Fdd's overnight brief

September 14, 2023

FDD Research & Analysis

In The News


The White House on Wednesday defended a U.S.-Iran prisoner swap deal that has drawn criticism from Republicans, saying Iran gets no U.S. sanctions relief from the deal. – Reuters

The Los Angeles City Council on Tuesday voted to name a street intersection in memory of Mahsa Amini, whose death in the custody of the morality police in Iran nearly a year ago sparked months of nationwide protests there. – Reuters

Britain, Germany, France and the United States told the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) on Thursday further action would be needed on Iran if the country did not fulfil legal obligations and clarify issues over nuclear material. – Reuters

A group that includes former Franco-Iranian boxing world champion Mahyar Monshipour and Iranian Nobel Peace Prize winner Shirin Ebadi has asked the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to ban Iran from the Paris Olympics. – Agence France-Presse

The US House of Representatives overwhelmingly passed a trio of bills extending sanctions on Iran’s ballistic missile and drone programs and condemning its human rights abuses amid no votes from members of the so-called “Squad” of left-wing progressives. – Algeimeiner

When the United Nations established a fact-finding mission on Iran in November, the intention was to investigate alleged human rights violations related to the country’s deadly crackdown against ongoing nationwide protests. – Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty

Iran’s president is slated to host a private, invitation-only event with political influencers in New York City next week on the sidelines of the United Nations’ annual gathering, the Washington Free Beacon has learned. – Washington Free Beacon

Michael Rubin writes: Americans will come home in body bags, their murders financed by the bankers Biden empowered. Those kidnapped, not only in Iran (or, like Sharmahd, in the United Arab Emirates) but also by terrorist groups and criminal cartels the world over, now face multi-billion ransoms. No group is going to ask for $20,000 when they see Biden, McGurk, and national security adviser Jake Sullivan signing off on amounts three or four orders of magnitude higher. It is now open season on Americans. – Washington Examiner

Jon Gambell writes: Iran meanwhile faces simmering anger over its economic woes, as well as in the wake of Amini’s death after her arrest by the country’s morality police allegedly over improperly wearing her mandatory headscarf. Some women in Tehran and elsewhere have stopped wearing the hijab altogether in an open challenge to the government, despite authorities targeting those who do. – Times of Israel

Farzin Nadimi writes: It is too early to tell if the current situation represents a lasting change in Iran’s behavior or just an aberration. The latter is more likely. History shows that Tehran will back off whenever it is faced with united, credible, and capable opponents—but Washington and its partners should expect this deterrence to be contested at all levels. – Washington Institute

Wladimir van Wilgenburg writes: Reflecting on the broader geopolitical impact of these maneuvers, Saleh proposed that “Iran’s end game here is ultimately to tighten its grip on Iraq. The regime in Tehran is trying to increase its influence and leverage in Iraq and to undermine KRG status and they use any baseless pretext to further their agenda. The silence in Washington, London, and Paris about this matter can be disastrous for the West’s interests in Iraq and the broader region.” – Washington Institute

Russia & Ukraine

Eighteen months after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Western countries still haven’t swung the developing world behind supporting Kyiv. – Wall Street Journal

The U.S. ambassador to the United Nations and the family of Wall Street Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich called for his immediate release from Russia, where he has been imprisoned since March. – Wall Street Journal 

The EU has agreed to lift sanctions against three Russian business tycoons targeted in response to Moscow’s war against Ukraine, in the most prominent delistings since the conflict began. – Financial Times

Ukrainian forces are exploiting gaps in Russian jamming and spoofing capabilities, opening seams in which they make noticeable gains on the battlefield, according to a U.S. Air Force commander. – Defense News

The U.S. could have the first Ukrainian pilots trained on F-16 fighter jets before the end of the year, though it will be longer than that before they are flying combat missions, the director of the U.S. Air National Guard said Tuesday. – Defense News

Ukrainian soldiers have received hundreds of drones, gifted to them by Australia, to capture surveillance video crucial for preparing missions to retake ground from Russian forces. – Defense News

Ukraine’s state-run defense company SpetsTechnoExport is pursuing numerous contracts to secure deliveries of weapons and equipment for the country’s military, with multiple rocket launchers, howitzers, armored vehicles, drones and ammunition all high on its priority list. – Defense News

