Fdd's overnight brief

September 5, 2023

FDD Research & Analysis

In The News


Iran significantly slowed the pace at which it is accumulating near-weapons-grade enriched uranium in recent months, the United Nations’ atomic agency reported on Monday, a move that could ease tensions with the U.S. and help open the way to broader negotiations over its nuclear program. – Wall Street Journal

For more than a year Iran has detained a Swedish citizen who worked as a senior official at the European Commission, people familiar with the matter said, one of a growing number of European nationals arrested in the Islamic Republic in recent years. – Wall Street Journal

The professor of artificial intelligence was a rising star at Iran’s elite Sharif University of Technology. He gained wider fame for his vocal support of the women-led uprising that rocked Iran last year. At one point, he refused to teach until Sharif students arrested in the government’s crackdown against protesters were released. – New York Times

Iran’s news agencies are reporting that a Russian-made YAK-130 combat trainer aircraft is in the country and has joined the Air Force. – Associated Press

Iran has shuttered a water park for allowing women entry without the mandatory headscarf, local media reported on Monday. – Agence France-Presse

The Venice Film Festival hosted on Sunday an unprecedented production co-directed by Israeli and Iranian filmmakers, who said they filmed the movie surreptitiously in Georgia and took precautions to prevent potential interference by the Iranian regime. – Agence France-Presse

Naval forces of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards have seized a ship “carrying smuggled fuel” in the Gulf and arrested four crew members, local media reported Saturday. – Agence France-Presse

A draft law in Iran ordering new penalties for women not wearing a headscarf in public could amount to “gender apartheid,” UN rights experts warned Friday. – Agence France-Presse

Two female Iranian journalists will spend around a month behind bars as part of a three-year partly suspended prison sentence for “conspiracy” and “collusion,” local media reported on Sunday. – Agence France-Presse

A new Israeli social media campaign, #IsraelisLoveIranians, is kicking off with the intention of supporting the Iranian people in their struggle for freedom against the country’s Islamist regime, according to a Monday press release from one of the movement’s co-founders. – Jerusalem Post

The Iranian regime has found a new reason to slam opposition and dissident groups abroad. Some voices abroad are trying to commercialize or profit off the protesters the regime has murdered, according to an article published by Iran’s pro-regime Fars News Agency on Monday. – Jerusalem Post

The suspension of Rob Malley, until recently the US special envoy for Iran, continues to command intense interest from American politicians — and quite a few other parties. – Times of Israel

Russia & Ukraine

It turns out that Russia and the four other permanent members of the Security Council—China, France, the U.K. and the U.S.—can invite whomever they want, whenever they want, to join them at the group’s horseshoe-shaped table. For regular meetings, seven of the 15 permanent and temporary members would typically have to vote to block a witness, a high threshold, according to diplomats, because such a move would risk backlash from voices upset about being silenced as well as retribution from other countries. – Wall Street Journal

Ukrainian troops are battling to break through Russian fortifications in their country’s south, but even successfully piercing the line will only mark a start. For a shot at real gains, Kyiv’s forces would need to turn a breakthrough into a breakout. – Wall Street Journal

Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky has tapped a Crimean Tatar executive to be the country’s new minister of defense, changing the ministry’s leadership amid procurement scandals as Ukrainian troops fight to advance toward the Crimean Peninsula that was annexed by Russia in 2014. – Wall Street Journal

President Vladimir Putin said Russia won’t rejoin a deal enabling Ukrainian grain to be shipped globally until the West meets its demands to facilitate Russian agricultural exports, after quitting an agreement that guaranteed the safety of a crucial part of the global food supply chain. – Wall Street Journal

Ukrainian officials say their military is now using a long-range missile that was designed and manufactured domestically and can reach targets inside Russia — a potentially crucial capability because the United States and other Western supporters have imposed restrictions on using weapons they donate to strike Russian territory. – Washington Post

Ambassadors of Russia and its ally Belarus will be invited back to the Nobel Prize ceremonies, a decision that has drawn criticism from Kyiv after the two countries were left out last year because of the Kremlin’s war on Ukraine. – Washington Post

A top Russian general detained in the aftermath of the mutiny by the mercenary tycoon Yevgeny V. Prigozhin has been released, according to two U.S. officials and a person close to the Russian Defense Ministry. – New York Times

As Russian high school students returned to classes after the summer break on Friday, they were expected to receive a heavily revised history textbook that claims that Ukraine is an “ultranationalist state” where “opposition is forbidden,” and that the United States is “the main beneficiary of the Ukrainian conflict.” – New York Times

Russian forces launched waves of drones at the Odesa region of southern Ukraine in an hourslong overnight assault, officials said on Sunday, the latest bombardment to target port infrastructure since Moscow pulled out of a deal allowing safe passage for Ukrainian grain through the Black Sea. – New York Times

Traffic on the main bridge linking the Russian mainland with the Crimean Peninsula resumed after a brief suspension early on Sunday, the Russian-installed operator of the bridge said on the Telegram messaging app. – Reuters

The chairman of the U.S. House Foreign Affairs Committee said Friday that a partnership between the Russian and Chinese leaders worried him, adding, “We have never seen a threat this large scale to Europe and the Pacific, I would argue, since World War II.” – Associated Press

Russia has placed its Sarmat intercontinental ballistic missile on combat alert, bringing into commission a weapon capable of carrying nuclear warheads that President Vladimir Putin earlier said would guarantee the nation’s security. – Bloomberg

Walter Russell Mead writes: There are other things we can do. We can help Ukraine develop a powerful arms industry and defense establishment that pose a permanent obstacle to Russian ambitions in the region. We can go pedal-to-the-metal on energy production of all kinds to cut global prices and Mr. Putin’s revenues without alienating countries like India. We can advance a multinational effort to ensure that the world’s uranium market won’t depend on Russia. We can develop military technologies and weapons systems that Russia cannot hope to match, just as Ronald Reagan did with his missile defense program in the 1980s. If this is a war of attrition, the U.S. and its partners are well-placed to win. We just need to make up our minds and roll up our sleeves. – Wall Street Journal

