Fdd's overnight brief

January 18, 2022

In The News


As the Biden administration tries to revive the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, one of the biggest obstacles is Tehran’s demand that the U.S. provides a guarantee that it won’t again quit the pact and reimpose sanctions, diplomats involved in talks in Austria say. – Wall Street Journal 

A survivor of the 1979 Iran hostage crisis will embark on a hunger strike in solidarity with those unlawfully detained by the Iranian regime. – The National 

Chief negotiators from Iran and Europe returned home for consultations as talks to revive the 2015 nuclear deal reached a critical stage, state media in the Islamic republic said Saturday. – Agence France-Presse 

French-Iranian academic Fariba Adelkhah was jailed anew for breaking house arrest restrictions, an official from the Islamic republic’s judiciary authority said on Sunday. – Agence France-Presse 

Twitter on Saturday announced it had permanently banned an account linked to Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei over a video threatening former US President Donald Trump, AFP reported. – Jerusalem Post 

Farideh Moradkhani, the niece of Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, was arrested in Tehran on Thursday and transferred to Evin Prison, where many political prisoners are held, according to reports published over the weekend. – Jerusalem Post 

One of the original 52 US hostages held captive by Iran in 1979 is going on hunger strike to demand that the release of other hostages under Iranian control be a necessary condition to signing any new nuclear deal with the Islamic Republic. – Jerusalem Post 

An Iranian-Swedish dissident accused by Iran of being behind a string of attacks for an Arab separatist group goes on trial on January 18, the judiciary has said. – Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty 

Over the past few years, Iran has “significantly” increased its use of unmanned aerial vehicles, the US Navy’s 5th Fleet Commander said today. – Breaking Defense 

Sales of Iranian crude oil, gas condensates and petrochemical products have risen dramatically in the past 10 months, the country’s oil minister said. – Bloomberg 

Bobby Ghosh writes: In any event, it is absurd to suggest that Trump’s withdrawal from the JCPOA increased Iran’s aggression, much less caused it. While the Biden administration’s new messaging might work in Washington, it won’t wash in the Middle East. – Bloomberg 

Sean Durns writes: The nuclear talks even seem likely to continue after Iranian-backed militias fired rockets at US troops in bases in Syria and Iraq on January 5, 2022. The Post covered the attacks — but failed to note that they coincided with Tehran threatening to murder our nation’s former chief executive and chief diplomat. Politics and partisanship should be set aside when it comes to threats of this nature. But it seems that for some pundits, valuing political norms and institutions is a flexible priority. – Algemeiner 

Zvi Bar’el writes: The future of the talks now depends on how much progress is achieved in the coming days or, rather, on how “progress” is interpreted. Since none of the parties wishes to be accused of foiling the negotiations and thwarting the chance of a deal, the important question will be whether Iranain-American agreement can be reached regarding the definition of progress, so that the parties do not opt to drop out of the talks, even if it means extending how much time is allotted for them. – Haaretz 


Five months after the Taliban seized Kabul, Afghanistan’s new rulers are stepping up their campaign to gain control of the country’s embassies abroad, most of which continue to be run by diplomats appointed by the former, U.S.-backed government. – Wall Street Journal 

Twenty years ago, Nazir Kabiri earned a master’s degree in economics on a Fulbright scholarship in Kentucky. Later, he founded an Afghan think tank that promoted critical thinking and public participation in national issues. For much of the past decade, he was a senior finance official in the civilian-led government of President Ashraf Ghani. – Washington Post  

The Taliban have dismissed about 3,000 members accused of abusive practices from its hardline Islamist movement in a widespread “vetting process” launched since coming to power, an official said Saturday. – Agence France-Presse 

Taliban forces on Sunday fired pepper spray at a group of women protesters in Afghanistan’s capital demanding rights to work and education, three demonstrators told AFP. – Agence France-Presse 

Editorial: Reasonable people can disagree about how much aid the United States should give Afghanistan after two heartbreaking decades of blood and treasure. It is tempting to walk away entirely. But self-interest dictates that Americans think clearly about long-term costs. Small efforts now could avoid big problems later — such as another mass migration in Europe. They could also preserve a toehold in the country. The war has been lost, but that doesn’t mean every institution that Americans worked with is destined to disappear. There’s still time to save Afghanistan’s central bank. – New York Times 

