Fdd's overnight brief

September 28, 2023

In The News


The United States on Wednesday placed sanctions on entities and people based in China, Turkey, the United Arab Emirates and Iran for aiding the Iranian attack drone program, which Washington accuses of supplying such weapons to Russia for use in Ukraine. – Reuters

Israel arrested five Palestinians in a plot allegedly hatched in Iran to target and spy on senior Israeli politicians, including Israel’s far-right national security minister, the country’s internal security agency said Wednesday. – Associated Press

The United States Treasury Department announced sanctions against a series of entities based in Iran, China, Hong Kong, Turkey, and the United Arab Emirates that have allegedly supported Iran’s drone program. – Washington Examiner

Catherine Perez-Shakdam writes: If left unchecked, these dual threats – digital and ideological – could coalesce into a formidable challenge to the pillars of democracy. For the United States, which has already experienced the disruptive power of cyberattacks, understanding Iran’s multifaceted approach is crucial. US policymakers must ensure a holistic approach that mitigates threats in the cyber domain while challenging Iran’s divisive and harmful narratives. In a world where digital warfare can significantly influence geopolitics, it’s essential to remember that at its heart, this is more than just ones and zeros. It’s an ideological battle, one that challenges the principles of democracy and freedom. As we tread cautiously into this digital age, the US, together with its allies, must stand resolute against those who seek to erode these cherished values. – Jerusalem Post

Seth J. Frantzman writes: To have a successful nuclear weapons program, Iran needs long range missiles on which it could put a weapon. Therefore it makes sense for Iran to continue to focus on missile and space technology for now. As such, the satellite’s goal is to be in orbit casting a shadow over the Middle East, evidence of another achievement by Tehran and the IRGC. – Jerusalem Post

Russia & Ukraine

Wearing video goggles, a Ukrainian trooper crouched on the top floor of a gutted high-rise and piloted a small drone into the nearby Russian-occupied city of Bakhmut. – Wall Street Journal

Companies that make the weapons being used in Ukraine have won orders and resurrected production lines. The deployment of billions of dollars worth of equipment in a major land war has also given manufacturers and militaries a unique opportunity to analyze the battlefield performance of weapons, and learn how best to use them. – Wall Street Journal

Russia released new videos on Wednesday of a Russian admiral whom Ukraine claimed to have killed, with the footage showing him apparently alive and well, hoisting a trophy into the air to celebrate a soccer victory and stoically telling a local interviewer that “life goes on.” – New York Times

Ukraine on Wednesday urged judges at the United Nations’ highest court to dismiss Russia’s objections and hear in full Kyiv’s claim that Moscow abused international law by saying the 2022 invasion was done to stop an alleged genocide. – Reuters

Ukraine’s Air Force said on Thursday its air defence systems shot down 34 of 44 Shahed drones that Russia launched overnight, military and regional officials said the attack caused no casualties. – Reuters

British defence minister Grant Shapps discussed how to bolster Ukraine’s air defences during talks in Kyiv with President Volodymyr Zelenskiy, the president’s office said on Thursday. – Reuters

Russia on Wednesday accused Ukraine’s Western allies of helping plan and conduct last week’s missile strike on the Black Sea Fleet’s headquarters on the annexed Crimean Peninsula. – Associated Press

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said his country is “deeply sorry” for putting Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy in the position of unknowingly applauding a veteran who served in a Nazi unit. – Bloomberg

Charging five Bulgarian residents of the United Kingdom with spying for Russia, the U.K. has provided new potential for a prisoner swap that might see Russia release journalist Evan Gershkovich and possibly also former Marine Paul Whelan. While I’m unaware of any direct conversations between the United States and the U.K. over such a swap, Washington has been talking with its allies as to any prisoners they might be willing to release in exchange for Gershkovich’s freedom. – Washington Examiner

House Republicans moved to strip $300 million in Ukraine aid from their defense spending bill Wednesday night and set up a separate vote on the funds, reversing course ahead of an expected final vote this week and amid uncertainty about whether the bill would pass. – The Hill

