Fdd's overnight brief

December 11, 2023

FDD Research & Analysis

In The News

Israel

The Israeli military is searching and detaining hundreds of Palestinian men in and around Gaza City, triggering concerns from human rights groups that prisoners are being mistreated. – Wall Street Journal

When Hamas leader Yahya Sinwar was imprisoned in Israel more than a decade ago, he explained to an Israeli official a theory now central to the war in Gaza. Sinwar said that what Israel considers its strength—that most Israelis serve in the army and soldiers hold a special status in society—is a weakness that can be exploited, said Yuval Bitton, who spent time with Sinwar as the former head of the Israel Prison Service’s intelligence division. – Wall Street Journal

Nearly every day now, the Israeli military warns Palestinians to leave swaths of the Gaza Strip—identified by numbered grids—where they expect intense fighting and urges them to seek shelter in so-called deconfliction zones that they say will be safer. Israel says the new grid system, which it started using last week, is designed to give Palestinian civilians a chance to get out of harm’s way while its forces battle Hamas, which it accuses of hiding among civilians and using tunnels dug beneath Gaza’s urban centers. – Wall Street Journal

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel and President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia spoke by telephone on Sunday for the first time in weeks, offering sharply different accounts of what was said in a reflection of the strained relationship between the two leaders since the outbreak of war between Israel and Hamas. – New York Times

Israeli troops conducted at least one targeted raid in the Gaza Strip on Friday in a failed attempt to rescue hostages held by Hamas, both sides said, making competing claims about deaths and injuries inflicted. – New York Times

Just weeks before Hamas launched the deadly Oct. 7 attacks on Israel, the head of Mossad arrived in Doha, Qatar, for a meeting with Qatari officials. For years, the Qatari government had been sending millions of dollars a month into the Gaza Strip — money that helped prop up the Hamas government there. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel not only tolerated those payments, he had encouraged them. – New York Times

Israeli tanks on Monday sought to push further west in their battle against Hamas in and around Khan Younis, the southern Gaza Strip’s main city, as U.N. officials reiterated calls for a ceasefire to avert a humanitarian catastrophe. – Reuters

The 193-member United Nations General Assembly is likely to vote Tuesday on a draft resolution demanding an immediate humanitarian ceasefire in the conflict between Israel and Palestinian militants Hamas in the Gaza Strip, diplomats said on Sunday. – Reuters

The Israeli military, responding on Friday to a Reuters investigation that determined its forces killed a Reuters journalist in southern Lebanon on Oct. 13, said the incident took place in an active combat zone and was under review. – Reuters

Israeli forces stormed into a refugee camp in the occupied West Bank on Friday to arrest suspected Palestinian militants, unleashing fighting with local gunmen in which six Palestinians were killed, health officials said. – Associated Press

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday called on Hamas terrorists to surrender to Israeli troops, urging them not to sacrifice their lives for the terror group’s chief in Gaza, Yahya Sinwar. […]A senior IDF officer also said Sunday that in recent days the military has identified “signs of Hamas breaking” in the Gaza Strip, as it continued its offensive against the terror group. – Agence France-Presse

As the war between Israel and Hamas passes the two-month mark, it’s still unclear how the fighting will end and how long it will last, Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Sunday. – Politico

The Biden administration is increasingly convinced that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has entered “campaign mode” as the premier escalates his rhetoric against the Palestinian Authority, two US officials told The Times of Israel. – Times of Israel

This report presents an initial order of battle (ORBAT) of the al Qassem Brigades at the brigade and the battalion level. The lack of adequate reporting on Hamas’ units at the company level and below precludes a more detailed presentation of those echelons. This ORBAT presents the formal structure of the al Qassem Brigades during the Israeli ground operation in Israel. – American Enterprise Institute

Editorial: Compassion for the civilian plight in Gaza should coexist with an understanding of Hamas’s systematic negation of Palestinian life in the territory over the past decade, as underscored by the military’s revelations. The success of the IDF in Gaza has effectively exposed the intrinsic, systemic nature of these actions, deeply embedded in the very infrastructure of the region. – Jerusalem Post

