Fdd's overnight brief

September 15, 2022

In The News


The Biden administration is considering sanctions targeting entities linked to Iran for encouraging attacks on Salman Rushdie, people familiar with the matter say, after the acclaimed novelist was stabbed last month at a New York event. – Wall Street Journal

Two-thirds of the U.N. nuclear watchdog’s 35-nation Board of Governors endorsed a non-binding statement by the United States, Britain, France and Germany on Wednesday pressing Iran to explain why uranium traces were found at three undeclared sites. – Reuters

Iran has signed a Memorandum of Obligations to become a permanent member of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO), Iran’s foreign minister said on Thursday, as Tehran seeks to overcome economic isolation amid U.S. sanctions. – Reuters

Remaining parts of a building that collapsed in May killing 41 people in southwestern Iran have imploded during demolition work, according to Iranian state media. A local official with the Red Crescent Society, Vahid Shabani said there were injuries after “another part of the structure” fell, IRNA reported. – Associated Press

Iran will need sanctions to be lifted if it hopes to strengthen economic ties with China — and that can only come with a successful nuclear deal, one analyst told CNBC. – CNBC

After a year and a half of negotiations, which resulted in a “final text” of an agreement for Iran to return to compliance with the 2015 nuclear deal, Tehran’s latest demands have effectively sunk prospects for any agreement in the near term. – Washington Examiner

United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Tuesday urged Iran to hold a “serious dialogue” about investigations by UN nuclear inspectors, which have in recent weeks become a roadblock in negotiations toward a renewed nuclear deal. – Times of Israel

Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian said Wednesday that Iran’s position in the negotiations aimed at reviving the 2015 nuclear deal has not been changed, the Xinhua news agency reported. – Arutz Sheva

During his last days in office, former US president Donald Trump expressed concerns to friends that Iran would try to assassinate him in revenge for the killing of Qassem Soleimani, head of the Quds Force of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, which he’d ordered the previous year, according to a new book. – Times of Israel

The U.S. Navy managed to retrieve a trio of unmanned vessels from Iranian would-be thieves recently, but the incidents highlight the need to protect maritime drones that may in the future be valuable, armed, or sensitive. – Defense One

Nicole Grajewski writes: To be sure, Iran’s participation in the Samarkand summit and budding accession to the SCO do not represent an institutional solution to the country’s international isolation. Yet both developments nevertheless bear watching as indicators of Tehran’s growing involvement and cooperation with countries that fall within the SCO’s sphere of influence. – Washington Institute

Russia & Ukraine

Russia struck water infrastructure in Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky’s hometown with cruise missiles on Wednesday after Mr. Zelensky made his first trip to the Kharkiv region since Ukrainian forces recaptured thousands of square miles of territory there over the weekend. – Wall Street Journal

When the Russians swept into the northeastern Ukraine region of Kharkiv in late February, Russian troops occupying the towns there promised locals they would stay forever. Instead, Ukrainian forces drove Russian troops out of most of the region this month, retaking about 3,500 square miles of territory in a matter of days. – Wall Street Journal

The frontline in eastern Ukraine is approaching the borders of territory claimed by the separatist Luhansk People’s Republic (LPR), a senior Russian-backed LPR military commander told the TASS news agency on Wednesday. – Reuters

Ukraine’s western government creditors concluded on Wednesday a memorandum of understanding on a planned debt service suspension, the group said. – Reuters

The 193-member United Nations General Assembly is on Friday due to consider a proposal for Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskiy to address the annual gathering of world leaders next week with a pre-recorded video. – Reuters

Russia’s financial sector suffered hundreds of billions of dollars in “direct losses” from the sweeping sanctions imposed by the US and its allies over President Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine, according to an internal Finance Ministry document. – Bloomberg

Sens. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) and Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) on Wednesday introduced a bill that would designate Russia as a “state sponsor of terrorism,” just a few months after the Senate Judiciary Committee members called on the Biden administration to do so. – The Hill

A Russian energy executive died last week after he fell off his boat, joining at least eight other Russian business leaders and tycoons, including the energy executive’s former boss, who have mysteriously died in the past nine months. – The Hill

Former Gov. Bill Richardson and his team were in Moscow this week and held meetings with Russian leadership, CNN has learned. – CNN

President Vladimir Putin’s expanding war effort appears to be lifting Russian industrial production, helping his economy outperform many of the worst forecasts amid sanctions. – Bloomberg

