Fdd's overnight brief

October 19, 2020

In The News


A decade-long U.N. arms embargo on Iran that barred it from purchasing foreign weapons like tanks and fighter jets expired Sunday as planned under its nuclear deal with world powers, despite objections from the United States, which insists the ban remains in place. – Associated Press

Iranian Minister of Defense Amir Hatami said on Sunday that the stage is set for Iran to start selling and buying arms now that the UN arms embargo on the Islamic Republic has been lifted. – Arutz Sheva

Iran said it was self-reliant in its defense and had no need to go on a weapons buying spree as a United Nations conventional arms embargo was due to expire on Sunday despite strong U.S. opposition. – Reuters

One of the targets of large cyber attacks on two Iranian government institutions this week was the electronic infrastructure of the country’s ports, an Iranian news agency reported on Friday. – Reuters

An Iranian opposition group claims that it has revealed a new military site that it thinks is being used by Iran’s government to further its nuclear program. – Washington Examiner

Two female Iranian dissidents have responded defiantly to being summoned to start prison terms in Iran, saying they have no regrets for signing the 2019 letter that called for the nation’s Islamist ruler to quit and triggered their arrest. – VOA News

Yonah Jeremey Bob writes: That the issues can only be solved together and that, in fact, possibly the greatest practical threat of Tehran getting a nuclear weapon, would be expansive and unrestrained Iranian terror. If the disconnect which was created on October 18 is maintained, whether sooner or in five or 10 years, the world will eventually wake up to an Iran far more deadly than anything it has seen to date. – Jerusalem Post

Seth J. Frantzman writes: Iran wants to improve its loitering munition and armed drone arm which it already vastly expanded in the last several years. Baku’s use of drones likely impresses Iran and will lead to it confirming its investment in drones and missiles instead of tanks. – Jerusalem Post 

Rafael Medoff writes: The 9,000-15,000 Jews remaining in Iran “face societal discrimination and harassment,” the report says. […]All of which makes the upcoming appearance by Roger Cohen at the “3 Generations” event more than a little ironic: An unrepentant denier of anti-Jewish persecution will be featured by an organization whose creation was inspired by the suppression of a film about anti-Jewish persecution. One wonders what Sidney Bernstein would have thought about this turn of events. – Algemeiner

Farzin Nadimi writes: The U.S. “maximum pressure” policy is unlikely to affect Iran’s overall military capability, given that the lifting of arms sanctions will hardly affect the arms markets. […]Although the portrayal of an invincible front against the enemy is partly to boost morale in a country battered by economic hardship and the COVID-19 pandemic, that should not obscure the fact that, for an aggressively ideological enemy now assured of its military might, bending under pressure will not be an option. – Washington Institute


A top White House official recently traveled to Damascus for secret talks with the Assad regime, marking the first time such a high-level U.S. official has met in Syria with the isolated government in more than a decade, according to Trump administration officials and others familiar with the negotiations. – Wall Street Journal

The European Union on Friday imposed sanctions on seven ministers recently appointed to the Syrian government, blaming them for playing a role in the continued crackdown on civilians in the war-ravaged country. – Associated Press

Jason Zhou and Eva Kahan write: The SDF does not have a process to deradicalize or reintegrate released ISIS sympathizers. The SDF released 631 detainees from Alaya Prison near Qamishli on October 15 and 289 IDPs from al Hawl on October 13. More releases will likely follow in coming days. ISIS will benefit from the injection of new fighters into its insurgency and will likely intimidate and recruit vulnerable civilian returnees.- Institute for the Study of War 

Isabel Ivanescu writes: A Russian deployment could also allow pro-regime forces to pursue more-ambitious objectives and adopt a new modus operandi in an imminent Idlib offensive if Russia permits its forces to participate in combat as well as posturing. […]A deployment of conventional Russian forces would solidify Russia’s position in Syria and give Russia an opportunity to test evolving doctrinal concepts and combat capabilities. However, it would require Russian willingness to resource Syria as a priority effort and tolerate increased risk to force. – Institute for the Study of War

