Fdd's overnight brief

October 7, 2022

In The News


The death of a 16-year-old girl during Iran’s ongoing anti-government protests — and the apparent attempt by authorities to cover it up — has given demonstrators another rallying cry. – Washington Post 

Protests in Iran over the death of a 22-year-old woman detained by the country’s morality police have stretched into a third week, even after authorities disrupted the internet, deployed riot troops and attacked perceived enemies abroad. – Associated Press 

Iran on Thursday published video showing two detained French citizens purportedly confessing to acting on behalf of a French security service. The scenes were published amid ongoing protests roiling the country that Tehran has sought to describe as a foreign plot instead of local anger over the death of a 22-year-old detained by the country’s morality police. – Associated Press 

The United States has imposed sanctions on seven high-ranking Iranian officials over the shutdown of Internet access in the country and the “continued violence against peaceful protesters” following the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini after her arrest by the morality police. – Reuters 

Amnesty International said dozens have been killed by Iranian security forces in the city of Zahedan in the southeastern Sistan-Baluchistan province as unrest across Iran continues to build. – Radio Free Europe/ Radio Liberty 

Azadeh Moaveni writes: What is certain is that morality policing will forever be tainted with the death of Mahsa Amini, viewed as an offense to public honor rather than its defender. Thirteen-year-old schoolgirls have already experienced the power of collective protest — even if the system cracks down with the brute force of which it is so capable, and even if the protests dwindle, and even if no one has a clue as to who or what might be an alternative or how to get there. – New York Times 

Mehdi Khalaji writes: Apps do provide an effective way for powerless people to raise their voices and cast off the ideological “flatness” imposed by a totalitarian regime like the Islamic Republic. They are also an efficient tool for networking and organizing civil and political movements. At the end of the day, however, the real public sphere is essential to determining whether a people’s impulse toward democratization can survive and develop. In that sense, Iranians may still have a long way to go before they can cast off the monopoly of their totalitarian system. – Washington Institute 

Henry Rome writes: Whatever the case, U.S. policymakers should be cautious about reading too much into the Namazi situation as a signal of Iran’s commitment to the nuclear deal. At this point, the decision could be read either way. On one hand, a prisoner swap was already envisioned as a key part of reimplementing the JCPOA, so by preempting that step, Tehran could be signaling that it will not go through with full implementation anytime soon. On the other hand, Iran may believe that a “humanitarian gesture” was the best way of unsticking the negotiations or, at least, limiting the chances of a complete breakdown. – Washington Institute 

Nicholas Carl, Kitaneh Fitzpatrick, Zachary Coles, and Frederick W. Kagan write: Iran may attack the US, Israeli, and/or Saudi targets in retaliation for the role Iranian officials claim those countries have played in stoking the ongoing, anti-regime protests. This assessment is based on rhetoric from Iranian military leaders on October 6. Senior Iranian military officers released a statement accusing the US, Israel, and Saudi Arabia of coopting and stoking the protests and vowed to retaliate. The content and nature of the statement suggests that the heads of each major military and security body approved its release. – Institute for the Study of War 

Claire Jungman and Jerry Canto write: A large share of the Iranian regime’s military budget is earmarked for its terror proxy networks. Oil export revenue spikes therefore translate into the growth of money allocated to Iranian terror proxies, which in turn has led to an increase in attacks by these proxies. This result is a direct threat to our national security interests, as well as those of our partners and allies in the region. Yet, there is no reason for Iran to scale back these activities. Iran’s proxies and military—let alone its nuclear and ballistic missile program—directly benefit from sanctions relief. – United Against Nuclear Iran

Russia & Ukraine

Two Russian nationals fleeing President Vladimir Putin’s call-up of military reservists landed by boat on a remote Alaskan island in the Bering Sea and are seeking asylum in the United States, the state’s two senators and U.S. government officials said Thursday. – Washington Post 

 Putin has said Russia will not lose in Ukraine. But multiple battlefield defeats and national fury over a botched military mobilization have broken a taboo in Moscow on discussions about what would happen if Putin did lose — not just the war, but his seeming bid to be leader-for-life, according to four members of Russia’s business elite. Kremlin-watchers, in and out of the capital, are asking: Who might come next? – Washington Post 

 Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu faced intensifying political pressure Thursday over a series of disorderly retreats in Ukraine, as powerful nationalist figures openly attacked Moscow’s military command for setbacks in areas President Vladimir Putin claims to have annexed. – Washington Post 

