Fdd's overnight brief

November 10, 2020

In The News


The United States is expected to impose sanctions as early as next week on Iranians involved in a violent crackdown against anti-government demonstrations in Iran a year ago, three sources familiar with the matter said on Monday. – Reuters 

In a long conversation with the media, Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh discussed whether Iran would renegotiate the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, also known as the Iran deal, of 2015. – Jerusalem Post 

Iran has sought to reach out to its Arab neighbors, with Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif warning them that US President Donald Trump will be leaving in 70 days, but Iran’s regime will remain “forever.” He urged them to realize that “betting on outsiders to provide security is never a good gamble.” – Jerusalem Post 

In an exclusive interview with Radio Farda, a young Iranian actress revealed that Iranian intelligence agents have threatened her with possible arrest and extradition. – Radio Farda 

“It does not really matter who is president on January 20 in the sense that there was going to be a negotiation with Iran anyway,” Elliot Abrams, the US special representative for Iran and Venezuela, said on Monday at a closed press briefing. – Jerusalem Post

Iran has sought to reach out to its Arab neighbors, with Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif warning them that US President Donald Trump will be leaving in 70 days, but Iran’s regime will remain “forever.” He urged them to realize that “betting on outsiders to provide security is never a good gamble.” – Jerusalem Post 

During the meetings, Abrams made clear that regardless of which administration will be in control of the White House next year, the US will work to bring Iran back to the negotiating table. – Arutz Sheva

Karim Sadjapour writes: Despite Khamenei’s hubris, a Biden presidency presents both an opportunity and a challenge for Tehran. The opportunity is a chance to improve the country’s moribund economy; the challenge is that Tehran will no longer be able to effectively use President Donald Trump as a pretext or distraction for its domestic repression, economic failures, and regional aggression. – Carnegie Endowment for International Peace

David Albright, Sarah Burkhard, and Frank Pabian write: Based on information in the Nuclear Archive, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) visited an Iranian site in the late summer, concerned that the site had possessed undeclared nuclear material, in particular uranium, a violation of Iran’s safeguards agreement[…]. According to the June 20, 2020, IAEA report, the location involved the “possible use or storage of nuclear material and/or conducting nuclear-related activities, including research and development activities related to the nuclear fuel cycle. – Institute for Science and International Security

Ilan Berman writes: If the Biden White House returns to the uncritical engagement that punctuated the Obama era, the results will be all too familiar: an empowerment of Iran’s radical regime, a marginalization of America’s regional allies and quite possibly a new regional conflict. If, on the other hand, it can take advantage of the current weakened state of the Iranian regime, it may be able to forge a new U.S. policy to contain and deter Tehran. […]Doing so, however, will require the new administration to appreciate—and then to exploit—the leverage that has been created by more than two years of the Trump administration’s “maximum pressure.” – Newsweek


The United States on Monday imposed sanctions on officials, entities and individuals it accused of providing support to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad as Washington continued its efforts to cut off funds for Assad’s government. – Reuters

James Jeffrey, the U.S. special representative for Syria engagement, is retiring from his post, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced Monday. – Politico 

Seth J. Frantzman writes: Some have an interest in exaggerating the clashes in southern Syria. However, the continued unrest that has gone on for years is punctuated by these types of incidents, just like the clashes in Suwayda in September. It is never clear when it might boil over into more serious conflict. Its proximity to Israel and Jordan mean that it has serious security implications. – Jerusalem Post 


A Turkish court released a prominent opposition journalist from detention on Monday as her trial continues on accusations that she revealed state secrets in two articles about Ankara’s military involvement in Libya. – Reuters 

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan has accepted the resignation of his finance minister and son-in-law Berat Albayrak, the Turkish presidency said on Monday, more than 24 hours after Albayrak’s surprise announcement. – Reuters

Turkey on Tuesday hailed the “significant gains” achieved by Azerbaijan’s forces that were cemented in a peace deal it struck with Armenia ending weeks of fierce clashes over Nagorno-Karabakh. – Agence France-Presse

Turkey’s lira was set for its biggest one-day rise in two years on Monday after a tumultuous weekend for the country’s economic management brought the firing of the central bank governor and the resignation of the president’s son-in-law as finance minister. – Financial Times