Johannes Lang writes: Israel’s military leaders need to understand that Hamas and ISIS are not the same. Rather than the campaign against ISIS, Israel must learn the lessons of America’s wars in Vietnam and Afghanistan. Thousands of dead civilians have not led to a change in American or Israeli strategy. Maybe national interest will. – The Hill

David M. Weinberg writes: To the Biden administration I say: Stop throwing “settler violence” in Israel’s face as it fights for its very life against the genocidal Hamas. At best, this is a red herring issue. At worst, it is an ugly attempt to discredit the righteousness of Israel’s war effort. – Jerusalem Post

Efraim Cohen writes: For the safety of our citizens, indeed, for our very survival, we must ignore pressure from the US and other countries to agree to a premature ceasefire. We must defend ourselves with all of our might against those who have proven their desire to destroy us if given the chance. – Jerusalem Post

Leila Seurat writes: For the time being, as its forces have failed to fulfill its objectives in Gaza, Israel has stepped up military operations in the West Bank through daily raids, mass arrests, and sweeping crackdowns. Not only does this raise the prospect of a two-front war after years of Israeli efforts to separate the occupied Palestinian territories from the Gaza Strip. It also suggests that the Israeli military itself may help further Hamas’s own goal of reconnecting Gaza with the broader struggle for Palestinian liberation. – Foreign Affairs

David Schenker writes: Yet U.S. support for the campaign will not last indefinitely. Indeed, at this point, the administration’s continued forbearance will probably be measured in weeks rather than months. Regardless of when the Biden administration finally succumbs to pressure for a ceasefire, however, it should learn the lesson of 2006. UNSCR 1701 ended the war in Lebanon, but the resolution almost certainly guaranteed another, even more destructive, future Israel-Hezbollah conflagration. The takeaway from 2006 is that a bad ceasefire—a truce that leaves Hamas in place—will merely defer the next round of bloodletting. – The National Interest

Iran

Iran’s most prominent human rights activist, Narges Mohammadi, was supposed to be handed the Nobel Peace Prize at a ceremony in Oslo on Sunday. But, locked inside Evin Prison in Iran, Ms. Mohammadi, 51, was unable to attend and her 17-year-old twin children, Kiana Rahmani and Ali Rahmani, instead accepted medal and diploma on her behalf and read out a speech she had prepared. – New York Times

Stock exchange operator Nasdaq has agreed to pay $4 million in a settlement with the U.S. Treasury Department over alleged Iran sanctions violations. – Wall Street Journal

Iran deployed a drone that can launch air-to-air guided missiles, the state-run Islamic Republic News Agency reported. Dozens of the home-made “Karrar” aircraft with the new capability will guard the country’s frontiers and “make enemies seriously reconsider their aerial combat strategies,” IRNA reported Sunday, citing Major General Abdolrahim Mousavi, head of the army. – Bloomberg

Iran said on Sunday that it had begun the trial of a Swedish national employed by the European Union who is charged with spying for Israel and “corruption on earth,” a crime that carries the death penalty. – Reuters

A fire at a small refinery in eastern Iran’s Birjand special economic zone caused two explosions on Sunday and remains out of control, Iran’s state media said. – Reuters

Iran and Saudi Arabia will start formal talks next week to resume direct scheduled flights between Tehran and Riyadh and other cities, an Iranian official told the state-affiliated news agency ILNA on Sunday. – Reuters

The United States on Friday slapped sanctions on dozens of people over human rights abuses, including Iranian officers it accused of being involved in the targeting of U.S. officials, ahead of Human Rights Day on Sunday. – Reuters

Iranian authorities banned members of the late Mahsa Amini’s family from traveling to accept the European Union’s top human rights prize on her behalf, a civil rights monitor reported. Amini’s death while in police custody in 2022 sparked nationwide protests that rocked the Islamic Republic. – Associated Press

Mexico’s immigration agency said Friday its agents have detained two Iranians who they say were under observation by the FBI. The National Immigration Institute did not say what the supposed FBI investigation was about. – Associated Press