 President Biden warned on Thursday that Russian President Vladimir Putin’s threats to use nuclear weapons amounted to the most serious “prospect of Armageddon” in 60 years. – Washington Post 

Samantha Power, head of the U.S. Agency for International Development, visited Kyiv on Thursday and highlighted American funding for efforts to rebuild Ukrainian infrastructure, resurrect a damaged economy and other initiatives designed to blunt the effects of a punishing war with Russia. – Washington Post 

Russia’s floundering invasion of Ukraine has produced an extraordinary barrage of criticism from supporters of the war in recent days, directed primarily at the leadership of the Russian military. The outpouring of discontent is creating a new challenge to President Vladimir V. Putin, who, after cracking down on Russia’s liberal opposition, now faces growing dissent in his own camp. – New York Times 

The director of the United Nations’ nuclear watchdog on Thursday said that he did not recognize Russia’s claims to control the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant, Europe’s largest, a day after the Kremlin’s announced that it would “nationalize” the plant and put it under Russia’s control. – New York Times 

Flush with recent battlefield successes, Ukrainian officials are pressing their case for acquiring longer-range missiles to strike deeper into Russian-held territory, including Crimea, raising questions about how aggressively the Biden administration will support Kyiv’s war aims. – Wall Street Journal 

The head of the United Nations’ nuclear agency warned on Thursday that staff at Europe’s largest nuclear-power plant are under increasing pressure after Russian authorities attempted this week to deepen their control over the plant, posing a heightened safety risk. – Wall Street Journal 

A Russian-installed official in Ukraine on Thursday suggested President Vladimir Putin’s defence minister should consider killing himself due to the shame of the defeats in the Ukraine war, an astonishing public insult to Russia’s top brass. – Reuters 

 Russian President Vladimir Putin on Thursday said that consumer demand remained weak and that he expected sanctions pressure on the Russian economy to intensify, in televised remarks from a meeting with government officials. – Reuters 

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said on Thursday that his country’s military has retaken hundreds of square kilometers of territory and dozens of settlements in the southern Kherson region after Russia announced the annexation of the area at the end of September. – The Hill 

Despite a string of recent defeats that have led Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to declare that Russia has “already lost” the war, Russian President Vladimir Putin does not seem to be in need of an exit strategy, according to one of his former advisers. – Newsweek 

 A former Russian commander said that the reason Moscow has seen a series of military failures in Ukraine is because Russian President Vladimir Putin has been misled by lies that have impaired his decision-making on the battlefield. – Newsweek 

Half of Russia’s Iranian-made drones have been destroyed by Ukrainian military forces, the Ukrainian Ministry of Defense said Thursday. – Newsweek 

A representative from Ukraine’s Ministry of Defense (GUR) announced that thousands of phone calls have been made by Russian forces declaring the surrender to the ministry since the hotline debuted a few weeks ago, the GUR representative announced on an interview with TV channel “FREEDOM” on Monday. – Jerusalem Post 

 Editorial: The plight of Russians seeking to avoid the battlefield pales in comparison to the suffering Putin has inflicted on the people of Ukraine. Yet giving more Russians a way out erodes Putin’s ability to prosecute his assault. The West should make the most of it. – Bloomberg 

Jason Willick writes: What about America’s relationship with Taiwan? Like Russia in Ukraine, Beijing would surely try nuclear blackmail in a war over the island. Yet China is a greater strategic threat to U.S. strategic interests than Russia is, and the fall of Taiwan would jeopardize the United States’ alliance structure in the Pacific. The decision not to fight in Europe doesn’t lock Washington into any course in Asia. Better to build deterrence through military investments that convince China the United States would prevail in a conventional war. – Washington Post 

 Peter R. Orszag and Theodore Bunzel  write: The bottom line is that, at a moment when economic clouds are darkening, we need to avoid an unnecessary oil supply shock. Europe is heading into a tough winter, with sky-high gas and electricity prices and a looming recession. Even if it seems distasteful, finding a way to keep Russian oil flowing — but at a reduced price — could prove essential to fortifying Western unity and support for Ukraine. The proposed price cap is the best option we have. – Washington Post 

Walter Russell Mead writes: If Mr. Biden is sure of himself, he must build an ironclad coalition at home and abroad behind those threats. Rather than playing down the danger, he needs to dramatize it. Making a prime-time speech to the country, addressing a joint session of Congress, holding an emergency NATO summit—these can all demonstrate Mr. Biden’s commitment to respond with overwhelming force to Russian nuclear attacks. – Wall Street Journal 

