Fdd's overnight brief

December 5, 2022

In The News


Iran’s attorney general said the country had disbanded its so-called morality police and is considering altering the requirement that women cover their heads in public, a move that analysts said was aimed at peeling away support for antigovernment protests. – Wall Street Journal

Fridays in southeastern Iran have become days of rage and resistance. As they have for weeks, protesters marched through the streets after Friday prayers in Zahedan, the capital of Sistan and Baluchistan province, which has become a pivotal front in the anti-government uprising sweeping Iran. – Washington Post

The United States on Friday designated China, Iran and Russia, among others, as countries of particular concern under the Religious Freedom Act over severe violations, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said. – Reuters

President Ebrahim Raisi on Saturday hailed Iran’s Islamic Republic as a guarantor of rights and freedoms, defending the ruling system amid a crackdown on anti-government protests that the United Nations says has cost more than 300 lives. – Reuters

Iranian authorities executed four people Sunday accused of working for Israel’s Mossad intelligence agency, the state-run IRNA news agency said. Three others received lengthy prison sentences. – Associated Press

Iran on Saturday began construction on a new nuclear power plant in the country’s southwest, Iranian state TV announced, amid tensions with the U.S. over sweeping sanctions imposed after Washington pulled out of the Islamic Republic’s nuclear deal with world powers. – Associated Press

The US will concentrate on Iranian weapons supplies to Russia and on supporting protesters in the country, rather than on stalled talks to revive an international nuclear deal, the Biden administration’s top Iran envoy said. – Bloomberg

Director of National Intelligence Avril Haines on Saturday said the Iranian government does not see the ongoing protests in Iran as an “imminent threat to the regime.” – The Hill

Iranian state-controlled media Sunday denied reports that a hijab-enforcing unit, popularly known as the morality police, has been dismantled following breathless declarations in the western media that the Tehran regime is caving to months of public protests by Iranian feminists and their supporters. – New York Sun

The home addresses and cell phone numbers of members of Iran’s IRGC, its Basij militia and police forces who are oppressing and attacking Iranian protesters are being published on the darknet to enable the public to seek out revenge. – Jerusalem Post

Leaked documents from Iran’s Fars news agency say the at least 115 military personnel have been arrested on charges of participating in the ongoing protest movement. The files hacked by the Black Reward group reveal that as many as one percent of all those arrested during the protests after the death of Mahsa Amini were military personnel. – Iran International

Popular Iranian film and television actress Mitra Hajjar has been arrested, the IRNA news agency reported on December 3. Mehdi Kohian, a member of a group that monitors artists’ arrests, has confirmed Hajjar’s detention. – Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty

Alan Goldsmith writes: Iranians are chanting “Death to Khamenei!” not “Reform by Khamenei!” Try this, instead: “The Iranian people want a new, free, democratic political system, with legitimate leaders who respect their rights. The U.S. supports their aspirations, with words and with actions.” Is that so hard? – The Hill

Gabriel Noronha writes: The U.S. government’s first responsibility is to provide for the defense of its citizens. No American who heeds the call of public service should have to live for years under the threat of assassination by a foreign power, much less while living in the U.S. with their family. Biden must take action now to end these despicable Iranian plots. – Washington Examiner

S. Houseini writes: Struggling against an oppressive government that is unwilling to make any domestic or international compromises and facing the consequences of crippling U.S. sanctions, the people have long felt desperate and agitated. Of course, the last drop in the bucket of this agony was the death of Mahsa Amini. From day one of the protests, it was clear that “Woman, Life, Freedom” was just the surface of deeper issues and grievances in Iran. That these issues have spilled into the World Cup is unsurprising, but the team’s ambivalent position highlights the complicated relationship between national identity and sports, as well as the depth of issues inside Iran. – Washington Institute

Omer Carmi writes: Does Khamenei truly believe that today’s internal situation is manageable and that no reform in foreign or domestic policy is needed? It is difficult to say with certainty, but his latest rhetoric suggests the answer is yes. The regime continues to use a “more of the same” strategy to meet the current challenge on the ground—not intensifying its already harsh tools of suppression, but not suggesting meaningful concessions either. – Washington Institute

Nicholas Carl, Zachary Coles, and Frederick W. Kagan write: Western media inaccurately reported that the Iranian regime abolished its morality patrol on December 4. The regime has not made such a concession. Western outlets misinterpreted remarks from Prosecutor General Mohammad Javad Montazeri on December 3. Montazeri noted in response to a journalist’s question that security forces have reduced morality patrols in recent months—a statement that some Western media has mistakenly framed as confirmation that the regime abolished the patrols. Iranian state media later clarified that Montazeri was only acknowledging the reduced morality patrols rather than announcing an end to the program. No other Iranian official has indicated that the regime has ended the patrol. – Institute for the Study of War

Michael Rubin writes: The best solution is simply not to allow hostile regimes to go nuclear in the first place. Even if the Islamic Republic did use a theoretical nuclear arsenal, it could lash out conventionally and with terrorism knowing that it was secure behind its own nuclear deterrence. The last 80 days, however, have shown just how illegitimate and weak the Islamic Republic is. Even if it survives Khamenei’s death, it is essentially a zombie regime. – 19FortyFive

Zvi Bar’el writes: At this point, the government could still neutralize one element of the protest – the hijab law, which has proven to be a powerful force for mobilizing demonstrators and fueling the protests. Montazeri’s announcement about dismantling the morality police indicates that the regime is heading in this direction. This decision wouldn’t require negotiations with the protesters and would leave the government with at least an appearance of control over the crisis. – Haaretz

Russia & Ukraine

Ukraine’s initial claim last month that a strike fired by Russia—and not by its own forces—was responsible for the death of two Polish citizens revealed one of the sharpest public divergences between Ukraine and the U.S. since Russia’s invasion of its neighbor in February. – Wall Street Journal

Ukraine denounced a price cap on Russian oil agreed to by the U.S. and its allies as a weak measure that would fail to deprive Russia’s military machine of funds, as Moscow said it could stop supplying consumers in response. – Wall Street Journal

The glass at the Kherson Regional Museum that once protected ancient pottery from the area now lies broken on the floor. The fifth-century jewelry is gone. Shelves that used to house artifacts from the Cossacks, who lived in the area before it was conquered by the Russian Empire, are now empty. Russians packed it all onto trucks before fleeing the city last month. – Wall Street Journal

The Group of Seven advanced democracies agreed to cap the price of Russian crude oil at $60 a barrel, moving forward with an unprecedented sanction on one of the world’s largest oil producers months after its invasion of Ukraine. – Wall Street Journal

