Fdd's overnight brief

October 9, 2020

In The News


The Trump administration on Thursday imposed a new round of economic sanctions against Iran’s financial sector, as Washington seeks to increase pressure on Tehran in the weeks leading up to the presidential election. – New York Times 

Instead, such was his stature in the Islamic Republic that it was Mr. Shajarian who told state media to stop broadcasting his voice. Mr. Shajaraian died Thursday at a hospital in Tehran at the age of 80, according to his son Homayoun, after battling kidney cancer for nearly two decades. – Wall Street Journal

Prominent Iranian human rights advocate Narges Mohammadi was released from prison late Wednesday after authorities commuted her 10-year sentence during ongoing concerns about her health. – Washington Post 

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif accused the United States of targeting Iran’s “remaining channels to pay for food and medicine” in the midst of the pandemic through new sanctions announced on Thursday. – Reuters

U.S. prosecutors have seized a network of web domains which they said were used in a campaign by Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) to spread political disinformation around the world. – Reuters

China and Iran reached a deal recently that will see approximately US$400 billion flow into the Persian nation over the next 25 years. That equals about $16 billion annually. All of the details of the agreement are not yet known, but it will involve investments in several sectors, including telecommunications, oil, gas, petrochemicals, railroads, banking, and harbors. – Arutz Sheva 

An Israeli singer of Persian heritage is set to release an album she made by working in secret with Iranian musicians, her long-held aspiration for artistic collaboration despite bitter animosity between the two states. […]The two countries consider each other arch-enemies, clashing at times in recent years, and both governments have arrested people on charges of spying. – The Guardian 

Sharing a frontier with both Armenia and Azerbaijan as they fight a bitter war over the breakaway Nagorno-Karabakh territory, Tehran is closely watching the conflict amid growing concern it could spill over the border. – Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty

On September 19, 2020, Hossein Shariatmadari, longtime editor of the Iranian regime mouthpiece Kayhan and a close associate of Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, wrote in the newspaper about the promise made by IRGC commander Hossein Salami to  U.S. President Donald Trump – i.e. that the IRGC would seek vengeance if a single Iranian was harmed. – Middle East Media Research Institute

We welcome the imposition of additional U.S. sanctions against Iran that target its financial sector, with key humanitarian exceptions. The continued maximum pressure campaign makes clear to the Ayatollah that there are consequences for his relentless quest to develop nuclear weapons. – Conference of Presidents

Michael Rubin writes: Just as Trump is wrong to assume that a policy’s origin during the Obama administration to be reason enough for automatic reversal, so too should Biden and his top aides recognize that resistance to Trump should not mean becoming blind to the Iranian regime’s abuse of universities and education exchange. Alas, their knee-jerk rejection of Trump risks empowering those who would use the gains of America’s education to contribute to programs geared to maim and kill. – Washington Examiner 

Assaf Orion writes: Perhaps most important, the Janah case exposed Hezbollah’s vulnerability to public uproar against its dangerous conduct. Israel and its allies should therefore increase political pressure on the group through more-frequent, credible, and unsettling exposure of its secrets, lies, and crimes—not just once every couple years at the UN General Assembly, but as part of a continual campaign. – Washington Institute


Syrian President Bashar Assad said in an interview with Russian state news Thursday that peace talks with Israel would only take place if the Israelis return the Golan Heights to Syrian control. – Times of Israel 

Chris Miller writes: Start with the Kremlin’s rationale for the war. To justify the Russian intervention, Putin pointed a finger at the United States, no stranger to Middle Eastern wars, most of which Russia had opposed. […]Nobody cares a bit about human rights, including the right to life.” To prevent the same from happening in Syria, his argument went, Russia would need to step into the fray. – Foreign Policy 

Shaina Oppenheimer writes: With no end to the Turkish operation in sight, many Kurds who sat in communes and government committees are trying to organize where they can, with some decision-making bodies continuing to meet from displacement camps. Men and women have also organized local rallies and protests as well as global movements, including RiseUp4Rojava and Women Defend Rojava, calling for international solidarity with the Kurds. – Haaretz 


The foreign ministers of Turkey and Greece met on Thursday for the first time since their dispute over energy exploration and territorial rights in the eastern Mediterranean, and agreed to hold bilateral talks on the issue, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said. – Reuters

