Fdd's overnight brief

September 19, 2022

In The News


The death of a 22-year-old Iranian woman in police custody for allegedly breaching the country’s strict female dress code has generated furious protests over the Islamic Republic’s so-called morality laws at a time when more women are flouting such rules. – Wall Street Journal

Iranian media on Saturday published photographs and video of Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei attending a religious ceremony in Tehran, amid speculation about the octogenarian’s health among foreign diplomats, on social media and in published reports. – Wall Street Journal

Tehran would be serious about reviving a deal on its nuclear program if there were guarantees the United States would not again withdraw from it, Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi said in an interview broadcast on Sunday. – Reuters

Eight people have been stabbed by unknown assailants in the southern Iranian city of Shiraz, the latest in a series of assaults against clerics and religious people around the country. – Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty

Negotiations between the United States and Iran to reenter the 2015 nuclear agreement are at a “stalemate,” according to a senior State Department official. – Washington Examiner

Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi cast doubt on whether the Holocaust happened and called Israel a “false regime” in his first interview with a Western media outlet, which aired late Sunday. – Times of Israel

A group of Iranian dissidents and former detainees said on Thursday they were launching a federal civil case in the Southern District of New York against Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi ahead of his visit to the US to attend the United Nations General Assembly later this month. – Al Arabiya

Farzin Nadimi writes: Accordingly, the United States and its partners should closely scrutinize the IRGCN’s evolving role and development of new systems. This is especially true today because Iran’s domestic industrial base is gradually beginning to catch up and deliver suitable platforms and associated subsystems, whether by building them from the ground up or converting and repurposing merchant ships. – Washington Institute

Zvi Bar’el writes: Biden, who was involved in the original Iran deal negotiations from up close and knows a thing or two about walking a very fine line, has avoided, for now, from mentioning a target date for ending the process, with negotiations or without, and he is not speaking in public about possible options in case a deal is not reached – and outwardly he does not seem to be very impressed by the timetable dictated by the upcoming elections. […]So for now, it seems that both sides are still in no hurry to pack their bags and leave. – Haaretz

Russia & Ukraine

Russia has inflicted serious damage on Ukrainian forces with recently introduced Iranian drones, in its first wide-scale deployment of a foreign weapons system since the war began, Ukrainian commanders say. – Wall Street Journal

Russia’s war in Ukraine is set to dominate the annual gathering of government leaders at the United Nations in New York, although developing countries are insisting that health issues, the global food supply and climate change don’t fall through the cracks, officials said. – Wall Street Journal

Vladimir Putin’s economic campaign to force European governments to abandon support for Ukraine by sharply curbing their natural-gas supplies looks to be faltering as gas prices fall, Russian government finances deteriorate and the continent sets plans to ease the pressure on households and businesses. – Wall Street Journal

Russia is intensifying a campaign of long-range missile strikes targeting Ukraine’s key infrastructure after facing major setbacks on the battlefield that have raised concerns about further escalation from Moscow. – Wall Street Journal

Ukrainian officials have intensified their pleas for modern battle tanks and other heavily armored vehicles to use against invading Russian forces, citing their military’s stunning advances in the northeast and mass graves they say they discovered there. – Washington Post 

After a successful Ukrainian counteroffensive in the northeast of the country, the messy war that Russian President Vladimir Putin started is now being fought directly on his doorstep, with artillery strikes hitting military targets in Russia and Russian officials in cities and towns along the border ordering hasty evacuations. – Washington Post

After nearly a week offline, the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant in southern Ukraine resumed receiving electricity from the country’s power grid, the International Atomic Energy Agency, the U.N. nuclear watchdog, said on Saturday. The restoration came after engineers finished repairing a high-voltage line damaged by shelling. – New York Times 

President Biden met on Friday with family members of Brittney Griner and Paul Whelan, two Americans imprisoned in Russia whose release the United States is trying to negotiate with Moscow amid poisoned relations over the war in Ukraine. –  New York Times

Russia’s defining 20th-century pop star, Alla Pugacheva, declared her opposition to the invasion of Ukraine on Sunday, emerging as the most significant celebrity to come out against the war as President Vladimir V. Putin faces growing challenges on and off the battlefield. – New York Times

The top U.S. general cautioned on Sunday it remained unclear how Russia might react to the latest battlefield setbacks in Ukraine and called for increased vigilance among U.S. troops as he visited a base in Poland aiding Ukraine’s war effort. – Reuters

Russian troops struck the Pivdennoukrainsk nuclear power plant in Ukraine’s southern Mykolaiv region early on Monday but its reactors have not been damaged and are working normally, Ukraine’s state nuclear company Energoatom said. – Reuters

Western sanctions are starting to hurt Russia’s ability to make advanced weaponry for the war in Ukraine, a top NATO military adviser told Reuters on Friday, although he added Russian industry could still manufacture “a lot of ammunition”. – Reuters

Russia has highly likely lost at least four combat jets in Ukraine within the last 10 days, taking its attrition to about 55 since the beginning of its invasion, the British military said on Monday. – Reuters

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and a global food crisis aggravated by the war will be the focus of world leaders when they convene at the United Nations in New York this week, a gathering that is unlikely to yield any progress toward ending the conflict. – Reuters

The U.N. food chief warned Thursday that the world is facing “a global emergency of unprecedented magnitude,” with up to 345 million people marching toward starvation — and 70 million pushed closer to starvation by the war in Ukraine. – Associated Press

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy promised his country there would be no letup in the counteroffensive that has reclaimed towns and cities from Russian troops, as shelling continued Sunday across a wide stretch of Ukraine. – Associated Press

A Vatican envoy and his aides narrowly escaped injury after reportedly coming under fire while on a humanitarian mission in Ukraine — evidence British officials allege shows Russia is ready to expand attacks on innocent civilians. – New York Post 

It is predicted that over 90 million people would be dead or injured in a war between the United States and Russia, Princeton University researchers discovered. – Washington Examiner

The Commerce Department on Friday announced new sanctions limiting the export of fentanyl and other chemicals to Russia and Belarus because of their potential to support “military aggression.” – The Hill

