Fdd's overnight brief

September 30, 2022

In The News


Iranian protesters are moving away from big gatherings and street clashes with authorities in Tehran in favor of pop-up demonstrations and individual displays of resistance against the government, according to residents of the capital. – Wall Street Journal 

In the physical world, Iran’s authoritarian leaders answer to no one. They try, but often fail, to keep Iranians away from Western entertainment and news. Thanks to their rules, women are required to shroud their hair with head scarves, their bodies with loose clothing. On the internet, Iranians are often able to slip those bonds. – New York Times

As protests spread across Iran last week, Salim Haqiqi could think of little else. He watched every video he could find on social media, looking on in horror as security forces confronted protesters with bullets and tear gas. And he worried constantly about his son. – Washington Post

The U.S. on Thursday imposed sanctions on firms in China and other nations that it accuses of helping Iran evade bans on its oil and petrochemical exports, while threatening to further squeeze Tehran’s energy sales if it continues to breach the terms of a 2015 multilateral nuclear agreement. – Wall Street Journal

Mahsa Amini’s story sent thousands of women into the streets in Iran. It sent Nasrin Sheykhi to the drawing board. Amini was the 22-year-old woman who died in the custody of Iran’s morality police. Sheykhi is a cartoonist who left Iran five years ago. Last week, after wrapping up a show in New York, she produced caricatures showing Amini’s hair choking Ebrahim Raisi, the president of Iran. – New York Times

The spy was minutes from leaving Iran when he was nabbed. Gholamreza Hosseini was at Imam Khomeini Airport in Tehran in late 2010, preparing for a flight to Bangkok. There, the Iranian industrial engineer would meet his Central Intelligence Agency handlers. But before he could pay his exit tax to leave the country, the airport ATM machine rejected his card as invalid. Moments later, a security officer asked to see Hosseini’s passport before escorting him away. – Reuters

When Mahsa Amini was detained in the Iranian capital for wearing her veil too loosely, her family sprang into action, calling relatives, friends, contacts — anyone who could help. One of her cousins, Irfan Mortezai, living in neighboring Iraq, got the message from her distraught brother. – Associated Press

Iranian authorities are targeting journalists who first wrote about the death of a young woman in police custody as well as those covering the major unrest that it has triggered. – Bloomberg

Among Iranian women protesting in recent nights, many are proud of not only playing what they say is a key role — but that men are following in their footsteps. A wave of unrest has rocked Iran since the death of 22-year-old Kurdish woman Mahsa Amini on September 16 following her arrest by Tehran’s morality police for reportedly not observing Iran’s strict dress code. – Agence France-Presse

Iranian musician Shervin Hajipour and Iranian soccer player Hossein Mahini were arrested after expressing support for ongoing protests sweeping Iran following the death of Mahsa Amini. – Jerusalem Post

Twice in the last month, Iran has attempted to abduct US unmanned surface vessels produced by Saildrone. But the company’s CEO says he was unfazed by the events, instead calling the experience “valuable” and stressing the need for any organization operating unmanned ships to be anticipate hostile interference. – Breaking Defense

Yonah Jeremy Bob writes: But like the stunning and sudden fall of the USSR in 1991, no one knows whether we are on the verge of such a game-changing moment or if the regime’s tools of oppression may be strong enough to let it hold on for some decades more before the internal rot of authoritarianism and corruption catches up with it. – Jerusalem Post

Farhad Rezaei writes: It is unclear whether the military can weed out the Iranian-anointed “resistance” without triggering a major change to the West Bank status quo. Alluding to the risks involved in assuming control of the territories, Bar called Iran “not just a nuclear problem” but the “cause of much of the problem we are facing now in the Gaza Strip.” – Jerusalem Post

Ruthie Blum writes: The only thing “very clear” about these incoherent, universalistic words is that America intends to bolster the regime in Tehran at the expense of the Iranian people. In light of this travesty, the rest of us need to hope that they beat the odds, and pray that Biden and his gang are next in line for replacement. – Jerusalem Post

