Fdd's overnight brief

September 15, 2023

In The News


European powers will keep in place sanctions on Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps and on trade in ballistic missiles with Tehran—restrictions that were due to expire next month under the 2015 nuclear deal, European officials said Thursday. – Wall Street Journal

Iran summoned Australia’s envoy to the Mideast country to protest the latest round of sanctions imposed on Tehran over what Canberra decries as violations of human rights, Iranian state media reported on Thursday. – Associated Press

Iran’s government has warned it will not tolerate any signs of “instability” as the first anniversary nears of the death of Mahsa Amini and the months-long protests it sparked. – Agence France-Presse

Iran is ready to implement a Qatar-mediated deal with the United States, its foreign minister said on Thursday, under which Washington and Tehran each would free five prisoners and $6 billion in Iranian assets held in South Korea would be released. – Reuters

American captives could be exchanged for billions of dollars of frozen Iranian assets, even as critics back in Washington warn against dealing with Tehran. – Associated Press

Human rights media, which reflect the news of political prisoners in Iran, have reported the arrest of at least 18 people in different cities of Iran in recent days and on the eve of the anniversary of Mehsa Amini’s death and the beginning of nationwide protests in Iran. – Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty 

Yalda Moaiery writes: Eventually, the leader of the Islamic republic released all of us with amnesty. Yet many are still dealing with the psychological aftereffects and have not been able to return to their former lives. As a small tribute to my former cellmates — my fighting sisters — and in the hope that their suffering will be remembered, I photographed released prisoners at the places where they were arrested. – Washington Post

Michael Singh writes: It is important to recognize that U.S. and Iranian objectives for the current round of diplomacy are not the same: Washington genuinely seeks de-escalation, but Iran is mainly interested in staving off a crisis while it simultaneously moves the goalposts, cements its nuclear gains, hardens its nuclear infrastructure against attack, and creates the conditions necessary to produce nuclear weapons at a time of its choosing. There are currently few obstacles to Tehran continuing down its path of nuclear advancement and obfuscation; if this does not change, Washington should not expect Iran’s course to change either. – Washington Institute

Alex Vatanka writes: It is therefore unsurprising that in recent weeks, new reports emerged about how Iran’s badly marginalized reformists want to run in the elections and, apparently, are being encouraged to do so by the regime in part to boost voter participation. For example, Sobeh Sadeq, the official newspaper of the IRGC, is urging reformists to run. The only condition put forward is that reformist candidates make clear they believe in the regime and simply want to reform it, not topple it altogether — as the protesters have demanded. Clearly, the role of reformists in the system is to create excitement for the upcoming elections but no more than that. There is no evidence that Khamenei’s regime seriously intends to loosen its political control. – Middle East Institute

Russia & Ukraine

Russia said it would expel two U.S. diplomats over alleged contacts with a Russian contractor for the American Embassy in Moscow who has been charged with collecting information on the war in Ukraine. – Wall Street Journal

The U.S. on Thursday sanctioned more than 150 foreign companies and individuals accused of aiding Russia, including by shipping American or other Western technology for Moscow, marking an expanding Western effort to cut off the flow of goods the Kremlin needs to prosecute its war against Ukraine. – Wall Street Journal

Ukrainian forces destroyed one of Russia’s most advanced air-defense systems in Crimea, a Ukrainian security official said, striking a fresh blow to Russia’s military on the occupied peninsula that serves as a critical logistical base for Moscow’s war in Ukraine. – Wall Street Journal

Russian President Vladimir Putin is notorious for making world leaders wait for scheduled meetings. Yet on Wednesday, Putin showed up 30 minutes early to greet North Korea’s Kim Jong Un. – Washington Post

A day before the airplane disaster that killed Wagner mercenary chief Yevgeniy Prigozhin, Gen. Sergei Surovikin, a Prigozhin ally known as “General Armageddon,” was removed as head of Russia’s air force. – Washington Post

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un peered into the cockpit of Russia’s most advanced fighter jet as he toured an aircraft factory Friday on an extended and rare foreign trip that has raised concerns about banned weapons transfer deals between increasingly isolated countries. – Associated Press

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said in his nightly address on Thursday that the destruction of the Russian air defense system in Crimea is a “significant” accomplishment. – Washington Examiner

Moscow has lost 42 artillery systems, 47 unmanned vehicles and one of its submarines in the Black Sea over the past 24 hours, Kyiv’s military said on Thursday, after Ukraine launched a missile barrage on Russia’s main naval base in Crimea. – Newsweek

