Fdd's overnight brief

November 12, 2019

In The News


Iran carried out its threat to enrich uranium at its underground Fordow nuclear site, the United Nations atomic agency said Monday, confirming Tehran’s most serious step yet away from the 2015 nuclear deal. – Wall Street Journal

Iran has discovered an oil field in the country’s south with more than 50 billion barrels of crude oil, its president said on Sunday, a development that could bolster the nation’s proven reserves by a third as it struggles to sell energy abroad. – Associated Press

Iran has acknowledged for the first time that it had an open court case involving Robert A. Levinson, a former F.B.I. agent who disappeared in 2007 under still-mysterious circumstances while on an unauthorized C.I.A. mission to the country. – Associated Press

Iran’s deputy U.N. ambassador has responded to new concerns about the country’s nuclear activities saying it “continues to cooperate with the International Atomic Energy Agency to answer questions raised by it.” – Associated Press

President Donald Trump on Sunday responded to news from Iran that it had an “ongoing” case against a former FBI agent who disappeared in Iran in 2007 under mysterious circumstances.  – Business Insider

Iranian President Hassan Rohani, in a thinly veiled appeal to hard-liners, says staying in a 2015 nuclear deal with world powers will allow Tehran to restart weapons sales and purchases abroad. – Radio Farda

European Union foreign ministers on Monday affirmed their support for the nuclear deal with Iran, after the Islamic Republic began enrichment work at its Fordo site in a fresh act of defiance that seems likely to spell the end of the painstakingly crafted international agreement. – Associated Press

Iran started pouring concrete on Sunday at its second nuclear power plant, a key step in building the facility with Russian help in the southern port of Bushehr, state television reported. – Reuters

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Friday slammed Tehran’s treatment of an inspector with the UN’s nuclear watchdog agency last week as “an outrageous and unwarranted act of intimidation.” – Agence France-Presse

EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini, France, Germany and Britain on Monday urged Iran to stick to the 2015 nuclear agreement with major powers or face action which could include the reimposition of sanctions. – Reuters

President Hassan Rouhani said on Monday Iran would regain access to the international arms market later next year if it stuck to its 2015 nuclear deal with world powers and this would prove “a huge political success”. – Reuters

Europeans have failed to fulfill their own commitments to Iran’s 2015 nuclear deal, Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif tweeted on Tuesday, in response to a warning by the EU that urged Tehran to stick to the pact or face consequences. – Reuters

Sotoudej, who has been imprisoned for the past seventeen months in Tehran’s notorious prison, Evin, insists, “In Iran, we are always prisoners—You might think that I am exaggerating, but when our main concern is the absence of justice in our society, being imprisoned or not does not make any difference.” – Radio Farda

The Tehran publishers’ league in Iran said it has outlawed buying or selling books by the bestselling Israeli author Yuval Noah Harari. – Associated Press

A vast oil field containing an estimated 53 billion barrels of crude oil has been discovered in Iran, President Hassan Rouhani announced Sunday, a find that could boost the country’s battered economy amid stringent US sanctions. – CNN

The United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) outraged its critics once again on Friday, as a mandatory annual human rights review of the Islamic Republic of Iran gave way to unabashed praise of Tehran’s record by other member states — many governed by similarly authoritarian regimes. – Algemeiner

Israel will likely need to attack Iran directly to stop it from developing nuclear weapons and a “ring of fire” around Israel, ex-national security council chief Maj. Gen. Yaakov Amidror said on Monday. – Jerusalem Post

Kasra J. Aarabi writes: The Iranian high-risk strategy is a sign of a regime under incredible pressure at home, facing the interconnected challenges of a deteriorating economy, widespread protests and an ageing Supreme Leader, running out of ideas and time. In fact, the Iranian regime’s show of strength is merely a diversion from the thing Tehran fears most: a sustained, organised and systematic domestic uprising. […]The only solution to de-escalate tensions in the Middle East and push back against the Ayatollah’s thirst for conflict is a united US and Europe. – Times of Israel

Seth G. Jones and Danika Newlee write: The United States’ greatest strengths—its support of democratic principles, open markets, and free press—are also Iran’s most significant weaknesses. Iran’s authoritarian political system and attempt to control access to information, including through state-run media, make it vulnerable to a U.S. and Western information campaign. – Center for Strategic and International Studies


In the month since Turkey intervened to drive U.S.-allied Syrian Kurdish fighters from a broad swath of northern Syria, proxy forces backed by Ankara have been blamed for a growing ledger of abuses against the local population, residents say, undermining Turkey’s stated goal of creating a “safe zone” for civilians. – Washington Post

