Israel, Palestine: Confirmation and bias.
Also: Ukraine, Russia, India, China, Sweden and cyberspace.
ISRAEL. PALESTINE. Confirmation and bias.
Protests escalate as mediation efforts fail.
Joe Biden left Israel on Wednesday, agreeing with his hosts that a Gaza hospital blast was the fault of militants. Pro-Palestine protests continued into Wednesday, including in Washington DC, where congressional offices were occupied.
INTELLIGENCE. After a week of protests and violence, including murders in Belgium, France and Illinois, scenes of protesters inside Capitol Hill have brought the conflict to the heart of the West. Biden’s mediation efforts were disrupted by the explosion at the Al-Ahli al-Arabi hospital, which provoked a popular rage Hamas could not summon last week. And Biden’s siding with Israel on the cause, while well-founded, will only further enrage Gaza’s supporters.
FOR BUSINESS. Attacks in Europe and on US embassies and soldiers in the Middle East threaten to internationalise the conflict, even if Iran or others don’t directly get involved. Rishi Sunak, who visits Israel today, will take care not to further embroil the UK (beyond its historic involvement). Yet already, Scotland’s chief minister has offered refuge to Gazan migrants (though this is a policy not in his gift) and there has been a string of Labour Party resignations.
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UKRAINE. RUSSIA. The counter-counteroffensive.
The Kremlin seeks to raise its negotiation leverage.
Russia scaled back its offensive on Wednesday after a week of renewed fighting. Russia's foreign minister visited Pyongyang on Thursday. The White House hinted of a $100 billion aid package to be announced Thursday night.
INTELLIGENCE. Russia is buying shells from North Korea and deepening its missile cooperation with Iran as it pushes through a renewed offensive in Ukraine. Accounts of its success differ between Moscow and Kyiv, but the provocative moves suggest the Kremlin want to maximise its position before any peace or armistice talks begin. Western support for Ukraine meanwhile looks shaky. Joe Biden will announce a major package, but Congress needs to agree it.
FOR BUSINESS. Congress remains without a speaker and the lead candidate, Ukraine-sceptic Jim Jordan, looks at least several votes away from winning the race. There’s only so much the White House can do without legislative agreement and support for Kyiv is becoming a political burden. Biden, meanwhile, is trailing Donald Trump by 4 points in early polls, despite the President's strong performance on Israel and Trump’s multiplying legal woes.
With the brevity of a media digest, but the depth of an intelligence assessment, Daily Assessment goes beyond the news to outline the implications.
INDIA. CHINA. Customer wars.
Delhi attempts to replicate Beijing’s economic diplomacy.
Xi Jinping extolled his Belt and Road Initiative to delegates from 130 countries on Wednesday and announced $97.2 billion worth of deals. Indian and Central Asian security chiefs met on Wednesday to discuss deepening cooperation.
INTELLIGENCE. Delhi’s North-South Corridor already has Moscow’s involvement, but Vladimir Putin chose instead to attend Xi’s Belt and Road Forum, despite Russia not being a member of China’s infrastructure initiative. China’s economy is five times the size of India’s and despite Delhi’s historic links with the former Soviet Union, Beijing knows that money talks. It also helps to say nice things. China’s caution on Israel is linked to its courting of Arab states.
FOR BUSINESS. Ten years on, the Belt and Road has defied its critics and warnings of debt diplomacy. China’s economy has also defied the critics. Despite a deflating property bubble, third-quarter GDP growth on Wednesday came in at 4.9% on strong consumer spending. A buoyant Golden Week holiday in October suggests fourth-quarter growth will likewise be solid. India’s growth is forecast to be higher, but its inflation, notably of food, is higher too.
SWEDEN. Cutting the cord.
Another incident shows the vulnerability of subsea connections.
Sweden reported a damaged telecommunications cable on Tuesday, days after Finland and Estonia suggested sabotage at another cable and pipeline. Norway’s navy shadowed a Chinese ship on Monday, tracking data showed.
INTELLIGENCE. The Baltic Sea incidents come a year after an explosion along the Nord Sea pipeline, connecting Russia and Germany. Moscow has been blamed for all three (though recent evidence suggests otherwise for Nord Stream) but reports of Oslo tracking the Chinese vessel ‘NewNew Polar Bear’ suggest other possibilities. Worldwide, there are around one hundred submarine cable breaks annually, mostly caused by caught fishing anchors.
FOR BUSINESS. If Russia (or someone else) aimed to hurt Sweden, there are better ways. Multiple routes create redundancy in the Baltic, but there are chokepoints elsewhere – such as Marseilles, Suez and Singapore – where real damage could be done. And with busier skies, satellites aren’t necessarily safer. Earlier this month, an Australian satellite almost hit a Chinese one. Without tighter rules, the number in orbit could rise 100-fold in the coming years.
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CYBERSPACE. The weakest link.
The internet comes under electronic and regulatory attack.
Five Eyes intelligence chiefs accused China on Tuesday of “unprecedented” hacking and intellectual property theft. Business Insider on Wednesday said social media site X might remove itself from Europe due to new regulations.
INTELLIGENCE. The internet has become essential for the global economy, but its governance is still catching up and a splintering regulatory environment is making international rules more difficult. The idiosyncrasies of its leading lights – business and political – don’t make matters easier, nor do the yet unknown impacts of artificial intelligence, or semiconductor and quantum computing breakthroughs, which will only accelerate and complicate current trends.
FOR BUSINESS. There’s a lot of rubbish written on X (formerly Twitter). There’s also a lot of rubbish written about X. That said, EU regulations are making things harder for Silicon Valley firms and, while politically popular, new rules are also making it harder for Europe to develop a competitive industry of its own. The Chinese internet, other than TikTok, otherwise remains apart, only attracting Western notice in the form of alleged hacks or denial of service attacks.