Fdd's overnight brief

December 4, 2023

FDD Research & Analysis

In The News

Israel

Weeks after Hamas attacked southern Israel, Sharone Lifschitz stood in the charred ruins of her parents’ home in the Nir Oz kibbutz and listened to the bombs falling on the nearby Gaza Strip. […]“How do you keep humanity?” said Lifschitz, who is 52. “How do you not wish destruction on their children?” – Wall Street Journal

The U.S. has provided Israel with large bunker buster bombs, among tens of thousands of other weapons and artillery shells, to help dislodge Hamas from Gaza, U.S. officials said. – Wall Street Journal

Talks between Israel and Hamas to hand over hostages held in Gaza in return for a pause in fighting there have stalled, the White House said Sunday, while Israeli forces step up attacks and direct Palestinians in the enclave to move into a narrower strip of land. – Wall Street Journal

The Israelis say they don’t want the job. Arab nations are resisting. Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas might volunteer, but the Palestinian people probably don’t want him. As the Biden administration begins to plan for “the day after” in Gaza — confronting problematic questions such as who runs the territory once the shooting stops, how it gets rebuilt and, potentially, how it eventually becomes a part of an independent Palestinian state — the stakeholders face a host of unattractive options. – Washington Post

The Biden administration urgently hoped to use the recent pause in hostilities between Israel and Hamas to change the course of the war in Gaza. As the fighting began anew Friday, it was unclear whether those efforts were having any effect. – Washington Post

More than 100 Amazon employees in 20 cities gathered to eat knafeh and observe International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People, but in two offices, the event was interrupted by fliers that said “KIDNAPPED” above photos of Israeli hostages. – Washington Post

House Democrat Adam Smith said his home in Bellevue, Wash., was vandalized Thursday night by people advocating for a cease-fire in the Gaza Strip, and Bellevue police said Friday they were working with U.S. Capitol Police to investigate the incident, which included graffiti spray-painted on the home’s garage door. – Washington Post

A protester self-immolated on Friday afternoon outside of the Israeli Consulate building in Atlanta, in what the police described as “likely an extreme act of political protest.” – New York Times

Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken blamed Hamas for the broken truce on Friday and said that he was already seeing signs that Israel had taken new steps to protect civilians as it resumed its military campaign. – New York Times

Israeli officials obtained Hamas’s battle plan for the Oct. 7 terrorist attack more than a year before it happened, documents, emails and interviews show. But Israeli military and intelligence officials dismissed the plan as aspirational, considering it too difficult for Hamas to carry out. – New York Times

Israeli forces have found 800 shafts leading to Hamas’ vast subterranean network of tunnels and bunkers since a Gaza ground operation began on Oct 27, and have destroyed more than half of them, the military said on Sunday. – Reuters

The chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Court rounded off a historic first visit to Israel and Ramallah by posting video and written messages on Sunday, saying that a probe by the court into possible crimes by Hamas militants and Israeli forces “is a priority for my office.” – Associated Press

Some hostages were held in dark tunnels, not seeing sunlight for 50-plus days. Others were confined in attics or apartments, moved frequently, and given inadequate food and water. The elderly were deprived of life-sustaining medications. Children were forced to watch footage of the October 7 massacre and threatened if they cried, the aunt of a released child hostage, Eitan Yahalomi, told France’s BFM TV. – New York Sun

Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin said Israel risks a “strategic defeat” if it does not work to protect Palestinian civilians in Gaza amid its war on militant group Hamas in the region. – The Hill

An IDF fighter jet conducted a targeted strike in the area of the Shati refugee camp outside of Gaza City, successfully killed the commander of Hamas’s Shati Battalion, Haitham Khuwajari, the IDF and Shin Bet said on Sunday evening. – Jerusalem Post

Col. Asaf Hamami was killed by Hamas terrorists on October 7 and his body taken back to Gaza, the IDF announced on Saturday, approving the publication of his name among the murdered, nearly two months after Hamas’s rampage through southwestern Israel. – Jerusalem Post

Editorial: Israel deserves U.S. support as it topples Hamas, not a repeat of Mr. Biden’s Ukraine treatment: rules, restrictions and hesitations that push a decisive victory further away. Israelis may find that victory requires calling the President’s bluff. Turning on Israel in wartime would alienate the much larger pool of pro-Israel American voters. – Wall Street Journal

Editorial: As the country’s political and military leaders have rightly pointed out, the success in forcing Hamas to agree to release the 110 hostages was due to the IDF’s military campaign in Gaza. Only such overwhelming pressure on Hamas can enable the release of the remaining 130 or so captives still held by Hamas. Both sides of the equation, hostages first or toppling Hamas first, have validity, but presenting a unified national front at this time is of utmost importance. We must keep in mind that the common enemy is Hamas, not each other. – Jerusalem Post

