Fdd's overnight brief

September 28, 2020

In The News


Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammed Javad Zarif on Saturday called for the protection of diplomatic installations in Iraq as he hosted his Iraqi counterpart Fuad Hussein in Tehran. – Agence France-Presse

Jailed Iranian human rights lawyer Nasrin Sotoudeh has stopped a hunger strike she began more than 45 days ago due to health concerns, her husband said on Saturday. – Agence France-Presse

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani accused the United States on Saturday of “savagery” for inflicting $150 billion of damage on Iran due to sanctions, and said Iranians should direct their anger at the White House. – Reuters

A top Iranian constitutional official on Friday dismissed the imposition of U.S. sanctions on Iranian judges for alleged gross human rights violations and hit back at the United States over police violence against black people there. – Reuters

France’s foreign ministry this week summoned Iran’s envoy over the country’s human rights record, three sources aware of the matter said, signalling concern about what Paris calls “serious and constant violations”. – Reuters

Iran and Iraq on Saturday pledged to improve border cooperation and boost trade between the two neighbours that has been hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic. – Reuters

Iran and Russia’s sovereign wealth fund are discussing the joint production of a vaccine against COVID-19, Russian news agencies cited the Iranian ambassador to Moscow as saying on Friday. – Reuters

The American Jewish Committee announced a campaign on Thursday to ban Iran from the 2021 Olympic Games over its “abysmal” abuse of its own athletes. – Times of Israel

Analysts and observers who believe that the economic assets and operations under Ayatollah Ali Khamenei’s control is a full-fledged “empire” nevertheless have no clear idea about the figures involved. And how did this empire start? The answer is simple: confiscations. – Iranwire

Seth J. Frantzman writes: Iran has funded and armed militias in Iraq. Many Iraqis have protested against Iran over the last year. After dozens of attacks on US forces and Washington handing over more bases to Iraqis, Iran feels it might finally be able to eject the US from Iraq. This would be a win for Iran. However Tehran must tread carefully because the US has shown that it will carry out airstrikes if American soldiers or personnel are harmed. – Jerusalem Post

Salem AlKetbi writes: This is in the mullahs’ interest. It explains the inflammatory tone of their political discourse, to the point of claiming that the US has become internationally “isolated.” They know that President Trump will not be able to make a military decision in this delicate period. But they forget that this non-traditional president can make sudden decisions. – Arutz Sheva


A booby-trapped vehicle exploded in a Syrian town on the border with Turkey on Saturday, killing seven people, residents said, in an area that has seen regular bomb attacks since Turkish-backed Syrian rebels seized it from Kurdish-led forces. – Reuters

Syria’s foreign minister accused U.S. President Donald Trump’s administration on Saturday of attempting to suffocate Syrians with sanctions “just like George Floyd and others were cruelly suffocated in the United States.”- Reuters

Syria’s foreign minister accused Turkey on Saturday of being “one of the main sponsors of terror” in his country and the region, and said it is guilty of “a war crime and a crime against humanity” for cutting water to more than a dozen towns that resisted Turkish occupation. – Associated Press

Following the signing of the Abraham Accords between Israel and Bahrain and Israel and the United Arab Emirates, a growing number of Arab diplomats believe Syria is now conducting secret negotiations with the Jewish state. – Arutz Sheva

John Saleh writes: Broadly speaking, the Kurds have been amicable and loyal partners to the United States for decades. It is therefore in the United States’ interest to develop this partnership, not only as a means to combat terrorism, but also to solidify assured cooperation on other issues of common interest. The above-mentioned steps are important, not only to prevent against aggression directed towards Syrian Kurds, but also to bolster American influence in Syria at the expense of adversarial powers like Iran and Russia. – Washington Institute


Blue Homeland’s aims are spelled out on a map showing Turkey’s land mass surrounded by a wide buffer of nearly 180,000 squares miles of sea stretching beyond the Greek islands off Turkey’s west coast. – Washington Post