Naheed Esar and Matthew Daniels write: Americans and good people around the world must oppose evil wherever they find it. However, it is not enough to respond after violence erupts, leaving the inevitable victims behind. This is one of the great — and terrible — lessons of Afghanistan. – The Hill 


The American family of a Palestinian American man who died last week after being detained by Israeli soldiers in the occupied West Bank called for an international investigation Sunday, saying Israel could not be trusted to hold accountable troops who allegedly pulled the 78-year-old from his car and left him lying unresponsive on the ground. – Washington Post 

The lawyers of Benjamin Netanyahu, the Israeli former prime minister, are in negotiations with state prosecutors to reach a plea bargain in his long-running corruption case, according to a spokesman for the Israeli Justice Ministry and two people involved in the negotiations. – New York Times 

In a Gaza TV studio of the ruling Islamist armed movement Hamas, a set features Israeli flags, Hebrew documents and a portrait of Theodor Herzl, the father of modern Zionism. The make-believe office of enemy state Israel’s security service is being used to shoot a “pro-resistance” television series on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. – Agence France-Presse 

Amid ongoing tensions with Iran, Israel’s Ministry of Defense, the IDF and the US Missile Defense Agency (MDA) successfully conducted a planned interception test of the Arrow-3 missile defense system on Tuesday morning. – Jerusalem Post 

Just days before the IDF canceled military training for reservists due to a spike in coronavirus infections, the 55th Paratroopers Brigade held a surprise large-scale exercise simulating war with Hezbollah along the country’s northern border. – Jerusalem Post 

A private jet belonging to Libyan warlord and presidential candidate Khalifa Haftar landed in Israel on Thursday. – Jerusalem Post 

Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett said funding for Iran could lead to “terror on steroids” on Tuesday, in an apparent warning against world powers easing sanctions against Tehran as they seek a new nuclear deal. – Reuters 

Israel has prepared a list of weapons systems it intends to ask the US to add to the American emergency stockpile in Israel as a precaution for future regional conflicts, according to defense sources here. – Breaking Defense 

The Israeli Air Force said Sunday that it completed a joint exercise with United States Air Force Central Command (AFCENT), in which crews drilled various operational scenarios and aerial threats to simulate responses to enemy forces in the Middle East. – Algemeiner 

As Israel’s hybrid government reaches its seven-month mark, public protests and parliamentary boycotts are threatening to ignite a crisis in the young coalition. – Washington Institute  


Lebanon’s militant Hezbollah group and its main Shiite ally said Saturday they are ending their boycott of Cabinet meetings after a three-month deadlock that has worsened the small nation’s unprecedented economic meltdown. – Associated Press 

Lebanon’s cabinet will hold its first meeting in three months on Jan. 24, a Lebanese television channel reported on Monday, after a gap in which the country’s economic crisis has deepened and efforts to revive talks with the IMF have stalled. – Reuters 

Seth J. Frantzman writes: While it is true that Egypt, Jordan, the Gulf states and Russia want a more stable Syrian regime – and it’s also true that Israel has interests in not having Lebanon become poorer and more chaotic – the ability to get all these interests aligned seems extremely difficult. If the US could pull it off, it would be a significant accomplishment for the Biden administration. The question is whether the deal would actually reduce Iran’s role in Lebanon or simply give Tehran breathing space to spend resources on Hezbollah’s arsenal, rather than see Iran trying to sort out Lebanon’s gas and electric mess. Perhaps Iran will benefit either way. – Jerusalem Post 


The battle, which pits Egypt’s cultural establishment against a renegade musical genre embraced by millions of young Egyptians, has heated up recently after the organization that licenses musicians barred at least 19 young artists from singing and performing in Egypt. – New York Times 

Egyptian authorities announced on Saturday the arrest of a prominent member of a U.S.-designated terrorist group. According to government media, the suspect was detained after a Turkey-bound flight from Sudan that he was on made an emergency landing in Egypt. – Associated Press 

Egypt plans to increase investments in the state-owned oil companies to 30 billion Egyptian pounds ($1.92 billion) in fiscal year 2022-2023, which is the highest ever, the petroleum ministry said on Sunday. – Reuters 

