Fdd's overnight brief

September 23, 2022

In The News


Iran restricted access to the Internet in large parts of the country on Thursday as authorities try to curb a women’s rights protest movement that has relied on social media to express dissent and rally support, while the U.S. imposed sanctions on Iran’s morality police. – Wall Street Journal

The death of Mahsa Amini, a 22-year-old Kurdish Iranian woman, in the custody of Iran’s so-called morality police, detained for a supposed violation of the country’s ultraconservative dress code, has sparked days of anti-government demonstrations — and a violent crackdown that has left more than 30 people dead or seriously injured, according to rights groups and various news reports. – Washington Post

The United States on Thursday imposed sanctions on Iran’s morality police over allegations of abuse of Iranian women, saying it held the unit responsible for the death of a 22-year-old in custody that has sparked protests around Iran. – Reuters

Iranian state television suggested that the death toll of protests over the death of a 22-year-old woman in police custody has risen to over two dozen, without providing more information as the unrest continues. – Associated Press

Iran’s Intelligence Ministry warned on Thursday that attending protests over the death of a woman in police custody is illegal and demonstrators would face prosecution, Iranian news websites reported. – Reuters

Veteran journalist Christiane Amanpour said Thursday that an interview with Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi was scrapped after he insisted she wear a headscarf, the focus of major protests in the cleric-run state. – Agence France-Presse

Efforts to revive the 2015 Iran nuclear deal have hit a wall because of Iran’s insistence on the closure of the U.N. nuclear watchdog’s investigations, a senior U.S. State Department official said on Thursday. – Reuters

Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi said on Thursday that “acts of chaos” are not acceptable, in a warning to protesters who have taken to the streets across the country in fury over the death of a woman in the morality police’s custody. – Reuters

Iran said on Thursday it saw no point reviving a 2015 nuclear pact without guarantees the United States would not withdraw again and unless U.N. inspectors close probes of Tehran’s atomic program, a stance a U.S. official rejected as “unreasonable.” – Reuters

Iran held a military parade on Thursday and unveiled what it claimed to be a new ballistic missile. […] Iran reportedly has around 20 types of ballistic missiles, some of which are replicates of missiles developed in North Korea, or have origins in Russian and Chinese missiles. – Jerusalem Post

Iran’s Intelligence Ministry has summoned Iranian media managers one by one, telling them “you are not allowed to publish any further report about Mahsa Amini or to publish anything that approves of Iran protests.” – Iran News

Iran has deployed female special forces to its streets for the first time in a desperate bid to quell mass protests that erupted over a young woman dying after a beating at the hands of morality police. – Telegraph

Jason Rezaian writes: Iran has faced crises before — and simultaneous ones. This time, though, the storm comes as Iran’s supreme leader since 1989, Ali Khamenei, appears increasingly frail. Recent reports of his imminent demise may have been premature, but at 83 years old, he likely does not have long to live. Could his regime’s days also be numbered? – Washington Post

Bobby Ghosh writes: Iran’s protesters know the grave risks they take when they challenge the regime, but Mahsa Amini’s example has inspired them to rise up rather than be cowed down. Biden should reward their bravery by helping them to be heard above the noise created by Putin. – Bloomberg

Nate Sibley writes: And the United States should assist Elon Musk with his offer to deploy the Starlink satellite broadband technology that proved so effective in maintaining Internet coverage across Ukraine. Iranians are not only protesting the theocracy that constrains them but the kleptocracy that impoverishes them. It is in America’s interests to help them defeat both. – New York Post

Seth J. Frantzman writes: After years in which Iran expanded its power – moving weapons to Hezbollah, using drones to threaten US forces in Iraq and Syria, and arming the Houthis in Yemen and Hamas in Gaza – the regime in Iran has analyzed the situation and sees a chance for its victories to turn into reversals. – Jerusalem Post

David Albright, Sarah Burkhard, and Spencer Faragasso write: After all, the Natanz enrichment plant and the Fordow enrichment plant were built in secret until exposed, the latter as part of a covert military program to produce weapon-grade uranium, a facility that went undiscovered for upwards of six or seven years. 17 With advanced centrifuges, a secret plant could be smaller, more capable, and harder to discover, and this possibility should not be discounted. – Institute for Science and International Security