Michael Oren and Jason Greenblatt write: Talking about peace while Hamas continues to hold more than a hundred people hostage strikes many as tone-deaf. But at least 20 Democratic senators think otherwise and may seek to revive a failed two-state formula. To give Mr. Biden the backing he needs to maintain his principled opposition to a total pause—and provide time and space for Israel to defeat Hamas—the U.S. should renew the vision, at least as the basis for future negotiations. It is the only proposal Israelis might approve if and when the time is right, and it is an opportunity the Palestinians would be wise not to miss. – Wall Street Journal

Daniel DePetris writes: Blinken delivered his most emphatic public statement on the need to take better care of civilians as Israel proceeds with its campaign. “I underscored the imperative to the United States that the massive loss of civilian life and displacement of the scale we saw in northern Gaza not be repeated in the south,” Blinken told a press conference after his meetings this week with the Israeli war Cabinet. “As I told the prime minister, intent matters, but so does the result.” In short: The war is going to get a lot worse before it gets any better. And the longer the war goes on, the more likely the Biden administration’s position on the war will grate on the Israelis — and vice versa. – Washington Examiner

Iran

A small western Pennsylvania water authority was just one of multiple organizations breached in the United States by Iran-affiliated hackers who targeted a specific industrial control device because it is Israeli-made, U.S. and Israeli authorities say. – Associated Press

The US and Israel issued a joint advisory to highlight what they called malicious cyber activity linked to Iran that could affect several industries, including US-based water systems as well as energy and food. – Bloomberg

With multiple vulnerable Democratic senators up for re-election next year, the opportunity to put a feather in their cap has presented itself as the Republican-controlled House pushes President Biden to freeze $6 billion destined for Tehran. Multiple Democrats have already said they would support such a proposal. – New York Sun

Over 500 gigabytes of data, including hundreds of thousands of IDF medical records were allegedly stolen by Iran-linked hackers during a cyberattack on Ziv Medical Center in Safed, Israel, the hackers claimed on Telegram. – Jerusalem Post

Iran aims to launch astronauts into space using domestically developed technology by the end of 2029, Iranian Communication Minister Eisa Zarepour stated in a post on the Iranian Virasty social media site on Sunday. – Jerusalem Post

Eric Mandel writes: Iran knows it has free rein for the next year as America enters the presidential election season. Biden not only is moving away from supporting Israel’s goal of destroying Hamas’s stronghold in southern Gaza, but is unwilling to confront Iran’s malign activities against our soldiers or constrain their nuclear program. If Israel does not destroy Hamas, then the upshot of recent events is that Iran will win this time, and a nuclear Iran will be emboldened to become more aggressive in the next round. – The Hill

Alan Goldsmith writes: The United States and its allies should draw attention to Sepehri’s case and demand her immediate release. They should also recognize that the Iranian regime has demonstrated in its over 40 years in power that it will never reform itself and never respect the rights of Iranians. The only long-term salvation for Sepehri and her fellow women human rights defenders is the end of the Islamic Republic and its replacement with a liberal democratic system, as Sepehri has demanded. Nations that respect human rights should do everything in their power to bring about that goal. – The Messenger

Alex Vatanka writes: Should a peace process follow this latest war, most likely to be led by the U.S. and the Arab states, Iran will have a hard choice to make. The Iranians no doubt know the high geopolitical costs associated with acting as a spoiler. Thirty years ago, Iran refused to accept the Oslo Accords, a decision that only deepened Tehran’s image as a radical actor and marginalized Iran from the rest of the region. Iran can repeat the same mistake and double-down on upholding its Axis of Resistance against Israel, or it can begin to look for ways to work with the majority in the region that seek a feasible political settlement to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. – Middle East Institute

Russia & Ukraine

Less than one month before Mike Johnson’s sudden ascent to the speakership, the Louisiana Republican, then a little-known member, joined with most GOP lawmakers to vote against $300 million in U.S. security assistance for Ukraine. – Wall Street Journal

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky ordered the construction of an extensive network of fortifications aimed at holding back Russian forces, signaling a switch to the defensive posture after a monthslong Ukrainian counteroffensive yielded only small gains. – Wall Street Journal

A Russian court extended by two months the detention of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty journalist Alsu Kurmasheva, a dual U.S.-Russian citizen awaiting trial on a charge that she failed to register as a foreign agent. – Wall Street Journal

More than a year after members of the Russian activist group Pussy Riot, Maria Alyokhina and Lucy Shtein escaped from Moscow disguised as food couriers, the feminist punk-protest band is touring the United States with a new antiwar anthem that howls in rage at Kremlin propagandists they accuse of poisoning Russian minds. – Washington Post

When a Hamas delegation visited Moscow in late October, Russian diplomats handed the group a list of eight Russian-Israeli citizens being held hostage in Gaza — captives Russia wanted the Palestinian militant group to set free. Hamas immediately signaled that the list would get special attention, state-run media reported. – Washington Post

