Fdd's overnight brief

December 19, 2022

FDD Research & Analysis

In The News


Taraneh Alidoosti, a prominent Iranian actress, was arrested by the local authorities on Saturday after she posted messages on social media expressing solidarity with antigovernment protests that have rocked Iran for nearly three months. – New York Times

Western and Middle East security officials have concluded that a three-month-old Iranian protest movement represents a lasting drive for change that will challenge the foundations of the Islamic Republic but isn’t an immediate threat to the government in Tehran. – Wall Street Journal

For nearly two years the United States has tried and failed to negotiate a revival of the 2015 Iran nuclear deal yet Washington and its European allies refuse to close the door to diplomacy. Their reasons reflect the danger of alternative approaches, the unpredictable consequences of a military strike on Iran, and the belief that there is still time to alter Tehran’s course: even if it is inching toward making fissile material it is not there yet, nor has it mastered the technology to build a bomb, according to officials. – Reuters

Hundreds took to the streets Friday in Iran’s restive southeast, footage shared by human rights groups showed, beginning a fourth month of protests sparked by Mahsa Amini’s death. – Agence France-Presse

Groups of oil workers held protests in southern Iran on Saturday, demanding higher wages and retirement bonuses, according to videos and reports posted on social media. – Reuters 

Iran has arrested the lawyer of two female journalists detained after reporting the death of a woman in custody, which sparked three months of protests, a newspaper said Saturday. – Agence France-Presse

A prominent dissident Sunni Muslim cleric urged Iranian authorities on Friday to free thousands of detained protesters and stop executions as the three-month-old unrest churned on with street marches in a restive southeastern province. – Reuters

An inmate died in an Iranian prison on Saturday, state media reported, as concern mounts about the safety of prisoners arrested during anti-regime protests. – Bloomberg

Iran is threatening to permanently block WhatsApp and Instagram, which are very popular in the country. – Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty

The whereabouts of five female university students in the western Iranian city of Sanandaj are unknown following their arrest earlier this month after they took part in a rally against the execution of protesters, the Union Council of Iranian Students said. – Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty

An Iranian political prisoner has sent a voice message to Javaid Rehman, the UN special rapporteur on human rights in Iran, describing what he says is the torture that he has faced in detention. – Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty 

Iran said on December 17 that its uranium enrichment capacity has increased to record levels, a day before UN nuclear monitors are set to visit the country. – Agence France-Presse 

Iran’s central bank governor on Saturday partly blamed recent anti-government unrest for the fall of the Iranian currency to record lows, while authorities detained a prominent actress who had voiced support for protesters. – Reuters

Iran prepares to launch “at least two satellites” into space by late March, Telecommunications Minister Issa Zarepour said Sunday, just over a month after successfully testing a launcher. – Agence France-Presse

Iran’s Foreign Ministry said Sunday it would not “seek permission from anyone” to expand relations with Russia, dismissing US concerns over a growing military partnership between Tehran and Moscow. – Agence France-Presse

Iran’s Intelligence Ministry claimed that it had thwarted a Mossad spy network attempting to sabotage Iran’s defense industries on Sunday. According to the Intelligence Ministry, the Mossad contacted companies that work with Iran’s defense industries in order to collect information. – Jerusalem Post

The United Nations General Assembly condemned Iran’s violence against protesters, as part of a wide-ranging text against human rights violations by the Islamic Republic, including its executions and acts of antisemitism. – Jerusalem Post

“What happened with Jina Amini was like putting a spark on a pile of TNT, which has now exploded,” Hussein Yazdanpana says about the events in Iran over the past two months. “We will not accept what has happened to the Kurds. We see what happened to this girl as an insult to our dignity and our honor. And we are now taking part in the uprising against the Iranian regime.” – Jerusalem Post