Lionel Laurent writes: At the core of Hollande’s reading of the buildup to war is a West that both emboldened Putin through weakness while also feeding his grievances regarding Russia’s loss of prestige. In one-on-one meetings, Hollande recalls Putin sketching out his view of NATO’s “encirclement” of Moscow. But the ex-French president thinks more relevant catalysts were a lack of Western resolve in showdowns with Putin ally Bashar al-Assad in Syria and by the messy NATO withdrawal from Afghanistan, combined with an increased pro-Western turn among citizens in ex-Soviet countries. – Bloomberg 

Joshua C. Huminski writes: The Soviet Union possessed a robust biological weapons program and there is little to suggest that Russia has done much, if anything, to dismantle its capabilities. Thus far, the threats from chemical or biological attacks have been limited to information warfare, but the West should neither rule these threats out nor fail to prepare for their possibility. As with the threat of nuclear arms, a low probability is still significant in and of itself given the potential high impact of said event. – The Hill 

Matthew R. Costlow writes: With Russian losses in Ukraine mounting and U.S. and European support for Ukraine solidifying, Putin may indeed decide to employ nuclear weapons — with or without warning. Until then, however, the United States and NATO must work together to dissuade Russia’s careless nuclear threats so that when the threat is real, the West will be ready for the Russian who cried “Wolf!” – The Hill 

Dominic Green writes: The Kissinger formula, a return to February’s status quo ante, remains the only sane and sensible option. For the U.S. to restore the Western alliance, Putin must be allowed to cover the failure of his military assets with a fig leaf of victory. The cost of containing Russia will be paid in Ukrainian territory, just as the Ukrainians have paid the cost of their freedom in lives. Zelensky will cry foul, but then, Zelensky wants Ukraine to join NATO now. That would prolong the war, draw the U.S. into direct conflict with Russia, and prevent the restoration of balance in Europe in a way that security guarantees to postwar Ukraine would not. – Washington Examiner 

Karolina Hird, Katherine Lawlor, Riley Bailey, George Barros, and Frederick W. Kagan write: Russia’s use of Iranian-made drones is not generating asymmetric effects the way the Ukrainian use of US-provided HIMARS systems has done and is unlikely to affect the course of the war significantly. The deputy chief of the Main Operational Department of the Ukrainian General Staff, Brigadier General Oleksiy Hromov, stated on October 6 that Russian forces have used a total of 86 Iranian Shahed-136 drones against Ukraine, 60% of which Ukrainian forces have already destroyed. – Institute for the Study of War 

Michael Horowitz writes: The fact that this — rather than the Russian army — is now considered by Putin and his aides as the best hope for its war of conquest says much about its actual chance of success. The Kherson offensive has shown that if the West sticks with Ukraine and remains cool-headed, victory is possible. As the saying goes, facts are stubborn. And no number of threatening words can cover up the reality that Russia has suffered a growing litany of actual military defeats. – Centre for European Policy Analysis 

Sean Monaghan writes: The attack on the Nord Stream pipelines, for which it appears Russia is likely responsible, is a wake-up call for NATO and Europe. It vividly demonstrates the vulnerability of critical infrastructure, the damage hybrid attacks can wreak, and the difficulty of preventing and responding to them. Now is the time for NATO allies to draw on their years of preparation against hybrid threats by taking decisive measures to prepare, deter, and defend against further attacks while doubling down on their support for Ukraine. – Center for Strategic and International Studies 

James Carafano writes: NATO is rightly supporting Ukraine’s self-defense against an unprovoked and savage Russian invasion. NATO has also demonstrated both the capability to expand the Alliance expeditiously when requirements for membership are met, as was the case with Finland and Sweden, and the willingness and resolve to defend NATO territory. Further, both “de jure” and “de facto,” NATO is not a party to the conflict between Ukraine and Russia, and introducing the Alliance into the war is not likely to deescalate the war—and could in fact draw the continent into further conflict. – Heritage Foundation  


A fire at a farm in a West Bank settlement on the night of Yom Kippur, which destroyed an estimated NIS 12 million ($3.4 million) worth of produce and equipment, is being investigated as an incident of deliberate arson. – Times of Israel 

Israel has accused Lebanon of seeking “substantial changes” to a proposed US-brokered deal on the two countries’ maritime border, throwing into doubt hopes of an imminent resolution of the long-running dispute. – Financial Times   