Iran warned of the threat of an “uncontrollable explosion” of the situation in the Middle East on Saturday, after the United States vetoed a UN Security Council resolution calling for a ceasefire in the war between Israel and the Hamas terror group. – Agence France-Presse

Far-left billionaire George Soros has funneled more than $50 million to a network of Iran-sympathizer groups whose members have gained significant sway within the Biden White House — pushing to defang US sanctions on Tehran while advocating for a renewed nuclear deal. – New York Post

Yonah Jeremy Bob writes: The flattening of northern Gaza also sends a message to Hezbollah in Lebanon, to Tehran and to Iranian proxies in Syria: Mess with us and expect the same. Israelis are now more inclined to believe their country will use force against Hezbollah and Iran if necessary. […]That won’t end the violence against Israel in the Middle East, but it will shift the balance of power. Israel has shown it is willing to go to the mat when pushed too far. – Wall Street Journal

Stephen Blank writes: All of this obliges us to formulate and execute a more robust policy to deter Iran from assisting its proxies while it makes an unimpeded dash for nuclear weapons. The current war in Gaza is a harbinger of the risks we are taking by failing to sufficiently heed the possibilities open to Iran, especially if it can align itself more closely with Moscow and/or Beijing. Obviously, concerning Iran as well as its partner and its proxies, diplomacy alone does not suffice as policy or strategy. – The Hill

Iulia Sabina-Joja writes: There are dots to connect. In Russia, Iran has gained access to a Muslim-majority region, Tatarstan. It’s in the Tatar capital of Kazan, one of Russia’s largest cities, that Iran is building drones, in a factory that employs children, no less. This is no time for America to turn inward. If anything, Washington needs a wider lens. – The Hill

Dov S. Zakheim writes: Whatever form the American and allied response to the recent Houthi and militia attacks ultimately takes, it should be directed in a manner that sends a clear message to Iran. Either Tehran should cease and desist its destabilizing activities in the region, or it will find that the cost of those activities will continue to increase — until the mullahs find that cost to have become completely unbearable. – The Hill

Russia & Ukraine

A giant Russian cargo plane is facing another cold Canadian winter stuck in Toronto. A court battle could determine its fate. Russian airline Volga-Dnepr has sued the Canadian government, asking a federal court to declare that Canada’s sanctions against it are invalid. – Wall Street Journal

Anxiety is mounting in Ukraine as disagreements in Washington continue to stall billions of dollars of urgently needed wartime funding — aid that officials here say is crucial to keep the country running as the war with Russia grinds on. – Washington Post

Moscow’s touting of the discovery is part of what analysts say is an attempt by Russia to leverage history for diplomatic purposes as the country seeks to renew ties with the outside world and as some countries are growing weary of the conflict in Ukraine. – New York Times

Ukraine shot down on Monday missiles launched by Russia in a strike on Kyiv, with at least four people injured by debris falling on several districts of the capital, officials said. – Reuters

European Union heavyweights are set for a showdown with Hungary this week over giving Ukraine billions of euros in aid and the chance to start membership negotiations, both key objectives for Kyiv as its war with Russia stalls. – Reuters

Pickup trucks and tourniquets bound for Ukraine’s battlefield are among items stuck in a mileslong line at the border with Poland. Components to build drones to fight off Russian forces are facing weeks of delays. – Associated Press

For months, Pentagon officials have warned that without action from Congress, the Defense Department would quickly burn through the remaining security aid for Ukraine. Now they’re saying the tank is almost empty. “It’s fumes,” said Undersecretary of Defense for Acquisition and Sustainment Bill LaPlante, speaking with reporters at the Reagan National Defense Forum over the weekend. – Defense News

Tamar Jacoby writes: This isn’t a time to walk away. If anything, the tightening contest should stiffen our resolve. After nearly two years of vague, open-ended commitment, it’s time to define what victory looks like and give Ukrainians what they need to win. – New York Post

