Fdd's overnight brief

January 21, 2020

In The News


President Trump delivered a dramatic account of the airstrike that killed Iranian Maj. Gen. Qasem Soleimani, joked that he doesn’t care if construction projects kill all the rattlesnakes and noted his indifference to the budget during a private dinner with deep-pocketed donors Friday night at Mar-a-Lago, according to audio files obtained by The Washington Post. – Washington Post

Iran’s supreme leader used a rare public sermon Friday to rally Iranians and reclaim the official narrative after an unprecedented confrontation with the United States and the downing of a passenger plane, which sparked days of anti-government protests. – Washington Post

President Trump has quickly turned the U.S. drone killing of Iranian military commander Qasem Soleimani into a boast for the campaign trail, regaling supporters with tales of his role in the operation as he seeks to burnish his commander-in-chief credentials in an election year. – Washington Post

With open hostilities between Iran and the U.S. subsiding for now, the Trump administration is seeking to keep pressure on Iran without pushing the region into a volatile new confrontation, U.S. and regional officials said. – Wall Street Journal

The Trump administration lodged sanctions against an Iranian military officer the U.S. maintains led units involved in a violent crackdown on protests in which nearly 150 people were killed. – Wall Street Journal

Escalating U.S.-Iran tensions mean Afghanistan, which shares a border with Iran, could be the next proxy battleground between Washington and Tehran, a clash that threatens to undermine the Trump administration’s pursuit of a peace deal with the Taliban and eventual drawdown of American troops. – Washington Times 

The latest anti-government demonstrations sweeping Iran arguably pose the most serious challenge to the administration of any in its 40-year history. – BBC

Iran acknowledged on Tuesday that its armed forces fired two Russian anti-aircraft missiles at a Ukrainian jetliner that crashed after taking off from Tehran’s main airport earlier this month, killing all 176 people on board. – Associated Press

Iran said it could quit the global nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) if European countries refer it to the U.N. Security Council for scaling back its commitments under its 2015 nuclear pact with world powers, which the United States quit in 2018. – Reuters 

Iran will review its cooperation with the United Nations’ nuclear watchdog should it face “unjust” measures, Iranian parliament speaker Ali Larijani said, after EU powers last week triggered a dispute mechanism under Tehran’s 2015 nuclear deal. – Reuters 

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif will not attend the World Economic Forum’s annual meeting in Davos this week because its organizers had “abruptly changed its agenda”, its foreign ministry spokesman said on Monday. – Reuters 

Iran has asked the U.S. and French authorities for equipment to download information from black boxes on a downed Ukrainian airliner, a request that will add to international frustration at Tehran’s failure to send the recorders abroad for analysis. – Reuters

The new commander of Iran’s expeditionary Quds Force on Monday threatened that there are “freedom-seekers” all over the world who want to avenge the death of his predecessor, Qassem Solemiani, adding that Tehran’s enemies only understand the “language of force.” – Times of Israel

Western attempts to curb Iran’s ballistic missile development will fail, a senior Russian ambassador said amid U.S. warnings that Tehran’s arsenal poses a threat. – Washington Examiner

President Trump used Farsi, the language of Iran, to blast Ayatollah Ali Khamenei for killing his own people. Trump responded to a tweet Khamenei sent out on Friday, the same day that he gave his first public sermon in eight years. The 80-year-old leader tweeted that America was “villainous” and accused the United States of wanting to stab the Iranian people “in the heart.” – Washington Examiner

A slew of influential Iranian artists, television personalities and sports stars have publicly broken with Tehran after the government denied for days that it shot down a Ukrainian passenger plane this month. – NBC

A never-seen-before secret Iranian government document proves the regime was trying to build a nuclear weapon as far back as 2002. – Daily Mail

IDC’s International Institute for Counter-Terrorism (ICT) has identified a bitcoin front for Hamas which has links to Iran in a report exclusively obtained by The Jerusalem Post. – Jerusalem Post

Elana DeLozier writes: The next troubling step Iran could take would be to increase enrichment from 4.5% to 19.75%, which is technically quite close to weapons-grade uranium. If Tehran is able to grow its stockpile as quickly as Rouhani claims, and if it boosts enrichment to 19.75%, this would raise the same concerns that existed prior to the JCPOA about its potentially short breakout time. – Washington Institute 