Turkish authorities said Friday that they have issued arrest warrants for 82 people, including current and former officials of the country’s pro-Kurdish opposition party, on charges stemming from deadly riots in Turkey in 2014 over the war in Syria, a Turkish prosecutor’s statement said. – Washington Post

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan on Sunday called on Armenia’s people to take hold of their future against “leadership that is dragging them to catastrophe and those using it like puppets”, following clashes between Armenian and Azeri forces over the breakaway region of Nagorno-Karabakh. – Reuters

Greece on Sunday called on Turkey to condemn and investigate what it said was an “insult” to its national flag on the Greek island of Kastellorizo. – Reuters

Turkey sees a European Union summit this week as an opportunity to reset relations between them, but the bloc must produce specific proposals and a timetable to work on a roadmap together, President Tayyip Erdogan’s spokesman said. – Reuters

A Palestinian journalist from the Gaza Strip who has gone missing in Turkey may have been kidnapped, his brother said on Saturday. – Jerusalem Post

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu discarded his diplomatic tools on Friday and ripped into US Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, calling her ignorant and threatening that she “will learn to respect the Turkish people’s will.” – The National


Two decades on from the second intifada, Palestinians who grew up in the shadow of the uprising find themselves surrounded by physical and political barriers with little hope for the future. – Agence France-Presse

The bodies of two Palestinian fishermen who Palestinian officials say were shot dead by Egyptian naval forces were returned to Gaza on Saturday, the territory’s ruling Islamist group Hamas said. – Reuters

Hamas denied on Saturday that it has reached agreement with its rivals in Fatah to hold new elections for the Palestinian Authority presidency and parliament, the Palestine Legislative Council. – Jerusalem Post

The international community must reject the US peace plan and instead hold an international conference at the start of 2021 to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict based on the pre-1967 lines, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas told the UN General Assembly Friday. – Jerusalem Post

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is expected to end the de facto freeze on settler housing approvals by convening the Higher Planning Council for Judea and Samaria, which has been dormant for the last eight months, according to settler reports. – Jerusalem Post

We welcome the bipartisan introduction of House Resolution 1131, the ‘Resolution to Stop Rewarding Terrorists,’ which condemns the despicable Palestinian Authority “pay-to-slay” policy of incentivizing acts of terror against Israelis by financially compensating perpetrators and their families with so-called martyr payments. – Conference of Presidents

Sounds of celebrations coming from the Energy Ministry in the wake of this month’s normalization agreements with the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain, as well as Tuesday’s formal launch of the East Mediterranean Gas Forum (EMGF), may be premature, experts say. – Times of Israel

Israeli officials believe the US and the United Arab Emirates are likely to seal an arms deal in the next few weeks that will see Washington supply the Gulf state with advanced F-35 stealth fighters, Channel 12 reported Saturday. – Times of Israel

The Palestinian Authority (PA) on Sunday started diplomatic steps to hold an international conference at the beginning of 2021 for the peace process with Israel, a senior official said, according to the Xinhua news agency. – Arutz Sheva

Seth J. Frantzman writes: Israel has no direct role in the outcome of the conflict, but like every conflict in the Middle East, even when Israel has no connection, the wider ramifications will eventually affect the Jewish state. […]This is because, as the US withdraws from its historical hegemonic role in the Middle East, the regional powers such as Turkey, Iran and Israel will inevitably have a larger role. – Jerusalem Post

Elior Levy writes: There are clear indications that Abbas, who is in a position of political weakness, has decided to strengthen his ties to extremists at the expense of his relations with his classical allies due to his sense that the moderate forces have decided to turn their backs on him. – Ynet

Yoel Guzansky and Kobi Michael write: As these tensions play out, it is likely that any future debates between Israel and the UAE, especially those on Palestinian issues, will de-incentivize other Arab countries from normalization. Instead, those countries may prefer to remain on the fence and continue to watch from a safe distance. Each country has its own specific set of calculations and its own potentially critical domestic audience, and some will hesitate to take the plunge into open ties with Israel—all the more so if it becomes evident that even this type of agreement would fail to impact Israeli policy. – Washington Institute