Russian journalist Maria Ponomarenko, who was detained in April on accusations of discrediting the Russian armed forces with “fake” social-media posts about the war in Ukraine, says she attempted suicide by cutting her wrists to protest her pretrial incarceration.- Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty

Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk has urged people not to rush back to newly liberated settlements in the Kharkiv region and to allow authorities to restore security measures as shelling continues in the area. – Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty

Russia’s Supreme Court revoked the domestic broadcasting license of Russia’s liberal Novaya Gazeta newspaper on Thursday, effectively blocking it within the country, after claiming that it had violated the country’s strict “foreign agent” registration law. – The National Interest

Russian ambassador to Germany Sergey Nechayev said on Friday that Germany had crossed a “red line” by sending arms to Ukraine. “Supplying the Ukrainian regime with German weapons is not only against Russian servicemen, but also against the Donbas civilians,” Nechayev told RT. “It is certainly the red line which the German authorities should not have crossed.” – Arutz Sheva 

Editorial: In the coming weeks, the world will learn more about what Ukrainian civilians in the Kharkiv area experienced. Towns such as Izyum have been cut off from the internet, phone signals and electricity for months, with little information escaping about conditions and treatment. […]It is imperative reports of violence are quickly and carefully documented. Collecting information in real time — crucial in such situations — will require both resources and coordination. – Washington Post 

Editorial: The realisation of the extent of Putin’s miscalculations is reason for western democracies to take heart, but also for wariness. A cornered leader can be a dangerous one. If Putin does find himself facing a broader rout in Ukraine, his cascade of miscalculations to date provides little confidence that his subsequent decisions will be wise. – Financial Times

Jillian Kay Melchior writes: Unfortunately, solving a case isn’t the same as resolving one. Ukrainian authorities have opened some 32,650 war-crime cases as of Sept. 15, Mr. Belousov said. Yet the majority of suspects remain beyond Ukraine’s reach. One hope is that some may be apprehended when they travel outside Russia and the territory it controls in Ukraine. Mr. Aseyev hopes the bounty effort can help track them down. “It’s not about revenge,” he said. “It’s about justice.” – Wall Street Journal

James M. Dubik writes: It’s too early to celebrate. Ukraine must continue fighting, forcing Putin to understand that he has lost. The allies must continue offering their support. Together, they must engage in determined diplomacy to end the war — not just the fighting — and in the process, achieve their strategic aims while making sure that Putin achieves none of his. That’s how wars are won. – The Hill

Tara D. Sonenshine writes: For the families of Griner and Whelan, this is a time for maximal pressure to give the families good news about their impending freedom. Freedom is a blessing. May all those who are wrongfully detained overseas be reunited with their loved ones. – The Hill

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. – New York Sun 

Michelle Wiese Bockmann writes: A key question though might be how strict the G7 wants to be in enforcing a price cap. It is clear that even if the grey market in Russian oil expands, it is still not enough to carry all the volume sailing to China, India and the EU. A shortfall in supply will add to upward pressures on oil prices, risking more cash going to the Kremlin. – Financial Times 

Ivan Krastev writes: This is the cardinal difference between democracy and autocracy: even weak democratic governments are able to preserve their legitimacy, whereas the legitimacy of the autocrat depends on how strong the public perceives them to be. And contrary to the claims of Kremlin propaganda, while most Russians are ready to cheer on their army, they are much less enthusiastic about joining up. The only option left to Putin, if he resists a mass call-up, is to plunge Ukraine further into darkness. In the short-term, therefore, Kyiv’s counter-offensive is likely to mean escalation rather than ceasefire. – Financial Times 

Seth J. Frantzman writes: Russia’s use of Iran’s drones could have implications for the Middle East because Iran has used drones all over the region and has threatened Israel with drones. In February 2018 Iran flew. A drone from Syria into Israeli airspace and was shot down. In the May 2021 war, Iran flew a drone from Iraq targeting Israel. This year it flew drones from Iran over Iraq and Syria and the US-led Coalition shot them down. Iran has tried to attack the US Tanf garrison in Syria with drones and has used drones in Iraq against the Kurdistan region. – Jerusalem Post

Kateryna Stepanenko, Grace Mappes, and Frederick W. Kagan write: Russian President Vladimir Putin is increasingly relying on irregular volunteer and proxy forces rather than conventional units and formations of the Russian Federation Armed Forces. […]Putin’s souring relationship with the military command and the Russian (MoD) may explain in part the Kremlin’s increasing focus on recruiting ill-prepared volunteers into ad-hoc irregular units rather than attempting to draw them into reserve or replacement pools for regular Russian combat units. – Institute for the Study of War

Olga Lautman writes: Meanwhile, Western governments need to prepare for a post-Putin era and not repeat the mistakes made after the Soviet Union’s collapse. Russia’s problems are much bigger than Putin, and lie in the heart of a state that genuflects to men of his character. – Center for European Policy Analysis

Kseniya Kirillova writes: The systemic corruption at the core of the Putin regime has hollowed out the state and left the president with few options. Such a system has little chance of winning the war against the patriotically motivated Ukrainian army, equipped as it is with the latest Western weapons and technology, and he must know it. – Center for European Policy Analysis


The founders of ice cream maker Ben & Jerry’s said on MSNBC on Sunday that parent Unilever PLC (ULVR.L) is in violation of the 2000 merger deal over its sale of Ben & Jerry’s business in Israel to a local licensee who could sell their products in the West Bank. – Reuters

Shots were fired at an Israeli vehicle driving through the northern West Bank Palestinian town of Huwara before dawn on Monday, the military said. – Times of Israel

Former US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo spoke to Israel National News at the Israel Heritage Foundation event in New York City. Asked if the United States is listening to the Israeli opinion on the nuclear deal with Iran, Pompeo replied, “There is no evidence that this administration is listening to the Israelis, or frankly to others in the region who are really worried about Iran having a nuclear weapon. They appear intent on giving them hundreds of billions of dollars with which to continue their terror campaign. That would be an enormous mistake.” – Arutz Sheva 

