Fdd's overnight brief

December 30, 2021

In The News


Top U.S. and Russian officials for Iran have met in Vienna, a Russian envoy said on Wednesday, and delegates on both sides said Moscow and Washington were coordinating in a bid to salvage the 2015 Iran nuclear deal. – Reuters 

Saudi King Salman said on Wednesday that Saudi Arabia was concerned about Iran’s lack of cooperation with the international community on its nuclear and ballistic missile programmes. – Reuters 

In a December 19, 2021 article in the London-based daily Al-Arab, Iraqi poet and writer Farouq Yusouf slammed the U.S. policy in the Vienna nuclear talks with Iran. He accused the U.S. of trying to obtain peace “at any cost” while Iran is posing terms aimed at irreversibly consolidating its control over the region. He expressed apprehension that renewing the nuclear agreement with Iran – which is clearly unreliable, as evident from the nuclear archives exposed by Israel – will gravely threaten the stability and peace of the region and subject it to a new kind of imperialism, namely an Iranian occupation. – Middle East Media Research Institute 

Iran said Thursday it launched a rocket with a satellite carrier bearing three devices into space, though it’s unclear if any of the objects entered orbit around the Earth. The state TV report, as well as others by semiofficial news agencies, did not say when the launch was conducted nor what devices the carrier brought with it. However, the launch comes amid ongoing negotiations in Vienna over Iran’s tattered nuclear deal. Previous launches have drawn rebukes from the United States. – Associated Press 

Bob Feferman writes: Yet the burden of preventing a nuclear-armed Iran should not fall entirely on the shoulders of Israel. So long as Iran continues to defy the international community through its pursuit of nuclear weapons and support for terrorism, investors must recognize they have the power to send a message to China: “You will not use our hard-earned dollars to do business with Iran.” – Algemeiner 

Seth J. Frantzman writes: The interplay between Iran’s regime, Iranian regime media close to the IRGC, and Israeli media and messaging is important. For some in the Iranian regime, the appearance of accomplishing something against Israel and feeling they have struck a psychological blow may be more important than the movement of ballistic missiles or the establishment of bases in places like Albukamal. – Jerusalem Post 


The weeks before the fall of Kabul, which was seized days after Kunduz, are emerging as one of the deadliest periods for Afghan security forces in two decades of war. The Taliban’s complete military takeover of Afghanistan left about 4,000 members of the country’s security forces dead and another 1,000 missing, according to Afghanistan’s former army chief of staff, Gen. Yasin Zia, citing data he collected from former military commanders from July 1 to Aug. 15. – Washington Post 

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Wednesday named Rina Amiri, a former U.S. government adviser who criticized the chaotic withdrawal from Afghanistan, as a special envoy for Afghan women, girls and human rights. – Reuters 

Hours before Kabul fell to the Taliban on Aug. 15, the Afghan Air Force was melting down. Instead of unleashing air attacks against advancing insurgents, some airmen were fighting each other. – Reuters 

The scramble to leave Afghanistan resulted in thousands of Afghans departing with little to no belongings, including crucial paperwork. The lack of documentation and other setbacks, like a measles outbreak that put a pause on flights to the US, has left many on bases for prolonged periods of time. – CNN 

The Taliban have banned women from taking long-distance road trips in Afghanistan on their own, requiring that a male relative accompany them for any distance beyond 45 miles, according to a Taliban official speaking to CNN. – CNN 


The Turkish lira weakened for the third consecutive day on Wednesday, tumbling 5.6% and eating further into the huge gains made the previous week, as worries persisted over soaring inflation and unorthodox monetary policy. – Reuters 

Turkey’s President Tayyip Erdogan has effectively opened the door to early elections, political analysts said, after two big recent announcements – a 50% rise in the minimum wage and a deposit-protection scheme that arrested a currency crash. – Reuters 

Daniel Pipes writes: Mr. Erdogan’s “what our religion tells us” statement shows a subservience to medieval notions about finance, no matter the harm they cause. But medieval religious regulations don’t mix well with modern finance—or with almost anything. Muslim success in the modern world requires a reconsideration of Islamic laws in light of current circumstances. Quranic regulations could be interpreted to allow for reasonable interest payments while banning usurious interest. – Wall Street Journal 


An Israeli and three Palestinians were wounded on Wednesday in the first exchange of fire in months on the Gaza frontier. The violence came as Israel announced measures aimed at improving living conditions in the occupied West Bank after a rare meeting of top officials. – Associated Press 