Simon A. Waldman and Asaf Romirowsky write: Turkey’s increased funding of UNRWA represents yet another example of Ankara’s grandiose dreams to become a global power at the expense of the United States. Indeed, Erdogan often repeats the phrase “the world is bigger than five,” meaning the five permanent members of the Security Council—the United States, UK, France, China and Russia, the latter which Ankara has cozied to. Earlier this year, in a speech pertaining to the COVID-19 pandemic, Erdogan declared that the West’s prosperity “based on the blood, tears, pain and exploitation of the rest of the world” is now coming to an end. – The National Interest 


Now Trump is on his way out of office. If, as many expect, Netanyahu’s government collapses soon and Israel heads for yet another election, he will not be able to flaunt photos of himself with Trump to prove his diplomatic acumen. Nor will he have Trump to legitimize his autocratic impulses. Trump’s fall is not a certain omen of change in Israel. But the prime minister’s opponents are right to treat Biden’s victory as an inspiration. – Washington Post

Saeb Erekat, a senior Palestinian official and negotiator who passionately advocated the establishment of an independent Palestinian state as a resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, died at an Israeli hospital on Tuesday. He was 65. – New York Times

The Knesset is set to approve the declaration on the establishment of relations between Israel and Bahrain on Tuesday before it returns to the cabinet for a final vote. – Haaretz

Israel plans to send its first delegation to Sudan on Sunday to firm up the countries’ US-brokered announcement on Oct. 23 that they would normalize relations, a source briefed on the provisional itinerary said. – Jerusalem Post

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu allegedly leaked classified information on Iran to his friend, billionaire businessman and Hollywood producer Arnon Milchan, according to leaked testimony aired Monday from one of the criminal cases against the premier. – Times of Israel

US Rep. Ilhan Omar reacted on Twitter to the news reported by the AFP News Agency on Friday that Israel had demolished illegally built structures in Khirbet Humsah, located in Samaria in the Jordan Valley, and called to defund Israel for “ethnic cleansing.” – Jerusalem Post

An Israeli television host excoriated mainstream media outlets for declaring former Vice President Joe Biden the winner of last week’s presidential election, saying media coverage of the election has virtually ignored the “serious legal problems” raised by the Trump campaign with the ongoing vote count in multiple states. – Arutz Sheva

The Shin Bet said on Monday it had arrested two young West Bank Palestinians who were recruited by the Gaza Strip’s Hamas organization to carry out acts of terrorism against Israel. – Ynet

Joe Biden served as vice president for eight years under Barack Obama and before that, as a leading Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. If he is elected, will America’s relationship with Israel go back to what it was during the Obama administration – or will he continue where Trump left off? – Haaretz

David M. Halbfinger writes: The Trump-Netanyahu relationship has been an extraordinary duet between nationalist leaders whose similarities — divisive political tactics, denunciations of “fake news” and playing to working-class voters’ resentments, among other things — have drawn countless comparisons. But without Mr. Trump performing under the big top, Mr. Netanyahu’s Trumpian behavior could begin to stick out. – New York Times

Chemi Shalev writes: Biden, in fact, is likely to eventually shift the fundamentals of Israel’s entire internal discourse. After four years of Trump, concepts such as dignity, diversity, equal opportunity and even basic human empathy sound subversive, if not revolutionary – but who knows? They might catch on. – Haaretz

Yaakov Katz writes: It might make sense to move up the transition between Gilad Erdan and Dermer and put the former minister, currently serving as Israel’s envoy to the UN, in Washington sooner than originally planned. […]In addition, Israel needs to start reaching out to progressive Jewry. If Israel had a normal government, Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi would be perfectly positioned to do that. The problem is, like many other issues in Israel right now, the government simply does not get along. – Jerusalem Post


The U.S. envoy to Lebanon said on Monday that Lebanese Christian politician Gebran Bassil, who has been sanctioned by the United States, had voiced willingness to sever ties with Hezbollah, challenging his assertion that he rejected the idea outright. – Reuters

Bahaa Hariri, the billionaire son of one former Lebanese prime minister and brother of another, tells Axios his younger brother Saad Hariri must not cut any political deals with Hezbollah in order to form a new government. – Axios 

Zvi Bar’el writes:The American struggle to unlink the president and his party from Hezbollah seems at the moment one aspiration too far, one that could risk the very establishment of a new government in Lebanon, which Saad Hariri is now working hard to accomplish.[…]But the sanctions on Bassil are also a direct message to Aoun and Prime Minister Hariri that anyone who decides to include Hezbollah in the new government will be on a direct collision course with the U.S. government. – Haaretz