Danny Citrinowicz writes: And while Assad’s position appears to be secure for now, Israel should work to ensure that if the opportunity to influence the Syrian political scene does arise, it possesses an extant framework for communicating its concerns to involved parties in Syria. Without a diplomatic component, Israel’s military strikes will not open a permanent solution to the Syrian problem. With Hezbollah’s and Iran’s backs to the wall, continued aggression might lead to an undesired escalation not worth any operational achievement. – Washington Institute

Seth J. Frantzman writes: There are also questions about Iranian trafficking of weapons, such as precision munitions, via Syria to Hezbollah. […]The regime certainly knows that this undermines its ability to rebuild if it allows Iran or Russia to totally take over the countryside. Washington might have some advice on how Assad could wean himself of Iran, even though such hopes have long been met with a dose of reality in which the regime needs Iran more than it needs the West. – Jerusalem Post


Turkey fired a missile as a test of its Russian-made air defense system on Friday, a United States official confirmed, a move that breaks an agreement with the Trump administration and risks the imposition of sanctions by Congress. – New York Times

Turkish intelligence has arrested a man suspected of spying on Arab dissidents in Turkey on behalf of the United Arab Emirates, a senior Turkish government official said Friday. – Associated Press

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan told Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau that Canada’s suspension of the export of some drone technology was not in line with the spirit of alliance, Erdogan’s office said late on Friday. – Reuters

EU leaders on Friday condemned “unilateral actions and provocations” by Turkey in the eastern Mediterranean, where it is locked in a standoff over energy resources with Greece and Cyprus. – Agence France-Presse

Ersin Tatar, the prime minister of the self-proclaimed Turkish Cypriot state recognized only by Ankara, won in a runoff with 52% of the vote, Turkey’s Anadolu Agency reported. He defeated incumbent Mustafa Akinci, who has favored looser ties with Turkey. – Bloomberg


Palestinian militants from the Gaza Strip fired a rocket into southern Israel on Friday, the Israeli military said. There were no reports of casualties or damage and no one immediately claimed responsibility for the rocket fire. – Associated Press

Israel and Bahrain on Sunday agreed to establish formal diplomatic relations, making the small Gulf country the fourth Arab state to normalize ties with Israel.Associated Press

A recent visit by Gulf Arabs to al-Aqsa Mosque has sparked outrage among east Jerusalem residents and the Palestinian ruling Fatah faction, who accused the visitors of promoting normalization with Israel and “desecrating” the holy site. – Jerusalem Post

Defense Minister Benny Gantz on Sunday vowed to take “whatever measures necessary” to prevent Iran from purchasing weapons after a United Nations arms embargo against the country ended despite an American effort to extend it. – Times of Israel

Chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat was taken by ambulance to a hospital in Israel on Sunday for treatment of a worsening case of COVID-19, the Palestine Liberation Organization said. – Reuters


The Trump administration had reserved 4,000 slots for Iraqi refugees who had helped American troops, contractors or news media or who are members of a persecuted minority group in the fiscal year that ended Sept. 30. It ultimately admitted only 161 Iraqis — or 4 percent — to the United States, the lowest percentage of the four categories of refugees the administration authorized for resettlement last year. – New York Times

The Yazidis of northern Iraq, an ancient religious minority brutally persecuted by Islamic State, want nothing more than peace, security and a better life in their home town of Sinjar – but they want it on their terms. – Reuters

Supporters of Hashed al-Shaabi, an Iraqi paramilitary network dominated by Iran-backed factions, Saturday burned down the main Kurdish party’s headquarters in Baghdad after criticism from a Kurdish ex-minister. – Agence France-Presse

Seth J. Frantzman writes: Iranian-backed groups want the US to leave Iraq. Over the past year there have been protests in Iraq against corruption, with the PMU also being accused of killing protesters. The country is also still trying to stabilize Sinjar – where ISIS committed genocide against Yazidis – with a new deal agreed to this month. Taken together, the attacks, protests, rocket fire and other incidents show that the government has little control over a swath of its own security forces. – Jerusalem Post


On Saturday, thousands of people marked the first anniversary of the protest movement in different parts of Lebanon including its three largest cities, Beirut, Tripoli and Sidon. But the protesters were far fewer than those last year. – Associated Press

The leaders of Lebanon’s Maronite and Orthodox Christian churches urged Lebanese leaders on Sunday to stop delaying talks on forming a government in scathing sermons in which they blamed them for the country’s financial crisis and political deadlock. – Reuters