Nicholas Kristof writes: More than four decades later, Iranians are desperately trying to pull themselves out of that well, led by schoolgirls who persevere despite the threat of arrests, torture and execution. They understand that gross immorality lies not in a girl’s uncovered hair but in the government that rapes her for it, and they should receive far more international support. – New York Times

Caroline Modarressy-Tehrani writes: Of course, there are other ways that the international community can flex its collective muscle to send a united message to the regime that executions of its own people in this manner is contrary to international law, and will not be tolerated. The EU has already issued a tranche of sanctions against Iran for its role in supplying drones to Russia as part of the ongoing war in Ukraine, as well as its human rights violations. More sanctions are likely to come. – The Daily Beast 

Seth J. Frantzman writes: The recent updates about Iran’s nuclear decisions are important because they show that Iran views the nuclear program as not only a strategic asset, but that it has toned down the rhetoric about using the program to threaten others. – Jerusalem Post

Kenneth R. Timmerman writes: The Tehran regime in Iran is full of terrorist thugs like Mohsen Rezai. Interior minister Ahmad Vahidi is also wanted by Argentina for his role in the AMIA bombings, as is Ali Akbar Velayati, the chief foreign policy advisor to the Supreme Leader. […]Meanwhile, the Biden regime continues to seek a nuclear deal with the terrorists who want us dead. – New York Post 

Michael Eisenstadt, Mahsa Rouhi, and Suzanne Maloney write: On the domestic front, the pragmatists in Iran who once accepted the JCPOA were not necessarily in favor of abandoning the nuclear program—they simply saw more benefits to accepting the deal. Today, however, Iran’s leaders do not appear to fear isolation from the West at all. Rather, they appear comfortable with maintaining the country’s position as a threshold nuclear state, unwilling to give up the capabilities they have achieved. Ultimately, latent deterrence gives the regime a highly valued defense against coercion from outside powers. – Washington Institute

Navid Mohebbi and Andrew Ghalili write: There are signs that a similar event may occur with arrested protestors in the coming days. […]The United States and other members of the international community have the power to stop this from happening again. If the proper steps are not taken to ensure this does not occur, the Islamic Republic regime’s execution machine will no doubt take the lives of many more young Iranians. – The National Interest

Russia & Ukraine

A team of New York Times reporters investigated one of the central questions of the war in Ukraine: Why has Russia bungled its invasion so badly? The story — based on secret battle plans, intercepts and interviews with Russian soldiers and Kremlin confidants — offers new insights into President Vladimir V. Putin’s state of mind, the stunning failures of his military, and U.S. efforts to prevent a direct war with Russia. – New York Times

That brief account got Mr. Tsvigun added to a list of confirmed Russian war deaths maintained by a small, dedicated team of data journalists and volunteers, as the Kremlin has largely avoided updating the number publicly. – New York Times

A rocket strike killed at least one person in Russia’s Belgorod region near Ukraine, local officials said, as Russia’s defense minister made a rare visit to the Ukrainian war zone. – Wall Street Journal

Russian President Vladimir Putin‘s first visit to Belarus in three years this week is adding to concerns that he is moving to draw Moscow’s closest ally into the war in Ukraine. – Wall Street Journal

Water was running from taps in the Ukrainian capital Kyiv again on Saturday, a day after another heavy barrage of Russian missiles hit Ukraine’s civilian infrastructure, while utility crews around the country worked to restore electricity. – Wall Street Journal

Ukraine’s capital was targeted by multiple drones in an attack early Monday, authorities reported, three days after what they described as one of Russia’s biggest assaults on Kyiv since the beginning of the war. – Associated Press

With the war in Ukraine grinding through its 10th month, both sides are locked in a stalemated battle of attrition, which could set the stage for a new round of escalation. – Associated Press

Russian troops that were moved to Belarus in October to become part of a regional formation will conduct battalion tactical exercises, the Russian Interfax news agency reported on Monday, citing the Russian defence ministry. – Reuters

The United States plans to expand its training of Ukrainian troops in Europe as Russia continues to bombard the country with missile strikes, the Pentagon announced. – The Hill