Elisabeth Braw writes: But while matters are grim for Western companies stuck in Russia and will become grimmer still, in the end Russia may lose. “The Russians have to realize that this will have consequences for many years,” Nyberg said. “The war will end, but the idea that anyone will invest in Russia after this? Western companies are going to invest in Ukraine.” – Foreign Policy


Disagreements are emerging in the protest movement against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s plans to overhaul the judiciary, threatening to undermine the largest series of mass demonstrations in the country’s history. After forcing Netanyahu to pause the legislation last spring, protesters have disagreed over the aggressiveness of their tactics, whether to emphasize divisive issues such as the occupation, and if it is a good idea to work closely with the political opposition. – Wall Street Journal

More than 150 Eritrean asylum seekers and dozens of police were injured Saturday in Tel Aviv after demonstrations outside an event sponsored by the Eritrean Embassy turned violent, Israeli officials said. – Washington Post

Israel’s chief military legal officer on Monday warned against steps that would compromise court independence, in what appeared to be the clearest public criticism yet by top brass of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s judicial overhaul plan. – Reuters

Papua New Guinea will join a handful of countries to open an embassy in Jerusalem, a decision long sought by pro-Israel church groups in the deeply Christian Pacific nation, and as Prime Minister James Marape seeks to boost foreign investment. – Reuters

Israel said on Monday it was temporarily stopping commercial goods from leaving the Gaza Strip through a main border crossing after security officers thwarted an attempt to smuggle out explosives. – Reuters

Israeli troops killed a Palestinian man during an army raid in the occupied West Bank on Tuesday, Palestinian health officials said, the latest incident in a yearlong wave of violence that has surged to levels unseen in the territory in some two decades. – Associated Press

Greece is working with Israel on developing artificial intelligence technology that would help in early detection of dangerous wildfires, the Greek prime minister said Monday. – Associated Press

The Israeli military on Friday raided a Palestinian town in the northern West Bank, besieging an apartment and sparking a gunfight with local militants that killed an apparently uninvolved Palestinian teacher, Palestinian health officials and the man’s family said. – Associated Press

A Cyprus court has ordered five Israelis to be held in police custody for eight days for an investigation after a 20-year-old British woman accused them of raping her in the coastal resort town of Ayia Napa, officials said Monday. – Associated Press

Israel’s prime minister on Sunday floated the idea of building infrastructure projects such as a fiber optic cable linking countries in Asia and the Arabian Peninsula with Europe through Israel and Cyprus. – Associated Press

Israel is looking for ways to export its natural gas to European markets in cooperation with Cyprus and Greece, according to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. – Bloomberg

The United Nations’ rights chief said Monday he was “alarmed” by the high number of injuries during recent clashes in Israel involving Eritrean protesters. – Agence France-Presse

Defense Minister Yoav Gallant on Sunday submitted an official Letter of Request (LOR) to the US and to Lockheed Martin for the purchase of a third squadron of 25 F-35 aircraft, which will eventually bring Israel’s total complement to 75 aircraft. – Jerusalem Post

Israel has broken a 30-year record for administrative detention of Palestinians, hitting 1,264, the Hamoked NGO has announced. – Jerusalem Post

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday once again floated the idea of building a fence along the entire border with Jordan to prevent infiltrations into the country — an expensive undertaking that has made little progress in the past. – Times of Israel

Defense Minister Yoav Gallant convened defense officials last month to discuss the security consequences of a potential normalization deal with Saudi Arabia, according to a report Monday. – Times of Israel


Earlier this year, a Lebanese art collector was accused of money laundering and violating terrorism-related sanctions in a federal indictment that focused attention on the reported beneficiary of some of his activities: the militant group Hezbollah. – New York Times

The US, UK and others accuse the Assad regime and its ally, the Lebanese militia Hezbollah, of producing and trafficking the illegal drug as a money spinner. Saudi Arabia and other Arab states have signaled an openness to normalizing ties with Assad — after years of supporting rebels seeking to topple him — in the hope of getting his help curbing its worrying spread. Assad, who denies any involvement with captagon, seems to be angling for relief from Western sanctions in return for his cooperation. – Bloomberg

The head of the Hezbollah terror group met with Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad terror chiefs on Saturday amid heightened tensions between Israel and the Lebanese organization, an Iranian proxy, and Israeli warnings in recent weeks it would target terrorists “everywhere” following several recent deadly terror attacks in the West Bank. – Times of Israel

Naftali Granot writes: Nasrallah’s brinkmanship has brought him many achievements, boosting his status in Lebanon and the Arab world. But he has not forgotten the lessons of the 2006 war. Neither side has an interest in initiating war at this time, and one should take into consideration that threats by both sides are meant to increase mutual deterrence and serve internal political needs, rather than reflecting real intentions to start a war. – Jerusalem Post


Pakistan’s caretaker prime minister claimed on Monday that U.S. military equipment left behind during the American withdrawal from Afghanistan has fallen into militant hands and ultimately made its way to the Pakistani Taliban. – Associated Press

Two soldiers and one militant were killed in a shootout during an overnight military operation against militant activity in the northwest alongside the border with Afghanistan. – Associated Press

Levsa Bayankhail writes: The failure to deal fairly with Afghans looking to escape Taliban rule reflects the fact that both Iran and Pakistan view a democratic, stable and prosperous Afghanistan as a threat to their geopolitical interests in the region. A transparent and impartial investigation into allegations of human rights abuses is necessary to restore trust and credibility. – New York Sun


Senior U.S. officials visited Syria’s eastern oil-rich Deir al Zor province on Sunday in an attempt to defuse an uprising by Arab tribes against Kurdish rule that is destabilising northeast Syria, U.S. officials, security sources, and residents said. – Reuters

Hundreds of angry protesters in southern Syria smashed the statue of Syria’s late president on Monday as they they marked the 2015 assassination of a prominent anti-government Druze leader. – Associated Press

U.S.-backed fighters brought in reinforcements into eastern Syria and pushed ahead in their offensive Saturday against local tribespeople, saying that hundreds of pro-government gunmen have joined the worst battles in the region in years. – Associated Press

Al-Qaida-linked militants attacked an army position in northwest Syria on Friday, killing at least nine government soldiers and wounding others, opposition activists said. There was no immediate word from the government. – Associated Press