Moscow should launch strikes on four NATO countries, one of President Vladimir Putin’s top propagandists has said in his latest inflammatory remarks on Russian state television. – Newsweek

Ukraine’s successful attack on a Russian surface-to-air missile system in Crimea may be a sign that Moscow is experiencing “systemic tactical failures” within its defense meshwork in the region, reported the Institute for the Study of War (ISW). – Newsweek

Adam Taylor writes: Whatever it is, for Putin it may be worth it. Having failed to quickly take Ukraine last year, Russia appears to be settling for a drawn-out conflict in the hope that Kyiv and its partners tire first. Western officials have been surprised at the lengths that Russia has already gone to evade sanctions to keep building weapons. Any artillery deal with North Korea would fit into the same pattern. Perhaps it is desperation. It may also be seen as determination. – Washington Post

Kira Rudik writes: Ukraine’s victory is within reach, but we need help. And our partners have the resources. With their aid, we have a chance to put an end to Russian aggression today, and that chance should be taken. Russia’s war is being closely watched by authoritarian regimes in the world. And we expect our united punch back will be tough enough to ensure the victory of democracy. – The Hill

Stephen Blank writes: Indeed, Moscow’s 2020 nuclear policy guidelines state that nuclear weapons’ main purpose is to deter conventional and/or nuclear attacks on Russia, its allies or even its conventional capabilities and give it a free hand to wage war. So for us to abdicate defending Europe returns that continent and the world to an environment of permanent war. – The Hill

Mark Toth and Jonathan Sweet write: Putin’s kingdom of the dead has claimed enough victims inside and outside of Russia and must be relegated to the ash heap of history. Waiting for North Korea to provide military assistance to Russia is not an option. Washington and its NATO allies must immediately do everything conventionally possible to ensure Ukraine wins and can rebuild itself and its people into a kingdom of the living. – The Hill

Andrei Soldatov and Irina Borogan write: The Russian government’s growing focus on traditional values, empire, and militarism has provided a dramatic boost to the Russian Orthodox Church and its affiliates abroad. This religious resurgence not only enhances the legitimacy and durability of the Putin regime; it also poses a growing security threat with which the West will have to contend. – Foreign Affairs

Austin Carson writes: The lack of escalation in Ukraine serves as a reminder that in limited wars, patience is a virtue. A go-slow approach has allowed NATO countries to provide a level of military support that was unthinkable at the war’s start. The risks of escalation have not been overblown. Instead, gradualism has allowed the West to learn—and, in some ways, stretch—the limits of the war. – Foreign Affairs

Max Abrahms writes: The view now ruling the Democratic Party and the President is the same as the warmongers: It’s silly to worry as Musk does about turning the Ukraine war into something catastrophically worse. It’s un-American not to try to find Russia’s redline for starting World War III. It’s traitorous to believe—as the President himself did, just a few months ago—that we should be doing all we can to prevent escalation. The new mantra seems to be: We’re not trying hard enough in Ukraine until we feel the nuclear blast against our faces. – Newsweek

Franz-Stefan Gady writes: As much as Ukraine needs German and U.S. missiles, however, it is critically important to have a more nuanced debate about what individual weapon systems can and cannot accomplish in this war. The bitter truth is that there are no shortcuts to victory using specific weapons or Western deep battle doctrine. The earlier that we acknowledge this simple fact, the less potential for disappointment and friction between Ukraine and its partners—and the greater likelihood that Kyiv can get the capabilities and resources it needs to confront Russian aggression in what is likely to be a long war. – Foreign Policy

Shamil Abdullah Saleh writes: It is unlikely that F-16s will be a game-changer for the counteroffensive. A few dozen jets themselves, under the current conditions of the war, cannot make an effective breakthrough. This reality is compounded by the fact the enemy retains a well-equipped air force and anti-air missiles. With or without the jets, Ukraine’s counteroffensive will remain slow on the ground and in the skies. – The National Interest


Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is expected to fly to the heart of Silicon Valley on Monday to meet with X owner Elon Musk in an effort to help ease an escalating crisis over antisemitism on the struggling social media platform. – Washington Post 

U.S. President Joe Biden will meet Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in New York next week, a U.S. official said on Thursday. Netanyahu’s office said earlier that the pair would meet during the Israeli leader’s visit to the United Nations General Assembly next week, without specifying the exact location of the meeting. – Reuters