Kitaneh Fitzpatrick, Nicholas Carl, Zachary Coles, and Frederick W. Kagan write: Iran will likely continue improving its censorship infrastructure—possibly with support from China—to suppress future protests more effectively. Iranian authorities have praised the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) control of its domestic information space and signed agreements on cyber and law enforcement cooperation with China. Some Iranian internet experts have compared Iranian internet disruptions prior to the ongoing protests to the CCP’s internet filtering system.  The regime may increasingly mirror the Chinese model of internet sovereignty as it seeks to preempt and quell unrest. – Institute for the Study of War

Marco Mossad writes: Sending Starlink terminals or externally providing internet access to Iranians could lead the Iranian regime to escalate its crackdown on the demonstrations. What the protesters need is greater international diplomatic pressure put on the Iranian government and possibly the imposition of more sanctions. But interfering in Iran directly could end up harming the protestors more than the regime. – The National Interest 

Russia & Ukraine

Russian President Vladimir Putin is set to sign treaties on Friday that would claim to annex four areas of Ukraine, as separatist leaders from Ukraine arrived in Moscow for what they called “a historic decision” to join Russia. – Washington Post

On the eve of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s intention to formally annex four Ukrainian regions, the United States and its allies put the finishing touches on their plans to respond with measures designed to significantly increase the military, diplomatic and economic pressure they believe will eventually box Putin into an intolerable position. – Washington Post

As Russian President Vladimir Putin prepared to declare his annexation of Zaporizhzhia and three other regions stretching across southeastern Ukraine, here in the regional capital, Ukrainian flags still fluttered above government buildings on Thursday, and Ukrainian officials still scurried through the halls. – Washington Post

Russian billionaire Oleg Deripaska has been indicted on a charge of sanctions evasion, part of an ongoing effort by the Justice Department to hold wealthy Russians with ties to Russian President Vladimir Putin accountable for violating U.S. laws as Russia’s war in Ukraine rages on. – Washington Post

The Russian interrogators left behind some tools of their trade at the sprawling machine-parts plant in this recently liberated city a few miles from the Russian border […] In a sign of the commingling of violence and corruption in Russia’s state security system, the camp in Vovchansk also served as a moneymaking enterprise, used to extort cash for its keepers, former inmates and Ukrainian investigators say. – Wall Street Journal 

Russia said on Thursday it was studying the possibility of a face-to-face meeting between Russian and U.S. negotiators on a landmark nuclear arms control treaty. – Reuters

A convoy of vehicles carrying Ukrainian civilians was hit during a Russian missile strike on Friday near the southern city of Zaporizhzhia, the regional governor said. – Reuters

President Vladimir Putin said on Thursday that “all mistakes” made in a call-up to reinforce Russia’s military operation in Ukraine should be corrected, his first public acknowledgment that the “partial mobilisation” he announced last week had not gone smoothly. – Reuters

Maybe it was when a Russian officer, lacking an encrypted line, inadvertently blurted out to the world that the country’s highest ranking uniformed officer had been killed that Russia’s mastery of cyber warfare first came into question. – Financial Times

The Russian occupation radio and newspaper ads promoted the camps as a summer break from the war for Ukrainian children under their control, free of charge. Hundreds of families agreed in the occupied east and the south, Ukrainian officials and parents say. – Associated Press

The Department of Justice (DOJ) on Thursday announced that a U.S. citizen has been charged for allegedly helping Russian oligarch Oleg Vladimirovich Deripaska violate and evade U.S. sanctions.  – The Hill

The United Nations Security Council is set to vote on Friday on a draft resolution condemning the referendums held in the Russian-occupied Ukrainian territories, Russian media outlet RIA reported, citing UN Security Council sources. – Jerusalem Post

Mikhail Lazutin, a top propagandist for Russian President Vladimir Putin, was spotted on Thursday near Russia’s border with Georgia, as men continue to flee an ordered partial mobilization. – Newsweek

Andriy Yermak and Anders Fogh Rasmussen write: Most important, these guarantees would signal to the Ukrainian people that its allies believe in a secure and independent Ukraine. If we get these guarantees right, we can build a new cornerstone for global security. If we fail, it means an open-ended crisis on European soil. – Wall Street Journal 

David Ignatius writes: But don’t expect any easy outs. Putin built power by avoiding stabs in the back. The man who can’t lose will pretend — with his forced annexations — that he is winning. But this week’s moves are the clearest sign yet that Putin, his army crumbling and his allies vanishing, has made the biggest misjudgment of his life. – Washington Post

