Fdd's overnight brief

October 7, 2019

FDD Research & Analysis

In The News


China National Petroleum Corp. has pulled out of a $5 billion natural-gas project in Iran as escalating tensions threaten to sever Beijing’s trade with Tehran, a key lifeline for the Islamic Republic. – Wall Street Journal

After years of growing hostility and competition for influence, Saudi Arabia and Iran have taken steps toward indirect talks to try to reduce the tensions that have brought the Middle East to the brink of war, according to officials from several countries involved in the efforts. – New York Times

An Australian couple detained in Iran for several months have been released and are being reunited with their families after charges against them were dropped, the Australian authorities confirmed on Saturday. – New York Times

Iran will not succumb to U.S. pressure and will use every possible way to export its oil, Iranian Oil Ministry’s website SHANA quoted Oil Minister Bijan Zanganeh as saying on Sunday. – Reuters

Iran has not drawn back to a less threatening military posture in the region following the Sept. 14 attack on Saudi Arabia, the top U.S. admiral in the Middle East told Reuters, suggesting persistent concern despite a lull in violence. – Reuters

Hardline daily newspaper Kayhan, affiliated with the office of Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, has gone as far as calling for seizing the U.S. embassy in Baghdad. – Radio Farda 

A poetry reciter in Iran has received a six-month prison sentence for reciting a poem, which mentioned corruption, discrimination abusing power and stealing public funds.  – Radio Farda

One of Canada’s largest trade union confederations has expressed unconditional support and solidarity for Iran’s workers, who continue to face a crackdown from authorities in retaliation for their protests against unfair pay and poor working conditions.  – Iran Wire

Iran said on Friday that France’s call for it to release a detained French-Iranian scholar was an interference in its internal affairs and would not help resolve the issue, the official news agency IRNA reported. – Reuters

Iran has improved its cooperation with the U.N. nuclear watchdog, the IAEA’s acting chief said on Friday, as it presses for answers to questions it will not spell out but that diplomats say include how uranium traces were found at an undeclared site. – Reuters

A Russian journalist has been arrested in the Iranian capital and kept in custody since earlier this week, the Russian embassy to Tehran said on Friday. – Associated Press

Masih Alinejad writes: President Trump reportedly seeks a meeting with Mr. Rouhani, and French President Emmanuel Macron pushes to salvage the nuclear deal. I fear the Trump administration will cut a deal with Tehran that ignores human rights, emboldening the clerical regime to crack down on its domestic opposition without concern for international pressure. Let the unlawful arrest and detention of my family be a warning to Mr. Macron and the White House: Iran’s is a regime of hostage-takers, and hostage-takers cannot be trusted. – Wall Street Journal

Tom Rogan writes: None of this means we should seek a conflict with Iran. As I say, we should endeavor to avoid it. But we should be realistic. Iran knows it cannot presently win a war with America. And it would take action to avoid that outcome. – Washington Examiner

Omer Carmi writes: Tehran’s biggest source for optimism may be its belief that Washington and Europe are eager to resume negotiations. Rouhani highlighted this point in his cabinet speech, and Khamenei’s website has emphasized how President Trump keeps asking to open talks only to be rejected again and again by the Supreme Leader. This perception may lead Tehran to set a higher bar for reentering talks, and further convince it that the resistance strategy is working. – Washington Institute


The White House indicated that U.S. forces will withdraw from northern Syria in advance of an expected incursion of Turkish forces in the region that could spark fighting with American-backed Kurds, in what officials believe could be the end of the fight against Islamic State there. – Wall Street Journal

America’s Syrian Kurdish allies are at risk of losing control of the vast camp where the families of the Islamic State’s defeated fighters are being detained as militant women increasingly assert their dominance over the camp, according to the top Kurdish military commander. – Washington Post

The announcement that the United States would not intervene in a long-threatened Turkish offensive signaled an abrupt end to a months-long American effort to broker peace between two important allies. It came after a call between President Trump and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. – Washington Post

The Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces said on Monday U.S. forces have withdrawn from the country’s northeast after failing to meet commitments and it will have a “great negative” impact on its war against Islamic State. – Reuters

Turkey is determined to clear its border with Syria of militants and assure the security of the country, Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said on Monday, after the White House said Ankara will soon launch an offensive into northern Syria. – Reuters

John Dunford and Brandon Wallace write: ISIS has mounted low-level efforts to replenish its ranks from members held in detention facilities and displacement camps across Syria and Iraq since late 2018. Some ISIS members have paid bribes to guards in order to buy their freedom. Others have rioted or mounted small-scale escapes attempts from at least four detention facilities in Syria and Iraq since September 2018. ISIS is likely preparing more coordinated and sophisticated operations to free its detained members in Iraq and Syria. The largest risk likely faces the network of makeshift and undermanned detention facilities spread across Northern Syria.  – Institute for the Study of War

John Dunford writes: Turkey is preparing to invade Northeastern Syria despite U.S. efforts to de-escalate tensions through a joint security mechanism along the border. […]The Turkish offensive will likely target the Arab-majority city of Tel Abyad in Northern Raqqa Province. It will create an opportunity for ISIS to achieve breakout success in eastern Syria while the U.S. partner force, the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), fights Turkey along the border. Pro-Assad regime forces could also attempt to exploit the chaos to seize oil fields currently under SDF control. – Institute for the Study of War

O. Peri and Y. Yehoshua write: The efforts to normalize with the Syrian regime and the calls to reinstate it in the Arab League are to a large extent also the result of pressure from Russia, which argues that such a move will advance peace in the country.[13] On the other hand, the U.S. is working to stop rapprochement with Assad as long as he does not commit to a political process in his country. […]The surprising sight of the Arab League secretary-general greeting and embracing the Syrian officials sparked speculation in the Arab media about whether it heralded Syria’s reinstatement in the Arab League. – Middle East Media Research Institute

Michael Weiss writes: In other words ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi (yes, he’s still alive) exploited the Kurdish Question before and will exploit again now that all-out war between Turkey and Syria’s Kurds is a foregone conclusion. And so long as the inevitable carnage stays in the neighborhood, we can be reasonably sure that Donald Trump won’t care or will treat this as just the latest manifestation of a regional pathology, and not an unforced error of lousy U.S. policy-planning. – The Daily Beast


Turkey summoned a top U.S. diplomat to its foreign ministry on Sunday, a day after the U.S. Embassy’s Twitter account liked a tweet regarding Devlet Bahceli, the leader of the nationalist party who has recently fallen ill. – Reuters

There are rules in exploring energy resources in the Mediterranean Sea, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Saturday, warning Turkey not to engage in drilling activity that is “illegal” and “unacceptable”. – Reuters

The United States wants to ensure that rules govern exploration of energy sources in the Mediterranean Sea, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said during a visit to Athens on Saturday, adding that Turkey’s illegal drilling in the region is unacceptable. – Reuters

Seth J. Frantzman writes: Most countries that have territorial disputes can now look to Ankara as a beacon. Whether in the Balkans or Caucuses, central Asia and beyond, the ‘safe zone’ concept as articulated by Turkey should be seen as a precedent in international forums for the “right to invade.” This concept means self-defense is no-longer a necessary pretext. No longer do countries need to refrain from the “threat” to use force. The US and other countries, in presenting the doctrine of preemption, have already eroded this concept, but now countries may be on the cusp of a new era after almost 75 years of one concept under the UN charter. – Jerusalem Post

Ilan Berman writes: Erdogan’s current, ambitious foreign policy vision (which includes the purchase of advanced fighter jets from Russia and a massive, multi-billion dollar stabilization plan for northern Syria) carries a steep price tag – one that Ankara would be hard pressed to foot alone. Domestically, meanwhile, Erdogan appears to have reconciled himself to the idea of accepting stabilization funds from Beijing in order to stay in power, no matter the strings that might be attached.The result is a Turkish government that is drifting ever deeper into China’s orbit, and away from the West. – The Diplomat


