Fdd's overnight brief

October 17, 2022

In The News


Iran is strengthening its commitment to supply arms for Russia’s assault on Ukraine, according to U.S. and allied security officials, secretly agreeing to send not only attack drones but also what some officials described as the first Iranian-made surface-to-surface missiles intended for use against Ukrainian cities and troop positions. – Washington Post

Award-winning Iranian filmmaker Mani Haghighi’s noir thriller, Subtraction, is set to screen Saturday at the prestigious London Film Festival. But on Friday he joined a growing list of Iranian celebrities, including artists, filmmakers and athletes who have been arrested or put under travel bans for supporting a nationwide uprising that despite a bloody crackdown shows no signs of abating as it nears its second month. – Washington Post

A massive fire broke out Saturday night in Iran’s notorious Evin prison, which holds hundreds of dissidents and has detained hundreds more during the past month of street protests. – Washington Post

The protest movement sweeping Iran spread to a Tehran prison known as a symbol of political repression in a new challenge to the Islamic Republic, with detained dissidents chanting antigovernment slogans before violence erupted and a deadly fire engulfed the facility, activists said. – Wall Street Journal

The intensity of protests that have swept Iran over the past month, with calls to topple the Islamic Republic, have shaken the state. But in some ways, the country’s authoritarian clerical rulers have been preparing for this moment since the 1979 Islamic Revolution, which established a conservative theocracy that has held firm until today. – New York Times

The protests have also smashed any notion of Iranian politics as a battle between so-called reformist and conservative elements working within the system and also switched international attention away from talks with Iranian leaders on the nuclear programme. – Agence France-Presse

Vice President Kamala Harris and other top US leaders on Friday hailed women leading protests in Iran as they met activists originally from the country whose clerical leadership is waging a crackdown. – Agence France-Presse

Former U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley is calling for President Biden to demand the removal of Iran from the U.N. women’s commission in the wake of the death of Mahsa Amini — a death that has sparked protests and a brutal response from the theocratic regime. – Fox News

Facing their biggest challenge in years, Iran’s religious leaders are trying to portray the angry protests over the death of Mahsa Amini as a breakaway uprising by her fellow Kurds threatening the nation’s unity rather than its clerical rule. – Reuters

President Ebrahim Raisi on Sunday blamed his U.S. counterpart for inciting “chaos, terror, and destruction” in Iran, the official IRNA news agency reported, amid protests that have rocked the country for the past four weeks. – Reuters

Scattered protests are being reported in several cities across Iran where protesters have taken to the streets while chanting antiestablishment slogans, according to amateur videos posted online. – Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty

Nearly two dozen children were killed last month during protests in Iran, according to a new report by a human rights watchdog that accuses the country’s security forces of targeting young people “with absolute impunity.” – CNN

Protesters across Iran defied a nearly month-long crackdown on Saturday, activists said, chanting in the streets and in universities against the country’s clerical leaders in a sustained wave of anger at the death of Mahsa Amini. – Reuters

Editorial: Reuters reported Wednesday that at least 201 civilians have been killed since the protests began, citing numbers from the nonprofit Iran Human Rights. Mr. Ronaghi’s life is among those that hang in the balance. – Wall Street Journal

Tara Aghdashloo writes: Now, the chants are directed at the supreme leader and the regime itself. Even Iran’s state TV offered a (relatively two-sided) debate on the concept of morality police. Some officials voiced that perhaps hijab can be a personal choice, while others favour continued crackdowns. But Iranians, and Iranian women, have been fighting this fight for a long time. And it’s not yet over. – Financial Times

Najmeh Bozorgmehr writes: “I feel that not only have I never experienced the pleasures of teenagers in the US, Britain, Australia, I cannot use my own creativity and talent to have a decent salary and be hopeful about my future,” she says. The only option, she says, is to continue protesting “until we defeat the Islamic republic even though I’m aware the system is frightening and vengeful.” – Financial Times

Seth J. Frantzman writes: Iran blames the West and opposition groups for the protests. However, the regime has also been careful not to antagonize more groups because it knows how sensitive the situation is. Many protesters are outraged at the killing of Jina Mahsa Amini. Other scenes of police assaulting women have caused more outrage. Thus Iran wants to show it can extend the range of its air defenses and test them; while it strikes at the opposition and tries to contain protests. – Jerusalem Post

Yonah Jeremy Bob writes: Mainly, Iran would need to let the IAEA probes remain open for several months and possibly longer, but it has plenty of experience with dragging out processes with international inspectors. As long as he returned to the JCPOA’s nuclear limits, Khamenei would likely get the sanctions relief he wanted, even if the IAEA issues were not fully resolved, regardless of what the deal says. – Jerusalem Post

Rahim Hamid and Ruth Riegler write: Ahwaz is a region strategically vital for the regime since it contains over 90 percent of the oil and gas resources claimed by Iran. “We live on the land where the energy resources are. If we protest, the regime will massacre our people because Ahwaz is the ‘land of oil and gas’. Ahwazis crippled the flow of energy from Ahwaz before and toppled the Shah. In return, Khomeini broke his promises of freedom and killed and displaced our people. We don’t want this fate to be repeated again. Unity comes when we see real change in Persian opposition discourse, recognizing our full ethnic national rights rather than issuing mere populist and romantic mottos.” – Washington Institute

Zachary Coles, Kitaneh Fitzpatrick, and Frederick W. Kagan write: LH and IRGC rhetoric coincides with reports that the KRG refused Iran’s demands to disarm and remove anti-Iranian regime militants from Iraqi Kurdistan. Iranian Foreign Affairs Minister Hossein Amir Abdollahian made the demand in a meeting with KRG Interior Minister Rebar Ahmed in Tehran on October 16. Iran International claimed on October 16 that KRG envoy to Iran Nazim Dabbagh admitted that the KRG had warned anti-regime Kurdish militants prior to IRGC attacks. – Institute for the Study of War

Farzaneh Milani writes: The prescient chronicler of seismic moments of transition in Iranian history, Bahram Beyzaie, in his masterpiece The Death of [King] Yazdgerd, puts the crown on the head of his formidable female protagonist and these words in her mouth: “I have been waiting for liberation for a long time.” This is the dawn of a new era in Iran. – Foreign Policy