Col. T. is the head of the IDF General Staff’s Strategy and Third-Circle Directorate, which was established two years ago with the understanding that Iran requires more focus and attention than any other arena. […]However, the US withdrawal from the accord in 2018 as well as Iran’s nuclear progress, terror activities, and efforts to strengthen its proxies in the region required the military to return to the issue. – Israel Hayom

Sean Durns writes: The Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting and Analysis (CAMERA) has been warning of growing Iranian influence in Fatah-ruled territories for years. And while Abbas has been steadfastly anti-Iran, this should not be taken for granted. […]In Ernest Hemingway’s The Sun Also Rises, a character is asked how he went bankrupt. “Gradually, then suddenly,” he replies. In the West Bank, the United States might soon find itself in a similar predicament. – The National Interest


Hezbollah terror chief Hassan Nasrallah on Friday issued a fresh threat over the offshore Karish gas field partly claimed by Lebanon, warning Israel against beginning extraction amid maritime border talks between Jerusalem and Beirut. – Agence France-Presse

Military chief Aviv Kohavi is scheduled to travel to France and Poland next week to meet with his counterparts from the two European nations and discuss the Iranian threat and Hezbollah, the Israel Defense Forces said Saturday. – Times of Israel

Seth J. Frantzman and Tal Spungin write: The agreement would be an important milestone. Hezbollah nevertheless holds the Lebanese government hostage, with widespread control and blackmail of institutions in Lebanon, including the Presidency. It also controls southern Lebanon and traffics rockets and drones into the country which threaten Israel. – Jerusalem Post

Amos Harel writes: Israel is continuing its efforts to persuade the international community of the need to settle the maritime border dispute and to pacify Hezbollah to forestall incidents in the north. In the ongoing talks with foreign countries, Israel’s main focus has been on the maritime border and on Hezbollah’s violations of the status quo along the land border, primarily the deployment of more than 20 observation posts near Israeli territory. Israeli officials are devoting less time in their talks to Hezbollah’s efforts to establish workshops in Lebanon to retrofit older rockets with precision-guided navigation systems. – Haaretz


A senior Taliban figure, Haji Bashir Noorzai, has been released after decades of detention by the United States and arrived in Kabul on Monday, a Taliban spokesperson said. – Reuters

A leading international rights group released a harrowing report Friday about six members of an extended minority Shiite family in Afghanistan who were brutally killed by the Taliban earlier this summer. It accused Afghanistan’s new rulers of blatant disregard of human rights and abuse of minorities. – Associated Press

When nearly 80,000 Afghans arrived in the United States, refugee resettlement agencies quickly became overwhelmed, still scrambling to rehire staff and reopen offices after being gutted as the Trump administration dropped refugee admissions to a record low. – Associated Press

The United Nations on Sunday called for Afghanistan’s Taliban rulers to reopen schools to girls in grades 7-12, calling the anniversary of their exclusion from high school “shameful.” – Associated Press

Lisa Curtis and Nader Nadery write: The UN and international human rights organizations have documented numerous human rights abuses in addition to those against women and girls, including extrajudicial killings, arbitrary detentions, forced displacement, persecution of minorities, torture, and a clampdown on journalists and freedom of expression over the last year. The Taliban’s actions are unacceptable, and U.S. policy must reflect this by adopting a far tougher approach to the Taliban until the group upholds its previous promises to respect the rights of all Afghans. – Foreign Affairs


A rocket attack targeting the U.S. military’s Green Village base in northeast Syria failed to hit U.S. or coalition forces, or any equipment, the U.S. Central Command said. – Reuters

An Israeli strike on the Damascus International Airport and nearby military posts south of the Syrian capital killed five soldiers, state media reported Saturday. – Associated Press

Militants carried out an attack with a rocket launcher on a Turkish military post near the Syrian border on Sunday, killing one soldier and wounding another, Turkey’s defence ministry said. – Reuters

Hamas announced on Thursday it would continue building and developing solid ties with Syria, signifying a possible restoration of relations between the two sides after ten years of estrangement, the Xinhua news agency reported. – Arutz Sheva 

James Snell writes: Instead, if America wants to make use of Russia’s weakness, and to act only with good sense and justice to defeat its avowed strategic enemies, it will reconsider failed Syria policy of the last decade—and rethink allowing the Assad regime to survive. – The National Interest


A total of 165 ships with 3.7 million tonnes of agricultural products on board have left Ukraine under a deal brokered by the United Nations and Turkey to unblock Ukrainian sea ports, the Ukrainian infrastructure ministry said on Sunday. – Reuters

Turkish contractor IC Ictas re-captured a deal to build a $20-billion nuclear power plant run by Russia’s Rosatom at Akkuyu in southern Turkey, two sources with information on the matter told Reuters. – Reuters

Russian President Vladimir Putin on Friday praised Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan’s efforts to end the war in Ukraine, but said Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy was not prepared to hold peace talks. – Reuters

Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Friday that 25% of Russian gas supplies to Turkey would be paid for in roubles, and that an agreement on this would come into force soon. – Reuters

President Tayyip Erdogan said Turkey and Russia had reached a deal resolving a dispute over a nuclear power plant being built at Akkuyu in southern Turkey, reinstating a Turkish contractor, broadcaster NTV and other media said on Saturday. – Reuters

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi met Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan on the sidelines of a regional summit on Friday, in their first encounter in over two years since relations soured after Erdogan’s comments on the disputed Muslim-majority region of Kashmir. – Reuters

Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is seeking even closer financial ties with Russia as he attempts to stabilize a troubled economy ahead of next year’s elections, according to Turkish officials. – Bloomberg

Turkey is seeking membership to the China-led Shanghai Cooperation Organization as President Recep Tayyip Erdogan attempts to forge alliances with friendly countries in the East. – Bloomberg

Prime Minister Yair Lapid will meet with Turkish leader Recep Tayyip Erdogan on the sidelines of the upcoming United Nations General Assembly, according to a schedule published by his office on Saturday. – Times of Israel

Anthony Grant writes: Moscow will probably get the memo to back off, but given Turkish intransigence on the Cyprus problem and lack of any diplomatic initiative from the Biden administration, a political reunification of the island is nowhere in sight.  – New York Sun 