Bret Stephens writes: If Ukraine can survive a Russian invasion and flourish afterward, it will be a rebuke to the idea that the free world is in terminal decline, that alliances with the United States are a bad bet, and that other nations facing similar threats — Taiwan in particular — should simply accommodate themselves to their aggressive neighbors rather than defend their freedom and independence. – New York Times

Marc Champion writes: If Western leaders were to pull that support in an effort to coerce Ukraine into accepting a disadvantageous settlement, the situation would be dire but also wouldn’t last, according to Bielieskov: Russia would return to the offensive and commit atrocities; the voting majorities in the US and Europe that continue to support Ukraine would again demand their governments help turn the tide. – Bloomberg

Olya Korbut writes: The winners from this Black Sea peace dividend are too numerous to mention. The loser would be a Russia which needs to learn the hard way that war and destruction are profoundly foolish weapons of policy. – Center for European Policy Analysis


In unprecedented opposition, more than 180 former senior officials from the Mossad, the Shin Bet domestic security agency, the military and the police have united against steps they say will shatter Israel’s resilience in the face of mounting threats from the West Bank, Lebanon and Iran. – Associated Press

At least five Palestinians were killed and over 20 others were wounded Wednesday in an explosion next to the separation fence along the Israeli frontier with Gaza, Palestinian health officials said. – Associated Press

Palestinian politicians on Wednesday raged against dozens of Palestinian academics who had criticized President Mahmoud Abbas’ recent remarks on the Holocaust that drew widespread accusations of antisemitism. – Associated Press

Hundreds of ultra-Orthodox men on Wednesday blocked a major Jerusalem intersection, snarling traffic and crippling public transportation across the city, in a demonstration against an attempt to force a community member to comply with the country’s mandatory military draft. – Associated Press

Across the occupied West Bank, concrete checkpoints, separation walls and soldiers are reminders of the failure to build peace between Israelis and Palestinians since the historic Oslo Accords were signed 30 years ago this week. – Reuters 

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was forced on Wednesday to deny a report his government had approved a shipment of weapons to Palestinian security forces after hard-right ministers in his coalition expressed outrage. – Reuters

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s camp and his political rivals have both been presented with proposals for judicial reform that could end a crisis tormenting Israel for months, the country’s president said on Wednesday. – Reuters

For the first time ever, an armed guard will be stationed outside each synagogue in Jerusalem, as part of preparations for the upcoming High Holy Days and amid concerns over the recent rise in terrorist attacks. – Jerusalem Post

Saudi Arabia has let the Biden administration know that resolving Palestinian issues is critical for any normalization deal with Israel, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said on Wednesday. – Jerusalem Post

National Security Minister Itamar Ben Gvir on Wednesday said his far-right Otzma Yehudit party will not vote with the coalition until the government implements his demand to limit visitation rights for Palestinian security prisoners. – Times of Israel

The White House refused to confirm on Wednesday that US President Joe Biden will meet Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly next week. – Arutz Sheva

Editorial: Now is the time, before either of those scenarios rears its ugly head, for the political parties to reach a compromise on the judicial reform debate and enable the country to start healing. We urge them to do so without delay. – Jerusalem Post

Seth J. Frantzman writes: At the same time, the Western backers of the PA don’t want to highlight security support. Even those that support the Palestinian police, such as the EU, are relatively quiet these days. Gone are the old days of US Gen. Keith Dayton and his more frequent discussions about the PA’s security goals. In a situation like this, with Iran’s threats and Israel’s complex political environment, the storm over the weapons is about much more than a few dozen or 1,000 rifles. – Jerusalem Post

Itamar Marcus writes: Since the PA, Fatah, and Hamas, all present their acts of terror and murder of Israelis as religious acts for Allah, the UN must recognize the thousands of Israeli victims of Palestinian terror as “Victims of Acts of Violence Based on Religion or Belief” and highlight and condemn the PA’s violence and terror along with its condemnation of all religious violence around the world. – Jerusalem Post