Lebanon’s largest Christian political party said on Saturday it would not back the nomination of former Prime Minister Saad al-Hariri to lead a government to tackle a deep economic crisis, further complicating efforts to agree a new premier. – Reuters

Lebanon’s security chief held talks with top administration officials in Washington this week as the U.S. seeks to resolve his country’s energy dispute with Israel and free an American journalist kidnapped in Syria, according to people familiar with the matter. – Bloomberg

Arabian Peninsula

Israel and the United Arab Emirates will a sign a deal on Tuesday to allow 28 weekly commercial flights between Israel’s Ben Gurion airport, Dubai and Abu Dhabi, Israel’s Transportation Ministry said on Sunday. – Reuters

Israel and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) have reached a bilateral agreement that will give incentives and protection to investors who make investments in each other’s countries, both finance ministries said on Sunday. – Reuters

Yemen’s warring parties exchanged hundreds more prisoners on Friday on the second and final day of an operation to fly about 1,000 men home and help build momentum for a new push to end a catastrophic war. – Reuters

Russian President Vladimir Putin and Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman discussed energy markets and the implementation of agreements by the oil producers group known as OPEC+, the Kremlin said in a statement on Saturday. – Reuters

The chair of Britain’s Hay literary festival said Sunday the event will not return to Abu Dhabi after one of the festival’s curators alleged that she was sexually assaulted by the tolerance minister of the United Arab Emirates while working with him. – Associated Press

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin was present Sunday for the formal establishment of relations between Israel and Bahrain in Manama, Bahrain’s capital. – The Hill

Middle East & North Africa

Egypt’s authoritarian regime has jailed thousands of political opponents, human rights activists and pro-democracy lawyers, often on flimsy or trumped-up charges. That has triggered widespread condemnation, yet the jailings have continued. – Washington Post

In a matter of hours, according to U.S. military officials, American special operations forces rushed to save the Emirati royal and the other soldiers. […]Gen. Correa’s close relationship with the Emirati leaders became an unanticipated asset in the Trump administration’s secret talks between Israel and the U.A.E. that led to the historic peace deals—known as the Abraham Accords—signed last month at the White House. – Wall Street Journal

Donald Trump’s Middle East envoy said on Sunday the U.S. President’s push for an Israeli-Arab rapprochement was gaining momentum and he hoped more accords would follow even if Trump loses next month’s election. – Reuters

Dov S. Zakheim writes: It will take some time before Israel and Lebanon reach an agreement on their maritime boundary. It will take even longer for them to progress to an arrangement that regularizes their land border. Nevertheless, any agreement, however minor, between Israel, whom Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan clearly despises, and Lebanon, whose polity he seeks to penetrate, works against his increasingly hegemonic vision for what is, in effect, an Ottoman restoration. – The Hill

Korean Peninsula

US-based Human Rights Watch drew on interviews with dozens of former North Korean detainees and officials to highlight what it called inhuman conditions at detention facilities that often amount to torture. – Agence France-Presse

North Korea’s Kim Jong Un wept at a military parade and repeatedly apologized for his people’s suffering from a string of typhoons and COVID-19. But the portly dictator isn’t channeling his Mister Rogers, analysts told The Post. He’s desperate. – New York Post

Joshua Berlinger writes: The conclusion drawn from the military display is clear: North Korea is hard at work on its weapons advancement, even if it has scaled back the testing of weapons that will provoke Washington — long-range missiles and nuclear bombs. – CNN


Chinese government officials are warning their American counterparts they may detain U.S. nationals in China in response to the Justice Department’s prosecution of Chinese military-affiliated scholars, according to people familiar with the matter. – Wall Street Journal 

The U.S. government is embarking on a push to persuade developing countries to shun Chinese telecommunications equipment, offering financial assistance to use alternatives that Washington says are safer and have fewer strings attached. – Wall Street Journal

China on Sunday detailed steps to grant more autonomy to Shenzhen, letting the southern financial and technology hub pilot reforms in market development and economic integration. – Reuters

China passed a law restricting exports of controlled items, allowing the government to act against countries that abuse export controls in a way that harm’s China’s interests, state media said. – Reuters