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas reportedly warned Defense Minister Benny Gantz that while he was committed to stopping violence in the West Bank, he was concerned that changes to the religious status quo on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem could lead to an “unstoppable” escalation, Hebrew media reported Wednesday. – Times of Israel 

A significant increase of terrorist attacks was recorded in Judea and Samaria in 2021, according to end-of-year data published by the IDF Tuesday. – Arutz Sheva 

The U.S is “very pleased” with the meeting between Defense Minister Benny Gantz and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, State Department Spokesperson Ned Price tweeted on Wednesday. – Ynet 

Israel has missed opportunities for a prisoner exchange deal with Hamas, former IDF official responsible for prisoners and MIS Moshe Tal told Army Radio on Wednesday. – Haaretz 

Editorial: The meeting between Defense Minister Benny Gantz and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, held at Gantz’s home, is an important step in the right direction. This is especially so considering the nadir that relations with the Palestinians reached during the long years of Benjamin Netanyahu’s term as prime minister. – Haaretz 

Gidon Ben-Zvi writes: With regards to the legal status of the Golan Heights, AP, the AFP, and other outlets refer to it as “captured” territory. But the reality is more complex. As an outcome of the Syrian attack on Israel in the 1967 Six-Day War, Israel assumed control over parts of the Golan Heights. […]The media’s job is to report the facts of a story. Readers of the Associated Press and Agence France-Presse deserve to know the full picture. – Algemeiner 

Anna Ahronheim writes: The sniper who hit the Israeli civilian did not do so because he woke up in the morning and felt like shooting an Israeli. That’s not how things work along the Gaza border. An order is given, either by Hamas or Palestinian Islamic Jihad, and an operative is sent to carry it out. – Jerusalem Post 


Many well-off Lebanese who escaped their country’s economic tailspin for a new life in the nearby island nation of Cyprus say the transition has been a whirlwind of emotions. – Associated Press 

Lebanese authorities on Wednesday intercepted nine million pills of the recreational drug captagon inside a shipment of lemons, foiling an attempt to smuggle them to the Gulf, media reported. – Reuters 

Lebanon is mired in an economic crisis branded by the World Bank as one of the worst in modern times, but officials are yet to strike an international bailout deal. The financial meltdown began in 2019, and Lebanon defaulted on its debt last year. Politicians have failed to enact significant reforms to rescue the Mediterranean country, and many blame the ruling class and central bank policies for the crash. – Agence France-Presse 

Caroline Rose writes: To effectively counter the captagon trade, destination markets in the Persian Gulf should consider the bigger picture. They can do this partially through proactive law enforcement coordination among transit and destination countries. […]But instead of doing this, Gulf states have initiated a diplomatic and economic crisis that will only further Lebanese instability and expand the Middle Eastern drug trade. As the captagon trade adapts to new restrictions and obstacles, it is crucial for destination markets such as Saudi Arabia and transit countries such as Lebanon to work together—rather than against each other. – Foreign Policy 

Gulf States

Tens of thousands of Israelis and Jews from around the world have visited the United Arab Emirates following last year’s historic signing of the Abraham Accords, many of them coming with a desire to learn about the intersection between the two cultures. And now, a new U.S.-based nonprofit is spearheading the effort to create and promote educational initiatives relating to interfaith programming between Muslims and Jews. – Jewish Insider 

The winner of Iraq’s October parliamentary election, Shiite Muslim cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, met Wednesday with rivals from the pro-Iran former paramilitary alliance Hashed al-Shaabi ahead of the opening of parliament. – Agence France-Presse 

Iraq’s parliament will open on January 9 for its first session since lawmakers were elected in an October vote won by Shiite cleric Moqtada Sadr, President Barham Saleh said Thursday. – Agence France-Presse 

Kuwait’s candidate to lead the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) has widespread support from the group, with current secretary general Mohammad Barkindo not expected to seek re-election, two sources told Reuters. – Reuters 

Middle East & North Africa

Libya failed to hold its first presidential election as planned this month, a major blow to international efforts to end a decade of chaos in the oil-rich Mediterranean country. The postponement of the Dec. 24 vote has opened up uncertainty over what comes next in the tenuous peace process, raising worries Libya could slide into new round of violence after more than a year of relative calm. – Associated Press 

