Fdd's overnight brief

October 23, 2023

FDD Research & Analysis

In The News


Israel ramped up its bombing of targets on three fronts, including a rare airstrike in the West Bank, as humanitarian aid trickled into the Gaza Strip in an international effort to ease the hardship the conflict has wrought on the two million civilians trapped there. – Wall Street Journal

The streets of this northern Israeli town 2 miles from the Lebanese border were deserted. Shopping centers, falafel shops and convenience stores were all closed. Explosions boomed from the hills to the west, followed by plumes of smoke. Israeli authorities on Friday announced the evacuation of Kiryat Shmona, home to some 22,000 people, as the country prepares for the possibility of a two-front war: battling Hamas in the Gaza Strip to the south as well as its Islamist ally Hezbollah in Lebanon to the north. On Sunday, 14 more northern Israeli villages were evacuated. – Wall Street Journal

A convoy of trucks carrying humanitarian aid entered Gaza for the first time since the Oct. 7 attacks in Israel by Hamas militants. – Wall Street Journal

As Israel plans a ground operation in Gaza, aiming to eradicate Hamas, recent history elsewhere suggests that the goal can be achieved—but only at a tremendous cost, to Israeli troops and much more so, to Palestinian civilians caught in the middle. – Wall Street Journal

Hamas released two U.S. citizens taken hostage in the Gaza Strip, amid rising pressure on Israel to put off a planned invasion on the enclave to allow time for diplomacy. – Wall Street Journal

During two decades in Israeli prison, Yahya Sinwar learned Hebrew fluently and devoured local newspapers and television. Now, the most senior Hamas leader in Gaza is using that knowledge to fight a war against Israel. Israel has accused Sinwar, alongside the commander of Hamas’s military wing, Mohammed Deif, of coordinating the brutal Oct. 7 attacks that killed 1,400 Israelis, including 1,000 civilians. Hamas has taken about 200 people to Gaza as hostages. – Wall Street Journal

As recently as a few weeks ago, the Middle East seemed relatively calm. The principal story coming out of the long-troubled region was a positive one, the possible normalization of relations between Israel and Saudi Arabia. At the same time, there looked to be hope that the U.S. and Iran were working to place an informal ceiling on the scale of Iran’s nuclear program in exchange for some limited sanctions relief. – Wall Street Journal

An outpouring of support from militant Islamist groups for Hamas’s bloody incursion into Israel is stirring fears of a resurgence of terrorist acts in the West that, until recently, appeared to be on the decline. – Wall Street Journal

Yousof is one of at least 400 Americans trapped in Gaza as Israel mounts a siege of the enclave, cutting off supplies of food, water, fuel and medicine to more than 2 million people amid a relentless aerial bombardment. – Washington Post

After the release Friday of two Americans held by Hamas, officials in Israel distributed images of the women walking hand-in-hand to freedom with an Israeli envoy, and U.S. authorities shared photos of the pair talking by phone to President Biden. The Persian Gulf nation of Qatar was where it preferred to be: a bit out of the picture but very much in the mix. – Washington Post

The Gaza Strip runs on fuel. It powers the enclave’s hospitals, water pumps and taxis. It feeds the generators residents depend on for electricity and helps fire up the ovens at neighborhood bakeries. – Washington Post

Within days of pledging “rock solid and unwavering” support for Israel in the wake of Hamas’s vicious Oct. 7 attack that left at least 1,400 Israelis dead, President Biden began gently reminding Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that “democracies like Israel and the United States are stronger and more secure when we act according to the rule of law.” – Washington Post

President Biden on Friday delivered to Congress a $105 billion request for military aid, mostly for Israel and Ukraine, essentially daring lawmakers who oppose parts of the proposal to vote against an overall package that he said will ensure “American security for generations.” – New York Times

Five days after Hamas accused Israel of bombing a hospital in Gaza City and killing hundreds of people, the armed Palestinian group has yet to produce or describe any evidence linking Israel to the strike, says it cannot find the munition that hit the site and has declined to provide detail to support its count of the casualties. – New York Times

The Biden administration has advised Israel to delay a ground invasion of Gaza, hoping to buy time for hostage negotiations and to allow more humanitarian aid to reach Palestinians in the sealed-off enclave, according to several U.S. officials. – New York Times

The Israeli military carried out a rare airstrike on a mosque in the occupied West Bank overnight, killing at least two people in what Palestinian officials called a “dangerous escalation.” – New York Times

The Israeli authorities said on Sunday that they would evacuate 14 more Israeli villages near the northern border with Lebanon amid escalating tit-for-tat clashes between Israeli forces and Hezbollah, the powerful Lebanese militia, that have raised concerns that the Israel-Hamas war could ignite other regional confrontations. – New York Times

Israel bombarded Gaza with more air strikes on Monday ahead of an anticipated ground operation into the besieged Palestinian enclave as the United Nations warned that civilians were running out of places to seek shelter. – Reuters 

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken told Lebanon’s caretaker Prime Minister Najib Mikati it was important to respect the interests of his people, who would be affected if the country were drawn into the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the State Department said on Saturday. – Reuters

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan discussed Gaza in phone call with the leader of the Palestinian militant group Hamas, Ismail Haniyeh, on Saturday. Erdogan told Haniyeh about Ankara’s efforts for a ceasefire, for humanitarian aid to reach Gaza and possible treatment of the wounded in Turkey. – Reuters

Israel has confirmed that 212 people are being held hostage in Gaza, the military spokesperson said on Sunday, adding that Israeli strikes overnight killed dozens of Palestinian fighters, including the deputy chief of Hamas rocket forces. – Reuters

Israeli warplanes bombarded areas near three hospitals in the Gaza Strip early on Monday, Palestinian media reported, but it was not immediately clear whether the hospitals themselves suffered damage. – Reuters

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Sunday that French President Emmanuel Macron and Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte will visit Israel this week. Netanyahu’s office said in a statement that the two leaders “will arrive on Monday and Tuesday” and meet with him. – Reuters