Interior Minister Aryeh Deri announced on Sunday that he had directed the Population and Immigration Authority to prepare a legal opinion to be used in the deportation of Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions founder Omar Barghouti. – Times of Israel

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is pushing to advance a huge air-defense project aimed at countering the threat of an attack from Iran, the Kan public broadcaster reported Sunday. – Times of Israel

The cash-strapped Palestinian Authority (PA) will once again accept tax revenues collected on its behalf by Israel, after rejecting the money for months, Israeli and Palestinian officials said on Friday. – Reuters

The Israel Defense Forces have set up a special engineering corps company to discover and prevent terror tunnels dug across Israel’s northern border from Lebanon. – Algemeiner

The Palestinian Authority has removed any mention of past agreements with Israel from their school textbooks, with the exception of the Oslo Accords, which are mentioned in far less detail than in previous editions of the schoolbooks, according to a new report by Yedioth Aharonot. – Jerusalem Post

Israeli military chief admitted during a cabinet meeting to have approved the publication of a foiled Iranian drone attack on Israel, the foreign minister said Monday. – Ynet 

Zev Chafets writes: Another drawback is the American propensity for getting itself into Middle Eastern conflicts that it can’t win. If Trump, or some future president, invokes the principle of mutual defense and asks for Israeli troops or air power in Yemen or Afghanistan (or even farther afield) it would be very difficult for Jerusalem to resist. […]Turning over Israel’s strategic responsibility to a foreign country, no matter how friendly, would be a return to the historically catastrophic policy of counting on the kindness of others. – Bloomberg

Uzi Even writes: How does all of this affect us? The Iranians, or their proxies, showed that they can hit specific targets with great precision and from a distance of hundreds of kilometers. We have to accept the fact that we are now vulnerable to such a strike. Yes, we can also carry out such strikes and perhaps inflict great damage on them, but so what? Does rational deterrence always work in the Middle East? I believe we must make different preparations in the face of such a proven possibility. – Haaretz 


Years of runaway spending, economic mismanagement and corruption in Iraq have combusted in protests that have killed more than 100 people and risk spiraling into civil conflict. The anger spilling into the streets for almost a week has built over the 16 years since the U.S.-led invasion, which Iraqis had hoped would usher in an era of prosperity after years of war and sanctions. Protesters braved tear gas, rubber bullets and live rounds, including sniper fire from unidentified men positioned on rooftops. – Wall Street Journal

Offline and on edge, Iraq is spiraling deeper into violence. The country’s troops, cracking down on anti-government protests, have turned their guns on the people. Officials said Sunday that 104 people have been killed and more than 6,100 wounded. – Washington Post

The UN has called for an end to the violence in Iraq after five days of anti-government rallies left nearly 100 people dead, mainly protesters. – The Guardian

Iraq’s government has scrambled to contain the popular anger that has racked Baghdad and a number of southern cities since Tuesday. Security forces responded with a crackdown on the spontaneous rallies of demonstrators demanding jobs, better services and an end to endemic corruption in the oil-rich country. – Associated Press

As Iraqis defied government curfew and continued widespread protests on Thursday, the death toll climbed to more than 30 and Iran’s ambassador in Baghdad was summoned to the foreign ministry for provocative remarks he made last week. – Radio Farda

Iraqi Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi discussed the protests that have gripped his country this past week in a phone call with U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, his office said in a statement on Monday. – Reuters

Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said “enemies” were trying to drive a wedge between Tehran and Baghdad in a tweet on Monday following deadly unrest in neighboring Iraq. – Times of Israel