Gulf States

The United Arab Emirates announced a series of legal changes over the weekend that improved protections for women, loosened regulations on alcohol consumption and expanded the ability of noncitizens to follow foreign laws for inheritance and divorce. – New York Times

The king and crown prince of Saudi Arabia have each sent cables congratulating President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. on his electoral victory, an initial effort by Saudi leaders, who have benefited from a strong relationship with President Trump, to build ties with the new American administration. – New York Times

The Trump administration has formally informed the United States Congress of its intention to sell dozens of F-35 advanced fighter jets and other military hardware to the United Arab Emirates, the Washington Post reported Monday. – Times of Israel

Jonathan H. Ferziger writes: While ties with Israel may not advance along the trajectory Trump greased with F-35 sales, the Gulf states have broad agendas beyond fighter jets—and will find ample opportunity for warmer ties with the Biden administration after what is likely to be a transition period. – Foreign Policy

Middle East & North Africa

Iraq’s decision to close a slew of displacement camps risks leaving more than 100,000 people homeless as winter approaches and the coronavirus pandemic gathers steam, an aid group warned Monday. – Washington Post

Libya has been split since 2014 between rival factions in the west, held by the internationally recognised Government of National Accord (GNA), and the east, home to Khalifa Haftar’s LNA. Both are backed by foreign powers. Muataz al-Farjani, another wounded LNA fighter, said he feared the influence of Turkey, which backs the Tripoli-based government. – Reuters 

Iraq’s pro-Tehran factions have welcomed Joe Biden’s election as US president, alarming officials and activists in Baghdad who fear a U.S.-Iran de-escalation could empower hardliners in their own country. – Ynet

Walter Russell Mead writes: That a controversy over Islamism should turn into a diplomatic standoff between Turkey and France highlights the dramatic changes in the Middle East and the Mediterranean that the incoming Biden administration will have to address[…]. The Middle East will not and should not be the incoming Biden administration’s highest foreign-policy priority. But getting it right is going to take some hard thinking. – Wall Street Journal 

Zev Chafets writes: In short, President Biden should try to do things that can be done: peace deals between Israel and more Arab states, starting with Saudi Arabia; a new Iran agreement that satisfies Israeli and Sunni concerns; a continued fight against Islamic terrorism in the Middle East and Africa; and a regional understanding with Russia. These are not beyond the grasp of an experienced and realistic President, especially one who comes equipped with a calm disposition, a modest set of goals and a killer smile. – Bloomberg

Korean Peninsula

As world leaders congratulated Joe Biden on his election win over the weekend, a long-standing U.S. adversary remained conspicuously silent. […]But Kim’s state media has made no mention of the U.S. elections this past week, focusing instead Monday on reports about cement production and self-reliance. – Washington Post

With Joe Biden’s projected victory in the U.S. presidential election, South Korean officials are expecting a win of their own in a drawn-out, multi-billion dollar dispute with Washington over the cost of thousands of U.S. troops on the peninsula. – Reuters 

North Korea watchers are warning that Kim Jong Un could ratchet up tensions with the U.S. as President-elect Joe Biden prepares to take office in January. – TIME

Defense contractor Northrop Grumman and the U.S. Army have enhanced the Joint Tactical Ground Station (JTAGS) capabilities in South Korea. The deployment of the JTAGS system will improve battle-space awareness and improve missile defense. This has marked the completion of phase one of the platform’s modernization efforts. – The National Interest 

Morten Soendergaard Larsen writes: And Moon does have a lot to be happy about when it comes to a Biden administration. The former vice president is a lot more popular than President Donald Trump among South Koreans, who according to Gallup Korea favored Biden 59 percent to 16 percent for Trump. And Biden would likely de-escalate the ongoing dispute over the shared cost of hosting U.S. troops in Korea. – Foreign Policy 


With President Trump’s unfounded allegations that Democrats stole last week’s presidential election, Moscow and Beijing got a fresh chance to claim vindication. – New York Times

While many will welcome the expected change in tone from the strident, at times racist statements by Mr. Trump and other officials, few expect President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. to quickly reverse the confrontational policies his predecessor has put in place. – New York Times

Huawei plans to sell budget-brand smartphone unit Honor in a 100 billion yuan ($15.2 billion) deal to a consortium led by handset distributor Digital China and the government of its home town of Shenzhen, people with knowledge of the matter told Reuters. – Reuters 

