Fdd's overnight brief

November 25, 2020

In The News


Iran’s supreme leader dismissed the prospect of new negotiations with the West on Tuesday, even as the Tehran government spoke optimistically about the return of foreign companies in “the absence of Trump” and his sanctions. – Reuters 

Iran’s supreme leader cautioned Tuesday against hopes of an “opening” with the West, after President Hassan Rouhani’s government signalled a readiness to engage with US President-elect Joe Biden. – Agence France-Presse

Antony Blinken, President-elect Joe Biden’s pick for secretary of state, opposed designating the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corp (IRGC) a foreign terrorist organization out of fears it would lead to blowback — a potential sign of the softer stance a Biden administration is expected to take toward Iran. – Fox News

Sweden’s foreign minister spoke to her Iranian counterpart on November 24 after reports that Iran may soon execute Swedish-Iranian scientist Ahmadreza Djalali. – Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty

Iran’s parliament on Tuesday passed a bill requiring the country’s atomic agency to build a new heavy water reactor and operate a metal uranium production plant as part of efforts to challenge international sanctions on its nuclear program, state media reported. – Times of Israel

The United Nations Security Council must demand Iran’s ouster from Syria and condemn attacks by its proxies against Israel from that neighboring territory, Israel’s Ambassador to the UN Gilad Erdan said. – Jerusalem Post 

The daughter of a U.S.-based Iranian-German dissident captured by Iran four months ago as he traveled in the Gulf says Iranian authorities have treated him harshly, denying him access to a family-chosen lawyer and televising new images of him making an apparent forced confession. – VoA News

Steph Shample writes: Cyber security experts have identified six different groups attributed to the Islamic Republic of Iran. These actors are identified forensically by common tactics, techniques, and procedures, as well as similarities in their code and the industries that they target; this attribution is not based on human intelligence inside the Iranian government. Chinese Advanced Persistent Threat (APT) actors are commonly known as “Pandas;” Russian APTs as “Bears;” and Iranian APTs as “Kittens” (yes, really). – Middle East Institute 

Danny Citrinowicz writes:  If Israel decides to become a constructive player and work with the future Biden administration, it may be able to avoid a worst-case scenario in which its greatest ally forms a deal with one of its greatest enemies that harms Israeli interests severely. To pursue such a role in these negotiations, Israeli officials need to start laying groundwork now, working with the Gulf states to ensure that the security interests of these countries are included in any future negotiations while understanding that not all of its demands are likely to be met. – Washington Institute


Violence has erupted in recent weeks in a strategic Syrian city with government forces and former rebels clashing amid a wave of assassinations, revealing the difficulty President Bashar al-Assad faces in maintaining control over areas he says he has pacified. – Washington Post

The Syrian army said early Wednesday that Israel launched air strikes on an area in the southern outskirts of Damascus, where military defectors believe has a strong Iranian military presence in the second such attack within a week. – Reuters 

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov discussed the situations in Syria and Nagorno-Karabakh in a phone call with his Iranian counterpart Mohammad Javad Zarif, Russia’s foreign ministry said on Tuesday. – Reuters 

Shelly Culbertson writes: The next presidential administration in the United States could choose to include diplomatic leadership of a Syria settlement as a priority. And if such a solution cannot be found, then urgent priority could be given to finding ways for refugees to begin normal lives in other countries, with adequate opportunities for jobs and education. The human and economic tolls are too great to continue with the status quo. – The National Interest 


European Union foreign-policy chief Josep Borrell highlighted the possibility of tougher EU sanctions against Turkey over its activities in the eastern Mediterranean, saying the bloc’s leaders will tackle the matter at a Dec. 10-11 meeting. – Bloomberg

A privately owned Turkish company says it has developed an artificial intelligence-based software for swarm drones. […]A government aerospace official said swarm drones would be used in Turkey’s future unmanned aerial combat concept due to their low hardware costs and stealth technology. – C4ISRNET

The trial of the men accused of murdering Saudi Arabian journalist Jamal Khashoggi in Istanbul in 2018 has resumed in Turkey. Twenty Saudi officials, who are not in Turkey, are being tried in absentia. – BBC


Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu made a secret trip to Saudi Arabia on Sunday, according to a Middle Eastern intelligence official, a watershed visit in the historically hostile relations between the two countries – Washington Post

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed have been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize by laureate Lord David Trimble, Netanyahu’s office said. – Bloomberg

