Fdd's overnight brief

September 7, 2023

In The News


The United States government has seized nearly one million barrels of Iranian crude oil that it says was being smuggled to China in violation of U.S. sanctions against Iran, after it raised the threat of prosecution to get the tanker brought to American waters, newly unsealed court papers show. – New York Times

Iran’s limited steps to slow its buildup of near-weapons-grade uranium may help ease U.S.-Iranian tensions but do not signify progress toward a wider nuclear deal before the 2024 U.S. elections, say analysts. – Reuters

Elliott Abrams writes: After receiving such a letter, colleges could be sued by anyone taken hostage in Iran if the college ignored the government’s advisory and shirked its duty of care to students. Whatever strategy policy makers choose, one thing is certain. The frequency of the Islamic Republic’s hostage-taking demands that Washington do more than complain, negotiate and meet growing ransom demands, time after time. – Wall Street Journal

Seth J. Frantzman writes: The comments by the Iranian media and foreign ministry express concern that Iran’s diplomatic offensive in the region isn’t enough to reduce Israel’s influence in the region and globally. As such Iran knows that it cannot create a zero-sum game, and that countries will not have to choose between Iran and Israel. Iran is paying attention to what is happening in the days leading up to the third anniversary of the Abraham Accords. – Jerusalem Post

Russia & Ukraine

Romania said on Wednesday that debris from what could be a Russian drone had landed on its territory across the Danube River from Ukraine and said that if the wreckage turned out to be Russian, it would be “a serious violation” of a NATO member’s sovereignty. – New York Times

As Russian invaders focus their fire on the strategic northeast town of Kupyansk, a Ukrainian armor platoon, hidden under camouflage nets and the last embers of summer foliage, expressed nostalgia for the tank-on-tank battles last year that tested soldiers’ will and skill. – Washington Post

Secretary of State Antony Blinken pledged an additional $1 billion in assistance to Ukraine on Wednesday during a visit to Kyiv aimed at boosting support for the country as its military makes only incremental gains against entrenched Russian forces and U.S. lawmakers begin debate about future funding for the war. – Washington Post

Russia said on Wednesday that Turkey had agreed in principle to handle 1 million metric tons of grain that Russia plans to send to Africa at a discounted price with financial support from Qatar. – Reuters

Ukraine has made important progress in its counteroffensive against Russia’s invasion, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said on Wednesday during a visit overshadowed by a Russian attack that killed at least 17 people. – Reuters

Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said on Thursday that the US supply of depleted uranium weapons to Ukraine was “a criminal act”, state media reported. – Reuters

Russian drone strikes have damaged port infrastructure, a grain silo and administrative buildings in the Izmail district of Ukraine’s Odesa region, its governor, Oleh Kiper, said on Thursday. – Reuters

Ukrainian drones were downed near Moscow, the southern Rostov region and the Bryansk region in the southwest in the early hours of Thursday, the RIA news agency cited Russian authorities as saying. – Reuters

Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen is facing growing skepticism from some leading rich and developing nations as the residual impact of sanctions against Russia is deepening divisions among the Group of 20 countries. – Associated Press

Orphans. Cubans. Convicts. Central Asian migrant workers. These groups are targeted by Russian military recruiters to try to fill Russia’s trenches in Ukraine, while minimizing the impact on Moscow and St. Petersburg. One year ago this month, President Putin announced on national TV an emergency draft. – New York Sun

Ukrainian forces continued counteroffensive operations in the Bakhmut and western Zaporizhia Oblast directions and have made gains in western Zaporizhia Oblast as of September 6. Geolocated footage shows that Ukrainian forces have advanced along the trench line west of Verbove (about 20km southeast of Orikhiv), and the Ukrainian General Staff stated that Ukrainian forces achieved unspecified successes in the Robotyne—Novoprokopivka direction south of Orikhiv.[1] – Institute for the Study of War