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. The new Iranian revolution has begun, we just don’t know it yet. – Commentary

Russia & Ukraine

Police and military officers swooped down on a Moscow business center this past week unannounced. They were looking for men to fight in Ukraine — and they seized nearly every one they saw. Some musicians, rehearsing. A courier there to deliver a parcel. A man from a Moscow service agency, very drunk, in his mid-50s, with a walking disability. – Washington Post

Russian kamikaze drones struck central Kyiv on Monday morning, appearing to target a downtown power station, continuing a trend of striking Ukrainian critical infrastructure. – Washington Post

At least 11 people were killed and 15 injured in a shooting Saturday at a military training base in the Belgorod region of Russia, which serves as a staging ground for the war in Ukraine, the Russian Defense Ministry reported. – Washington Post

Tensions are rising between the United States and its Western allies over Ukraine’s deteriorating economy, as American officials increasingly prod the European Union to ramp up financial assistance to the war-torn country. – Washington Post

Russia’s efforts to counter Ukrainian advances by pounding Kyiv and other cities with missiles and mobilizing hundreds of thousands of reservists represent a significant escalation in the seven-month-old war but are unlikely to shift the dynamics of a conflict now clearly tilting in favor of Ukraine, Western intelligence assessments and military experts say. – Washington Post

The Russians occupied this northeastern Ukrainian city split by the Oskil River without firing a shot, marching in on a bitterly cold February morning. In a live-streamed address, the mayor said that he had let them in without resistance. – Washington Post

In a flurry of elections, some of the world’s major democracies have been leaning toward or outright embracing far-right authoritarian leaders, who have echoed one another by promising to crack down on loose morals, open borders and power-hungry elites. – Washington Post

Iran said on Monday that it had not provided Russia with drones to use in Ukraine. “The published news about Iran providing Russia with drones has political ambitions and it’s circulated by western sources. We have not provided weaponry to any side of the countries at war,” said Iran’s Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Nasser Kanaani during a weekly press conference. – Reuters

Logistical issues faced by Russian forces in southern Ukraine have become more acute following damage to a key bridge to Crimea on Oct. 8, a British intelligence update said on Monday. – Reuters

Nearly eight months into his war against Ukraine, Russian President Vladimir Putin appears to be striking a softer tone, saying he sees no need for continued massive air strikes and that a mobilization of troops to support his military operation will end in two weeks. – Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty

President Biden announced a new $725 million defense drawdown to support Ukraine on Friday as Russia conducts a series of missile strikes throughout the country. – The Hill

Ukrainian Ambassador to the U.S. Oksana Markarova on Sunday called for increasing the speed of weapon deliveries to her country after it faced a barrage of strikes from Russia in recent days, emphasizing the need for air defense systems in particular. – The Hill

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky estimated in an address on Saturday that almost 65,000 Russians have died in their country’s war on Ukraine. – The Hill

The World Health Organization (WHO) warned at a briefing on Friday that humanitarian issues in Ukraine are likely to be exacerbated during the autumn and winter seasons. – The Hill

Rape and sexual assault attributed to Moscow’s forces in Ukraine are part of a Russian “military strategy” and a “deliberate tactic to dehumanise the victims”, UN envoy Pramila Patten told AFP in an interview. – Agence France-Presse

President Biden’s top envoy for the safe use of nuclear power is warning that any use of nuclear weapons by Russian President Vladimir Putin is likely to have “devastating effects” and an “unpredictable cascade of outcomes.” – The Hill

Russian authorities on Friday said they would help civilians evacuate the southern city of Kherson, Ukraine, as Ukrainian troops continue to make gains in the area just north of Crimea. – The Hill

Russian troops shot and killed an orchestra conductor who refused to perform at a concert Russia allegedly staged in the occupied southern region of Kherson, according to Ukrainian officials. – The Hill

A Russian official said on Sunday that the detention of WNBA star Brittney Griner isn’t a priority for the Kremlin despite President Biden repeatedly pushing for her release. – The Hill

The decision by Elon Musk to pull the plug on financing for a satellite communications system that has been vital for Kyiv’s defenses, in concert with cryptic reports of Vladimir Putin’s purported openness to peace talks, raises more questions than answers as the war in Ukraine lurches toward its eighth month. – New York Sun

Members of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) may have traveled to Russian-held territories in Ukraine in order to help train Russian troops, Fox News reported Sunday, citing a report by the Institute for the Study of War (IFSW), published last week. – Arutz Sheva

Tunku Varadarajan writes: He likens the present day to early 1945, when victory in World War II was approaching. “Did the democracies negotiate with Hitler? Did they look for compromises? Or offer him an exit ramp? No. They demanded his capitulation with no conditions. Well, it is the same with Putin.” The people of Ukraine don’t want to negotiate. They want justice, “not revenge.” And justice, Mr. Lévy says, “must be quick, must be fair, and must be severe.” – Wall Street Journal

Dara Massicot writes: Mr. Putin’s behavior, intended to show resolve, reveals his awareness that the war is going poorly and his options are shrinking. The months ahead are likely to be volatile, especially if — or when — Russia’s gambits fail. – New York Times

Mark R. Whittington writes: Russia’s partnership in the ISS exists in its own universe, divorced from the rest of the world, where the war in Ukraine and threats of nuclear blackmail have caused disgust and fear. Russian cosmonauts are working side by side with their Western counterparts on the ISS despite the fact that their country is committing daily war crimes in Ukraine. – The Hill

Dov S. Zakheim writes: With winter coming on, and operations likely to be far more difficult, the administration should not hesitate both to push allies such as the Germans to transfer heavy armor to Ukraine, and to accelerate its own efforts and do the same, so that, whatever the Kremlin’s desperate efforts to terrorize the Ukrainian people, the ongoing progress of their military will not be slowed. – The Hill

Zoe Strimpel writes: But those who preach de-escalation, who mock the seriousness with which Britain is treating Russia’s attack, are siding with the enemy not just of Ukraine but the whole West. You don’t need a PhD in international relations to see that, while diplomacy and dialogue have their place, they aren’t much good when what’s needed is to win. – The Telegraph