Neville Teller writes: These are practical measures that could relieve the hardship currently being endured by those living in Assad-ruled Syria. But the movement has a far more fundamental aim – a hopeful future for all Syrians. Given the lessons of history and the chaos Assad has inflicted on the country, the 10th of August Movement concludes that this can be achieved only by waving farewell to Assad and his regime. – Jerusalem Post

Jonathan Spyer writes: Economics, it seems, is the Achilles heel of Iran and its allies. The Iran-led regional axis remains highly skilled and perhaps peerless in the realm of proxy warfare. But as recent events in Iran itself in 2019 and 2022, in Iraq in 2019, in Lebanon in 2019, and now in Syria show, it cannot create conditions within its areas of control in which regular people can build and sustain decent and dignified lives. The current events in Sweida are the latest indication of this. – Jerusalem Post

Omar Abu Layla writes: More can be done to engage and ultimately empower the educated young generation of this region—one that cares about stability, security, and the protection of the region. Likewise, anti-corruption strategies are much needed. These efforts can help establish trust — a much needed and currently lacking component among the populace of Deir Ezzor, a critical area. – Washington Institute

Gregory Waters writes:  These tensions are not unique to Deir ez-Zor and have been playing out in both Arab and Kurdish communities across the northeast in less violent manners in recent years. Prior to Aug. 27, none of these gradual patterns of disengagement with Qamishli threatened to collapse the entire governance structure — simply to weaken it. But the years of ignoring these internal issues is now clearly hindering the coalition’s ability to fight ISIS. Perhaps the violence in Deir ez-Zor can lead to a more creative and locally driven approach to the northeast that, in the end, will see the creation of a more resilient governance and security structure. – Middle East Institute


The death toll from clashes that broke out Saturday in the disputed city of Kirkuk in northern Iraq has risen to four, medical officials said Sunday. – Associated Press

Demonstrations in the northern Iraqi city of Kirkuk over the handover of a key facility from federal to local Kurdish authorities turned violent Saturday, and one protester was killed and several were injured, witnesses and local officials said. – Associated Press

Seth J. Frantzman writes: Whereas Saddam stoked Arab nationalism under the flag of the Ba’ath Party and encouraged tribes to attack Kurds, the current system in Iraq has enabled Iranian-backed militias to threaten Kurds under banners of sectarianism. ISIS cells are also still active west of Kirkuk in the mountains. Recently a French soldier was killed supporting Iraqi forces based at the K-1 base near Kirkuk. This means the area is very complex and the current tensions undermine stability. – Jerusalem Post

Yerevan Saeed writes: In a region characterized by historical disputes, shifting power dynamics, and evolving political landscapes, resolving the Iraq-Kuwait border issue is a vital pillar of stability. Past experiences emphasize the dangers of leaving territorial conflicts unresolved. Transparent communication and engagement with all stakeholders are imperative in shaping the way forward and reducing jingoism on both sides of the border. The potential for external actors to exploit these tensions highlights the pressing nature of finding a resolution. Hence, it remains paramount for the United States to continue its diplomatic efforts to settle the Iraq-Kuwait border, thus contributing to lasting peace and security in the region. – The National Interest


Just two months ago, many in the West thought President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey could be shifting away from what they considered his overly close relationship with President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia. – New York Times

Russia is close to an agreement with Turkey to set up a natural gas trading hub as the Kremlin seeks alternative export routes for the fuel. – Bloomberg

Turkish and Israeli officials held talks on energy cooperation as the two countries seek to broaden economic ties following years of friction. – Bloomberg

President Vladimir Putin said he wouldn’t revive a UN-backed deal that had eased global food prices by allowing Ukraine to ship its grain through the Black Sea unless obstacles to Russia’s own agricultural exports are removed. – Bloomberg

Turkey’s eagerness to obtain F-16 fighter jets from the US should motivate it to complete the ratification of Sweden’s accession to NATO, said the chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee. – Bloomberg

Turkish Foreign Minister Hakan Fidan arrived in Iran this week on his first visit to the country. Turkey has amicable ties with Iran, but now both states want to pursue a new strategy. – Jerusalem Post

Meta, the parent company of Facebook and Instagram, identified new networks in Iran and Turkey that included coordinated inauthentic behavior. This usually means websites or pages that are trying to spread types of stories linked to regimes. Meta publishes a quarterly threat report where it details these influence operations. – Jerusalem Post

Marc Champion writes: Still, if Turkey needs NATO, US F-16s, European markets and an end to the war on Ukraine that doesn’t turn the Black Sea into a Russian lake, Erdogan also needs Russian trade (up more than 80% last year as Turkey stood aside from joining Western sanctions), cheap Russian gas, Russian tourism (up nearly 150% this year), as well as Putin himself, a fellow strongman and combatant against US dominance and European liberal values. For Erdogan, divorce from either side of this unhappy triangle would be brutal. – Bloomberg


Rainbows, school books, movies and drag shows have all been targeted in Lebanon in recent weeks as politicians, religious leaders and vigilante groups step up a campaign against the LGBTQ+ community in a country that has long shown relative tolerance. – Associated Press

Macron had told a conference of French ambassadors earlier this week that a “key element” to resolve Lebanon’s political crisis was “the clarification of regional interference, including that of Iran”. – Agence France-Presse

Two weeks of protests in southern Syria by the Druze minority in the city and district of Suwayda have led to discussions by members of the community in Israel and Lebanon about solidarity for those in Syria. – Jerusalem Post

Alexander Langlois writes: To be sure, Lebanon is facing a brutal economic crisis and the ugly aspects of a racist global refugee and migration system refusing to fairly disburse the displaced in other countries. But Syrians are the poorest segment of Lebanese society and the least connected to the country’s electrical grid. Such facts should disqualify Beirut’s blatant efforts to pinch pennies from international institutions as some of Lebanon’s elites work to profit off a system harming Lebanese, Syrian, and Palestinian families. – The National Interest


Egyptian opposition leader Hisham Kassem has begun a hunger strike while he stands trial on slander and verbal assault charges, his lawyer said on Saturday. – Reuters

A Zambian court freed five Egyptians and one Zambian on Friday, after prosecutors dropped espionage charges against them three weeks after they arrived on a private plane with guns, bullets, cash and fake gold. – Reuters

