Fdd's overnight brief

January 16, 2024

FDD Research & Analysis

In The News


The Israeli military is close to completing its most intensive phase of fighting against Hamas in the Gaza Strip, Israel’s defense minister said Monday, warning that the lack of a plan for postwar Gaza could hurt the military campaign. – Wall Street Journal

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu pledged to continue the war in Gaza despite mounting international pressure to wrap up the conflict, now stretching into its 100th day, and persistent demands at home for him to give priority to the return of hostages still held by Hamas. – Wall Street Journal

Israel denounced South Africa’s claim that it is committing genocide against Palestinians, telling the International Court of Justice on Friday that it was outrageous to liken the Jewish state’s military response to Hamas attacks launched from Gaza to Nazi Germany’s systematic extermination of six million Jews during the Holocaust. – Wall Street Journal

In her first interview with international media, Agam described the terror and confusion she endured over nearly two months as a hostage inside Gaza, held with her mother, Chen, and two brothers, Tal and Gal. Speaking from Shfayim, a kibbutz in central Israel that has transformed into a way station for hundreds of her displaced neighbors, she recounted the extreme exhaustion, the oppressive stench of the tunnels, the relentless psychological torture. She turned the conversation again and again to the more than 130 hostages still believed to be held captive in Gaza. The Red Cross has not been allowed to visit them. The youngest, Kfir Bibas, turns 1 this week. – Washington Post

Two Palestinian men stole cars and ran over Israelis in a suburb of Tel Aviv on Monday, the Israeli police said. One person was killed and 17 others injured, according to emergency officials. – New York Times

Hamas said on Monday that two of the hostages captured on Oct. 7 had been killed in Israeli airstrikes and released images that appeared to show their bodies, but the Israeli military cast doubt on the claim. – New York Times

Hamas appeared to show the dead bodies of two Israeli hostages on Monday after warning Israel they might be killed if it did not stop its bombardment of Gaza. – Reuters

Israel accused Hamas on Saturday of planning to attack its embassy in Sweden as part of an expansion by the Palestinian Islamist militant group into Europe, where authorities announced the arrests of several suspects last month. – Reuters

Thousands of Israelis rallied in Tel Aviv late Saturday calling for the release of hostages being held in Gaza by Hamas militants, on the eve of the 100th day of their captivity. – Agence France-Presse

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Saturday that no one would stop Israel from achieving victory in its war against Hamas militants in the Gaza Strip. – Agence France-Presse

Editorial: The team highlighted the forced ignorance of the opposing council towards Hamas’s acts of terrorism and presented it with a mirror: It is not Israel committing genocidal acts, it is Hamas. On October 7, Hamas attacked Jewish babies because they were Jewish, and it repeated its intent to do so over and over. It is no easy feat, presenting Israel so reputably and with such cool, calm grace. To Israel’s defenders, on the battlefield and in the courtroom alike, we salute you. – Jerusalem Post

Zachary Faria writes: A self-respecting president would fire everyone who participates in this walkout, especially given the excuse they are using to protest their own boss. If Biden can’t do so, he undermines both his own administration’s message and the idea that he is a capable leader in any capacity. – Washington Examiner

Eric R. Mandel writes: Palestinian people deserve a better life and leadership. But it will take a generation for them to build the foundations of the rule of law and freedom to speak out without being tortured as collaborators for wanting to live in peace next to a Jewish neighbor. Any premature move toward a two-state solution before this culture of incitement is eliminated will only meet a dead end. – The Hill

Maya Carlin writes: Since the Israeli-Hamas war commenced on October 7, the IAF has frequently used the F-35I to achieve its mission sets in Gaza. In November, Israel acknowledged that these jets were used to intercept and down a cruise missile. This also marked the first time an F-35 had been used to bring down a target of this kind. As the war progresses, Israel’s Mighty One – the F-35I Adir – will undoubtedly continue to dominate the skies. – The National Interest


American military personnel recovered Iranian-made missile warheads and related components during a ship-boarding mission near Somalia last week that disrupted the weapons’ suspected transit to militants in Yemen but left two elite Navy SEALs lost at sea, U.S. officials said Monday. – Washington Post

The Iranian regime sentenced Narges Mohammadi, the jailed human rights activist who received the 2023 Nobel Peace Prize, to 15 more months in prison, her family said on Monday. – New York Times

For all the fears of an outbreak of fighting in the Middle East that could draw the United States, Israel and Iran into direct combat, a curious feature of the conflict so far is the care taken — in both Tehran and Washington — to avoid putting their forces into direct contact. – New York Times

A Swedish man in his twenties was arrested in Iran earlier this month and is being held in custody, the Swedish foreign ministry said on Monday. – Reuters

The Marshall Islands-flagged tanker seized by Iran in the Gulf of Oman on Thursday has been located east of Iran’s Qeshm Island, monitoring service TankerTrackers.com said in a post on social media platform X. – Reuters

Iran’s President Ebrahim Raisi condemned the U.S. air strikes on Yemen, saying the attacks revealed what he called the true aggressive nature of the United States, Iran’s IRNA news agency reported on Sunday. – Reuters

The United States cannot call for restraint while supporting Israel’s war in Gaza, Iran’s foreign minister said on Monday, while calling for a diplomatic solution to the war in the enclave. – Reuters

An improvised explosive device went off near the southeastern Iranian city of Iranshahr on Tuesday morning, causing no casualties or damages, the semi-official Tasnim news agency reported. – Reuters

Iranian authorities on Sunday freed two journalists who spent more than a year behind bars for covering the death of Mahsa Amini, an incident that sparked monthslong nationwide and worldwide protests, local media said. – Agence France-Presse

The crew of a tanker seized by Iran’s navy this week in a row with the United States are safe, the vessel’s Greek owners said on Sunday. – Agence France-Presse

The United States does not seek conflict with Iran despite carrying out strikes on Yemen’s Tehran-backed Huthi rebels to stop their attacks on Red Sea shipping, the White House said Friday. – Agence France-Presse

Top Iran experts in the U.S. and in Israel are warning President Biden that his administration’s strategy of de-escalation and containment targeting the world’s worst state-sponsor of terrorism – the Islamic Republic of Iran – has failed and America needs to reestablish deterrence against Tehran as fears of the regime obtaining a nuclear device grow. – Fox News

Marc Champion writes: Jones expects the Houthis to fire into the shipping lanes again, and for the US to go on hitting launchers and missile depots in response, with the goal of imposing enough cost on the Houthi’s missile capabilities that it might eventually erode their will to continue. That, at the same time, should signal to Iran and Hezbollah that when the US sets red lines against the Gaza war’s expansion, they will be enforced. I expect the same, for better and worse. So too, no doubt, do the Iranians and the Houthis. – Bloomberg

John Bolton writes: This is a hard truth for many to swallow because it inevitably requires regime change in Iran. Yet, inarguably, that is what Iran’s people want. Not since the 1979 Islamic Revolution itself has the regime been so weak and threatened. Success for Iran in the current conflict, after facing down Israel, America and the West generally, will only strengthen the ayatollahs’ rule. That’s why Winston Churchill’s World War II admonition to Britain applies today to Israel: “without victory, there is no survival.” – The Hill

Erfan Fard writes: Soleimani’s record and legacy in contemporary Iranian history is clearly negative, despite a robust propaganda campaign by Iran’s regime to turn him into an anti-terrorist national hero. During nationwide uprisings against Iran’s theocratic regime, young protesters repeatedly set fire to Soleimani statues, such that the regime had to post guards on the statues day and night in every city. His legacy remains a contentious topic, with ongoing regional repercussions that demand a closer look.  Reflecting on the last four years, it is clear that the Middle East’s future hinges on the ability of all stakeholders to address these challenges and pursue a path toward lasting peace. – The Hill

