Fdd's overnight brief

December 21, 2022

In The News


Labor unrest in Iran this month — including a three-day nationwide strike, among the largest the country has seen in decades — has hinted at the potential role labor could come to play in the uprising that has swept the country since September. – Washington Post

Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian said on Wednesday he spoke with his Saudi counterpart at a conference in Jordan the previous day, adding that the Saudi minister assured him of Riyadh’s willingness to continue dialogue with Tehran. – Reuters

Iran has set the official selling price (OSP) of its Iranian Light crude oil grade for Asian buyers at $3.15 a barrel above the Oman/Dubai average for January 2023, down $2.20 from the previous month, two industry sources with direct knowledge of the matter said on Tuesday. – Reuters

Britain accused Russia of planning to give Iran advanced military components in exchange for hundreds of drones, British defence minister Ben Wallace said on Tuesday, calling on the West to do more to expose the trade. – Reuters

Iran‘s top diplomat Hossein Amirabdollahian called on Western Powers on Tuesday to adopt a “constructive” approach for the revival of the 2015 nuclear pact. – Reuters

Russian companies are interested in cooperating with Iran on gas turbine technology and joint production, Russian Energy Minister Nikolai Shulginov said in a statement on Tuesday. – Reuters

The EU foreign policy chief told Iran’s foreign minister that Tehran should immediately halt military support for Russia and its repression of protesters at home, reflecting diplomatic tensions with efforts to revive a nuclear deal at a standstill. – Reuters

Iranian authorities have released one of the country’s best-known dissidents after he spent three months in jail as protests shook the country, his brother said. – Agence France-Presse

The Iran deal, known as the JCPOA, is dead, President Joe Biden said last month, but the United States is not going to announce it. – Jerusalem Post

Members of the Islamic Republic of Iran’s paramilitary organization Basij on Monday sprayed slogans on the British embassy in Tehran in the second act of vandalism since Friday. – Jerusalem Post

US State Department spokesperson Ned Price reiterated on Tuesday that a return to the 2015 Iran deal is not on the agenda at the moment. – Arutz Sheva

Yonah Jeremy Bob writes: Put simply, the drone issue has the potential to blow up the nuclear issue. It could bring global sanctions crashing down on Iran in a way that Israel has been pushing for almost two years and flip the Biden administration’s policy on Iran in one fell swoop. […]But with the next IAEA Board meeting far off in March, it seems that the drone issue is what is really motivating Iran to currently send positive messages about the JCPOA in the hopes of fending off a global snapback. – Jerusalem Post

Kitaneh Fitzpatrick, Nicholas Carl, Johanna Moore, and Frederick W. Kagan write: Protest activity did not surge significantly outside of the Iranian capital region on December 20, despite calls from protest coordinators and organizations for countrywide demonstrations and strikes on December 19-21. […]This reduced protest activity does not, however, indicate the end of the anti-regime movement. The regime may have been able to diminish protest activity through its use of intimidation, force, and expanding censorship. – Institute for the Study of War

Russia & Ukraine

World leaders were quick to blame Moscow for explosions along the undersea natural gas pipelines. But some Western officials now doubt the Kremlin was responsible. – Washington Post

The Biden administration will send to Ukraine the most advanced air defense weapon in its arsenal, the Patriot missile system, a senior administration official said late Tuesday, marking the most significant addition to American military support for the government in Kyiv in months. – Washington Post

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky is set to meet with President Biden at the White House and address a joint session of Congress on Wednesday night, in an effort to buttress political support in Washington as Kyiv is involved in an open-ended conflict to counter Russia’s invasion. – Wall Street Journal

Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky made an unannounced visit to the front-line city of Bakhmut on Tuesday, rallying troops on the country’s deadliest battlefield as Russia intensified its efforts. – Wall Street Journal

As the 10-month mark of the war nears, the leaders of Ukraine and Russia handed out medals and pledged not to back down. – New York Times

Russia’s space agency will borrow up to 50 billion roubles ($710 million) in 2023 to fund a mass satellite-building programme to catch up with the United States and China, the organisation said on Tuesday. – Reuters

The World Bank on Tuesday said it had approved an additional financing package totaling $610 million to address urgent relief and recovery needs in Ukraine as the war with Russia continues. – Reuters

