Fdd's overnight brief

January 8, 2020

In The News


Iran fired more than a dozen ballistic missiles at U.S. forces in Iraq, the Pentagon said late Tuesday, in attacks Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps said were retribution for the U.S. killing of Iranian Maj. Gen. Qassem Soleimani. – Wall Street Journal     

Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei vowed further retaliation for the U.S.’s targeted killing of an Iranian commander, hours after striking military bases in Iraq that house U.S. forces, but stopped short of threatening a repeat of direct military action. – Wall Street Journal 

Iran has hundreds of short- and medium-range ballistic missiles which it has been developing since the 1980s based on Soviet, North Korean and Chinese components. It says it has limited the maximum range of those missiles to 2000 kilometers and hasn’t tested any yet that go beyond that range. – Wall Street Journal 

Iran has “concluded” its attacks on American forces and does “not seek escalation or war,” the country’s foreign minister said in a tweet on Wednesday. – New York Times

President Donald Trump said on Tuesday that “all is well” following a retaliatory Iranian missile attack on U.S.-led forces and that he would make a statement on the situation on Wednesday morning. – Reuters  

The death of a top Iranian general in an American missile strike was long overdue, the leaders of a U.S.-based pro-democracy group said on Tuesday, and might “open a window” for dissidents to challenge a weakened government in Tehran. – Reuters 

The American public is increasingly critical of President Donald Trump’s handling of Iran after he ordered the U.S. military to kill a powerful Iranian military commander, and a majority of U.S. adults now expect the countries to be at war in the near future, according to Reuters/Ipsos polling released on Tuesday. – Reuters  

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) on Tuesday issued an emergency restriction for Persian Gulf airspace after Iran fired more than a dozen missiles at two military bases in Iraq housing U.S. troops. – The Hill

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif accused the United States on Tuesday of violating its agreement with the United Nations by denying him a visa to speak at a Security Council meeting amid escalating tensions between Washington and Tehran. – Reuters   

Oil prices spiked Wednesday and Tokyo stocks plunged as investors took fright at escalating tensions between the United States and Iran after Tehran launched missile attacks on US forces in Iraq. – Agence France Presse  

Reporters Without Borders (RSF) has condemned the “arbitrary” arrests of four journalists in Iran last month, which it said brought the number of reporters held since the start of a wave of anti-government protests in November to 12. – Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty 

Iran is “ready to come back to full compliance” with its nuclear deal with world powers, deputy foreign minister Abbas Araqchi said on Tuesday, according to a tweet from the Foreign Ministry, though the post did not provide any information on possible conditions. – Reuters

Iran’s Foreign Minister Javad Zarif called US President Donald Trump’s decision to order the drone strike that killed the country’s top military commander an act of “state terrorism” in an interview with CNN Tuesday. – CNN  

World leaders urged restraint and moved to recall their citizens after Iran fired missiles at U.S.-Iraqi airbases in its first counterattack since the killing of General Qassem Soleimani by American forces. – Bloomberg 

Editorial: The consequences include putting American troops and citizens at risk, new peril for our allies, new sympathy in the region for Iran, and the likely ouster of U.S. forces from Iraq. […]Mr. Biden is still making a major gamble when he predicts Mr. Trump’s failure in the Middle East. – Wall Street Journal 

Sen. James M. Inhofe writes: The administration should also ensure that the door for deescalation with Iran remains open. […]When cooler heads prevail, Tehran might conclude that deescalation is its best option, if only because Iran is strangled economically by sanctions and beset by domestic protests. Simply put, Iran cannot afford an all-out war, and we don’t desire one either. – Washington Post 

Masih Alinejad writes: Over the next few days, it will be hard to escape footage of huge crowds gathering in Iranian cities to mourn the death of Qasem Soleimani, the Iranian general killed by a U.S. drone strike. For anyone watching, I have one piece of advice: Don’t take what you’re seeing at face value. […]I and others have been saying for years that the current repressive conditions in the country are not tenable and that more protests would break out. We were right. And I’ll say it again: Don’t be fooled. Iran will see more anti-regime protests. – Washington Post 

Josh Rogin writes: Iran’s promise to ramp up its enrichment is surely meant to give Tehran leverage and also to pressure European countries who want to preserve the nuclear deal into pressuring Washington. […]But the “real job” is actually avoiding a devastating war that would cost untold American blood and treasure and doom the region for a generation. Halting Iran’s nuclear ambitions, while important, is just one piece of that larger puzzle. Diplomacy, sorely needed now, is the only alternative to this conflict. – Washington Post 