Salem Alketbi writes: Such a decision would be an adventure with a fateful outcome, considering how much Iran has invested in building and deploying these terrorist operatives for decades. This confrontation could be the last one to finally eradicate these terror puppets. This outcome would have a huge impact on Iran’s influence and regional and international standing, due in large part to the practices of its proxies and their ability to spread chaos and unrest in the region. – Jerusalem Post

Michael Freund writes: As Winston Churchill once warned, “Never, never, never believe any war will be smooth and easy or that one who embarks on that strange voyage can measure the tides and hurricanes he will encounter.” But if one thing is clear, Iran has already set in motion a series of lethal and gathering storms. Israel and America must act now before those squalls turn into a tsunami of catastrophic proportions. – Jerusalem Post

Russia & Ukraine

Ukrainian forces are struggling to hold back Russian troops on the ground, but they are proving adept at hitting high-value Russian targets, with the downing of a surveillance plane adding to string of recent blows to Moscow’s air force. – Wall Street Journal

When Russian troops launched the first-ever armed assault on a nuclear facility, Andriy Tuz became the voice to the West of what seemed a looming disaster. – Wall Street Journal

As Ukraine girds for the third year of full-scale war against Russia’s invasion, its leaders find themselves battling on a new front: keeping allies’ attention. – Wall Street Journal

The U.K. government pledged nearly $3 billion in fresh military support for Ukraine on Friday, the latest example of Europe bolstering aid for the war-torn country as additional U.S. funding hangs in the balance amid deadlock in Congress. – Wall Street Journal

Over the first eight days of December, civilian Russian airplanes experienced at least eight serious mechanical failures, terrifying many passengers as pilots were forced to make emergency landings in cities across the country. – Washington Post

After ordering his troops to invade Ukraine in February 2022, Russian President Vladimir Putin made a solemn promise that young men performing compulsory military duty would not be sent to fight. But the experiences of two young men from opposite ends of western Russia reveal a military ravenous for men to plow into the war, which Putin now describes as an existential fight against the West. The two faced heavy pressure to sign contracts that would have allowed commanders to deploy them to Ukraine indefinitely. Neither did so. – Washington Post

Switzerland on Monday agreed to host a global peace summit on Ukraine at the request of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy. – Reuters

Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba, in an interview made public on Monday, said there had been times when he had felt the urge to “punch in the face” his Russian opposite number Sergei Lavrov in talks during the early stage of Moscow’s invasion. – Reuters

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy and British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak on Friday signed a security accord between the two countries in Kyiv. – Reuters

His demeanour is dispassionate and his message is clear: Ukraine’s ground forces are focused first and foremost on defence along the eastern stretch of the 1,000-km (600-mile) front under his command. – Reuters

The mayor of the southern Russian city of Voronezh declared a state of emergency on Tuesday after what officials said was a Ukraine-launched drone attack that damaged several buildings and wounded a child. – Reuters

The Ukrainian air force shot down a Russian early warning and control plane that can spot targets up to 650 kilometers (400 miles) away and a key command center aircraft that relays information to troops on the ground in a significant blow for the Kremlin’s forces, Ukraine’s military chief said Monday. – Associated Press

France’s new foreign minister arrived in the Ukrainian capital of Kyiv on Saturday to meet with his counterpart in a sign of support for Ukraine as Russia’s full-scale invasion nears its second anniversary. – Associated Press

A disgraced former Russian mayor convicted over bribery had his prison sentence cut short after signing a contract to fight with Russia’s military in Ukraine, local media reported Sunday. – Associated Press

Poet Lev Rubinstein, a key figure of the Soviet underground literary scene who later protested against Russian President Vladimir Putin, has died days after being hit by a car, his daughter said Sunday. – Agence France-Presse

Nataliya Gumenyuk writes: Last year, Russia started attacking more often in January and February, when the temperature went down. It used drones to target the power grid, weaponizing the cold against civilians. People had to use generators, and power cuts were frequent. This year, the power grid is less vulnerable, and people have needed generators less. Last week started with an air-raid siren. Mr. Putin is making his plans brutally clear. But Ukrainians are still capable of turning their anger into action. – New York Times

Andreas Kluth writes: Zelenskiy and Sullivan understand that this support is what Biden must deliver, even as he tries to manage another war in the Middle East, tensions in East Asia, and the domestic wrecking ball called Trump. On Ukraine, at least, there can be no optimism in Davos this year, only redoubts of bravery. – Bloomberg

Stephen Blank writes: Clearly, the Biden administration has very good alternatives available to address Ukraine’s most critical needs in air power quickly, making use of inactive U.S. Air Force aircraft. Doing so would deny Russia one of its last asymmetric strategic advantages in this war, providing a strong incentive for Moscow to end it quickly. However, Congress and the administration must also step up to their responsibilities and help Ukraine formulate and execute a winning strategy; for in this war, there is truly no substitute for victory. – The Hill

Mark Temnycky writes: To date, the Ukrainians have done well. They forced the Russians out of central and northern Ukraine, they forced the Russian fleet to abandon the Black Sea, and they are slowly liberating territory in the east and south. It costs America a fraction of its defense budget to aid Ukraine, and assistance to Ukraine is closely watched. Finally, and perhaps most importantly, this is occurring without the loss of a single American life. Given this context, congressional leaders would do well to double down on a winning bet and start the new year by passing a new bill to aid Ukraine. – The Hill


The Iran-backed Lebanese group Hezbollah said on Sunday U.S. actions in the Red Sea would harm the security of all shipping as the area had now become a conflict zone, saying the Houthis of Yemen would keep up attacks despite U.S. and British strikes. – Reuters

The head of Lebanon’s Iran-backed Hezbollah movement said on Sunday that Israel had failed to achieve its objectives in Gaza and this will force it to negotiate. – Agence France-Presse

In the shadow of continued fighting in the North of Israel, and more than a week after his last public statement, Hassan Nasrallah claimed on Sunday, “After 100 days, Israel has not been able to achieve its declared and undeclared goals in its war against Hamas. – Jerusalem Post

The funerals of two Lebanese medics, who were killed in IDF strikes, were held on Friday in southern Lebanon. The images that came from the funerals may strengthen the claim that the slain “medics” are members of Hezbollah. – Ynet

The sight on Israel’s northern border is unbelievable. An entire region, stretching for 135 kilometers is desolate. However, in reality, this land is far from abandoned, with thousands of soldiers spread in its hinterland and concealed positions. Leading the hunt for Hezbollah terrorists on the other side is the elite reconnaissance reserve unit Maglan, as the regular operatives have been deeply embedded in the Khan Younis area in recent weeks. – Ynet

Editorial: More likely, the day will come sooner rather than later, when, to prevent an October 7-type invasion, bring security back to the North, and allow its residents to return home, Israel will have to unleash its full firepower against Hezbollah. We can’t abandon a huge swath of the country and leave people like Mira and Barak Ayalon in the crosshairs of Hezbollah. Civilian casualties are not acceptable and must be addressed. If it sounds like war, that’s because it is. – Jerusalem Post

