Fdd's overnight brief

December 7, 2022

In The News


Iran’s judiciary announced Tuesday that it had sentenced five defendants to death and 11 others, including three minors, to prison in the killing of a paramilitary member, widening its use of capital punishment and lengthy jail sentences against antigovernment protesters. – Wall Street Journal

Businesses, shops and traditional bazaars in more than 50 cities across Iran were shuttered for a second day on Tuesday in what appeared to be one of the largest general strikes in decades, demonstrating the staying power of protests calling for the end to clerical rule in the country. – New York Times

Iran’s Revolutionary Guards on Tuesday arrested 12 people accused of being linked to overseas agents and planning “subversive action”, the elite force said in a statement, according to state media. – Reuters

Iran’s Supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, on Tuesday called for “revolutionary reconstruction of the country’s cultural system”, state media reported, as nationwide protests kept up pressure on the authorities. – Reuters

The U.S. military said on Tuesday that an Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps Navy boat came within 150 yards of American warships in the Strait of Hormuz, but the situation was de-escalated with the help of audible warnings and non-lethal use of lasers. – Reuters

Nine people will face the death penalty in Iran over the assassination of one of the country’s top nuclear scientists, the judiciary said Tuesday. – Agence France-Presse

A former Iranian president has made rare public comments praising anti-government protesters and urging the authorities to heed their demands “before it is too late”. – BBC 

A high-level Iranian official said that the country’s mandatory hijab law is under review, according to a Sunday report from CNN. This comes amid disputed claims that the nation has disbanded its now-infamous ‘morality police.’  – Jerusalem Post

Iranian students planning to stage a mass protest fell victim to a stomach illness they called food poisoning ahead of a planned three-day nationwide strike by protestors, Iran’s student union reported on Telegram late last week. – Jerusalem Post  

[…]In their meeting Khamenei instructed him on how to promote Iran’s interests, and warned, for the first time, that if Baghdad fails to impose its authority in Kurdistan – which, according to Tehran, is a source of terror against Iran, especially in the form of encouraging civil protests by Kurds within Iran – Iranian forces will “defend Iraq.” – Middle East Media Research Institute

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said he is “extremely concerned” about reports that items produced in Canada may have found their way into Iranian drones that have been used in Russia’s war on Ukraine. Trudeau says the local company is fully cooperating and that the government is following up to figure out how parts may have ended up with the drones. – Jerusalem Post 

Jason Rezaian writes: The real takeaway here is that the outside world cannot be too cautions interpreting events in Iran. Because our putting stock in the closure of a shoddily created unit of nonprofessionals who arbitrarily impose rules rooted in arbitrary interpretations of sharia law underscores a fundamental problem with our understanding of life in the Islamic Republic right now: We don’t have one. – Washington Post

Rudam Azad writes: We seek nothing less than to join the community of free nations. Only by regaining full independence, and the restoration of a democratic Balochistan, we will be able to guarantee full rights to every citizen in Balochistan. This charter is the road map that will enable us to achieve this noble objective for our nation and our homeland. – Middle East Media Research Institute

Nicholas Carl, Kitaneh Fitzpatrick, and Frederick W. Kagan write: Western observers should avoid overstating a potential regime decision to end the morality patrol and misframing it as a meaningful concession. The regime would likely enforce the mandatory hijab law through various other means. – Institute for the Study of War

Russia & Ukraine

Deep in the forest and less than a mile from enemy Russian positions, the sound of incoming artillery landing nearby thunders every few minutes. The landscape is littered with unexploded ordnance, so the Ukrainian soldiers don’t dare step anywhere they have not before. They pack light because they might be on the move quickly — forward, they hope. – Washington Post

Mainstream Republicans on Tuesday rallied behind a resolution sponsored by Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) to audit U.S. military and economic aid for Ukraine, sending their strongest signal yet that the Biden administration will face stricter scrutiny of its support for the war effort when control of the House shifts next year. – Washington Post

To address that issue, nearly 300 mostly young Russians activists from across the diaspora as well as from inside Russia — feminists, politicians, gay rights advocates, representatives of Indigenous people and many others — gathered in Berlin over the weekend to start hammering out a common agenda. – New York Times