The Trump administration has warned Iraq it is preparing to shut down its embassy in Baghdad unless the Iraqi government stops a spate of rocket attacks by Shiite militias against U.S. interests, Iraqi and U.S. officials said Sunday, in a fresh crisis in relations between the two allies. – Wall Street Journal

David Ignatius writes: The danger of Pompeo’s ultimatum is the same one that has plagued the United States since it invaded Iraq in 2003. Iran is near and plays a long game; America is far away and demands quick results. Iraq has shown us repeatedly that American military power is overwhelming but can’t dictate political outcomes. Direct threats that become public, like Pompeo’s, rarely work out as intended. – Washington Post

Michael Knights writes: While waiting for these and other measures to be implemented, the embassy is quite capable of protecting itself, as it did during last December’s showdown. Moreover, the U.S. presence has been decreased and consolidated since then—it is now concentrated at six sites rather than fourteen, each with active defenses against missiles, rockets, and drones. […]Securing the International Zone and starting the campaign to push militias out would give the embassy even firmer ground to stand on as it helps Baghdad hold fast against Iranian threats. – Washington Institute

Sardar Aziz writes: The focus on the concept of ladaula and its relationship to the state is a clear sign that people are stepping away from ideologies and prioritizing services, security, and prosperity in there expectations of what a functional state should provide. This shift—if it can avoid leaning too hard into the alternative of a strong state- could provide a new way to re-imagine Iraq’s political dynamics in the future. – Washington Institute


Lebanon’s prime minister-designate abandoned his efforts to form a government, thwarting a French-led initiative that sought to end a political impasse and unlock international aid after a massive explosion destroyed nearly half the capital last month. – Wall Street Journal

The fallout from the Beirut explosion has deepened the misery of many Syrian refugees in the country and exacerbated the divide between them and Lebanese, some of whom increasingly blame their country’s problems on Syrians. – Wall Street Journal

Israel will hold rare talks with Lebanon next month in an effort to resolve a longstanding maritime border dispute, an Israeli official said Saturday. – Associated Press

President Emmanuel Macron said France wouldn’t abandon the Lebanese people after what he branded a “collective betrayal” by the country’s politicians in failing to form a new government to carry out reforms. – Bloomberg

Two members of the Lebanese Security Forces were killed in an exchange of gunfire with militants in the north of the country late on Saturday, the army said. – Reuters

Lebanon’s top Christian cleric said on Sunday the nation faced “multiple dangers” that would be hard to weather without a government, speaking after the prime minister-designate quit and dealt a blow to France’s bid to lift the country out of crisis. – Reuters

Ehud Yaari, Simon Henderson, and Hanin Ghaddar write: Finally, it is important to note that the drive toward a potential maritime agreement is not part of the recent normalization process seen between Israel and other Arab states. From the perspective of Hezbollah and the current Lebanese government, maritime demarcation would not reflect any change in their attitudes toward Israel or the Blue Line land border drawn by the UN following the 2006 war. Yet it may remove at least one danger: that any future confrontation with Hezbollah will necessarily spill into Israel’s offshore gas fields. – Washington Institute

Seth J. Frantzman writes: Washington airlifted a Lebanese-American out of the country earlier this year and Hezbollah has slammed the US ambassador for interference in the country. The terrorist group has suggested that China could invest in Lebanon. […]In some ways, the current dispute over Lebanon can be seen as a quest for influence between Iran, the US, Turkey and France. – Jerusalem Post 

Arabian Peninsula

The United Arab Emirates didn’t need peace with Israel to counter Iran, a top UAE official said Friday, but he said Iran’s aggressive policies over three decades alarmed many Arab countries and made them look at their relationship with Israel “with fresh eyes.” – Associated Press

The U.N. Special Envoy for Yemen wants to build on Sunday’s announcement of the largest prisoner exchange agreement in the five-year conflict to pave the way for a national ceasefire and a political solution to end the war, he said. – Reuters