Egypt launched a large military exercise this week at its Mohamed Naguib Military Base. The drill includes 30 participating countries and will continue through September 14. – Jerusalem Post

Arabian Peninsula

U.S., U.K. and European Union officials plan to jointly press the United Arab Emirates this week to halt shipments of goods to Russia that could help Moscow in its war against Ukraine, according to U.S. and European officials. – Wall Street Journal

The United Arab Emirates has set up a federal entity to regulate gaming and hired veterans of the U.S. gambling industry to lead it, state news agency WAM said. – Reuters

The United Arab Emirates has created a federal authority to potentially run a national lottery and what it describes as “commercial gaming,” likely a sign that it is on the verge of allowing gambling as major casino operators flock to the Gulf Arab nation. – Associated Press

Israel’s foreign minister on Sunday opened a visit to Bahrain that comes as the countries mark the third anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations. – Associated Press

As Gulf oil wealth flows to all corners of the globe — backing mega mergers, propping up economies and upending the world of sport — moves by a key member of Abu Dhabi’s ruling family have positioned him as one of the world’s most influential dealmakers. – Bloomberg

Kuwait appointed Fahad Al-Jarallah as the OPEC member’s new finance minister, becoming the sixth person to hold the post in three years. – Bloomberg

Saudi Arabia

A court in Saudi Arabia has sentenced to death the brother of an exiled dissident, convicting him of disloyalty to the kingdom’s rulers in a case built around anonymous social media accounts where he shared criticism of the government. – New York Times

The State Department said U.S. diplomats in Saudi Arabia had first heard reports of a dramatic increase in lethal violence against migrants and asylum seekers by that nation’s border forces in the summer of last year and had immediately asked officials at “high levels” of the Saudi government to investigate. – New York Times

Italy and Saudi Arabia are in talks about a potential Saudi investment in Rome’s new strategic fund, Italy’s Industry Minister Adolfo Urso said on Monday, as the two signed a deal to forge closer economic relations, particularly in energy. – Reuters

Saudi Arabia will invest up to $25 billion in Pakistan over the next two to five years in various sectors, Pakistan’s caretaker Prime Minister Anwaar-ul-Haq Kakar said on Monday, adding his government would also revive a stalled privatisation process. – Reuters

An Israeli-Saudi deal is possible and could create a new electricity coordinator that could link Europe with India via the Middle East, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said during his visit to Cyprus on Monday. – Jerusalem Post

A normalization deal with Saudi Arabia won’t harm Israeli security, a high-level official told reporters amid fears about demand from Riyadh that any agreement must include US support for a civilian nuclear program that includes uranium enrichment. – Jerusalem Post

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Friday denied ultra-Orthodox reports he was preparing for the collapse of his government in return for a US-backed normalization deal with Saudi Arabia. – Jerusalem Post

Any progress on normalizing relations between Israel and Saudi Arabia currently hinges on defense guarantees, which the latter is seeking from the United States, said a senior Israeli official. – Times of Israel

Bill Frelick writes: I don’t for a moment want to divert attention from pushbacks at other borders, including the U.S. border with Mexico. But the violence against unarmed migrants by Saudi Arabia is of an order above and beyond anything I have seen before. It demands our attention and must be prioritized in any dealings with the Saudi government. A robust and unambiguous response is imperative. – The Hill

Salem Alketbi writes: It is universally recognized that Israel’s participation in the recent sequence of regional reconciliations holds the potential to unveil an alternative geopolitical map, contrasting the landscape of prior regional conflicts. Nevertheless, a candid perspective mandates acknowledging that Israel must cultivate a suitable strategic environment that incentivizes the kingdom and other stakeholders to engage in the peace process. – Jerusalem Post


Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday appeared to shift blame to his top diplomat for the disclosure of a secret meeting with the Libyan foreign minister that has caused a backlash in Tripoli. – Reuters

Armed forces in the Libyan capital mobilised a massive security presence on Friday, apparently to prevent any further protests over the interim government’s meeting with Israel last week. – Reuters

United Nations-commissioned experts on Monday called for forces of a powerful Libyan military commander to stop evicting residents and demolishing their homes in the eastern Libyan city of Benghazi. – Associated Press

Libya’s chief prosecutor said Saturday he would establish a fact-finding mission to investigate a meeting last month between the foreign minister of one of the country’s rival governments and Israel’s chief diplomat. – Associated Press

Libya has officially launched an investigation into the secret meeting in Rome between former foreign minister Najla Mangoush and Israeli counterpart Eli Cohen last month, the North African nation’s attorney-general’s office announced Sunday morning. – Jerusalem Post

In an indirect rebuke of his foreign minister, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Israel’s announcement of Eli Cohen’s meeting with his Libyan counterpart — which sparked rioting in Tripoli and the removal of Najla Mangoush from her post — was “not helpful” and “an exception to the rule” of covert contacts, and Jerusalem would ensure it wouldn’t be repeated. – Times of Israel

The Lebanese newspaper al-Akhbar reported on Monday that Libyan Prime Minister Abdul Hamid Dbeibeh held talks with the head of the Mossad, David Barnea, in 2022 to discuss practical steps to normalize relations between Libya and Israel. – Times of Israel

Middle East & North Africa

When a group of three Arab states forged landmark diplomatic ties with Israel in 2020, the Palestinian leadership saw the process as a betrayal: The deals upended a decades-old Arab practice of ostracizing Israel until the creation of Palestinian state. Three years on, amid efforts by the United States to broker a similar pact between Israel and Saudi Arabia, Palestinian leaders are taking a different tack: engagement. – New York Times

The lavish wedding of Jordan’s crown prince this spring was breathlessly anticipated for months in the kingdom’s state media, and when it arrived, it did not disappoint. After days of public festivities, celebrities and royalty decked out in designer clothing swanned about an opulent palace. – New York Times

Algerian coast guard forces shot and killed a French citizen and detained another after they strayed on water scooters into Algerian waters from Morocco, where they were vacationing, the French authorities said on Friday. – New York Times

Tunisian authorities placed Abdel Karim Harouni, the senior official in the opposition Ennahda Islamist Party, under house arrest, the country’s main opposition coalition said on Saturday. – Reuters

Japan extended a $100 million loan to help Jordan’s electricity sector reforms as part of Tokyo’s support for the kingdom’s IMF-guided reforms, officials said on Sunday. – Reuters