Arabian Peninsula

Yemen’s rebel Houthi movement said Monday it had carried out a military attack on the United Arab Emirates as authorities in Abu Dhabi, the capital, announced suspected drone strikes targeted an industrial area and the airport, killing three people and wounding six others. – Washington Post 

The rebel movement, which formally calls itself Ansar Allah, or partisans of God, took over the Yemeni capital in 2014. The rebels’ beliefs are rooted in the Zaydi branch of Shiite Islam, and they had long clashed with Yemen’s internationally recognized government. – Washington Post 

About a dozen people were killed and others injured in retaliatory airstrikes on the Yemeni capital of Sanaa overnight, Houthi officials said on their website Tuesday. – Washington Post 

Satellite photos obtained by The Associated Press on Tuesday appear to show the aftermath of a fatal attack on an oil facility in the capital of the United Arab Emirates claimed by Yemen’s Houthi rebels. – Associated Press 

On a trip to the United Arab Emirates, the president of South Korea on Sunday reportedly reached a preliminary multibillion-dollar deal to sell Seoul’s surface-to-air missiles to Abu Dhabi and pledged deeper cooperation with the Gulf Arab federation. – Associated Press 

Saudi Arabia

Three Iranian diplomats have arrived in Saudi Arabia to represent Tehran in the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, state TV reported Monday. – Associated Press 

Saudi Energy Minister Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman said on Monday it is the prerogative of the U.S. government whether to release supply from the strategic petroleum reserves. – Reuters 

The commander of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps Navy said on January 7 that the ruling royal family of Saudi Arabia were actually Jewish, and that their conflict with Iran harkens back to 7th century battles between Muslim and Jewish tribes. – Jerusalem Post 

Gulf States

Kuwait’s oil revenue reached 11.5 billion dinars ($38.10 billion) in the nine months to the end of December, the Ministry of Finance said in a report on Monday. – Reuters 

A rare new public opinion poll, commissioned by the Washington Institute and conducted in Bahrain during November 2021, reveals a larger-than-ever divide between the narrow Shia majority and ruling Sunni minority regarding relations with Iran. – Washington Institute 

 As Iraq’s Shiite leaders jostle to secure a majority in the newly-elected parliament, Sunni and Kurdish minorities have been caught up in a spate of warning grenade attacks, analysts say. In recent days, unknown attackers have hurled grenades at Kurdish and Sunni targets including political party offices and a lawmaker’s home — groups that could help Shiite cleric Moqtada Sadr win the critical parliamentary majority needed to make his choice of prime minister. – Agence France-Presse 


The speaker of Libya’s eastern-based parliament said on Monday the interim government must be replaced and he would launch a process to redraft the constitution, after plans for an election fell apart last month. – Reuters 

Over 12,000 detainees are held officially in 27 prisons and detention facilities across Libya and thousands more are held illegally and often in “inhumane conditions in facilities controlled by armed groups or `secret’ facilities,” the United Nations chief said in a new report. – Associated Press 

A senior U.N. official said she is pushing for Libya to hold elections by June, after the county missed a December deadline to elect its first president since the 2011 ouster and killing of longtime dictator Moammar Gadhafi. – Associated Press 

Middle East & North Africa

Tunisian police used tear gas and water cannons on Friday against hundreds of demonstrators who defied a ban on gatherings to protest against President Kais Saied’s July power grab. – Agence France-Presse 

The UN’s new Western Sahara envoy met Sunday with the leader of the pro-independence Polisario Front in neighbouring Algeria, state media reported, as part of his first official regional tour. – Agence France-Presse 

A Jordanian army officer was killed and three army personnel injured on Sunday when drug smugglers trying to enter the country from Syria fired at an army outpost along the border, a Jordanian army statement said. – Reuters 

A Turkish court has acquitted German journalist Mesale Tolu after years on trial for terror-related charges. – Associated Press 

Korean Peninsula

North Korea fired two short-range ballistic missiles off its east coast on Monday, in its fourth weapons test in a month. The missiles, fired from near the Suan Airport outside Pyongyang, the North’s capital, flew 236 miles to the northeast before landing off the east coast, the South Korean military said. – New York Times 