Russia & Ukraine

The United States for several months has been sending private communications to Moscow warning Russia’s leadership of the grave consequences that would follow the use of a nuclear weapon, according to U.S. officials, who said the messages underscore what President Biden and his aides have articulated publicly. – Washington Post

Kremlin proxy authorities in occupied, war-torn Ukraine on Friday declared that “voting” had begun in staged referendums, and that Moscow’s desired outcome — a claim of public support for the annexation of Ukrainian territory — was assured. – Washington Post

Moscow-backed separatists and Russian administrators are set to begin holding staged referendums in four Ukrainian territories under Kremlin control from Friday, in the latest salvo of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s plan to formally annex swaths of the country. – Washington Post

Russians began reporting to military collection points in the thousands while others tried to flee the country as it emerged that the call-up for troops to fight in President Vladimir Putin’s war in Ukraine could be wider than initially thought. – Wall Street Journal

As they were led from their prison cell deep inside Russian-occupied Ukraine, Alexander Drueke and Andy Tai Huynh contemplated their uncertain fate: Were they about to be freed — or would they be killed? – Washington Post

Russian families bade tearful farewells on Thursday to thousands of sons and husbands abruptly summoned for military duty as part of President Vladimir Putin’s new mobilization, while pro-war Russian nationalists raged over the release of Ukrainian commanders in a secretive prisoner exchange. – Washington Post

A prisoner exchange between Russia and Ukraine that included senior Ukrainian commanders was hailed as a victory by Kyiv but provoked criticism among nationalists in Russia who questioned the decision to release them. – Wall Street Journal

With the possible exception of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, no global leader throws around nuclear threats more freely than Russian President Vladimir Putin. The world heard more of the same this week. The reason he issues such threats is that they work. – Wall Street Journal

A day after President Vladimir V. Putin announced a call-up that could sweep 300,000 civilians into military service, thousands of Russians across the country received draft papers on Thursday and some were being marched to buses and planes for training — and perhaps soon a trip to the front lines in Ukraine. – New York Times

Russia set out just how much its gas flows to the global market will fall in the next three years — and the numbers underscore the scale of the challenge facing Europe’s energy consumers. – Bloomberg

A planned Western price cap on Russian oil is already making a difference, U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said on Thursday, noting that Russia was now offering China and India “enormous discounts” while looking for other outlets for its oil. – Reuters

Some Russian men headed swiftly to the borders on Thursday after President Vladimir Putin ordered a partial mobilisation, with traffic at frontier crossings with Finland and Georgia surging and prices for air tickets from Moscow rocketing. – Reuters

The Western argument to internationally isolate Russia over its Feb. 24 invasion of Ukraine has been simple: it breaches the founding charter of the United Nations by violating Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity. – Reuters

NATO on Thursday condemned Moscow’s plans to hold referendums in Russian-occupied regions of Ukraine and called on all states to reject what it called “Russia’s blatant attempts at territorial conquest”. – Reuters

The head of Ukraine’s military intelligence said on Thursday the percentage of released Ukrainian prisoners of war who had suffered torture while in Russian detention was “rather high”. – Reuters

Former Russian president Dmitry Medvedev said on Thursday that any weapons in Moscow’s arsenal, including strategic nuclear weapons, could be used to defend territories incorporated in Russia from Ukraine. – Reuters

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Thursday demanded President Vladimir Putin be held to account as he faced Russia in a Security Council session in which the United Nations cataloged abuses in Ukraine. – Agence France-Presse

Russian President Vladimir Putin’s renewed nuclear threats have raised fears that his plans for escalation in Ukraine may not be limited to mobilizing more troops. While he has issued apocalyptic threats against the West before, Putin’s thinly veiled warnings in a rare national address Wednesday signaled that he was willing to raise the risk of nuclear conflict to avoid an embarrassing military defeat. – NBC