Aaron David Miller writes: None of these things is available now. Yet the United States may someday have another opportunity to pursue Israeli-Palestinian peacemaking, and we should do so without illusion and without believing we can do it alone or abandoning that pursuit if we run into serious challenges. And with right-thinking and courageous Israelis and Palestinians, support from the Arab world and beyond, and a fair amount of luck, one day—who knows—we might just get there. – Foreign Policy


The Taliban on Wednesday hailed China’s new ambassador to Afghanistan with fanfare, saying his arrival is a sign for other nations to come forward and establish relations with them. – Associated Press

Hundreds of Afghan college students living in India despite the expiry of their student visas staged a protest in New Delhi on Wednesday to urge the Indian government to extend their stay and allow them to resume their studies. – Reuters

Lynne O’Donnell writes: Little farmers and big landowners both stand to lose from the continued ban, even if that was the endgame of all those years of U.S. and international efforts. Akhundzada seems to have put his prestige on the line with the ban, regardless of the collateral damage. “The economic shock and human suffering will continue and worsen as long as the ban is implemented,” warned William Byrd, an expert on Afghanistan at the U.S. Institute of Peace. – Foreign Policy


Syrian state media said the Israeli military carried out airstrikes in a coastal province on Wednesday, killing two soldiers, wounding six and causing material damage. There was no comment from Israel on the reported strikes. – Associated Press

Two land mines exploded early Wednesday along the Lebanon-Syria border wounding three Syrians trying to illegally cross into Lebanon, the Lebanese army said in a statement Wednesday. – Associated Press

Three people were wounded on Wednesday when bullets were sprayed at anti-government protesters in the southern Syrian city of Sweida, activists and local journalists said, in the first reported use of violence in weeks-long demonstrations there. – Reuters


An Iraqi court sentenced 18 police officers to prison after they were found guilty of failing to prevent protesters from setting fire to the Swedish embassy in Baghdad in July over a planned Koran burning in Stockholm. – Reuters

The United States should use its influence to help win the freedom of an Israeli-Russian academic from Princeton University who went missing in Iraq nearly six months ago and is believed to be held by an Iran-backed militia regarded by Washington as a terrorist group, her sister said Wednesday. – Times of Israel

Seth J. Frantzman writes: Taken together, the issues Erbil now faces in relations with Baghdad, and the pressure from Iran and Turkey, appear to be a major challenge. The US and Western powers have often supported the region in the past. In addition, the region has economic ties with the Gulf. Nevertheless, it is isolated in northern Iraq. It is a kind of strategic hinge around which Iran, Turkey, and Baghdad revolve. The US also uses the region to supply troops in eastern Syria. Iran and Turkey oppose the US presence in Syria. They also want to pressure Erbil because US troops and assets are located near Erbil and use Erbil’s airport. – Jerusalem Post


Turkey is sending a ship carrying equipment to set up two field hospitals to Libya with 148 medical staff, Health Minister Fahrettin Koca said on Wednesday, after a catastrophic flood killed thousands of people. – Reuters

As Turkey and the European Union engaged in a new effort to revive the country’s stalled membership talks, Ankara criticized the European Parliament insistence on cooperation in enforcing sanctions against Russia. – Bloomberg

Turkey is making it costlier for banks to offer short-term deposits that make up the bulk of a $124 billion government-backed lira savings program, a tightening of policy that will soak up billions in liquidity and attempts to discourage people from shifting into dollars. – Bloomberg

Middle East & North Africa

The United States and Bahrain signed a strategic security and economic pact Wednesday that the Biden administration hopes will be a template for strengthening ties with other Persian Gulf countries. – Washington Post

American defense giant RTX and a Saudi weapons firm were heading toward a multibillion-dollar deal when it was abruptly called off early this year. The reason, say people familiar with the talks, was RTX’s concerns that its Saudi partner’s companies were pursuing business with sanctioned Chinese and Russian entities. – Wall Street Journal

Entire neighborhoods leveled. Bridges and roads shattered. Electricity lines downed. Hospitals overwhelmed by casualties. Bodies left lying in the streets. Mass graves filling with corpses. The scenes of devastation in eastern Libya following catastrophic floods this week are eerily reminiscent of other moments of destruction in the country’s recent history — conflicts that left thousands of people dead and the country riven by political turmoil. – Washington Post