North Korea stayed relatively inactive through the first months of Mr. Biden’s administration, flying cruise missiles and conducting a ballistic-missile test in March. It laid low during the summer. But since September, North Korea has conducted eight launches that showcased several weapons that Mr. Kim mentioned in his policy speech last year. – Wall Street Journal 

North Korea has begun the new year a lot like the last: with a series of missile launches that reveal progress in diversifying and expanding its arsenal with missiles that may be harder to detect and defend against. – Washington Post 

The United States called on North Korea Monday to “cease its unlawful and destabilizing activities,” after Pyongyang fired two suspected ballistic missiles in its fourth weapons test this month, a State Department spokesman said. – Agence France-Presse 

Grappling with pandemic difficulties and U.S.-led sanctions over his nuclear ambitions, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un could be reviving his 2017 playbook of nuclear and missile brinkmanship to wrest concessions from Washington and his neighbors. – Associated Press  


Late last year, human rights activists stood outside the White House for 57 hours urging the United States to stage a diplomatic boycott of the Beijing Olympics. A few weeks later, they got their wish. – Washington Post 

China reaffirmed its opposition to unilateral sanctions by the United States against Iran as the Chinese and Iranian foreign ministers announced the launch of a 25-year cooperation agreement aimed at strengthening economic and political ties. – Reuters 

China will release crude oil from its national strategic stockpiles around the Lunar New Year holidays that start on Feb. 1 as part of a plan coordinated by the United States with other major consumers to reduce global prices, sources told Reuters. – Reuters 

Beijing has promised the world’s top athletes access to a partially unfettered internet during the Olympics starting Feb. 4, dropping the Great Firewall that blocks services like Facebook and YouTube at official venues and hotels. But security experts say there are reasons to exercise caution. – Bloomberg 

Chinese President Xi Jinping warned on Monday that confrontation between major powers could have “catastrophic consequences” in a speech to world leaders at an all-virtual Davos forum. – Agence France-Presse 

Editorial: Beijing’s whole approach to the outside world is “we win, you lose.” It bullies its neighbors from Australia to Taiwan to India. It’s occupying Tibet and oppressing Hong Kong in violation of the agreement that restored its sovereignty over the island city. – New York Post 

James Stavridis writes: In response, the U.S. needs to push global democracies toward unity of purpose in facing aligned action by Moscow and Beijing. […]As the two authoritarian superpowers draw closer together, the West must respond collectively — starting with a unified front in the face of Russia’s growing threat to Ukraine. – Bloomberg 

Clara Ferreira Marques writes: China and Russia are still autocratic regimes with similar interests, not least in preserving stability, and the timely exit of Russian-led troops from Kazakhstan will reassure. Countries like Kazakhstan will continue to aim for a diplomatic balance. But Russia’s economic capacity to prop up regimes is not increasing. And with changes in the wind, China may no longer wish to remain sitting on the political and security sidelines. – Bloomberg 

South Asia

India has reached an agreement to supply the Philippines with the BrahMos antiship cruise-missile system, officials from both sides said, in a deal that could help counterbalance recent Chinese assertiveness over disputes in the region. – Wall Street Journal 

China will not use its strength to “bully” its smaller neighbours including the Philippines, its foreign minister said on Monday, as he highlighted the importance of settling disputes in the South China Sea peacefully. – Reuters 

Overconfidence in its newly acquired S-400 air defense system may give India a false sense of invulnerability and increase the likelihood of a military miscalculation involving archrival Pakistan, analysts warn. – Defense News 

The Army is “well on its way” toward implementing its first cloud outside of the US in the Indo-Pacific, a move that will allow the service to integrate cloud services into all aspects of experimentation in the region, according to service’s chief information officer. – Breaking Defense 

Jagannath Panda writes: India’s growing conflict with China, its strategic evolution to becoming an outward-looking power, and eagerness to expand its outreach to Europe, along with the EU’s intent to reduce its reliance on Chinese manufacturing and supply chains and to pursue strategic autonomy, have created the right conditions for a new mutually beneficial policy regime – an opportune use of Global Gateway. – The National Interest  