Libya’s top prosecutor on Wednesday ordered the country’s culture minister jailed pending an investigation into allegations of corruption. General Prosecutor Al-Sediq al-Sour said in a statement that Minister Mabrouka Othman would be jailed for four days pending the investigations into alleged managerial and financial irregularities and forgery. – Associated Press 

Seth J. Frantzman writes: Two airstrikes on the key port of Latakia, Syria, in the same month have raised eyebrows. […]An Iran deal might influence that decision or Iranian attacks on US forces in Syria. This makes the current context a multisided puzzle. Adding Latakia into that puzzle as an area of Iranian infiltration and trafficking in weapons makes the Syria conflict more complex, at a time when reports indicated there was far less fighting in Syria this year than in previous years. – Jerusalem Post 

Korean Peninsula

South Korea’s ruling party presidential candidate said he will seek U.S. support to build nuclear-powered submarines to better counter threats from North Korea and proactively seek to reopen stalled denuclearisation talks between Pyongyang and Washington. – Reuters 

North Korea on Thursday urged its 1.2 million troops to unite behind leader Kim Jong Un and defend him with their lives, as the country celebrated the 10th anniversary of Kim’s ascension to supreme commander of the military. – Associated Press 

South Korea has “effectively” agreed with the United States on a draft declaring the end of the Korean War, according to South Korean Foreign Minister Chung Eui-yong, as reported by South Korea’s Yonhap News Agency on Wednesday. – CNN 


Now, influencers who peddle products to fans online are targets in Xi’s “common prosperity” campaign, a wide-ranging crackdown that is bringing celebrities and Internet companies to heel in the name of addressing inequality. – Washington Post 

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Wednesday called on Chinese and Hong Kong authorities to immediately release staff members of the pro-democracy media outlet Stand News who were arrested after a police raid that shut down the publication. – Reuters 

Europe has a “cognitive split” in its policy towards China by trying to both be a partner and also seeing it as an opponent, Wang Yi, state councillor and foreign minister, said in an interview with state media on Thursday. – Reuters 

The United Nations Human Rights Council is set to usher in new members at the start of the calendar year, with many facing allegations of abuses. The council comprises 47 member states that serve for a period of three years, thus making roughly a third of the current body set to depart and be replaced on Jan. 1, 2022. – Washington Examiner 

As the days of 2021 dwindled, so did any remaining traces of democracy in Hong Kong. On Wednesday, a vocal pro-democracy media outlet — one of the last openly critical voices in the city — closed after a police raid. Earlier in December, the opposition was shut out from elections under a new law that puts all candidates to a loyalty test. And monuments commemorating the Tiananmen Square protests of 1989 were taken down. – Associated Press 

The new party chief in China’s Xinjiang called for improved business conditions in his first official visit to the region, where forced labour accusations have prompted some countries to announce a diplomatic boycott of the upcoming Beijing Winter Olympics. – Agence France-Presse 

China’s space station has twice been forced to take evasive action to avoid colliding with small satellites launched by Elon Musk’s SpaceX, the country said in a United Nations complaint. – New York Post 

China will improve copyright protection livestreaming, e-commerce and sports events by 2025, the country’s copyright regulator said on Wednesday. Copyright protection will be strengthened and improved in new industries and new areas, according to the 14th Five-Year Plan for Copyright Work issued by the National Copyright Administration. – Reuters 

Editorial: The Communist Party can’t tolerate a free press covering its demolition of Hong Kong freedom, so it slanders the city’s journalists as criminals and traitors. And it is getting the coverage it wants. The South China Morning Post, a once robust independent publication, now toes the party line. The paper recently reported on a letter from Secretary for Constitutional and Mainland Affairs Eric Tsang excoriating us for an editorial before we had a chance to publish his response. The Party views all economic activity as fundamentally political, and this week’s crackdown illustrates how no one is safe doing business in Hong Kong. – Wall Street Journal 

Tom Rogan writes: In turn, what’s happening in Hong Kong is a window both to China’s deep political insecurity and its unpleasant ambitions for the world. Governments such as those of France and Germany, and U.S. corporations such as Intel and Mars, should pick a side. – Washington Examiner 

South Asia

Political dynasties are increasingly dominating governments in Southeast Asia, posing an obstacle to good governance in one of the world’s most economically vibrant regions. – Wall Street Journal 

Across Myanmar, hundreds of thousands of people have fled their homes, trying to escape the violence and bloodshed since the military seized power in a coup on Feb. 1. Many are living in tents in the jungles of Myanmar. Some, like Mr. Biak Tling, have left their homeland entirely, pouring into neighboring countries. – New York Times 