Some of the cruise missiles that Russia launched at Ukraine’s civilian infrastructure in late November were manufactured months after the West imposed sanctions intended to deprive Moscow of the components needed to make those munitions, according to a weapons research group. – New York Times

Russia said drones struck an airfield in the city of Kursk on Tuesday, igniting a fuel-storage facility, in what Moscow said was the third long-range attack by Ukrainian forces on its air bases in two days. – Wall Street Journal

After a string of battlefield losses in Ukraine in recent months, President Vladimir Putin faces a big test at home: mobilizing Russia’s economy to feed the war effort. – Wall Street Journal

Soon after Russian tanks rolled into eastern Ukraine, three of that country’s biggest farming operators lost tracts of land equivalent to more than twice the area of New York City. – Wall Street Journal

The U.N. humanitarian chief on Tuesday decried the “colossal” torment Ukraine is suffering from “senseless war” and Russian destruction of its infrastructure. – Associated Press 

The United States has neither encouraged nor enabled the Ukrainians to strike inside of Russia, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said on Tuesday, but repeated Washington’s determination to make sure Kyiv has the equipment it needs to defend itself. – Reuters

Russia and Ukraine said on Tuesday they had exchanged 60 prisoners of war on each side in the latest of a series of such swaps. – Reuters

Russia will not allow U.N. nuclear watchdogs to take control of an occupied Ukrainian nuclear power plant, a senior Russian nuclear agency official insisted. – Washington Examiner

An aide to Russian President Vladimir Putin touted a new “world majority” of nations offering an alternative to the current global balance of power. Yury Ushakov’s remarks come as the Russia-Ukraine war continues to shape international dynamics. Most of the Western world, including the United States and much of Europe, has condemned Putin’s invasion of Ukraine, citing concerns about a lack of justification and alleged human rights violations. – Newsweek 

William B. Taylor and David J. Kramer writes: This is not the first time Ukraine has suffered an attempted genocide at the hands of Moscow. Joseph Stalin engineered a famine that killed some 4 million Ukrainians in 1932-33 in what the Ukrainians call the Holodomor — death by starvation. The world did nothing. The West did little to stop the Holocaust in World War II, little to stop the genocide in Rwanda in 1994 and virtually nothing as hundreds of thousands of Syrians were killed — with Vladimir Putin’s assistance. We cannot look away again. Never again must mean never again. We must act. Now. – Washington Post

Leonid Bershidsky writes: But once a people get out of the habit of lying to themselves, the killing must eventually stop making sense — in the end, it’s the lies that kill. That’s the hope to which I cling as Russia ends this nightmarish year far deeper in the wrong than it started it, and knee deep in blood. – Bloomberg

Michael Rogers writes: Enabling this kind of whole-of-population effort requires ingenuity and innovation from all sectors of society. Industry, government, and every day citizens have an important role to play. Now is not a time for a failure of creativity. – The Hill

Martin Wolf writes: Who could argue this is unaffordable? Is it not far more unaffordable to let Putin triumph? Yes, it is painful to suffer the energy shock from this war. But it is the west’s duty to cope. It is Ukraine and Ukrainians who bear the brunt of the conflict. We in the comfortable west must give them the resources they need. Only when Putin knows he will not be allowed to win is the war likely finally to come to an end. – Financial Times 

Liana Fix and Michael Kimmage write: It has fostered a strong sense of national belonging in Ukraine, and it has dramatically strengthened the transatlantic alliance, of which Ukraine is now a de facto member. Over time, Russia’s built-in weaknesses and the West’s and Ukraine’s assets will have their effect. When they do, new options to address the question of Crimea will open up. – Foreign Affairs

Andrei Soldatov and Irina Borogan write: Just because Putin is losing on the battlefield in Ukraine doesn’t mean that he is losing control at home. If anything, the most recent stages of the conflict have allowed the Kremlin to extend its reach over public opinion and the civilian economy. The chances that domestic pressure could force Putin to seek to end the war are slimmer than the military situation suggests. – Foreign Affairs

Kseniya Kirillova writes: There will be more and more such stories, and the Russian special services are doing everything possible to stop the truth from emerging, and disrupting the already difficult hunt to find more soldiers for the war. – Center for European Policy Analysis