In a rare admission, Russian President Vladimir Putin acknowledged that the situation in the occupied Ukrainian territories Moscow claimed to annex was “extremely difficult.” – Washington Examiner

Ukraine reached a deal with Elon Musk’s Space Exploration Technologies Corp. to receive thousands more Starlink antennas to help counter Russian air attacks, according to a top government official. – Bloomberg

Congressional leadership is working to quickly introduce a bill condemning Russia as an “Aggressor State” amid plans for Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to visit Washington on Wednesday. – The Hill

Ukraine is accelerating efforts to erase the vestiges of Soviet and Russian influence from its public spaces by pulling down monuments and renaming hundreds of streets to honor its own artists, poets, soldiers, independence leaders and others — including heroes of this year’s war. – Associated Press

The Russian government intensified its crackdown on critics and what it sees as harmful information about its “special military operation” in Ukraine on Tuesday with moves to ban a human rights group and publication of maps that omit annexed Ukrainian land. – Associated Press

Russian citizens are “losing faith in Putin’s propaganda narratives,” according to a recent survey conducted by The Anti-Corruption Foundation (ACF), a Moscow-based non-profit group founded by imprisoned opposition leader Alexei Navalny. – Newsweek

The U.S. has expressed concern at Russia’s military presence in Belarus and the prospect that it would again use its neighbor to stage attacks on Ukraine. – Newsweek

Joseph Bosco writes: Blinken’s assertion that Washington is ensuring “that Ukraine has in its hands what it needs to defend itself” is demonstrably inaccurate. Putin’s latest strategy — and latest war crime — is being significantly facilitated by Washlngton’s unwillingness to provide Ukraine with critically needed air defense systems. Washington should end what seems increasingly like a Western stalemate strategy that will prolong Ukraine’s agony and encourage Putin to continue his aggression. – The Hill

Harlan Ullman writes: While war crimes and Russian reparations should be covered, pragmatically, both could be deal-breakers in ending the war. That said, events over the next three to four months could be decisive in answering whether, when and how this war will end provided the allies accept these two recommendations. If not, prepare for a long war. – The Hill

Joshua C. Huminski writes: Looking to the future of information warfare means drawing the right lessons from the current conflict, and from the successes of NAFO and the Fellas. This movement is to be applauded and welcome, but its efficacy against Russia does not mean that it will prove as effective in the future, or even be present for that matter. – The Hill

Michael Hikari Cecire writes: Around the world, such a designation also demonstrates that we do not tolerate such heinous crimes. Calling out Russia’s genocide demonstrates the gravity of the stakes not only for Ukraine and Europe, but for global peace and stability. It can marshal further support for Kyiv, help sap Moscow’s fraying relationships, and further isolate this repugnant, totalitarian regime in the Kremlin. If you stand with Russia, or stand silent, you protect genocide. – The Hill

Steven Moore writes: Ukraine has momentum and can win the war with our continued help. Pulling back on funding at this critical time would send the wrong message not only to Russia but also to China, Iran, and a host of other junior varsity strongmen around the world. – Washington Examiner

Jonathan Sweet and Mark Toth write: Sometimes the internal threat is as dangerous as the external. Russian mothers, elites, nationalists, leaders of mercenary groups, and saboteurs working deep within the interior of Russia targeting infrastructure — all pose threats to Putin. Ten-thousand casualties a month does not help. – Washington Examiner

Max Hastings writes: Zelenskiy’s commanders see the Russians today as on the back foot, as vulnerable as they will ever be to a new offensive. I remain skeptical that Ukraine will ever regain Crimea, either through battlefield success or negotiation. Everything else, however, seems up for grabs. Few readers will challenge me, I think, in wishing the Ukrainians all possible good fortune at this time, when Russia’s monstrous aggression casts a black shadow over what should be a universal season of rejoicing. – Bloomberg

Chris Partridge writes: Precisely what overall effect Patriot systems will have is difficult to say. They will certainly provide an additional layer of protection, but their size and expense means that few units will be able to be sent. What is clear is that Ukraine’s ageing, Russian-built Surface-to-Air Missile systems are gradually being replaced by modern western SAMs, and that is something that will provide comfort for Kyiv but alarm for Moscow. – BBC

