Fdd's overnight brief

January 4, 2023

In The News


An Iranian chess player arrived in Spain on Tuesday after receiving what a source close to her said were warnings not to return to Iran for competing without a hijab at an international tournament in Kazakhstan. – Reuters

Iran has indicted two French nationals and a Belgian for espionage and working against the country’s national security, the semi-official Student News Network quoted a judiciary spokesperson as saying on Tuesday. – Reuters

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu pledged to step up his efforts to derail a return to the Iran nuclear deal by airing his opposition openly and in public, in an apparent shift from a more circumspect approach taken by the previous government. – Bloomberg

Qasim Fathullahi, a member of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), was shot and killed in front of his home in Tehran on Tuesday evening, according to Iranian reports. The assassination comes as Iran marks the anniversary of the assassination of IRGC Quds Force commander Qasem Soleimani. – Jerusalem Post

Even the staunchest supporters of the Islamic Republic are criticizing the Iranian government for failing to control the increasingly high cost of living and the economic hardship experienced by most of the country’s population. – Kayhan Life

In a dry dock near the entrance to the Persian Gulf, Iran’s sectarian naval force is converting a former merchant container ship into a drone aircraft carrier, according to satellite and open source photos published last week by USNI News contributor H I Sutton. – USNI News

Eric R. Mandel writes: As Ronald Reagan said, “It is time for us to realize that we’re too great a nation to limit ourselves to small dreams. … The years ahead will be great for our country, for the cause of freedom and the spread of civilization.” Those are words that should inspire the Iranian people and they’re words that make me proud to be an American. – The Hill

Nicholas Carl, Zachary Coles, and Frederick W. Kagan write: The organizational structure of the protest movement is continuing to evolve and morph as its leaders try to cohere the movement. Several different umbrella organizations for the smaller protest groups have emerged in recent months. […]This apparent disunity may indicate that different protest leaders are vying for influence within the movement. This possibly internal struggle is a somewhat natural consequence of the growing cohesion within the protest movement. It does not mean that the protest movement is irrevocably divided but is a challenge protest leaders must overcome. – Institute for the Study of War

Russia & Ukraine

Ukraine is improving its ability to intercept the Iranian-made Shahed drones that Russia has relied on to damage Ukrainian infrastructure, with Western-supplied air-defense systems increasingly helping Kyiv repel the attacks. – Wall Street Journal

Russian forces are repeating basic errors that are compromising the security and safety of their own soldiers in occupied Ukraine, according to military analysts, including failing to shut down cellphone use in areas where troops are concentrated within range of Ukrainian artillery. – Wall Street Journal

Ukraine has achieved a cut-price version of what the Pentagon has spent decades and billions of dollars striving to accomplish: digitally networked fighters, intelligence and weapons. – Wall Street Journal

The deaths of scores of Russian troops in a devastating strike on New Year’s Day has set off a blame game among Russian officials now facing criticism for allegedly packing hundreds of soldiers into a barracks and storing ammunition in the same building — all within Ukrainian firing range. – Washington Post

Exploding drones are lumbering and noisy and relatively easy to shoot from the sky and, over the New Year’s weekend, Ukraine says, its military downed every single one of about 80 that Russia sent the country’s way. – New York Times

Russia’s defence ministry on Wednesday blamed the illegal use of mobile phones by its soldiers for a deadly Ukrainian missile strike that it said killed 89 servicemen, raising the reported death toll significantly. – Reuters

A little known patriotic group which supports the widows of Russian soldiers has called on President Vladimir Putin to order a large-scale mobilisation of millions of men and to close the borders to ensure victory in Ukraine. – Reuters

Germany is open to using billions of euros in frozen Russian assets to help Ukraine rebuild as long as legal issues can be resolved and allies follow suit. – Bloomberg

Drone advances in Ukraine have accelerated a long-anticipated technology trend that could soon bring the world’s first fully autonomous fighting robots to the battlefield, inaugurating a new age of warfare. – Associated Press

