Fdd's overnight brief

January 12, 2024

FDD Research & Analysis

In The News


When South Africa presented its case in The Hague on Thursday that Israel is committing genocide in Gaza, many Israelis saw an accusation that turned the victim into the perpetrator, negating the Holocaust and the atrocities committed against them by Hamas on Oct. 7. – Wall Street Journal 

Jihad Hammouda said he spent 17 days blindfolded and handcuffed in an Israeli detention facility, made to kneel on the ground for hours at a time. He did not know where he was or when he would be released. – Washington Post

Qatar is engaged in high-level discussions with Hamas to deliver vital prescription medicines to Israeli hostages in the Gaza Strip at the same time it is making progress with Israel about allowing more medicine into the enclave for Gazan civilians, officials said. – New York Times

The number of people facing possible starvation in the Gaza Strip in the coming weeks is the largest share of a population at risk of famine identified anywhere since a United Nations-affiliated panel created the current global food-insecurity assessment 20 years ago. – New York Times

The trucks carrying aid for Gaza stop for exhaustive inspections by Israeli authorities. They can pass through two border crossings only during limited hours. Inside the territory, vehicles travel over a landscape of rubble and ruined roads to distribute the aid to desperate, hungry crowds. – New York Times

Israel will respond on Friday to accusations brought by South Africa at the U.N.’s top court that its military operation in Gaza is a state-led genocide campaign aimed at wiping out the Palestinian population. – Reuters

Benjamin Netanyahu on Thursday condemned South Africa’s genocide case against Israel in Gaza as “hypocrisy and lies”, as some Gazans returned to scenes of total devastation in the north of the enclave where Israeli forces have begun withdrawing. – Reuters

The head of Human Rights Watch praised South Africa for bringing Israel’s military campaign against Gaza to the top U.N. court and said the international community would be responsible for ensuring that Israel complies with any judicial decision. – Reuters

U.S. special envoy Amos Hochstein said on Thursday he was hopeful diplomacy could calm tensions on the disputed border between Lebanon and Israel, where the Israeli military and armed group Hezbollah have been exchanging fire for three months. – Reuters

Israel’s foreign ministry accused South Africa of being “the legal arm” of the Palestinian militant group Hamas on Thursday, after Pretoria accused it of genocide at the U.N.’s top court in The Hague. – Politico

While the evacuees from the Gaza border towns fear their communities are falling apart due to long-term displacement amid war, the Home Front Command and the Welfare Ministry recognize the beginning of a similar process in communities evacuated from north Israel. – Ynet

Since the onset of the Hamas-Israel war, a host of Arab foreign ministers have stepped to the fore, increasingly involving themselves in the decision-making process. – Ynet

Hamas leaders in Gaza, have begun making unilateral decisions on the fighting in the Strip and the possible release of Israeli captives, while ignoring the political leadership of the terror group that resides abroad, according to a report on Thursday, in the Saudi Arabian Elaph newspaper.  – Ynet

The United States on Thursday rejected South Africa’s allegations that Israel is committing genocide in Gaza as the International Court of Justice (ICJ) held the first hearing in the case filed by South Africa against the Jewish state. – Arutz Sheva

Dozens of terrorists were killed in Khan Yunis and Maghazi, including commanders from Hamas’ Nukhba forces, the IDF said Friday morning. – Arutz Sheva

Gaza residents are reporting that Hamas continues to harm them and is stealing the humanitarian aid which is brought into Gaza daily. – Arutz Sheva

Editorial: If the U.N. wants to find genocidal intent, try the Hamas charter. The preamble says “Israel will exist and will continue to exist until Islam will obliterate it, just as it obliterated others before it.” It encourages Muslims to “fight Jews and kill them” until the Jews “hide behind rocks and trees, and the rocks and trees will cry out: ‘O Moslem, there is a Jew hiding behind me, come and kill him.” The moral inversion of the U.N. continues. – Wall Street Journal 