Editorial: We are a strong nation and must be respected. Lebanon should not think it can throw endless small hurdles up just before the deal is agreed to. Israel does not need to give away more to Lebanon and let Lebanon spurn us and treat us like we are a “Zionist entity” and not a country. For too long, Israel was rejected in the region, but today we have good friends from Morocco to the United Arab Emirates. – Jerusalem Post 

Yaakov Katz writes: What does need to change, however, is the way this deal is being viewed. It is not an economic deal but rather, one that has much more to do with diplomacy and security. Just like Israel enabled the transfer of tens of millions of dollars to Hamas to gain a bit of calm, Israel is doing something similar with Lebanon. – Jerusalem Post 

Daniel Silverberg and Kirsten Fontenrose write: Critics might further argue that this deal empowers Hezbollah because gas revenues might ultimately find their way into Hezbollah coffers. However, unlike the Iran deal, Israel’s own leadership and security establishment views the benefits of the agreement well worth the risks, not least because changing Lebanon’s politics might have a greater chance if the country’s plummeting economy is stabilized by increased investment and revenue. – Foreign Policy 


Israel is preparing for a possible confrontation with Hezbollah after rejecting increased demands from Lebanon in maritime border talks on Thursday. Defense Minister Benny Gantz instructed the defense establishment “to prepare for any scenario in which tensions increase in the northern arena – including defense and offense readiness,” his office said. – Jerusalem Post 

Interior Minister Ayelet Shaked, chairwoman of the Jewish Home Party, told i24NEWS on Thursday that Israel must not give in to any threat from Hezbollah over the maritime border agreement between Lebanon and Israel. – Arutz Sheva 

The head of the Mossad spy service reportedly told government officials that the Hezbollah terror group would likely attempt a limited attack on Israeli-controlled installations in a disputed offshore gas field, as Jerusalem put troops in northern Israel on alert after a maritime border deal appeared to falter Thursday, sending tensions spiraling. – Times of Israel 


On the morning of 30 September, 20-year-old Mariam was scrambling to get to the Kaaj education centre, in Kabul’s Dasht-e-Barchi area, which is largely home to the city’s ethnic Hazara minority. – BBC 

Razia was expelled from her school in the southern Afghan province of Kandahar last month. The Taliban told the 14-year-old that she was “too old” to study. “I’m not alone,” she told RFE/RL’s Radio Azadi. “Many girls my age have been forced out of school.” – Radio Free Europe/ Radio Liberty

Trevor Filseth writes: Because of the difficulty of directly striking Taliban government institutions, most of ISIS-K’s attacks have been aimed at softer targets, particularly schools and community institutions belonging to the Hazara, an ethnoreligious group within Afghanistan that practices Shi’a Islam and is regarded as a heretical sect by ISIS-K. The attack on the interior ministry comes less than a week after a suicide attack on a Hazara school in Kabul, killing fifty-three people—the overwhelming majority of them young girls preparing for a college entrance examination. – The National Interest 


Turkey has appointed a new ambassador to Israel, the state-run news agency reported Thursday, in the latest step between the two countries’ efforts toward normalizing ties. – Associated Press 

The leaders of historic foes Turkey and Armenia on Thursday held their first face-to-face meeting since the two countries agreed to improve relations. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan met in Prague on the sidelines of a summit by the leaders of 44 countries to launch a “European Political Community” aimed at boosting security and economic prosperity across Europe. – Associated Press 

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Thursday said Greece should take his warnings seriously about Turkey’s response to any threats, resorting to the menacing rhetoric he’s used in recent months that’s prompted the US to urge the two NATO allies to negotiate and focus on the Russia threat. – Bloomberg


More than a decade after he fled to sanctuary in northern Iraq, Iranian Kurdish activist Sirvan Hassan can’t keep his eyes off news of the protests which have swept Iran over the death of young Kurdish woman Mahsa Amini in police custody last month. – Reuters 

Iraqi and Jordanian officials met this week in an effort to begin a new electrical interconnection project, which will help both countries overcome electricity shortages that harm Iraq’s economy. According to reports, the plan will be part of a larger project that is connected to the Gulf and to Egypt. – Jerusalem Post 

Firas Elias writes: As it stands, Iran is in no hurry as it awaits the outcome of the nuclear talks, likely with the knowledge that they can use the Iraq situation against the United States and its allies should the talks continue to falter. Political chaos in Iraq would lead to the halting of Iraqi oil flows to the global market, which would raise oil prices—providing Iran with the perfect opportunity to export large quantities of oil currently restricted under U.S. sanctions in order to satisfy global demand. Naturally, the United States fears this scenario could play out, especially as the Iraqi Shiites remain disjointed. – Washington Institute 