After the Myanmar military seized power in a Feb. 1 coup, millions of people walked off their jobs in protest. Millions also began refusing to pay for electricity, an act of civil disobedience aimed at depriving the junta of a crucial source of revenue. Experts doubt that these efforts alone can bring down the regime. But eleven months after the coup, the military appears so desperate for cash that its soldiers have begun acting as debt collectors. – New York Times 

The ramped-up scrutiny reflects an increasingly restrictive digital environment in Cambodia, where a new law will allow the authorities to monitor all web traffic in the country. Critics say that the decree puts Cambodia on a growing list of countries that have embraced China’s authoritarian model of internet surveillance, from Vietnam to Turkey, and that it will deepen the clash over the future of the web. – New York Times 

A Myanmar junta court has hit ousted civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi with five new corruption charges related to the alleged hiring and purchase of a helicopter, sources close to the case told AFP. – Agence France-Presse 

Violent unrest in Kazakhstan that began with peaceful protests over energy prices and caused the government to call in help from a Russian-led military bloc left 225 people dead, authorities announced Saturday, a dramatic increase on previous tolls. – Agence France-Presse 

An investigation by RFE/RL’s Russian Service and Current Time, a Russian-language network run by RFE/RL in cooperation with VOA, into the Russian assets of Toqaev’s family has revealed indications that the once-intertwined business interests of Kazakhstan’s current and former presidents have been unraveling. – Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty 

US President Joe Biden and Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida will meet virtually Friday to discuss bilateral ties as well as security in the Pacific region, the White House said. – Agence France-Presse 

A United Nations envoy on Monday called on Thailand’s support to prevent a deterioration in the crisis in neighbouring Myanmar and welcomed assurances that refugees fleeing military operations would be protected by the Thai government. – Reuters 

Nargis Kassenova writes: Both the protests and the invitation of Russian troops to help resolve the crisis in Kazakhstan will trigger major reflections among the Kazakh intelligentsia and public on the state of the country. […]Tokayev, however, is still a product of the old system. His government may fail to deliver the promised reforms and lean back on the habits of the Nazarbayev era. But at the very least, events this month have shown that Kazakhs will not quietly allow their leaders to ignore their discontent; they will make their voices heard. – Foreign Affairs 


No one expected much progress from this past week’s diplomatic marathon to defuse the security crisis Russia has ignited in Eastern Europe by surrounding Ukraine on three sides with 100,000 troops and then, by the White House’s accounting, sending in saboteurs to create a pretext for invasion. But as the Biden administration and NATO conduct tabletop simulations about how the next few months could unfold, they are increasingly wary of another set of options for President Vladimir V. Putin, steps that are more far-reaching than simply rolling his troops and armor over Ukraine’s border. – New York Times 

Now, in what would be a major turnaround, senior Biden administration officials are warning that the United States could throw its weight behind a Ukrainian insurgency should President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia invade Ukraine. – New York Times 

The White House accused Moscow on Friday of sending saboteurs into eastern Ukraine to stage an incident that could provide President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia with a pretext for ordering an invasion of the country. – New York Times 

Russia’s main security agency said on Friday that at the request of the United States government it had dismantled REvil, one of the most aggressive ransomware crime groups attacking Western targets, and arrested some of its members. – New York Times 

Fears of a possible Russian attack on Ukraine have sharpened after no progress was made during talks in Europe seeking to deter Russia’s military buildup near Ukraine and convince Moscow to de-escalate. – Washington Post 

In the drone’s-eye video released by Ukraine’s military, a small, blue targeting square hovers over an image on the ground. After several seconds, a large plume of smoke bursts up from the spot. Two people are then seen running away from the site, where Ukraine claims it destroyed a D-30 howitzer used by Russian-backed separatists in the eastern Donbas region. – Washington Post 

Worries about a potential cyber conflict with Russia are placing a rising demand on President Joe Biden: Make it clear how the U.S. will respond if Moscow goes too far. – Politico 

A Kremlin spokesperson pushed back Sunday on the idea of there being Russian troops in Donbas and “on Ukrainian soil” on Sunday, but claimed that troops near the Ukrainian borders were necessary amid a “very tense situation and very unfriendly environment” with NATO. – Politico 