Bobby Ghosh writes: Instead, the Trump administration should recognize that Mahdi is patently the wrong man to be running Iraq. Rather than protect him, it should use its leverage with the prime minister to demand the very reforms the protesters are demanding — and make American military and financial aid conditional on progress in achieving them. And if Mahdi is forced out by Parliament, the U.S. should allow the politics in Baghdad to play out to the satisfaction of Iraqis. American interests have never been more closely aligned with theirs. – Bloomberg

Bilal Wahab writes: Washington has limited means to shape events at this point, but it can still play a useful part by quietly advising the prime minister and other key leaders. Public messaging would be less useful. Instead, U.S. officials should privately but forcefully press Baghdad to exercise strict control over the security forces. The high number of casualties this week will only add to the government’s enormous trust deficit. One firm step in the right direction would be to announce punishments for any security personnel who ignore the prime minister’s orders for restraint, and to investigate the murders of activists involved in the Basra protests of summer 2018. – Washington Institute

Zvi Bar’el writes: For Iran, Iraq’s economic dependence is a double-edged sword. On one hand, it gives the Islamic Republic great influence over Iraqi politics. But on the other, this makes Iraqis view it as the source of their problems and not just economic ones. […]Iraq’s decision to abide by American sanctions on Iran even though it opposes them shows how detached Westerners are from reality when they view all Shi’ite groups as agents of Iran.- Haaretz 

Gulf States

Israel is working on an “historic” non-aggression pact with Arab Gulf states, Foreign Minister Israel Katz said on Sunday. – Bloomberg

The de facto ruler of the United Arab Emirates held talks with Saudi Arabia’s deputy defense minister in Abu Dhabi on Sunday on military and defense matters and regional security at a time of heightened tensions with common foe Iran. – Reuters

United Arab Emirates (UAE) telecoms company du saw no evidence of security concerns about Huawei’s 5G technology, the company’s chief technological officer Saleem Albalooshi told Reuters on Sunday. – Reuters

Hadeel Oueis writes: Though the American peace initiative seems on hold at the moment, there appears to be a new desire, especially in the Gulf, to end this historical conflict which has wreaked havoc and hampered development in the region. […]By openly discussing the mistakes of the past, and breaking social and cultural taboos once considered unbreakable, the Arab World may see a recontextualization of the Arab-Israeli conflict in line with other challenges in the region, which may open a way towards rapprochement and negotiations to reach peace. – Washington Institute

Korean Peninsula

President Trump’s hope of striking a landmark agreement to denuclearize North Korea suffered a setback this weekend when Pyongyang said it wouldn’t continue negotiations unless the U.S. makes a significant concession. – Wall Street Journal

North Korea on Sunday gave the Trump administration until the end of the year to change its approach to nuclear negotiations if it wants the talks to continue. – Washington Post

Twenty North Korean fishermen were thrown overboard after a large fishing trawler collided with a Japanese patrol ship on Monday, Japan’s public broadcaster NHK reported. – New York Times 

North Korea crossed a major threshold with its weapons program this past week when it test-fired a submarine-launched ballistic missile, military experts say. – The Hill


Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said Friday that China “will not interfere in the internal affairs of the U.S.,” after President Trump urged Beijing to probe his political rival Joe Biden amid an impeachment inquiry in Washington. – Washington Post

The women have found refuge from Chinese authorities across the border in Kazakhstan, their ancestral homeland. But they remain haunted by the stories of abuse they carry with them. […]The allegations come as China expands a years-long crackdown on its Muslim minority, which includes not only Uighurs but also Kazakhs and other ethnic groups. While the experiences described could not be independently verified, local rights groups and lawyers say they are common — and reveal a wider pattern of abuse directed specifically against women, aimed at curbing their ability to reproduce. – Washington Post

Chinese officials are signaling they’re increasingly reluctant to agree to a broad trade deal pursued by President Donald Trump, ahead of negotiations this week that have raised hopes of a potential truce. – Bloomberg