An explosion and the sound of ambulances were heard near the Rafah crossing between Egypt and the Gaza Strip on Sunday afternoon, shortly after a second aid convoy had entered the crossing from the Egyptian side, witnesses said. – Reuters

Palestinians said they had received renewed warnings from Israel’s military to move from north Gaza to the south of the strip, with the added warning that they could be identified as sympathisers with a “terrorist organisation” if they stayed put. – Reuters

Israel has set up hundreds of volunteer security squads in the two weeks since the Gaza war erupted and is arming them should there be knock-on Jewish-Arab unrest, authorities said on Sunday, despite what police said was “exemplary” conduct so far. – Reuters

A top Treasury Department official is heading to Saudi Arabia and Qatar next week to intensify US efforts to cut off financial lifelines to Hamas and discuss humanitarian aid for the Gaza Strip. – Bloomberg

Hamas terrorists who took part in the October 7 massacre of southern Israeli towns received precise instructions to make deadly chemical weapons to use on civilians, President Isaac Herzog confirmed in a Sunday night interview with Sky News. – Jerusalem Post

The precision “Iron Sting” mortar entered operational use for the first time as the IDF’s Maglan unit used the innovative weapon to target Hamas’s rocket launchers in the Gaza Strip, the IDF Spokesperson’s Unit revealed Sunday. – Jerusalem Post

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Sunday that Israel should already be devising a strategy for who will rule Gaza if the IDF completes its stated mission of toppling Hamas. – Times of Israel

The Mossad and Shin Bet have reportedly formed a special operations center tasked with tracking down and killing members of the Hamas commando unit that led the Gaza-ruling terror group’s deadly onslaught in southern Israel on October 7. – Haaretz

Editorial: The U.S. could afford to remove its troops from Beirut in 1983 because its survival wasn’t at stake. Israel doesn’t have that luxury. Israel may decide that there are better ways than a ground invasion to destroy Hamas and eliminate its threat. But that choice is up to Israeli leaders, whose people will endure the consequences. As the U.S. learned in Beirut, failing to respond is far from cost-free. – Wall Street Journal

Michael Oren writes: Only by destroying Hamas can Israel secure our borders and deter our enemies. Only when we have freed ourselves from the threat of Hamas barbarism can we begin restoring our faith in our governing institutions and armed forces. We can believe, as we once did, in the idea of Israel, and preserve its essential soul. – Wall Street Journal

Richard A. Epstein and Alexander Talel write: Narrow application of the force majeure doctrine is often appropriate. Its hasty and premature generalization isn’t. Any nonperformance by Evergreen based on that contention thus amounts to a breach of contract. An early finding to that effect would reduce the possibility of more opportunistic force majeure claims that would threaten to tip the balance of a coming war. – Wall Street Journal

Shany Mor writes: The Oct. 7 pogrom raised the rhetorical stakes. If the only thing that can explain a Palestinian action is Israeli evil, then Israel’s opponents have to imagine a level of Jewish evil commensurate with what Hamas did—shooting children in front of their parents, setting houses on fire with residents inside, raping women, beheading innocent people, mutilating bodies. When it is forbidden to criticize murderers or the society that created them, all that is left is to defame the victims. The accusation that Israel is committing genocide the week after Hamas’s massacre is entirely predictable. It tells us nothing about Israel and much about its enemies. – Wall Street Journal

Bernard-Henri Lévy writes: And these young Israeli soldiers, fervent and tormented—will they return alive from the Gaza that lies before them like a dark mass lit up from afar by incoming and outgoing rockets? Among the soldiers are men and women of the left and of the right; supporters of Mr. Netanyahu as well as opponents who recognize him only reluctantly as their commander in chief; Jews who wear the Tefillin and Jews who do not. I have heard none of them deny that this war is just and must be won. – Wall Street Journal

David Ignatius writes: The worst days of this war are ahead. Talking about reconstruction might seem delusional when Israeli bombs are falling and their tanks are rolling forward. But if Israel’s leaders aren’t careful, they could once again win the war but lose the peace. – Washington Post

Marc Champion writes: Uncertainty is normal in times of war, and it would take undeniable evidence to even begin to change minds in the Arab and Muslim world as to what happened at the hospital. By then it may be too late to make a difference. There’s no obvious way out of Israel’s dilemma, but if its tanks enter Gaza without the offer of a plan that gives Palestinians hope for life after Hamas, this pattern is guaranteed to repeat itself again and again to Israel’s detriment. – Bloomberg


On Oct. 15, Iran issued a stinging public ultimatum to its arch-enemy Israel: Halt your onslaught on Gaza or we’ll be forced to take action, its foreign minister warned. Only hours later, the country’s U.N. mission softened the hawkish tone, assuring the world that its armed forces wouldn’t intervene in the conflict unless Israel attacked Iranian interests or citizens. Iran, a longtime backer of Gaza’s rulers Hamas, finds itself in a quandary as it tries to manage the spiralling crisis, according to nine Iranian officials with direct knowledge of the thinking within the clerical establishment. – Reuters

A teenage Iranian girl, who fell into a coma earlier this month following an alleged encounter with officers over violating the country’s hijab law, is said to be “brain dead”, Iranian state media reported on Sunday. – Reuters

An Iranian Revolutionary Court sentenced two journalists to years in prison for their coverage of the death in custody of Kurdish-Iranian Mahsa Amini last year, state media reported on Sunday. – Reuters

Foreign ministers from Iran, Turkey and Russia will meet their counterparts from Azerbaijan and Armenia in Tehran on Monday and discuss progress towards a peace agreement between the two South Caucasus neighbours, Iranian and Russian state media said. – Reuters

The final phase of registration for candidates who want to run in Iran’s parliamentary election next year opened Thursday, state media reported. Nearly 49,000 people filed initial paperwork in August seeking to run for the 290-seat parliament in the election, set for March 1, 2024. The elections will be the first since nationwide protests rocked the country last year. – Associated Press