Peter Rough writes: Already, Putin’s ability to project power in other theaters is diminished. By helping Ukraine achieve victory, the US can ensure that Putin’s gambit puts an end to Russia’s dreams of empire. That would transform Putin decision to annex Ukrainian territory into a blunder of truly historic proportions. – New York Post

Andrei Kolesnikov writes: A better outcome is possible, but by implicating the entire country in his war, Putin has now made it that much harder to obtain: a result in which Russia begins to move from authoritarianism to democracy. If it could somehow be accomplished, however, such a victory would be a joint one: for Ukraine, Europe, the West, and the entire world—including Russia. For it would mean a Russia free from Putin and Putinism. – Foreign Affairs

Kateryna Stepanenko, Karolina Hird, George Barros, Riley Bailey, and Frederick W. Kagan write: These reports more likely suggest that Russian President Vladimir Putin is continuing to leverage his relationship with Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko in order to use Belarusian land for the development of Russian military capabilities. ISW has previously assessed that Lukashenko cannot afford the domestic ramifications of Belarusian involvement in Ukraine. ISW also assesses that Russia does not have the ability to form a ground strike force from scratch or from existing units in Belarus quickly. – Institute for the Study of War

Joseph Majkut, Leslie Palti-Guzman, Max Bergmann, Colin Wall, and Allegra Dawes write: In an escalating energy war, attacks on the grid will also be a concern, as Russian hackers have previously demonstrated their ability to disrupt operations. In 2015, Russian hackers carried out an attack on the Ukrainian power grid, resulting in power outages for 230,000 people. Successful attacks against the grid could result in power outages impacting critical operations including healthcare and access to water. – Center for Strategic and International Studies

Blaise Malley writes: The hearing revealed some tension between senators and an administration that is being accused of not doing enough to slow down Russian aggression in Ukraine. The critique could have been more precise—and the witnesses could have offered a more honest defense of their policies —if they were able to have a more serious discussion about what sanctions are and what they can reasonably accomplish. – The National Interest

Grant Bubb writes: Furthermore, as the U.S. and allied militaries pursue their own modernization efforts, senior leaders would benefit from considering how strategic-level decision-making processes must evolve to maximize these modernization advances. Senior leaders must resist the temptation to only look down at how the force needs to adapt and remember to look up, as well. – The National Interest


The U.S. State Department is calling on Israel to open a “thorough” investigation into the mysterious death of a 7-year-old Palestinian boy who collapsed and died on Thursday, shortly after Israeli soldiers came to his home in the occupied West Bank. – Associated Press

Avi Issacharoff writes: Members of the Palestinian Authority’s security apparatus joined the fighting from the very first moment during the Intifada in 2000, an event that led to a destabilization of the Palestinian Authority and ended with thousands of casualties on both sides. – Ynet

Dan Perry writes: What is clear, though, is that Israel is digging its own grave by adding settlers across the fence line. A freeze would both make sense and convey to voters that there is a practical plan for starting to defuse a complex and dangerous situation. – Jerusalem Post


As Europe frets over gas prices, Israel and Lebanon have reached a vital stage in indirect talks over natural gas fields in disputed offshore territory. […] But a misstep could result in war, with the Lebanese militant group and party Hezbollah making new threats to Israel. – BBC

The head of Hezbollah’s executive council, Hashem Safi al-Din, warned Wednesday that the terrorist movement would not allow the election of a Lebanese president who is “dependent” on the US, according to Al-Manar. – Jerusalem Post

The Iranian Revolutionary Guards and Hezbollah have decided in recent days to change the location of sensitive weapons and missiles placed in the Homs region of Syria to other areas in the country, due to fear of an Israeli attack, reports the Al-Hadath channel which broadcasts from Saudi Arabia. – Arutz Sheva


A suicide attack at an education institute in the Afghan capital Kabul killed at least 19 people and wounded dozens, police said on Friday, but there was no immediate claim of responsibility for the blast. – Reuters

Taliban forces on Thursday used gunfire to disperse a women’s rally in the Afghan capital in support of protests in Iran over the death of a woman in morality police custody. – Agence France-Presse