China said Monday it has taken note of Joe Biden’s declaration of victory in the U.S. presidential election but is holding off on sending any message of congratulations. – Associated Press

The U.S. State Department has announced sanctions against an additional four Chinese officials over the crackdown on political rights in Hong Kong. – Associated Press

Beijing expects less volatile relations with Washington under Joe Biden but does not believe the new administration will veer significantly from the hardline approach taken by Donald Trump, according to Chinese government advisers and analysts. – Financial Times

Richard McGregor writes: And here lies the paradox of Mr. Xi’s rule. Now that he is so firmly in charge of the party, with no clear rivals and no known succession plan, he is also setting the stage for a full-blown crisis of leadership in the future. The greatness of Mr. Xi’s power is its greatest weakness. – New York Times

Tom Rogan writes: Considering his character and China’s increasing readiness for war, Jim Mattis’s return to cabinet service would be most welcome. However, the basic point for Biden is that Xi is not to be trusted. For all his smiles, Xi has no intention of being an American partner. The course for this new Mao is set and centers on replacing the U.S.-led international order with an authoritarian feudal order ruled from Beijing. – Washington Examiner

Martin Horička writes: Even though President Trump tried to wage a “trade war” against Beijing and last year, the U.S. trade deficit really fell for the first time in six years, the overall results of the confrontation are still far from sufficient. […]The next presidential administrations could learn from Kennedy’s 1960 warning: “I want people in Latin America and Africa and Asia to start to look to America; to see how we’re doing things; to wonder what the resident of the United States is doing; and not to look at Khrushchev, or look at the Chinese Communists.” – Washington Examiner


The stalled peace talks between the Afghan government and the Taliban could see slight changes with the new U.S. administration, Afghan officials say, with some expressing hope that President-elect Joe Biden will adopt a tougher approach to the militant group and be more willing to leave a small U.S. counterterrorism force in the country. – Washington Post 

Afghanistan’s insurgent Taliban on Tuesday called on the incoming administration of U.S. President-elect Joe Biden to stick to the February agreement to withdraw U.S. troops. – Reuters

Abubakar Siddique writes: Threlkeld, a former American diplomat in Pakistan, however, says there are new opportunities for cooperation on cross-cutting issues such as public health and climate as Washington’s heightened competition with Beijing becomes a determining factor in its overall policy toward Afghanistan and Pakistan. But in a region shaped by great power competition and rivalries between neighbors, seeking multilateral solutions to festering conflicts will be no easy task for an administration facing multiple domestic crises. – Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty

South Asia

India’s competition watchdog has ordered an in-depth investigation into the tight links between Google’s mobile app store and its payment service, after an initial review found that the internet company was unfairly squeezing out competitors. – Financial Times

Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s party, which is in coalition with the ruling alliance in Bihar, is fighting a tough battle to retain control of the eastern state as vote counting began Tuesday. – Bloomberg

Campaigners say forced conversion and marriage of girls and women from minority religions, including Hindus and Christians, is a growing problem in Muslim-majority Pakistan, with those from poor families and low castes largely targeted. – Reuters 

Another U.S.-built facility at a naval base in Cambodia has been demolished, U.S. researchers said on Monday, citing recent satellite imagery. – Reuters 

Myanmar’s ruling National League for Democracy claimed Monday it had won a clear parliamentary majority and would retain power, even though the state election body has named just a few of the winners in Sunday’s elections. – Associated Press

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Monday said the United States has concerns about Myanmar’s parliamentary elections, which he said mark an important step in the country’s democratic transition, and will continue to closely monitor the process. – Reuters


For many in Hong Kong, her detention was a reminder of what had brought them to the streets in the first place: an extradition bill to mainland China, where courts are controlled by the Communist Party. – New York Times

Apple said on Monday that it had placed a key assembler of its iPhones on probation after the Taiwanese company was found to have concealed violations of labor rules for students employed at its factories in China. – New York Times

Thousands of followers of a firebrand cleric joyfully welcomed him at an Indonesian airport early Tuesday as he returned home from a 3-year exile in Saudi Arabia after criminal charges including a pornography case were dropped. – Associated Press

Thousands of protesters rallied in the Georgian capital Tbilisi for the second day on Monday, some defying the start of the country’s coronavirus curfew, to back opposition calls for a re-run of the Oct. 31 parliamentary election they say was rigged. – Reuters

China’s efforts to block Taiwan’s participation at the World Health Organization (WHO) during the coronavirus pandemic will only increase the world’s hostility towards the country, the island’s premier said on Tuesday. – Reuters