Stones and shoes were hurled at Russian and Turkish armored vehicles as they passed through Kurdish areas in northeastern Syria during a joint patrol of the area after a deal was struck to drive Kurdish forces out of the region. – Washington Post

As many as 600 U.S. troops will remain in northeastern Syria to continue counterterrorism operations against the Islamic State, Gen. Mark A. Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said Sunday. – Washington Post

A Syrian protester was killed Friday after a Turkish military vehicle ran him over as it drove through an angry crowd of protesters, Kurdish forces and a Syria war monitoring group said. – Associated Press

At a base in eastern Syria, a senior U.S. coalition commander said Monday that American troops who remain in Syria are redeploying to bases, including in some new locations, and working with the Kurdish-led forces to keep up the pressure on the Islamic State militants and prevent the extremists from resurging or breaking out of prisons. – Associated Press

The Syrian army fired on a “hostile target” in the town of Daraya, west of the capital, Damascus, Syrian state media said early on Tuesday. – Reuters

Palestinian Islamic Jihad and Syria said Tuesday morning that a building bombed overnight in Damascus was the home of Akram al-Ajouri, a senior member of the terror group. – Times of Israel

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad said the Syrian presidential election in 2021 would be open to anybody who wants to run and that there would be numerous challengers for the presidency. – Reuters

More than 60 medical facilities have been hit in Syria’s Idlib province in the past six months, including four this week, and appear to have been deliberately targeted by government-affiliated forces, a U.N. rights spokesman said on Friday. – Reuters

Three car bombs went off Monday in the northeastern Syrian town of Qamishli near the border with Turkey, killing at least six people, while a priest was shot dead in a nearby area by extremists, state media and activists said. – Associated Press

Kathy Gilsinan writes: As a combatant in Syria’s civil war, the U.S. has some leverage in negotiations over how it all ends, but to a lesser degree than Russia, Turkey, and Iran, who collectively have invested more in Syria. It is also now in a stronger relative position to make demands in any future negotiations to settle Syria’s fate. Russia will seek to preserve a role for its ally Assad; Turkey will seek to further undermine Kurdish aspirations in the country. Neither of these things may be in American interests, but Donald Trump has made clear that he sees America’s main interest as leaving. – The Atlantic

Samuel Helfont writes: As debates about al-Baghdadi show, the new wave of scholarship on Iraq is not only exciting from a scholarly perspective, it also has an important role to play politically in the United States. Popular narratives that exonerate the United States from responsibility for the chaos of post-2003 Iraq and the emergence of groups like ISIS prevent a true reckoning with the lasting damage of the Iraq War. In doing so, they make future wars more likely. – Washington Post


Turkish authorities said they deported a U.S. national whom they say is affiliated with Islamic State, and were prepared to send other foreign-born suspected militants back to their home countries. – Wall Street Journal

The British founder of a group that supported rescue efforts to save thousands of Syrian civilians was found dead in Istanbul on Monday. – Washington Post

Behind President Trump’s accommodating attitude toward Turkey is an unusual back channel: a trio of sons-in-law who married into power and now play key roles in connecting Ankara with Washington. – New York Times

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s planned visit to Washington this week is raising concerns about a repeat of violent protests from his 2017 trip, as recent court documents provide new details about the clashes between U.S. and Turkish security personnel. – The Hill

Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.) is calling on the State Department to bar any individuals who traveled with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan in 2017 and took part in an assault on U.S. citizens outside the Turkish ambassador’s residence from re-entering the country this week. – The Hill

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Monday that President Trump will discuss Turkey’s incursion into northeast Syria in an upcoming meeting with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and push for a political solution that protects “all of those in Syria, not just the Kurds.”  – The Hill

Erdoğan has sought the cleric’s extradition for years. And now, after Ankara’s offensive to drive Kurdish fighters from a “safe zone” in northeast Syria, a threat of U.S. sanctions, and a state-owned bank charged with fraud in a New York court, followers of Gülen, 78, fear he could be used as a pawn in a bigger game. – Washington Examiner

At the 2012 opening of Trump Towers in Istanbul, real estate mogul Donald Trump sang the praises of Tayyip Erdogan, telling a mostly Turkish audience that their leader, prime minister at the time, was “highly respected” around the world. – Reuters