David Pollock writes: Amidst American and Israeli press reports—and official Saudi denials—of Prime Minister Netanyahu’s Sunday meeting with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in Neom, Saudi Arabia, a reliable new public opinion poll commissioned by the Washington Institute shows that the Saudi public is divided but increasingly open to contacts with Israel. – Washington Institute 

Simon Henderson writes: So, having a top-level meeting with Netanyahu and Pompeo may make Saudi Arabia’s crown prince feel that he has written himself back into the script of who is transforming the kingdom, and who isn’t. At this stage, it is not clear whether King Salman knew the meeting would take place. The Saudi foreign minister, who may not have been there himself either, has tweeted a denial of the media reports. – The Hill

Gulf States

Yemeni rebels on Monday said they fired a missile that hit a Saudi oil storage facility in the Red Sea port of Jiddah, claiming that it was in retaliation for the Saudi-led coalition’s involvement in Yemen’s war. – Washington Post

Prosecutors in Qatar have charged airport police officers involved in invasive medical exams that were performed on female passengers after a newborn was found abandoned in a Doha airport bathroom. – New York Times 

Huthi rebels in Yemen have agreed to a United Nations mission to inspect and repair the abandoned fuel tanker Safer — currently anchored off Hodeida and at risk of causing an oil spill — the UN said Tuesday. – Agence France-Presse

The Trump administration appears on the verge of officially labeling the Iran-backed Yemeni rebel movement as a terrorist organization, a move that could bring major aftershocks for what is already one of the world’s worst humanitarian and security disasters. – Washington Times 

The United Arab Emirates has stopped issuing new visas to citizens of 13 mostly Muslim-majority countries, including Iran, Syria and Somalia, according to a document issued by a state-owned business park. – Reuters


Lawyers for a Libyan militant convicted in the Benghazi attack that killed Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans have asked for a new trial, citing what they say is “recently disclosed exculpatory evidence.” – Associated Press

Turkey and Germany traded barbs on Tuesday after German soldiers boarded a Turkish vessel on behalf of an EU military mission in the Mediterranean, with Berlin calling its NATO ally’s protests unjustified and Ankara saying the move was illegal. – Reuters 

Timothy P. Carney writes: The invasion also proved to be a disaster. By intervening in Libya’s civil war and deposing dictator Moammar Gadhafi, the United States and its allies created a power vacuum that empowered ISIS, al Qaeda, and species of terrorists you’ve never heard of. The chaos and bloodshed even spread into neighboring countries. Obama repeated in miniature George W. Bush’s error of the Iraq War, but with a twist — Obama waged the Libya war as a drive-by war, refusing to take responsibility for the aftermath of the regime-change he forced. – Washington Examiner 

Jonathan M. Winer writes: Libyans have every right to be skeptical of the leadership capacities of their own political class, who too often have substituted personal agendas for the greater good. But the painful costs of Hifter’s adventurism, the presence of foreign military forces and mercenaries, and the risks of partition, may have prompted Libyan leaders to decide that they are better off dividing up the pie and sharing the pieces among Libyans than having it doled out by foreigners, who would inevitably insist on taking especially large pieces for themselves, leaving Libyans the crumbs. – Middle East Institute

Middle East & North Africa

An Egyptian celebrity has sparked an uproar and been suspended from a stage and film professional’s union after a photo of him with an Israeli pop star was posted online. – Associated Press

Lebanon’s President Michel Aoun said a forensic audit at the nation’s central bank has become a requirement for talks with the International Monetary Fund, days after an audit firm hired to do so quit over lack of data. – Bloomberg 

Mahdi Al-Bannai writes: In the midst of ongoing conflict in the Middle East, which partially stems from competition for energy sources, the role of energy transportation lines like pipelines in regional geopolitics can be a double-edged sword. While often a source of conflict and disagreement, the role of pipelines in the region appears to be transitioning into a potential source of cooperation. Pipelines can act as stable structures that can help produce security, stability, and cooperation on both economic and political levels. – Washington Institute

Korean Peninsula

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi is due to visit South Korea on Wednesday amid talk of a trip to Seoul by Chinese President Xi Jinping. – Reuters 

A South Korean agency for protecting personal information on Wednesday fined Facebook Inc 6.7 billion won ($6.06 million) and sought a criminal investigation for providing users’ personal information to other operators without consent. – Reuters 