Israel’s customs authority said on Thursday it found 16 tons of material used for rocket production during an inspection of a shipment from Turkey headed to Gaza, which the ruling Hamas group dismissed as a fabrication. – Reuters

With attention focused on its contentious judicial overhaul, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government has quietly taken unprecedented steps toward cementing Israel’s control over the occupied West Bank — perhaps permanently. – Associated Press

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Israel’s mission to thwart terrorism is increasing. The prime minister was speaking at a toast for the New Year with senior security officials including from Mossad, the Shin Bet, the IDF and the National Security Council. – Ynet

Catherine Cleveland writes: In public opinion polling, the hope visible in the immediate-post Oslo period is now clustered within Palestinian/Israeli-Arab communities living in the context of a broader Israeli society, with few signs of life among either Israeli Jews or other Palestinians. Nor is there the expectation on either side that the kind of political will that led to the Oslo Accords exists at present. Nevertheless, attitudes in East Jerusalem help emphasize that engagement outside of a militarized context does make a difference in support for non-violence. – Washington Institute

Ron Jager writes: Israel’s reserve and retired pilots have played a pivotal role in diminishing their role within Israel’s strategic map. They have willingly and “triumphantly” tossed away the highly regarded role model that military pilots enjoyed over the past 75 years since Israel’s establishment, by seeing themselves as a political force that can hold Israeli voters hostage. The technological advancements expected in the coming years will only accelerate the trend that will give military pilots a secondary role, making them obsolete sooner rather than later, as the Iranian threat becomes the single most existential threat for the State of Israel. – Arutz Sheva

Rabbi Yehoshua Mizrachi writes: It is perhaps ironic that the anti-Zionist hassidim flock to Uman for what is essentially the most Zionist of reasons. […]Mr. Netanyahu should have said: In the age of the Geulah Shleimah, the Ultimate Redemption, the proper way to honor Reb Nachman’s memory is to celebrate Reb Nachman’s Aliyah on Rosh Hashanah in Eretz Yisrael, at our ONLY shrine, the Temple Mount. – Arutz Sheva  

Leonie Ben-Simon writes: With treasured democracy being threatened with unwarranted street demonstrations, huge expensive police forces having to control them, threats involving finance, emigration, and reserves refusers it may be only a matter of time before tragedy strikes. Lives are too precious to have the common man in the street bamboozled to the extent that violence is rearing its ugly head. Despite their open plan to take over the government as they try to preserve the secular order and return to yesterday, their numbers and influence are slowly dropping. The people voted. No Deep State or the Opposition can change that. – Arutz Sheva

David Ricci writes: The court will eventually decide what to do. The important thing for us, and for it, to remember is that if the judges reject Rothman’s argument, they will not be acting undemocratically, as he implies with his single definition of democracy, but democratically according to another concept of democracy, which is entirely legitimate in the modern world. – Jerusalem Post


Iraq is stepping up repatriation of its citizens from a camp in northeastern Syria housing tens of thousands of people, mostly wives and children of Islamic State fighters but also supporters of the militant group. – Associated Press

Defense Minister Yoav Gallant on Thursday hinted at Israel’s involvement in two strikes against targets in Syria on the previous day. “Last night we received further proof that the thunderous sound of planes are stronger than background noise and deads count more than words,” Gallant said at a toast for the Jewish New Year attended by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and the IDF General Staff. Syrian media on Wednesday reported attacks at the Al-Shuwayrat military airport and air defense positions in the Tartus region in the west of the country. – Ynet

Amer Mohamad writes: Decisionmakers should realize that taking a passive approach or continuing the current policy of limited engagement in Deir ez-Zor will likely lead to chaos and instability. Such conditions will only exacerbate humanitarian needs in a region that is already suffering from dire conditions and put significant policy objectives, like ensuring the enduring defeat of ISIS and countering Iranian influence, in jeopardy. – Middle East Institute


The Biden administration on Thursday imposed sanctions on five Turkish companies and a Turkish national, accusing them of helping Russia evade sanctions and supporting Moscow in its war against Ukraine. – Reuters

Russia’s push to create a “gas hub” in Turkey to replace lost sales to Europe is facing delays because of disagreements over who should be in charge of it, two sources familiar with the project told Reuters. – Reuters

More than 10 senior advisers to Recep Tayyip Erdogan stepped down this week, according to people familiar with the matter, as Turkey’s president continues to revamp his administration following his re-election in May. – Bloomberg