Northern Cyprus on Thursday reopened part of the beachfront of a resort abandoned since Turkey invaded the island in 1974, taking a step supported by Ankara but condemned by Greek Cypriots and causing concern internationally. – Reuters

Turkey issued an official notice for a four-day firing exercise around its Black Sea coast through Oct. 16. – Bloomberg

Turkish troops Thursday reopened parts of a Cyprus seaside resort that became a ghost town amid war in 1974, sparking controversy days ahead of an election in the breakaway Turkish north. The move at Varosha threatened to further inflame tensions in the eastern Mediterranean, where Turkey has been engaged in bitter maritime disputes with Greece and Cyprus. – Agence France-Presse 

Turkey’s pursuit of greater influence in the Caucasus, particularly in a region contested by ethnic Armenians and ethnic Turks, is unsurprising. – Foreign Policy 

Alexander Clark writes: An analysis of Turkey’s conduct in the ongoing Karabakh conflict is necessary to understand the depth of Erdogan’s cynicism and brutal power politics. Turkey’s use of mercenaries in Karabakh is a noteworthy chapter in the Turkish dictator’s neo-Ottoman expansionism. – The National Interest 

Seth J. Frantzman writes: Ankara judged that Varosha would be an easy place to provoke a new crises with the European Union and Cyprus. The abandoned beach area, full of hotels and buildings, could be easily and illegally opened and Ankara could show northern Cyprus residents that it stands by them. In provoking the news about Varosha the goal of Ankara is to show there is nothing that stands in its way. – Jerusalem Post 

Gönül Tol writes: To many, after almost two decades in power, Erdogan has never seemed more in control. In reality, however, he has never been weaker. He started off by establishing one-man rule, but has ended up with two-man rule instead — and the second man, the head of a party polling at just 6.5 percent, seems to be calling all the shots. – Middle East Institute


Israel and Jordan reached an agreement allowing flights to cross over both countries’ airspace, the Transportation Ministry announced on Thursday. The deal allows flights crossing over one country to also fly over the other. – Jerusalem Post 

More than 20 Members of the European Parliament, hailing from 15 nations, have called upon the European Union commission to partially withhold funding to the Palestinian Authority until it purges antisemitic and inciting content from its school textbooks. – Jerusalem Post 

Israeli technology company Cellebrite will stop selling its services to customers in Hong Kong and China, the company announced on Wednesday. The change comes after new US regulations restricting technology and other exports, meant to curb Beijing’s acquisition of technology under civilian pretenses that would then be used by its military and for surveillance purposes. – Jerusalem Post 

Armenia has unfairly targeted Israel for its sale of military drones to Azerbaijan, Hikmet Hajiyev aide to the Azeri president told The Jerusalem Post on Thursday. – Jerusalem Post 

Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi chose Berlin for his first official overseas visit, attending an informal meeting of the European Union Foreign Affairs Council, with the goal of promoting Israel-EU relations. Given the harsh anti-EU rhetoric by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and senior ministers in recent years, this was not an obvious choice. It indicated a desire to fix a key component of Israeli foreign policy. – Jerusalem Post 

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Thursday that he will bring diplomatic accords with the United Arab Emirates before the Israeli parliament on Oct. 12. – Reuters

Researchers in Sweden who analyzed over 2 million postings about Jews on four different social media channels found that more than 30 percent of the messages were antisemitic, a new report disclosed this week. – Algemeiner 

In a recent article in the daily Al-Ayyam, Fatah member Ashraf Al-‘Ajrami, a former minister of prisoner affairs in the Palestinian Authority (PA), harshly criticizes the PA’s political policy in the last 20 years, and calls on the Palestinians to recognize their political mistakes and formulate a new vision and reasonable political plans. – Middle East Media Research Institute

Arthur Herman writes: They say second chances don’t mean anything unless you learn from the first. Now Israelis can prove they have learned some valuable lessons for the future, as they and their partners in the Eastern Mediterranean open a new chapter in the history of the region, and in energy security around the world. – Mosaic Magazine

Peter Suciu writes: It has been a year where the IAF faced challenges like never before: from aging aircraft platforms to its pilots having to deal with the still ongoing novel coronavirus. Despite these challenges, the IAF has still carried out thousands of operations against targets belonging to Hamas, Hezbollah, and the Islamic State. – The National Interest 


