Fdd's overnight brief

October 24, 2022

In The News


Iran’s labor unions are helping antigovernment protests maintain momentum by calling for strikes at oil facilities, schools and factories, opening another front in the upheaval inside the country. – Wall Street Journal

Iran’s decision to send armed drones to aid Russia’s war in Ukraine jeopardizes years of engagement with the West and marks a risky gambit by Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei to disrupt an international system that he sees as stacked against Tehran, analysts said. – Wall Street Journal

Iran on Sunday released security footage that it said came from its notorious Evin Prison the night a fire broke out that killed at least eight inmates, an effort to clarify the government’s narrative amid growing international pressure. – Associated Press

A southeastern city in Iran that was the scene of a bloody crackdown last month awoke to new destruction on Saturday, state TV showed, after tensions erupted the day before. – Associated Press

Tens of thousands of people gathered in Germany’s capital Saturday to show solidarity with antigovernment protesters in Iran, where a movement sparked by the death of a woman in the custody of morality police has evolved into a challenge to the Islamic Republic. – Associated Press

Days after Iranian climber Elnaz Rekabi caused an international incident by not wearing her country’s mandatory headscarf while competing abroad, her fate is top of mind for the world’s best climbers. – Associated Press

Iran’s atomic energy organization said that an e-mail server belonging to one of its subsidiaries had been hacked from a foreign country and information published online, state media reported on Sunday. – Reuters

Protests broke out in restive southeastern Iran on Friday, with demonstrators attacking banks, state media reported, as a senior hardline cleric called for tough measures against demonstrators across the country. – Reuters

The United States believes diplomacy is the best way to address Iran’s nuclear program but sees no imminent revival of the 2015 nuclear deal for now because of Tehran’s injection of extraneous issues, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said on Friday. – Reuters

Iran on Saturday accused the United States of seeking to gain concessions in nuclear talks aimed at restoring the 2015 agreement, by supporting protests over Mahsa Amini’s death. – Agence France-Presse

Tehran on Saturday warned European countries against “provocative approaches”, after they urged a UN probe into Iranian drones the West says Russia is using in Ukraine. – Agence France-Presse 

Iran’s supreme leader used a recent address to academics to praise the effectiveness of his country’s military drones, which according to Kyiv and the west are being sold to Russia and used to pummel Ukraine’s big cities. – Financial Times

Russian officials previously traveled to Iran so they could be trained on how to use the explosive suicide drones that would later be deployed in attacks on Ukrainian cities, the US State Department said this week. – Business Insider

Iran is expressing its concern to Azerbaijan about any changes in the border region by holding military drills in the area. Iranian regime media has emphasized this in the last several days, noting that Iran has moved its forces to the border region. – Jerusalem Post 

Iran’s Revolutionary Guards accused a Sunni cleric of agitating against the Islamic Republic and warned it may cost him dearly after he said officials including the supreme leader were responsible for dozens killed in the city of Zahedan last month. – Reuters

Iran is using Ukraine as a testing ground for its drones to prepare for future drone attacks on Israel, the Ukrainian Defense Ministry claimed on Thursday. – Jerusalem Post

Groups of Iranian students clashed on Sunday at a leading university in the capital Tehran, local media reported, amid weeks-long nationwide protests over the death of Mahsa Amini. – Agence France-Presse

The “riots” that followed the death of Mahsa Amini in police custody last month, have reached their “final days,” Iran’s deputy interior minister Majid Mirahmadi said Saturday. – Agence France-Presse

Hundreds of demonstrators took to the streets of the southeastern Iranian city of Zahedan, three weeks after dozens were killed in “Bloody Friday” protests, online videos showed. – Agence France-Presse

Iran’s foreign minister claimed on Saturday that the US is in a rush to get a nuclear deal with Iran, despite public comments by American officials saying a deal is no longer their priority. – Associated Press

The Iranian body overseeing the country’s contested nuclear program said its email servers were subject to an “illegal infiltration” by an unknown group in a foreign country. – Bloomberg

Miriam Berger writes: The grip of Iran’s clerical leaders remains strong. Tehran is continuing to impose censorship and internet blackouts to prevent people from sharing news and videos of the crackdown, and the chants that accompany protests. The number of people Iranian authorities have killed and detained continues to rise. But the protest slogans cannot be stopped from spreading. “Don’t call it a protest,” university students shout in videos shared online. “Call it a revolution.” – Washington Post