Vladislav Zubok writes: The long-term effects of the war in Ukraine cannot be predicted with any certainty. But an awareness of the destabilizing effects of long and highly destructive wars should prompt reflection of the need for a more comprehensive strategy, one that can offer Ukraine its security and Russia its future. Rather than waiting to react to Moscow and Kyiv’s latest actions or hoping for Putin’s imminent downfall, the West must take the initiative at last. – Foreign Affairs

Nataliya Bugayova writes: The United States must help Ukraine liberate its territories and people through a large-scale counteroffensive or risk facing the same challenge with the same escalation risks under worse conditions in the future. A Russian military foothold in Ukraine is a threat to US interests, as it implies tremendous future military and economic requirements for the United States, NATO, and European Union and creates additional vulnerabilities while carrying the same escalation risks. – Institute for the Study of War

Kateryna Stepanenko, Riley Bailey, George Barros, Madison Williams, and Frederick W. Kagan write: The Kremlin will likely continue efforts to portray Putin and the Russian Ministry of Defense (MoD) as effective leaders of the war in Ukraine when Putin holds the Russian MoD board meeting on December 21. […]Putin is likely holding a larger-than-usual Russian MoD board meeting to present the Russian military as an organized and formidable fighting force and to demonstrate that his control over that force remains unquestioned despite its pronounced military failures in its invasion of Ukraine. – Institute for the Study of War


A senior Palestinian militant jailed for life by Israel, and who was cited by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in a speech to the United Nations, died of cancer on Tuesday, authorities said. – Reuters

Hundreds of Palestinians, including dozens of masked gunmen firing into the air, took to the streets and stores shuttered across the West Bank Tuesday to protest the death of a Palestinian terrorist, convicted of murdering several Israelis, who died of cancer while serving time in an Israeli prison. – Associated Press

The United States is planning a meeting in early 2023 between Israel and Arab nations that recognize it as it pushes the incoming right-wing government of Benjamin Netanyahu to show restraint, a US official said Tuesday. – Agence France-Presse

Israel will hold onto the body of Nasser Abu Hamid, one of the founders of Fatah’s al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade, as part of efforts to negotiate a deal with Hamas, Defense Minister Benny Gantz announced on Wednesday morning. – Jerusalem Post

A 22-year-old police officer was hit by a car and suffered light-medium injuries in an apparent ramming attack, near the town of Karmit north of Beersheba on Tuesday. – Jerusalem Post

US official says Washington plans a meeting early in 2023 between Israel and Arab nations that recognize it. – Arutz Sheva


Israeli forces on Tuesday downed a small drone that Lebanon’s Hezbollah terror group apparently flew over the border, the Israel Defense Forces said. – Times of Israel

An Irish soldier who was seriously injured on a UN peacekeeping mission in Lebanon is to return home to the Republic of Ireland. Trooper Shane Kearney suffered a head injury when the armoured vehicle he was travelling to Beirut in came under attack. Pte Seán Rooney was killed in the incident on 14 December. – BBC

Hanin Ghaddar writes: The Rooney tragedy is also a good opportunity to assess how Lebanon’s current presidential frontrunner—LAF commander Joseph Aoun—would deal with the issue if he is elected by parliament. That is, if he allows Hezbollah to hide behind the same narrative of impunity in his current capacity as army chief, then the international community will know all they need to know about what his presidency will look like. A leader who does not value accountability and sovereignty will never guide Lebanon out of its ongoing collapse. – Washington Institute


The Afghanistan government banned women from studying in public and private universities Tuesday — the latest of the Taliban administration’s moves to roll back women’s rights in the nearly year and a half since it retook control of the country after U.S. withdrawal. – Washington Post

The Taliban released two Americans who had been detained in Afghanistan on Tuesday, including Ivor Shearer, an independent filmmaker who had been held since August, according to a person with knowledge of the release. – New York Times

A provision to provide 4,000 more visas for Afghans who worked with the United States was included in a massive government spending bill unveiled on Monday, along with an extension of the Special Immigrant Visa (SIV) program until 2024. – Reuters

An exemption to allow the United Nations and aid groups to deal with sanctioned Taliban leaders to meet the humanitarian and basic human needs of the Afghan people has helped save lives, the U.N. aid chief told the U.N. Security Council on Tuesday. – Reuters

