Fdd's overnight brief

September 19, 2023

FDD Research & Analysis

In The News


Five Americans who had been imprisoned in Iran were on their way to the U.S. on Monday after the Biden administration released billions of dollars in revenue from Iranian energy sales that had been frozen under sanctions, senior U.S. officials said. – Wall Street Journal

The United States, Britain, France and Germany called on Iran to reverse its decision to bar “several” U.N. inspectors, a joint statement from the countries published by the British government said on Monday. – Reuters

Iran’s president on Monday denied his country had sent drones to Russia for use in the war in Ukraine, even as the United States accuses Iran of not only providing the weapons but helping Russia build a plant to manufacture them. – Associated Press

The U.N. nuclear chief said Monday he asked to meet Iran’s president on the sidelines of the U.N. General Assembly to try to reverse Tehran’s uncalled for” ban on “a very sizable chunk” of the agency’s inspectors. – Associated Press

A dozen Western passport holders remain detained in Iran, even after the release on Monday of five US citizens in a swap deal with Tehran. – Times of Israel

Editorial: The U.S. and its allies will also have to make clear that Iran and other countries will pay a steep price for taking American hostages. The response can include diplomatic steps such as expelling Iranian diplomats, imposing economic sanctions, and harsher forms of retribution against Iranian assets and officials. Rogue regimes and thugs will keep snatching and imprisoning Americans until they fear that the risks of doing so are greater than the ransom they seek. – Wall Street Journal

Editorial: Optimists might regard the latest deal as a prelude to a thaw in the hostility between the United States and Iran. Yet it should also remind Americans of why they should treat Iran with extreme caution. Iran is now allied with Russia in the export and manufacture of deadly drones that are exploding on civilian targets in Ukraine, killing innocent people as they sleep. – Washington Post

Sahar Soleimany writes: Hostage diplomacy is a vexing tactic that has no unequivocally good solution. But our habit of making financial concessions to the Islamic Republic is a projection of American vulnerability, especially at a time of rising authoritarianism. And on the anniversary of Mahsa Amini’s death, it is an insult to the brave women and men of Iran who continue to courageously put their own lives on the line in the name of freedom and democracy. The Iranian people should not have to second-guess our commitment to protecting those rights. – The Hill

Henry Rome writes: The next step would be a resumption of nuclear talks, which collapsed a year ago following Iran’s rejection of a compromise agreement. For the White House, clearing the hostage hurdle was an essential step before resuming negotiations, which will probably restart this fall and could involve direct negotiations with Iran. They would not, however, be aimed at reaching a comprehensive agreement before the U.S. presidential election, given political constraints in Washington. Tehran is also likely hesitant about reaching a deal that may be invalidated by a Republican president. Instead, the goal would be to keep a lid on tensions and take subsequent de-escalatory steps while perhaps discussing what a new nuclear agreement could look like. – Washington Institute

Jason M. Brodsky writes: However, the above history demonstrates that while Iran will attempt to demonstrate its good neighborliness at the UNGA opening by promoting and referring to its membership in various regional dialogue forums, their existence has historically not moderated Iranian behavior. The assumptions that undergird their utility are faulty, as the Islamic Republic of Iran — despite occasional tactical adjustments to preserve the longevity of the regime — is a revolutionary power that seeks to dominate, not integrate with the region. – Middle East Institute

Russia & Ukraine

China’s top diplomat began a four-day visit to Russia after a surprise stopover in Malta for weekend talks with White House officials, as Beijing lays the groundwork for separate meetings between Chinese leader Xi Jinping and his U.S. and Russian counterparts. – Wall Street Journal

A wide-ranging overhaul of Ukraine’s defense ministry continued Monday as all six deputy defense ministers were dismissed, two weeks after President Volodymyr Zelensky replaced the top minister amid investigations into overspending and corruption. – Washington Post

President Biden has a clear agenda for this week’s annual meeting of world leaders at the U.N. General Assembly here in New York: Maintain robust global support for Ukraine. – Washington Post