For decades, Israel’s left wing championed a Palestinian state side by side with a Jewish nation, keeping alive the idea even as it declined in popularity. Now, the left’s crushing defeat in last month’s election has dealt a punishing blow to those still committed to the so-called two-state solution. – Wall Street Journal

First he agreed to hand control over Israel’s internal security to an ultranationalist. Then he pledged to give a party that opposes gay rights and liberal values wide powers over some programs taught in public schools. Finally, he promised a religious party that seeks to annex the West Bank authority over much of daily life in the occupied territories. – New York Times

Israel’s ties to the Jewish American community, one of its closest and most important allies, are about to be put to the test, with Israel’s emerging far-right government on a collision course with Jews in the United States. – Associated Press 

Israel will have to wait to deport a Palestinian lawyer and activist to France for at least several weeks. Saleh Hammouri appeared at a court hearing near Tel Aviv on Tuesday. No decisions were made, and another hearing was set for Jan. 1, said Dani Shenhar, one of his lawyers. He remains in Israeli custody. – Associated Press

Bulldozers and cranes were seen Tuesday dismantling a commercial crossing point on the eastern side of Gaza City after Israel decided to extend a security barrier at the location of the long-defunct terminal. – Associated Press  

Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid said on Tuesday that no one would question Israeli soldiers, after Al Jazeera filed a lawsuit at the International Criminal Court over the killing of Palestinian journalist Shireen Abu Akleh. – Reuters

The Al Jazeera network has submitted a case against Israeli forces at the International Criminal Court (ICC) over the killing of Shireen Abu Aqla. The Palestinian-American journalist was shot in the head during an Israeli army raid in the occupied West Bank in May. – BBC 

Israel believes that the United States will allow the sale of the Arrow-3 missile defense system to Germany, outgoing Defense Minister Benny Gantz said Tuesday. – Jerusalem Post

The Foreign Ministry summoned UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process Tor Wennesland for clarifications on Tuesday, after he downplayed a terrorist attack and called on the police officer who foiled it to be investigated. – Jerusalem Post    

Palestinian gunmen clashed with Israeli troops early Wednesday in the northern West Bank city of Nablus during an attempt by the army to arrest a wanted man. – Times of Israel

Shaken by past crises and short of customers and revenue, the notorious NSO Group is pleased about the expected imminent return of Benjamin Netanyahu as prime minister, believing he will loosen restrictions on Israeli spyware exports to countries with problematic human rights records, chief among them Saudi Arabia, a report said Tuesday. – Times of Israel  

Former Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett met with the Biden administration’s National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan Wednesday during a visit to the White House. – Arutz Sheva 

Lawrence Kudlow writes: Prime Minister Netanyahu called that a crucial decision — indeed, he called it a biblical decision, going back 3,000 years — and during a just-completed interview we discussed how it was a major contributor to the peace agreement called the Abraham Accords, which was completed a few years later between the U.S., Israel, the UAE, and Bahrain, followed by pacts with Morocco, Sudan, and Kosovo. […]These are crucial lessons going back to Ronald Reagan’s winning the Cold War and Prime Minister Netanyahu’s establishing Israel as a world power. – New York Sun 

Daniel Pipes writes: If only victimized Palestinians matter, the retreat of Arab states is irrelevant. For these reasons, Arab states withdrew after just 25 years of leading the charge against Israel, but Palestinians keep going at 50 years. – Commentary Magazine


At least seven people were killed in Afghanistan on Tuesday when a blast hit a vehicle carrying oil workers in the northern province of Balkh, while another blast in the eastern city of Jalalabad injured six people. – Reuters

Afghan girls have reportedly been given the green light to take their high school graduation exams this week despite being barred from classrooms by the Taliban. – Washington Examiner

The Afghan Taliban government’s Minister for Refugees and Repatriation Khalil Rahman Haqqani has said that Iran is sending former Afghan soldiers to fight in Ukraine. Haqqani’s statement corroborates earlier media reports stating that Iran has an ongoing policy of using Afghans to fight as part of pro-Iranian militias, especially in the Fatemiyoun Brigade. – Middle East Media Research Institute