Vladimir Putin has put off meetings with his top military officials as the Kremlin works to deflect blame for the Russian president’s recent defeats in Moscow’s war with Ukraine. – Business Insider

Over the roughly two decades that Russian President Vladimir Putin has been in power, he’s dedicated a lot of time and money to building up and modernizing Russia’s military. In the process, Putin garnered a reputation as a force to be reckoned with and was widely viewed as one of the most powerful leaders in the world. – Business Insider

Surrounded by prisoners dressed in black, a man identified as Yevgeny Prigozhin, the head of a shadowy mercenary group, makes this pitch: Come fight in Ukraine and be rewarded with your freedom — if you can make it back alive. – Business Insider

Following a weekend of conclusive military defeats at the hands of Ukraine’s unexpectedly capable troops, Russia is being forced to confront its glaring manpower problem — and an obstinate president who refuses to offer reprieve. – Business Insider

E.J. Dionne Jr. writes: What can give heart to Biden — and to all Americans — is that thanks to Russian aggression and an increasingly hard-line Chinese foreign policy, much of the world again sees the power of the United States as an indispensable counterforce to bellicose nations hostile to democracy. This may be, at best, a subtext to our election. But it matters — to history and to our understanding of ourselves. – Washington Post

Anthony Grant writes: Between the lines and beyond the customary Kremlin intransigence, the faint outline of the possibility of another round of talks between adversaries is shaping up. Whether any key world leaders, such as presidents Biden, Macron, or Erdogan, can push that prospect forward ahead of winter remains to be seen. – New York Sun

David A. Super writes: Ultimately, the war in Ukraine will have to end in some sort of agreement. This could be an indirect one through third parties, like the agreement allowing Ukrainian grain exports. […]To gain this, Ukraine likely will have to grant Russia some face-saving — though no land. The Ukrainians, however, need no Western nudging on how to do this. The Ukrainians have proven themselves as smart, pragmatic, and strategic as any nation could hope to be. – The Hill

Jonathan Sweet writes: Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has never been concerned with fears of escalation, only his country’s extermination. He never considered negotiations to cede Ukrainian territory in exchange for a ceasefire or peace, only the return of all Russian-occupied territory — Crimea and the Donbas region. And now, after nearly seven months of combating Russian President Vladimir Putin’s special military operation, Ukraine is on the cusp of bringing a collapse of Russian ground forces. The West needs to listen to Kyiv more and Westsplain less. Give Ukraine what it needs to get it done. – Washington Examiner

Ian Buruma writes: At the same time, Ukrainians are certainly showing that they are prepared to fight for their freedom, just as the British did in World War Two. It is now up to other democracies to bear the consequences of helping Ukraine defend itself. If Russians can resist economic pressure in a misbegotten cause, they should do no less in a virtuous one. – Bloomberg

Andreas Kluth writes: Of course, the goal must be to end this war with some sort of diplomatic settlement. But that can only happen once the Ukrainians have prevailed on the battlefield. Until then, the West must call Putin’s bluffs, and Ukraine must keep winning. Germany can help with that. Therefore it must. – Bloomberg

Hal Brands writes: But barring that best-of-all-worlds outcome, the coming months may see some difficult conversations between the US and Ukraine over how much Kyiv should seek in a peace deal with Moscow […]Today, Ukraine is fighting the free world’s war against Moscow. That doesn’t necessarily mean it will get all that it deserves. – Bloomberg

Michael Barone writes: In both cases, experts were unable to model the responses in people’s minds and quantify the power of what was in their hearts. People’s pride in a nation under brutal attack, their pride in earning success day in and day out on the job and at home — those cannot easily be modeled or measured. The potential in people’s hearts can escape detection by experts and may be appreciated better, though without precision, by ordinary people. – Washington Examiner

Dennis Murphy writes: No one knows how this war will end. Until we learn more about the state of Russia’s defenses and of its ability to reorganize its military forces, no one should be convinced that Ukraine’s ultimate victory is in sight. – The Daily Beast

Peter J. Wallison writes: If the Ukraine war goes as badly for Russia as current setbacks suggest, and if the Ukrainians—as expected—continue to be supported by the West and refuse to negotiate with Putin, mass protests in major Russian cities are to be expected, and ultimately, a change in the Russian government is likely to be the result. – Newsweek

Michael Rubin writes: It is time to gear strategy to the world in which we live rather than whose parameters are shaped by wishful-thinking or fear. After a Soviet-led genocide and two Russian wars of aggression in Ukraine, it is time to give meaning to the phrase “never again,” even if that comes at the expense of decades of non-proliferation practice. – 19FortyFive