Iran could send a direct missile to Haifa “without hesitation,” deputy chief of the IRGC Ali Fadavi said on Monday morning, threatening direct combat between Israel and the Islamic Republic. – Jerusalem Post

Hal Brands writes: First, the US needs to reinforce Iran’s disincentives to escalate by escaping a damaging pattern. Typically, when Iranian proxies strike US forces, Washington responds proportionally against the forces in question. But this cedes the initiative to the enemy, and allows Iran to shield itself from retribution for its proxies’ attacks. America must make clear, through the available channels, that attacks on US forces will be met with disproportionate responses against the Iranian military itself. Escalation dominance is only valuable if America is willing to use it. – Bloomberg

Mary Beth Long writes: Even if reports that Iran assisted in the incursion or gave its final go-ahead turn out to be inaccurate or simply Iranian bluster, Iran’s long-term support for Hamas in its goal to destroy Israel makes it complicit. Hamas has benefitted from Iranian military training, logistical help, and tens of millions of dollars in weaponry. Iran’s decades of support to its terrorist proxies matter. It’s time to drop the charade and hold the Islamic Republic accountable for the crimes of Hamas and other terrorists. – The Hill

Ken Jacobson writes; And so, a new sense of urgency should be a major priority for the international community, but particularly for the United States. U.S. and Israeli leaders will need to coordinate even more closely, and American sophisticated weapons should be available to Israel to make a military option more realistic.  It is not for us to focus on the specifics of what needs to be done militarily. It is for us to see to it that a new sense of urgency prevails after the Hamas massacre and as the West’s Middle East policy moves forward.  – The Hill

Morgan Ortagus and Gabriel Noronha write: From Iran to Russia to Asia, we need a president and national security cabinet who can articulate clear red lines, re-establish deterrence, back rhetoric with decisive action, and stand firm against international bullies. The world needs assurances that the U.S. is willing and able to back its words with force when necessary. If Biden can’t provide them, then he should reconsider running for reelection. – The Hill

Sima Sabet writes: A more earnest support for the Iranian people’s struggle, who are secular and seek engagement with the West, could be another effective step. Discontented citizens within Iran, journalists like myself targeted by Revolutionary Guard threats in the heart of Britain, Ukrainian citizens, Israelis and Palestinian civilians — we are all victims of one force: the Revolutionary Guard and its leader, Ali Khamenei. Isn’t it time for Britain, the European Union, and the United States to devise a new strategy to contain such an unruly actor? – The Hill

James Myburgh and Frans Cronje write: A secondary consequence is that the campaign disabled a unified Western response to Iran by widening divisions between “soft-liners” and “hard-liners.” The often-conservative analysts and politicians who warned of the extreme threat Iran presented were dismissed as prejudiced, and accused of provoking the very conflict they were desperate to prevent. These dismissals drew apparent authority from the rising tide of woke criticism of the nature of Western institutions generally. – Jerusalem Post

Salem Alketbi writes: No one knows exactly what Iran is thinking in terms of increasing support for Hamas. Therefore we, as observers, must expect further military escalation, that may plunge the entire region into an unprecedented state of chaos and turmoil, into which the US will become further embroiled if it does not hurry up and do what is necessary. – Jerusalem Post 

Ruth Wasserman Lande writes: The next step is preventing the dissemination of this pure hatred and incitement, which is deeply entrenched in school books funded by European, Canadian and American tax payers’ hard-earned cash. Once these caviats are realized, then perhaps the international community can begin to create a new world order in which a much-needed coalition will be established for the purposes of ridding itself of extremist terrorist regimes such as Hamas and creating a real opportunity for growth for the region. – Jerusalem Post

Michael Eisenstadt writes: Whether Tehran continues hedging or attempts to build a bomb will be influenced greatly by how America and its allies shape Iran’s assessment of whether it would get caught attempting a breakout; the odds of an Israeli or U.S. military response to such a step; and the risks, costs, and utility of nuclear weapons. Yet because Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei seems uncertain about how to proceed with Iran’s nuclear program, relatively small policy adjustments may yield large policy payoffs. This only underscores the need for America and its allies to use all means available to shape the Islamic Republic’s proliferation calculus in accordance with a policy of dissuasion, deterrence, and delay, in order to “keep the hedger hedging” — and to keep it kicking the (nuclear) can down the road. – War on the Rocks

Jonathan Schachter writes: Coming together now to push back hard against Iran’s nuclear lawlessness, its wanton proliferation of missiles and other weapons to America’s enemies, and its unbridled support for terrorist groups that continue to target Americans, Europeans, Israelis, Arabs, and others in their homes offers the greatest promise of winning the war and defeating Iran. If President Biden and the other leaders who issued last week’s inspiring statement truly seek to “set the conditions for a peaceful and integrated Middle East,” then supporting Israel’s fight against Hamas in the difficult months ahead and acting now to stop Iran’s nuclear and missile programs are essential and complementary first steps. – The Messenger

Russia & Ukraine

A Russian court ordered an American journalist to be held in detention through at least Monday on charges that she failed to register as a “foreign agent,” according to her employer, in a case that threatens to further exacerbate tensions between Washington and Moscow. – Wall Street Journal

At a Ukrainian control room, notifications ping onto a screen as a U.S.-supplied radar locates Russian artillery guns firing on Ukrainian positions. A Ukrainian team plots the coordinates on a tablet map, sharing them online with drone units tasked with confirming targets and gunners tasked with destroying them. – Wall Street Journal

A Russian antiaircraft missile hit a sprawling mail facility near the Ukrainian city of Kharkiv late Saturday, killing six postal workers and injuring 17 others, local officials said. – Washington Post

Russia’s long-running efforts to weaken the world’s democracies have expanded in recent years to sow public doubt in election integrity, according to a declassified State Department cable disclosed Friday, which says the U.S. intelligence community found evidence that Russian actors made a concerted effort to undermine faith in the voting process in at least nine countries, including the United States, between 2020 and 2022. – Washington Post

