Fdd's overnight brief

July 30, 2020

In The News


Iran’s naval and IRGC commanders all remember the 1988 incident. They’d like to believe now that their missiles give them the stand-off range to strike fear into the US and US allies such as Israel. In fact, Iran is doing in the Gulf precisely what Hezbollah is doing in Lebanon to Israel: encouraging an alert, without doing anything. That is what Iran’s recent naval drill appears to have been all about. – Jerusalem Post

Amid crushing economic conditions, demonstrations and strikes by workers have sprung up in Iran recently over unpaid wages and poor working conditions. […]Crippling U.S. sanctions since 2018 aggravated by the coronavirus crisis have greatly weakened Iran’s state-managed economy, leading to record lows for the national currency and high inflation. – Radio Farda 

Iran, creaking under the impact of U.S. sanctions, a collapse in oil sales and a severe COVID-19 epidemic, is scrambling to buy food and medicine to avoid a supply crunch. But it’s a struggle. – Reuters 

The US Navy mocked Iran after its paramilitary forces fired underground missiles at a dummy US aircraft carrier on Wednesday. – Business Insider

As long-simmering U.S.–China tensions come to the boil, a sweeping bilateral accord being negotiated between Beijing and Tehran is ringing alarms in Washington. It has the potential to dramatically deepen the relationship between America’s principal global rival and its long term antagonist in the Middle East, undermining White House attempts to isolate Iran on the world stage. – Time 

The US may be forced to accept a UN code of conduct restricting conventional arms sales to Iran, since it is struggling to win unanimous support at the UN security council for a formal extension of the existing UN ban, which expires in October. – The Guardian 

A Twitter official on Wednesday said that the tweets in which Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei calls for Israel’s destruction do not violate the company’s rules against hate speech, and indicated that they are considered mere “foreign policy saber-rattling.” – Times of Israel

In a new report published on July 28, the Iranian Parliament’s Research Center (MRC) has said that U.S. sections are expected to remain in effect in mid and even long terms, and longstanding strategies to cope with them are required. – Radio Farda 

Iran’s judiciary has blocked the bank account of prominent imprisoned human rights lawyer Nasrin Sotoudeh in a move aimed at adding pressure on her and her family. […]Iran has in recent years intensified its pressure on human rights lawyers by sentencing them to long prison terms for their rights activism and defense of political prisoners. – Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty 

Seth J. Frantzman writes: Iran has been surprisingly quiet amid the growing Israel-Hezbollah tensions. Part of that is due to the fact that Iran is running a massive military drill off its coast, where it has been using new missiles and showing the US it can harass a model aircraft carrier. – Jerusalem Post 


Lebanese politicians called out Lebanon’s Hezbollah-supported government for its relative silence and inaction concerning recent tensions between Israel and Hezbollah. – Jerusalem Post

Amos Harel writes: The prime minister, defense minister and chief of staff, addressing the situation on Tuesday, warned Hezbollah and the Lebanese government of the expected ramifications if Hezbollah carries out its plans. The IDF is preparing to give a particularly aggressive response if Hezbollah indeed decides to renew fire. – Haaretz

Amir Bar Shalom writes: If the price exacted from Israel is overly severe, Israel will respond by attacking targets in Lebanon and it stands to reason that those targets will be carefully picked to deepen the internal strife there. In other words, targets that will induce those who oppose Hezbollah to ask themselves, is Hezbollah the savior of Lebanon or its sacker? – Times of Israel


The U.S. placed sanctions on a son of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and a Syrian military unit in the latest move in an effort by the Trump administration to pressure the country’s regime to end a civil war. – Wall Street Journal 

Stigmatised gay, bisexual and transgender Syrian refugees who survived sexual violence in war are struggling to get medical or mental health care, human rights groups said on Wednesday. More than 40 LGBT+ survivors in Lebanon told Human Rights Watch that they were raped, sexually harassed and had their genitals burned by government forces and armed groups, including Islamic State, resulting in physical and psychological trauma. – Reuters 

Allison Carnegie and Austin Carson write: Since international politics lacks a sheriff to keep governments in line, governments often must police one another. However, clear evidence of violations — like Syria’s use of chemical weapons — is hard to come by. We therefore expect that intelligence will remain an important element of global governance, particularly in Syria’s case. – Washington Post