Benny Avni writes: If security forces cease to fire or defect, however, the regime could bring in its all-Shiite foreign legion. IRGC-trained militias from Lebanon, Yemen, the Palestinian territories, Afghanistan, and Pakistan would have “less compunction about killing protestors they do not even know or share a bond or affinity through language, culture, or nationality with,” Mr. Ben Taleblu says. Yet, as the revolution intensifies with calls to overthrow what journalist and activist Masih Alinejad calls the “gender apartheid” regime, a tipping point could be around the corner. The first telltale sign would be regime enforcers recalculating and deciding to join the rebel side. – New York Sun

Seth J. Frantzman writes: According to what’s been revealed so far, the hacked documents don’t seem to include a major smoking gun in them. For a regime that attempts to project strength amid protests and is constantly on guard for enemies and threats, the protests have been a challenge. Tehran’s cyber vulnerabilities must leave the regime wondering whether its efforts over the last 15 years to increase cyberdefenses and even go on the offense in the cyber world, have come to naught. – Jerusalem Post

James Jay Carafano and Adam Milstein write: When the Iranian regime is dragged down, it will take a stronger, more secure Middle East to stem the flood of discord and uncertainty that will follow. Now is the time for America to start laying the groundwork. – Heritage Foundation

Victoria Coates writes: The outlier here is the issue of prioritizing re-entering the JCPOA. Given the stark reversal among Democrats for making it a top priority after the murder of Mahsa Amini, the Administration can expect little domestic support for any attempt to get a new deal after the mid-term elections in November, especially if the protests continue. – Heritage Foundation

Ray Takeyh writes: The Islamists have made nearly all the same mistakes as the monarch they overthrew. The regime lacks an appealing ideology and shields itself in rhetoric that convinces no one. It is led by a corrupt and out-of-touch elite that relies on conspiracy theories to justify its conduct. It has pursued a foreign policy whose costs are more apparent than its benefits. And the mullahs have forgotten the most essential lesson of their revolutionary triumph: Persian armies don’t like killing their people en masse. The new Iranian revolution has begun, we just don’t know it yet. – Commentary Magazine

Javad Heiran-Nia writes: Current trends in the structures of Iran’s domestic and foreign policy reflect the presence and preferences of radical conservatives. For them, Iran’s foreign policy is linked to domestic legitimacy and the elimination of reformist rivals and moderate movements. […]It is only in emergencies, such as the nuclear issue, that this group is willing to talk to the West. However, even the revival of the JCPOA cannot be considered a platform for improving relations with the West in other areas. Iran will continue to see its future in the East. – The National Interest

Russia & Ukraine

Two people were killed when a Russian military plane crashed into a two-story residential building in the Siberian city of Irkutsk, according to the Russian Emergency Situations Ministry. It was the second deadly instance of a military plane hitting a Russian apartment block in less than a week. – Washington Post

Russia unleashed a “barrage” of missiles across Ukraine early Saturday morning, Ukrainian officials said — targeting the country’s electrical grid and blacking out large areas — while the Kyiv government increased its calls for Western governments to urgently provide antiaircraft systems as a defense against the airstrikes. – Washington Post

Ukraine’s Infrastructure Ministry again blamed Russia for deliberately slowing grain exports to stymie the U.N.-brokered deal that resumed Ukrainian agricultural exports by sea over the summer, adding fuel to a brewing battle over whether the deal will be extended. – New York Times

Russian-installed officials urged all residents in the southern city of Kherson to “leave immediately” on Saturday as Ukrainian troops continued to advance, a sign of Moscow’s shaky hold on the strategic city. – New York Times

President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine has accused Russia of deliberately slowing down grain exports to create a food crisis, undermining a deal the United Nations brokered earlier this year that freed millions of tons of food trapped in Ukraine’s ports by the war. – New York Times

Ukraine was working to restore electricity across the country Sunday following a Russian attack on critical infrastructure, while Moscow warned of a further escalation in the war as its grip on the southern Kherson region weakened. – Wall Street Journal

As Ukraine has recaptured more than 3,000 square miles of territory this fall, its forces have followed a blueprint that plays to their strengths: using strong intelligence and precision weaponry to hit Russians’ supply lines and command posts and weaken their ability to fight. – Wall Street Journal