The Sept. 6 missile strike on Kostiantynivka in eastern Ukraine was one of the deadliest in the country in months, killing at least 15 civilians and injuring more than 30 others. […]But evidence collected and analyzed by The New York Times, including missile fragments, satellite imagery, witness accounts and social media posts, strongly suggests the catastrophic strike was the result of an errant Ukrainian air defense missile fired by a Buk launch system. – New York Times

Two weeks after replacing its defense minister, Ukraine dismissed all six of its deputy ministers on Monday, deepening the housecleaning at a ministry that had drawn criticism for corruption in procurement as the military budget ballooned during the war. – New York Times

President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine threatened to escalate attacks on Russia if Moscow repeated last winter’s strategy of bombarding Ukrainian power plants that left millions of Ukrainians fighting freezing temperatures without power, heat and water. – New York Times

Russia’s United Oil- and Gas-Chemical Co. (ONGK) and China’s Xuan Yuan Industrial Development have agreed to jointly invest 5 billion yuan ($686 million) in construction of a transshipment oil complex in Russia’s far east, the Roscongress fund said on Monday. – Reuters

Republican U.S. House of Representatives Speaker Kevin McCarthy will meet Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy this week, McCarthy told reporters on Monday. – Reuters

Russia has ramped up the production of some military hardware by more than tenfold to supply its army in Ukraine, significantly increasing the output of missiles, drones, combat vehicles and artillery, Russia’s biggest weapons producer said on Tuesday. – Reuters

Russia struck three industrial warehouses in a drone strike on the western Ukrainian city of Lviv early on Tuesday, causing a huge fire and killing at least one person, local officials said. – Reuters

The rights situation in Russia has “significantly deteriorated” since President Vladimir Putin launched his war against Ukraine in February last year, an expert commissioned by the U.N.’s top human rights body said in her first report on the country on Monday. – Associated Press

Russia on Monday called a Ukrainian case alleging that Moscow abused the Genocide Convention to justify its invasion last year an “abuse of process,” as lawyers for Moscow sought to have judges at the United Nation’s highest court throw it out. – Associated Press

Tom Rogan writes: There’s a broader concern. While President Volodymyr Zelensky has shown great fortitude in leading a righteous defense of his people and nation, his government has also shown a notable penchant for misguided arrogance. This has been most evident with Zelensky’s adversarial rejection of Western requests that he show more gratitude for arms supplies. Yet, as with these grain sanctions, Zelensky’s rebukes show he doesn’t recognize he isn’t simply dealing with Western governments. Ultimately, he’s also dealing with the populations that elect or remove those governments. He needs to secure the support of both interests over the longer term. Ukraine’s grain action offers only a pitch-perfect boost to those who would see Ukraine abandoned. That is not a good strategy. – Washington Examiner

Jonathan Sweet and Mark Toth write: The threat of nuclear escalation has once again risen to the occasion. A desperate Putin appears to be willing to hand the keys to the kingdom over to North Korea to save himself and his “empire.” But unlike storing tactical nuclear weapons in Belarus, once Putin transfers the technology to Kim Jong Un, he relinquishes control. Things likely just got radioactive. – Washington Examiner

Alexander J. Motyl writes: Membership in Western institutions is no guarantee of full-scale honesty, but the prospect of membership does guarantee a strengthening of efforts at full-scale honesty. Like other people, Ukrainians are rational and will respond to incentives. Even the corruptioneers and oligarchs will be inclined abandon their corrupt ways if they know there’s a good material reason to do so. – The Hill

Alexei Bayer writes: But that fatal error could have been predicted. Despite ruling Russia for nearly a quarter of a century, Putin has not learned a thing and has not transformed himself into a statesman. He remains the same guard dog from Faithful Ruslan he was trained to be by Yuri Andropov, the party boss who was the head of the KGB when Putin joined it. He and his cohorts can form Russia into a column of prisoners and guard them – but are not competent to do much else. – Jerusalem Post


Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and X Corp. owner Elon Musk met in northern California on Monday, a chance for each to address recent public controversies amid a broader conversation about artificial intelligence. – Wall Street Journal

As President Joe Biden prepares to meet Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu this week in New York, a new poll finds that while Americans generally view Israel as a partner or ally, many question whether his far-right government shares American values. – Associated Press