South Caucasus

Armenia and Azerbaijan have reached an agreement sponsored by Russia to end their war for control of Nagorno-Karabakh, Armenia’s Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan said in a Facebook post in the early hours of Tuesday. – Wall Street Journal

Azerbaijan’s foreign ministry apologized on Monday for what it said was the accidental shooting down of a Russian military helicopter, killing two crew members in an incident that threatened to draw Russia more deeply into an already escalating war between Armenia and Azerbaijan. – New York Times

Russian President Vladimir Putin said in a statement on Tuesday that Russian peace keepers will be deployed along the front line in Nagorno-Karabakh following an agreement to stop military conflict between Armenian and Azerbaijan’s forces. – Reuters

Azerbaijan President Ilham Aliyev said on Tuesday that Turkey will take part in a peace-keeping process in the Nagorno-Karabakh region following a Russia-mediated deal with Armenia to stop military hostilities. – Reuters

Even as Ankara continues to fuel a two-month-long proxy war along Russia’s southern borders and against Moscow’s military ally, Russian President Vladimir Putin insists on a diplomatic solution within the Minsk Group framework—just earlier today, Putin discussed the Nagorno-Karabakh issue with French President Emmanuel Macron. Still, the conflict speaks to a broader pattern of Turkish power projection in the South Caucasus—one that will pose a cascading threat to Russia’s core security interests for so long as it goes unchecked. – The National Interest 

Michael Rubin writes: Much of Azerbaijan’s diplomatic prestige in Washington and success in Congress rests on two pillars: first, its embrace by Israel activists who found in Azerbaijan a strategic ally in a difficult neighborhood, and second, energy companies for whom their Azeri business nets billions of dollars. […]Simply put, it is time for any activist who seeks to enhance Israel’s security in the region to recognize that the reality of Azerbaijan is in dissonance with its propaganda. It’s time for both Israel and the U.S. Jewish community to step away from its former Caspian ally. – The National Interest

Joshua Kucera writes: The roots of the current fighting lie the ethnic cleansing that took place as a result of that first war. […]In the war that ensued, Armenians managed to take control not only of Nagorno-Karabakh, but of large parts of Azerbaijani territory surrounding it that had previously had a negligible Armenian population. More than 600,000 ethnic Azerbaijanis were forced to flee their homes. – Foreign Policy 


The reaction in Russia to Joe Biden’s projected victory was a mixture of delight over the enduring U.S. political divides and relief that the rifts weren’t as widely attributed to Moscow’s interference this time. – Washington Post

Russian President Vladimir Putin won’t congratulate President-elect Joe Biden until legal challenges to the U.S. election are resolved and the result is official, the Kremlin announced Monday. – Associated Press

President Trump’s term in office is coming to an end without any breakthrough agreements with Russia, to the “deepest regret” of a top diplomat in Moscow. – Washington Examiner

Moscow is braced for a renewed surge of anti-Russian rhetoric from Washington in the early days of a Biden administration, and is nervous about bills currently in Congress that could dramatically increase the impact of sanctions against the country, spearheaded by a new president with no equivocation in his disdain for Vladimir Putin’s regime. – Financial Times

About an hour before the first U.S. polls opened on Election Day, the Kremlin’s leading news agency published an interview with Sergei Naryshkin, the head of Russia’s foreign intelligence service, the SVR, which helped orchestrate the Russian attempt to interfere in the 2016 elections. His prediction for the outcome of the 2020 vote was grim, and he struggled to suppress a smile as he delivered it. – TIME

Janusz Bugajski writes: The Kremlin will propose geopolitical agreements that may look appealing but will be designed to raise Russia’s influence at America’s expense. It will also push for lifting economic sanctions on oligarchs and state enterprises embroiled in Moscow’s anti-Western offensives. U.S. policy should not sacrifice transatlantic security in the forlorn hope that Russia can become a trusted partner. – Washington Examiner


The European Union on Monday announced plans to impose $4 billion in tariffs on U.S. goods, continuing a trade war fanned by the Trump administration even while expressing hope for better relations once President-elect Joe Biden takes office. – Washington Post

U.K. Treasury chief Rishi Sunak on Monday outlined a review of finance rules, including possible changes to make it easier for companies to raise money in London, aimed at keeping the country’s vast financial sector competitive with New York after Brexit. – Wall Street Journal

