Fdd's overnight brief

September 18, 2023

FDD Research & Analysis

In The News


A prisoner swap of five American and five Iranian detainees will take place Monday, Iran’s Foreign Ministry spokesman told reporters, in remarks carried by Iranian media. – Washington Post

Iranian security forces released Mahsa Amini’s father on Saturday after briefly detaining and warning him against marking the anniversary of her death, a human rights group said. – Reuters

The U.S., Britain and Canada on Friday imposed more sanctions on Iran ahead of the one-year anniversary of the death of Kurdish Iranian woman Mahsa Amini whilst in Iran’s morality police custody, which sparked months of anti-government protests that faced an often violent crackdown. – Reuters

Iran‘s Revolutionary Guards on Saturday detained a dual national suspected of “trying to organize unrest and sabotage”, the semi-official Tasnim news agency reported, amid heightened security to thwart planned protests a year after a young woman’s death in police custody. – Reuters

Prison guards on Saturday put out a fire started by female inmates in a prison ward near the capital Tehran, Iran’s official IRNA news agency. – Reuters

U.N. nuclear watchdog chief Rafael Grossi on Saturday condemned Iran’s “disproportionate and unprecedented” move to bar multiple inspectors assigned to the country, hindering its oversight of Tehran’s atomic activities. – Reuters

The European Union urged Iran on Sunday to reconsider its decision to bar multiple International Atomic Energy Agency’s inspectors assigned to oversee Tehran’s atomic activities, noting such oversight was part of the Iran nuclear deal. – Reuters

Iranian emigres marched in Brussels on Friday, the eve of the first anniversary of the death of Mahsa Amini, a 22-year-old Kurdish Iranian woman whose death in the custody of Iran’s morality police sparked months of anti-government protests. – Reuters

Iranian security forces cracked down on protests in Kurdish areas of the country on Saturday and briefly detained the father of Mahsa Amini, a year after the young woman’s death in custody set off some of the worst political unrest in four decades. – Reuters

A malfunction in a military system was the cause of a blast heard in the northern Iranian city of Gorgan, a spokesperson from Iran’s Defence Ministry said on Monday. – Reuters

Qatar has confirmed that unfrozen Iranian funds worth $6 billion have been transferred to bank accounts in Doha, a source briefed on details of the matter told Reuters on Monday, triggering a U.S.-Iran prisoner swap. – Reuters 

South Korea said on Monday it is working with all parties involved in unfreezing Iranian funds worth $6 billion, which once released will trigger a carefully choreographed deal between arch foes the United States and Iran to swap detainees. – Reuters

Gunmen opened fire on a group of paramilitary forces in southern Iran, killing one of them and wounding another three, state media reported Sunday. – Associated Press

The European Union sanctioned four more Iranian individuals and six entities for human rights violations in the bloc’s 10th package of restrictive measures against the country. – Bloomberg

Iranian President Ibrahim Raisi headed to the UN General Assembly on Monday. According to Iranian pro-regime media the president left via Mehrabad International Airport in Tehran on Sunday evening.  – Jerusalem Post

Iran is “violating all of its commitments” in its pursuit of nuclear weapons, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu charged on Saturday evening through the Prime Minister’s Office, after it was revealed the Islamic Republic had banned a third of IAEA inspectors assigned to it, hindering its oversight of Tehran’s atomic activities. – Jerusalem Post

Henry Rome and Noam Raydan write: Iranian oil exports have increased more than threefold over the past three years, a consequence of relaxed U.S. sanctions enforcement and increased Chinese demand for heavily discounted crude. The following is a visual guide to this expansion and its implications for global energy markets, the Iranian regime’s budget, and U.S. great power competition with China and Russia. – Washington Institute

Kourosh Rahimkhani writes: In light of the surge in demonstrations in recent years, the forthcoming wave of protests will likely expand geographically and involve a larger number of people. However, the success of the protests will ultimately hinge on their ability to fracture the ruling elite and its control over the state apparatus. – Middle East Institute