Ukraine’s government moved to curb the activities of the Orthodox Christian denomination historically linked to Moscow, aiming to cut off the most important remaining source of Russian cultural and religious influence in the country. – Wall Street Journal

More than nine months after the invasion, neither the war effort nor the economy has collapsed, and the economic pain is still limited for many Russians. Mr. Putin has avoided any substantive domestic pressure that would threaten his leadership. But the impact of what some have described as the most coordinated and deepest economic sanctions in modern history is evident in communities across Russia — and the worst may be yet to come. – New York Times

An “essential point” in any peace talks on the war in Ukraine should be how to provide security “guarantees to Russia,” given Moscow’s concerns over NATO, President Emmanuel Macron of France has said. – New York Times

A day after President Biden said he would be willing to talk with President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia about a possible peace agreement in Ukraine, the Kremlin offered a frosty response, and prospects for settling the brutal conflict remained as distant as ever. – New York Times

Mr. Whelan is serving a 16-year sentence in Russia on espionage charges that the United States calls politically motivated. – New York Times

Edward Snowden, a former National Security Agency contractor who leaked information about U.S. surveillance programs, swore an oath of allegiance to Russia and has collected his Russian passport, his lawyer told state media on Friday. – Washington Post

Russian President Vladimir Putin is not sincere about peace talks with Ukraine while he is taking the war to a new level of “barbarism” by trying to turn off the lights of civilians, a top U.S. diplomat said on Saturday. – Reuters

A deal aimed at safeguarding Ukraine’s Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant is close at hand, the head of the U.N. International Atomic Energy Agency said on Friday. – Reuters

U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin on Saturday accused Russia of “deliberate cruelty” in its war in Ukraine, saying Moscow was intentionally targeting civilians. – Reuters

The head of U.S. intelligence says fighting in Russia’s war in Ukraine is running at a “reduced tempo” and suggests Ukrainian forces could have brighter prospects in coming months. – Associated Press

Even as Ukraine celebrates recent battlefield victories, its government faces a looming challenge on the financial front: how to pay the enormous cost of the war effort without triggering out-of-control price spikes for ordinary people or piling up debt that could hamper postwar reconstruction. – Associated Press

More than 500 Ukrainian localities remained without power Sunday following weeks of Russian airstrikes on the electric grid, an interior ministry official said. – Agence France-Presse

Underarmed and with limited ammunition, Volodymyr Regesha is adamant his volunteer battalion won’t be joining the Ukrainian army even if it means taking their chances on the front. – Agence France-Presse 

Russian President Vladimir Putin could use nuclear weapons against Ukraine “in an emergency,” according to a top U.S. official who sees little room for negotiations to ease the anxiety. – Washington Examiner

For a taste of normal life, the unlikely president may still have a long wait, despite the surprising streak of battlefield successes for Ukraine’s forces. But the folksy message is characteristic of a leader who still depicts himself as an everyman with humble tastes and a deep sense of humanity, qualities that have earned him the admiration of Ukrainians and their supporters abroad. – Financial Times

Ukraine has lost at least $1 billion of wheat that was harvested in areas controlled by Russia, according to research using satellite imagery from NASA’s food security and agriculture program. – Bloomberg

House Armed Service Chair Adam Smith on Saturday harshly criticized arguments that there isn’t enough oversight of U.S. assistance to Ukraine. – Politico 

Former NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen believes the Biden administration needs to do away with its “self-imposed restrictions” on military aid to Ukraine to help defeat Russian forces. – Washington Examiner

Ukraine’s military is accusing Russian forces of launching nuclear-capable missiles fitted with nonexplosive warheads in an effort to exhaust Ukraine’s air defenses. – Washington Examiner

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky urged citizens to be even more resilient and unified as “the enemy really hopes to use winter against us.” – The Hill

Director of National Intelligence Avril Haines said she sees a “reduced tempo” when it comes to the war in Ukraine and that both Russian and Ukrainian armies are settling in for the winter months to prepare for counteroffensives in the spring. – The Hill

A prominent critic of Chechen strongman leader Ramzan Kadyrov has been killed in Sweden. Colleagues of Chechen blogger Tumso Abdurakhmanov told RFE/RL’s Russian Service that he had been shot dead on the night of December 1-2, confirming earlier reports of his killing. – Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty

The Ukrainian Navy has accused Russia of using a banned chemical weapon against Ukrainian troops in eastern Ukraine. In a post on Facebook on December 4, the navy asserted Russia had dropped chloropicrin grenades from drones, but that Ukrainian troops had used chemical defenses “to protect themselves from the strong irritant effect” of the prohibited substance. – Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty

Tom Rogan writes: All of this begs a question: Why on Earth would Ukraine be tempted by the increasingly obvious pressure of France and Germany to begin conciliatory negotiations with Russia? With Putin still insisting on absurd ground rules for prospective negotiations, it should be clear to Ukrainian commanders that their best course of action is to escalate offensive action. That’s the way for Ukraine to flip the script on Putin’s favorite stratagem: leveraged negotiations. – Washington Examiner

Seth J. Frantzman writes: As the winter sets in and the tempo of operations is reduced in Ukraine, perhaps the world’s eyes will shift back to Iran. Herein will lie Russia’s real role in sabotaging a deal back in the fall of 2021, then launching the war in 2022 and finally acquiring Iran’s drones. Time will tell what Moscow’s real policy is in this regard. – Jerusalem Post 

George Barros, Grace Mappes, Riley Bailey, Karolina Hird, Layne Philipson, Angela Howard, and Frederick W. Kagan write: Ukrainian officials have indicated that Ukrainian forces plan to continue offensive operations over the coming winter to capitalize on recent battlefield successes and prevent Russian forces from regaining the battlefield initiative. […]Senior US government officials are mistakenly identifying the optimal window of opportunity for Ukraine to conduct more counteroffensives as the spring rather than winter, despite Ukrainian officials’ statements to the contrary. – Institute for the Study of War


Israeli President Isaac Herzog made his first visit to this tiny Gulf nation Sunday amid concerns that efforts to deepen ties with onetime adversaries in the Middle East are stalling. – Wall Street Journal

Israel’s finance minister on Sunday signed an order to eliminate customs duties on agricultural and industrial imports from South Korea, including on cars, as a new free trade agreement between the countries took effect. – Reuters

A Palestinian car thief rammed through a checkpoint on the way to Israel’s main airport on Sunday, authorities said, setting off a security alert in what they described as the result of poor navigation on his part rather than an attempted attack. – Reuters