Turkish lawmakers passed legislation on Wednesday that would give the government sweeping new powers to regulate social media content, raising concerns that one of the few remaining spaces for free public debate in the country could fall under greater government control. – New York Times

Russian President Vladimir Putin passed on the opportunity to play defender of Christianity, and accepted Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s decision to change the status of the Byzantine St. Sophia cathedral (Hagia Sophia) from a museum back into a mosque. – Middle East Media Research Institute

Gonul Tol and Dimitar Bechev write: In April 2016, Russia and Turkey avoided being dragged into the “four-day war” in Nagorno-Karabakh at a time when they were at loggerheads in Syria. That is probably a preference they share at present too. Rather than pick a fight with the Russians, Erdogan will likely be happy to see Putin step in to calm things down in the South Caucasus. Indeed, the situation already appears to be moving that direction, with Putin and Erdogan speaking by phone on July 27 and the Kremlin saying afterwards that “readiness was expressed to coordinate efforts for stabilization in the region.” – Middle East Institute


The United Nations peacekeeping force UNIFIL on Wednesday launched an investigation into a series of incidents along the Israel-Lebanon border in recent days, notably on Monday night, when Israel says it thwarted an attempted attack by the Hezbollah terror group. – Times of Israel 

The Israel Defense Forces remained on high alert along the Lebanese border on Wednesday, believing that the Hezbollah terror group is planning to carry out an attack along the frontier in the coming days, following a tense night in which the military spotted suspects moving along the security fence separating an Israeli community from Lebanon. – Times of Israel 

Twitter defended its decision to flag President Trump’s tweet about violent demonstrations but not Iran’s calls for violence against Israel, suggesting to Israeli’s legislature on Wednesday that the latter fell under its protections for “commentary on political issues of the day.” The exchange occurred during a Knesset hearing on antisemitism in social media. – Fox News 

With tensions high along Israel’s northern border, the Defense Ministry hosted the annual US- Israeli Defense Policy Advisory Group (DPAG) and discussed strategic and regional security challenges. – Jerusalem Post

The IDF soldiers who engaged with the Hezbollah cell that infiltrated into Israel on Monday had been ordered not to kill them, in an attempt to reduce tensions with the Lebanese terror group, The Jerusalem Post has learned. – Jerusalem Post

Israeli weapons sold to Azerbaijan are used to target Armenian civilian infrastructure, and arms sales between the countries should be stopped immediately, Armenian Foreign Minister Zohrab Mnatsakanyan has told The Jerusalem Post. – Jerusalem Post


Iranian-backed groups are increasingly attempting to create a stranglehold on civil society in Iraq, using threats and the power of the gun to silence those who speak out. It now appears they are growing more arrogant in their threats. […] In the past and in other countries they have used kidnappings and assassinations. Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri was murdered in 2005 in a bombing blamed on Hezbollah and its allies. Iraqis have begged the UN to support them but many know that foreigners can’t shield them from the militias. – Jerusalem Post

Thirty years have passed since Iraqi tyrant Saddam Hussein invaded neighbouring Kuwait, but despite hints of a diplomatic rapprochement, people in both countries say the wounds have yet to heal. – Agence France-Presse

Michael Knights writes: In order to reignite calls for a full American military withdrawal from Iraq, militias like KH and their partners in Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) may seek to draw the United States into a retaliatory cycle. Thus, while Washington cannot ignore the current harassment campaign, it should not overreact either. – Washington Institute


President Donald Trump is extending a 13-year national emergency over the political situation in Lebanon, which has reported two attacks in as many days by neighboring Israel, a close ally of the United States. – Newsweek 

Lebanon’s power supply has been erratic for years, but the economy’s meltdown may make it a lot worse. The government has fallen behind on payments to a Turkish company responsible for a quarter of the country’s electricity-generation capacity. It’s also struggling to access enough foreign exchange to purchase imports of fuel for state-owned power plants. – Bloomberg 

Jamal Ibrahim Haidar and Adeel Malik write: The lack of concrete reforms to date reduces Lebanon’s ability to secure IMF support. In this milieu, foreign donors face a tough choice. Without their immediate support, Lebanon could fall deeper into crisis. But if foreign money trickles in without a credible commitment to reform, the funds may offer a temporary fix — but leave Lebanon in the same situation again in the future. – Washington Post