Abdolrasool Divsallar writes: In the medium term, non-aggression pacts are a useful tool, functioning as a formal commitment that increases the credibility cost of noncompliance, making the resumption of hostilities more costly. They are also important in their signaling function and in building trust for third-party investors and traders. A successful non-aggression pact between Iran and Saudi Arabia can gradually take on a regional nature by promoting similar pacts between Tehran and Abu Dhabi or Manama, feeding into a broader regional reconciliation process. – Middle East Institute

Ahmed S. Cheema writes: Chinese backing has hampered American efforts to dissuade the Iranians from ceasing their nuclear program and permitted them to seek a strategic balance vis-a-vis the United States. If Sino-American ties continue to deteriorate, China might consider an “arms for oil” agreement with Iran. These weapons might compel Israel or the United States to think twice before any potential strikes on Iranian nuclear assets but will not jeopardize Saudi and Emirati security. As recent events indicate, Iran is now firmly in the Chinese camp, along with Russia and North Korea, and this partnership will be a defining feature of the Middle East for the foreseeable future. – National Interest

Roya Hakakian writes: Last year, a court in Sweden found a prison official guilty of war crimes in one of the worst atrocities ever committed in the history of modern Iran. That verdict directly implicated Raisi, who was a central enforcer of the policy of exterminating prisoners of conscience, which resulted in thousands of executions carried out over about five months starting in July 1988. This judicial finding mirrored the result of an earlier prosecution in Germany, where a court ruled that Iran’s top leaders were responsible for the state-sponsored assassination of four regime opponents in Berlin in 1992. – The Atlantic

Russia & Ukraine

Metro trains are running smoothly in Moscow, as usual, but getting around the city center by car has become more complicated, and annoying, because anti-drone radar interferes with navigation apps. – New York Times

Ukraine’s military said Sunday it had retaken the small village of Klishchiivka, the second settlement to come back under Kyiv’s control in three days and the most significant recent advance in its hard-fought counteroffensive to drive Russian forces from the country’s east. – New York Times

War in Ukraine is cruel, but also expensive. The counteroffensive aimed at driving Russian occupiers from its southern region has bogged down. Faced with another year of fighting—and a more than $40 billion budget deficit in 2024—finance officials in Kyiv are grasping for cash to keep the wartime economy running. – Wall Street Journal

For Ukrainian soldiers struggling to make headway against entrenched Russian troops, the counteroffensive is taking on a new urgency as summer gives way to shorter days, drenching rain and then snow. – Wall Street Journal

Ukrainian media outlets quoted intelligence sources as saying explosions reported in the Crimean city of Sevastopol on Sunday were due to a joint operation by its forces but a Moscow-installed official said Russia’s enemies were trying to claim false victory. – Reuters

Russia launched a combined drone and missile attack on Ukraine early on Sunday, targeting chiefly the southern parts of the Odesa region and hitting an agriculture facility there, Ukraine’s Air Forces said on the Telegram messaging app. – Reuters

Armenia discussed with Russia its plans to come under the International Criminal Court’s jurisdiction, Russian media said on Sunday, a move strongly opposed by Moscow after the court issued an arrest warrant for President Vladimir Putin. – Reuters

Ukraine’s legal battle against Russia over allegations of genocide used by Moscow to justify its 2022 invasion resumes Monday at the United Nations’ highest court, as Russia seeks to have the case tossed out. – Associated Press

Two cargo ships arrived in one of Ukraine’s ports over the weekend, using a temporary Black Sea corridor established by Kyiv following Russia’s withdrawal from a wartime agreement designed to ensure safe grain exports from the invaded country’s ports. – Associated Press

Chechen strongman Ramzan Kadyrov has been hospitalized in “critical condition,” according to Ukrainian intelligence officials, raising the possibility that Russian President Vladimir Putin could lose one of his most notorious subordinates. – Washington Examiner

Russia said that it intercepted a Ukrainian attack on Crimea Sunday, with Ukrainian drones also attacking Moscow. – The Hill

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said the United States’ financial support to Ukraine is more than just supporting the embattled country in its fight against Russia, but also a means to curbing Russian President Vladimir Putin’s further global aggression. – The Hill

A group of Republican senators sent a letter to President Biden Saturday urging him to “immediately” provide the missiles Ukraine needs to win its war against Russia. – The Hill

Western companies that have continued to operate in Russia since Moscow’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine have generated billions of dollars in profits, but the Kremlin has blocked them from accessing the cash in an effort to turn the screw on “unfriendly” nations. – Financial Times