Suzanne Maloney writes: This time, the unrest has been centered around Iranian universities, and the voices denouncing the Islamic Republic have been those of students and the middle class.[…] What this means is that the Islamic Republic and its 80-year-old supreme leader must now contend with multiple sources of fierce public dissatisfaction at a time when external pressure is severe and leadership transitions—whether through upcoming elections or inevitable succession at the top—loom large. Revolutionary Iran has navigated perilous waters repeatedly over the past four decades, but the currents just became more unpredictable than ever. – The Atlantic

Neville Teller writes: As for this latest round of mass anti-government demonstrations, they must appear to Trump and his supporters to vindicate the “maximum pressure” campaign he launched when he renounced the Iran nuclear deal in May 2018. It suggests broad-based discontent with the regime, and a deep-seated desire for economic and political change. How far will Trump go to facilitate just such a change? – Jerusalem Post

Charles Thépaut and Elana DeLozier write: European countries have long warned that U.S. withdrawal from the JCPOA would weaken counterproliferation efforts, strengthen Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, and fuel regional instability. In their view, those predictions have come true, so it is now time to get serious about negotiations and stop the uncontrolled game of countermeasures. Although the DRM is no magic pill, Iran and the Trump administration need to realize that there are few if any good options left for reaching a negotiated solution. – Washington Institute 

Graeme Wood writes: The Iranian regime knows that many American weapons formerly housed in their scabbards are now drawn, and their security requires a vigilance they have never experienced. But the Iranian people are, for the first time in decades, worried about whether the leaders who have been their captors are not also their protectors, and whether the U.S. would care about their survival, once those leaders have been eliminated. The year 2020 is a year of pessimism for many Americans. Imagine how it looks to an Iranian. – The Atlantic


The Honduran government on Monday officially declared Lebanon’s Hezbollah a terrorist organization, in a move widely praised by Jerusalem. – Times of Israel

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Monday praised three south American countries for declaring Lebanon’s Hezbollah a terror group, while criticizing Venezuela for continuing to support the organization. – Times of Israel

Tom Rogan writes: Lebanon’s political crisis escalated this weekend, with hundreds of civilians wounded in running street battles against security forces. The chaos will increase the Lebanese Hezbollah’s temptation to lash out at Israel to unify the nation against a common enemy. At the source of tensions here is a months-long political and economic crisis. – Washington Examiner

Herb Keinon writes: What Honduras is doing about Hezbollah is positive, but it is by no means going to tip the scales. […]Honduras does not have that consideration, and, in fact, one of the reasons it is believed to be willing to go through with this step is because it hopes that by so doing, it will land on the right side of the US administration, which is actively lobbying its Latin America allies to take the move. – Jerusalem Post


Eight years and counting of bloodshed have condemned a generation of Syrian men to their deaths, to prison or to precarious lives as refugees. Now, with most of the country once again under government control, yet ruptured beyond recognition, moving forward is up to the women left behind: part survivors, part mourners, part mop-up crew. – New York Times

United Nations human rights chief Michelle Bachelet called on Friday for an immediate cessation of hostilities in Syria’s opposition-held Idlib province, saying the latest ceasefire attempt had yet again failed to protect civilians. – Reuters

Tom Rogan writes: Syrian dictator Bashar Assad has a big problem. His currency is in free fall, and there’s little he can do to stop it. Evidencing as much, Assad on Saturday increased the penalty for foreign currency trading. It will now involve years of hard labor. His security services are also escalating their repression of a growing protest movement over the Syrian pound’s collapsing value. Beyond the threats, however, Assad’s hands are tied. That’s because this crisis has four key sources largely outside of his control. – Washington Examiner


Cyprus on Sunday denounced Turkey as a “pirate state” that flouts international law as Turkey’s bid to drill for natural gas in waters where Cyprus has economic rights rekindled tensions over energy reserves in the eastern Mediterranean. – Associated Press

The European Union has urged Turkey to drop plans to drill for oil and gas around Cyprus and the eastern Mediterranean, saying such exploration was “illegal.” – Agence France-Presse

The class — part of a €700m collaboration between the EU and Turkey’s education ministry — is the product of a multibillion-euro refugee deal struck between Ankara and Brussels three years ago. But that agreement is now reaching its end. By the close of the year, European officials must finish allocating the second of two €3bn tranches of funding. – Financial Times