Michael Rubin writes: Single-seat aircraft fit Turkey’s needs more than the two-seat F-16D’s that Turkey uses, simply because so many pilots remain in prison. As ideology and sycophancy trump technical skill in pilot vetting, the Fokker would also be a better fit for the Turkish Defense Ministry’s new class of engineers. So, hear my plea, Senator Menendez. Lift your hold! Give Turkey what it deserves! Turkey may never get the F-35s nor new F-16s, but why should the United States and Europe waste Fokkers as museum display pieces when they could be just the platform that Erdogan deserves? – Hellas Journal

Saudi Arabia

Saudi Arabia executed two soldiers Thursday who were convicted of treason as the kingdom conducted its war on Yemen’s Houthi rebels. – Associated Press

A delegation from Yemen’s Houthi rebels has flown into Saudi Arabia for talks with the kingdom on potentially ending the yearslong war tearing at the Arab world’s poorest nation, officials say. – Associated Press

The US and Saudi Arabia just wrapped up the second iteration of a counter-unmanned aerial system (c-UAS) exercise showcasing how different emerging and already-fielded technologies from both nations could defeat threats posed by adversaries. – Breaking Defense 


As the U.S. and Russia vie for greater influence in Africa, Moscow is seeking access for its warships to a Mediterranean port in Libya that could expand its naval footprint in the North Atlantic Treaty Organization’s backyard. – Wall Street Journal

Over the weekend, torrential rains from Storm Daniel burst through two dams near Derna, on Libya’s northeastern coast, destroying much of the city and carrying entire neighborhoods into the sea. The floods damaged many roads and bridges, impeding access to the most stricken areas. – New York Times

Libyan authorities demanded an investigation on Thursday into whether human failings were to blame for thousands of deaths in the worst natural disaster in the country’s modern history, as survivors searched for loved ones washed away by floods. – Reuters

Middle East & North Africa

Prioritizing U.S. national security interests over human rights, the Biden administration has approved $235 million in military aid for Egypt that it had withheld for the past two years because of the country’s repressive policies. – New York Times

Morocco insisted on Thursday that Marrakech will host International Monetary Fund (IMF) and World Bank annual meetings in October despite the recent devastating earthquake, but the two institutions have not committed to the plan, three people familiar with their deliberations said. – Reuters

Jordan has rejected a U.S. request to release a former top Jordanian official imprisoned in an alleged plot against the Western-allied monarchy, according to his family and lawyer. – Associated Press

Iraq’s central bank must address continued risks of the misuse of dollars at Iraqi commercial banks to avoid new punitive measures targeting the country’s financial sector, a top U.S. Treasury official said, citing fraud, money laundering and Iran sanctions evasion. – Reuters

Hossein Salami, the commander of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, said on Thursday that threats from the Mossad chief will make his life shorter after David Barnea said Israel will take its retaliation for any attack against Israelis, to Tehran. – Ynet

Palestinian fighters agreed a new ceasefire on Thursday after more than a week of deadly violence in Lebanon’s largest refugee camp, two Palestinian officials told AFP. – Agence France-Presse 

Karen Elliott House writes: Whatever guarantees the U.S. gives, the real boost to Saudi Arabia’s safety and prosperity would be diplomatic relations with Israel. Open partnership with Jerusalem on defense, economic development, technology and investment is a security guarantee that a future U.S. president or Congress can’t take away. If all this comes together, the Western world wins. That’s still a big if—and even if the plan succeeds, challenges will remain. Peace wouldn’t erase Palestinian opposition to Israel’s existence or end Iran’s determination to destroy Israel and remove the Al Saud monarchy’s control of the kingdom’s oil and Islam’s holy sites. – Wall Street Journal

Korean Peninsula

Russia on Thursday said the United States was hypocritical to criticise President Vladimir Putin’s summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un because Washington had sown chaos and sent weapons to allies across the world. – Reuters

Whatever practical cooperation emerges from this week’s summit between Russian President Vladimir Putin and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, their deepening relationship is aimed at sending their rivals a warning, analysts said. – Reuters

South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol will visit New York next week to attend the United Nations General Assembly, Yoon’s office said on Thursday. – Reuters

South Korea’s National Security Council (NSC) said on Thursday North Korea and Russia would “pay a price” if they violate U.N. Security Council resolutions. – Reuters