In January this year he was killed in the same US drone strike that took out Iran’s top military commander, General Qassem Suleimani. By the time of his death the militias under his command, acting at the behest of Iran, were at the heart of the Iraqi establishment. In killing him, the US disrupted a fiendishly complicated set of power relations. It is on Iraqi soil, and not in Iran, that many fear the impact of the strike will be felt in the long term. – The Guardian

David Gardner writes: The present Iraqi prime minister is struggling against this bleak legacy and now is not the moment to abandon him. Leaving Mr Kadhimi in the lurch guarantees a return to the pursuit of factional advantage instead of the public good, and of zero-sum sectarianism rather than power-sharing. It will also reopen Iraq’s gates to a jihadi comeback in a country already struggling to stay alive. Iraqis deserve better. – Financial Times

Jonathan Spyer writes: Just over a year ago, there was deep concern in Israel at the possibility that Iran might supply missiles with the range to reach Israel to the KH-controlled areas in western Iraq. A number of Israeli raids took place in July and August against KH and other militia facilities. Since then, the issue has gone quiet. – Jerusalem Post 


The Loyalty to the Resistance Bloc, Hezbollah’s political wing, said in a press release that Beirut does not have any interest in expanding talks beyond the maritime dispute. – Ynet 

Lebanon’s leading Sunni Muslim politician, former premier Saad al-Hariri, said on Thursday he feared civil strife as the country sinks into its worst financial crisis since a 1975-1990 civil war. – Reuters 

Lebanon’s former prime minister Saad Hariri Thursday said he was a possible candidate to head a new government to stem the country’s economic collapse after a massive port blast. – Agence France-Presse 

Lebanese negotiators do not intend to speak directly with their Israeli counterparts when the two sides meet next week for rare talks on delineating the maritime border between Israel and Lebanon, according toWalla news and Axios reporter Barak Ravid. – Times of Israel 

Gulf States

Saudi Arabia is considering canceling OPEC plans for an oil output hike early next year, senior Saudi oil advisers said, as Covid-19 cases in many parts of the world rise and the expected return of Libyan crude threatens to swell global supplies. – Wall Street Journal

The United Nations on Thursday called for an immediate end to clashes near Yemen’s main port of Hodeidah after a surge in fighting that sources said have killed dozens of people despite a U.N.-sponsored ceasefire in place in the area. – Reuters

Saad Aljabri knows a lot of secrets. The former senior intelligence official in Saudi Arabia’s Interior Ministry was a valued partner of the U.S. government, a man who had access to troves of sensitive information about terrorism suspects, informants and the vast Saudi royal family. – NPR 

Ahdeya Ahmed al-Sayed, president of the Bahraini Journalists Association, said on Thursday that she expects journalists from her country to play a very important and crucial role in promoting normalization with Israel. – Jerusalem Post 

Korean Peninsula

North Korea’s first military parade in two years is expected to feature throngs of spectators and plenty of propaganda, but the most closely watched element will be what, if any, new weapons leader Kim Jong Un puts on display for the world. – Wall Street Journal

South Korea has unveiled measures to enhance its defense industry’s capabilities in a move expected to help boost the country’s arms exports. – Defense News 

South Korea has launched an antitrust investigation into Google over its plans to enforce commission fees for in-app purchases made through its mobile application store. – Business Insider 

Harry J. Kazianis writes: In fact, come this Saturday, we may get a preview of what Pyongyang may have in store for the next administration, thanks to what some are calling a historic and massive military parade to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the Korea Workers Party. What can we and what should we expect out of this potential show of military might? Well, we asked several of the world’s top North Korea experts, along with various defense and national security experts, for their take. – The National Interest 


In the run-up to the 2008 Beijing Olympics, activists and others called for a boycott to protest China’s treatment of Tibetan minorities and its human rights record at home and abroad. Beijing is now deep in planning to reprise its Olympic host role for the 2022 Winter Games. And again, it’s facing a chorus of condemnation over its mass indoctrination and labor program for ethnic Uighurs in Xinjiang and its security crackdown in Hong Kong. – Washington Post 

Over the past few years there has been a fundamental shift in how the US thinks about China that spans the political spectrum, even if some of the recent rhetoric is partly a product of both parties not wanting to appear soft before the election. – Financial Times

The US national security adviser warned China on Wednesday against any attempt to retake Taiwan by force, saying amphibious landings were notoriously difficult and there was a lot of ambiguity about how the United States would respond. – Reuters 