Long-standing tensions between Morocco and Algeria have moved up a notch with a deadly confrontation at sea last week between the Algerian Coast Guard and several men on water scooters. – Associated Press

A Polisario Front commander and three Sahrawi fighters were killed in the disputed Western Sahara as a US delegation visited the region, the official Saharawi news agency SPS reported. – Agence France-Presse

The leader of Hamas’s political bureau, Ismail Haniyeh, blamed “the Zionist occupation” for the ongoing violent crime wave in Israel’s Arab community, in the first public comment by the Palestinian terror group on the issue. – Times of Israel

The head of Morocco’s senate, Enaam Mayara, will make an official visit to Israel’s parliament on Thursday, the Knesset’s spokesperson’s office said Sunday. – Times of Israel

Mohammed Dajani writes: The Oslo Accords set the foundations for peace, but it is up to both peoples to achieve it. The way ahead is diplomatic dialogue, normalization, and non-violence to end the occupation and achieve justice. The Oslo Accords brought a fresh peace initiative full of hope to end the protracted conflict, but unfortunately, extremists derailed the train. Now, it is up to the moderates to get the train back on track. There are the good and bad, peace lovers and warmongers, the extremists and moderates on both sides of the wall. When moderates unite, flowers of peace will blossom. – Washington Institute

Korean Peninsula

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un is expected to travel to Russia soon to meet with President Vladimir Putin, U.S. officials said Monday, the latest sign that negotiations are accelerating over ammunition Moscow is seeking for its war in Ukraine. – Wall Street Journal

Efforts are under way to transfer Iran’s funds that had been frozen in South Korea, foreign minister Park Jin said, after Teheran reached a deal with the United States to release American citizens in return for freeing Iranian assets. – Reuters

South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol will push for a stronger response to North Korea’s missile and nuclear programmes at summit talks this week, arguing that the weapons pose an existential threat to the region, he told media. – Reuters

The sanctions imposed by leading democracies on Russian President Vladimir Putin and North Korea’s Kim Jong Un have drawn the two closer in ways that could make the world a bit more dangerous. – Bloomberg

North Korea appears to have dispatched a bus across a bridge with China, satellite imagery showed, in what is likely the first such move since Pyongyang sealed its borders nearly four years ago at the start of the pandemic. – Bloomberg

Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu proposed to North Korean leader Kim Jong Un holding joint naval drills that included China when he made a rare trip to Pyongyang in July, Yonhap News reported, citing South Korea’s spy agency. – Bloomberg

North Korea fired several cruise missiles Saturday into the Yellow Sea, just days after it shot off a pair of nuclear-capable ballistic missiles in a show of anger against US-South Korea joint military drills. – Bloomberg


China’s government said it would create a new body to support the private sector, a move to shore up wavering confidence among entrepreneurs as a deep funk sets over the world’s second-largest economy. – Wall Street Journal

China has been aggressively ramping up its space program since the U.S. barred it from working with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration in 2011 on security grounds. After a string of triumphs in recent years, it set its sights on starting to build a permanent moon base around the end of the decade—reviving U.S. lunar ambitions, with echoes of America’s all-out effort to beat the Soviet Union to the moon. – Wall Street Journal

Chinese leader Xi Jinping will skip a major gathering of world leaders in New Delhi this weekend, instead sending his top deputy to the summit in what is likely to be seen as a snub of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi. – Wall Street Journal

As Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo was visiting China earlier this week, a sea-green Chinese smartphone was quietly launched online. – Washington Post

When Gina Raimondo, the secretary of commerce, left China this week, it marked the end of a three-month diplomatic blitz by the Biden administration to try to stabilize ties with Beijing and arrest a free fall in the relationship that had raised concerns about the risk of conflict. – New York Times

China’s top security agency has hinted that any meeting between President Xi Jinping and U.S. President Joe Biden in San Francisco later this year will depend on the United States “showing sufficient sincerity”. – Reuters

The International Monetary Fund and China have a “strong partnership,” the organization’s chief, Kristalina Georgieva, said as she wrapped a visit to the biggest lender for many developing economies and a key player in talks about their debt and financial stability. – Bloomberg

Editorial: Hong Kong Chief Executive John Lee said this year that libraries need to “ensure that there’s no breach of any laws in Hong Kong” but added “these books are accessible by people in private book shops. If they want to buy, they can buy.” But Beijing has also targeted Hong Kong booksellers that have sold sensitive texts. Mr. Lee wants the world to believe Hong Kong is free and thriving, but the library purge is one more sign of its lost liberty. – Wall Street Journal

Mihir Sharma writes: China’s development story has been one of the world’s greatest economic miracles. Success comes with responsibilities, however. Among them is the willingness to accept you can no longer claim to lead or represent those who are still struggling upward. – Bloomberg

Tom Rogan writes: These deployments will increase maintenance backlogs and reduce the emergency availability of those aircraft. And over the longer term, the U.S. needs lots of cheap drone aircraft that can distract and harass the PLA within its strongholds. Nevertheless, Kendall deserves credit for his remarks. Although they’ll likely upset the White House, they reflect a decision to put service and country before Washington politics. And that’s all too rare a thing. – Washington Examiner

Dov S. Zakheim writes: China has long sought to replace the United States as the world’s economic fulcrum. The expansion of the BRICS demonstrates that, in addition to its increasing military aggressiveness in East and Southeast Asia, Beijing continues to pursue its worldwide economic objectives, particularly in the Middle East and the Global South. With growing economic ties comes increased political influence; perhaps Washington should reconsider its decision to downgrade the priority it accords to both regions. – The Hill

South Asia

India launched its first space mission to study the sun on Saturday, nearly a week after becoming the first country to land an unmanned robotic spacecraft near the moon’s south pole. – Washington Post

Bangladesh’s multiparty democracy is being methodically strangled in crowded courtrooms across this country of 170 million people. – New York Times

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi called on the United Nations to reform in line with 21st century realities to ensure the representation of voices that matter, according to an interview published on Sunday. – Reuters

The deluge of advertising is part of a marketing blitz to greet nearly 30 world leaders descending on India’s capital this week for the Group of 20 summit. For Modi, it also serves as the unofficial start to the campaign for next year’s election, at which he’s expected to extend his decade in power. – Bloomberg