Saudi Arabia

Saudi Arabia’s decision to join its partners in announcing a cut to oil production on Wednesday is setting off fresh recriminations over President Biden’s trip to the kingdom this summer, which officials hoped would improve the Saudi relationship across a range of issues, including the global supply of oil. – Washington Post 

The United States is reviewing various options regarding its relationship with Saudi Arabia after Riyadh and other OPEC+ nations agreed this week to large cuts in oil production, Secretary of State Antony Blinken said on Thursday. – Reuters 

Editorial: Biden has humiliated America in many ways since taking office, beginning with his ignominious, disorderly, lethal rout in Afghanistan last September. That sign of American weakness was deadly in that it helped convince Putin he could safely invade Ukraine. But this repudiation by previously cooperative nations within OPEC may be the most personal snub Biden has suffered yet. – Washington Examiner 

Eugene Robinson writes: Biden could also attach conditions to future deliveries of arms and spare parts to the Saudis. One of those conditions should be full and transparent accountability for Khashoggi’s murder. His family still doesn’t even know where his remains are. Yes, these unsettled times require dealing with unsavory characters. But when one of them goes out of his way to hurt the United States, realpolitik means returning the favor. – Washington Post 

Bobby Ghosh writes: If the Saudis want a strictly transactional economic relationship, let it be just that. No more pretense of any kind of symbiotic relationship, no more feigned grace notes or awkward evasions about Saudi Arabia’s deplorable record on human rights. Instead, treat Saudi Arabia like many another country with which the US routinely does business, and reduce its diplomatic relationship accordingly — to the level of, say, Malaysia. Or maybe Brunei. That is more likely to sting the prideful prince than any empty bluster about “repercussions.” – Bloomberg 

Mark Gongloff writes: Poor Vladimir Putin. All he did was open Ukraine’s borders to Russia’s leading export (war crimes), and suddenly he’s less popular than Alan Dershowitz at Martha’s Vineyard. Last month he went all the way to Samarkand seeking love from supposed BFFs Xi and Modi, and even they snubbed him. – Bloomberg 

Middle East & North Africa

The U.S. military announced on Thursday that it had conducted two raids in Syria within a day of each other, killing two key ISIS targets and their associates. […] The operation against al-Umawi followed a Wednesday night helicopter raid in northeastern Syria, near the village of Qamishli, that targeted and killed Rakkan Wahid al-Shammri, as well as one other associate. – Washington Post 

A Hamas delegation will visit Syria later this month, two sources told Reuters on Thursday, in a move by the Palestinian Islamist group to rebuild ties after shunning President Bashar al-Assad for years over his violent crackdown on protests. – Reuters

Algeria has invited representatives of several Palestinian factions, including Fatah and Hamas, to another round of “national dialogue” in the capital Algiers next week. – Jerusalem Post 

Editorial: Western consumer nations have few short-term, supply-side, answers other than investing in further fossil fuel production that would run counter to their climate aims. The long-term answer to all the multiple energy and climate problems they now face is the same: to make real efforts, which have so far barely begun, to reduce oil demand — and to speed up the dash to sustainable, green sources. – Financial Times 

Seth J. Frantzman writes: Overall, the OPEC, US and Saudi controversy will impact the Middle East, as it could encourage closer Israeli partnerships with the Gulf and show that Jerusalem is a reliable partner of Washington at the same time. It could also embolden Russia, Iran and Turkey, which could lead to blowback in the region and instability in Syria or Iraq. – Jerusalem Post 

Korean Peninsula

North Korea sees its nuclear program as essential to regime survival, serving to deter a U.S.-led invasion. Decades of denuclearization talks, economic sanctions and diplomacy have done little to slow Pyongyang’s advance to becoming a self-declared nuclear state. – Wall Street Journal 

Kim Kang-woo had already made the treacherous journey across North Korea’s border into China. Now, he was about to do the unthinkable — smuggle himself back in. – Washington Post 

North Korea flew 12 warplanes near its border with South Korea on Thursday, prompting the South to scramble 30 military aircraft in response, Seoul officials said. The highly unusual incident came hours after North Korea fired two ballistic missiles into the sea in its sixth round of missile tests in less than two weeks. – Associated Press 

The nuclear-powered aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan launched a new round of naval drills with South Korean warships on Friday, a day after North Korea fired more ballistic missiles and flew warplanes in an escalation of tensions with its rivals. – Associated Press 