Srulik Einhorn writes: The leaders of the Western world are beginning to understand that they are in trouble. And their problem is, first of all, to get the public to follow their leadership. What was imaginary until a year ago, is real today. They need to formulate a strategy for what they are doing and, above all, explain it to the public before it is too late. – Jerusalem Post

Boris Bondarev writes: Russia could then create a new foreign policy, carried out by a class of truly professional diplomats. They could finally do what the current generation of diplomats has been unable to—make Russia a responsible and honest global partner. – Foreign Affairs

Frederick W. Kagan writes: The Crimean Peninsula, finally, is strategically important for NATO as well as Ukraine. Russian possession of the peninsula allows Russia to base anti-air and anti-shipping missiles 325 kilometers further west than it could using only the territory it legally controls. These differences matter greatly to the scale and scope of the air and missile threat Russia can pose to NATO’s southeastern flank as well as to Russia’s ability to prepare and support future invasions of Ukraine. – Institute for the Study of War

Heather Williams writes: But successfully deterring Putin will also require maintaining NATO unity. One of the greatest weapons against Russia’s invasion, aside from the Ukrainian people, has proven to be the alliance’s unity and continued support for Ukraine in the face of unprovoked aggression. If U.S. efforts to deter Putin are seen as escalatory or dangerous by some NATO allies and undermines unity, that would work at cross-purposes and could embolden Putin. – Center for Strategic and International Studies

Anna Nemtsova writes: Every day, his parish has been distributing several tons of food aid delivered by an international Christian mission for displaced families. He was too exhausted to think about what a worse escalation might mean. “We have a very slow reaction to this disaster … Our community has finally received iodine tablets,” he explained. “So far, this is the only preparation for nuclear disaster. Nobody knows what to do if the Russians use nuclear missiles.” – The Atlantic

Dimitri K. Simes writes: Diplomacy without peace rarely works when combat has already been unleashed. But in dealing with a major nuclear power, military force without diplomacy cannot deliver lasting results and can lead to an unparalleled catastrophe with consequences beyond comprehension. Extremism in the name of a liberal world order is extremism nonetheless. It requires courage and vision to create peace but failing to make the effort would be tantamount to a dereliction of duty. – The National Interest

Mark Episkopos writes: The G7 warned Belarus in a joint statement on Tuesday “to stop enabling the Russian war of aggression” against Ukraine, but Lukashenko, more isolated from the West than he has ever been over the course of his twenty-eight-year career as Belarusian president, remains defiant in his pro-Moscow stance. – The National Interest

Lasha Tchantouridze writes: It is difficult to say what those who implemented Putin’s military reforms in Russia had in mind but Russia’s army is clearly not ready for warfare on a continental scale. Instead, the reformers have created a military organization more suited for short-term conflicts against smaller, less well-equipped, and unprepared enemies. Given that Russia itself is a very large country, this is a surprising outcome. Instead of creating a military that was supposed to always be ready for war, Russia has ended up with ground forces that are unable to sustain operations for an extended period. – The National Interest

David T. Pyne writes: For the West, the danger of Russian nuclear escalation in Ukraine is if the United States and its allies reacted by engaging in direct military strikes against Russian forces that could quickly escalate to a full-scale nuclear exchange. To avert such an apocalyptic outcome, Biden must call for an immediate ceasefire (which I proposed recently).  The longer the Biden administration delays calling for a ceasefire, the worse off Ukraine will be. – The National Interest

Christopher David LaRoche writes: As the recent Russian mobilization shows, the war in Ukraine is fraught with unpredictability. Analysts continue to debate its fundamentals: Is it sui generis? Who is winning? What does Putin really want? What caused it, where is it going, and when will it end? If analogical reasoning is an unavoidable human compulsion, it is only natural that experts now look to the past to make sense of the present. Is Ukraine akin to another Munich and Putin to Hitler—and will it lead to another world war? And if not these, which cases should guide us? – Foreign Policy



The restrictions set off an explosion of anger in Palestinian neighborhoods across the city. Palestinian shops shuttered in protest by day and crowds of young men skirmished with Israeli troops by night — the fiercest unrest in months. Clashes in Jerusalem, the holy and bitterly contested city, became a rallying cry last year that triggered a bloody 11-day Gaza war. – Associated Press

A man died early Sunday from a gunshot wound he suffered during confrontations with Israeli troops in the occupied West Bank, the Palestinian Health Ministry said. It was the latest death connected to clashes during Israeli raids in the Palestinian territory, which the military says target wanted Palestinians involved in planning or taking part in recent attacks on Israelis. – Associated Press

The scope of violent clashes in Jerusalem has started to decline, though riots in a number of West Bank towns continued as the week-long Sukkot holiday comes to an end, Israeli forces said over the weekend. – Algemeiner

An Israeli Minister on Sunday urged the country’s government to provide military aid to Ukraine amid reports that Iran will supply Russia with ballistic missiles during the ongoing conflict. – Algemeiner

The death of two Palestinians during clashes with IDF troops in the Jenin Refugee Camp last Friday underscores the growing cooperation between the armed groups of the ruling Fatah faction and the Iranian-backed Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ). – Jerusalem Post

Although significant aspects of Mossad’s 2018 operations to seize Iran’s secret nuclear files were already previously revealed, there are some fascinating new reveals in former prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s new book. – Jerusalem Post

The White House issued a rare public rebuke of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas on Saturday, after the latter publicly dismissed US efforts to address the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and indicated that Ramallah prefers that Russia play a more central role as a mediator while sitting alongside Russian President Vladimir Putin. – Times of Israel

Palestinian Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh made a rare visit to the Jenin refugee camp on Sunday evening to meet with Fatih Hazem, father of Raed Hazem, the Palestinian assailant behind the April attack on Tel Aviv’s busy Dizengoff Boulevard which killed four Israelis. – Haaretz