Lynne O’Donnell writes: “By establishing a fair, just, democratic system that will be a role model for the rest of the country and attract internal migration so people do not have to leave Afghanistan, this will encourage more people to rise against the Taliban’s tyranny and authoritarianism. Then resistance will continue and will grow stronger.” – Foreign Policy


Turkey’s Tayyip Erdogan pressed Vladimir Putin in a call on Thursday to take steps to reduce tensions in Ukraine and urged the Russian leader to extend a deal protecting Black Sea grains exports, the president’s office said. – Reuters

Turkey‘s three state banks have suspended the use of the Russian Mir payment system, Finance Minister Nureddin Nebati told Reuters on Thursday. The suspension comes as the United States cracks down on those accused of helping Moscow skirt sanctions and as Western nations grow concerned over increased economic ties between NATO-member Turkey and Russia. – Reuters

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has overseen a 50% drop in the lira in the past year but that didn’t stop him from weighing in on the crash in the pound.  – Bloomberg


U.S. State Department deputy spokesperson Vedant Patel on Thursday confirmed that a U.S. citizen was killed in the Iranian rocket attack that targeted dissident sites in Iraq’s Kurdistan region on Wednesday. – Reuters

Iraq summoned the Iranian ambassador on Thursday to deliver a diplomatic complaint following a deadly drone bombing campaign, the Iraqi Foreign Ministry said in a statement. – Associated Press

Iraq’s foreign ministry is urgently considering different responses to a series of Iranian missile strikes on its Kurdish region, the country’s spokesperson for the foreign ministry said in an interview with Saudi-based Al-Arabiya TV. – Bloomberg

Iran continued its bombardment of Kurdish regions of Iraq on Thursday, a day after Iran fired 73 ballistic missiles and dozens of drones at Kurdish opposition groups based in Iraq. The continued attacks wounded more members of a Kurdish opposition party called Komala. The attacks have been widely condemned in the region and the West. – Jerusalem Post

Middle East & North Africa

Lebanon’s Parliament on Thursday failed to elect a new president, with the majority of lawmakers casting blank ballots and some walking out. The failure pointed out deep political divisions that threaten prolonged political paralysis and a leadership void at time where Lebanon is suffering an economic meltdown and has struggled to reach an agreement with the International Monetary Fund for a bailout. – Associated Press

Voters in Kuwait returned to the polls on Thursday for the second parliamentary elections in less than two years, hoping to move the wealthy Gulf Arab nation out of a prolonged period of political gridlock. – Associated Press

A bilateral agreement for energy cooperation between Israel and Morocco was signed on Thursday at Bar-Ilan University (BIU) in Ramat Gan, with Education Minister Dr. Yifat Shasha-Biton looking on. – Jerusalem Post

The timetable for a possible agreement between Israel and Lebanon on the maritime border between the two countries is getting constantly shorter. The British firm Energean, which holds the franchise in Israel’s offshore Karish gas field, wants to start drilling in mid-October (and is already preparing for a reverse gas-flow trial, from shore to platform, ahead of launching the flow of gas to the shore). – Haaretz

Yaakov Katz writes: There is also a third option: keep the pressure on Abbas and hope that at some point he starts to take things more seriously. In the meantime, King Abdullah doesn’t care. The ground is burning, and his priority is to spread lies. – Jerusalem Post

Jean Candiotte writes: Contrary to typical rhetoric, faith can be a unifying factor, even among people and cultures of different faiths.I challenge the media to report such stories with greater nuance, less partisan vigor, and more respect for the positive values of faith and spirituality itself. When I look back at how things have changed since my early days in the UAE, I feel proud to be part of this new era of peace.  We need only to look at what unites us to change the narrative. – The National Interest

Korean Peninsula

South Korea, U.S. and Japanese warships launched their first trilateral anti-submarine drills in five years on Friday, after North Korea renewed missile tests this week in an apparent response to bilateral training by South Korean and U.S. forces. – Associated Press

South Korea’s opposition-controlled National Assembly passed a motion on Thursday calling for the dismissal of the foreign minister over a series of alleged diplomatic missteps, including controversial remarks by President Yoon Suk Yeol caught on a hot mic in the United States. – Associated Press

The support rate for South Korea’s president hit a record low after gaffes during trips abroad eroded confidence in his four-month-old government and led the opposition camp to pass a motion calling for the dismissal of his foreign minister. – Bloomberg