When Turkey’s president signed a security deal last year to back one of the sides in Libya’s civil war, another agreement was waiting to be signed by his new proteges the same day: a memorandum redrawing the two countries’ maritime borders. – Associated Press

Jalel Harchaoui writes: Libya’s tragedy is far from over and foreign meddlers, including Turkey and Egypt, may grow even more brazen. The discovery of the mass graves in Tarhuna is an opportunity for Western and other publics to question the dangerous manner in which their governments play rhetorical games and obfuscate, only to allow outside interference to continue in Libya — even when that involves the routine murder of innocents less than 400 kilometers from the European Union. – War on the Rocks 

Seth J. Frantzman writes: Some voices in Turkey may be wondering if the Libyan adventure was worth it, especially now with the criticism. It has united most Arab countries in opposition to Turkey’s role. It has also angered Greece. News on July 29 is that Turkey has a new deal to sell Greece drones and may be trying to reduce tensions in the Mediterranean with Greece. Perhaps Libya was not all it appeared in the end and Turkey is now waiting to see where the next crisis will emerge. – Jerusalem Post

Middle East & North Africa

Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi has approved legal amendments that restrict retired army officers from running in elections without permission from the military, according to an announcement in the official gazette on Wednesday. – Reuters

Moroccan police on Wednesday arrested a dissident journalist and charged him with rape and helping foreign spies, a prosecutor said, in a case worrying rights groups. – Reuters

Walter Russell Mead writes: Great-power rivalries continue, but at a lower intensity than in the recent past. The one great power with the ability to impose itself on the region, the U.S., is limiting its commitments and reducing its exposure. With China also playing down any geopolitical interest in the region, the emerging superpower rivalry leaves the Middle East aside. – Wall Street Journal 

Anna Borshchevskaya writes: The Trump administration’s abrupt decision to withdraw from north Syria last December reinforced this perception—Kurdish forces were left at the mercy of invading Turkish troops and proxies, and they eventually moved closer to Putin and Assad in order to end the slaughter. Given these dynamics, Western officials should not underestimate Moscow’s influence with the Kurds in Syria, Iraq, and elsewhere. As the Kremlin continues pursuing its Middle East interests in a cynical, brutal, and often destabilizing manner, the West will need to establish more leverage of its own with these Kurdish communities. – Washington Institute

David Singer writes: “Palestine (as it was called then without any connection to those calling themselves, Palestinians today, ed.) and Jordan were both under the British Mandate, but as my grandfather pointed out in his memoirs they were hardly separate countries. Trans-Jordan being to the east of the river Jordan, it formed in a sense, the interior of Palestine” Razzaz and Netanyahu need to start a dialogue to bring a variation of the “Jordan one-state solution” to fruition and end the 100 years old Arab-Jewish conflict. – Arutz Sheva

Korean Peninsula

South Korean President Moon Jae-in’s new point men on North Korea face a daunting challenge: they must engineer a breakthrough in strained ties amid public scrutiny of their history with Pyongyang, which once landed them in prison. – Reuters

North Korea’s nominal head of state inspected the locked down border town Kaesong after a defector suspected of having the coronavirus returned from South Korea, said state media, signalling serious concerns about cross-border contamination. – Reuters

Tom Rogan writes: Of course, a Chinese move to encourage North Korean escalation also carries risks. If identified by the United States, it would risk the imposition of even greater U.S. pressure on China. Were Xi to want Joe Biden elected come November, escalation might also risk Trump benefiting from a rallying around the flag effect. But the possibility of Chinese interference toward escalation cannot be discounted. For one, China is now openly flouting United Nations sanctions on Pyongyang. In short, Kim’s rhetoric and the current political environment don’t suggest smooth diplomatic waters ahead. – Washington Examiner


A Chinese legal scholar, known for his outspoken criticism of Chinese leader Xi Jinping, is seeking to overturn a prostitution charge that he says was trumped up to justify his dismissal as a professor, one of his lawyers said Wednesday. – Wall Street Journal

A Chinese-state-backed group recently hacked into Vatican computers on the eve of important negotiations with Beijing, according to a U.S. cybersecurity firm. – Wall Street Journal