Donald Trump’s public call for China to investigate the Biden family has added further complexity to trade talks with Beijing, possibly jeopardising efforts to reach even a limited commercial ceasefire between the world’s largest economies. – Financial Times

Editorial: The U.S. wants to co-exist with China as a law-abiding global power. But China under President Xi Jinping shows every sign of wanting to overthrow the U.S.-led international system in the Pacific and impose economic mercantilism and its political dominance. […]The Taipei Act is a useful response to Chinese behavior and a demonstration that a bipartisan coalition stands behind U.S. allies in the Asia-Pacific. – Wall Street Journal

Tom Rogan writes: China is challenging the American-guaranteed order at every level. And China is trying to prevent the freedom of sea transit through vast swathes of international waters. The U.S. Navy, albeit imperfect, is the necessary cornerstone against China’s success in these efforts. But it’s not enough to sail, dive, and fly in defense of our interests. It’s necessary to show China that we’re ready to fight and win. That’s what this exercise does. – Washington Examiner

Samuel Bendett and Elsa B. Kania write: Nonetheless, this technological partnership could prove consequential for Chinese and Russian ambitions to promote and sustain indigenous innovation. The United States should track the trajectory of China-Russia tech collaborations to mitigate the risks of technological surprise and ensure early warning of future developments. – Defense One

South Asia

U.S. Sen. Chris Van Hollen said he was refused permission to visit Kashmir on his trip to India this week as the Indian government’s clampdown in the restive region enters its third month. – Washington Post

Increasing civilian deaths in stepped-up U.S. airstrikes and operations by Afghan forces highlight the conundrum the U.S. military and its Afghan allies face, 18 years into the war: How to hunt down their Islamic State group and Taliban enemies, while keeping civilians safe and on their side. – Associated Press

Defense Secretary Mark Esper has said that U.S. has increased its attacks on the Taliban since peace talks were canceled last month. – The Hill

A grenade attack on Saturday in Kashmir’s southern city of Anantnag injured 10 people, including a traffic policeman and a journalist, police said on Twitter, blaming “terrorists”. – Reuters


The government’s first use of emergency powers in half a century failed to stop violence and vandalism flaring across the city, leaving officials with the choice of introducing more extreme measures to win back the streets or risking intervention from Beijing. – Wall Street Journal

The National Basketball Association scrambled late Sunday to contain an escalating crisis in China after a Houston Rockets executive’s tweets supporting pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong sparked an international furor. – Wall Street Journal

The United Nations human rights chief called on Saturday for an independent probe into the violence during anti-government protests in Hong Kong, saying the injuries were alarming. – Reuters

Australia will help the Solomon Islands build a border and patrol boat outpost, the prime ministers of the two countries said on Monday, as they hailed their security cooperation and friendship. – Reuters

Editorial: The overwhelming majority of Hong Kongers have behaved in a lawful and orderly way, but the government’s contempt for its own people is convincing growing numbers that peaceful protest won’t yield the autonomy they were promised. That is a dangerous turn because violence and vandalism will undermine the moral authority of the protest movement. The ultimate responsibility still lies with Ms. Lam and her masters in Beijing whose decisions created the chaos now engulfing Hong Kong. – Wall Street Journal

Editorial: President Trump, waging a trade war with China, has been equivocal about Hong Kong, saying he does not want to interfere but also reminding China that it promised to “protect Hong Kong’s freedom, legal system and democratic ways of life.” Congress ought to send a stronger message by approving legislation requiring a review of whether Hong Kong is sufficiently autonomous from China to deserve its current special economic and legal treatment from the United States. Ms. Lam’s emergency ordinance adds to the growing evidence that China’s authoritarian leaders are liquidating Hong Kong’s cherished principles. – Washington Post

Alan Leong Kah-kit writes: Legislators from the democratic camp have started a legal battle challenging Mrs. Lam’s ordinance and are asking that it be reviewed judicially. The High Court refused this weekend to order an interim injunction to stop the ban from taking immediate effect but has said that the case could be heard in full before the end of October. We already knew that “One Country, Two Systems” was dying; now we know that the rule of law is dying too. – New York Times