Incoming Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu would not wade into discussion of former President Trump’s third run for the White House on Sunday. – The Hill

Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Sunday the U.S. will not shrink from its unwavering support for Israel despite stark differences with Prime Minister-elect Benjamin Netanyahu and concerns the Biden administration may have about potential members of his incoming right-wing government. – Associated Press

Israeli aircraft struck several military sites in the Gaza Strip early Sunday, hours after Palestinian militants fired a missile into southern Israel in a move apparently linked to rising tension in the occupied West Bank, Israel said. – Associated Press

The son of senior Palestinian Islamic Jihad official Bassam al-Saadi, Yahya al-Saadi, was arrested by Israeli forces amid armed clashes in Jenin early Monday morning, according to the IDF Spokesperson’s Unit. – Jerusalem Post 

The Defense Ministry delivered an armored ambulance to the Ukrainian rescue forces on Friday, the first of four such ambulances that Israel will provide to the beleaguered country in the coming months. – Jerusalem Post 

UN Special Rapporteur for the Occupied Palestinian Territories Francesca Albanese and UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process Tor Wennesland could face Israeli sanctions following statements viewed in Jerusalem as sympathizing with Palestinian terrorists. – Jerusalem Post 

A gun battle broke out between Israeli security personnel and Palestinian Arab terrorists in the Dheisheh refugee camp south of Bethlehem Monday morning, during an IDF operation to arrest wanted terrorists in the area. – Arutz Sheva

Editorial: The response of the UN and EU officials to the attack is worrying. But so, too, is the way that Israel handled it. Although the attack was caught on video, Palestinians were the first to release the footage, editing to show the struggle during the attempted arrest but not what had preceded it. The IDF, Israel Police and Foreign Ministry only reacted after the Palestinian version was already established. […]Israel needs to get the facts out and get them out fast, before the terrorist with murderous intent becomes the “victim.” – Jerusalem Post

Guy Avidan writes: It is correct to examine civilian resources and economic optimization processes for merging military installations into the security sector. This will create in advance savings in operational and financial costs preventing the theft of military weapons by unauthorized and dangerous parties. The sooner these technologies are implemented, the more trouble will be avoided. – Jerusalem Post


Pakistan’s embassy in Kabul, Afghanistan, came under gunfire on Friday, Pakistani and Taliban officials said, amid already heightened tensions over security issues between the two countries. – New York Times

Islamic State claimed responsibility for an attack on Pakistan’s embassy in the Afghan capital Kabul on Friday, via a statement carried by one of the militant group’s affiliated channels on Telegram on Sunday. – Reuters

The ranking Republican of the House Foreign Affairs Committee is accusing top Biden administration officials of violating the law by stonewalling oversight efforts of U.S. assistance in Afghanistan, in a letter exclusively obtained by The Hill. – The Hill

Vinay Kaura writes: Tensions between Islamabad and Kabul continue to rise. While Pakistan has made efforts to smooth over the growing rift, reopening a key border crossing at Spin Boldak-Chaman closed following cross-border gunfire that killed a Pakistani security guard on Nov. 13 and sending its minister of state for foreign affairs on an official visit to the Afghan capital at the end of November, there are clear signs that Pakistan’s leverage with the Afghan Taliban seems to be slipping fast. – Middle East Institute


Tens of “outlaws” stormed the governor’s office in the southern Syrian city of Sweida and burned files and official papers, Syrian state media said on Sunday. – Reuters

Syria is resisting Russian efforts to broker a summit with Turkey’s President Tayyip Erdogan, three sources said on Friday, after more than a decade of bitter enmity since the outbreak of Syria’s civil war. – Reuters

An Iranian-flagged tanker on Friday delivered an oil shipment to Syria which the United States had previously confiscated around Greece, ending months of uncertainty about the cargo, a ship tracker said. – Reuters

U.S. troops Saturday resumed joint patrols with Kurdish-led forces in northeast Syria days after they were stopped amid Turkish threats of a new ground incursion into the war-torn country. – Associated Press


Biden administration officials are toughening their language toward NATO ally Turkey as they try to talk Turkish President Recep Erdogan out of launching a bloody and destabilizing ground offensive against American-allied Kurdish forces in neighboring Syria. – Associated Press

Turkish authorities on Saturday arrested and jailed in Istanbul a convicted member of an outlawed militant group who was extradited from Sweden where he had fled, Turkey’s state-run news agency said. – Associated Press

A new law gives Turkey fresh ammunition to censor the media and silence dissent ahead of elections in which President Recep Tayyip Erdogan plans to prolong his two decades in office, journalists and activists say. – Agence France-Presse 

Sweden on Friday deported a Kurdish man with alleged links to Kurdish militant group the PKK, a government minister told Swedish Television, as Ankara keeps up pressure on the Nordic country to meet its demands in return for NATO membership. – Reuters

Bobby Ghosh writes: And then there is the lingering problem of the Muslim Brotherhood. Although Turkish authorities have reportedly leaned on media outlets run by Egyptian exiles to curtail criticism of the Sisi regime, Erdogan has not ejected them — not least because this would be unpopular with Turkish Islamists. For now, though, the Turkish leader needs his Egyptian counterpart. More handshakes lie ahead. –  Bloomberg


Iraqi oil minister Hayan Abdel-Ghani affirmed OPEC members are committed to the agreed production rates till the end of 2023, ministry statement said in a statement on Saturday. – Reuters

Iranians in Iraq expressed skepticism at reports Sunday that Tehran has abolished its feared morality police, a force indelibly associated with months of protests in the Islamic republic. – Agence France-Presse

Ghaith al-Omari and Bilal Wahab write: Poor governance has exacted a cost for the United States—in the Kurdish case, less leverage on Iraq; in the Palestinian case, less likelihood of a two-state solution. The efforts on the American side to encourage better governance would be a modest price to pay for policies that could benefit the Kurdish and Palestinian populations, rebuild the legitimacy of PA and KRG governing institutions, enhance local and regional stability, and contribute to putting the Palestinians and the Kurds back on a path that can lead them towards fulfilling their national aspirations. – Washington Institute


Unemployed and unable to support his family of four, Hussein Hamadeh, 51, now spends his days trying to find help to weather a protracted economic crisis that some Lebanese fear has become the new norm. – Reuters

Lebanon’s caretaker government will hold its first session in more than six months next week but the agenda, seen by Reuters, omits any mention of possible steps towards fulfilling reforms required for an IMF deal to ease the country’s financial crisis. – Reuters