Russia’s Wagner Group can take “weeks to capture a house” in Bakhmut, according to a battlefield update that puts a spotlight on Russia’s military equipment shortage throughout the war in Ukraine. – Washington Examiner

Ukrainians on the frontlines anticipate that the forthcoming battles against Russia will require advanced weapons — tools Kyiv continues to ask the U.S. and Western allies to ship so it can press forward in the country’s east. – Politico

Russia is bolstering its strategic nuclear forces in 2023 with further deployment of multi-warhead nuclear missiles and further modernization of its long-range strategic bomber division, the Russian Defense Ministry announced this week. – Jerusalem Post

Anton Troianovski and Anatoly Kurmanaev write: And she believes that tensions within two factions of the Russian elite — the hard-liners demanding an escalation of the war and the “pragmatists” seeking to avoid it — will only grow in the coming year. “I think 2023 will be decisive to a certain degree, determining which way the balance will tip,” Ms. Stanovaya said. “We are at a kind of dangerous line.” – New York Times

Yulia Latynina writes: Ukraine is risking everything — not just to defeat Putin, but to preserve the current world order based on right, not might, and on the hegemony of the U.S. as the supreme arbiter of that right. It’s easy to see which path to take. – The Hill

Janusz Bugajski writes: American history demonstrates that national independence and statehood are the cornerstones of political democracy and economic development. The future does not belong to autocratic imperial states such as Russia or China but to nations, regions, and societies demanding all the essential freedoms that Americans too often take for granted. – Washington Examiner

Andreas Kluth writes: This war may yet drag on for a decade — as the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan did — or end sooner. It may freeze in an informal armistice as the Korean War did, or culminate in protracted international peace negotiations reminiscent of the 1815 Congress of Vienna or the 1648 Peace of Westphalia. But even as the diplomats begin drafting seating plans around bargaining tables — as they tune the instruments in their section of the orchestra — the guns will keep booming on the battlefield, in the fiercest crescendos yet. – Bloomberg

Michael Laitman writes: In such a state, if the Iranian fanatic Shiite regime comes down, Russia’s supply of suicide drones will dry out, and its main assault weapon against Ukrainian infrastructure facilities will no longer be available. Surprisingly, therefore, a move in Iran could signal the end of the war in Ukraine. – Times of Israel

Michael Rubin writes: Certainly, the danger remains that Putin’s successor will be just as deluded as Putin has been. Russia’s nuclear arsenal makes any succession dangerous. At the same time, however, murderous intent is not synonymous with murderous ability. Putin’s rats will jump ship as his regime begins to sink, and Prigozhin will do the same. When it comes to public relations, Prigozhin might top Putin. But if the standard is military prowess, they share the bottom of the same barrel. – 19FortyFive

Riley Bailey, Grace Mappes, Karolina Hird, George Barros, Madison Williams, and Frederick W. Kagan write: Systemic failures in Russia’s force generation apparatus continue to plague personnel capabilities to the detriment of Russian operational capacity in Ukraine. […]Although the use of personnel in non-infantry branches in infantry roles is not unusual, the Russian military’s practice in this case is likely very problematic. The Russian Armed Forces devoted too little time to training mobilized personnel for use in the branches they had previously served in before sending them to the front lines. They certainly did not have time to train them in additional specialties. – Institute for the Study of War


Israeli far-right leader Itamar Ben-Gvir visited Jerusalem’s holiest site early Tuesday, in his first week as a minister, raising tensions with Palestinians who are concerned about the new government expanding Israeli control over the contested hilltop compound. – Wall Street Journal

Proposals by Israel’s new far-right government for far-reaching changes to the administration of the occupied West Bank prompted warnings from opposition figures and Palestinian groups even before Benjamin Netanyahu officially returned as prime minister last week. – Financial Times

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov reached out the newly installed Foreign Minister Eli Cohen to discuss ways to deepen the relationship between the two countries, despite tensions due to Moscow’s war with Ukraine. – Jerusalem Post

A rocket fired from the Gaza Strip into Israel on Tuesday fell short and crashed in an open field in the Palestinian enclave. – Ynet

