Fdd's overnight brief

September 8, 2022

In The News


Iran’s stockpile of highly enriched uranium has grown enough to easily produce enough fuel for an atomic bomb, the United Nations atomic agency reported Wednesday, as talks to revive the 2015 nuclear deal falter over Tehran’s last-minute demands for U.S. guarantees. – Wall Street Journal

Global atomic monitors reported that Iran continues to stonewall critical investigations while ramping up its uranium enrichment, dealing a new blow to efforts to resurrect an international agreement that had reined in Tehran’s nuclear program. – Bloomberg

Iranian diplomats burned documents in the early morning on Thursday hours before they were to leave the country after Albania cut diplomatic relations with Iran, accusing the Islamic Republic of an cyberattack in July. – Reuters

Albania severed diplomatic relations with Iran on Wednesday and kicked out its diplomats after a cyberattack in July it blamed on the Islamic Republic, a move Washington supported as it vowed to take action in response to the attack on its NATO ally. – Reuters

Iran strongly condemned on Wednesday Albania’s decision to cut its diplomatic ties with Tehran, rejecting as “baseless claims” Albania’s reasons for the move, a statement by the country’s foreign ministry said. – Reuters

Iran’s Brigadier General Amir Ali Hajizadeh, the head of the IRGC’s Aerospace Force, has claimed that Iran has new capabilities in its technological innovation. Iran has already increased abilities in space, as well as missiles and drones; and cyber. Hajizadeh spotlighted the importance of Iranian universities in creating a pipeline of expertise for the IRGC and Iranian military forces. – Jerusalem Post

While it is still unclear if APT34 was the group behind the attack against Albania, tools it is has been linked to were used in the attack which has been linked to Iran. APT34 has attacked targets in a number of countries, including Lebanon, Jordan and Israel, among others, according to a multitude of reports by cybersecurity companies. – Jerusalem Post

The identities of two Hezbollah militants helping build Iran’s air defenses in Syria were revealed for the first time in a report by independent Israeli intelligence analyst Ronen Solomon, who runs the Intelli Times blog, on Wednesday evening. – Jerusalem Post

The U.S. National Security Council (NSC) on Wednesday called for Iran to be held accountable for an “unprecedented” cyberattack it said the country committed against Albania in July. – The Hill

Iran’s naval forces have highlighted the vulnerability of the US 5th Fleet’s new fleet of unmanned surface vessels (USVs) by seizing at least three in less than a week, claiming they were a threat to navigation. – Janes

James Stavridis writes: The Fifth Fleet recognizes that the Iranians will continue to try and capture experimental drones. It must be given resources and aggressive rules of engagement needed to protect these valuable unmanned systems while they push the envelope of experimentation. Drone piracy is here to stay. – Bloomberg

Seth J. Frantzman writes: It is clear that these events are connected. Iran wants to play a greater role in Central Asia and that means that the SCO summit will be good for Iran, China and Russia. They all want to work together to reduce the US’ role in the world. Their goal is a multi-polar world and eroding the US hegemony. […]Putin is trying to weather the storm of western sanctions and carve out a new world order of trade with Iran and China. – Jerusalem Post

Seth J. Frantzman writes:  Albania’s decision to stand up to Iran is important. It shows that countries are beginning to recognize the seriousness of Iran’s actions. This actions of Albania have also resulted in support from the US. The US has worked alongside Albania to confront the cyber threat and the US has also concluded that Iran was behind the July 15 cyber attack. […]The question now is whether this recent incident will result in more countries standing up to Tehran. – Jerusalem Post

Farzin Nadimi writes:  Given the likelihood that Iran will attempt more brazen challenges in this area, as recent incidents show, U.S. leaders must now figure out how to effectively protect unmanned assets, whether or not they use sensitive equipment. Furthermore, the United States should settle on an appropriate form of messaging to deter and respond to attempted disruptions of its MAV operations. Failure to do so will mean danger for this promising operational concept in particular and U.S. credibility in general. – Washington Institute

David Albright and Sarah Burkhard write: The United States and Europe should refuse Iran’s demands to end the ongoing IAEA investigation as a condition for a revived nuclear deal under the JCPOA (Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action) framework. The West should instead pressure Iran to cooperate with the IAEA by strengthening sanctions, including so-called snapback sanctions allowed for in case of Iranian non-compliance with the JCPOA. – Institute for Science and International Security

