Fdd's overnight brief

November 12, 2020

In The News


Iran is continuing to build up its stockpile of low-enriched uranium and now holds roughly 12 times the amount permitted under the 2015 nuclear agreement, the United Nations Atomic Agency said in a report. – Wall Street Journal

The United States on Tuesday imposed Iran-related sanctions on six companies and four people, accusing the network of supplying sensitive goods to an Iranian military firm in the Trump administration’s latest move to increase pressure on Tehran. – Reuters

Iran has finished moving a first cascade of advanced centrifuges from an above-ground plant at its main uranium enrichment site to an underground one in a fresh breach of its nuclear deal with big powers, a U.N. atomic watchdog report showed on Wednesday. – Reuters

For over half a century, a massive graveyard on the edge of Iran’s capital has provided a final resting place for this country’s war dead, its celebrities and artists, its thinkers and leaders and all those in between. – Associated Press

Saudi Arabia’s King Salman slammed rival Iran and hailed his country’s efforts at combating the coronavirus and stabilizing oil supplies in an annual speech delivered early Thursday. – Associated Press

Iran pardoned 157 people held on charges stemming from their alleged participation in anti government protests, the country’s judiciary announced on Tuesday, the biggest such release of those swept up in the harsh crackdowns. – Associated Press

The U.S. envoy for Iran says the Trump administration will maintain its pressure campaign until the inauguration and anticipates it will be difficult for a future President Joe Biden to bring the U.S. back into the 2015 nuclear agreement. – Associated Press

America’s European allies have struggled to keep the Iran nuclear deal alive after President Donald Trump quit the accord more than two years ago. Joe Biden’s election victory won’t provide a quick resuscitation. – Bloomberg

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani has said Tehran will seek to build more ties with its neighbors once President Donald Trump is out of office, claiming the administration’s aggressive strategy to contain Iran had failed. – Newsweek

On the virtual campaign trail, US Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden promised to rein in tension with Iran with an approach he argued would be instantly distinguishable from Donald Trump’s: Mr Biden’s would be the “smart way”. – Financial Times


On Nov. 13, 1970, a young air force officer from the coastal hills of Syria launched a bloodless coup. It was the latest in a succession of military takeovers since independence from France in 1946, and there was no reason to think it would be the last. Yet 50 years later, Hafez Assad’s family still rules Syria. – Associated Press

Syrian President Bashar al Assad on Wednesday blamed U.S. sanctions and pressure on Syria’s neighbours for the reticence of more than 5 million refugees who fled the conflict there to return. – Reuters

Hezbollah’s presence in southern Syria is much larger than previously revealed to the public, a new report by the Alma Research and Education Center has found, with some 58 sites where the terrorist group’s Southern Command and Golan Project have been deployed. – Jerusalem Post


Turkey took offense at a U.S. statement that said Secretary of State Mike Pompeo would promote religious freedom during an upcoming visit to Istanbul and called Wednesday on Washington to focus on racism and hate crimes in the United States instead. – Associated Press

Turkey’s defense minister has reaffirmed the country’s plans to use a Russian-made missile defense system it purchased despite continued objections from the United States. – Associated Press

Turkey’s Constitutional Court has unanimously rejected a petition to nullify a decree granting legal immunity to civilians who acted against the failed coup in 2016, according to a verdict published in the Official Gazette on Wednesday. – Bloomberg

The Turkish military plans to use cargo drones to run its logistical operations, part of a wider effort to incorporate unmanned systems into its inventory. – Defense News

Burak Bekdil writes: Will it be a blend of pragmatism and ideological caution, then? It’s too early to say. But earlier dealings between Biden and Erdogan suggest that Biden’s anti-Erdogan rhetoric may fade, and a good working relationship could conceivably develop between the new president of the cradle of democracy and the Islamist wannabe sultan. – BESA Center

Seth J. Frantzman writes: Turkey uses a crisis every week to threaten its neighbors and distract from economic failures at home[…] It has carried out threats against Greece in the form of the naval exercises every month since July. It also threatened US President-elect Joe Biden, slammed Nancy Pelosi and the Trump administration, threatened to force refugees into Greece in February, fomented clashes in Libya in March and April, and has been involved in threats against Turkish journalists in Europe. – Jerusalem Post


Israel and Lebanon resumed U.S.-mediated talks on Wednesday on a dispute about their Mediterranean Sea border that has held up hydrocarbon exploration in the potentially gas-rich area, the Israeli energy minister and Lebanon’s state news agency said. – Reuters

Israel’s parliament on Tuesday approved a U.S.-brokered deal establishing formal relations with Bahrain, by a vote of 62 lawmakers in favour and 14 opposed. – Reuters

In a move that belies Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions efforts, a settler business delegation is in the United Arab Emirates this week to plan for direct exports from their region to one of Israeli’s newest Arab allies. – Jerusalem Post

