ceasefire in the Nagorno-Karabakh region in a telephone call with his counterparts from those countries, the Russian Defence Ministry said on Wednesday. – Reuters

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan said on Wednesday that the co-chairs of the Minsk group were stalling in dealing with the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, and repeated that the region should be given back to Azerbaijan. – Reuters

Azerbaijan said Wednesday it destroyed missile launchers inside Armenia that were targeting its cities, an escalation that threatens to further draw regional powers Russia and Turkey into the conflict over Nagorno-Karabakh. – Agence France-Presse


The European Union will impose sanctions on members of President Vladimir Putin’s inner circle in response to the poisoning of Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny, diplomats confirmed, while another of Mr. Putin’s associates faces sanctions for his role in the Libyan conflict. – Wall Street Journal

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Wednesday said the United States would be open to extending the New START nuclear arms control treaty beyond its expiration in February based on understandings reached in recent talks with Russia. – Reuters

Moscow does not see prospects for extending the new START arms control treaty with Washington, but plans to continue talks nonetheless, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on Wednesday. – Reuters

Russian Energy Minister Alexander Novak said on Wednesday he had invited other BRICS countries – Brazil, India, China and South Africa – to take part in joint oil and gas projects in the Arctic. – Reuters

Russia is concerned that a lack of trust in the country’s relationship with the United States could prevent the world’s two largest nuclear powers from moving forward with plans to extend their last remaining nuclear arms treaty. – Newsweek

Alexei Navalny, the Russian opposition leader who was poisoned in August, called on President Trump to condemn the nerve agent that the Kremlin is suspected of using on him. – The Hill


An Athens court sentenced the leaders of Greece’s Golden Dawn party to 13 years in prison on Wednesday, a week after declaring the neo-fascist party a criminal organization in a landmark verdict that wrapped up one of the most important political trials in the country’s modern history. – New York Times

European Union leaders meeting in Brussels on Thursday will pressure Britain for concessions in their troubled Brexit talks, saying a trillion euros worth of trade could be sunk if London does not budge on fisheries, fair competition and solving disputes. – Reuters

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson told the head of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, that he was disappointed there had not been more progress in Brexit trade talks, his office said on Wednesday. – Reuters

Belarus plans to ship at least one cargo of gasoline via Russia’s Baltic port of Ust-Luga in October, four industry sources said, turning to a route it last used almost three years ago and avoiding ports in European Union states. – Reuters

A group of prominent members of the European Parliament have singled out Chinese 5G vendors Huawei and ZTE as “high-risk” companies that pose a security threat to network security in Europe, according to a letter obtained by POLITICO. – Politico

Human rights activists and experts say local officials in several countries with significant Roma populations have used the pandemic to unlawfully target the minority group, which is Europe’s largest and has faced centuries of severe discrimination. – Associated Press

The energy-fueled feud between Greece and Turkey, both members of the U.S.-led NATO military alliance, has intensified in the Eastern Mediterranean, threatening to destabilize the coalition’s southern flank if tensions go unabated. – Newsweek

Russia is the largest state-based threat to the United Kingdom but China’s intelligence actions “will be shaping the world,” the new head of British intelligence service MI5 has said. – Newsweek

The head of MI5 said the U.K.’s domestic spy agency wants to “do more” to tackle Chinese activities that threaten the intellectual property of British companies and universities. – Bloomberg

After the September 25, 2020 stabbing of two people outside the former Paris offices of the French satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo, the French police initially detained at least seven people, including the main suspect. The main suspect is a Pakistani immigrant who gave his age as 18 and took “responsibility” for the stabbing. – Middle East Media Research Institute

Anna Sauerbrey writes: But Germany won’t be able to backpedal all the way. The confrontation may have progressed too far already: Mr. Putin is unlikely to forget, or forgive, the actions of the past weeks. And as Russia confronts the coronavirus at home and conflicts among its neighbors, there’s no guessing what might come next. Germany ought to be prepared — and know how it will respond. – New York Times

Mujtaba Rahman writes: Difficult decisions await. The U.K. may make it easy for Europe by continuing to drag its feet on state aid, allowing Barnier to brief EU leaders that London has not moved far enough. Some senior EU officials even hope for this outcome. They do so in the knowledge that a difficult reckoning between Paris and Berlin otherwise looms — and that the outcome is far from obvious. – Politico