Rana Ayyub writes: During the “Summit for Democracy” hosted earlier this month by President Biden, Modi claimed to be a champion of free speech, rule of law and a secular and pluralistic ethos, but the world is seeing how he and his party are willing to rely on threats, dog whistles, intimidation and violence to consolidate control. All these calls for genocide are happening in the context of state elections. Is this the type of “democracy” Biden and other allies are championing? – Washington Post 


The United States is at risk of paying an “unbearable price” due to its actions over Taiwan, Wang Yi, state councillor and foreign minister, said in an interview with state media on Thursday. – Reuters 

Sri Lanka’s federal Cabinet will meet Monday to decide whether or not to seek bailout funds from the International Monetary Fund as the nation struggles with limited options to address upcoming debt maturities. – Bloomberg 

The Myanmar military had stormed Done Taw at 11 a.m. on Dec. 7, he told the AP, with about 50 soldiers hunting people on foot. […]The carnage at Done Taw is just one of the most recent signs that the Myanmar military is reverting to a strategy of massacres as a weapon of war, according to an AP investigation based on interviews with 40 witnesses, social media, satellite imagery and data on deaths. – Associated Press 

The dozens of Type 90, or “Kyumaru,” tanks rumbling through recent shooting drills on Japan’s northern island of Hokkaido exemplify the challenge its arms makers face both at home and overseas as the country fortifies its defenses against strategic threats. – Associated Press 

A Myanmar insurgent group said it has buried the remains of more than 30 people who were killed and had their bodies set ablaze, as the U.N. Security Council called for accountability and an immediate end to violence in the country. – Reuters 

Editorial: China may not be so conscientious about upholding the Solomons’ sovereignty. Its political and economic interests on the archipelago are growing, and a security presence will give it more leverage. In Hong Kong, China’s police forces have showcased their contempt for individual rights and the law. The “non lethal” aid to the Solomon Islands may not remain so. And if China sends more police, then it’s not inconceivable that future civil unrest on the island could put Australian and Chinese security forces in conflict. The South Pacific hasn’t received much U.S. attention since World War II, but China’s foray into the Solomons shows it deserves more. – Wall Street Journal 

Hal Brands writes: By building a series of giant dams on the Mekong River, Beijing has triggered recurring droughts and devastating floods in Southeast Asian countries such as Thailand and Laos that depend on that waterway. […]A growing source of tension in the Himalayas is China’s plan to dam key waters before they reach India, leaving that country (and Bangladesh) the losers. As the Indian strategic analyst Brahma Chellaney puts it, “China’s territorial aggrandizement in the South China Sea and the Himalayas … has been accompanied by stealthier efforts to appropriate water resources in transnational river basins.” – Bloomberg 

Dr. John C. Hulsman writes: Central Asia finally being “at the table,” rather than being “on the menu,” presents the U.S. with a largely unforeseen strategic opportunity. It is high time that America takes advantage of it. – The Hill 


President Biden’s second call with Russian President Vladimir Putin in a month over military tensions on Ukraine’s border comes with the Kremlin ratcheting up pressure for a sweeping new security deal, firing a recent test salvo of hypersonic missiles to reinforce its demands. – Washington Post 

A Moscow court abolished the Memorial Human Rights Center on Wednesday in the second ruling in two days against Russia’s most prominent human rights group. Russia’s Supreme Court liquidated another wing of the group, the International Memorial Society, on Tuesday in a decision condemned by global human rights organizations. The forced closure of both wings of Memorial, Russia’s oldest rights organization, was a sharp blow to rights activists amid the Kremlin’s sweeping crackdown on dissent. – Washington Post 

British Foreign Secretary Liz Truss said on Wednesday she was deeply concerned by the liquidation of the Russian human rights group Memorial, saying its closure was another “chilling blow to freedom of expression in Russia”. – Reuters 

Russian President Vladimir Putin said Wednesday that a new pipeline to Germany has been fully filled with natural gas, noting that it could help quickly reduce soaring European energy prices. – Associated Press 

Russian President Vladimir Putin said Wednesday that Russia and Belarus will hold joint war games early next year. Putin welcomed Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko’s proposal to hold another round of military drills, saying that they could be held in February or March. Speaking during a meeting with Lukashenko in St. Petersburg, he added that military officials will coordinate details. – Associated Press 