Fareed Zakaria writes: No one knows, including perhaps Putin himself. He has given some signals to India’s Narendra Modi and Turkey’s Recep Tayyip Erdogan that he wants to negotiate. But the Russian leader does seem to be playing a very high-stakes game in which he knows that the outcome could be catastrophic. It is still hard to see how, even if he loses this war, anyone in Moscow could dislodge him. – Washington Post

David Ignatius writes: Kennedy succeeded in the Cuban missile crisis for two reasons. First, he showed that he was prepared to risk nuclear war to stop a reckless move by Moscow. Second, through a secret back channel, he found a face-saving way to avoid the ultimate catastrophe. Biden should study both lessons. – Washington Post

Sasha Vasilyuk writes: To me, the formal annexation of Donbas, Kherson and Zaporizhzhia is now a certainty. After all, Mr. Putin rarely doesn’t do what he says. When I ask my aunt and uncle what they plan to do when it happens, they say they don’t know. I think, after the recent gains by the Ukrainian Army, they are still holding on to a hope of a last-minute reprieve. – New York Times

Peggy Noonan writes: If you think of it this way, it’s all the more tragic. Good people all around, bad trouble here and looming. I’m not a prophet, and I don’t know what to do. But I know the size of this war and this time in history. It’s not the same old, not the usual. It feels like a turning point. We have to get serious in some new way. – Wall Street Journal

Douglas Murray writes:  But that is the sort of negotiating position you would have to start from. More war-mongering are the people outside Ukraine who seem to think that a total and utter humiliation of Putin would be a wonderful thing to see. I would beg to differ. A wounded, humiliated, fearful president who just happens to have the largest nuclear arsenal in the world is not someone to treat lightly. – New York Post

Lt. Col. Daniel L. Davis writes: Biden’s speech before the U.N. on Wednesday reflected our country’s revulsion at the war raging in Ukraine but was careful to avoid getting us more deeply involved in ways that could eventually get American troops involved in the war. American national security is not presently at risk from the war between Kyiv and Moscow, and Biden must keep it that way. – NBC

Noah Rothman writes: Regardless of how boxed in Putin feels now, Kremlin officials must understand that its predicament is downright pleasant compared to the oblivion that awaits them on the other side of such an event. Communicating with absolute assuredness that Vladimir Putin, whether it be by our hands or those of his associates, will not live to see the world he hopes to create may be the best way to avert disaster. – Commentary Magazine

Nikolay Kozhanov writes: As long as the cartel can maintain the myth of its oil production primacy, even a slight increase or reduction of 100,000 bpd can have the desired effect when it comes to influencing the behavior of the market. In a nutshell, the message that OPEC+ sent in August and September can be deciphered as the group’s unwillingness to follow anyone’s interests but its own, preserving the bloc’s key instruments of leverage for those times when OPEC members truly need them. – Middle East Institute

Seth G Jones, Jared Thompson and Riley McGabe write: The war is, of course, not over. Far from it. President Putin’s speech suggests that he is in it for the long run. But the current battlefield map should be deeply concerning for Russian political and military leaders. And President Putin will likely come under growing pressure from his domestic population and foreign partners—including China and India—if he cannot reverse these losses soon. – Center for Strategic and International Studies

Emil Avdaliani writes: Nonetheless, the war in Ukraine creates momentum. Should the West restore the nuclear deal with Iran, the two countries will seek to complete the corridor project: expect a possibly significant growth in sanctions evasion as a result. – Center for European Policy Analysis

Ben Hodges, Steven Horrell and Ivanna Kuz write: The war – in its sixth month when this report goes to press – is as strong of a signal as any that the time is ripe for the US and NATO to develop comprehensive strategies and implementation plans for those strategies to deter further Russian aggression in the region and encourage the development of both NATO allied and partner nations in the Black Sea Region. – Center for European Policy Analysis


Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid told the United Nations on Thursday that he supports creation of a Palestinian state alongside his country, but aides said he has no plans to launch peace talks soon. – Wall Street Journal

The IDF has sent reinforcements to the northern West Bank ahead of the High Holy Days, as violence continues to rage in the West Bank and Israeli cities. – Jerusalem Post