Haisam Hassanein writes: A targeted campaign against the UAE-Israel deal at this moment has the potential to intimidate other Arab leaders from following suit on normalization. It can also empower voices of anti-normalization in Riyadh and Manama among other Arab capitals. Qatari media are certainly not the only Arab voices to come out against the deal, but special attention must be dedicated to this message and its potential impact on the ongoing regional response to peace between Israel and the UAE. – Jerusalem Post

Seth J. Frantzman writes: Germany has worked to prevent engines being transferred to Iran for use in drones that are used by Houthi rebels in Yemen against Saudi Arabia. This complicated trafficking in materials for armed drones is part of the larger Iranian nexus of procurement for its military program. Iran hopes that an end of an arms embargo will make it easier to import and export weapons. – Jerusalem Post

Saudi Arabia

The Group of 20 Leaders’ Summit, which had been planned for Saudi Arabia’s capital Riyadh, will now be held “virtually” on Nov. 21-22, according to a statement posted to the G-20 website. – Bloomberg

David Ignatius writes: The saddest legacy of Khashoggi’s murder is the lack of accountability for the crime. A secret trial was held last year, and eight defendants were sentenced to prison this month, after earlier death sentences for five of them were reversed by a pardon from Khashoggi’s eldest son. […]Khashoggi believed in the journalists’ credo that truth will ultimately triumph over lies and cruelty. He gave his life for that ideal. Two years later, his truth still scorches the kingdom’s rulers. – Washington Post

Abdullah F. Alrebh writes: Indeed, unwavering support for two men who do not necessarily represent their viewpoints is likely to cast doubt on the credibility of those willing to express it. Opposition figures who view themselves as academics or activists claim they want to change the equation in Saudi Arabia and seek radical reform that will bring a better life for their people, but the recent valorization of al-Jabri raises the question of those opposition figures’ competency in providing an alternative vision for the country. – Washington Institute

Middle East & North Africa

The UN envoy to Libya is recommending sanctions for anyone trying to spoil next month’s crucial talks aimed at negotiating a unity government. That government would set elections aimed at finally uniting the North African state afters years of foreign-backed conflict. – Bloomberg

Seth J. Frantzman writes:  There remains one elephant-in-the-room question regarding the transactional diplomacy in the Middle East. What does Washington get? […]In the long term it’s unclear if this diplomacy secures Washington’s footprint against large adversaries such as Russia and China. However, if it knits together a new regional alliance system, which US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has sketched out through his recent travels, then Trump can point to a success.  – Jerusalem Post

Seth J. Frantzman writes: Turkey may want to use Syrians to fight in Armenia to distract them. It’s not clear yet if the conflict develops and could give Turkey more excuses for involvement in Syria, Iraq and elsewhere. Turkey wants this involvement and would like nothing more than to have more boots on the ground in the Caucuses. Iran and Russia may oppose that. This illustrates the different bets that regional powers are taking in the Caucuses. – Jerusalem Post

Korean Peninsula

South Korea called on Sunday for a joint investigation with North Korea in an effort to resolve key details over the killing of a South Korean official at sea that prompted a rare apology from the North’s leader, Kim Jong-un. – New York Times

After months of relative silence, North Korea has begun to stir in recent weeks, with signs that the regime is preparing for a fresh flourish of military might. That’s stoked speculation that Kim might be planning an October surprise for President Donald Trump before the U.S. leader faces re-election on Nov. 3. – Bloomberg

South Korea on Monday expanded the search for a missing fisheries official killed by North Korean troops at sea last week, a day after North Korea accused the South of raising tension by intruding into its territorial waters. – Reuters


Brushing aside condemnation from Western powers, China’s leader, Xi Jinping, called his policies in the ethnically divided region of Xinjiang a “totally correct” success, and vowed more efforts to imprint Chinese national identity “deep in the soul” of Uighurs and other largely Muslim minorities. – New York Times