Dalibor Rohac writes: Here’s a prediction. If Ukrainians do build on the weekend’s victories and restore the country’s full sovereignty, Ukraine’s reconstruction will be quick and easy—far outpacing the imagination of most experts. If they fail and some version of the territorial status quo degenerates through a ceasefire or through attrition into a frozen conflict, no amount of Western assistance, whether financial or technical, will make much of a difference. – American Purpose

Jonah Goldberg writes: Al-Qaeda attacked us because they believed we wouldn’t fight. Putin invaded Ukraine because he believed NATO lacked resolve and the Ukrainians weren’t serious about their nationhood. Clear principles—and credibility that we will act on them—is the best deterrence and the author of all worthwhile strategy. – The Dispatch

Cullen Hendrix writes: Under President Vladimir Putin, Russia’s 21st-century emergence as a pivotal actor in both global food and fuel markets—and Putin’s willingness to destabilize these markets for political gain—have caused or exacerbated these recurrent crises. – Foreign Policy


The foreign minister of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed arrived in Tel Aviv on Wednesday for an official visit to Israel, marking two years since the countries signed the so-called Abraham Accords, the state news agency (WAM) reported. – Reuters

Two Palestinian gunmen, one of them a member of a U.S.-backed security service, killed an Israeli army officer and were shot dead by his unit on Wednesday in an incident that stirred fresh worry in Washington. – Reuters

Israeli forces Thursday morning arrested several suspected accomplices of Palestinian terrorists who shot and killed their commander in a shootout adjacent to the West Bank security barrier the day before. – Ynet

The Biden administration is working to ensure the continuation of security cooperation between Israel and the Palestinian Authority amid the ongoing spike in West Bank violence, a senior US official said Wednesday. – Times of Israel

Israel Police concluded an agreement with the European Union on Wednesday to share intelligence with the EU’s Agency for Law Enforcement Cooperation, more commonly known as Europol. – Jerusalem Post

Gantz decided on the complete closure of the Jalameh and Salem crossings, effective immediately and until further notice. The Minister of Defense also decided to stop the entry permits to Israel of the residents of Kafr Dan, including for the purpose of employment in Israel, until further notice. – Arutz Sheva

Editorial: However, it now appears Iran has soured on the deal anyway and is trying to wring more concessions. This should illustrate that Iran is not a trustworthy country to be negotiated with. Israel’s apparent policy of targeting Iran’s proxies and allies that are doing its bidding against the Jewish state is a sound one that is helping to keep the threat from Tehran at arm’s length. – Jerusalem Post

Benny Avni writes: The additional scrutiny the IDF gets has taught its troops to be extra cautious when civilians are involved. Then again, the danger of being overly trigger shy is the loss of lives, as in the case of Major Bar Falah. – New York Sun


The Biden administration said Wednesday that it would transfer billions of dollars of Afghanistan’s frozen assets to a fund in Switzerland, effectively shelving talks on recapitalizing the central bank under Taliban rule. – Wall Street Journal

Many Afghans are following news of a reversal in girls’ school openings in eastern Paktia province for clues on whether the Taliban will loosen restrictions on girls’ education after reneging on a pledge to reopen high schools in March. – Reuters

Afghan and Pakistani authorities blamed each other Wednesday for an overnight clash at the border that caused casualties on both sides. – Associated Press

The Taliban are “looking into” a video circulating on social media that appears to show its fighters executing captured members of an Afghan insurgent group, a government spokesman said Wednesday. – Agence France-Presse

Editorial: That’s certainly a better idea than what’s in the works from Mr. Biden. It’s been little over a year since he surrendered Afghanistan to the Taliban. Now, he wants America to take money that could have gone to the families of 9/11 victims to relieve the regime responsible for that day’s horrors. That kind of logic is on a par with McNamara turning on the taxpayer-backed World Bank’s cash spigot to benefit the Communists tyrannizing Vietnam. – New York Sun


Syria’s simmering 11-year war is at risk of boiling up once again with a return to large-scale combat after several frontlines across the country flared up in recent months, the United Nations warned on Wednesday in a new report. – Reuters

An Israeli airstrike on the airport of the Syrian capital Damascus in June that forced it to close for two weeks led to the suspension of humanitarian activities during that period, the commission of the Independent International Commission of Inquiry on Syria said Wednesday. – Associated Press