Israel’s restrictions and rising fiscal constraints in the West Bank and Gaza Strip are severely impacting the economic conditions of Palestinians and hindering their access to timely life-saving healthcare, the World Bank said Monday. – Agence France-Presse

Israelis and American Jews who have been protesting Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in the United States are worse than the Palestinians or Iran, Likud MK Nissim Vatouri told KAN Reshet Bet on Tuesday morning. – Jerusalem Post

The Ministerial Legislation Committee approved a bill on Monday to allow the use of facial recognition cameras in public spaces to fight crime, especially in the Arab sector. – Jerusalem Post

Israeli troops early Tuesday morning prepared to demolish the homes of three Palestinians who have been charged with helping Hamas terrorists kill four Israeli civilians in a shooting attack in June. – Times of Israel

Editorial: Meanwhile, the justices have responded by claiming new powers, insisting this month on their right to overturn Basic Laws, which the court had previously treated as “supreme,” the country’s quasi-constitution. Every escalation by the court makes the job harder, but these days Mr. Netanyahu is looking like the moderate. – Wall Street journal

Amir Avivi writes: The idea behind the Oslo Accords might have been noble, but the implementation was deeply flawed. I hope that after Mahmoud Abbas, Arafat’s 87-year-old successor, passes from the scene, conditions will allow a new and positive path forward, for the sake of Israelis and Palestinians alike. – Wall Street Journal

Herb Keinon writes: There will be a day after the judicial reform. As a result, those protesting the prime minister in the US should not go overboard in portraying Israel in an overly grim way because that image will be tough to erase even when the political reality in Israel changes, as it inevitably will. – Jerusalem Post


When Iraq’s prime minister addresses the United Nations General Assembly in New York this week, he is hoping to persuade the world that he is the leader who can finally solve his country’s persistent problems of corruption and political instability — and make it a reliable partner for the region. – New York Times

Iraqi Prime Minister Mohammed Shia Al-Sudani met with U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken in New York on Monday and received an invitation from U.S. President Joe Biden to visit the White House, a State Department spokesperson said. – Reuters

A drone attack on a small airport killed three members of an elite Iraqi Kurdish counterterrorism task force that operates in the semiautonomous region of Kurdistan in northern Iraq. – New York Times

Kamal Chomani and Michael Rubin write: The Barzanis have had their time. Cheap theatrics may assuage politicians’ egos, but they diminish those scholars and journalists who allow Kurdish politicians to use them. If any road maps are needed, they are a path to good governance and reform on one hand, and a process to restore stolen assets to the Kurdish people on the other. – The National Interest


At least $14.3 million worth of coal produced in areas of Ukraine annexed by Russia has been exported to NATO member Turkey this year, according to Russian customs data reviewed by Reuters. – Reuters

Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba Group Holding Ltd (9988.HK) has told Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan it plans to invest $2 billion in Turkey. – Reuters

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said that he trusts Russia as much he trusts the West. – Associated Press

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan met with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg on Monday to discuss Sweden’s bid to join the alliance, as well as efforts to revive a UN-backed deal that had allowed Ukrainian grain exports via the Black Sea, Turkish state media reported. – Bloomberg

Michael Rubin writes: As the EU reconsiders its energy security after Russia’s invasion and India considers its future trade, it would be naive to trade overreliance on Russia and Iran for overreliance on Turkey. In each case, the result is vulnerability to an unstable and hostile leader. Perhaps, one day, Turkey’s direction will change and it can be better integrated into the global economic and energy infrastructure. But until that day comes, the best strategy for the West is to quarantine Turkey. Never again should the West entrust its security to wishful thinking about what a regime might become rather than what its reality is. The response to Turkish blackmail should never be empowerment over other aspects of global security and economy. – Washington Examiner


Hearings in the $1 billion lawsuit filed by auto tycoon Carlos Ghosn against Nissan and other defendants started in Beirut on Monday with lawyers of both sides meeting the judge in charge of the case, judicial officials said. – Associated Press

A Lebanese man was arrested after he posted a TikTok in which an Israeli flag was displayed, Lebanon’s General Directorate of State Security in the Tyre region said on Monday. – Jerusalem Post