Two commercial ships have docked at a Ukrainian port as Kyiv steps up efforts to unilaterally break Russia’s blockade of its Black Sea coast. – Financial Times

Editorial: No sanctions regime is watertight. Western sanctions against Russia will inevitably involve a cat-and-mouse game of enforcement and evasion. Without doubt, however, the Russian economy has been diminished and is in a much more fragile condition today than if sanctions had not been imposed. And the longer the West keeps them up, the more painful the sanctions will be for Russia and ordinary Russians, whose flagging support for the war might force Mr. Putin to reassess his fantasy of imperial revival. – Washington Post

Jillian Kay Melchior writes: Given Russia’s lawless brutality, Ukrainians have no confidence it would abide by any negotiated peace, and they fear domination more than war. Some four months after Mr. Rotchuk’s release, he’s back in the military training new recruits. He intends to return to the front. – Wall Street Journal



Israel’s attorney general, Gali Baharav-Miara, has been called the most dangerous woman in the country by her detractors—and a real-life Wonder Woman by her supporters. – Wall Street Journal

A U.N. committee voted Sunday to recognize ruins near the West Bank city of Jericho as a World Heritage site, a move that drew backlash from Israel, which has clashed with the United Nations in the past over designations in the Palestinian territories. – Washington Post

Israeli and US officials on Monday denied a report in a Saudi-owned newspaper that Riyadh had frozen normalization talks with Israel because it refuses to make concessions to the Palestinians. – Bloomberg

A top official with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas’ Fatah group said Sunday that Palestinian and Lebanese officials have given militant Islamic groups in Lebanon’s largest Palestinian refugee camp until the end of the month to hand over the accused killers of a Fatah general. – Associated Press

Israeli Border Police officers shot a Palestinian on Monday morning after he drew a knife on them at the Mazmuria checkpoint in East Jerusalem, the police said. – Haaretz

On the night of January 31, 2018, the spies, the analysts, the technicians, and the operations chiefs of the Mossad, the State of Israel’s fabled intelligence arm, were gathered inside the agency’s state-of-the-art situation room on the outskirts of Tel Aviv to oversee an operation that they all knew could turn out to be momentous for their country—or, if things went awry, disastrous. – Jerusalem Post

Israel’s Foreign Ministry filed a formal complaint against German ambassador Steffen Seibert’s attendance at the historic High Court hearing last week, German media reported citing Israeli officials. – Jerusalem Post

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s charge that American Jews who planned to rally against his judicial reform plan were aligned with Iran and the PLO prompted leaders of that movement to accuse him of declaring war on American Jewry. – Jerusalem Post

Saudi Arabia condemned “Israeli occupation forces’ storming of al-Aqsa Mosque” early on Monday afternoon after Jews visited the Temple Mount on Sunday as part of Rosh Hashanah celebrations. – Jerusalem Post

David Makovsky writes: Although Rabin’s thinking evolved in some ways, one of his central assessments persisted: that Oslo was the best way to prevent Hamas from dominating West Bank politics and eliminating any peaceful outcome. He concluded, “[If you] leave the situation intact, in which the extremist Islamic elements would increase their power and seize control over the Palestinians in the territories, [it] would leave us without any chance for a political solution.” – Washington Institute


Iraq’s northern oil export route through Turkey will soon be ready to resume operation after checks on pipeline maintenance and repairs to flood damage, the Turkish energy minister said. – Reuters

A Turkish drone strike in northern Iraq on Sunday killed three fighters from the Sinjar Resistance Units (YBS), a militia affiliated with the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), Iraqi security sources said. – Reuters

The Security Council on Friday voted unanimously to end, a year from now, a U.N. probe into activities of Islamic State extremists in Iraq. The vote came at the request of the Iraqi government. – Associated Press

Iraq’s Olympic Committee has criticized an Iraqi weightlifter for taking part in the world championships alongside a competitor from Israel, but the Iraqi weightlifting federation defended its athlete. – Agence France-Presse


Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan said on Saturday that Ankara could “part ways” with the European Union if necessary when asked about the contents of a European Parliament report on Turkey. – Reuters