Mark Temnycky writes: Once seen as a central foreign policy plank for Putin and his regime, CSTO is now very visibly fraying. The five non-Russian members are seeking alternative security measures to ensure their safety. This has presented the US and EU with an opportunity to enhance their role in the region, especially with Kazakhstan and Armenia but also more widely. With CSTO failing, Russian influence is on the slide. – Center for European Policy Analysis

Lisa Aronsson, John R. Deni, and Hanna Notte write: Russia’s war in Ukraine has triggered the worst security crisis facing Europe since the end of the Cold War. It brought a major conventional war of aggression to the European continent and enormous human suffering, but in doing so it has also unified and reenergized the NATO alliance and accelerated efforts to reconstitute transatlantic defense and deterrence. Assessing Russia’s performance in the war thus far, and how the Russian military is evolving as a result, is an important part of that effort. This report assesses changes in the Russian military threat to NATO over the short term (two to four years), and it provides analysis on how the United States and NATO might adapt their strategies, planning, and posture in response. – Center for Strategic and International Studies


One man was critically wounded and another person slightly hurt in a stabbing attack in Jerusalem’s Old City on Wednesday, Israeli police said. – Reuters

Morocco’s senate president has postponed a historic visit to Israel due to a medical emergency, the Israeli parliament announced Wednesday. […]Mayara was to be the first Moroccan official and one of the few Muslim leaders ever to set foot in the Knesset. – Associated Press

A former head of Israel’s Mossad intelligence agency told The Associated Press on Wednesday that Israel is enforcing an apartheid system in the West Bank, joining a tiny but growing list of retired officials to endorse an idea that remains largely on the fringes of Israeli discourse and international diplomacy. – Associated Press

Saleh al-Arouri, the deputy head of Hamas’s political bureau who has often been tied to the terrorist movement’s operations in the West Bank, warned that Israel will push the Middle East into a “broad, comprehensive, and very dangerous confrontation” within the next two years, in an interview with Al-Jazeera on Wednesday. – Jerusalem Post

A recent Israel Defense Forces raid into a Palestinian home in Hebron, during which five female members of a family were reportedly forced to strip naked during a search, is causing an uproar in the Palestinian territories. – Times of Israel

Eritrea’s government has accused Israel’s Mossad spy agency of fomenting unrest among expat communities, days after clashes between Eritrean regime supporters and opponents and Israeli police turned the streets of southern Tel Aviv into a war zone. – Times of Israel

A man in his 30s was killed in a shooting in the central Israeli city of Ramle on Wednesday night, according to medical officials. Two other people were also injured in the shooting and taken to hospital. – Haaretz

Editorial: At age 87, Mr. Abbas isn’t likely to abandon his conviction that Jews are interlopers in every part of Israel. His predecessor, Yasser Arafat, once stunned President Clinton’s negotiators by denying even that Jerusalem had been the site of the Jewish Temple. Maybe it’s time American liberals stopped being surprised. There’s a reason Arab-Israeli negotiations have moved past the Palestinian veto. – Wall Street Journal

Omer Dostri writes: This strategy inherently carries the risk of escalation, which must be factored into the equation. Consequently, Israel must prepare in advance for the possibility of a brief, multi-day conflict with Hezbollah, during which it can exploit the opportunity to inflict substantial damage on the organization’s missile and rocket stockpiles, along with its military infrastructure. – Jerusalem Post

Itamar Marcus writes: One could summarize the Oslo Accords by declaring them a major success for the PLO, but a dismal failure for Israel. But there is a much deeper truth. The peace process that Israel imagined didn’t fail. It never existed. – Jerusalem Post


Turkey’s top diplomat on Wednesday affirmed his country’s resolve to join the European Union and urged the 27-member bloc to take courageous steps to advance its bid. – Associated Press

Turkey jacked up its inflation forecasts and cut those of economic growth on Wednesday, as President Tayyip Erdogan appeared to endorse the big interest rate hikes that are driving a turnaround toward more orthodox policies. – Reuters

Foreign investors are wading into Turkish stocks and bonds as Ankara’s economic policy overhaul piques the interest of fund managers who have deserted the country in recent years. – Financial Times