Seth J. Frantzman writes: Hamas, Fatah, and the Lebanese Army commander Gen. Joseph Aoun met with Prime Minister Najib Mikati last Wednesday, a meeting that gives an inkling into how the fighting in the camp could impact all of Lebanon. Hamas has also been sending leaders to Lebanon over the last year to threaten Israel, such as Salah Al-Arouri, who made comments about a regional conflict against Israel several weeks ago; he also paid Lebanon a visit just this weekend. It remains to be seen if Hamas can reduce the flames in Lebanon, while fanning them in Gaza, or if it is playing with too much fire in both places. – Jerusalem Post

Gulf States

The Biden administration is pressing ahead with a concerted effort to strike a “grand bargain” in the Middle East that includes normalization of relations between Israel and Saudi Arabia, calculating that the U.S. could reap big rewards if it can overcome steep obstacles. – Reuters

Kuwait’s finance ministry said on Monday that one of its systems had suffered a cyber attack in the early morning but that the ministry continued to work normally. – Reuters

Saudi Arabia’s Energy Minister Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman on Monday defended OPEC+ cuts to oil market supply, saying international energy markets need light-handed regulation to limit volatility. – Reuters

There will be no solution to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict without an independent Palestinian state, Saudi foreign minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan Al Saud said in remarks to state TV on Monday. – Reuters

David Pollock writes: While Saudi Arabia remains an authoritarian monarchy, today’s Saudi government does take public opinion into some account in making tough decisions—as its own very private polls, intensive social media trend research, and multifarious “citizens’ dialogues” attest.  Therefore, based on this analysis of these new survey findings, all three governments involved in a possible trilateral U.S.-Saudi-Israel deal would be well advised to pay at least as much attention to its religious dimension as to its political, security, and economic ones. – Washington Institute


Hundreds of Libyans protested on Monday from the devastated eastern city of Derna, demanding the removal of those responsible a week after torrential rains burst two dams and unleashed a catastrophe that killed thousands. – New York Times

Officials warned Monday that a disease outbreak in Libya’s northeast, where floods have killed thousands, could create “a second devastating crisis” as adults and children fell ill from contaminated water. – Associated Press

Greece’s armed forces declared three days of national mourning after five members of a military rescue team were killed in a road accident in flood-hit Libya. – Associated Press

The warnings were clear but went unheeded. Experts had long said that floods posed a significant danger to two dams meant to protect nearly 90,000 people in the northeast of Libya. They repeatedly called for immediate maintenance to the two structures, located just uphill from the coastal city of Derna. But successive governments in the chaos-stricken North African nation did not react. – Associated Press

President Biden on Monday announced the U.S. will provide $11 million to local and international organizations working in Libya as the country recovers from deadly floods that killed thousands. – The Hill

Middle East & North Africa

Nine army personnel were killed or injured in an accident on the outskirts of Cairo, Egypt’s military spokesman said on Monday. – Reuters

A Kurdish-led force attacked Turkish-backed opposition fighters in northern Syria on Monday, killing at least 13 of the militants, activists said. – Associated Press

The International Monetary Fund and World Bank will stick with plans to hold their annual meetings in Morocco in October despite a devastating earthquake earlier this month that claimed about 3,000 lives. – Bloomberg

The Palestinian economy is expected to continue to operate below its potential, according to a new World Bank report on Monday. Growth is expected to hover around 3%, and considering population growth, the GDP will not increase – which will negatively affect the standard of living. – Jerusalem Post

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas smeared the European Union at a private event on Monday evening, saying Brussels failed to follow through on assurances it would help Ramallah hold parliamentary and presidential elections in 2021, according to two individuals present. – Times of Israel

Hundreds of Palestinians in the Gaza Strip rioted on the border with Israel on Monday afternoon, for the third time in days, despite Israeli sanctions and an airstrike on a post belonging to the Hamas terror group that rules the territory. – Times of Israel

Stephen M. Flatow writes: Hamas used the cement to construct “a labyrinth of underground tunnels, bunkers, command posts, and shelters for its leaders, fighters, and rockets,” Ross acknowledged. They built the tunnels with “an estimated 600,000 tons of cement,” some of which was “diverted from construction materials allowed into Gaza.” So yes, Israel’s limited restrictions on what can enter Gaza are reasonable and necessary. It’s elementary self-defense, based not on some theory but on real-life experience, as the latest events prove once again. – Jerusalem Post