Russian civil rights group Memorial has vowed to find legal ways to continue its work after it was forcibly dissolved by the courts this week, as concerns grew about the fate of its vast collection of artefacts and archival materials documenting Soviet-era atrocities. – Financial Times 

Editorial: Russia’s president is playing a relatively weak hand strongly. The west should not play its own strong hand weakly. Complex and difficult diplomacy lies ahead. But Putin must be persuaded jaw-jaw, and not the alternative, is the way forward. – Financial Times 

Tom Rogan writes: The takeaway from all this is that Putin’s aggression won’t be corralled by treating him as some kind of petulant pretender. As evinced by its global practice, Putin’s power is real and exerted to effect. Facing the negative extensions of this power and the inherently anti-American ideological impetus that guides them, Putin can thus only be corralled by the application of greater resolve and power against him. – Washington Examiner 

Leon Aron writes: After twenty-two years in the Kremlin, in another two years Putin will embark on a presidency-for-life in 2024, when, at seventy-two, he will be looking at two more six-year terms. Yet both the history of great revolutions of modernity and Russian history strongly suggest that his restoration will not survive him. In the meantime, let’s celebrate Russia’s own Glorious Revolution of 1991. – 19fortyfive 

Kori Schake writes: Russia’s past attempts to intimidate Ukraine into not choosing a westward path have backfired. […]Putin lacks the imagination to see that launching successful military operations is not the same as winning a war, a lesson the U.S. recently relearned in Afghanistan. That Russia is now repeating the very mistake the U.S. made, and is slowly recovering from, is an ironic twist. – The Atlantic  

Max Seddon writes: A full-blown invasion would allow Russia to take over swaths of territory that could be used for a counter-offensive in the Donbas. It would also play to Putin’s notion that Ukraine’s Russian-speaking areas east of the Dnipro river are Moscow’s “historical territories”. Analysts consider that scenario less likely because of the enormous manpower it would require and likely significant casualties for Russian forces. But the extent of the assault would ultimately depend on how much damage Moscow had to inflict to force Ukraine to admit defeat, according to FPRI’s Lee. – Financial Times 


The foreign ministers of Germany, France, Britain and the United States discussed the situation at the Ukrainian border and upcoming dialogue formats with Russia, Germany’s foreign ministry said on Twitter on Wednesday. – Reuters 

Recent allegations that Pegasus spyware by Israel’s NSO Group was used against three Polish government opponents are likely the “tip of the iceberg,” a cyber expert who helped identify the phone taps said Wednesday. – Agence France-Presse 

Ben Hall writes: Macron would prefer a rematch against Le Pen or, even better, an easy run-off with Zemmour. He could once again present himself as a rampart against the far-right. But the French seem to have little appetite for a Manichean choice. Pécresse may yet falter. She is only narrowly ahead of her far-right rivals. But the first female conservative presidential candidate presents Macron with a fresh challenge. It would strengthen Macron’s legitimacy should he win. It is good for French democracy. – Financial Times


The United Nations and other countries are in talks with Somalia’s prime minister and president to urge them to reduce tensions in their political feud that has fed fears of a military clash, officials said on Wednesday. – Reuters 

Authorities in Sudan’s North Darfur state announced a night curfew on Wednesday after armed groups looted a U.N. World Food Programme warehouse and facilities used by a former peacekeeping mission. – Reuters 

Ethiopian lawmakers have approved a bill to establish a commission for national dialogue, amid international pressure for negotiations to end the 13-month conflict in the Tigray region. – Associated Press 

Almost a year since Washington withdrew US troops from the country, which occupies a strategic position in the Horn of Africa commanding the busy southern approaches to the Red Sea, delayed elections have emboldened fighters, including Islamist militants al-Shabaab, threatening to bring the country into even deeper chaos. – Financial Times 

Editorial: International meddling in Ethiopia’s civil war, and its use as a proving ground for new military technologies, has already caused some analysts to compare it to the civil war that engulfed Spain in 1936, and foreshadowed the Second World War. Preventing a repetition of that awful history creates yet another incentive for the United States to remain engaged and to support all credible efforts at containing the conflict and, ultimately, bringing a durable peace to Ethiopia. – Washington Post 

United States

The Biden administration on Wednesday asked the U.S. Supreme Court whether it needed to continue to implement a Trump-era policy that has forced tens of thousands of migrants to wait in Mexico for the resolution of their U.S. asylum cases. – Reuters 