Katia Glod writes: The EU in particular should put in place comprehensive, Magnitsky-type sanctions on the violators of human and political rights in Belarus. The list needs to include not only top officials but also members of the election authorities at all levels, including at polling stations and regional commissions; the riot police and other Interior Ministry troops dispersing peaceful demonstrations; investigators from the KGB and the Investigative Committee, as well as prosecutors responsible for arbitrary arrests; and judges handing down politically-motivated sentences. – Center for European Policy Analysis


At least 13 Somali troops have died after the army attacked militant group al Shabaab in jungle and farms near the district of Afgoye northwest of the capital, Mogadishu, a military official said. – Reuters

The European Union has granted Mozambique’s request for assistance in tackling a wave of attacks in the country’s north by rebels with links to Islamic State, the EU delegation in the southern African country said. – Reuters

The armed attackers killed Kinyegeria near the small territory of Minembwe in the highlands of South Kivu province on October 6, making off with his cows. The daylight raid may have been over cattle, but it was also tied in with a local conflict spurred by a reawakening of deep-seated distrust of Rwanda by many in the Democratic Republic of Congo. – Agence France-Presse

President Trump’s reported plans to pull U.S. troops from Somalia were not warmly embraced by U.S. Africa Command, which reacted hesitantly and underscored al Shabaab’s continued terrorist threat to the American homeland. – Washington Examiner

Civil society groups in the Democratic Republic of Congo are petitioning the country’s government to investigate millions of dollars paid by the administration of then-President Joseph Kabila to an Israeli firm associated with Donald Trump’s personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani. – The Daily Beast

A former Sudanese MP has said he is attempting to organize a civilian delegation of Sudanese citizens to visit Israel in an effort to accelerate the normalization process between the two countries. – Times of Israel

The Nigerian Air Force (NAF) will soon receive eight armed unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), according to its commander, Air Marshal Sadique Abubakar. – Janes 360

Karen Attiah writes: Now Nigerians around the world are saying “enough” to police brutality, reinforcing the importance of the fight against police abuse here in the United States. And vice versa: Black Americans could stand to learn more from the years-long fight against Nigeria’s corrupt police force. […]The people of the world’s largest Black nation deserve to prevail over state-sponsored oppression. – Washington Post

The Americas

The US Army may send Security Force Assistance Brigade (SFAB) troops to Honduras to support the Central American nation’s military in the coming months after an initial deployment to Colombia earlier this year. – Janes 360

China lashed out at Canada after Prime Minister Justin Trudeau vowed to stand up to Beijing’s “coercive diplomacy.” – Bloomberg

Hunter Biden set up a meeting between a senior official at the Ukrainian energy firm Burisma and Joe Biden while he was still vice president, according to a new report, potentially contradicting claims from the 2020 Democratic nominee that he never discussed overseas business with his son. – Washington Examiner

A former Navy SEAL famous for his involvement in the operation that killed Osama bin Laden is calling out President Trump for amplifying conspiracy theories that the death was fake. – The Hill


The Trump administration’s attempted ban on Chinese-owned TikTok threatens to devastate the video-sharing app’s user base and competitive position, lawyers for the company argued Wednesday. – Wall Street Journal

US President Donald Trump rebuked Facebook and Twitter Wednesday for blocking links to a New York Post article purporting to expose corrupt dealings by election rival Joe Biden and his son in Ukraine. – Agence France-Presse

Twitter Inc. will remove posts that deny the Holocaust for violating its hateful conduct policy, according to a company spokeswoman. – Bloomberg

President Donald Trump and his political allies reacted with fury after Facebook Inc. and Twitter Inc. on Wednesday restricted a New York Post article linking Joe Biden and his son Hunter to a Ukrainian energy company that figured in the impeachment investigation of Trump. – Bloomberg

Twitter lacked adequate cybersecurity protection allowing for a 17-year-old to allegedly lead a mass hack of high-profile accounts in July using a “simple technique,” according to a report released Wednesday by a New York regulator. – The Hill

Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey said it was “unacceptable” that the social media giant blocked users from sharing a Post exposé about Hunter Biden’s emails without providing a clear message as to why it was taking the action. – New York Post

US Army information technology and artificial intelligence (AI) experts are working to address potential vulnerabilities in how the service develops and protects AI algorithms from potential infiltration, internal manipulation, and outright cyber attacks by adversaries. – Janes 360