Seth J. Frantzman writes: Overall this means there are a lot of issues that connect Israel, Cyprus, Greece and other countries. There is also a lot at stake in Israel-Turkey ties. The US decision will be important for the Eastern Mediterranean, but it is also possible Ankara could try to escalate tensions with Greece or Cyprus over this issue this fall. – Jerusalem Post

Michael Rubin writes: So it is today with Cyprus. The island, at least the two-thirds that Turkey does not occupy, alongside Israel and Greece are the frontline for democracies holding back an axis of autocracy. The United States has committed itself to Israel’s defense and enhanced its security alliance with Greece. The Cypriot arms embargo, while loosened by Pompeo, remains an artifact of the past with profound ramifications in the present day. It is time to reverse course and provide Cyprus with a first-world military. – 19FortyFive


Five Lebanese banks were held up by depositors seeking access to their own money frozen in the banking system on Friday, in a spiralling spate of holdups this week spurred by frustration over a financial implosion with no end in sight. – Reuters

An armed man entered a branch of BLOM bank in the Lebanese capital’s Tariq al-Jdideh neighborhood, BLOM bank told Reuters in a statement, adding that the situation was under control. – Reuters

Lebanon’s parliament on Friday suspended talks on the 2022 budget after a walk-out by lawmakers sent attendance below quorum, further delaying efforts to complete requirements to access IMF funds to relieve its economic crisis. – Reuters

The team managing the talks on the maritime border with Lebanon is examining the possibility of bringing the agreement to secret approval by the cabinet, before it is presented to the public, according to Israel Hayom sources close to the negotiations. – Arutz Sheva

Adnan Nasser writes: There is a genuine desire for change on the part of the new MPs. That t is a good start, considering that most established politicians have used their influence for corrupt and selfish gains. Yet without a concrete action plan to unseat and expose those who have dragged Lebanon to its current situation, which must include addressing the problem of Hezbollah’s paramilitary wing, no lasting progress will be made. The new MPs must not allow themselves to simply become a cosmetic show of change in a cesspool that has no stomach for true reform. For now, Lebanon must wait to see if proclamations will turn into action. – The National Interest

Arabian Peninsula

A confidant of former President Donald Trump goes on trial beginning this week on charges he illegally pushed U.S. officials to support policies favoring the United Arab Emirates, a case that could detail the small Gulf state’s back-channel connections and outsize sway in Washington. – Wall Street Journal

Dubai’s attorney general appealed a ruling by a local court this week not to extradite a British man to Denmark, where he faces charges related to an alleged $1.75 billion tax fraud scheme. – Reuters

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken will meet the Yemeni Chairman of the Presidential Leadership Council Rashad Al-Alimi on Monday in New York, the State Department said on Sunday as world dignitaries arrive for the U.N. General Assembly. – Reuters

Saudi Arabia’s de-facto ruler Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman is no longer expected to attend Queen Elizabeth’s funeral on Monday, a British foreign office source said on Sunday, contrary to Britain’s earlier expectations that he would. – Reuters

While tensions remain high with Iran and violence increases in the West Bank, Defense Minister Benny Gantz met with United Arab Emirates Foreign Minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed on Sunday to discuss a joint architecture to ensure regional stability. – Jerusalem Post

Ahmed Buhejji writes: The Gulf states have been more successful than Israel in diversifying their exposure to the three powers. Despite the normalization of relations through the Abraham Accords, Israel is not fully integrated with Gulf states and has a unique relationship with the United States. As a result, Israel perceives such dilemmas differently. – The National Interest

Middle East & North Africa

Tunisia expects to reach a deal with the International Monetary Fund in coming weeks on a loan of between $2 billion and $4 billion over three years, the central bank governor said on Sunday. – Reuters

Leaders of Tunisia’s Islamist opposition party Ennahda, Rached Ghannouchi and Ali Larayedh, have been called for questioning by police on Monday for “sending jihadists to Syria,” party officials told Reuters on Saturday. – Reuters

When President Joe Biden took office, he attempted to distance himself from his predecessor in most areas. But he embraced a core pillar of former President Donald Trump’s Middle East policy: the landmark normalization pacts between Israel and several Arab nations that the Trump White House brokered in 2020. – Washington Examiner

Seth J. Frantzman writes: Israel, Greece, Cyprus and Egypt share security interests in the Eastern Med, and the countries work closely with France and the US Navy. Israel, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain also work with the US Navy as part of Central Command. […]There is also a lot at stake in Israel-Turkey ties. The US decision will be important for the Eastern Mediterranean, but it is also possible Ankara could try to escalate tensions with Greece or Cyprus over this issue this fall. – Jerusalem Post

Seth J. Frantzman writes: Despite the many positive developments that have occurred in the last two years, there are still hurdles and challenges for the countries involved in the Abraham Accords. Some of the expectations were not met on both sides. […]Despite those challenges, the fruits of the Abraham Accords are apparent – not only in the banquet halls celebrating its second anniversary – but on the ground. – Jerusalem Post

Gordon Gray writes: Ultimately, there is only so much the United States can do. Friends of democracy should support their Tunisian counterparts, but it is of course up to Tunisians to choose their country’s future path. By the time the next presidential elections take place in 2024, it’s very possible that Tunisians will have tired of Saied. Their focus is on the economy. Saied’s blend of Ben Ali’s authoritarianism and Muammar Qaddafi’s political philosophy is unlikely to meet Tunisians’ pressing needs. – The National Interest

Korean Peninsula

Four months into his new administration, President Yoon Suk Yeol of South Korea has found hi​mself in trouble. His national approval rating has plummeted, his governing People Power Party does not control Parliament and five of his cabinet-level appointees have been forced to step down amid accusations of nepotism, sexual harassment and other ethical lapses. – New York Times

The United States and South Korea on Friday denounced North Korea’s first-use nuclear doctrine unveiled this month as “escalatory and destabilizing” and Washington vowed to continue to deploy and exercise strategic assets to deter and respond to Pyongyang. – Reuters

China’s top legislator, Li Zhanshu, called on Friday for more cooperation with South Korea on cutting-edge technologies and supply chain issues. – Reuters