Tom Rogan writes: Were Trump to publicly support Hongkongers he would be seen by Xi and the Standing Committee as making a direct personal challenge to Xi’s leadership. The great risk is that Xi would then alter his strategic equation. At present, Xi is reluctant to deploy the military in fear that doing so will greatly damage China’s global relationships. But if Trump speaks up, Xi may see himself facing his defining moment of truth: whether he can withstand American pressure. […]But unless and until Xi sends in the military, there is a good case for Trump to remain quiet. – Washington Examiner

Jamil Anderlini writes: The calculus of Communist rule does not allow for concessions to unruly provinces. If President Xi Jinping were to compromise and grant Hong Kong the right to vote for its leaders then what about Shanghai or Shenzhen? If he does not harshly punish the territory then the rest of the nation and his many political enemies would smell weakness, rather than applaud his restraint. […]Faced with a Mandarin-speaking occupying army from the north, many officers would choose to join the rebellion. This scenario would rob Beijing of the luxury to choose when and how it punishes the city. But vengeance is coming. – Financial Times


The United States is embroiled in an impeachment inquiry, Ukraine is scrambling to keep out of the fray — and then there is Russia, surveying it all with barely concealed satisfaction. If any country stands to gain from the developing turmoil, analysts and politicians in Kiev say, it is Russia. And they expect President Vladimir Putin’s government to exploit every opportunity it can find. – Washington Post

President Trump has spoken privately with Russia’s Vladimir Putin at least 16 times since he entered office in 2017. These conversations have long been the subject of scrutiny and speculation, given the Kremlin’s interference in the election that brought Trump to power. – Washington Post

The Russian embassy in the United States has sent a note of protest to the U.S. State Department over FBI questioning of a Russian lawmaker in a New York airport overnight. – Reuters

French and German attempts to end the conflict in east Ukraine risk increasing tensions that were already rising in the European Union over how to handle Russia and which could complicate peace efforts. – Reuters

Molly K. McKew writes: The biggest beneficiary of this latest Trump-derived scandal is the Kremlin. This isn’t some theoretical future calculus. It has an immediate impact on U.S. security and our strategic outlook. And it enhances the ability of the Kremlin to keep stirring chaos inside the United States. – Politico

Dylan Meisner writes: As long as Russia has territorial ambitions to push and expand their borders west or south, the muscles of NATO must be continually flexed in warning of what is to come if they try to follow through. – Washington Examiner


Thousands protested across Ukraine against President Volodymyr Zelensky’s efforts to end a five-year conflict with Russia, adding a domestic challenge to a novice leader who is also trying to contain fallout from his phone call with President Trump. – Wall Street Journal

Ukraine’s new chief prosecutor, who has promised to root out corruption and political favoritism in his office, said Friday that his staff will review all previous cases concerning a gas company at the heart of the impeachment inquiry into President Trump’s dealings with Ukraine. – Washington Post

Former Italian prime minister Matteo Renzi on Friday threatened to sue a onetime campaign aide to President Trump who claimed that Renzi was part of a scheme, allegedly orchestrated by President Barack Obama, to undermine Trump’s candidacy in 2016. – Washington Post

But in the unmitigated chaos of Brexit, Jeremy Corbyn, the opposition Labour leader, is trying to remint himself as a safe pair of hands, and an unlikely salve to jittery British markets panicked by Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s plans for an abrupt split with the European Union. – New York Times

The U.K. prime minister’s plan makes that a possibility. It calls for the U.K., Northern Ireland included, to exit the European Union’s common customs area in around two years. Northern Ireland would also continue to follow EU regulations covering food and industrial goods—even if the rest of the U.K. gets rid of them. – Wall Street Journal