The daughters of a prominent human rights activist jailed in Bahrain said he resumed a hunger strike Wednesday after being denied medical care and as the country’s crown prince visited the United States. – Associated Press

Clashes intensified Wednesday in Lebanon’s largest Palestinian refugee camp, leaving at least five people dead and more than a dozen wounded, Lebanese state media and security officials said. Scores of civilians have been forced to flee to safer areas. – Associated Press

The United States plans to withhold $85 million in military aid to Egypt because of Cairo’s failure to meet U.S. conditions on freeing political prisoners and other issues, according to a congressional notification obtained by Reuters and a U.S. senator. – Reuters

French billboards and TV shows are all about solidarity with earthquake-stricken Morocco, and the large Franco-Moroccan community is getting organized to ship aid, yet one person isn’t able to help and he’s not happy about it: Emmanuel Macron. – Bloomberg

Hisham Melhem writes: At a time when America’s democratic system of governance, its liberal open society, and its cherished concepts of inclusive patriotism and political pluralism are being challenged and eroded, it is folly to further undermine those values and the institutions that undergird them by seeking closer ties with indefensible regimes in the Middle East. Saudi Arabia, Israel, Turkey, and Egypt may be Washington’s traditional allies in the region, but they do not deserve that status today. – Foreign Policy

Joey Shea writes: These flippant denials are insufficient: Washington and other governments that have provided support to Saudi Arabia need to demand answers and seek accountability. The United States and others are also duty-bound to investigate their complicity, hold themselves accountable, and stop not only their indifference to Saudi human rights violations, but also their own contributions to those abuses. – Foreign Policy

Korean Peninsula

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un will visit an aviation factory and inspect Russia’s Pacific naval fleet on Thursday, continuing his focus on military issues on his third day in the Russian Far East. – Washington Post

In a fateful moment of history turning back on itself, Russia and the United States are reaching out to those same allies to supply badly needed munitions as the powers face each other down again, this time on the other side of the globe, in Ukraine. – New York Times

That backdrop has made North Korea far more relevant than in years past for Russia, despite North Korea’s history as an impoverished, troublesome partner since the breakup of the old Soviet bloc. And it underscores the extent to which war aims continue to serve as an overriding priority for Mr. Putin, as his invasion of Ukraine nears the 19-month mark. – New York Times

Kim Jong Un invited Kremlin chief Vladimir Putin to visit North Korea during a rare summit, stoking U.S. concerns that a revived Moscow-Pyongyang axis could bolster Russia’s military in Ukraine and provide Kim sensitive missile technology. – Reuters

South Korea’s prime minister was in Poland on Wednesday for talks on regional security amid the war in neighboring Ukraine, and also to discuss military and nuclear energy cooperation as his country continues to strengthen ties with Warsaw. – Associated Press

Jessica Karl writes: It’s a loaded word, but without such a force, some argue that the international system will revert to its default state of total and complete anarchy (Insert DUN DUN DUN sound effect here). Some people predict China will usurp America as the global hegemon, but Andreas doubts many people are keen on having the Communist Party dictate international order. – Bloomberg

Karishma Vaswani writes: The idea of a nuclear conflict between the countries that are united against the US and its allies isn’t some distant possibility. It’s the most real and plausible scenario seen in decades. North Korea’s role makes it even more urgent. How we prevent that is shaping up as one of the biggest geopolitical challenges policymakers are facing today. – Bloomberg


China is carrying out a massive anticorruption purge across its healthcare sector, in an effort to bring down medical costs and revive the country’s flagging economy. – Wall Street Journal 

Beijing on Thursday blasted the launch of a probe by the European Commission into China’s electric vehicle subsidies as protectionist and warned it would negatively impact economic and trade relations, as shares in Chinese EV makers slid. – Reuters

The United States’ move to upgrade relation with Hanoi is not a Cold War move against China, a U.S. National Security Council official said on Wednesday. – Reuters

A flagship Beijing lending programme to revive the country’s debt-stricken property market has done barely any business almost a year after its launch, officials said, highlighting the difficulty for policymakers seeking to boost confidence in the world’s second-largest economy. – Financial Times