Sacha Roytman Dratwa writes: For these, and a myriad of other reasons, it is time that Mahmoud Abbas become an international pariah. No more justifications, No more excuses. No more distractions. Abbas is a rabid antisemite, and his ongoing hatred of Jews should rule him out as a partner for peace, a global diplomat, or even a person worthy of a decision-making role. – Jerusalem Post

Korean Peninsula

Prosecutors on Monday asked a Seoul court to issue an arrest warrant for South Korea’s leading opposition figure, Lee Jae-myung, on corruption charges, 18 days after Mr. Lee began a hunger strike to protest President Yoon Suk Yeol’s foreign and domestic policies. – New York Times

Senior officials of China, Japan and South Korea will hold talks in Seoul on Sept. 26, the South Korean foreign ministry said on Tuesday, working to stage the first summit of their leaders in four years. – Reuters

South Korea confirmed on Tuesday Iranian funds that had been frozen in South Korea have been “successfully” transferred to a third country, after a U.S.-bound plane carrying five Americans freed by Iran left Doha as part of a prisoner swap. – Reuters

North Korea said Tuesday that leader Kim Jong Un has returned home from a trip to Russia where he deepened “comradely fellowship and friendly ties” with President Vladimir Putin. – Associated Press

Iran and North Korea are the big winners in a week of high-stakes diplomacy, as the dictators at either end of the Pyongyang-Tehran axis are reveling in funds and gifts that should support both in the war against Ukraine, the terrorist campaign against Israel, and the twin nuclear standoff with Washington. – New York Sun

North Korea’s Kim Jong Un expressed his “heartfelt thanks” to President Vladimir Putin, state media said Monday, as he headed home after nearly a week in Russia on a defense-focused trip. – Agence France-Presse


Senior Chinese officials were told that an internal Communist Party investigation found ex-Foreign Minister Qin Gang to have engaged in an extramarital affair that lasted throughout his tenure as Beijing’s top envoy to Washington, according to people familiar with the matter. – Wall Street Journal

U.S. companies are painting the bleakest picture in decades over doing business in China as tensions between Beijing and the West are compounded by a deteriorating environment for their operations. – Wall Street Journal

Chinese sovereign lending to Africa fell below $1 billion last year – the lowest level in nearly two decades – underscoring Beijing’s shift away from a decades-long big ticket infrastructure spree on the continent, data showed on Tuesday. – Reuters

China has complained to Germany after its foreign minister labelled President Xi Jinping a “dictator”, the Chinese foreign ministry said on Monday, calling the title “absurd” and an “open political provocation”. – Reuters

China and the European Union held talks on topics including artificial intelligence and cross-border data flows on Monday in Beijing, amid disputes over an EU probe into China’s electric vehicle (EV) subsidies. – Reuters

Former Vice President Mike Pence said China is close to becoming an “evil empire” on Monday as he and fellow Republicans vying for their party’s presidential nomination ramp up rhetoric against what they say is America’s number one foreign adversary. – Reuters

European Union businesses are concerned about China’s data laws, including their “lack of clarity” and the “long processes” that companies have to undergo, European Commission Vice President Vera Jourova said on Tuesday. – Reuters

American companies operating in China view tensions with Washington over technology, trade and other issues as a major hindrance for their businesses there, according to a survey by the American Chamber of Commerce in Shanghai. – Associated Press

China has asked consulates in Hong Kong to submit information on locally hired employees, including their home addresses, a move giving Beijing stepped up oversight of the city. – Bloomberg

China’s Vice President Han Zheng told US Secretary of State Antony Blinken that both sides need to meet each other halfway in a meeting on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly on Monday. – Bloomberg

Harlan Ullman writes: Are these divergent perceptions, interests and intentions reconcilable? Biden has sent a number of senior officials to Beijing to attempt to improve relations. That has not seemed to work. Unless Biden and China’s Xi Jinping can reach a rapprochement as Richard Nixon and Mao Zedong did, both sides better hope the other does nothing stupid. That is not the best basis for a happy outcome. – The Hill