The United States announced Wednesday that it will provide more than $750 million in additional humanitarian funding for the Syrian people. U.S. Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield told the U.N. Security Council the new donation is in addition to the over $800 million in added U.S. humanitarian aid for Syria that she announced at a donor’s conference in Brussels in May. – Associated Press

When a Syrian prison guard tossed him into a dimly-lit room, the inmate Abdo was surprised to find himself standing ankle-deep in what appeared to be salt. On that day in the winter of 2017, the terrified young man had already been locked up for two years in war-torn Syria’s largest and most notorious prison, Sednaya. – Agence France-Presse

Omar Abu Layla writes: If other external actors such as the United States truly wish to limit Iranian military activity in Syria, they will ultimately need to help local Syrians address the Iranian issue at its core through aid and other forms of local assistance, rather than focusing on military strikes alone. Otherwise, with international attention increasingly turned away from Syria, Iran will be left to build up a much more serious military and soft power threat on both sides of the Euphrates. – Washington Institute


One of the only significant diplomatic breakthroughs in the Ukraine war—a grain-export deal that helped lower global food prices—is under fresh pressure as Russian officials warn they are unhappy with the terms, raising the threat that Moscow could use it in its widening economic war with the West. – Wall Street Journal

The US and EU are stepping up pressure on Turkey to crack down on Russian sanctions evasion amid concerns that the country’s banking sector is a potential backdoor for illicit finance. – Financial Times

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan said on Wednesday Armenia’s attitude towards Azerbaijan was unacceptable and would have consequences, after days of clashes between the two neighbours. – Reuters

The new Swedish government should now address security concerns that Turkey has raised in return for lifting its veto on Sweden and Finland’s membership of NATO, Turkey’s foreign minister said on Wednesday. – Reuters

Turkey has canceled visa-free travel for Turkmen citizens at the request of the Central Asian nation’s government. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan signed the government’s decision into law on September 13. – Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty

O. Peri writes: In fact, Turkey now controls parts of northern Syria, a situation which the Syrian regime sees as Turkish occupation of Syrian territory. However, Turkey has lately been signaling a willingness to renew the relations with the Assad regime, as evident from statements by Syrian officials hinting at a possible rapprochement. – Middle East Media Research Institute


Sali Hafiz donned a black T-shirt and trousers and a pair of lime green sneakers. Mask askew, she charged into a bank in Lebanon’s capital on Wednesday, cocked a gun in the air and demanded her money. – Washington Post

DM Benny Gantz warned that if Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah tries to bomb the Karish gas field off Lebanon’s shores, Lebanon will pay the full price for the attack. – Arutz Sheva

Yossi Yehoshua writes: If any threat can be deduced from Haliva’s remarks Tuesday, it is directed northward at Hezbollah Secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah. […]Haliva’s words are of great importance, even more so because they were conveyed in a clear and straightforward manner. “Israel’s might is immense, and I am sure that Hezbollah understands this and does not want to test us. Nasrallah is a serious man and knows what I am talking about,” he said. – Ynet


State Department officials said Wednesday that they would give Egypt most of an allocated $300 million in conditional military aid despite pressure from senior Democratic lawmakers to withhold the full amount until the country improves its human rights record. – New York Times

The Biden administration will withhold $130 million in assistance to Egypt over its failure to meet certain human rights requirements, while allowing about $1 billion in aid to go forward, senior State Department officials told reporters on Wednesday. – Bloomberg

Egypt and Qatar took further steps to strengthen ties after years of dispute during a visit to Doha by President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi, as the North African nation looks to lure Gulf financing for an economy hit by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. – Bloomberg

Egyptian authorities have released Al Jazeera journalist Ahmed Al Nagdy from detention, the pan-Arab, Qatar-based television network reported on Wednesday, quoting Al Nagdy’s lawyer. – Reuters

Two international NGOs have asked French prosecutors and the UN to investigate the French state’s involvement in Egypt allegedly committing crimes against humanity in a secret military operation on the Egyptian-Libyan border. – The Guardian

Robbie Gramer writes: In the run-up to hosting a major U.N. climate summit in November, Egypt has publicly touted its commitment to curb carbon emissions and framed itself as a leader in supporting the developing world’s adaptation to new climate shocks. But behind the scenes, the Egyptian government has cracked down on environmental activists in the country through harassment, intimidation, and arrests, according to interviews with environmental experts and a new report from an international human rights watchdog. – Foreign Policy

Saudi Arabia

As Russia massed troops on its border with Ukraine and invaded the country at the start of the year, Saudi Arabia’s Kingdom Holding Company quietly invested more than $600 million in Russia’s three dominant energy companies. – New York Times

