Fdd's overnight brief

September 21, 2023

FDD Research & Analysis

In The News


The U.S. backed away from some actions meant to stop Iran’s oil shipments as Washington and Tehran conducted negotiations that led to Monday’s release of five Americans, part of a larger step back from sanctions enforcement that has seen Iran’s energy exports grow, according to current and former U.S. officials. – Wall Street Journal

Iran has no issue with the U.N. nuclear watchdog’s inspection of its nuclear sites, Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi said on Wednesday, days after Tehran barred multiple inspectors assigned to the country. – Reuters

Iran’s supplying of bomb-carrying drones to Russia could see Moscow help Tehran’s program become more lethal, raising risks across the wider Middle East, the top U.S. Air Force commander in the Middle East said Wednesday. – Associated Press

Iran’s President Ebrahim Raisi said Wednesday that relations with the United States can move forward if the Biden administration demonstrates it wants to return to the 2015 nuclear deal, and a first step should be easing sanctions. – Associated Press

Iran’s parliament on Wednesday approved a bill to impose heavier penalties on women who refuse to wear the mandatory Islamic headscarf in public and those who support them. – Associated Press

Russia, in pursuit of munitions for the war in Ukraine, is courting Iran with the same passion with which it’s embracing North Korea. Spearheading the quest, the Russian defense minister, Sergei Shoigu, has followed up President Putin’s reception for Kim Jong-un with a mission to Tehran in which he proclaimed Iran-Russian ties as “reaching a new level.” – New York Sun

While the United Nations brass failed to notice a direct Iranian threat of assassination against former American officials, it punished an Israeli diplomat on Tuesday for an apparent violation of decorum. – New York Sun

Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi on Wednesday accused regional rival Saudi Arabia of betraying the Palestinians by discussing the normalization of relations with Israel. – Times of Israel

As the annual opening of the UN General Assembly unfolds this week, US adversaries are taking steps to bolster their burgeoning network of alliances, touting an alternative to the established international order to overcome Western opposition. At the heart of this campaign are efforts by Iran and its Middle Eastern allies to deepen ties with China and Russia — efforts that appear to be yielding results. – Algemeiner

Despite outcry over the US-Iran prisoner swap, Secretary of State Antony Blinken defended the deal but acknowledged that Iran may use the money for military purposes. – Iran International

Maryam Rajavi writes: Unfreezing billions of dollars of Iranian people’s money and handing it over to the regime is a gift to Khamenei and his Revolutionary Guards for suppression, war and terrorism. The international community bears a moral obligation to stand with the Iranian people, who have made monumental sacrifices in their unrelenting quest for freedom. – New York Post

Joe Buccino writes: While the desire to bring American prisoners home is a noble one, the means by which the Biden administration has pursued this goal are deeply flawed. The risk of diverting $6 billion into the wrong hands, and the legitimization of a leader with a blood-stained past are too great to ignore. We must stand united against the Iranian regime’s oppressive policies and its support for groups that seek to undermine global security. – Jerusalem Post

Udi Levi writes: The US and the West should immediately rethink their policy vis-à-vis Iran. It is not just nuclear and terrorism but a much broader campaign related to the future of the international system. Iran’s cultural, economic, and social takeover of countries such as Iraq, Syria, and Lebanon, while linking up with Russia and China, should bring about a strategic change globally and, of course, in the Middle East. – Arutz Sheva

Russia & Ukraine

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky on Wednesday denounced what he called U.N. Security Council inaction on Russia’s invasion of his country, in a rare interaction with senior Russian policymakers inside the United Nations. – Washington Post

Russia launched a missile attack early Thursday on cities across Ukraine, including the capital, Kyiv, hours after President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine denounced Russia’s “criminal and unprovoked aggression” on his country before the United Nations. – New York Times

U.S. President Joe Biden plans to announce a $325 million military aid package for Ukraine on Thursday to coincide with a visit to Washington by President Volodymyr Zelenskiy, a U.S. official said on Wednesday on condition of anonymity. – Reuters

More than two dozen European states, as well as Australia and Canada, on Wednesday asked the World Court to determine that it has jurisdiction in a case brought by Kyiv alleging that Russia abused the Genocide Convention to provide a pretext for the invasion of Ukraine. – Reuters

In a Tuesday interview with CNN, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky encouraged former President Donald Trump to share his ideas on how to stop the war with Russia. – The Hill

