Fdd's overnight brief

December 16, 2019

In The News


In recent days, Iran hawks in Congress leveraged Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s interest in a Senate run to win a key concession from the Trump administration that could help their bid to kill the nuclear deal with Tehran. – Associated Press

Iran’s telecommunications minister announced on Sunday that the country has defused a second cyberattack in less than a week, this time “aimed at spying on government intelligence.” – Associated Press

Talks between Saudi Arabia and Qatar to heal their two-year rift are a good development for the whole Gulf region, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said on Sunday in Doha. – Reuters

The U.S. is open to dialogue with Iran even as Washington enforces sanctions against the Islamic Republic, Brian Hook, the U.S. special representative for Iran, said in a Bloomberg TV interview. – Bloomberg

The chief U.S. diplomat on Iran Brian Hook said during a conversation at the Council on Foreign Relations on December 12 that Iranians did not back the regime in the face of U.S. maximum pressure policy. – Radio Farda

The call by a prominent reformist politician in Iran for President Hassan Rouhani to resign has angered hardliners, who themselves have been attacking the president for the past three years. – Radio Farda

The American sanctions imposed on Iran violate the United Nations charter and international law, Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad told a conference in Qatar on Saturday. – Reuters

At least 304 people were killed in Iran during a three-day crackdown against protests across the country in November, according to a new Amnesty International toll published Monday. – Agence France-Presse

Peter Henne writes: Apparent restraint by Saudi Arabia and the UAE may suggest more ambivalence over war with Iran in the region than most expect. The Gulf Arab countries are still far from united, with disagreement on ideology and power politics (especially the blockade of Qatar) preventing them from forming a strong anti-Iran coalition. There is increasing space between Saudi Arabia and the UAE over Yemen, and the UAE more broadly appears increasingly focused on restoring regional stability. – Washington Post

Mohammad S. Alzoubi writes: Since Saudi Arabia broke ties with Iran following the 2016 ransacking and torching of the Saudi Embassy in Tehran, tensions have soared and the potential for a full-fledged military confrontation has become virtually unavoidable.[…] And if these two adversaries can find common ground, it may lend hope in extinguishing other flames ignited by years of surrounding regional conflicts. – Washington Institute

Patrick Clawson writes: For all the talk about a “resistance economy,” Iran remains heavily dependent on oil and oil-related industries (e.g., petrochemicals), whose share in export earnings is even higher than their contribution to government finances. And if Washington is successful at squeezing Iran’s oil sales even further, the country’s problems will only get worse. For instance, if U.S. sanctions force Tehran to sell oil at severely discounted prices, that would undercut government revenue almost as much as if Iran could not export that oil at all. – Washington Institute


The Trump administration levied sanctions against two Lebanese men officials said are prime donors to the militant Hezbollah movement, which the U.S. has designated as a terrorist organization. – Wall Street Journal

Lebanon’s Hezbollah said on Friday the next government must bring together all sides so that it can tackle the country’s worst economic crisis in decades, signaling no progress in talks on a new cabinet. – Reuters

The Austrian MP, Helmut Brandstätter, on Thursday jump started a parliamentary initiative to consider a government ban of the entire Lebanese terrorist organization Hezbollah in the central European country. – Jerusalem Post

Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah on Friday dismissed reports claiming that a senior Iranian Revolutionary Guards official had threatened that Iran would respond from Lebanon and “flatten Tel Aviv” if Israel “makes a mistake” against Iran. – Arutz Sheva


With the world distracted by impeachment in the US, a British election, Iranian tensions, Iraqi protests and Turkey’s invasion of part of northern Syria, the Syrian regime has been quietly bombing Idlib province and planning an offensive. It has wanted to carry out an  offensive since the fall of 2018 but was hampered by various problems, not the least of which is that its Russian ally has been selling Turkey S-400s air defense. – Jerusalem Post

Syria was never a large oil producer compared to its resource-rich neighbors. But somehow the small reserves, barely pumping now after more than eight years of war, have become a linchpin for political control. – CNBC

Syria has started talks with Chinese construction companies to rebuild the war-ravaged country as its security situation improves, the president said. – Bloomberg