Fresh Russian shelling killed at least three people including an elderly man in a village garage and a woman beside a city bus stop, Ukrainian officials said, as President Volodymr Zelenskiy reported “intense battles” at dozens of frontline locations. – Reuters

Russia launched 23 drones and a cruise missile overnight on Ukraine, Ukraine’s air force said on Monday, adding that its air defence systems destroyed the missile and 18 of the drones before they reached their targets. – Reuters

President Vladimir Putin has signed a decree putting St Petersburg’s Pulkovo Airport under the temporary management of a Russian company, wresting control from investors from Germany, Qatar and other Gulf states. – Reuters

Ukraine’s domestic spy agency has detonated explosives on a Russian railway line deep in Siberia, the second attack this week on military supply routes in the area, a Ukrainian source told Reuters on Friday. – Reuters

Former President Petro Poroshenko was denied permission to leave Ukraine for a planned meeting with Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban, Ukraine’s security service said Saturday. – Associated Press

Imprisoned opposition leader Alexei Navalny has been handed new charges by Russian prosecutors. – Associated Press

Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a decree expanding the country’s armed services amid his ongoing invasion of Ukraine. – Bloomberg

Former National Security Advisor John Bolton urged Congress to “act quickly” to support Ukraine amid its war with Russia, a conflict that he said may be forgotten by Americans as eyes shift to the war in Gaza. – The Hill

Hezbollah

Lebanon’s militant Hezbollah group attacked several Israeli army posts along the two countries’ border and Israel shelled a village in southern Lebanon on Friday, killing two Lebanese citizens, officials said. – Associated Press

For the last few weeks, Islamist militant group Hezbollah has been firing anti-tank missiles into the kibbutz from the Lebanese village of Meiss El Jabal in the valley a few hundred yards below. Other villages in the region have also come under attack and the Israeli military has responded with strikes of its own. – Bloomberg

IDF fighter jets struck several Hezbollah sites in southern Lebanon Sunday, following a series of assaults by the terror group near the border, including an anti-tank guided missile attack that left 12 people wounded. – Times of Israel

Afghanistan

Pakistan’s top court opened a hearing Friday on a petition by human rights activists seeking to halt the forceful deportation of Afghans who were born in Pakistan and those who would be at risk if they were returned to Afghanistan. – Associated Press

The Taliban government’s new ambassador to China arrived in Beijing on Friday — the first time Afghanistan’s rulers have officially sent an ambassador to another country since returning to power more than two years ago. – Associated Press

Afghanistan’s Taliban-led government announced punishments handed out to 417 people under Shari’a law during a recent 12-month period, according to a report issued this week by Afghan Witness, an organization that monitors human rights abuses in Afghanistan. – Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty

Pregnant Afghan women who are eligible for resettlement in the UK have been told their babies may not survive unless they are urgently evacuated. – The Guardian

Syria

Syrian air defences repelled an Israeli rocket attack against targets in the vicinity of Damascus early on Saturday, Syrian state media reported, adding defences shot down most of the missiles. – Reuters

Two military officers of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps were killed in Syria, the IRGC’s official Sepah News portal said in a statement, blaming Israel for the deaths. – Bloomberg

Nasser, 48, traveled from the rebel-held city of Idlib, Syria, to Turkey with his young grandson, who needs medical treatment for a congenital heart defect. In Syria, planes signal danger. Just the day before, he told me, his grandson was utterly terrified by the sounds of a commercial airliner. – Politico

Iraq

A U.S. air strike killed five Iraqi militants near the northern city of Kirkuk as they prepared to launch explosive projectiles at U.S. forces in the country, three Iraqi security sources said, identifying them as members of an Iran-backed militia. – Reuters

Turkey’s military conducted air strikes in northern Iraq on Friday evening and destroyed 16 Kurdish militant targets, the Turkish Defence Ministry said, adding many militants had been “neutralised” in the attack. – Reuters

A group armed with explosives and guns killed 11 people in eastern Iraq, security officials said Friday. – Associated Press

Turkey

Turkey’s President Tayyip Erdogan said that the chance for peace in Gaza after the humanitarian pause was lost for now due to what he described as Israel’s uncompromising approach, broadcaster NTV reported on Saturday. – Reuters

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg says he has told Turkey’s president that “the time has come” to let Sweden become a member of the military alliance. – Associated Press

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan reiterated his refusal to designate Hamas as a terrorist organization, dismissing concerns raised by a senior US Treasury official about this country’s alleged support for the group’s financial operations. – Bloomberg

Yemen

A U.S. destroyer and three commercial ships operating in the Red Sea came under drone and ballistic-missile attacks, the Pentagon said Sunday, marking the most significant escalation of a weekslong military attack on ships operating in those waters. – Wall Street Journal