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky called for reforming the United Nations Security Council during an address to the body Wednesday, urging it to suspend the veto power Russia has used to deadlock the council in responding to the Kremlin’s war against Kyiv. – The Hill

Ukraine has rejected 10 Leopard tanks sent from Germany because they were in such poor condition, according to a new report. Authorities in Kyiv refused to import the group of Leopard 1A tanks on the grounds that they needed significant repairs, German newspaper der Speigel reported on Tuesday. – Business Insider

Jim Geraghty writes: Ukraine’s internal problems, though, are not sufficient justification for telling Ukrainians that they’ll have to go it alone in their struggle against the Russian invasion. To cut them off now, or try to force them to cede land they died to defend and are dying to recover, would be a disgrace. Because once you’ve listened to Ukrainians describing how they survived the Russian attacks and war crimes, it’s impossible to conclude that their lives just aren’t important enough for us to bear the burden of continuing to help them. – Washington Post

Elisabeth Braw writes: The companies in question operate in the Russian oil sector, and the war has allowed them to buy Russian oil much more cheaply than before. This report discusses some of the companies that have most significantly benefited from the war by buying cheaper Russian oil—and suggests they should be called on to help finance Ukraine’s reconstruction with the proceeds. – American Enterprise Institute

Marija Golubeva writes: EU accession should go hand in hand with transparent recruitment and management, increased civil service salaries and the launch of a nationwide public administration capacity-building program in the regions to boost executive competence. Success in this area is essential to ensure Ukraine does not lose the peace after it wins the war. – Center for European Policy Analysis


Israeli officials are quietly working with the Biden administration on a polarizing proposal to set up a U.S.-run, uranium-enrichment operation in Saudi Arabia as part of a complex three-way deal to establish official diplomatic relations between the two Middle Eastern countries, according to U.S. and Israeli officials. – Wall Street Journal

President Biden met with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu Wednesday on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly […]The meeting focused on U.S.-led efforts to achieve a deal to normalize relations between Israel and Saudi Arabia, according to U.S. and Israeli officials, which would be a significant foreign policy achievement for the Biden administration and could reshape the Middle East. – Wall Street Journal 

But in late August, Israel put a halt to new work permits — accusing Hamas, the Islamist militant group that governs this blockaded territory, of being behind terrorist attacks in the West Bank. Hamas and Israel traded familiar threats. In Gaza’s latest lurch between calm and chaos, Asad saw his long-shot chance vanish. – Washington Post

Israel shut crossing points with Gaza on Wednesday, preventing thousands of workers from getting to their jobs in Israel and the West Bank, after days of border demonstrations in which Israeli troops have opened fire on stone-throwing protesters. – Reuters

A framework U.S.-brokered deal for forging relations between Israel and Saudi Arabia could be in place by early next year, the Israeli foreign minister said on Thursday after the three countries signaled progress in the complex negotiations. – Reuters

Israeli military operations in the occupied West Bank and unrest in the Gaza Strip killed six Palestinians, Palestinian health officials said Wednesday, the latest spike in a wave of violence that has roiled the region for more than a year. At least three of those killed were claimed as militant fighters. – Associated Press

Hundreds of Palestinian rioters gathered along the Gaza Strip border for a sixth consecutive day on Wednesday, as Gazan workers remained unable to transit into Israel. The riots began shortly after six Palestinians were killed in the West Bank and Gaza within a 24-hour period. – Jerusalem Post

The European Union Delegation to the Palestinians said that a delegation of diplomats and activists was “violently harassed” by Israeli settlers while touring Wadi a-Siq, near Ramallah, in the West Bank on Wednesday. – Jerusalem Post

The Pacific Islands nation of Fiji will send a delegation headed by Deputy Prime Minister Villiame Gavoka to Israel this month before opening an embassy in Jerusalem in 2024, Fiji officials said, fulfilling an election promise by Gavoka’s political party. – Jerusalem Post

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called on the United Nations to “condemn Iranian subversion and Palestinian terrorism against innocent civilians and to refrain from its baseless criticism of Israel,” in a meeting with Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly on Wednesday. – Jerusalem Post

In a video circulating on social media since Tuesday, a dozen militants of the pro-Fatah Tanzim militia accused a rival Islamist armed group of turning the West Bank into “Syria, Yemen and Iraq” — three Middle East countries wracked by civil wars over the past decade, with the involvement of Tehran. – Times of Israel

The United Nations is warning of an economic crisis in the West Bank and Gaza that could exacerbate the security situation and threaten regional stability. The warning appears in a report published by the UN Envoy to the Middle East, Tor Wennesland. – Haaretz