Late one evening this month, two Ukrainian commandos eased into a side street in Kyiv in a battered SUV. Back from a dangerous nighttime assault on Russian positions in the Crimean peninsula, they slipped into a sparsely furnished apartment where they sat at desks, weary and a little disheveled, and described their latest operation in matter-of-fact fashion. […]The two men had joined more than 30 others racing more than 100 miles across the western Black Sea on jet skis to attack critical Russian defense installations before making their getaway, the second Ukrainian amphibious raid in six weeks. – New York Times

Russian forces aiming to contain a four-month-old Ukrainian counteroffensive maintained unrelenting pressure on Sunday on the shattered town of Avdiivka in the east and intensified shelling in the southern area of Kherson. – Reuters

Russian forces have foiled several attempts by Ukrainian units to cross the Dnipro River in the southern Kherson region over the past day, Russia’s defence ministry said on Sunday. – Reuters

For months after Ukraine’s Western allies limited sales of Russian oil to $60 per barrel, the price cap was still largely symbolic. Most of Moscow’s crude — its main moneymaker — cost less than that. – Associated Press

Russia named a replacement for the former head of the country’s Aerospace Forces, who was dismissed in the wake of this summer’s brief rebellion against the military establishment, state news agencies reported Friday. – Associated Press

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said he spoke with President Joe Biden about future U.S. support for his nation, and Russian President Vladimir Putin visited a military headquarters near the Ukrainian border as the warring countries prepare for the winter and next year’s combat operations. – Associated Press

NATO should consider a halt to Russian shipping in the Baltic Sea if evidence emerges that the Kremlin is behind the damage to a pipeline connecting Finland and Estonia, Latvia’s president said. – Bloomberg

Ukraine will press forward with an effort to build support for a peace formula with the so-called Global South as Malta hosts a third gathering of senior officials to discuss the blueprint this month. The Oct. 28-29 meeting in Malta, a European Union island nation in the Mediterranean Sea, will aim to secure the “broadest possible international support” for President Volodymyr Zelenskiy’s plan, the Maltese Foreign Ministry said in a statement on Friday. – Bloomberg

Elina Beketova writes: A stalemate or victory in Ukraine would also encourage the Kremlin to seek wars in Georgia and Moldova. But Vladimir Putin will not limit himself to these countries. As he seeks to restore the Russian empire, he would shift his attention to Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, and potentially even Finland. This won’t require him to convince the Russian public of the need for new wars, since opinion polls show that many believe that a war with NATO is already underway. If the world wishes to restore some semblance of global order, uphold the rule of law, and prevent Ukraine and other countries from becoming isolated and aggressive dark spaces, it needs to help Kyiv win, not Moscow. – Center for European Policy Analysis


Israeli aircraft struck two Hezbollah cells in Lebanon early on Monday that were planning to launch anti-tank missiles and rockets toward Israel, its military said, as fighting flared across the two countries’ shared border. – Reuters

A top official with Hezbollah vowed that Israel will pay a high price whenever it starts a ground offensive in the Gaza Strip and said Saturday that his militant group based in Lebanon already is “in the heart of the battle.” – Associated Press

Israel said Hezbollah risks dragging Lebanon into a wider regional war after another night of intense cross-border fire with the Iran-backed militant group. – Bloomberg

In light of the ongoing Swords of Iron War and heightened tensions in the North, the Institute for National Security Studies (INSS) has released its assessment of Hezbollah’s rocket and missile arsenal. – Jerusalem Post

Hezbollah will make “the mistake of its life” if it goes to war with Israel, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warned during a visit with soldiers near the country’s northern border with Lebanon. – Jerusalem Post

Seth J. Frantzman writes: The Hezbollah attacks are a result of Iran’s desire to create a multi-front war in the Middle East. Hezbollah is willing to risk the civilian towns and villages in south Lebanon as it has in the past, to threaten Israel. Similar to Hamas in Gaza this means it uses the civilian areas to hide its weapons and that it carries out attacks and then slips away into the rural civilian landscape. – Jerusalem Post


Katyusha rockets on Sunday targeted the Ain al-Asad air base, which hosts U.S. and other international forces in western Iraq, and one blast was heard inside the base, two army sources said. – Reuters

Two Iraqi soldiers and two fighters of the Kurdish Peshmerga forces were killed on Sunday as the two sides clashed in a mountainous northern area, Iraqi and Kurdish security sources said. – Reuters

The U.S. State Department said on Sunday U.S. citizens should not travel to Iraq after recent attacks on American troops and personnel in the region. – Reuters

The Telegram brand that emerged in October 2023 is not a group per se, new or old, but rather a generic name used to denote unity among Iran-backed Iraqi armed groups during the Gaza crisis and de-emphasize individual faction identities. – Washington Institute


Leaders, foreign ministers and diplomats from dozens of Arab, European, African and other countries gathered in Cairo on Saturday for a “peace summit” aimed at de-escalating the violence in Gaza. But after hours of speeches, they had little to show for the trip other than a gaping divide, as Arab leaders castigated Western countries for their silence on Israel’s airstrikes on Palestinian civilians in Gaza. – New York Times

Editorial: Taking in refugees from Gaza will be expensive. They will need to be housed, clothed, fed, and given medical care. Because of the danger of Hamas infiltration, security will also have to be beefed up. It is reasonable that Egypt can be given loans and aid to convince it that it is in its interest to save as many civilian lives as possible. – Washington Examiner

Motaz Zahran writes: Egypt has always championed the cause of breaking this cycle, pushing back against radicalism, and promoting the ideals set in motion in pioneering and championing peace since the late 1970s, to create the necessary conditions and environment for a comprehensive, just and lasting peace. Today we stand at the abyss facing unimaginable violence and destruction. We must seize the moment and strive for a lasting peace, under God, based on mercy and justice. – The Hill