Jordan’s parliament on Sunday approved a draft law to ban imports of Israeli gas to the country just days after they started under a multibillion-dollar deal struck in 2016 which is opposed by much of the population. – Reuters 

Israel’s military announced on Sunday the start of construction of an underground network of sensors along the Lebanese frontier to detect any cross-border tunnel building. – Reuters 

On the eve of International Holocaust Remembrance Day, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu again drew a parallel between the Nazi genocide of Jews and Iran’s nuclear program. – Times of Israel

US President Donald Trump’s special adviser and son-in-law Jared Kushner will travel to Israel Wednesday to attend the World Holocaust Forum and likely meet with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Blue and White leader Benny Gantz. – Times of Israel

Israel has warned Hamas that it will respond forcefully to any attempt to disrupt this week’s summit of world leaders in Jerusalem, and will not hesitate to strike the terror group in the Gaza Strip in response to such provocations, regardless of the intensified international focus, according to a report Monday. – Times of Israel

The Israeli military fired a shell at a Hamas observation post along the Gaza border Sunday afternoon, apparently in response to the launching of a balloon-borne explosive device from the Strip, Palestinian media reported Sunday. – Times of Israel

The head of Israel’s domestic security agency, the Shin Bet, revealed on Monday that his organization had thwarted 560 terrorist attacks in 2019. The Israeli daily Yediot Ahronot reported that Nadav Argaman made the statement during a ceremony for the Prime Minister’s Award honoring operational and intelligence achievements over the past year. – Algemeiner

Eli Lake writes: For now, the event puts Israel in a precarious position. Israel has negotiated an arrangement with Russia in Syria, where its jets are given permission to bomb Iranian positions when intelligence indicates they are moving advanced weapons to Hezbollah militias close to its borders. At the same time, Israel has an interest in seeing the U.S. campaign against Iran succeed with allies such as Poland. For this commemoration of Auschwitz, Israel chose Russia over America and Poland. That may be a wise short-term bet, but it’s not a decision that is in Israel’s long-term interests. – Bloomberg 


Eleven U.S. military personnel required medical treatment outside Iraq after Iranian missile strikes, defense officials said, reversing earlier assurances from President Trump and the Pentagon that there had been no American casualties. – Washington Post

US President Donald Trump will meet his Iraqi counterpart and the head of the European Union executive body during his visit to Davos in Switzerland this week, the White House said Monday. – Agence France-Presse

Iraqi security forces fired tear gas and live rounds during clashes with anti-government protesters overnight and on Monday morning in Baghdad, wounding at least 13 demonstrators and prompting authorities to close key streets and thoroughfares leading to the city center, officials said. – Times of Israel

An Iraqi SWAT team arrested 560-pound Islamic State preacher Abu Abdul Bari, also known as Shifa al Nima, this week in Mosul. The extremist ideologue was transported in the back of a truck. – Washington Examiner


Lebanon is bracing for deepening unrest after weekend riots in the capital suggested the country’s once-peaceful protest movement is entering a dangerous new phase. Rescue services and police said Sunday that more than 400 people were treated for injuries after the worst night of violence since Lebanese took to the streets in October to demand a new government capable of leading the country out of an acute economic and financial crisis. – Washington Post

An American journalist has been detained in Lebanon on suspicion of sending footage of anti-government protests to an Israeli news outlet — a potentially serious crime under Lebanese law — authorities here said Monday. – Washington Post

Lebanon needs to quickly form a new government to stop a cycle of collapse and worsening economic and security conditions, caretaker prime minister Saad al-Hariri said on Monday, after a weekend of violent confrontations shook the capital. – Reuters 

Police fired volleys of tear gas and rubber bullets in Lebanon’s capital Saturday to disperse thousands of protesters amid some of the worst rioting since demonstrations against the country’s ruling elite erupted three months ago. More than 150 people were injured.-  Associated Press


The death toll in a drone and missile attack on a government military training base in central Yemen rose to at least 76 on Sunday, representing an escalation bound to complicate international efforts to end the country’s prolonged war. – New York Times 

The United Nations said on Sunday that a missile attack on a government military camp in central Yemen which killed dozens of people could derail a fragile political process that aims to calm the almost five-year-old war. – Reuters 