Marc Champion writes: Russia believes its determination to control Ukraine is greater than that of Kyiv’s allies to secure its independence. For the war to end, Putin needs to be persuaded this isn’t true and that as a result, his long-war strategy won’t work. – Bloomberg


The Biden administration announced Wednesday that it will allow Israeli travelers to come to the United States without a visa, a coveted status that was granted in exchange for the Israeli government dropping long-standing travel restrictions on Palestinian Americans and other Americans of Arab and Muslim descent. – Washington Post

Lebanon’s army said on Wednesday it had exchanged smoke bombs with Israeli troops at the border, the second such incident in a week. – Reuters

Five family members were killed in a mass shooting Wednesday in an Arab town in northern Israel, police and advocates said, the latest victims of a recent surge of gun violence within the country’s Arab communities. Another Arab citizen of Israel was killed in a separate shooting earlier Wednesday. – Associated Press

Israel’s Supreme Court on Thursday was hearing a challenge to a law that makes it harder to remove a sitting prime minister, which critics say is designed to protect Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu who has been working to reshape the justice system while he is on trial for alleged corruption. – Associated Press

Russia accused the United States on Wednesday of promoting Israel’s normalization of relations with Arab nations and circumventing the Arab Peace Initiative launched by Saudi Arabia in 2002, which calls for a settlement to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict before any diplomatic recognition of Israel. – Associated Press

Elbit Systems Ltd. announced on Wednesday the signing of a new contract deal for the supply of tank ammunition to an unnamed European country according to a statement released by the company. – Jerusalem Post

Editorial: While most Americans have long been able to travel to Israel with minimal hassle – needing nothing more than a valid US passport to enter the country – Wednesday’s announcement will make that ease reciprocal, enabling millions of Israelis to visit a country they have always adored but which hasn’t made their visits particularly easy.That truly is historic, and it augurs well for the continued growth and development of the critically important US-Israel relationship. – Jerusalem Post


In a small workshop in the bustling northwestern Pakistani city of Peshawar, a dozen Afghan women sit watching a teacher show them how to make clothes on a sewing machine. – Reuters

On a pristine volleyball court on the seventh floor of a massive training centre in the Chinese city of Hangzhou, a team of Afghanistan women prepare for their first Asian Games in defiance of the Taliban government’s antipathy toward female sport. – Reuters

The U.N.’s most powerful body must support governments seeking to legally declare the intensifying crackdown by Afghanistan’s Taliban rulers on women and girls “gender apartheid,” the head of the U.N. agency promoting gender equality said Tuesday. – Associated Press


The foreign ministers of Armenia and Turkey held a telephone conversation and discussed the situation in the region on Wednesday, the Armenian Foreign Ministry said. – Reuters

Turkey’s state gas grid operator BOTAS signed a deal to supply up to 1.5 billion cubic metres (bcm) of natural gas to Romania’s OMV Petrom (ROSNP.BX) as Ankara expands its gas export reach. – Reuters

Enes Kanter Freedom writes: As one of too many Turks who has faced personal retribution for speaking out against Erdogan, I know that Israel has no easy choices. It lives in a tough neighborhood, and has legitimate reasons to engage with Turkey, sharing areas of concern like energy, security, and the environment. More thawing is already in the works, with Erdogan describing plans for a visit to Jerusalem. Yet the defense of democracy and human rights doesn’t always have to conflict with national interests. For Israel, both would be better served if its leaders remember who they are dealing with in Erdogan – a brutal dictator who can’t be trusted as far as the narrowest point on the Bosporus. – Jerusalem Post

Arabian Peninsula

Two of Abu Dhabi’s biggest banks have reported billions of dollars in loans in recent years tied to their boards of directors that include prominent royal-family members, a practice widely discouraged in the U.S. but still common in the Gulf even as its financial institutions extend their global reach. – Wall Street Journal

Bahrain has sentenced 13 prisoners to an additional three years over a sit-in held in a detention facility in 2021 that prison authorities say was violent. – Associated Press

Bahrain’s military said a third soldier died of his wounds on Wednesday after an attack by Yemeni rebels on a Bahraini contingent patrolling Saudi Arabia’s southern border. – Associated Press