Arabian Peninsula

As the Israel-Hamas war escalates, there’s growing concern that the conflict will spread across the region, drawing in more actors that are hostile to Israel. Those fears appeared to be borne out on Oct. 19, when the US military said one of its destroyers in the Red Sea had intercepted cruise missiles and drones launched toward Israel by Houthi rebels, who control Yemen’s capital and the surrounding area. – Bloomberg

Holman W. Jenkins, Jr. writes: The press should be the antidote to the engulfing sea of idiocy on all sides. Ours too often fails. What older Americans remember as the oil crisis was a product of domestic price controls, imposed by people in the Nixon administration who knew better. Not much has changed. Today’s U.S. policy makers are fully aware of how utterly their energy ministrations fail to benefit the American people, albeit in the fine print of policy documents, where the required cost-benefit disclosures are buried. Along the way, the country did manage to remove lead from gasoline and mandate catalytic converters, which improved air quality, showing that rational, economical policy outcomes are still possible amid the vast politicized waste that “energy policy” has otherwise become in the last 50 years. – Wall Street Journal

Ibrahim Jalal writes: Seventh, Yemen’s position toward the Palestinian cause is unchanged, but it remains to be seen whether the Houthis through a single political messaging attack will be able to achieve long-term gains, both internally and externally. Overall, this incident once again raises the question of which partner the world wants to have in Yemen. – Middle East Institute

Gulf States

The Saudi crown prince and president of the United Arab Emirates met on Friday, state media reported, as the two Gulf states worked to overcome their differences amid a conflict between Israel and Hamas that threatens to engulf the Middle East. – Reuters

China wants to deepen oil and gas cooperation with Gulf countries and seek potential for cooperation in the new energy vehicle industries such as power batteries and smart charging piles, Commerce Minister Wang Wentao said on Sunday. – Reuters

A bipartisan group of US senators arrived in Saudi Arabia as part of a trip through the region aimed at keeping Saudi-Israeli diplomacy on track and trying to prevent Israel’s conflict with Hamas from spreading into a wider war. – Bloomberg

South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol left for Saudi Arabia and Qatar on Saturday to discuss business cooperation as well as to discuss security conditions amid the crisis in the Middle East, his office said. – Reuters

Middle East & North Africa

As Israeli forces massed along the border with Gaza on Sunday ahead of an expected ground invasion, escalating clashes on Israel’s northern border with Lebanon, as well as strikes in Syria and in the Israeli-occupied West Bank, intensified fears of a widening regional conflict. – New York Times

The U.S. military said it would send more missile defense systems to the Middle East in response to “escalations” from Iran and its allies, who have threatened a broader war in the region. The deployment comes as Israel continues to signal intentions to invade Gaza after Hamas’s deadly incursion earlier this month. – New York Times

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan on Friday called on Israel to stop its attacks on Gaza, which he said amounted to genocide, and urged governments worldwide to work for a humanitarian ceasefire in the region. – Reuters

Oil prices fell more than $1 on Monday as concerns about supply disruptions eased due to diplomatic efforts intensifying in an attempt to contain the conflict between Israel and the Palestinian Islamist group Hamas. – Reuters

Fifty years after the 1973 Arab oil embargo, the current crisis in the Middle East has the potential to disrupt global oil supplies and push prices higher. But don’t expect a repeat of the catastrophic price hikes and long lines at the gasoline pump, experts say. – Associated Press

President Joe Biden said Hamas attacked Israel in part to stymie its efforts to normalize relations with Saudi Arabia, his most illuminating comments yet on the impetus for the crisis in the Middle East. – Bloomberg

At least two workers were killed on Sunday “as a result of Israeli bombardment targeting Syria’s Damascus airport at dawn,” Syria’s general directorate of meteorology said in a statement. – Reuters

Iranian-backed militias in Iraq and Syria continue to increase threats and attacks against US forces. On Sunday reports said that rockets targeted Ain al-Asad base, at least the sixth attack since the October 7 Hamas attack on Israel. – Jerusalem Post

Amir al-Kaabi, Michael Knights, and Hamdi Malik write: Interestingly, the latest Iraqi rocket attack—an October 20 strike on the Baghdad Diplomatic Support Center (BDSC) complex at the international airport—has not been claimed. (The militias call this complex “Victoria,” erroneously referring to the former U.S. Victory Base Complex.) This could stem from the limited nature of the incident—only one of fifteen rounds in the attacking rocket battery was fired, and it was intercepted by U.S. forces. In fact, the attack was likely a deliberate under-performance near an especially sensitive civilian target (the airport), and the militias wanted to avoid blowback. – Washington Institute

Edward Lucas writes: A decisive European policy might not work any more than repeated American efforts have done in past years. Unreasonable people do not necessarily care about peace and prosperity. But at least the attempt would make the Europeans seem serious actors on the global stage. That would help deter foes. But more importantly, it impresses friends. The big question for the coming years is how far the United States can rely on European help in dealing with its big challenge, China, and how much transatlantic security assistance it will offer in return. On the evidence of recent days, the answer will be “not a lot.” Everyone in the free world will be worse off as a result. – Center for European Policy Analysis

Korean Peninsula

South Korea, together with Japan and the United States, held a joint aerial exercise near the Korean peninsula on Sunday, the South Korean military said, marking the first such collaboration between the three countries. – Reuters

North Korea on Saturday condemned the United States for supplying Ukraine with long-range ballistic missiles known as ATACMS, saying any strike on Russia with them will only hamper peace efforts. – Reuters

Russia’s top diplomat shrugged off U.S. claims that North Korea transferred munitions to Russia, saying Washington has failed to prove the allegation. – Associated Press

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov called for regular trilateral security talks between North Korea, China and Russia to counteract what he characterized as a “dangerous policy” being pursued by the US, Japan and South Korea to tighten their joint defense posture in the region. – Bloomberg