Yemen’s president condemned on Sunday an attack by Houthi rebels on a government military camp, as authorities said fatalities had risen to at least 79 troops. – Times of Israel


When top American and European officials gather in Berlin for a one-day summit on Sunday, they will try to persuade Libya’s warring sides — and their main international backers — to reach a cease-fire, respect a U.N. arms embargo and pave the way to a political resolution. – Washington Post

Western and Arab powers signed a wide-ranging agreement on Sunday to respect a U.N. arms embargo and stop providing military support to Libya’s warring factions. But the gathering failed to persuade the rival sides to agree to a lasting cease-fire, as many had hoped. – Washington Post

Forces loyal to Libyan military strongman Khalifa Haftar blocked oil exports from the war-ravaged country’s main ports Saturday, raising the stakes on the eve of an international summit aimed at bringing peace to the North African nation. – Agence France-Presse

Libya will face a “catastrophic situation” unless foreign powers put pressure on eastern-based commander Khalifa Haftar to lift a blockade of oilfields that has cut output to almost zero, the country’s internationally recognised premier said on Monday. – Reuters 

World powers and other countries with interests in Libya’s long-running civil war agreed Sunday to respect a much-violated arms embargo, hold off on military support to the warring parties and push them to reach a full cease-fire, German and U.N. leaders said. – Associated Press

Ben Fishman and Charles Thépaut write: If the latest conference is to succeed, the principal actors stoking the civil war must endorse a genuine ceasefire and a return to Libyan internal dialogue. […]The Berlin conference is a critical opportunity to at least pause Libya’s war. If Washington misses it, there may not be another one until hundreds more are killed and thousands more displaced. – Washington Institute 

Guney Yildiz writes: Russia and Turkey have established their influence in Europe’s backyard by being willing to commit military assets. This weekend’s summit in Berlin represents an attempt by Europe and its close allies to respond using their diplomatic strength. A crucial indicator will be whether Europe manages to put in place an embargo on anyone sending more weapons to Libya. The outcome will echo far beyond Tripoli. – Middle East Institute 

Middle East & North Africa

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo expressed outrage during a meeting with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi over the “pointless and tragic death” of detained U.S. citizen Moustafa Kassem in Egypt, a U.S. official said on Sunday. – Reuters 

A new Qatari law criminalising the publishing of “false or biased” statements could “significantly restrict freedom of expression”, rights group Amnesty International said on Monday. – Reuters 

For the past two years, Soltan, a U.S. citizen, had been held in Egypt on charges of spreading false information after he live-tweeted the dispersal of an Islamist protest. He was sentenced to life in prison, and for several hundred days, he had staged a hunger strike in a bid to secure his freedom — ultimately losing more than 100 pounds. – Washington Post

Benjamin Baird and Clifford Smith write: The international media conglomerate Al Jazeera has long operated as a Qatari publicity agent, producing content that consistently reflects the emirate’s pro-Islamist, anti-American outlook. But when the U.S. Justice Department, spurred on by Russian election interference, began cracking down on foreign propaganda machines, Qatar responded soon after by dumping Emir Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani’s controlling stake in Al Jazeera. By all appearances, this restructuring represents nothing more than a clumsy ploy, and the emir may have ceded control of the media giant purely to flout American laws governing foreign agents. – Washington Examiner

Korean Peninsula

North Korea’s new foreign minister is a former defence commander with little diplomatic experience, spotlighting leader Kim Jong Un’s reliance on party and military loyalists at a sensitive time amid stalled U.S. talks, analysts in Seoul said on Monday. – Reuters 

South Korea’s military said on Tuesday it plans to expand the deployment of an anti-piracy unit now operating off the coast of Africa to the area around the Strait of Hormuz, after the United States pressed for help to guard oil tankers. – Reuters 

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said on Monday that South Korea was its “most important neighbour” and that the two shared basic values, taking a conciliatory tone towards the country that has been locked in a bitter row with Tokyo for over a year. – Reuters 


Lawyers for Huawei Technologies Co. executive Meng Wanzhou argued in a Canadian court against her extradition to the U.S., saying the sanctions against Iran that she is accused of violating aren’t enforced in Canada. – Wall Street Journal

U.S. officials are subjecting Chinese academic institutions to greater scrutiny over fears they are exploiting ties to U.S. businesses and universities to promote China’s economic and military goals. – Wall Street Journal