The United States is very upset about Turkey’s purchase of Russian missile defense systems and could impose sanctions on Ankara if it does not “get rid” of them, White House National Security Adviser Robert O’Brien said on Sunday. – Reuters

European Union foreign ministers agreed on Monday economic sanctions over Turkey’s drilling off the coast of Cyprus, setting up the legal framework for travel bans and asset freezes but leaving names until a later date. – Reuters

Since the invasion began, the Turkish government, including the Ministry of Religious Affairs and President Erdoğan himself, have described the invasion in religious terms, as have members of the Turkish press. Members of the Turkish public have voiced their support for the invasion in religious terms on Twitter. – Middle East Media Research Institute

Turkey will not leave Syria until other countries pull out, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan was quoted as saying on Friday, and Ankara will continue its cross-border offensive against Kurdish fighters until every one of them has left the region. – Reuters

Editorial: Trump should pressure Erdogan to change his attitude and rhetoric. The Turkish dictator needs to be forced to make a decision. – Jerusalem Post

Bestoon Khalid writes: So, here is the question, what makes the White House paralyzed when it comes to stand against Erdogan’s threatening plans, which will certainly make the Middle East even more unstable and home to new conflicts. One answer to this question may be the impact of the lobbying army behind Erdogan on the White House and President Trump, in person. – Times of Israel


The leader of Lebanon’s powerful Hezbollah group said on Monday that political talks on forming a new government were still underway, and he would not discuss the matter publicly because he wanted to leave the “door open”. – Reuters

Political talks to agree an urgently needed Lebanese government are still deadlocked, three senior sources said on Sunday, as the powerful Shi’ite group Hezbollah indicated it would not be forced into concessions. – Reuters

The likelihood of war between the United States and Iran has decreased by 99 percent, Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah claimed Monday. – Times of Israel


Israel’s settlements in the West Bank, one of the most emotional issues of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, have gone mainstream among Israelis. Places once viewed with skepticism, if not downright hostility, by other Israelis are now home to 450,000 Israelis, up from 116,300 in 1993. – Wall Street Journal

Israeli security forces said they killed a senior leader of the militant faction Palestinian Islamic Jihad in a targeted airstrike in the Gaza Strip early Tuesday, sparking retaliatory rocket fire from the enclave into surrounding Israeli towns and raising fears of escalating reprisals.- Washington Post

After granting Israel access to the land as part of the 1994 peace treaty, Jordan declined to renew the agreement. The move, allowed under terms of the treaty, is the latest sign of the ongoing friction between the two countries and the end of a long tradition of local cross-border openness. – Washington Post

A young Palestinian man who was shot in the back by Israeli forces in an incident caught on video last year says the footage shows just a small part of what was a horrifying day for him. – Associated Press

Clashes erupted between Palestinians and Israeli forces Monday during demonstrations in the occupied West Bank marking the 15th anniversary of Yasser Arafat’s death, as a Palestinian was shot dead and dozens of others were injured. – Agence France-Presse

Palestinian Islamic Jihad declared Tuesday that it was preparing for war with Israel after the IDF carried out a dawn assassination of one of the terror group’s senior leaders in the northern Gaza Strip. – Times of Israel

The commander of American military forces in the Middle East arrived in Israel on Saturday for meetings with the Israel Defense Forces’ top brass, amid ongoing turmoil in the region after the US withdrew many of its forces from northern Syria last month. – Times of Israel

A preliminary investigation into the shooting death of a Palestinian man during armed clashes between rioters and IDF servicemen in the al-Arroub refugee camp north of Hebron on Monday found that he did not present a danger and lethal force was not warranted. – Times of Israel

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas on Monday said he’d “slapped” the US administration in the face by rejecting US President Donald Trump’s promised peace plan. – Associated Press

The head of Palestinian Islamic Jihad’s (PIJ) Al-Quds Brigades in Gaza, Baha Abu al-Ata was considered one of the top terrorists in the blockaded coastal enclave.  – Jerusalem Post

The Israel Defense Forces on Tuesday ordered schools closed in southern and central Israel, including the Tel Aviv metropolitan area, as terror groups in the Gaza Strip began firing dozens of rockets at cities and towns throughout the country in retaliation for the assassination of Palestinian Islamic Jihad senior commander Baha Abu al-Ata. – Times of Israel

The IDF expects the rocket attacks from the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip into Israel to last a “a number of days”, an IDF spokesman said, after Israel eliminated an Islamic Jihad terrorist in Gaza early Tuesday morning. – Arutz Sheva