Nikolay Pakhomov writes: Today the United States is struggling to understand who are “mainstream rebels” and who is in the “democratic opposition” in Syria, not to mention whether to provide the “good guys” with the most sophisticated weapons. Although Syria is not Afghanistan 40 years ago, Russia still has enough to study beyond the Soviet negative experience, or even the doomed American transition in Vietnam—from the bombings to the land campaign. – The National Interest


Turkey could shut down its Incirlik air base, which hosts U.S. nuclear warheads, in response to threats of U.S. sanctions and a separate U.S. Senate resolution that recognized mass killings of Armenians a century ago as genocide, President Tayyip Erdogan said on Sunday. – Reuters

President Tayyip Erdogan said on Sunday Turkey is ready to provide Tripoli any military support it needs after Ankara and Libya’s internationally recognized government signed a security deal. – Reuters

Turkey has dispatched a surveillance and reconnaissance drone to the breakaway north of ethnically divided Cyprus amid tensions over offshore oil and gas exploration, Turkey’s state-run Anadolu news agency said Monday. – Associated Press

The European Union should spend more than the 6 billion euros ($6.6 billion) already allotted to fund Syrian refugees in Turkey, and speed up the flow of that money, the Turkish foreign ministry’s EU point person said on Saturday. – Reuters

Turkey could finalize terms for delivery of a second consignment of S-400 advanced missile defenses from Russia by April when the first batch will be ready to operate, Ankara’s defense industry chief said on Friday. – Reuters

A Hamas delegation led by its chief, Ismail Haniyeh, met Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in Istanbul on Saturday and spoke to him about the dire humanitarian situation in the Gaza Strip, the terror group said in a report posted on its official website. – Times of Israel

Turkey on Friday added exiled Palestinian Arab politician Mohammed Dahlan, a longtime rival of Palestinian Authority (PA) chairman Mahmoud Abbas, to its “red list” of most-wanted terrorism suspects. – Arutz Sheva

Turkey has been warned by an international watchdog to improve “serious shortcomings” in its approach to combating money laundering and terrorist financing or face being added to an international “grey list” — a step that could damage its ability to attract foreign financing. – Financial Times

Asli Aydintasbas writes: Still, there are external factors that could extend the shelf life of the current regime. An overseas military adventure would be one. How Washington handles Turkey matters a lot. President Trump’s reelection in 2020 would extend the strategic bromance, making it easier for Erdogan to manage the Turkish economy and domestic tensions. The U.S. Congress imposing sanctions on Turkey, as it is prepared to do, would also rally nationalists around the Turkish president. – Washington Post


Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Sunday he has been given assurances by the son of Brazil’s president that Brazil will follow the United States and move its embassy to Jerusalem next year. – Reuters

The UN voted to extend the United Nations Relief and Works Agency’s (UNRWA) mandate until 2023, in addition to approving seven other pro-Palestinian resolutions on Friday. UNRWA was established 70 years ago to supply aid to Palestinian refugees. – Jerusalem Post

Palestinian Authority security forces arrested dozens of Hamas supporters in the West Bank in the past few days. – Jerusalem Post

Senior Hamas leader Mahmoud al-Zahar said on Sunday that Hamas does not see the parliamentary and presidential elections in the Palestinian Authority (PA) as a goal in itself, but rather as a means of strengthening the plan of resistance against Israel. – Arutz Sheva

Israel and Montenegro have signed a first government-to-government agreement awarding Elbit Systems a contract worth approximately $35 million for the acquisition of Remote Control Weapon Stations (RCWS) for their new joint light tactical vehicles. – Jerusalem Post

Turkish Navy ships chased off an Israeli research ship sailing in near Cyprus, News 13’s Barak Ravid quoted senior Israeli officials involved in the issue as saying. – Arutz Sheva

The Al-Qassam Brigades, Hamas’ “military wing”, said on Thursday that, as part of the ongoing campaign with the “enemy”, an important security and intelligence achievement will be revealed over the next few days. – Arutz Sheva

Usama al-Mazini, a senior Hamas official in Gaza, said that Hamas will not hesitate to force new rules if the “siege” on Gaza is not lifted. – Arutz Sheva

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sissi met on Sunday in the Sinai resort town of Sharm al-Sheikh and discussed Arab support for the Palestinians in international forums, the official PA news site Wafa reported. – Times of Israel