Neville Teller writes: For its part, the UN has failed to insist that its UNIFIL forces actually enforce adherence to its Resolution 1701. As a result, Iran, through its Hezbollah pawn, has been empowered to disrupt regional stability, just as it has done by fortifying Hamas in Gaza, and using the Houthis in Yemen to attack shipping in the Red Sea and deploy missiles directly into Saudi Arabia. The perpetual Hezbollah-Israel skirmishes across the Lebanon border serve no one’s purposes except those of the Iranian regime. In the end, it will be necessary to tackle the organ-grinder rather than his monkey. – Jerusalem Post

Naveh Drome writes: It is certainly a difficult task and not one to be taken lightly, but it is clear that all other options have been tried and have failed. Entering into war is not an enjoyable or enviable task, but throughout history, wars have led to enduring peaceful solutions. It is not a matter of if Israel has to go to war with Hezbollah, but when. Eventually, it will have to forcefully defeat the Shi’ite Islamist army – the question is whether it will do so after a massive invasion and attack on Israel, with unprecedented bloodshed, or before. – Jerusalem Post


The World Health Organization (WHO) on Monday appealed for $1.5 billion in funding to respond to the health needs of millions of people caught up in dozens of humanitarian crises around the globe, from Ukraine and Gaza to Afghanistan. – Reuters

A suicide bomber targeted the provincial governor’s office in western Afghanistan on Sunday and wounded three security guards, said a Taliban official. – Associated Press

A senior Pakistani politician met the Taliban supreme leader in Afghanistan, the politician’s office said Saturday. It’s the second publicly known meeting between a foreign official and the reclusive Hibatullah Akhundzada, who rarely appears in public and seldom leaves the southern Afghan province of Kandahar. – Associated Press

Pakistan effectively closed a key northwestern border crossing with Afghanistan to truck drivers on Saturday, Afghanistan’s ruling Taliban said. – Associated Press

The chaos now engulfing the Middle East and the devastating October 7 attack by Hamas on southern Israel can be traced back to the chaotic American withdrawal from Afghanistan in summer 2021, a leader in the anti-Taliban resistance tells The New York Sun. – New York Sun

Officials in Pakistan have cautioned that relentless cross-border militancy is testing bilateral relations with Afghanistan’s Taliban and could eventually push Islamabad to scale back support for the de facto Kabul rulers. – VOA

Stephanie Sinclair writes: In Shahrak-e-Sabz, a settlement of makeshift mud-brick homes and tents for the displaced in Herat province that we visited last month, our researchers counted 118 girls who had been sold as child brides, and 116 families with girls waiting for buyers. This amounts to 40 percent of families surveyed, even though the Taliban decreed in late 2021 that women should not be considered “property” and must consent to marriage. Conditions in the settlement are hellish. Shahrak-e-Sabz is set in a vast desert with no shade trees in sight; scant protection from sandstorms and harsh weather; no running water, electricity, heat or work; and only a trickle of aid from the outside world. Most families living here left behind decent lives to escape climate change and conflict. They subsist on stale bread and black tea; many are close to starving. – Washington Post


Turkey’s National Intelligence Agency destroyed 23 targets belonging to the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) and the Syrian Kurdish YPG militia in Syria, state-run Anadolu Agency said on Sunday. – Reuters

Turkish shelling and airstrikes have targeted dozens of infrastructure facilities in northeast Syria over the past days, wounding at least 10 people and cutting out electricity and water supplies in wide areas held by the U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces in the war-torn country, Kurdish-led authorities in northeast Syria said Monday. – Associated Press

Syria’s government is giving the United Nations permission for another six months to use a major border crossing with Turkey to bring aid into the country’s rebel-held northwest. – Associated Press

Turkish jets pounded targets in northern Iraq and Syria following a deadly attack Friday against Turkey’s troops, while police rounded up over 100 people deemed to be “terror suspects.” – Bloomberg

After years of war, drought and economic crisis, Omar Abdel-Fattah was forced to rent out his farmland in northeast Syria, preferring a more stable job to provide for his family. – Agence France-Presse


The Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps said it used ballistic missiles to destroy an Israeli spy site in Iraq’s semiautonomous Kurdistan region, according to state media, amid escalating tensions in the Middle East. – Washington Post

Islamic State militants killed three Iraqi soldiers and wounded one during an attack on Sunday evening on a military post in western Iraq, military sources said. – Reuters

The OPEC+ group of oil producers is working to limit the challenges affecting the stability of the global oil market, Iraq’s oil minister Hayan Abdel-Ghani said on Saturday. – Reuters

Bulgaria is replacing Russian oil imports with crude from Kazakhstan, Iraq and Tunisia in January, according to traders and LSEG data. – Reuters

Five Turkish soldiers were killed and eight others were injured in an attack on a Turkish military base in northern Iraq, Turkiye’s defense ministry said Friday. – Agence France-Presse

The Iraqi foreign ministry said it called in Iran’s envoy in Baghdad on Tuesday to protest after its ally’s Revolutionary Guards carried out deadly missile strikes on its soil. – Agence France-Presse

Iraq condemned as an “attack on its sovereignty” Tuesday missile strikes by neighbouring Iran targeting anti-Tehran groups and an alleged Israeli “spy headquarters” in its autonomous Kurdish region. – Agence France-Presse


An Israeli soccer player for a Turkish club was briefly detained by the Turkish authorities and suspended by the club after he displayed a message of support for Israel during a game on Sunday. – New York Times

Turkish police have detained 18 people for “praising terrorism” after the killing of soldiers last week, while a high-level outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) member was “neutralised” in northern Iraq, authorities said on Monday. – Reuters

Moody’s on Friday revised Turkey’s outlook to positive from stable, citing the decisive change to the country’s monetary policy. – Reuters

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan on Friday slammed the U.S. and British strikes on Houthi targets in Yemen as a disproportionate use of force and accused the two countries of trying to turn the Red Sea into a “sea of blood”. – Reuters

The son of Somalia’s president testified at an Istanbul court on Friday about the death of a motorcycle courier in the city, Turkish media reported. – Associated Press

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan asked his country’s officials to skip the World Economic Forum in Davos this week over its organizers’ stance on Israel’s war against Hamas, according to people familiar with the matter. – Bloomberg

Turkey on Monday started charging foreign tourists a hefty fee to visit Istanbul’s famed sixth-century monument Hagia Sophia, which was controversially converted into a mosque in 2020. – Agence France-Presse

Greece must prepare its armed forces for possible “instability” after the end of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s latest term, the defence minister said on Sunday. – Agence France-Presse

Eden Kartsev was detained on Monday night by Istanbul police after being reported for a social media post in which he showed solidarity with the hostages in Gaza. – Jerusalem Post

Michael Rubin writes: To reward Turkey for actions that responsible governments do without enticement because they are the right thing to do only encourages blackmail. The best strategy moving forward would be not to offer new incentive packages that Erdogan will pocket as he asks for more but rather to understand Erdogan is the problem, not the solution. He deserves sticks, not carrots, but, barring State Department or NATO fortitude, he should be ignored like the pariah he is. Sweden has waited nearly 75 years to join NATO. NATO’s future security dictates it wait a little longer until the United States, Europe, and NATO can better formulate a policy to isolate and expunge Turkey. – Washington Examiner

Noa Lazimi writes: If Turkey continues to back Hamas, the US should amend the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act to facilitate the filing of lawsuits by victims of terrorism. This has been proposed in relation to Qatar and can be applied to any other state that provides material or other forms of assistance to terrorist organizations, Turkey included. These measures would send a clear message to Turkey that it must cease backing Hamas or suffer the consequences. – Jerusalem Post