Editorial: But much of the world will dismiss what Regev said as Israeli propaganda. Instead, they will choose to believe Hamas’s lies. Why? Hamas has turned fooling the world – having it believe that norms that apply to Western democracies apply to them as well – into an art form. If “fool me twice” is shame on me, what befalls those deceived a thousand times? – Jerusalem Post

Warren Kozak writes: Protesters around the world and especially on college campuses have supported and even glorified the Oct. 7 attacks. They should also be forced to hear what happened that day from the survivors, especially the women who were raped by Hamas terrorists. The world should hear what happened to the old people and the babies. The world should be able to judge the small man in the glass booth who perpetrated these disgusting crimes. Then the world might finally understand what really happened. – Wall Street Journal

Naomi Linder Kahn writes: It’s time for a reality check. It’s time to reexamine the underlying assumptions and begin to rebuild our security paradigm. Some in the US have started to demand that their government shake off the reverie of self-delusion; a recent opinion piece in The Wall Street Journal calling for an end to US tax dollars funding the PA’s pay-for-slay program, to which the October 7 murderers have been added, is a case in point. – Jerusalem Post

Frank Sobchak and Iris Sobchak write: We should take Hamad and his organization at their word. Not just for the sake of Israel and the broader region, but also because other terrorists are watching the world’s response. They will undoubtedly be spurred to use the same level of brutality – or worse – in the future- if Hamas is not fundamentally dismantled. October 7 is a canary in the coal mine for terrorist violence. A new Pandora’s box of monstrosities has been opened and if an example is not made of Hamas, these horrors will happen again and again. – Jerusalem Post

Yonah Jeremy Bob writes: There is nothing about an obligation to provide fuel in the laws of war, and most serious international lawyers would recognize that it would be unthinkable to do so when Hamas would have used the fuel to continue firing hundreds of rockets per day on Israel’s home front. Underneath all of this was an opening statement attacking Israel for crimes against the Palestinians – not just since 1967, as some more honest, if misguided, critics go after Israel for, but dating back to 1948. In other words, South Africa implicitly questioned Israel’s right to exist as an independent Jewish state. That position is probably the only way to make sense of South Africa’s strange performance. – Jerusalem Post

Benjamin Miller writes: American interest in, and capacity to advance, such a diplomatic process after the war is the key element that will make Israeli-Palestinian-Arab peace possible. This process will have to address the major shortcoming of the Abraham Accords: the marginalization of the Palestinian issue. The two-state vision seems completely unrealistic today, but rising American interest in advancing a diplomatic process can make the fulfillment of this vision more likely in the long run. – Algemeiner

Gedaliah Blum writes: The time has come to turn the page on this devastating chapter and allow Gazans the chance to create their own future; one in which they can breathe free, dream big and embrace the opportunities the world has to offer. The Gaza residents’ potential is vast and it’s time to unlock it. – Arutz Sheva

Melanie Phillips writes: He was “worried,” he told a parliamentary committee, that Israel has “taken action in Gaza that might be in breach of international law” and that “on lots of occasions” its compliance was “under question.” Since Cameron offered no evidence of any such breaches, his remarks served merely to smear Israel when it is fighting for its life and being demonized and thus undermined by a torrent of such false accusations from around the world. – Arutz Sheva


Iran said on Friday it condemns the U.S.-Britain attack on Houthis in Yemen warning that it will fuel “insecurity and instability” in the region, Iranian state media reported. – Reuters

Iran’s intelligence ministry on Thursday identified a top suspect, described as ringleader and bomb-maker, in the twin suicide bombings last week claimed by the Islamic State group as the death toll from the attack rose to at least 94, state media reported. – Associated Press

Offering a pathway to a Palestinian state is the best way to stabilize the wider region and isolate Iran and its proxies, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said on Thursday, as he ended a frenetic regional tour over the Gaza war in Cairo. – Reuters