The Treasury Department announced sanctions Friday against a diamond dealer who the government said has used an art gallery in Beirut, Lebanon, and an extensive personal collection, sprinkled with names like Pablo Picasso and Andy Warhol, to shelter and launder money. – New York Times

Lebanese security forces fired tear gas, rubber bullets and water cannons Sunday to disperse hundreds of protesters for a second straight day, ending what started as a peaceful rally in defiance of the toughest crackdown on anti-government demonstrations in two months. – Associated Press

Saad al-Hariri is expected to be named Lebanon’s prime minister on Monday, but political rifts look set to hinder agreement on a new government badly needed to rescue the country from a dire economic crisis. – Reuters

Gulf States

U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said on Saturday U.S. troops were in Saudi Arabia on a defensive basis only and that the United States would end all sanctions on Iran when Tehran fulfilled necessary conditions. – Reuters

There has been small progress in resolving a bitter dispute between Qatar and some of its neighbors, the Gulf state’s foreign minister said on Saturday, just days after its premier visited Saudi Arabia. – Reuters

Qatar will stand by Lebanon during its current economic crisis, Qatari Finance Minister Ali al-Emadi told a conference in Doha on Saturday. – Reuters

Qatar isn’t currently in talks with the United Arab Emirates over mending a 30-month regional diplomatic and economic rift, Qatari Foreign Minister Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani said in a Bloomberg TV interview. – Bloomberg

The Qatar Fund for Development (QFFD) and UNRWA, the UN agency for “Palestinian refugees”, on Sunday signed an agreement under which Qatar will contribute $20.7 million to support the access of “Palestinian refugees” to basic services in Syria, the Palestinian Authority’s official Wafa news agency reported. – Arutz Sheva

Middle East & North Africa

Algeria newly-elected president Abdelmadjid Tebboune vowed after his victory was announced Friday to reach out to pro-democracy protesters, who massively took to the streets to challenge his election at the head of the oil-rich nation crippled by rampant corruption. – Associated Press

Iraq’s top Shiite cleric on Friday denounced the killing of a teenager whose body was strung up by his feet from a traffic pole in a Baghdad square, as conflicting versions emerged about what led to the 16-year-old’s death. – Associated Press

Hundreds of demonstrators supporting a powerful Iran-backed militia group in Iraq poured into a central Baghdad plaza Saturday, some burning American flags to protest recent U.S. sanctions against key leaders. – Associated Press

Just two days after rebel Libyan commander Khalifa Hifter declared a “final” and decisive battle for the capital Tripoli, heavy fighting raged for a 24-hour period between his troops and militias loosely allied with the internationally backed government based in the city, officials said Saturday. – Associated Press

Jordan on Saturday hailed a decision by the UN General Assembly to extend the mandate of UNRWA, the UN agency for “Palestinian refugees” until 2023. – Arutz Sheva

Sanam Vakil writes: By using the G-20 as a forum to discuss climate change and youth unemployment, both critical issues for the Middle East, the kingdom might be able to rebrand itself enough to improve its international image, and a more judicious foreign policy might restore investor confidence—and bring a modicum of stability to the region. – Foreign Affairs

Korean Peninsula

At February’s nuclear summit in Vietnam, President Trump was applauded by Washington for walking away from the table instead of taking a bad deal. But now, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un might be the one prepared to wait. Pyongyang has kept its economy afloat by sidestepping sanctions, using its local resources more efficiently and finding alternative ways to generate foreign cash. – Wall Street Journal

The top United States envoy on North Korea warned on Monday that if Pyongyang conducted a major weapons test in the coming days as feared, it would be “most unhelpful,” as Washington tried to de-escalate tensions with the country. – New York Times

A senior U.S. diplomat said Monday that Washington won’t accept a year-end deadline set by North Korea to make concessions in stalled nuclear talks and urged Pyongyang to return to a negotiating table immediately. – Associated Press

North Korea said it successfully performed another “crucial test” at its long-range rocket launch site that will further strengthen its nuclear deterrent. – Associated Press

Protesters angry over American demands that South Korea pay more for defense destroyed portraits of the U.S. ambassador stuck on blocks of tofu outside the U.S. embassy on Friday after police warned them against staging a more aggressive demonstration. – Reuters