Saudi Arabia and other Gulf states flush with oil revenue are coming to the rescue of crisis-racked neighbors such as Egypt, Pakistan and Turkey, doubling down on a diplomatic tool they long used to build influence throughout the region. – Wall Street Journal

Editorial: The crown prince holds himself out as a modernizer, enabling women’s rights. But behind the curtain, he destroys individuals over the slightest trifle. These cases show Mr. Biden was duped in Jiddah. He must not remain silent. He should openly denounce such barbaric thuggery. – Washington Post

Gulf States

Israel and Qatar, which have no diplomatic relations, have discussed opening a temporary Israeli office in the Gulf state during the World Cup, an Israeli official told AFP Wednesday. – Agence France-Presse

Iran’s top diplomat said Wednesday his country wants to boost relations with the United Arab Emirates, welcoming an Emirati ambassador back to Tehran after a six-year absence. – Agence France-Presse

Thani Al Zeyoudi writes: Over the past two years, the UAE and Israel have demonstrated what can be achieved when we cast aside our divisions and differences. The Abraham Accords laid strong foundations for a new era of prosperity, progress and peace for our people and for those right across the region and, amid the disruptions of the global pandemic and rising energy costs, added stability and a sense of optimism to the geopolitical landscape. – Jerusalem Post

Bilal Y. Saab writes: We don’t need two divisions of tanks stationed in Kuwait, just like we don’t need a brigade combat team and two fighter squadrons in the country. The Kuwaitis have enough firepower of their own. What we need is tailored and more consistent U.S. advice on defense governance and, specifically, on how to create a Kuwaiti joint force by instituting the above-mentioned command structures and practices. – Middle East Institute

Middle East & North Africa

President Trump once offered what he considered “a great deal” to Jordan’s King Abdullah II: control of the West Bank, whose Palestinian population long sought to topple the monarchy. – Washington Post

Tunisia’s government and an influential labor union agreed on a wage hike for public sector workers, a move that could help ease frictions as the North African nation seeks International Monetary Fund aid. – Bloomberg

The United Nations chief urged Libya’s political rivals on Wednesday to preserve peace “at all costs” and quickly agree on legal changes so elections can take place because there is a question of government “legitimacy that now becomes extremely difficult to overcome.” – Associated Press

Two years after former President Donald Trump signed the Abraham Accords with the leaders of the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain, a top Biden administration foreign policy official pledged to continue to promote and build on the normalization agreements. – Jewish Insider 

Mohamed Chtatou writes: While the “Arab NATO” moment may have already passed, continued regional threats and changing dynamics suggest that the “Middle East NATO” moment is now. Rather than uniting against Israel, Arab countries appear to be uniting with Israel. The question now is not whether a Middle East NATO is possible, but whether there is a threat big enough to cause it? Considering the aggression of Iran and its proxies, the answer has to be yes. The stability of the entire MENA region is at stake, now more than ever. – Washington Institute

Gerald Feierstein and Yoel Guzansky write: After two years, the participating governments continue to see the Abraham Accords positively as advancing their national interests; and normalization has opened the door to private-sector elements, especially in the UAE, that were well-positioned to take advantage of the resulting bilateral trade and commerce opportunities. But the Accords have yet to find a firm rooting in the attitudes of Arab populations. – Middle East Institute

Korean Peninsula

Britain is inviting a representative from North Korea to attend Queen Elizabeth’s funeral on Monday, but Afghanistan, Syria and Venezuela will not be given an invite, a foreign office source said on Wednesday. – Reuters

Suriname will explore legal action against the producers of South Korea’s hit Netflix (NFLX.O) series “Narco-Saints” which fosters negative images of the country by portraying it as a “narco state,” its government has said. – Reuters

South Korea’s President Yoon Suk-yeol will hold bilateral talks with U.S. President Joe Biden and Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida in New York on the sidelines of a United Nations General Assembly meeting, news agency News1 reported on Thursday. – Reuters

China’s top legislator, Li Zhanshu, is set to arrive in Seoul on Thursday and meet South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol, who has sought to assure Beijing that his push to deepen ties with the United States is not a threat. – Reuters

South Korean police arrested a woman on Thursday charged with murdering what is believed to be her two children whose remains were found in suitcases in New Zealand last month. – Reuters

The identity of a mystery woman spotted recently by the side of North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un has baffled experts and sparked speculation that she’s the tubby tyrant’s loyal half-sister, according to reports Wednesday. – New York Post