Russia’s Vladimir Putin is aggressively trying to prevent further losses in Ukraine by bombarding critical infrastructure and to avert disquiet at home by tightening social controls. – Wall Street Journal

The U.S. military has provided tens of thousands of pieces of cold-weather gear to the Ukrainian troops battling Russian forces, in the hopes of giving the defenders an advantage in the fight as winter sets in, the Pentagon said Friday. – Wall Street Journal

Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu spoke with U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin on Sunday for the second time in three days and held a flurry of calls with three other counterparts from NATO countries. – Reuters

U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin told Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu in a phone call on Sunday that he “rejected any pretext for Russian escalation” in Ukraine, the Pentagon said. – Reuters

Ukraine slammed Russia on Sunday for alleging Kyiv was planning to use a radioactive bomb in its own territory, calling the claims “dangerous” lies and prompting Western allies to warn Moscow against using any pretext for escalating the conflict. – Agence France-Presse

Britain, France and Germany on Friday called for a United Nations probe of accusations Russia has used Iranian-origin drones to attack Ukraine, allegedly violating a U.N. Security Council Resolution. – Reuters

Russia and North Korea are purportedly exploring some kind of weapons arrangement, according to the U.S. State Department. – Newsweek

Russian President Vladimir Putin’s mobilization failures are piling up as an official announced on Friday that some 10,000 mistakenly mobilized Russians have been returned home. – Newsweek

Iran announced Sunday a contract with Russia to supply it with 40 turbines to help its gas industry amid Western sanctions over Moscow’s war in Ukraine, local media reported. – Agence France-Presse

Ukrainian strikes in the past week against Russia’s ongoing invasion killed at least 10 Iranians, a Ukrainian official told Hebrew media on Friday. – Times of Israel

Mark Toth and Jonathan Sweet write: Unlikely? Yes, on a surface level. But so, too, were Pearl Harbor and 9/11. Yet intel reporting indicates everything outlined here appears to be in place. Link it with a ruthless, win-at-all-costs Russian general and a humiliated authoritarian with an ax to grind and the reality at a deeper level might be closer than the Biden administration or the media want to believe. Putin and Surovikin are maneuvering, and it is vital that Washington, Brussels and Kyiv guard against every deception, whether a trick or a retreat. – The Hill

James Brooke writes: Since the war broke out, Chancellor Scholz has ordered construction of five LNG landing terminals up and down Germany’s sea coast. Temporary, floating versions of these terminals are to be working by December. One lasting legacy of today’s war is expected to be a sharp reduction of EU dependence on imports of Russian gas. The United States now has more than 140 LNG processing plants and ports. The EU will become a big market for gas from the red states of Texas and Louisiana. Republicans who focus on votes today will remember that Americans of Eastern European origin were key pillars of Richard Nixon’s “silent majority.” – New York Sun

Aynur Bashirova writes: But Israel’s leverage against Russia—its ace card—is the nation’s military technology which has been designed to deal with mass bombardment. The country possesses the advisory, technical, and military hardware capable of disarming Russia’s most devastating military capabilities. The upcoming days will show how Israel chooses to respond. Sanctions alone—against both Iran and Russia will likely not deliver a major blow—at least on their own. But Israel supporting Ukraine by matching what Iran has done for Russia, would. Ultimately, whether Israel likes it or not, they have already been dragged into Europe’s war. Opting out is simply no longer an option. – Newsweek

Edward Lucas writes: Meanwhile, the Putin regime will treat any territorial gains as a vindication of the decision to attack Ukraine. The Kremlin, and its allies and proxies, will be triumphant and emboldened in Africa, Latin America, and Asia. Nor will Europe be any safer. It may take some years for Russia to recover from the losses it has sustained in Ukraine, but appetites grow with feeding. Another bite from a crippled Ukraine will be one option. Another will be to revise the post-1991 settlement in the Baltic region. We will not have stopped the war, but only postponed it. – Center for European Policy Analysis

Peter Huessy writes: As Herman Kahn of the Hudson Institute once wrote, the best way to look credible is to be credible. If the United States would rather not be credible, then it should get out of the nuclear business altogether—an outcome that would open the door for others to use nuclear weapons without fear of a commensurate response. – The National Interest