An attack on an American warship and commercial vessels in the Red Sea on Sunday risks reigniting investor worries about a widening of the war between Israel and Hamas, potentially complicating the outlook for a rally that saw U.S. stocks crest a fresh closing high for the year last week. – Reuters

Iranian-backed Houthi rebels claimed they targeted “two Israeli ships” in the Red Sea, part of a series of attacks against commercial vessels in international waters on Sunday during which the US said one of its destroyers shot down three drones. – Bloomberg

Editorial: The Houthis pose a significant threat to crucial Red Sea shipping lanes. Sooner or later one of its missiles may sink a commercial ship, and perhaps even harm American sailors. This marks another failure of deterrence by the Biden Administration. It is reluctant to strike with anything but a token response to Iranian proxy forces for fear of escalation that could spread the Hamas-Israel war throughout the Middle East. But it’s getting the escalation anyway, and Iran is at the heart of it all. – Wall Street Journal

Middle East & North Africa

After more than a year of detention, Azhar Assaf has finally returned to her home in the occupied West Bank. Although she doesn’t consider herself to be political, she says she owes her freedom to Hamas. – Wall Street Journal

Libyan authorities on Friday released four members of the Palestinian terror group Hamas who were arrested in 2016 on charges including trafficking arms to Gaza, according to Libyan media. – Agence France-Presse

Several Palestinian advocacy groups are calling on the parent company of Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp to address long-standing content moderation issues they allege have unfairly restricted Palestinian speech in the wake of the outbreak of the Israel-Hamas war in October. – The Hill

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu pulled his country’s negotiators from Qatar, calling off hostage negotiation talks saying they had reached an “impasse” with Hamas. – The Hill

Former National Security Advisor John Bolton blasted efforts to extend the truce in the Israel-Hamas war, calling them “objectively pro-Hamas.” – The Hill

A massive arms smuggling operation was thwarted in a  joint operation between Southern District police officers and IDF units from the 80th Division. – Jerusalem Post

Israel’s ties with Egypt and Jordan, long considered the cornerstones of its regional security and diplomatic architecture, are at risk if the Gaza war spirals, French Ambassador Frederic Journes told The Jerusalem Post this week. – Jerusalem Post

Editorial: They can tear down as many posters as they like. They can hold as many Munich-style rallies as they want, in an attempt to intimidate and silence their opponents. But they cannot conceal the fundamental facts here: Hamas stands for indiscriminate terror and death, not the cause of Palestinian statehood. The proof is in front of everyone’s eyes. – New York Post

Korean Peninsula

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has called for efforts to tackle the isolated country’s falling birth rates, describing the challenge as “everyone’s housekeeping”, state media KCNA reported on Monday. – Reuters

North Korea has begun reconnaissance satellite operations, state news agency KCNA said on Sunday, after the country launched its first military spy satellite last month in a move that drew new sanctions from the U.S. and its allies. – Reuters

North Korea said on Saturday it would consider any interference with its satellite operations a declaration of war and would mobilise its war deterrence if any attack against its strategic assets were imminent. – Reuters

South Korea on Monday said it will consult China to prevent disruption to urea supplies after Korean companies reported the fertiliser and emissions reducing chemical was taking longer to pass through Chinese customs on its way to the peninsula. – Reuters

South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol is replacing about a third of his cabinet ministers in the biggest government shakeup of his tenure, hoping to boost support for his conservative party ahead of April parliamentary elections. – Bloomberg

The US and three of its partners united to impose sanctions on North Korea for its spy satellite launch, with a primary target being an arms-trading company that has been subject to international punishment for more than a decade. – Bloomberg

South Korea on Friday successfully placed its first spy satellite into orbit, a little over a week after the nation’s archenemy North Korea did the same. – The Hill

Abraham Cooper and Greg Scarlatoiu write: Tunnel construction, the transfer of North Korean weapons and tactical training to Hamas is, in the worldview of the Kim regime, a way of bringing its anti-American, “anti-imperialist struggle” to the greatest US ally in the Middle East. Anti-Semitism is not merely a side effect of North Korea’s proliferation. Anti-Semitism and hatred of Israel and its people lie at the core of North Korea’s ideology. Just as antisemitic hate crimes and invective soar to unprecedented heights in the US, the Kim regime, through its loyal followers, is adding their hatred online and on American streets. – Jerusalem Post

China

China is willing to continue strengthening its strategic cooperation with Belarus, President Xi Jinping was cited as saying after meeting with Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko on Monday. – Reuters

Top representatives from the European Union will meet with Chinese President Xi Jinping this week, at their first in-person summit since 2019 aimed at easing tensions between the bloc and Beijing. – Bloomberg

China criticized the US after an American warship sailed in disputed waters in the South China Sea, underscoring lingering military tensions between the nations. – Bloomberg

The US’s top general said he’s still waiting to hear back from China about resuming military-to-military ties as the two countries seek to stabilize their fraught relationship. – Bloomberg