Dean Karayanis writes: One thing seems certain: the Kremlin will keep prodding Minsk to expand its role in the fight, pointing to the prospect that Mr. Lukashenko would emerge as a stronger strongman after victory. – New York Sun 

James Brooke writes: The worry is that if a barrage of Russian cruise missiles is aimed at the Kyiv dam, one might get through. Or that President Putin will follow through on his threat to go nuclear. To beef up Ukraine’s air defenses, Biden Administration officials told reporters in Washington this week, America will provide Ukraine with Patriot surface to air guided missile systems. These truck-mounted, radar equipped systems are considered a major step for Ukraine’s self defense. – New York Sun


Israel revoked the citizenship of a Palestinian activist and deported him to France on Sunday over what it called a “breach of allegiance to the State of Israel,” threatening to spark a diplomatic fight with Paris and amplifying international condemnations of Israeli policies toward Palestinians under occupation. – Washington Post

Israel’s position is ever more painful for some Ukrainian Jews as they prepare to celebrate Hanukkah, the Festival of Lights, in intermittent darkness after the blackouts brought on by Russia’s recurring airstrikes, which have knocked out the heat in the main sanctuary of the synagogue David attends in Kyiv. – Washington Post

The drownings have reverberated across Gaza, drawing attention to the dire conditions in the territory after a 15-year Israeli-Egyptian blockade but also prompting some rare public criticism of the ruling Hamas militant group. – Associated Press

The Intelligence Ministry on Monday unveiled the country’s first-ever national intelligence estimate report in the vein of such regular cyclical reports issued in the US and other Western countries, with The Jerusalem Post obtaining a first copy. – Jerusalem Post

The Palestinian Authority is not wasting any time waiting for the formation of a new right-wing government in Israel to launch a broad diplomatic and media blitz to warn about the dangers of the policies and decisions of the presumptive coalition. – Jerusalem Post

Palestinian gunmen opened fire on a bus carrying Israelis near the West Bank settlement of Mevo Dotan on Sunday night in an attempted terror attack, the military and local officials said. – Times of Israel

Israeli security forces on Sunday morning arrested a Palestinian man and his son, suspected of opening fire at an Israeli car in the northern West Bank over the weekend, the military and Shin Bet security agency said. – Times of Israel

Abu Obeida, the official spokesman for Hamas’ military wing, the Al-Qassam Brigades, said on Sunday that “the threats of the occupation and the settler leaders towards (the) Al-Aqsa Mosque to increase the number of invasions (of the site -ed.) in order to gain control over the holy site, are dangerous and teach about the character of the criminal group that reached the wheel of power in the (Zionist) entity.” – Arutz Sheva 

After the midterm elections, Binyamin Regional Council chief Yisrael Ganz flew to the United States to meet with government officials and members of Congress to promote the settlement of the land of Israel. – Arutz Sheva 

Muli Peleg writes: The only way to make amends for the continuing woes both sides experienced is by rebuilding and reconstructing their relationships and setting them on the right course: a vision and a work plan the BDS movement does not understand. – Jerusalem Post

Amichai Cohen writes: However, sales of advanced technology to China and Chinese investments in Israel in the infrastructure sector will face many obstacles. Contending with them will require considerable attention so as not to face a situation of preventing Chinese investments or worse than that, of facing the US government’s enforcement mechanisms. – Jerusalem Post


A group of former U.S. military leaders are urging Congress to help Afghan evacuees vulnerable to deportation by passing the Afghan Adjustment Act as part of the omnibus government funding bill. – The Hill

The United Nations General Assembly on Friday approved postponing – for the second time – a decision on whether the Afghan Taliban administration and the Myanmar junta can send a United Nations ambassador to New York. – Reuters

The Australian government is being urged to offer asylum to Afghan women targeted by the Taliban, as Pakistan moves to expel refugees by the end of the month. – The Guardian 