Robert Ellis writes: According to former US ambassador to Turkey Eric Edelman, Erdogan believes he can threaten his way in. The alternative is to convene an EMGF conference, where Turkey could take part as an observer, as a prelude to the solution of outstanding issues. – Jerusalem Post

Saudi Arabia

The Kremlin said on Wednesday Russian President Vladimir Putin had spoken by phone with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, and that recent agreements on supply cuts had ensured stability on global energy markets. – Reuters

Senior US and Palestinian officials have travelled to Riyadh for talks on a complex deal to establish diplomatic ties between Saudi Arabia and Israel in return for Israeli concessions to the Palestinians and American security guarantees for the kingdom. – Financial Times

As Washington, Jerusalem, Riyadh, and Ramallah chase an elusive Saudi-Israeli peace treaty, Iran and its Mideast proxies quietly — though increasingly less so — are preparing for the next war. – New York Sun

Republican Senator Lindsey Graham and former senior White House adviser Jared Kushner have encouraged former president Donald Trump to support his successor Joe Biden’s effort to broker a normalization agreement between Israel and Saudi Arabia. – Times of Israel

Gulf States

Five years ago, Saudi officials watched a wave of American finance executives pull out of a free investment confab in Riyadh after the murder of a dissident journalist made the kingdom a toxic place to do business. This year, the conference, nicknamed “Davos in the Desert,” is expecting so much demand it is charging executives $15,000 a person. – Wall Street Journal

Rare street protests have broken out in Bahrain as a mass hunger strike enters its fifth week, activists say, in a faint echo of the uprising that swept the Gulf kingdom starting in 2011, during the Arab Spring. – New York Times

Spain has vowed to defend its “strategic interests” after Saudi Telecom Company moved to take a stake of almost 10 per cent in Telefónica, one of the country’s biggest companies. STC revealed late on Tuesday that it was acquiring a 9.9 per cent stake valued at €2.1bn, marking the latest foray by state-owned Gulf telecoms companies into Europe. – Financial Times

Middle East & North Africa

The two top officials in Tunisia’s main opposition Ennahda party were arrested, the party said on Tuesday, the latest targeting of opponents of President Kais Saied. – Reuters

Avi Melamed writes: It begs the question of whether removing an American glove could lead to a direct military confrontation between the U.S. and Iran. Historically, Iran has believed that the U.S. is hesitant about military action. A notable exception was in January 2020, when the U.S. targeted and killed Major-General Qasem Soleimani, a key figure in Iran’s military hierarchy. While Iran retaliated by attacking a U.S. base in Iraq, they were careful to avoid American casualties. This cautious approach suggests Iran wants to avoid an all-out war with the U.S. As the sand continues to shift in the Middle East, sometimes removing one glove can forestall the need to “remove two,” averting a more catastrophic outcome. – The Hill

Seth J. Frantzman writes: The overall trend shows how countries in the region are now focused more on East Asia and vice-versa how countries in East Asia are now more interested in the Middle East and also reducing the conflicts in the region. This is important also because Israel has key ties with countries like Japan, Singapore, and South Korea, as well as India. For the entire Middle East, therefore, the focus on emerging and growing ties with powerful economies in the East is important. – Jerusalem Post

Korean Peninsula

A Chinese Communist Party and government delegation headed by Vice Premier Liu Guozhong will visit North Korea to take part in the celebration of the country’s founding day later this week, state media KCNA reported on Thursday. – Reuters

Reports that Kim Jong Un may travel to Russia soon have drawn attention to the traditional method of travel for North Korean leaders: luxury, armored trains that have long been a part of the dynasty’s lore and are symbols of its deep isolation. – Associated Press

Christian Davies writes: Noting South Korean anxieties over the recent release of radioactive water from the Fukushima nuclear plant, Tokyo is hesitating to commit to concrete bilateral and trilateral initiatives ahead of South Korea’s parliamentary elections next year. But Sneider said if Japan really wanted the rapprochement to succeed, Kishida needed to offer the South Korean people a gesture of genuine compassion that went beyond the stale legal arguments and rigid formulations of regret upon which the Japanese leader continues to rely. – Financial Times