South Korean media reacted to news of Biden’s foreign policy appointments with articles suggesting that the incoming administration would not take the tough line on North Korea and dictator Kim Jong Un that some had hoped. Nor will the Biden team return to the Obama-era “strategic patience,” which banked on sanctions to force Pyongyang to give up its weapons. – Newsweek


In the new frontier of vaccine diplomacy, there are two paths: stockpile or share. […]The other approach comes from China and Russia, which have rushed to share their own state-backed vaccines with nations scrambling for supply, positioning themselves to possibly expand their political and economic interests in the process. – Washington Post

A comment from Pope Francis in an upcoming book — in which he called ethnic Uighurs in western China a “persecuted” people for the first time — has set the Chinese government on the defense. – New York Times 

China is considering drawing up a blacklist of “diehard” supporters of Taiwan’s independence, the government said on Wednesday, which may see Beijing try to take legal steps against democratically-elected President Tsai Ing-wen. – Reuters 

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi will meet Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga on Wednesday, marking Beijing’s first high-level contact with Japan’s new leader. – Reuters 

President-elect Joe Biden’s foreign policy team will stand by the “bipartisan consensus” about the threats emanating from China, according to one of President Trump’s top advisers. – Washington Examiner

Prosecutors have stopped trying to prove that an indicted Jacksonville Navy officer was part of a Chinese CEO’s smuggling conspiracy, but have expanded firearms charges tied to his relationship with the CEO. – The Florida Times-Union

Editorial: Shortly before the G-20 convened, Zambia, whose $12 billion foreign debt, mostly owed to China, is equal to about half of its gross domestic product, missed a $42.5 million interest payment. This could turn into the first test for the new common framework; it probably won’t be the last. For the incoming Biden administration, the debt crisis presents an opportunity to achieve two key U.S. objectives: preventing global poverty and holding China accountable for its international conduct. – Washington Post

Joseph Bosco writes: It would not be the first time Kissinger has nominated himself for a pivotal role in U.S.-China relations. When Nixon asked him who should serve as emissary to Beijing to prepare for the president’s historic trip, Kissinger went through the list of high-level candidates and eliminated them until he was the inevitable choice. He is still every president’s indispensable China hand. – The Hill 

Peter Suciu writes: While the U.S. Navy maintained that the ship’s transit through the Taiwan Strait was to demonstrate Washington’s commitment to a free and open Indo-Pacific region, the Chinese government suggested the ship’s very presence undermined peace and stability. Beijing also said that Chinese troops would remain on high alert to resolutely safeguard its national sovereignty and territorial integrity. – The National Interest 

Richard McGregor writes: For a glimpse of the future in a world dominated by China, a good starting point is Australia […]. As documents go, Beijing’s “14 Grievances” doesn’t quite match the “Long Telegram”, the dispatch from George Kennan in 1946 that laid the foundation for US policy of containment towards the Soviet Union in the cold war. But it provides an illuminating road map for a future in which a powerful China demands that its political system be respected and its human rights record stay beyond foreign scrutiny. – Financial Times

Matthew P. Funaiole and Joseph S. Bermudez Jr. write: Several additional sea trials will likely be conducted before the ship is commissioned into the PLAN, which could occur sometime next year. There are two other Type 075 are currently under construction, and it is likely that all three will be commissioned into the PLAN by 2025. Regardless of how many Type 075s the PLAN fields or how they are eventually employed, the new class of ship nonetheless represents a significant step forward for enhancing China’s amphibious capabilities. – Center for Strategic and International Studies


The U.S., European Union and other international donors pledged billions of dollars in aid to war-torn Afghanistan, but said disbursement would depend on progress in talks between Kabul and the Taliban to end nearly two decades of fighting. – Wall Street Journal

At least 14 people were killed in central Afghanistan on Tuesday when two blasts ripped through the historic city of Bamiyan, home to many members of the mainly Shiite Hazara ethnic minority, officials said. – Agence France-Presse

Carter Malkasian writes: Keeping 2,500 troops, on the other hand, offers insurance against terrorist threats but binds the United States to an escalating civil war. […]The Taliban are dead-set against a U.S. military presence on Afghan soil. We were in a much better position to wage such a war six months ago when 8,600 troops were on the ground. With 2,500, we would be searching for terrorists while fending off the Taliban with the bare minimum of resources and no end in sight. All the while, the Afghan people would be suffering through more years of destruction. – Washington Post

South Asia

India banned 43 more Chinese apps in New Delhi’s latest move to pressure China in the online industry as tensions fester following a deadly border clash between the neighboring countries. – Wall Street Journal