Beth Bailey writes: Should Beijing choose to cast aside worries over terror and recognize the Taliban government, the international community must not follow suit. A Taliban regime that  kills and imprisons Afghans with impunity, precludes women from participation in society, strangles media, and prioritizes medieval punishment over the provision of necessities like food must not receive international recognition. – Washington Examiner


Commercial brakes produced by a Dutch company to be used in ambulances in Turkey instead ended up in missiles used by Turkey in attacks in northeastern Syria, a report released Tuesday said. – Associated Press 

Finland must lift an arms embargo on Ankara as a condition to securing support from Turkey for its NATO membership bid, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said on Tuesday – Reuters

Ioannis E. Kotoulas writes: Over the last dozen years, Israeli-Turkish relations have been fraught, but lately there has been an attempt to ameliorate relations between the two countries due to the volatile geopolitical environment in the greater region. […]Turkey has been steadily refusing to expel the Hamas operatives. It seems that Turkey is not yet willing to give up on the Islamist card in its approach in the Middle East. Turkey is hoping to project its influence in the region, as it did in the past through Islamists in Syria and the Morsi regime in Egypt. It is in this context that Turkey allows Hamas’ activities in its territory. – Algemeiner 

Saudi Arabia

China’s leader, Xi Jinping, will travel to Saudi Arabia on Wednesday for a flurry of meetings bringing together heads of state from across the Middle East, a region where longtime American allies are growing increasingly close to China. – New York Times

Despite “credible allegations” of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s involvement in the 2018 killing of dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi, a U.S. federal judge on Tuesday ordered a lawsuit against the Saudi royal to be dismissed. – Washington Post

Saudi Arabia is looking to normalize ties with Israel, although it will be a while before this ever properly manifests, Israeli news outlet i24NEWS reported Tuesday. – Jerusalem Post 

Bobby Ghosh writes: But MBS is unlikely to take that chance, not least because he has painted himself into a geopolitical corner by antagonizing the US. Having dissed Joe Biden by cutting Saudi oil output after the US president’s visit to the kingdom, the prince will be loath to put Xi’s nose out of joint. Instead, it will be the Chinese leader who calls the shots during their summit meeting, leaving MBS looking less like a leader than the led. – Bloomberg

Simon Henderson and Carol Silber write: Yet the real barometer of the Saudi-Chinese relationship will lie in the event’s unrevealed details, not to mention the visible chemistry of encounters between senior officials. Washington should watch all of these indicators closely to determine how warm their relations truly are—and what challenge they might represent to U.S. regional policy. – Washington Institute

Gulf States

Trade and investment ties between China and Gulf Arab states are expected to feature prominently in President Xi Jinping’s visit to Saudi Arabia this week as the region increasingly looks East to drive economic transformation at home for a post-oil era. – Reuters

The horrors of the Islamic State group’s rule over northern Iraq may be in the past, but efforts to bring the jihadists to justice are still gathering pace. – Agence France-Presse

Seth J. Frantzman writes: Now that story has faded. Today Iranian media is celebrating the supposed “hatred of Zionists” that is on display in Qatar. Perhaps it’s not so much “hatred” as the need to move the story from Doha’s track record to make it seem like Qatar is doing something for the Palestinians. – Jerusalem Post

Middle East & North Africa

The Pentagon is preparing to resume full ground operations alongside Kurdish partners in northern Syria, officials said Tuesday, a move that risks further inflaming relations with NATO ally Turkey, which blames the Kurds for a deadly bombing in Istanbul last month and has threatened a ground assault in retaliation. – Washington Post

Top Turkish military officials traveled to Azerbaijan to oversee joint military drills near the Azeri border with Iran as tensions between the two neighbors continue to escalate. – Bloomberg

Libya’s state energy firm urged its foreign oil and gas partners to resume exploration and production Tuesday assuring them security had begun to improve dramatically after clashes earlier this year. – Agence France-Presse 

Israel’s NewMed Energy on Tuesday announced it has signed a deal with Morocco and Adarco Energy for offshore natural gas exploration and production licenses in the north African kingdom. – Times of Israel 