Once a fringe far-right figure, Mr. Ben-Gvir has become a major political force ahead of national elections next month, a sign of how the political ground in Israel has shifted decisively to the right amid intensifying violence between Israelis and Palestinians. – Wall Street Journal

A Palestinian militant group accused Israel on Sunday of killing one of its top fighters in a targeted attack deep inside a West Bank city, promising to unleash a fierce response. – Associated Press

Israeli police said officers “neutralised” a Palestinian stabbing suspect in annexed east Jerusalem Saturday after an attack that left an Israeli man in critical condition. – Agence France-Presse

More and more Israeli politicians have been making calls to start arming Kyiv in an effort to court voters from communities of new immigrants from Russia and Ukraine, as well as the larger Russian speaking sector in Israel. – Ynet

Prominent U.S. lawmakers from both parties have expressed their displeasure at Israel for refusing Ukraine’s request for defensive military equipment to combat Russia’s invasion. – Haaretz

Former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said he would “look into” whether or not Israel will supply weapons to Ukraine if he were to return to power after the upcoming election, he told to USA Today on Friday. – Jerusalem Post

A senior member of a loosely organized Palestinian terror group known as Lion’s Den was killed early Sunday in an explosion in the West Bank city of Nablus, with the group claiming Israel “assassinated” him. – Times of Israel

Prime Minister Yair Lapid on Friday morning slammed a United Nations report accusing Israel of violating international law, as part of an ongoing inquiry into alleged rights abuses in Israel, the West Bank and the Gaza Strip following last year’s 11-day fight between Israel and the Hamas terror group. – Times of Israel

A young Palestinian man, apparently affiliated with the Palestinian Islamic Jihad terror group, was killed early Friday morning during an Israeli military operation in the West Bank city of Jenin, Palestinian health officials said. – Times of Israel

Ben-Dror Yemini writes: You can safely assume that the Palestinian terrorist who carried out a stabbing attack in Jerusalem on Saturday, did not read a report by the UN Commission of Inquiry into Human Rights Violations in the West Bank and Gaza, submitted to the General Assembly last week. This report, however, is part of an international propaganda meant to do nothing more than demonize Israel, serving no one but terror organizations like Hamas and the Islamic Jihad. – Ynet

Danny Ayalon writes: The purpose of this act is incomprehensible, as it does not relate to any of Australia’s interests. Still, it definitely hurts Israel’s interests by encouraging and emboldening the Palestinians and other nefarious actors to step up their terror. […]It is not too late for the Australian government to correct its error. It should adhere to the universal conduct of respecting the right of a sovereign nation to decide its capital. To be sure, the fate of Jerusalem will not be determined by this irresponsible and weak decision. It may, however, adversely affect bilateral relations between Canberra and Jerusalem. – Jerusalem Post

Avi Lewis writes: When back online, the ECAJ lamented that the decision was performed without public consultation or debate, and called it poor policy, clearly media driven, and pandering to the most extreme elements of the Labor party. As ties strain, it is imperative that all those invested in the Australia-Israel relationship, from civil society to the halls of parliament, come together to clarify the importance of this relationship, based on mutual respect, interests and shared democratic values. – Jerusalem Post


Taliban security forces killed six Islamic State members in an overnight operation in the Afghan capital, Kabul, a spokesman for the ruling group’s administration said on Saturday. – Reuters

More than a year after the collapse of Kabul, Afghans who helped the U.S. during the war are still struggling to get special immigrant visas and only a small percentage have made it through the process, adding to the frustration of advocates who are trying to assist. – Military.com

Niamatullah Ibrahimi writes: The United States has a well-developed strategy to address the emerging risk of mass atrocities. In July 2022, the Biden administration released its Strategy to Anticipate, Prevent, and Respond to Atrocities, which empowers the government to direct the Atrocity Prevention Task Force to take the lead in coordinating a whole-of-government approach to responding to the risk of mass atrocities in Afghanistan. Amid escalating threats against the Hazaras and other vulnerable groups, Afghanistan should be the first test case for this new strategy. – The National Interest


Israel carried out an airstrike on the Syrian capital of Damascus and its southern suburbs late Friday, in the first such attack in more than a month, state media reported. There were no casualties in the strikes. – Associated Press

