Fdd's overnight brief

July 10, 2020

In The News


An explosion rocked western Tehran early Friday, state media reported, causing widespread power failures in two residential areas and unnerving Iranians awakened for the third consecutive week by an early-morning blast. – New York Times

The relatively quick and open access that reporters and open source social media users have to this advanced technology has revolutionized how people can report about war. The recent explosion at the Natanz nuclear enrichment facilities is one example, as are the tracking of warplanes in Libya and elsewhere. – Jerusalem Post

The six explosions Iran experienced in recent weeks may be looked back on as a major inflection point in the nuclear standoff between the ayatollahs and the US, Israel and the Saudis. – Jerusalem Post

Explosions were reported west of Tehran on Thursday night, with some initial reports claiming that the explosions occurred at a missile depot belonging to the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC). – Jerusalem Post

Iran on Thursday denied that U.S. forces had seized a boat carrying Iranian weapons to Houthi rebels in Yemen, saying the charge was aimed at extending a U.N. arms embargo on Tehran. – Reuters 

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has defended a U.S. drone strike that killed top Iranian commander Qasem Soleimani in Iraq early this year, after a UN expert deemed it as “unlawful.” – Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty  


Russia and the West are in a showdown over continuing the delivery of humanitarian aid to Syria’s mainly rebel-held northwest after the current U.N. mandate expires on Friday. – Associated Press

The U.N. counterterrorism chief said his office received information that 700 people died recently in two camps in northeast Syria, where about 70,000 mainly women and children connected to Islamic State fighters are detained in “very dire conditions.” – Associated Press

The executive branch of the world’s chemical weapons watchdog on Thursday condemned the use of banned sarin and chlorine bombs by Syria’s air force, but stopped short of taking direct action to penalise Damascus. – Reuters 

Syria could face severe bread shortages for the first time since the start of the war, another challenge for President Bashar al-Assad as he grapples with an economic meltdown and fresh U.S. sanctions, a U.N. official, activists and farmers said. – Reuters 

Seth J. Frantzman writes: Overall then the picture is clear. Syrian air defenses have largely failed to stop airstrikes on Syria. That doesn’t mean they are all sub-standard, it could speak to the level of sophistication they are facing or the complexity of attack. However the Syria-Iran agreement may be more a political message than a military one. Will Syria really get a hold of Iran’s systems? Even Iran has problems with its air defense. – Jerusalem Post

Anna McMorrin writes: When negotiations began back in April, the possibility for a reauthorization seemed distant. Although it’s encouraging  that key voices in the UNSC – the U.K. and U.S., Germany and Belgium – now widely accepts this route as the best way forward for the long-suffering civilians of Syria, the path is blocked by Russia and China. It is time for global leaders to show political courage and ensure they will do more than just talk about protecting the world’s most vulnerable. As the U.N. Secretary General’s office notes: “Lives depend on it.” – Haaretz 

Seth J. Frantzman writes: For years the UN and other groups have basically allowed themselves to become part of the way Damascus has run the conflict in Syria. […]Now, the great and regional powers will decide the fate of millions in Syria by arguing at the UN. Countries like the US, which plays a key role in eastern Syria training the Syrian Democratic Forces to fight ISIS, could help deliver more aid, but it appears Washington has little interest in this aspect of stabilization. – Jerusalem Post

Dr. Vera Mironova writes: Currently, only a very small minority of women in al-Hol still back ISIS, but as long as foreign government fail to intervene, the number who no longer support the group but feel they have no choice but to turn to it for help will only increase. Moreover, it is relatively easy to leave the ISIS camps in Syria, so it should not be assumed that the women there are locked up or have no way out. As a result, if the foreign females still in the camps are not repatriated home soon, they might not only once again become active members of ISIS, but if they are smuggled out by the group, we could lose their trail and they may disappear forever. – Middle East Institute


It was July 2016, eight anxious days after a failed coup tried to unseat President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, and the police told Mr. Golge that they had received an anonymous tip that he worked for the C.I.A. and was part of a terrorist group accused of masterminding the plot. – New York Times 

Turkey is “very close” to signing a free trade agreement with the UK covering manufactured goods, agriculture and services, Turkey’s foreign minister has said. – Financial Times 