Minseon Ku writes: Regardless of the third Kim-Putin summit, the impression they generated is more important than whether the talks were substantive. From North Korea’s and Russia’s perspectives, the summit was meaningful and even successful. Despite the absence of a joint statement, it caught the world’s attention and left a strong impression that their relationship could transform into something more substantial than symbolic bonding for the time being. – The National Interest


Chinese leader Xi Jinping last week called for an immediate cease-fire in the Israel-Gaza war. Making his first remarks since the conflict began, Xi said during a meeting in Beijing with Egyptian Prime Minister Mostafa Madbouly that the establishment of “an independent state of Palestine” through a two-state solution was the “fundamental way out of” the conflict. – Washington Post

China’s top spy agency said on Sunday a Chinese citizen who worked for a defense institute had been accused of spying for the United States and his case had been transferred to a court in the southwestern city of Chengdu for trial. – Reuters

Chinese and Russian companies attending a regional conference in northeastern China signed a raft of cooperation deals on Monday in sectors ranging from manufacturing and logistics to e-commerce and agriculture, Chinese state media reported. – Reuters

China and Russia share the same position on the Palestinian issue and plan to try to work together to cool the situation and help establish a two-state solution for Israel and the Palestinians, a top Chinese envoy said Friday. – Associated Press

California Gov. Gavin Newsom will try to reinforce his state’s role as a global leader on climate change as he begins a weeklong visit to China on Monday, a trip that presents both political risk and opportunity for crucial international collaboration. – Associated Press

Ross Douthat writes: Whatever anxieties you have about our current political divisions, whether you fear left-wing disillusionment with America or right-wing disillusionment with democracy or both, such a defeat seems more likely than anything to accelerate us toward a real internal crisis. Which is why, even with other foreign crises burning hot, a debacle in East Asia remains the scenario that the United States should be working most intensely to avert. – New York Times

Matthew Brooker writes: The thrust of the Five Eyes intervention is to reassert clarity: China is a country run by a party that is implacably hostile to the liberal values of open societies and intent on remaking the rules-based global order in a fashion more conducive to authoritarian regimes. This has always been the case, though it was possible for optimists to suspend disbelief during the years when China was developing fast thanks to that same US-dominated system. In the era of Xi Jinping, it’s no longer possible to maintain this illusion, especially after the “no limits” partnership with Russia proclaimed last year. – Bloomberg

Maya Carlin writes: The U.S. is not just sitting back while China develops its new long-range bomber. Last year, the Air Force revealed its new dual-capable penetrating strike stealth fighter the B-21. More than “fifty years of advances in low-observable technology” have gone into producing the airframe as noted by U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, making it a formidable counter-part for China’s H-20. Additionally, the USAF’s existing fleet of B-2s have undergone extensive facelifts over the years and now retain sophisticated technology that could further threaten Beijing’s own abilities. – The National Interest

George Yean writes: The status quo of the Taiwan Strait has been maintained for over half a century, and Xi can wait. Domestic pressure doesn’t exist for him. With the trend continuing, the entire Chinese elite still believes time is on their side. Nobody can predict what will happen in twenty years. Nevertheless, if the trend continues, CCP leaders are certainly more likely to embrace a war to achieve political goals. – The National Interest

South Asia

Canada on Thursday said dozens of its diplomats in India have left the country after the government of Prime Minister Narendra Modi threatened to remove their diplomatic immunity. – Wall Street Journal

Former prime minister Nawaz Sharif returned to Pakistan from self-imposed exile Saturday, arriving to cheering crowds in his hometown, Lahore, as rumors of a political comeback swirled. – Washington Post

India on Sunday said its relationship with Canada is passing through a difficult phase and there had been “continued interference” by Canadian personnel in New Delhi’s internal affairs. – Reuters

The United States and Britain on Friday urged New Delhi not to insist Canada reduce its diplomatic presence in India and expressed concern after Ottawa pulled out 41 diplomats amid a dispute over the murder of a Sikh separatist. – Reuters

Pakistan has test-fired an Ababeel missile capable of carrying multiple warheads that can attack different targets. Pakistan last tested the multiple independently targetable reentry vehicles-capable weapon on Jan. 24, 2017. – Defense News

Ruth Pollard writes: There is no easy way out of this downward spiral. Voters have grown weary of the failings of dynastic politics and are struggling with the prolonged cost-of-living crisis. And even from behind bars, Khan is still immensely popular — his approval ratings reached 60% in July. So while Sharif’s return was dramatic, it does not guarantee him a political comeback. That may be a good thing for a nation so troubled that it needs to rebuild from the ground up. – Bloomberg

C. Christine Fair writes: No matter what happens in Ottawa, Modi wins. Should Trudeau be unable to muster persuasive evidence of Indian intelligence agents’ involvement in Nijjar’s demise, Modi looks like he’s exposed Canadian hypocrisy. And if persuasive evidence emerges that India did assassinate him, Indians can say that India is now tough enough to eliminate alleged threats to the nation on foreign soil. – Foreign Policy


Australia will suspend a dispute with China before the World Trade Organization over antidumping duties on Australian wine after Beijing agreed to an expedited review of the measures, another sign of improving ties between the two countries. – Wall Street Journal

A Chinese coast guard ship collided with a Philippine vessel it was seeking to block in the South China Sea, the Philippines said, marking an escalation in tensions between Beijing and the U.S. ally in a volatile area. – Wall Street Journal

Australia said it won’t cancel a Chinese company’s lease on a commercial port despite concerns that the firm’s operations pose a security risk at a strategic location in the north of the country. – Wall Street Journal

Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese will seek progress on the AUKUS defence technology partnership and critical mineral supply chains during a visit to Washington next week, as Canberra tries to reduce its long-term trade exposure to China. – Reuters

Malaysia is proposing the creation of a free trade agreement between the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) its premier said on Friday at a summit of the two blocs. – Reuters

A Pakistani court announced charges against former Prime Minister Imran Khan for making the contents of a diplomatic cable public. This is the second indictment against Khan, who faces a maximum of 14 years prison if he is found guilty, complicating his attempts to contest in elections scheduled for late January. – Bloomberg

Graeme Dobell writes: Today’s lift in Australia’s defense budget—in our era of disruption, deterrence and dollars—is partly about contributing to the alliance. But it’s also a response to the questions raised by another big ‘d’ issue—the dysfunction of Washington. Albanese heads to take a close-up look at the great and powerful ally, and make some quiet soundings about the future of the friendship. – Australian Strategic Policy Institute.