Israel has denied reports of a breakthrough in talks with Hamas regarding the return of two Israeli hostages and the two bodies of IDF soldiers being held in the Gaza Strip, accusing the terror group that rules the coastal enclave of inflexibility and adopting unrealistic positions. – Ynet

Eli Barasch writes: Yet, despite being a transitional government, the security cabinet decided that now is the time to institute a potentially radical reform in Israel’s foreign investment landscape with reverberations that may impact Israel’s foreign relations with the US and China as well as the hi-tech sector which drives much of Israel’s economic growth. […]as Chinese investors have come to play an ever more important role in the Israeli hi-tech sector by providing both much needed funding and market access to Israeli startups, those concerns have only increased. – Times of Israel

Zev Chafets writes: Anything Bibi now says about the gravity of Iranian nuclear escalation will be viewed through the prism of his ambition to stay in office. Ultimately, dealing with the threat from Iran, which will likely mean regime change in Tehran, is best left to future, less compromised leaders in Washington and Jerusalem. – Bloomberg


For more than a month, Iraq’s protesters have withstood bullets and stun grenades, tear gas and water cannons, as they chanted, danced and called for the ouster of the entire political system. – Washington Post

At least two people were killed Friday as antigovernment protests entered their fifth week amid rising concern that security forces continue to use lethal force in defiance of senior military officials. […]And as protests gripped the country’s south and the capital, Baghdad, a rocket attack in the north created a new level of uncertainty.  Seventeen rockets struck inside and near the Gayara military base south of Mosul on Friday, said Maj. Gen. Tahsin al-Khafaji, the spokesman for the Joint Command in Baghdad. – New York Times

The United States has urged Iraq to hold early polls and carry out electoral reform, after a rights group warned a deadly crackdown on anti-government protesters could spiral into a “bloodbath”. – Agence France-Presse

Iraq’s most powerful Shiite religious leader said Monday he backs a U.N. roadmap aimed at meeting the demands of anti-government protesters who have been rallying in recent weeks despite a bloody crackdown by security forces, but he expressed concern that political parties would not carry them out. – Associated Press

An explosive device was detonated in northern Iraq on Sunday as a vehicle carrying Italian special forces drove nearby, injuring five soldiers, three of them seriously, the Italian military said on Sunday. – Reuters

Under the shadow of intensified social and political protests in Iraq, including in the country’s Shi’ite areas, Iran fears that it will lose its strategic status there, and is playing a role in suppressing the unrest – which is aimed against it as well. – Middle East Media Research Institute

Bilal Wahab writes: The U.S. and its Western allies have a critical role to play at this moment—endorsing the legitimate demands of the Iraqi people while encouraging Baghdad to adopt fundamental changes. As Iran ratchets up pressure on Iraqi leaders, those who want to ease the crisis through reform need to know that Washington has their back. – Wall Street Journal

Munqith Dagher writes: It may take great courage and a focus on national unity among Iraqi politicians to avert a disaster in the country. Unless this takes place, is not hard to imagine the anger among Iraq’s Shia majority leading to support for more extremist means to rectify the perceived untenable political situation in the country. As has been shown before, an unstable Iraq is not in the interest of Iraqis, the region, or the United States. – Washington Institute

Dastan Jasim writes: Iraq had years to fight against ISIS, though it is not now in an active civil war and still ISIS sleeper cells kill on a daily basis with barely any international media coverage. […]The deaths of the last days are only a foreshadowing of what is awaiting the international community. Baghdadi might be dead, but ISIS is not dead; it is well alive. – Jerusalem Post

Charles W. Dunne writes: American leadership on Iraq can begin to undo the damage the Trump administration’s chaotic policy in Syria has done to perceptions of U.S. regional leadership, and put Iran on notice that it cannot have a free hand in the Middle East. These are tough challenges indeed, but challenges the U.S. cannot afford to ignore. – NBC


After granting Israel access to the land as part of the 1994 peace treaty, Jordan declined to renew the agreement. The move, allowed under terms of the treaty, is the latest sign of the ongoing friction between the two countries and the end of a long tradition of local cross-border openness. – Washington Post

Jordanian intelligence recently foiled a plot by two suspected militants to mount terror attacks against U.S. and Israeli diplomats alongside U.S. troops deployed at a military base in the south of the country, state-owned al-Rai newspaper reported on Tuesday. – Reuters

Jordan’s King Abdullah paid his first visit on Monday to an enclave fringing the country’s northern border with Israel, a day after the expiry of a 25-year special regime that allowed Israeli farmers access to the area, official sources said. – Reuters