A federal judge blocked the Trump administration’s attempt to ban TikTok downloads in the U.S., giving the Chinese-owned app a short-term victory as it scrambles to ensure its future while caught in a battle of brinkmanship between global superpowers. – Wall Street Journal

The Commerce Department has told U.S. computer-chip companies that they must obtain licenses before exporting certain technology to China’s largest manufacturer of semiconductors, a blow to China’s efforts to compete in advanced technology. – Wall Street Journal

China’s most ambitious and fastest-growing companies once flocked to U.S. markets to raise money. Now rising U.S. hostility and the increased attractions of listing closer to home are tipping the scales toward Hong Kong and Shanghai. – Wall Street Journal

But members of the Tibetan community say Baimadajie Angwang, a 33-year-old NYPD officer who worked in Queens, quickly raised red flags. He criticized one local politician for supporting Tibet’s independence movement from China, some of these people said, and encouraged the removal of the Tibetan flag outside a community center in Queens. – Wall Street Journal

As Trump and China hawks lock horns with Beijing on TikTok, trade, and Huawei, the Chinese Communist Party and its leader Xi Jinping are threatening to target U.S. companies with similar nationalistic bans—and signalling to Chinese firms at home that they expect total loyalty. – The Daily Beast

China continues to persecute religious minorities, rewriting the Bible to make it conform to Chinese Marxist doctrine, and sending Uighurs Muslims to re-education camps, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has said. – Jerusalem Post

Editorial: Beijing destabilized the world once by failing to control the early outbreak of the novel coronavirus and lying about it. The risk is that the fallout from an unbalanced economic recovery could trigger new instability. – Wall Street Journal

Anne-Marie Brady writes: The work of Zhenhua — which boasts that its clients are Chinese defense and intelligence agencies — offers concrete evidence of the Xi government’s global attempts to build relationships among political elites. […]The Zhenhua database was clearly in the early stages of its development — but even so, it demonstrates the scale of Xi Jinping’s aggressive foreign policy. The question now is, how will the world respond? – Washington Post

Josh Rogin writes: The Trump administration has done the country a service by waking up regular Americans to the true and important idea that China’s tech companies are instruments of the Chinese Communist Party’s strategy against our values and our interests and that we must respond. Perhaps the next administration will respond in a way that actually solves the problem. – Washington Post

Nick Merrill writes: If the U.S. does manage to block, or even silo off TikTok or WeChat, we don’t know exactly what will come next. But we can start to make some guesses. And those guesses point toward not just a more fractured internet, but also a more fractured and non-polar international order. – The Hill

South Asia

Pakistan’s highest court is expected to decide as soon as next week whether a British national whose conviction for killing Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl was overturned earlier this year will be freed nearly two decades after the murder. – Wall Street Journal

Senior Afghan peace official Abdullah Abdullah arrived in Pakistan on Monday for meetings in a country seen as vital to the success of Afghan talks aimed at ending decades of war. – Reuters

India is unlikely to revoke a ban on PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds (PUBG) following PUBG Corp’s decision to withdraw the mobile game’s publishing rights in the country from China’s Tencent 0700.HK, a senior government official said on Friday. – Reuters

Imran Khan writes: For Pakistan, regional peace and stability remain key to realizing the collective aspirations of our people for a better future. We are committed to multilateral collaboration to achieve this. The first step toward that peace has been taken in Doha. Not seeing through the Afghanistan peace process or abandoning it for any reason would be a great travesty. – Washington Post


Fighting erupted Sunday between Armenia and Azerbaijan, two former Soviet republics that have clashed over control of a disputed territory for three decades, raising fear of a new full-blown war in the South Caucasus. – Wall Street Journal

Their arrest under Chinese law would mean that the 12 will be absorbed deeper into the mainland’s legal system, which critics describe as politically influenced, opaque, rife with delays and almost-certain convictions. With the help of prominent activists in the city, their families are demanding that Hong Kong authorities intervene and seek their return. – Washington Post

Police arrested Joshua Wong and another prominent pro-democracy activist on Thursday for participating in a rally in October, slapping Wong with the additional charge of violating a ban on masks imposed last year to deter street protests. – Washington Post