A drumbeat of increasingly powerful North Korean missile launches. A U.S. aircraft carrier floats off the Korean Peninsula. North Korean warplanes buzz the border with South Korea. Worldwide cries of condemnation and worry. – Associated Press 

North Korean missile tests this year are reportedly at an all-time high, representing a stark contrast to a period of slowed launches under former President Donald Trump’s administration. […] This onslaught of launches during the Biden administration followed a temporary period of seeming calm during Trump’s presidency. In 2018, when Trump was still in office, North Korea didn’t conduct any nuclear or missile tests, NBC reported. – Newsweek 

Victor Cha and Ellen Kim write: The United States is also expected to also ramp up exercises with allies to enhance extended deterrence. The U.S. aircraft carrier is set to participate in a new joint military exercise with South Korea and Japan starting October 6. North Korea could carry out a submarine-launched ballistic missile (SLBM) or an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) or the 7th nuclear test. – Center for Strategic and International Studies 

Peter Huessy writes: China is really the center of East Asia’s nuclear puzzle. Beijing thinks it can wear the United States down and jettison U.S. forces from the Western Pacific starting with the Korean Peninsula—an outcome that has been pushed by American isolationists. But without the U.S. presence, the Western Pacific and Indian subcontinent will become a Chinese-controlled lake, with 5 billion people and $60 trillion in GDP falling under Chinese hegemonic control. This is not in the U.S. national interest. – The National Interest 

Michael Mazza writes: There will no doubt be more rage to come from Beijing. As Beijing, Taipei, and Washington plod—or perhaps more accurately, stumble—toward a new modus vivendi, crises may mount in number and intensity. With the “one China” framework past its expiration date and nothing primed to replace it, this is a particularly dangerous period. Unless all three parties accept that a new arrangement is both necessary and feasible, danger may breed disaster. – Foreign Policy 


The United Nations Human Rights Council voted down a Western-led proposal to formally discuss China’s alleged rights abuses in Xinjiang, boosting Beijing’s efforts to counter international criticism of its policies in the frontier region. – Wall Street Journal 

On a September morning at Scientia Secondary School in Hong Kong, the opening bugle call of the Chinese national anthem silenced student chatter in the assembly hall. Eyes ahead, five uniformed students marched onstage to raise and salute the red and gold national flag. – Washington Post

Fareed Zakaria writes: The problem for Xi is that he is steering China on a very dangerous path. The state is now dominating the economy again and growth has slowed considerably. Enterprising Chinese businessmen are moving to Singapore and elsewhere. Areas of Chinese society that were once lively and innovative are closing down. Meanwhile, international hostility toward Xi’s expansionism is growing. Pei points out that the neo-Stalinist model bottles up all the forces of change, leaving only one door open — revolution. – Washington Post 

Clara Ferreira Marques writes: A warning is not a prediction. China has always seen cautionary lessons in Russia, and the changes that emerge over the coming weeks will provide a clearer hint of the future. But anyone still planning for a repeat of the past decade as Xi starts the next one, should buckle up. – Bloomberg 

Lianchao Han and Bradley A. Thayer write: The Chinese people could be the greatest ally of the United States in its fight against the CCP, and their support will be more effective the greater the voice they possess. As the start of the 20th Party Congress approaches, the U.S. should exploit the CCP’s vulnerability by helping the Chinese people to envision freedom and overcome authoritarian rule. – The Hill 

Tom Rogan writes: Out of the Human Rights Council’s Islamic-majority nations, only Somalia found the moral courage to vote for a debate. Again, we’re only talking about a debate here, not a censure resolution. Still, Indonesia, Kazakhstan, Mauritania, Pakistan, Qatar, Sudan, the United Arab Emirates, and Uzbekistan all voted against holding a debate. They have thus proved the shallow nature of their commitment to a defining Islamic principle: that of the Ummah, or global community of Islamic fellowship. – Washington Examiner 

Michael Barone writes: Both American political parties, as Hanania notes, have supported Ukraine against Russia and have signaled support for Taiwan against invasion by China. U.S. aid, doled out sparingly by the Biden administration, has at least marginally helped Ukraine, and U.S. support may be deterring China from invading Taiwan. But the bulk of damage to Russian and Chinese revisionist ambitions has been self-inflicted and serious enough to make 2022 look like a hinge year in history. – Washington Examiner 