Jongsoo Lee writes: If South Korea is important to the United States as a key partner in its efforts to build its own supply chains in strategic industries, Washington would do well to refrain from policies that the South Korean public perceives as benefiting the United States at the expense of South Korea. Furthermore, to support their key ally, Washington and its partners can offer assistance, such as currency swaps and supply chain sourcing alternatives, if Beijing retaliates economically against Seoul or global market turbulence hurts South Korea. – The National Interest


In a civil case that could galvanize China’s struggling #MeToo movement, a jury more than 6,000 miles from China, in Minneapolis, will decide whether a prominent Chinese technology executive raped a Chinese college student in 2018. – Wall Street Journal 

China’s central bank has asked major state-owned banks to be prepared to sell dollars for the local unit in offshore markets as it steps up efforts to stem the yuan’s descent, four sources with knowledge of the matter said. – Reuters

U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai met Britain’s new trade minister, Kemi Badenoch, on Thursday, and the two discussed addressing challenges posed by China, Tai’s office said. – Reuters

A former vice governor of China’s sprawling Tibet region has been indicted on charges of accepting bribes, state media reported Friday. Zhang Yongze is the latest high-level former official to be indicted on graft charges just weeks before a major congress of the ruling Communist Party, whose leader Xi Jinping has made fighting corruption a signature issue. – Associated Press

Standing on the deck of an American destroyer at a naval base here on Wednesday, Vice President Kamala Harris directly challenged China by accusing it of “disturbing behavior” and “provocations” around Taiwan. Harris said the United States would in response “deepen our unofficial ties” to the disputed island that China views as part of its territory. – Associated Press

Former Hong Kong lawmaker and pro-democracy activist Ted Hui was sentenced to 3 1/2 years in jail for criminal contempt after he skipped bail and fled overseas, missing trial for cases against him. Hui was facing charges for his role in an anti-government protest in 2019 when he left Hong Kong in December 2020. – Associated Press 

Two Republican lawmakers asked the State Department to save documents linked to what they called the detention of more than a dozen US diplomats in Chinese Covid-19 quarantine over concern that China may have pressured them to surrender intelligence. – Bloomberg

A proposal to screen US companies’ investments in China is gaining momentum in Congress, with lawmakers pressing to enact legislation examining the practice before the end of the year. – Bloomberg

As the United States continues to grapple with an opioid crisis, Chinese Ambassador to the United States Qin Gang told Newsweek Senior Foreign Policy Writer Tom O’Connor that the flow of the epidemic’s deadliest drug, fentanyl, was not being fueled by Beijing, but that the People’s Republic could be of assistance in further cracking down on its proliferation. – Newsweek

The US is quietly pressuring Israel to limit academic and research ties with China, over fears Beijing could access military technology through “dual-use” research efforts, sources here tell Breaking Defense. – Breaking Defense

In order to stay ahead of China in the space domain, the US needs to increase investment in its infrastructure and develop stronger relationships with allies and partners, according to an official from the Pentagon’s Defense Innovation Unit. – Breaking Defense

Nicholas Bequelin writes: Confronting China over Xinjiang won’t automatically halt its sabotage of the U.N.’s human rights mission. But inaction would be a severe blow to U.N. credibility and risks putting the world back on a slippery slope where violations are once again tolerated or even normalized. China is pushing the world in that direction. It’s time to push back. – New York Times

Julian Gewirtz writes: In practice, however, the CCP remained haunted by the Soviet collapse, seeing economic development and continued CCP dominance of society, the military, and historical narrative as the keys to success. The CCP has remained adaptive and at times experimental in its strategies of governance, but these adaptations are overwhelmingly refinements to autocracy. – Foreign Affairs

Ben Dubow writes: The risk appears to have paid off: Putin responded with generic calls for peace, while the Chinese Foreign Ministry hoped the “two countries have the ability to work through their differences.” Leaders throughout Russia’s backyard increasingly understand that the cost of aggression is plummeting, while the benefits are soaring. Xi and Putin arrived at Samarkand promising to “challenge the global order.” As the deteriorating situation along their borders shows, they have, but more by error than by design. – Center for European Policy Analysis