In light of startling disclosures of Beijing’s espionage activities in Britain’s parliament, concerns are growing of similar threats to Congress, the chairman of the House select committee on Communist China is warning. – New York Sun

The Chinese People’s Liberation Army Navy Shandong Carrier Strike Group is operating in the Philippine Sea, being shadowed separately by Republic of China Navy and Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force (JMSDF) destroyers, according to both countries. – USNI News

Editorial: The United States learned that lesson over and over again during the Cold War, in which American officials wisely chose to negotiate with the Soviet Union, a country with which economic and other ties were far less substantial. These planned congressional visits are a good step at resuming the type of dialogues that used to be commonplace. – Washington Post

James Stavridis writes: Big doors can swing on small hinges, and in an era of an expanding global Chinese military, we need bilateral communications and protocols to defuse incidents; these are sorely lacking at the moment. China has plenty of internal problems right now, from restive youth to challenging demographics to a sputtering economy — but we must not underestimate the arc of their military ambition. – Bloomberg

South Asia

U.S. and European firms are shifting investment away from China to other developing markets, a report from Rhodium Group showed, with India receiving the vast majority of this redirected foreign capital, followed by Mexico, Vietnam and Malaysia. – Reuters

India and Russia will explore the possibility of using new transport corridors such as the Northern Sea Route and Eastern Maritime Corridor between Vladivostok and Chennai to widen maritime cooperation, the Indian government said on Wednesday. – Reuters

Sri Lanka’s government deployed army troops at railroad stations as railway employees continued with their strike that paralyzed train services across the country for a second day Wednesday, a day after two passengers were killed while attempting to travel on a packed train. – Associated Press

Sadanand Dhume writes: For India and Mr. Modi, all this undoubtedly counts as a foreign-policy win. But it doesn’t change hard realities. China’s economy is more than five times as large as India’s and Beijing remains hostile to India’s aspirations. The U.S.-led global order welcomes India’s rise. A Chinese- and Russian-led order would seek to quash India’s ambitions rather than nurture them. – Wall Street Journal

Mihir Sharma writes: We’re talking of building infrastructure in an area which is, to put it mildly, subject to geopolitical risk. It’s Washington’s job to manage and underwrite that risk, which should in turn reinforce its traditional influence in the region. For the US, that seems a gamble well worth taking. – Bloomberg


Taiwan is “not for sale”, the island’s foreign minister said in a stern rebuke to Elon Musk who asserted Taiwan was an integral part of China, as the billionaire again waded into the thorny issue of relations between Beijing and Taipei. – Reuters

Australia will toughen laws stopping former defence staff from training “certain foreign militaries”, introducing a penalty of 20 years prison and widening the ban to stop any Australians offering military training to countries seen as a national security risk. – Reuters

Azerbaijan has sent new proposals to Armenia in their longstanding attempts to reach a peace deal, but big gaps remain between the two sides, Armenia’s state news agency quoted the country’s foreign minister as saying on Wednesday. – Reuters

Thailand’s billionaire former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra is back in his home country after 15 years of self-exile, but the charismatic politician’s return has left a bitter taste in his northern homeland and longtime political stronghold. – Financial Times

Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Manet headed to Beijing on Thursday on his first official trip abroad since taking office last month in a demonstration of his country’s warm relations with China, its closest political and economic ally. – Associated Press


Romania found more debris suspected to be from a Russian drone on Wednesday, following Russian strikes on Ukrainian Danube ports just across the border. It was the third such discovery on Romanian soil in less than two weeks. – New York Times

The European Union’s top official on Wednesday called for a major expansion of the bloc to include not only Ukraine but also Moldova, several Western Balkan nations and Georgia over the next few years, a move that would push the group from 27 to over 30 members with more than half a billion citizens, and would make the world’s largest free-trade, free-travel area even larger. – New York Times

Britain’s domestic intelligence agency, MI5, warned the governing Conservative Party that two potential candidates to become lawmakers could be spies for China, and the party blocked them, the Times newspaper reported on Wednesday. – Reuters