Editorial: The better response would be let the story’s facts and sources be debated, rather than suppress it. The Trump campaign does not benefit from such devoted political protection from Big Tech. The Marshall Fund report shows how concerns about social media can be exploited for destructive political ends. – Wall Street Journal

Jason Loftus writes: I would argue the opposite: Having millions of Americans subject to potential surveillance by the Chinese state is an affront to free speech that benefits an increasingly hostile foreign power and pressures diaspora Chinese to self-censor.[…]Politicians shouldn’t aim to restrict access to social-media platforms. It is reasonable, however, to require that any platform operating in the U.S. uphold the freedoms that Americans hold dear. – Wall Street Journal 

Avi Benlolo writes: I’m glad to see Zuckerberg has finally listened to what we have been telling him for many years, which is that there is a direct link between antisemitism and violence. […]We cannot let them continue spreading their falsehoods. Now more than ever, we must double our energy to educate and advocate about the Holocaust — particularly in Europe and America. If not now, when? – Algemeiner


Littoral Combat Ship USS Gabrielle Giffords (LCS-10) is now operating in the U.S. 4th Fleet area of responsibility to aid in performing anti-drug operations after a year-long deployment in the Pacific. – USNI News

The U.S. Army began building an entire virtual world a few years ago for its Synthetic Training Environment (STE) to bring accuracy and a real-life feel to training, but a deployment of One World Terrain in Afghanistan has proved it’s not just a training tool, according to Maj. Gen. Maria Gervais, who is in charge of the service’s STE development. – Defense News

After about a yearlong delay, the U.S. Air Force has begun fielding the Small Diameter Bomb II, a new Raytheon-produced smart weapon approved for use on the F-15E Strike Eagle jet, the service confirmed Oct. 13. – Defense News

As the Army looks to bring on two future helicopters by 2030, the service is planning to review its entire aviation fleet in fiscal 2023, Lt. Gen. James Pasquarette, the Army G-8, told Defense News in an Oct. 8 interview. – Defense News

Members of the US Army’s Assured Position, Navigation, and Timing Cross Functional Team (APNT CFT) have begun conducting preliminary experiments exploring the use of commercial broadband networks to support satellite communications (satcoms) from low earth orbit (LEO) constellations. – Janes 360

Harold Hutchison writes: Thirty years ago, the U.S. Navy had 13 carriers in service, and the following year saw their total climb to 15. […]This was when the U.S. did not have China trying to build up its force of aircraft carriers (they currently have two carriers in commission, are building two more, and have plans for as many as four additional ships after that). Given that the U.S. Navy has to cover two oceans, Esper needs to really rethink his plans for America’s aircraft carriers. – Washington Examiner

James Stavridis writes: All that will have to wait until after next month’s presidential election, of course. But there are some things the Pentagon approach has correct already: The 355-ship Navy is indeed a floor; new ideas and technology are needed; and no matter how exquisite an individual ship’s war-fighting capability, quantity has a quality all its own. – Bloomberg

Missile Defense

An Air Force general has revealed new details about what is set to be the service’s first hypersonic missile as the U.S. tries to catch up with the hypersonic research of its Russian and Chinese rivals. – Newsweek

With the U.S. military locked in on what it sees as a long-term competition with the People’s Republic of China for ascendency in the Indo-Pacific region, two services seeking to pivot away from heavy ground conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan are looking toward missiles as a ticket to relevance in a potential future conflict. – Defense News

The Navy’s next warship needs more missiles than the current crop of Arleigh Burke guided-missile destroyers but must be smaller and cheaper than the trio of Zumwalt-class DDGs, Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Mike Gilday said on Tuesday. – USNI News

Trump Administration

A federal prosecutor’s review found no improper activity by Obama administration officials who requested the identities of Americans whose names were redacted in classified intelligence reports around the time of the 2016 presidential election, two officials familiar with the matter said. – Wall Street Journal

The State Department is calling on US think tanks and other policy groups to publicly disclose how they are funded — or risk forfeiting access to top department brass. – New York Post

Eli Lake writes: This is a legitimate concern. Politicians and bureaucrats often spin sensitive investigations to incriminate targets in the court of public opinion before charging them in a court of law. That’s exactly what happened during Russiagate — and if the Post’s reporting is correct, it also happened with unmasking. – Bloomberg