President Xi Jinping left China on Wednesday for the first time in almost three years, marking his reemergence on the international stage with a tour of Central Asia intended to advance his goal of forging an alternative world order not dominated by the West. – Washington Post

Shortly before invading Ukraine in February, Vladimir Putin and Xi Jinping declared a “no limits” friendship. Yet even as his forces suffer humiliating losses on the battlefield, Russia’s president shouldn’t expect much help at his first meeting with his Chinese counterpart since then. – Bloomberg

It’s not just rocket fuel propelling America’s first moonshot after a half-century lull. Rivalry with China’s flourishing space program is helping drive NASA’s effort to get back into space in a bigger way, as both nations push to put people back on the moon and establish the first lunar bases. – Associated Press

The United States is considering options for a sanctions package against China to deter it from invading Taiwan, with the European Union coming under diplomatic pressure from Taipei to do the same, according to sources familiar with the discussions. – Reuters

China’s ruling Communist Party sets the stage next month for the biggest overhaul of its economic leadership in a decade, with a generation of reform-minded policymakers expected to step down amid worsening growth prospects. – Reuters

Editorial: This means bringing China’s “rescue lending” practices alongside those of other international creditor organisations such as the Paris Club and the IMF. The chances of averting crises, or dealing with them swiftly, will be greatly enhanced by such a spirit of co-operation between China and western-led agencies. – Financial Times

David Wallace-Wells writes: This doesn’t mean that a “China bubble” is about to pop; that the country is anything other than the world’s most consequential, for climate; or that the unsteady relationship between it and the United States is going to become any less important. – New York Times

Nigel Inkster writes: The same may prove true with China. Western policymakers and intelligence services must innovate and adapt. But they also must ensure that strategies they employ honor the ideals of freedom, openness and lawfulness that pose the greatest threat to the Chinese party-state. – New York Times

Patty-Jane Geller writes: In the competition with China, nuclear war can no longer be considered a relic of the past, and instead must become a top priority. China’s nuclear buildup will become a game changer for its aggressive pursuits. […]Therefore, as the United States shifts its national security strategy to great power competition with a focus on China, it must pay greater attention to the nuclear element and ensure its own nuclear forces can deter China’s growing nuclear forces both now and in the future. – Heritage Foundation

South Asia

India has voiced its “concern” over the resumption of a US deal to upgrade the F-16 fleet of rival and neighbor Pakistan. Indian Defense Minister Rajnath Singh made his views known to US Defense Secretary LLoyd Austin during a phone call late Wednesday. – Bloomberg

India is fast catching up with China in its thermal coal imports, as the world’s two biggest overseas buyers of the power generation fuel adjust purchases to align them with the varying trajectories of their economic growth. – Reuters

India and France on Wednesday reiterated calls for negotiation to end the conflict in Ukraine. – Reuters

Jacob Kurtzer and Hareem Fatima Abdullah write: Pakistan has a long way to go toward recovering from the current crisis and preparing for future disasters. International actors can do their part by supporting local actors in their short-term response and longer-term prevention and rehabilitation efforts. The floods should also serve as a wake-up call for countries in the Global North to drastically reduce emissions so that countries in the Global South contributing the least to climate change no longer are faced with the consequences. – Center for Strategic and International Studies


The United States will hold talks with Taiwan next month to discuss new U.S. legislation designed to boost the American semiconductor industry, the top U.S. diplomat in Taipei said on Wednesday. – Reuters

Taiwan is looking at Ukraine’s ways of communicating its message to the outside world at a time of conflict, by making use of tools such as satellites and deploying humour, the digital minister said on Wednesday. – Reuters

Russia called on its Central Asian allies Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan to take urgent measures to bring the situation on the border between the two countries back under control after clashes erupted overnight, the RIA Novosti news agency reported, citing a foreign ministry source. – Reuters

Washington should accept Pacific island priorities for the region, making climate change – not superpower competition – the most urgent security task, the region’s leaders said in Hawaii, ahead of a meeting with U.S. President Joe Biden this month. – Reuters

Taiwan accused China of acting like a bully after a beauty pageant contestant from the island was prevented from appearing at an event in Malaysia. – Bloomberg

Armenia and Azerbaijan negotiated a cease-fire to end a flare-up of fighting that has killed 155 soldiers from both sides, a senior Armenian official said early Thursday. – Associated Press

A Senate committee took the first step Wednesday toward the United States directly providing billions of dollars in military aid to Taiwan and making ties more official, ramping up support following soaring tensions with Beijing. – Agence France-Presse