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan asked Tesla (TSLA.O) CEO Elon Musk to build a Tesla factory in Turkey, the country’s communications directorate said on Monday. – Reuters

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is traveling to New York to attend the UN General Assembly amid heightened tensions with Washington over Syria and Russia. – Bloomberg

Gulf States

The U.S. State Department on Friday welcomed Saudi Arabia’s invitation to a Houthi-led delegation from Yemen for talks in Riyadh and described it as an “important step towards peace.” – Reuters

Saudi Arabian oil giant Aramco (2222.SE) agreed to purchase a Chile’s Esmax Distribución SpA (Esmax) from Southern Cross Group, the company said in a statement on Friday. – Reuters

A daughter of prominent Bahraini rights activist Abdulhadi al-Khawaja said on Friday she was denied boarding a flight in London as she tried to return to the Gulf state and press for her father’s release from prison. – Reuters

Tensions are high between the Gaza-based Hamas terrorist organization and the oil-rich Gulf state of Qatar following envoy Mohammed al-Emadi’s refusal to hand over grants for Palestinian public sector officials in the Strip, the local Sada news agency reported on Saturday. – Jerusalem Post

Middle East & North Africa

As aid trickles into Libya following floods that killed thousands, relief workers say the magnitude of the crisis is overwhelming, with equipment and manpower shortages, concerns about disease and rivalries between the country’s competing authorities. – Wall Street Journal

One of Egypt’s best-known opposition journalists was sentenced to six months in prison on Saturday, as President Abdel Fattah Al Sisi’s government moves to silence influential critics ahead of coming presidential elections. – Wall Street Journal

Russian general Sergei Surovikin is in Algeria as part of a Defence Ministry delegation, in an apparent return to official duties after coming under suspicion in connection with a June mutiny by the Wagner mercenary force, Kommersant newspaper reported on Friday, citing a source close to the general. – Reuters

Four years after Lebanon’s historic meltdown began, the small nation is still facing “enormous economic challenges,” with a collapsed banking sector, eroding public services, deteriorating infrastructure and worsening poverty, the International Monetary Fund warned Friday. – Associated Press

Ed Husain writes: Building infrastructure from Dubai to Saudi Arabia to Israel to the Mediterranean, as announced at the G20 Summit last week, is a testament to what is possible. Similarly, the UAE, Bahrain, and Saudi Arabia have all requested deeper and greater American security arrangements. The US and Bahrain have signed a security and economic pact this week that shows others what is on the table for allies of America. The Abraham Accords provide the foundations for that military, economic, intellectual, and policy framework for a grand partnership between America, Israel, and fifty-two Arab and Muslim nations. – National Interest

Gerald M. Feierstein and Yoel Guzansky write: Explaining that the 2020 commitments to the UAE on annexation (which came from the U.S., not Israel) only covered a period until 2024, Otaiba suggested that any new agreement to prevent annexation is “up to now future countries if they are to take that particular approach, but there’s very little that the UAE can do at this moment to shape what happens inside Israel.” Still, whether the Saudis are sufficiently determined to demand such an agreement and whether the current Israeli government is sufficiently interested in a deal with the Saudis to agree to one (and abide by it) is far from certain. – Middle East Institute

Korean Peninsula

To challenge the power of his chief rival, the United States, China’s top leader, Xi Jinping, has linked arms with two anti-Western states, declaring a “no limits” partnership with Russia and pledging “unswerving” support for North Korea. – New York Times

On a recent afternoon in a South Korean factory, robots assembled bulletproof plates and workers drilled steel parts onto dozens of 47-ton howitzers destined for Poland. Outside the factory in the southern coastal city of Changwon, howitzers destined for Estonia rumbled through a testing area. – Wall Street Journal

South Korea swore off nuclear weapons in a recent pact with the U.S., but the deal may have just put a temporary pause on the debate in Seoul. – Wall Street Journal

South Korea’s president said the international community “will unite more tightly” to cope with deepening military cooperation between Russia and North Korea, as he plans to raise the issue with world leaders at the U.N. General Assembly this week. – Associated Press

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un is on his way home Sunday from Russia, ending a six-day trip that triggered global concerns about weapons transfer deals between the two countries locked in separate standoffs with the West. – Associated Press