A reporter for Hong Kong’s premier English-language newspaper is “safe” in China, the publication said, after a news report claimed she’d been unreachable since traveling to Beijing in October. – Bloomberg

Matthew Brooker writes: “Truth, though powerless and always defeated in a head-on clash with the powers that be, possesses a strength of its own: whatever those in power may contrive, they are unable to discover or invent a viable substitute for it,” the political theorist and student of authoritarianism Hannah Arendt wrote. The powers that control Hong Kong can’t be considered victors until their history of the pro-democracy movement has been accepted. Books like Among the Braves only move that prospect further way. – Bloomberg

Tom Rogan writes: Speaking in San Francisco earlier this month, Chinese president Xi Jinping insisted that China “never interferes in [America’s] internal affairs” and seeks only “mutual respect, peaceful coexistence and win-win cooperation.” If nothing else, this report is further proof that only a fool would take Xi and his apparatchiks at their word. – Washington Examiner

Tom Rogan writes: There is at least one ray of light here: The U.S. has new evidence to bolster its claim — and repudiate French President Emmanuel Macron’s associated disagreement — that China’s threats require organized NATO attention. – Washington Examiner

Stephen Blank writes: Clearly, this alliance threatens global security and deterrence and requires policies suited to the assaults Russia and China regularly conduct. However, it remains unclear if governments, let alone experts, fully grasp the dimensions of this challenge. Recent experience shows that we are too often surprised even though we’ve been given an early warning. When the next shock comes it will probably be too late to say that we were warned for we will then have been judged and found wanting. – The Hill

South Asia

Hours after a Sikh community leader was assassinated by two masked men in the parking lot of his temple in Canada, a senior Indian security officer sent a drug trafficker he knew a video of the blood-covered victim slumped over in his truck. An hour later, he followed that up with the New York address of another Sikh activist he wanted killed. – Wall Street Journal

The ruling party of Prime Minister Narendra Modi has tightened its grip over India’s populous northern belt, results of state elections showed Sunday, expanding its dominance of a key region ahead of general elections in which Mr. Modi is seeking a third term. – New York Times

Indian refiners have resumed Venezuelan oil purchases through intermediaries, with Reliance (RELI.NS) set to meet executives from state firm PDVSA next week to discuss direct sales following the easing of U.S. sanctions on the South American country, people familiar with the matter said. – Reuters

Militants opened fire at a bus in northern Pakistan, killing nine people including two soldiers, and injuring over 20 others, local police said. – Associated Press

Jailed former Pakistani premier Imran Khan ‘s party elected Saturday a new head for the first time since it was established, following the recommendation of the imprisoned politician. – Associated Press

India is pressing to keep its troops and military equipment in the Maldives, a strategically important island nation, according to senior officials in New Delhi. – Bloomberg

Prime Minister Narendra Modi met Qatar’s Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani at COP28 Summit as a court in the Gulf monarchy hears an appeal of eight Indian veterans sentenced to death for alleged espionage, a case that prompted an outpouring of concern over their fate. – Bloomberg

Editorial: Mr. Modi has regularly shrugged off criticism that his Hindu majoritarianism is corroding India’s democracy. He insisted, when standing next to Mr. Biden, that “democracy is our spirit. Democracy runs in our veins. We live democracy.” To give meaning to these words, Mr. Modi must now demand from his own government full accountability for the assassination plot and bring to justice those responsible. – Washington Post

Ruth Pollard writes: India’s economy is set to be the fastest growing of any major nation this year and next, with investors increasingly looking to put money there as an alternative to China. Should he retain power next year, we should expect an India that is more hyper-religious and even less tolerant of minorities than ever before. These state polls cannot be viewed as a proxy for what might happen at a federal level, but they do tell us one thing: Modi is a force to be reckoned with. – Bloomberg

John Bolton writes: Just as the Adani Group’s Colombo port project, bolstered by U.S. financial connections, is geostrategically important to counter China’s hegemonic aspirations, so is increasing greater unity among America’s Arab partners. A wider Indian role and cooperation with the U.S. globally will serve both countries’ national interests. – Washington Examiner

Asia

From the remote speck of land they call home, the residents of Thitu Island have watched China’s presence creep closer, and grow more assertive, over the past decade. – Wall Street Journal

The Islamic State claimed responsibility Sunday for an explosion in the southern Philippines that killed at least four people, an attack President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. had blamed on “foreign terrorists.” – Washington Post

In the months leading up to a pivotal presidential election for Taiwan, candidates have focused on who can best handle the island democracy’s volatile relationship with China, with its worries about the risks of war. But at a recent forum in Taipei, younger voters instead peppered two of the candidates with questions about everyday issues like rent, telecom scams and the voting age. – New York Times

The Philippines and France agreed to initiate talks for a defense agreement that would allow troop visits, as the Southeast Asian nation seeks to strengthen military ties amid tension in the South China Sea. – Bloomberg