President Vladimir Putin will host his Iranian counterpart Ebrahim Raisi for talks in Moscow next week as Russia tries to help salvage a nuclear deal between world powers and Tehran, state television channel Rossiya-1 reported on Sunday. – Reuters  

Russia is dismissing U.S. allegations that Moscow has plans for a false flag operation as pretext to invade Ukraine as “total disinformation.” – The Hill 

The Biden administration is planning for a high-profile public showdown with Russia at the United Nations Security Council if Moscow intervenes in Ukraine. – Foreign Policy 

Editorial: Raising the potential costs of an invasion to Russia by beefing up Ukraine’s capacity to resist it is, at this late date, the best hope to deter Mr. Putin. It is a slender hope, to be sure, given Mr. Putin’s obvious determination to establish a sphere of influence and undermine NATO. A U.S. president concerned with peace in Europe, and the vital U.S. interests that hinge on it, would nevertheless do everything possible to maximize that hope. And he would respond strongly if it failed. In the weeks ahead, Mr. Biden must show that he is such a leader. – Washington Post 

Editorial: Above all, Russia’s aggression in 2014 did more to cement a Ukrainian sense of identity and sovereignty than any event since the second world war. It swung a previously sceptical majority in favour of joining Nato. New interference by Russia would entrench Ukrainian anger for generations. There may, sadly, be no one left in Moscow able to tell this to Russia’s president. Rather than going down in history as a modern-day “gatherer of Russian lands”, however, Putin might instead go down as the leader who finally lost Ukraine. – Financial Times 

John R. Bolton writes: If we fail Kyiv (again), thereby endangering nearby NATO members, Putin will have perfected a road map to further erode NATO’s deterrence and its entire collective defense rationale. He not only has a strategy, which the West doesn’t, he has also proven himself an adroit tactician. Today, he is still calling the shots. That needs to change. – Washington Post 

Daniel Fried writes: The US and Europe should have no part of this. They should be patient, determined and respond firmly to provocations. Then the Kremlin just might find a way to move from ultimatums to a more productive discussion of European security, perhaps re-establishing arms control, transparency and stabilisation measures that the Kremlin has ignored, violated or denigrated in recent years. There is a way ahead, but the coming weeks could be rough. – Financial Times 

Tom Rogan writes: The top line: Only Putin knows what he’s going to do. But the cost (financially, logistically, and in terms of morale) of these scaled deployments, and Russian rhetoric, suggest a new war with Ukraine is now highly likely. – Washington Examiner  

Tom Rogan writes: If Putin gets bogged down in Ukraine or faces widespread sanctions in response to an invasion, growing domestic resistance to his rule risks being catalyzed. Regardless, the top line is clear: A Russian invasion of Ukraine looks ever likelier. – Washington Examiner  


Ukraine’s former president Petro Poroshenko returned to his home country Monday to face treason charges that he says are politically motivated — a standoff that observers say risks dangerously dividing Ukraine while Russian forces are massing on the border. – Washington Post 

Far-right French presidential candidate Éric Zemmour was found guilty of inciting racial hatred and fined $11,400 on Monday, adding another obstacle to a bid that has lost momentum in recent weeks but may leave a lasting mark on French politics. – Washington Post 

Britain’s Conservative-led government is reportedly planning to freeze a key source of public funding for the British Broadcasting Corp., one of the most trusted sources of news and a producer of some of the most popular television entertainment in the country. – Washington Post 

Microsoft has discovered destructive malware on dozens of Ukrainian government and private-sector computers, raising the risk that government agencies could find it difficult to operate in a crisis. – Washington Post 

The mayor’s office in Lisbon, Portugal’s capital, has to pay a $1.4 million fine for sending the personal information of protest organizers to foreign diplomats whose countries were the targets of those political demonstrations, the European country’s data protection commission announced Friday. – Washington Post 

Britain said on Monday it had begun supplying Ukraine with anti-tank weapons to help it defend itself from a potential invasion, during a stand-off with Russia which has massed troops near the Ukrainian border. – Reuters 

Albania and Turkey on Monday pledged to further boost their ties and increase their economic and cultural relations. – Associated Press 