South Korea’s main opposition leader was hospitalised on Monday, days into a hunger strike in protest against government policies, while prosecutors sought an arrest warrant for him over corruption allegations. – Reuters

South Korea is reviewing measures to limit currency and swap traders’ tenure in local dealing rooms to three to five years, starting as early as next year, two sources with direct knowledge of the matter told Reuters on Friday. – Reuters

Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark Milley said that a potential arms deal between North Korea and Russia may not make a big difference in Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. – The Hill

Seth G. Jones writes: American allies and enemies alike see Ukraine as a test of Western resolve. A long-term commitment that weakens Russia and helps Ukraine stand up to tyranny will strengthen deterrence in Asia and reassure Taiwan, Japan, South Korea and Australia that America is still a dominant world power and trusted partner. – Wall Street Journal

Yejoon Chung writes: Now is an ideal time to recalibrate bilateral relations before the U.S. presidential elections and Korea’s general elections next year. Cementing recent diplomatic successes requires constant effort and a willingness to dialogue. South Korean goodwill is not assured, and Washington should not take it for granted. – National Interest


China’s Communist Party chief Xi Jinping doesn’t have to worry about opposition leaders at home criticizing his record. But not far away, a U.S. diplomat has seized that role for himself with barbed and sometimes sarcastic criticism. – Wall Street Journal

As China’s spy balloon drifted across the continental United States in February, American intelligence agencies learned that President Xi Jinping of China had become enraged with senior Chinese military generals. – New York Times 

The spy game between the U.S. and China is even more expansive than the one that played out between the Americans and the Soviets during the Cold War, said Christopher A. Wray, the F.B.I. director. China’s large population and economy enable it to build intelligence services that are bigger than those of the U.S. – New York Times

The White House announced on Sunday that its national security adviser met over the weekend with China’s top diplomat in Malta, as part of efforts to keep communication open between the two nations and as political purges roil elite circles in Beijing. – New York Times

China’s top diplomat, Wang Yi, begins on Monday a four-day trip to Russia during which both nations are expected to pledge deeper mutual political trust, readying for a possible landmark visit by President Vladimir Putin to Beijing in October. – Reuters

China and the European Union (EU) should continue to maintain an “open attitude” and “reject protectionism”, Chinese state media said on Monday, citing Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi. – Reuters

The People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) Shandong Carrier Strike Group returned to the South China Sea on Friday, according to a release by the Japanese Ministry of Defense. At the same time, five of the eight PLAN surface ships that had entered the Philippine Sea Monday via the Miyako Strait returned to the East China Sea Friday by the same route. Meanwhile, Western media outlets are reporting that Chinese Defense Minister Li Shangfu is under investigation for corruption and will likely be removed from office. – Military.com

Tom Rogan writes: Of course, by adopting such a disingenuous stance with the international community, China ultimately achieves that same undermining result anyway. By appointing, promoting, and then “disappearing” officials in short order, Xi also looks to be either vulnerable or incompetent. And he breeds the perception that Beijing, fundamentally, cannot be trusted. – Washington Examiner

M. 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

Cindy Yu writes: But Xi seems deeply committed to this approach and is unlikely to ditch it. As long as the brittle mood continues in Beijing, with officials, including Qin, purged on a regular basis, diplomats are likely to take the safest option: pandering to nationalism and avoiding contact with foreigners. It’s a structure where discipline is valued more than personal charm, where the goal is to defend the CCP through steadfast message discipline rather than winning hearts and minds—however many diplomatic counterparts you drive crazy on the way. – Foreign Policy

South Asia

Sri Lanka’s economy shrank 3.1% in the April-June quarter, official data showed on Friday, as the country struggles to claw out of its worst financial crisis in decades. – Reuters

India’s Defence Acquisition Council on Friday approved nine proposals to buy defence equipment worth a combined 450 billion rupees ($5.41 billion) from domestic vendors, a government statement said. – Reuters

Two years after the Taliban banned girls from school beyond sixth grade, Afghanistan is the only country in the world with restrictions on female education. Now, the rights of Afghan women and children are on the agenda of the United Nations General Assembly Monday in New York. – Associated Press