Eli Lake writes: The regime will almost certainly still depend on its terrorist proxies. But Iran’s missile strike shows that it is prepared to engage in direct military attacks to take revenge for Soleimani. The world’s leading state sponsor of terrorism will also rely on conventional warfare. – Bloomberg  

Danielle Pletka writes: The truth is that over decades, Iran’s greatest asset has been the willingness of supine regional governments and quiescent foreigners to go along with its game. It is possible – not more than possible – that this game is coming to an end. […]Perhaps Washington, London, Paris and Berlin will gain some courage from his passing. And perhaps with them, Baghdad and Beirut and others will too. – Al Arabiya  

Ali Alfoneh writes: The Qods Force will likely see more continuity than change under Qaani’s leadership. In recent years, external factors compelled the IRGC to reorganize its foreign operations in a manner that insulated them somewhat from a major loss like Soleimani’s death. […]It is difficult to expect Qaani, the bureaucrat, to emulate this brand of charismatic leadership. That said, Qaani will still exert substantial influence over Iran’s foreign activities due to the institutional power of the force he now commands. – The Washington Institute 

Tiana Lowe writes: ” America First” was always more of a campaign slogan than a strategy. […]But what it does not mean and what it has never meant is that the administration would tolerate foreign adversaries violently attacking American citizens and sovereign U.S. territory. […]Trump’s intentionally disproportionate response, in this case, makes clear that there will be a cost to such violent acts and violent schemes. – Washington Examiner 

Jack Shafer writes: After 40 years of cold war with the United States, the Iranians aren’t likely to surrender their regional ambitions over the killing of a military chief. The major unintended effect of Trump’s continued unpredictability is the global example it sets. Autocrats, dictators, despots and tyrants everywhere have got to be taking notes from the Trump handbook on how to play world strongman. Long after he leaves the White House, his lesson will remain. – Politico  


Russian President Vladimir Putin made a rare trip to Syria, demonstrating his influence in the battle-scarred country. – Wall Street Journal 

Soleiman’s killing could also have a resounding knock-on effect in Syria. […]Soleimani, known simply as the General, transformed Iran’s traditional role of supporting proxies focused on challenging Western influence to forging paramilitary forces that could prop up a ruler and a traditional army. – Associated Press

Raed Al Saleh writes: The crisis is worse than it has ever been. War crimes are being committed on a weekly or daily basis, and the world meets them with earth-shattering silence. […]All we ask is that the international community share our belief in the people of northern Syria. There are millions of civilians getting up every day and finding reasons to work, play or volunteer in their communities, all despite the extremists who surround them and the bombs that fall from the sky. – Washington Post 


Turkey and Russia will inaugurate a third natural-gas pipeline between their countries on Wednesday, deepening Turkish reliance on Russian energy even as the countries dig in on opposite sides of Libya’s escalating proxy war. – Bloomberg  

Turkey indicated it’s willing to mediate between the U.S. and Iran as President Recep Tayyip Erdogan prepares to meet Russian President Vladimir Putin in Istanbul to discuss escalating tensions in the Middle East and North Africa. – Bloomberg 

Turkey’s foreign minister will visit Iraq on Thursday to try to ease tensions after Iran launched missiles at U.S.-led forces in response to the killing of a top Iranian commander, the foreign ministry said on Wednesday. – Reuters  

Greece is getting worried about Turkey’s efforts to impose its authority on the eastern Mediterranean and Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis plans to raise the issue with Donald Trump. – Bloomberg 


Polish President Andrzej Duda said on Tuesday he had declined an Israeli invitation to attend a Holocaust memorial event this month as organizers would not allow him to speak there, even though others including Russian President Vladimir Putin would. – Reuters 

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu warned on Wednesday that Israel would strike a “resounding blow” if attacked by arch foe Iran, as regional tensions soar after the US killing of a top Iranian general. – Agence France-Presse

Hen Mazzig writes: However, the notion that anti-Zionism has absolutely nothing to do with anti-Semitism is dubious when Jews are murdered in the name of a conspiracy theories promoted by anti-Zionist activists. This is especially true when the distinction between “Israel” and “Jews” is habitually blurred by anti-Semites. […]We must condemn such rhetoric with equal force as when it comes from far-right groups. Failure to do so compromises our ability to root out this kind of hate and puts Jewish lives at risk. – Washington Examiner   