Editorial: The simple truth is that the more the world sees of Communist China, the more it comes to dislike. For all its promises of investment and mutual benefit, people are realizing that China’s truest offer is one only of arrogant hegemony. Unless and until Xi’s regime starts showing the rest of the world the respect it deserves, China’s reputation will decline yet further. – Washington Examiner 

Kristofer Harrison and Celeste Ward Gventer write: The good news is that the policy solutions that could strategically disable Moscow or Beijing are the same ones that many have advocated for years to fight inequality, white-collar crime, bribery, and simple money-laundering. Confronting strategic corruption is also a politician’s dream issue: a populist domestic platform that tackles inequality, puts corrupt bankers and fat cats in jail, is hawkish on China and Russia, and helps demilitarize American foreign policy. – Offshore Initiative 

Derek Scissors writes: It is a cliché to say that getting our own house in order should always be the top priority, but it is also right. The People’s Republic of China (PRC) is an economic predator, and stronger American responses, even closing certain sectors to China entirely, are overdue. These responses must be based on sound information, such as exactly how and where Chinese state ownership makes it impossible for Americans to compete. Not only is the US the world’s dominant economy, but it can be indefinitely. – American Enterprise Institute

Scott Livingston writes: China’s efforts to formalize CCP control of its commercial sector will have significant ramifications for international trade, forcing more liberal market economies to decide how much state intervention they are willing to tolerate in their trading partners. […]The fact that China has released this opinion at a time of heightened U.S. scrutiny over the government’s links to Huawei and TikTok suggests that China feels confident enough in its system that it is now prepared to advance and defend it on the global stage. – Center for Strategic and International Studies


President Trump’s promise to abruptly pull all U.S. troops from Afghanistan generated confusion Thursday, as the Pentagon indicated it had received no orders to alter plans for a conditions-based withdrawal and Afghan negotiators voiced concern that a hasty exit would intensify challenges to peace talks. – Washington Post

Villagers confronted officials, and seven police officers are now in jail, in a rare official action to investigate child sexual abuse accusations in Afghanistan. […]As Afghan and Taliban negotiators discuss a possible peace deal, the militants are still conducting attacks nationwide, exposing the government’s inability to protect its citizens in violently contested provinces like Kandahar. – New York Times 

The following report compiles all significant security incidents confirmed by New York Times reporters throughout Afghanistan from the past seven days. – New York Times 

The Afghan Taliban on Thursday welcomed a tweet from President Donald Trump in which he promised to have the last of U.S. troops out of Afghanistan by Christmas — or at least by the end of the year. – Associated Press 

NATO insisted Thursday that its members would consult and decide together on when to leave Afghanistan, after US President Donald Trump vowed to bring American troops home by Christmas. – Agence France-Presse 

South Asia

With medical workers and volunteers strained by the novel coronavirus, Myanmar’s de facto leader Aung San Suu Kyi asked for forgiveness in a televised speech this week, acknowledging that surging cases and deaths had led to a shortage of hospital beds. Yet in the same speech, Suu Kyi vowed to go ahead with elections on Nov. 8, despite the anxieties over public health in one of the world’s least-developed countries. – Washington Post 

A turf war raging between criminal armed groups in Rohingya refugee camps in southern Bangladesh has forced thousands of people to flee and at least eight have been killed in clashes in recent days, police and humanitarian workers said on Thursday. – Reuters

Pakistan’s counter-terrorism police on Thursday arrested two suspected militants on charges of collecting funds for outlawed charities of a radical cleric wanted by Washington for his role in the 2008 Mumbai attacks. – Associated Press 

A Sri Lankan minister said Thursday that India has no moral right to interfere in the country’s internal affairs by insisting on power sharing with minority Tamils because New Delhi failed to fulfil its obligations under a 1987 agreement to disarm separatist rebels and ensure an end to Sri Lanka’s civil war. – Associated Press 

The de facto detention of 130,000 ethnic Rohingya in squalid camps in Myanmar amounts to a form of apartheid, a human rights group alleged Thursday in urging the world to pressure Aung San Suu Kyi’s government to free them. – Associated Press 

Tom Rogan writes: Pakistan, which holds itself up as an archon of Islamic democracy, has quite literally turned itself into a Communist Party of China press shop. But as Prime Minister Imran Khan receives his hard-earned Chinese investments, his people should ask themselves a simple question. – Washington Examiner