The Israel Navy is gearing up to receive its next generation of missile ships, the Sa’ar 6-class corvette, which for the coming decades will defend the country’s strategic maritime assets from enemies such as Hezbollah. – Jerusalem Post

The Israeli Air Force’s unique experimental F-35i stealth fighter jet which will act as a testbed for the country’s planned modifications has touched down at Tel Nof Air Force base. – Jerusalem Post

Israel’s UN ambassador, Gilad Erdan, met on Wednesday for the first time with his Sudanese counterpart, Omer Siddig. The sit-down came in the wake of the normalization agreement reached by Israel and Sudan last month. – Algemeiner

Israel has sent a message to Palestinian groups warning them that any attack to mark the anniversary of the killing of a senior Palestinian Islamic Jihad commander last year will be met with the assassination of terror leaders, a UK-based Arabic newspaper reported on Thursday. – Times of Israel

The Israeli military deployed Iron Dome missile defense system batteries in the south Wednesday morning due to concerns that Islamic Jihad militants may shoot rockets from Gaza to mark the one-year anniversary of the assassination of the organization’s northern Gaza commander, Baha Abu al-Ata – Haaretz

As the Biden-Harris transition team begins to build out its incoming administration and speak with foreign leaders, Israeli political observers caution that an immediate return to the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) with Iran while renegotiating the agreement’s terms could put the Biden administration and the Israeli government on a collision course. – Jewish Insider

Arabian Peninsula

A bomb blast hit a World War I commemoration ceremony attended by Western diplomats in Saudi Arabia’s port city of Jeddah, injuring at least two people, the second attack in two weeks targeting foreign missions in the kingdom. – Wall Street Journal

Bahrain’s Prince Khalifa bin Salman Al Khalifa, the world’s longest-serving prime minister whose time in office spanned the Persian Gulf kingdom’s independence in 1971 to its normalization of ties with Israel this year, died Wednesday. He was 84. – Wall Street Journal

The coronavirus pandemic and low oil prices have prompted Persian Gulf countries to overhaul a number of policies that often hew to Islamic traditions but hinder efforts to draw foreign talent and global investment. – Wall Street Journal

The Saudi-led coalition intercepted and destroyed two explosive-laden drones launched towards Saudi Arabia by Yemen’s Iran-aligned Houthis, Saudi state TV reported early on Thursday. – Reuters

Millions of men, women and children in war-torn Yemen are facing famine – again, top United Nations officials warned on Wednesday as they appealed for more money to prevent it – again. – Reuters 

Saudi Arabia’s King Salman bin Abdulaziz urged the world on Thursday to take “a decisive stance” to address efforts by Iran to develop nuclear and ballistic missile programs, in an annual address to the top government advisory body. – Reuters

The US government has awarded Boeing a contract worth USD657.2 million to support Qatar’s fleet of F-15QA combat aircraft. – Janes 360

The Senate is calling on the State Department to certify that a pending sale of F-35 stealth fighter jets to the United Arab Emirates (UAE) does not pose security threats to Israel or weaken American military systems in the face of Russian and Chinese threats. – The Hill

In a November 10, 2020 article in the English-language website of the Al-Arabiya network, ‘Abd Al-Rahman Al-Rashed, the network’s former director and former editor-in-chief of the daily Al-Sharq Al-Awsat, expresses cautious optimism regarding Joe Biden’s electoral win and its implications for the Gulf countries. – Middle East Media Research Institute


Gunmen shot dead a prominent dissident in the eastern Libyan city of Benghazi on Tuesday, a stark reminder of the country’s violence as sides in a civil war sought to implement a ceasefire and political talks focused on a roadmap towards elections. – Reuters

Libya’s rival factions reached a preliminary agreement on a road map to establish a unified government and hold elections within 18 months, a deal that if finalized would end almost a decade of conflict in the OPEC member. – Bloomberg

At least 13 Europe-bound African migrants, including three women and one child, drowned in the Mediterranean Sea when their rubber boat capsized Tuesday off the coast of Libya, the U.N. migration agency said. – Associated Press

Middle East & North Africa

Jordan ended voting on Tuesday in elections that were set to keep parliament in the hands of tribal and pro-government factions and have been criticised by the Islamist and liberal opposition for failing to reflect their true level of support. – Reuters

The leader of Lebanon’s Hezbollah said on Wednesday he was pleased about “the humiliating downfall” of U.S. President Donald Trump, but urged regional allies to be on alert for any U.S. or Israeli “folly” during the rest of his term in office. – Reuters

Governments have been cracking down on religious expression more than any other time in recent memory, says a new report on global religious persecution. – Washington Times

House Freedom Caucus Chairman Andy Biggs (R-Ariz.) is calling on the Trump administration to dramatically reduce the number of troops in Afghanistan and Iraq in the coming weeks. – The Hill