Senior Japanese and South Korean trade officials met on Monday for the first time since Japan imposed controls on exports to its neighbor of high-technology materials, plunging testy relations between the U.S. allies into a new crisis. – Reuters


A state-run television network in China canceled a live broadcast Sunday of an English Premier League soccer match after the Arsenal star Mesut Özil publicly condemned the country’s treatment of fellow Muslims. – New York Times

The American government secretly expelled two Chinese Embassy officials this fall after they drove on to a sensitive military base in Virginia, according to people with knowledge of the episode. The expulsions appear to be the first of Chinese diplomats suspected of espionage in more than 30 years. – New York Times

President Trump claimed a multi-front victory last week in his bid to reshape U.S. trade policy, extracting fresh commercial concessions from Mexico and China while stripping the World Trade Organization of its powers to restrain the tactics he used to secure them. – Wall Street Journal

China’s foreign minister Friday called the United States the “troublemaker of the world” and threatened to “sever the black hands” supporting protests in Hong Kong, in strident language that was markedly at odds with rosy trade talk from Washington. – Washington Post

China expressed cautious optimism Saturday about a first-step trade agreement that dials down a trade war it blames the U.S. for starting. – Associated Press

Even in the euphoria of finally reaching a trade deal with China following months of tempestuous talks, US trade representative Robert Lighthizer struck a wary tone on whether Beijing would follow through on the pledges it had just agreed. – Financial Times

China has suspended tariffs on some U.S. goods that had been scheduled to go into effect on Sunday after the two nations reached a “phase one” trade deal, officials said. – The Hill

China’s ambassador to Germany threatened Berlin with retaliation if it excludes Huawei Technologies Co. as a supplier of 5G wireless equipment, citing the millions of vehicles German carmakers sell in China. – Bloomberg

The Xinjiang regional government in China’s far west is deleting data, destroying documents, tightening controls on information and has held high-level meetings in response to leaks of classified papers on its mass detention camps for Uighurs and other predominantly Muslim minorities, according to four people in contact with government employees there. – Associated Press

Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam visited Beijing on Saturday for her first trip to the Chinese capital since her government was handed a crushing defeat in local elections last month, prompting speculation about changes to her leadership team. – Reuters

Eli Lake writes: Despite all these concerns, the China hawks were able to get a watered-down version of the Huawei legislation into the NDAA. The conference bill is expected to pass the Senate this week by a wide margin. […]U.S. microchip makers should be using this period of trade tensions with China to find new markets. Their success in helping nudge Congress to strip out the Huawei insurance policy will only delay their day of reckoning. – Bloomberg


At least 23 soldiers were killed while they were sleeping on Saturday in an insider attack in eastern Afghanistan, officials said, the latest episode of enemy infiltration that has raised concerns about a new local military force billed as the hope for holding territory recaptured from the Taliban. – New York Times

For nearly 24 hours, the center of Mazar-i-Sharif, one of Afghanistan’s economic hubs, became a front line for a battle that included machine guns, rocket-propelled grenades and helicopter gunships. And it didn’t even involve the Taliban. – New York Times

Forty years after the Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan — and three decades since the conflict ended — the war’s legacy continues to claim lives across the country. […]Bamiyan, a region dominated by Shiite Hazaras and relatively unaffected by today’s violence ravaging the rest of Afghanistan, will soon be the first of the 34 provinces in Afghanistan where all known contaminated areas have been cleared. – Agence France-Presse

The Trump administration intends to announce the drawdown of about 4,000 troops from Afghanistan as early next week, according to three current and former U.S. officials. The withdrawal will leave between 8,000 and 9,000 U.S. troops in Afghanistan, the officials said. – NBC

South Asia

Kashmiris call the train the Internet Express. It shuttles people out of the Kashmir Valley — where India has shut down access to the Internet for more than four months — to the nearest town where they can get online. […]The shutdown, which entered its 134th day Monday, is now the longest ever imposed in a democracy, according to Access Now, an international advocacy group that tracks Internet suspensions. – Washington Post

Protests against a divisive new citizenship law raged Saturday as Washington and London issued travel warnings for northeast India following days of violent clashes that have killed two people so far. – Agence France-Presse

Japan’s prime minister cancelled a planned summit in India after a second day of violent unrest over the enactment of a controversial new citizenship law. – Telegraph