Timothy McLaughlin writes: The pressure campaign seems unlikely to change IPVM’s approach to journalism. To Honovich, you can’t “both sides” China’s use of surveillance technologies in Xinjiang, or any other topic with ethical implications. “I think it is very important that we clearly take ethical stands when ethical stands should be made,” he told me. “I don’t like this whole thing of ‘Well, there are Nazis and not-Nazis, but I’m not going to take a stand between the two.’” – The Atlantic 

South Asia

It was a night that Leicester will not forget. Although tensions between sections of the Muslim and Hindu communities had been building since May, the scale of disturbances caught local authorities off guard, sending shockwaves all the way to India. – Financial Times

A court in Pakistan’s capital city on Thursday acquitted the daughter of former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif after she was sentenced to seven years in prison over charges connected with the purchase of luxury apartments in London. – Fox News

Josh Rogin writes: In Washington, Pakistan has become something of a pariah, following years of disagreements over Afghanistan and other issues. But the end of that war provides an opening for a rethink. To be sure, Pakistan’s democracy looks shaky at times — but then again, so does America’s. The two allies still share many long-term interests, and saving the planet should be at the top of the list. – Washington Post 


China and Japan on Thursday marked 50 years since the restoration of diplomatic relations with a muted ceremony that reflected what Tokyo described as many issues of concern between Asia’s two biggest economic powers. – Wall Street Journal 

Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha, who took power in a 2014 coup, faces the possibility Friday of being ordered by Thailand’s highest court to step down after exceeding the time he is legally allowed to stay in office. – Associated Press

The United States convened a preliminary meeting of a working group with East Asian countries to discuss semiconductor supply chain resilience and cooperation, a Taiwan official said on Friday. – Reuters

Uzbekistan has no plans to deport Russians who are fleeing en masse to Central Asia to evade conscription amid Moscow’s military campaign in Ukraine, the Tashkent government said on Friday. – Reuters

Japanese Defence Minister Yasukazu Hamada will meet with his U.S. and Australian counterparts in Honolulu, Hawaii, on Saturday, Japan’s Ministry of Defense said on Friday. – Reuters

More than a dozen senior Indonesian government and military officials were targeted last year with spy software designed by an Israeli surveillance firm, according to nine people with knowledge of the matter. – Reuters

Heirs of a late Southeast Asian sultan on Thursday asked a Dutch court for permission to seize Malaysian assets in the Netherlands, their lawyer said, seeking enforcement of a $15 billion arbitration award granted to them against Malaysia’s government. – Reuters

Taiwan’s navy took delivery on Friday of a new, domestically made amphibious warfare ship that can be used to land troops and bolster supply lines to vulnerable islands, part of President Tsai Ing-wen’s defence self-sufficiency push. – Reuters

Australia rejects the court ruling in Myanmar against Australian Professor Sean Turnell and calls for his immediate release, Foreign Minister Penny Wong said on Thursday. – Reuters

New Zealand’s foreign minister said on Thursday that the United States and China should engage with the Pacific through the Pacific Islands Forum, and work to address the needs of the region. – Reuters

The Solomon Islands has joined 13 other Pacific nations in signing a wide-reaching US-led partnership agreement, after early indications it would refuse. – Bloomberg 

Kamala Harris’s whirlwind tour of Japan and South Korea this week amounts to a microcosm for the state of her vice presidency: an ambitious, historic and increasingly confident effort still beset by the occasional high-profile gaffe. – Bloomberg

Henry Olsen writes: Thousands of Americans died in the battles to control Guadalcanal, one of the Solomon Islands, in World War II. This week’s economic and diplomatic offensive, if carried to completion, could ensure that we won’t have to fight a similar battle in the future. – Washington Post


The two explosions in the Nord Stream 1 and 2 pipelines in the Baltic Sea resulted in what could amount to the largest-ever single release of methane gas into the atmosphere, but it may not be enough to have a major effect on climate change, experts say. – Washington Post

Thousands of people took to the streets in France on Thursday to demand higher wages to cope with inflation and to protest President Emmanuel Macron’s plan to raise the country’s retirement age. – Wall Street Journal 

Germany on Thursday unveiled a wide-ranging price cap on energy in response to growing concerns among German businesses that a wave of insolvencies could wash over the country and disrupt the supply chains serving Germany’s largest industrial sectors. – Wall Street Journal 