The U.S. government has requested that Max Polyakov, a wealthy Ukrainian tech entrepreneur, sell his stake in the rocket company Firefly Aerospace Inc., citing national security concerns. – Bloomberg 

The U.S. administration announced Wednesday it is examining the possibility of reopening the offices of the Palestine Liberation Organization in Washington. – Ynet 

Editorial: President Joe Biden’s inaugural address pledged to “repair our alliances and engage with the world once again.” The United States, Biden proclaimed, would “be a strong and trusted partner for peace, progress, and security.” This has not happened. Instead, Biden’s foreign policy has oscillated between chaos and weakness. – Washington Examiner 

Henry Olsen writes: The world will be watching the United States next year, as the midterm elections in November will determine whether President Biden’s hold on power weakens. But other nations will hold key elections, too, and they deserve attention from Americans, as their outcomes will have significant influence on our global influence. […]The results of each of these contests will have large implications for the United States. The overall theme to watch: Whether the United States’s allies want to be part of the global alliance of democracies Biden seeks to rebuild, or whether they want to hedge their bets as China continues its rise. – Washington Post 

Robert A. Manning writes: From the Jan. 6 insurrection to the omicron variant of COVID-19, 2021 has been a wild ride, with its share of unanticipated developments. So what are the top risks to worry about in 2022? The short answer is, 2022 will be a bit like 2021, only more volatile, as many problems brewing this year may come to a boiling point. […]On a low-to-high spectrum, we judge the risks discussed above as medium-to-high. 2022 will not be a boring year. – The Hill 


Critical manufacturing groups are increasingly at risk from attack, a top federal agency warned Wednesday, pointing to a spike in vulnerabilities to the sector caused by changes during the COVID-19 pandemic. – The Hill 

After nearly two decades of conflict against technologically inferior and insurgency-focused adversaries, the U.S. military and the Army are honing their cyber training against more sophisticated forces. – C4ISRNET 

Angus King and Michael Gallagher write: After years of work, the cyberspace commission is wrapping up, but our members have unfinished business we don’t plan on stepping away from — and we’ll continue our work through legislation and negotiation and pressure when necessary. Just as the United States has defended its interests on land, sea and air, it must recognize that the nation’s interests in a fourth domain — cyberspace — are central to our country’s long-term security and prosperity. – Washington Post 


The Navy’s costliest warship finally has all the elevators needed to lift bombs from below its deck so it can deploy on its first operational patrol — more than four and a half years after delivery. – Bloomberg 

In a potential conflict with a near-peer adversary, such as Russia or China, the Navy’s aircraft carriers could make the difference, especially against China, because of its proximity to the sea. But advances in Chinese and Russian military capabilities could significantly restrict aircraft carriers and minimize their effectiveness. Special-operations units, especially US Navy SEAL Teams, could alleviate some of these concerns. – Business Insider 

The past year saw several bumpy tech platform rollouts across the Army. The service’s new Deloitte-designed platform for educational benefits, Army Ignited, was rushed out before it was ready due to contract issues, leaving thousands of soldiers with the burden of pursuing exceptions to policy to continue their education. Some troops continue to report issues with the new platform, as well. – Defense News 

The Marine Corps got into the drone game early, experimenting with the then-new technology in the 1980s. Other priorities, funding and a drone-hungry Air Force put the Corps in the backseat. The Marines are finally mounting a drone comeback, with its first noticeable acquisitions in 2022. – Defense News 

NATO has reported a fall in the number of Russian military aircraft that were intercepted by alliance air policing missions in 2021. – Janes 

US legislation signed into law on 27 December directs the Pentagon to transfer all Lockheed Martin F-35 Joint Strike Fighter Lightning II sustainment and acquisition activities from the F-35 Joint Program Office (JPO) to the US Air Force (USAF) and US Navy (USN). – Janes 

Long War

Indonesian prosecutors postponed their sentencing demand Wednesday for a top terror suspect who eluded capture for 18 years and is accused of masterminding deadly attacks and sectarian conflict in the world’s most populous Muslim nation. – Associated Press 

A suspected Islamic State militant and bomb maker went on trial in a Moroccan court on terrorism charges after his arrest in cooperation with U.S. intelligence, police said. – Reuters 

Somalia’s al Shabaab fighters attacked a town north of the capital Mogadishu on Thursday, killing at least seven people as they fought government security forces, a police officer and residents said. – Reuters