The Israeli military said on Tuesday that its special forces had carried out a strike in the area of Ayta ash Shab in Lebanon. – Reuters

A guided missile launched from Lebanon killed a 76-year-old woman and her son in a village in northern Israel on Sunday, medical officials said, hours after the Israeli military said it killed four heavily armed militants trying to enter from Lebanon. – Reuters

Israeli soldiers exchanged fire with militants attempting to cross from Lebanon into Israel and killed four of them, the Israeli military said on Sunday. – Reuters

IDF Chief of Staff Herzi Halevi on Saturday evening said that Israel is operating freely in Lebanese airspace. – Arutz Sheva


Since it pulled out of the Gaza Strip nearly two decades ago, Israel has controlled all of the Palestinian enclave’s borders except one. Now it is pushing to retake control of the southern frontier with Egypt. – Wall Street Journal

Egypt thwarted a drug smuggling attempt after an exchange of gunfire close to a crossing on the border with Israel, where aid deliveries for Gaza are being inspected, its army spokesperson said on Tuesday. – Reuters

Egypt and China are closely following developments in the Red Sea, focusing on the priority of ensuring the safety and security of navigation, the two countries said in a joint statement on Sunday. – Reuters

As they endure missiles, displacement, disease and starvation, some Gazans are raising money online to pay bribes to Egyptian officials at the Rafah border to get family members out to safety. – Bloomberg

Egypt is still in full control of its borders, an Egyptian Foreign Ministry spokesperson said late on Saturday, following remarks made by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Israel’s need to have security control of the Gaza border with Egypt to prevent smuggling of weapons into the Strip by Hamas.  “These are matters of agreements between the states involved,” the spokesperson said, “so any statement would be reviewed and responded to accordingly.” – Ynet

The US Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA) announced the approval of two Egyptian requests on 10 January: one covering chassis and engines for light tactical vehicles and the other for additional 28 m coastal patrol craft. – Janes

Arabian Peninsula

Houthi militants hit a US-owned commercial vessel with an anti-ship ballistic missile on Monday, underscoring warnings that the world’s most important trade artery remains too risky for navigation. – Bloomberg

As the US and UK launch airstrikes to stop Iran-backed Houthi rebels from attacking ships in the Red Sea, China again finds itself happily sitting on the sidelines. – Bloomberg

Oman condemned American and British strikes on targets in rebel-held Yemen on Friday, warning of the risk of escalating conflict in the region. – Agence France-Presse

The Hungarian government this week published details of a controversial multi-billion-euro draft agreement with the United Arab Emirates to develop an area around a disused railway station in Budapest. – Agence France-Presse

Israel negotiated a deal with Qatar to get medicines through to hostages still being held in the Gaza Strip, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office said on Friday. – Agence France-Presse

Jonathan Sweet and Mark Toth write: One of those “legitimate targets” mentioned by the Council could be the U.S. base in Djibouti, Camp Lemonnier, home of the Combined Joint Task Force – Horn of Africa. The base is home to more than 4,000 American and allied service members and Department of Defense contractors, and is well within the range of Houthi drones and missiles. The president needs to send a stronger message to the Iranians and their Houthi proxies — or the conflict will escalate. – The Hill


Fresh attacks targeted American ships in the Middle East, days after the U.S. led a round of strikes meant to blunt the capability of Iran-backed Houthi rebels to hit ships transiting the Red Sea. – Wall Street Journal

In disrupting international shipping and drawing U.S. military strikes, Yemen’s Houthi forces are trying to complete a two-decade-long transformation from a ragtag tribal insurgency into their country’s legitimate rulers. – Wall Street Journal

Tens of thousands of Yemenis gathered in several cities on Friday to hear their leaders condemn U.S. and British strikes on their country in response to attacks by Houthi militants on Red Sea shipping. – Reuters

US President Joe Biden said he believes Yemen-based Houthi rebels that have attacked Red Sea shipping are a terrorist organization, though he didn’t think officially designating the group as such would make a difference. – Bloomberg

US President Joe Biden said Friday he did not believe American and British airstrikes on Yemen’s Huthi rebels had caused any civilian casualties. – Agence France-Presse

Editorial: Any use of force carries the risk of escalation, but the Houthis and Iran started this exchange, and the failure of Mr. Biden to respond for weeks has produced its own escalation. Tehran is testing America’s will, and on Thursday they were met with strength. Americans, and anyone who wants a more tranquil world, should hope this is the beginning of new resolve by the Biden Administration. – Wall Street Journal

Editorial: We have no illusion that these airstrikes mark an end to the conflict, and the Houthis have already vowed retaliation. But the United States, with wide support, open or tacit from other countries, has sent a strong message. Let’s see how it’s received, by the Houthis and their patrons in Tehran. – Washington Post

Bilal Y. Saab writes: The Houthis are a problem that the world has ignored for too long, allowing it to metastasize. But it is not unmanageable. Finding a solution will require political will, international cooperation and, perhaps above all, humility in understanding the limits of U.S. power in an ever-changing Middle East. – New York Times

Saudi Arabia

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

Yemen’s Houthi rebels carried out a military drill Saturday in the province of Saada near Saudi Arabia after strikes by the US and allied forces, the rebel-run Al-Masirah TV reported. – Bloomberg

India wants to boost its oil purchases from Saudi Arabia in a move that might hurt the wartime economy of Russia, which has been selling discounted energy products to New Delhi. – Newsweek

Overnight strikes in Yemen have set off alarm bells in Saudi Arabia, which craves de-escalation in its war-torn neighbor so it can focus on domestic reforms, analysts said. – Times of Israel

Gulf States

QatarEnergy, the world’s second largest exporter of liquefied natural gas, has stopped sending tankers via the Red Sea although production continues, a senior source with direct knowledge of the matter told Reuters on Monday. – Reuters

Four tankers used for shipments of Qatari liquefied natural gas (LNG) have resumed course after pausing for several days amid maritime attacks by Yemen’s Iran-aligned Houthis in the Red Sea, LSEG shiptracking data showed on Tuesday. – Reuters

A Danish appeals court Friday upheld the sentences of three members of an Iranian separatist group convicted of promoting terror in Iran and gathering information for an unnamed Saudi intelligence service. – Associated Press


Protesters who have threatened to shut down two oil and gas facilities near the Libyan capital Tripoli have extended the deadline by 24 hours for talks with mediators, a spokesman for the group said on Friday. – Reuters

Despite injury, a patriarchal society uninterested in women’s sport and disruption from Libya’s chronic insecurity, Sayeh has set her sights on this summer’s Olympic Games in Paris. – Agence France-Presse

The Head of the Presidential Council, Mohamed Menfi, called on Libya’s ambassadors and representatives to foreign organizations not to comply with orders from any party within the country except after obtaining prior permission from the Presidency Council. – Libya Observer

Middle East & North Africa

After 100 days, Israel’s war with Hamas is turning into a protracted conflict with no clear end, threatening to spread across the Middle East, disrupt global trade and bog down the U.S. – Wall Street Journal

Iranian sniper rifles. AK-47 assault rifles from China and Russia. North Korean- and Bulgarian-built rocket-propelled grenades. Anti-tank rockets secretly cobbled together in Gaza. An Associated Press analysis of more than 150 videos and photos taken in the three months of combat since Hamas launched its Oct. 7 surprise attack on Israel shows the militant group has amassed a diverse patchwork arsenal of weapons from around the world – much of it smuggled past a 17-year blockade that was aimed at stopping just such a military buildup. – Associated Press