Victor Cha and Ellen Kim writes: All in all, Russia may be the biggest enabler of North Korea today, even more so than China. The latter has not been supportive of the denuclearization agenda and has not helped to bring Pyongyang back to the negotiating table, given the state of U.S.-China relations. But Beijing reportedly has been opposed to North Korea conducting a seventh nuclear test. This stands in contrast to potential arms and missile deals with DPRK being negotiated by Moscow, which could transfer sensitive military technology that could accelerate North Korea’s military satellite, nuclear submarine, and ICBM programs. Any Russian technical support that could help advance or modernize the Korean People’s Army’s conventional forces are also an area of concern.  – Center  for Strategic and International Studies


The Pentagon intends to field a vast network of AI-powered technology, drones and autonomous systems within the next two years to counter threats from China and other adversaries. […]One approach could be to build on the capabilities demonstrated by Task Force 59, the U.S. Navy’s network of drones and sensors designed to monitor Iran’s military activities in the Middle East. – Wall Street Journal

China ordered officials at central government agencies not to use Apple’s AAPL -3.58%decrease; red down pointing triangle iPhones and other foreign-branded devices for work or bring them into the office, people familiar with the matter said. – Wall Street Journal

China’s exports and imports extended declines in August as the twin pressures of sagging overseas demand and weak consumer spending at home squeezed businesses in the world’s second-largest economy, although the falls were slower than expected. […]South Korean shipments to China, a leading indicator of the latter’s imports, dropped just a fifth last month, slowing from a decrease of 27.5% a month earlier, offering another nod to conditions stabilising in China.  – Reuters

Chinese Premier Li Qiang said on Wednesday it is important to avoid a “new Cold War” when dealing with conflicts between countries as world leaders gathered in Indonesia amid sharpening geopolitical rivalries across the Indo-Pacific region. – Reuters

U.S. House of Representatives Speaker Kevin McCarthy called China’s position on the release of treated radioactive water from the Fukushima nuclear power plant “unfair” and “false” during a visit to Tokyo on Thursday. – Reuters

Minxin Pei writes: We should know Xi’s answer soon. The Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit in San Francisco in November will present another opportunity to meet with Biden. The MSS statement implies that the Chinese leader may not attend if the US doesn’t show greater “sincerity” between now and November. A second snub would eliminate any mystery about Xi’s feelings — and send a deeply worrying signal about where US-China relations are heading. – Bloomberg

Karishma Vaswani writes: Avoiding these multilateral forums — as difficult and awkward as the conversations might be — represents a lost opportunity. Beijing is still a vital player in the international arena, whether the US likes it or not. China can and should cooperate with the US and other countries on areas like climate change, the war in Ukraine, a future pandemic and the global economy. Xi’s absence means we will all understand China a little bit less — and have to rely on Beijing’s maps for its version of how it sees the world. That makes engagement much harder, at a time when we need it more than ever. – Bloomberg

Zongyuan Zoe Liu writes: The Biden administration can take a page from the playbook of Otto von Bismarck: “Diplomacy is the art of building ladders to allow people to climb down gracefully.” A good start would be for the United States to lend a ladder this fall and help China clean out its gutters—if a Xi-led China is capable of accepting the help. – Foreign Policy

South Asia

That pledge will be put to the test this week when world leaders arrive in New Delhi for this year’s G20 summit, which begins Saturday. But India has promoted itself not only as a bridge to the developing world, but as a rising global player and — importantly — a mediator between the West and Russia. – Associated Press

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi says his country is “becoming the voice of the Global South,” and that at the upcoming Group of 20 meetings being held in New Delhi, that voice will be heard. […]The United Nations, the World Bank, U.S. President Joe Biden — everyone seems to be talking about the Global South these days. But what, exactly, is it? – Associated Press

Pakistan closed a key northwestern border crossing with Afghanistan after border guards from the two sides exchanged fire Wednesday, while elsewhere near the border in northern Pakistan clashes killed four Pakistani soldiers and 12 militants, authorities said. – Associated Press