China on Wednesday denied protecting fugitive financier Low Taek Jho, being sought by global investigators over his role in the multi-billion dollar 1MDB scandal. – Reuters

China said on Wednesday the Diaoyu islands are Chinese territory and it has the right to conduct law enforcement activities in the area, rebutting a U.S. military commander’s criticism of incursions in territory which is also claimed by Japan. – Reuters

The Chinese Navy’s newest amphibious warfare asset, the Type 075 LHD (Landing Helicopter Dock) is setting sail for the first time, according to ship spotter reports. – USNI News

Now fears are growing that Xi wants to cement his place alongside Mao and Deng by conquering Taiwan, a prize that’s eluded Communist Party leaders for decades […]. Of the many U.S.-China conflicts right now—from Huawei Technologies Co. to Hong Kong to the consulate closures—none is more dangerous over the long haul than that involving Taiwan. – Bloomberg


President Trump said in an interview published Wednesday that he did not bring up intelligence that Russia had covertly offered bounties to kill American troops when he spoke with President Vladimir V. Putin last week — apparently his first opportunity to directly confront Mr. Putin about the C.I.A. assessment since its existence became public late last month. – New York Times

The Kremlin was secretly warned by the US State Department of potential blowback if it paid bounties for American troops killed in Afghanistan, people familiar with diplomatic channels said in a Daily Beast report published Wednesday. – Business Insider 

On February 29, 2020, the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (the Taliban organization) and the United States signed a deal in Doha, Qatar, which requires, among other points, the Afghan government to free 5,000 Taliban members from various prisons in Afghanistan. The Afghan government, which was not a party to the U.S.-Taliban deal, has been pressured by the United States to release the prisoners named by the Taliban. However, it has now emerged that the freed Taliban terrorists have returned to fighting. – Middle East Media Research Institute

South Asia

India and China are trying to out-build each other along their disputed Himalayan border. A new road to a high-altitude Indian forward air base is said to have been one of the main triggers for a clash with Chinese troops last month that left at least 20 Indian soldiers dead. – BBC 

India is positioning an additional 35,000 troops along its disputed Himalayan border with China as the possibility of an early resolution to the deadly tensions between the two neighbors fades. – Bloomberg 

Five French-made jet fighters arrived in India on Wednesday, the first of 36 New Dehli ordered as it moves to upgrade its air force amid a spike in tensions with China. […]Indian media has been filled with glowing expert reviews of the Rafale jets compared to what China could bring to bear in any aerial conflict, including China’s new J-20 stealth fighters. – CNN 


A newly formed national-security police squad arrested four students on Wednesday for alleged secessionist activities on social media, the first such swoop on opposition activists since China imposed the controversial national-security legislation four weeks ago. – Wall Street Journal

The U.S. military will help Japan monitor “unprecedented” Chinese incursions around East China Sea islands controlled by Tokyo but claimed by Beijing as Chinese boats prepare to begin fishing in nearby waters, the commander of U.S. Forces Japan said on Wednesday. – Reuters

The Philippines has taken a big step towards tapping nuclear power, its energy minister said on Wednesday, after President Rodrigo Duterte created an inter-agency panel to study the adoption of a national nuclear energy policy. – Reuters

Australia is to set up a U.S.-funded military fuel reserve in the city of Darwin, authorities said on Thursday, a show of stronger co-operation between the allies who both face increasing tension with China. – Reuters

The Five Eyes intelligence alliance could be expanded  to include Japan and broadened into a strategic economic relationship that pools key strategic reserves such as critical minerals and medical supplies, according to centre-right MPs working internationally to decouple the west fBy SETH rom China. – The Guardian

Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (MHI) and Boeing have signed a Direct Commercial Sale (DCS) agreement to support upgrades to Japan’s fleet of F-15J Eagle combat aircraft. – Jane’s 360


Companies linked to two Russian oligarchs exploited the opaqueness of the art world to buy high-value art, bypassing U.S. sanctions, according to a report by the U.S. Senate’s Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations that was published on Wednesday. – New York Times

When Russian President Vladimir Putin was preparing for last month’s nationwide vote on potentially extending his rule until 2036, he let the veil slip on part of the calculation behind the constitutional change. – Reuters