Russia & Ukraine

Russian President Vladimir Putin threatened to curtail the export of grain from Ukraine and said Moscow was ready to extend its rationing of natural-gas exports and cut off oil and refined products if the West went ahead with a price-cap plan for Russian crude. – Wall Street Journal

For anyone contemplating a top administrative position in the Russian-occupied territories in Ukraine, Kyiv authorities have a message: Be afraid. Very afraid. Since Russian forces invaded in late February and began seizing Ukrainian cities and towns, close to 20 Kremlin-backed officials or their local Ukrainian collaborators have been killed or injured in a wave of assassinations and attempted killings. – Washington Post

Ukraine’s top military chief warned Wednesday that a “limited” nuclear war between Russia and the West cannot be discounted, a scenario with grave global implications. – Washington Post

Russian President Vladimir Putin said Russia would have no problems selling its vast energy resources around the world, despite Western sanctions designed to cut off the Kremlin’s vital energy revenues. – Reuters

Vladimir Putin blamed Western nations for the shutdown of the Nord Stream natural gas pipeline and said flows to Europe could restart as soon as sanctions on Russia are eased, allowing it to return and service turbines. – Bloomberg

Russian President Vladimir Putin intends to attend a Group of 20 summit in Bali later this year, said the country’s ambassador to Indonesia. – Bloomberg

The Pentagon has sent Ukraine its most accurate artillery shell, the GPS-guided Excalibur, according to budget documents that confirm the previously unannounced addition to the arsenal assembled to combat the Russian invasion. – Bloomberg

President Joe Biden will host a call with allies on Thursday about next steps in support of Ukraine against Russia’s invasion, according to people familiar with the matter. – Bloomberg

Ukrainian forces are making “slow but meaningful progress” on the battlefield and are currently doing better in the south than Russia, a senior Pentagon official said on Wednesday. – Reuters

The United States on Wednesday accused the Kremlin of overseeing so-called “filtration” operations in Ukraine and providing lists of Ukrainians to be forced to move to areas of Russian control, and it demanded Russia halt the practice. – Reuters

Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskiy on Wednesday thanked the European Union for confirming 5 billion euros ($4.97 billion) in macro-financial aid but said the country needed a “full-fledged” program of financing from the International Monetary Fund. – Reuters

Russian President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday repeated his assertion that the Ukrainian government is an “illegitimate regime,” saying it was founded after a “coup” in 2014. – Reuters

Dramatic footage on Wednesday showed Ukrainian forces shooting a Russian ground attack aircraft out of the sky, as Kyiv’s forces push forward with a counter-offensive on multiple fronts. – New York Post

A widely shared video on pro-Russian propaganda forums appears to show more than three dozen dead Ukrainian soldiers — but it was all a sly ruse to embarrass the enemy. – New York Post

Russian President Vladimir Putin spun the growing quagmire of his Ukrainian invasion as a win at a forum in Vladivostok on Wednesday — claiming that “nothing” has been sacrificed in the warfare. – New York Post

Mysterious and damaging explosions at a Russian airbase far from the front lines in occupied Crimea last month were part of a combined attack involving a “series of successful missile strikes” meant to bring the consequences of Russia’s unprovoked war in Ukraine closer to home for the Russian people, Ukrainian military officials revealed on Wednesday. – Business Insider

Editorial: The Ukraine war is far from over, and Mr. Putin may escalate his brutality and extortion. But Moscow’s sound and fury show that Ukraine’s resistance and foreign support are making a difference. Continuing the supply of advanced weaponry is crucial to stopping Mr. Putin’s designs on Kyiv, and on the front-line nations of NATO if he isn’t stopped. Ukraine is under pressure but so is Russia. – Wall Street Journal

Adam Taylor writes: Clearly, there have been many acts of defiance from Russians critical of the war, from paratroopers to artists. But there have been subtler signs of malaise too: The Moscow Times reported this week of a striking rise in interest in esoteric practices like tarot cards and numerology as Russians struggle to understand their chaotic situation. […]And that struggle is far from over: With a bloody new Ukrainian counteroffensive, the impact of the war will continue to hurt Russians in ways both material and intangible. – Washington Post

Leonid Bershidsky writes: By making a credible grab for initiative, Ukraine has already proved that the long game isn’t necessarily Putin’s game. Russians — perhaps not Putin, but those who want their country to have a future — should consider the very real possibility of defeat. – Bloomberg