The US rejected a Japanese government request to ground its fleet of CV-22 Osprey aircraft in the country after a deadly crash, a rare public disagreement between the treaty allies. – Bloomberg

Editorial: In July, Azeri authorities jailed prominent economist Gubad Ibadoghlu, who had called out corruption and kleptocracy under Mr. Aliyev. Mr. Ibadoghlu, who was a 2015 Reagan-Fascell fellow at the National Endowment for Democracy, remains imprisoned. Mr. Ibadoghlu and the journalists should be released immediately. Journalism and free expression are not crimes, as much as they discomfit the Azeri despot. – Washington Post

Nick Turse writes: Mr. Kissinger was never held to account for that suffering, in Cambodia or in other countries where his brand of realpolitik was employed. Since his death, voices of the victims of his foreign policy have been absent from the many remembrances, reminiscences and obituaries. They need to be heard. For 50 years, Mr. Kissinger evaded responsibility for the trauma visited on Tropeang Phlong and so many other villages in Cambodia. He shouldn’t be allowed to do so in death. – New York Times

James Bacchus writes: Why not do what is best for the country and then make it work politically? That is supposed to be what presidential leadership is all about. President Biden has led admirably on other fronts. He should lead on this one, too. In the meantime, a new approach to these negotiations could benefit from having new negotiators. Why not ask that a resignation or two be placed on the President’s desk to mark a new start for the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework? – The Hill

Europe

The Belgian prime minister on Saturday said that he had spoken with Israel’s president following the resumption of fighting in Gaza and told him there could be no more killing of civilians. – Reuters

Spain’s Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez spoke with Israeli war cabinet member Benny Gantz on Friday to try to defuse tension between the two countries after comments by Sanchez angered Israel for a second time in a week. – Reuters

French Foreign Minister Catherine Colonna said on Monday she was open to any resettlement request from tiny South Pacific nations threatened by rising sea levels, similar to Australia’s agreement with Tuvalu. – Associated Press

Police in London said they arrested two people Saturday during pro-Palestinian events, part of a “day of action” organized by campaigners around Britain. – Associated Press

Denmark’s government ordered the country’s military to help the police protect Jewish and Israeli locations amid increased threats of terrorism spurred by the conflict in the Middle East. – Bloomberg

The UK’s military will conduct surveillance flights over Gaza to help locate hostages held by terror group Hamas since its October 7 shock assault on Israel, Britain’s defense ministry confirmed this weekend. – Agence France-Presse

Africa

The government of Ethiopia’s largest region, Oromiya, on Saturday accused the Oromo Liberation Army (OLA) rebel group of killing “many civilians” in attacks that followed the failure of peace talks in Tanzania. – Reuters

British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said on Friday he discussed plans to deport asylum seekers to Rwanda with President Paul Kagame as he finalises his response to a block on the policy in the Supreme Court in London. – Reuters

The European Union should first sign a strategic partnership agreement with Ukraine instead of starting membership talks with the country, Hungary’s Viktor Orban said on Friday, flagging a way to a possible compromise ahead of a crucial EU summit. – Reuters

The United Nations Security Council voted Friday to end its political mission of a few hundred people dedicated to ending the civil war in Sudan. – Associated Press

Gunfire erupted in Guinea-Bissau’s capital city late Thursday night and continued through Friday morning during what local media reported as clashes between security forces after two senior government officials were improperly released from custody. – Associated Press

Opposition leaders in the Democratic Republic of Congo are in talks about choosing a single candidate to face incumbent President Felix Tshisekedi, with national elections less than three weeks away. – Bloomberg

The United Nations Security Council unanimously lifted the ban on arms deliveries to Somalia, more than 30 years after the first embargo was imposed. – Bloomberg

A top U.S. intelligence official presented a detailed proposal to the leaders of Congo and Rwanda last week for a pact to reduce fighting in eastern Congo — and promised to help enforce the deal. – Politico

Latin America

Venezuela’s president, Nicolás Maduro, finds himself in a political bind. He is under pressure from the United States to hold free and fair elections after years of authoritarian rule or face a reinstatement of crippling economic sanctions. But analysts say he is unlikely to give up power and would most likely lose in a credible election. – New York Times

Voters in Venezuela rejected the International Court of Justice’s (ICJ) jurisdiction over the country’s territorial dispute with Guyana and backed the creation of a new state in the potential oil-rich Esequibo region in a Sunday referendum. – Reuters

The White House said on Friday it was prepared to “pause” sanctions relief for OPEC member Venezuela in coming days unless there is further progress on the release of Venezuelan political prisoners and “wrongfully detained” Americans. – Reuters

The U.S. has expelled a former Chilean Army officer accused of torturing and killing folk singer Victor Jara during the country’s bloody 1973 coup. – Associated Press