Pakistan gave U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres a dossier on Tuesday accusing India of stoking terrorism in Pakistan, a day after India provided a dossier to some U.N. Security Council members accusing militants from Pakistan of attempting an attack in the disputed Indian territory Kashmir. – Reuters 

Aparna Pande writes: Rising protectionism, arbitrary taxation, and excessive regulation that target foreign investment do not project the image of an India that is open and welcoming. These factors could limit India’s potential and hinder growth. – The Diplomat


Japan used a visit by the Chinese foreign minister on Wednesday to protest Beijing’s increased activity and what it calls infiltration around disputed East China Sea islands. – Associated Press

Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam lauded the city’s new national security law on Wednesday as “remarkably effective in restoring stability,” despite criticism that it is severely narrowing the space for free speech and political opposition in the semi-autonomous Chinese territory. – Associated Press

Australia has cancelled the citizenship of an Algerian-born Muslim cleric who was convicted of leading a terrorist cell that planned to bomb a football match in Melbourne in 2005, Minister for Home Affairs Peter Dutton said on Wednesday. – Reuters 

Thailand faced criticism from international rights groups on Wednesday for bringing charges of insulting the monarchy against protest leaders who have challenged King Maha Vajiralongkorn as well as the government. – Reuters 

Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Andrew Wheeler is postponing an official trip to Taiwan after The New York Times published a report on its costs. The postponement also comes after China forcefully objected to a recent reported Taiwan visit from a U.S. Navy admiral. – The Hill

South Caucasus

The Azerbaijani army has entered the Kalbajar region, one more territory ceded by Armenian forces in a truce that ended deadly fighting over the separatist territory of Nagorno-Karabakh, Azerbaijan’s Defense Ministry said Wednesday. – Associated Press

As war raged this autumn over Azerbaijan’s breakaway region of Nagorno-Karabakh, some Armenians expressed a sense of betrayal that long-standing ally Russia wasn’t providing more support to ethnic Armenian fighters in the conflict. – Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty

Russian President Vladimir Putin discussed the implementation of a Russian-brokered agreement that stopped the war in the breakaway Nagorno-Karabakh region in separate phone calls with Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev and Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian, the Kremlin said on November 24. – Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty 

The full meaning of the ­recent war in the Caucasus was captured in a sad video of Armenians gathered outside an old mountain church to sing one last hymn before going into exile. This small Christian nation’s humiliation at the hands of Azerbaijan and Turkey, two American allies, reveals the limits of US power and the need for a new strategy to aid Mideast Christians. – New York Post


A Russian naval vessel threatened to ram a U.S. warship navigating through disputed waters in the Sea of Japan. Russia’s claims on the area have been a hot-button issue since the Soviet era. – The Hill 

Now the Russian military has announced that the Technodinamika Group—part of the state tech corporation Rostec —plans to complete the manufacturer’s trials of the unique ceramic armor for armored vehicles at the beginning of next year. – The National Interest 

Russia’s Federal Security Service said on Wednesday it had thwarted “terror” attacks planned by Islamic State in the Moscow region, uncovering and breaking up a militant cell, the RIA news agency said. – Reuters 

Tom Rogan writes: Yet this isn’t just about principles over freedom of navigation. This action should also be seen as a response to the Russian Navy’s escalating harassment of civilian vessels operating in America’s exclusive economic zone off Alaska. That Russian activity has damaged U.S. fishing commerce and is designed to test how far Russia can fray the edges of America’s Arctic resolve. – Washington Examiner


United Nations investigators reported in 2011 that at the spa, “the prisoners were raped repeatedly.” The investigators detailed how, during the Balkan wars of the early 1990s, the spa had been commandeered by a gang of Serb nationalist thugs who called themselves the White Eagles and The Avengers. Many of their captives, mostly Bosnian Muslim women but also some men, the U.N. concluded, were “never seen again.” – New York Times 

A car reportedly crashed into the gate of German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s government office in Berlin on Wednesday, causing minor damage according to initial photos and prompting an investigation into whether the driver deliberately steered the vehicle toward the security cordon. – Washington Post

The parents of a British teen who was killed in a crash lost a court battle with the U.K. government Tuesday over whether an American woman involved in the collision had diplomatic immunity. – Associated Press

European Union chief Charles Michel is inviting Joe Biden once he is U.S. president to come visit and patch up trans-Atlantic relations that have suffered over the past four years under President Donald Trump. – Associated Press