Senior diplomats and defence officials of South Korea and the United States agreed on Friday that military cooperation between North Korea and Russia is a serious violation of U.N. sanctions and that the allies would ensure there is a price to pay. – Reuters

South Korea’s weapons production far exceeds that of North Korea and is potentially more important than North Korean artillery shells in tipping the balance in Ukraine. – New York Sun

Victor Cha and Katrin Fraser Katz write: It is difficult to get the world’s attention focused on the issue of North Korean human rights for an extended period of time. […]Despite this disappointing state of affairs, there are a number of opportunities on the horizon to advocate for North Korean human rights by reinvigorating existing initiatives, starting new ones, and connecting this issue with others that have been more in the spotlight. – Center for Strategic and International Studies


Elon Musk drew scathing criticism from the government of Taiwan after he described the self-ruled island as China’s equivalent of Hawaii, with the Taiwanese Foreign Ministry implying the Tesla CEO had sold himself to Beijing. – Wall Street Journal

Just hours after Apple wrapped up its annual product launch for the hotly anticipated iPhone 15, the Chinese government denied reports that it had banned officials from using the smartphones — and then noted recent “security incidents” involving the devices. – Washington Post

Chinese Defense Minister Li Shangfu is under investigation for corruption and likely will be removed, two U.S. officials said this week, in what would be the latest in a series of top-tier purges of Beijing’s security ranks. – Washington Post

China launched large-scale military drills in the Western Pacific this week, deploying an aircraft carrier and dozens of naval ships and warplanes in a major show of force aimed at pushing back at U.S. pressure. – New York Times

Chinese spies are targeting British officials in sensitive positions in politics, defence and business as part of an increasingly sophisticated spying operation to gain access to secrets, the British government said on Thursday. – Reuters

A group of senior U.S. House Republicans on Thursday urged the Biden administration to crack down on Huawei (HWT.UL) and China’s top semiconductor firm Semiconductor Manufacturing International Corp (SMIC) (0981.HK) after reports suggested Huawei has developed an advanced smartphone. – Reuters

U.S. Treasury official Brent Neiman visited Hong Kong on Thursday, the highest ranking Treasury official to visit the financial hub since 2019, U.S. authorities said, as Washington aims to deepen ties with Beijing despite rising tensions. – Reuters

Editorial: These activities come in addition to Beijing’s well-known attempts to suppress dissent in ethnic Chinese communities in democracies, and its intimidation of human-rights activists and others in the West. The FBI in April accused Beijing of running a secret police station in New York to spy on dissidents.The warning from these cases is that democracy itself is Beijing’s target, not merely Chinese dissenters in China or abroad. Western leaders can’t allow the Communist Party to subvert democratic debate about China. – Wall Street Journal

Eric Mandel writes: America must solidify its relationships with allies, developing a more comprehensive plan to compete with China in the Middle East and beyond. Focusing on infrastructure development initiatives is an opportunity to restore trust in America. We don’t demand they become indebted to us, as the Belt and Road Initiative does. By increasing foreign investment, we get disproportionate influence, but getting members of Congress to understand the value of foreign aid is an uphill battle. In short, America and China will continue battling it out on the economic, security, and geopolitical fronts. And BRICS is a significant threat that needs a comprehensive answer from the West. – The Hill

Seong-Hyon Lee and Zoe Leung write: The U.S.-China relationship is pivotal for global stability. Any efforts to maintain open communication and reduce tensions will likely be welcomed by most international observers. However, it’s essential to remember that international diplomacy is layered; what’s seen or portrayed publicly is only a fraction of the entire story. There is a nuanced gap between the U.S. efforts to reduce tensions with China and its allies’ perceptions of such efforts. – The Hill

Taylor Fravel writes: If China’s economic woes get worse, its leaders will probably become more sensitive to perceived external challenges, especially on issues such as Taiwan. Increased pressure on China could easily backfire and motivate Beijing to become more aggressive in order to demonstrate its resolve to other states despite its internal difficulties. In times of domestic unrest, China may lash out, but that reflects the logic of deterrence, not diversion. – Foreign Affairs

Minxin Pei writes: There is evidence that China is calculating this balance carefully, taking measures to avoid a direct — and likely unwinnable — conflict. While Xi has resisted Biden’s entreaties to establish “guardrails” around their competition, for instance, China’s more frequent and aggressive military exercises against Taiwan have nevertheless not yet led to a shooting incident. The Pentagon has also found no evidence that Xi has made a decision on when and whether to invade Taiwan. – Bloomberg