The U.K. government said in a submission to a Scottish court Friday that it would respect a law forcing it to request a three-month extension to the Brexit negotiations if a divorce deal isn’t reached with the European Union by Oct. 19, significantly reducing the chances that Britain will leave the bloc without a deal at the end of this month. – Wall Street Journal

Ministers have been warned that the UK’s efforts to strike a US trade deal after Brexit could “severely limit” Britain’s ability to negotiate an equivalent agreement with the EU, according to a leaked government paper. – Financial Times

Thousands of people gathered in Kiev’s main square on Sunday to protest against President Volodymyr Zelenskiy’s deal with Moscow to grant autonomy to Ukraine’s pro-Russian rebel-held east as part of efforts to end a five-year conflict there. – Reuters

Kosovo’s opposition parties won an early general election, signaling a turn away from politicians who rose to prominence as guerrilla fighters against neighboring Serbia in the 1990s. With a shared legacy of war holding up European Union membership for both sides, Sunday’s ballot marked a defeat for outgoing Prime Minister Ramush Haradinaj, who resigned in July to face interrogation by a war crimes tribunal.  – Bloomberg

Britain’s Boris Johnson urged French President Emanuel Macron on Sunday to “push forward” to secure a Brexit deal and told him the EU should not be lured into the mistaken belief that the UK would stay in the EU after Oct.31, the prime minister’s office said. – Reuters

For French winegrowers in the Burgundy region, the new 25-percent US tariffs are leaving a bitter taste on the palate. But like it or not, they are caught up in a trade war they feel has nothing to do with them. – Agence France-Presse

The United States and Greece on Saturday signed a revised defense cooperation pact, which Americans officials described as critical to responding to new security challenges in the eastern Mediterranean Sea. – Associated Press


A U.N. peacekeeper was killed and four others wounded on Sunday when their vehicle hit an explosive device in northern Mali, the U.N. mission (MINUSMA) said. – Reuters

Saudi Arabia is working to remove Sudan from the United States’ list of state sponsors of terrorism, a Saudi foreign ministry tweet said on Sunday. – Reuters

Twenty people were killed in an attack by suspected jihadists on a gold-mining site in northern Burkina Faso on Friday, two sources said. – Reuters

Egypt said on Saturday that talks with Sudan and Ethiopia over the operation of a $4 billion hydropower dam that Ethiopia is constructing on the Nile have reached a deadlock, and it called for international mediation. – Reuters

Latin America

The Venezuelan ambassador to Japan says his bank account has become inaccessible in Japan in what he said was apparently a consequence of President Donald Trump’s decision to freeze Venezuelan assets in the United States. – Associated Press 

Russian Deputy Prime Minister Yuri Borisov met Venezuela’s President Nicolas Maduro on Saturday to underline Moscow’s support for the leftist leader that has helped him stay in power despite intense Western pressure to quit. – Reuters

A flotilla of shipments from Venezuela gave Cuba some respite this week from crippling fuel shortages in the wake of tougher U.S. sanctions, while Russia’s prime minister pledged during a visit to the island on Friday to help develop its energy sector. – Reuters

Joseph M. Humire and Christina Armes write: If President Trump and a majority of Latin American leaders desire an end to Maduro’s government in Venezuela, they must challenge his source of support: a state and non-state network of external actors in Latin America.  – The Hill


Microsoft Corp. said Friday that at least one U.S. presidential campaign has been targeted by cyberattacks linked to the Iranian government, in the latest indication that foreign actors are interested in potentially disrupting the 2020 election. – Wall Street Journal

EU antitrust enforcer Margrethe Vestager will signal a further clampdown on US technology giants this month by imposing an interim order to force chipmaker Broadcom to cease alleged anti-competitive practices even before a full probe into its conduct ends. – Financial Times

As the U.S. warned allies around the world that Chinese tech giant Huawei was a security threat, the FBI was making the same point quietly to a Midwestern university. – Associated Press