At a recent public policy forum, President Vladimir Putin extolled his “new world” and rejected a global rules-based order as “some kind of nonsense.” “What rules?” Putin snapped at a meeting of the Valdai Discussion Club in Sochi on Russia’s Black Sea coast. He dismissed the rules-based international order as Washington’s “openly boorish way” of telling Russia how to behave. The era of global rules “is long over and will never return,” Putin said. “Never!” – Washington Post

Chinese military equipment has strengthened the Serbian armed forces significantly, its deputy prime minister told Chinese state media, in particular an air-defence system and drones. – Reuters

President Frank-Walter Steinmeier said on Sunday it was an outrage that Germany’s Jewish institutions had required enhanced security protection since Hamas’s attack on Israel two weeks ago, urging attendees at a rally to stand against antisemitism. – Reuters

Slovenia on Saturday deployed police on border crossings with Croatia and Hungary to prevent potential security threats, leading to queues as travellers waited to have their documents checked. – Reuters

The European Union Special Envoy Miroslav Lajcak urged Serbia and Kosovo to return to dialogue on normalising ties to avoid a repeat of last month’s violence in northern Kosovo. – Reuters

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy talked with Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan on Saturday, Zelenskiy said, in a call where the two men discussed Ukraine’s peace formula, food security, and situation in the Middle East. – Reuters

Police in Cyprus said Saturday they arrested four Syrians on suspicion of setting off a small explosive device that caused no damage not far from Israeli Embassy in the capital Nicosia. Police said the four, ranging in ages between 17 and 21, face charges of attempted destruction of property using explosives, possession and use of explosives and possession of a knife. – Associated Press

The European Commission said Friday it is discussing with Bulgaria its introduction of a fee on Russian gas transits, a measure that has angered EU co-member Hungary as well as Serbia — both recipients of Russian gas. – Associated Press

Damage to an undersea gas pipeline and telecom cable connecting Finland and Estonia was caused by people but it remains unclear who was behind it and whether it was deliberate, Estonian officials said Friday. – Associated Press

NATO is expected to adopt its first-ever counter-drone doctrine, which will in part advise member states on layered approaches to defend against unmanned aerial systems and the common training of operators. – Defense News

Hamas will now be referred to as a “proscribed terrorist organization” by the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) after it was reported that it wouldn’t refero to Hamas as “terrorists” in its coverage. – FOX News

Muhammad Qassem Sawalha, a Hamas terrorist who ran operations in the West Bank, has been enjoying life in a British, state-funded home in the London borough of Barnet, The Sunday Times has reported. Barnet also houses one-fifth of all British Jews. – Jerusalem Post

Niall Ferguson writes: Are we are hurtling toward a crisis comparable in scale with that of 50 years ago? (Or perhaps worse, because Israel seems relatively weaker today and the US seems no longer to understand deterrence.) As in October 1973, only more so, Europe’s governments are not well aligned with the US, even if their electorates are. And the economic consequences have the potential to be disruptive in ways that could yet make a mockery of Paul Krugman’s recent declaration of victory over inflation. – Bloomberg


When Israeli businessmen Royi Burstien and Lior Chorev touched down in the busy capital of the West African nation of Burkina Faso, they had an urgent message for the country’s embattled ruler. The Israelis — one a veteran political operative and the other a former army intelligence officer — had been hired with the mission of keeping the government of President Roch Marc Kaboré in power. Their company, Percepto International, was a pioneer in what’s known as the disinformation-for-hire business. – Washington Post

The military junta in the West African country of Niger claimed that it had disrupted an attempt by the ousted president, Mohamed Bazoum, to escape on Thursday from the presidential residence, where he has been detained since he was overthrown in a coup nearly three months ago. – New York Times

On their first visit to an African country since ascending the throne a decade ago, the king and queen of the Netherlands made a symbolic visit on Friday to the Slave Lodge in Cape Town, South Africa, where Dutch colonists once enslaved thousands of Africans and Asians. – New York Times

Another French military convoy is scheduled to leave Niger for Chad in the coming days, marking the half-way point of the promised withdrawal of the 1,450 French troops based in the West African nation, Niger colonel Mamane Sani Kaiou said on Friday. – Reuters

An explosives-laden car detonated at a military facility on the outskirts of Somalia’s capital Saturday and killed at least six people, four of them soldiers, police said. – Associated Press

The Americas

Argentina and Brazil are requesting 12.5 billion euros ($13.2 billion) in financial aid from the European Union in talks to conclude a trade agreement with South America’s Mercosur bloc, according to a document seen by Reuters. – Reuters

Mexican diplomats and law enforcement officials visited China last week for talks over how to curb the smuggling of chemicals used by cartels to make illegal drugs. – Bloomberg

Lorgia García Peña writes: In some ways what is happening on the Haitian-Dominican border echoes the reversal of basic civil rights in the United States. In 2013, as the Dominican Republic issued La Sentencia and we saw a deportation surge under the Obama administration, I implored readers to reflect on the United States’ role in the propagation of extreme ideas about immigration that harked back to Jim Crow and apartheid. Since then, children have been separated from their parents at the southern border, travel bans were aimed at Muslims, and migrants were rounded up on buses and sent elsewhere. – New York Times

Latin America

In polling stations from Venezuela to the U.S. to Europe, Venezuela’s opposition put on a primary election Sunday in which a conservative, pro-business engineer was expected to be chosen as the candidate to challenge authoritarian President Nicolás Maduro’s regime in next year’s presidential election. – Wall Street Journal