Steven A. Cook writes: Turkey has been buzzing recently with talk of a new security strategy called “Blue Homeland,” which emerged from an anti-Western, fiercely nationalist, but pro-Russian worldview of a number of senior-ranking naval officers. This toxic and confused brew is supposedly the guiding principle for Turkey’s more aggressive posture in the region, especially in the Mediterranean and Libya. […] As a national strategy, it is mostly reactive and bound up in a combination of grievances and romance about Turkish power. – Foreign Policy


House Democrats on Thursday advanced an amendment that would restore millions of dollars in aid to Palestinians cut by the Trump administration two years earlier, as part of a multibillion-dollar spending bill under consideration. – The Hill

Hamas claimed on Thursday that the arrest of two of its senior officials in the West Bank by the IDF was intended to derail Palestinian efforts to prevent Israel from applying its sovereignty to parts of the West Bank. – Jerusalem Post

Reducing Chinese companies’ involvement in infrastructure projects can hurt Israel’s diplomatic and economic interests, lawyers for the Chinese Enterprises Association in Israel (CEAI) said, responding to an antitrust suit in the Supreme Court, in a document obtained by The Jerusalem Post on Thursday. – Jerusalem Post

A coalition of progressive pro-Israel groups in the United States announced its support Thursday for a proposed Senate amendment that would ban Israel from using US military aid to annex parts of the West Bank. – Times of Israel

A Palestinian man died at a hospital in the West Bank city of Salfit after being shot in the neck by Israeli forces, the Palestinian Authority Health Ministry said Thursday. The official Twitter account of PA President Mahmoud Abbas’s Fatah party identified him as Ibrahim Abu Yaqoub. It said one other person was injured. – Times of Israel

Palestinian leaders hope Democrat Joe Biden will tone down Washington’s pro-Israel policies if he becomes U.S. president, and Palestinian-Americans have been pressing his campaign for a change, sources familiar with the efforts said. – Reuters

Anshel Pfeffer writes: I believe it can, theoretically, though it would probably still need a two-state period in the interim. Beinart doesn’t have to persuade me. But about everyone else around here – he doesn’t seem to care one way or the other. I suspect that he hopes that a wave of BDS or a President Ocasio-Cortez will one day force Israelis and Palestinians to accept his vision. – Haaretz

Amos Harel writes: The increasing economic tension in Gaza, and alongside it periodic demonstrations of independence by Islamic Jihad, are leading to the firing of rockets into Israel once every week or two. In this arena as well there is potential for escalation under cover of the coronavirus, despite the sides’ clear lack of desire. – Haaretz 


A Jordanian man previously employed in Eilat was convicted Thursday on terrorism charges over a 2018 assault on two Israeli men in the Red Sea coastal city. – Times of Israel

With annexation pending, Jordan’s King Abdullah II and US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo discussed the strategic partnership between the two countries as well as issues relating to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. – Jerusalem Post

Matthew Petti writes: Jordan, for its part, has continued a strategy of lobbying the United States to drop its support for annexation. The king is making “continuous and uninterrupted” efforts to stop annexation and create “real prospects for a just and comprehensive peace,” Jordanian foreign minister Ayman Safadi announced on Tuesday. – The National Interest


Lebanon currently has no plan to negotiate with Iran for the import of fuel, energy minister Raymond Ghajar said on Thursday, after the leader of the Tehran-backed Hezbollah group said it was talking to the Lebanese government about the idea. – Reuters

The lawyers of Lebanese Prime Minister Hassan Diab have admitted to the premier’s lawsuit against the American University of Beirut and slammed the university for a so-called “orchestrated media campaign.” – Al-Arabiya

Anchal Vohra writes: For those protesting on Lebanon’s streets, the priority isn’t just immediate survival but institutional reforms against corruption that ensure the country does not quickly end up in the same situation again. For them, that’s why help from China—which has long been known to turn a blind eye to malfeasance by the foreign politicians it loans money to—seems the least attractive option on offer. But the Lebanese are also acutely aware that they are running out of time. – Foreign Policy

Gulf States

The Saudi-led military coalition fighting the Iran-aligned Houthi group in Yemen destroyed two explosive-laden boats in the Red Sea on Thursday, its spokesman said. – Reuters  