Jason Rezaian writes: Targeted financial punishment of select Iranian officials, especially the most militant actors in the Revolutionary Guard, would be a good first step. Just as Tehran has for decades relied on proxy forces to fight its battles abroad, its leadership has also used proxy stakeholders to shepherd its ill-gotten riches held in the West. Homing in on these individuals is the appropriate next response in a confrontation that neither side wants to see become any bloodier. The struggle with Iran will be won with a scalpel, not a sledgehammer. – Washington Post

Jacob Sivak writes: However, the periodic violence associated with the history of Jewish life in North Africa and the Middle East is not well known. The atrocities carried out by Hamas on October 7 are the latest manifestation of this history. The Jews in Iran have not been forgotten. In a November 14 TV interview with Voice of America, Emmanuel Nahshon, Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs, noted that Israel understood that Iranian Jews who participated in anti-Israel demonstrations had no choice. “They are our brothers and sisters, and we love them very much.” – Ynet

Russia & Ukraine

The startling news slipped by almost unnoticed in the last minutes of President Volodymyr Zelensky’s year-end press conference in December. Asked about the 6.2 million Ukrainians—nearly 15% of the population—who have fled the country over the past two years, Zelensky dashed off a list of incentives to encourage their return: cash payments, subsidized mortgages, startup business loans. – Wall Street Journal 

The Defense Department has not properly kept tabs on more than $1 billion worth of shoulder-fired missiles, night-vision goggles, one-way attack drones and other sensitive equipment that the United States has provided to Ukraine in its fight against Russia, the Pentagon’s inspector general said in a report released Thursday. – Washington Post

More than $1 billion worth of shoulder-fired missiles, kamikaze drones and night-vision goggles that the United States has sent to Ukraine have not been properly tracked by American officials, a new Pentagon report concluded, raising concerns that they could be stolen or smuggled at a time when Congress is debating whether to send more military aid to Kyiv. – New York Times

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy on Thursday ruled out a cease-fire as his country fights off the Russian invasion, saying the Kremlin’s forces would use the pause to rearm and regroup in order to overwhelm Kyiv’s troops. – Associated Press

A Russian presidential hopeful opposing Moscow’s military action in Ukraine met Thursday with a group of soldiers’ wives who are demanding that their husbands be discharged from the front line. – Associated Press

Sergei Udaltsov, a Russian pro-war activist and critic of President Vladimir Putin, was remanded into custody Thursday over alleged terrorism offenses, his lawyer told the Russian state news agency Tass. – Associated Press

The United States, Ukraine and six allies accused Russia on Wednesday of using North Korean ballistic missiles and launchers in a series of devastating aerial attacks against Ukraine, in violation of U.N. sanctions. – Associated Press

Russia on Friday scolded the United States and Britain for military strikes on Yemen which Moscow said escalated tensions across the Middle East and showed a complete disregard for international law. – Reuters

Rows of white concrete barricades and coils of razor wire stretch across an open field for more than a kilometre. Trenches with rudimentary living quarters are being dug under cover of darkness. Artillery rumbles not far away. – Reuters

A senior ally of President Vladimir Putin warned on Thursday that any Ukrainian attacks on missile launch sites inside Russia with arms supplied by the United States and its allies would risk a nuclear response from Moscow. – Reuters

Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said on Thursday that a ceasefire in Russia’s war against Ukraine would not lead to political dialogue, and would only benefit Moscow. – Reuters

British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak travelled to Kyiv on Friday to announce an increase in military funding to help Ukraine purchase new military drones, including surveillance, long-range strike and sea drones. – Reuters

A draft bill on tightening Ukraine’s mobilization rules has been withdrawn from parliament, but a new version is ready for the government to review, Defense Minister Rustem Umerov said on January 11. – Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said Russia plans to launch an offensive in Ukraine ahead of the presidential election in March in hopes of achieving “some small tactical victories” before launching “something global or massive afterward.” – Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty 


An Israeli strike on a civil defence centre in southern Lebanon on Thursday killed two rescuers and destroyed an ambulance, according to the rescue force, which is affiliated with armed group Hezbollah. – Reuters