Nepal wants to review a military deal allowing its citizens to be enlisted in the British army, before a planned recruitment of Nepali women in the Brigade of Gurkhas for the first time in two centuries, the Himalayan country’s foreign minister said. – Reuters


To show their solidarity with pro-democracy protesters in Hong Kong and their commitment to Taiwan’s self-rule, many consumers here are boycotting bubble tea chains that support the “one country, two systems” formula that China uses to rule Hong Kong and that it hopes one day to extend to Taiwan. – Washington Post

Turmoil over amendments to extradition legislation has damaged Hong Kong society on all fronts, Chinese Premier Li Keqiang said Monday during a meeting with semiautonomous territory’s leader. – Associated Press

A small Singapore opposition party has corrected online posts critical of the government following an order by the labor ministry under a new ‘fake news’ law that rights groups say is being used to chill dissent. – Reuters

Police in southern Taiwan shot a man on Saturday suspected of planting a possible explosive device outside a campaign office for the island’s main opposition party, the Kuomintang, the official Central News Agency reported. – Reuters

Christian Caryl writes: An extraordinary event took place in the Netherlands this week: a hearing at the International Court of Justice (ICJ) that is a first small step toward justice for one of the world’s longest-suffering minority groups.[…] A small thing, to be sure. But the hearing in The Hague showed that the Rohingya may finally be on the path to achieving the accountability they have sought for so long. – Washington Post


Russian police raided the offices of Nginx Inc., a U.S. company behind one of the largest web server projects, and briefly detained its founder in a case that could stoke renewed fears of law enforcement being used to settle corporate disputes. – Bloomberg

Russia is proposing to move toward ending the ban on selling so-called blood diamonds from the Central African Republic, a former French colony that’s struck recent military and commercial ties with Moscow, amid resistance from the U.S. and Europe. – Bloomberg

A Russian court has blocked access to English Premier League game broadcasts by Amazon’s Twitch after Russia’s Rambler media group said it would sue the video streaming service over pirate broadcasts, the TASS news agency reported. – Reuters

Geopolitical tensions between Russia and Ukraine, a U.S. challenge to Russia’s dominance in European energy markets and incomplete gas pipelines are just some of the issues complicating a gas transit deal between Kiev And Moscow’s energy giants that needs to be signed before the end of 2019. – CNBC

Michael Kofman and Richard Connolly write: The implication is that even at its current anemic rate of economic growth, Russia is likely to be able to sustain a considerable level of military expenditure, posing an enduring challenge to the United States for the foreseeable decades. While ours is an exploratory analysis, it suggests that Russian defense spending is not prone to wild swings, nor has it been dramatically affected by changes in oil prices or U.S. sanctions. – War on the Rocks


A former police officer from Argentina who has lived for more than 30 years as a university lecturer and security expert in France is being extradited on Sunday to his native country, where he is wanted for crimes against humanity, including torture, committed during the country’s dictatorship, Argentine authorities said. – New York Times

Boris Johnson’s general election victory, and the likely departure of Britain from the European Union next month, will bring relief to most European governments: Now they can focus on other pressing issues facing the bloc. – Wall Street Journal

A famous Belgian carnival was removed from the U.N.’s cultural heritage list on Friday following complaints that its most recent edition contained blatant displays of anti-Semitism.  – Associated Press

There will be no letup for U.K. lawmakers worn out after Britain’s bruising election campaign. Prime Minister Boris Johnson is set to begin “before Christmas” the push to secure Parliamentary approval for his Brexit deal. – Associated Press

Ukraine’s deputy prime minister voiced confidence Friday that the United States would be “fair” and maintain support, as Washington is engulfed by charges that President Donald Trump abused his power with Kiev. – Agence France-Presse

European leaders warned Friday that Britain could become a formidable rival, just hours after a big victory by Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s conservatives all but sealed the UK’s Brexit divorce. – Agence France-Presse

EU28 ambassadors meet on Monday morning to see if they can come up with a compromise that can keep all sides happy. Austria and Luxembourg have led the charge against giving a green-stamp to nuclear, with Germany also resisting over concerns about the environmental impact of nuclear waste. – Financial Times

Newly reelected British Prime Minister Boris Johnson is expected to unveil proposed legislation aimed at undermining the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) campaign against Israel later this week, local media reported. – Times of Israel