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has reiterated that Washington is committed to providing security help for the Persian Gulf Arab countries in the face of the Islamic Republic of Iran’s increasing missile capability. – Radio Farda

Four United States senators on both sides of the aisle are urging President Donald Trump to help secure the freedom of an exiled Saudi official’s children, calling it a “moral obligation” to stand by a man who aided American intelligence for years. – Bloomberg 

Al Jazeera, a Qatari state-owned news agency that supplies Middle East news in English to millions of readers, has been accused of violating US transparency laws in a report issued by a former member of the US congress and endorsed by the United Arab Emirates. – Jerusalem Post 

Ibrahim Jalal writes: Finally, the UN and the major powers must ensure that the Safer’s oil is used, first and foremost, to relieve SEPOC’s debt and pay the salaries of civil servants in Hodeida for the first time in more than six months. Depending on an assessment of the situation after inspection and the Houthis’ behavior, and taking into account the objective of paying salaries and reimbursing the money seized by the Houthis from the UN-monitored special account in Hodeida, the extraction of oil could be done in several ways, including pumping it to another tanker or pulling the Safer to the nearest port, if there continues to be resistance from the Houthis. – Middle East Institute

Middle East & North Africa

Human rights activists say that relatives of more than two dozen political opponents, human rights workers, pro-democracy activists and journalists living abroad have been arrested in Egypt, their houses often raided by security forces. – Washington Post

Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi talked tough after the killing of a high-profile analyst and government advisor, pledging to hunt down his assailants and curb the actions of armed groups. – Reuters

Editorial: Secretary of State Mike Pompeo responded appropriately, welcoming Mr. Amashah’s release but adding that Egypt should “stop unwarranted harassment of U.S. citizens and their families who remain there.” Now Mr. Pompeo should reject Egypt’s appeal for intervention in the Beblawi case and let the alleged abuser defend himself. – Washington Post

Korean Peninsula

Another nuclear summit between North Korea and the U.S. would be “unprofitable” unless Washington changes its negotiating stance, said Kim Yo Jong, sister of the regime’s leader, in her latest display of public politicking. – Wall Street Journal

It’s troublesome when Chinese trawlers show up in the most dangerous waters off the Korean Peninsula. It’s even more alarming when they’re gone. […]Kim Jong Un could be tempted to test South Korea’s maritime defenses as he grows more frustrated with U.S. President Donald Trump’s refusal to relax economic sanctions on his country. While – Bloomberg  

Yong-Chool Ha writes: To sweeten the pot, the United States can offer incentives while simultaneously calling upon U.S.-backed regional and multi-national institutions and mechanisms to guarantee security to the North. Any future discussion of an end to the Korean War and the signing of a peace treaty will succeed only as part of a new security regime in and around the Korean peninsula. North Korea for its part must of course persuade its adversaries that it is firmly committed to denuclearization. – The National Interest 

Mark Episkopos writes: Navy Vision 2045 represents the ROKN’s full-throated commitment to building a blue water force capable of running large-scale operations far away from South Korea’s shores. The existential need to ensure ROK’s littoral defenses against the DPRK continues to weigh heavily on the ROKN, but Seoul’s security establishment has shown increased flexibility in balancing the immediate North Korean threat against the long-term strategic realization that ROK cannot secure its status as an East Asian middle-power without the capacity to project naval power beyond its borders and across the Pacific. – The National Interest


The Trump administration imposed sanctions on Thursday on multiple officials from China, including a senior member of the Communist Party, over human rights abuses against the largely Muslim Uighur minority, a move that is likely to inflame tensions between Washington and Beijing. – New York Times

Two World Health Organization experts will spend the next two days in the Chinese capital to lay the groundwork for a larger mission to investigate the origins of the COVID-19 pandemic. – Associated Press

The Trump administration will soon ban all federal agencies from using taxpayer dollars to buy products or services from any companies that use products or services from Huawei and four other Chinese companies deemed to be national security threats. – Washington Examiner 

The U.S. State Department on Thursday said the United States welcomed China’s commitment to arms control negotiations and that “prudent next steps” should include face-to-face meetings between U.S. and Chinese officials. – Reuters 

China’s top two foreign ministers kept to a conciliatory tone this week in public remarks about relations with the U.S., amid increasingly fraught tensions between the world’s two largest economies. – CNBC