Nigeria has secured nearly $14 billion of pledges from Indian investors and seeks an economic cooperation pact with the South Asian nation, a presidential spokesperson said on Wednesday. – Reuters


Japan launched a lunar mission Thursday, overcoming multiple failures and delays to become the fifth country to head to the moon — just weeks after India — in a global race to better understand Earth’s closest neighbor. – Washington Post

Australia and China have made progress in returning to “unimpeded trade” and progress should continue, Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese said on Thursday as he met Chinese Premier Li Qiang at a regional summit in Indonesia. – Reuters

China and Australia should “seriously consider” what they have learned from halting their high-level dialogue over the past three years, Li Zhaoxing, a former foreign minister, said on Thursday, as the talks restarted in Beijing. – Reuters

South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol said on Thursday any attempts to change the status quo by force in the South China Sea cannot be tolerated, calling for a rules-based maritime order in the region, his office said. Yoon was speaking at the East Asia Summit with the ASEAN bloc, China, the United States and others in Jakarta, Indonesia. – Reuters

Bangladesh President Mohammad Shahabuddin called on Thursday for the international community to find a durable solution to the conflict in Myanmar, which has driven hundreds of thousands of Rohingya refugees to his country. The president made the remarks while attending the East Asia Summit in Jakarta. – Reuters

Armenia said on Wednesday it would host a joint army exercise with the United States next week, at a time of rising military tension with neighbouring Azerbaijan and open friction in its relationship with Russia. – Reuters

It took more than a day of flying, including two refueling stops, for Vice President Kamala Harris to reach this year’s summit of Southeast Asian countries. And once she arrived, she had less than eight minutes of public speaking time during two meetings. But in Jakarta’s cavernous convention center, adorned with billowing flowers and tropical plants for the occasion, Harris saw an opportunity to shape the future of United States foreign policy. – Associated Press

In talks with Southeast Asian leaders Wednesday in the Indonesian capital, Chinese Premier Li Qiang underscored his country’s importance as the world’s second-biggest economy and as the top trading partner of the region. Countering renewed alarm over Beijing’s aggression in the disputed South China Sea, Li cited China’s long history of friendship with Southeast Asia, including joint efforts to confront the coronavirus pandemic and how both sides have settled differences through dialogue. – Associated Press

Michael J. Green writes: But never say never. If concerns about deterring and stopping a destructive and dangerous regional war surpass concerns about trade, regional cohesion, or retaining strategic autonomy, the current patchwork of arrangements among the United States, its bilateral allies, and like-minded partners could very well move in the direction of collective security. The basis of common values, similar threat perception, basic operating structures, and decades of experience with cooperation is there. – Foreign Policy


A European Union court on Wednesday dismissed a first-of-its-kind case brought by a family alleging unlawful deportation by the E.U.’s Frontex, with the court saying the border agency is not empowered to weigh in on “return decisions.” – Washington Post

The U.K. is set to re-enter the European Union’s flagship scientific research program, according to two people familiar with discussions, the biggest step by the U.K. to tighten ties with the bloc since Brexit. – Wall Street Journal

A high-level U.S. congressional delegation will meet with the top prosecutor of the International Criminal Court in The Hague on Thursday and discuss allegations of war crimes against Russian President Vladimir Putin, its chair said on Wednesday. – Reuters

Kosovo remains “highly volatile” even though the security situation has calmed since a major outburst of violence in May, the commander of NATO-led troops in the Balkan territory said on Wednesday. – Reuters

Britain’s parliament on Wednesday gave final approval to a contentious new law that would amnesty ex-soldiers and militants involved in decades of violence in Northern Ireland on condition they cooperate fully with a new investigative body. […]The Irish government has said it is considering mounting a legal challenge. – Reuters

King Charles’ rearranged state visit to France this month will cement improved Anglo-French relations as the two countries seek to strengthen ties that were strained by Brexit, British officials said. – Reuters