Luke Coffey and Peter Rough write: U.S. policymakers should recognize that the shortest and most direct path to victory for Ukraine runs through Crimea. Ukraine must be armed, trained, and equipped with the campaign for the peninsula in mind. Just as Russia’s war on Ukraine began with the invasion of Crimea in 2014, so too will it only end when Ukraine eventually regains control there. For Washington, a clear eye on the campaign for Crimea is an antidote to doom and gloom. By adjusting its strategy, the West can help Ukraine make crucial progress, weaken Russia in the Black Sea, and chart a path to ending this long and bloody war. – Foreign Policy

Hezbollah

Three members of the Iran-backed Lebanese group Hezbollah were killed in an Israeli drone strike in southwest Syria on Friday, according to two regional sources close to Damascus. – Reuters

Attacks by Iraq’s Kataeb Hezbollah militia against U.S. interests on Friday are the start of “new rules of engagement,” a security official from the group said in a social media post. – Reuters

Violence escalated at Lebanon’s border with Israel on Sunday as Hezbollah launched explosive drones and powerful missiles at Israeli positions and Israeli air strikes rocked several towns and villages in south Lebanon. – Reuters

The son of the head of Hezbollah’s terrorist operations near the Syrian-Israeli border was eliminated in an alleged Israeli drone strike in western Syria on Friday, according to Syrian reports. – Jerusalem Post

Syria

Syria’s army said its air defence shot down Israeli missiles fired at the surroundings of the capital Damascus from the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights on Sunday evening. Others missiles not intercepted caused some damage, the army said in a statement. – Reuters

“Regime forces directly targeted residential areas of the city of Idlib,” said the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, adding that industrial areas were also hit, as well as “residential areas in the town of Sarmin” nearby. Six civilians, “including two children and a woman”, were killed in Idlib and Sarmin, while 25 others were wounded in the strikes in various areas of Idlib province, added the Britain-based Observatory. – Agence France-Presse

Seven members of pro-regime forces were killed in Syria on Friday in an attack by the Islamic State group, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said. – Agence France-Presse

Turkey

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan said Canada and the United States were insisting that Ankara ratify Sweden’s NATO membership bid before Canada resumes the export of drone cameras to Turkey, the text of an interview with media showed on Friday. – Reuters

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan used a speech on human rights Saturday to accuse the West of “barbarism” for its stance on the Israel-Hamas war and what he alleged was its toleration of Islamophobia. – Associated Press

Michael Rubin writes: Erdogan’s bluster may play well among rejectionist Arab states and in Iran, but the West should not be cowed. Rather, the proper response from Washington and Brussels would be to tell Erdogan that he has now acknowledged the criminality of his own policies. If anyone spends his final years in The Hague, it should be Erdogan himself. – American Enterprise Institute

Yemen

The United States, attempting to contain the spread of Israel’s war in Gaza, is pitching allies on expanding a multinational naval task force to address an alarming rise in attacks on commercial vessels traveling near Yemen that have posed a significant threat to global shipping. – Washington Post

The Iran-backed Houthi militia that controls northern Yemen threatened on Saturday to block any vessel sailing to Israeli ports, expanding its earlier warnings to ships passing through the Red and Arabian Seas. – New York Times

Analysts close to the Iranian government said the Houthis’ base in Yemen makes them ideally positioned to escalate fighting in the region, in the hopes of pressuring Israel to end its war with Hamas in Gaza. – New York Times

A French warship operating in the Red Sea has shot down two drones that were launched at it from the Yemen coast, the defence ministry said on Sunday. – Reuters

Jonathan Spyer writes: As to whether the US administration will shift its stance in response to the Houthi attacks, the days ahead will tell. But the activities of Iranian clients and proxies across the region can no longer be plausibly presented as a detail, a sideshow, or a distraction from the main event. – Jerusalem Post

Farzin Nadimi writes: Securing the Bab al-Mandab and surrounding waters is key to ensuring the unhindered passage of trade throughout the region, including the Gulf of Aden, one of the world’s busiest shipping lanes. To safeguard international commerce and a host of other regional interests, the United States should take the following steps. – Washington Institute