Max Seddon and Polina Ivanova write: Many of the oligarchs who once enjoyed spending time in the west are now resigned to returning to Russia. Those in Moscow have quietly accepted their diminished status in a country at war. – Financial Times

Paul D. Shinkman writes: Despite the dramatic blows to its military and economic infrastructure that Ukraine and its Western partners have sought to exact, Russia has somewhat endured the punitive measures. In its first six months of war, Russia earned $157 billion in fossil fuel revenues, according to new analyses released this week, even as its export volumes decreased by 18%, contributing to an increase in profits compared to last year due to dramatically high oil prices. – U.S. News & World Report

Denis Volkov and Andrei Kolesnikov write: It’s also worth remembering that the Russian leadership is moving slowly to prepare for the 2024 presidential election, which will take place amid an increasingly authoritarian system. […]Almost surely, there will be even greater pressure on dissenters, with a range of authoritarian tools and repressive laws. Such moves will almost certainly anger average people and alienate parts of the elite. However, such tactics largely serve to frighten key parts of Russian society, which, as experience teaches, will ultimately lead them to rally around the regime yet again. – Carnegie Endowment for International Peace


Israel’s prime minister on Wednesday said no one would “dictate our open-fire policies,” appearing to reject U.S. calls for Israel to review its rules of engagement following the shooting death of a prominent journalist. – Associated Press

The Israeli military said Wednesday that troops killed a Palestinian after he threw a firebomb at them during clashes that erupted as they carried out an overnight arrest raid in the West Bank. – Associated Press

A Palestinian man was shot dead after attacking an Israeli soldier with a hammer near the central West Bank village of Beitin shortly after midnight on Thursday, the military said. – Times of Israel

Sheikh Kamal Khatib, the deputy leader of the Northern Faction of the Islamic Movement, has warned that violent clashes may develop on Rosh Hashanah on the Temple Mount. – Arutz Sheva

Michael Oren, former Israeli ambassador in Washington, responded in an interview with Galei Tzahal to the American statements regarding the IDF’s rules of engagement. – Arutz Sheva

Ehud Eilam writes: The IDF fought more or less the same as it did in previous confrontations. Israel also had to restrain its actions, among others, in order to reduce collateral damage. Furthermore, Hamas and certainly Hezbollah are more powerful than the PIJ, which is quite weak and isolated in the Gaza Strip. The IDF’s biggest test might be in the future. – Jerusalem Post

Avi Issacharoff writes: The only alternative to the PA is full on Israeli occupation of the West Bank. Not a partial one that leans on the PA, exempting us from governing the lives of 2.8 million of Palestinians, but one with military presence in the heart of Palestinian cities. No Israeli leader wants such a thing. Neither Lapid, nor Netanyahu – who had actually mulled getting rid of the PA but never actually did so. While Netanyahu did quite a lot to bolster Hamas, he was smart enough to avoid the destruction of the PA. He probably had good enough reasons for that. – Ynet


The Taliban-appointed foreign minister acknowledged Wednesday that the former insurgents’ year-old government in Afghanistan remains isolated. But he claimed it is able to conduct business and trade internationally as if it were officially recognized on the global stage. – Associated Press

The Department of Homeland Security failed to properly screen thousands of refugees who fled Afghanistan after last year’s botched US troop withdrawal — leading border security officials to admit “at least two” Afghans who were national security risks, according to a watchdog report released Wednesday. – New York Post

Authorities in an eastern province of Afghanistan have reopened some girls’ high schools even though the move has not been officially approved. – Fox News

Rep. Tom Tiffany, R-Wis., warned about the threat to national security that unvetted Afghan refugees could present amid the recent one-year anniversary of the Biden administration’s withdrawal on “The Ingraham Angle.” – Fox News

Michael Rubin writes: The Taliban might plead ignorance about opium, never mind they used the proceeds of its sale or taxation to fund their insurgency, but they cannot dismiss crystal meth manufacture as being deeply rooted in Afghan culture. Rather, the Taliban seem intent on turning their emirate into a narco-state. Given the Taliban’s embrace of terrorist groups, it appears that they are using their foray into drug smuggling as a mechanism to fund global terrorism. – Washington Examiner