Noa Landau writes: This multi-stage gamble may be clever – but it is also dangerous. It could end with all or nothing. With a million birds in hand or none. The future of the remains of Israeli democracy depends, then, on the future of this especially ambitious American puzzle. Let’s hope it doesn’t blow up in their faces, and in ours.  – Haaretz

Nimrod Goren writes: As the Jewish New Year begins, Israel’s foreign relations face several parallel crises, including regarding ties with liberal-democratic allies in the West, relations with Arab neighbors, and the declining status and conduct of the Israeli MFA. When Netanyahu takes the stage in this year’s UNGA, many fewer Israelis will see him as their country’s diplomatic savior. – Middle East Institute


President Bashar al-Assad of Syria arrived in China on Thursday as he sought financial support to rebuild his country and to improve his international standing after being ostracized over atrocities committed during Syria’s ongoing civil war. – New York Times

Ashka Jhaveri and Andie Parry writes: Wagner is vacating its positions in Syria to comply with a Russian Ministry of Defense ultimatum. Iran may assume control of some of the positions to secure military assets and expand its economic operations. Syrian President Bashar al Assad will travel to China for a “Syrian-Chinese summit” on September 21, very likely to pursue bilateral economic ties. – Institute for the Study of War

Andie Parry writes: Anti-regime protests are occurring almost exclusively in Suwayda Province and are very unlikely to endanger the stability of the Syrian regime. Anti-regime protests outside of Suwayda Province declined for the third consecutive week and almost entirely stopped between September 12 to 18. Friday protest turnout in Suwayda on September 15 grew to the largest since the start of the movement two days after pro-regime forces fired on demonstrators. – Institute for the Study of War


Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Greece’s Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis agreed to intensify talks aimed at resolving longstanding regional conflicts that have strained relations between the rival nations on NATO’s southeastern flank. – Bloomberg

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan announced his plans to visit Israel in a meeting with 15 Jewish leaders in New York, according to a report shared Wednesday by Israeli media. – Jerusalem Post

A Swedish appeals court on Wednesday upheld a 4 1/2-year prison sentence for a Turkish man who was found guilty of attempted extortion, weapons possession and attempted terrorist financing, saying he was acting on behalf of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party. […]In May, Sweden tightened its anti-terrorism laws, a move expected to help gain approval for the Nordic nation’s request to join NATO. – Associated Press


Iran’s President Ebrahim Raisi said a meeting of the Iranian and Egyptian foreign ministers in New York could pave the way for a restoration of ties. – Reuters

Egypt will switch to sourcing almost half a million tons of wheat from France and Bulgaria, after Moscow blocked the supply of Russian grain, according to people familiar with the matter. – Bloomberg

Neville Teller writes: With the forthcoming exploration now in the pipeline, Israel’s future, both as regards to satisfying its own gas needs and as a remunerative gas exporting nation, seems assured. – Jerusalem Post

Saudi Arabia

Saudi Arabian Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman said in a U.S. television interview that his country was moving steadily closer to normalizing relations with Israel and also warned that if Iran gets a nuclear weapon, “we have to get one.” – Reuters

Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, Saudi Arabia’s de facto leader, has said Palestinians would be “very important” in any deal to normalise ties with Israel, as the two countries move closer to a historic agreement. – Financial Times

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in a recent interview insisted “anyone involved” with the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi is “serving jail time,” a comment that comes ahead of the five-year anniversary of the murder. – Washington Examiner

David Horovitz writes: “If you and I, 10 years ago, were talking about normalization with Saudi Arabia…,” said the US president to the Israeli prime minister in New York on Wednesday. Wherever it leads, and however ambitious and improbable, that’s exactly what they are now publicly doing. And so are the Saudis. – Times of Israel

Gulf States

Qatar held separate bilateral meetings with the United States and Iran this week that touched on Iran’s nuclear program and U.S. concerns about Iranian drone transfers to Russia, two sources familiar with the matter said on Wednesday. – Reuters

Qatar wants to capitalise on a U.S.-Iranian detainee deal that it mediated during months of delicate diplomacy to find common ground on a more intractable issue between the two hardened adversaries: the dispute over Iran’s nuclear programme. – Reuters

Kuwait’s Prime Minister Sheikh Ahmad Nawaf al-Sabah described an Iraqi ruling on regulating navigation in the Khor Abdullah waterway between the two states as containing “historical fallacies”. – Reuters