The complexity of the dispute over Nagorno-Karabakh has implications for many other similar conflicts. However, the stances of the various countries involved are not consistent. It shows how countries use claims of international law when it benefits them, and disregard other parts of international law when it doesn’t. – Jerusalem Post 

Russia said Friday that Armenia and Azerbaijan had agreed to meet in Moscow for negotiations on ending the fighting over Nagorno-Karabakh, after President Vladimir Putin called for talks. – Agence France-Presse

Armenia accused Azerbaijan on Thursday of shelling a historic cathedral in the separatist territory of Nagorno-Karabakh, where nearly two weeks of heavy fighting has killed hundreds of people. – Associated Press 

Kyrgyzstan’s President Sooronbai Jeenbekov said on Friday he was ready to resign once a new cabinet was appointed to end the power vacuum in the Central Asian nation gripped by unrest since opposition supporters seized government buildings on Tuesday. – Reuters

China was accused by Taiwan of trying to impose censorship in India after its embassy in New Delhi advised journalists to observe the “one-China” principle after newspapers carried advertisements for Taiwan’s national day. – Reuters

Relatives of some of the 12 Hong Kong activists arrested by Chinese authorities at sea more than six weeks ago as they tried to flee by boat to Taiwan have accused the Hong Kong government of lying over the circumstances surrounding their capture. – Reuters

Armenia on Thursday dismissed Argishti Kyaramyan, the head of its National Security Service, the Interfax news agency reported citing a presidential decree. – Reuters

Some from Lebanon’s large ethnic Armenian population have already travelled to join the fight, according to members of the community, although they say the numbers are small. […]Fighting has raged since Sept. 27 in the separatist region of Nagorno-Karabakh, leaving several hundred dead. – Associated Press 

Armenia’s president has demanded that international powers do more to stop Turkey’s involvement in the war for control of Nagorno-Karabakh, warning that Ankara is creating “another Syria in the Caucasus”. – Financial Times

As a decades-old conflict has reignited in the mountains of Nagorno-Karabakh, Azerbaijani forces battling with Armenia to capture disputed territory have unveiled a new tool in their armoury. – Financial Times

Kazakh opposition leader Mukhtar Ablyazov has been charged in Paris with embezzling $7.5 billion in a case brought by Kazakhstan, according to one of his lawyers. – Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty

Armenian authorities have canceled the accreditation of journalist Ilya Azar, a Moscow-based correspondent for Novaya Gazeta, after a report he wrote stated scores of lives had been lost in a military conflict that broke out on September 27 in Azerbaijan’s breakaway region of Nagorno-Karabakh. – Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty

A senior State Department official stressed the strengthening economic, diplomatic and security bonds between the United States, Japan, Australia and India as an example of regional cooperation for other nations who share their values. – USNI News

Editorial: In normal times, a strong United States working with Russia and France might have had the clout to pull Turkey back, as they did after an outbreak of violence in 2016. […]But doing nothing is not an option for dealing with a wildfire that, left unchecked, can rapidly spread. Whether Mr. Putin likes it or not, he has the greatest responsibility and the most effective levers to restrain his former empire-mates and dissuade Mr. Erdogan from a dangerous adventure. – New York Times

Samson Ellis writes: Ultimately, Xi would need to order any attack. […]While an invasion carries enormous risks for the party, Xi has shown he will take strong action on territorial disputes. He’s ignored international condemnation in squashing Hong Kong’s pro-democracy camp, militarizing contested South China Sea land features and setting up reeducation camps for more than a million Muslim Uighurs in Xinjiang. – Bloomberg


A series of crises in Russia’s neighbors is upending the Kremlin’s plans for deeper economic and defense ties with the former Soviet republics, leaving a vacuum for regional competitors such as China and Turkey to exploit. – Wall Street Journal

Russia said on Thursday that Kyrgyzstan had descended into chaos and that Moscow was obliged by a security treaty to prevent a total breakdown in the country, where rival groups have claimed power in post-election unrest. – Reuters

Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny believes he was purposely poisoned by Russian intelligence officials working for President Vladimir Putin because the government saw him as a threat ahead of the country’s 2021 parliamentary elections. – Fox News 