During the final months of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, as the Taliban advanced on the capital, the elected government struggled to reassure its US patrons that it could maintain control. Yet at the same time, smugglers were illegally carrying hundreds of millions of dollars in cash and gold out of the country with the assistance of officials from within the Afghan government, according to internal government documents and former Afghan officials. – Business Insider

Caroline McCaughey writes: While the 4,155-page, $1.7 trillion omnibus bill to fund the federal government through fiscal year 2023 is full of earmarks and lavish spending on congressional pet causes, one notable group won’t benefit from the largesse: America’s Afghan allies. – New York Sun

Lynne O’Donnell writes: Yet while the Taliban alienate their backers, the United States delivers tens of millions of dollars in cash every month for distribution via the United Nations, ostensibly for humanitarian relief, though much of it reportedly ends up in Taliban hands, further entrenching their sense of impunity. American officials regularly meet with Taliban figures in third countries. But that doesn’t seem to be a prelude to any sort of official diplomatic presence, which means the Taliban will—more than a year after their return to power—continue as isolated, friendless, and unrecognized as they are now. – Foreign Policy


Albania has bought three Turkish-made Bayraktar drones that will be ready for action if the country’s national security is threatened, but will be used in the meantime to help police, Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama said on Tuesday. – Reuters

Sweden’s Supreme Court decision to block the extradition of Turkish journalist Bulent Kenes is a “very negative” development, Turkey’s foreign minister said on Tuesday, as Stockholm seeks Ankara’s approval for it to join NATO. – Reuters

Two Turkish military transport aircraft that had been stranded in Ukraine since the beginning of the war 10 months ago safely returned to Turkey on Tuesday, the defence ministry said. – Reuters

Turkey’s government and private companies are in talks with the US for purchases of small nuclear reactors, as the country looks to wean itself off coal. – Bloomberg

Saudi Arabia

OPEC+ members leave politics out of the decision making process and out of their assessments and forecasting, Saudi energy minister Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman said in an interview with the Saudi state news agency on Tuesday. – Reuters

Iran signalled its readiness for dialogue with regional states during a conference its arch foe Saudi Arabia attended in Jordan on Tuesday which yielded few signs of progress and no meeting between the two sides. – Reuters

Over three days in Riyadh, in meetings with the Saudi leadership, the Gulf Arab states and the Arab League, China’s president sought to highlight his role as a champion for the global south, while deepening existing economic interests and further undermining the U.S.’s complicated legacy in a region where Beijing was already successfully challenging Washington’s soft power. – Newsweek

Bennett Neuhoff writes: Yet despite their differing public statements on Griner’s release and their broader bilateral difficulties, MbS proved in September that his diplomatic channels with Russia, Ukraine, and the United States can be useful for thorny problems such as prisoner exchanges. He remains one of few world leaders—alongside MbZ and Erdogan—who has both the desire and access needed to navigate the limited diplomatic openings in the Ukraine war. These traits, coupled with his ambitious approach to foreign policy and refusal to overtly take sides in the conflict, make him a potentially effective middleman. The question is whether Washington will need (or want) his help with any future negotiations. – Washington Institute

Gulf States

Michael Rubin writes: The United States perennially underappreciates Iraq and consistently fumbles its strategy. First, too many officials continue to view the country only through the lens of Iran rather than on its own terms. Second, Washington prioritizes a series of short-term fixes at the expense of long-term reform and stability. Prioritizing personalities over systems is a formula for failure. – 19FortyFive

Catherine Cleveland writes: When it comes to bilateral relations, the UAE has engaged in a policy of hedging its bets on maintaining ties with global powers. Public opinion appears to line up with this strategy as more Emirati citizens report being unconvinced by the staying power of the United States’ role in their region. Over the past year, agreement with the statement that “our country cannot count on the United States these days, so we should look towards Russia and China” has increased by ten percentage points, with 61% of Emiratis now concurring. In contrast, just 10% say they “strongly” disagree with this idea. – Washington Institute

Muhammad Zulfikar Rakhmat writes: Growing Chinese engagement in the digital space, though, raises some concerns, including the possibility of espionage and surveillance, as well as excessive dependency. In this context, the Gulf States could offer Indonesia the ability to move beyond its traditional technological partners while at the same time serving as a gateway for the GCC countries to expand their investments in the tech sector in the wider Southeast Asian region. All in all, it is likely that technological cooperation between Indonesia and the GCC countries will continue to evolve. – Middle East Institute