John J. Hamre writes: There has been considerable criticism of President Biden for changing the United States’ policy of strategic ambiguity—which is a misunderstanding of the United States’ historic posture. The United States has been quite consistent, and President Biden has not changed anything. The unspoken dimension of this policy is also clear: If China starts a war against Taiwan, the United States is with Taiwan. If Taiwan starts the conflict, it is on its own. Here too, there is no ambiguity. – Center for Strategic and International Studies 

Kris Osborn writes: Although much is still not known about China’s new H-20 stealth bomber platform, its existence was cited in the Pentagon’s 2018 and 2019 “China Military Power” reports. The 2019 report specifies that the new H-20 will likely have a range of “at least 8,500km” and “employ both conventional and nuclear weaponry.” – The National Interest 


A massive barrage of tear gas munitions fired by Indonesian police at soccer fans prompted the fatal crush in Malang last weekend that left at least 130 people dead, a Washington Post investigation shows. – Washington Post 

 Taiwan, taking its cue from Ukraine, is set to begin accepting proposals to build a backup satellite internet network as soon as this month, the island’s digital minister, Audrey Tang, told The Washington Post. – Washington Post 

 A former police officer attacked a day-care center in northeastern Thailand with a pistol and a knife Thursday, in a rampage that left at least 36 people dead — at least 24 of them children, according to police. – Washington Post 

 A superyacht connected to Russian tycoon Alexey Mordashov has anchored in Hong Kong this week amid moves by Western governments to seize yachts connected to sanctioned Russian businessmen. – Associated Press 

EU lawmakers on Thursday condemned the crackdown on media freedom in military-ruled Myanmar and called for the release of “every unfairly detained journalist.” Since the military seized power in February last year, it has forced at least 12 media outlets to shut down and arrested about 142 journalists, 57 of whom remain detained. – Associated Press 

The Solomon Islands prime minister assured Australia on Thursday that he would not “endanger his country” by allowing China to establish a naval base in the South Pacific. – Associated Press 

Sri Lanka’s president said Thursday his government has started debt restructuring discussions with China, an important step toward finalizing an International Monetary Fund rescue of the island nation from a severe economic crisis. President Ranil Wickremesinghe told Parliament on Thursday that initial talks will continue after China’s Communist Party congress, which begins Oct. 16. – Associated Press 

The European Council on Friday said Armenia and Azerbaijan have agreed to a civilian EU mission alongside the countries’ border, where the worst fighting between the two ex-Soviet states since 2020 killed more than 200 people late last month. – Reuters


When French President Emmanuel Macron proposed the idea of a “European Political Community,” bridging the European Union and an outer circle of like-minded democracies, he was met with skepticism. Ukrainian leaders said they wanted full E.U. membership and not second-class status. – Washington Post 

European economists worried about a heightened risk of recession and a bolstered Russia on Thursday, after OPEC Plus, the coalition of oil-producing nations led by Russia and Saudi Arabia, announced that it will slash oil production by 2 million barrels per day. – Washington Post 

 A Swedish investigation into explosions that damaged the Nord Stream pipelines, which convey gas from Russia to Europe, found evidence of sabotage, Sweden’s Security Service announced Thursday. The Kremlin rejected the findings. – Washington Post 

After years of tension, the U.K. is adopting a new strategy toward its European Union neighbors: making nice. In the years following the Brexit vote in 2016, tussling with the EU was seen as a rite of passage for any Conservative Party leader. But in recent weeks, new Prime Minister Liz Truss has led a shift that has taken the bloc, and many Conservatives, by surprise. – Washington Post 

The European Union on Thursday formally adopted its eighth package of sanctions against Russia since Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine, targeting some $7 billion of trade with the country and laying the groundwork for a complex price cap on Russian oil exports. – New York Times 

Norway’s government decided to tighten controls for Russian fishing ships, allowing them to only call at three ports where the vessels will be subjected to thorough checks. – Bloomberg 

Joseph C. Sternberg writes: Don’t hold your breath for this debate to lead to German fracking any time soon. Opinion polling over the summer found only 27% of respondents supported fracking, compared with 81% support for more wind and 61% support for burning more coal as solutions to Germany’s looming energy crisis. – Wall Street Journal 

Andreas Kluth writes: Confusing price with an underlying shortage — in effect, shooting the messenger — is hardly a new phenomenon. One cause of the French Revolution was the soaring cost of bread; but it was as daft to blame price instead of the scarcity of grain as it was for Marie Antoinette to (allegedly) suggest that the mob eat cake. The same applies to rent controls in cities such as Berlin, which may lead to cheap housing for some but also none at all for many others. – Bloomberg 