Germany’s foreign minister said on Monday she hoped tensions with Russia over Ukraine could be solved by diplomacy, but she warned that Moscow would suffer if it does attack its neighbour. – Reuters 

Ukrainian authorities have blamed Russia for a cyberattack on their government websites, alleging that Moscow is engaging in a “hybrid war” on it also masses troops along the border. – The Hill 

Alyona Getmanchuk writes: Western leaders at the negotiating table should remember that Ukrainians deserve to be able to plan their lives according to their dreams, not according to Mr. Putin’s imperialistic obsessions. And that Ukraine’s failure would be not just a win for Mr. Putin’s regime but also a blow to global democracy. – New York Times 

Gideon Rachman writes: But the EU’s legislative processes is tortuous, making it unlikely that anti-coercion instruments can be agreed before the summer. By then Lithuania may have been forced to back down. In their own interests, the Europeans need to stop that happening. If China successfully bullies Lithuania while the EU watches impotently from the sidelines, that lesson will be noted — not just in Beijing, but in Moscow and Washington, too. – Financial Times 

Michael Kimmage writes: Closing NATO’s open door will not resolve Washington’s problems with Russia. These problems go far beyond the alliance. But ending NATO expansion would be an act of self-defense for the alliance itself, giving it the gifts that greater limitation and greater clarity confer. – Foreign Affairs 


A trial in Zimbabwe of a freelance reporter working for The New York Times, a case viewed as a litmus test of press freedom in the southern African country, paused on Friday after three days that included  testimony by a chief witness for the state, who could not produce the documents at the heart of the case. – New York Times 

Ibrahim Boubacar Keita, a former president of Mali who came to power on the promise of honest leadership but was ousted in a coup in 2020 amid allegations of corruption, died on Sunday at his home in Bamako, the capital. He was 76. – New York Times 

Ethiopia’s foreign ministry has called on the World Health Organization (WHO) to investigate its leader for supporting rebellious forces fighting the Ethiopian government. – Reuters 

Sudanese forces opened fire killing seven protesters Monday in one of the deadliest recent mass rallies against a military coup, with UN Security Council members urging Khartoum to exercise the “utmost restraint”. – Agence France-Presse 

Sudan has revoked the license of Al Jazeera Mubasher, part of the Qatar-based network, accusing it of “unprofessional” television coverage of anti-coup protests, the channel said on Sunday. “Sudanese authorities announce that they have revoked the accreditation of Al Jazeera Mubasher and banned his team from working in Sudan,” the news channel tweeted. – Agence France-Presse 

Latin America

Detained protesters in Cuba could get up to 30 years in prison as they face the largest and most punitive mass trials on the island since the early years of the revolution. Prosecutors this week put on trial more than 60 citizens charged with crimes, including sedition, for taking part in demonstrations against the country’s economic crisis over the summer, said human rights activists and relatives of those detained. – New York Times 

The Philippines Commission on Elections on Monday threw out a petition to disqualify Ferdinand Marcos Jr. from the May presidential election, one of several efforts to keep the son of the former dictator Ferdinand E. Marcos off the ballot. – New York Times 

A former Haitian lawmaker who is a suspect in the assassination of the country’s president has been arrested in Jamaica, a police source said Saturday. – Agence France-Presse 

Guatemala has hired for $900,000 a major supporter of former President Donald Trump to seek influence with U.S. officials in an unusual lobbying contract paid for by its ally Taiwan, foreign lobby records show. – Associated Press 

United States

The man who took hostages at a Dallas-area synagogue Saturday night was apparently motivated by his anger over the U.S. imprisonment of Aafia Siddiqui, 49, a Pakistani woman being held in federal prison in Fort Worth for trying to kill American soldiers. – Washington Post 

In public, the U.S. and its allies this week presented a united front in rejecting Russian demands that they rule out NATO enlargement and pull military forces back from the alliance’s eastern flank. – Wall Street Journal 

A federal court has charged US citizen Kambiz Attar Kashani with conspiring to provide technology and electronic equipment to the Iranian government, the US Justice Department reported on Friday. – Jerusalem Post 