Middle East & North Africa

A feeble turnout in Tunisia’s inconclusive parliamentary elections over the weekend drew opposition calls for the country’s strongman president to step down. Critics called it yet another step in the North African’s nation descent from the only democracy to emerge from the Arab Spring uprisings to an increasingly autocratic state. – New York Times

Leaders from the Middle East and Europe gathered in Jordan Tuesday in a conference focused on bolstering security and stability in Iraq. – Associated Press

Bobby Ghosh writes: The IMF’s executive board was meant to rule on the request this month, but has postponed the decision to early in the new year. This gives the US enormous leverage with which to press for democracy, Biden’s oft-stated foreign policy goal. Saied has indicated he can manage without the loan, but the state of Tunisia’s economy suggests otherwise. It would make a nice change for Biden to call a dictator’s bluff. – Bloomberg

Korean Peninsula

The sister of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un threatened to further escalate tensions with long-range missile tests, as she took aim at skeptics of advances the country has claimed in its weapons program and spy-satellite technology. – Wall Street Journal

South Korea’s central bank said on Tuesday the country’s consumer inflation would remain around 5% for some time and then gradually ease, but cautioned that domestic and global factors are raising uncertainty about how fast prices will slow. – Reuters

South Korea’s government on Wednesday promised policy support and deregulation to boost economic growth which it expects to slow next year at a much faster pace than expected previously. – Reuters

South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol said on Wednesday reforming practices in the labour market should be a top priority for his government’s drive to improve the way the country works. – Reuters

North Korea says it will soon have its own spies in the skies capable of seeing what its enemies are doing, just as the U.S. has been spying on the North for decades. – The Daily Beast


China and Germany should work together to foster good relations between Beijing and the European Union without any interference by a third party, President Xi Jinping told Germany’s president in a phone call on Tuesday, state media reported. – Reuters

Hong Kong chief executive John Lee and Macau chief executive Ho Iat Seng will head to Chinese capital Beijing over Dec. 21-24, state media and a government statement said on Tuesday. – Reuters

Chinese General Secretary Xi Jinping is trying to allay the European Union’s unease about Beijing, in opposition to President Joe Biden’s effort to coordinate trans-Atlantic defenses against the communist regime. – Washington Examiner

China is building up several unoccupied land features in the South China Sea, according to Western officials, an unprecedented move they said was part of Beijing’s long-running effort to strengthen claims to disputed territory in a region critical to global trade. – Bloomberg

The World Bank on Tuesday slashed its China growth forecast for the year as the pandemic and weaknesses in the property sector hit the world’s second largest economy. – Agence France-Presse

In China’s southern tech hub of Shenzhen, employees at chipmaking start-up PXW Semiconductor Manufactory began to panic after the US put their company on a trade blacklist last week. – Financial Times

Over three days in Riyadh, in meetings with the Saudi leadership, the Gulf Arab states and the Arab League, China’s president sought to highlight his role as a champion for the global south, while deepening existing economic interests and further undermining the U.S.’s complicated legacy in a region where Beijing was already successfully challenging Washington’s soft power. – Newsweek

Editorial: China’s “zero covid” policy was unsustainable and abruptly scrapped, but the absence of a coherent fallback strategy threatens a fresh set of nightmares for its population, its economy and the Communist Party leadership. A new crisis could shake the whole world. As the Wuhan outbreak demonstrated three years ago, what begins in China does not necessarily stay there. – Washington Post

Matthew Brooker writes: The EU and China have a $700 billion trade relationship. Such a vast economic entanglement makes it necessary to talk and cooperate, where possible. The tone of some European leaders, though, hints at a view of Beijing that is looking distinctly outmoded: a regime that, nominally, is an ideological rival, but one that can be kept onside and coaxed through trade and investment links. It’s reminiscent of how Germany once viewed Putin’s Russia. We know how that worked out. There would be no excuses for repeating the mistake. – Bloomberg