Thomas L. Friedman writes: If President Biden can help shepherd this concept to fruition, it could be the biggest U.S. contribution to Middle East peace since Camp David. An EcoPeace study argues that the rehabilitation of the Jordan River and Jordan Valley could, over time, give a multibillion-dollar boost to the combined G.D.P. of the Israeli, Palestinian and Jordanian residents there — from its current paltry $4 billion annual level. – New York Times

Kim Ghattas writes: The US will not be able to impose a presidential candidate today but neither should it give its rivals a gift in Lebanon. Biden speaks often of the global battle between democracy and autocracy, but that also plays out within countries. Washington should see Lebanon not as a minor headache but as a contested space where freedoms can expand on the periphery of thornier issues such as Iran. – Financial Times 

Michael Singh writes: Rather than continuing to try to overlay its preferred, simple structure on the world’s more complex reality, the United States should adapt by creating more, and more tailored, opportunities for high-value cooperation with Washington. The question posed to partners should not be whether they are for or against the United States, but who they will be with—and who will be with them—when it matters most. – Foreign Affairs

Kamissa Camara writes: These additional economic tools that reinforce the mutual dependency between Algeria and Sahel states, together with its strategic and military capabilities, will facilitate Algeria’s rise as an indispensable actor in the fight against terrorism in the Sahel. – Middle East Institute

Korean Peninsula

The North Korean Supreme People’s Assembly (SPA), the isolated country’s rubber-stamp parliament, will convene on Jan. 17 to discuss government budget and other issues, state media said on Wednesday, amid mounting economic challenges. – Reuters

The U.S. State Department has approved the potential sale of Chinook helicopters and related equipment to South Korea in a deal valued at an estimated $1.5 billion, the Pentagon said on Tuesday. – Reuters

Members of South Korea’s ruling conservative party have proposed a bill that would place tighter restrictions on the voting rights of foreign permanent residents in local elections, which they insist is necessary to protect the country’s democracy from being undermined by Chinese voters. – Associated Press 

Russia’s war in Ukraine has opened a door for South Korea’s defense exports, which are on track to more than double this year as buyers seek to replace Soviet-era weaponry with higher tech arms from the Asian country. – Bloomberg

The Biden administration is not about to change its longstanding North Korea policy and will continue to focus on deterrence and stronger ties with Asian allies, a senior White House official said, despite leader Kim Jong Un’s unprecedented barrage of missile tests in recent months. – Bloomberg


The Chinese government announced on Wednesday a broad easing of its exceptionally stringent Covid restrictions, an implicit concession to public discontent after mass street protests in more than a dozen cities a week ago challenged Beijing’s authority. – New York Times

The global auto industry remains heavily exposed to the Xinjiang region of China for raw materials, components and other supplies, a new report has found, despite a recent U.S. law intended to restrict purchases from the area, where the Chinese government has committed human rights abuses against mostly Muslim minorities. – New York Times

China strictly adheres to its policy of no first use of nuclear weapons “at any time and under any circumstances,” its Defense Ministry said Tuesday in a scathing response to a U.S. report alleging a major buildup in Beijing’s nuclear capabilities. – Associated Press 

The European Union has requested the setting up of World Trade Organization panels for two of its trade disputes with China, the European Commission said on Wednesday. – Reuters

U.S. senators scaled back a proposal that placed new curbs on the use of Chinese-made chips by the U.S. government and its contractors, according to a final version of the measure published Tuesday, amid pushback from trade groups like the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. – Reuters

China’s return to the skies as it eases COVID-19 restrictions is ramping up concerns about congestion and possible trade tensions as far away as Europe, as carriers seek to restore lucrative services without some of them being able to fly over Russia. – Reuters

The Biden administration says Beijing has relented and allowed US inspections of Chinese businesses, with a number of companies facing a deadline to co-operate by this week or risk being put on a trade blacklist. – Financial Times 

China renewed its claim to the Taiwan Strait this week, after Canada’s top diplomat said Ottawa would deploy more warships to the region to ensure the vital passage remained an international waterway. – Newsweek 

Now everything is subordinated to the war in Ukraine, and the recent events in China Kommersant foreign affairs commentator Maxim Yusin do not bode well for Russia. Tensions between the United States and Russia have been closely followed in Russia. – Middle East Media Research Institute