Mahlet N. Mesfin and Scott Moore write: At a time when the world sometimes seems to lurch from one crisis to another, the risks and opportunities presented by biotechnology might seem far-off. But as the still-recent discovery of CRISPR-Cas9 has shown, the next transformative advance in biotechnology may be just around the corner — and the U.S., China, and other nations must seek new and expanded ways to identify shared principles to navigate the scientific, regulatory, and ethical dimensions of this brave new world.  – The Hill


The Taliban, facing international condemnation for a 10-day assault in southern Helmand province, is accusing the U.S. military of violating their February accord by carrying out “excessive” aerial attacks and bombings in recent days. – Washington Post

President Trump’s national security adviser, Robert C. O’Brien, added to the confusion around Mr. Trump’s plans for Afghanistan on Friday, reiterating an assertion that the United States will draw down to about 2,500 troops by early next year — and indirectly rebuking the Joint Chiefs of Staff chairman for openly questioning that timeline. – New York Times

In a long conflict waged by men, she’s been a rare female warlord, defending her fief in northern Afghanistan against the Taliban, her own relatives and even against the American-backed central government she allied with. – New York Times

Today, Commander Andar is Spokesman Andar — the official spokesman for the National Security Council of the American-backed government of Afghanistan. – New York Times

At a Kabul museum honoring Afghanistan’s war victims, talking to visitors reveals just how many layers and generations of pain and grief have piled up during four decades of unrelenting conflict. – Associated Press

A suicide car bombing on Sunday killed at least 13 people and wounded around 120 others in Afghanistan’s western Ghor province, officials said. – Associated Press

South Asia

Militants killed a Pakistani paramilitary soldier and wounded three others in an ambush on a security patrol in southwestern Baluchistan province, the country’s military said Sunday. – Associated Press

A push for strict enforcement of the rule has come amid tensions between India and China following a border skirmish which began in June, and is part of India’s efforts to cut down on Chinese-made imports.  – Reuters

Nicholas Burns and Anja Manuel write: India and the U.S. will not be formal treaty allies and will disagree on important issues from time to time. But India’s rise to political, economic and military power in its region is of immense strategic importance to the U.S. It is in our interest to expand our work with India for the pivotal role we both will play in a free and open Indo-Pacific for the decades ahead. – The Hill


New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern won a landslide reelection Saturday in a resounding show of support for her successful handling of the pandemic and a further boost for her image as a rising star on the world stage. – Washington Post

Thailand’s protests have echoed some of the tactics seen during Hong Kong’s movement against Beijing’s influence over the city that evolved without an identified leader and used fluid and diffuse strategies to confound authorities. – Wall Street Journal

China’s top economic-planning body is targeting Australian cotton, Australian industry groups say, the latest escalation in a diplomatic and trade row between the countries. – Wall Street Journal

The much-publicized meeting carried a clear message, made all the more potent since China imposed a new national security law in Hong Kong this summer. The days of the central government exercising its will behind the scenes are over. – New York Times

Thai authorities shut down parts of Bangkok’s commercial center and crippled public rail networks over the weekend in an effort to prevent young demonstrators from continuing their antigovernment protests. It didn’t work. – New York Times

Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga, in his first summit foray since taking office last month, agreed with his Vietnamese counterpart to step up defense and security cooperation in the face of China’s expanding influence in the region. – Associated Press

A fight broke out between Chinese diplomats and Taiwanese government employees at a reception in Fiji to mark Taiwan’s national day, the Taiwanese foreign ministry said Monday, in a display of rising tension between the rival governments over diplomatic recognition. – Associated Press

Kyrgyzstan’s acting president Sadyr Japarov may run for the presidency full-time if the country amends its constitution to make it possible, Russia’s TASS news agency quoted him as saying on Monday. – Reuters

Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga said on Monday Tokyo opposes any steps to raise tension in the South China Sea, and that disputes should be resolved through peaceful means. – Reuters

While China probably is not ready to invade Taiwan for now, the island needs to “fortify itself” against a future attack or any bid to isolate it through nonmilitary means, such as an embargo, the White House national security adviser said on Friday. – Reuters

An elderly woman who disappeared midway through Hong Kong’s democracy protests last year resurfaced in the financial hub on Saturday after 14 months away, saying she had been detained on the Chinese mainland. – Agence France-Presse