Jordan’s ambassador to Israel will return to Tel Aviv in a few days, Minister of Foreign Affairs Ayman Safadi said in a press conference today. – Reuters

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu spoke at a Knesset conference on Monday that was held to mark the 25th anniversary of the signing of his country’s peace treaty with Jordan. – Algemeiner

Arabian Peninsula

Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi called the slaying of Jamal Khashoggi “a serious mistake” by the Saudi government in an interview with Axios on Sunday, comparing it to the accident involving the tech company’s self-driving car that killed a pedestrian last year. – Washington Post

Washington’s new ambassador to the United Arab Emirates says the U.S. is working closely with its regional allies to deescalate tensions in the Persian Gulf after a spate of attacks on energy targets blamed on Iran. – Associated Press

Saudi Arabia’s vice minister of defense visited Oman on Monday and met with ruler Sultan Qaboos, Omani state news agency ONA reported, following a deal to end a power struggle in the south of Yemen. – Reuters

Oman’s oil minister called on Monday for dialogue with Iran, saying his country had been campaigning for talks and would remain neutral towards regional tensions. – Reuters

Ibrahim Jalal writes: The details of how integration will proceed are unclear and ultimately it will be at the discretion of the Saudis, should there be a dispute. Whether the perception that the Riyadh Agreement is a win-win for both sides will endure remains a question for the future. The issue of Aden may well test the Saudis’ will and intra-Yemeni trust building within the first several weeks. – Middle East Institute

Korean Peninsula

The chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff called on South Korea to stay in a military information-sharing pact with Japan, part of a high-level U.S. push to hold together the agreement between two of its closest allies days before it is due to expire. – Wall Street Journal

North Korea on Monday accused the United States of “political and military provocations” and South Korea of “double-dealing behavior.” – Associated Press

A North Korean diplomat said on Friday the window of opportunity for progress in dialogue with the United States was getting smaller, adding that Pyongyang expects reciprocal steps from Washington by the end of the year. – Reuters


The World Bank is cutting back a $50 million project in China’s restive Xinjiang region following a review prompted by allegations of abuses. – Associated Press

China and Greece signed 16 bilateral agreements on Monday outlining cooperation in a broad range of sectors during a visit by Chinese President Xi Jinping aimed at furthering a major global investment initiative inside the European Union. – Associated Press

The United States wants the United Nations to take up the Dalai Lama’s succession in an intensifying bid to stop China from trying to handpick his successor, an envoy said after meeting the Tibetan spiritual leader. – Agence France-Presse

President Donald Trump announced in October that tensions in a more than yearlong dispute with China had started to cool. But the terms of an interim trade agreement remain elusive, leaving US businesses and investors bracing for escalations.- Business Insider

As developments in AI accelerate, some in the US fear that the ability of China’s powerful central government to marshal data and pour resources into the field will push it ahead. – BBC


South Asia

The historic cross-border road opening marks a rare moment of cooperation in the hostile relationship between the two nuclear-armed countries that nearly went to war again earlier this year. For the first time, Sikh pilgrims will be able to travel visa-free to a major holy shrine in Pakistan via the Kartarpur corridor inaugurated by Prime Minister Imran Khan on Saturday. – Washington Post

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani on Tuesday announced that his government has released three prominent Taliban figures in an effort to get the insurgents to free an American and an Australian professor they abducted in 2016. – Associated Press

Indian intelligence services have warned Israel that Jewish institutions, Chabad houses and Israeli tourists are under direct threat of terror attacks in the country, according to Israeli and Indian reports. – Times of Israel


Public anger at Hong Kong’s police force has become a driving force behind a protest movement that is increasingly marked by violent confrontations, after beginning as peaceful opposition to Beijing’s growing influence over the city’s affairs. – Wall Street Journal

Myanmar was accused Monday of genocide at the U.N.’s highest court for its campaign against the country’s Rohingya Muslim minority, as lawyers asked the International Court of Justice to urgently order measures “to stop Myanmar’s genocidal conduct immediately.” – Associated Press

Hong Kong’s police watchdog is unequipped to investigate the force’s handling of months of pro-democracy protests, a panel of international experts appointed by the city’s own government has found. – Agence France-Presse

Hong Kong police shot and critically wounded a protester and a man was set on fire on Monday in violence that prompted leader Carrie Lam to denounce “enemies of the people” and drew a chilling warning from a senior Chinese newspaper editor. – Reuters