Both Lebanon and Israel “prefer” a diplomatic deal to end hostilities on the border, US envoy Amos Hochstein said Thursday, amid an escalation of violence along the border that has seen almost daily Hezbollah attacks and exchanges of fire since the Gaza war began. – Agence France-Presse

Ameer al-Kaabi, Hamdi Malik, and Michael Knights write: KH showing off its special weapons: The speech also hints strongly that KH are responsible for cruise missile operations towards Israel fired out of KH areas of strength such as Babil, Karbala, and Anbar, including a recent failed launch of a Quds-class cruise missile in Babil on January 3, 2024. KH furthermore boasts here about its use of the Al-Aqsa-1 close-range ballistic missile. This is another indicator that even KH official lack the operational security discipline to truly submerge themselves within facade brands, instead needing to eventually claim attacks for egotistical and parochial reasons. – Washington Institute


A U.S.-led coalition launched more than a dozen strikes on Houthi rebel targets in Yemen, officials said late Thursday, two days after the Yemeni rebel force defied an ultimatum to halt its attacks on ships transiting the Red Sea with a barrage of missiles and drones. – Wall Street Journal 

Since mid-November, the Houthis, a Yemeni rebel group backed by Iran, have launched dozens of attacks on ships sailing through the Red Sea and the Suez Canal, a crucial shipping route through which 12 percent of world trade passes. – New York Times

The chief negotiator for Yemen’s Houthis said on Thursday the group’s attacks on commercial ships in the Red Sea do not threaten its peace talks with Saudi Arabia, blaming Israel’s war in Gaza for dragging the Middle East into more regional conflict. – Reuters

Any U.S. attack on Yemen’s Houthis will not go without a response, the group’s leader Abdel-Malek al-Houthi said on Thursday in a televised speech. – Reuters

Australia provided personnel support to the U.S. and UK in their strikes against Houthi military targets in Yemen, Defence Minister Richard Marles said on Friday. – Reuters

French forces are patrolling the Red Sea as part of a U.S.-led international mission to protect ships from attacks, but they remain under national command and their priority it to escort French-linked vessels, one of their commanders said on Thursday. – Reuters

The European Union is mulling whether to establish a new naval operation in the Red Sea with the aim of re-establishing security and freedom of navigation, as Yemen’s Houthis continue to attack ships in the critical waterway despite warnings from the US and allies. – Bloomberg

France’s maritime commander for the Indian Ocean defended the use of million-euro missiles to down drones used by Yemen’s Houthi rebels to attack shipping in the Red Sea, citing the value of the lives and assets protected, and the sophistication of the threat. – Defense News

President Joe Biden was still on his holiday getaway in St. Croix when he spoke with his national security team on the first morning of 2024. The Iran-backed Houthis had launched yet another attack on international shipping in the Red Sea, and the president was ready to discuss the possibility of a military response. – Politico

A group of progressive Democratic lawmakers on Thursday responded furiously to President Joe Biden’s move to launch retaliatory strikes against the Iranian-backed Houthis in Yemen without first seeking congressional approval. – Politico

Alex Vatanka writes: Only a few years ago, pro-regime commentators in Tehran boasted that Iran would soon control not one but two critical maritime choke points for international trade: the Strait of Hormuz and the Bab el-Mandab. But when the chips are down, and as tensions rise in the Red Sea, it remains to be seen if the Iranian regime is really prepared to risk open conflict with the United States — and whether it has the sufficient clout over the Houthis to ask them to stand down for now. – Middle East Institute

Gulf States

The U.S., China and Russia are racing to secure critical metals needed to power the energy transition away from fossil fuels. Their latest battleground: oil-rich Saudi Arabia. – Wall Street Journal 

Saudi Arabia called for restraint and “avoiding escalation” in light of the air strikes launched by the United States and Britain against sites linked to the Houthi movement in Yemen, the kingdom’s foreign ministry said on Friday. – Reuters