On October 4, a short, jumpy video was released to social media purporting to show Chechen fighters in the conflict zone around Azerbaijan’s Nagorno-Karabakh region. […]But the 37-second clip was not filmed in Azerbaijan, RFE/RL’s North Caucasus Service has determined, but in Crimea, the Ukrainian Black Sea region seized by Russia in 2014. – Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty

Philip Stephens writes: Of course it is vital that the west acts to stop Mr Putin and, more important still, that it shows resolve in countering Mr Xi’s strategies of repression and coercion. But saving democracy? The way to do that is to fix the economic and social policies that have been stripping liberal societies of legitimacy in the eyes of their citizens. – Financial Times

George Barros writes: The Kremlin is orienting its Unbreakable Brotherhood 2020 military exercises on peacekeeping operations as part of its hybrid war in Belarus. The Kremlin-dominated Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) stated on October 7 that approximately 700 CSTO personnel will participate in annual Unbreakable Brotherhood exercises in Vitebsk, Belarus, from October 12-16. […]The Russian military considers deploying conventional forces under the cover of “peacekeeping” to be a key means within hybrid war. The Kremlin considers its ongoing campaign in Belarus to be a hybrid war and is likely using CSTO exercises to advance its campaign. – Institute for the Study of War

Seth J. Frantzman: The question now is whether Moscow can succeed in the southern Caucasus, or whether Ankara’s meddling and other agendas will undermine Putin’s decisions. Russia knows Turkey is practicing with the S-400 system this month and Russia is hosting the Egyptian navy in the Black Sea. These are tense and complex times. Russia’s chess game could come undone if Putin is not careful. – Jerusalem Post 


Belarusian opposition leader Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya said on Thursday the possibility of immunity for Alexander Lukashenko, rather than facing any international trial, could be subject to negotiation to defuse the crisis in her country. – Reuters

Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Thursday promised to work with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy to counter Russia’s “malign influence” and offered British support for Ukraine’s defence and security. – Reuters

The European Union finally sees progress in trade talks with the United Kingdom, but insists a momentary change in mood between the oft-bickering sides is no guarantee that an agreement will be delivered on time, officials said Thursday. – Associated Press 

European Union interior ministers agreed Thursday that sweeping new proposals to revamp the bloc’s failed asylum system should form the basis for negotiations on building a fresh policy for managing the arrival of unauthorized migrants in Europe. – Associated Press 

Angela Merkel’s backing for an $11 billion, Russian-backed Baltic Sea gas pipeline is exacting a cost. – Bloomberg

The Baltic states form a virtual isthmus jutting out from the rest of the NATO alliance and butting up against the heavily fortified Russian military outpost in Kaliningrad, which has the capability to impose anti-access/aerial denial over the region. – Washington Examiner 

The European Union stands ready to include Alyaksandr Lukashenka on its blacklist of Belarusian officials deemed responsible for electoral fraud and a brutal crackdown on protesters and opposition members, according to a draft document seen by RFE/RL. – Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty

Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, and Slovakia announced on October 8 that they are recalling their ambassadors from Minsk, following similar action by fellow EU countries Poland and the Baltic states over the disputed presidential election in Belarus. – Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty

Serbia and its neighbors Kosovo and Albania have descended into a bitter diplomatic ruckus after officials in Belgrade invoked a slur against ethnic Albanians and spoke degradingly of efforts to find the remains of victims of internecine Balkan conflict two decades ago. – Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty

Germany should jump-start its space technology sector by building a mobile micro-launch platform in the North Sea that could send national security payloads into orbit, according to a proposal by the Federation of German Industries. – Defense News

A Greek court on Thursday will deliver eagerly awaited sentences after leaders of neo-Nazi party Golden Dawn were found guilty of running a criminal outfit in a landmark case, a court source said. – Times of Israel

William Echikson writes: As Arnie struggles to repair damaged Polish-German relations and continues to hear from Poles how Germany raped Poland, I can only support him. It’s a sign of our crazy times that an American Jew has come to believe that the son of an officer in Hitler’s army is one of the best defenders of his most cherished values. – Politico

Yiannis Baboulias writes: The investigation’s impact on Golden Dawn is clear. It had openly sought to undermine democracy, yet it was largely using the tools of democracy that it was defeated—through the justice system, and at the ballot box. The party is financially broken, and in recent months has been forced to close dozens of offices across Greece. – The Atlantic