Farah Stockman writes: Afghanistan may be last year’s war, a chapter that Americans would rather forget. But it would be a travesty if Congress, which funded that war for two decades, turned its back on our allies now. – New York Times


Using a low-profile fleet of ships under U.S. sanctions, Syria has this year sharply increased wheat imports from the Black Sea peninsula of Crimea that Russia annexed from Ukraine, a sign of tightening economic ties between two allies shunned by the West. – Reuters

Baran Ramadan Mesko had been hiding with other migrants for weeks in the coastal Algerian city of Oran, awaiting a chance to take a boat across the Mediterranean Sea to Europe. Days before the 38-year-old Syrian Kurd was to begin the journey, he received news that a smuggler boat carrying some of his friends had sunk soon after leaving the Algerian coast. Most of its passengers had drowned. – Associated Press

Anton Mardasov writes: Of course, Moscow can continue to claim that it intends to contain NATO in the Mediterranean region, which, given the combat duty schedule of U.S. naval vessels, is effectively on the periphery of Washington’s military planning. In the key Pacific region, where the U.S. military’s task is to contain China, Russia is only nominally present and sometimes has to plug its obvious defense gaps by demonstratively launching submarine-launched missiles toward the U.S. coast. Yet such theatrical operations aside, Moscow clearly faces a steep uphill climb to rebuild its reputation and real military capabilities, both in the Middle Eastern region and more generally. – Middle East Institute


Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan said on Saturday that the courts would correct any mistakes in an appeal process after the jailing of Istanbul’s opposition mayor, and in the meantime Turks had no right to ignore legal rulings. – Reuters

A roadside car bomb exploded, damaging a police minibus on a highway in southeast Turkey’s Diyarbakir province on Friday, and nine people in the bus were taken to hospital as a precaution, Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu said. – Reuters

Editorial: Mr. Imamoğlu, who plans to appeal this week’s ruling, said at a rally Wednesday that “this decision is the most concrete expression of the fact that the judiciary has been transformed into an instrument to punish the dissidents.” Reuters reports that on Thursday “thousands” in Istanbul protested the ruling and chanted slogans against the AKP. Mr. Erdoğan may prove the fool if this political verdict backfires. – Wall Street Journal


Islamic State group jihadists said Sunday they had carried out an attack in northern Iraq killing nine police officers, setting off a roadside bomb before machine-gunning survivors. – Agence France-Presse

Paiman and his relatives are among the few demonstrators to have made the precarious journey from Iran to the relative safety of Iraq, where some survivors of the violence are trying to regroup. – The Guardian

Azhar Al-Rubaie writes: The Iraqi government is attempting to improve its international image by projecting respect for freedom and human rights. As is clear for all to see, this is not the case. All who criticize the regime or express an opposing view suffer the fate of arrest, repression, or exile. This is what has happened to many young people during the 2019 protests and after.” – Washington Institute


The United Nations peacekeeping force in south Lebanon urged Beirut on Friday to ensure a “speedy” investigation into the fatal shooting of an Irish soldier this week. – Agence France-Presse

A Lebanese court has upheld the death sentence for an Uber driver convicted of killing a British woman who worked for the U.K. Embassy in Beirut five years ago, the embassy said Friday. – Associated Press

A U.S. court of appeals determined this week that cases against Lebanese commercial banks can be tried outside Lebanon, according to a decision seen by Reuters, paving the way for more cases by depositors seeking to unlock their frozen funds. – Reuters

Seth J. Frantzman writes: It remains to be seen if the international community and others will put as much work into determining who attacked and murdered a member of the UN as they did examining the killing of Soleimani. The UN has the resources. Lebanon enables groups such as Hezbollah to operate with impunity. Recent events, including other assassinations, show that these killings usually go unpunished. – Jerusalem Post