Political and defense officials expressed cautious optimism regarding the security situation in the West Bank and around Jerusalem over the weekend. A political source cited a noticeable decline in the number of attempts to harm Israelis, and defense sources say there are no indications that the violent clashes in Nablus and Jenin are spreading to other areas of the West Bank. – Haaretz

Two Israeli citizens of the Negev in southern Israel who had been arrested in September were charged on Sunday over their contact with an operative of a militant organization in the Gaza Strip, according to the Shin Bet. – Haaretz

Israel will deny entry permits to 164 family members of “Lion’s Den” militants, who have been heavily involved in recent clashes in Nablus – the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories announced on Sunday morning. – Haaretz

While under investigation in 20 states for anti-Israel bias, Chicago-based investment firm Morningstar repeatedly pointed to an independent report purportedly absolving it of such behavior. But White & Case, the law firm that authored the report, was listed this week as a sponsor of a program at the University of Chicago’s Law School that featured a virulently anti-Israel activist and perpetuated the notion that Israel practices apartheid. – Jewish News Syndicate

IDF soldiers entered Nablus on Sunday evening to arrest Hamza al-Azzi, who was wanted under suspicion of taking part in terrorist activity. At the same time, IDF soldiers and Border Police officers worked together in the village of Karawat Bani Hassan to arrest another wanted person allegedly connected to terrorist activity, as well as to confiscate terrorist funds. – Jerusalem Post

Tom Nisani writes: We must remember that although we have become addicted to the desire for peace, those who need peace and order more than the Israelis are the Arabs, in order to finally start living and not just dream of an imagined victory in their war against Israel. – Arutz Sheva

Amos Harel: The Achilles’ heel lies in the process, which is being carried out by a transition government and was pushed to the last minute, with the agreement being deposited in the Knesset (but not voted on there) right before the election. As such, the government exposed itself to various allegations, and it’s not yet clear whether the High Court of Justice will necessarily authorize the process. But between this and the fake news Netanyahu is floating without batting an eyelash, there is a huge distance. – Haaretz


The United Nations’ new special representative for Afghanistan Roza Otunbaeva has met with high-ranked officials of the Taliban-led government to discuss a “broad range of issues, including international assistance, drug abuse, and the importance of girls’ education,” the UN said on October 16. – Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty

Blankets and luggage carts have become the makeshift homes to more than a hundred Afghan migrants in Sao Paulo’s international airport, serving as a temporary shelter for refugees after their year-long odyssey since the Taliban returned to power. – Reuters

A year after banning most teenage girls from attending school, the Taliban are imposing sweeping restrictions on which courses women can enrol in at public universities. – BBC


Calm prevailed on Sunday in rebel-controlled northwest Syria a day after a Turkish-brokered truce ended bloody clashes between rival factions which risked wider internecine warfare among opponents of President Bashar al Assad’s rule, residents and rebels said. – Reuters

Russian and Syrian forces have killed 20 Islamic militants in an operation in southern Syria, including those responsible for blowing up a troop bus, a Russian officer was quoted as saying late on Sunday. – Reuters

A former Kurdish area of Syria that was ethnically cleansed in 2018 by Turkish-backed Syrian rebel groups is now partly in the hands of an even more extreme group called Hayat Tahrir al-Sham. – Jerusalem Post


Last week at a closed dinner in Prague, Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis of Greece was addressing 44 European leaders when President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey interrupted him and started a shouting match. – New York Times

Turkish officials on Sunday shot back at Greek allegations that Turkey forced 92 naked migrants into Greece, calling it “fake news” and accusing Greece of the mistreatment. – Associated Press

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Friday that Turkey and Russia have instructed their respective energy authorities to immediately begin technical work on a Russian proposal that would turn Turkey into a gas hub for Europe. – Associated Press


Lebanese Hezbollah and Iraq’s Has’d al-Shaabi have been seen helping Iran’s Basiji forces crackdown on protesters across the country. According to sources, plain-clothes men with Lebanese-accented Arabic were seen trying to suppress riots in various cities in Iran, including in the capital of Tehran. – Jerusalem Post

The Lebanese military claimed Sunday that Israeli naval gunships have violated Lebanon’s sovereignty by entering its territorial waters. The Israel Defense Forces denied the claim. – Times of Israel 

Israel Harel writes: Anyone who claims there is no connection between the subservience our strategic leadership displayed on the gas deal and the weakness displayed by soldiers in the latest tactical incidents is denying reality. – Haaretz


Shortages of medicine, clothing and food are gripping Egypt, as the country emerges as one of the most vulnerable to shocks felt across the world by the rising value of the U.S. dollar and disruptions caused by the war in Ukraine. The main reason: Economists say the government is throwing up obstacles to imports in a bid to hoard its dwindling foreign-currency reserves. – Wall Street Journal

Egypt has missed out on an additional $75 million in American military aid after a senior Democratic U.S. senator blocked the funding over concerns about Cairo’s human rights record including holding political prisoners. – Reuters

Egypt has finalised a staff-level agreement with the international monetary fund (IMF) on the components of its programme, and will issue an announcement “very soon,” the country’s finance minister said on Sunday. – Reuters

Egypt’s Suez Canal Economic Zone will offer new services to ships including fuelling and catering from the first quarter of 2023, state media quoted a Suez Canal official as saying on Friday. – Reuters

Saudi Arabia

As Joe Biden weighs his response to Saudi Arabia’s decision to slash oil production, the US president faces mounting calls from Democrats to do the one thing they believe would hurt Riyadh most: freeze arms sales and curb security co-operation with the kingdom. – Financial Times

U.S. President Joe Biden will act “methodically” in deciding how to respond to Saudi Arabia over oil output cuts, but options include changes to U.S. security assistance, White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan said on Sunday. – Reuters

Saudi Arabia will provide $400 million in humanitarian aid to Ukraine, Saudi state news agency SPA said, adding that Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman made a phone call to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy on Friday. – Reuters

White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan on Sunday indicated President Biden will not meet with Saudi Arabia Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman at next month’s Group of Twenty (G-20) summit. – The Hill

President Joe Biden’s options for re-evaluating US-Saudi relations include “changes to our approach to security assistance to Saudi Arabia,” White House National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan said. – Bloomberg