Peter Mills writes: The Taliban government is struggling to defeat the National Resistance Front (NRF), a growing anti-Taliban insurgency in northeastern Afghanistan. Taliban leaders appointed a new slate of military commanders to lead anti-NRF operations, indicating dissatisfaction with the previous commanders’ performance. Political and ethnic divisions are also likely undermining Taliban forces. Continued Taliban failures against the NRF could lead to the strengthening of the Haqqani Network within the Taliban’s military leadership. – Institute for the Study of War


Syria’s foreign ministry said on Wednesday it considered Israeli recent air strikes on civilian infrastructure to be a war crime. – Reuters

France’s highest court on Wednesday confirmed a ruling that found Rifaat al-Assad, an uncle of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, was guilty of acquiring millions of euros worth of French property using funds diverted from the Syrian state. – Reuters

A Tuesday strike on Aleppo’s airport which the Syrian government blamed on Israel is a signal to Damascus that its tolerance of Iran’s support of terrorist groups could lead to costly retribution, a senior Israeli parliamentarian said. – Algemeiner

Seth J. Frantzman writes: However, the regime also repairs the airstrips quickly. This means that the strikes can also be seen as a kind of “whack-a-mole,” meaning that the strikes continue but the regime keeps patching things up and moving on. Iran also doesn’t pay a major price because it can simply wait and fly its munitions to another site. The question is if the price is being raised for the Syrian regime and its partners in Russia and Iran and whether this may encourage Iran to shift tactics and strategy. – Jerusalem Post


Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on Wednesday criticized the West for its “provocation-based policy” toward Russia. – The Hill

Greece accused Turkey of “extremely aggressive rhetoric” that risks destabilizing the region and weakening NATO, the latest bout in an escalating war of words between the two NATO allies over tensions in the Aegean Sea. – Bloomberg

Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Wednesday pledged his country’s support in resolving long-standing disputes in the Balkans that continue to threaten stability in the troubled region. – Associated Press

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has met with Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic in Belgrade on the middle leg of a Balkan tour that has already taken him to Bosnia-Herzegovina and finishes up in Croatia. – Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty


In Iraq, especially the south, the changing climate is forcing families to sell off their livestock and pack up for urban centers such as the region’s largest city, Basra, in search of jobs and better services. – Washington Post

Iraq’s top court rejected a bid by influential cleric Moqtada Al-Sadr to dissolve parliament in the OPEC member state, a move that could spark further unrest after last month’s deadly clashes over the political standoff in Baghdad. – Bloomberg

Michael Rubin writes: For too long, Iraqi Kurds have faced a choice: despair or flight. Those freezing in Belarusian forests or drowning in the English channel were not escaping violence – they were fleeing Barzani’s repression and corruption. Kurdistan needs someone like Barham, who might channel Kurds’ talents toward real change. Frankly, after two decades of wasted opportunity in Iraqi Kurdistan, such change cannot come quickly enough. – 19FortyFive


Lebanon’s judiciary is seeking to appoint a second judge to a stalled investigation into the Beirut port blast, sources said, highlighting deep divisions over efforts to hold officials to account over a tragedy that killed more than 220 people. – Reuters

Lebanon is preparing to send a delegation to Iran for talks on acquiring free fuel to ease power outages without being exposed to U.S. sanctions, two government sources said on Wednesday. – Reuters

Edward Gabriel and Paul Salem write: It is up to the Lebanese people and their representatives to make the right choices in the selection of the next president and other leaders who will fill important positions and implement urgently needed policies in the months and years ahead. But the U.S. and international community have an interest in continuing to give Lebanon the attention and support it deserves, to help ensure that the country indeed turns a corner toward revival and does not slip into full state failure and decades of chaos and ungovernability. – The Hill

Gulf States

Kuwait’s parliament speaker Marzouq al-Ghanim said he would not run in legislative polls this month, handing a victory to opposition figures who had been critical of him in a domestic political standoff that has hindered fiscal reform. – Reuters

Direct contacts are underway between Israel and Qatar so that Israeli fans attending the World Cup in November will be able to receive consular assistance, it was reported Wednesday. – Times of Israel

Over 120 MOUs — memorandums of understanding — have been signed between the countries with more to come, he said, along with a double taxation agreement and a free trade agreement. There are currently 72 weekly flights between Israel and the UAE, which will rise to almost 80 a week in the coming weeks, he said. – Times of Israel

Middle East & North Africa

A bipartisan group of senators on Wednesday urged the Biden administration to do more to ensure that U.S. military support to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates does not contribute to civilian harm in Yemen, following an internal watchdog report that said the United States has failed to assess how its aid is tied to such casualties. – New York Times