South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol said on Friday that close communication with China is needed to ensure that a U.S. missile defence system stationed in South Korea will not pose a hurdle to bilateral ties, Yoon’s office said. – Reuters

Poland on Friday signed a contract with South Korea to supply Warsaw with 48 new light combat aircraft as it seeks to bolster its army amidst ongoing security worries related to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. – Reuters

South Korea’s unemployment rate fell to historic lows in August as more of the elderly population entered the workforce to fill vacancies, likely pushing wages higher and triggering further interest rate hikes by the Bank of Korea (BOK). – Reuters

North Korea watchers have been abuzz in recent months about a mysterious female aide who has begun to appear with leader Kim Jong-un of late. – The National Interest


The Pentagon is intensifying efforts to decouple U.S. defense companies’ sprawling global supply chain from China, executives and department officials said. – Wall Street Journal

Vladimir Putin is waging a reckless war in an uncertain bid to recreate a superpower of the past. Xi Jinping is cautiously, carefully steering China to its certain destiny as a superpower of the future. – Washington Post 

China clashed with the countries in the so-called AUKUS alliance at the U.N. nuclear watchdog on Friday over their plan to supply Australia with nuclear-powered submarines, capping a week in which Beijing has repeatedly railed against the project. – Reuters

The leaders of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) agreed on Friday to take steps to increase the use of national currencies in trade between their countries, according to a joint declaration adopted on Friday. – Reuters

Chinese President Xi Jinping on Friday called on Russia and other members of a regional grouping to support each other in preventing foreign powers from instigating “colour revolutions” – popular uprisings that have shaken former Communist nations – in their countries. – Reuters

The Chinese delegation visiting London to attend Queen Elizabeth’s funeral on Monday will not be allowed to view her coffin at the lying-in-state vigil inside parliament, the BBC reported on Friday. – Reuters

Germany is observing China’s military build-up and drills with Russia with concern while signalling its commitment to a rules-based order in the Indo Pacific with its growing presence there, the country’s defence minister told Reuters. – Reuters

Russian Security Council secretary Nikolai Patrushev will hold security consultations and meetings during a two-day visit to China starting Sunday, China’s foreign ministry said. – Reuters

China increased its holdings of Treasuries in July for the first time in eight months, while Japan reduced its U.S. government debt load, data from the U.S. Treasury department showed on Friday. – Reuters

While China is aggressively expanding its military, a new report from the National Defense University has exposed areas of possible concern for the People’s Liberation Army. – Washington Examiner

The White House sent a strong message to Chinese leaders not to support Russia’s invasion of Ukraine even as leaders of the two Asian countries met in person to reaffirm their partnership. – Washington Examiner

Chinese diplomats are speaking out and lobbying others at an ongoing session of the Human Rights Council to thwart a possible call for further scrutiny of what it calls its anti-extremism campaign in Xinjiang, following a United Nations report on abuses against Uyghurs and other largely Muslim ethnic groups in the western China border region. – Associated Press

President Biden said in a new interview that he told Chinese President Xi Jinping that it would be a “gigantic mistake” to violate sanctions against Russia around the time that Moscow began its war in Ukraine. – The Hill

Editorial: That brings us back to Europe and Russia. Europe is suffering great pain as it attempts to redress decades of easy, if delusional, dependence on Moscow. But at least Europe now has America at its back. If America makes the same mistake with China, no one is likely to have our back when we finally realize the scale of our mistake. After all, China will already have turned the rest of the free world into serfs. – Washington Examiner

Adam Minter writes: Of course, failure to convince other parts of the world won’t be viewed as favorably and changing minds won’t be easy. But it would be a mistake to assume that China can’t learn from its messaging failures, especially in light of the resources and years it’s devoting to influencing foreigners. If open societies don’t begin to address their vulnerabilities, China will find ways to leverage them into influence. – Bloomberg

Hal Brands writes: China isn’t making this mistake. As Beijing’s propaganda outlets issue chilling threats about what will happen to its enemies if conflict occurs, its shipyards and factories are spitting out warships and munitions at an astounding rate. The arsenal of autocracy may soon be ready for war. Will the arsenal of democracy be up to the challenge? – Bloomberg

Rana Foroohar writes: The US should appoint a White House-level resilience tsar (a non-partisan figure with a logistics or business continuity background) — as I’ve also argued previously — to pose the right questions and ensure public and private sector preparedness. We need a far better understanding of the economic implications of decoupling, whether it happens slowly or suddenly. We must not sound the drums of war without understanding what they may bring. – Financial Times 

Marc L. Busch writes: Section 301 is showing its age. It debuted in the 1974 Trade Act, when little about today’s U.S.-China trade war could have been anticipated. Many of the U.S.’s trade partners, including Canada and Europe, have armed themselves with Section 301-equivalents of their own. They can hit back. That wasn’t true in 1974. HTMX and thousands of other U.S. companies got the CIT to explain that the egg is scrambled. Now it’s up to Congress to unscramble it. – The Hill

Diane Francis writes: As Russia’s war continues to fail, Xi will step back further. Then, if Russia falls into a heap, China will gradually take over Siberia and whatever other regions want to build railways, highways or pipelines to Europe and Western prosperity. Checkmate for Xi. – The Hill

Dov S. Zakheim writes: The Biden administration, therefore, should make it clear to Beijing that the United States will more than match any additional Chinese support to Russia with support to Ukraine. And that American assistance will be geared to a timetable that would greatly facilitate Kyiv’s ability to recover all of its lost territory in a matter of months, rather than years. – The Hill

Seth J. Frantzman writes: Overall the goal of China is for the SCO to play a larger role in the emerging multipolar world, meaning the SCO will balance the role of the US and the West. The SCO in general is moving to include more countries and influence Arab and Asian countries. […]This shows that countries may wonder whether Russia can pull its weight and follow through on its obligations. However, it is not clear if the photos conveyed the whole story; Russia is still an important part of the SCO and China and Russia cooperate on many issues. – Jerusalem Post

South Asia

Challenged bluntly and publicly by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi over the war in Ukraine, Russian President Vladimir Putin said Friday that Russia would strive to stop the conflict “as soon as possible.” But then he accused Ukraine of refusing to negotiate, although Putin ordered the invasion and his troops are still occupying a large swath of Ukrainian territory. – Washington Post 