French Europe Minister Laurence Boon on Wednesday welcomed an anti-subsidy investigation into Chinese electric vehicles launched by the EU Commission, saying it was important to protect the bloc’s market. – Reuters

The German government on Wednesday forbid the complete takeover of satellite startup KLEO Connect by a Chinese firm, two government sources told Reuters. – Reuters

Britain’s lower house of parliament approved a new law on Wednesday that would ban Chinese surveillance technology from government buildings and military bases days after news of an alleged spying scandal in parliament. – Reuters

Top Bosnian Serb officials on Wednesday dismissed an indictment against their nationalist leader Milorad Dodik as politically motivated, saying they would not recognise decisions by an “unconstitutional court and prosecution”. – Reuters

President Zuzana Caputova has sued the head of Slovakia’s leading political party for spreading lies about her, the presidential office said on Wednesday, weeks before an election that could cause a sharp turn in foreign policy. – Reuters

EU chief Ursula von der Leyen set out a vision on Wednesday of an enlarged European Union that would include Ukraine – but Kyiv still has a way to go to get the green light for membership talks, with Hungary seen as a potential block. – Reuters

Italy was committed to fund its share of the Italian-Anglo-Japanese fighter jet programme for 15 years, long enough for the aircraft to enter service, the director for the project at the Italian Ministry of Defence said on Wednesday. – Reuters

All of Northern Ireland’s major political parties, Catholic and Protestant churches, human rights organizations and the United Nations opposed the Legacy and Reconciliation Bill, which passed its final hurdle in Parliament late Tuesday. – Associated Press

Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania have banned vehicles with Russian license plates from entering their territory, a joint move in line with a recent interpretation of the European Union’s sanctions against Moscow over its war on Ukraine. – Associated Press

A prominent member of Germany’s far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) will face trial for using a banned Nazi slogan in an election campaign, a court said on Wednesday. – Agence France-Presse

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer on Wednesday demanded that Rishi Sunak conduct a “full audit of UK-China relations” following the arrest of a British parliamentary researcher accused of spying for Beijing. – Financial Times

Slovakia’s upcoming election could weaken western support for Ukraine, with Russia-friendly parties expected to make a comeback in the central European country. – Financial Times

The Bulgarian Defence Ministry is expected to select its new three-coordinate radar in the coming weeks, according to industry representatives present at this year’s DSEI show in London. – Defense News

Lithuania is determined to make stockpile building a critical component of its defense policy, according to a government official. – Defense News

James Thomson writes: Fico was himself charged with operating an organized criminal group last year before the charges were controversially dropped by the chief prosecutor. The Smer leader, in an apparent attempt to pre-empt a disappointing result, has already begun claiming that the election could be rigged. Should Smer fail to achieve first place in the poll, we can expect to hear such claims being amplified. – Center for European Policy Analysis


The Biden administration is dispatching Wally Adeyemo, the deputy Treasury secretary, to Nigeria next week as it seeks to deepen economic ties with Africa and counter China’s influence on the continent. – New York Times

A high court in Democratic Republic of Congo has sentenced presidential candidate Jean-Marc Kabund to seven years in prison on 12 charges including spreading false rumours and insulting the head of state, his lawyer said on Wednesday. – Reuters

The United Nations Joint Human Rights office has received credible reports about the existence of at least 13 mass graves in Sudan’s El Geneina, a city in Darfur, and its surrounding areas, the head of the U.N.’s Sudan mission said on Wednesday. – Reuters

The United Nations special envoy to Sudan is stepping down, more than three months after Sudan declared him unwelcome after disagreements between rival factions erupted into war. – Reuters

The U.S. military has resumed flying drones and manned aircraft out of air bases in the Niger more than a month after a coup temporarily halted all those activities there, the head of U.S. Air Forces for Europe and Africa said Wednesday. – Associated Press

At least 10 government soldiers were killed Tuesday during an attack by armed groups in northern Mali, the nation’s armed forces said, amid ongoing deadly violence in the hard-hit region and as United Nations peacekeepers continue their withdrawal. – Associated Press

Newly reelected Zimbabwean President Emmerson Mnangagwa swore in a new Cabinet on Tuesday after appointing one of his sons and one of his nephews to deputy minister posts. – Associated Press