South Asia

A top Indian minister held talks on boosting critical mineral mining cooperation with Canadian officials on Monday, the Indian government said, amid tense diplomatic relations between the two countries. – Reuters

Proceedings from Pakistan’s Supreme Court were broadcast live on Monday by state television for the first time, giving an unprecedented view into the workings of an institution that has historically had a huge impact on the country’s politics. – Reuters

Prime Minister Narendra Modi promised “historic decisions” in a brief and out-of-turn parliament session, triggering speculation about what could be on the cards months before national elections are due. – Bloomberg


Australia will spend A$1.5 billion ($966 million) to boost maritime surveillance of its northern approaches, buying more long range drone aircraft and upgrading Poseidon maritime patrol aircraft. – Reuters

Japan will ensure stable and steady energy supply to the country even after the U.S. imposed fresh sanctions related to Russia’s Arctic LNG 2 project, Japan’s Chief Cabinet Secretary Hirokazu Matsuno said on Tuesday. – Reuters

Georgia on Monday accused a former deputy interior minister of plotting from Ukraine to overthrow the Tbilisi government, testing ties with Kyiv as Georgia deepens its relations with Russia. – Reuters

Two Vietnamese activists who the Biden administration believes were wrongly detained by the country’s Communist government are relocating to the United States under an agreement negotiated ahead of the president’s recent visit to Hanoi, U.S. officials told Reuters.A human rights lawyer who campaigned for accountability for police abuses, a Catholic parishioner evicted from his home, and their families are exiting Vietnam for the United States, one of the officials said. – Reuters

Thailand has launched an investigation into imports of Chinese rolled steel for evading anti-dumping measures, the commerce ministry said in a statement. – Reuters

New Zealand’s foreign minister will attend the United Nations General Assembly before heading onto Washington for meetings on Pacific regional issues, leaving Prime Minister Chris Hipkins at home to campaign ahead of the Oct. 14 election. – Reuters

Vietnam’s Prime Pham Minh Chinh has visited the headquarters of Nvidia (NVDA.O) and Synopsys (SNPS.O), encouraging them and other U.S. tech firms to invest further in the Southeast Asian country’s semiconductor industry. – Reuters

The International Committee of the Red Cross began delivering food and medicines to the Nagorno-Karabakh region that’s at the center of a conflict between Azerbaijan and Armenia, effectively ending a three-month blockade that caused international alarm. – Bloomberg


Once-obscure corners of the energy world, from offshore Congo to Azerbaijan, are booming as Europe finds new sources of natural gas to replace the Russian supplies that once powered the continent. The shift is redrawing the world’s energy map at a rapid clip. – Wall Street Journal

Ukraine said on Monday it was filing a complaint with the World Trade Organization against Poland, Slovakia and Hungary after the three countries broke with the rest of the European Union to ban imports of Ukrainian grain. – New York Times

A Bulgarian army bomb disposal team on Monday destroyed in a controlled explosion a device attached to a drone that landed on Sunday evening in the Black Sea town of Tyulenovo, the defence ministry said in a statement. – Reuters

After flames engulfed France’s Notre-Dame cathedral in 2019, Britain’s future King Charles III wrote to President Emmanuel Macron, describing his heartbreak and offering his help and advice on the restoration. – Reuters

Kosovo’s prime minister on Monday accused the European Union’s special envoy in normalization talks with Serbia of not being “neutral and correct” and of coordinating with Belgrade against Pristina. – Associated Press

The German government on Tuesday banned the neo-Nazi group Hammerskins Germany and raided homes of dozens of its members. The group is an offshoot of an American right-wing extremist group and plays a prominent role across Europe. – Associated Press

Ukraine’s anti-corruption watchdog wrote to German authorities and a Bavarian-based company seeking to halt the delivery to Russia of high-end machinery used by ammunition manufacturers. – Bloomberg

Germany announced additional military support for Ukraine worth €400 million ($428 million), though the package does not include the bunker-busting Taurus cruise missiles the government in Kyiv has urgently requested. – Bloomberg