A court in Berlin heard Tuesday how witnesses alerted police after seeing a man dump a wig, clothes and a bicycle in a river last year, allowing officers to swiftly arrest the suspect in an alleged Russia-ordered political assassination. – Associated Press

Lithuania’s parliament approved Tuesday conservative Ingrida Simonyte as the Baltic country’s next prime minister before shutting down for a week because of a recent COVID-19 spike in the country. – Associated Press

German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said Tuesday he hopes a reset of U.S.-European relations under the Biden administration can end years in which Europe was mainly concerned with “damage control.” – Associated Press

Azeem Ibrahim writes: By leading the way like this, even if the efforts of the British government will not be sufficient to assure resilience against Russian and Chinese attacks on their own, Britain once again put itself at the nexus of the defence arrangements of the West. It therefore looks like the U.S.-UK nexus will once again be the beating heart of the wider Trans-Atlantic Alliance. Fortunately, it looks like the UK is determined to remain globally relevant, even in the wake of Brexit. – The National Interest 

Leon Hartwell writes: To that end, the United States could play a constructive role by pushing the EU’s non-recognizing members to recognize Kosovo’s sovereignty. Unanimous recognition in the West will in turn make it easier for Serbia’s president Aleksandar Vučić to sell recognition back home if his public understands that there is no daylight between Washington D.C. and Brussels on this matter. A little effort early on to get everyone aligned will prevent cooking up another çorbë as negotiations get tense. – Center for European Policy Analysis 


Hundreds of people in a town in Ethiopia’s northern Tigray region were stabbed, strangled and hacked to death in an apparent ethnically based attack that may amount to crimes against humanity and war crimes, Ethiopia’s human rights watchdog said Tuesday. – Washington Post

Fighting between Ethiopia’s military and regional forces from the northern Tigray region is seriously destabilising the East African and Horn region and hostilities should halt, the European Union foreign policy chief said. – Reuters 

Ethiopia’s prime minister is rejecting a growing international consensus for dialogue and a halt to deadly fighting in the country’s Tigray region as “interference,” saying his country will handle the conflict on its own as a 72-hour surrender ultimatum runs out. – Associated Press

Former Niger President Mamadou Tandja has died at agef 82, the government said Tuesday. Tandja, who was elected to lead Niger twice from 1999 to 2010, was eventually overthrown in a coup d’etat after trying to change the constitution to extend his grip on power. – Associated Press

Ethiopia has sent home three soldiers of Tigrayan ethnicity from U.N. peacekeeping force in South Sudan, a diplomatic and security source told Reuters, weeks after conflict broke out between the federal government and northern region of Tigray. – Reuters 

Wrapped in borrowed clothing, the child is one of the newest and most fragile refugees among more than 40,000 who have fled the Ethiopian government’s offensive in the defiant Tigray region. – Associated Press

Alarm spiraled Tuesday over Ethiopia’s imminent tank attack on the capital of the defiant Tigray region and its population of half a million people, while the U.N. Security Council met for the first time on the three-week-old conflict amid warnings that food in the region is running out. – Associated Press

The death toll from last week’s protests over the arrest of Ugandan opposition presidential hopeful and musician Bobi Wine has risen to 45, police say, with more than 800 people arrested. – Associated Press

Ethiopia’s government is again warning residents of the besieged capital of the embattled Tigray region as the clock ticks on a 72-hour ultimatum before a military assault, saying “anything can happen.” – Associated Press

Latin America

Venezuela’s opposition hopes to maintain bipartisan support from politicians in the United States as President-elect Joe Biden prepares to take office in January, opposition leader Juan Guaido said in an interview on Tuesday. – Reuters 

China’s embassy in Brazil on Tuesday said a son of President Jair Bolsonaro had harmed relations between the two countries with critical comments about telecommunications equipment firm Huawei. – Reuters 

Guatemala’s embattled government opened talks on a revised budget on Tuesday, after days of protests forced Congress to back off from approving a business-friendly spending plan backed by President Alejandro Giammattei. – Agence France-Presse

Western Union closed its 407 locations across Cuba on Monday, a sanctions-driven move that will leave thousands bereft of remittances on an island that depends heavily on them or force them to use less reliable ways to bring in money. – Associated Press

The UN has said that the deadly beating of a black man by white guards in Brazil exemplified “structural racism”, and called for an independent investigation and urgent reforms in the country. – The Guardian