Seth J. Frantzman writes: Attacking members of the Bahrain military may have been purposeful by the Houthis. They may be trying to send a message to Bahrain and Saudi Arabia. Iran often likes to use a carrot-and-stick approach in the region, sometimes ratcheting up attacks and sometimes using diplomacy. As such Iranian-backed groups act as a kind of contract mafia for Iran, ready to use weapons to carry out “hits” for Tehran if need be. This is how Iran uses militias in Iraq, Syria, and Lebanon and has used the Houthis in Yemen in the past. – Jerusalem Post

Saudi Arabia

Saudi Arabia and Russia have raked in billions of dollars in extra oil revenues in recent months, despite pumping fewer barrels, after their production cuts sent crude prices soaring. – Wall Street Journal

Parallel visits this week by an Israeli minister to Saudi Arabia and a Saudi envoy to the Israeli-occupied West Bank have highlighted the fast-warming ties between the Jewish state and the most powerful Arab country. – New York Times

Greece and Saudi Arabia agreed on Wednesday to set up a jointly-owned company that will look at linking their power grids, taking the first step in their plan to supply Europe with cheaper green energy, the Greek energy ministry said. – Reuters

Editorial: And now the crown prince is negotiating with the Biden administration on a defense pact — and establishment of a civilian nuclear power plant on Saudi territory — in exchange for full recognition of Israel. No one should accept the Saudi whitewash. MBS stole Jamal Khashoggi from his family, friends and colleagues; escaped accountability for his murder; and continues to torment Saudis who dissent. – Washington Post

Aaron Blake writes: The argument didn’t land with Engoron. But the fact that the judge briefly sought to emphasize the idea that this would involve “influence buying” shouldn’t escape anyone’s notice, particularly given Trump’s relationship of convenience with the Saudis. – Washington Post

Dan Illouz writes: The choice is evident – a Middle East where Israel, Saudi Arabia, and other moderate nations collaborate towards a brighter, more prosperous future, or a stalemate dictated by those who have consistently shown a preference for conflict over peace. Normalization will not come at the expense of our secure future. Keep the focus there, and let’s make history. – Jerusalem Post

Middle East & North Africa

International mediators have stepped up efforts to prevent a new round of armed confrontation between Israel and the Islamist Hamas group, which runs Gaza, amid an escalation in violent protests along the border fence. – Reuters

EU member Cyprus wants Brussels to offer financial and technical aid to Lebanon to help it cope with an influx of Syrian refugees and keep them from reaching the island, its interior minister said on Wednesday. – Reuters

Israel reopened crossing points with Gaza on Thursday, allowing thousands of Palestinian workers to get to their jobs in Israel and the West Bank, after nearly two weeks of closure prompted by violent protests along the border. – Reuters

The Department of State is funding a Gaza Strip-based organization that a watchdog group warns is “cooperating with” and “supporting” Palestinian terrorists. – Washington Examiner

Korean Peninsula

An American soldier who fled to North Korea in July was released to U.S. officials in China and flown to a U.S. military base in South Korea, U.S. officials said. – Wall Street Journal

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un called for an exponential increase in production of nuclear weapons and for his country to play a larger role in a coalition of nations confronting the United States in a “new Cold War,” state media said Thursday. – Associated Press

An unscheduled Russian military VIP plane touched down in Pyongyang this week, days after North Korean leader Kim Jong Un made a rare trip to his neighbor for talks the US said likely focused on arms transfers. – Bloomberg


Trading in the shares of China Evergrande Group and two of its publicly listed units was suspended on Thursday, after reports that the beleaguered property developer’s founder and chairman had been placed under police surveillance. – Wall Street Journal

TikTok has spent the past three years trying to convince U.S. lawmakers it can operate independently in this country from its China-based parent company, ByteDance. After recent personnel moves, some employees aren’t so sure. – Wall Street Journal

The son of Jimmy Lai, a media tycoon jailed in Hong Kong, said on Wednesday it was in the interest of the former British colony to release his father and not let him die in jail. – Reuters

China resolutely opposes the United States putting some Chinese entities into an export control list and imposing sanctions, the commerce ministry said on Wednesday. – Reuters