Taiwan expressed satisfaction on Monday and said the European Union had stepped in to help after a global alliance of mayors stopped referring to Taiwanese cities as part of China, in a rare win for the island amid growing Chinese pressure. – Reuters

Armenian and Azeri forces exchanged fierce fire for the second day on Monday morning, with both sides accusing each other of using heavy artillery. – Reuters

Armenian Defence Ministry said on Sunday it was checking reports about combatants from Syria who are allegedly fighting for the Azerbaijan’s side in clashes over the breakaway Nagorno-Karabakh province. – Reuters

Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan called on the international community on Sunday to ensure that Turkey does not involve itself in Armenia’s conflict with Azerbaijan over the Nagorno-Karabakh region, trading barbs with Ankara. – Reuters

Iran called on Sunday for an immediate end to the conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan after clashes between the two countries, a foreign ministry spokesman was quoted as saying by state TV, announcing Tehran’s readiness to help in establishing a ceasefire. – Reuters

China’s Foreign Ministry said on Monday it hoped Armenia and Azerbaijan, who are involved in the heaviest clashes between the two former Soviet Republics since 2016, could resolve their differences through dialogue and hoped for calm and restraint. – Reuters

The dispute over international organisations referring to Taiwan as Chinese has moved from wild bird conservation to climate change, after a global alliance of mayors began listing Taiwanese cities as belonging to China on its website. – Reuters

Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen visited a low-key but critical maintenance base for fighter jet engines on Saturday, offering encouragement as the Chinese-claimed island’s armed forces strain in the face of repeated Chinese air force incursions. – Reuters

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi may visit Japan as early as October, a government source said on Sunday, after the leaders of the two countries agreed to pursue high-level contacts to promote regional and international stability. – Reuters

As China and the United States feuded at the United Nations this week over COVID-19 and climate, one of the world’s smallest states pleaded for detente. – Reuters

Japan’s new Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga said on Friday he had agreed with Chinese President Xi Jinping in their first talks to pursue high-level contacts in a bid to promote regional and international stability. – Reuters

Azerbaijan and Armenia both declared martial law early Sunday after clashes killed at least 16 military members and several civilians. – The Hill

From the South China Sea to the Himalayan Sino-Indian border, and even in one of its own cities, China has doubled down on its claims of territory, and taken a harder line in response to perceived challenges. – CNN

Tom Rogan writes: The risk, then, is that Azerbaijan and Turkey will sense that they have the initiative and can formalize a new state of affairs on the ground via continued military action. International pressure will be critical if peace is to be restored. – Washington Examiner

Tom Rogan writes: Still, Chinese President Xi Jinping also faces great risks. While his recapture of Taiwan would consolidate his legacy desire to become the next Mao Zedong master of Chinese destiny, defeat would risk the Communist Party’s mainland survival. It is in America’s interest to reinforce Xi’s perception of the latter risk while mitigating his desire to carry forward an invasion. Put simply, for China, Taiwan, and the U.S., tensions and the reciprocal stakes are growing very quickly. – Washington Examiner

Seth J. Frantzman writes: For instance, in the Mediterranean the threats from Ankara drove Greece, Cyprus, Israel, Egypt, France and the UAE to work more closely together. Invasion and ethnic cleansing in Afrin led some to assert that Ankara was as great a threat as Assad and has bolstered the Russia and Iranian-backed Assad regime. It’s unclear if an Ankara decision to become involved in the Caucasus would similarly fuel new alliances. – Jerusalem Post


Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny is recovering from the suspected assassination attempt last month faster than expected, one of his aides said Sunday. – Associated Press

Russia these days may look frightening to Americans, who hear often of election meddling and poisoning among other ill deeds. But consider for a moment the view from the other side of the divide, or at least the view presented to Russians by their television sets. – The Daily Beast

Russian President Vladimir Putin and Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan discussed clashes over the Nagorno-Karabakh region in a phone call on Sunday, the Kremlin said in a statement. – Reuters