North America

A Canadian police supervisor who oversaw the arrest of Huawei Chief Financial Officer Meng Wanzhou relayed a “strong suggestion” from her superior to an arresting officer that Meng be apprehended on the aircraft she arrived on, according to court testimony on Tuesday. – Reuters 

Canada welcomes the choice of John Kerry as new U.S. climate envoy but will press Washington not to cancel permits for an oil pipeline he opposes, Ottawa’s ambassador to the United States said on Tuesday. – Reuters 

Joe Biden’s pick to be the next U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, a low-key, veteran foreign service officer, reflects the president-elect’s intent to return to a more traditional role at the world body as well as offer an olive branch to a beleaguered diplomatic corps. – Associated Press

Dana Milbank writes: Though there will be political squabbles aplenty and crises yet unknowable, the return to competence and cooperation should comfort all who don’t subscribe to “America First” isolationism or international conspiracy theories. We will once again be allied with our allies, and our president won’t think Finland is part of Russia. – Washington Post

United States

These are challenging times for foreigners whose job it is to interpret American politics for people in other countries. As President Trump has used a string of maneuvers to attack the election he lost as fraudulent and illegitimate, many observers are perplexed as they watch the country they have known and admired floundering in a constitutional crisis and growing mistrust of democratic institutions. – Washington Post

Two Houston men are facing federal charges for trying to sell 50 million nonexistent N95 face masks to a foreign government, the U.S. Department of Justice announced Tuesday. – Washington Post

President-elect Joe Biden said on Tuesday the United States will be “ready to lead” again on the global stage, turning the page on Republican President Donald Trump’s “America First” policies as he pledged to work together with the nation’s allies. – Reuters 

David Rothkopf writes: Not only is Biden unusually qualified in this area, he has a network of international relationships and relationships in Washington without parallel. […]The result is a group that, while sure to make its own mistakes, will at least avoid those of the recent past and be better able to adapt to changing fortunes, which for America at this point in our history, could not be more important. – USA Today


President-elect Joe Biden’s pick to lead the Department of Homeland Security will bring a boatload of cybersecurity experience to the job. […]If he wins confirmation, cybersecurity pros are hoping he can help resume stalled efforts to boost international cooperation in cyberspace and help restore ties between government and industry on cybersecurity that frayed during the Trump administration. – Washington Post

YouTube said it suspended right-wing channel One America News for one week, beginning Tuesday, for violating its policy against misinformation related to the covid-19 pandemic and temporarily stripped the channel of its ability to make money from other videos. – Washington Post

The European Union wants to take control of its own data, part of a broader effort to wrest digital influence from large companies in the U.S. and China. – Wall Street Journal

For the past four years, President Donald Trump has enjoyed the special status of a world leader on Twitter and Facebook, even as he used his perch atop the social media pyramid to peddle misinformation and hurl abuse at his critics. – Associated Press

Telecom companies in Britain face hefty fines if they don’t comply with strict new security rules under a new law proposed in Parliament on Tuesday that is aimed at blocking high-risk equipment suppliers like China’s Huawei. – Associated Press

The U.S. Federal Communications Commission affirmed its decision to designate ZTE Corp. as a national security threat over concerns telecommunications gear made by the Chinese company could be used for spying. – Bloomberg

The U.S. intelligence community is raising concerns about the Chinese Communist Party’s influence over digital currencies with the Securities and Exchange Commission. – Washington Examiner

The disinformation scenario that local election officials feared months ago has come true: President Donald Trump’s false claims of voter fraud have been picked up by many state and local Republican officials across the country, and polls now show that more than two-thirds of GOP voters believe the 2020 election was neither free nor fair. – USA Today

Stephen Silver writes: Twitter will next face the question, once the Trump Administration is over, of whether to treat his account any differently once he is no longer a head of state. Twitter’s rules provide a certain amount of leeway for users who are “world leaders, candidates, and public officials,” which explains why the president’s account, as well as that of Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, remain Twitter users of good standing despite what appear to be serial violations of the company’s terms of service. – The National Interest 

Ryan Dukeman writes: Skepticism towards technology is as old as the diplomatic profession itself: Upon receiving his first telegraph message in the 1860s, British Prime Minister Lord Palmerston, for example, exclaimed, “My God, this is the end of diplomacy!” Yet when used properly, AI can empower (rather than replace) career diplomacy like never before, putting civilian foreign policymakers back into the driver’s seat at home and overseas through leadership on a major “gray rhino” security threat and improved decision-making. – War on the Rocks