China’s ambassador to the United States said the Biden administration could help restore fraught relations by starting with “practical” steps, such as renewing a decades-old pact on science and technology. – Reuters

Chinese Defense Minister Li Shangfu mysteriously missed a key meeting attended by President Xi Jinping, bolstering reports he’s being investigated for corruption and has been removed from his role. – Bloomberg

As Europe’s top trade chief headed to Beijing this month shortly after announcing a probe into China’s electric vehicle subsidies, some in the bloc braced for fiery criticism and any hint of retaliation. – Bloomberg

Chinese President Xi Jinping urged cadres to strengthen efforts to safeguard the nation’s security and interests in the process of opening up, as he pledged to actively take part in adjusting international trade rules. – Bloomberg

Editorial: China’s claims that foreign forces are interfering in its domestic affairs is especially rich, given its harassment everywhere else. China runs police stations in American cities, has hacked the personnel files of millions of U.S. government workers, and has placed a bounty on pro-democracy activists abroad. Hong Kong insists its national-security law applies anywhere in the world. This is scary stuff for the international business community. All signs are that Hong Kong is following Chinese President Xi Jinping’s repressive lead. Thanks to those in Geneva for not rolling over. – Wall Street Journal

Greg Ip writes: Musk’s influence over international relations will be diluted if his influence over technology is diluted. Competitors are hard at work trying to weaken SpaceX’s market share in launch and X’s in social media. As for electric cars, now that Chinese brands have caught up, expect Tesla to be squeezed out of China’s market much as other foreign companies have been, once Beijing no longer found them useful. Musk might be less vulnerable to China when he no longer has sales there to protect. – Wall Street Journal

J.T. Young writes: China has been known as a bad actor for some time. Now the company it keeps internationally underscores it — North Korea, Iran, Russia, Cuba — and signals its deliberate separation from the West.  Simultaneously, it is becoming an increasingly bad return and a worse risk. If not already underway, will decoupling occur — regardless of any U.S. political debate to determine it? – The Hill

South Asia

A shell of a rocket launcher apparently accidentally exploded at a home in a remote village in southern Pakistan on Wednesday, killing at least eight people, including women and children, police said. – Associated Press

An International Monetary Fund mission visit to Sri Lanka is unlikely to lead to an immediate staff-level agreement to keep a $3 billion bailout on track and unlock more funds from the program, according to a person familiar with the matter. – Bloomberg

Canada-India ties have deteriorated since Prime Minister Justin Trudeau accused New Delhi of orchestrating the assassination of a Sikh separatist leader in British Columbia. Now, the diplomatic standoff threatens to spill over into their economies. – Bloomberg

Sadanand Dhume writes: What happens next? U.S.-India relations may still emerge largely unscathed, particularly if Mr. Trudeau’s allegations remain unproven. But don’t expect India’s ties with Canada to improve anytime soon—at least not as long as Mr. Trudeau remains in office. – Wall Street Journal

Josh Rogin writes: Unfortunately, this dysfunctional dynamic between the United States and Pakistan, in which each nation blames the other for the downturn in ties, seems more entrenched than ever. Policymakers in Washington should redouble their efforts to engage Pakistan’s leaders and make good on old promises to care more about Pakistan’s democratic and economic development. Absent such outreach, Pakistan will see no choice but to edge closer to Beijing’s authoritarian model. But such an outcome is not entirely inevitable. In the end, leaders in Islamabad know that being wholly dependent on China is not in Pakistan’s interest, either. – Washington Post

Hal Brands writes: A deteriorating global situation makes the US increasingly dependent on imperfect partners that are wont to do unpleasant, even brutal things. There is no answer to Chinese power without a more assertive India — and no avoiding the fact that Washington won’t always like what such an India does. – Bloomberg

Akhil Ramesh and Samir Kalra write: If Washington joins Ottawa in any other action, the Indian minister’s comments will fall on deaf ears and push an alignment-averse nation further away. It will reinforce the perception that, if it boils down to a choice between choosing its partner in the West or partner in the Global South, Washington may go with the former. As Trudeau attempts to transform the bilateral dispute into a multilateral one — in the process gaining domestic political capital — Biden should nip those attempts in the bud if the Indo-Pacific and Global South are a priority. – The Hill