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s government requested a “pause” on trade talks with India in the last month, as the Canadian leader prepares to travel to New Delhi for the Group of 20 leaders’ summit. – Bloomberg

Michael Rubin writes: India is a rising power, and may soon be a great power. India’s leadership across its political spectrum should have the self-confidence to realise that Indian business and diplomatic influence are a force for good. While China represents autocracy and decline, India’s anti-imperial history combined with its democracy make it a model partner. Africa is more than the BRICS summit or paeans to the African Union. It is time for India to do more, both for itself and to check China’s efforts to monopolise critical commodities. Expanding rapidly into Congo and Somaliland would be a good way to signal Africans that India aspires to be a power not only for the remainder of the 21st century, but also into the 22nd century. – First Post


China’s economic troubles have so far been a boon to other Asian markets. But if the world’s second largest economy continues to turn sour, things could start to look uglier for them too. – Wall Street Journal

The United States and Vietnam are poised to significantly enhance their economic and technological ties, bringing the former foes closer at a time of increased Chinese assertiveness in the region. – Washington Post

Thailand’s king has granted a partial pardon to the ousted former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra, commuting his eight-year prison sentence to a year, just days after the politician returned to the country from 15 years of exile, the nation’s official journal reported Friday. – New York Times

Indonesia warned on Tuesday against Southeast Asia’s bloc getting dragged into big-power rivalry as leaders gathered for a summit seeking to dispel worry about rifts over peace efforts in Myanmar and to reaffirm the relevance of their disparate group. – Reuters

Myanmar’s detained former leader Aung San Suu Kyi is ailing and a request for an outside physician to see her has been denied by the country’s military rulers, a source familiar with the matter and the shadow government loyal to her said on Tuesday. – Reuters

Vanuatu’s new prime minister, Sato Kilman, will “revisit” a security pact signed with Australia, Australian state broadcaster ABC reported on Tuesday, a day after he came to power in a vote by lawmakers. – Reuters

Taiwan’s President Tsai Ing-wen on Tuesday began a four-day trip to Eswatini, one of the island’s 13 remaining allies. – Associated Press

A United States congressional delegation visiting Taiwan said Friday that Washington would act if the island was attacked and promised to resolve the $19-billion backlog in its defense purchases from the U.S. – Associated Press

Japan’s Supreme Court on Monday dismissed Okinawa’s rejection of a central government plan to build U.S. Marine Corps runways on the island and ordered the prefecture to approve it despite protests by locals who oppose the American troops’ presence. – Associated Press

A drone attack on a police headquarters in a major border town in eastern Myanmar has killed at least five officials including a senior army officer and a district administrator, members of two emergency rescue teams and media reports said Monday. – Associated Press

A group of Australian lawmakers said Tuesday they would travel to Washington this month to lobby the United States to abandon its efforts to extradite WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange. – Associated Press

Thailand will hold discussions with the United States on security issues this month on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly, according to its new Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin. – Bloomberg

Australia and China will resume high-level government talks next week following a three-year hiatus, in a further step toward stabilizing the relationship between the two nations. – Bloomberg

China’s vast territorial claims in the region has reignited opposition from its neighbors, after Beijing this week released a 2023 map showing a “10-dash line” demarcation on the South China Sea. – Bloomberg

Nicholas Kristof writes: This would be unsatisfying, for it rewards Azerbaijan for starving civilians, and no one could much trust promises from Azerbaijan. But the sad job of diplomats is to devise flawed, much-hated agreements that are better than any alternative outcome, and in this case a defective deal is preferable to the mass starvation and ethnic cleansing of Armenians, again. – New York Times

Karishma Vaswani writes: Relationships — good ones at least — take time, effort and work. Building trust means being sincere and genuine in those attempts. A Jakarta stopover would have been an easy win for Biden at a time of an economically weaker China. Skipping it makes the US look like it just wants a marriage of convenience with Asia, rather than a partnership of any real substance. – Bloomberg

Ben Ramanauskas writes: Biden committing to sign up to CPTPP will not only be a wise move politically, as it distances the Democrats from the Republicans on trade, but it will also be a humiliating blow to the Trump legacy as one of his flagship policies is reversed. It would also bring significant benefits to the U.S. economy while helping American workers and companies to thrive. Finally, it sends an important message to the world: not America First, but rather, America is Back. – The Hill

Jaushieh Joseph Wu writes: Authoritarian governments need to know that they will be held accountable for their aggression, and the only way to settle differences is through peaceful means. Allowing Taiwan to meaningfully participate in the UN system would benefit the world’s efforts to address pressing global issues and demonstrate the UN’s determination to unite for global peace at a critical juncture when the future of the world is at stake. We are stronger together. Now is the time to act on this fundamental principle by including Taiwan. – The National Interest


Italy is preparing to cancel its controversial membership in China’s Belt and Road infrastructure initiative, engaging in an elaborate diplomatic dance to avoid angering Beijing and triggering retaliation against Italian businesses. – Wall Street Journal

The European Union plans to take advantage of the absence of Xi Jinping and Vladimir Putin from this week’s Group of 20 to step up its outreach to nations of the so-called Global South, through a high-level meeting with African leaders on the summit’s sidelines. – Bloomberg

Denmark has ordered the Russian embassy in Copenhagen to reduce its staff after failed negotiations in which Russia sought to get visas for persons the Nordic country said were intelligence officers. – Bloomberg

Editorial: By its skittishness, Denmark puts itself on a slippery slope, inviting further demands for self-censorship and prohibitions from those who might take offense at who-knows-what. The fear of retribution is a poor basis on which to pass laws that would be a reward to those who wield violent threats in the name of religion. – Washington Post

Editorial: Left to their own devices, most countries would opt to spend more on butter and less on guns. Russia’s aggression, as well as the growing challenge posed by China, has deprived the West of that luxury. Mr. Putin’s decision to start the biggest war in Europe in nearly 80 years, and the peril the Kremlin will represent for the foreseeable future, means Western nations have little choice but to rise to a daunting new challenge. The sooner all of them get that message, the better. – Washington Post