The U.S. Embassy in Israel on Tuesday condemned the visit by far-right minister Itamar Ben-Gvir to Temple Mount in Jerusalem. – Ynet

Republican Senator Lindsey Graham on Monday slammed Foreign Minister Eli Cohen for neglecting to call out Russia for its invasion of Ukraine. – Ynet

An Israeli soldier was killed overnight in firearm incident at a military base in the central part of the country, the Israeli army announced Tuesday morning in a statement. – Ynet

A visit by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to the United Arab Emirates slated for next week has been postponed until February, Hebrew media reported Tuesday. – Times of Israel

Editorial: That somewhat lukewarm reaction shows how Netanyahu is attempting to tread the thin line between trying to appear strong to his right-wing constituency, yet appearing diplomatic to the US and the rest of Israel’s Western allies. If there is any advice to give to the new Israeli government, it is this: Be careful. The US-Israel relationship takes priority over other ties. Take each step cautiously, and act on Eli Cohen’s words. – Jerusalem Post

Gershom Gorenberg writes: If Likud fails to come through — for instance, if backbenchers rebel — the coalition could slowly crumble. That would lead to early elections. If Likud accedes, at least some of its voters might well begin looking for a new political home. For Netanyahu, the alliance with social reactionaries was the key to power. If his opponents act astutely, it will be the key to his downfall. – Washington Post

Benny Avni writes: The current crisis is likely to fizzle soon. Yet Mr. Netanyahu’s challenge will remain: how to navigate between the reality — and global perception — that his coalition partners are too hawkish, and his desire to widen ties with countries like Saudi Arabia and the rest of the Arab world. – New York Sun

David Hacham writes: In light of this, PA security forces have begun a campaign of arrests of Hamas operatives and it is fair to assume that Israeli intelligence is enabling some of these arrests. Under these conditions, Israel must project the message that the political process has not been removed from the table, as part of an effort to prevent escalatory patterns that could quickly spin out of control. – Jerusalem Post

Jack Rosen writes: What both Israeli and American Jews need now is not to fly apart but come together. “All of Israel is responsible for one another,” says the Talmud. This is the best way to silence the extremist voices on both sides and ensure that we retain our sense of solidarity and mutual affection. – Jerusalem Post

Eliav Breuer writes: The Ben-Gvir-style political gamble indeed did not pan out as a win for Netanyahu, who is trying to play down the issue. Ben-Gvir, however, will likely play it up as much as he can to prove that his approach was the correct one and win some public brownie points. Netanyahu will need to clean up the diplomatic mess, and with Ben-Gvir saying he intends to keep on visiting the site, this could likely turn into a headache for the old-new prime minister. – Jerusalem Post

Herb Keinon writes: How Ben-Gvir went to the Temple Mount on Tuesday is an early indication of this dynamic at work. It is doubtful that the pre-ministerial Ben-Gvir would have been so low-key. […]What happened Tuesday is a taste of what to expect from this government going forward: pursuing a hard right-wing agenda, but doing so in a more low-key, pragmatic manner than what might have been expected. – Jerusalem Post


The leader of Lebanon’s powerful armed Hezbollah movement, Hassan Nasrallah, said that any infringement of the decades-long status quo at the Al Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem could lead to an explosion in the region, not just inside Palestinian territories. – Reuters

Hassan Nasrallah, the leader of the Iran-backed Lebanese Shiite Hezbollah terror group, gave a televised speech Tuesday, shutting down rumors about his poor health and lashing out at “crazy officials” in Israel’s new “government of corrupt criminals and extremists.” – Times of Israel

The Secretary General of the Hezbollah organization, Hassan Nasrallah, criticized the new government in Israel and said that “the new Israeli government includes corrupt and crazy people, it does not deter us. The world must restrain the Israeli extremists so that a new war does not occur.” – Arutz Sheva


The Islamic State group claimed responsibility for a bombing near a checkpoint at the Afghan capital’s military airport that killed and wounded several people. – Associated Press