As the coronavirus pandemic all but halts travel across the Taiwan Strait, China is taking its campaign pushing for “reunification” with Taiwan to the virtual world of live broadcasts, online conferences and video-making competitions. – Reuters 

Tim Culpan writes: Chinese investors might feel confident buying SMIC shares knowing it’s a favored company, but they’re paying a patriot’s premium. At some point, they may find that fiscal pragmatism is more profitable than dogmatic nationalism. – Bloomberg


The following report compiles all significant security incidents confirmed by New York Times reporters throughout Afghanistan for the month. It is necessarily incomplete as many local officials refuse to confirm casualty information. The report includes government claims of insurgent casualty figures, but in most cases, these cannot be independently verified by The Times. Similarly, the reports do not include Taliban claims for their attacks on the government unless they can be verified. Both sides routinely inflate casualty totals for their opponents. – New York Times 

The United States believes Russia has given support to Taliban insurgents in Afghanistan in the past but does not have intelligence to confirm it directed attacks against Americans or to corroborate that it paid bounties to kill American troops, the top U.S. general said on Thursday. – Reuters  

Top Pentagon officials have said that the United States will respond if the U.S. military is able to corroborate reports that Russia paid militants linked to the Taliban to kill U.S. soldiers in Afghanistan. – Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty 

Reporters Without Borders (RSF) has condemned the recent arrests of two journalists in Afghanistan and the “harassment” to which the Pajhwok Afghan News agency is being subjected by the authorities. – Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty 

Defense Secretary Mark Esper says he was not briefed on alleged Russian “bounties” to kill US troops in Afghanistan — and that he would have been if there was credible intelligence. – New York Post

Nate Anderson and Dan Caldwell write: It is our hope a similar coalition of principled lawmakers can come together to defeat this atrocious amendment. Failure to do so could prolong American military involvement in Afghanistan and lead to the loss of more of our brothers and sisters in uniform, without advancing American security. – The Hill

South Asia

The U.S. Department of Transportation said it has revoked permission for Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) to conduct charter flights to the United States, citing Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) concerns over Pakistani pilot certifications. – Reuters 

Nepal’s cable and satellite television providers have stopped airing Indian news channels, with one operator saying Friday that the move was in response to public complaints over coverage of Nepal’s prime minister. – Reuters

India plans to invite Australia to join the annual Malabar naval exercise that has so far included just Japan and the U.S., in a move that could risk China’s ire. – Bloomberg  

Sadanand Dhume writes: We will only know how inward India will turn in the coming months and years. But one thing seems certain: If India’s app ban stays, Xi Jinping’s Himalayan adventure will have cost his country dearly. – Wall Street Journal

Dan Altman writes: The relationship between disputed territory, conquest, and war is so strong that even small faits accomplis are more dangerous than other types of conflicts in a world where larger conquests are rare. An initially nonviolent competition to build military posts in disputed territory culminated in the only modern war between India and China in 1962. It could happen again. – War on the Rocks


Faced with increasingly brazen Chinese efforts to exercise control over the entirety of the South China Sea, the U.S. military is using a series of big aircraft carrier operations to show allies that the United States isn’t about to turn its back on the hotly contested region. – Foreign Policy 

U.S. Army Chief of Staff General James McConville met with Thailand’s prime minister and its army chief on Friday, in the first high-level visit by a foreign delegation to Thailand since the COVID-19 pandemic disrupted international travel. – Reuters 

A U.S. envoy reassured top Japanese officials Friday of the importance of their alliance in dealing with regional security threats, just as the North Korean leader’s sister expressed low expectations of a summit between her brother and President Donald Trump this year. – Associated Press 

The United States has approved a possible $620 million upgrade package for Patriot surface-to-air missiles to Taiwan, the State Department said, the latest purchase from the United States to deal with a rising threat from China. – Reuters 

News broadcaster Al Jazeera has rejected allegations by Malaysian authorities that a documentary it aired last week about the arrest of undocumented migrants during the coronavirus pandemic was inaccurate, misleading and unfair. – Reuters 

Democratic governments stepped up retaliation against China over its security crackdown in Hong Kong, as France and Germany proposed EU countermeasures for the first time and Australia suspended its extradition treaty with the territory. – Financial Times 