The NATO military alliance warned Thursday it would retaliate for any attacks on the critical infrastructure of its 30 member countries and joined other Western officials in citing sabotage as the likely cause of damage to two natural gas pipelines in the Baltic Sea. – Associated Press

Latvians will be voting on Saturday in a general election that has been substantially influenced by neighboring Russia’s attack on Ukraine, political disintegration among the Baltic country’s sizable ethnic-Russian minority as well as issues relating to the economy, including high energy costs. – Associated Press

Bulgarians will go to the polls for the fourth time in less than two years in a general election overshadowed this time by the war in Ukraine, rising energy costs and galloping inflation. Pollsters expect that voters’ fatigue and disillusionment with the political system will result in low turnout and a fragmented parliament where populist and pro-Russia groups could increase their representation. – Associated Press

UK prime minister Liz Truss will next week join the inaugural meeting of a new European grouping proposed by French president Emmanuel Macron to bolster regional co-operation in the face of Russian aggression. – Financial Times

A forum for high-level dialogue between the European Union and Israel will convene in Brussels on Monday for the first time in a decade. The 12th meeting of the EU-Israel Association Council will host an EU delegation led by the bloc’s foreign policy chief Josep Borrell, as well as an Israeli delegation led by Prime Minister Yair Lapid, the EU announced. – Algemeiner

Fareed Zakaria writes: Then he can propose the obvious compromise that could appeal to most Americans: a better, faster, more predictable legal immigration system but a tougher, more effective way to restrict illegal immigration. Or else, the populist right will use this issue to keep gaining ground in the United States just as it has in Italy and Sweden. – Washington Post

Timothy Garton Ash writes: Fortunately, the woman destined to be Italy’s next prime minister has expressed staunch support for a united western stance against Russian aggression in Ukraine. It’s a measure of how far we have come from the heady European optimism of the early 2000s that we now rely on a democratically elected post-neo-fascist leader to help us defeat a fascist dictator. – Financial Times

Simon Kuper writes: Now the EU is finally, timidly, taking on Viktor Orbán — its toughest enemy, because like the monster in a horror movie, he’s inside the house. Brussels will block some of the European funds that sustain Hungary unless he tackles corruption. Perhaps the EU’s “soft power” isn’t that soft. – Financial Times


The 9-year-old girl headed to the soccer stadium with her friends on a rainy Monday to join thousands of people protesting Guinea’s junta government, calling for democracy. But the singing and dancing turned to mayhem when security forces opened fire, Djenabou Bah later recounted. She tried to run but soldiers caught her. They repeatedly stabbed her with bayonets, then raped her. – Washington Post

Prosecutors in The Hague thought it would never happen. The tribunal’s most wanted man, once among Rwanda’s wealthiest and most influential people, had managed to escape for 23 years, living under ever-changing false names, switching countries and homes in Africa and Europe until he was finally arrested two years ago in a suburban apartment not far from Paris. – New York Times

Nigerian presidential candidates signed a pledge on Thursday to ensure peaceful elections in February, after previous ballots were marred by violence, voter intimidation and vote rigging. – Reuters

Gunfire rang out early Friday in Burkina Faso’s capital and the state broadcaster went off the air, sparking fears of a mutiny nine months after a military coup d’etat overthrew the country’s president. – Associated Press

The Americas

Two U.S. lawmakers on Thursday said the United States should sanction Haitian gangs and those who help finance them, as the Caribbean nation remains gripped by a gang blockade that has caused increasingly dire fuel shortages. – Reuters

CIA websites so flawed that even an “amateur” could find them led to the deaths of dozens of assets in China and Iran, research has found […] The compromise extended well beyond networks within China and Iran’s borders, as the two governments were able to track U.S. espionage activities across the globe, which may have led to many more sources being uncovered. – Washington Examiner 

Editorial: U.S. officials have met directly with the Venezuelan government twice this year to discuss releasing U.S. citizens wrongly detained. Meanwhile, the stream of Venezuelan refugees are a heavy burden for the Western Hemisphere and the United States. In all this, Mr. Maduro’s crimes must not be overlooked. – Washington Post