Gulf States

Tens of thousands of people from around the world have descended on the Persian Gulf city-state of Dubai for the annual United Nations summit on climate change, bringing the rare spectacle of political mobilization to the United Arab Emirates, the authoritarian host. – New York Times

Mediation efforts to secure a new Gaza ceasefire and free more hostages held by Hamas are continuing, Qatar’s prime minister said Sunday, while blaming Israeli strikes for hampering chances for a successful outcome. – Agence France-Presse

Alex Simon writes: But it also means calling out the more cynical excesses of governments like Mr. Al Jaber’s. Saudi Arabia can’t claim to champion sustainability in the developing world while scheming to get African nations hooked on oil. And the U.A.E. can’t blithely downplay climate science days before hosting a pivotal conference from which we all need real answers. – New York Times

Middle East & North Africa

Just south of Baghdad, the urban sprawl gives way to glimpses of green, with lush date palm groves bordering the Euphrates River. But few risk spending much time there. Not even the Iraqi military or government officials venture without permission. A farmer, Ali Hussein, who once lived on that land, said, “We do not dare to even ask if we can go there.” – New York Times

Moroccans waving Palestinian flags took to the streets of the capital Rabat on Sunday calling on the government to cut ties with Israel in protest against continued Israeli attacks on the Gaza Strip which have killed thousands of civilians. – Reuters

At a joint press conference before meeting with U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken, a group of foreign ministers refused to discuss in detail the future of Gaza, saying the focus should remain on stopping the fighting immediately in the Palestinian enclave between Hamas militants and the Israeli military. – Reuters

Zvi Bar’el writes: The only potential channel for success is the one linking them to Washington. But so far, it appears that this channel too is not very impressed by Arab pressure. Biden’s decisions, including the constraints he is imposing on Israel, derive more from internal pressure within the U.S., mainly because of the terrible human price paid by Gazans, rather than from concerns about a rupture in relations with Arab countries. – Haaretz

Eric Bordenkircher writes: The road to hell is paved with good intentions. Senator Murphy’s Resolution and its co-sponsors’ attempt to reform relations and rectify a minor U.S. foreign policy issue is shortsighted. They actually further complicate a challenging geopolitical environment. Passage of the resolution would make supporters complicit as harbingers of a Middle East rife with nuclear proliferation. Therefore, Resolution 109 needs to be permanently retired. – The National Interest

Korean Peninsula

North Korea is determined to launch more spy satellites in the near future to collect information on the military activities of its enemies, a commentary carried by state news agency KCNA said on Saturday. – Reuters

South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol departs for the Netherlands on Monday for a state visit, with cooperation on semiconductors and a potential “chip alliance” likely to be the highlight of his discussions with political and industry leaders. – Reuters

South Korea’s defense minister on Friday threatened massive retaliatory missile strikes on “the heart and head” of North Korea in the event of provocation, as the rivals escalate their rhetoric over their respective spy satellite launches in recent days. – Associated Press

A U.S. F-16 fighter jet crashed in South Korea on Monday while on a routine training flight and the pilot was rescued after ejecting when the aircraft experienced an “in-flight emergency,” the U.S. Air Force unit stationed in the country said. – Reuters

A North Korean senior official criticised the United States for blocking a U.N. resolution calling for an immediate humanitarian ceasefire in Gaza, claiming the veto showed Washington’s “double standards”, North Korean state media KCNA said on Sunday. – Reuters

A South Korean court ruling in favor of a group of 16 women who were forced to work in Japanese wartime brothels was confirmed on Saturday by Japan’s decision not to appeal the verdict, Seoul’s foreign ministry said. – Reuters

China

On Sunday, with elections now engineered to allow only pro-Beijing candidates, the torrent became more of a trickle. The city saw its worst turnout on record as a little more than a quarter of the city’s registered voters went to cast a vote. More than 70% voted at the last district poll in 2019. – Wall Street Journal

Three years later, her daughter is attending kindergarten here in Ulaanbaatar, where she can learn Mongolian and have pride in her heritage. But the former teacher fears that the Chinese security state could drag them back any day now. – Washington Post