President Trump’s approval of a “phase one” trade pact with China on Wednesday, a step back from a trade war that has lasted nearly two years, was met with cautious optimism in the United States. In Europe, however, the partial deal gave rise to frostier reactions. – Washington Post

China repeated its call on Monday for Canada to release detained Huawei Technologies Chief Financial Officer Meng Wanzhou as soon as possible, ahead of the executive’s first extradition hearing later in the day. – Reuters 

A Chinese court sentenced former Interpol President Meng Hongwei to 13.5 years in prison, more than a year after he went missing during a visit to his home country. – Bloomberg 

Tom Rogan writes: China is America’s preeminent global adversary. But in recent years, China has been the one scoring most of the wins in this new cold war. Fortunately, January has brought Xi Jinping’s Communist regime five small defeats. The four most recent defeats all came last week. – Washington Examiner

South Asia

The Taliban has presented the U.S. special representative for Afghanistan with a proposal to reduce violence and restart long-stalled peace talks, according to Pakistani and Taliban officials, as negotiators met in Doha, Qatar, for what the Taliban said was expected to be “several days” of informal talks. – Washington Post

China’s President Xi Jinping visited Myanmar and made a push to rev up big infrastructure projects under his Belt and Road initiative, seeking to cement Beijing’s role as the country’s closest international partner while Western governments hold back over human-rights violations. – Wall Street Journal

A Myanmar-appointed panel concluded Monday that some soldiers likely committed war crimes against its Rohingya Muslim community but the military was not guilty of genocide, findings swiftly condemned by rights groups. – Agence France-Presse

A German court convicted a Sri Lankan man Monday of accessory to murder in the 2005 killing of the South Asian nation’s foreign minister for providing his assassins with crucial information. – Associated Press


Pro-democracy protesters and police clashed in Hong Kong’s financial district Sunday, as authorities abruptly shut down an approved and largely peaceful rally and used batons and tear gas to disperse the crowd. – Wall Street Journal

The Philippine military on Sunday said it has launched search and rescue operations for five Indonesian fishermen kidnapped by militants belonging to the Islamic State-linked Abu Sayyaf group in Malaysian waters last week. – Reuters 

India’s trade minister will not meet with his Malaysian counterpart in Davos next week because of his tight schedule, an Indian trade ministry official said on Sunday, as a spat simmers between the top buyer of palm oil and its biggest supplier. – Reuters 

President Donald Trump marked the 60th anniversary of the signing of the security treaty between the United States and Japan with a call for a stronger and deeper alliance between the two countries, despite criticising the pact six months ago. – Reuters 


President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia submitted constitutional amendments on Monday that empower a previously toothless advisory council as a powerful policy arbiter, setting up what could be a future role for himself as Russia’s long-term paramount leader. – New York Times 

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson told Russian President Vladimir Putin on Sunday there would be no normalisation of the two countries’ relations until Moscow ends its “destabilising activity” that threatens security. – Reuters 

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Russian President Vladimir Putin will discuss a likely pardon for Naama Issachar, who is in a Moscow prison, the Kremlin said on Monday. – Jerusalem Post

Russia’s Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov on Monday warned Iran not to take any “reckless steps” to quit the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), Sputnik News reported. – Arutz Sheva

Editorial: It’s outrageous that Russia mounted a full-scale offensive on American democracy in 2016; it’s outrageous that Russia, by all assessments, plans to mount another next time around; it’s outrageous that President Trump won’t speak out against this; and, as Mr. Van Hollen said on the Senate floor, “It would be equally outrageous for us — knowing that is Russia’s intent in 2020 — to sit here and not do anything.” – Washington Post

Ian Bremmer writes: We still don’t know what Putin’s final play is. He may not know himself, and he has plenty of options available to him—he could return as Prime Minister, stay on as head of his United Russia party, or become the head of that newly empowered State Council. […] Whatever the final position he holds will be, the moves this week are all about equalizing power across various branches of Russia’s political power; in so doing, Putin ensures that he will remain the primary political operator in the country past 2024 in whatever position he holds. – TIME


As Washington’s trade dispute with China cools, the U.S. is still skirmishing with Europe on a number of tariff fronts, and this Scottish town of about 1,000 people is getting caught in the crossfire. – Wall Street Journal