Saudi Arabia’s defense chief, Prince Khalid bin Salman, on Sunday said he was “astonished” by suggestions that the country is siding with Russia in its war against Ukraine, after the kingdom led a push to cut global oil production that will bolster Russia’s energy revenue. – The Hill

Karen Attiah writes: And the signs were all there — unmistakably, unless you actively wanted to avoid seeing them — that the Saudi regime was not to be trusted. Now, MBS has put Biden in a corner yet again — and the president has nothing to show for his fist-bump diplomacy. Honestly, the administration has no one to blame but itself. – Washington Post

Jim Geraghty writes: If MBS looks at the fight between Russia and the West, realizes he has backed the wrong horse, and changes course, then the planning for Red Sands could quickly be restarted. But right now, if Biden indeed wants to send a message to the crown prince, it’s hard to imagine a simpler, better option than halting the Red Sands project. What is the Biden administration waiting for? – Washington Post

Javier Blas writes: NOPEC goes hand-in-hand with oil prices. If Brent crude stays under $100 a barrel, the bill may die. But if prices rise, just a touch, it has a fighting chance of passing. If that’s the case, it’s likely to create more problems than it would resolve. – Bloomberg

Middle East & North Africa

A shift in strategy by Abu Dhabi to invest across the region using sovereign wealth fund ADQ reflects an effort by the Gulf oil producer to use economic diplomacy to build regional alliances, from Turkey to Israel and Egypt, three sources said. – Reuters

Protestors clashed with police in the Tunisian capital of Tunis on Saturday, for the second night after a man died from injuries sustained during a police chase in August. Riot police fired tear gas to disperse the crowds in the poor Ettadamen and Intilka districts, with protesters chanting slogans against the police and throwing stones at them. – Reuters

Salem Alketbi writes: We must also ask about the relations between states hostile to Israel on religious or ideological grounds with their neighbors and other nationalities practicing their religion or other religions, and how they occupy the territory of other states and justify for themselves what they deny to others. The point here is not to legitimize one situation without the other, lest my words are misunderstood. – Jerusalem Post

Eric R. Mandel writes: Although technically unrelated, the success or failure of the Iran deal and the Abraham Accords is interconnected. The ascendency of one agreement may mean the withering of the other. The Biden administration has tried to have it both ways. – The Hill

Korean Peninsula

Tensions on the Korean Peninsula have escalated to their highest level in years, with the two countries engaging in tit-for-tat military exercises, trading barbs and hardening a diplomatic stalemate. – Wall Street Journal

South Korea’s troops kicked off their annual Hoguk defence drills on Monday, designed to boost their ability to respond to North Korea’s nuclear and missile threats amid simmering tension over both sides’ military activities. – Reuters

North Korea on Saturday warned that it would take “overwhelming military countermeasures” against what it called deliberate provocations by South Korea, as tensions remained high following the North’s ballistic missile launches in recent weeks. – Reuters

In a letter to North Korean leader Kim Jong Un ahead of a historic congress of the ruling Chinese Communist Party, Chinese President Xi Jinping said it was more important than ever that Beijing and Pyongyang enhance communication, unity and cooperation, North Korea’s state media reported on Sunday. – Reuters

South Korea could become the next country to go nuclear. That’s the upshot of mounting calls in the South to develop its own nuclear deterrent in response to the North Korean strongman’s repeated threats to deploy “tactical nuclear warheads” against the South. – New York Sun

Ellen Kim and Andy Lim write: First, North Korea is increasingly carrying out its provocations at night, which indicates that its military action can take place at any time of the day and night. Second, the attacks are orchestrated to take place on all fronts (water, land, and air) and one after the other. Third, from what used to be a single missile event, North Korea’s provocation seems to be evolving into a multiple (or hybrid) event using a mix of conventional weaponry and missiles. – Center for Strategic and International Studies

Stephen Silver writes: In addition, Lewis wrote that possible diplomacy had hit new roadblocks. “The Ukraine war has caused a deep rift between the United States and Russia and, to a lesser extent, Russia’s ally, China. The three big powers were crucial participants in previous multiparty negotiations to disarm North Korea, which ultimately failed. But Russia and China are now less likely to support U.S. pressure on North Korea.” – The National Interest

Trevor Filseth writes: The nuclear test would be a violation of several United Nations Security Council resolutions, and the United States, South Korea, and Japan have all warned that they would impose further costs on North Korea if it proceeded with the tests, although their ability to use economic leverage against Pyongyang is restricted by the country’s highly autarkic economy. – The National Interest


Chinese leader Xi Jinping pledged Sunday to turn China into a “great modern socialist country” that represents a “new choice” for humanity, as he opened a Chinese Communist Party meeting where he is expected to secure a precedent-breaking third term. – Washington Post

Xi Jinping became China’s most formidable leader in decades through a campaign of anticorruption purges that sidelined opponents and suppressed any potential challenge, real or perceived, to his power. Some political watchers thought the purges would ease once he settled into his role. Ten years into his tenure, his methods have only grown more sophisticated and pervasive. – Wall Street Journal

Mr. Xi has made clear that his overarching goal is to restore China to what he believes is its rightful place as a global player and a peer of the U.S. As a consequence, he has come to see the possibility of a showdown with the West as increasingly likely, according to people familiar with his thinking. – Wall Street Journal

​​Chinese censors are crippling access to the country’s do-everything app for some users as part of a campaign to kill discussion of a rare protest in Beijing, an escalation in the Communist Party’s drive to cleanse the country’s internet of even the whiff of dissent. – Wall Street Journal

American workers hold key positions throughout China’s domestic chip industry, helping manufacturers develop new chips to catch up with foreign rivals. Now, those workers are in limbo under new U.S. export control rules that prohibit U.S. citizens from supporting China’s advanced chip development. – Wall Street Journal

Since rising to power a decade ago, Xi Jinping has unleashed an array of campaigns to help ensure that China would prevail in, or at least withstand, a confrontation with the West. He has bolstered China’s military, reorganized the economy and remade society around a more ideologically committed Communist Party. – Wall Street Journal