Chinese leaders agreed at an annual planning meeting to step up spending to help rev up the world’s second-largest economy, state media reported Friday, without giving details of any policy changes. – Associated Press

Voter turnout plunged below 30% in Hong Kong’s first district council elections since new rules introduced under Beijing’s guidance effectively shut out all pro-democracy candidates, setting a record low since the former British colony returned to Chinese rule in 1997. – Associated Press

Editorial: Meloni has struck a blow for Italian sovereignty and the U.S.-led democratic international order. The post-1945 American guaranteed order, built on free markets and the democratic rule of law, brings real prosperity and China’s crony Belt and Road Initiative does not. The more that nations realize this, the better. Biden and Congress should make sure the world understands this. – Washington Examiner

Jordan McGillis writes: Despite its demographic challenges, China’s working-age population dwarfs those of the U.S and European Union combined. It is a workforce that is increasingly skilled and educated.And it operates in flexible, frenetic industrial and manufacturing ecosystems that have proven impossible to sustain in America. These advantages are so pronounced that only severe mismanagement could lead to their crumbling. Alas, the clenching fist of Xi Jinping might do just that. – New York Post

South Asia

Since 2020, an opaque organization calling itself the Disinfo Lab has published lengthy dossiers and social media posts claiming to reveal the personal relationships and funding sources behind U.S.-based critics of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi. […]In reality, however, the Disinfo Lab was set up and is run by an Indian intelligence officer to research and discredit foreign critics of the Modi government. – Washington Post

Editorial: In return for Pakistan’s agreement to halt expulsions, the US should share intelligence to help the government locate TTP leaders. Pakistan has a right to address legitimate security concerns. What it should not do is force innocent Afghans, who have seen too much suffering already, to pay the price. – Bloomberg

Ori Wertman and Oshrit Birvadker write: The relationship between India and Israel has progressed significantly in the last decade and has proven its durability, even in times of a global pandemic and existential war. Along with sympathetic public opinion on both sides, there is no doubt that the conditions are ripe for Israel, like their neighboring Gulf countries, to become another destination on the map of Indian migrant workers. Unlike other Gulf countries, however, Israel will also take care of their human rights. Better sooner than later. – Jerusalem Post

Asia

Chinese coast-guard ships blasted water cannons at Philippine boats at least eight times near a contested atoll in the South China Sea, damaging equipment aboard one of them, as escalating tensions between the countries lead to more close encounters in the waters. – Wall Street Journal

China and Japan accused each other of maritime incursions after a confrontation between their coast guards in waters around disputed islands in the East China Sea. – Reuters

Papua New Guinea Prime Minister James Marape said on Monday the Pacific Islands nation, which he sees as a buffer between Asia and the Pacific, had not held talks with China on security after signing a security agreement with neighbour Australia last week. – Reuters

The Philippines said it will summon Beijing’s envoy in Manila after President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. slammed China’s “dangerous actions” in the South China Sea over the weekend, including ramming a Filipino boat. – Bloomberg

The US, European Union, Russia and Turkey welcomed a joint statement by Armenia and Azerbaijan as a potential breakthrough in efforts to end decades of conflict. – Bloomberg

New Zealand Foreign Minister Winston Peters said on Monday he would draw the country closer to intelligence partners the United States, Britain, Canada and Australia, part of a renewed focus on security under the new right-of-centre government. – Reuters

Europe

The British military—the leading U.S. military ally and Europe’s biggest defense spender—has only around 150 deployable tanks and perhaps a dozen serviceable long-range artillery pieces. So bare was the cupboard that last year the British military considered sourcing multiple rocket launchers from museums to upgrade and donate to Ukraine, an idea that was dropped. France, the next biggest spender, has fewer than 90 heavy artillery pieces, equivalent to what Russia loses roughly every month on the Ukraine battlefield. – Wall Street Journal

Individual athletes from Russia and Belarus who successfully qualify for next summer’s Paris Olympics will be allowed to compete in the Games, the International Olympic Committee announced on Friday, ending talk of a blanket ban on competitors from the two nations over the war in Ukraine. – New York Times