No one knows exactly when swastikas and anti-Semitic graffiti were spray-painted onto 107 tombstones in the village’s ancient Jewish cemetery — the 42nd anti-Semitic attack in the region in just 18 months. France’s Interior Minister Christophe Castaner visited Westhoffen the day after the swastikas were discovered and French President Emmanuel Macron paid his respects at the cemetery of Quatzenheim after it was desecrated earlier this year. – CNN

French far-Left firebrand Jean-Luc Mélenchon has sparked uproar by claiming Jeremy Corbyn should never have apologised over “churlish” anti-Semitism accusations, which he claimed were trumped up by the chief rabbi and Israeli Right. – Telegraph

Italian authorities ordered the biggest peacetime evacuation in the country since World War Two on Sunday to defuse a massive unexploded British bomb that was partially damaged when discovered in the southern city of Brindisi. – Telegraph

British Jews and their allies around the world are celebrating the decisive defeat of the Jeremy Corbyn-led Labour Party in Thursday’s parliamentary election. – Algemeiner

A man has been arrested by police investigating a hate crime attack after a bus passenger was subjected to antisemitic abuse. The 36-year-old victim was reading a prayer book while travelling on the 254 bus towards Aldgate on 6 December when another man boarded near Stamford Hill in Hackney, north-east London. – The Guardian

Brian Klaas writes: For post-Brexit trade, Johnson needs Trump. But if Johnson is seen as a lapdog to a reviled president, it could doom him — not just with the British public, but also with Trump’s successor, should Trump lose to a Democratic challenger next year. And that could derail the special relationship, too. – Washington Post

Henry Olsen writes: A strong, confident Britain will help build support for democracy and capitalism in ways that the United States, as the global superpower, cannot. It will also cleave even closer to the United States in security matters as a tighter Anglo-American alliance helps both nations combat their largely common threats. Johnson’s personal connection to the United States — he was born in Manhattan — will also help cement ties. – Washington Post


Sudan’s former President Omar al-Bashir was sentenced to two years in detention by a court in Khartoum after being convicted of money laundering and corruption. – Wall Street Journal

Three of four crew members who were kidnapped by pirates from a Greek-flagged oil tanker off the coast of Togo last month have been released, while the fourth has died, the vessel’s managing company said Friday. – Associated Press

Suspected Islamist militiamen killed at least 22 people overnight in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, authorities said on Sunday, as the rebels kept up attacks on civilians despite government claims to have them on the defensive. – Reuters

An armed group that kidnapped humanitarian workers in northeastern Nigeria five months ago has claimed it killed four hostages, international aid agency Action Against Hunger said on Friday. – Reuters

The Sudanese transitional government is slated to close the offices of the foreign terrorist organizations, Hamas and Hezbollah, according to a report in the Middle East Eye. – Jerusalem Post

United States

West Point and Annapolis officials launched investigations this weekend to determine the motives of service-academy students who flashed hand signs on national television Saturday that in certain contexts are associated with “white power.” – Wall Street Journal

President Trump’s executive order targeting anti-Semitic and anti-Israel speech on campuses might be framed as a narrow legal matter, but it has touched on a defining issue of our time: Who belongs, and who decides? – New York Times

New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell (D) declared a state of emergency in the city on Friday following a cyberattack. – The Hill

A Navy commander says the motive is unknown for a Pearl Harbor shooting that left two civilian workers and the attacker dead. – Navy Times

Michael Brenner writes: Unlike many other countries, Jews in the United States have always resisted attempts to categorize Jewishness and thus to open the door to attacks against their loyalty. This has been one of the big achievements of American Jews. […]This contradicts the feelings of most American Jews and opens up a dangerous discussion that really never existed in this country. In the end, in the name of protecting Jews from anti-Semitism, such a maneuver might lay the groundwork for a much more serious anti-Semitic threat. – Washington Post

The Americas

A jury in Montreal found a former SNC-Lavalin Group Inc. executive guilty of corruption-related charges in a case that examined the Montreal firm’s past activities in Libya, which were at the center of a political firestorm earlier this year. – Wall Street Journal

A top Mexican trade negotiator flew to Washington on Sunday for urgent talks as a hitch emerged in the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement, just days after it was signed. – Washington Post