The Dutch government suspended an employee over allegations that he evaded Russia sanctions. – Bloomberg

Serbia is likely hold an early election next year in response to growing pressure from opposition parties, President Aleksandar Vucic said late Sunday. – Bloomberg

Several European Union countries expressed reservations about a Spanish proposal to add Catalan to the list of the bloc’s official languages, potentially complicating Pedro Sanchez’s attempt to court domestic separatist parties in his bid to win another term as Spanish prime minister. – Bloomberg


The government is essentially bankrupt. After defaulting on billions of dollars owed to foreign lenders in December, the administration of President Nana Akufo-Addo had no choice but to agree to a $3 billion loan from the lender of last resort, the International Monetary Fund. It was the 17th time Ghana has been compelled to turn to the fund since it gained independence in 1957. – New York Times

The European Union executive has temporarily suspended funding for the World Food Programme (WFP) in Somalia, two senior EU officials told Reuters on Monday, after a U.N. investigation found widespread theft and misuse of aid meant to avert famine. – Reuters

The United States and Norway will pledge a total of $70 million on Monday to launch a fund, reported here for the first time, to help farmers and agricultural businesses in Africa, a U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) spokesperson said. – Reuters

U.S. Deputy Treasury Secretary Wally Adeyemo on Monday urged Nigeria to work to stabilize its currency and fight corruption to unlock what he called the “unrealized opportunity” of Africa’s most populous country. – Reuters

Nigeria’s President Bola Tinubu held talks with South African President Cyril Ramaphosa in New York, seeking to advance economic cooperation between the two largest economies in Africa, his spokesperson said on Monday. – Reuters

The United Nations said on Tuesday countries could consider financial reparations among the measures to compensate for the enslavement of people of African descent, though legal claims are complicated by the time passed and the difficulty in identifying perpetrators and victims. – Reuters

U.N.-backed human rights experts say war crimes continue in Ethiopia despite a peace accord signed nearly a year ago to end a conflict that engulfed the country’s northern Tigray region. The violence has left at least 10,000 people affected by rape and other sexual violence — mostly women and girls, they found. – Associated Press

The second phase of the African Union troop withdrawal from Somalia has begun, the bloc said Monday. The pullout follows a timeline for the handover of security to the country’s authorities, which are fighting al-Qaida’s affiliate in East Africa — the Somalia-based al-Shabab. – Associated Press

Latin America

The United States urges Guatemalan authorities to end their “intimidation efforts” targeting election officials and members of the party voted to power in last month’s presidential elections, the U.S. Ambassador to the Organization of American States said on Monday. – Reuters

The president of the Dominican Republic said he would meet United Nations chief Antonio Guterres on Wednesday to discuss a call from a U.N. expert to allow humanitarian supplies to pass through his country’s shuttered border with Haiti. – Reuters

Since he returned to office in January, Brazil’s President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva has traveled to 21 countries and met with more than 50 heads of state, including two kings and the Pope. – Reuters

Officers wade through rows of abandoned wooden homes teetering above a mangrove-cloaked river – one of the key channels used by gangs to move drugs and weapons through this long-neglected swath of Colombia’s Pacific coast. – Associated Press

Ovidio Guzmán López, a son of former Sinaloa cartel leader Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzmán, pleaded not guilty in Chicago on Monday to U.S. drug trafficking, money laundering and other charges during his first court appearance since being extradited to the U.S. from Mexico. – Associated Press

“Brazil is back.” That has been Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva’s refrain for the better part of the last year, with the president deploying the snappy slogan to cast Brazil — and himself — as a leader of the Global South no longer content to abide the world’s outdated workings. – Associated Press

Thousands of indigenous supporters protested in Guatemala City on Monday to defend Guatemala’s president-elect as government prosecutors seek to ban his political party. – Associated Press

After a disappointing video call and an awkward snub at the Group of Seven, Brazil’s Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva and his Ukrainian counterpart Volodymyr Zelenskiy finally have a date. – Bloomberg

President Joe Biden’s administration is set to ease restrictions on Cuba to allow more US financial support of small businesses, a limited step to try to help private firms struggling to survive in the island’s shattered economy. – Bloomberg