Shots were fired early Friday morning toward the West Bank settlement of Har Bracha near Nablus, for the second night in a row, the Israel Defense Forces said, as troops were put on high alert ahead of the upcoming Jewish holidays. – Times of Israel

Eight Israelis were lightly hurt in a suspected terror stabbing attack near the central Israeli city of Modiin on Thursday evening, medics and police said. – Times of Israel

The Hamas terror group on Thursday threatened violent “repercussions” over Jewish visits to Jerusalem’s super-sensitive Temple Mount, in a warning issued days before the start of the Jewish High Holidays when visitor numbers increase. – Times of Israel

The wife of Saudi journalist slain Jamal Khashoggi was planning to file a US lawsuit against NSO Group, alleging the Israeli firm’s Pegasus spyware was used to hack her cellphone. – Times of Israel

Yonah Jeremy Bob writes: In fact, Iran pulled this off within days after the Mossad blew up a second nuclear site at Natanz. This was Tehran’s way of showing that even Israel’s elite spy agency could only slow but not stop its nuclear charge. After Lapid’s speech, the question remains: Does Israel have any specific redline and what would it be? It seems the almighty 90% threshold line might already have fallen. – Jerusalem Post

Seth J. Frantzman writes: This will all lead to the usual refrain that Israel has no one to talk to in the West Bank, and the reply that this is Jerusalem’s fault for not creating two states. However, two states are impossible to create because of all the settlements, so there should be one state. But no one wants that, as it would require reimposing Israeli forces on all the cities and towns, which it doesn’t want to do and that anyway would lead to massive violence, which would be Israel’s fault as well. – Jerusalem Post

Jack Engelhard writes: Oddly, in the next sentence, Lapid brought up Gaza, but as proof that Israel is willing to make concessions for the sake of coexistence and peace. So Israel, he said, gave up Gaza, handed it over to the Palestinian Arabs, expecting peace, but instead got Hamas and a “terrorist state.” Does Lapid miss the point, the irony of his own words, the contradiction of his message? – Arutz Sheva


Turkey is weighing whether to stop processing transactions made using Russia’s Mir payments system after receiving repeated warnings from the United States, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan was quoted as saying Thursday. – Agence France-Presse

Turkey’s central bank on Thursday cut its policy rate for the second straight month despite an annual inflation rate that has reached 80 percent and is still moving higher. – Agence France-Presse

Turkey is seeking to increase gas purchases from the US and distribute some to its neighborhood, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said, as Europe faces an energy crisis triggered by the Russian invasion of Ukraine. – Bloomberg

Saudi Arabia

Saudi Arabia’s mission to the International Space Station next year aboard a SpaceX capsule will include a woman who would become the world’s first female Arab astronaut, according to Axiom Space, the U.S. company arranging the mission for the kingdom. – Reuters

Russian President Vladimir Putin and Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman spoke on Thursday and praised efforts within the OPEC+ framework, confirming their intention to stick to existing agreements, the Kremlin said. – Reuters

In an extraordinary turn of events, Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman was able to help mediate the release of 10 detainees captured by Russian forces in the Ukraine war.  – Jerusalem Post

Middle East & North Africa

Israel has agreed to sell an advanced air defence system to the United Arab Emirates, two sources familiar with the matter said, in the first such known deal between them since they forged ties in 2020. – Reuters

The Syrian Democratic Forces prevented a suicide bombing at the al Hol refugee camp resulting in the deaths of four Islamic State fighters, U.S. Central Command said Thursday. – Washington Examiner

Seth J. Frantzman writes: Israeli leaders have continued outreach to Morocco and the Gulf. Israel has also rekindled ties with Turkey. This shows that a new regional order could be taking shape. But will Israel really risk closer ties with Turkey if Turkey doesn’t break ties with Hamas? Iran has continued to try to target Israelis in places like Turkey, raising alarms. – Jerusalem Post

Robert F Worth writes: The system put in place during the American occupation, intended to foster political competition and power-sharing, has instead become a consensual process in which Iraq’s oil money, funneled through the ministries, is divided up by oligarchs and the militias that protect them. This system is virtually the only game in town, because an unusually large percentage of the population works for the government, and efforts to build a viable private sector have been deliberately stifled. All of this means that Iraq is more dependent than ever on oil revenues. – The Atlantic 