Gulf States

Qatar warned Sunday that an investigation by authorities in Brussels into its role in an alleged influence and bribery scheme could adversely affect energy talks with Europe and condemned a decision by the European Parliament to suspend dealings with the Persian Gulf kingdom. – Wall Street Journal

Baghdad-mediated diplomatic talks between regional rivals Iran and Saudi Arabia have come to a halt, largely because of Tehran claims the Sunni kingdom has played a role in alleged foreign incitement of the mass anti-government protests underway in Iran, multiple Iraqi officials said. – Associated Press

A rare public opinion poll of Saudi citizens, commissioned by the Washington Institute and conducted by a regional commercial firm in November 2022, reveals some unexpected findings about the most salient global and domestic issues. – Washington Institute

Editorial: No one should have been surprised by Qatar’s heavy-handedness. It has attempted to buy off governments around the world. A vice president of the European parliament has been arrested on charges of accepting hundreds of thousands of dollars in cash from Qatar. In the United States, Qatar has spent more than $72 million on lobbying since 2015 — more than Apple and the National Rifle Association, according to OpenSecrets. – Washington Post


The U.N. special envoy for Libya warned Friday that signs of partition are already evident in the troubled North African nation and urged influential nations to pressure Libya’s rival leaders to urgently finalize the constitutional basis for elections. – Associated Press

Libya’s Government of National Unity (GNU) refused an Egyptian presidency decree unilaterally demarcating Egypt’s western maritime borders, the Libyan foreign ministry said in a statement on its Facebook account on Friday. – Reuters

Around midnight in mid-November, Libyan militiamen in two Toyota pickup trucks arrived at a residential building in a neighborhood of the capital of Tripoli. They stormed the house, bringing out a blindfolded man in his 70s. – Associated Press

Middle East & North Africa

When Benjamin Netanyahu won a general election last month, analysts wondered how three Arab countries that normalized relations with Israel in 2020 — Bahrain, Morocco and the United Arab Emirates — might react. – New York Times

The leader of Tunisia’s opposition alliance called for President Kais Saied to step down on Sunday after only a fraction of eligible voters turned out for parliamentary elections. – Wall Street Journal

The low voter turnout in Tunisia’s parliamentary elections reinforces the need for the North African nation to further expand political participation in the coming months, a U.S. State Department spokesperson said on Sunday. – Reuters

The International Monetary Fund has approved a deal that will provide a $3 billion support package to cash-strapped Egypt over a period of almost four years, with the agreement expected to draw in an additional $14 billion in financing for the Middle East country. – Associated Press

French Foreign Minister Catherine Colonna said Friday that France has restored normal consular relations with Morocco following a year-long dispute linked to Paris’ decision to slash the number of visas for Moroccans. – Associated Press

Jordan on Friday announced it was imposing a “temporary ban” on the social media platform TikTok, a day after a police officer was killed during clashes with protesters that broke out over high fuel prices. – Associated Press

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis met with Israeli Ambassador Michael Herzog and United Arab Emirates Ambassador Yousef Al Otaiba on Thursday to discuss the relationship between the countries following the normalization of ties between the UAE and Israel. – Algemeiner 

The head of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) said in an interview broadcast Friday that Russia was looking to help Iran, which would pose a threat to US allies in the region. – Times of Israel

Israel is looking for ways to disrupt the re-launched air link between Iran and Syria that is used to fly shipments of Iranian weapon systems to Hezbollah in Lebanon. – Breaking Defense

Korean Peninsula

North Korea fired two medium-range ballistic missiles off its east coast on Sunday, launching missiles potentially capable of reaching Japan, days after Tokyo vowed to ​double its military spending to help guard against the growing threats from China and North Korea. – New York Times

South Korea is reportedly calling North Korea’s latest missile launch “a serious provocation” after a pair of ballistic missiles capable of reaching Japan were test-fired over the weekend. – The Hill