Iraq’s hopes of rivaling Saudi Arabia for regional oil dominance, already hurt by a pullback in foreign investment, are facing new challenges from escalating conflict and threats of sanctions from President Trump, say oil executives and Iraqi officials. – Wall Street Journal 

NATO is moving some of its trainers out of Iraq, a NATO official said on Tuesday, following fears of a regional conflagration in the wake of a U.S. drone strike on Iran’s top military commander last week. – Reuters    

But even if memories of the run-up to the Iraq War have led to heightened vigilance in some newsrooms, it’s unclear whether the media’s efforts to fact-check the Trump administration’s claim that an “imminent threat” justified its decision to order the killing of top Iranian General Qassem Soleimani are making an impact. – Politico   

The future of the US military presence in Iraq is in question amid scenes of confusion in Washington, as the Trump administration scrambled to respond to Iraqi demands for the troops to leave after last week’s assassination in Baghdad of Iran’s top general, Qassem Suleimani. – The Guardian 

The Russian and Chinese envoys at the UN say they oppose the New Year’s Eve attack on the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad but insist that a statement by the international body’s Security Council condemning it should address the subsequent U.S. killing of Iran’s top military commander. – Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty  

Rasha al Aqeedi writes: In the meantime, chants denouncing both the United States and Iran have become a more common theme—and a method to emphasize the grassroots nature of the protests. Despite the probability of growing repression, the protests continue and are unlikely to die out soon. The real Iraqi protesters risk being sidelined or forgotten amid the recent escalations, but their hopes have not been extinguished. – The Atlantic 


Libyan rebels have seized control of a key coastal city, the country’s beleaguered government conceded on Tuesday, amid new criticism that the growing role of foreign powers in the chaotic conflict has fueled a sudden escalation in fighting. – New York Times 

The planned arrival of Turkish military advisers in Libya should bolster the internationally recognized government, but may not be enough to turn the tide of a conflict in which eastern-based forces have the upper hand thanks to foreign support. – Reuters   

The European Union’s top diplomat and the foreign ministers of Britain, France, Germany and Italy condemned on Tuesday Turkey’s plans to send military experts and trainers to Libya, saying foreign interference there was exacerbating instability. – Reuters 

Middle East & North Africa

Japan will stay with plans to deploy its Self-Defense Forces to the Middle East to ensure the safety of its ships, even amid heightened tensions after the United States’ killing of an Iranian military commander, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said on Wednesday. – Reuters 

Saudi Arabia arrested a man in Qatif, eastern Saudi Arabia, after he opened fire on a security patrol, state-run Al Ekhbariya TV said on Tuesday, adding that he was wanted for robberies on vehicles transporting cash. – Reuters    

Some of Canada’s 500 military personnel based in Iraq will be temporarily moved to Kuwait for safety reasons, the country’s top military official said on Tuesday, due to fears of possible retaliation there after a U.S. drone strike on Iran’s top military commander. – Reuters 

Europe’s worry is that a wider conflict in the Middle East could trigger deep economic and political disruption on the Continent itself. As Europe learned during Syria’s civil war, its geographic proximity to the region leaves it particularly exposed to conflicts there. That reality begs the question of whether EU leaders — regardless of how unsavory they find Trump — can realistically decouple from the U.S. on issues like Iran. – Politico   

In the days since the Jan. 3 drone strike that took out Iranian military leader Maj. Gen. Qasem Soleimani, roughly 9,000 conventional troops have been deployed to the Middle East, ranging from Marines on amphibious ships to Army Rangers and paratroopers. – Military.com  

Editorial: Iran could still retaliate with new attacks on Saudi oil facilities or by attempting to block or sow chaos in the Strait of Hormuz, through which 20% of global oil travels. But for now oil markets are proceeding with cautious optimism that even those threats are manageable.Few expect much damage to the U.S. economy from the oil-price increase, and it could even help by assisting U.S. shale producers that have reduced exploration under the pressure of heavy debt and low oil prices. – Wall Street Journal 

Frank A. Verrastro, Albert Helmig and Larry Goldstein write: While the paper markets for oil are often susceptible to headline reactions, tend to become highly leveraged, and typically overreact to events, nothing has changed in the physical market to date. The Middle East still counts. Markets may yet be underestimating the full import of the recent escalation in terms of pricing in prospective risk, but only time will tell if that assessment is correct. – Center for Strategic and International Studies   