Israel helped Cyprus foil an Iranian-ordered attack against Israelis and Jews on the island, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office said on Sunday, saying such plots were on the rise since the Gaza war erupted. – Reuters

European Union foreign ministers on Monday consider possible next steps in response to the Middle East crisis, including a crackdown on Hamas’s finances and travel bans for Israeli settlers responsible for violence in the West Bank. – Reuters

The European Union’s climate chief on Saturday heavily criticised an attempt by OPEC to derail a COP28 deal on phasing out fossil fuels, calling the move by the oil producers’ club “unhelpful” and “out of whack”. – Reuters

When Donald Tusk visited the EU headquarters in October to talk about unfreezing funds from the bloc when he likely returns as Poland’s prime minister, it was a meeting of old friends for a man who used to help run the show. – Reuters

Africa

Sudan has declared 15 staff from the United Arab Emirates embassy persona non grata, ordering them to leave the country within 48 hours, the Sudanese state news agency said on Sunday. […]Late last month, a top Sudanese general said the UAE had been sending supplies to the Rapid Support Forces (RSF), the powerful paramilitary force at war with the army. – Reuters

An African regional body involved in efforts to mediate over the war in Sudan says it has secured a commitment from warring parties to implement a ceasefire and to hold a political dialogue aimed at resolving the conflict. – Reuters

West Africa’s regional bloc ECOWAS on Sunday set up a committee of three leaders to negotiate with Niger’s military junta on a transition to democratic rule and to consider easing sanctions, a communique said after an annual summit. – Reuters

West African heads of state on Sunday officially recognized the junta in power in Niger, but said their sanctions to reverse the July coup in the country would remain even as they initiate steps for a “short” period of transition to civilian rule. – Associated Press

The Americas

A U.S. delegation gave its support to Argentine President-elect Javier Milei over talks with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and developing its lithium sector during a meeting in Buenos Aires on Saturday, a White House official told Reuters. – Reuters

Cuba said late on Saturday it had thwarted a terrorist plot hatched in neighboring south Florida, according to a report broadcast on state-run media, after a man allegedly arrived on the island by jetski to commit acts of violence. – Reuters

The United Nations Security Council on Friday said it had approved the addition of four suspected Haitian gang leaders to its sanctions list, a long-awaited addition as the Caribbean nation faces a worsening humanitarian crisis. The U.N. slapped sanctions on Renel Destina, believed to be the main leader of the Grand Ravine gang; as well as Vitel’homme Innocent, understood to head the Kraze Barye gang; Johnson Andre of 5 Segond; and Wilson Joseph of 400 Mawozo. – Reuters

U.S. officials have begun informal talks to prepare for new negotiations on the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), David Cohen, the country’s ambassador to Canada, told CBC News in an interview published Saturday. – Reuters

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy was travelling to Argentina on Saturday to attend the inauguration of new Argentine President Javier Milei, his first trip to Latin America. Zelenskiy’s trip, announced on the Telegram messaging app, will focus on Ukraine’s longstanding bid to secure the support of countries in the Global South in Ukraine’s 21-month-old war against Russia. – Reuters

Venezuela’s President Nicolas Maduro will meet with Guyana President Mohamed Irfaan Ali on Thursday amid a territorial dispute between the two countries, according to a letter from the prime minister of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines. – Reuters

United States

The State Department is pushing through a government sale to Israel of 13,000 rounds of tank ammunition, bypassing a congressional review process that is generally required for arms sales to foreign nations, according to a State Department official and an online post by the Defense Department on Saturday. – New York Times

The president of the University of Pennsylvania, M. Elizabeth Magill, resigned on Saturday, four days after she appeared before Congress and appeared to evade the question of whether students who called for the genocide of Jews should be punished. – New York Times

Ukraine’s Volodymyr Zelenskiy is headed to Washington for talks with President Joe Biden and US congressional leaders, signaling a push to energize support among his country’s allies almost two years into Russia’s invasion. – Bloomberg