Bruce Klingner writes: Washington should affirm its commitment to its extended deterrence guarantee, while pushing back against growing South Korean advocacy for developing its own nuclear weapons. Washington and its allies must respond resolutely to North Korean incitements while simultaneously seeking ways to reduce the potential for stumbling into war. – Heritage Foundation


A squadron of Chinese Navy ships sailed through straits near Japan into the Western Pacific this week, while Beijing on Friday blasted Tokyo’s adoption of a new national security strategy putting itself on a more offensive footing — largely as a result of the perceived threat from China. – Associated Press

The Biden administration on Thursday blacklisted a Chinese video surveillance company that officials say is implicated in the repression of Uyghurs in China and that provided U.S.-made technology to Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps. – NBC 

Robert E. Lighthizer writes: We should do all we can to avoid a military confrontation, and we must continue to talk to and work with China in areas of mutual advantage. But we must also act alone to begin this strategic decoupling. We cannot hide from the truth about China. Failure to act decisively now is no longer forgivable. It is dereliction. – New York Times

Jonathan Tepperman writes: Now remember that the population of China is about 54 times larger than that of North Korea and that China’s GDP is almost a thousand times bigger, and the scale of the problem comes into focus. Managing China’s decline will be a long, difficult process, with painful tradeoffs; in truth, there probably is no way to fully insulate the United States and the rest of the world from the pain it will inflict. But that is all the more reason why policymakers should start focusing on it now. – Foreign Affairs 

Zvi Bar’el writes: China also made it clear to Iran that their economic alliance depends on the renewal of the nuclear agreement with the West, without which China will be unable to fulfill its commitments for investments in the Islamic Republic. The question that remains is what impact this Chinese pressure and the competition presented by the Gulf state – especially Saudi Arabia – will have on relations with China and on the nuclear deal, which is still breathing despite seemingly being put into a deep freeze. – Haaretz 

Adnan Nasser writes: That appears unlikely to change, never mind the growing might of China’s economic status and popularity in the region. Still, China is certain to continue to shore up its partnerships in the Middle East, even among American allies, as it runs on the momentum gained from the recent trip. For Xi, elevating ties between China and the Arabic-speaking world is part of his country’s “Road to Rejuvenation.” For now, those efforts are moving in a secure direction. – The National Interest

South Asia

Members of India’s ruling party set fire to effigies of Pakistan’s foreign minister on Saturday, following a war of words between the South Asian rivals at the United Nations. – Agence France-Presse

Pakistani authorities on Monday opened talks to try resolve a stand-off with Islamist militants who were holding several security personnel hostage after seizing control of a counter-terrorism facility in the country’s northwest a day earlier. – Reuters 

Russian crude oil is being shipped to India on tankers insured by western companies, in the first sign Moscow has reneged on its vow to block sales under the G7-imposed price cap. – Financial Times 


Australian Foreign Minister Penny Wong said Monday she will meet with her counterpart Wang Yi in Beijing this week as Australia and China mark 50 years of diplomatic relations. – Associated Press

South Korea issued a strong protest against Japan’s territorial claim over disputed islands made in a national security strategy released on Friday while cautiously responding to Tokyo’s plans for an unprecedented military buildup. – Reuters

Editorial: The new strategy anchors Japan firmly in the U.S. alliance. Tokyo is America’s most important ally, and a militarily stronger Japan will enhance deterrence in the Pacific. – Wall Street Journal

Henry Olsen writes: Chinese aggression has forced the world into interesting times. That’s unfortunate, but better to recognize that reality and prepare to fight than blind oneself to the threat and surrender. We should welcome Japan’s commitment with open arms. – Washington Post

Luis Simon writes: Any viable strategy to keep Russia in check will require a sustained U.S. engagement in Europe, especially if we assume Russia will ultimately re-arm and rebuild. […]This would then pave the way for the United States to shift forces from Europe to the Indo-Pacific in the event of a crisis in Taiwan or elsewhere. Contrary to what others have argued, dealing with the Russian threat decisively, and significantly degrading Russian power, may actually be the best way to ensure a sustainable U.S. rebalance to the Indo-Pacific. This is not only in Europe’s or America’s interest — U.S. Indo-Pacific allies have a strategic stake in Washington’s success in Europe too. – War on The Rocks