A former American diplomat who served as U.S. ambassador to Bolivia has been arrested in a long-running FBI counterintelligence investigation, accused of secretly serving as an agent of Cuba’s government, The Associated Press has learned. – Associated Press

Authorities in Haiti held former rebel leader Guy Philippe on Friday at a police station where he remained a day after the the United States repatriated him to Haiti, his lawyer said. – Associated Press

The White House is evaluating potential consequences after Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro missed an end-of-November deadline to release detained Americans, National Security Council spokesman John Kirby said Sunday. – Bloomberg

For decades, Venezuelan schoolchildren have been taught to draw a map of their country different from the one in use elsewhere: theirs includes a disputed region roughly the size of Florida which is controlled by neighboring Guyana. – Bloomberg

Nine people died and 15 were injured after a raid by a group of armed men in the Poderosa mine facilities in the province of Pataz, Peru, the Interior Ministry said in a statement late Saturday. – Bloomberg

Editorial: The weak opposition may feel it has no choice other than to go along with this game-playing by Mr. Maduro. But the U.S. has no such excuse. The State Department statement late Friday called sending banned candidates to beseech a politicized court “an important development,” without elaboration. The statement said it is “deeply concerned” by the regime’s failure to release prisoners, and it promised to say more in the coming days. But there have to be consequences for the regime’s failure to meet its commitments. Venezuelan democrats deserve better than more statements in the coming days. – Wall Street Journal

Editorial: Argentina voted less for workable solutions than to voice disgust at government as usual — a protest that might seem familiar elsewhere. The country’s voters are right to be angry. But unless Milei turns into a different politician than the one they elected, they’re likely to be disappointed again. – Bloomberg

Mary Anastasia O’Grady writes: Yet despite widespread disapproval of what the world seems to have already judged as a provocation against a peaceful neighbor, it would be unwise to underestimate the desperation building up in Caracas. If Mr. Maduro finds he has painted himself into a corner, desperate measures won’t be out of the question. Cuba, Brazil and China are unlikely to stand on principle. – Wall Street Journal

Kristina Foltz writes: The U.S. should not embrace strategic military relationships with presidents who support illicit crime, narco-trafficking, political imprisonment and extrajudicial killings. America and Israel can no longer pretend that a friend of terrorist organizations is in any sense an ally. It’s time to face the rapidly unfolding hybrid warfare in Latin America before the U.S. loses its influence in the region entirely. The security threat is real, the disinformation campaign is massive and the stakes are high. – The Hill

Michael Rubin writes: Prior to becoming National Security Advisor, Jake Sullivan argued in the context of the Middle East that the United States undercut diplomacy by prioritizing military solutions over diplomatic ones. He was not wrong, but failure to see military policy as integral to strategy is naïve. Maduro is testing Biden, just as Saddam tested Bush and Galtieri tested Margaret Thatcher. If Biden wants to stave off war, now is the time to send American troops to Guyana. Sometimes deterrence is necessary if diplomacy is to succeed. – American Enterprise Institute

United States

Former President Donald Trump’s efforts to claim absolute immunity to ward off criminal and civil legal actions against him were rebuffed twice Friday in separate legal decisions. – Wall Street Journal

House Republican leaders are moving toward a vote on formalizing an impeachment probe into President Biden, aiming to bolster an investigation that some in the party are still wary of pushing forward too quickly. – Wall Street Journal

Republican polling leader Donald Trump moved to deflect from criminal charges that he tried to overturn the 2020 election and from his own pledges to take revenge on his opponents if he returns to the White House, seeking to parry warnings that he presents a danger to democracy. – Washington Post

One of the three college students of Palestinian descent who were shot in Vermont last month is paralyzed from the chest down after a bullet lodged in his spine, the student’s family said. – Reuters

Olympic gold medalist swimmer Klete Keller, who threw his USA team jacket in a trash can after he stormed the U.S. Capitol, was sentenced on Friday to six months of home detention for joining the mob’s Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the seat of American democracy. – Associated Press

Editorial: Both President Biden and Republicans have a chance to claim a substantive and political victory here. Mr. Biden would somewhat reduce his immigration problem and avoid the humiliation of losing aid that could hand Vladimir Putin a victory in Ukraine in 2024. Republicans would rightly claim the accomplishment of forcing Mr. Biden to shore up border security. Gridlock in Washington is often a virtue. But every so often Congress needs to act in the national interest. This is one of those times. Failure to strike a deal would signal that the U.S. system really is as dysfunctional as its critics claim. – Wall Street Journal

Cybersecurity

Doctors have started using artificial intelligence in novel ways to communicate with patients and help make diagnoses. Now the government is wrestling with how to ensure the tools do no harm. – Wall Street Journal

Meta Platforms has spent months trying to fix child-safety problems on Instagram and Facebook, but it is struggling to prevent its own systems from enabling and even promoting a vast network of pedophile accounts. – Wall Street Journal