China said stopping violence is the most important thing in Hong Kong now after the United States condemned “unjustified use of deadly force” in the latest violence and urged China to honor its commitments to freedom of expression in the territory. – Reuters

Islamic State claimed responsibility on Friday for a deadly attack on a border post on the Tajikistan-Uzbekistan frontier two days earlier, the group’s Amaq news agency reported on its channel on the Telegram messaging application. – Reuters


An international court ruled Friday that it has jurisdiction to hear Ukraine’s allegations against Russia linked to Moscow’s annexation of Crimea and the conflict in separatist regions of eastern Ukraine. – Washington Post

Russia’s influence in British politics has resurfaced as a potentially explosive issue in the country’s general election, with Hillary Clinton joining a parade of critics in castigating Prime Minister Boris Johnson for withholding a secret parliamentary report on Russia until after Britain goes to the polls. – New York Times

According to Klimov, the US is trying to influence the way Russians vote in every elections and supporting protests against the Kremlin. Klimov stressed that the US’ plan is to create a “Juan Guaido” in Moscow, who would be tossed into the political ring, once the West assessed that Russian social instability was peaking. – Middle East Media Research Institute

Nataliya Bugayova, Mason Clark, Michaela Walker, Andre Briere, Anthony Yanchuk, and George Barros write: Russian President Vladimir Putin is succeeding in exploiting Russia’s campaign in Africa to support his strategic objectives. Among them is Putin’s key effort to boost Russia’s economy by developing new revenue streams without having to undertake genuine reform. Putin also likely views Africa as a resource pool that can help strengthen his regime and his position. – Institute for the Study of War

Leonid Bershidsky writes: All this Latin American experience, closely monitored in Moscow because of state companies’ business dealings in the region, will serve to convince Putin that an authoritarian’s natural term limit isn’t the one specified in the constitution. In reality, he can rule until his enforcers decide they can’t afford to follow his orders. – Bloomberg


British Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s chances of success in next month’s election got a boost Monday after Brexit Party leader Nigel Farage offered a truce. – Washington Post

As Secretary of State Mike Pompeo visited the German capital to commemorate the 30th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall this week, German leaders signaled a new policy that appeared to respond to Washington’s demands: a major increase in defense spending. – Washington Post

Denmark will temporarily reinstate border controls with Sweden and step up police work along the border after a series of violent crimes and explosions around Copenhagen that Danish authorities say were carried out by perpetrators from Sweden. – Associated Press

Germany marked the 30th anniversary Saturday of the opening of the Berlin Wall, a pivotal moment in the events that brought down Communism in eastern Europe. Leaders from Germany, Poland, Hungary, Slovakia and the Czech Republic attended a ceremony at Bernauer Strasse — where one of the last parts of the Berlin Wall remains — before placing roses in the once-fearsome barrier that divided the city for 28 years. – Associated Press

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and incoming EU chief Ursula von der Leyen issued stark warnings Friday that the West faces new challenges from Russia and China, on the eve of the 30th anniversary of the Berlin Wall’s fall. – Agence France-Presse

Poland’s prime minister has written to streaming company Netflix insisting on changes to The Devil Next Door, a documentary about the Nazi death camps. Mateusz Morawiecki said a map shown in the series locates the death camps within modern-day Poland’s borders. – BBC

Britain has not yet published a parliamentary select committee report on alleged Russian meddling in British politics because of necessary procedure, Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s deputy finance minister said on Tuesday. – Reuters

A top US Jewish group praised Greece on Monday after it announced the country had officially adopted the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) definition of antisemitism. – Algemeiner

French and German officials celebrated the signing of a new defense export agreement last month as a watershed moment, but political and industrial mistrust remains a wild card for the Future Combat Air System program — an envisioned sixth-generation fighter jet. – Defense News

Senior navy leaders from Germany, France, the United Kingdom, Belgium and the Netherlands signed a pact on Thursday placing a renewed focus on the English Channel as a key strategic region for NATO. – Defense News

Editorial: NATO is brain-dead. So said French President Emmanuel Macron in an interview published last week. He’s not wholly wrong. A generation after the collapse of communism, the Western alliance that won the Cold War is adrift and confused. The trans-Atlantic gap is wider than ever, and the fissures between Brexit-minded Britain, Gaullist France and an increasingly powerful Germany seem to deepen and grow from year to year. – Wall Street Journal