Fahima witnessed many of her rights and freedoms disappear in 2022 as the Taliban imposed sweeping restrictions on Afghan women. An aid worker in Afghanistan’s southern province of Uruzgan, Fahima was employed in one of the few fields that the militant group had permitted women to work in. But the 26-year-old lost her livelihood last month when the Taliban banned all local and foreign nongovernmental organizations from employing Afghan women. – Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty

Editorial: Supporters of the legislation plan to reintroduce it in the next Congress. They need to move quickly. Even if the bill passes, it will be months before guidelines and vetting procedures are worked out, and evacuees can begin applying. With the legal status of Afghan evacuees expiring in August, a vote needs to take place before spring. While incoming legislators will no doubt have their own priorities, the next Congress should resolve this matter without delay. Anything less would be a betrayal of America’s allies and its ideals. – Bloomberg


Swedish voters are backing their government in saying the Nordic country should refrain from compromising on its legal principles to win Turkey’s ratification for its NATO application, according to a poll. – Bloomberg

Russian President Vladimir Putin plans to talk to Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan on Wednesday, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told Interfax news agency on Tuesday. – Reuters

Ziv Bar’el writes: Turkey was also under heavy American and European pressure not to invade Syria. It seems that the diplomatic route presented by Russian President Vladimir Putin may give Turkey the chance to achieve its interests without getting embroiled in a new war and in conflict with its Western allies. – Haaretz

Abdulsalam Khanjar writes: Turkey has recently changed its stance towards the Assad regime amid efforts to combat Kurdish groups in the eastern Euphrates. Moscow imposes a forced marriage between Turkey and Syria, although the US still rejects any kind of normalization with the Syrian regime. – Jerusalem Post

Arabian Peninsula

A Bidoon poet and activist who holds U.S. citizenship said Tuesday that Kuwait was deporting her against her will after she traveled to the oil-rich nation to visit her family. – Associated Press

A global energy company Tuesday acquired oil producing facilities in war-torn Yemen from another international firm. The move comes as the country’s Houthi rebels have repeatedly targeted terminals and tankers in efforts to stop their rivals from exporting oil. – Associated Press

The global LGBTQ rights symbol gained wider resonance during the World Cup in Qatar, but in the neighboring conservative Gulf state of Kuwait it’s taken on a more unusual role. It’s not being used to rally for rights, but to bait authorities into fixing a country citizens like Al-Sane say is falling behind as some politicians focus on issues like gender segregation rather than the economy. – Bloomberg

Saudi Arabia

As the Covid-19 pandemic sent global markets swooning in early 2020, Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, sensing opportunity, pressed the country’s sovereign-wealth fund to go on an international stock-buying spree. – Wall Street Journal

John Hannah writes: Netanyahu could also have an important impact in moderating the anti-Saudi fervor of key members of Congress. Provided he can manage to prevent the antics of his right-wing coalition partners from becoming a major distraction in relations with Washington, no one should underestimate Netanyahu’s ability to persuade his US counterparts that seizing the chance for peace with Riyadh is vital to Israel’s security, and that it won’t be possible without a full-throated reaffirmation of the US-Saudi strategic partnership. – Jerusalem Post

Ahmed Alqarout and Ali Ahmadi write: Saudi Arabia’s pivot toward China ultimately complements U.S. efforts to contain Iran and, despite how it may appear at first glance, does not seriously undermine American interests. This may help explain the Biden administration’s muted response to the Saudi-China strategic partnership. – The National Interest

Middle East & North Africa

Jordan said on Tuesday it condemned in “severest” terms a visit by Israeli far right national security minister Itamar Ben-Gvir to the Al-Aqsa mosque compound in Jerusalem. – Reuters

The United Arab Emirates and China have asked the U.N. Security Council to meet publicly, likely on Thursday, over recent developments at Al Aqsa mosque compound in Jerusalem, diplomats said on Tuesday. – Reuters

Palestinians, neighboring Jordan and the Gulf states on Tuesday slammed far-right national security minister, Itamar Ben-Gvir, over his brief visit to the Temple Mount site in Jerusalem earlier in the day. – Ynet