An Afghanistan-based nonprofit said Saturday it is working with the United Nations and others for the swift release of 18 staffers, including a foreigner, detained by the Taliban. – Associated Press

Keith B. Richburg writes: Even if the name is formally changed, I suspect many around the world will always refer to Bharat as India, much like South Vietnamese (and some American boomers) still refer to Ho Chi Minh City as Saigon. Or in the way many Brits, including Hong Kong’s last colonial governor, Chris Patten, still call the Chinese capital Peking. I, for one, still cannot use Ronald Reagan for our capital’s favored airport — it will always be Washington National to me. – Washington Post


China sent more than 100 fighter jets and nine navy ships into the Taiwan Strait on Monday, marking the largest single-day incursion in three years as Beijing escalates its threats against the island democracy. – Washington Post

Taiwan’s last South American ally would consider Chinese investment to develop its nascent green hydrogen industry as it seeks to become a regional fertilizer supplier, Paraguay Finance Minister Carlos Fernandez said. – Bloomberg

The US contribution to Taiwan’s military capability increased this week to $480 million in combined grants of money that can be spent directly in the US and drawdowns from US inventories, according to documents. – Bloomberg

The Philippine armed forces said Japan and Australia “expressed willingness” to take part in joint maritime patrols with it and the US in disputed waters. – Bloomberg

Kamran Bokhari writes: The corridor will enhance the economic development of Central Asia and will contribute to international energy and other trade flows. The U.S. can help make the corridor a success through investments, trade, technology and global leadership. More broadly, America needs to upgrade its tactical approach toward Central Asia by pursuing strategies to get ahead of China and Russia. – Wall Street Journal

Hou Yu-ih writes: As the mayor of New Taipei City and a presidential candidate, I have been a public servant nurtured by the government for decades and long committed to serving the people of Taiwan. Pragmatism is my motto, and people trust me, recognizing I am a strong decision-maker who delivers on his promises and plans. I will also ensure that Taiwan stands with the international community. Together, we will promote peace, stability, and development across the Indo-Pacific region. – Foreign Affairs

Chris Humphrey writes: This year, the United States has embarked on a diplomatic charm offensive with Hanoi, sending USAID Administrator Samantha Power, Sen. Jeff Merkley, and Secretary of State Antony Blinken to Vietnam, with the aim of upgrading relations between the two former foes amid efforts to counter China’s influence in the Asia-Pacific. The U.S. aircraft carrier Ronald Reagan also visited Vietnam in June. President Joe Biden confirmed the upgrade in relations—to a comprehensive strategic partnership—on his visit to Hanoi last weekend, which means diplomatic ties between the two former foes are now on a par with countries including Russia, China and South Korea. – Foreign Policy



Hours after the European Union ended a temporary ban on imports of Ukrainian grain and other products to five member nations, three of them — Poland, Hungary and Slovakia — defied the bloc and said they would continue to bar Ukrainian grain from being sold within their borders. – New York Times

The president of Finland, Sauli Niinisto, is the person considered most responsible for bringing his country into the NATO alliance — and Sweden, too, which is awaiting ratification — following the Russian invasion of Ukraine. President Biden has consulted him about Russia and its president, Vladimir V. Putin, whom Mr. Niinisto has met numerous times. – New York Times

Poland’s conservative governing party was hoping to make migration a key campaign theme ahead of the country’s national election. But not like this, with arrests, dismissals and an attempted suicide among its own ranks. – Associated Press

The European Union should earmark more cash to support Ukraine in its revised long-term budget and top up the funds for EU military mobility, Lithuanian finance minister Gintare Skaiste said on Saturday. – Reuters

Romanian farmers asked the government on Saturday to unilaterally ban the import of Ukrainian grain and other food products after the European Commission decided to lift restrictions. – Reuters

Thousands of supporters of a pro-Russian Czech opposition party gathered in Prague on Saturday to protest against the country’s centre-right government, criticising its economic management and military support for Ukraine. – Reuters

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen plans to travel Sunday to the Italian island of Lampedusa, which was overwhelmed with thousands of migrants arrivals this week, at the invitation of Italy’s premier, who is calling for a naval blockade of North Africa. – Associated Press