Critics say the US ambassador in Lebanon was wrong to wear a headscarf in a meeting with Hezbollah supporters and her move weakens US support for protesting women in Iran. – Iran International

Saudi Arabia

Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman is considering an investment of around $500 million to back the new unit, CS First Boston, and its CEO-designate, Michael Klein, some of the people said. Additional financial backing could come from U.S. investors including veteran banker Bob Diamond‘s Atlas Merchant Capital, people familiar with that potential investment said. Credit Suisse previously said it had $500 million committed from an additional investor it hasn’t named. – Wall Street Journal 

Saudi Arabia on Friday extended the term of a $3 billion deposit it made to Pakistan’s foreign reserves, state news agency SPA and Pakistan’s central bank said. – Reuters

Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman hosts China’s leader this week at a delicate moment in U.S.-Saudi ties, signalling Riyadh’s resolve to navigate a polarised global order regardless of the wishes of its Western allies, analysts said. – Reuters

President Xi Jinping will this week pay his first visit to Saudi Arabia in six years as part of efforts to boost China’s relations with the Gulf region, five months after the US warned Beijing that it would not cede the Middle East to it or anyone else. – Financial Times

The White House has worked to temper expectations ahead of a highly anticipated OPEC+ meeting, the first since the group moved to slash output ahead of the midterm elections, placing the Biden administration at the center of a public spat with Saudi Arabia. – Washington Examiner

House Republicans announced a probe into reports of a failed “secret deal to boost oil production” between Biden administration officials and Saudi Arabia, as the party prepares to take majority control of the chamber next year. – Bloomberg

Gulf States

An Egyptian-American national detained while visiting the United Arab Emirates fears he will be extradited to Egypt for criticising authorities there ahead of the country hosting the COP27 climate conference last month, his fiance said on Sunday. – Reuters

The United Arab Emirates (UAE) president will visit Qatar on Monday, state news agency WAM reported, in the first such visit since Saudi Arabia and its Arab allies ended a boycott of Doha nearly two years ago. – Reuters

The U.S. Navy’s Fifth Fleet said on Saturday it had intercepted a fishing trawler smuggling “more than 50 tonnes of ammunition rounds, fuses and propellants for rockets” in the Gulf of Oman along a maritime route from Iran to Yemen on Dec. 1. – Reuters

OPEC+ responded to surging volatility and growing market uncertainty by keeping oil production unchanged. The outcome of the brief online meeting on Sunday reflects the unpredictability of supply and demand in the coming months, and the wild price gyrations in the past week. – Bloomberg 

Zvi Bar’el writes: What is more, the UAE is the first Arab country to give legitimacy to Ben-Gvir, and thus it not only signals the desired direction to other Arab countries at the moment, it also might produce the dividend of being the Arab country with the greatest influence on the new Israeli government. – Haaretz

Middle East & North Africa

Protesters turned out in force to march in Morocco’s capital Rabat Sunday to denounce the “high cost of living and repression”, amid surging inflation and rising social discontent. – Agence France-Presse

Tunisia’s powerful UGTT trade union chief took aim Saturday at legislative elections due later this month, claiming they serve no purpose in light of constitutional reforms that neutered political parties. – Agence France-Presse

Seth J. Frantzman writes: The Abraham Accords’ building blocks, which are growing apace, go hand-in-hand with Israel’s work with Central Command as well as Israeli ties with Greece, Cyprus, other Arab states and countries further afield, such as India and Azerbaijan. – Jerusalem Post 

Sabina Henneberg writes: Further deterioration of Tunisia’s economic, political, and social conditions could have serious repercussions for U.S. interests. Continued migration will affect Europe, which has already had to cope with significant refugee influxes from the Middle East and North Africa. Socioeconomic discontent could also drive some Tunisians back into the arms of extremist movements, though security forces have become more proactive in stopping such activity. – Washington Institute

Korean Peninsula

North Korea celebrated the recent launch of a powerful intercontinental ballistic missile with the bravado the world has come to expect from Kim Jong Un’s regime. – Wall Street Journal

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has fueled widespread speculation about his succession planning after recently showing off his daughter for the first time. But the question of whether a woman could run North Korea is a complex one, female defectors and researchers say. – Washington Post

North Korea fired about 130 artillery rounds on Monday into the water near its western and eastern sea borders with South Korea, the latest military action contributing to worsening relations between the neighbors. – Associated Press

South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol renewed his pledge to focus all government resources on boosting exports, saying in a speech on Monday that exports had been and still were the basis for the country’s economy and employment. – Reuters

A former South Korean national security advisor was arrested on Saturday over his suspected manipulation of a 2020 case where a fisheries official was killed at sea by North Korean troops. – Reuters

South Korea on Saturday arrested a former national security chief on suspicion of covering up events surrounding the 2020 murder of a fisheries official by Pyongyang. – Agence France-Presse 

Rather than anointing Ju Ae as his successor, experts said it was more likely that the dictator wished to send a message both to North Koreans and to the outside world about the permanence of his nuclear programme and his regime. – Financial Times

Donald Kirk writes: For sure, Kim will be anxious to stop any hint of protest from spreading into North Korea. Just as he closed his borders with China at the first sign of the pandemic nearly three years ago, so too he’ll keep his fiefdom more tightly shielded than ever from the dread disease of civil disobedience. – The Hill


Local authorities across China are paring back some of their strictest Covid-19 control measures, just days after public anger spilled over into rare protests against a zero-tolerance approach that has kept the country largely isolated for three years. – Wall Street Journal

China’s leader, Xi Jinping, told a visiting European Union delegation that recent protests in the country reflected frustration about Covid controls and suggested the pandemic has entered a less deadly stage, according to European officials familiar with the situation. – Wall Street Journal

Former NBA star Jeremy Lin, who is currently playing professional basketball in China, was fined more than $1,400 by the Chinese Basketball Association after complaining about quarantine facilities on social media, the league said. – Wall Street Journal

After almost three years of staying cloistered within his own borders, Xi has been on a global charm offensive. In the six weeks since he secured a new term as the head of the Chinese Communist Party and the Chinese military, paving the way for him to rule indefinitely, he has met formally with at least 26 heads of state or government from every continent. – Washington Post

The United States will impose new duties on imports from some major Chinese solar panel makers after a months-long investigation found they were trying to dodge tariffs by finishing their products in Southeast Asian countries, trade officials said on Friday. – Reuters

China should not be made into “an issue” by either the United States or France, a Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson said in response to a statement from the presidents of the two countries. – Washington Examiner