Korean Peninsula

The nuclear-powered aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan arrived in the South Korean port of Busan on Friday ahead of the two countries’ joint military exercise that aims to show their strength against growing North Korean threats. – Associated Press

A series of gaffes and controversies is overshadowing South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol’s first major overseas tour, sending his ratings plunging and inviting scathing criticism from some lawmakers even within his own party. – Reuters

President Yoon Suk Yeol’s office disputed translations of remarks by the South Korean leader widely interpreted as an insult to the US Congress, as he faced growing calls at home to apologize. – Bloomberg


An increasing number of scientists and engineers of Chinese descent are giving up tenured positions at top-tier American universities to leave for China or elsewhere, in a sign of the U.S.’s fading appeal for a group that has been a driver of innovation. – Wall Street Journal

 An envoy from China’s Xinjiang province said Thursday that Chinese authorities are ready for a “fight” with “anti-China” critics in the West and elsewhere over allegations of rights abuses in the anti-extremism campaign against Uyghurs and other Muslim ethnic groups in the region. – Associated Press

Senior diplomats from the United States and China will meet on Friday with tensions high after a visit to Taiwan by U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and an explicit pledge by U.S. President Joe Biden to defend the Chinese-claimed island. – Reuters

China’s former Deputy Public Security Minister Sun Lijun, who had been denounced for “seriously damaging the unity of the party”, has been jailed for life, state media said on Friday, ahead of a key Communist Party congress. – Reuters

China’s foreign minister compared the drive for Taiwanese independence to a charging rhinoceros that must be stopped in its tracks, and blamed the US for speeding it along. – Bloomberg

An expanded and protracted Ukraine crisis is not in the interests of all parties, China’s Foreign Minister Wang Yi told his Polish counterpart Zbigniew Rau on the sidelines of a United Nations General Assembly meeting in New York on Wednesday. – Reuters

South Asia

The media landscape in India started to change when Mr. Modi came to power in 2014. His party realized the potential of reaching voters directly via social media and spent millions of dollars to mold public perception on platforms like WhatsApp and Facebook. Critics say that engagement, and later copycat efforts from other political parties, lacked the filter of a traditional news organization and targeted millions of people who were using the internet for the first time. – New York Times

Pakistan’s former Prime Minister Imran Khan apologized in court on Thursday over his outburst against a female judge during a rally last month that was seen as a threat to the judiciary and judges in general. The apology, an option envisaged under the Pakistani legal system, may allow Khan to stay out of jail and avoid contempt charges. Khan, who was ousted in a no-confidence vote in April, has been campaigning for early elections and claims he was toppled under a U.S. conspiracy. – Associated Press

Sri Lankan authorities will formally hold talks with international creditors on Friday to start the process of restructuring billions of dollars of its debt and share plans to tackle the island’s worst economic crisis in more than seven decades. – Reuters

India told the U.N. Security Council on Thursday that the trajectory of the Ukraine conflict was very concerning and that the outlook was more so, as New Delhi sharpened its calls for peace. – Reuters

Pakistan Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif made an urgent appeal for debt relief from rich nations as catastrophic floods exacerbated by climate change displaced millions of people in the South Asian nation. – Bloomberg

A former Pakistani minister who visited Israel this week said that if Israel takes “tangible steps” toward reaching a two-state solution with the Palestinians, that could easily pave the way toward the establishment of diplomatic relations between Pakistan and Israel. – Haaretz 


Beside them stood supporters of Afghans who had risked their lives to help Americans during the decades-long war in Afghanistan — as translators, drivers and fixers — and had to flee the country last year when U.S. forces withdrew. About 82,000 were evacuated to the United States, but since then most have been living in legal limbo, with no long-term authorization to remain. – New York Times

President Joe Biden pledged on Thursday in his first face-to-face meeting with new Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. to work to strengthen relations with the Pacific nation after what he said had been some “rocky times” in the past. – Associated Press