President Biden and other American officials have invoked fears that the risk of nuclear “Armageddon” is at its highest since the Cuban Missile Crisis. Russian officials have warned of “Cuban Missile Crisis 2.0,” blaming the West for the escalation. – New York Times

They lounge in folding chairs, perch on traffic bollards or pace small circles to keep warm. They are stationed every 100 feet or so, keeping watch over their designated patch of Beijing street. Their bright red wind-breakers and matching armbands spell out their roles as “Neighborhood Security Volunteers.” – New York Times

Chinese President Xi Jinping signaled no change in direction for two main risk factors dragging down China’s economy — strict Covid rules and housing market policies — providing little lift to a worsening growth outlook. – Bloomberg

China has achieved comprehensive control over Hong Kong, turning it from chaos to governance, Chinese President Xi Jinping said in a speech on Sunday at the opening of the once-in-five-year Communist Party congress in Beijing. China has also waged a major struggle against Taiwan separatism and is determined and able to oppose territorial integrity, Xi said. – Reuters

China’s state banks stepped up their intervention to defend a weakening yuan on Monday, with banking sources telling Reuters these banks sold a high volume of U.S. dollars and used a combination of swaps and spot trades. – Reuters

President Xi Jinping has just made clear that he has bigger worries than the flagging economy. He opened the twice-a-decade Communist Party Congress on Sunday with a speech more focussed on national security and stability than in the past. That means state-led, inward-looking policies like self-sufficiency and zero-Covid will trump economic growth. – Reuters

A third term for Xi Jinping would risk a cold war, or even a hot one. But the prospect of China’s nationalistic leader staying in power, which the ruling Communist Party is almost certain to approve at its congress this week, isn’t all bad for the rest of the world. Xi’s policies are hurting the economy. That makes it harder for the People’s Republic to throw its weight around – and helps fight climate change. – Reuters

China’s president Xi Jinping has signalled his intention to steer the foreign policy of the world’s most populous country and rising military superpower away from reconciliation with the west as he warned of “grave international developments” not seen in the past 100 years. – Financial Times

China’s leader Xi Jinping has used his biggest agenda-setting speech in half a decade to warn the US against further support for Taiwan, chiding “external forces” for soaring tensions in the Taiwan Strait and suggesting they would be to blame if Beijing felt compelled to attack the country. – Financial Times

Xi has harnessed a masterful combination of strategic planning and an uncanny aptitude to lead allies and enemies alike to underestimate his ambition to pave a path to becoming the most powerful Chinese leader since Mao Zedong. – Politico

Bonds issued by LGFVs, however, are at risk of defaulting and pose another threat to President Xi Jinping as he pursues an unprecedented third term at the 20th National Congress of the Chinese Communist Party, which began on Sunday. – Business Insider

Editorial: When their economies stagnate and discontent increases, autocrats sometimes try to distract their people with adventures abroad. This is reason to worry that Mr. Xi might act on his ambition to seize Taiwan, sooner rather than later. So far, it is Mr. Xi’s success that has created risk for the United States and its allies. They must prepare for the possibility that his failures will create even more. – Washington Post

Editorial: The country’s demographics are daunting, as it will likely grow old before its average standard of living matches that of the West. With his desire at age 69 to remain in power for another five years, and maybe for life, Mr. Xi is also setting the country up for a succession dilemma that could become messy. – Wall Street Journal

Editorial: China’s own record would suggest that bet is likely to fail. The US and its friends should thus continue efforts to reduce their dependence on mainland supply chains. They should also embrace the strengths of their more open systems rather than trying to emulate China’s command economy. Any controls on high-tech exports or investments should be narrowly targeted at specific threats, as should immigration curbs. – Bloomberg

Seth G. Jones writes: During World War II, U.S. and allied defense industrial production was essential to defeating both Germany and Japan. But it didn’t happen overnight. If the U.S. is serious about competing with China, it needs to put its money where its mouth is. The defense industrial base is a critical place to start. – Wall Street Journal

Farah Stockman writes: The tale of an autocratic leader who hangs on to power while promising national greatness is a cautionary, if familiar, one for people everywhere, not just in China. – New York Times

Tom Mitchell writes: “This is the third year of fighting Covid and there are no real policies in place to help the economy recover,” he complained. “I cannot understand why local coffers are required to spend money year after year on quarantine hotels and mass testing. But we can only do what the centre says, right? Do we have any other choice?” China’s lone warrior has made it increasingly clear that they do not. – Financial Times

James Rogan writes: In turn, the U.S. is rushing to build domestic semiconductor facilities. TSMC is building a facility in Arizona. Intel is building a fabrication facility in Ohio, which would be the world’s largest. And Micron has announced that it will construct a large fabrication facility in upstate New York. Unfortunately, the three fabrication facilities won’t be operating before 2024 at the earliest.

China is very aware of America’s window of semiconductor fabrication vulnerability. The drumbeats of war are growing louder. – Washington Examiner

Jude Blanchette writes: he old ways of conceptualizing Chinese politics no longer prevail. Opposing factions won’t constrain Xi. The much-vaunted but rarely seen reformers aren’t coming to rescue economic policy. Coming to grips with Xi’s continued rule is the first step to navigating it. – Foreign Affairs

South Asia

Pakistan pushed back Saturday against a comment by President Joe Biden in which he called the South Asian country “one of the most dangerous nations in the world.” Biden was at an informal fundraising dinner at a private residence in Los Angeles on Thursday sponsored by the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee when he made the comment. – Associated Press

Pakistani security forces on Sunday killed in a shootout five militants in the country’s restive southwest area. Security officials said the operation targeted militants in the Mastung area of Baluchistan province who were alleged to have been behind a bomb attack Friday that left three people dead and six injured. – Associated Press

Assailants on Saturday fatally shot a Kashmiri Hindu man in violence police blamed on militants fighting against Indian rule in the disputed region. Police said militants fired at Puran Krishan Bhat, who is from the minority community of Kashmiri Hindus, at his home in southern Shopian district. He was taken to a hospital where he died, police said in a statement. – Associated Press