Anna Borshchevskaya writes: Despite his unequivocal support for Assad’s “legitimate” government, Putin generally presents himself as a neutral arbiter in the Middle East, and going too far in openly supporting Iran or any other side risks upsetting that balance. […]Going forward, Putin will likely keep trying to play mediator, contrasting his efforts with the instability and conflict that the United States supposedly brings. – The Washington Institute  

Korean Peninsula

President Trump has demanded that South Korea pay substantially more for the help it gets from America’s military, presenting a challenge to his own negotiators: To get the money, the U.S. must first show how it plans to spend it. – Wall Street Journal  

Given North Korea’s propensity to criticize what it calls U.S. aggression in state media diatribes, why is its leadership so skittish about Iran? […]Experts say Pyongyang’s caution stems from its fear of U.S. military action and its reluctance to acknowledge that important leaders might be eliminated — lest anyone at home start getting ideas. – Washington Post  

South Korean President Moon Jae-in on Tuesday called for better relations with the North so leader Kim Jong Un can visit Seoul, despite Pyongyang’s abandonment of its nuclear and missile test moratoriums. – Agence France Presse  


U.S. tariffs against China triggered a slide in imports in November, contributing to the lowest trade deficit in three years. – Wall Street Journal 

China National Petroleum Corp (CNPC) has pulled out about 20 employees from the West Qurna-1 oilfield in Iraq as tensions in the region have escalated, a Beijing-based source from the company familiar with the matter said on Wednesday. – Reuters   

Matthew Dalton writes: All countries in the region need to come together and confront Beijing’s actions with a revamped maritime strategy that includes establishing a SCS Multinational Combined Task Force in order to check China’s aggression and interrupt their capacity to dominate in the SCS. […]The sooner leadership from all countries work together towards this approach, the sooner China will be encouraged to adhere to the international rule of law. – The National Interest  

John Hemmings and Patrick Cha write: The primary conduit and driver for the PRC’s digital strategy is the Digital Silk Road—a supporting pillar of the Belt and Road Initiative—which was first developed in March 2015 in a White Paper jointly issued by the PRC Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the National Development and Reform Commission, and the Ministry of Commerce. [[…] On the Digital Silk Road, this centralization of data benefits China as much as it benefits host nations, introducing vulnerabilities into the host nations that could be utilized if they were to ever come into conflict or suffer diplomatic tensions with Beijing. – The National Interest 

South Asia

In the days after a United States drone strike killed Iran’s top intelligence and military operative, President Ashraf Ghani of Afghanistan scrambled to keep his country out of a cycle of escalation between the two powers. – New York Times 

Two people were killed and 16 others were injured in a bomb blast in the southwestern Pakistani city of Quetta, officials say. – Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty  

Four Rohingya Muslim children were killed by a landmine explosion in Myanmar’s western Rakhine state on Tuesday which the military and ethnic insurgents blamed on each other. – Reuters 

Muqtedar Khan writes: The United States was grooming India to become its partner in maintaining the global liberal order in South and East Asia and in facing the challenge of China. With India’s rapid degradation, both as a democracy and as an expanding economy, can India still be a reliable or a worthwhile partner? […]India’s communal domestic policies present a new headache for American foreign policy. India is morphing from a potential ally and partner into a liability. – The National Interest


With less than a week to go until an election day that could prove pivotal in determining the trajectory of relations with China, the independence-leaning Tsai released a video in which she presents a choice between a vibrant democracy — Taiwan today — and “dictatorship,” represented by a photo of Chinese President Xi Jinping. – Washington Post 

President Joko Widodo visited an island in waters disputed by China on Wednesday to assert Indonesia’s sovereignty amid a standoff between Indonesian and Chinese vessels. – Reuters  

Thailand’s 12-month trade surplus with the U.S. exceeded $20 billion, increasing its chance of being included on the U.S. Treasury’s watchlist of currency manipulators. – Bloomberg  

Gary J. Schmitt writes: Neither recommendation—closer military ties or a free trade agreement—requires recognizing Taiwan diplomatically. It does, however, require recognizing that U.S. policy on Cross Strait relations remains largely stuck in the diplomatic mud of the 1970s and 1980s, and that a new strategic era should result in new policies. – The American Interest  