South Caucasus

The three-week-old conflict between Azerbaijan and Armenia over a disputed territory in the Caucasus Mountains, where Europe meets Asia, has settled into a brutal war of attrition, soldiers and civilians said in interviews here on the ground in recent days. – New York Times

Armenia and Azerbaijan agreed to a new cease-fire in their conflict over a disputed territory, the countries said Saturday, days after a truce negotiated a week earlier had unraveled. New York Times

The U.S. should halt military assistance to Azerbaijan and put more pressure on Turkey to stop its interference in the conflict with Armenia over the territory of Nagorno-Karabakh, Armenia’s ambassador to the U.S. said in an interview with The Hill. – The Hill

Despite a second attempt at a cease-fire, Armenia and Azerbaijan traded accusations Sunday of violating the new truce in their destructive conflict over the separatist region of Nagorno-Karabakh. – Associated Press

A new ceasefire in the mountain enclave of Nagorno-Karabakh appeared to be in jeopardy on Monday, with ethnic Armenian forces and Azerbaijan accusing each other of renewed shelling. – Reuters

Russell A. Berman writes: But after four years of attacking Trump for allegedly being soft on Russia, it would not be surprising to see a more hawkish Democratic agenda. In Nagorno-Karabakh that could mean a decided tilt against Russia’s ally Armenia and support instead for Azerbaijan, already viewed as western-oriented and, to make the deal sweeter, the gateway to the oil and gas fields of the Caspian Sea. – The Hill

Natia Chankvetadze and Ketevan Murusidze write: Recent developments in the Karabakh confirm there are no ‘frozen’ conflicts and ‘unshaken’ status-quo. Growing militarization in the region, strengthening disinformation campaigns, and a lack of levers for strategic peacebuilding have created a fruitful ground for greater militaristic rhetoric and hard power decision-making. Peace and stability in the Black Sea region is extremely fragile. – Middle East Institute


Russia on Friday proposed extending a soon-to-expire nuclear arms treaty for one year without any changes, a move seen in Washington as a tactic to delay action on the treaty until after the American presidential election. – New York Times

British Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said on Friday a reported Russian disinformation campaign to undermine COVID-19 vaccine trials was “reprehensible” at a time when countries should be coming together. – Reuters

On October 14, 2020, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov gave an interview to three pro-Kremlin radio stations: Sputnik, Komsomolskaya Pravda and Govorit Moskva (Radio Moscow). The interview started with Moscow’s efforts to obtain a ceasefire in Nagorno Karabakh between Armenia and Azerbaijan, but the questions quickly turned to Russia’s relations with Turkey.  – Middle East Media Research Institute

The popular Kremlin-backed posts were just a part of a flood of stories from Russian state media across Europe that sought to cast doubt on the official German account, pushing unsubstantiated alternatives ranging from allegations Navalny’s poisoning was a western intelligence plot to claims he did it to himself. – Bloomberg

Editorial: The European Union and Britain have now delivered a reminder notice to the Kremlin, saying, “The use of chemical weapons constitutes a serious breach of international law.” The global treaty banning chemical weapons was signed by Russia in 1993 and ratified by Moscow in 1997. So it is entirely appropriate that sanctions be imposed on Russian officials for the poisoning with a chemical agent of opposition leader Alexei Navalny. The United States has yet to act, and must not delay. – Washington Post

Paul Roderick Gergory writes: A supposed foreign policy genius of Putin’s stature can afford the occasional setback. But he has now suffered a string of setbacks, including the failed poisoning of his last-standing political rival, Alexei Navalny. Soon, people may start asking: If former KGB chief Putin can’t carry out a relatively simple poisoning, how can he bring peace to a centuries-long regional feud and resolve other crises, too?  – The Hill

Tom Rogan writes: It would be one thing, here, if there was doubt as to who was responsible for Navalny’s poisoning. But it’s not as if this is a terribly complicated investigation. The Trump administration knows that Putin is responsible for the assassination attempt. For the sake of international security and the future of diplomacy with Russia, Trump must take action. – Washington Examiner