The World Health Organization has cheered China’s loosening of its zero-Covid policy, with cities across the country making further moves towards unwinding some restrictions after days of unprecedented protests against the measures. President Xi Jinping suggested the spread of the less lethal Omicron strain might allow China to pull back from its hardline strategy of lockdowns and mass testing, senior EU officials reported Friday. – Agence France-Presse 

The U.S. is at a pivotal point with China and will need military strength to ensure that American values, not Beijing’s, set global norms in the 21st century, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said Saturday. – Associated Press 

About 200 protesters lit candles and shouted “Free China!” two blocks from the White House on Sunday in a show of support for demonstrations in China calling for an end to severe anti-virus controls and for political change. – Associated Press

Beijing has set up more than 100 so-called overseas police stations across the globe to monitor, harass and in some cases repatriate Chinese citizens living in exile, using bilateral security arrangements struck with countries in Europe and Africa to gain a widespread presence internationally. – CNN

Just as military leaders in the US and elsewhere continually discover new lessons from watching Russia’s flawed invasion of Ukraine, China is keeping a close eye on the conflict. And Air Force Secretary Frank Kendall has some key lessons he would “prefer” Beijing take away. – Breaking Defense 

Editorial: The fiasco of zero-Covid, growing Communist oppression at home and rising aggression abroad make clear that China isn’t the economic opportunity it was. This marks a significant loss for China and the world, but it’s a reality that Western companies have to confront. – Wall Street Journal

Editorial: Yet the events of the past month suggest that the world should not see Mr. Xi and the Communist Party as the only relevant actors in China. The people, too, have found ways to speak forcefully, suggesting that, just as zero covid could not stamp out covid-19, state repression cannot eliminate dissent and disagreement — only mask it until a spark ignites popular fury. For once, Mr. Xi would be wise to listen rather than punish. – Washington Post

Editorial: For now, the protesters in China have made their voices heard under very difficult conditions. They demonstrated the value of protest and dissent — freedoms that many in the world hold dear. At a time of geopolitical hostility, they offer an opportunity to Americans and others to better understand the diversity of views that exists within China and to see the Chinese people anew. – New York Times

Scott Paul writes: While it’s too late to undo the wreckage caused by normalizing trade relations with China, it’s exactly the right moment to change the course of history moving ahead to safeguard our economic and national security. And I bet, despite plenty of partisan bickering that will undoubtedly happen along the way, that the incoming Congress can seize it. – The Hill

Nicholas Sargen writes: Overall, China’s economy will still play an important role in the global economy. But it will no longer be a locomotive for global growth as it was after the tech bubble burst in the early 2000s and the Global Financial Crisis unfolded at the end of the decade. In this respect, what is happening inside China will have ramifications for the rest of the world. – The Hill

Joseph F. Dunford Jr., Frances F. Townsend and Michael J. Morell write: The NSS is clear that when it comes to this effort, “technology is central to today’s geopolitical competition.” On Dec. 5, the U.S. government should ensure the EU’s short-sighted focus on regulation doesn’t undermine the national security imperative to out-compete China, because it matters greatly which side builds the future. – The Hill

Niall Ferguson writes: It would have been a much safer world over the past century if all one-party regimes ended with the “murmuration” of disenchanted crowds. The Soviet Union did (though the revolution of 1991 did not solve the centuries-old problem of Russian imperialism) as did fascist regimes in Spain, Portugal and South Africa. Nazi Germany, fascist Italy, and imperial Japan, by contrast, ended with a mighty bang. We shall find out much sooner than most people think how tyranny ends in China. As the crowd steers the Party — and the people — toward their fateful rendezvous with Covid-19, the final act in this vast human tragedy begins. – Bloomberg 

Dalibor Rohac writes: Yet, regardless of whether more repression is enough to keep Xi in power, one thing ought to be clear: The apparent stability of autocratic regimes, from China to Russia to Iran, is an illusion—just like the rigor mortis–like stability of the final decades of the Soviet Union belied the system’s inexorable decay. While forecasting autocratic breakdowns or gradual liberalization of dictatorial regimes is a fool’s errand, human yearning for freedom is real and irrepressible—especially once already tasted. If we are lucky, we may see its fruit in our lifetimes, in China and beyond. – The Bulwark

Orville Schell writes: Those grievances quickly grew to include demands for more freedoms and liberties. But because protesters feared arrest, many simply held up blank sheets of paper to express their disapproval and remind observers that they cannot speak freely. Since everyone understands those sheets to be symbols of remonstration, images of blank paper have become as forbidden as dissident political tracts on the Chinese Internet. Therein lies a great irony. – Foreign Affairs

South Asia

The Pakistani Taliban on Saturday claimed responsibility for a gun ambush that killed three police officers in northern Pakistan, the second attack claimed by the group just days after it announced an end to a ceasefire with the government. – Reuters

Pakistan repaid a $1 billion international bond, the central bank spokesman said on Friday, amidst growing uncertainty about the country’s ability to meet external financing obligations. – Reuters

Pakistan expects to secure $3 billion in external financing from a friendly country in two weeks, its finance minister said on Friday as the South Asian country awaits IMF funding. – Reuters

Pakistan’s new army chief on Saturday said the military was ready to defend “every inch of our motherland” if attacked, during a visit to the Line of Control (LoC) that divides the disputed Kashmir region, which is claimed by both Pakistan and neighbouring India. – Reuters

India will continue buying Russian oil and even look for term contracts as sanctions allow purchases provided that Western services are not used, an oil ministry source said on Friday. – Reuters

Andy Mukherjee writes: The growth outlook for India next year is subdued. Just how tough it could get depends on how badly the global economy sputters. There will be long-term benefits from positioning India as an attractive second destination for producers trying to curb their China exposure. But the wisdom of staking $24 billion of public funds over five years to accelerate a shift in global supply chains is bound to get questioned, especially if India in 2024 finds itself in the same low-growth rut that had propelled Modi to national power in 2014. – Bloomberg

Michael Rubin writes: The United States should never give military equipment on the promise of change—only on change itself. Until Pakistan arrests those responsible for the Mumbai attacks, disbands the ISI, and purges those in the military who support the Taliban, Al Qaeda, and other radical terrorist groups, Pakistan should be the subject of a military embargo and broader economic sanctions. Islamabad deserves opprobrium from the United States, not an alliance. – The National Interest


Japan’s government is planning to create a strategic buffer of liquefied natural gas, trying to build resilience against the kind of energy crunch that hit Europe this year. – Wall Street Journal

The chair of the British parliament’s defence select committee said there is “much to explore” in boosting military help for Taiwan and that he had discussed the island’s submarine programme while visiting Taipei last week. – Reuters