Marco Rubio writes: Washington does not need to adopt Beijing’s own model of micromanaging the economy nor should it. But the status quo, in which our greatest geopolitical adversaries are supported by billions of U.S. dollars, is simply unacceptable. We need a new investment framework to align financial interests with the national interest. Otherwise, we will be responsible for our own downfall. – Washington Examiner

Michael Beckley writes: The “one world” dream of a single jointly-managed global order may be impossible for now, but that doesn’t preclude peaceful relations between two competing orders. Managing that competition won’t be easy, but it is the best way to avoid an even more destructive conflict. – Washington Examiner

Harry Kazianis writes: Washington’s top military minds in the Pentagon , intelligence community, think tank community, and academia know all of this. They have repeatedly warned about the threat. Unfortunately, little has been done to confront it. As debates rage over how best to help Taiwan if Xi does attack, the chances of Washington losing that epic conflict look increasingly high. We will only have ourselves to blame. – Washington Examiner

Ilan Berman writes: Such a step is surely warranted. The PRC should undoubtedly pay a price for its role in seeking to thwart the cause of freedom in Iran. For the Biden administration, which so far hasn’t done much beyond expressing tepid support for Iran’s brave protesters, targeting a key enabler of Iranian state repression would be an important practical step. It would also be a significant symbolic one, putting the White House on the right side not just of the fight for freedom in Iran, but of the battle against China’s techno-authoritarianism. – Newsweek 

Neville Teller writes: With his leadership role now firmly secured, Xi clearly feels empowered to continue developing his long-term strategy aimed at ensuring eventual Chinese political and economic dominance on the world stage.  He doubtless regards the forthcoming Chinese-Arab summit as a key building block in that enterprise. – Jerusalem Post


The U.S. said it would deploy more military assets in Australia, including air, land and sea forces, as the two countries agreed to deepen defense cooperation amid growing concerns about China’s actions in the Indo-Pacific region. – Wall Street Journal

U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi visited Taiwan and met Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen in August in defiance of Chinese warnings for the trip not to take place. Angered at what it perceived as U.S. support for Taiwan’s de facto independence – a red line for Beijing – China launched war games near the island it claims as its “sacred” territory shortly after Pelosi left. – Reuters

Taiwan’s air force may be on the front lines of defending against China’s daily incursions into the skies near the democratically governed island, but for downtime and to boost morale they have a secret weapon – their own band. – Reuters

Two people were killed and eight wounded in the Indonesian city of Bandung on Wednesday when a suspected Islamic militant who may have been angered by the country’s new criminal code blew himself up at a police station, authorities said. – Reuters

A man blew himself up Wednesday at a police station on Indonesia’s main island of Java, killing an officer and wounding seven people, officials said, in what appeared to be the latest in a string of suicide attacks blamed on Muslim militants. – Associated Press 

A newly founded Japanese semiconductor company aiming to revive Japan’s chip industry signed an agreement on Tuesday to collaborate with a Belgian research organization in developing next-generation chips for production in Japan. – Associated Press 

Protesters angered by allegations of corruption linked to Mongolia’s coal trade with China tried to force their way into the State Palace in the capital, demanding dismissals of officials involved in the scandal. – Associated Press 

The U.S. State Department has approved the potential sale of $428 million in aircraft parts for Taiwan to help its air force, which is strained from repeatedly intercepting Chinese jets operating close to the island. – Reuters

Michael Rubin writes: Then, of course, there is the South China Sea. The nine-dash line that Xi uses to stake China’s claim is historical fiction. For too long, however, the U.S. and regional states have emboldened China by allowing it to get away with what effectively is the largest maritime territory grab in modern history. So make no mistake: Taiwan is in China’s sights, but it is not alone. It is necessary to deter China across the entirety of its southern border. – Washington Examiner

Dhananath Fernando writes: Let my country’s economic crisis be a warning to U.S. policymakers. The bigger and bigger the government becomes, the more that everyday citizens should be prepared for unintended consequences. The emergence of Big Government as a foregone conclusion is a crisis in itself—from South Asia to North America. – Newsweek 