One of four suspects on trial for the 2014 downing of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 has denied any involvement with firing or supplying the missile allegedly used in its destruction, a lawyer said in court on Monday. – Reuters

Anna Mahjar-Barducci writes: Both Russia and China maintain that they deserve a better share of global influence. Multilateralism is a handy diplomatic tool that, for the time being, can help them to conceal their deeper ambitions. […]Based on this logic, they are claiming not only a better share of global influence but also a more prestigious one. The aim is twofold: to create greater solidarity with their countries and to attract other countries to recognize their claim of moral superiority. – Middle East Media Research Institute


U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who is due to arrive in Greece on an official visit early Monday, has had a conversation on tensions in the eastern Mediterranean with NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg. – Associated Press

France is stepping up the pressure on Belarus’ longtime leader Alexander Lukashenko, with President Emmanuel Macron telling a prominent French weekly that “Lukashenko must go.” – Associated Press

France’s interior minister promised Sunday to protect France’s Jewish community from extremists after a double stabbing in Paris blamed on Islamic terrorism. – Associated Press

German Chancellor Angela Merkel visited Russian opposition politician Alexei Navalny while he was undergoing treatment in a Berlin hospital for poisoning, Der Spiegel reported, underscoring how seriously she is taking the case. – Reuters

Masked police dragged people into vans and fired stun grenades and tear gas to disperse crowds as tens of thousands marched for a seventh straight weekend to demand veteran Belarusian leader Alexander Lukashenko quit. – Reuters

Belarusian Foreign Minister Vladimir Makei accused Western countries on Saturday of attempting to sow “chaos and anarchy” in the former Soviet republic, which has been rocked by street protests since an election last month. – Reuters

Swiss voters overwhelmingly rejected on Sunday a right-wing party’s attempt to scrap a pact allowing the free movement of people from the European Union, opting for stability amid the economic uncertainty caused by the coronavirus pandemic. – Reuters

Greece on Sunday called on Turkey to condemn and investigate what it said was an “insult” to its national flag on the Greek island of Kastellorizo. – Reuters

The 10 nations participating in this seventh iteration practiced bringing together modern Western equipment and decades-old Soviet-era equipment in one aerial picture fed to a command and control center in the Lithuanian city of Kaunas. – Washington Examiner

Yasmeen Serhan writes: Perhaps the easiest way for foreign governments to support Belarus’s prodemocracy movement without undermining it is by focusing on the one thing Lukashenko has pinned his legitimacy on: the will of the Belarusian people. […]By coming out in favor of Belarusians’ right to decide the fate of their country in free and fair elections, foreign governments can support them without feeding into Lukashenko’s narrative of meddling. – The Atlantic

Mason Clark writes: The protest movement will likely develop a new, locally-based leadership which may refocus the opposition, or it may steadily erode in the absence of clear direction. […] Russian units in the Western Military District are likely conducting a higher-than-normal pace of exercises to prepare to deploy to Belarus. – Institute for the Study of War

George Barros writes: Approximately 10 unspecified regiment-and-below-sized units are participating.These checks may be part of a larger Western Military District logistical undertaking to sustain a continuous or near-continuous conventional Russian military presence in Belarus.[…] ISW assesses these elements will likely leave within a few days and that different units will return to Belarus for the announced October exercises. – Institute for the Study of War


American efforts to persuade more Arab countries to normalize relations with Israel before the November election are focused on Sudan, where negotiations have stalled over the amount of a financial incentive promised to Sudan in exchange for recognizing Israel, officials said Saturday. – New York Times

Sudan does not want to link its removal from a U.S. terrorism list that is hindering access to foreign funding for its economy with a normalisation of relations with Israel, Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok said on Saturday. – Reuters

Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed told the United Nations on Friday that his country has “no intention” of harming Sudan and Egypt with a giant hydropower dam on the Blue Nile that has caused a bitter water dispute between the three countries. – Reuters