Michael Beckley and Hal Brands writes: Finally, the United States needs to help shield democracies that border authoritarian aggressors. Defending vulnerable nations matters not least because successful authoritarian coercion in one place may encourage dangerous actions elsewhere. The key battleground today is Ukraine, with Taiwan a close second. By bolstering Taiwan with military protection and economic lifelines, Washington can preserve a potent ideological alternative to the CCP—and fortify a free-world coalition that can keep the world safe for democracy in the decades ahead. – Journal of Democracy

Sean Durns writes: And by deceiving key Western elites, Beijing was able to build its strength and bide its time. That time, current CCP head Xi Jinping seems to believe, is now at hand. But all is not lost; there are lessons to learn. […]There is also a dearth of information about China’s spy agencies and methods. Given the subject, this is to be expected. However, open-source methods can help offset this disadvantage—as Joske himself illustrates. – The National Interest

South Asia

Pakistan’s military stormed a security outpost on Tuesday after Pakistani Taliban militants seized hostages there in an attempt to break out of detention, officials said. – New York Times

The World Bank has approved financing of $1.69 billion for flood relief projects in Pakistan, it said in a statement on Monday. – Reuters

Pakistan has announced a slew of austerity measures, including plans to shut down markets and shopping centers early and asking government employees to work from home to save energy costs amid an ongoing economic crisis. – Bloomberg

Masom Jan Masomy writes: Other armed groups, such as the Baloch freedom movements, have clashed with Pakistani security forces in restive Balochistan this year, either targeting Chinese assets in Pakistan or posing a persistent threat to security. The Islamic State Khorasan Province (ISIS-K) is another active group that launches attacks in Pakistan, primarily targeting the Shia minority and government-affiliated targets. For instance, ISIS-K recently claimed responsibility for an attack on Pakistan’s embassy in Kabul. Overall, TTP attacks will empower ISIS-K to launch similar attacks in Pakistan, putting the new army chief’s ability to address the country’s mounting security threats and other crises in jeopardy. – The National Interest


Six days of turmoil over Fiji’s general election ended on Tuesday with the ousting of a 16-year strongman leader who had embraced China and eroded democratic norms in the country. – New York Times

Japanese Foreign Minister Yoshimasa Hayashi will postpone an expected trip to China to meet with his counterpart Wang Yi to late January or later due to the spread of the coronavirus pandemic in the country, TV Asahi reported on Wednesday. – Reuters

Chinese President Xi Jinping exchanged congratulatory messages with his Australian counterpart to mark the 50th anniversary of diplomatic relations, the latest sign of warming ties between the two major trade partners. – Bloomberg

The World Bank Group’s private-sector arm is divesting its holdings in one of Myanmar’s largest banks nearly two years after a military coup, according to the lender’s largest shareholder. – Bloomberg

The first visit by an Australian foreign minister to China in four years is raising hopes that Australia will make progress on ending trade sanctions and freeing two Australian citizens detained in China. – Associated Press

A senior U.N. official urged the international community Tuesday to prevent Armenia and Azerbaijan from resuming their conflict over the disputed Nagorno-Karabakh region as the two countries accused each other of violating a Russian-brokered peace agreement. – Associated Press

Hal Brands writes: But due to proximity, Australia has the greater local knowledge of the South Pacific and the greater interest in keeping autocratic rivals out. That challenge has a familiar feel given Australia’s history, and is taking on new relevance amid China’s rise. – Bloomberg

Riley Walters writes: Australians see countries like Japan, the U.K. and France as more responsible world actors. It seems, however, that Australia-U.S. relations are improving under U.S. President Joe Biden. The Albanese government takes a similar tone as the Biden administration on its foreign and China policies – looking to find new global partnerships and willing to work with China on issues like climate change but also ready to be more critical of China’s growing economic and military influence. – GIS Reports


Spain will ask the European Union for loans worth 84 billion euros ($89 billion) and a further 7.7 billion euros in grants as part of the bloc’s COVID-19 recovery package, Spanish Economy Minister Nadia Calvino said on Tuesday. – Reuters

Belarus issued a ruling on Wednesday temporarily restricting access to parts of the southeastern Gomel region that borders Ukraine and Russia. – Reuters

The British government has ordered the sale of Upp, a regional broadband provider owned by LetterOne, an investment company backed by oligarchs, citing concerns around national security. […]Its owners, including Russian oligarchs Mikhail Fridman, Petr Aven and German Khan, have been put under sanctions in various jurisdictions. – Financial Times