The Palestinian ambassador to the U.N. called on the members of the Non-Aligned Movement in Kampala, Uganda, to put pressure on Israel to implement a cease-fire in Gaza after 100 days of war with militant Palestinian group Hamas. – Associated Press

Two individuals were arrested during a large anti-Israel protest in Washington, D.C. over the weekend, the Sun has confirmed. – New York Sun

Hundreds of Tunisians demonstrated on Sunday to mark the anniversary of the country’s 2011 revolution that sparked the Arab Spring uprisings, and to demand the release of jailed opposition leaders. – Agence France-Presse

Jordan said Friday Israel’s fight against Hamas in Gaza was responsible for soaring tensions, after US and British forces struck Yemen’s Iran-backed Huthi rebels, adding to fears of regional war. – Agence France-Presse

Nitsana Darshan-Leitner writes: For 30 years, the PA has failed its benefactors and partners in peace and, most tragically, betrayed the Palestinian people. Fantasizing that the PA will be Israel’s sheriff and can solve the gargantuan problems of post-Oct. 7 Gaza is a mistake of epic proportions that will only guarantee continued bloodshed and misery for all sides. Hope is not a strategy. – The Hill

Gabriel Diamond writes: If Jordan is going to improve cooperation with Israel, the focus must be directed toward Iran. The Biden administration should be reminded that until it deals with Iran, efforts to eliminate their proxy forces will be met with limited success. Iran could lose its proxy in Gaza, only to be rewarded with a new one in Jordan. Without American support to weaken Iranian influence, the Shia crescent threatens to pull down a key American ally in the Arab world, which would be devastating to the entire region. – The Hill

Dovi Honig writes: As of Today, two elderly American citizens lost their lives in Hamas captivity and it’s 100 days that no aid or medical assistance was sent to the remaining American hostages. We cannot turn a blind eye to our brethren American Citizens, these innocent men, women, and children. It is imperative that we raise our voices, demand action from our government, and hold humanitarian organizations accountable for their inaction. The time to act is now, and we must stand together in solidarity to bring these American hostages home. Let us unite and speak up together. – Jerusalem Post

Korean Peninsula

North Korea launched an intermediate-range ballistic missile off its east coast on Sunday, an indication, analysts said, that it has started testing a new and harder-to-intercept weapon capable of reaching American military bases in the Western Pacific, including those on Guam. – New York Times

North Korea stopped operating a radio station used to send coded messages to its agents in South Korea, the Yonhap news agency said on Saturday, the latest sign the isolated country is shaking up the way it handles relations with Seoul. – Reuters

South Korea’s financial regulator on Sunday said it plans to impose penalties on two unnamed global investment banks it is investigating. – Reuters

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

North Korea is set to allow the first group of tourists to visit the country since it shut its borders at the start of the pandemic in 2020, in a sign of opening that could be followed by a soccer match against Japan’s national women’s team. – Bloomberg

North Korean Leader Kim Jong Un wants to remove the concept of “peaceful reunification” with South Korea from his state’s constitution as he abolished agencies to manage ties, setting the stage for fresh tensions on the heavily militarized peninsula. – BloombergNorth Korean Foreign Minister Choe Son Hui arrived in Russia for a trip that could facilitate a visit by President Vladimir Putin to Pyongyang and enhance arms transfers that have replenished the Kremlin’s arsenal to attack Ukraine. – Bloomberg

South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol told his cabinet Tuesday that if the nuclear-armed North carries out a provocation, Seoul will hit back with a response “multiple times stronger”. – Agence France-Presse


A sophisticated Chinese Communist Party effort to tip Saturday’s election in Taiwan may establish a template for interfering elsewhere ahead of a wave of critical global elections, analysts in multiple countries said. – Washington Post

The Biden administration has begun pumping more than $2 trillion into U.S. factories and infrastructure, investing huge sums to try to strengthen American industry and fight climate change. But the effort is facing a familiar threat: a surge of low-priced products from China. That is drawing the attention of President Biden and his aides, who are considering new protectionist measures to make sure American industry can compete against Beijing. – New York Times

China and Switzerland signed a joint declaration on Monday agreeing to deepen their partnership after Premier Li Qiang met the Swiss President, the Swiss government said. – Reuters

Chinese military bodies, state-run artificial intelligence research institutes and universities have over the past year purchased small batches of Nvidia (NVDA.O) semiconductors banned by the U.S. from export to China, a Reuters review of tender documents show. – Reuters

The plight of Tibet has become less discussed internationally but repression continues and China is applying what it did there to other regions, a former head of the Tibetan government-in-exile said on Saturday. – Reuters

China reiterated it has zero tolerance for corruption within its military, and will put key personnel under closer scrutiny, as the country deepens its push to stamp out graft across critical sectors. – Bloomberg

China’s state-owned banks are tightening curbs on funding to Russian clients after the US authorized secondary sanctions on overseas financial firms that aid Moscow’s war effort in Ukraine, people familiar with the matter said. – Bloomberg

The son of a former Chinese leader Hu Jintao who was dramatically escorted out of a major political meeting in 2022 has been appointed to a senior ministerial position, the government said on Tuesday. – Agence France-Presse

China’s military has undergone several significant leadership shakeups, and new intelligence reports indicate that corruption is running rampant in parts of the People’s Liberation Army, specifically the prized rocket force, to the point that some of its missiles were supposedly filled with water rather than fuel. – Business Insider

Editorial: The U.K and U.S. have substantial investment in Hong Kong, though many American companies have been heading for the exits. As Mr. Lai pointed out in an article that ran in the Journal at the height of the protests, what unites America and Hong Kong is not just dollars and cents but shared values. “The American flags you can see at our rallies,” he said, “are our way of saying that we share your values and we look to you for hope.” Hong Kong officials and their Beijing minders have put forward a case against Mr. Lai without credible evidence, and the whole world can see it. – Wall Street Journal

James Rogan writes: Europe will impose tariffs. A trade war with China is unfolding. As the world’s largest exporter, China will lose. Until China rejects the policies of Xi and embraces capitalism, the country will sink deeper and deeper into the tar pit of economic stagnation. The outlook for the Chinese people and its economy is not bright. China is increasingly uninvestable. – Washington Examiner

South Asia

The Maldives has asked India to withdraw its troops by March 15, news outlets in the island nation reported Sunday, as a weeks-long spat that mushroomed across social media escalated against the backdrop of India and China’s struggle for influence in the Indian Ocean. – Washington Post

Russian President Vladimir Putin held a phone call on Monday with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, discussing Ukraine and wishing each other well in upcoming elections, the Kremlin said. – Reuters

India said on Saturday it had lodged a protest over a senior British diplomat’s visit to Pakistan-controlled Kashmir, saying the trip this week had infringed on India’s “sovereignty and territorial integrity”. – Reuters

A powerful ethnic armed group fighting Myanmar’s military that is based in the country’s western state of Rakhine has seized a township bordering India and Bangladesh, the group declared Monday, confirming accounts by local residents and media. – Associated Press

Myanmar’s military has reached a cease-fire agreement with an alliance of ethnic minority guerrilla groups it has been battling in the country’s northeast, the Chinese Foreign Ministry said Friday. Myanmar’s military government confirmed the development, as did the ethnic alliance. – Associated Press

An explosive device has killed five Pakistani soldiers in the country’s southwest, the army said. It’s the fifth deadly attack on police and troops this year already, and comes weeks before the country holds parliamentary elections. – Associated Press