Egypt is to start exporting agricultural products to the Philippines following five years of negotiations, the Egyptian agriculture ministry said in a statement on Friday. – Reuters

A senior British lawmaker said on Friday her delegation had discussed defence cooperation with Taiwan during a visit this week to the Chinese-claimed island that Beijing has condemned as “gross interference”. – Reuters

Canada plans to sail more warships through the Taiwan Strait to affirm the waters claimed by China are international, after Ottawa released an Indo-Pacific strategy that described Beijing as an “increasingly disruptive” power. – Financial Times

Rahm Emanuel writes: Japan isn’t as resource-poor as commonly portrayed. While it may not have oil and gas, it does have other valuable domestic resources and technological know-how on which to draw. Energy is the lifeblood of industrial economies, and great democracies like ours can’t rely on capricious dictators for their security. Japan has the benefit of being able to learn from Europe’s example—and it should act accordingly. – Wall Street Journal


Simmering frustration over the “Buy American” provisions attached to a sweeping package of climate-related subsidies threatens to spoil the mood at a high-level U.S.-European Union meeting Monday. – Wall Street Journal

Russian President Vladimir Putin told German Chancellor Olaf Scholz on Friday that Moscow’s relentless airstrikes on Ukrainian civilian infrastructure were “forced and inevitable” because of Ukraine’s attacks on the Crimean Bridge and other Russian targets, and he blamed Western nations’ “destructive” policy of supporting Ukraine for prolonging the war, which Russia started. – Washington Post

Serenaded by a jazz band at the airport, cheered by crowds as he strolled through the French Quarter and even attempting a few dance steps, President Emmanuel Macron plunged into the most French of American cities on Friday, the last lap of his state visit to the United States. – New York Times

Germany does not want to follow the United States in generally banning products made by Chinese telecoms equipment makers such as Huawei, but will continue making such decisions on a case-by-case basis, an Economy Ministry spokesperson said on Friday. – Reuters

U.S. authorities have reassured Italy that its banks are not at risk of fines for breaching sanctions against Moscow if they help a Lukoil-owned refinery (LKOH.MM) buy non-Russian oil, Italian Industry Minister Adolfo Urso said on Saturday. – Reuters

Latvia’s state security service said on Friday it had begun probing statements made by independent Russian TV station Dozhd because of suspicions it was helping pro-Moscow troops taking part in the Ukraine war. – Reuters

British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak had calls with the emir of Qatar and the president of Turkey on Friday afternoon to discuss defense collaboration and the Ukraine crisis, Downing Street said in a statement. – Reuters

The war in Ukraine has put the European Union’s expansion at the top of the agenda as officials from the Western Balkans and EU leaders gather Tuesday for a summit intended to reinvigorate the whole enlargement process. – Associated Press

EU chief Ursula von der Leyen said Sunday the bloc must act to address “distortions” created by Washington’s $430-billion plan to spur climate-friendly technologies in the United States. – Agence France-Presse

Swedish-Swiss industrial company ABB agreed to pay $315 million to settle US criminal charges that it bribed state-owned Eskom of South Africa over government contracts, the Department of Justice (DOJ) announced Friday. – Agence France-Presse 

Germany has earmarked €10 billion ($10.5 billion) to buy 35 F-35A Lightning II fighter jets, according to a government document seen by Bloomberg, reflecting Chancellor Olaf Scholz’s pledge to boost defense spending. – Bloomberg

For decades, joining the European Union was seen as the holy grail for the countries of the Western Balkans. But for most of them, that dream remains elusive, and they’re starting to look for alternatives. – Bloomberg 

French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire on Friday said Washington’s $430 billion plan to spur climate-friendly technologies in the United States must be seen as a wake-up call for Europe. – Agence France-Presse 

The US State Department has cleared Finland to acquire Raytheon FIM-92K Stinger Man Portable Air Defense System (MANPADS) weaponry and related equipment in a potential $380 million deal. – Breaking Defense 

Editorial: What makes this all too plausible is that Biden and Macron really aren’t so far apart. Europe’s record on liberal trade outside its own market is far from impeccable. Macron might very well envy Biden’s success in indulging his protectionist instincts. – Bloomberg 

Henry Olsen writes: The short term likely favors the U.S. vision, but the long term might favor Macron’s. Republican administrations may not want to make the cultural and economic deals necessary to entice Europeans into the renewed global U.S. alliance. Even Democratic administrations might not want to provide European firms with the sort of privileged access to North American markets that they would likely need to be willing to significantly reduce trade with China. – Washington Post

E.J. Dionne Jr. writes: In the past, such global huddles typically focused on tearing down barriers and slashing subsidies. The fact that the dialogue now looks toward making government subsidies and incentives work better speaks to a shared urgency within democratic countries of dealing with climate change and rebuilding their industrial capacities. It’s not the Reagan-Thatcher Era anymore. – Washington Post

Jason Bordoff writes: This is a positive step. Trans-Atlantic cooperation will be required more than ever to accelerate the shift to clean energy and secure those new supply chains. It is also what’s required to hold firm against Russia’s aggression in Ukraine. European leaders should tone down the rhetoric and work with their U.S. counterparts on collaborative approaches to accelerate climate action, enhance energy security and help Europe cope with its energy crisis. – New York Times

Dov S. Zakheim writes: Ukrainian forces continue to rack up successes on the battlefield, but those successes might be short-lived unless the NATO allies, and Germany in particular, accelerate their military support for Kyiv and finally agree to help meet Ukraine’s increasingly urgent need for modern tanks and fighting vehicles to ensure that it can retain and build upon the battlefield successes that it has achieved. – The Hill

Michael Rubin writes: Perhaps the best thing Swedes can do both for the health of their own society and for NATO is to abandon their effort to join the defense alliance. To do so would show the fortitude Stoltenberg lacks and signal to both Erdogan and future extortionists that blackmail will not work. NATO will be fine without Sweden. Sweden, however, will not be fine with NATO. – 19FortyFive


The witness accounts also illuminate how the ethnic divisions tearing at Ethiopia’s society are also eroding its military, once widely respected as one of the region’s most professional and still often relied upon by Ethiopia’s neighbors to help keep the peace. Many of those killed in the prisons were among the thousands of Ethiopian troops who have served in international peacekeeping missions under the United Nations or African Union. – Washington Post

West African leaders said on Sunday they would establish a regional peacekeeping force to intervene in member states to help restore security and constitutional order in a region that has witnessed several coups in the past two years. – Reuters