Hailed as a world first, European Union artificial intelligence rules are facing a make-or-break moment as negotiators try to hammer out the final details this week — talks complicated by the sudden rise of generative AI that produces human-like work. – Associated Press

Andy Kessler writes: If you’re doing year-end performance reviews or wonder why China’s social-credit system is doomed to fail, check out the new book “The Fund” by former Journal reporter Rob Copeland. It’s about Ray Dalio and his Bridgewater hedge fund’s cuckoo “radical transparency” and its Dot Collector real-time employee-rating app. Employees would watch how Mr. Dalio rated others and then quickly pile on. Circularly, bad ratings led to more bad ratings and show trials. It would be funny if it weren’t so tragic. See why I’m dazed and confused? And in emails and tweets I’m often accused of being a privileged cisgender patriarchy-empowered pale male. Privileged? Heck, I’m only Silver status on United MileagePlus. Keep those cards and letters coming. – Wall Street Journal

Parmy Olson writes: As such tools are imbued with more planning and strategic skills, we’ll talk much more about giving them “responsibility” instead of “tasks.” But we should do so slowly and carefully. Their anticipated disruption could come back to haunt us. – Bloomberg

Tom Kemp and Meghan Land write: In the case of data brokers, it is people versus an underregulated industry that can sell sensitive personal information serving any politicized — or nonpoliticized – interest. Purchasers may have good or bad intentions. The same business that sells data about military servicemembers could also sell location data revealing an individual’s medical visits, social media or search history data revealing sexual orientation, or data that labels a person as highly susceptible to falling victim to a scam. When harms range from individual autonomy to national security, it is time to address the problem. – The Hill

Sheldon H. Jacobson writes: Facial recognition is what they believe is the right investment at this time. I completely agree with their assessment, not only for airport security today, but for what it will need to be in the future. Halting facial recognition with the Traveler Privacy Protection Act will create a future that will be far riskier for every traveler, including all the people the six senators believe they are protecting with their bill. – The Hill

Defense

American military readiness is threatened because sailors are sleepy. A recent federal watchdog audit, citing Navy data, says sailors should have 7.5 hours available for sleep every day, but average 30 percent less sleep, just 5.25 hours, “placing sailor health and ship safety and readiness at risk.” – Washington Post

The war in Ukraine has shown the value of low-cost drone swarms in modern warfare. Now the Pentagon is planning to build an army of thousands of small, cheap drones in hopes of spurring U.S. drone production and cutting China’s dominance of that market. – Washington Post

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin announced Friday that the U.S. is developing and experimenting advanced warfighting capabilities with the United Kingdom and Australia, marking a leap forward in the second phase of a trilateral alliance between the countries to bolster their Indo-Pacific presence.  – The Hill

A bipartisan group of House lawmakers made a public appeal for transparency over reports of unidentified aerial phenomena (UAP) Thursday, after it was reported top leaders in both chambers were attempting to kill legislation related to the effort. – The Hill

An unauthorized vehicle attempted to enter the headquarters of U.S. Strategic Command (Stratcom) Thursday night, prompting gunshots and a lockdown before the driver backed away and left the base. – The Hill

Long War

An African branch of the Islamic State that for years was an afterthought for the main organization is surging in strength, expanding the ranks of its fighters and controlling more territory than at any point since its founding in 2015, researchers say, part of a shift by the Islamic State from its traditional strongholds in Iraq and Syria to Africa. – Washington Post

The main suspect in an assault that left one tourist dead and two other people injured in Paris was known to French intelligence services for Islamist extremism and had pledged allegiance to the Islamic State before the attack, the French authorities said on Sunday. – New York Times

Philippine troops, backed by airstrikes and artillery fire, killed 11 suspected Islamic militants near a hinterland village in the country’s south, authorities said Saturday, in one of the military’s bloodiest anti-insurgency offensives this year. – Associated Press

John Bolton writes: Winston Churchill’s observation that “without victory, there is no survival” directly applies to Israel’s crisis. Victory for Israel means achieving its self-defense goal of eliminating Hamas. Anything less means continuing life under threat, with Tehran and its terrorist surrogates confident that when Westerners say “never again” they don’t really mean it. – Wall Street Journal

Assaf Derri writes: In the wake of 7/10 atrocities, Israel has declared war on Hamas, in the full meaning of this term under international law – and rightly so. However, notwithstanding Western countries’ solidarity and support of Israel’s right to self-defense, their stand has fallen short by not taking the necessary further step and imposing on Hamas-Gaza full legal responsibility as on any other state. Such formal recognition of the exisiting situation would require the complete cessation of the transfer of funds to this quasi-state entity and its so-called “civilian” organizations.  Just as it would have been inconceivable that the United States, France or Spain would fund charities inside the Islamic State back in 2015, it should be similarly considered unthinkable and unlawful for them to fund organizations in 2023 New ISIS. – Jerusalem Post