James Durso writes: It has been 20 years since America disrupted the region by attacking Iraq based on lies: that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction, and that Iraq was cooperating with al-Qaeda. America is still respected in the region for its many achievements, even though it brings violence and chaos in its wake — but in this case, its absence may help local hearts grow fonder. – The Hill

Middle East & North Africa

Secretary of State Antony Blinken concluded an eight-country swing through the Middle East on Thursday, touting progress on postwar planning for the Gaza Strip, but he received little public enthusiasm from the regional states essential for the plan’s success. – Washington Post

Antony J. Blinken, the U.S. secretary of state, met on Thursday with President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi of Egypt in Cairo to discuss the dire situation of Palestinian civilians in the Israel-Hamas war and what will happen in Gaza when the conflict ends. – New York Times

Secretary of State Antony Blinken said US partners in the Middle East are ready to take steps toward long-term stability in the region — even as new attacks in the Red Sea and violence between Israel and Hezbollah suggested the crisis in the region is only getting worse. – Bloomberg

Turkey is pushing the United Nations and others for an extension of aid deliveries into rebel-held northwest Syria as global interest and funding priorities shift towards suffering in other conflicts, two Turkish sources familiar with the negotiations told Reuters. – Reuters

Enemies of enemies are famously friends in the Middle East — except in the case of Qatar, which has managed to keep the world guessing by making all its neighbors the staunchest of frenemies. – Politico

David Ignatius writes: There’s one more inescapable pressure: A U.S. presidential election will take place in November, which means that Blinken — and all those who favor the administration’s effort to end the Gaza war and normalize relations between Israel and the Arabs — might have a short window of time to get there. – Washington Post

Assaf Orion writes: All of these issues need to be addressed immediately, with the goal of correcting a course that has gradually taken Lebanon toward the abyss. Waiting for the yearly UNIFIL mandate talks in August may be too late. In the meantime, Israel will no doubt continue countering Hezbollah’s aggression and creating the conditions for the safe return of its border communities—while concurrently preparing for war should all other options fail, as they well might. – Washington Institute

Korean Peninsula

Japan launched a rocket carrying a government intelligence-gathering satellite Friday on a mission to watch movements at military sites in North Korea and improve responses to natural disasters. – Associated Press

A group from Russia is poised to be the first known tourists allowed into North Korea since anti-pandemic border lockdowns began in early 2020, according to a post from Russian provincial authorities and a Western tour guide. – Reuters

The U.S. State Department on Thursday imposed sanctions on three Russian entities and one individual involved in the transfer and testing of North Korea’s ballistic missiles for Russia’s use against Ukraine, Secretary of State Antony Blinken said. – Reuters

Robert Gallucci writes: That said, it is not wrong to consider what it would take to attract Pyongyang to discussions with Washington. The answer is simple but not easy. The United States must genuinely seek normalization of relations and keep denuclearization as a longer-term goal rather than a first step in the process. On the table for initial discussion would be sanctions relief, the character of military exercises with the ROK, and improvements in the North’s human rights policies— something in which Pyongyang has shown interest in the past and is essential to normalization. Simple, perhaps, but not easy. – The National Interest


Floating high-altitude balloons over the island, funding pro-Beijing social media influencers, and hosting local officials on lavish trips to China: These are among the tactics Beijing is accused of deploying to influence Taiwan’s presidential election to be held on Saturday. – Washington Post

A Missouri lawsuit accusing China of hoarding masks and other protective gear during the COVID-19 pandemic can move forward, federal judges ruled Wednesday. – Associated Press

Using military threats, diplomatic pressure, fake news and financial inducements for politicians, China is being accused of deploying a broad strategy to influence voters in Taiwan’s elections to pick candidates who favor unification. – Associated Press

Washington’s relationship with Beijing will face its biggest test since the leaders of the two countries met in November, as the United States seeks to keep the Taiwan Straits calm after Taiwanese voters select a new president this weekend. – Associated Press

China’s Commerce Minister Wang Wentao expressed concern over U.S. curbs preventing third countries from exporting lithography machines to China during a phone call with U.S. Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo on Thursday, his ministry said. – Reuters