The last Latin American leader to hold out against Communist China’s growing influence over the Western hemisphere is pushing for stronger bilateral ties with Free China to bolster the economy at home and defend democracy abroad. – New York Sun

North America

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau told lawmakers Monday that authorities are investigating “credible allegations” of Indian government involvement in the killing of a Sikh independence leader shot in June in a temple parking lot. – Wall Street Journal

Britain said on Tuesday it was in close touch with its Canadian partners about “serious allegations” from Ottawa that the Indian government was involved in the murder of a Sikh separatist leader in Canada. – Reuters

India dismissed allegations that its government was linked to the killing of a Sikh activist in Canada as “absurd” Tuesday, expelling a senior Canadian diplomat and accusing Canada of interfering in India’s internal affairs. – Associated Press

United States

President Biden’s son Hunter Biden sued the Internal Revenue Service on Monday, alleging that his privacy rights were violated when agents aired concerns to Congress and the media about the handling of the investigation into his taxes and business dealings. – Wall Street Journal

A little more than a month ago, a law professor who helped found the Federalist Society, the conservative legal group, enthusiastically endorsed a new law review article arguing that Donald J. Trump was ineligible to be president. […]Last week, in an extraordinary about-face, the professor changed his mind. – New York Times

The classified documents indictment of Donald Trump would seem, on paper at least, to be the most straightforward of the four criminal cases the former president is facing. – Associated Press

Former Vice President Mike Pence warned against growing favor in the Republican Party for American isolationism, criticizing former President Trump and other GOP presidential candidates in a speech Monday. – The Hill

Marc Champion writes: An isolationist and deeply conservative US White House will likely come, if not in 2024, and if not under Trump. To truly prepare for that eventuality, Europe will have to do the hard things it has talked about but largely failed to achieve for years, if not decades: Develop a real capacity to conduct a strategic, common foreign policy; pool defense procurement to avoid waste on multiple versions of the same weapons systems; and rationalize $345 billion a year of collective defense spending to make its forces deployable at scale. Not only would Europe then be able to provide its own life insurance policy, it would become a more attractive ally even to skeptical Americans. – Bloomberg


A federal judge on Monday temporarily blocked an online child protection law in California and said it probably violates the Constitution. – Washington Post

Beijing has a cyberespionage program so vast that it is bigger than all of its major competitors combined, Federal Bureau of Investigation Director Chris Wray told a conference on Monday. – Reuters

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

More than 50 Colombian state entities and private companies were hit by a cyber attack last week, Colombian President Gustavo Petro told journalists in New York. – Reuters

A group of 18 state attorneys general said on Monday they backed Montana’s effort to ban Chinese-owned short video app TikTok, urging a U.S. judge to reject legal challenges ahead of the Jan. 1 effective date. – Reuters

Australia’s government said Monday the online dating industry must improve safety standards or be forced to make changes through legislation, responding to research that says three-in-four Australian users suffer some form of sexual violence through the platforms. – Associated Press

A month after a cyberattack targeted Clorox, the company says its earnings will take some time to rebound from the incident. – The Hill

Tim Wu writes: Ultimately, antitrust law’s most important function is to rebalance economic power, taming the excesses that are the inevitable consequences of a capitalist economy. The tech industries are prone to monopoly, yet as history suggests, they can be extraordinarily generative when given the right nudge. The point of the Google prosecution is not to hurt Google but to force it to make way for the next generation of technologists and their dreams. – New York Times

Joel Thayer writes: The court has a real opportunity to show that antitrust law seeks to enhance consumer welfare, not tech exceptionalism. Let’s hope that it does. But if Google’s rhetoric somehow prevails, then maybe it’s time for Congress to provide some guidance on applying the consumer welfare standard in the digital age. – The Hill


The Marine Corps said late Monday that it had located the wreckage of an F-35B jet fighter that disappeared after its pilot ejected in South Carolina on Sunday. – Wall Street Journal

The weapons can attack with extreme speed, be launched from great distances and evade most air defenses. They can carry conventional explosives or nuclear warheads. China and Russia have them ready to use. The U.S. doesn’t. – Wall Street Journal