Pakistan’s former prime minister Imran Khan won the majority of seats in by-elections on Sunday, building momentum in his campaign to pressure the six-month-old government into calling an early national vote. – Bloomberg

Kapil Komireddi writes: Two years from now, India will hold the most consequential election in its history: the final chance to stop Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s conversion of the world’s largest democracy into an illiberal Hindu-supremacist state. But the vote that may determine the outcome of that election takes place on Oct. 17, when the opposition Indian National Congress party will pick a new leader through an internal election for the first time since 2000. – Foreign Policy


A video of Tajik President Emomali Rahmon complaining to Russian President Vladimir Putin about his lack of respect for the countries of Central Asia that were once part of the Soviet Union has struck a nerve on social media, where it has been viewed millions of times. – Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty

South Pacific defence ministers will meet in Tonga on Tuesday, with Australia seeking a closer military relationship with the three island nations that have defence forces to counter China’s security push in the region. – Reuters

Japan has not ruled out raising corporate and household income taxes to fund a planned increase to its defence budget in the next fiscal year, the head of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party’s (LDP) tax policy panel said on Monday. – Reuters

Taiwan will not back down on its sovereignty or compromise on freedom and democracy, and its people clearly oppose Beijing’s idea of “one country, two systems” management for Taiwan, the self-ruled island’s presidential office said on Sunday. – Reuters

Jacob Kamaras writes: Yet for Azerbaijan, it is only fitting to take a page from the Israeli playbook. The road to restoration and redemption in Karabakh has still just begun, and it is budding with hope for a prosperous future. – Jerusalem Post

Daniel McKivergan writes: The next Congress will have an opportunity to work constructively with the Biden administration to upgrade the current US-Vietnam partnership to a strategic one that expands our political, security, economic, and cultural ties. The opening to Vietnam 27 years ago required sustained political leadership and focus to turn an opportunity into a reality. Today is no different. – Hudson Institute


British lawmakers and rights activists on Monday called for an investigation into the case of a Hong Kong demonstrator who was dragged into the Chinese consulate in Manchester and beaten by staffers after he protested against the Chinese government. – Washington Post


Norwegian police arrested a Russian man after he was caught flying a drone above an airport in northern Norway, the police said Saturday, the second such incident in the past week. – Washington Post


Europe is as ready as it can be for a winter without Russian natural gas, but there is no margin for error. Storage facilities of gas for heating and power generation are almost full, consumption is down and liquefied natural gas tankers are steaming in. Europe is in a stronger position than feared in recent months, after Moscow slashed gas deliveries in retaliation for Western sanctions over the invasion of Ukraine. – Wall Street Journal


After securing her party’s biggest-ever gains in elections to France’s National Assembly, Marine Le Pen is now reflecting on whether she can steer the country toward what she calls a strategic midpoint between the U.S., Russia and China. – Wall Street Journal


Natural gas from undersea deposits in the eastern Mediterranean can help replace Russia’s diminished supply of the fossil fuel to Europe as the continent also looks to make a quick transition to renewable energy, the European Union’s energy commissioner said Friday. – Associated Press


European Union foreign ministers are expected to agree on a mission to train 15,000 Ukrainian troops from next month and an extra 500 million euros worth of funding for arms deliveries to Kyiv when they meet in Luxembourg on Monday. – Reuters


The websites of the Bulgarian presidency and several other government ministries were the target of a large-scale cyberattack, the Prosecutor-General’s Office said on October 15, blaming Russian hackers. – Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty


European foreign ministers will on Monday discuss the transfer of Iranian drones to Russia and could come to a political agreement on future sanctions related to such activity, two diplomats said on Friday. – Reuters


Thousands of people took to the streets of Paris on Sunday to protest against soaring prices as weeks of strikes for higher wages at oil refineries spurred demands for a general strike. The leader of hard-left party La France Insoumise (France Unbowed), Jean-Luc Melenchon, marched alongside this year’s Nobel Prize winner for Literature, Annie Ernaux. He called a general strike for Tuesday. – Reuters


The EU must toughen up its attitude towards China and see the country as an all-out competitor with limited areas of potential engagement, the bloc’s ministers have been advised ahead of talks on recalibrating Brussels’ strategy towards Beijing. – Financial Times


President Biden on Saturday criticized a tax cut plan that British Prime Minister Liz Truss has now largely backed away from as a “mistake.” – The Hill


Petr Fiala writes: At a time of overlapping crises and ongoing challenges, we need an open platform capable of accommodating different interests from across Europe. We seek free discussion that reinforces mutual understanding and helps us to refine our positions on the most pressing issues of the day. The EPC is a space to do just that. – Financial Times


Diplomats are calling on Ethiopia ’s federal authorities and their rivals in the northern region of Tigray to agree to a cease-fire as heavy fighting raises growing humanitarian fears. African Union Commission Chairman Moussa Faki Mahamat expressed “grave concern” in a statement Sunday over the fighting and called for an “immediate, unconditional cease-fire and the resumption of humanitarian services.” – Associated Press

The International Rescue Committee said Saturday one of its workers was killed in an attack in Ethiopia’s embattled Tigray region. The worker was “delivering lifesaving humanitarian aid to women and children” at the time of the explosion in the town of Shire on Friday, the aid group said in a statement. Another worker was wounded in the attack, it said. – Associated Press

The acting director of the Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention alleged he was “mistreated” upon his arrival at Germany’s Frankfurt Airport on Saturday and had decided to return to Africa. – Associated Press

Fleeing beheadings, shootings, rapes and kidnappings, nearly 1 million people are displaced by the Islamic extremist insurgency in northern Mozambique. The 5-year wave of jihadi violence in Cabo Delgado province has killed more than 4,000 people and scuppered international investments worth billions of dollars. – Associated Press

A passenger bus struck an improvised explosive device in central Mali, killing at least 10 people and wounding dozens of others, authorities said Friday, blaming Islamic extremists with links to al-Qaida. – Associated Press

Zambia’s finance minister said on Saturday it is still unclear who will be leading talks for renegotiating its nearly $6 billion debt with China, the largest bilateral creditor of the first African sovereign default in 2020 after the COVID-19 pandemic hit. – Reuters