Emil Avdaliani writes: The EU has money, and Central Asian states need that, but without active US  diplomatic support and perhaps even some kind of security engagement, reaching a positive outcome will be a difficult task. – Center for European Policy Analysis


The European Union filed a complaint against China in the World Trade Organization over punitive trade restrictions that Beijing imposed on Lithuania last year, harming the small Baltic state and the 27-country bloc. – Wall Street Journal

European Union finance ministers failed to agree Tuesday on providing more than $18 billion of vital economic assistance for Ukraine next year, with Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban’s government stymying for now efforts to secure the loan through common EU debt issuance. – Wall Street Journal

On Tuesday, however, days after a correspondent made an unscripted call to provide unspecified aid to Russian soldiers, the Latvian media regulator revoked the channel’s broadcasting license because of what it called “threats to national security.” As Latvian and Ukrainian authorities accuse the station of supporting Russia’s war effort, TV Rain is now engulfed in the biggest crisis of its turbulent 12-year history. – New York Times

For years, Boris Johnson and Donald J. Trump were viewed as populist twins — flamboyant, scandal-scarred, norm-busting figures, acting in a trans-Atlantic political drama. With both out of office, at least for now, a more timely and intriguing comparison is between Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and President Biden. – New York Times

For the six Western Balkans countries aspiring to join the European Union, gaining full membership in the 27-nation club remains a distant goal. – Associated Press

Poland’s defense minister said Tuesday that his country will accept a Patriot missile defense system which Germany offered to deploy to Poland last month. – Associated Press

Turkey’s foreign minister on Tuesday renewed threats to “take action” against Greece if it continued to arm its Aegean islands which Ankara says should remain demilitarized in line with international treaties. – Associated Press   

Polish President Andrzej Duda and the country’s defense minister on Tuesday took delivery of a first shipment of tanks and howitzers from South Korea, hailing the swift implementation of a deal signed in the summer in the face of the war in neighboring Ukraine. – Associated Press

Belarus plans to move military equipment and security forces on Wednesday and Thursday in what it says are checks on its response to possible acts of terrorism, the state BelTA news agency reported on Wednesday. – Reuters

President Joe Biden will soon name a special envoy for Northern Ireland as the US seeks a bigger role in a region beset by the post-Brexit impasse between the UK and the European Union, people familiar with the administration’s plans said. – Bloomberg

The UK and US have pledged to maintain high levels of liquefied natural gas trade between the two countries as part of a new “energy partnership” that aims to reduce reliance on Russia and accelerate the push to net zero. – Financial Times

Days after Sweden announced its largest military aid package yet for Ukraine, its lead defense officials are positioning the Nordic country’s contributions as an example of what to expect from Stockholm as a NATO member. – Defense News 

The British Army has made its largest tactical radio procurement in more than a decade, as it seeks to upgrade the connectivity of dismounted units operating on the ground and incorporate lessons learned from the conflict in Ukraine. – Breaking Defense 

Janan Ganesh writes: At its worst, the focus on good form and manners also became cover for shirking the rougher side of international leadership. A human lifetime after the second world war, Europe is still the military junior, and at times the ward, of America. In absolute terms, its contribution to the defence of Ukraine is much the smaller. Europe “would be in trouble without the United States”, said the Finnish premier Sanna Marin in Australia last week. – Financial Times 

Olaf Scholz writes: This means making every effort to build new partnerships, pragmatically and without ideological blinders. In today’s densely interconnected world, the goal of advancing peace, prosperity, and human freedom calls for a different mindset and different tools. Developing that mindset and those tools is ultimately what the Zeitenwende is all about. – Foreign Affairs


A Russian mercenary group that has gained international attention for its role in the war in Ukraine is also active in one of Africa’s poorest countries, using violence and extortion in an effort to corner its extremely lucrative diamond industry, according to a new report issued by Europe-based researchers. – Washington Post

Somali government forces and allied militias have recaptured a strategic town held by Al-Shabaab jihadists since 2016, President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud said on Tuesday. – Agence France-Presse 

Mvemba Phezo Dizolele and Cameron Hudson write: Biden would do well to err on the side of caution as he bridges the gap Washington has created for itself, and should be satisfied meeting the modest expectations Africans have for him. – Center for Strategic and International Studies