The United States on Thursday warned against any normalization of ties with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and insisted his reconciliation with Palestinian terror group Hamas — also a pariah for Washington — showed his “isolation.” – Times of Israel

The Lebanese and Syrian presidents discussed delineating their countries’ shared maritime border on Saturday before a visit to Damascus next week by a Lebanese delegation tasked with negotiating the issue, a Lebanese official said. – Reuters

The Israeli military has destroyed about 90% of Iran’s military infrastructure and attempts to entrench itself – with Hezbollah – in Syria, top officials in the defense establishment claimed over the weekend. – Jerusalem Post


The flotilla of Russian superyachts in Turkish waters is raising tensions with the United States, which sees Turkey’s welcoming of the vessels as a symptom of the much larger problem: Russia’s access to Turkey’s financial system, potentially undermining Western sanctions. – New York Times

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said he has agreed to meet with Sweden’s new prime minister in Ankara to discuss the Scandinavian country’s bid to join NATO, describing the visit as an opportunity to test Stockholm’s “sincerity” in meeting Turkey’s conditions. – Associated Press

Turkey has sided with Saudi Arabia in its deepening standoff with the US over OPEC+’s decision to cut oil production. – Bloomberg

Arabian Peninsula

Security forces in Qatar arbitrarily arrested and abused LGBT Qataris as recently as last month, Human Rights Watch (HRW) said on Monday, in the run-up to hosting soccer’s World Cup which has put a spotlight on human rights issues in the Gulf Arab state. – Reuters

Yemen’s Iran-backed rebels said they targeted a cargo ship Friday off an oil terminal in the war-wrecked Arab country’s south to prevent pro-government forces from using it for oil exports. A Greek company owning the Marshall Islands-flagged tanker said it sustained no damage in the attack by explosive-laden drones. – Associated Press

Michael Knights, Adnan al-Gabarni, and Casey Coombs write: This study argues that the Houthi movement is now more centralized and cohesive than ever, in part due to close mentoring from Lebanese Hezbollah and Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps. The Houthi Jihad Council is emerging as a remarkable partner for Iran, and their relationship should no longer be viewed as one of necessity, but rather as a strong, deep-rooted alliance underpinned by tight ideological affinity and geopolitical alignment. – Washington Institute

Saudi Arabia

The Biden administration’s message to corporate America was clear: Consider the reputation of the countries you do business with. The remark came from the White House press secretary at a briefing last week, just as some top American executives were preparing to attend a major Saudi business conference, along with thousands of other investors, businesspeople and politicians. – New York Times

Saudi Arabia’s energy minister Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman and the director of China’s National Energy Administration Zhang Jianhua on Friday said they would strengthen their ties in the energy sector, the Saudi state news agency SPA reported. – Reuters

As the Biden administration, backed by influential congressional Democrats, contemplates significant changes to the United States-Saudi Arabia relationship in response to Saudi-driven oil production cuts, some lawmakers on Capitol Hill are urging the administration to work to maintain paths for facilitating Israeli-Saudi normalization and regional security cooperation. – Jewish Insider 

Mandy Gunasekara writes: They’ll pay for it in November. As America faces blackouts and high energy costs, the U.S. is left begging other countries for what we could produce right here at home. Biden’s OPEC nightmare was entirely predictable. Democrats completely own this catastrophe that has destroyed American energy independence. When voters elect Republicans, they’ll be voting for jobs, common sense, and a strong America-first policy instead. – Washington Examiner

Richard Blumenthal and Jeffrey Sonnenfeld write: The United States cannot continue to tolerate these shortcomings, jeopardizing its own interests to cover for Saudi recklessness. Saudi leaders believe they can push the United States into a corner, forcing it to accept their terms for a partnership that does little to advance U.S. interests. Such arrogance, presumption, and deceit have shattered the trust the United States once placed in the Saudi regime. A pause on arms sales would send a strong message to Riyadh that it must regain Washington’s confidence. – Foreign Affairs

Middle East & North Africa

Israel’s Supreme Court on Sunday rejected petitions that would have held up a landmark U.S.-brokered deal setting a maritime border with Lebanon, which Washington predicted could be finalised on Thursday. – Reuters

Egypt will develop a new currency indicator partly to wean people off the idea that the Egyptian pound should be pegged to the U.S. dollar, the new central bank governor said on Sunday. – Reuters