More than half of Tigrayan forces have withdrawn from the frontlines, the forces’ top commander said, a month after a ceasefire agreement aimed at ending the two-year conflict in Ethiopia’s northern Tigray region. – Reuters

Gunmen in Nigeria killed a dozen worshippers, including an imam, and kidnapped several others from a mosque on Saturday night, local residents said on Sunday, in the latest attack by armed gangs in the north of the country. – Reuters

A ship with Ukrainian wheat destined for Ethiopia arrived in port on Saturday, the first vessel to sail as part of a push to send food to countries most vulnerable to famine and drought, President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said. – Reuters

A prominent Sudanese politician was released from jail on Sunday, a day before the civilian coalition he belonged to was due to sign an initial deal with the military to end a political standoff triggered in October 2021 by a coup. – Reuters

Burkina Faso’s military government has suspended the broadcast of France’s RFI radio in the Sahel West African state over what it said were false reports and giving voice to Islamist militants, a statement from the government said on Saturday. – Reuters

The World Health Organization said on Friday it still does not have the unfettered access to Ethiopia’s northern Tigray region stipulated in a truce signed a month ago. – Reuters

Ghana’s debt restructuring plans are set to test a $400 million World Bank guarantee which was designed to provide extra security if the West African country failed to pay. – Reuters

Thousands of Islamists in Sudan rallied Saturday against efforts by the United Nations to solve the political crisis sparked by last year’s coup, AFP journalists said. The demonstrations, the latest by Islamist factions in recent weeks, came one day after military leaders and a key civilian bloc announced plans to sign an initial deal. – Agence France-Presse 

Liberian President George Weah’s long absence from the country has raised eyebrows and prompted criticism, leading one opposition figure to ask if the West African nation is running on “autopilot”. – Agence France-Presse

Michael Rubin writes: Across Africa, China’s strategy rests upon debt diplomacy coupled with significant but often unnecessary infrastructure. Russia, meanwhile, prefers to send in mercenaries to prop up despots and loot countries’ natural resources. What the United States currently lacks is its own model. Should the Biden administration think strategically, it will promote good governance, religious freedom, and democracy. Forcing Africa’s worst offenders to confront truth on camera would be a good first step. – 19FortyFive

Latin America

Venezuela’s opposition asked President Nicolas Maduro’s government to set a date to resume political talks in Mexico that could alleviate the county’s long-running political and economic crises. – Reuters

Venezuela’s oil minister and top representatives of state-run company PDVSA on Friday signed contracts with U.S. oil firm Chevron Corp (CVX.N) intended to help revive the nation’s oil output and expand operations. – Reuters

A refining unit that turns crude oil into fuel at Venezuela’s largest crude processing facility has broken down, three people familiar with the operations told Reuters on Friday, halting production at the key gasoline producing plant. – Reuters

Brazilian President-elect Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva said on Friday he is considering traveling to the United States to meet President Joe Biden after his election victory is certified this month. – Reuters

Heads of state and governments will be attending President-elect Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva’s inauguration on Jan. 1, but one might have trouble entering Brazil – Venezuela’s leftist president, Nicolas Maduro. – Reuters

El Salvador’s President Nayib Bukele announced Saturday the deployment of 10,000 security forces to a suburb of San Salvador known to be a stronghold for gangs. – Reuters

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) said on Friday it has reached a agreement with Argentine authorities on a third review under its Extended Fund Facility Arrangement, which could give the South American country access to around $6 billion. – Reuters

The United States on Friday imposed sanctions on a current and a former Haitian senator, accusing the two politicians of engaging in international drug trafficking activities, Washington’s latest action targeting corruption in the Caribbean country. – Reuters

Mexican Economy Minister Raquel Buenrostro and U.S. Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo on Friday agreed to set out a plan by early 2023 for the relocation of companies from Asia to North America, Mexico’s government said. – Reuters

Brazilian President-elect Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva is likely to name former Foreign Minister Mauro Vieira to be the country’s top diplomat again, people familiar with talks told Reuters, as more of the government taking office on Jan. 1 comes into focus. – Reuters

Mary Anastasia O’Grady writes: Three Catholic priests, two seminarians, a deacon and a photojournalist who are being held at Managua’s El Chipote prison were scheduled to go before a Nicaraguan judge Thursday. But the day came and went with no hearing. […]In the past six months, 11 priests have been “kidnapped” by the regime—taken away with no due process. Pope Francis is missing in action. – Wall Street Journal

Arturo McFields Yescas writes: While Maduro continues to make shady deals with Iran and is also being wanted by the U.S. government for drug trafficking, the regime is receiving a royal treatment that confuses allies and motivates other dictators to follow Venezuela footsteps. The international community cannot defend democracy and do pragmatic business with oil dictatorships. It can’t be done. Temporary good oil deals will end up undermining credibility and leadership in the hemisphere. – The Hill


The so-called Twitter Files, released Friday evening by the independent journalist Matt Taibbi, set off a firestorm among pundits, media ethicists and lawmakers in both parties. It also offered a window into the fractured modern landscape of news, where a story’s reception is often shaped by readers’ assumptions about the motivations of both reporters and subjects. – New York Times 

The New Zealand government said it will introduce a law that will require big online digital companies such as Alphabet Inc’s (GOOGL.O) Google and Meta Platforms Inc (META.O) to pay New Zealand media companies for the local news content that appears on their feeds. – Reuters

An Australian law giving the government power to make internet giants Facebook owner Meta Platforms (META.O) and Alphabet Inc’s (GOOGL.O) Google negotiate content supply deals with media outlets has largely worked, a government report said. – Reuters

Twitter owner Elon Musk said on Saturday he thought it was “possible” that personnel at the social media firm gave preference to left-wing candidates during Brazil’s election this year, without providing evidence. – Reuters

The Department of Defense will move to a so-called zero-trust cybersecurity model by 2027, adding several tools and methods already being embraced by many companies. – Washington Examiner

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced on Friday that its Cyber Safety Review Board (CSRB) will begin conducting a review of recent hacks associated with Lapsus$, a global extortion hacking group that has been tied to numerous data breaches targeting major tech firms. – The Hill

The Big Tech firm looks set to soon face a huge regulatory bill for all three of its social networks, Facebook, WhatsApp and Instagram. Europe’s privacy regulator body, the European Data Protection Board, is expected to issue decisions on Monday that target the three platforms, after which Meta’s lead regulator in Ireland will issue a final decision within a month. – Politico 

Editorial: The partisan foray by current and former U.S. intelligence officials in the last two elections should be deeply troubling to Americans on the left and right. They have authority by dint of access to information that isn’t confirmable by the press, which takes their spin as gospel. This is a form of political corruption that needs to be exposed, and perhaps the Twitter documents will help to unlock the story. – Wall Street Journal