Poland began to enforce a European Union ban Sunday on all Russian-registered passenger cars seeking to enter the country — the latest in a series of sanctions on Russia in punishment for its war against Ukraine. – Associated Press

Norway said Russian forces have pulled back from its border in the Arctic, claiming the number of soldiers Moscow has there now is “20% or less” compared to the start of the Ukraine war. – Fox News

Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni has appealed for greater European support as her country confronts a surge of people fleeing north Africa, amid growing tensions between Rome and other EU capitals over migration policy. – Financial Times

British authorities on Friday officially declared the mercenary Wagner Group a terrorist organization Friday. – The Hill

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg warned that the war Russian President Vladimir Putin is waging on Ukraine won’t be over any time soon. – Politico

The European Union could become as dependent on China for lithium-ion batteries and fuel cells by 2030 as it was on Russia for energy before the war in Ukraine unless it takes strong measures, a paper prepared for EU leaders said. – Reuters

France issued an ultimatum and Germany pushed back in an increasingly bitter standoff that lays bare the disruption unleashed by the combination of the region’s energy crisis and European Union’s green shift. – Bloomberg

German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock said Europe would be better prepared if Donald Trump returned to the White House after the shock of his ascent to the presidency in 2016. – Bloomberg

Editorial: Give the report credit for candor. The war in Ukraine is rousing Europe, and the British have been stalwart in aiding Kyiv. The question is whether London—and Washington—will start to treat atrophied Western military power as the urgent crisis it is. – Wall Street Journal

Péter Szitás and Michael O’Shea write: If Fico and other war-skeptic forces triumph in Slovakia this month, Western media will turn to regular and overused explanations: that the results stem from a local variation of “Trumpism,” or are because of “Russian propaganda” and “democratic backsliding.” The informed observer will note a simpler explanation: people deserve security. – National Interest

Jens Kastner and Jack Hewson write: But Germany’s left, split between Putin supporters and opponents, is in free fall. It’s the right that is ascendant. An AfD win in the next parliamentary election in 2025 could turn Germany into a big Hungary, said Wolfgang Muno, a political scientist at the University of Rostock. Hungary under Prime Minister Viktor Orban is Russia’s Trojan horse inside the European Union, consistently backing Moscow while blocking Brussels’s efforts to impose sanctions or wean off Russian energy. – Foreign Policy

Elisabeth Braw writes: Other countries, pay attention: This could happen to you, too. If you plan a major foreign-policy initiative, signal to thin-skinned foreign leaders that there may be people in your country who see an opportunity to get famous by slinging insults. You can also be certain that some of those foreign leaders may be looking for excuses to feel insulted. Just imagine what might happen now that Western countries need to work more closely with Saudi Arabia’s Mohammed bin Sultan. – Foreign Policy


Since the mercenaries of Russia’s notorious Wagner Group first arrived here five years ago, they have embedded themselves in the security operations and economy of this impoverished but resource-rich country. While operating largely independently of Moscow, the group helped project Russian influence deep into Africa. – Washington Post

Thousands of people gathered in Liberia’s capital Monrovia on Sunday as opposition leader Joseph Boakai launched his campaign ahead of October elections that will test the popularity of ex-football star President George Weah after a chaotic first term. – Reuters

Fresh fighting broke out between Mali’s army and northern Tuareg rebels on Sunday, with the rebels claiming to have taken control of two army bases in the central town of Lere. – Reuters

Ethiopian forces engaged in fierce clashes with al Shabaab fighters near the town of Rab Dhuure in western Somalia on Sunday morning, local residents said. – Reuters

Mali, Niger and Burkina Faso, three West African Sahel nations ruled by military juntas, signed a security pact on Saturday promising to come to the aid of each other in case of any rebellion or external aggression. – Reuters

Burkina Faso’s military junta has ordered the French embassy’s defence attache to leave the country due to “subversive” behaviour, it said in a leaked letter seen by Reuters on Friday. – Reuters

The Republic of Congo’s government denied speculation on social media that there had been a coup in the central African nation. – Bloomberg

J. Peter Pham writes: Indeed, given the critical building blocks for future technology at stake in Africa’s resources, if properly implemented, the Lobito Corridor might well prove to be an even bigger geopolitical and geo-economic game-changer than the corridor across the already well-served Middle East. – The Hill