More than two years after the signing of the Abraham Accords, collaboration between Israel and its new Arab partners has flourished. A new series of high-level conferences that will convene government officials, NGOs and private sector leaders in the “N7” — Israel and the Arab nations with which it has normalized ties — intends to formalize that cooperation and lay the groundwork for enhanced regional partnerships, Jewish Insider has learned. – Jewish Insider

Khalil El Hasse writes: Today, the Biden administration faces three important issues in Libya that make the country an unavoidable part of America foreign strategy. First, terrorism is still very much an issue in Libya, especially in the south and southwest regions. […]The third issue is the presence of Russia in Libya itself, a role it is unlikely to give up anytime soon. As Libya’s internal dynamics continue to evolve and with a new government potentially on the horizon, the United States needs to establish more clear rhetoric on their relationship with Libya and its attitudes towards the country’s competing factions. – Washington Institute

Korean Peninsula

North and South Korea fired warning shots in waters off their west coast early Monday, blaming each other for breaching their de facto maritime border as confrontations between the two countries rise in frequency. – Wall Street Journal

South Korea’s former defense minister and coast guard chief were arrested Saturday over their alleged involvement in covering up facts and distorting the circumstances surrounding North Korea’s killing of a South Korean fisheries official in 2020 near the rivals’ tense sea border. – Associated Press

Gearoid Reidy writes: Of course, there are significant risks. Pyongyang has proven not to be a trustworthy negotiating partner. Being seen to reward its obstinacy might embolden rogue regimes elsewhere. Even a tacit acceptance of North Korea’s position could also lead to another bout of proliferation. The South Korean public is already roundly in favor of also possessing nuclear weapons. […]But doggedly pursuing a failed policy that has only become more unrealistic over the years isn’t getting the US and its allies anywhere — and the risk of accidental confrontation is only running higher. – Bloomberg


A meeting of top Chinese officials concluded on Saturday with leader Xi Jinping’s power undisputed, as his “core” status was enshrined in the Communist Party charter, his former political rival retired and his predecessor was escorted off the stage in a surprising departure from protocol. – Washington Post

Xi Jinping embarked on his third term as China’s leader with his rivals out of the way and no clear successor in sight, deepening his control over the world’s second-largest economy as the country’s most formidable leader since Mao Zedong. – Wall Street Journal

The new slate of China’s top leaders, packed with allies of Xi Jinping, has some economists fearing a further erosion of checks on the power of a Chinese leader who has overseen the biggest expansion of state control over the economy in decades. – Wall Street Journal

The new U.S. restrictions on exports of chips and related items to China are aimed at using America’s strength in critical areas of the semiconductor supply chain to weaken China’s advanced-chip development. – Wall Street Journal

Federal authorities in New York charged seven people Thursday, including five in the People’s Republic of China, with a campaign of harassment against a Chinese national and his family living in the U.S., trying to force him to return home. – Associated Press

Three young Hong Kong activists were jailed on Saturday under a Beijing-imposed national security law, in the latest case of authorities taking a hardline approach toward political speech. – Agence France-Presse

Chinese state media said in an article Friday it is “necessary to eliminate” Taiwan’s independence as rhetoric surrounding Taiwan has escalated in recent days. – Newsweek

Editorial: The current Vatican’s motto is: be afraid. Pope Francis has given the Chinese Communist Party a free pass on its inhumane behavior, and in so doing he has compromised the moral authority of the Catholic church. – Wall Street Journal

Kevin Rudd writes: The next five years, he declares, are “critical” for the continued building of a powerful Chinese nation. He calls for “an increased capacity for the army to win”; an “increased proportion of new combat forces”; and for the promotion of “actual combat training for the military”. However, Xi’s language on Taiwan is relatively conciliatory, restating the party’s preference for resolving the Taiwan issue peacefully, while not renouncing the use of force. […]The central message to take away from the report is that Xi’s definition of national security has replaced the economy as China’s central focus for the future. – Financial Times

South Asia

Former Pakistani leader Imran Khan has been disqualified from holding public office — at least in the near future — after a ruling from Pakistan’s Election Commission on Friday charged him with unlawfully selling state gifts, according to senior members of his party. – Washington Post