Ruth Marks Eglash writes: EcoPeace’s Tal also said he was optimistic the plan would move ahead. There are always uncertainties, he told JI, “but what we do know is that there is now a will and a channel of communication that we need to keep open.” – Jewish Insider

Clara Keuss writes: All of these developments come in the context of growing Jordanian antagonism towards Israel. Once called upon to mediate between Jerusalem and Ramallah, Jordan is drawing lines in the sand that do not need to be drawn. Instead of using the forum to integrate constructive Israeli-Palestinian policy into regional discussions, Jordan is building a strawman to oppose. The upcoming second iteration of the forum is a chance to fix the backslide, and remind King Abdullah II that once, he too was supportive of a “Middle East NATO.” – American Enterprise Institute

Gabriel Davis and Zoe H. Robbin write: As the pandemic recedes from public consciousness, the humanitarian and development industry is refocusing on localization. USAID Administrator Samantha Power has announced a push towards localization, arguing that local development “supports local institutions in the most effective manner and nurtures sustainability [and] prioritizes the perspectives and preferences of those we hope to serve.” USAID’s initiative does not yet include the Middle East. However, localization can only truly occur when the development industry makes active efforts to honor its pledges in the Grand Bargain. – Middle East Institute

Korean Peninsula

North Korean state media has not revealed much about the cherub-faced young girl who has made several appearances with Kim Jong-un, the country’s leader, in recent weeks. On New Year’s Day, state media carried undated photos of her and Mr. Kim visiting a nuclear missile facility. Her age and name have not yet been reported; she has simply been referred to as Mr. Kim’s “most beloved daughter.” – New York Times

South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol said on Wednesday he would consider suspending a 2018 inter-Korean military pact if the North violates its airspace again, his office said, amid tension over a recent intrusion by North Korean drones. – Reuters

South Korea and the United States are discussing launching a tabletop exercise and engaging in joint planning to counter North Korea’s increasing nuclear threats, officials from both sides said on Tuesday. – Reuters

South Korean authorities said on Wednesday they were trying to track down a Chinese national who tested positive for COVID-19 on arrival but went missing while waiting at a quarantine facility. – Reuters


Leading scientists advising the World Health Organization said they wanted a “more realistic picture” about the COVID-19 situation from China’s top experts at a key meeting on Tuesday as worries grow about the rapid spread of the virus. – Reuters

A wave of restrictions on travel from China is “simply unacceptable,” according to Chinese officials who protested the measures amid widespread doubts about coronavirus data shared by Beijing. – Washington Examiner

The White House said there’s no reason Beijing should retaliate against the US and other nations that have imposed Covid restrictions on its travelers, saying the moves were justified on public health grounds as China experiences a surge in cases. – Bloomberg

Determined to thwart the ongoing efforts of the United States to simultaneously counter both of its top rivals, China and Russia have made a joint resolution to increase their cooperation on a variety of fronts in the New Year. – Newsweek

Editorial: It isn’t enough to promote industrial policy and tighten export controls on computer chips and maintain tariffs on Chinese goods; the United States needs a positive economic strategy to engage with Asian states to expand export markets and counterbalance China’s pull. The time might not be right in this Congress, but Washington would be wise to turn its attention to Pacific trade while it can still do so on its terms. – Washington Post

Editorial: The U.S. should also consider retaliating against nations that continue to provide high-end technology to, or investments in, China. Too many close U.S. allies, such as the Netherlands, Israel, and Germany, continue to support China’s technological development. Their actions are no longer compatible with America’s exigent security interests or, ultimately, their own. This isn’t about trade or simple politics — it’s about protecting America’s ability to prevail in a major conflict with China. – Washington Examiner

Edward White and Eleanor Olcott write: “The party’s social contract with 1.4bn people is that it would provide for needs such as jobs, housing, food and security in exchange for popular support of its rule and acceptance of limitations on political rights,” she says. “To the extent that these basic social rights have been taken away during the pandemic, this poses a legitimacy dilemma for Beijing.” – Financial Times