A two-day summit in Romania began on Wednesday bringing together 12 European Union member states situated between the Baltic, Black and Adriatic Seas, as the grouping of mostly formerly communist countries aims to boost ties amid Russia’s war in Ukraine. – Associated Press

The European Union should help countries stand up to Vladimir Putin by sending a clear message about their prospects for joining the EU, French Europe Minister Laurence Boone told POLITICO. – Politico

With Russia’s invasion of Ukraine fueling military acquisitions along NATO’s eastern flank, several European allies are advancing purchases of new wheeled and tracked infantry fighting vehicles. – Defense News

Francis Harris writes: With relations at a historic low, the ties that bind the two old allies are fraying. The Armenians have threatened to leave CSTO, and have recalled the country’s permanent representative to the organization. Armenia refused to join CSTO exercises in Belarus this month and instead announced its troops would drill with the US military. And just in case the Kremlin was failing to get the message, it sent the premier’s wife to personally deliver humanitarian aid to Ukraine, its first such shipment. – Center for European Policy Analysis


The war in Sudan has set off a mass exodus of people who years ago fled a bloody civil war in South Sudan to seek safety in Sudan. But they are returning home to a country still in the grip of political instability, economic stagnation and a massive humanitarian crisis — many of them without actual homes to return to. – New York Times

A judicial tribunal in Nigeria confirmed on Wednesday the results of a contested February presidential election that kept Africa’s most populous country on edge amid allegations of voting irregularities and tainted the first months in power for the declared winner, President Bola Tinubu. – New York Times

To many people, the military takeover in Niger in late July was obviously a coup. And yet, in a prime example of contorted diplomatic-speak, Biden administration officials have so far carefully danced around the world. – New York Times

At least 32 civilians were killed and dozens injured in artillery strikes by the Sudanese army on Tuesday, one of the highest tolls from a single day of fighting since war broke out in April, the activist group Emergency Lawyers said. – Reuters

West Africa’s Central Bank, BCEAO, hiked its main lending rate on Wednesday in the wake of another military coup that has rocked the region and caused trade blocks between countries. – Reuters

The United States is imposing sanctions on the deputy leader of Sudan’s paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF) over human rights abuses, the U.S. envoy to the United Nations announced during a trip to Chad’s border with Sudan on Wednesday. – Reuters

South African officials did not know a sanctioned Russian ship was assigned to deliver military equipment to the country until the vessel was nearing national waters, according to an inquiry into an incident that caused diplomatic tensions between South Africa and the U.S. – Associated Press

The first African Climate Summit ended with a call Wednesday for world leaders to rally behind a global carbon tax on fossil fuels, aviation and maritime transport, and it seeks reform of the world financial system that forces African nations to pay more to borrow money. – Associated Press

Mali, Guinea, Burkina Faso, Chad, Sudan, Niger and now Gabon have all faced the upheaval of military takeovers over the past three years, removing democratically elected presidents and tainted family dynasties alike. It is impossible to say which country — if any — will follow, but deficiencies in the political systems of several countries offer a guide to which leaders are vulnerable, analysts said. – Financial Times 

Group of 20 nations agreed to grant the African Union permanent membership status, according to people familiar with the matter, who said that leaders are expected to announce the decision during a summit in India this weekend. – Bloomberg

Joshua Meservey writes: The Chinese Communist Party values Africa for many reasons, but the continent’s diplomatic importance and mineral wealth help explain why it engages the continent so intensively. This reality suggests that the Party’s preoccupation with Africa will persist as it continues its quest for national rejuvenation. – Hudson Institute

The Americas

President Joe Biden’s administration has asked U.S. energy companies to prepare affidavits documenting how Mexico’s protectionist policies disrupted their investments as Washington prepares to escalate a trade dispute with its neighbor, according to three people familiar with the discussions. – Reuters

Ecuador’s suspension of a decree enabling environmental consultations prior to the licensing of industrial and mining projects has paralyzed investments worth $2 billion, business associations said on Wednesday. – Reuters

The Cuban government says it has begun legal proceedings against a group that recruited Cuban citizens to fight alongside Russia in Ukraine. But the crackdown is likely just for show, Cuba experts say. – Business Insider