An international watchdog said Friday it is removing Pakistan from its so-called “gray list” of countries that do not take full measures to combat money laundering and terrorism financing, a move that was quickly welcomed by the country’s prime minister and other government officials. – Associated Press

Sri Lankan lawmakers overwhelmingly approved a constitutional amendment on Friday that trims the powers of the president, a key demand of protesters who are seeking political reforms and solutions to the country’s economic crisis. – Associated Press


A global financial watchdog added Myanmar to its list of countries where businesses and financial institutions are at high risk of exposure to money laundering and terrorist financing, potentially accelerating the country’s economic isolation that was triggered by a military coup last year. – Wall Street Journal

Japan and Australia on Saturday signed a new bilateral security agreement covering military, intelligence and cybersecurity cooperation to counter the deteriorating security outlook driven by China’s increasing assertiveness. – Associated Press

Beijing has responded to the U.S. Navy’s warning of a potential Chinese attack on Taiwan as soon as this year by cautioning Washington against any intervention on the sensitive geopolitical issue at the core of strained ties between the top two powers. – Newsweek

Taiwan needs to diversify its trade away from China, the island’s finance minister said, citing uncertainties created by Covid Zero and rising geopolitical tensions between Washington and Beijing. – Bloomberg

Bombers, long-range strike missiles and large undersea unmanned systems could help Canberra deter China until it has nuclear-powered attack submarines, Australian and American security experts agreed Wednesday. – USNI News

Elena Collinson and James Curran write: The Albanese government, along with other key U.S. allies and partners, have a responsibility to try and assist Washington in re-establishing the guardrails in its relationship with China. Collectively, they must pour their diplomatic energies into ensuring that the voices of restraint in Washington resist what would surely be a catastrophic clash with China over Taiwan. If that were to take place, there will be little talk of “models,” only the protracted period of postwar reconstruction in East Asia that would likely continue for the remainder of the century. – The National Interest


After a chaotic spell packed with political crises, Britain finds itself right back where it was before — with some of the same faces competing to become the country’s third prime minister in just eight weeks, and a dumbfounded public watching from the sidelines. – Washington Post

Giorgia Meloni completed her groundbreaking rise in Italian politics Saturday, when she was sworn in as the country’s first female prime minister, giving her once-fringe party a level of power that has been out of reach for other far-right forces in Western Europe. – Washington Post

Boris Johnson, after campaigning hard for a comeback, suddenly dropped out of the race to return as Britain’s prime minister on Sunday, saying it was in the national interest to withdraw from leadership aspirations — for now. – Washington Post 

Sweden expects Hungary and Turkey to vote soon on Sweden’s application to join the NATO alliance, Foreign Minister Tobias Billstrom said in Helsinki after a meeting with his Finnish counterpart on Friday. – Reuters

Germany’s Chancellor Olaf Scholz announced on Friday that he will take a government delegation to China next month, the first EU leader to make the trip since November 2019. – Agence France-Presse

France has become the latest country to announce plans to withdraw from an investment treaty in a sign of growing rebellion in the EU over an accord that activists say deters tougher action to address climate change. – Financial Times

Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko is adamant that his country won’t join Russia in the fight against Ukraine. – Newsweek


Eight people were killed after militants stormed a hotel in Somalia’s port city of Kismayo, an attack that started with a suicide bombing Sunday before gunmen forcibly entered and exchanged fire with security forces. – Associated Press

The government led by Guinea’s coup leader reached an agreement late Friday with West African regional mediators on a schedule for holding new elections a little over two years from now. – Associated Press

Guinea’s ruling junta has agreed to restore civilian rule in two years, after facing sanctions over its original plan for a three-year transfer of power, the West African bloc ECOWAS said Friday. – Agence France-Presse

The United States and Britain on Sunday warned of a possible terrorist attack in Nigeria’s federal capital Abuja, especially aimed at government buildings, places of worship and schools, among other targets. – Reuters

The Americas

The United Nations unanimously approved sanctions Friday against Haiti’s most powerful gang boss who is blocking fuel and aid to the impoverished country for a sixth week as it struggles with a cholera outbreak and increasing hunger. – Wall Street Journal

For nearly five years, Houston oil executive Jose Pereira was jailed in Venezuela, spending long stretches in isolation in an underground cell, deprived of medication and surviving on chicken scraps and rice. […]Mr. Pereira’s experience provided a rare window into the treatment of foreign prisoners accused of white-collar or political crimes in Venezuela, who the U.S. has said are tried in kangaroo courts and used as bargaining chips in negotiations with Washington. – Wall Street Journal