On Wednesday, it was the turn of Gabon, once one of France’s closest allies in Africa and the sixth former French colony and Western military ally on the continent to experience a coup d’état over the past three years. The Gabonese officers’ announcement that President Ali Bongo had been detained at his residence came five weeks after the ouster of Niger’s Western-supported leader, Mohamed Bazoum, some 1,200 miles to the north. – Wall Street Journal

South Africa’s president said Sunday that an official inquiry found no evidence supporting allegations made by the U.S. ambassador to the country that South Africa had delivered arms to Russia. – Wall Street Journal

Three years ago, Ethiopia’s Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed raised an army from the country’s militias to tame a rebellion in the northern region of Tigray. Now some of his allies are turning on him in what is shaping up to be an even bigger threat to both his leadership and the stability of one of Africa’s largest and most strategically significant countries. – Wall Street Journal

Niger’s military leaders have reopened the country’s airspace to all commercial flights after closing it on Aug. 6 after they seized power in a coup, a transport ministry spokesperson said on Monday. – Reuters

The U.N. refugee agency on Monday said it expected over 1.8 million people from Sudan to arrive in five neighbouring countries by the end of the year and appealed for $1 billion to help them amid reports of rising disease and death rates. – Reuters

A military plane that took a Russian delegation to Burkina Faso on Thursday landed in Central African Republic (CAR) on Friday, according to flight tracking data and a Reuters reporter. – Reuters

The International Monetary Fund’s First Deputy Managing Director Gita Gopinath praised South Africa’s central bank for being proactive in raising interest rates but said energy and logistics challenges were restricting growth. – Reuters

At least seven worshippers were killed in an attack on a mosque by a gang of armed men in Nigeria’s northwest Kaduna state, police said on Saturday. – Reuters

The Sudanese army staged a large scale attack on its paramilitary rival’s supply routes on Sunday, eyewitnesses said, as its leader appeared to reject a negotiated solution. – Reuters

Two people were killed and another wounded when their car was ambushed by gunmen in the west of Burundi near the border with Democratic Republic of Congo, residents said on Sunday. – Reuters

Sudan’s top military general held talks in Juba Monday with South Sudan’s president on his second trip abroad since the war in his country started earlier this year. – Associated Press

An attack on a Chinese mining convoy transporting gold in northeast Congo killed four people, including two Chinese nationals, authorities said Friday. – Associated Press

The International Committee of the Red Cross says 43 bodies have been collected in the past week from the front line of the latest fighting in a disputed city in Somaliland. – Associated Press

More than 40 people died and dozens were injured while protesters from a religious sect gathered in the Congolese city of Goma, national authorities said. – Associated Press

Thousands of protesters gathered outside a French army base in Niger’s capital Niamey over the weekend as a deadline for the foreign forces to leave was set to expire. – Bloomberg

Niger’s top court approved the immediate expulsion of France’s ambassador, revoking his diplomatic immunity, according to a request addressed to the court’s president. – Bloomberg

Gabon’s military leadership opened the country’s borders as the nation prepares to swear in a general as its transitional president on Monday. – Bloomberg

Ebenezer Obadare writes: Military rule should always be acknowledged as beyond the pale. But it’s also important not to brush aside the reality that for most Africans, democracy has been nothing more than a grand ruse in which power is hoarded by a dynasty or narrow band of egotistical elites. As long as this remains the case, millions of Africans will continue to find military rule attractive. – Wall Street Journal

Latin America

Ecuador’s security crisis worsened on Friday after car bombs exploded in several once relatively tranquil Andean cities, while inmates took dozens of prison guards hostage and prosecutors asked for greater police protection from a violent drug gang. – Wall Street Journal

Cuba has uncovered a human trafficking ring that has coerced its citizens to fight for Russia in the war in Ukraine, its foreign ministry said on Monday, adding that Cuban authorities were working to “neutralize and dismantle” the network. – Reuters

Representatives of 14 western creditor nations, grouped in the Paris Club, were in Cuba this week to salvage a debt agreement with the import dependent country which is expected to default on payments for a fourth consecutive year. – Reuters

After a brief recovery on the back of de-facto dollarization, Venezuela’s economy is once again falling victim to high inflation, lagging salaries, and decreases in purchases and production of goods, say business owners and analysts. – Reuters

The U.S. Consulate in the northern Mexican border town of Matamoros on Monday said its “employees are currently under a shelter in place order” due to gun violence in the city. – Reuters

Four people were killed Monday in a shootout with Mexican marines in the border city of Matamoros, triggering an alert to shelter in place from the U.S. consulate in the city across the Rio Grande from Brownsville, Texas. – Associated Press

Guatemala’s top electoral tribunal overturned the suspension of Bernardo Arevalo’s party, representing a victory for the incoming president’s Movimiento Semilla as he prepares to take office in 2024. – Bloomberg

A delegation of at least 30 Brazilian business leaders will travel to Havana on Monday in search of opportunities to boost trade with Cuba, the latest step in President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva’s push to repair relations between the two nations. – Bloomberg

Editorial: Beijing has also used economic coercion to get its way abroad, and the Central American Parliament’s countries remember how China embargoed trade with Lithuania after Vilnius allowed the opening of a Taiwan Representative Office in 2021. China wants to be a global power, and declaring a “modern Monroe Doctrine” won’t stop its intervention. – Wall Street Journal

Francisco Goldman writes: The international community, including the Biden administration, needs to be vigilant, ready to supply whatever support it can to this new government. But Guatemalans, on their own, created this extraordinary democratic opportunity, and so far, they seem determined to protect it. – New York Times

North America

Canada on Friday unexpectedly said it had paused talks on a proposed trade treaty with India, just three months after the two nations said they aimed to seal an initial agreement this year. – Reuters

Thousands of Haitians prepared to sleep in schools and a theater around the main square of Port-au-Prince on Friday, after fresh attacks by armed gangs pushed already displaced people downtown to seek shelter wherever they could. – Reuters

Despite an attempt by the Canadian government to clarify a new law in the country that will require dominant tech companies to pay news outlets to use their content, Meta said Friday that it is not backing down from blocking news content in Canada. – The Hill