The U.S. Air Force office responsible for the development of the B-21 bomber and X-37 space plane has been handed the reins of the Advanced Battle Management System program, the service’s top acquisition official announced Nov. 24. – C4ISRNET

A production decision for the U.S. Army’s critical battle command system has been delayed, the service confirmed to Defense News. – Defense News

The U.S. Army’s office for procuring sensors, electronic warfare systems, intelligence programs and cyber tools recently created an integration office designed to better align the various elements of its portfolio across the larger Army, joint force and commercial industry. – C4ISRNET

USS Gerald R. Ford (CVN-78) has been in and out of port for more than a year as the Navy continues to wring out the bugs from the new technologies on the next-generation carrier. While progress is steady, the program still has several milestones to achieve before it’s ready for its inaugural deployment. – USNI News

The Navy on Tuesday refuted Russia’s claim that it found and drove an American warship out of the Sea of Japan. – USNI News

A West Coast amphibious warship transited the Panama Canal on Monday on a mission to support anti-narcotics operations in the Caribbean, Navy officials told USNI News. – USNI News

The U.S. Air Force just proved it can externally mount an advanced stealth cruise missile on the B-1B Lancer for the first time, a step forward in plans to have the B-1 carry future ordnance — like hypersonic missiles — outside of its internal bomb bay. – Military.com

Air Force Special Operations will have to adapt to major changes in mission and organization while coping with tighter budgets in the new era of great power competition, Lt. Gen. James Slife said Monday. – Military.com

Long War

Lawyers representing Shamima Begum, a London schoolgirl who traveled to Syria in 2015 to join the Islamic State, on Tuesday called on Britain’s Supreme Court to allow her to return to her home country to mount her defense, saying the court should not assume she posed a serious threat. – New York Times 

Swiss police have identified a Swiss woman who knifed a victim in the neck and grabbed another by the throat in a Lugano department store on Tuesday as a known jihadist. – Reuters 

France’s lower house of parliament approved a new security law on Tuesday designed to strengthen the powers of the police and restrict the way in which images identifying individual police officers can be used online, on air and in print. The “general security” law — which will go before the Senate, the upper house of parliament, in January — is the latest of several government edicts and pieces of legislation introduced by President Emmanuel Macron in recent months to tackle crime and terrorism. – Financial Times

Three years after ISIS was defeated, thousands of Yazidi women and children remain missing. Some, enslaved and held by ISIS fighters, are believed to have been killed in battles across northern Iraq and Syria. But hundreds of others are thought to be living still with the families of ISIS members. – NPR 

Joshua Rovner writes: Intelligence will enable Biden’s preferred form of counter-terrorism, a streamlined approach that trades conventional armies for special operations forces and drones. The results of this approach will depend in large part on the quality of intelligence. Rather than overwhelming armed groups through superior numbers, “small footprint” counter-terrorism uses precise intelligence to target individuals and disrupt their organizations. Financial information is also important for cutting off terrorists’ funding sources. Intelligence enables all of these efforts, saving conventional military forces for other tasks – or bringing them home. – War on the Rocks 

Amalina Abdul Nasir and Rueben Ananthan Santhana Dass write: As foreign fighters and their families scour for places to seek refuge, Malaysia may inadvertently turn out to be an attractive destination given the country’s visa-waiver program; the porousness of the tri-border region of Sabah, Indonesia, and the Philippines; and insider threats. In the past, terrorists have capitalized on these vulnerabilities. Given the country’s susceptibility to being used as a terrorist safe haven and platform for staging trans-border terrorist attacks, Malaysian authorities need to strengthen and improve existing measures aimed at countering terrorist infiltration. – Middle East Institute

Trump Administration

President Trump effectively surrendered his three-week protest of the election results Monday by submitting to the government’s official transition to the incoming Biden administration, bowing to a growing wave of public pressure yet still stopping short of conceding to President-elect Joe Biden. – Washington Post

With his national-security picks, President-elect Joe Biden is assembling a team of foreign-policy centrists who believe the U.S. should play the pivotal role in leading Western democracies and addressing global issues like climate change. – Wall Street Journal

U.S. President Donald Trump has told allies he plans to pardon his former national security adviser Michael Flynn, who had pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI during an investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election, a source familiar with the situation said on Tuesday. – Reuters