Josh Rogin writes: As the authoritarian bloc organizes against the West, the democratic side can’t afford to straddle the fence between China and Taiwan. Ukraine is moving slowly but surely to recognize and treat Taiwan as the ally that it is. All other democracies should follow suit. – Washington Post

C. M. Vik writes: Yet some might see that crowding of the president as a positive feature of the bill, in that it would force Mr. Biden to take more proactive action to defend Taiwan and enhance diplomatic relations more than the White House has thus far indicated it would like to do. It would also force the executive branch to report to Congress on its progress. – New York Sun

Julian Spencer-Churchill writes: Taiwan’s reintegration into ICAO would require the U.S. and its democratic allies to exert their influence on the member states in the UN General Assembly and within the ICAO secretariat, to mobilize votes for the initiation of proceedings for the reinvitation of Taipei. Taiwan is already as integrated in the actual day-to-day operation of air traffic coordination as China, but both countries will suffer easily avoidable consequences if Taiwan encounters a delay in the implementation of key safety measures. – The Hill

Leonid Nersisyan and Lara Setrakian write: Azerbaijan is clearly the regional economic powerhouse from a resources perspective, and its strategic geography gives it many hands to play in the development of Eurasian transit routes. Taking over parts of Armenia, as its President Ilham Aliyev has rhetorically proclaimed, is a goal too far and in no one’s long-term interests. – Jerusalem Post


Sweden’s prime minister conceded defeat after close-run national elections, handing a right-wing opposition bloc the first shot at forming a new government. The victory was powered largely by support for the anti-immigration Sweden Democrats, a far-right group with roots in the neo-Nazi movement, which won its biggest-ever share of the vote. – Wall Street Journal

The European Union outlined a plan to redistribute about $140 billion from energy companies to consumers and businesses in a bid to cushion the blow of high prices stoked by Russia’s punishing assault on the continent’s economy. – Wall Street Journal

The European Union said on Wednesday that it aimed to ban all goods that were the product of forced labor, a move that analysts predicted could hit exports from Xinjiang, the Chinese region where Beijing is believed to be forcing ethnic Uyghurs to work in camps. – New York Times

Ukraine’s successful counter-offensive is piling pressure on German chancellor Olaf Scholz to rethink his resistance to sending tanks to Kyiv, with even his own coalition partners calling the policy into question. – Financial Times

President Biden on Wednesday called King Charles III to offer condolences on the passing of his mother, Queen Elizabeth II. – The Hill

James L. Jones writes: For its part, Albania has demonstrated to larger and older democracies, including our own, the kind of moral clarity, courage and resolve required to stand up against Iran’s outlaw behavior in its many forms. The international community’s approach must be inspired by the harsh reality that if Iran’s behavior is tolerated unanswered, it will not only persist but grow bolder and more dangerous for us all. Such lessons the free world ignores at its own peril. – The Hill

Alan Beattie writes: Still, if the EU is serious about reorientating its trade policy and Germany about rebalancing its economy towards domestic demand, ending the export bias is an important step. In the meantime, reducing artificial incentives for companies to become dependent on China is a good development in itself. – Financial Times

Tom Rogan writes: Orban may be a friend of the Conservative Political Action Conference. But a friend of America’s closest non-freeloading British, Polish, and Eastern European allies, he is not. Comrade Viktor stands with communist China and imperial Russia. – Washington Examiner

Andreas Kluth writes: Germany will never again be the threat to Europe it once was — these days, Russia plays that part. But that’s hardly a high standard. Not only the Poles, but all Europeans would be forgiven for feeling that they can’t live with the Germans, but can’t live without them either. – Bloomberg

Latin America

With polls pointing to President Jair Bolsonaro’s likely defeat in next month’s elections, criminal groups are racing to raze the world’s biggest rainforest ahead of the vote, making the most of what environmentalists say has been one of the most permissive administrations on deforestation. – Wall Street Journal

Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro on Tuesday said his government will act as a “guarantor” in peace talks between Colombia’s government and the National Liberation Army rebel group that are slated to begin later this year. – Associated Press

A third person has been arrested as part of the investigation into the assassination attempt on Argentine Vice President Cristina Fernández — a move that suggests the incident could have involved a network of people. – Associated Press

Colombia´s National Liberation Army (ELN) favors a bilateral ceasefire to pave the way for renewed peace talks, the leftist guerilla group´s top negotiator told Reuters in Havana on Wednesday, and said the rebels would be united upon returning to the bargaining table. – Reuters