US Trade Representative Katherine Tai is on a three-day visit to India where she’s expected to hold talks with the country’s trade and foreign ministers on topics including business visas for Indian workers and duty-free access on goods. – Bloomberg

Candidates from Imran Khan’s party will contest next month’s national vote in Pakistan as independents, using different election symbols after the country’s top court barred them from their traditional cricket bat image. – Bloomberg

The leader of India’s main opposition party, the Indian National Congress, will set off on a march Sunday that will see him traverse the breath of the country — from the eastern state of Manipur to Maharashtra in the west. – Bloomberg

Pakistan’s Supreme Court barred former Prime Minister Imran Khan’s party from contesting elections by denying it a cricket-bat symbol at the polls, a major setback to the country’s most popular politician weeks before the national vote. – Bloomberg

India has bought exploration and production rights to lithium blocks in Argentina in its first such overseas deal, aimed to reduce dependency on China for the key green technology metal. – Agence France-Presse

The UN human rights agency on Friday criticised an ongoing anti-narcotics crackdown in Sri Lanka that has resulted in the arrest of over 30,000 suspects and sparked allegations of widespread abuses by the authorities. – Agence France-Presse

Peter Suciu writes: As recently as 2017, there was even talk among U.S. Navy officials about bringing Kitty Hawk out of mothballs to help it reach a goal of having a 12-carrier fleet. Instead, it and CV-67 are heading to the scrap heap when they could be sailing in the waters of the Indian Ocean and serve as a deterrent against Beijing. – The National Interest


Taiwan lost diplomatic recognition from the Pacific island nation of Nauru as Beijing intensified its efforts to isolate Taipei just days after Taiwanese voters elected a presidential candidate whom China condemns as a separatist. – Wall Street Journal

Taiwan’s election of the presidential candidate China most distrusts puts at risk a fragile detente between Washington and Beijing, threatening another flare-up between the world’s biggest economic and military powers. – Wall Street Journal

The Philippines’ foreign ministry on Tuesday reaffirmed the country’s “One China policy” after its president, Ferdinand Marcos Jr., congratulated Taiwan’s new leader Lai Ching-te. – Reuters

Australia’s foreign minister called on Monday for a “sustainable ceasefire” in Gaza as she left for a Middle East tour that includes a visit to the occupied West Bank and meetings with the families of Israeli hostages. – Reuters

Naval officials from countries bordering the Pacific, such as Japan, Russia and the United States, are meeting from Tuesday in China’s eastern city of Nanjing to discuss updating rules on unexpected encounters, among other issues, state media said. – Reuters

Myanmar’s junta said it reached a temporary cease-fire agreement with rebels after talks backed by China, potentially ending more than two months of fighting. – Bloomberg

A group of former US officials arrived in Taiwan to meet outgoing President Tsai Ing-wen, talks that will test the recent improvement of ties between Washington and Beijing following a pivotal election on the island. – Bloomberg

Australia has unveiled plans to produce its first locally-made missiles as early as next year under a A$37 million ($24.5 million) contract with American munitions giant Lockheed Martin Corp. – Bloomberg

The Philippines’ military chief said the country is seeking to develop its outposts in the South China Sea, and acquire more coastal defense assets amid lingering tensions with Beijing in contested waters. – Bloomberg

President Joe Biden had a blunt message after voters in Taiwan elected a new president Saturday: “We do not support independence” for Taiwan. – Politico

Nearly 100 people belonging to ethnic minority groups went on trial in Vietnam Tuesday, accused of terrorism following gun attacks that killed nine in the country’s Central Highlands. – Agence France-Presse

China’s Weibo social media platform blocked a hashtag on Taiwan’s election Saturday after it became one of the site’s top-trending topics following polls opening on the self-ruled island. – Agence France-Presse

Azerbaijan on Monday ordered a reporter from a prominent investigative outlet to be held in custody for more than two months — the tenth journalist to be detained since November. – Agence France-Presse

Editorial: The assumption in Washington is that Mr. Xi thinks the People’s Liberation Army isn’t yet capable of taking Taiwan, but anything is possible in a U.S. election year that is likely to highlight American divisions. The U.S. could do a lot worse this year than show the same faith in democratic self-government as the Taiwanese people have done again. – Wall Street Journal

Karishma Vaswani writes: The biggest loser in this election is China, which had been betting on a victory for the Beijing-leaning KMT. At an election watch party at a bookstore in downtown Taipei, one young woman told me how important this vote had been for her. “Only those who can protect our democracy should win,” she said. “We want to send a message to China today.” That message is no doubt being heard across the Strait loud and clear: Taiwan’s democracy isn’t going anywhere — no matter how much Beijing wants it to disappear. – Bloomberg

Donald Kirk writes: Just as fighting has broken out suddenly, unexpectedly, elsewhere, so war could erupt in Northeast Asia if any of the actors — Xi, or Putin, or Kim — feel unduly threatened or need a war as an antidote to unrest at home. The U.S., riding high economically, may have the resources to pour into the struggle with any or even all of them, but does it have the will? – The Hill


Italy, Spain and France stood out on Friday by not taking part in U.S. and British strikes against the Houthi group in Yemen and not signing a statement put out by 10 countries justifying the attacks. – Reuters

Pro-Palestinian activists protested at the gates of RAF Akrotiri in Cyprus on Sunday, angry that the British base was used as a launch pad for strikes against the Houthi militia in Yemen. – Reuters

British police on Sunday arrested six people who are members of the Palestine Action protest group as part of an investigation into an alleged plot to disrupt the London Stock Exchange. – Reuters

Norway’s government proposed that it should be a criminal offense to help foreign powers influence decision making or public opinion that could harm the Nordic country’s national security. – Bloomberg

On foot and pedal bike, thousands of Israel supporters gathered in London, Paris, and Berlin on Sunday to call for the release of hostages held by Palestinian terror groups for 100 days. – Agence France-Presse

Electric car manufacturer Tesla has announced it is suspending most production at its factory in Germany for two weeks, citing a shortage of parts due to shipping delays caused by Houthi rebel attacks in the Red Sea. – Agence France-Presse

France has ordered 42 new Rafale fighter jets, Defence Minister Sebastien Lecornu said Friday, with the first to be delivered in 2027. – Agence France-Presse

Realism or fear mongering? Calls from Sweden’s government and military urging Swedes to be ready for war has triggered panicked buying, frightened children and a fierce debate in the Nordic country. – Agence France-Presse

UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said Monday that his government believed that all planned targets had been destroyed in last week’s US-led strikes against Iran-backed Houthis. – Agence France-Presse

Peter Huntsman writes: It is environmentally and economically irresponsible for Europe to outsource its energy-intensive industry to countries with weaker regulation, employment laws and safety standards. To believe differently is naive, dangerous, and detrimental to the environment. Serious people understand this reality and must speak out. Voters already are. – Wall Street Journal

Walter Russell Mead writes: This isn’t, at its core, a crisis of trust. It is a crisis of competence. Why would voters expect an “expert class” that was so wrong for so long about Russia, China, Iran and Covid to know how to cope with a challenge as difficult and multifaceted as the energy transition? Why would they trust European and American politicians who are failing so woefully to handle massive illegal migration to manage the rise of artificial intelligence? “The emperor has no clothes!” is the cry of populists everywhere. To render this message ineffective, Davos Man doesn’t need image consultants and disinformation specialists. He needs to get dressed. – Wall Street Journal


South Africans this week rallied around their government’s decision to take Israel to the International Court of Justice for alleged genocide in the Gaza Strip, with many saying they were motivated by their own country’s struggle against apartheid. – Wall Street Journal