Burkina Faso’s military officials, political parties and civil society leaders on Friday officially designated army captain Ibrahim Traore as the country’s transitional president, two weeks after he seized power in Burkina Faso’s second coup this year. – Reuters

Editorial: Perhaps the South African government headed by President Cyril Ramaphosa should be reminded of the stance taken by Nelson Mandela, the leader credited with ending apartheid. Although Mandela opposed what he viewed as Israel’s “occupation” of Palestinian territories, he supported the Jewish state’s right to exist in secure borders, declaring during his visit to Jerusalem in 1999: “I cannot conceive of Israel withdrawing [from territory] if Arab states do not recognize Israel, within secure borders.” – Jerusalem Post

The Americas

The United States has drafted a United Nations Security Council resolution encouraging “the immediate deployment of a multinational rapid action force” to Haiti in response to the rapidly deteriorating security and humanitarian situation there, according to a copy of the resolution obtained by The Washington Post. – Washington Post

Jose Maria Garcia Lara got a call asking if his shelter had room for a dozen Venezuelan migrants who were among the first expelled to Mexico under an expanded U.S. policy that denies rights to seek asylum. – Associated Press

As a global race for supplies of lithium heats up, companies from China and Russia are dominating the competition to unlock the vast potential of Bolivia, the country with the world’s biggest resource of the critical metal for electric vehicle batteries. – Financial Times

Canada is pushing for Russia to be kicked out of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the G-20, a group of 20 countries that work on issues related to the economy, in light of the IMF and World Bank meetings in Washington, D.C., this week. – The Hill

United States

Advocates say the reversal is part of a pattern from the government to evade scrutiny of the Terrorist Screening Database, a secret, FBI-maintained list of known or suspected terrorists subject to heightened security screening at borders, and of the smaller No Fly List of those barred from U.S. airspace. – Washington Post

President Biden’s efforts to bolster domestic manufacturing are coming under diplomatic fire from key allies, with European governments accusing his administration of undercutting the trans-Atlantic alliance with “Made in America” policies that threaten their economies. – New York Times

Hal Brands writes: To be sure, America’s rivals are ambivalent friends. Xi hasn’t rescued Putin from his quagmire in Ukraine; if China, Russia and Iran did push the US out of Eurasia, they might fall out among themselves. But none can accomplish its aims without successfully confronting a superpower, which gives them an overriding incentive to align. – Bloomberg

Bruce Stokes writes: But now the country’s success in overcoming these challenges has implications for the U.S. role in the world. Those who care about U.S. stature and influence in the world must engage in strengthening American democracy at home. To paraphrase former Speaker of the House Tip O’Neill: “All foreign policy is now local.” – Foreign Affairs

Anthony H. Cordesman writes: As such, the new Biden National Security Strategy provides a well-crafted statement of U.S. goals, but like so many other U.S. strategy documents, it has little substance in either measuring the scale of the challenges the U.S. must address, or going beyond setting broad global goals to describing any tangible path towards a credible future. – Center for Strategic and International Studies


Elon Musk’s recent pronouncements on major foreign policy issues are ratcheting up national security concerns about his takeover of Twitter, a global speech platform used by hundreds of millions, 75 percent of them outside the United States. – Washington Post

Twitter Inc.’s lawyers tried again last week to learn what Elon Musk had told federal authorities who were investigating his attempt to take the social media company private. – Bloomberg

With Russia continuing to face setbacks in its war against Ukraine, experts warn Russian President Vladimir Putin may escalate his cyber operations in the November midterms as retaliation for U.S. involvement in the conflict. – The Hill

Meta’s losses from its metaverse project keep stacking up. The tech giant reported $10 billion in losses last year, and more than $5 billion so far in 2022, with many experts projecting the pace of losses to accelerate even further. – Business Insider

Chris Hughes writes: If there are brakes on UK buyouts, they are less procedural and more political, like the government’s national security veto. Private equity firms can get deals done if they pay up. Given the grief Morrison has caused the lenders lumbered with its debt, some might even wish the regime made buyouts a lot harder than it does. – Bloomberg

Mohammed Soliman writes: Cyberspace is one promising area in which Negev Forum member states could collaborate, expand the format to include more countries, and deliver tangible results. Going forward, the Negev Forum should pursue an ambitious, multifaceted Negev cyber force to defend the collective cyberspace of its member states. – The National Interest


Military research groups at the leading edge of China’s hypersonics and missile programs — many on a U.S. export blacklist — are purchasing a range of specialized American technology, including products developed by firms that have received millions of dollars in grants and contracts from the Pentagon, a Washington Post investigation has found. – Washington Post

The Pentagon on Friday confirmed that the Biden administration was in talks with SpaceX over who will foot the bill for the critical internet service in Ukraine provided by the company’s Starlink. – The Hill

A 50-kilowatt laser weapon version of the Army’s Stryker-based Short-Range Air Defense system will remain a development program longer than planned to ensure it can be produced at a larger scale. – Defense News

The Marine Corps has halted some operations of its new amphibious combat vehicles after one of the armored vehicles rolled over in surf during training off California’s Camp Pendleton. – Military Times

The Biden administration will send Ukraine a new $725 million package of weapons and other military assistance, the White House said Friday, as the U.S. added to a flurry of aid announcements from European allies this week. – Military Times

Brent Sadler writes: Importantly, the Navy has maintained a near-constant and elevated presence in the Western Pacific throughout historically high and sustained Chinese military operations. The high point of tensions occurred following House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s August trip to Taipei. All the while, nearby the Navy maintained two carrier strike groups and two amphibious groups sending the clear message that while the U.S. sought a peaceful Asia, we were determined to protect American interests should they be challenged. Bottom line: Things stayed contained and nonviolent. – Heritage Foundation

Ethan Brown and Lt. Col. Jonathan Magill write: The lack of operational organization, dedicated resourcing, and tasking authorities at the strategic level have constrained the air advising mission at a time when it is more critical than ever to develop security partnerships. Without standing units dedicated, resourced, and aligned to this mission, the Air Force is lacking a critical capability to effectively integrate security partners into its global priorities. – War on the Rocks