Far-right Estonian Interior Minister Mart Helme said Monday that he would resign from his post after he made several inflammatory remarks about the U.S. election in a weekend radio interview that prompted outcry in his country. – Washington Post

The post-election message from Ukraine’s leaders to their allies in Washington is a simple one: Leave us out of your partisan battles, please. – Washington Post

The displays prompted many media outlets and social media users to conclude that Europeans, who aren’t sad to see President Trump go, were celebrating the outcome of the election. […]Fact-checkers with French newspaper Libération reported that while the Paris mayor does sometimes ask the Paris Diocese to ring bells to mark political events, that did not happen in this case. – Washington Post

Mr. Johnson is in the final phases of trying to negotiate a post-Brexit trade agreement with the European Union, a complex challenge that just became more urgent with the defeat of his ally and ideological mate, President Trump. – New York Times

A peer in the House of Lords, Britain’s unelected second chamber of Parliament, drew heavy criticism from lawmakers on Monday for referring on Twitter to Kamala Harris, the United States vice president-elect, simply as “the Indian.” – New York Times

Kosovo’s former president Hashim Thaci pleaded not guilty on Monday to 10 charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity, including the alleged torture and killing of opponents. – Reuters

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said on Monday his government will have close ties with the United States under President-elect Joe Biden and they have a shared interest in tackling climate change. – Reuters

British Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said on Monday a decision by Belarus to expel two British diplomats was “wholly unjustified”. – Reuters

Carl Bildt writes: We can’t really rule out the uncomfortable possibility that in the longer perspective, it could be Biden’s rather than Trump’s approach that will be seen as the parenthesis. It drives the message that Europe, while fully embracing the change in U.S. leadership, must be ready to stand more firmly on its own legs in the years ahead. That, by the way, will also make the E.U. a much more useful partner for the United States – Washington Post

Tom Rogan writes: Today, Berlin spends just shy of 1.4% GDP on defense. At the same time, Germany provides the crucial diplomatic linchpin for Vladimir Putin’s energy blackmail strategy in Europe. This activity from a NATO member should be as unacceptable to a U.S. president as are Turkey’s S-400 antics. NATO’s secretary-general agrees. In a January 2019 interview with the Washington Examiner, Jens Stoltenberg pledged to keep pushing Germany on defense spending. So, yes, Biden is right to want to strengthen NATO. But if he’s serious about doing so, a softly-softly strategy won’t cut it. – Washington Examiner

Anders Aslund writes: The U.S. policy on Europe should be guided by two fundamental thoughts. One is that we must get back to normal with our closest allies. The other is that these measures can be implemented instantly with executive orders. – The Hill

Gideon Rachman writes: Mr Johnson is likely to spend the next few months hiding away much of his populist wardrobe, and trying on some new liberal clothing. But the hardcore of Mr Trump’s international fan club — figures like Mr Orban and Mr Bolsonaro — are more likely to dig in. They will be hoping that their hero can make an unlikely comeback in 2024. – Financial Times


Ethiopia’s air force is “pounding targets with precision,” a military official said Monday, as the federal government continues its offensive against the heavily armed northern region of Tigray and no clear route to peace is seen. – Associated Press

Several Ethiopians, including army soldiers, fled the escalating conflict in the restive Tigray region to neighbouring Sudan on Monday, Sudanese state media and residents said. – Reuters 

As the world waited with bated breath last Wednesday for the results of the U.S. presidential election, Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed sent soldiers to the restive northern Tigray province, alleging that regional troops had attacked a federal military base. The crisis escalated quickly, and heavy casualties have been reported in clashes between the national military and troops loyal to the region’s ruling Tigrayan People’s Liberation Front (TPLF). – Foreign Policy 

Daniel Haile writes: Idealistic progressive political reforms of hope and change are windows of opportunities for Ethiopia’s fragmentation. Unfortunately, Abiy Ahmed opened so many doors with his naive reforms that he is culpable for Ethiopia’s current state. Abiy Ahmed will eventually be a benevolent dictator like his predecessors to keep the ethnic nationalism at bay and keep Ethiopia’s different regions from succeeding as Eritrea did in 1991. – The National Interest

The Americas

Former Bolivian President Evo Morales returned in triumph to his home country from exile Monday, a year after he resigned amid election-rigging allegations that plunged the Andean nation into violent turmoil. – Wall Street Journal