Tom Rogan writes: Putin knows that while some NATO allies would choose to fight, other governments, Germany included, would come under immense domestic pressure to compromise. He might just be able to split the alliance.[…]Thus we see the art in Sivkov’s ranting. Yes, there’s a domestic nationalist component. But it’s about cultivating the idea that the risks of NATO membership outweigh any gains. Sadly, when one considers Germany’s approach to issues such as European energy security, it’s a message that finds more sympathy than we might want. – Washington Examiner


For the first time, they had captured a formidable vessel in drug runners’ flotilla: a trans-Atlantic “narco-submarine.” South America is awash with cocaine, and traffickers are turning to new ways of getting it to Europe, which the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration says may have surpassed the U.S. as the world’s largest market. – Wall Street Journal

Britain’s Brexit negotiations with the European Union teetered on a precipice yet again Friday, after Prime Minister Boris Johnson declared that his government was fed up and ready for a no-deal exit from the bloc’s trading system, and with his chief negotiator calling off talks scheduled for next week in London. – New York Times

But the activist, Rafal Gawel, wasn’t escaping a war-torn country. […]Norway’s immigration service said it had granted him asylum on the grounds that he faced political persecution in Poland, a rare instance of a country in Europe offering such protection to a citizen of the European Union. – New York Times

Britain still wants to reach a post-Brexit trade deal with the European Union despite the current deadlock, a senior government minister insisted ahead of fresh talks Monday. – Agence France-Presse

Four years later, Trump’s abrasive foreign policy moves, often unveiled in all-caps tweets, have alienated not just Germany but much of Europe. – Agence France-Presse

A senior British official said Sunday the door is “still ajar” for post-Brexit talks to continue with the European Union if officials in the bloc change their position on key points. – Associated Press

Belarusian investigators on Friday said they had evidence that members of the country’s opposition coordination council had taken actions aimed at destabilising the country and harming its national security. – Reuters

Britain must clarify its position on Iran as the United Nations Security Council arms embargo on Tehran expires on Sunday, pro-Israel legislators from both the Conservative and Labour Parties at Westminster have said. – Jerusalem Post

The Dutch Defence Ministry has published a new vision document that can be implemented only if the country were to spend almost thrice as much as its current $13 billion annual defense budget. – Defense News

Tom Rogan writes: Macron’s challenge, however, is that new rules and expanded economic opportunity won’t alone reverse this separatist trend. The government’s ban on Islamic face coverings, for example, has fed deep resentment without any obvious benefit for promoting social inclusion[…]Macron must be bold. Absent that endeavor, the social fissures which facilitate attacks such as that on Paty will only widen. – Washington Examiner

Jiri Valenta writes: This might be a step in the right direction toward recognizing the need for new and bold initiatives in the complex US-Russian relationship, no matter who wins the US election. The time has come for Trump to respond with initiatives of his own on the explosive situation in Belarus, with a possible role for the US as mediator. – BESA Center


On Aug. 5, militants carrying the black flag of the Islamic State launched a daring land-and-sea assault on the strategic port city of Mocimboa da Praia in northern Mozambique. In less than a week, they routed government forces and captured the entire town, declaring it the capital of a new Islamic province. – Washington Post

The International Criminal Court’s prosecutor arrived in Sudan late Saturday to discuss cooperation with local authorities over bringing to trial those internationally wanted for war crimes and genocide in the country’s Darfur conflict, the Sudanese official news agency said. – Associated Press

At least 10 Somali soldiers were killed and an unknown number wounded when Al-Shabaab Islamist fighters ambushed them near a southern village, a military official and family member said Thursday. – Agence France-Presse

A UN peacekeeper was killed in northern Mali and another seriously wounded after their vehicle hit a roadside bomb on Thursday, the UN mission said. – Agence France-Presse

Armed men attacked a military base in western Guinea overnight, killing the camp’s commander, the defence minister said on Friday, two days before the West African country votes in a bitterly-disputed presidential election. – Reuters

The first conference of the “Popular Initiative for Normalization with Israel” was held Sunday in Khartoum, in another sign that the Sudanese transitional government may be considering advancing ties with Israel. – Times of Israel

Latin America

The official results from Bolivia’s presidential election weren’t yet available, but interim President Jeanine Áñez said shortly after midnight Monday that former left-wing President Evo Morales’s handpicked candidate had won the vote held the previous day. – Wall Street Journal