Marc A. Thiessen writes: Now, Sen. Warner says, “Donald Trump was right … TikTok is an enormous threat.” If that’s the case, maybe we should stop worrying so much about Twitter, and focus instead on the clear and present social media danger to our country. – Washington Post

Dean Karayanis writes: Releasing information on censoring speech is the first step to that restoration, and if powerful people are uneasy about having what they did in private exposed to the public, that’s as it ought to be in a republic. Next time, we’d like to think that they’ll think twice before doing in the darkness what they fear to do in the light. – New York Sun

David Harsanyi writes: Mr. Musk, a beneficiary of this relationship in his other ventures, should call the EU’s bluff and see if it follows through on its threats and bans the platform. What he should not do is cave. – New York Sun

Zachary Faria writes: For all the concerns about social media manipulation, “misinformation,” and foreign involvement in elections, TikTok gets a pass. President Joe Biden invites TikTok influencers to the White House so he can reach the youths. Media outlets including the Washington Post and, most recently, the Atlantic have also embraced the app. All the concerns about election interference are gone, as are any about Chinese spyware, because liberal decision-makers want to reach TikTok’s growing audience. – Washington Examiner

Orly Lobel writes: In reality, the contemporary battles for privacy may have unintended regressive effects. An algorithm is only as good as the information it’s fed. Counterintuitive though it may be, the best way to prevent discrimination and promote equity and inclusion is to allow algorithms to collect information — including data about gender and race — and learn from it. – The Hill

Kathy Kemper writes: Months short of his third year in office, however, President Biden has made insufficient efforts to continue the essential practice of selecting a U.S. technology leader. A full year ago, his administration announced a search for the fifth U.S. CTO, but the role remains unfilled. While the country faces a number of pressing concerns, the longer the CTO role goes unfilled — the faster America will fall behind the rest of the modern world. – The Hill

Tyler McGaughey writes: In any event, Musk’s opponents will likely be disappointed with the results of any CFIUS review. Regardless of whether CFIUS investigates the Twitter deal, or what it finds, Musk is going to remain in charge of Twitter, and there is nothing CFIUS can do about it. – The Hill

Rebeccah L. Heinrichs writes: Parents would be wise to unplug their children from all social media, and TikTok specifically. But it’s the government’s duty to rid the country of the digital fentanyl—and national security risk—that is TikTok. – World News Group


Calls to repeal the military’s vaccine mandate through a must-pass defense spending bill are picking up steam despite Democrats’ resistance to changing the requirements. – Washington Examiner

The Air Force will be unveiling the B-21 Raider, a high-tech stealth bomber, on Friday evening at Northrop Grumman’s location in Palmdale, California. – Washington Examiner

Republicans are looking to play hardball with the annual defense authorization bill to combat what they are calling “woke” military policies, threatening to throw a wrench into efforts to pass the bill by the end of the year. – The Hill

The Space Force, the Pentagon’s newest military service, activated on Friday its second regional headquarters in Tampa, Fla., under U.S. Central Command. – The Hill

Defense Department officials have compiled a list of dire consequences if the military is forced to operate under a one-year stopgap funding bill for the first time in history — from aid to Ukraine to procurement of the new B-21 stealth bomber. – Politico 

As lawmakers scramble to finalize the 2023 National Defense Authorization Act, the annual mammoth defense and national security policy bill, before the end of the year, advocates inside and outside of Congress are pushing for the bill to include amendments aimed at protecting religious institutions and combating extremism. The bill could come up for a vote in the House as early as next week. – Jewish Insider  

To take advantage of the needed capabilities offered by technology startups, the military has to focus more specifically on a smaller number of companies to nurture, the Air Force’s top officer said Saturday. – Defense News 

Lockheed Martin has won a $431 million contract from the U.S. Army to produce M142 High Mobility Artillery Rocket System launchers at full rate with the aim of rapidly replenishing the stocks of the U.S. and its allies and partners who sent arms to Ukraine. – Defense News 

The Energy Department’s semi-autonomous nuclear security organization has launched a new effort to develop technology to bolster future arms control agreements, and is seeking innovative concepts from industry, according to a senior Biden administration official. – Breaking Defense 

Editorial: We’ve also been drawing on stockpiles to send weapons to Ukraine to counter the Russian invasion. Defense officials say those weapons don’t come from stockpiles reserved to ensure US readiness, yet available stores of US ammo and weapons systems for Ukraine are running low, and can’t quickly be replaced. America needs more capacity to produce this stuff quickly. – New York Post

Sean McFate writes: The Irregular Warfare Center should not be housed at CISA but the two should work symbiotically together, alongside other organizations dedicated to the irregular warfare cause. After all, irregular warfare requires more brains than firepower. Or, as T.E. Lawrence (“Lawrence of Arabia”) put it: Irregular warfare “is far more intellectual than a bayonet charge.” – The Hill

Mackenzie Eaglen writes: Military readiness requires leaders to prioritize the bases and places where troops live, operate and run this global fighting force. If continuously underfunded, morale will break along with hangar bay doors and all the other World War II buildings across the military. – 19FortyFive

Seth J. Frantzman writes: The origins of this US policy are clear. A bit less than a century and a half ago, US naval officer Alfred Thayer Mahan was working on his book The Influence of Sea Power Upon History, 1660–1783 (1890), a seminal work that helps inform US blue water strategy to this day. Soon after British Admiral Jackie Fisher led efforts to modernize the British navy, introducing oil fueling and steel-hulled battle cruisers, laying the base for modern navies. As we look forward to the coming decades and the US attempt to commit itself to global security, the ability of the US to use ships, unmanned systems and new warplanes will be key. – Jerusalem Post

Long War

The United States has added four top Islamic militants operating in Afghanistan and Pakistan to its list of “global terrorists,” amid a resurgence of violence and border tensions in the area. The militant leaders hail from the Pakistani Taliban and an al-Qaida branch in South Asia. – Associated Press

Syria’s army has taken credit for killing the head of the Islamic State (IS) jihadist group in an operation in the country’s south in October, state media reported on Friday. – Reuters

Belgium begins proceedings on Monday in its largest ever trial to determine whether 10 men played a part in the Islamist suicide bombings in Brussels in 2016 that killed 32 people and injured over 300. – Reuters

Australian police charged a high-profile Islamic State suspect with six terrorism-related offenses Sunday, two days after he was extradited from Turkey, officials said. – Agence France-Presse