Italy and Britain will face U.S. tariffs if they proceed with a tax on digital companies such as Alphabet Inc.’s Google and Facebook Inc., U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin warned. – Wall Street Journal

The United Kingdom’s relationship with the United States is facing another stern test over whether to allow the Chinese telecoms giant Huawei, which the U.S. and others accuse of being a security threat, to manage the roll-out of new broadband technology. – NBC News

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s Brexit plans hit a hurdle Monday when Parliament’s upper chamber told the government to give European Union citizens living in the U.K. physical proof of their right to remain after the country leaves the bloc. – Associated Press

In a continuing dispute with Russia, Poland’s Foreign Ministry on Saturday listed cultural and economic losses the country suffered after Soviet troops took control of its territory at the end of World War II. – Associated Press

Italian opposition leader Matteo Salvini has vowed that if he is elected to head the government, he will recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. – Jerusalem Post

Italian Jewish leaders have praised the Italian government for their adoption of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) definition of antisemitism, and for appointing Professor Milena Santerini as national coordinator for the fight against antisemitism, calling the move “encouraging.” – Jerusalem Post

Israel and the United Kingdom are building a “new strategic relationship” driven by soaring bilateral trade and deepening ties in various sectors, according to a new report. – Jerusalem Post

A German-Afghan translator for the German army goes on trial Monday along with his wife on charges of treason for allegedly spying for Iran. – Times of Israel

Tom McTague writes: The model Britain should be looking at, from this perspective, is not Norway’s or Switzerland’s or Canada’s trading relationship with the EU, but Canada itself: a medium-size economy flourishing next to a trading superpower; an open, multicultural democracy bound by trade agreements but not supranational institutions and law; and a country that has navigated the position in which it finds itself in the world—geographically in the New World but with ties to the old, spread out and linguistically divided, multicultural and multiethnic. – The Atlantic


Islamist militants attacked a facility housing several aid groups in northeast Nigeria at the weekend in what the United Nations warned on Monday is an escalation in violence specifically targeting aid workers. – Reuters 

Iran’s Quds Force attempted to set up terror cells in Central Africa to strike Western, Israeli and Saudi targets, UN reporters have heard. – Jerusalem Post

Prime Minister Boris Johnson will call for deeper investment ties between Britain and Africa at a summit for leaders of 21 African countries on Monday that comes days before his country will leave the European Union. – Reuters 

U.N. experts say most rebel groups and all of Sudan’s neighbors except Libya support the peace process in Darfur but local security incidents in that troubled western region have increased, ranging from rapes to clashes between farmers and herders. – Associated Press

Defense Secretary Mark Esper’s plan to draw down U.S. forces in Africa is facing increased pushback on Capitol Hill. The top Democrat and Republican on the House Armed Services Committee have joined numerous lawmakers calling on Esper to stop a planned reduction of the 6,000 to 7,000 troops fighting militant terrorist groups on the continent and instead keep the forces in an effort to better counter Russian and Chinese aggression. – The Hill

Latin America

Mexico expressed optimism on Friday that the new North American trade treaty would result in improved relations with the Trump administration and shield this country from the kind of economic threats that brought it to the brink of crisis last year. – Washington Post

Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro cast himself as the wily survivor of a dramatic, year-long struggle by the opposition at home and its allies in Washington to unseat him, and said it’s now time for direct negotiations with the United States to end the political stalemate that has crippled this nation of some 30 million. – Washington Post

Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaidó, recognized as the nation’s rightful president by the United States and nearly 60 other countries, defied a travel ban Sunday to make a surprise appearance in neighboring Colombia, the start of a global mission to shore up support for his movement. – Washington Post

Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro fired a top cabinet member over a speech he gave that contained phrases from Adolf Hitler’s propaganda chief Joseph Goebbels. – Wall Street Journal

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo called on Monday for cooperation in the struggle to remove Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro from office amid a long-running crisis in the South American country. – Agence France-Presse

Venezuela’s opposition leader Juan Guaido — who declared himself acting president last year — will attend this week’s World Economic Forum in Davos, lawmaker Stalin Gonzalez told AFP on Monday. – Agence France-Presse

Former Bolivian leader Evo Morales is fostering instability and violence from inside Argentina and the United States had warned the South American nation that he would be a “headache,” a senior U.S. official said in an interview published on Sunday by Bolivian media. – Reuters 