The Libyan Investment Authority won a decade-long court battle to fend off a creditor seeking to claim at least $1.2 billion of assets that were frozen as part of an international crackdown on the regime of late Libyan leader Muammar Qaddafi. – Bloomberg

Israel has lifted restrictions on movement into Ghajar, the Golan Heights village bisecting the Israeli-Lebanese border, after the local council constructed a fence completely blocking access from Lebanon into the majority Alawite village. – Haaretz

Jonathan Harounoff writes: While normalization isn’t expected to result in an immediate economic windfall for either Israel or Turkey, the move represents a regional trend of alleviating political and diplomatic tensions to remove economic and commercial constraints. – Haaretz

Korean Peninsula

The U.N. nuclear watchdog has “serious concern” about North Korea’s atomic programme, it said in an annual report to members on Wednesday, urging the country to comply with Security Council resolutions. – Reuters

The nuclear envoys of Japan, South Korea and the United States agreed on Wednesday to strengthen security ties in the face of potential “provocation” from North Korea in the form of a nuclear test. – Reuters

North Korea’s rubber-stamp parliament convened this week to pass legislation aimed at turning the country into a “beautiful and civilized socialist fairyland,” state media reported on Thursday. – Reuters

South Korea on Thursday offered talks with North Korea to discuss a reunion of families separated by the 1950-53 Korean War, in its first direct overture under President Yoon Suk-yeol despite strained cross-border ties. – Reuters

Christian Davies writes: Kim’s emphasis on slick production values, coupled with moments of intense personal vulnerability — such as shedding tears during his speeches — as a means to engender trust among his audience, is shared by social media-savvy celebrities and politicians in the west. They, too, often serve up carefully curated “reality” as a prelude to manipulating emotionally engaged audiences for commercial and political gain. Beware those who seek to make the weather. – Financial Times

Patrick M. Cronin writes: After these steps, the possibilities for expanding cooperation on issues challenging the peace and prosperity of all Japanese and all South Koreans. It is time for the South Korean and Japanese people to invest more effort into their shared interests in managing mounting threats to their independence. – Hudson Institute


The export boom that has powered China’s economy through the pandemic decelerated in August, reflecting the impact from rising inflation and slowing growth elsewhere in the world. – Wall Street Journal

Chinese President Xi Jinping and Russian President Vladimir Putin are expected to meet at a summit in Uzbekistan next week as part of the Chinese ruler’s first overseas visit since the pandemic. – Washington Post

The death toll in this week’s earthquake in western China has jumped to 74 with another 26 people still missing, the government reported Wednesday, as frustration rose with uncompromising COVID-19 lockdown measures that prevented residents from leaving their buildings after the shaking. – Associated Press

A Chinese state-backed trade expo abruptly canceled an event hosted by Ukraine touting the war-torn nation’s investment opportunities, according to a Ukrainian diplomat, a move that could fuel concern Beijing is tacitly backing Moscow in the conflict. – Bloomberg

President Joe Biden is holding back on a decision to scrap any Trump-era tariffs on China imports, while the administration studies ways to help businesses seeking relief, according to people familiar with the matter. – Bloomberg

The Pentagon has stopped delivery of F-35 fighter jets after the aircraft’s maker, Lockheed Martin, found a part used in the jet’s engine was made in China, the Defense Department and company confirmed Wednesday. – The Hill

John Lee writes: Washington should scrutinize and restrict capital into China that feeds directly into its MIC2025 and DCP plans. The administration should also consider onerous restrictions or outright bans on some categories of investment into China — or Chinese investment into America — such as computer systems design, biotechnology, and life sciences. – The Hill

South Asia

The U.S. State Department has approved the potential sale of F-16 aircraft sustainment and related equipment to Pakistan in a deal valued at up to $450 million, the Pentagon said on Wednesday. – Reuters

Japan and India are holding security talks Thursday between their foreign and defense ministers in Tokyo, seeking to further strengthen their military ties amid growing tension from China and Russia in the region. – Associated Press

Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s push to boost domestic manufacturing of defense systems is leaving India vulnerable to persistent threats from China and Pakistan, according to officials with knowledge of the matter. – Bloomberg

Pakistan’s former Prime Minister Imran Khan said he regrets his comments at a rally about a female judge and sought the dismissal of contempt of court proceedings against him. – Bloomberg