John Bolton writes: Campaign 2024 is already underway, so aspiring presidential candidates should be questioned closely about how they would handle Beijing’s belligerence. This is not an election cycle to allow national security issues to be obscured by purely domestic concerns. Too much is at stake, especially in the Indo-Pacific. – The Hill

Denny Roy writes: A state’s internal political dynamics affect its foreign relations. Newly ascendant, Xi-led China is an arrogant and angry great power, simultaneously thin-skinned and callous. Successfully navigating through the challenges caused by the rise of a nascent great power in a region long patrolled by another great power would be difficult in any case, but these PRC domestic characteristics, unfortunately, make the task harder. – The National Interest

South Asia

The White House submitted to the Senate dozens of presidential selections who failed to win confirmation last year, including judicial nominees and high-profile picks such as former Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, President Biden’s choice to serve as ambassador to India. – Wall Street Journal

The Indian government and the Asian Development Bank (ADB) on Tuesday signed loan agreements totalling $1.22 billion for developing infrastructure in various Indian states, a statement from the finance ministry said. – Reuters

A gunman shot and killed two intelligence officers in an attack outside a roadside restaurant in eastern Pakistan on Tuesday before fleeing, police and security officials said. – Associated Press

Since the 19th century, Pakistan’s clattering railways have carried passengers and cargo from the Arabian Sea to the Himalayas. But the colonial-era network is in severe disrepair, with decrepit trains and some tracks left unusable by devastating flooding last year. Together with its close ally China, Pakistan is now preparing at least a partial solution: a $10bn revamp of its 1,700km arterial Main Line 1 railway to be paid for with loans from Beijing. – Financial Times


Myanmar’s junta chief on Wednesday lashed out at countries for intervening in his country’s affairs while thanking others for “positively” cooperating, noting how it was working closely with neighbours such as China, India and Thailand. – Reuters

President of Turkmenistan Serdar Berdimuhamedow is scheduled to visit China between Jan. 5 and Jan. 6, state media CCTV reported on Tuesday. – Reuters

President Joe Biden will welcome Japanese Prime Minister Kishida Fumio to the White House on Jan. 13, as Japan looks to bolster its defense capabilities amid North Korean missile tests and Chinese military drills that have stoked concern across the Pacific. – Bloomberg

The number of incursions China’s warplanes made into a sensitive area around Taiwan nearly doubled in 2022 compared to a year earlier, a sign of increased tensions over the democratically run island. – Bloomberg

Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. said his government expects to sign more than 10 agreements with China during his visit there starting Tuesday, as he seeks to shift the two nations’ ties to “higher gear.” – Bloomberg

Myanmar’s ruling military leader, Senior Gen. Min Aung Hlaing, on Wednesday described plans for an election later this year and called for national unity in a speech as he led a ceremony marking the 75th anniversary of independence from Britain. – Associated Press

Joseph Bosco writes: Observing Biden’s stalemate strategy in Ukraine, Xi is no doubt updating his plans for China’s aggression against Taiwan. Only a formal declaration of American determination to defend Taiwan will avoid a catastrophic Chinese miscalculation. – The Hill


Germany’s newly constructed liquefied-natural-gas terminal received its first full cargo from the U.S. on Tuesday, as Berlin races to shore up its supply after the end of its decadeslong energy relationship with Russia. – Wall Street Journal

The British Museum and the Acropolis Museum in Athens are closing in on an agreement that would see the Parthenon Marbles returned over time to Greece as part of a cultural exchange, ending a feud over the historical artifacts that dates back to the 1800s. – Bloomberg

Bulgaria on Tuesday gained access to Turkey’s terminals and gas transmission network under a long-term deal that will help the country replace supplies once provided by Russia. – Associated Press

The European Union and China on Tuesday moved closer to a political standoff over the COVID-19 crisis, with Beijing vehemently rejecting travel restrictions some EU nations have started to impose that could be expanded in coming days. – Associated Press