At the crest of the hill in this small town at the Armenian-Azerbaijani border, now a gateway for a flood of refugees fleeing Azerbaijan’s takeover of Nagorno-Karabakh, Laura and Jorik Isakhanyan finally could pull over their white Lada Neva to change a tire. – Washington Post

Tens of thousands died fighting for and against it, destroying the careers of two presidents — one Armenian, one Azerbaijani — and tormenting a generation of American, Russian and European diplomats pushing stillborn peace plans. It outlasted six U.S. presidents. – New York Times

The United States is backing a new undersea internet cable connecting several Pacific islands, according to a plan for the project seen by Reuters, boosting Washington’s interests in a region where it is vying for influence with China. – Reuters

The separatist government of Nagorno-Karabakh announced Thursday that it will dissolve itself and the unrecognized republic will cease to exist by Jan. 1, 2024. – Associated Press

Taiwan unveiled a prototype of its first submarine assembled at home as it prepares to stave off a potential invasion by China, a feat only made possible with the secretive help of other countries. – Bloomberg

The Philippine military is “very closely” monitoring Beijing’s next move in the South China Sea, vowing to counter any attempt to install new barriers in the disputed waters. – Bloomberg

Azerbaijan’s President Ilham Aliyev offered to let the United Nations into Nagorno-Karabakh as the US pressed him over security for Armenians in the region to stem an exodus that’s approaching half of the declared population. – Bloomberg

Solomon Islands Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare accused President Joe Biden of treating him with disrespect as a defense of his refusal to attend a White House summit as China works to undercut the traditional friendliness between the United States and Pacific Islands country. – Washington Examiner

Russia is needling Japan with newfound skepticism of Tokyo’s plan to discharge treated water from Fukushima nuclear power station, a nuclear waste management issue that has acquired geopolitical connotations in recent years. – Washington Examiner

Karishma Vaswani writes: Bringing other partners in the region, like Japan and Australia, would help to show that Manila has powerful friends and act as an obstacle for future conflicts. Beijing doesn’t like the fact that the South China Sea is no longer solely its playground. It may have no choice but to accept this new reality. – Bloomberg


Germany is holding off sending Taurus long-range precision missiles to Ukraine because of concerns they would require German technicians to operate on the ground, which some officials fear could drag Berlin closer to a direct confrontation with Russia. – Wall Street Journal

A Polish government minister said this week he had “taken steps” toward the possible extradition of Yaroslav Hunka, the 98-year-old veteran of a Waffen-SS unit who drew applause during the visit of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to Canada’s Parliament. – Washington Post

The authorities in Germany on Wednesday banned a relatively small far-right group and raided the homes of its members in a coordinated sweep, the latest in a series of moves against extremist organizations in the country. – New York Times

A battle between police and armed men holed up in a monastery turned a quiet village in northern Kosovo into a war zone, residents and police said on Wednesday, in the first accounts at the scene of fighting that has shocked the region. – Reuters

Germany has welcomed a decision by neutral Switzerland to open the way to sell back some of its German-made Leopard II tanks to help rebuild stocks depleted by aid to Ukraine. – Reuters

Polish and U.S. officials signed an agreement Wednesday in Warsaw to move forward with the construction of Poland’s first nuclear power plant as part of an effort by the Central European nation to move away from polluting fossil fuels. – Associated Press

The Czech Republic’s government on Wednesday approved a Defense Ministry plan to acquire two dozen U.S. F-35 fighter jets in a deal worth around 150 billion Czech koruna ($6.5 billion). – Associated Press

The European Union will seek to boost its defense capabilities in response to a more hostile global environment as the bloc’s 27 governments start to define the political direction for the coming years. – Bloomberg

US President Joe Biden and the European Union’s Ursula von der Leyen are set to meet on Oct. 20 likely in Washington, where they aim to announce measures on steel that would turn the page on a Trump-era trade dispute, according to people familiar with the issue. – Bloomberg