Armed men stormed a military camp in Nahuta village, northwest Nigeria, sending troops fleeing and setting vehicles ablaze before proceeding to loot shops and homes, a resident and two sources said on Monday. – Reuters

The United Kingdom Maritime Trade Operations (UKMTO) organization early on Tuesday received a report of a small craft circling a vessel in the Red Sea about 57 nautical miles northwest of Eritrea’s Assab. – Reuters

British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak faces a parliamentary showdown with right-wing lawmakers in his party this week as his legislation to block legal challenges to the plan to deport asylum seekers to Rwanda returns to parliament. – Reuters

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) executive board is due to meet on Friday to consider the first review of Ghana’s $3 billion rescue loan programme, a spokesperson said by email on Monday. – Reuters

Tanzania on Monday announced it had withdrawn approval for neighboring Kenya’s flagship carrier Kenya Airways to operate a passenger service between the countries beginning next week. – Associated Press

The U.N. peacekeeping mission in Congo, which helped in the fight against rebels for more than two decades before being asked by the Congolese government to leave, will complete its withdrawal from the Central African nation by the end of 2024, the mission said Saturday. – Associated Press

Chad’s military ruler was sworn in as the former ruling party’s honorary president, positioning him as its likely candidate in the 2024 presidential polls. – Bloomberg

Senegal’s main opposition politician Ousmane Sonko was eliminated from next month’s presidential election, according to a preliminary list of candidates published by the Constitutional Council on Friday, newspaper Le Soleil reported. – Bloomberg

The US has reached preliminary agreement with African nations to extend their preferential trade access by another decade, pending approval by Congress, South Africa’s trade minister said. – Bloomberg

The United Nations said a member of its guard unit was killed in a mortar attack on the organization’s compound in Somalia’s capital on Thursday. – Bloomberg

Namibia has condemned its former colonial ruler Germany’s decision this week to reject accusations against Israel by South Africa of “genocide” at the International Court of Justice. – Agence France-Presse

Sudan’s army-aligned government on Saturday spurned an invitation to an East African summit and rebuked the United Nations for engaging with the commander of rival paramilitary forces. – Agence France-Presse

The nine-month war between Sudan’s rival generals could create a “generational catastrophe” for the country’s 24 million children, UNICEF’s representative in Sudan has told AFP. – Agence France-Presse

Jeremiah Poff writes: Given South Africa’s history of apartheid, the genocide accusation against Israel certainly turned a lot of heads. The country says its history with apartheid is why it is calling out Israel. That may sound nice in newspaper headlines, but it isn’t true. South Africa just wants to take a political jab against Israel on the world stage. If South Africa actually cared about condemning human rights violations around the world, it would start with its own backyard. Until then, Fetterman is right to tell them to “sit this one out.” – Washington Examiner

The Americas

The U.S. Coast Guard said a person from the Dominican Republic died after it fired at a fleeing boat in the Caribbean Sea that was smuggling an estimated $11 million worth of cocaine. – Associated Press

After 17 years as the top source of imported goods in the United States, China will likely move into second place for 2023, ceding the first position to Mexico, according to data released by the U.S. Commerce Department this week. – VOA

John Schindler writes: The Biden administration promised to help Ecuador in its new war against the cartels, with the State Department and the White House assuring Quito of their support. However, the difficult reality is that the Biden administration is uncomfortably close to the Albanian government, which is itself deeply involved in the drug trade. Pretending that Albania isn’t a narco-state, and now a global problem too, as Team Biden keeps doing, means this crisis will only get worse. If the Biden administration wants to stave off civil war in Ecuador, the best thing it can do is tell its friends in the Albanian government to crack down on their own mobsters, who now pose a threat to law and order on multiple continents. – Washington Examiner

Adib Fletcher writes: The U.S cannot and should not remain in this weak position to forge progress in a country so close and vital to our interests—which also further delays security and stability for the people of Haiti and the region. Although the road ahead may be difficult, by joining forces and taking decisive diplomatic action, we can help to prevent Haiti from devolving further and save countless lives in the process. – Newsweek

Latin America

Bernardo Arévalo took office Sunday as president of Guatemala in a turbulent session of Congress where political opponents had made a last-ditch attempt to sabotage his inauguration and angry supporters clashed with police. – Wall Street Journal

Nicaragua on Sunday released 19 clergymen from prison, including Bishop Rolando Álvarez, the country’s most prominent political prisoner, and expelled them to the Vatican. – Wall Street Journal

Forty-three prisoners remain at large after escaping a prison in northern Ecuador, the SNAI prisons agency said on Monday, as security forces continued operations throughout the country. – Reuters

Venezuela’s economy grew more than 5% in 2023 and growth will reach 8% this year, President Nicolas Maduro said on Monday during his annual address to the government-allied legislature. – Reuters

Colombia’s government has extended a cease-fire with the FARC-EMC rebel group that was set to expire this week, as both sides hold peace talks in Bogota in an effort to reduce violence in rural parts of the country. – Associated Press

Venezuela raised its monthly minimum wage by the equivalent of more than 40% as protests by disgruntled public workers grow ahead of presidential elections this year. – Bloomberg

Venezuela’s President Nicolás Maduro named Colombian financier Alex Saab as the head of the country’s international investment center. – Bloomberg

President Javier Milei will have a chance to discuss next steps in Argentina’s relationship with the International Monetary Fund during a meeting with Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva in Davos. – Bloomberg

Ecuador’s national police and the military secured the release of the remaining prison guards and staff that had been held hostage amid a wave of violence across the country, the nation’s prison authority said. – Bloomberg

Venezuela is putting an end to the petro cryptocurrency that President Nicolas Maduro launched six years ago to sidestep US sanctions, but which never took off and became embroiled in a graft scandal. – Agence France-Presse

North America

About two-thirds of Canadians surveyed this month said American democracy cannot survive another four years of Donald Trump in the White House, and about half said the United States is on the way to becoming an authoritarian state, a poll released on Monday said. – Reuters

A Mexican delegation will visit Washington later this month to continue migration talks, Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador said on Friday in a regular press conference. – Reuters

Canada does not accept the premise of South Africa’s case at the International Court of Justice which accuses Israel of committing genocide in Gaza, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said on Friday. – Reuters

Canada will consider measures to cap the number of international students in the coming months as the country wrestles with a housing shortage. – Bloomberg

United States

Fulton County, Ga., District Attorney Fani Willis defended her decision to hire Nathan Wade as a special prosecutor, saying in a speech Sunday morning that the lead lawyer in her office’s racketeering case against former President Donald Trump and others is well qualified to serve in the role. – Wall Street Journal

A monthslong civil trial that could determine the future of Donald Trump’s business empire reached the crucial endgame Thursday, with closing arguments during which the former president personally addressed the judge and voiced his indignation over the case. – Wall Street Journal

Hunter Biden pleaded not guilty Thursday to charges he evaded taxes on millions of dollars in income from foreign businesses, one of two federal prosecutions that will keep his legal woes in the public eye while his father campaigns for re-election. – Wall Street Journal

Donald Trump won the Iowa caucuses Monday night with the largest margin in the history of the first Republican presidential nominating contest, cementing an early victory in his defiant bid to return to the White House. – Wall Street Journal