Five years ago this week, Washington and Havana surprised the world when they agreed to reopen diplomatic ties severed in 1961, but relations have since slid downhill as if on a fresh layer of Cold War ice. – Agence France-Presse

Argentina will allow former Bolivian President Evo Morales, who arrived on Thursday and has been granted refugee status, to make political statements during his stay in the country, a top official said in an interview published Sunday. – Reuters

Nicaragua’s National Assembly on Saturday approved nationalizing a major gas station company two days after the United States imposed sanctions on it for allegedly being used by President Daniel Ortega’s family to finance and launder money for the government. – Reuters

Chilean police and soldiers used excessive or unnecessary force to quell recent demonstrations, committing serious human rights violations including unlawful killings and torture that should be prosecuted, the United Nations said on Friday. – Reuters


Boeing declined to bid on the U.S. Air Force’s Ground Based Strategic Deterrent program by the deadline of Dec. 13, leaving Northrop Grumman as the de facto winner of the contract. – Defense News

With no end in sight to the demand on the tanker fleet, the U.S. Air Force is actively seeking agreements with defense contractors for aerial refueling services. – Defense News

Palantir will launch an ad campaign during the Army-Navy football game that will kickoff at 3:00 p.m. eastern time on Dec. 14 that appears to take a shot at Google, which decided in 2018 not to work with the Pentagon on its major artificial intelligence development program after caving under the pressure of an employee protest. – Defense News

Envistacom will upgrade one of the Army’s deployable satellite communications terminals with multi-band antennas over the next three years, the company announced Dec. 4. – C4ISRNET

A compromise defense policy bill released Dec. 9 makes some progress toward unifying military space acquisitions, but ultimately delays big decisions on creating one authority to oversee every aspect of purchasing military satellites and their related terminals and ground stations. – C4ISRNET

The U.S. is expected to buy 22 aging fighter jets from Switzerland, a country that’s struggling to modernize its own air force. – Bloomberg

The Pentagon’s top official overseeing personnel and readiness issues stepped down from the post on Friday. – Military Times

While other commercial and military drones have flown longer, the two and a half day flight of the Air Force’s latest unmanned aircraft prototype this week does represent a kind of breakthrough for the US military: proving that commercial technology can be adapted to build affordable long-endurance and highly capable surveillance drones. – Breaking Defense

Two Marine Raiders and a Navy corpsman with 3rd Raider Battalion face a general court-martial for charges related to the death of a retired Green Beret working as a Lockheed Martin defense contractor in Erbil, Iraq. – Marine Times

A U.S. Army veteran was sentenced Friday to five years in prison for placing a home-made bomb at a Florida Veterans Affairs hospital. – Military Times

The Navy posthumously advanced two enlisted sailors killed by a Saudi gunman last week at Naval Air Station Pensacola. – Navy Times

Long War

A New Jersey man who was linked to the shooters in last week’s Jersey City shooting rampage was expected to appear in federal court in Newark on Monday on a weapons possession charge, federal officials said. – Wall Street Journal

Israel’s famed Mossad intelligence agency recently helped bust a major terrorist cell in Denmark as part of an ongoing policy of collaboration with Western intelligence agencies, local media outlets reported on Sunday. – Algemeiner

The killers of four people in the attack on a kosher market in Jersey City on Tuesday were likely targeting a yeshiva next door that was filled with children, the town’s mayor said late last week. – Algemeiner

Trump Administration

The senior U.S. Senate Democrat called on Sunday for the Republican-led chamber to demand testimony from four current and former White House aides in a trial expected early next year on whether to remove President Donald Trump from office. – Reuters

Democrats in the U.S. House of Representatives on Friday took Republican President Donald Trump to the brink of impeachment by approving two charges against him over his efforts to pressure Ukraine to investigate Democratic political rival Joe Biden. – Reuters

Donald Trump’s relations with his own intelligence services have never been so fraught: the US president doesn’t listen to his spy chiefs, doesn’t seem to rank his sources and makes snap decisions without giving them any warning. Agence France-Presse

The House Judiciary Committee released a report on Monday that detailed the articles of impeachment being considered against President Trump. The 658-page document lays out the Democrats’ argument on charges of abuse of power and obstruction of Congress against the president. – New York Post