Myron Brilliant writes: India has been a historically difficult trading partner, retaining some of the world’s highest tariff barriers and presenting significant concerns for U.S. firms in intellectual property, digital governance and public procurement. Constructive trade engagement from Washington can encourage India to take further steps to be a positive stakeholder in the multilateral trading system and address concerns articulated by American investors and firms. – The Hill

Bobby Ghosh writes: If Beijing is inclined to prove the doubters wrong, debt relief would be the easiest way to do so. Nearly a third of Pakistan’s foreign debt is owed to China, and a little forgiveness would go a long way to proving that their friendship can endure the worst weather. – Bloomberg

Arif Rafiq writes: Whether it’s the economy, politics, or marketplace of ideas, the ability of Pakistan’s powerful forces to choose the winners and losers must come to an end. The monopolies have to be phased out. Power should be devolved down to the local level. And the interests of the people have to be centered. It is only through their empowerment that the country as a whole can advance. – Middle East Institute


Solomon Islands lawmakers voted Thursday to delay national elections, a controversial move opposition leaders called a “power grab” that could rekindle violence in a Pacific country whose growing ties to China have drawn international concern. – Washington Post

U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris will travel to Tokyo later this month to attend the funeral of slain former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, followed by a trip to South Korea, a spokeswoman said on Wednesday. – Reuters

Vietnam Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh said on Wednesday Vietnam always respects its relationship with Russia, and hopes to further boost their cooperation. – Reuters

The crisis in Myanmar is under control and the ruling military will do all in its power to hold elections next year as planned, providing the vote can be free from foreign interference, its leader said. – Reuters

Tanks pounded targets and fighter jets roared overhead on Wednesday as Taiwan’s military carried out its latest combat drills after weeks of sabre-rattling by giant neighbour China. – Reuters

Taiwan is confident it can sign a “high standard” trade deal with the United States under a new framework, President Tsai Ing-wen told a visiting group of U.S. lawmakers on Thursday. – Reuters

A representative from Taiwan will attend the state funeral of slain former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe this month, but is still discussing whom to send, the Taiwanese foreign ministry said on Thursday. – Reuters

US National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan said a Chinese invasion of Taiwan remains a “distinct threat,” while insisting that the Biden administration hasn’t changed its position over the island’s status, despite Chinese claims to the contrary. – Bloomberg

The US is set to host the first gathering of Asian nations on an economic agreement envisioned by the White House as a counter to China’s rising influence in the region. – Bloomberg

A bipartisan group of eight US lawmakers arrived in Taiwan on Wednesday, bringing the number of congressional visitors this year to the highest in at least a decade as shows of support for the island’s leadership have grown. – Bloomberg

Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. has secured about $8.5 billion in investment pledges during his visit to Indonesia, Press Secretary Trixie Cruz-Angeles said. – Bloomberg

Taiwan’s minister of mainland affairs on Wednesday called on the People’s Republic of China to to ease tensions in the region to maintain security and peace in the Taiwan Strait. – USNI News

Walter Lohman writes: Congress, and especially the Senate, is supposed to be the venue for the big debates about America’s future, including its foreign policy. It is only appropriate that it serve this function on Taiwan policy. More than 40 years after passage of the TRA, it’s up to Congress to prove itself capable of the sort of real, major reform that can keep China at bay. In so doing, it will help prove an even more consequential point—that it is worthy of the foreign policy powers the founders gave it. – Heritage Foundation


European Union officials are weighing plans to redistribute some electricity producers’ windfall revenues to households and companies reeling under the continent’s high energy prices. – Wall Street Journal

European governments are increasing spending to shield households from surging energy prices driven by Russia’s economic war, but that comes amid rising borrowing costs and mounting investor unease about swelling sovereign debt in some countries. – Wall Street Journal

With Russia’s invasion of Ukraine triggering a devastating energy crisis in Europe, the European Commission said on Wednesday that it would ask countries to approve a broad cap on the price of Russian gas. It is also proposing measures like mandatory cuts in electricity use, a tax on oil and gas companies, and a tax on the price of electricity generated by renewables. – New York Times

European Union members Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia have agreed to restrict the entry of Russian citizens travelling from Russia and Belarus, their foreign ministers said on Wednesday. – Reuters

Belarus has started military exercises by the city of Brest near the Polish border, its capital Minsk and the northeast region of Vitebsk, the defence ministry said on Thursday. – Reuters