Last week, the head of the U.S.’s newest military branch, the Space Force, cautioned publicly for the first time that Moscow had undertaken at least two concerning anti-satellite weapon tests in recent months, in a potential bid to develop on-orbit efficiency that could dangerously hinder the U.S.’s heavy dependency on space-based systems. – Fox News


The Trump administration will move about 12,000 troops in Germany to Italy, Belgium and back to the United States, the Pentagon said Wednesday, under a plan that defense leaders said was designed to strengthen deterrence against Russia but that President Trump has insisted would punish Berlin. – Washington Post 

Escalating a simmering feud with Russia, its neighbor and longtime ally, Belarus on Wednesday charged that more than 200 mercenaries from Russia, disguised as tourists, had infiltrated Belarus on a mission to disrupt its presidential election. – New York Times

Britain on Wednesday named career diplomat and intelligence officer Richard Moore as the new chief of the MI6 spy service as the West seeks to bolster its defences against hostile espionage from China and Russia. – Reuters

The Trump administration on Wednesday named a special envoy for the Arctic, filling a post that had been vacant for more than three years as the administration seeks a greater role in the region and tries to blunt growing Russian and Chinese influence there. – Associated Press

Bavarian Prime Minister Markus Soeder on Wednesday criticised the U.S. decision to withdraw about 12,000 troops from Germany, adding that Germany still hoped the next U.S. administration would scrap the plan. – Reuters

Tens of thousands of people took to the streets Wednesday in cities across Bulgaria for a third consecutive week to demand the resignation of the government and the chief prosecutor. – Associated Press

The program to replace the British Army’s aging AS90 self-propelled artillery has hit at least a two-year delay, with the forthcoming howitzer not expected to reach initial operating capability until the first quarter of 2029. – Defense News

Amy Mackinnon writes: While the arrests may have offered Lukashenko the chance of a preelection stunt, it’s unclear where he can go from here without painting himself into a corner. Releasing the fighters without trial would undermine his claims and be a slap in the face to both Ukraine and the United States, which has sanctioned several Wagner entities for their foreign interference efforts. Charging them risks provoking Russia’s ire. – Foreign Policy


The Muslim cleric seen as the driving force behind Mali’s protest movement said the country’s political crisis could be resolved without President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita resigning, offering a more moderate solution than other opposition leaders. – Reuters 

Efforts to bring stability to Sudan’s conflict-ridden Darfur region have failed to reassure residents fearful of rising violence which has cast a shadow over peace negotiations. – Reuters

Kenyan police arrested a fugitive wanted in the United States on charges of trafficking ivory and rhino horn, who arrived in the coastal city of Mombasa from Yemen, authorities said on Wednesday. – Reuters

South Africa received the $1 billion emergency loan that it secured from the New Development Bank to assist in fighting the coronavirus pandemic on July 20, according to the National Treasury. […]The World Bank confirmed that it’s discussing possible support with the government. – Bloomberg 

Latin America

Postponed elections. Sidelined courts. A persecuted opposition. As the coronavirus pandemic tears through Latin America and the Caribbean, killing more than 180,000 and destroying the livelihoods of tens of millions in the region, it is also undermining democratic norms that were already under strain. – New York Times

Venezuela’s total economic collapse has fuelled a large-scale, complex and underfunded humanitarian crisis. An estimated 4.5 million Venezuelans have fled a country blighted by unemployment, collapsing utilities, a defunct healthcare system and severe food shortages. And as refugees, it is women who have been the most vulnerable to labour and sexual exploitation, trafficking and violence. – The Guardian 

On Sunday 3 May, the government of Nicolas Maduro announced Venezuela’s armed forces had repelled an armed incursion. Operation Gideon was a deeply flawed coup attempt. But what would compel exiled Venezuelans and former US Special Forces soldiers to join a plan that, from the outset, looked like a suicide mission? – BBC 

Progressive foreign policy groups are forming a new alliance to push for better relations with Cuba, after an attempt to roll back the Trump administration’s economic sanctions on the island nation failed in the House of Representatives. – The National Interest 