Foreign Minister Eli Cohen met with his counterpart Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan, the Foreign Minister of the United Arab Emirates, late on Wednesday in New York. – Jerusalem Post

Middle East & North Africa

Lebanon’s security agencies have launched an investigation into a late night shooting outside the U.S. embassy in Lebanon that caused no injuries, officials said Thursday. – Associated Press

Nearly a week after a cease-fire agreement between warring factions in Lebanon’s largest Palestinian refugee camp brought a fragile peace, hundreds of displaced residents see no immediate prospects of return. – Associated Press

Seth J. Frantzman writes: The “prize” today in the region is not oil, but diplomacy. That is why the Arab League is working to reintegrate Syria and the GCC countries in the Gulf are doing more outreach through meetings in the US, and with China. Many countries in the Middle East are also seeking to join BRICS and even the SCO, the latter grouping is linked to China. These are all “prizes” similar to the old story about oil in the region. If one looks across the Middle East today, the real story about Saudi Arabia’s policies is that regional diplomacy, linking the Middle East to the world, is the centerpiece of global shifts today. – Jerusalem Post

Avi Gil writes: The deepening of the occupation and the worsening of the outbreaks of violence between Israel and the Palestinians, particularly on the Temple Mount, could unravel the delicate fabric of Israel’s relations with the countries of the region. Sooner or later Israel will discover that the future of its integration in the new Middle East remains dependent on a viable Israeli-Palestinian settlement based on mutual recognition and a division of the land. This is the logic of Oslo, the logic of Shimon Peres. – Jerusalem Post

Korean Peninsula

The police in South Korea on Wednesday accused 17 American soldiers and five other people of distributing or using synthetic marijuana that had been brought into the country through the U.S. military’s postal service. […]The police’s announcement was another embarrassment for United States Forces Korea, two months after Pvt. Travis T. King, an American soldier who had served jail time for assault charges in South Korea, crossed the border into North Korea. – New York Times

South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol said on Wednesday that if Russia helped North Korea enhance its weapons programs in return for assistance for its war in Ukraine, it would be “a direct provocation” and Seoul and its allies would not stand idly by.- Reuters

South Korea imposed fresh sanctions on 10 individuals and two entities in relation to North Korea’s nuclear program and weapons trade with three countries, including Russia, the foreign ministry said on Thursday. – Reuters


The son of jailed Hong Kong media mogul and prominent pro-democracy activist Jimmy Lai said Wednesday he did not want to see his father die in detention, as his lawyers raised the prospect that his long-delayed trial may be pushed back indefinitely. – Associated Press

China’s foreign ministry in Hong Kong slammed a six month report on the financial hub by Britain, saying it ignored “good” societal conditions, a more stable business environment and instead supported “anti China” chaos. – Reuters

European Council President Charles Michel will ask China directly at the United Nations Security Council to do more to push Russia towards a “just peace” in Ukraine, according to his draft speech seen by Reuters at the UNGA. – Reuters

China is ready to continue business cooperation with Russia, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi told Russian President Vladimir Putin during their meeting in Russia. – Reuters

China opposes discriminatory practices by the United States against Chinese companies, the foreign ministry said on Wednesday, after the U.S. commerce department said an advanced phone chip made by Huawei may violate trade restrictions. – Reuters

The growing military and economic pressure from China in the Western Pacific and beyond is pushing international navies to seek new partnerships and accelerate modernization, U.S. naval leaders told USNI News at the International Seapower Symposium on Wednesday. – USNI News

Ethan B. Kapstein and Jacob N. Shapiro write: To date, China observers have used a hodgepodge of economic, military, cultural, and political indicators to measure Chinese influence and compare it to that of the United States in regions such as Southeast Asia. Often these measures include investment flows and are thus mechanically correlated with BRI spending, providing a false impression of influence. However, a closer look reveals that China’s economic largesse has not always translated into local political support. – Foreign Policy

South Asia

India on Wednesday urged its nationals in Canada, especially students, to exercise “utmost caution” as ties deteriorate after each nation expelled one of the other’s diplomats in an escalating row over the murder of a Sikh separatist leader. – Reuters 

The United Nations has recorded over 1,600 incidents of rights violations against people detained by the Taliban authorities, nearly half of them acts of torture and ill-treatment mostly by police and intelligence agents, a report released on Wednesday showed. – Reuters

If the “credible allegations” Trudeau cited for the explosive claim are shown to be true, it would mark a radical expansion of the Indian security apparatus, and one with far greater implications for its relations with western allies. It could also incite a significant geopolitical blowback for India just when Narendra Modi’s government has sought to project the image of a leading global power. – Financial Times