The airline industry on Monday called on the Biden administration to block any 5G wireless transmission within a two mile radius of airport runways, citing the potential for thousands of flight cancellations and disruptions once the technology is switched on in just days. – Politico 

Editorial: When Biden’s staff show up to lobby them on Putin’s behalf, Democratic senators should think twice. If they pass up the chance to vote for Cruz’s sanctions bill, they will be the ones colluding with Russia. – Washington Examiner  

James McAuley writes: It’s far easier, of course, to denounce bigotry on the other side of the aisle than on one’s own side. The Texas attack should trigger some honest reckoning in institutions such as the Council on American-Islamic Relations, which condemned the hostage situation but one of whose senior members, Zahra Billoo, declared, barely a month ago, that “Zionist synagogues” contribute to Islamophobia. Far too often, hateful words become calls to action. – Washington Post 

Michael Gerson writes: But we should not accept the presence of guards and traffic barriers at synagogues as somehow normal or acceptable. It is not. It is a scandal of the first order when religious worship in America involves routine fear. – Washington Post 

Jared Sorhaindo and Sean Durns write: Wannsee should teach us that monsters can take many forms, and monstrous ideas can be held by even the most privileged and the most educated. Amid rising antisemitism, the world must remember this lesson—it can’t afford to do otherwise. – The National Interest 


Microsoft warned on Saturday evening that it had detected a highly destructive form of malware in dozens of government and private computer networks in Ukraine that appeared to be waiting to be triggered by an unknown actor. – New York Times 

Nearly four dozen states on Friday asked a federal appeals court to reconsider an antitrust lawsuit against Facebook that a judge threw out last year. – New York Times 

Russia’s domestic security agency on Friday arrested 14 alleged members of the REvil ransomware gang, including a hacker that U.S. officials say executed May’s Colonial Pipeline attack, and announced that it had eliminated the group at Washington’s request. – Washington Post 

Top bosses of Google and Facebook were directly involved in approving an allegedly illegal 2018 deal to cement their dominance of the online advertising market, US court documents revealed Friday (Jan 14). – Agence France-Presse 

Pension cash for British Gas workers was used to buy Israeli cyberweapon developer NSO Group, whose spyware has been found on the phones of human rights activists and journalists. – Financial Times 


A U.S. ballistic missile submarine made a stop in Guam on Saturday amid tensions in the Indo-Pacific region. – The Hill 

The U.S. Navy is emphasizing unmanned surface ships in its testbed effort for new platforms operating in U.S. Central Command, the commander of U.S. 5th Fleet said on Friday. – USNI News 

The Biden administration is expected to soon release its version of the US Conventional Arms Transfer (CAT) policy, which sets the guardrails for how America sells arms to foreign militaries. While the administration has held its cards close on what the new policy will entail, it is widely expected to put a renewed emphasis on the human rights records of potential arms buyers. – Breaking Defense 

Long War

The United Arab Emirates will ask the U.S. to put Yemen’s Iranian-backed Houthis back on its list of terrorist organizations after a drone attack on the Emirati capital killed three people, a person familiar with government thinking said Monday. – Bloomberg  

The FBI walked back earlier comments it made over the weekend and said in a statement Sunday night that it considered the standoff inside a Coleyville, Texas, synagogue a “terrorism-related matter” targeting the Jewish community. – Business Insider 

Police in the UK said they made two arrests in connection with Saturday’s synagogue hostage incident in Texas. The Greater Manchester Police announced on Sunday that officers from Counter Terror Policing North West arrested two teens in South Manchester. – Business Insider 

A Somali government spokesman was wounded Sunday in an attack by the Al-Shabaab jihadist group, though his wounds are “not serious,” the prime minister’s office said. – Agence France-Presse 

At least 10 civilians have been killed in an attack blamed on jihadists in northern Burkina Faso, an area in the grip of a six-year insurgency, security sources said Sunday. – Agence France-Presse 

Michael Rubin writes: Hopefully, the Colleyville hostage situation will be resolved without the loss of life, at least on the part of the hostages. But, it should also be a wake-up call: To allow diplomatic wishful thinking about Pakistan’s orientation trump reality has a very high cost, one increasingly measured in American lives. […]It is time to designate Pakistan as a state sponsor of terrorism. – 19fortyfive