The chillingly honest comment from a high-level member of staff in Venezuela’s prison service was the response to our request to see some of the country’s most notorious jails. […]The chillingly honest comment from a high-level member of staff in Venezuela’s prison service was the response to our request to see some of the country’s most notorious jails. – BBC 

Justin Gest writes: Over the years, the racialization of the country’s parties has led each election to feel existential because the party in government is expected to funnel government resources to its ethnic constituency rather than develop programs and initiatives that transcend racial lines. This fight over resources will only intensify now that oil has been found off Guyana’s Atlantic coastline and state coffers are set to swell. – Foreign Policy 


The chief executives of Amazon, Apple, Google and Facebook, four tech giants worth nearly $5 trillion combined, faced withering questions from Republican and Democratic lawmakers alike on Wednesday for the tactics and market dominance that had made their enterprises successful. – New York Times

U.S. Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin said on Wednesday that TikTok was under a national security review and that his agency would make a recommendation to the president about the popular Chinese-owned video-sharing app this week. – Reuters

The House Intelligence Committee on Wednesday voted to allow all House members to view classified intelligence that Democratic leaders provided to the FBI warning about a foreign “disinformation” campaign targeting the 2020 presidential election. – CNN

Zachary Faria writes: With the CCP’s expanding influence over our technology, particularly with Google and Apple, this should have been the real question of the day. But Congress blew it, as always, because campaign videos and point scoring are more important than the slow creep of an oppressive communist regime into American technology and business. – Washington Examiner


The officer nominated to lead the U.S. Northern Command and North American Aerospace Defense Command has warned that both Russia and China are investing in submarines and other strategic capabilities to threaten the U.S. homeland. – Newsweek

Boeing must pay another $151 million out of its own pocket for the KC-46 program, but this time the charge isn’t associated with technical problems that have plagued the tanker’s development. – Defense News

A critical piece of the U.S. Army’s network modernization push is ensuring its systems work with allies. In future battles, the Army will not fight alone; it will be joined by coalition partners, as well as other U.S. services. As the Army moves to improve its integrated tactical network, it must ensure that its network tools work with coalition and service partners. – C4ISRNET

Aaron Bateman writes: It is unrealistic to expect the United States, China, and Russia to develop a framework that bans all kinetic space weapons. This would require an effective verification mechanism, and monitoring treaties involving space systems is especially difficult. A ban on kinetic anti-satellite tests involving the elimination of a target is, however, a realistic and necessary development. – War on the Rocks 

Missile Defense

Russian President Vladimir Putin boasted Sunday of nearing deployment of nuclear-tipped hypersonic missiles with his Navy, upping the ante in a three-way arms race with the U.S. and China to develop super-fast missiles that can penetrate any existing defensive system. – Military.com

Replacements for components that caused cost increases and program delays for two multi-billion dollar nuclear warhead programs have passed tests, putting the programs on track for new production dates, according to a top official from the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA). – Defense News

Dr. James H. Anderson writes: Those of us charged with ensuring the defense of the United States call on Congress and our allies to help make the case to Russia and China that it is in the interests of all nations to broaden the current arms control framework to verifiably limit the nuclear weapons of all three major powers to secure a more stable and prosperous future. – New York Times

Long War

The Islamic State’s media wing has released a video calling for supporters in the United States to commit acts of arson. The 4-minute video, which was released over the weekend, was produced in both Arabic and English and features high-end video editing, according to a report by the Middle East Media Research Center’s Jihad and Terrorism Threat Monitor. – Washington Examiner 

Child survivors of Islamic State captivity and their families have been left to fend for themselves when dealing with lasting trauma and health complications, Amnesty International said on Thursday. – The Guardian 

Nearly 15 years after the September 11 attacks, terror organizations like Al-Qaeda and Islamic State (ISIS) operate online unobstructed – propagandizing, recruiting and hacking. The fight against cyber jihad is neither easy nor cheap, and the West must engage tech companies’ capabilities if it wants to win against these groups on the battlefield and in cyberspace. – Middle East Media Research Institute  

Issue Six of Sawt Al-Hind (“The Voice of India”), a magazine published by the supporters of the Islamic State (ISIS) in South Asia, includes an article on the reconversion of the Hagia Sophia museum in Istanbul into a mosque. Issue Six corresponds with July 2020. – Middle East Media Research Institute