Latin America

A federal court on Tuesday convicted Vice President Cristina Kirchner of fraud charges and sentenced her to six years in prison for embezzling money through public-construction contracts, a blow for a leftist government grappling with soaring inflation and one of the worst economic crises in two decades. – Wall Street Journal

An Iranian tanker carrying about 2 million barrels of ultra-light oil arrived this week in Venezuelan waters, non-government organization United Against Nuclear Iran said on Tuesday. – Reuters

Chile’s President Gabriel Boric said Tuesday that the minister of foreign affairs will travel to Brussels at the end of the week to sign a modernization of a bilateral agreement with the European Union. – Reuters

A summit of the four Mercosur nations exposed tensions Tuesday as Uruguay’s eagerness to seek out foreign markets collided with opposition from Brazil, Argentina and Paraguay. – Associated Press


Promoted tweets from Amazon, Snap, Uber and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, among others, appeared inadvertently on the pages of at least two white nationalists, Andrew Anglin and Patrick Casey, both of whom said their accounts had been banned but were restored recently after Musk took control of Twitter in late October. – Washington Post

The Canadian branch of Amnesty International said Monday it was the target of a cyberattack sponsored by China. – Associated Press 

Maryland Governor Larry Hogan issued an emergency directive on Tuesday prohibiting the use of Chinese-owned short-video sharing app TikTok on state government devices and networks, the latest U.S. Republican to crack down on TikTok. – Reuters

Meta is expected to face another large fine after Europe’s data watchdog on Tuesday imposed binding decisions concerning the treatment of personal data by the owner of Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp. – Agence France-Presse 

The IDF’s cyber protection of certain databases for personal identification and health information of its soldiers is significantly deficient and hackers could penetrate it in order to steal identities and impersonate IDF personnel, the State Comptroller’s report said on Tuesday. – Jerusalem Post

Eli Lake writes: Mr. Musk is trying another approach. He has said that there will still be rules for what one can and cannot post on Twitter. Those rules, though, will focus on illegal speech, such as incitement to violence, as opposed to the myriad kinds of unsafe speech banned by Twitter in recent years. For now, I hope Mr. Musk follows through on that sensible promise. In the interim I await new installments of the Twitter Files to learn exactly how much speech was being moderated before Mr. Musk took over. – New York Sun


The United States military is studying the rate of munitions used in Russia’s war in Ukraine to ensure that the Pentagon is accurately calculating the weapons it would need in case of any future conflicts or operations, the top U.S. general said on Tuesday. – Reuters

Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) pressed Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Tuesday to prioritize sending arms to Taiwan to defend itself against China over helping Ukraine hold off the Russian invasion, arguing that the former is more important to U.S. national security interests. – The Hill

The Biden administration on Tuesday approved a nearly $4 billion sale of advanced tanks, other combat vehicles and a large amount of assorted weaponry to NATO ally Poland at a time of heightened security concerns because of the war in neighboring Ukraine. – Associated Press

The U.S. Marine Corps is getting closer to finalizing a new amphibious warfare concept, which the head of the Marine Corps Warfighting Lab said will focus on leveraging and defending against emerging technologies. – Defense News

The House and Senate Armed Services Committees this evening released the compromise language for the National Defense Authorization Act, with committee leadership agreeing to add $45 billion to the Biden administration’s initial budget request. – Breaking Defense  

The compromise Fiscal Year 2023 defense policy bill released late Tuesday night authorizes a $32.6 billion shipbuilding budget for the Navy to build 11 battle force ships. – USNI News 

Bret Stephens writes: But luck’s a bad basis for policy. We are now in a new era of great-power competition in which our traditional military advantages can’t be taken for granted. Now is the time for real public debate about what we mean to do about it. – New York Times

Mackenzie Eaglen writes: The service is right to be considering arsenal ships with remote firing capabilities and unmanned surface vessels that function as supplemental missile magazines. Its study of equipping bulk cargo and container ships with VLS is also a step in the right direction. Leaders must work creatively to prevent any gaps in combat power at a time when there are no gaps in global threats. – American Enterprise Institute