French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire said he will campaign for the European Union to ditch its state-aid dogma to ensure funds go to supporting factories on the continent instead of production in China and the US. – Bloomberg

Poland’s increasingly pointed standoff with Ukraine over grain exports is eroding the business opportunities of Polish companies in the war-torn country, according to one of the country’s leading entrepreneurs. – Bloomberg

Slovakia is heading into a tight election contest in the final days of the campaign, according to polls that show firebrand frontrunner Robert Fico facing stiff competition from a pro-European party. – Bloomberg

David Ignatius writes: What’s most interesting to me is that, despite Chinese pressure, the “mouse” in this case actually did roar. Liechtenstein refused to buckle under legal pressure. And Germany, once so eager to accommodate China for economic reasons, took a firm stance against what the economy ministry, in unusually blunt language, called a “systemic rival” of Germany and the European Union. – Washington Post


U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Wednesday announced visa restrictions for individuals who he said were “undermining democracy” in Liberia ahead of the country’s elections in October. – Reuters

Burkina Faso’s military government said Wednesday its intelligence and security services had thwarted a coup attempt and were actively pursuing others believed involved in what it called a bid to “throw our country into chaos.” – Associated Press

Outbreaks of cholera and dengue fever have been reported in eastern Sudan, where thousands of people are sheltering in crowded camps amid deadly fighting between the country’s military and a rival paramilitary force, the U.N. health agency said on Tuesday. – Associated Press

The European Union is finalizing partnerships with the Democratic Republic of Congo and Zambia to boost local industries as the bloc competes with China to secure critical materials for the green and digital sectors. – Bloomberg

The Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission arrested the head of the national statistics agency over allegations of corruption and corporate misconduct. – Bloomberg

Diplomatic relations between the America and South Africa remain sound, despite recent tensions over Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, according to Reuben Brigety, the US ambassador to Pretoria. – Bloomberg

Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin emphasized the importance of civilian control of the military during his trip to Africa, a continent that has been hit with a wave of military uprisings.- Washington Examiner

Anthony Grant writes: For Paris, Africa has become what the French would call un bordel — slang for a big mistake. If  Mr. Macron could manage to push his ego aside for a while, he might have a better gander at starting to clean some of it up. In any event, he’ll always have Versailles. – New York Sun

Latin America

When 11,000 soldiers and police officers stormed Venezuela’s Tocorón prison this month, they discovered a professional baseball field, swimming pools, children’s play equipment — even a small zoo, with monkeys and flamingos. – Washington Post

Trade between Colombia and Venezuela could hit between $800 million and $1 billion this year, Colombia’s Trade Minister German Umana said in Caracas on Wednesday. – Reuters

Cuba and Russia are working together on the case of Cubans recruited to fight in the Russian military, Russia’s ambassador to Cuba told reporters on Wednesday, as evidence grows of a large-scale recruiting effort on the Caribbean island. – Reuters

Teo Babun writes: Now it is up to the rest of us to take action to hold these dictatorships accountable. The U.S., the European community, and neighboring states in Latin America should continue to loudly denounce the Cuban and Nicaraguan dictators for their flagrant abuses. We have seen even left-wing leaders such as Chilean President Gabriel Boric do so; this is highly welcome. – The Hill

United States

House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R., Calif.) rebuffed a bipartisan short-term funding bill from the Senate in favor of a House Republican plan driven by conservatives, as dim prospects for a deal raised the likelihood of a partial government shutdown starting this weekend. – Wall Street Journal

A federal judge declined Wednesday to recuse herself from Donald Trump’s prosecution on charges he conspired to remain in power following his 2020 election loss, rejecting the former president’s argument that her past critical statements about the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol created the appearance of bias. – Wall Street Journal

Senator Ben Cardin will serve as chairman of the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee, replacing Bob Menendez, who faces felony bribery charges, after the Senate agreed to a resolution on Wednesday naming him to the position. – Reuters

Former Trump White House aide Cassidy Hutchinson said Tuesday that she will cooperate with criminal investigations against the former president if she is asked to do so. – The Hill


But deciding how to best protect a company, its shareholders and consumers raises some difficult questions. As is clear, there are no easy answers. But that doesn’t mean they aren’t worth pondering. – Wall Street Journal