The Chinese coastguard said it patrolled the territorial waters of the Diaoyu Islands on Thursday to conduct “right protection”. – Reuters

Germany’s foreign minister criticised the Chinese coastguard’s activities in the South China Sea, including its use of lasers and water cannon, during a visit on Thursday to the Philippines, saying the actions were causing concern in Europe too. – Reuters

Editorial: A successful election in Taiwan exposes the big lie at the heart of the Communist Party’s shifting claims to legitimacy: that Chinese people don’t really care about supposedly Western-style democracy and prefer allegedly efficient state-centered dictatorship. In that sense, it does not matter which candidate gets the most votes Saturday because Taiwan itself has already won. – Washington Post

South Asia

When Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi tweeted pictures of himself relaxing on the pristine beaches of a tiny Indian archipelago this month, he triggered a spat with a favored destination of Indians seeking an island break: the Maldives. – Wall Street Journal 

The International Monetary Fund’s executive board approved Thursday the release of $700 million of a $3 billion bailout for cash-strapped Pakistan, the finance ministry said. – Associated Press

A grenade explosion in Afghanistan’s capital killed two people and wounded 12 in a Shiite neighborhood of Kabul on Thursday, a police spokesman said. It was the second deadly blast in the Dasht-e-Barchi area in less than a week. – Associated Press

Sheikh Hasina was sworn in as Bangladesh’s prime minister on Thursday for a straight fourth term after her party won an election boycotted by the main opposition which dismissed the vote as a sham. – Reuters

Mihir Sharma writes: Countries unwilling to work with the US or China might well be willing to work with India. India’s well-known reluctance to enter into permanent alliances shouldn’t present an obstacle here. This country has of late touted its ability to talk to anyone — from Russia to the European Union, Iran to Israel. It is time for that pride to be turned to practical use. – Bloomberg


Taiwanese voters will go to the polls on Saturday to pick a new president. Whoever they choose, it will represent a leap into the unknown, with uncertain implications for one of the world’s most closely watched geopolitical flashpoints. – Wall Street Journal

Nearly four decades ago, a group of lawyers, intellectuals and activists assembled in a hotel ballroom in Taipei to found an illegal political party dedicated to ending authoritarian rule in Taiwan. – New York Times

The prime minister of Papua New Guinea on Thursday declared a two-week state of emergency in the capital, Port Moresby, and suspended the Pacific island nation’s chief of police after violent protests left the city shellshocked. – New York Times

The Biden administration will send an unofficial delegation comprised of former senior officials to Taiwan shortly after the self-governed island holds an election for a new president this weekend, a move that could upset Beijing in an already-fragile bilateral relationship. – Associated Press

Beijing’s threats to use force to claim self-governed Taiwan aren’t just about missiles and warships. Hard economic realities will be at play as voters head to the polls Saturday, though the relationship is complicated. – Associated Press

Germany’s top diplomat said Thursday that China’s actions in the South China Sea violate the rights of Asian coastal states like the Philippines and threaten freedom of navigation, but added that territorial disputes have to be resolved peacefully because “the world doesn’t need another crisis.” – Associated Press

An alliance of ethnic minority armies in northern Myanmar has agreed a ceasefire with the ruling military, a leader of one of the groups, the TNLA, said on Friday, adding the talks involved an envoy from neighbouring China. – Reuters

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken will meet senior Chinese official Liu Jianchao in Washington on Friday, the State Department said in his official schedule, the talks coming just a day ahead of elections in Taiwan that will test efforts to ease U.S.-China tensions. – Reuters

A South Korean appeals court has thrown out the conviction of a local company charged with violating trade laws for its work on Taiwan’s new military submarine program, a ruling reviewed by Reuters showed. – Reuters

The leaders of Indonesia and Vietnam highlighted security in the South China Sea and investments in Indonesia by electric vehicle maker VinFast in joint statements after a meeting on Friday as President Joko Widodo visited Hanoi – Reuters