John C. Hulsman writes: Militarily anemic, economically sclerotic, and politically divided — this is the reality of a Europe that has been mastered by history over the past generation. It must face up to these festering problems or be definitively swept into the second tier of powers. And there is simply no more time to waste. – The Hill


Former Sudanese leader Omar al-Bashir said on Tuesday that he took full responsibility for the events in 1989 that brought him to power, speaking at a trial in which he stands charged with leading a military coup. – Reuters

The United Nations Security Council on Tuesday eased a weapons embargo meant to stem rebel fighting in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo and renewed a peacekeeping mission there for another year. – Reuters

South African President Cyril Ramaphosa urged his ruling African National Congress (ANC) on Tuesday to improve on the poor delivery of basic services that led to its worst election result in living memory, a day after it re-elected him as its leader. – Reuters

Several banks said they had resumed services in government-controlled areas of Ethiopia’s northern Tigray region for the first time in over a year, following a November truce in a bloody two-year conflict. – Reuters

The International Monetary Fund’s (IMF) board has approved the disbursement of $447.39 million to Kenya after a review of its lending programme, the fund said on Tuesday. – Reuters

Oliver McPherson-Smith writes: Following the close of this year’s summit, political, business and civil society leaders from across Africa and the United States will question whether the confab was just a flash in the pan. By prioritizing relationships and outcomes over progressive patronage, there is a conservative case for a routine US-Africa summit. – The Hill

Armstrong Williams writes: Finally, African nations must downsize their governments to give the private sector breathing room to innovate and prosper and to diminish the economic incentive for electoral fraud.  Governments in most, if not all, African nations dominate the economy with legally protected, bloated, stagnant and corrupt monopolies. […]Africa’s deliverance from poverty, conflict, corruption and instability must come from within. The United States is not the continent’s savior. – The Hill

Latin America

Mexico said Tuesday it has granted asylum to family members of former Peruvian President Pedro Castillo, the jailed leader whose attempt to dissolve Congress threw this Andean country into a political crisis during which more than two dozen people have died in protests. – Wall Street Journal

Peru declared the Mexican Ambassador Pablo Monroy persona non grata and gave him 72 hours to leave the country hours after Mexico’s government confirmed it gave asylum to family members of former Peruvian President Pedro Castillo. – Bloomberg

Brazilian President-elect Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva said on Tuesday that Russian President Vladimir Putin had congratulated him on his recent election win and talked of stronger relations between the two countries. – Reuters

Julio Perez, a 38-year-old auto mechanic, sold his car and tools to make the dangerous journey from Venezuela to the United States. But like many migrants in the two months since the United States changed its immigration policy, he opted to board a plane back to Venezuela. – Reuters

Mexican private equity manager AINDA expects to raise $600 million for a new fund by early next year and will launch projects in Colombia, its top executive told Reuters, as the company seeks to grow its portfolio of public works investments. – Reuters

Two senior US senators asked the Biden administration to start trade-agreement talks with Ecuador and Uruguay, using a pact with Mexico and Canada as a template to expand export opportunities with “trusted partners” in Latin America as China’s influence grows. – Bloomberg

Peru’s Congress tentatively endorsed a plan on Tuesday to hold early elections in an attempt to defuse a national political crisis marked by deadly unrest after lawmakers ousted President Pedro Castillo. – Associated Press

North America

Canada will impose new sanctions on two former Haiti government ministers accused of corruption and protecting criminal gangs, Ottawa said on Tuesday, the latest in a string of sanctions against Haitian politicians and business leaders. – Reuters

Canada Prime Minister Justin Trudeau will travel to Mexico City to participate in the North American Leaders’ summit on Jan. 10, his office said in a statement on Tuesday. – Reuters

President Biden will visit Mexico City next month for a summit with other North American leaders, the White House confirmed Tuesday. Biden will meet with Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Jan. 9 and 10, 2023, national security spokesperson John Kirby told reporters. – The Hill


Executives at Twitter assisted with and empowered efforts by the U.S. military to influence opinion in the Middle East, according to the latest release of internal company documents that owner Elon Musk and his allies have called the “Twitter Files.” – Washington Examiner