Pakistan’s imprisoned former Prime Minister Imran Khan will be probed for sedition, which carries a maximum punishment of death, for allegedly inciting his supporters to attack state buildings. – Bloomberg

Tunku Varadarajan writes: The geopolitical imperative—maintaining a unified coalition against China—dictates that a compromise solution be found to end the standoff between Ottawa and New Delhi. The new cold war calls for a strategy not unlike the first one, requiring the West to deal with imperfect allies or partners. You hold your nose and shake hands with Prime Minister Narendra Modi because you need him in the trenches against Xi Jinping. – Wall Street Journal 

Barkha Dutt and David Moscrop write: Relations are at a low point, but long-term strategic interests will likely force an improvement in time. India is critical to the West’s geopolitical goal of containing China. Canada’s top allies, including the United States and Britain, are unlikely to disrupt their own relationships with India, even as they pay lip service to Canada’s outrage over the alleged assassination. Indeed, they will no doubt work behind the scenes to smooth things over. – Washington Post

Vera Songwe writes: The infrastructure deal designed to counter China’s Belt and Road Initiative, and brokered by Indian prime minister Narendra Modi at the G20, could lay the roads, railways, data and energy pipelines required to make this Afro-Indian partnership a reality. A more integrated trading relationship will deliver increased growth and prosperity for both. – Financial Times


Armenian separatists in Nagorno-Karabakh agreed Wednesday to disarm and discuss reintegration with Azerbaijan following a swift but deadly assault by Azerbaijani forces, a capitulation that signals the end of decades of ethnic-Armenian rule in the enclave and the rapid decline of Russian influence in the former Soviet Union territories. – Wall Street Journal 

The president of the Marshall Islands said on Wednesday his Pacific island nation was “cautiously optimistic” it could soon finalize a deal on future ties with the United States, but repeated a call for Washington to address the legacy of massive nuclear testing in the 1940s and 50s. – Reuters

Japanese Crown Prince Akishino, the younger brother of Emperor Naruhito, met Vietnamese Vice President Vo Thi Anh Xuan on Thursday as he started his visit to Hanoi marking the 50th anniversary of diplomatic relations between the two nations. – Associated Press

President Joe Biden’s landmark security deal with Australia and the United Kingdom, dubbed AUKUS, is being “strangled” by red tape, according to a senior Australian official. – Washington Examiner

Vietnam Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh reiterated his request for greater US market access for his country’s products in a meeting with Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly in New York Wednesday. – Bloomberg

Michael Rubin writes: Aliyev will not live forever, and even the most ambitious family dynasties unravel. In the interim, it is essential that the State Department cease its business-as-usual with Azerbaijan and work overtime to help one of the world’s oldest Christian communities that, unfortunately, Washington’s own distraction and indifference now imperils. – 19FortyFive


A dispute about whether Ukrainian grain should be allowed to enter the domestic markets of Poland and other European Union countries has pushed the tight relationship between Kyiv and Warsaw to its lowest point since Russia invaded Ukraine last year. – Associated Press

The crew of a Togo-flagged general cargo ship bound for one of Ukraine’s Danube river ports were evacuated early on Wednesday after an explosion on board near the Romanian port of Sulina, Romanian officials said. – Reuters

Britain’s King Charles III urged France and the U.K. to revitalize ties Wednesday, as both countries seek to improve relations after several acrimonious years marked by Brexit negotiations. – POLITICO

Warsaw has stopped supplying weapons to Kyiv and is focusing on arming itself instead, Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki said Wednesday, amid a dispute over Ukraine’s agricultural exports. – POLITICO

Amanda Coakley writes: Like Orban, Fico is a fan of former U.S. President Donald Trump, promoting his narratives of elitist corruption and warmongering. In fact, the tactics that Smer is using to pull ahead in the polls mirror those being used by Trump as he races for the Republican nomination ahead of next year’s U.S. election. – Foreign Policy


South Africa will host a U.S.-Africa trade summit in November despite an earlier call by U.S. lawmakers for the event to be moved over what they said was the country’s deepening military relationship with Russia. – Reuters

Democratic Republic of Congo President Felix Tshisekedi has asked his government to fast track the withdrawal of a United Nations peacekeeping mission to ensure it begins at the end of the year, he said at the U.N. General Assembly on Wednesday. – Reuters