Latin America

Paraguay’s foreign ministry said on Thursday that the South American country’s diplomatic ties with Taiwan were “excellent” and not conditional on extra investment, amid rising pressure from China to win over the island’s few remaining allies. – Reuters

Costa Rica will suspend tariff benefits for Panamanian products, the country’s foreign trade ministry said on Thursday, marking another step in a trade dispute that started in 2020 and is the subject of a World Trade Organization (WTO) lawsuit. – Reuters

Editorial: Mr. da Silva is an icon for the poorest in Brazil, and there are many. But Mr. Bolsonaro remains competitive because voters are weighing the Workers’ Party’s history of corruption intended to ensure the cash flow to stay in power. Brazil has stronger institutions than many of its neighbors, but a victory by Mr. da Silva will test them. Lula leads in the polls, and if he gets more than 50% there will be no runoff on Oct. 30. The country deserves a head-to-head contrast of visions. – Wall Street Journal 

Peggy Noonan writes: What lessons might diplomats infer from all this? Don’t be afraid of groping your way in the darkness. Stay fearful of—and focused on—nuclear weapons. Take chances. And don’t be so sure of continued good luck. We’ve been lucky for 77 years. We’re used to the worst thing not happening. But it could, and may. You have to keep trying. You can’t rest on luck built by others. – Wall Street Journal 


Facebook algorithms amplified hate content against the Rohingya minority prior to widespread violence committed against the group by Myanmar’s military in 2017, according to findings in a new report from Amnesty International. – The Hill

In the fall of 2019, after writing about how Sodinokibi ransomware affiliates bragged online about the money they were making, threat intelligence researchers with McAfee Advanced Threat Research received an interesting email. – CyberScoop

Several of the world’s leading semiconductor companies have faced ransomware attacks, extortion attempts and other malicious activity in 2022 — right as the industry became critical to the world’s technology sector. – The Record

The head of the Finnish Security Intelligence Service (Suojelupoliisi or SUPO) says it is “highly likely that Russia will turn to the cyber environment over the winter” for espionage due to challenges impacting its human intelligence work. – The Record

Ari Schwartz writes: The key is to balance national security with other concerns, including the investor’s right to be informed. This balance can be achieved, but it will requires agencies to look past their own narrow priorities and putting the public interest, including national security, first. – Wall Street Journal 

Tom Siegel writes: Both tech platforms and lawmakers in the U.S. intent on reining in harmful content can benefit from looking to the EU’s rules for inspiration. The top priority: Freedom of speech needs to be protected, and guardrails must be defined. – The Hill


Congress on Thursday renewed a small business innovation grant program heavily favored by the Pentagon with a series of reforms meant to address Republican skepticism, mere days before it was set to expire at the end of the fiscal year. – Defense News

An enlisted airman accused of attacking his fellow service members at a U.S. military outpost in Syria in April will face court-martial next year, the Air Force said Tuesday. Tech. Sgt. David Dezwaan, an explosive ordnance disposal technician with 15 years of service, is charged with three violations of military code: destruction of military property, reckless endangerment and aggravated assault. – Military Times

Long War

The IDF and Shin Bet thwarted a Hamas terrorism financing scheme using Gazans who were entering Israel for humanitarian reasons or with work permits and student activists at the Birzeit University in the West Bank, the IDF’s Arabic-language spokesperson Avichay Adraee announced on Thursday. – Jerusalem Post

Devorah Margolin writes: Many partner governments may argue that repatriating IS adherents and sympathizers would present ample domestic security risks of its own, but U.S. officials need only remind them that the so-called IS “caliphate” served as a launchpad, planning center, and incitement factory for some of the worst mass-casualty terrorist attacks they have ever faced. Moreover, a proactive and well-planned strategy will help mitigate risks related to repatriation, enabling countries to monitor potential threats rather than having them slip past their borders undetected. – Washington Institute

Sara Harmouch writes: Although Khan may not be the apparent option for al-Qaeda’s top spot, he would be a potent surprise choice. He is a capable visionary. As a trusted companion of al-Qaeda’s top martyr (bin Laden), Khan could elicit loyalty while simultaneously keeping the Taliban happy. That could fuel Taliban aspirations beyond Afghanistan’s borders (e.g., Pakistan and India), reopening an ugly chapter — one the United States thought closed a year ago. – War on the Rocks