Sri Lanka will turn a free trade agreement with India into a comprehensive economic and technological partnership, President Ranil Wickremesinghe said on Friday, according to a government statement. – Reuters

Pakistan’s central bank on Sunday said the Saudi Fund for Development has confirmed it will extend for one-year a $3 billion deposit currently placed in the bank’s accounts since 2021. – Reuters

Pakistan will “absolutely not” default on debt obligations despite catastrophic floods, the finance minister said on Sunday, signalling there would be no major deviation from reforms designed to stabilise a struggling economy. – Reuters

A 15-year old Rohingya boy was killed and at least six people were injured when mortar shells fired from Myanmar exploded in Bangladesh, the latest in a series of violent incidents, officials and a Rohingya leader said. – Reuters

Crisis-hit Sri Lanka will make a presentation to its international creditors on Friday, laying out the full extent of its economic troubles and plans for a debt restructuring and multi-billion dollar International Monetary Fund bailout. – Reuters

The Maldives hopes to see the United States open a first embassy in the country at the end of the year, or early next, and the Indian Ocean state hopes to reopen its embassy in Washington by the end of this year, the Maldivian foreign minister said on Sunday. – Reuters

Tom Rogan writes: Put simply, it is absurd to believe that Modi has moved away from Putin. Talk designed only to earn a nod or two from Western elites is very cheap. […]Again, let me know when Modi stops talking and starts acting against Russia and China. Until then, it should be clear to U.S. policymakers that their attempted courtship of New Delhi is very one-sided. – Washington Examiner

Oktay Kucukdegirmenci writes: In the current rivalry between the United States and China, if New Delhi joins the U.S. vision for the Indo-Pacific, it will only become a strategic pawn of the United States. However, what is most beneficial for India is for New Delhi to remain neutral between the two states, acting as a counterweight to both. By working to maintain a regional equilibrium, India can assert its interests while capitalizing on its geostrategic birthright. – The National Interest


President Biden has again confirmed that U.S. troops would defend Taiwan in the event of an attack from China, the clearest recent statement Biden has made about how far the United States would go to support Taiwan militarily. – Washington Post 

Speaker Nancy Pelosi arrived in Armenia on Saturday, leading a congressional delegation in a show of support for the small nation after an outbreak of fighting with neighboring Azerbaijan. The clashes resulted in the deaths of more than 200 people this week. – New York Times

Taiwan’s de facto ambassador in London received a “special invite” to sign the book of condolence for Britain’s Queen Elizabeth, the island’s foreign ministry said, adding he was given the same treatment as other dignitaries. – Reuters

Countries should do more to prevent revenues and arms from reaching a military in Myanmar that is ruling by repressing and terrorising its people, the United Nations human rights office said on Friday. – Reuters

Indonesia has yet to buy Russian oil as it was not yet available but the government is open to buying cheap oil from any country, its energy minister said on Friday. – Reuters

Uzbekistan has signed deals worth $16 billion with China and $4.6 billion with Russia during their respective leaders’ visits to the Central Asian nation for the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation summit, the Uzbek Foreign Ministry said on Friday. – Reuters

In the shadow of the United Nations’ towering headquarters in New York City, law student Solomon Yeo from an island nation in the South Pacific is taking in what he describes as a “surreal moment.” – Reuters

Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev told Russian President Vladimir Putin on Friday that a border conflict between Azerbaijan and Armenia this week had “stabilised”, and a ceasefire had been in place for the last two days. – Reuters

Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan said on Sunday nearly 100 people had died in their border conflict, as a fragile ceasefire between the Central Asian nations extended into a second day and their mutual ally Russia urged a de-escalation. – Reuters

Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Friday that despite the Ukraine conflict, Moscow had enough resources to mediate in a conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan after a series of border skirmishes. – Reuters

Democratic divisions over U.S. policy in Taiwan were put on display this week with a committee vote on legislation that would increase American military and diplomatic support for Taipei. – The Hill

Seth J. Frantzman writes: Pelosi’s decision to use shuttle diplomacy and travel to places where she sees democracy being threatened, to spread the message of US commitment is important. The question that many countries will ask, such as those who attended the SCO last week, is whether the US will really stand with Armenia, Taiwan and other countries. – Jerusalem Post

Kris Osborn writes: A U.S. and allied land attack would be incredibly difficult and would likely come with an unacceptable price in terms of casualties. Nevertheless, with stealth air superiority, long-range strikes, and a massive ground force, a U.S.-Japanese-South Korean coalition might be able to dislodge China from Taiwan and take back the island. – The National Interest

Kris Osborn writes: This combined war exercise is, unsurprisingly, drawing sharp criticism from Japanese leaders, who consistently cite serious security concerns related to China’s growing collaboration with Russia. Japanese defense minister Yazukaza Hamada cited the growing Chinese threat during his recent meeting with Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, and Japan’s recently published Defense of Japan 2022 document spells out this concern as well. – The National Interest


The top U.S. military commander visited a military base in Poland on Sunday and reviewed security measures for U.S. forces supporting Ukraine amid uncertainty about how Russia could respond to its biggest battlefield losses of the war. – Wall Street Journal

Some farmers in Europe want their governments to curb the flow of Ukrainian agricultural products into the region, showing how the consequences of measures to support Kyiv are testing solidarity. – Wall Street Journal

The European Union ramped up financial pressure on Hungary’s nationalist prime minister just as it needs his support to extend sanctions on Russia over its invasion of Ukraine. – Wall Street Journal

European Union countries must act together to address the acute energy crunch driven by soaring prices, from cutting electricity consumption to jointly buying gas, European Council President Charles Michel said on Friday. – Reuters

Hungary’s government will submit new laws to parliament next week to end a stand-off with the European Commission and unlock access to European Union funds, Prime Minister Viktor Orban’s chief of staff said on Saturday. – Reuters

France on Saturday denied reports that state-controlled utility EDF (EDF.PA) had warned Italy it may halt its power exports to the country and reaffirmed its commitment to “solidarity” with its neighbors as Europe grapples with an energy crisis. – Reuters