Kori Schake writes: American policy ought not to be as alienating to Europeans as Macron’s. Which means that the right policy response from the United States to Macron’s denigration is to get back to doing what American foreign policy does at its best: Live American ideals and stand quietly resolute with America’s allies. – The Atlantic


Pope Francis on Sunday called for South Sudan politicians to salvage a tenuous peace deal and to bring a definitive end to conflicts to the African nation, which he announced he intends to visit in the coming year. – Associated Press

Russian agents launched a large election influence operation in Madagascar in 2017 in an apparent attempt to win political favor with the administration and secure profitable business operations in the country. – Washington Examiner

Congolese forces said on Saturday they had killed 25 Islamist rebels since launching an offensive against them late last month in an eastern region also struggling with an Ebola outbreak. – Reuters

A mine worker shot during an ambush on a mining convoy in Burkina Faso said on Friday he was one of only three survivors from a bus with up to 80 people aboard, suggesting the death toll may be much higher than officially reported. – Reuters

The influential lobby in South Africa advocating a boycott of the State of Israel was forced into a climbdown this week, as it abandoned plans for an ambitious protest campaign against the takeover of local dairy giant Clover Industries by a Tel Aviv-based consortium. – Algemeiner

The Americas

Former Bolivian President Evo Morales, whose resignation amid allegations of fraud in October’s presidential election left his country without a leader and mired in growing chaos, departed Bolivia Monday night on a plane for Mexico, which offered him asylum. – Wall Street Journal

Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, a former Brazilian president who wielded enormous influence over Latin America for decades, was released from prison Friday on grounds that he was denied due process, sending political shock waves through a country bitterly divided by his imprisonment. – Washington Post

Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders blamed President Trump for an uptick in anti-Semitism in the United States and said he’ll combat it by doing the opposite of whatever the current administration is doing. – Washington Examiner

Argentina has asked Azerbaijan to arrest a high-level Iranian adviser to the country’s supreme leader in connection with the bombing in 1994 of the Buenos Aires AMIA Jewish center. – Jewish Telegraphic Agency

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) on Monday joined those expressing concern about the ouster of Bolivian President Evo Morales, saying the nation had suffered a military coup. – The Hill

President Trump on Monday hailed the ouster of Bolivian President Evo Morales as a “significant moment for democracy” even as Morales’s supporters and some U.S. lawmakers likened it to a coup. – The Hill

Russia accused Bolivia’s opposition of unleashing violence in the South American nation and said it looked like the government’s hopes for dialogue had been swept aside by an orchestrated coup. – Reuters

Mexico on Sunday invited the FBI to participate in the investigation of an attack in its north that killed nine dual citizens of the United States and Mexico. – Reuters

A prominent leader of the Jewish community in Argentina has urged newly-elected President Alberto Fernandez to continue the policy of his predecessor in opposing the penetration of Latin America by the Islamic Republic of Iran and its Lebanese terrorist proxy Hezbollah. – Algemeiner

Editorial: The U.S. urged the OAS to “send a mission to Bolivia to oversee the new electoral process and to ensure that the new Electoral Tribunal is truly independent.” Americans know that unrest in the Western Hemisphere can become a U.S. problem, and one U.S. role now should be to counter Cuban or Venezuelan meddling that denies Bolivians a free and fair election. – Wall Street Journal

Jose Gustavo Arocha writes: The math is simple. The more refugees that flow out of Venezuela, the easier it is for these transnational and transregional threat networks to spread north, south, east and west. The only way to prevent the Bolivarian “hurricane” from destroying the Western Hemisphere is to stop the Bolivarian revolution that gave life to this threat network and has figured out how to weaponize mass migration. – The Hill

Yascha Mounk writes: Morales’s departure from office marks both a sea change in Latin American politics and a stinging rebuke to the naïveté of parts of the Western left. Even though there had always been strong evidence of their anti-democratic leanings, new socialist leaders such as Hugo Chávez in Venezuela and Morales in Bolivia were widely celebrated throughout the first decade of the 21st century as the future face of Latin America. […]In that sense, the inspiring victory of the Bolivian people has great meaning far beyond Latin America. – The Atlantic 


The Israeli Supreme Court on Sunday rejected a Russian hacker’s petition and approved his extradition to the United States. – NBC

A ruling by a U.S. judge granting bond on Friday to a former Twitter (TWTR.N) employee accused of spying for Saudi Arabia was stayed after U.S. prosecutors said they appealed the decision. – Reuters

U.S. spy and law enforcement agencies on Friday said they had strengthened procedures for informing Congress, state and local governments, private business and the public about foreign interference in U.S. elections. – Reuters