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz spoke to Britain’s new Prime Minister Liz Truss by phone on Wednesday and invited her to visit Berlin soon, a German government spokesperson said. – Reuters

Britain’s new Prime Minister Liz Truss on Wednesday appointed strongly pro-Brexit lawmaker Steve Baker to a junior ministerial role in the Northern Ireland Office, an appointment criticised as sending a “destructive message”. – Reuters

Chancellor Olaf Scholz accused Russia of seeking to blackmail Germany and its European partners by shutting off gas deliveries and dismissed an apparent leak in a key pipeline as “pretense.” – Bloomberg

Any attempt to roll back rules governing the UK’s post-Brexit trade with Northern Ireland could hurt chances of a bilateral trade agreement with the US, the White House said Wednesday. – Bloomberg

If you see Russian tanks on the streets of Germany, they are not Putin’s army driving on Berlin. The German military has bought life-size robotic replicas of Russian armored vehicles to use for training and target practice. – Business Insider

Editorial: Still, give Ms. Truss credit for a preternatural work ethic, a feature she shares with her late idol, Thatcher. Like the Iron Lady, Ms. Truss has often been underestimated. The United States should help Ms. Truss exceed expectations, for the sake of the special relationship with Britain, the fight in Ukraine and the global economy’s health. – Washington Post

Editorial: Considerably more headaches await the prime minister, including a series of public-sector strikes, faltering social care for the elderly and chronically ill, and sustaining military support for Ukraine. In her first act as head of government, Truss appointed a senior leadership team that’s already the most diverse in history. Truss’s task now is to restore confidence in the government’s ability to manage crises at home while providing steady, stable leadership on the world stage. Not just Britons should wish her success. – Bloomberg

Henry Olsen writes: Niccolò Machiavelli said that a prince must be both a lion and a fox, strong enough to fight enemies and smart enough to avoid snares. He also said that princes should permit few to genuinely see their inner selves. Truss, an enigma to many in a party that is happier to defer to the posh than follow the clever, may be just the princess Britain needs. – Washington Post

Lionel Laurent writes: But the grim truth is that the catalyst for a change in UK-EU ties will probably be the severity of the looming energy crisis, rather than the smooth talk of diplomats. Economic slowdown, high inflation and energy poverty have effectively put Brexit’s sparring partners in the same boat. Truss has called this a “storm” to be overcome; as bad as that sounds, maybe it’s what will point the weather vane in a friendlier direction. – Bloomberg

Robert Shrimsley writes: Radical reform will have to be largely a post-election agenda. The immediate crises, the need to secure Johnson’s broad electoral coalition and a focus on the next election means the rhetoric will outrun the reality. Britannia Unchained will have to wait a little longer. – Financial Times


Nigeria will be able to send more liquefied natural gas (LNG) to Europe by next winter, Oil Minister Timipre Sylva said on Wednesday at the Gastech conference in Milan. – Reuters

Burundi’s parliament on Wednesday swore in a new prime minister a week after President Evariste Ndayishimiye warned that some unnamed people were plotting to overthrow his government. – Reuters

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) does not anticipate any relief for Zambia after the end of a 2022-2025 debt programme, its mission chief Allison Holland said at a briefing on Wednesday. – Reuters

Elisabeth Braw writes: Great-power competition is nothing new. Neither, of course, is international commerce. What is new is the corporate merger of the two. Wagner represents Russia and its strategic interests in Africa, but it’s also a profit-making company that is clearly willing to expand into other lucrative sectors. It should come as no surprise if more military-commercial hybrids emerge in other authoritarian countries, all copying Wagner’s playbook. – Wall Street Journal

Peter O’Malley writes: Additionally, an African continent trade-based development framework would amplify the U.S. voice in the chambers that shape critical African issues such as human rights, transitional government structures, representative democracy and public health. Could another policy be more in the interest of the United States? It is not too late.  We are not yet at a point where “who lost Africa?” becomes a political rallying cry. All it takes is leadership. – Fox News

Latin America

Cuba’s deputy foreign minister accused the Biden administration of acting immorally, illegitimately and unfairly by keeping Cuba on the list of state sponsors of terrorism, claiming it has been a victim of state-sponsored terrorism by the United States for more than 60 years. – Associated Press

President Jair Bolsonaro toned down his rhetoric during Brazil’s Independence Day celebrations, seeking to woo undecided voters and reinvigorate his campaign less than a month before general elections. – Bloomberg