Congress is poised to ban TikTok on government devices, a sign of increasing skepticism of and opposition to the social media platform because of its ties to China. – Washington Examiner

Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg squared off against the federal government in a California courtroom on Tuesday, as regulators push to stop the tech giant from buying up small companies and instead force them to develop their own products. – Politico

Bipartisan bills targeting the nation’s largest tech firms failed to make it into the $1.7 trillion government spending bill, squelching what supporters said was the best effort to pass the bills before House Republicans take control in the new year. – The Hill

Twitter CEO Elon Musk said that users who are subscribed to the platform’s Twitter Blue service will be able to vote on the social media platform’s policy polls. – The Hill

TikTok is planning to add its reasoning for why videos are recommended for users as part of a push for transparency amid rising scrutiny from U.S. lawmakers and state governments. – The Hill

Elon Musk said Tuesday he would resign as chief executive of Twitter once he finds a replacement, in apparent response to a poll he launched that suggested users wanted him to step down. – Agence France-Presse

A Russian-linked hacking group attempted to infiltrate a petroleum refining company in a NATO member state in late August, according to a report by Palo Alto’s Unit 42. – Cyberscoop

Editorial: The Twitter Files point to a need for a thorough housecleaning at the FBI, which should include prosecutions for abuse of power. The 80-member FBI social media task force, if any of its members are still employed after this housecleaning, needs to be refocused on fighting cybercrime and online sexual exploitation — not on covert disinformation campaigns and policing the opinions and jokes of private citizens. – Washington Examiner

Sorin Matei writes: Finally, a future, balanced tech governance model should consider the advice of the “informed few,” individuals with practical and theoretical experience in policymaking, technology and business. They, however, should not be staff members, who may be influenced by the nature of their job, fear losing their employment or even be tempted to take liberties with their roles because believing the bureaucratic machine would vouch for their deeds. Twitter needs a Senate of wise experts that should advise and argue with the leader for a course of action or not. – The Hill

Tiana Lowe writes: At minimum, can’t a bipartisan law pass that requires Twitter to disclose publicly taking such money? Twitter is a mess, but the FBI is an abomination. We cannot trust the government to behave liberally, so why would we believe that government regulation of Twitter would at all liberalize speech on the internet? – Washington Examiner

Jim Harper writes: According to the internet—which is always accurate—it was a German field marshal known as Moltke the Elder who said, “No plan of operations extends with certainty beyond the first encounter with the enemy’s main strength.” Mike Tyson said, “Everybody has a plan until they get punched in the mouth.” You might think that your legislation is going to do something like rebalance power in society, but it takes real caution and care to write legislation well. Advocates of making the United States more like Europe or California might want to scale down their ambitions lest they give more power to Goliaths or more stones for Davids to sling at each other. – American Enterprise Institute

William A. Reinsch and Andrea L. Palazzi write: Overall, as cryptocurrencies offer a viable solution to circumvent the force of sanctions, the United States and the European Union should cooperate on finding a unified and immediate approach to preempt the use of digital assets for sanctions avoidance, especially by Russia. – Center for Strategic and International Studies


The Pentagon on Tuesday insisted it has “a variety of capabilities at its disposal” after the Air Force last week grounded its entire fleet of B-2 stealth bombers. – The Hill

The U.S. Defense Department formally raised the status of a critical, but clandestine cyber force, a move that underlines the military’s evolving role in the digital domain. – C4ISRNet

In 2020, the Army launched its first Project Convergence, a major, months-long series of linked exercises billed as a potentially game-changing vision for the future of the Army. In 2022, Convergence has gone from an interesting effort to the cornerstone of the Army’s modernization efforts. – Breaking Defense

Long War

For the second time in just over a week, U.S. Special Operations forces carried out helicopter raids against the Islamic State in eastern Syria, capturing six operatives including a senior official who the military said was involved in plotting and enabling terrorist attacks. – New York Times

Federal prosecutors in Switzerland have accused a man of running a “media agency” to promote al Qaeda and Islamic State via social media and raising money to help escape attempts by supporters of the extremist groups. – Reuters

Palestinian-Arab terrorists perpetrated three separate shooting attacks on Tuesday evening, targeting IDF forces. – Arutz Sheva