Australia has been hit by a phenomenon not seen there for nearly 30 years: recession. The pandemic is to blame but fraying relations with China threaten to make the downturn considerably worse. – Financial Times

The U.S. State Department said on Thursday it had approved the possible sale of 105 Lockheed Martin (LMT.N) F-35 fighter jets to Japan at an estimated cost of $23 billion. – Reuters  

Japan may still build Aegis Ashore missile defense systems to defend against attacks by North Korea and other regional rivals, including China, a source told Reuters just weeks after reports that the proposal had been killed. – Reuters

Japan has created a timeline for the development and fielding of its locally made next-generation fighter jet, with serial production set to start at the beginning of the next decade. – Defense News 

Benedict Rogers writes: And let us not think this security law is the end of the matter. If we fail to act, Taiwan will be next. And after Taiwan, the rights of people of Chinese descent in the rest of the world, whom Beijing has repeatedly showed it treats as its own subjects, will be next to be targeted—whether they are Americans, British, Canadians, or Malaysians. And beyond that, they will move on to anyone, or any institution, that speaks out against the Communist Party. Hong Kong is today’s front line for freedom—and while the hour is late and dark, it is not too late to stand up for what it represents. – Foreign Policy


Denmark granted unexpectedly swift approval for resuming construction of the Russian-backed Nord Stream 2 pipeline in Danish waters, potentially clearing one of the last hurdles for completing the project at the center of a geopolitical tussle. – Wall Street Journal

Earlier this year, a heavyset man living in Vienna and known as Beck Martin said during a TV interview that he was assisting an investigation of a complicated murder-for-hire plot, in which three people were to be killed in exchange for $2 million. He described a blood-splattered world of contract killings for revenge and politics, of a type that seems to exist only in moviemakers’ fantasies — and in Russia. – New York Times 

The regional strongman leader of Russia’s province of Chechnya on Thursday blamed unidentified foreign spy agencies for the recent killing in Austria of a Chechen man who criticized him. – Associated Press 

A group of Russian lawmakers has proposed an expanded extremism bill aimed at further quelling opposition activists and politicians as well as anyone questioning Moscow’s forcible seizure of the Crimean Peninsula. – Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty 

Russia’s Federal Security Service has accused a respected former defense reporter of treason. Many see the arrest of Ivan Safronov as the latest manifestation of a crackdown by Russian authorities on independent journalists in the country. – CBS News 

Russian broadcaster RT has said it has no ties to EU-sanctioned Russian media executive Dmitry Kiselyov after EU member states Latvia and Lithuania took RT off the air, citing the Russian channel’s ties to him. – Reuters 

Chris Miller writes: But the many similarities in the political platforms offered by Lukashenko and Putin—promises of social spending, Soviet nostalgia, and strongman tactics—mean that Lukashenko’s fate matters greatly for Russia’s future. If Lukashenko relies more heavily on repression to retain power, it will undermine Putin’s claim that their shared political promises are widely popular. If Lukashenko is ousted, it would set a precedent very dangerous for Putin as he eyes 16 more years in power. The Kremlin must hope that Lukashenko somehow restores his credibility, lest his popularity sink any deeper—and drag Putin down with him. – Foreign Policy


American and European allies need to “merge” the intelligence gathered by national security and law enforcement officials in order to fend off nontraditional threats from China and Russia, according to a senior Pentagon official. – Washington Examiner

After years of prodding by President Trump and as China extends its global reach, the Europe Union will increase its military spending, according to a senior EU official. – Washington Examiner 

Germany’s finance and foreign ministers declined an invitation to take part in a Washington gathering of ministers from the G7 group of large industrial countries, Der Spiegel magazine reported on Thursday. – Reuters 

If Donald Trump loses in November, it’s no secret that most European policymakers will be happy to see his back. But as they envision the possibility of a post-Trump future, many are wondering how quickly the trans-Atlantic alliance can be fixed. – Reuters

British mobile network operators have warned that removing Huawei equipment from their networks could lead to severe disruption for customers, with Vodafone going as far as to say it would cost the firm billions of pounds. – CNBC 

European diplomats have moved to seize back the initiative on one of their continent’s most intractable fronts after U.S. efforts under President Donald Trump for a diplomatic victory unraveled last month. – Bloomberg  

Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic and Kosovar Prime Minister Avdullah Hoti are set to hold online talks ahead of a European Union-supervised weekend summit in Brussels aimed at restarting the two countries’ stalled dialogue on normalizing relations. – Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty 

The United States said Wednesday it plans to conduct military training with Cyprus for the first time, defying NATO ally Turkey, which warned of destabilization. – Agence France-Presse

Where the Trump administration chooses to re-deploy 9,500 American service members now in Germany would send a signal to Europe about its commitment to NATO, Germany’s defense minister said Wednesday. – USNI News 

Austin Doehler writes: America’s missed opportunity to facilitate the Kosovo-Serbia dialogue is a chance for the European Union to chart a new course for the Western Balkans. Brussels should seize the occasion as a first step toward renewed engagement in the region. – War on the Rocks 

Reuben F. Johnson writes: The Ukrainian executive’s response has been that the Chinese are the only entity providing jobs for this company, and that neither the US nor the Ukrainian government could fill the void if the Chinese deal were blocked. – Middle East Institute


In recent months, record amounts of gold dug from artisanal mines in the conflict zones of Eastern Congo have been smuggled across the porous border with Uganda, where it is being stamped with fake certifications before being shipped to international markets in Dubai, Mumbai and Antwerp, according to Ugandan security officials, smugglers and traders. – Wall Street Journal 

One of the largest rebel groups in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo announced overnight that it had ousted its leader, accusing him of human rights abuses, and planned to surrender. – Reuters 

Donald Trump’s biggest foray into African affairs has not turned out well. The U.S. president’s bid to resolve a long-running dispute over a Nile dam has failed to make a breakthrough, joining his unsuccessful efforts in crises from North Korea to Kosovo. – Bloomberg 

Sudan replaced its finance, foreign and energy ministers amid plans for a new government that could include rebels who are set to sign a historic deal to end years of conflict. – Bloomberg 

Yossi Kuperwasser writes: To sum up, there are times when politicians should see the broader picture and not be purists. This is such a time. Missing this opportunity may have severe strategic consequences not only for Sudan but for Israel, the entire region, and US interests. – Times of Israel 

Melissa Dalton writes: Even with increased security sector assistance, U.S. in-country military presence is limited, and training is neither regular nor widespread. […]Finally, buttressing the role of Nigerian and international civil society in accessing civilian populations and communicating with both the Nigerian government and international donors will improve data collection and assessments of civilian needs and targeted steps to address civilian harm. – Center for Strategic and International Studies  

Matthew Petti writes: These extremists have killed hundreds of civilians over the past several years, according to Human Rights Watch. In one incident, ISIS beheaded ten Christian hostages on Christmas Day. Atrocities by government forces may be throwing fuel on the fire. […]Five states in the Sahel—Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali, Mauritania, and Niger—had agreed to investigate such abuses in a June 30 summit. – The National Interest

The Americas

Libya and the U.S. are investigating suspected gold-for-cash trades between Venezuela and Libyan militia leader Khalifa Haftar, security officials said. […]The U.S. State Department has said publicly that it has been looking at flight-tracking suggesting Mr. Haftar’s jet traveled to Caracas. “We’ve been tracking those reports on Haftar’s trip—alleged trip to Venezuela,” said David Schenker, the department’s assistant secretary for near eastern bureau said at a June 11 press call. “The allegations are concerning.” – Wall Street Journal 

President Trump on Wednesday marked the start of a three-nation regional trade deal in a Rose Garden ceremony with Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador that took on a celebratory tone discordant with the widespread economic damage of the coronavirus pandemic. – Washington Post  

Across the globe, violence has emerged a major and persistent side effect of the pandemic that has stricken 12 million people and killed more than 550,000. Even as it overwhelms hospitals, covid-19 is also straining security forces in scores of countries, exacerbating long-standing conflicts while fueling grievances and spurring the growth of extremist groups, security officials and analysts say in a series of new studies and interviews. – Washington Post

The U.S. plans to announce further details in the long-running battle with France over taxes on technology giants including Amazon.com Inc., Alphabet Inc.’s Google and Facebook Inc. – Bloomberg  