Mexico’s president has criticized the historic role played by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration in his country, days after a former Mexican army chief was arrested in Los Angeles on drug charges at the behest of the DEA. – Reuters

Venezuela’s propaganda videos are showing off warships armed with new Chinese-made anti-ship missiles. – USNI News

Michael Albertus writes: If Chile’s constitutional reform serves as a steppingstone from dictatorship to a more authentic democracy, it will set an example for other new democracies that face similar challenges — such as Indonesia, Guatemala, and Peru — to do the same. – New York Times


North America

But when members of the group allegedly began talking about kidnapping Ms. Whitmer, conducting surveillance of her west Michigan vacation home and building improvised explosive devices, the FBI was listening. – Wall Street Journal

One of the people on an explosive email thread allegedly involving Hunter Biden has corroborated the veracity of the messages, which appear to outline a payout for former Vice President Joe Biden as part of a deal with a Chinese energy firm. – Fox News

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Friday said he will continue to stand up against China’s “coercive diplomacy” and human rights abuses in Hong Kong and Xinjiang after being rebuked by Beijing for similar comments earlier this week. – Reuters

President Donald Trump likes to make fun of his rival Joe Biden’s verbal lapses but on Saturday he made his own goof as he took a pot shot at French President Emmanuel Macron and effectively demoted him. – Agence France-Presse

Editorial: The organization condemned Israel 85 times between 2006 and 2019, United Nations Watch data show.[…]Mr. Biden’s memory may be foggy, because Cuba was elected to the body in 2009, 2013 and 2016 while he was Vice President. Mr. Biden said last year he would rejoin the Human Rights Council. – Wall Street Journal

Editorial: There is a growing clamor among Republicans to regulate social media, or to take away its protection from legal liability. The moment the social media companies lose the party that is by nature against regulation and in favor of free markets, they will have no friends in Washington at all. – Washington Examiner

Aaron Rhodes writes: Human rights cannot be subjected to a multilateral definition and consensus and survive intact as a moral principle. In the internationalist era, free and democratic states have conflated the universality of human rights with universal entitlement to membership in human-rights bodies. Democracies that defend liberty must recover their unilateral sovereignty—politically and philosophically—if they want to promote the universality of human rights and defend the growing number of victims denied them. – Wall Street Journal

Jonathan Addleton and Alonzo Fulgham write: Given the growing existential threats posed by global issues such as health and the environment, an effective reorganization of USAID might well start with the premise that the long-held bilateral country paradigm finally needs to be turned on its head, guided by a recognition that transnational approaches increasingly should stand at the center of its global mission. – The Hill



Twitter will no longer block a disputed New York Post story about Hunter Biden, marking a stunning reversal from its previous ban on its dissemination. – The Hill

Google on Friday said it continues to see foreign cyber targeting directed at individuals and campaigns involved in upcoming U.S. elections, along with efforts to target groups involved in COVID-19 research and treatment.  – The Hill

The European Union needs to come up with a strategy to counter disinformation about 5G technology or risk false claims derailing its economic recovery and digital goals, a group of 15 countries including Poland and Sweden said. – Reuters

Japan will join forces with the United States and Europe to take on any market abuses by the four Big Tech companies, the new head of its antitrust watchdog said on Monday, a sign Tokyo will join global efforts to regulate digital platform operators. – Reuters

Twitter has altered its policy on hacked content after its decision to block a news report critical of Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden provoked Republican fury. – Agence France-Presse

Andy Kessler writes: The genius of Section 230 is that it is vague. It created a set of rules for the sandbox and then let creativity abound. Sure, if a dog gets into the sandbox, you want to clean it up. (I hear sunshine/transparency is a great disinfectant.) By not being specific and leaving it to the sandbox owner, we’ve allowed the interconnection of billions of people in a planetary network where new ideas—some good, some bad—fly around the globe at the speed of light. Don’t screw that up. – Wall Street Journal

Adam Brandon writes: Twitter and Facebook would be wise to consider that driving away conservatives via this sort of censorship may have the consequence of simply driving away a significant portion of their customer base. What sort of business in its right mind would actively continue to drive away a subset of its base? This is a poor business model doomed to failure. – Washington Examiner