Now, Elaine Cristella says that she is hopeful that a new diplomatic opening between the Biden administration and Venezuela’s regime will lead to the liberation of her son, a former manager for a solar company who turned 40 on Thursday, as well as other Americans who the U.S. classifies as wrongfully detained in Venezuela. – Wall Street Journal

Argentina’s presidential election is heading to a runoff vote between the economic minister and a right-wing admirer of former U.S. president Donald Trump — a contest that will pit the establishment left against a man who has vowed to destroy it. – Washington Post

Mary Anastasia O’Grady writes: He might succeed but first he has to get a proxy back in the presidency who is willing to pardon him and strong enough to influence the courts. His party’s defeat at the polls last week suggests the nation, for now anyway, is pinning its hopes instead on the promise of democratic capitalism and the rule of law with the U.S. as an ally. – Wall Street Journal

United States

President Biden entered the White House with the goal of ending the “forever wars” that had consumed America for two decades and instead focusing on domestic priorities and girding the U.S. to compete with China. – Wall Street Journal

With his prime-time vow to send more weapons to both Ukraine and Israel, President Biden sought to make clear on Thursday that the United States was not prioritizing one war over the other. – New York Times

Editorial: Americans are receiving an education in what the world looks like when U.S. deterrence erodes, and rebuilding that power and will should be the top bipartisan priority in Washington. Americans grow weary of the costs of being the “essential nation,” as Mr. Biden called the U.S. on Thursday evening. But the alternative is unfolding in Israel, Europe and Africa, and the U.S. needs to prepare for the worse that may be coming. – Wall Street Journal

Editorial: Mr. Biden’s straight talk Thursday was welcome; more is needed regarding the big unknowns in both conflicts. Russian President Vladimir Putin’s strategy is to prolong the Ukraine conflict, at least through next year’s U.S. presidential election, testing the patience of Europe and the United States and biding time to see whether America Firster Donald Trump makes it back to the White House. Mr. Biden’s case for patience in Ukraine would be stronger if he sketched how the United States, NATO and the European Union will help Ukraine set up a postwar system to guarantee its security. By the same token, it’s not too early to discuss assuring stability and recovery in a post-Hamas Gaza, along with a wider regional understanding for the Middle East, including Palestinian rights. – Washington Post

James Jay Carafano writes: Perhaps the most cynical act of Biden’s speech is to wrap yet another supplemental request in an American flag, binding requests for Israel and Ukraine. Biden has exploited the good will of Republicans in Congress with supplemental requests for national security spending, only to attach to all of them even more spending for the president’s woke priorities. He knows this strains the good will of the political opposition, pitting Republicans against Republicans, because he also ignores concerns about deficit spending, accountability, and honest debate over the content and appropriateness of supplemental spending. When the war against Israel broke out, he latched on to the opportunity again. This isn’t leadership, it’s crass inside the beltway swamp politics. – The National Interest


Hackers have stepped up efforts to take down the websites of Israeli and Palestinian humanitarian groups since Hamas attacked Israel on Oct. 7. – Wall Street Journal

A “key target” allegedly involved with the Ragnar Locker ransomware group was arrested in Paris on Monday, according to officials at Europol. – The Record

The International Criminal Court (ICC) said on Friday that the serious cybersecurity incident it detected in September was an act of espionage. In a statement on the Court’s website, it said the attack can be “interpreted as a serious attempt to undermine the Court’s mandate.” – The Record

Researchers have discovered possible signs of cooperation between the Palestinian militant organization Hamas and one of the longest-running groups of Arabic-speaking hackers. – The Record

Russia had been trying to crack into Ukraine’s critical infrastructure networks long before the war began, and they still haven’t given up, says Illia Vitiuk, head of the cyber department at the Security Service of Ukraine, known as the SBU. His team responds to 12-15 serious cyberattacks every single day. – The Record

The European Commission sent Meta and TikTok letters Thursday, requesting information on the platforms’ efforts to rein in disinformation relating to the Israel-Hamas war. – The Record

Zhang Hongliang, a former restaurant manager in central China, took various gigs in and outside China to support his family after losing his job during the COVID-19 pandemic. […]Zhang is one of tens of thousands of people, mostly but not all Chinese, who have become ensnared in cyber scam networks run by powerful Chinese criminal syndicates in Southeast Asia. Regional and Chinese authorities have netted thousands of people in a crackdown, but experts say they are failing to root out the local elites and criminal networks that are bound to keep running the schemes. – Associated Press


The White House has asked Congress to pass a $105 billion supplemental spending package with most of the money allocated for a diffuse array of the Biden administration’s defense priorities, ranging from Ukraine to Israel to the Indo-Pacific region. – Defense News

The White House released a supplemental budget request Friday that included $3.4 billion to support the submarine industrial base as part of a larger $50 billion package that includes weapons for Ukraine and humanitarian aid for Israelis and Palestinians following the Hamas attacks in Gaza, according to the proposal reviewed by USNI News. – USNI News

The expanding conventional and nuclear weapon arsenals of China and Russia must be taken into account in laying out the United States’ future strategic posture, the Senate Armed Services Committee was told Thursday. – USNI News

Raphael S. Cohen and Gian Gentile write: Ultimately, it’s too soon to tell what the answers to any of these four big questions will be, but one thing is certain: there will be lessons from this conflict for the U.S. military. The early evidence suggests that some of the same issues that the U.S. wrestled with for the last two decades in Iraq and Afghanistan — guarding against strategic surprise, countering low-tech challenges advance military capability, fighting in urban areas and planning for post-combat issues — remain unsolved at least in the Israeli context.  This, in turn, should prompt a degree of self-reflection for the United States as well.  As the U.S. military watches the next days, weeks and potentially months unfold in Israel, U.S. planners should ask themselves: would we able to do any better? If not, then U.S. still has more learning to do. – War on the Rocks