Tim Culpan writes: Still, Tsai faces discontent about the high cost of housing, a global problem driven by sustained low interest rates. Taiwanese also look at higher GDP per capita in fellow Asian tigers Singapore, Hong Kong and South Korea as evidence that perhaps they’re not getting their due. […]Instead, it will be something far more common to democracies: the economy. – Bloomberg 

Philip Citowicki writes: China’s growing skill at statecraft extends to Pacific affairs. Recently, China exploited a rift between Australia and Fiji on climate change policy after the Pacific Islands Forum in Tuvalu in August 2019. […]Likeminded states must work together to counter influence in the region that often fails to work in the best interest of the Pacific island countries. It is unlikely that tensions will subside in the short to medium term—rather they will continue to test the fragile democracies of the Pacific. – Foreign Policy 


Kosovo police have detained a leader of a small Shi’ite community in the Balkan country’s southwest after she praised in media posts a top Iranian general killed in a U.S. air strike last week. – Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty  

Prime Minister Boris Johnson will tell European Commission Chief Ursula von der Leyen that Britain will not extend its transition out of the European Union beyond Dec. 2020, and is not seeking a new relationship based on alignment with existing rules. – Reuters 

Carl Bildt writes: Here, foreign and security policies will also be important. London will probably come under heavy pressure from the Trump administration on key issues like the escalating conflict with Iran, thus breaking with E.U. partners who have sought to prevent a new war in the region. This highlights the need to set up a mechanism for close coordination on foreign and security policies between London and Brussels, while safeguarding independent decision-making on both sides. This will be tricky — but essential. – Washington Post  

Lincoln Mitchell writes: This balance may also help Georgia develop a more realistic view of Europe. For years, Europe has been framed by the Georgian government as the deus ex machina that can solve all of its problems, suggesting that once Georgia joins the EU, the negative aspects of its recent history and post-Soviet legacy will fade away. Given the state of the EU now, what was once a flight of fantasy is simply a delusion. Georgia would be well served to understand that and continue to embrace both its aspirational identity and geographic reality. – Middle East Institute  

Tom McTague writes: Today, Johnson is facing the same choice. Only this time, the U.S. president is flirting with a trade war with Europe at the same time as an actual war in the Middle East, and Britain’s economy is no longer indebted to America but highly integrated with Europe. This reality means Johnson may soon be forced to reset Britain’s economic and security strategy simultaneously, pulling the country out of the EU, renegotiating its trading relationship with the continent, while also reacting to Washington’s bellicose unilateralism. – The Atlantic


The European Union spent 20 million euros last year in Eritrea, hoping to help stem an exodus from the repressive African country, which is consistently one of its biggest sources of asylum seekers. – New York Times 

Four Kenyan school children were killed in a gunfight on Tuesday between police and al Shabaab militants from Somalia who attacked a telecommunications mast in the third such deadly incident in Kenya this week, police and an official said. – Reuters   

A bomb exploded at a busy junction in Mogadishu on Wednesday, wounding at least 11 people, the head of the rescue service in the Somali capital said. – Reuters  

A U.N. humanitarian agency said Tuesday that tribal clashes between Arabs and non-Arabs in Sudan’s West Darfur province have displaced about 40,000 people, with thousands crossing to neighboring Chad. – Associated Press  

The Americas

A Senate committee approved a replacement for the North American Free Trade Agreement, despite criticism from some lawmakers that it lacks sufficient protections for U.S. companies. – Wall Street Journal  

Mexicans seeking refuge in the United States to escape violence and lawlessness in their homeland fear worse dangers if they are sent to Guatemala under a new Trump administration scheme to crack down on asylum seekers. – Reuters  

Mexico and the United States are increasingly in agreement on the need to lift economic development of Central America in order to curb illegal immigration from the region, Mexican Foreign Minister Marcelo Ebrard said on Tuesday. – Reuters 

Latin America

Opposition lawmakers led by Juan Guaidó forced their way through lines of security forces in a bid to reassert their authority over Venezuela’s National Assembly on Tuesday, two days after the government of authoritarian President Nicolás Maduro sought to install its own head of a body considered the nation’s last democratic institution. – Washington Post

Honduras will join Guatemala and other allied nations in declaring Hezbollah an international terrorist organization, the office of the Latin American country’s president announced Tuesday. – Times of Israel 

Editorial: With Moscow behind him, Mr. Maduro will likely seek to stage new, rigged elections for the National Assembly, using as cover former opposition legislators the regime has bought with reported payments of hundreds of thousands of dollars. […] But Mr. Trump could impose a cost on Russia for its meddling, such as by increasing sanctions on the state oil company Rosneft for its Venezuelan oil trafficking. The coming months may tell whether Mr. Trump values regime change in Venezuela more than his affinity for Mr. Putin. – Washington Post