Russian President Vladimir Putin has said that he will definitely one day visit the Southern Kuril Islands which are at the centre of a dispute with Japan that has lasted since World War Two. – Reuters

Myanmar’s junta chief, Min Aung Hlaing, met with a special envoy from the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), state media reported on Thursday, as Laos takes over chairing the bloc, which has encouraged peace efforts in the country. – Reuters

China urged Papua New Guinea to take “swift and effective measures” to protect its citizens after businesses owned by Chinese expatriates were looted in deadly riots across the Pacific nation in recent days. – Bloomberg

Taiwan faces a deluge of cyberattacks days before a critical presidential election with experts blaming China for an unprecedented and increasingly sophisticated level of interference. – Politico

Syaru Shirley Lin writes: These are being exacerbated by rampant social media disinformation believed to originate from China and intended to undermine public confidence in our democratic institutions. Taiwan is fracturing at a time when unity is most needed. This Saturday, and going forward, whether or not Taiwan’s people can come together and face these issues effectively may decide whether its admirable achievements persist, or fade away. – New York Times

Paul Huang writes: Whatever the election result on Jan. 13, the next Taiwanese president and legislature will face more or less the same challenges that President Tsai and the DPP government have experienced over the past eight years: improving Taiwan’s economy and especially young peoples’ wages; reforming Taiwan’s heavily mismanaged military and bolstering its defenses facing the vastly superior Chinese PLA; and perhaps most important of all to the whole Asia Pacific region, finding peace with Beijing while not sacrificing the Taiwanese public’s desire for its own sovereignty and identity—as difficult as that is to accomplish. – Foreign Policy

Hilton Yip writes: China has tried to influence Taiwan’s elections in other ways, such as by announcing economic incentives or, conversely, issuing restrictions, as well as funding trips for local Taiwanese officials and their constituents. As with disinformation, it is not clear how effective or influential these attempts are, especially as the Taiwanese public is used to those. As dangerous as disinformation can be, Taiwan’s government needs to start offering concrete proof to back up its claims—and certainly can’t use it as an excuse for electoral failure. – Foreign Policy

Brett Schaefer writes: Taiwan has sought with limited success in the past to participate in international organizations. China has consistently sought to block or erode Taiwan’s participation in such organizations. Congress is right to demand that the U.S. Administration develop and implement a strategy to facilitate Taiwan’s meaningful participation in international organizations. While the most effective approach to achieve this objective will differ according to the membership, rules and procedures, and political dynamics of individual organizations, the U.S. is now rightly committed to developing strategies to prevent the PRC from further isolating Taiwan to deprive it of its legitimate participation in international organizations. – Heritage Foundation

Michael Rubin writes: Western countries may want to gamble on Aliyev to counter Iran or ensure energy, but, as with Iraqi Kurdistan before, internal discord undermines the foundation of stability. The questions today are whether American strategists will make the same mistake twice, and whether Washington can afford another bad bet. – Washington Examiner

Kenton Thibaut writes: None of these efforts have stopped China from trying to influence Taiwan’s upcoming election, nor will they stop Beijing in the future. Unless it gives up on trying to take control of the island, the CCP will always work to distort Taiwanese politics. But the island has devoted considerable time and resources into bolstering its resilience, developing a response as adaptive as Beijing’s efforts. Yes, China is coming for Taiwan’s election—but Taiwan is ready for it. – Foreign Affairs


U.S. political support for deep-sea mining has taken on a new urgency as Norway this week became the first country to legalize extraction of minerals from the ocean bottom despite strong opposition from western allies. – Wall Street Journal 

Turkey, Bulgaria and Romania on Thursday signed an agreement to jointly tackle rogue sea mines that have threatened Black Sea shipping since the start of the Ukraine war. – Associated Press

Russia’s foreign ministry summoned the Moldovan ambassador on Wednesday and issued a protest against “unfriendly acts” in the latest of a series of jabs exchanged between the Kremlin and the ex-Soviet state’s pro-European authorities. – Reuters