Rwanda’s president declared he will run for a fourth term next year, saying that “what the West thinks is not my problem,” after the United States and others criticized the earlier lifting of term limits to extend his rule. – Associated Press

Mathieu Droin and Tina Dolbaia writes: As the cases of the Wagner deployment in the CAR, Libya, Mali, and Sudan have shown, Wagner’s goal in Africa is not only to provide military training and security assistance to the continent’s fragile regimes, but to sign exclusive energy and mining deals aimed at exploiting African natural resources. These practices should be exposed to establish a counternarrative against Wagner disinformation campaigns, which argue that all Western activities in Africa are grounded in neocolonialism, while eliding the economically exploitative nature of Wagner’s (and, by extension, Russia’s) own investments on the continent. – Center for Strategic and International Studies

The Americas

The Biden administration said Wednesday it will offer temporary legal status to more than 470,000 Venezuelan migrants in the United States, announcing the move as U.S. authorities struggle to contend with a border influx in Texas that has stretched holding capacity to the brink. – Washington Post

As the Biden administration struggles to tackle a humanitarian and political crisis at America’s doorstep, it is focusing increasingly on keeping migrants far from the U.S.-Mexico border by establishing migration processing centers in Central and South America. – New York Times

President Joe Biden and his Brazilian counterpart, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, played up their mutual affection for workers’ rights Wednesday as the leaders of the Western Hemisphere’s two largest democracies met in New York, steering clear in public about their differences on Ukraine and other matters. – Associated Press

Latin America

Now, after several countries declined to lead such a force, Kenya has said it’s considering taking the helm, and diplomats this month are drafting a resolution to present to the U.N. Security Council. But as officials negotiate details, there remain debates about which countries should staff it and what it should do, as well as concerns that it not repeat the mistakes of interventions past. – Washington Post

Haiti and Kenya established diplomatic relations on Wednesday, according to a statement shared on social media platform X by Ariel Henry, prime minister of the Caribbean nation. – Reuters

A U.N.-backed panel investigating human rights violations in Venezuela said Wednesday the South American country’s government has intensified efforts to curtail democratic freedoms with threats, surveillance and harassment as President Nicolás Maduro faces a re-election contest next year. – Associated Press

Brazil’s President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva met on Wednesday for more than an hour with his Ukrainian counterpart Volodymyr Zelenskiy and discussed ways to achieve a peaceful end to the war in Ukraine. – Reuters

United States

The White House said the U.S. is in “very active” discussions aimed at securing the release of jailed Wall Street Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich, but warned that freeing him could be difficult. – Wall Street Journal 

The White House on Wednesday appealed to Congress to approve billions of additional dollars of support for Ukraine as its counteroffensive against Russian forces continues while the weather cools and conditions grow more difficult. – Reuters

Former U.S. President Donald Trump said on Wednesday that if elected again he would shift resources from federal law enforcement agencies and send thousands of overseas-based troops to the U.S.-Mexico border. – Reuters

The House Foreign Affairs Committee will hold a hearing next week on repealing the law that authorized the disastrous US invasion of Iraq in 2003. – Business Insider


A cyberattack suspected to be carried out by a pro-Russia hacking group reportedly resulted in widespread service disruptions at several Canadian airports. – The Record

A Russia-based ransomware group is targeting organizations in the agriculture, IT and defense industries, according to an Wednesday advisory from U.S. cybersecurity agencies. – The Record

A trio of nominees to the Federal Trade Commission said on Wednesday it is crucial that Congress pass a federal privacy bill, even as the agency they are nominated to lead is looking to take stronger action on privacy issues. – CyberScoop

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) suggested several new ideas for how to make federal cyber incident reporting rules simpler for victim organizations — including the concept of a single reporting web portal. – The Record


The Department of Defense announced the establishment of eight regional microelectronic hubs on Wednesday in a concerted effort to bolster domestic semiconductor production. – Washington Examiner

Senate leaders announced plans Wednesday to fill three vacancies on the Joint Chiefs of Staff — including the chairman post — after a surprise breakthrough in the ongoing chamber confirmation fight that has snarled hundreds of military promotions for months. – Defense News

James L. Jones and Tod D. Wolters writes: Next year’s hallmark summit will be an appropriate time to assess the progress NATO has made in implementing its modernized strategy, organization and military plans. Significant progress in each of the tasks highlighted above will contribute enormously to ensuring the alliance’s ability to deter and defeat aggression and the full range of threats to peace, freedom and democracy, now and for the next 75 years. – The Hill