Alex de Waal writes: Countries that are at odds over other global issues should be able to set aside their differences and agree on actions to protect civilians, provide essential aid, and stop an unfolding calamity that will likely surpass what Darfur suffered two decades ago. When the UN General Assembly meets in New York this week, African leaders will gather on the sidelines to discuss Sudan. This is the opportunity for them, and the UN, to show that the agendas of peacemaking and civilian protection are still alive, and for the United States to put its weight behind a serious re-engagement with Darfur. It is the least the long-suffering Darfuris deserve. – Foreign Affairs

Latin America

On his first trip to Cuba during his third term in office, Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva called the embargo imposed by the United States on the island “illegal” and denounced the island’s inclusion on the list of state sponsors of terrorism. – Reuters

The president of the Dominican Republic on Sunday defended his decision to close air, sea and land traffic with neighboring Haiti in their dispute over construction of a canal targeting a river that runs through both countries. – Associated Press

A U.S. judge ruled that Argentina must pay $16.1 billion to minority shareholders of state-controlled oil company YPF due to the government’s 2012 nationalization of a majority stake in the firm. – Associated Press

Mary Anastasia O’Grady writes: The outward migration is intentional on the part of the regime, Ms. Machado says. “They want people to give up.” But “when people see that things that look hard and improbable are ethically inescapable, that’s how change is made.” – Wall Street Journal

North America

The U.S. State Department has approved the possible sale to Canada of munitions and other systems to be integrated into MQ-9Bs drones for $313.4 million, the Pentagon said on Friday. – Reuters

Canada will contribute C$33 million ($24.4 million) to a UK-led partnership that will deliver air defense missiles to help Ukraine defend itself against Russia’s missile and drone attacks. – Bloomberg

Tom Daschle and Senator Dan Sullivan write: As authoritarian powers seek to shatter an international order that has led to greater and more widespread global development than the world has ever seen, robust democratic institutions, backed up by American hard power, will prove one of our most decisive weapons. – The Hill


Chinese hackers have found a dangerous vulnerability in U.S. military computer networks nearly 8,000 miles from the Pentagon — on the serene South Pacific island of Guam. – Politico

Experts at the cryptocurrency-tracking company Elliptic say North Korean hackers are the prime suspects in the theft of $31 million in cryptocurrency from the CoinEx exchange reported earlier this week. – The Record

More Russian journalists have come forward this week expressing concern that they too may have been targeted with spyware, following the news that the prominent media figure Galina Timchenko was hacked with Pegasus. – The Record


A Russian spacecraft carrying two Russians and an American docked at the International Space Station on Friday after blasting off from Kazakhstan. – Fox News

Eric Sayers and Klon Kitchen write: Policymakers in Washington should not be lulled into thinking that the Chinese drone threat has been addressed. In fact, it is getting worse as the number of companies proliferate and as each PRC drone company expands its market presence and market share. We understand that the agenda for the administration and Congress we have outlined to respond to this challenge is ambitious, but this is what is required to secure U.S. critical infrastructure and the American people. – Defense News

Brian Chow writes: Specifically, China could pre-position some or all of these 200 attackers next to our three dozen global-positioning-system satellites and their follow-ons at semi-geosynchronous orbits. There is currently no rule to prohibit China from doing so. Upon further command, these attackers—already at close range—could quickly and forcibly dock with our satellites and bend or disconnect antennae and solar panels, thus disabling these navigational satellites upon which military, civil, and commercial operations are all critically dependent. Alternatively, these attackers could harmlessly relocate these satellites into the wrong orbits where they can no longer perform their functions. Worse yet, there would still be plenty of leftover attackers to impair our other critical satellites serving as our eyes and ears at geosynchronous orbits and highly elliptical orbits. – National Interest

Zuri Linetsky writes: The Biden administration and the I Marine Expeditionary Force believe their tactical efforts in Asia are clearly defensive. This is demonstrated by their coordination with partners and allies. Indeed, several U.S. allies and partners in the region have expressed their preference for the United States to help deter China. But it’s equally clear that elements in the Chinese leadership believe these efforts to be tantamount to offensive encirclement—and thus preparation for an unprovoked war. – Foreign Policy