British Prime Minister Liz Truss has agreed with her Irish counterpart Micheal Martin that an opportunity remains for a negotiated outcome to issues around the Northern Ireland protocol, Irish broadcaster RTE reported. – Reuters

Irish Foreign Minister Simon Coveney said on Friday that he was optimistic that talks between Britain and the European Union on overhauling Northern Ireland’s post-Brexit trading arrangements could resume within weeks. – Reuters

British Prime Minister Liz Truss will hold a full bilateral meeting with Joe Biden at the United Nations General Assembly on Wednesday rather than meeting the U.S. president at Downing Street on Sunday, her office said on Saturday. – Reuters

Cyprus on Saturday hailed the full lifting of a U.S. arms embargo on the ethnically divided island nation as a milestone reaffirming increasingly tighter bilateral bonds that serve to bolster stability in the turbulent east Mediterranean region. – Associated Press

Germany is taking control of three Russian-owned refineries in the country to ensure energy security before an embargo on oil from Russia takes effect next year, officials said Friday. – Associated Press

Poland, Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania were scheduled to begin enforcing a ban on access to their countries for most Russians with EU visas on September 19, moving all four beyond the curbs recently agreed by all 27 EU members. – Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty

World leaders began arriving in London this weekend to attend the state funeral service of the late Queen Elizabeth II Monday at Westminster Abbey in London. […]However, not all world leaders made the invite list. Leaders of these countries will not be joining Queen Elizabeth II’s funeral service. – The Hill

American presidents usually make a splash when they travel abroad, holding the spotlight and quickly becoming the center of attention. Not this time.For U.S. President Joe Biden and other presidents, prime ministers and dignitaries, there were no red-carpet arrivals, no big speeches and no news conferences as they gathered for Monday’s state funeral for Queen Elizabeth II.- Associated Press

Eugene M. Chudnovsky writes: Belarus recently imposed draconian prison sentences on students and reporters for monitoring presidential elections and other peaceful activities. These actions warrant the United States sanctioning of prosecutors and judges who dance to the tune of dictator Alexander Lukashenko. […]Regardless, the U.S. should hold accountable those Belarusian officials who have chosen to serve injustice. – Washington Examiner

Peter King writes: As I viewed Tuesday’s meeting between the new British monarch and the former revolutionary leader and thought of all the suffering these two men and their people had seen and endured, I marveled at how far their paths had taken them and how truly historic this moment was. It might even be a reminder for American politicians of how much things can change. – The Hill

Nicholas Saidel writes: America’s diplomatic and military posture in the eastern Mediterranean must realign with new realities. The right balance of proactive statecraft and application of a more muscular deterrence strategy would restore calm to the eastern Mediterranean. Moreover, it would ensure that most littoral states of the eastern Mediterranean are well within the West’s orbit for the foreseeable future. – The National Interest


U.S. climate envoy John Kerry cautioned against investing in long-term gas projects in Africa as countries in the region, some hoping to tap recent oil and gas discoveries, wrestle with how to power their development with clean energy. – Reuters

The German military is scrutinising the actions of Russian forces that recently arrived near its main camp in the Gao area of Mali and is keeping a close eye on the operation of the airport there, Germany’s defence minister told Reuters. – Reuters

Eritrea is mobilising armed forces due to the re-eruption of the conflict in northern Ethiopia, the Canadian government said on Saturday, raising fears that the fighting may intensify in a war that has already displaced millions and triggered a humanitarian disaster across northern Ethiopia. – Reuters

Sudan’s military leaders agreed on the appointment of a prime minister and head of state by civilian political forces, General Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo said in a statement on Friday, following a meeting with head of state General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan. – Reuters

U.S. President Joe Biden on Friday discussed relations with Russia in a White House meeting with South Africa’s Cyril Ramaphosa, who has resisted joining Washington’s campaign against Moscow for the war in Ukraine. – Reuters

A top adviser to the Democratic Republic of Congo’s president Felix Tshisekedi has resigned after he was allegedly caught on tape negotiating a corrupt mineral deal, an allegation he denies. – Reuters

The third vessel charted by the United Nations World Food Program (WFP), left Ukraine’s Chornomorsk Black Sea port with around 30,000 tonnes of wheat on board, Ukraine’s infrastructure ministry said on Saturday. “The vessel is headed for Ethiopia. According to UN estimates, Ethiopia is on the verge of a food crisis,” the ministry said in a statement. – Reuters

Hundreds of Chadians are being rounded up and detained on the streets of a Libyan town for a ninth day in retaliation for the Chad government’s arrest of four Libyan men on suspicion of poaching endangered animals. – The Guardian

The contingent of Ukrainian troops participating in the UN peacekeeping mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo has returned home to help in the fighting against invading Russian troops. – Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty

The Americas

Escalating street protests have pushed Haiti’s already dire social crisis this week into what regional leaders described as a “low-intensity civil war,” leaving residents of the capital cut off from the outside world and scrambling for basic necessities like drinking water and food. – New York Times

A broad coalition of faith and advocacy groups is calling on the Biden administration to cut support for de facto Haitian Prime Minister Ariel Henry, whose party they say is at the center of Haiti’s deepening political and humanitarian crisis. – The Hill

Mary Anastasia O’Grady writes: Yet the risks of militarizing the country while an authoritarian wannabe resides in the presidential palace seem to outweigh the advantages. It isn’t clear why lawmakers didn’t instead propose a change in the guard’s chain of command so that it would become answerable to civilian codes of justice and auditing. The amendment now goes to the Senate, where it is hoped that PRI dissidents will kill it—and Mexican democracy will hang on. – Wall Street Journal

Latin America

Venezuela on Friday welcomed home a dozen flight crew members detained in Argentina since June after their plane was held for suspected terrorism ties, according to state television. – Reuters

Chilean Foreign Ministry scheduled for September 30 the acceptance of Israeli Ambassador’s credentials, days after a diplomatic tussle was seen in the South American country. – Reuters

Officials from the United States and Paraguay met this week in Washington to discuss ways to deepen trade ties between the two countries under a Trade and Investment Framework Agreement that entered into force in 2021, the U.S. said on Friday. – Reuters