Latin America

Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro vowed to send “the first Venezuelan man or woman to the moon” in a Chinese spacecraft as part of a new strategic partnership between the two countries, he said Wednesday during a state visit to Beijing. – Washington Post

Guatemalan President-elect Bernardo Arevalo has temporarily suspended his participation in the government transition, he said in a news conference on Tuesday, as actions by authorities fueled doubts around the transfer of power. – Reuters

Brazil is preparing to launch a center for international police cooperation to combat environmental crimes and drug trafficking in the Amazon rainforest by the end of 2023, Federal Police officials told Reuters. – Reuters

Brazil has formally requested U.S. law enforcement assistance into probes that involve former President Jair Bolsonaro after his ex-aide agreed to cooperate with Brazilian investigators, two Brazilian Federal Police sources told Reuters. – Reuters

Haiti’s government announced that it met Wednesday with Dominican officials in the Dominican Republic to talk about a recent threat by that country’s president to close all borders in response to a row over the construction of a supposed canal. – Associated Press

North America

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Wednesday brushed aside the idea he might quit due to poor polling numbers, saying he still had plenty of work to do, but acknowledged public grumbling about the cost of living. – Reuters

Senator Chuck Schumer, the majority leader, is planning to lead a bipartisan delegation of senators to China this fall, making him the highest-level congressional official and the latest senior statesman to visit the United States’ rival superpower as the Biden administration attempts to address tensions with Beijing through an all-out diplomatic push. – New York Times

Editorial: Yet Mr. McCarthy is in a tenuous position, with only a slim majority of 222 Republican seats, which means a right-wing fringe can exert extraordinary power over the speaker. “We will go wherever the evidence takes us,” Mr. McCarthy said on Tuesday. That is not what he has done so far. For what could be only short-term gain, the speaker has blessed a process that could snowball into a crisis for his speakership and a distraction for the country. If he is not looking for off-ramps now, he should be. – Washington Post


The iPhone of a prominent Russian journalist whose news outlet has effectively been outlawed by President Vladimir Putin was infected with Pegasus spyware this year, researchers say, in the first known case of the powerful eavesdropping tool being used against a significant Russian target. – Washington Post 

China on Wednesday made its first public comments about reports that the government is restricting the use of Apple’s iPhones by some state employees, saying that Beijing had noted what it claimed were security concerns about the device. – New York Times

Rapid advances in artificial intelligence (AI) such as Microsoft-backed OpenAI’s ChatGPT are complicating governments’ efforts to agree laws governing the use of the technology. – Reuters

India’s government has told a court that Elon Musk’s X is a “habitual non-compliant platform” and for years has not followed many orders to remove content, undermining the government’s role, according to a legal filing reviewed by Reuters. – Reuters

The U.S. National Security Council (NSC) is urging the governments of all countries participating in the International Counter Ransomware Initiative (CRI) to issue a joint statement announcing they will not pay ransoms to cybercriminals, according to three sources with knowledge of the plans. – The Record


The Biden administration has established a new system for responding to incidents in which foreign forces are suspected of using American-made weapons to injure or kill civilians, a first-of-its-kind initiative in an ongoing effort to minimize the human toll of U.S. arms exports and military operations worldwide. – Washington Post

A new era of war fought in the digital realm, touching all aspects of combat and rife with disinformation, will require the Air Force to redefine its jobs and reinforce its rigor, the service’s top enlisted airman said here Wednesday. – Defense News

Recent sea trials of a remotely operated underwater vehicle proved it is capable of neutralizing naval mines, a new milestone for the Franco-British Maritime Mine Countermeasures program, French firm Thales announced Wednesday. – Defense News

The Royal Netherlands Navy is upgrading its fleet to better handle existing and anticipated threats, with air defense and command frigate De Ruyter recently completing a midlife upgrade that provides the ship with a sophisticated ballistic missile defense radar. – Defense News

Republican leaders on Wednesday were unable to muster the votes needed to pass the House’s annual Pentagon spending legislation amid a revolt from the right-wing Freedom Caucus, despite numerous conservative policy riders on the bill. – Defense News