Unidentified assailants killed five people in an attack on a civil defence post near the Malian capital Bamako late on Monday, a security ministry statement said on Tuesday. – Reuters

Tanzania’s President Samia Suluhu Hassan lifted a ban on political rallies on Tuesday, six-and-a-half years after her predecessor John Magufuli imposed the measure which caused frequent run-ins between opposition leaders and police. – Reuters

Nigeria will pay 1.8 trillion naira ($4 billion) extra interest in 2023 if parliament rejects a loan-to-bond swap request on the central bank’s overdrafts to the government, President Muhammadu Buhari said on Tuesday after signing the 2023 budget into law. – Reuters

A Ugandan soldier has shot and killed three colleagues serving in Somalia as part of an African Union peacekeeping force, Uganda’s military said Tuesday. – Associated Press

Four security officials were killed in a car bomb targeting a former government official in southeast Nigeria, authorities said Tuesday. – Associated Press

Salem Alketbi writes: The outcome of the Africa-US summit is a declaration of intent that has yet to be tested by the parties themselves. African countries see themselves as the playground of geostrategic rivalries between the US and Russia, which also hosted an African leaders summit last June, and China, whose president has visited the African continent four times. And Beijing is taking initiatives to pardon some African countries in response to US accusations that they are falling into a debt trap. – Jerusalem Post

Latin America

Authorities in Brazil are seeking to reinstate a 15-year-old fraud charge against George Santos, the latest controversy to hit the New York Republican, who was due to be sworn in to Congress on Tuesday. – Washington Post

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken spoke with Brazil’s new Foreign Minister Mauro Vieira on Tuesday and discussed a trip to Washington by newly sworn-in leftist President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva. – Reuters

A ceasefire announced over the weekend by Colombian President Gustavo Petro is a proposal to be discussed at peace negotiations and is not in force, the National Liberation Army (ELN) rebel group said on Tuesday. – Reuters

The United States Embassy in Cuba is reopening visa and consular services Wednesday, the first time it has done so since a spate of unexplained health incidents among diplomatic staff in 2017 slashed the American presence in Havana. – Associated Press

Ecuador President Guillermo Lasso said on Tuesday the country has sealed a free trade deal with China, an agreement expected to increase exports and boost growth in the South American country’s industrial sector. – Reuters

Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador said on Tuesday he had sent a letter to his U.S. counterpart Joe Biden with suggestions about what should be on the agenda at a North American leaders summit next week in Mexico City. – Reuters

Carnival Corp (CCL.N) and Royal Caribbean Cruises (RCL.N) on Tuesday said they would appeal a U.S. court ruling ordering them and two other cruise operators to pay $110 million each in damages for use of a port that Cuba’s government confiscated in 1960. – Reuters

A German cruise ship reached Venezuela’s Margarita Island on Tuesday, the first European vessel to do so in 15 years, as the nation rebuilds its tourism sector after years of economic upheaval. – Bloomberg

A scandal over fake passports in Uruguay has ballooned into accusations of political espionage and corruption that could threaten the nation’s reputation as a beacon of stability in Latin America. – Financial Times

United States

In the days before its work officially came to a close, the Jan. 6 committee released thousands of pages of witness interviews and evidence. But a portion of the House rules package proposed by Republicans singles out the panel’s work, seeking to block the records from being managed by the National Archives. – The Hill

A Pennsylvania man pleaded guilty Tuesday to a felony charge of assaulting a police officer during the Jan. 6, 2021, Capitol attack. – The Hill

U.S. Capitol Police Chief Tom Manger on Monday said his force is “clearly better off” than it was before the deadly Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol, which happened two years ago Friday. –  The Hill


Twitter Inc. said it plans to expand the political advertising it allows on the social-media platform after banning most political ads in 2019, in the latest policy change by new owner Elon Musk. – Wall Street Journal

Twitter Inc on Tuesday said it would expand the types of political ads allowed on the social media platform, an apparent reversal of its 2019 global ban on political ads, as the Elon Musk-owned company seeks to grow revenue. – Reuters