Tom McClintock writes: How does Mr. Biden explain the unprecedented acts of his agents seeking to ban challengers from the ballot? It isn’t only the brazen and unconstitutional attempt to bar Mr. Trump. Democrats have aggressively worked to ban challengers from their own primaries. They seized from Democratic voters in Iowa and New Hampshire the right to have a meaningful say in the nomination, in part for fear they wouldn’t vote for him in sufficient numbers. Our democracy is under attack from the fringes of both parties. The president makes matters worse by treating the threat as if it comes only from the other side. – Wall Street Journal

Henry R. Nau writes: Does Biden have a foreign policy? He has too many. He is pursuing objectives far more ambitious than those of Obama or Trump, without having secured the means to achieve them. Either he will retreat to a foreign policy of “strategic restraint,” letting Ukraine’s military efforts shipwreck on allied economic and political divisions and exposing Taiwan and potentially Israel to existential peril, or he will galvanize and sustain an economic and military resurgence of NATO and Asian allies to “defend/promote democracy” in Ukraine, Taiwan, and Israel. Or maybe he’ll continue to muddle through, with occasional flourishes of “great-power politics” and “globalist diplomacy.” But that would be a reaction, not a strategy. – The National Review


Apple is removing a blood-oxygen sensor from some of its smartwatches to get around a patent dispute related to the technology, a step likely to avoid further sales disruptions but one that may raise questions about the company’s push into health. – Wall Street Journal

OpenAI outlined limits on using its tools in politics during the run-up to elections in 2024, amid mounting concern that artificial-intelligence systems could mass-produce misinformation and sway voters in high-profile races. – Wall Street Journal

Silicon Valley figures have long warned about the dangers of artificial intelligence. Now their anxiety has migrated to other halls of power: the legal system, global gatherings of business leaders and top Wall Street regulators. – Washington Post

The British Library on Monday began restoring its online catalog, which holds details of books, journals and music scores, the first step in its recovery from a brazen cyberattack in October, the library said. – New York Times

North Korean hackers are sharing money-laundering and underground banking networks with fraudsters and drug traffickers in Southeast Asia, according to a United Nations report published on Monday, with casinos and crypto exchanges emerging as key venues for organised crime. – Reuters

The European Union’s competition czar Margrethe Vestager on Friday said US tech giants will have to strictly abide by the bloc’s new rules on how they do business when they come into force in two months. – Agence France-Presse

The personal information of several civil servants and government workers was leaked and reached a foreign government, according to a report by Haaretz. – Jerusalem Post

James Rogan writes: U.S. policy must thus address obvious problems: permitting, construction costs, inadequate labor, and the cash flow drag of amortizing R&D spending. The CHIPS and Science Act is not sufficient. Given the grave threat that China poses and the economic imperative of dominating the global semiconductor industry, the country must have a forceful commitment to semiconductor manufacturing. The Biden administration’s controls on the export of proprietary technology to China are appropriate policy, but the controls should be strengthened through increased funding and authorities for the Commerce Department, which administers the controls. Semiconductors are the high ground. Chips are our future. – Washington Examiner

Scott Allendevaux writes: Just as developers must have a data-privacy consciousness, so too should users. A degree of responsibility falls on the public to monitor what data to share. That means employing virtual private networks, encrypted messaging apps and demanding a level of transparency from those who collect data. Ultimately, the method to protect personal data is through a partnership based on trust between developer and user, with regulatory authorities behind the scenes setting the standards. – The Hill


Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin was released from the hospital Monday, Pentagon officials said, after a two-week stay due to complications from prostate surgery last month. – Wall Street Journal

President Joe Biden said he retained confidence in Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin following a flap where the Pentagon chief failed for days to inform the White House he had been hospitalized. – Bloomberg

Every presidential administration selects its new Cabinet members, even when the president wins reelection. Among these is the secretary of defense, and with heightened scrutiny around Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin’s health on top of the election year, discussions about his successor have begun to mount. – Washington Examiner

Charles Krulak, Charles Wilhelm, Anthony Zinni, and James Conway write: National security and military dilettantes, plus some members of Congress misled by a few defense officials, have lured us down this garden path. We now have new leadership in the Corps. It is critically important to undo the damage done and return the Marines to their traditional role. The new leadership working with an engaged Congress must begin the process of rebuilding a Marine Corps that our national security requires. – The Hill

Elaine McCusker writes: America’s creativity and capacity in producing defense capabilities is central to our national security and to the economic vitality that supports it. Yet, for decades we have witnessed, analyzed, and misunderstood the struggles that created the crises we face today. The new strategy contains useful words about the problem. Those words must be quickly put into measurable and funded actions. – Defense News

Long War

The British government plans to ban Hizb ut-Tahrir, an international Islamist political group, by designating it a terrorist organization, the government announced on Monday, citing what it said was the group’s praise for the Oct. 7 Hamas-led attack on Israel. – New York Times

The C.I.A. is collecting information on senior Hamas leaders and the location of hostages in Gaza, and is providing that intelligence to Israel as it carries out its war in the enclave, according to U.S. officials. – New York Times

Seven people suspected of involvement in a planned terror attack foiled by Danish authorities in December have links to the Islamist terror group Hamas, Danish police said Friday. – Agence France-Presse

Washington announced new sanctions Friday on two companies in Hong Kong and the United Arab Emirates, moving to crack down on the financial network funding Iranian-backed Huthi rebels in Yemen. – Agence France-Presse

Israeli soldiers detained two sisters of Saleh Al-Aruri, a top leader of Hamas who was killed in Lebanon this month, Palestinian sources and the Israeli army said on Sunday. – Agence France-Presse

The deadly Hamas attack on Israel may have taken the limelight from Daesh, but the terrorists are seeking to capitalize on anger over the bombardment of Gaza to rally followers, analysts say. – Agence France-Presse

The International Criminal Court said Monday it was delaying its verdict in the war crimes trial of a Malian Islamist leader, as the head judge is unavailable for health reasons. – Agence France-Presse

The Israeli Defense Forces released a statement Saturday claiming that Hamas leaders are helping to orchestrate terror attacks worldwide as part of a larger campaign against Western powers. – Fox News

A newly enacted law in France aims to reform how Islam is viewed by society. The law, which bans foreign imams from operating in the country, is an attempt by the government to combat religious extremism in a highly secularized nation. Foreign imams already in the country will either be sent back to their country of origin or take on new, lower-level positions at local mosques. – Fox News

“Welcome back to Kyrgyzstan,” says Shukur Shermatov, addressing a class of 20 women. He is wearing a traditional felt cap, but there is nothing traditional about this school. It sits inside two rings of military security and the students are women who have been brought home from camps in Syria, where they ended up after living with the Islamic State group. The rehabilitation centre is woven into the mountains of northern Kyrgyzstan, and it is where wives and children of suspected IS recruits spend their first six weeks after being repatriated. – BBC

The chairman of Hamas’ decision-making body urged Muslims across the world to “build on” the horrific terrorist attacks on Israel of Oct. 7, which he characterized as a “victory,” and to send money to Hamas in what he called a “financial jihad.” – The Daily Signal

Editorial: Itamar Marcus of Palestinian Media Watch explains that “the PA does not differentiate between Hamas terrorists who committed atrocities after invading Israel on Oct. 7, the Hamas terrorists killed by Israel in the ensuing war, and civilian non-combatants killed in the Gaza Strip while being used as human shields by Hamas.” All are treated as heroic martyrs to be compensated by the PA, whose activities are subsidized with Western aid. […]Why, again, does President Biden insist Israel hand over postwar Gaza to this group? Mr. Blinken also talks prematurely of giving it a state. No wonder the PA sees little reason to change. – Wall Street Journal