Niall Ferguson writes: In 1931, British Prime Minister Stanley Baldwin accused the principal newspaper barons of the day, Lords Beaverbrook and Rothermere, of “aiming at … power, and power without responsibility — the prerogative of the harlot throughout the ages.” (The phrase was his cousin Rudyard Kipling’s.) As I contemplate the under-covered and overmighty role that Big Tech continues to play in the American political process, I don’t see good censors. I see big, bad harlots. – Bloomberg


Anduril Industries adapted existing technology developed for base and border protection over the course of 11 months so it could detect cruise missiles, which it did during the Air Force’s Advanced Battle Management System demonstration, according to Christian Brose, who is the company’s chief strategy officer. – Defense News

Lockheed Martin announced Oct. 16 it will partner with Aerojet Rocketdyne to compete for the right to build America’s next missile defense interceptor. – Defense News

Anduril Industries adapted existing technology developed for base and border protection over the course of 11 months so it could detect cruise missiles, which it did during the Air Force’s Advanced Battle Management System demonstration, according to Christian Brose, who is the company’s chief strategy officer. – Defense News

The U.S. Army program office responsible for developing defensive cyber tools is beginning to field a new platform to installations. – C4ISRNET

Rafael Advanced Defense Systems has created a system that combines vehicle-mounted cameras with 3D models and mapping algorithms to help manned and unmanned vehicles operate in GPS-denied environments. – C4ISRNET

The U.S. Department of Defense has awarded contracts worth $197.2 million for microelectronics, it announced Thursday, amid concerns about with much production of the technology is taking place outside the United States. – C4ISRNET

Thales launched on Oct. 16 its new AirMaster C, a compact, active electronically scanned array (AESA), airborne surveillance radar for small and medium-sized platforms. – C4ISRNET

The U.S. Army program office responsible for developing defensive cyber tools is beginning to field a new platform to installations. – C4ISRNET

Despite disruptions due to COVID-19, development of the Future Vertical Lift family of manned and unmanned aircraft remains on track, Army officials tell me. – Breaking Defense

Increasingly miniaturized sensors and displays mean every rifleman may have a network between their sight and their binoculars. – Breaking Defense

With the addition of artificial intelligence and machine learning, the aim is to make every soldier, regardless of job specialty, capable of identifying and knocking down threatening drones. – Army Times

Long War

A man beheaded a middle-school teacher in a suburb of the French capital on Friday afternoon, a killing that authorities were investigating as a possible terrorist attack. – Wall Street Journal

Friday’s attack unfolded against a backdrop of rising tensions between elements of France’s Muslim community, among Europe’s largest, and a political establishment determined to preserve the country’s long-running tradition of strict secularism. – Wall Street Journal

More police operations were under way on Monday in connection with the killing of a French teacher by a suspected Islamist, French Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin said. – Reuters

France is preparing to expel 231 foreigners on a government watch list for suspected extremist religious beliefs, a police union source said on Sunday, two days after a Russian-born Islamist beheaded a teacher. – Reuters

French finance minister Bruno Le Maire said on Sunday he would propose reinforcing controls on the financial flows of some Islamist associations, after the beheading of a teacher by a suspected Islamist attacker. – Reuters

An Islamic State spokesman called on the militant group’s supporters to target westerners, oil pipelines and economic infrastructure in Saudi Arabia. – Reuters

On an October 17, 2020 show on Channel 9 (Turkey), Egyptian TV host Mohamed Abdelbaky discussed the recent beheading of a history teacher, Samuel Paty, in France for having shown his class cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad. Abdelbaky harshly criticized French President Emmanuel Macron, saying that he “offended” the Muslims by describing the beheading as an act of Islamic terrorism. – Middle East Media Research Institute

Trump Administration

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo came to the State Department briefing room ready to punish. On Sept. 2, he took to the lectern and called the International Criminal Court — which investigates war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide — a “thoroughly broken and corrupted institution.”  – New York Times

President Trump is doubling down on his decision to retweet an unfounded QAnon conspiracy theory that Osama bin Laden is still alive, a move that threatens to alienate members of the military with the election less than three weeks away. – The Hill

A whistleblower and former official at the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, who alleges he was pressured to stop providing assessments of Russian electoral interference, will likely not be deposed by Congress before the Nov. 3 elections, his lawyer said on Friday. – Reuters