Today, there are about 2.8 million cybersecurity professionals around the world, but that workforce would need to grow by roughly 145% to meet the global demand for digital security expertise, according to a report from cybersecurity nonprofit (ISC)2. – Defense One

Editorial: But keeping data private unless someone’s job requires access is essential, and so are strategies to detect abnormal activity by employees on company networks along with logs to track who is looking at what. This is an issue Silicon Valley firms should prove they have a handle on, lest the next Cambridge Analytica break out — this time from within. – Washington Post


With the Columbia ballistic missile submarine program set to take up a large portion of Navy shipbuilding funds in the next two decades and flat budgets expected in the near-term, the Navy’s undersea warfare community has clearly prioritized where any available funds should go to support the National Defense Strategy. – USNI News

While descriptions of the U.S. role in the world since the end of World War II vary in their specifics, it can be described in general terms as consisting of four key elements: global leadership; defense and promotion of the liberal international order; defense and promotion of freedom, democracy, and human rights; and prevention of the emergence of regional hegemons in Eurasia. – USNI News

The space industry now has its own information sharing and analysis center. But what does an ISAC actually do, and why does the United States need one dedicated to space? There are about two dozen ISACs within the United States. These nonprofit organizations essentially act as an industry go-between, sharing knowledge about cybersecurity and other threats. – C4ISRNET

Bradley Bowman writes: To arm America’s soldiers with the capabilities they will need to confront China’s increasingly formidable military, the U.S. Army is undertaking its most comprehensive and ambitious reform in decades. Sadly, however, congressional dysfunction now presents a major obstacle to ensuring that America’s soldiers can prevail in a future great power conflict. – The Hill

Long War

A court in The Hague on Monday ordered the Dutch government to repatriate from two camps in Syria 56 children whose parents are considered terrorists for having gone to join Islamic State. – Wall Street Journal

Bosnia on Monday said it will take back the country’s citizens who have been captured while fighting for the Islamic State group and who will face legal proceedings upon return to the Balkan country. – Associated Press

US President Donald Trump placed the Islamic State terror group’s new chief in the crosshairs Monday as he marked Veterans’ Day by celebrating the killing of the jihadists’ former leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. – Times of Israel

Turkey will expel 11 French jihadists as part of a campaign to evict foreign Islamic State fighters, Agence France-Presse reports on Monday, citing the Turkish ministry of Interior. – Bloomberg

A woman born in New Jersey, who fled the United States to join the Islamic State five years ago, said she “regrets every single thing” and has fought to return home despite the loss of her citizenship. – Washington Examiner

Trump Administration

This week, the House of Representatives begins public hearings that could lead to the impeachment of a president for only the third time in American history. More than a half dozen Trump administration officials have called the phone conversation and the events surrounding it insidious and shocking. Five officials who dealt with Ukraine have resigned since September. – New York Times

When Russia invaded Ukraine in early 2014, Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. pressed President Barack Obama to take decisive action, and fast, to make Moscow “pay in blood and money” for its aggression. The president, a Biden aide recalled, was having none of it. – New York Times

The White House began asking administration officials detailed questions about military assistance to Ukraine after a meeting with President Trump in mid-June, nearly a month before the aid was abruptly frozen, a top Pentagon official told impeachment investigators last month. – New York Times

Two political supporters of U.S. Energy Secretary Rick Perry secured a potentially lucrative oil and gas exploration deal from the Ukrainian government soon after Perry proposed one of the men as an adviser to the country’s new president. – Associated Press

A top official in Ukraine’s government on Monday said that the country expects the same amount of military aid, if not more, from the U.S. in 2020 after aid to the nation has become a central focal point of the House’s impeachment inquiry into President Trump. – The Hill

Condoleezza Rice called President Trump’s request for Ukraine to investigate Joe Biden “out of bounds” at a conference in Abu Dhabi. – Washington Examiner

An associate of Rudy Giuliani says he warned Ukraine that the Trump administration would withhold military aid if the country didn’t launch an investigation into former Vice President Joe Biden. – Washington Examiner

Aides to former Vice President Joe Biden were reportedly worried about the appearance of his son’s employment with a Ukrainian gas company while his father was still in office. – Washington Examiner

A Pentagon official told House impeachment investigators that she and other Defense officials were told that President Donald Trump had “concerns” about nearly $400 million in U.S. military aid to Ukraine a week after a hold was placed on the funds. – Bloomberg