David Fickling writes: It also has a stockpile to fall back on. While Washington’s Strategic Petroleum Reserve is running at its lowest levels since 1983 after the Biden administration’s releases to stabilize the market in the wake of the Ukraine war, China’s (whose actual volume is a closely-guarded secret) appears to be brimming at more than 1 billion barrels, about three times the size of the US inventory. – Bloomberg

South Asia

A key northwestern border crossing between Pakistan and Afghanistan reopened Friday after a nine-day closure due to clashes between border forces, officials from both sides said. – Associated Press

Around 22 countries were negotiating and exploring bilateral trade with India in rupees, Nirmala Sitharaman, the South Asian country’s finance minister said on Friday. “About 22 countries are negotiating and approaching us to see if bilateral trade can be held (in rupees). It is also because many of… those countries are running short of dollar,” Sitharaman told news channel NDTV during an interview. – Reuters

David Ignatius writes: Afghanistan is one of those places that recalls the saying: It’s not over until it’s over — and even then, it’s not over. But when the U.S. intelligence community says al-Qaeda has reached a “nadir” there, it’s worth notice — and reflection on the tangled process that brought about its expiration. – Washington Post


The Biden administration this week told Congress that it intends to withhold $85 million designated for U.S. security assistance to Egypt this year, and instead provide the bulk of the money to Taiwan. – Washington Post

The Senate Finance Committee on Thursday passed a bill that would deepen economic ties between the United States and Taiwan and effectively create a tax treaty that is expected to pave the way for more Taiwanese investment in the American semiconductor industry. – New York Times

The Kremlin expressed concern on Thursday that tensions between Armenia and Azerbaijan over the breakaway region of Nagorno-Karabakh were increasing, as Armenia’s prime minister described the situation in the blockaded territory as “critical”. – Reuters

Taiwan’s defence ministry said on Thursday that in the past 24 hours it had detected 40 Chinese air force aircraft entering the island’s air defence zone, mostly flying to the south of Taiwan and into the Bashi Channel. – Reuters

Taiwan’s government on Thursday rejected a plan by China to boost economic integration as a cash grab to boost the country’s “deteriorating” business environment and futile bid to win Taiwanese hearts and minds to support the Communist Party. – Reuters

China said it is willing to maintain regular strategic communication and deepen exchanges on governance with Cambodia, state media said on Friday after leaders of the two countries met. – Reuters

Ilham Aliyev, the President of the Republic of Azerbaijan, unexpectedly came to Dushanbe on September 14 and spoke with President Emomali Rahmon. This visit coincided with the time when the leaders of five Central Asian countries gathered in the capital of Tajikistan. Their fifth consultation session will take place on September 14-15 in Dushanbe and was announced a few months ago. – Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty 

The U.S. military could be granted access to more bases in the Philippines under a joint defence agreement between the two countries, the chief of the U.S. Indo-Pacific command said on Thursday after meeting the head of the Philippines armed forces. – Reuters

William C. Greenwalt writes: A new export control regime should be created for the AUKUS nations. Control over this regime should be taken away from the State Department and moved to another agency, which would be directly overseen by the National Security Council. As long as State is the primary arbitrator of technology transfer issues it is likely that the U.S. will be unable to compete militarily in the future because State’s current rules and culture undermine defense innovation. The State Department has now become a national security problem rather than a source for a solution. – Breaking Defense


Ukraine’s president, Volodymyr Zelensky, will visit Washington next week following his appearance at the United Nations General Assembly, according to three U.S. officials. – New York Times

Slovakia said Thursday it was expelling a diplomat from Russia’s embassy in the Slovak capital for violations of international conventions, but gave no details of the alleged wrongdoing. – Associated Press

Satellite images of a military base southeast of the Belarus capital Minsk appear to show dismantling of tents in recent weeks, which may indicate the winding down of the base for Wagner, the Russian mercenary company behind an abortive mutiny. – Reuters

Kosovo and Serbia on Thursday failed yet again to make progress in talks aimed at improving their long-strained relations, and the European Union’s top diplomat warned that the lack of progress could hurt their hopes of joining the bloc. – Associated Press

The Cypriot president said Thursday that joint military maneuvers with three other European Union member states underway in the Eastern Mediterranean underscore the bloc’s readiness to ensure security and stability in the region. – Associated Press