Australian lawmakers on Friday paid tribute to Queen Elizabeth II, with some also weighing in on the republic debate, after they returned to parliament from a break taken to observe the queen’s death. – Associated Press

A Philippine court has dismissed a government petition to declare the Communist Party of the Philippines and its armed guerrilla wing as a terrorist organization in a decision that officials vowed to appeal but was welcomed by activists who have long rejected the labeling of rebels as terrorists. – Associated Press

Japan will honour former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe with a rare state funeral on Tuesday, a ceremony that has become a flashpoint for public anger over political scandal and deepened opposition to successor Fumio Kishida. – Reuters

Some western countries expressed grave concern about the presence and operations of extremist groups in Afghanistan and said the Taliban were not meeting their counter-terrorism commitments. – Reuters

The president of the Pacific island state of Micronesia denounced at the United Nations on Thursday Japan’s decision to discharge what he called nuclear-contaminated water from the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station into the Pacific Ocean. – Reuters

China’s ambitions in the Pacific are a concern for some Pacific Island leaders, White House Indo-Pacific coordinator Kurt Campbell said on Thursday, but a growing U.S. partnership with allies in the region aims to address issues such as climate change, health and technology links. – Reuters

Australia is aiming for a stable relationship with China despite differences in particular on trade, Australia’s foreign minister said, as she called on China to use its influence as a great power to help end the war in Ukraine. – Reuters

Kyrgyz and Uzbek authorities have warned citizens working as migrant laborers in Russia of serious repercussions for joining the Russian military in its ongoing war in Ukraine after Moscow announced a partial mobilization. – Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty

Michael Schuman writes: Either way, Washington should not be fearful of charting this new course: China is changing, and U.S. policy has to change with it. The debate over Biden’s comments reveals that the world is entering an era in which the comfortable assumptions that have kept the peace need reassessment. Clinging to old ideas, even long-successful ones, carries risks of its own. – The Atlantic 

Gavril Torrijos writes: While rebalancing among major arms suppliers, Southeast Asian countries are also diversifying with smaller suppliers—including with Indonesia’s own growing arms industry. By doing so, they are effectively reducing the leverage of external powers and bringing themselves closer to the region’s long-held ideal of strategic flexibility. – Center for Strategic and International Studies


But if the national elections on Sunday go as expected, Draghi’s successor as prime minister will be Giorgia Meloni, a firebrand from the Fratelli d’Italia (Brothers of Italy) party who wants her country to push for more autonomy in Europe, blockade the Mediterranean against undocumented immigrants and defend a traditional family identity she says is under attack. – Washington Post

Poland, concerned about fighting around Ukraine’s Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant, has distributed iodine tablets to regional fire departments to give to people in the event of radioactive exposure, a deputy minister said on Thursday. – Reuters

Finland said on Thursday it was considering barring most Russians from entering the country as traffic across the border from its eastern neighbour “intensified” following President Vladimir Putin’s order for a partial military mobilisation. – Reuters

Hawkish EU member states are pushing for hard-hitting measures against Russia, including ejecting more banks from the Swift messaging network and banning diamond imports, as the bloc drafts a new round of sanctions over the Ukraine war. – Financial Times

Lionel Laurent writes: There are worse places to be than Malaga in a crisis like this . But Europe’s soft-power advantage will likely be less about quality of life and more about building coalitions abroad and managing a wartime economy at home. Whatever the weather, Europe’s dolce vita is about to become a lot less sweet. – Bloomberg

Rachel Sanderson writes: The industrialist argued that the lesson from history wasn’t that Europe was at risk when Italy got a hard-right leader, but when that paved the way for one in Germany. Shocking though that statement seemed at the time, the argument sounds prescient today. The risk to Europe may well not be Giorgia Meloni herself, but how her influence spreads. – Bloomberg


U.N.-backed investigators said Thursday they have turned up evidence of war crimes and crimes against humanity by Ethiopian government forces, Tigray forces and Eritrea’s military — including rape, murder and pillage — over the nearly two-year war centering on Ethiopia’s northern Tigray region. – Associated Press