Brazil’s Economy Ministry is studying a target for the country’s substantial foreign exchange reserves, two sources told Reuters, as inflation remains the top concern of voters ahead of a presidential election. – Reuters


The Justice Department said on Wednesday that it had charged three Iranians in a wide-ranging hacking campaign across the world that targeted local governments, public utilities and nonprofit institutions, including a domestic violence shelter and a children’s hospital. – New York Times

A top TikTok executive pushed back against senators grilling the company over its links to China, expressing confidence a deal with the U.S. government would safeguard American users’ data. – Wall Street Journal

China’s cyberspace regulator on Wednesday proposed a series of amendments to the country’s cybersecurity law including raising the size of fines for some violations, saying that it wanted to do so to improve coordination with other new laws. – Reuters

Software companies doing business with the US government such as Microsoft Corp. and Cisco Systems Inc. will have to attest that their products comply with new national cybersecurity standards under White House rules published Wednesday. – Bloomberg

Russia acknowledged this week that parts of its technology industry are dependent on foreign knowledge and lagging competitors by more than a decade, raising concerns that the country’s cyber spies will be used for industrial espionage. – The Record

Miranda Devine writes: Unrest has been building among the rank and file across the FBI and in some parts of the DOJ for months. It came to a head after the raid last month on former President Donald Trump’s home Mar-a-Lago in Florida. “The most frightening thing is the combined power of Big Tech colluding with the enforcement arm of the FBI,” says one whistleblower. “Google, Facebook and Twitter, these companies are globalist. They don’t have our national interest at heart.” – New York Post

Danielle Pletka writes: In each instance, the Russians were capitalizing on divisions in American society, seeking to amplify a growing partisan gulf and erode faith in the democratic process via trolls, fake websites, and internet-based fronts – Foreign Policy


Two dozen Republicans are pressing Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) to bring the fiscal 2023 National Defense Authorization Act to the floor for a vote before the September work period closes. – The Hill

The U.S. Army has returned nearly 6 in 10 of its Chinook helicopters to service as of Tuesday after grounding the fleet late last month due to fuel leaks. – The Hill

The Space Development Agency’s first major launch, which had been scheduled for this month, will be delayed until at least December due in part to supply chain issues and protests over contract awards. – Defense News

The first privately owned Lockheed Martin F-16 Fighting Falcon combat aircraft have been contracted to provide ‘Red Air’ Aggressor training for the US Department of Defense (DoD). – Janes

The Marine Corps and Navy remain at an impasse over the future of the Light Amphibious Warship, as skepticism about the program’s viability mounts due to the internal division, sources familiar with the program have told USNI News. – USNI News

Seth Cropsey writes: It takes at least a year, more likely several, for a yard to prepare to overhaul several ships at the same time. It is more efficient, financially and temporally, to turn to shipyards that can expand maintenance today, rather than scaling up public yards exclusively. A nation goes to war with the military it has, not the one it will have in five, 10, or 20 years. The executive and legislative branches face a choice between continued inaction and a conflict that calls on the military we wish we had. – Wall Street Journal

Michael Rubin writes: Bureaucracy is insulating. Left unchecked, it can undermine national security for shortsighted reasons such as allowing an ambassador to have an easier tenure or assuaging an industry representative for whom the bottom line rather than national security is the primary metric. Against this backdrop, it is time for Biden to regain control over a State Department increasingly unhinged. Failing that, it is time for Senate leaders to voice a bipartisan national security doctrine: The U.S. shall not arm its enemies. – Washington Examiner

Charles A. Williams writes: Lethality is the main thing that should be taken into consideration, especially when capital is limited. The Navy should sacrifice something to achieve optimum readiness/lethality for the taxpayers’ investment. Be bold, act now! We don’t have the luxury of bureaucratic timelines for decisions. The threat in the Indo-Pacific is looming. – The Hill

Long War

Europe’s top human rights court condemned the French government on Wednesday over its refusal to bring home the families of two Islamic State fighters, a landmark ruling that may push France and other European countries to speed up the repatriation of nationals held for years in squalid detention camps in northeastern Syria. – New York Times

A federal prosecutor in the U.S.S. Cole bombing trial who advocated the use of evidence derived from torture, despite a Biden administration policy, has left the case. – New York Times

Eight people have been killed in a roadside bombing that targeted an anti-Taliban village elder’s vehicle in northwestern Pakistan, police said. – Associated Press