More than 50 Sudanese pro-democracy groups have agreed on a new draft constitution, in one of the largest shows of unity from the country’s opposition since the 2019 popular uprising. The document, signed Wednesday evening, is meant to put the country back on the path to democracy and remove the military from power, according to group leaders. – Associated Press 

The United States accused Russian mercenaries on Thursday of exploiting natural resources in the Central African Republic, Mali, Sudan and elsewhere to help fund Moscow’s war in Ukraine, a charge Russia rejected as “anti-Russian rage.” – Reuters 

Thousands of voters in Lesotho are casting their ballots in the country’s general elections. The elections are a tight race between the top three parties out of a field of more than 60 registered political parties. – Associated Press 

The Americas

As the Biden administration looks at relaxing sanctions to allow Chevron Corp. to pump oil in Venezuela again, the company is preparing to navigate myriad challenges in the country that could limit its ability to increase production quickly. – Wall Street Journal  

The US is willing to reconsider Venezuela sanctions only if President Nicolas Maduro takes “constructive steps” to restore democracy, Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Thursday, reiterating that he’s seen no such progress so far. – Bloomberg 

Venezuela’s opposition suffered a rebuff Thursday as 19 members of the Organization of American States backed a proposal to remove its envoy from the regional forum for political and economic issues. – Associated Press 

A judge in Argentina has launched a criminal investigation into Nicaragua’s President Daniel Ortega and Vice President Rosario María Murillo to determine whether they are responsible for crimes against humanity. – Associated Press 

Editorial: Amid a war in Europe, a global energy crisis, and a risk of a global recession, a serious U.S. Administration would do everything in its power to encourage more domestic energy production. This Administration would rather make America more dependent on the “constructive steps” of dictators. – Wall Street Journal

North America

Canadian police said Thursday that they now believe one man, Myles Sanderson, did all the killing in the mass stabbing that shook rural Saskatchewan last month, including that of his brother, Damien, whom police had previously identified as a suspect. – Washington Post 

 Advocates told Canada’s top court on Thursday that a nearly 20-year-old deal under which Canada and the United States share responsibility for migrants in need of protection should be struck down because the United States is not a safe destination for asylum seekers. – Washington Post 

A drug gang shot to death 20 people, including a mayor and his father, in the mountains of the southern Mexico state of Guerrero, officials said Thursday. – Associated Press


A major hack targeting Mexico’s Defense Ministry has shed light on the country’s most secretive and powerful institution, documenting its expanding influence over the civilian government, attempts to evade cooperation on a landmark human rights investigation and spying on journalists using the spyware known as Pegasus. – New York Times 

A Delaware judge has granted Elon Musk’s request to put his legal battle with Twitter on hold until the end of the month in order to allow time to close the billionaire’s proposed $44bn buyout of the social media company. – Financial Times 

 Australian Federal Police (AFP) arrested a 19-year-old man in Sydney for allegedly extorting victims of the recent Optus hack. The teen, who wasn’t identified by name, is accused of using some of the 10,200 stolen Optus records posted online to blackmail customers of the breached telecommunications firm. AFP said the man sent text messages to at least 93 victims demanding that they transfer $2,000 to a bank account or have their personal information used for financial crimes. – The Record 

Hundreds of cybersecurity incident responders said ransomware attacks are having a dramatic effect on their mental health, according to a survey from IBM and Morning Consult. – The Record 


The State Department has approved a potential foreign military sale to Kuwait of surface-to-air missiles and other equipment built mainly by Raytheon Technologies Corp., a deal valued at about $3 billion that the US says would help secure energy infrastructure in the Persian Gulf. – Bloomberg 

The U.S Defense Department added more Chinese companies, including drone maker DJI Technology and surveillance equipment maker Zhejiang Dahua Technology (002236.SZ), to a blacklist that subjects them to an investment ban for Americans. – Reuters 

A trio of Democratic lawmakers wants to pull all U.S. troops out of Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates after an alliance of oil-producing countries announced it was slashing production, a move which is expected to drive up U.S. gas prices. – Military.com 

The State Department on Thursday approved a $3 billion medium-range missile defense system sale for Kuwait. The move paves the way for Kuwait to get the National Advanced Surface-to-Air Missile System, or NASAMS. – Defense News 

With competition to field the U.S. Army’s light robotic combat vehicle starting in the third quarter of 2023, the project’s programmers are working on new testing and evaluation criteria to certify the technology. – Defense News