Gunmen attacked two communities in Nigeria’s north-central region, killing 14 people and injuring many others, authorities said Thursday. The attackers stormed the communities in Logo council area of Benue state Wednesday night, opening “unprovoked” fire on residents, said Paul Hemba, the state’s top security official. – Associated Press

Malian authorities held a traditional military parade Thursday to make the country’s first independence day celebration since French troops departed after nine years of fighting Islamic extremists in its one-time colony. – Associated Press

Zimbabwe’s ruling party wants the country to revert to using the local currency as its sole means of exchange. – Bloomberg

Latin America

Authorities in Venezuela apprehended the Malaysian defense contractor known as “Fat Leonard” after he escaped his sentencing in the U.S. Navy’s worst bribery scandal, Interpol announced Wednesday. – Washington Post

Venezuela has requested international warrants for the arrest of 23 former executives of a petrochemical company in Colombia, Venezuelan Oil Minister Tareck El Aissami said on Thursday. – Reuters

Argentina’s largest oil union said it launched an indefinite strike on Thursday after an explosion at a refinery in the western province of Neuquen killed three. – Reuters

Nicaragua’s government suspended CNN’s Spanish-language service from all cable channels in the Central American country, the television station said Thursday. – Reuters


North America

Canada is joining a group to boost economic ties with Pacific island nations that already includes the United States, Australia, Japan, New Zealand and the United Kingdom, according to a draft speech Foreign Minister Melanie Joly will deliver on Thursday. – Reuters

An explosion occurred outside Mexico’s Attorney General’s Office on Thursday, injuring police as protesters demonstrating ahead of the anniversary of the 2014 disappearance of 43 students clashed with officers clad in riot gear. – Associated Press

Israel’s embassy in Mexico City was vandalized on Thursday by demonstrators calling on Jerusalem to extradite a former senior official wanted in connection with the disappearance of 43 students in 2014. – Times of Israel 



Whistleblower Frances Haugen — a former Facebook engineer who leaked documents suggesting the firm put profits before safety — on Thursday launched an organization devoted to fighting harm caused by social media. – Agence France-Presse

Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen should give Elon Musk’s satellite Internet service Starlink clearance to operate in heavily sanctioned Iran as the country faces widespread protests, a bipartisan group of lawmakers said. – Bloomberg

US senators have asked the intelligence community to examine the threat a potential deal between Apple and the Chinese chipmaker Yangtze Memory Technologies Co poses to national security, in an escalation of the political pressure being applied to the iPhone maker over the arrangement. – Financial Times

Five Chinese tech-focused ETFs launched on Friday, testing investor appetite for chipmakers, new materials producers and machine tool manufacturers amid an escalating Sino-U.S. tech war, and a global rout in tech shares. – Reuters

During a recent investigation of a series of cyber intrusions into an unnamed high-value target, threat intelligence researchers with SentinelOne’s SentinelLabs team discovered nearly 10 hacking groups associated with China and Iran. – CyberScoop

The National Counterintelligence and Security Center is paralyzed by dysfunction, lack of resources and confusion about its mission, leaving a key national security asset dangerously vulnerable, U.S. senators said Wednesday. – CyberScoop


The Pentagon on Thursday said it awarded Raytheon Technologies (RTX.N) a $985 million dollar contract to develop prototypes for a hypersonic attack cruise missile, putting the firm well ahead of rivals in the race to become lead developer of the strategic weapons. – Reuters

Seventeen members of Congress told U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin to speed up a Pentagon security review of a Ukrainian request for large armable drones, according to a letter dated Wednesday and seen by Reuters. – Reuters

The Air Force on Thursday awarded a $985 million contract to Raytheon Technologies to develop and demonstrate scramjet-powered hypersonic cruise missiles. – Defense News

The Biden administration announced on Friday a decision to lift the decades-old arms embargo on Cyprus for the coming fiscal year. This laudable step recognizes Nicosia’s progress related to financial reforms and denying port calls of the Russian navy. – Breaking Defense 

With its Virginia class of attack submarines suffering from maintenance woes and low operational availability, the U.S. Navy is working to ensure its next attack submarine is easier to sustain, according to the program executive officer for attack submarines. – Defense News