Tom Rogan writes: The Trump administration is moving this week to fix its faltering Venezuela strategy. The effort has two prongs: strengthening interim president Juan Guaido and increasing pressure on illegitimate president Nicolas Maduro. These steps are long overdue. – Washington Examiner


Japan’s prime minister said Monday that his country will form a space defense unit to protect itself from potential threats as rivals develop missiles and other technology and the new unit will work closely with its American counterpart recently launched by President Donald Trump. – Associated Press

Attempted cyberattacks against North Dakota state government nearly tripled last year, according to the Grand Forks Herald. Shawn Riley, North Dakota’s chief information officer and head of the information technology department, said there were more than 15 million cyberattacks against the state’s government per month in 2019, a 300 percent increase since 2018. – The Hill

Estonian and U.S. specialists are setting up a new project aimed at easing the transfer of cyberthreat information between the two nations. – Fifth Domain 

Brian Finch writes: Americans have become fixated on the possibility of Iran launching deadly attacks in retaliation for President Donald Trump’s decision to kill Quds force leader Qassem Soleimani. Such fears are grounded in reality, as Iran has a long track record of lashing out after being struck by the American military. – The Hill


The U.S. Navy named an aircraft carrier in honor of an African American for the first time on Monday during a Martin Luther King Jr. Day ceremony. – USA Today

The first GPS III satellite is officially healthy and available for use by the military and civilians as of Jan. 13, thanks to a ground segment upgrade that provides the military command and control of the new, more powerful navigation satellite. – C4ISRNET 

The 3,000 sailors aboard aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN-72) arrived at their new California homeport this morning having spent more time deployed than any carrier since the mid-1970s – 294 days. – USNI News 

Family and friends said goodbye on Friday to more than 6,000 sailors with the Theodore Roosevelt Carrier Strike Group, which is leaving for a scheduled deployment to the U.S. Indo-Pacific Command region. – USNI News 

AE Systems announced Monday that is has reached an agreement to buy two subsidiaries being divested for antitrust reasons by Raytheon and UTC as part of the merger between the latter two companies. – Defense News 

The vice-chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff thinks it’s time for America’s military to stop sitting around “studying the heck” out of its potential space solutions and instead begin testing them in orbit. – Defense News 

Long War

The Norwegian prime minister lost her parliamentary majority Monday after the right-wing Progress Party withdrew its ministers from the government coalition. The right-wing protest move came in response to the controversial repatriation of a suspected Islamic State member and her children from a Syrian camp. – Washington Post

Britain will introduce tougher jail sentences for convicted terrorists and will end early release as part of a series of measures to strengthen its response to terrorism, the government said on Tuesday. – Reuters 

Khalid Sheikh Mohammed will appear in a Guantanamo Bay courtroom this week, more than 18 years after the 9/11 terrorist attacks he is alleged to have masterminded and a year before he will finally face a jury. – Washington Examiner

Kosovo prosecutors on Monday filed terrorism charges against an Albanian woman who allegedly joined a terror group in Syria. […]They went to neighboring Skopje, North Macedonia, and then to Turkey where they crossed the Syrian border to join the Islamic State group, authorities said. – Associated Press

The new leader of Islamic State has been confirmed as Amir Mohammed Abdul Rahman al-Mawli al-Salbi, according to officials from two intelligence services. He is one of the terror group’s founding members and has led the enslavement of Iraq’s Yazidi minority and has overseen operations around the globe. – The Guardian

Trump Administration

Trump heads to snowy Davos, Switzerland, on Monday for an economic forum attended by world leaders and corporate honchos where tensions with his administration will probably be on display. The president is expected to use his address there Tuesday to crow about successful trade deals, a humming U.S. economy and his recent showdown with Iran. – Washington Post

Seven members of the House of Representatives will act as prosecutors in the Senate impeachment trial of U.S. President Donald Trump, which begins in earnest on Tuesday. – Reuters 

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Friday the State Department would examine alleged surveillance of former U.S. ambassador Marie Yovanovitch by associates of Rudy Giuliani, President Donald Trump’s personal lawyer. – USA Today

President Donald Trump’s impeachment trial is set to unfold at the Capitol, a contentious proceeding to render judgment on his Ukraine actions as Americans form their own verdict at the start of an election year. – Associated Press