Boris Johnson issued a direct plea to Donald Trump not to ditch U.S. support for Ukraine if he becomes president in 2024. Writing for the Spectator after a trip to Ukraine, the former British prime minister — who has lobbied hard for wavering Republicans to keep the faith in the war-torn country — warned Russian triumph could boomerang on any Trump administration. – Politico

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy has said he is grateful to Bulgaria for not extending restrictions on Ukrainian grain imports from September 15. – Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty 

Elisabeth Braw writes: A 28% rise in Swedish defense spending is clearly no match for whatever Russia and China might cook up. But what matters just as much as money is a country’s willingness to do its best to keep itself and its friends safe. And if a government doesn’t signal that it’s willing to do its part, why should the citizens do theirs? As Ukraine has demonstrated, the will to defend is crucial even when an adversary has supposedly superior armed forces. – Center for European Policy Analysis 

Jasmin Mujanović writes: The Biden administration has made its democratic credentials and commitments to the rule of law its signature domestic and foreign-policy motif. In Bosnia, it has brazenly betrayed both. The ECHR’s Kovacevic ruling is an opportunity to both reset Bosnia’s constitutional reform prospects and America’s involvement in the same. – Foreign Policy

Frank D. Kuhn writes: European F-35A operators could also evaluate whether they can adapt strategies similar to the U.S. Air Force’s Agile Combat Employment concept. “Hot refueling” their fighter jets on the ground, for example, might be a solution to extend the range of operations in contested environments. Finally, NATO members should consider detailing F-35A airframes and pilots from Eastern Europe to air bases in Western Europe to train for the nuclear mission. All of these measures would further increase the credibility of nuclear sharing arrangement and, ultimately, strengthen deterrence. – War on the Rocks


China and Zambia have upgraded their bilateral ties to a comprehensive strategic cooperative partnership, Chinese state broadcaster reported on Friday. – Reuters

The head of Sudan’s main paramilitary group threatened on Thursday to set up a governing authority in areas his forces control if his enemies in the army form a government. – Reuters

A French official detained in Niger last week has been released, the French government said Thursday. The arrest heightened tensions between France and Niger, where military officers deposed an elected president last month and ordered French officials to leave. – Associated Press

Frans Cronje and James Myburgh write: The ANC will have to find a way to bridge the gap between revolutionary ideology and voters’ actual material concerns if its electoral majority falls below 50%. For those in the ANC concerned that the clock is running out to fulfill its historic revolutionary commitments, the obvious partners are Mr. Malema and his EFF—and beyond them, China and Russia. For the ANC’s remaining pragmatists, the alternative is to do a deal with the centrist opposition. – Wall Street Journal

The Americas

The Dominican Republic had already begun building a wall at its border with Haiti. Then it cracked down on immigration, deporting tens of thousands of Haitians back to their impoverished and gang-ravaged country. – Washington Post

U.S. and Cuban officials made progress on a range of issues during high-level talks in Washington this week but were unable to narrow differences over the biggest disputes between the countries, Cuba’s vice foreign minister said on Thursday. – Reuters

Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez said on Thursday his country rejects the participation of its citizens as mercenaries in war, contradicting a statement by Cuba’s ambassador in Moscow hours earlier saying his government did not oppose the legal participation of its citizens in Russia´s war in Ukraine. – Reuters

Negotiators for the European Union and Mercosur on Thursday discussed the next steps towards completing their long-awaited trade deal after the South American trade bloc responded to a European addendum to the agreement, officials said. – Reuters

Chinese President Xi Jinping and Venezuelan counterpart Nicolas Maduro have signed bilateral cooperation agreements in areas such as economy, trade and tourism, state broadcaster China Central Television (CCTV) reported. – Reuters

Malick W. Ghachem writes: But it has since started to climb back up. Now, North Atlantic powers and international organizations should not only cancel Haiti’s debt, but also recognize that debt has far too ugly a history in Haiti to be used in financial relationships with the country going forward. This does not mean that Haiti should fall back on foreign aid in the form of grants. Instead, strengthening Haiti’s gourde should be the priority, since a Haitian currency with real purchasing power will be able to exert the multiplier effects that North Atlantic currencies have long demonstrated as bank lending and consumer spending combine to stimulate economic activity. Haiti needs genuine reconstruction, and these strategies can help the country find its financial footing as it seeks to rebuild its political institutions. – Foreign Policy