The fight highlighted a growing dilemma for politicians — especially within the Republican Party. TikTok offers one of the most potent online megaphones for politicians to reach millennial and Gen Z voters. But it is owned by Beijing-based ByteDance, raising a host of national security concerns as politicians become increasingly wary of the competitive threat posed by China. – Washington Post

U.S. National Security Agency, Federal Bureau of Investigation and Japanese police jointly warned multinational companies of China-linked hacker group BlackTech in a cybersecurity advisory late on Wednesday. – Reuters

Chinese-owned app TikTok on Thursday said it regretted the Indonesian government’s decision to ban e-commerce transactions on social media platforms and particularly the impact it would have on the millions of sellers who use TikTok Shop. – Associated Press

Several pieces of personal and “high-risk” materials were leaked to Chinese hackers after a breach of the State Department email server earlier this year, government officials told Senate staffers in a closed-door briefing on Wednesday. – Washington Examiner

Megan McArdle writes: Which seems possible, and illustrates one of the core difficulties of antitrust enforcement: The line between anticompetitive behavior and ultracompetitive behavior is often shockingly hard to draw. That’s one reason that courts ended up focusing on narrow, measurable impacts such as consumer prices rather than broader, more nebulous harms. So far, Khan’s challenge to that framework has been more successful in theory than in practice. And if the FTC keeps swinging for the fences, and losing, eventually she’s likely to be taken out of the game. – Washington Post

Betsy McCaughey writes: Expect Biden to continue parroting the claim he’s defending democracy. It’s far easier for him to campaign against a pretend threat than deal with real issues such as the economy and immigration, where his approval ratings don’t break 30 percent, according to a recent Washington Post-ABC News poll. Mr. Biden’s censorship and the fight he’s waging to continue muzzling the public — the U.S. Constitution be damned — show he’s no champion of democracy. The judges of the Fifth Circuit didn’t believe it. And you shouldn’t either. – New York Sun


Elon Musk’s SpaceX has received its first contract from the US Space Force to provide customized satellite communications for the military under the company’s new Starshield program, extending the provocative billionaire’s role as a defense contractor. – Bloomberg

The NATO military alliance is racing to develop technologies to allow real-time detection of suspicious activity near underwater critical infrastructure, after the Nord Stream pipeline blasts one year ago laid bare the difficulty of monitoring. – Bloomberg

The House Armed Services Committee is expected to grill top Biden administration officials during a Thursday hearing after a planned headquarters shift for U.S. Space Command was scrapped by the Biden administration, which infuriated Alabama Republicans. – The Hill

Alabama Sen. Tommy Tuberville (R) said he voted against the nomination of the Pentagon’s next Joint Chiefs of Staff chairman over the military officer’s push to promote “woke policies.” – The Hill

Troop paychecks and national security are under threat as Congress stands on the edge of a government shutdown, with no clear solution for getting a defense budget passed. – The Hill

The United States is accelerating an effort to revolutionize modern warfare by fielding swarms of self-operating drones and weapons systems. The push will shape the next generation of war and, military leaders hope, give America a leg up on China in the new global arms race. – The Hill

Long War

One of the American military campaigns unleashed by the Sept. 11 attacks, the fight against al-Shabaab has been marked by years of setbacks and stalemates. Now Somalia has become a surprising bright spot in the global battle pitting the West and allied countries against insurgents who use terror tactics in the name of political Islam. – Wall Street Journal

Shortly before he was appointed in 2014, India’s national security adviser laid out his philosophy for the country’s counterterror strategy, saying that it needed to go from a defensive stance to what he described as a “defensive offense.” – Wall Street Journal

The French troops withdrawing from Niger were seen as a key line of defense for about a decade in Western efforts against jihadi violence in Africa’s Sahel region, the vast arid expanse south of the Sahara Desert. – Associated Press

A Lebanese military court has sentenced an official with the extremist Islamic State group to 160 years in prison for carrying out deadly attacks against security forces and planning others targeting government buildings and crowded civilian areas, judicial officials said Wednesday. – Associated Press