Mali’s transitional president appointed former minister of foreign affairs, Moctar Ouane, on Sunday as the West African nation’s prime minister days after being sworn into office. – Associated Press

The death toll from a jihadist attack on the convoy of the regional governor in northeast Nigeria has risen to 30, security sources said Saturday. – Agence France-Presse

An attack by unidentified gunmen in Ethiopia’s western Benishangul-Gumuz region on Friday left at least 15 people dead, including four women, in the third such raid this month, according to the Ethiopian Human Rights Commission. – Bloomberg

The Americas

The Trump administration on Sunday accused the European Union of undermining its efforts to isolate authoritarian Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro, denouncing the bloc’s top diplomat for dispatching a mission to Caracas without consulting with Washington. – Washington Post

An FBI official assigned to special counsel Robert Mueller’s office told federal investigators last week that he was critical of the investigation into allegations that the Trump campaign colluded with Russia to influence the 2016 election. – The Hill

Another declassification of secret information related to the Russia investigation appears to be on the way. – Washington Examiner

Editorial: All of this underscores that the great scandal of 2016 wasn’t Russian collusion. It was the unleashing of America’s premier law enforcement agency against a presidential campaign based on Russian disinformation midwifed and financed by the Clinton campaign. – Wall Street Journal


Russian President Vladimir Putin on Friday called for a reset on cyber relations with the United States, and requested that the two countries agree not to influence each other’s elections. – The Hill

A group of bipartisan House and Senate lawmakers on Friday introduced legislation to increase resources to help local governments, small businesses and nonprofit groups to defend themselves against cyberattacks. – The Hill

Disinformation targeting Latino communities is ramping up ahead of Election Day, when the demographic is expected to play a crucial role in key battleground states. – The Hill

Donald Trump’s chief of staff Mark Meadows claimed that FBI director Christopher Wray was mistaken about the lack of widespread voter fraud ahead of the November US presidential election in testimony to Congress. – Financial Times


The U.S. Defense Department hopes Congress will approve a change in how it funds its next-generation ICBM in order to avoid what it views as unnecessary contract bureaucracy. – Defense News

After weeks of work in the oppressive Arizona desert heat, the U.S. Army carried out a series of live fire engagements Sept. 23 at Yuma Proving Ground to show how artificial intelligence systems can work together to automatically detect threats, deliver targeting data and recommend weapons responses at blazing speeds. – C4ISRNET

The Navy commissioned the guided-missile destroyer Delbert D. Black Saturday morning. Named for the first master chief petty officer of the Navy, the Arleigh Burke class destroyer is the result of more than 10 years’ work by multiple MCPONs to name a ship for Black. – Navy Times

Andreas Kluth writes: The bigger goal is, of course, shaming the nations and leaders that keep their nukes. For instance, stigma could, in time, turn domestic opinion in China and dissuade its leaders from their all-out effort to “catch up” with stockpiles in the U.S. and Russia. It could even sway public attitudes in Russia, India and elsewhere. – Bloomberg

Abraham Mahshie writes: But before NATO could use this base and so many other Soviet-era military sites across the Baltics and Eastern Europe, upgrades were required. […]Since Baltic air policing began, Russian incursions are far fewer, and NATO jets quickly escort Russian jets out of NATO airspace when they do enter. – Washington Examiner

Long War

Two people were seriously wounded in a knife attack near the former office of Charlie Hebdo that prosecutors are investigating as a possible terrorist act, more than five years after gunmen opened fire in the satirical magazine’s newsroom. – Wall Street Journal

The police in Canada have arrested a Toronto-area man who asserted he was an ISIS executioner, accusing him of perpetrating a hoax that he was involved in terrorist activities. – New York Times

A Norwegian court on Friday approved an extradition request from France for a suspect linked to a terror attack in a Jewish neighborhood in Paris in 1982 that killed six people. – Agence France-Presse

Lebanese police have killed nine suspected members of the Islamic State group in the hunt for “terrorists” linked to several deadly attacks, including on soldiers, a security source said Sunday. – Agence France-Presse