The Navy wants commanders to use a 2017 law as a way to take more responsibility for cybersecurity under their purview as a way to help save millions of dollars in time and money. – Fifth Domain

The Federal Bureau of Investigation released an alert Oct. 2 warning how ransomware attacks threaten U.S. businesses as the data encryption attacks continue to ravage cities, schools and hospitals across the United States. – Fifth Domain


As USS Wasp (LHD-1) rounds the horn from the Pacific to the Atlantic Ocean, the commander of U.S. Southern Command plans to use the big-deck amphibious warship for as much training as possible. – USNI News

The Army has disqualified Raytheon and Rheinmetall’s bid for the Optionally Manned Fighting Vehicle prototype competition, Defense News has learned. – Defense News

What if artificial intelligence and machine learning could automate and accelerate damage assessments taken from satellite imagery in the aftermath of a natural disaster? That’s the question the Defense Innovation Unit is asking experts with it’s xView2 Challenge. – C4ISRNET

The secretary of the Army announced an advanced manufacturing policy this week that looks to use technologies like 3D-printing, robotics, artificial intelligence and composite materials to change everything from how soldiers fix equipment in the field, to how much their weapon systems weigh. – Army Times

Long War

The police employee who stabbed to death four colleagues in a suspected terrorist attack at Paris police headquarters on Thursday appeared to have calmly planned his assault and been in contact with people tied to the Salafist fundamentalist movement of Islam, France’s antiterrorist prosecutor said Saturday. – Wall Street Journal

French authorities say a recent convert to Islam who worked in intelligence at the Paris police headquarters killed four of his colleagues in an assault Thursday that they are now investigating as a possible terrorist attack. – Wall Street Journal

Spanish police said on Saturday they had arrested a 23-year-old man on suspicion of belonging to the Islamic State (IS) militant group, adding that a search of his home found explosive-making chemicals and a list of targets. – Reuters

France is to review how its intelligence services identify signs of radicalisation among officers after a knife attacker killed four of his colleagues at Paris police headquarters. – Financial Times

Anthony H. Cordesman writes: This analysis does not attempt to simplify the range of factors involved or to find a single set of main causes of extremism, terrorism, and insurgency. It does not attempt to offer simply or optimistic answers to problems that need far more in-depth analysis, and where it may be impossible to find truly workable solutions until a given state is finally driven to the point where it is ready to help itself. In the real world, the only practical choice may be to contain the threats in a given country to its own territory – a form of strategic triage that must give priority to countries that are actually willing to address their civil challenges and have the unity to act. – Center for Strategic and International Studies

Trump Administration

Two weeks after national elections in April vaulted him from the role of television comic to Ukrainian president, Volodymyr Zelensky got word that President Trump’s personal lawyer wanted to come to Kyiv to talk. – Wall Street Journal

A Republican senator said he was told by an American diplomat in August that the release of U.S. aid to Ukraine was contingent on an investigation desired by President Trump and his allies, but Mr. Trump denied pursuing any such proposal when the lawmaker pressed him on it.- Wall Street Journal

Attorney General William Barr is sparking discord in several foreign capitals, going outside usual channels to seek help from allies in reviewing the origins of a U.S. counterintelligence investigation begun during the 2016 presidential campaign. – Wall Street Journal

Attorney General William P. Barr has taken an interest in a mysterious European professor whose conversation with an adviser to President Trump’s 2016 campaign helped launch the FBI investigation into possible coordination with Russia — and who has since become the focal point of an unproven conservative theory that the entire inquiry was a setup, people familiar with the matter said. – Washington Post

An attorney has said that a second whistleblower has come forward to speak with the intelligence community inspector general about President Trump’s dealings with Ukraine, including issues surrounding a controversial July 25 phone call between Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. – Washington Examiner

President Donald Trump has ordered a substantial reduction in the staff of the National Security Council, according to five people familiar with the plans, as the White House confronts an impeachment inquiry touched off by a whistle-blower complaint related to the agency’s work. – Bloomberg