The country’s Congress voted to remove President Martín Vizcarra from office on Monday, throwing the Andean country of 32 million into political turmoil, as it struggles with one of the world’s worst coronavirus outbreaks. – Wall Street Journal

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Monday he spoke with President-elect Joe Biden about China’s imprisonment of two Canadians in retaliation for the arrest of a top Huawei executive and he expects Biden to be a good partner in persuading Beijing to release them. – Associated Press

The Mexican military is still on guard up and down the country’s shared border with the United States a year and a half after the Trump administration threatened to impose tariffs if the government did not block migrants who attempt to pass through. – Washington Examiner

United States

As President-elect Joe Biden moved forward on Monday with preparations to take office in January, some world leaders have continued to remain silent on the outcome of the election, which President Trump has yet to concede. – Washington Post

Major powers, including allies, criticised the United States for its human rights record on Monday during a U.N. review, citing the use of the death penalty, police violence against African Americans and the separation of migrant children from their families. – Reuters

The World Health Organization chief on Monday welcomed efforts to strengthen the Geneva-based body through reform and said it was looking forward to working closely with the administration of U.S. President-elect Joe Biden. – Reuters

U.N. chief Antonio Guterres congratulates U.S. President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris, a U.N. spokesman said on Monday, describing U.S. partnership with the world body as an “essential pillar” of global cooperation. – Reuters

Michael Rubin writes: Biden may reverse what his team deems a “Muslim ban” for political reasons, but rather than signal an end to Trumpism, Biden will instead show that he puts politics above unity and prefers to appease a radical fringe within his own electoral coalition rather than to prioritize national security. Senators posture, but presidents should be above that. Biden may soon be sworn in as our nation’s 46th president, but he shows that he continues to think more like a senator than a president. – Washington Examiner

Jerffrey Kucik writes: Biden intends to rejoin the Paris Agreement and repair ties to the World Health Organization. Given Biden’s posture in these other areas, a multilateral approach to trade isn’t too far-fetched. Besides, it’s the best way to pull the United States out of an economic Wild West — and it’s the best way to take globalization’s dangers seriously. – The Hill


Facebook took down a widespread network of pages tied to President Trump’s former chief strategist Stephen K. Bannon for pushing misinformation about voter fraud and delegitimizing election results. – Washington Post

Although the campaign has thus far failed to prove any voter fraud, the hotline has received no shortage of phone calls — all thanks to a viral campaign on TikTok and Twitter to clog the hotline with anti-Trump memes and absurd messages. – Washington Post

From its sprawling new war room inside Fort Meade, not far from Baltimore-Washington International Airport in Maryland, United States Cyber Command dived deep into Russian and Iranian networks in the months before the election, temporarily paralyzing some and knocking ransomware tools offline. – New York Times

But issues in the unofficial vote counts in Michigan’s Antrim and Oakland counties were caused by human error, not software glitches, according to reviews by the Michigan Department of State, county clerks and election security experts. – New York Times

The companies are banning groups and hashtags, altering search results, labeling posts, down-ranking problematic content and implementing a host of measures to ward off misinformation. […]One sign of the impact of these actions is the renewed interest in Parler, which became the top new app download over the weekend on Apple’s App Store. – Washington Post

Police and government investigators in the UK have signed contracts worth more than £4m in the past two years with an Israeli company that specialises in hacking into iPhones. – Financial Times

The U.S. Air Force’s concept Combined Joint All-Domain Command and Control requires an intricate web that connects sensors and shooters, while employing emerging technologies such as artificial intelligence and machine learning to quickly sift through data. But to connect these platforms across domains and services, data must seamlessly flow across networks with disparate owners. And to do that, the services must agree on a level of data standards. – C4ISRNET

Videoconferencing platform Zoom has agreed to implement a security program as part of a settlement with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) announced Monday. – The Hill

Geoffrey A. Fowler writes: Instead of labeling lie after lie, perhaps social media should focus on figuring out how to reduce the audience for liars. […]There are lots of ideas like this, if the tech companies are willing to listen. Misinformation will continue to fly online until Silicon Valley tackles its next big engineering problem: how to make truth travel faster than lies. – Washington Post


President Trump fired Defense Secretary Mark T. Esper on Monday, ousting his fourth Pentagon chief and stoking uncertainty as the nation navigates a chaotic transition marked by an incumbent who is refusing to concede. – Washington Post