ByteDance, the Chinese parent company of video app TikTok, has laid off hundreds of employees across multiple departments at the end of 2022 as part of a cost-cutting measure, the South China Morning Post reported on Tuesday. – Reuters

An Indian tribunal on Wednesday declined a request by Google to block an antitrust ruling that ordered the tech giant to change its approach to its Android platform, dealing the U.S. firm a setback in a key growth market. – Reuters

Google has told a tribunal in India that the country’s antitrust investigators copied parts of a European ruling against the U.S. firm for abusing the market dominance of its Android operating system, arguing the decision be quashed, legal papers show. – Reuters

A new release of internal Twitter correspondence details the relationship between the social media company and government agencies, which one agent compared to a belly button. – Washington Examiner

More than 200 local governments, schools and hospitals in the U.S. were affected by ransomware in 2022, according to research conducted by cybersecurity firm Emsisoft. – The Record

Mike Rogers writes: The future of U.S. national security relies on the advancement of 5G networks and standards. To get there, Congress needs to come together now to enact legislation that creates a reliable supply of licensed mid-band spectrum. Action is a must, or the national implications of inaction will prove costly. – The Hill

Parmy Olson writes: For once, tech is having its feet held to the fire. After years of unstoppable growth and cushy perks, it may be the only way for the industry to get back to innovating and create more space for others. – Bloomberg


U.S. defense companies are finding it tough to quickly replenish weaponry such as missiles and artillery shells for Ukraine, leading Pentagon officials to revisit whether industry consolidation has gone too far. – Wall Street Journal

An Army general who went viral after clashing with Fox News hosts Tucker Carlson and Laura Ingraham in 2021 retired from the military branch on Sunday. – The Hill

Congress has given the Defense Department until the end of January to look into whether bureaucrats are overusing a document designation known as Controlled Unclassified Information to keep the public from learning about bad news. – Bloomberg

The U.S. Army has awarded Boeing a $426 million contract to produce 12 CH-47F Chinooks for the Egyptian Air Force, the company announced Tuesday. – Defense News

Airmen are gradually shifting how they prepare for deployment as part of the Air Force’s new “force generation” plan, the adoption of which may hit a key milestone in 2023. – Defense News

L3Harris Technologies completed a $1.96 billion purchase of Viasat’s tactical data link business, an acquisition expected to better position the 10th largest defense contractor to win orders tied to the Pentagon’s Joint All-Domain Command and Control initiative. – Defense News

The Navy is buying two stealth unmanned aerial systems – originally developed for the Air Force – that could operate with a manned fighter, as the service pursues the manned-unmanned teaming concept officials say is central to the future of naval aviation. – USNI News

The Environmental Protection Agency and the Navy entered a new administrative consent order on Dec. 20 as the sea service, led by the Joint Task Force – Red Hill, looks to defuel the Red Hill Bulk Fuel Storage Facility over the next few years. – USNI News

The US Navy’s Snakehead program is looking dead in the water — again. Congressional appropriators in the fiscal 2023 defense spending bill backed the service’s choice to discontinue funding the large unmanned undersea vehicle program, according to explanatory text accompanying the legislation signed by President Joe Biden last week. – Breaking Defense

Long War

New York City subway shooting defendant Frank James pleaded guilty Tuesday in a Brooklyn federal court to terrorism and gun charges, telling a judge that he opened fire on a crowded train to cause serious bodily harm to passengers. – Wall Street Journal

The teenager accused of attacking three policemen with a machete on New Year’s Eve near Times Square and charged with attempted murder was linked to Islamist extremism, a senior New York City Police Department official said on Tuesday. – Reuters

Police in Somalia say two suicide car bombers killed at least 10 people early Wednesday when they targeted a military facility in a region at the heart of the government’s offensive against al-Shabab extremists. – Associated Press

Google is developing a free moderation tool that smaller websites can use to identify and remove terrorist material, as new legislation in the UK and the EU compels internet companies to do more to tackle illegal content. – Financial Times