Dalibor Rohac writes: If the EU — and Germany — really want to defend it instead of just talking about it, they will have to become far more ruthless, strategic, and power-driven. Still, the nature of Europe’s predicament is not exactly news — it has been almost four years since Angela Merkel urged Europeans to “take their fate into their own hands.” If the past decade of crises and turbulent politics has not been enough to reverse the bloc’s entropy, one wonders if anything ever will. – American Enterprise Institute


Appeals judges at the International Criminal Court upheld Thursday the detention of an alleged Sudanese militia leader charged with more than 50 crimes against humanity and war crimes in the Darfur conflict. – Associated Press 

A security official in Ethiopia’s Western Benishangul-Gumuz region says an attack this week killed 14 civilians and security forces killed 14 militia members. – Associated Press

The U.N. envoy for Mali urged people in the West African nation, who just lived through another military coup, to use a recently agreed to 18-month transition “to pull their country out of the hellish cycle” of coups that has left the country in crisis. – Associated Press 

The EU’s top diplomat arrived in the Ethiopian capital on Thursday hoping to inject fresh momentum into Europe’s plan for a new era of cooperation on digital, the environment and economic policy. He might have to wait a while longer. – Politico

The U.S Navy and Coast Guard remain committed to supporting and building the maritime security capabilities of its African partners, senior leaders from both services said in an Oct. 5 conference call. – USNI News

Emilia Columbo writes: The Mozambican government and security services need to start positioning themselves to act should ASWJ fall victim to one of these classic strategic blunders, but they will need assistance from experienced partners to do so. The United States, as Mozambique’s largest aid donor, can leverage programs that are already in place to energize Maputo’s nascent efforts at addressing the root causes of this conflict. […]ASWJ is not invincible, but it will be up to Maputo to demonstrate that is the case. – War on the Rocks

Latin America

Venezuela’s pro-government National Constituent Assembly on Thursday approved a law allowing President Nicolas Maduro to confidentially sign new oil deals with private firms and foreign nations, in response to U.S. sanctions. – Reuters 

Though the number of people leaving is smaller than at the height of the Venezuelan exodus, Colombian immigration officials expect 200,000 Venezuelans to enter the country in the months ahead, enticed by the prospects of earning higher wages and sending money back to Venezuela to feed their families. – Associated Press 

Back in January, a yearlong campaign of U.S. sanctions was taking its toll at Venezuela’s state-run oil company. Many of PDVSA’s overseas bank accounts had been frozen or closed, hampering its ability to pay vendors on whom it relies to keep the nation’s crude flowing. – Associated Press 

Andres Martinez Fernandes writes: The case of successful American engagement with Ecuador’s Lenin Moreno shows that the United States can win over the handpicked successors of anti-US leaders. To encourage meaningful security engagement, Washington can leverage its support at multilateral lending organizations and Bolivia’s potential integration into broader efforts to realign American supply chains. […]Successfully continuing Bolivia along the path to international enforcement standards will have invaluable repercussions for regional stability. – The Hill

North America

The World Food Program was awarded the 2020 Nobel Peace Prize on Friday, a recognition of the critical work the United Nations agency does to prevent hunger around the world, especially during the coronavirus pandemic. […]The award is an acknowledgment of the central role the Rome-based organization plays in dealing with impoverished people caught in or fleeing from conflict. – Washington Post 

Storming the State Capitol. Instigating a civil war. Abducting a sitting governor ahead of the presidential election. Those were among the plots described by federal and state officials in Michigan on Thursday as they announced terrorism, conspiracy and weapons charges against 13 men. […]The group that planned the kidnapping met repeatedly over the summer for firearms training and combat drills and practiced building explosives, the F.B.I. said; members also gathered several times to discuss the mission, including in the basement of a shop that was accessible only through a “trap door” under a rug. – New York Times 

 Far-right activists and paramilitary groups, emboldened by the rhetoric — and sometimes support — from state and federal leaders, are trying to sow chaos in the state of Michigan ahead of the 2020 election, state Attorney General Dana Nessel said in an interview with Business Insider. – Business Insider 

The U.N. Security Council met in its chamber at U.N. headquarters in New York for the first time since the COVID-19 pandemic hit New York in March on Thursday, and despite wearing masks and being separated by plexiglass dividers, U.S. Ambassador Kelly Craft said “It was so great to be home.” – Associated Press 

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Thursday that Canada is preparing for potential “disruption” in the U.S. in the event of a disputed presidential election. – The Hill