President Donald Trump’s pick to replace Defense Secretary Mark Esper arrived at the Pentagon on Monday about an hour after the president tweeted his decision to remove Esper from the job, offering an unceremonious exit for the Pentagon chief after public policy clashes. – Reuters

A decade from now, the backbone of the Navy’s tactical air fleet will begin to retire with no clear successor in line yet[…]. For Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Mike Gilday, the Navy needs to avoid repeating the procedural mistakes that led to a 20-year process for the F-35C Lighting II Joint Strike Fighter to make it into the Fleet. – USNI News

The U.S. Army is now carving out a path to field high-altitude balloons to provide an additional but less expensive layer of communications, connectivity, range extension and surveillance capabilities, adding resiliency to the service’s existing architecture of space assets and aircraft supporting multidomain operations. – Defense News

In a planning guidance for the U.S. Space Force, Chief of Space Operations John “Jay” Raymond said the still nascent service must prioritize being lean, agile and willing to take risks. “This planning guidance is going to be absolutely critical to us as we develop that force design going forward,” Raymond said during a Nov. 9 media roundtable. – C4ISRNET

Israel has delivered the first Multi-Mission Radars manufactured by ELTA Systems to the US Army as part of the procurement of two Iron Dome missile-defense batteries. – Jerusalem Post

Here’s What You Need to Remember: What is especially noteworthy about the United States’ first hypersonic weapon is that this twenty-first-century technological marvel will be carried on the United States Air Force bombers that first flew in the early stages of the Cold War. – The National Interest  

USS Nimitz (CVN-68) is heading to the annual Malabar exercise to drill with an Indian aircraft carrier after spending nearly two months in the Persian Gulf. – USNI News 

Mackenzie Eaglen writes: The United States faces rising challenges across three theaters. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, America is not the prosperous country that it was five years ago (or at least is not at the same levels of prosperity), and in the next administration, the budget will likely flatline at best. Combatant commanders should learn to prioritize strategy and understand the increased limitations of the services that will result from fewer resources. Facing these problems directly is an imperative for the future of our national security. They cannot be ignored because they are difficult. – War on the Rocks

Long War

European leaders have expressed solidarity, but the Muslim world has been convulsed with anti-French demonstrations and calls for a boycott. Beyond the magnitude of the attacks, the striking difference between then and now has much to do with President Emanuel Macron’s response, which has alienated many French Muslims and generated anger across the Muslim world. – New York Times

Austrian authorities watched a meeting in Vienna this summer between foreign Islamists and the jihadist who killed four people last week, and trailed him for days but then stopped, news agency APA reported on Monday. – Associated Press

EU governments are being urged to step up the fight against Islamist terrorism by widening authorities’ access to encrypted online communication and sanctioning migrants who refuse to “integrate”, following recent terrorist attacks in Europe. – Financial Times 

An Indiana woman has been sentenced to more than six years in prison for aiding ISIS terrorists by smuggling “cash and gold” to help fund their actions. – Newsweek 

Pockets of instability persist despite intensified military campaign against a militant group loyal to Islamic State, supported by local Bedouins complaining of marginalization by Cairo. – Ynet

Trump Administration

Attorney General William P. Barr, wading into President Trump’s unfounded accusations of widespread election irregularities, told federal prosecutors on Monday that they were allowed to investigate “specific allegations” of voter fraud before the results of the presidential race are certified. – New York Times

President Trump’s refusal to concede the election to President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. has already affected Mr. Biden’s transition, particularly on national security issues. – New York Times

President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr.’s national security team is likely to be largely staffed by former Obama Situation Room regulars prepared to restore foreign policy principles discarded by President Trump. – New York Times

As he testifies Tuesday before the Senate Judiciary Committee, former acting FBI director Andrew McCabe will forcefully defend the bureau’s decision to initiate an investigation into whether the Trump campaign coordinated with Russia to influence the 2016 election, telling lawmakers that officials had a “duty” to do so because of the information that had come to them, according to a copy of his prepared remarks. – Washington Post

U.S. President Donald Trump’s campaign on Monday filed a lawsuit in a Pennsylvania federal court, seeking to block state officials from certifying President-elect Joe Biden’s victory in the state. – Reuters

Jack Detsch and Robbie Gramer write: U.S. President Donald Trump announced that he fired long-embattled Defense Secretary Mark Esper in a tweet on Monday, just two days after news networks called the U.S. election against the incumbent commander in chief, another move that current and former officials worry could upset an already tumultuous transition to a new administration. – Foreign Policy