Cavid Veliyev writes: Iranian officials, including former diplomats and experts, claim that, after the Second Karabakh War, the effectiveness of NATO, the EU, and Israel in the South Caucasus has increased, through Azerbaijan in particular. […]All this only serves to further destabilize the South Caucasus, at a time when the region is of increasing importance to global energy security, supply chain diversification, and more. – The National Interest


The European Union implemented a new sanctions package on Russia Friday that officials hope will significantly relieve food-security problems facing developing and poor countries. – Wall Street Journal

The leaders of Hungary, Romania, Georgia and Azerbaijan finalized an agreement Saturday on an undersea electricity connector that could become a new power source for the European Union amid a crunch on energy supplies caused by the war in Ukraine. – Associated Press

Croatian lawmakers on Friday rejected a government bid for the country to help train Ukrainian soldiers as part of a European Union mission. – Associated Press

The French army on Friday officially awarded the contract to develop a new European combat jet, a key project in the push to integrate the continent’s military capabilities and reduce its reliance on American equipment. – Agence France-Presse

Azerbaijan agreed Saturday to supply the European Union with electricity via a subsea cable, inking a deal in Bucharest as the bloc diversifies energy supply away from Russia following Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine. – Agence France-Presse

British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak will meet his Nordic, Baltic and Dutch counterparts at the Joint Expeditionary Force (JEF) summit in the Latvian capital Riga on Monday, before heading to Estonia to meet British and NATO troops, the government said. – Reuters

Megan Greene writes: A failed state in Europe, bordering Russia, would be a security nightmare. It would ensure a refugee crisis as millions of displaced Ukrainians would have no reason to return home. And it would reinforce scepticism about the west’s values and intentions among countries that have refused to take sides in the war. The fighting continues, but the time to plan for peace is now. – Financial Times 

Mark F. Cancian writes: A large part of the transfer’s value is reassurance of Ukrainian leadership and people. Transferring Patriot shows that the leadership of both countries is doing what they can. The fact that the United States is willing to take the risk of transferring the system expresses a strong political commitment to Ukraine. – Center for Strategic and International Studies


A Russian official active in his country’s efforts to gain a stronghold in the Central African Republic was wounded by a package bomb in the country’s capital, Bangui, on Friday, according to the Russian foreign ministry and state media. – New York Times

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken called on Rwanda to pull back its troops from eastern Democratic Republic of Congo and encourage M23 rebels to do the same. – Bloomberg

Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen will travel in January to South Africa, Zambia, and Senegal, her office announced Friday, in what will be the first of a string of Biden administration official visits to sub-Saharan Africa next year. – Associated Press

Huge Chinese lending to Africa has created a dilemma where China will struggle to recoup its money while maintaining its image as a friend to developing nations, researchers at Chatham House said. – Bloomberg

Sean Nelson writes: It is clear that Nigeria should be considered one of the worst places for religious freedom in the world. America is supposed to be a beacon to the world when it comes to protecting our fundamental freedoms. It is a dereliction of duty that Mr. Blinken continues to look the other way at what is happening to Christians and others in Nigeria. – New York Sun 

Harry Richer writes: Refusing to engage carries clear risks. Renewed violence and active Rwandan intervention will trigger a variety of regional effects, including refugee waves. Russia, meanwhile, will take advantage of the chaos through its Wagner proxies. China has already made diplomatic links with each country in question. The United States and its allies must act strategically with decision and speed. The reality, then, is that Africa matters. – The National Interest

Latin America

Guatemala plans to hold a summit in March for senior officials from “Taiwan-friendly” countries and hopes Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen will attend, the Guatemalan ambassador in Taipei said on Monday. – Reuters

Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador on Friday criticized a state of emergency imposed in Peru to tackle violent protests and slammed the U.S. ambassador to Lima for meeting the South American country’s new leader. – Reuters

Mexico’s president insisted Friday that his country’s relations with Spain are still “on pause,” one day after Mexico’s top diplomat met with his Spanish counterpart and said relations were being “relaunched.” – Associated Press

Mary Anastasia O’Grady writes: It’s no coincidence that Mr. López Obrador, who has repeatedly abused his power through executive decree, is working to secure his military’s loyalty by giving it a greater role in the Mexican economy. His support for Mr. Castillo is consistent with his regional politics. In 2019 he gave Mr. Morales, who is the leader of the Bolivian coca-growers union, asylum in Mexico. Any one of these facts about Mexico’s head of state on its own may be no big deal. Cumulatively they spell trouble. – Wall Street Journal

United States

Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin banned the use of several Chinese-owned apps, including TikTok and WeChat, on state government devices and wireless networks on Friday, calling them a threat to national security. – Associated Press

An Israeli citizen was among seven people charged by US prosecutors this week with smuggling sensitive electronic components to Russia that could potentially be used to make nuclear weapons. – Associated Press

Hate crimes in the U.S. have risen by 4.7% in the first half of 2022, and anti-Jewish hate crimes increased by 59% in 2021, a new report by the California State University’s Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism said.  – Ynet 

Dan Anthony and Steve Lamar write: Congress should do its job and retroactively renew GSP for the long term. Renewal should include changes to outdated rules, such as “competitive need limits.” Current rules will punish companies—in the form of permanently higher tariffs—for moving too much trade away from China to GSP countries. – Wall Street Journal


The prospect of growing military threats from both China and Russia is driving bipartisan support for a surge in Pentagon spending, setting up another potential boom for weapons makers that is likely to extend beyond the war in Ukraine. – New York Times

A measure included in the $858 billion annual defense spending bill cleared by the Senate on Thursday night could make it harder to ship fuel during national emergencies due to changes made to a century-old law known as the Jones Act. – Washington Examiner

The three-star general spearheading the U.S. Air Force’s information warfare efforts foresees a sustained future for drones in the military, as nations monitor, analyze and attempt to outfox each other from greater and greater distances. – Defense News

Editorial: For now, the Air Force will only say the B-21 might someday operate without a crew. We urge the service to speed that transition. Our guess is that the B-21 will be the United States’ last manned bomber — and will be operating autonomously sooner than the Air Force is willing to admit. – Washington Post 

Dustin Walker and Mackenzie Eaglen write: House Republicans in 2023 will have a much narrower mandate than they did in 2011, when the realities of divided government turned dreams of fiscal discipline into a nightmare of fiscal disorder wrought by the Budget Control Act and sequestration. As our military edge over China hangs in the balance today, the new majority must protect our armed forces from another lost decade of solipsism and shortsightedness. – Wall Street Journal

Heather Williams and Nicholas Adamopoulos write: Arms control will need to remain a tool of simultaneous competition and cooperation in the era of deterring two peer competitors. This presents numerous challenges for U.S. policymakers, who have to determine what the priority for arms control should be, whether to engage Russia and China individually or separately, and how to structure future agreements. […]Integrated arms control, working in tandem with integrated deterrence, is the best way forward, albeit a challenging one. – Center for Strategic and International Studies 

Maiya Clark writes: It is easy to forget about the National Defense Stockpile. After all, it represents only a tiny fraction of defense spending. And, like any emergency measure, it for the most part sits unused. However, it is vitally important in the new era of great-power competition and globalized supply chains. Congress and the Pentagon should prioritize it accordingly. – Heritage Foundation

Steve Cimbala Lawrence and J. Korb write: If U.S. military planners, policymakers, and theorists do not take these components into account when developing strategic and military policy and force structure, deterrence could be dangerously undermined, both in the short and long term. – The National Interest