A fifth of Americans ages 18-29 believe the Holocaust was a myth, according to a new poll from The Economist/YouGov. While the question only surveyed a small sample of about 200 people, it lends credence to concerns about rising antisemitism, especially among young people in the U.S. – The Hill

Editorial: Near the end of Mr. Awad’s speech, he said, “I ask young people: Be wise. You are not in Palestine. You are not in Gaza. The language there doesn’t work here.” You know, less on the Jews and violence, and more on human rights. He should have taken his own advice. – Wall Street Journal

Editorial: With so much at stake, the rancor on display this week by Senate leaders was difficult to watch. It is evidence of the performative nature of lawmaking in the United States right now, one that doesn’t seem to benefit anyone except those trying to score political points. Passing this aid package would be a step toward protecting America’s interests, as well as toward getting back to governing. – New York Times

Cybersecurity

European Union officials reached a landmark deal Friday on the world’s most ambitious law to regulate artificial intelligence, paving the way for what could become a global standard to classify risk, enforce transparency and financially penalize tech companies for noncompliance. – Washington Post

A top White House national security official said recent cyber attacks by Iranian hackers on U.S. water authorities — as well as a separate spate of ransomware attacks on the health care industry — should be seen as a call to action by utilities and industry to tighten cybersecurity. – Associated Press

The United States, South Korea and Japan agreed new initiatives on Saturday to respond to North Korea’s threats in cyberspace, including cryptocurrency abuses and space launches, White House National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan said. – Reuters

The leader of U.S. Cyber Command urged Congress to renew a contentious foreign spy program as lawmakers debate its future. – Defense News

Cybersecurity researchers have discovered another campaign in which hackers associated with Russia’s military intelligence are exploiting a vulnerability in Microsoft software to target critical entities, including those in NATO member countries. – The Record

Mohammed Soliman writes: In the Middle East, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates stand out in discussions on global AI governance. Saudi Arabia, a burgeoning G20 economy, has actively supported the G20’s endeavors on the topic, presenting the perspectives of the grouping’s non-Western members. This aligns with Riyadh’s domestic initiatives to enhance its AI capabilities, particularly in developing extensive language models in both Arabic and English. Meanwhile, the UAE, which already serves as a regional technology hub, has demonstrated greater engagement in championing the technology industry and embracing diverse viewpoints on AI governance. – Middle East Institute

Defense

The Marine Corps likely will have to get an outside review of its controversial overhaul plans thanks to a provision in Congress’ defense authorization bill. – Defense News

The U.S. Army has taken delivery of the first Precision Strike Missiles that will begin replacing the legacy Army Tactical Missile System, according to a Dec. 8 service announcement. – Defense News

David Wright and Cameron L. Tracy write: The hypersonic arms race is likely to increase tensions and military spending internationally without enhancing national or global security. Hypersonic weapons do not live up to many of the grandiose claims about their performance, and there are better options for gaining the capabilities they do offer. The United States needs to take a more realistic view of these weapons and the billions of dollars it is spending on them. – Defense News

Long War

Six teenagers were convicted by a court in Paris on Friday in connection with the attack on Samuel Paty, a history teacher whose killing by an Islamist extremist in 2020 shook France to its core. – New York Times

Qatar’s Prime Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani said on Sunday that an entire generation in the Middle East is at risk of becoming radicalised because of the war in Gaza. – Reuters

Joseph D’Souza writes: Extremist Islamic groups do not want peace in the nations of the world. Their vision of global dominance drives their fervor, and it always results in violence. When these groups resort to violence and terrorism, civilized society has no option but to defeat them and to refuse to fall for the propaganda that indiscriminate acceptance of refugees presents no threat to their populations. – Washington Examiner

Erfan Fard writes: The international community must remain vigilant, scrutinizing media coverage to discern between genuine journalism and unwitting collaboration with terrorist agendas. A failure to do so risks allowing terrorism to be glamorized and sanitized, undermining the very foundations of truth and justice that the media should uphold. – Jerusalem Post