The United States is “disappointed” by Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban’s Ukraine policy and looks forward to Budapest fulfilling its promise not to be the last to ratify Sweden’s NATO accession, a senior U.S. State Department official said on January 11. – Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty


Burundi’s internal affairs minister on Thursday announced the country was suspending diplomatic ties with Rwanda, closing their border and deporting Rwandan citizens, claiming it was a response to its neighbor’s alleged support for a rebel group that has been attacking Burundi. – Associated Press

Fighters with al-Qaida’s East Africa affiliate al-Shabab attacked a United Nations helicopter that made an emergency landing Wednesday in territory controlled by the extremists in Somalia, killing one passenger and abducting five others, officials said. – Associated Press

China’s foreign minister Wang Yi will travel to Africa and visit Egypt, Tunisia, Togo and Cote d’Ivoire from Jan. 13-18, China’s foreign ministry said on Thursday. – Reuters

Michael Rubin writes: South Africa may relish the plaudits it receives from countries like Cuba, Iran, and Turkey, and the affirmation of progressives, Greens, and other leftists may motivate Norwegian politicians who do not have the introspection to consider the antisemitism that permeates their own society. In reality, however, what is at stake in today’s court proceedings is the credibility of the UN. Should the International Court of Justice rule against Israel, it will delegitimize itself just like Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International shredded their own credibility with the apartheid calumny. Secretary of State Antony Blinken is correct to call out the proceeding’s moral inversion, but it is time to go further: It is time to designate and sanction countries like South Africa, Turkey, and Norway for their terror support. In Pretoria, Ankara, and Oslo, money talks more than empty demarches. – Middle East Forum

The Americas

China and Canada want to maintain contacts to bolster what Beijing called the “current difficult situation” in bilateral relations, the two governments said after talks between their foreign ministers. – Reuters

The United States strongly condemns recent attacks by armed groups in Ecuador and pledged to increase cooperation with the government, the White House said on Wednesday as violence escalated in the South American country. – Reuters

The US will send top military, State Department and law enforcement officials to Ecuador to offer assistance as that country battles a terror campaign launched by powerful narco gangs. – Bloomberg


What happened in Denmark can also happen to you, cybersecurity researchers are warning in a new report that examines attacks against the country’s energy sector last year. – The Record

A hacking campaign against Danish critical infrastructure last year believed to be conducted by Sandworm may not actually be the work of the infamous Russian hacking group, according to a new report from industrial cybersecurity firm Forescout. – CyberScoop

The Pentagon’s new National Defense Industrial Strategy (NDIS) incorporates a number of actions that will drive the department to apply artificial intelligence and advanced analytics to monitor its vast supply chain of industrial assets — and strengthen internal and external cybersecurity pursuits to protect it. – CyberScoop


The U.S. Navy’s first Constellation-class guided-missile frigate will arrive late amid workforce shortages, a program official said Thursday. Fincantieri’s Marinette Marine shipyard in Wisconsin won a contract in April 2020 to build the first 10 ships. Construction on the first frigate began in September 2022, and four ships are now on contract. – Defense News

Overhauling aging U.S. Army software that coordinates firepower on the battlefield can be achieved with off-the-shelf products and the system need not be built from ground up, according to Program Executive Office for Command, Control and Communications-Tactical boss Mark Kitz. – Defense News

America’s defense industry needs “generational” change to keep pace with competitors like Russia and China. – Defense News

With a central focus on the growing threat from China’s emergence as a “global industrial powerhouse,” the Defense Department’s “first of its kind” National Defense Industrial Strategy (NDIS) is focused on increasing the ability of domestic companies to more rapidly produce weapon systems in greater quantities to ensure the US military’s edge in any future conflict. – Breaking Defense

The Navy and industry need to be more intellectually honest when discussing laser weapon systems, according to an admiral overseeing the technology’s development. And speaking plainly and honestly about developing that tech, “It’s hard,” he added. – Breaking Defense