The Trump administration has for nearly two years ignored mounting evidence that Russian operatives and other foreign actors were deliberately targeting U.S. troops and veterans with online disinformation amplified on a massive scale, a leading veterans group said. – Washington Post

Facebook has banned users from posting computer-generated, highly manipulated videos, known as deepfakes, seeking to stop the spread of a novel form of misinformation months before the 2020 presidential election. – Washington Post 

Texas Governor Greg Abbott announced on Tuesday that reconnaissance of the state’s computer networks by foreign operatives has surged in the last two days to 10,000 attempts per minute. – Bloomberg  

A week after a malicious virus infected its network, the London-based foreign currency exchange company Travelex had yet to restore digital sales and was reported infected with ransomware by hackers threatening to release personal data unless it pays a $3 million ransom. – Associated Press 

Iran has created and spread false stories meant to stir discord, according to U.S. military and civilian officials. One recent fabrication, they said, is that Iranian Gen. Qassem Soleimani was on a peace mission when U.S. forces killed him in an airstrike. Another is that an American four-star general was killed in Africa. – Washington Examiner 

Americans should be on heightened alert for cyberattacks after Iran fired more than a dozen missiles at two military bases in Iraq where U.S. troops are stationed late Tuesday, security researchers say. – USA Today 

U.S. Special Operations Command is seeking prototypes to detect misinformation campaigns in near- to real-time to directly support the command’s information operations, according to a Dec. 12 request for information. – Defense News  

The U.S. Cyberspace Solarium Commission, a bipartisan organization created in 2019 to develop a multipronged U.S. cyber strategy, will recommend the Department of Defense add more cyberwarriors to its forces, the group’s co-chair said Jan. 7. – Fifth Domain 


U.S. Army Recruiting Command put out a message Tuesday warning the public to beware of fake draft notices, which have been circulating since tensions escalated with Iran last week. – Military.com 

President Donald Trump on Tuesday backed off from his threat to destroy Iranian cultural and world heritage sites if Iran attacks to avenge the killing of Quds Force leader Maj. Gen. Qasem Soleimani. – Military.com  

In a letter to Defense Secretary Mark Esper, two key lawmakers decried proposed cuts to shipbuilding, saying the cuts threaten long-term security and jobs. – Defense News  

U.S. Special Operations Command has awarded L3Harris Technologies a $100 million contract to upgrade about 550 satellite ground stations that support military command, control and communications, according to a Jan. 6 news release. – C4ISRNET

Long War

U.S. allies said Tuesday that they were reducing and repositioning troops inside Iraq amid fears that Iran will retaliate for the killing of Qasem Soleimani, one of its most senior military officials, in a U.S. airstrike. Some European diplomats expressed fears that the shifting of troops would diminish their ability to fight the Islamic State. – Washington Post 

Tajik police have detained 27 people on suspicion of being members of the banned Muslim Brotherhood group. – Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty  

A British teenager who described himself as a neo-Nazi was sentenced to almost seven years in prison on Tuesday for planning a terrorism attack from his bedroom. – Reuters  

Trump Administration

Presidents cite unconventional threats and the need for flexibility and speed to justify deploying the military without prior congressional approval — the latest example being the Jan. 3 airstrike ordered by President Donald Trump that killed one of Iran’s most powerful generals. Congress is once again trying to reassert its constitutional role in making war. – Bloomberg  

Lawmakers quickly reacted after Iran fired more than a dozen missiles at U.S. troops and coalition forces in Iraq on Tuesday, an apparent retaliation for a U.S. drone strike days earlier that killed one of Tehran’s most powerful generals, Qasem Soleimani. – USA Today

With fiery defenses of President Donald Trump’s order to kill Iranian Maj. Gen. Qassem Soleimani, Mike Pompeo has emerged as the most powerful secretary of state in decades, rivaling Henry Kissinger, James Baker and Condoleezza Rice for his unchallenged access to the Oval Office. – NBC 

President Donald Trump faces one of the greatest tests of his presidency after Iran launched ballistic missiles at Iraqi bases housing U.S. troops. It was Iran’s most brazen direct assault on America since the 1979 seizing of the U.S. Embassy in Tehran. – Associated Press