United States

Former President Donald Trump hinted that he would not order a U.S. military intervention against China were it to attack Taiwan. – Washington Examiner

The US and European Union are working on an agreement that would introduce new tariffs aimed at excess steel production from China and other countries, as well as put behind them a Trump-era trade conflict. – Bloomberg

Christopher Tremoglie writes: The continued use of the 9/11 AUMF continues to put military personnel in danger, as evidenced by the incidents in Niger. And while the deployment of troops to Niger predates the Biden administration, and both Democratic and Republican presidential administrations have used AUMFs in a questionable fashion, Paul’s letter was focused on returning wartime powers and the use of AUMFs to Congress, as intended by the nation’s Founding Fathers. Allowing any presidential administration unchecked powers to deploy the military without congressional approval runs counter to the core tenets on which the Constitution was founded. – Washington Examiner

Johannes Lang writes: Supplementing our traditional national interests with a deep concern for foreign lives would mean a radical departure from centuries of U.S. foreign policy. But we have to face the murderous consequences of a consistent policy of America first. The problem is not that we are too isolationist or interventionist, too realist or too liberal. The problem is that we don’t care enough about the lives of others. – The Hill


In the midst of the U.S. commerce secretary’s good will tour to China last week, Huawei, the telecom giant that faces stiff U.S. trade restrictions, unveiled a smartphone that illustrated just how hard it has been for the United States to clamp down on China’s tech prowess. – New York Times

California Gov. Gavin Newsom signed an executive order to study the development, use and risks of generative artificial intelligence — one of the most significant steps taken by a state to potentially regulate the rapidly growing technology. – Politico

Director of National Intelligence Avril Haines will host a listening session on Thursday to hear from civil liberties groups about Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, a powerful spying tool that’s scheduled to sunset at the end of 2023. – CyberScoop

On Wednesday, Microsoft revealed the results of its internal investigation regarding how that key was stolen, the findings of which describe a series of cascading security failures that resulted in a signing key ending up in the hands of apparent Chinese hackers. – CyberScoop


The US scrapped a test on Wednesday of what’s meant to be the Army’s first hypersonic missile in its arsenal, a setback as the US looks to catch up with China for a crucial weapon of the future. – Bloomberg

As part of the Space Force’s effort to modernize its tactical satellite communications infrastructure, the service is considering how to ensure that international partners can benefit from and contribute to those capabilities. – Defense News

Australia, the U.K. and the U.S. — or AUKUS — have begun overhauling a submarine-industrial base in Western Australia; designing Australia’s future attack submarine SSN-AUKUS, that will incorporate American and Australian technology into a British attack sub design; and eyeing investments in all three countries’ submarine-industrial bases meant to make them more resilient and tightly interwoven. – Defense News

Solving short-term problems for military commanders in the Pacific and Europe is driving the Pentagon’s push to accelerate production of attritable air, sea and ground drones powered by artificial intelligence, USNI News has learned. – USNI News

Mackenzie Eaglen and Todd Harrison write: When it comes to real estate, what matters most is “location, location, location.” But the federal government should not be concerned with the Colorado versus Alabama brawl over the potential future headquarters of U.S. Space Command and instead should rethink the organization altogether. – War on Rocks

Long War

But those promises were made before mutinous soldiers ousted Niger’s democratically elected president, putting the national program to reintegrate former jihadis into society at risk. For Ibrahim, 40, the coup has upended months of work and the relationships he built with Niger’s security forces — and now he wonders whether he should return to fight with the extremists. – Associated Press

Al Qaeda affiliate Jama’a Nusrat ul-Islam wa al-Muslimin (JNIM) group on Wednesday claimed responsibility for an attack that targeted forces in Yatenga, Burkina Faso, killing over 50 personnel, the Site Intelligence Group said. – Reuters

A senior Palestinian Islamic Jihad operative was arrested along with 17 other Palestinian terror suspects in an overnight raid of West Bank villages and towns, the IDF said. – Jerusalem Post