León Krauze writes: As a candidate, López Obrador promised a bilateral bond based on mutual respect with the United States. As Trump’s first term comes to a close, Mexico’s president has garnered the opposite: a lopsided relationship based on American whims and demands and Mexican compliance and degrading gratitude. López Obrador leaves Washington empty-handed, having praised the most actively anti-Mexican U.S. president in recent memory. No photo-op could hide that. – Washington Post

Michael Rubin writes: The basic point: Congressional critics have a valid argument when they criticize the most recent Trump administration action, which seemingly holds international students hostage to an unrelated policy battle. But if they seek to expand American interests more than simply score political points about President Trump, it is time for Democrats and Republicans to work together to define, promote, and deploy the American university brand. – Washington Examiner


Three Republican senators have introduced legislation that would require smartphone-makers and other tech companies to give law enforcement agencies access to encrypted communications or devices if ordered to do so by a court. – Washington Examiner 

California has opened its own antitrust probe into Google, intensifying the pressure on the search giant already in the middle of investigations by the Justice Department and a host of other states, according to three people with knowledge of the inquiry. – Politico 

With the Trump administration poised to impose a government-wide ban on contractors using Huawei and other Chinese-made telecommunications equipment, trade groups say that companies, still reeling from the economic effects of the coronavirus pandemic, should get more time. – Defense News 

TikTok has been pulled from Apple’s App Store and the Google Play Store in Hong Kong, days after a sweeping new national security law was introduced in the city.  – CNBC

Large internet platforms should report acquisitions to the European Union, including tiny deals that normally escape merger reviews, a group of advisers said. – Bloomberg


The U.S. Air Force has awarded Descartes Labs a contract that will allow them to use the company’s geospatial analytics platform for multisensor data fusion and situational awareness. – C4ISRNET 

The U.S. Space Force’s stopgap Arctic communications system has passed another major milestone, with it’s Control and Planning Segment (CAPS) ground system passing a critical design review. – C4ISRNET 

The U.S. Air Force is keeping an eye on the Army’s next-generation rotorcraft program, which could fill a gap for agile airlift that might be needed in a fight against Russia and China, an Air Force general said Thursday. – Defense News 

U.S. Defense Secretary Mark Esper has ordered an investigation into leaks of both classified and unclassified material to media, he told members of the House Armed Services Committee during a Thursday hearing. – Defense News 

The Pentagon’s chief management officer has pushed back on congressional plans to eliminate her office, warning that doing so now guarantees the failure of reform efforts at the department. – Defense News 

The Joint Light Tactical Vehicle (JLTV) is being developed by the Army and the Marine Corps as a successor to the High Mobility, Multi-Wheeled Vehicle (HMMWV), which has been in service since 1985. On October 28, 2008, awards were made for the JLTV Technology Development (TD) Phase to three industry teams: (1) BAE Systems, (2) the team of Lockheed Martin and General Tactical Vehicle, and (3) AM General and General Dynamics Land Systems. – USNI News 

Susanna V. Blume and Molly Parrish write: Thus, in making decisions about how to adjust the department’s budget request, Congress should resist the temptation to focus on shiny bits of military hardware, and instead have a close look at some of the less sexy but vitally important things that will enable the U.S. military to bring its full might to bear in a conflict with China or Russia. – Center for a New American Security

Lt. Gen. David Deptula (ret.) writes: To better streamline and synchronize these efforts under the JADC2 banner, the joint staff and the Office of the Secretary of Defense created a joint cross-functional team including representatives from the offices of the DOD Chief Information Officer, the Under Secretary of Defense for Research & Engineering, and the Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition & Sustainment. This body is charged with bringing the services together to develop the JADC2 construct by identifying gaps and requirements, enhancing experimentation collaboration, and recommending resource allocation for both materiel and non-materiel C2 capability improvements, while also being mindful of the distinct capabilities inherent in each service and government security organization. – C4ISRNET

Long War

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement on Wednesday deported an illegal immigrant who was wanted in El Salvador on charges of terrorism and leading terrorist organizations. – Fox News 

A man found guilty of plotting terrorist attacks on crowded central London tourist attractions including a Gay Pride march was jailed for life on Thursday. – Reuters  

Almost 8,500 terrorist attacks took place in 2019, killing more than 20,300 people – some 5,460 were known perpetrators and 14,840 were victims, according to a report released this week by the University of Maryland’s National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism (START) as part of its Global Terrorism Database (GTD). – Fox News