United States

The International Atomic Energy Agency may soon run out of money to monitor the world’s nuclear stockpiles because the US, China and others aren’t paying their dues, marking the latest frontline in the tug of war between Washington and Beijing for influence. – Bloomberg

Collin Meisel and Kylie McKee write: What is clear is that coups appear to have come back into style. U.S. policymakers wishing to blunt their effects will need to adjust to this new reality, including, if nothing else, a more consistent policy response. “When we say so” is not a policy for recognizing coups that the world will view with much legitimacy, nor is looking the other way when we are pleased with the results. – The Hill

Andreas Østhagen, Otto Svendsen, and Max Bergmann write: Given the heightened tensions between Russia and the West, Norway must work with the United States and other allies to clearly refute any misconceptions about NATO ambiguity on the archipelago. This work should start at home by cementing a shared understanding of the legal and political complexities of Svalbard issues within the alliance. Arctic security studies often generalize, leading to sweeping conclusions that do not consider regional complexity and disparate security challenges north of the Arctic Circle. Closely examining specific Arctic environments such as Svalbard is necessary for a more granular understanding of regional geopolitics and how possible conflict scenarios might unfold in the North. – Center for Strategic and International Studies

Mark Hannah writes: The United States has been quick to use its military prowess and diplomatic clout to expand its power in China’s backyard. It has hesitated, however, to creatively exploit the long-fraught relationship between Moscow and Beijing. If Washington elects to mount a myopic contest for influence in Asia but forgoes creative diplomatic engagement with China, it won’t just miss an opportunity to split China from Russia once again. It will instead create incentives for these two great powers to join forces, fueling the outcome it fears most. – The National Interest


A day after the publication of an investigation by two cybersecurity watchdogs showing that a cellphone belonging to the chief executive of an exiled, independent Russian news website had been infected by Pegasus surveillance spyware, several other journalists and media workers for Russian news outlets were reported to have, like her, received earlier notifications from Apple that their iPhones may have been targeted by “state-sponsored attackers.” – New York Times

Hackers linked to Iran’s government targeted thousands of organizations in the satellite, defense, and pharmaceutical industries as part of an espionage campaign, according to new research. – The Record

An Iranian cyber espionage group successfully compromised dozens of entities and exfiltrated data from a subset of them as part of a campaign targeting organizations in the satellite, defense and pharmaceutical sectors, Microsoft said in a report published Thursday. – CyberScoop

A pair of criminal hacking groups have been linked with attacks in recent weeks on two prominent Las Vegas hotel and casino operators that has left one struggling to resume operations and prompted another to reportedly pay a multimillion dollar ransom payment. – CyberScoop

The Department of Homeland Security’s Homeland Threat Assessment is warning of bad actors potentially using artificial intelligence to disrupt critical infrastructure either through election influence campaigns or by targeting industrial systems. – CyberScoop


Washington, having spent recent decades focusing on fights with terrorists and insurgencies, is once again pouring resources into hypersonics. The Pentagon’s 2023 budget includes more than $5 billion for the weapons. The U.S. is also tapping the private sector—including Silicon Valley venture capitalists—to help develop them to a degree rarely attempted in the past. – Wall Street Journal

Sen. Tommy Tuberville (R-AL) shows no signs of relenting on his monthslong blockade of more than 300 military promotions — a situation that analysts warn could have severe repercussions for American military efforts throughout the world, including in the Middle East. – Jewish Insider

Bowing to the obvious, the US Army acknowledged Thursday that it won’t meet a four-year-old goal to deploy a hypersonic weapon in the two remaining weeks of this month. – Bloomberg

John G. Ferrari and Charles Rahr write: Given its ambitious plans, there are a lot of ways that Replicator can fail. Existing funding lines may not be enough, the defense industrial base may be unable to handle building thousands of drones, and the list goes on. But even if these problems are solved and Replicator’s drones are fielded, there will still be a need for coders to support them. And for that, an army will be needed. – C4ISRNET

Victoria Samson and Brian Weeden write: It’s unclear what comes next for formal negotiations of space threats. Another U.N. process, this one focused firmly on the old-school space weaponization approach favored by Russia and China, gets underway in November and is unlikely to yield meaningful results. But for the United States, there is a clear opportunity to build on the growing global momentum created by its ground-breaking pledge. For the first time in decades, the world is on Washington’s side to help make space more secure and sustainable, if only it has the political will to lead. – Defense News