Lawrence J. Haas writes: If Joe Biden defeats Trump next month, we’ll likely see another change in direction; the 2020 Democratic platform, which Biden presumably approved, calls for America to “rejoin and reform” the council. Frankly, neither approach has worked particularly well, for the council remains what it has been from the start—an odious, hypocritical and, in the end, all-too-embarrassing successor to its notorious predecessor. Whether a future U.S. reform effort will work any better is very much an open question. – American Foreign Policy Council


The Trump administration is appealing a federal court injunction blocking it from imposing a download ban on TikTok, the Chinese-owned video-sharing app that the government contends poses a national-security threat. – Wall Street Journal

The Justice Department on Thursday rolled out a framework for cryptocurrency enforcement, detailing increasing security concerns around the use of virtual currency. – The Hill

Facebook on Thursday said it derailed a campaign using fake accounts to praise US President Donald Trump as part of its latest crackdown on orchestrated deception. – Agence France-Presse 

James Ryseff writes: Ultimately, close collaborators in any AI alliance must pass two tests: They must be able to usefully contribute to the work, and they will also need to be trustworthy enough to share in these cutting-edge technical advancements. While achieving the kind of close collaboration with allies that the United States has enjoyed in other realms may be difficult, it will be essential if the United States hopes to achieve the data dominance needed to succeed in future combat. – War on the Rocks


The Justice Department’s Office of Justice Programs (OJP) announced Thursday that it had issued new guidance banning the use of agency grants to purchase drones and other unmanned aerial systems from foreign groups deemed threats. – The Hill

The Department of Defense (DOD) on Thursday announced it has designated $600 million for fifth generation, or 5G, wireless testing and experimentation at five military sites across the nation.  – The Hill

The Pentagon’s top general, quarantined after being exposed to Covid-19, assured Thursday that the military remains at the ready to defend the United States and allies. – Agence France-Presse 

U.S. Army Europe Commander Gen. Christopher Cavoli received his fourth star as the service plans to merge the command with U.S. Army Africa, the service’s secretary told Defense News in an Oct. 8 interview. – Defense News

Navy inspectors found serious technical issues across all three U.S. Navy ship classes being built at Ingalls Shipbuilding in Pascagoula, Mississippi in 2018 and 2019, according to an unclassified report sent to Congress earlier this year. – Defense News

One senator is still probing the Pentagon for answers on its long-delayed enterprise cloud contract, questioning if the technology requested two years ago is still relevant and asking how much the department has spent resolving related legal disputes. – C4ISRNET

The U.S. Department of Defense released its first enterprise data strategy Thursday with its top priority focused on how to harness the department’s data for joint all-domain operations. – C4ISRNET

Now that the Space Development Agency has selected four contractors to build its first 28 satellites, the organization is looking for a launch provider to ferry them into orbit. – C4ISRNET

The Navy’s ground-based testing site for the Aegis combat systems on Wednesday took delivery of its new air and missile defense radar array that will go on the next iteration of guided-missile destroyers, the service announced. – USNI News

Peter Suciu writes: For nearly twenty years, the U.S. military’s SOF have been engaged in counterterrorism and counterinsurgency efforts, but now must rethink how to address the changing threats of the twenty-first century including a potential conflict with other great powers. – The National Interest 

Rhys McCormick writes: The transformation of the acquisition system currently taking place will likely also lead to other changes that are currently hard to foresee. However, these changes—both those that may be foreseeable and those that aren’t—will manifest in due time in future contract trends. – Center for Strategic and International Studies

Long War

A prominent Malian politician and three European hostages freed by Al Qaida-linked Islamic extremists arrived in Mali’s capital late Thursday where they were greeted by family members and supporters. – New York Times 

The foreign ministers of Cuba and Somalia say two Cuban doctors held hostage by the al-Shabab extremist group in Somalia have not been freed. – Associated Press 

A Dutch court convicted six men Thursday of plotting a large-scale jihadi attack on a public event and sentenced them to prison terms ranging from 10 to 17 years. – Associated Press 

Raffaello Pantucci writes: The story of Central Asian and Indian jihadism is one that has historically received too little attention. Emerging from domestic environments that are creating more opportunities for disenfranchisement and radicalization to take place, they are exactly the sort of threats which may slip under the radar until it is too late. – Foreign Policy