Venezuela’s biggest opposition parties are taking steps to remove Juan Guaidó as their leader and phase out a U.S.-led strategy in which he was recognized as the legitimate president in an effort to unseat Nicolás Maduro, according to several people familiar with the discussions. – Wall Street Journal

As the Biden administration revamped security technology at the U.S.-Mexico border this year, officials learned of an unexpected national security threat developing on the other side of the Rio Grande. The Mexican government was preparing to purchase hundreds of millions of dollars of Chinese scanning equipment for its own checkpoints. – Washington Post

The U.N. Security Council unanimously adopted a resolution Friday demanding an immediate end to violence and criminal activity in Haiti and imposing sanctions on individuals and groups threatening peace and stability in the Western Hemisphere’s poorest nation — starting with a powerful gang leader. – Associated Press

Nadia Schadlow writes: The strategy is right that the next 10 years will be decisive, noting that we are at an “inflection point” when the choices made will set America on a course that “determines our competitive position long into the future.” Precisely because “our window of opportunity may be closing,” we need to be more realistic. – Wall Street Journal


Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama arrived in Israel on Sunday to strengthen his country’s cyber defense after a series of attacks from Iran that led his country to cut ties with Tehran. – Jerusalem Post

The Space Force hopes to choose a developer next June for its nascent Digital Bloodhound program, aimed at improving detection of cyber threats to space ground systems, according to senior Space Systems Command officials. – Breaking Defense

The FBI released an alert this week warning of hack-and-leak operations targeting organizations in the U.S. and Israel by a group based in Iran. – The Record

An Iranian hacking group accused of attempting to interfere in the 2020 presidential election, and attacking an unnamed U.S. organization in early 2022, could once again be looking to infiltrate American targets, the FBI warned in a notice late Thursday. – Cyberscoop

Elisabeth Braw writes: As geopolitical aggression intensifies, companies can make a virtue of being prepared. They should double down on cyber protection, especially since they can’t know beforehand whether an attack will originate with a foreign state or with criminals. But they should also publicly highlight their efforts, in speeches, interviews, marketing materials and annual reports. Demonstrating such preparedness will appeal to shareholders and customers and attract new ones. – Wall Street Journal

Kyle Fendorf writes: Any potential hacktivist campaign in China would follow the existing contours of cybersecurity in the country. Previous attacks against both businesses and the government provide a view into the state of cybersecurity in China, areas of potential vulnerability, and what effects different categories of attackers would have. […]Hack-and-leak operations have been shown to cause social instability, most notably following the Russian hack-and-leak campaigns during the 2016 U.S. election, and any potential instability could force the Chinese regime to respond to social instability at the same time it tries to take Taiwan. – The National Interest


The US Coast Guard’s largest ship — the icebreaker Healy — reached the North Pole on September 30 on what was only the second unaccompanied trip there by a US ship. The trip comes amid increasing concern about military activity in the Arctic, where climate change is making waterways more accessible. Perceptions of an icebreaker gap have been a major worry, with US officials warning that the US’s two aging vessels are a far cry from the Russian and Chinese fleets. – Business Insider

NATO navies put their unmanned maritime capabilities to the test off the coast of Portugal in late September during the first alliance-led exercise focused on those systems. – Business Insider

The U.S. military took the unusual decision of revealing that its top commander for the Middle East was on an American ballistic missile submarine in the Arabian Sea. – Newsweek

Project Convergence 2022, the third iteration of the military’s massive networked warfare experiment, saw autonomous helicopters and futuristic augmented headgear, but the real focus was enlarging the experiment to better replicate a major conflict and include forces from other services and allies. – Defense One

The United States and Japan are preparing for a large-scale joint exercise in Japan next month, the Japanese government announced today. – USNI News

Chris Cleary writes: Improving cyber readiness is a top priority for the Navy, and we have assembled a fantastic team to coordinate our efforts in cyberspace. Failure in this domain is not an option. I am confident that our sailors, civilians, and contractors will enable us to produce success at scale. We greatly appreciate the support of our many partners as we continue to increase our competitiveness in cyberspace. – The Hill