Colombia’s government on Wednesday approved the extradition of Alvaro Fredy Cordoba, the brother of a senator in the left-wing Pacto Historico party of President Gustavo Petro, to the United States to face drug-trafficking charges. – Reuters

United States

Federal agents reportedly recovered a document describing a foreign government’s nuclear capabilities from former President Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago residence last month. – Washington Examiner

Former President Donald Trump said Wednesday that the FBI had committed “​a definite NO, NO” by removing tax and medical records during the bureau’s Aug. 8 raid on his Mar-a-Lago resort, likening the seizure to the “Days of the Soviet Union.” – New York Post

The Biden administration is expected on Thursday to publish its final rule unwinding a Trump-era policy that sought to limit immigration of those it feared may rely on social services. – The Hill

Former Attorney General William Barr said on Wednesday that he believes the Justice Department is “getting very close” to having enough evidence to indict former President Trump. – The Hill

The decision by a federal judge in Florida to grant former President Trump’s request for a special master is poised to shake up the investigation into his handling of highly classified documents while dragging out the polarizing fight. – The Hill


The FBI and Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) are warning cyberattacks may increase against schools as the academic year begins. – The Hill

Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz’s housekeeper was sentenced to three years in prison for spying for an Iran-linked hacker group, as well as offering to download harmful malware onto his computer, Israeli prosecutors say. – Washington Examiner

Former members of the notorious Conti ransomware group have repurposed many of their tools for attacks on Ukrainian organizations, according to a new report from Google’s Threat Analysis Group (TAG). – The Record

Federal cyber officials will formally ask industry leaders “in the next couple of days” to help shape the regulatory structure for cybersecurity incident reporting, Jen Easterly, director of the Department of Homeland Security’s Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, said Wednesday. – CyberScoop

Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps Intelligence Organization has, since at least 2015, run a sprawling cyberespionage and surveillance operation against people and organizations of interest to the Iranian government, including within the U.S., researchers with cybersecurity firm Mandiant said Wednesday. – CyberScoop


The Army’s top general said that the service branch will attempt to accommodate soldiers and recruits who want to avoid serving in states that have placed restrictions on abortion access. – Washington Examiner

Pentagon leaders working to revamp the U.S. process of selling arms around the globe are balancing the need to quickly close deals with that of protecting secrets about weapons’ inner workings, a senior official said. – Defense News

The U.S. Marine Corps’ next budget will likely emphasize systems for secure data transfer, organic mobility and logistics, its No. 2 officer said, reflecting remaining challenges two and a half years into the service’s modernization effort. – Defense News

The U.S. Department of the Navy will study the effect of climate change more frequently to better understand the impact that worsening weather and conditions are having on force effectiveness. – Defense News

Choosing to replace the F-35′s engine with a next-generation adaptive model could force the U.S. military to buy 70 fewer of the fighters. Air Force Secretary Frank Kendall warned of the tough decisions that could come with a change to F-35 propulsion at the Defense News Conference in Arlington, Virginia on Wednesday. – Defense News

The U.S. Army has nominated a new leader for Futures Command — Lt. Gen. James Rainey — nine months after its first commander Gen. Mike Murray retired, the service’s undersecretary said Sept. 7 at the Defense News Conference. – Defense News

The United States, the United Kingdom and Australia have spent the last year discussing in detail the capabilities that each partner of the so-called AUKUS agreement will bring to the table for a future Australian nuclear-powered attack submarine, according to the undersecretary of the U.S. Navy. – Defense News

Long War

Syrian forces allied with the United States have rounded up hundreds of suspected Islamic State operatives this year in raids on a refugee camp that has been a hotbed of violence perpetrated by terrorist sympathizers, operations coordinated and facilitated by the U.S. military. – Washington Post

The Malian military launched air strikes Wednesday near a village that witnesses said had been seized by extremists with ties to the Islamic State group. – Associated Press

At least six people were beheaded and an Italian nun killed on Tuesday by Islamic State-linked insurgents in Mozambique’s Nampula province, authorities said on Wednesday. – Reuters

A German court has sentenced an Islamic State member to 10 years in prison for war crimes and murder committed in Syria, including the beating of a prisoner who later died in custody. – Reuters

Dozens of wanted terror suspects were arrested in a series of counterterror raids across eastern Jerusalem, Judea, and Samaria overnight, Palestinian Authority media outlets reported Wednesday morning. – Arutz Sheva