Colombian government representatives have met with members of an armed group that grew out of the demobilized FARC rebels to explore potential peace talks, the two sides said in a statement. – Reuters

A fire erupted on Saturday at an oil terminal in Venezuela when a hose used for supplying gasoline to a tanker broke lose, the country’s oil minister Tareck El Aissami said. – Reuters

United States

U.S. President Joe Biden said in an interview aired on Sunday that his predecessor Donald Trump’s handling of classified documents was “totally irresponsible” but that he is staying out of the investigation. – Reuters

Former President Bill Clinton rejected the notion that Russia’s invasion of Ukraine can be blamed on the expansion of NATO that began during his presidency. – Politico

The Department of Justice appealed the pause of a criminal investigation into the classified documents discovered at former President Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort last month. – Washington Examiner

A Trump lawyer reportedly told officials there was no classified material at Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate, saying there were only 12 boxes of “news clippings” stashed at the former president’s Florida home before the government began making trips to the resort. – Washington Examiner

Former President Trump on Sunday said he is returning to his Mar-a-Lago residence, and promised to provide updates on the impact of the FBI’s search last month in which agents seized classified documents taken from the White House. – The Hill

The newly appointed special master who will review the documents recovered from Mar-a-Lago directed lawyers for former President Trump and the Department of Justice (DOJ) to meet with him in New York on Tuesday for their first conference. – The Hill


The Pentagon has ordered a sweeping audit of how it conducts clandestine information warfare after major social media companies identified and took offline fake accounts suspected of being run by the U.S. military in violation of the platforms’ rules. – Washington Post 

A U.S. appeals court on Friday upheld a Texas law that bars large social media companies from banning or censoring users based on “viewpoint,” a setback for technology industry groups that say the measure would turn platforms into bastions of dangerous content. – Reuters

U.S. government agencies must double down on digital asset sector enforcement and identify gaps in cryptocurrency regulation, the Biden administration said on Friday, citing their potential for misuse and harm even as it noted their growing role in global finance. – Reuters

A small Dutch town took Twitter (TWTR.N) to court on Friday to demand the social media giant takes down all messages relating to a supposed ring of satan-worshipping paedophiles that were alleged to have been active in the town in the 1980s. – Reuters

Singapore Police Force said on Saturday the wanted crypto developer Do Kwon, who is accused of fraud by investors following the collapse of his cryptocurrencies Luna and TerraUSD, is currently not in the city-state. – Reuters

Uber announced that it was investigating a breach of its systems claimed by an 18-year-old hacker. The ride-sharing company quickly responded to the hack by taking down several of its internal communication tools and engineering systems as it investigated the extent of the breach. It also said that it had alerted authorities about the hack. – Washington Examiner

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced on Friday a $1 billion investment that will help fund its first-ever cyber grant program tailored specifically for state, local and territorial governments across the U.S. – The Hill

The company Acronis, which specializes in cyber protection, released its semi-annual cyber threats report, which provides an in-depth overview of rising trends in cyberattacks. The report detailed how ransomware attacks on organizational systems continue to be the number-one threat to large and medium-sized businesses, including government organizations, with damage estimated at $30 billion by 2023. – Jerusalem Post

Over the past year, Aubrey Cottle developed a sizable TikTok following for his flashy hacking videos and clips promoting operations by the hacktivist collective Anonymous against the Ukraine war. – CyberScoop


After three years of training, history was made as the first woman in the Air National Guard took to the skies to pilot an F-35 fighter jet. – Washington Examiner

Patrick Regan and Mindy Kotler Smith write: It would be wise for Congress to follow the Hirohata prisoners’ example of unity and revise the bill to award a Congressional Gold Medal to all Americans who participated in those first desperate battles of WWII in the Pacific. – The Hill

Lockheed Martin announced today that it has delivered a 300-kilowatt laser to the Defense Department and will integrate it into an Army high-energy laser demonstration later this year. – Breaking Defense

Mark F. Cancian writes: The reliance on alternatives does not indicate a lack of commitment or a reduction in military capability. These systems can still be effective on the battlefield. However, they are an acknowledgment that the U.S. military was not structured to fight or support an extended conflict. That should, of itself, spark some debate in the national security establishment about budget priorities. In the meantime, the flow of weapons and munitions will continue, as will the war. – Center for Strategic and International Studies

Kris Osborn writes: Force Design 2030 calls for a fast-moving expeditionary force equipped with anti-armor weapons and supported by ship-fired missiles, drones, and unmanned systems. In a conceptually similar manner to Ukraine’s land warfare tactics, the Marines envision a mix of longer-range weapons with “close-in” fight strategies and a significant increase in the use of unmanned systems. While in different domains, there are conceptual parallels related to the Ukraine effort that can be applied to future amphibious warfare operations. – The National Interest

Caleb Larson writes: Force Design 2030 also directs the Marine Corps to establish distributed logistics and resupply chains whenever possible, eschewing static—and vulnerable—ammunition dumps. Berger believes that adapting resupply to a maritime environment will give Marines the edge in a war in the Pacific. – The National Interest

Long War

German police knew that one of the Palestinians who took Israeli athletes hostage during the 1972 Munich Olympics lived in Berlin for several years following the attack, the Suddeutsche Zeitung daily wrote on Saturday. – Agence France-Presse

U.S.-backed Syrian fighters said Saturday they have concluded a 24-day sweep at a sprawling camp in northeast Syria housing tens of thousands of women and children linked to the Islamic State group. – Associated Press

A convicted felon in Missouri accused of livestreaming threats to bomb and kill people while he was dressed up as the Batman villain known as The Joker was sentenced Friday to 60 days in jail, with credit for several months served after his arrest. – Associated Press

The IDF, Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) and Border Police operated throughout the West Bank overnight Sunday, confiscating a number of weapons, including some that were used to fire on Israeli vehicles, the IDF Spokesperson’s Unit announced. – Jerusalem Post

The Counter-Terror Division of the Prime Minister’s Office issued a travel warning on Monday for the upcoming Jewish holidays for Israelis to be wary of potential terror attacks against them by Iran or ISIS. – Jerusalem Post