United States

In 1801, after the young nation’s fourth election, Vice President Thomas Jefferson faced a choice in his constitutional role to certify the results: He could reject Georgia’s tally because the paperwork was defective—or he could accept the defective paperwork and set himself up for victory. More than two centuries later, that long-lost-to-history decision resurfaced as relevant to the aftermath of the 2020 election and the legal quagmire now surrounding former President Donald Trump. – Wall Street Journal

Two more members of the Proud Boys convicted in the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol were sentenced to lengthy prison terms Friday, with one of the group’s leaders that day receiving an 18-year sentence for seditious conspiracy, the longest term for a Proud Boys member so far and equal to the longest Jan. 6 sentence yet imposed. Another member who gained national renown for smashing a window at the Capitol, enabling the first breach of the building by rioters, was sentenced to 10 years in prison. – Washington Post

Editorial: But one or more convictions would probably confirm the judgment of voters who say they are less likely to vote for Mr. Trump. If Republicans nominate Mr. Trump, they are likely to be sailing into a political headwind that will be difficult to overcome. – Wall Street Journal

Editorial: If Mr. Trump does somehow regain the Presidency, in part because Democrats insist on renominating a weak President Biden, the normal U.S. checks and balances will continue to exist. The consequences of a 14th Amendment panic are likely to be worse for democracy and its institutions than trusting voters and 234 years of sturdy constitutional example. – Wall Street Journal

John Rapley writes: To do so, though, America will need to give up trying to restore its past glory through a go-it-alone, America First approach. It was the same impulse that pushed the Roman Empire into the military adventurism that brought about its eventual destruction. The world economy has changed, and the United States will never again be able to dominate the planet as it once did. But the possibility of building a new world out of a coalition of the like-minded is a luxury Rome never had. America, whatever it calls itself, should seize the opportunity. – New York Times


Artificial-intelligence pioneers are fighting over which of the technology’s dangers is the scariest. One camp, which includes some of the top executives building advanced AI systems, argues that its creations could lead to catastrophe. In the other camp are scientists who say concern should focus primarily on how AI is being implemented right now and how it could cause harm in our daily lives. – Wall Street Journal

Artificial intelligence has moved rapidly from computer science textbooks to the mainstream, generating delights such as the reproduction of celebrity voices and chatbots ready to entertain meandering conversations. – Washington Post

Elon Musk’s X (formerly Twitter) has played a major role in allowing Russian propaganda about Ukraine to reach more people than before the war began, according to a study released this week by the European Commission, the governing body of the European Union. – Washington Post

Malaysia said on Tuesday it is considering regulations that will make internet giants Alphabet Inc’s (GOOGL.O) Google and Facebook parent Meta Platforms (META.O) compensate news outlets for content sourced from them. – Reuters

Google is alleging the Department of Justice’s top antitrust official is biased against the company over his previous work for rival firms, according to a filing in one of the government’s antitrust cases against the tech giant. – The Hill

The Guardian announced Friday that it will block artificial intelligence (AI) text generation program ChatGPT from accessing and using its content. – The Hill

A federal judge on Thursday temporarily blocked Texas from enforcing a law requiring pornography sites to implement age-verification measures, after finding the law unconstitutional. – The Hill

David French writes: Thus, our nation’s challenge is more technical than constitutional. The best way to understand the court’s old precedents regarding online age verification to get access to pornography is not that it said “no” but rather that it said “not yet.” But now is the time, the need is clear, and the technology is ready. Congress should try once again to clean up the internet the way cities cleaned up their red-light districts. The law must do what it can to restrict access to pornography for children online. – New York Times


Chinese nationals, sometimes posing as tourists, have accessed military bases and other sensitive sites in the U.S. as many as 100 times in recent years, according to U.S. officials, who describe the incidents as a potential espionage threat. – Wall Street Journal

War in Ukraine and fears of a potential conflict with China are pushing the Pentagon and its contractors to tap production lines overseas to bolster stockpiles of weapons and ammunition. – Wall Street Journal

Gen. Eric M. Smith has a vision for furthering the Marine Corps’ transformation from a force shaped by two decades of counterinsurgency warfare into one that’s optimized for a great-power clash, possibly with China. – Washington Post

But the focus from Washington on producing a stream of new warships is also creating a fleet that some inside the Pentagon think is too wedded to outdated military strategies and that the Navy might not be able to afford to keep running in decades to come. – New York Times

Editorial: While our hunch is that the services might need to train more lawyers for this organization than they imagine — and make that work a favored career inside the Army, Marines, Navy and Air Force — this outcome is a case study in compromise and determination. It is also one the Editorial Board has long favored. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin was right to move the Pentagon off the dime. But the biggest share of the credit goes to Sens. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) and Joni Ernst (R-Iowa), who worked together to build bipartisan support in the Senate for these reforms. We hope all involved will monitor the progress of these reforms to ensure the Pentagon, when it comes to its men and women in uniform, keeps moving toward justice for all. – Washington Post

James Stavridis writes: Finally, much of the communications linkage between all aspects will be done through artificial intelligence. The ability to process billions of data inputs instantaneously, then compare the size, shape, location and connectivity of each individual element, sounds like science fiction, right? Yet that future is closer than most realize. Replicator is not science fiction at all. – Bloomberg

Long War

A Guantánamo detainee accused of being an accessory to deadly terrorist attacks in Indonesia two decades ago has severed his military commission case from that of his two co-defendants, a move that suggested a plea deal could be in the works. – New York Times

Police in Uganda said on Sunday they had detained a 28-year-old man entering a church in the capital Kampala with an explosive device he planned to use for an attack there. Authorities were hunting three other men also believed to have been sent on similar bombing missions elsewhere in Uganda, police said. The motives were unclear, but the Islamic State (IS)-linked Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) has previously carried out deadly bomb attacks in Uganda. – Reuters

The Israeli military arrested three members of the Hamas terror group during a raid in the Jenin refugee camp in the northern West Bank on Monday morning, marking the first overt entry of forces to the camp since a major operation was carried out in the area two months ago. – Times of Israel

Seth J. Frantzman writes: For this reason, the coalition prefers to work through the SDF. However, without diplomats and others to work to empower eastern Syria and broker deals with the tribes and others, this leaves the SDF as the low-hanging fruit that makes it a target for Turkey, the Iranian-backed militias, extremists, and local groups that can be exploited. – Jerusalem Post