Seth J. Frantzman writes: It will be surprising if Pompeo can achieve more deals in the region, as countries here now must weigh their reception of him with the incoming administration. His comments on November 10 about a second Trump administration, even though said in jest, angered some in the US and they didn’t matter that much in the region, but his visit will be watched carefully. – Jerusalem Post

Azhar Al-Rubaie writes: Iraqis are looking for basic rights: safe drinking water, uninterrupted electricity, health care, infrastructure, and job opportunities, but these will not be possible without the dismantling of chronic corruption. Efforts on this scope will be difficult—especially since those who profit from corruption will work hard to keep the systems that benefit them in place—but necessary for the Iraqi people to gain more trust in the government. – Washington Institute

Haisam Hassanein writes: If the United States hopes to continue its efforts towards a broader normalization, it should point out the negative effects of messaging on the October War while encouraging and highlighting crucial aspects of Sisi regime opening toward Israel, such as restoring Jewish heritage in the country and the continued security cooperation in Sinai. […]Without this crutch, officials will be encouraged to forge a new legitimacy for the state based on current realities apart from the legacy of the October War, which has become increasingly distant from the current leadership in any case. – Washington Institute

Korean Peninsula

North Korea on Wednesday dubbed the global atomic watchdog “a marionette dancing to the tune of the hostile forces” as the International Atomic Energy Agency chief warned that Pyongyang’s nuclear activities remain “a cause for serious concern.” – Reuters

South Korea’s foreign minister said on Tuesday she had raised the need for U.S. President-elect Joe Biden’s administration to pay “summit-level” attention to reopen denuclearisation talks with North Korea during meetings in the United States this week. – Reuters

South Korea’s spy chief has proposed a summit of the leaders of the United States, Japan and the two Koreas during the Tokyo Olympics next year, the Chosun Ilbo newspaper reported on Wednesday. – Reuters


China has released new draft antimonopoly rules for its online platforms, signaling an increased appetite by Beijing authorities to rein in its dominant technology companies. – Wall Street Journal

President-elect Joe Biden may change the tone of Washington’s relationship with Beijing, but business leaders and Democratic advisers say he is likely to push back on China’s aim to become a global technology leader. – Wall Street Journal

China urged the United States on Wednesday to stop boosting ties with Taiwan, after Washington and Taipei announced they would hold economic talks this month that Taiwan’s government described as a “major milestone” in relations. – Reuters

Presumptive President-elect Joseph R. Biden has indicated plans to continue vigorous American policies toward China, but his record suggests he will return to the appeasement policies toward Beijing of Democratic and Republican administrations before President Trump. – Washington Times

Wang Huiyao writes: For its part, China would be wise to seize this opportunity by supporting constructive dialogue with the new administration. That means listening carefully to concerns in Washington as well as speaking in a calm, clear voice. Biden will face a divided Congress, measures inherited from Trump that will be politically difficult to undo and a mountain of domestic challenges. Given how critical it is to improve U.S.-China relations, there’s no reason to make his job any harder. – Bloomberg

Anjani Trivedi writes: Ultimately, U.S. policy will have a marginal impact, but would be more effective if Beijing’s priorities are understood. China will look out for its own people. Without jobs, higher incomes and greater corporate competence, Xi’s promises to stay ahead in advanced manufacturing and industrial heft won’t amount to much. Biden needs to contend with this to manage the world’s most important relationship. – Bloomberg

Tom Rogan writes: The truth of Xi’s regime is unmistakable. It is the truth of a regime that throws millions of innocent people into concentration camps, disappears writers for making clown jokes, and treats its neighbors as de facto waste dumps and feudal imperial subjects. Those who deal optimistically with Xi do so not simply at their own peril but at the precipice of delusion. – Washington Examiner


Afghanistan’s intelligence agency said on Tuesday they had killed a senior regional Al Qaeda member in southwestern Afghanistan, accusing the insurgent Taliban of harbouring him. – Reuters

Australia on Thursday announced a new investigative agency to build criminal cases against Australian special forces suspected of committing war crimes in Afghanistan. – Associated Press

A bomb attached to the vehicle of a radio journalist in southern Afghanistan exploded early Thursday, killing him, a provincial official said. – Associated Press

Presumptive President-elect Joseph R. Biden is facing pressure from all sides in the war in Afghanistan, with Taliban leaders urging him to continue a rapid drawdown of American troops while the U.S.-backed government in Kabul is pleading for a cautious approach and a rock-solid commitment to counterterrorism. – Washington Times

President Donald Trump’s decapitation strike on the Pentagon this week is raising fears that the U.S. will accelerate the withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan, putting newly installed leaders on a collision course with top generals and others who are urging a more deliberate drawdown – Politico

New acting Defense Secretary Christopher Miller has hired a senior adviser who has frequently pressed for the quick removal of U.S. troops in Afghanistan, the Defense Department confirmed Wednesday. – The Hill


Beijing forced the expulsion of four pro-democracy Hong Kong lawmakers, prompting the rest of the opposition bloc to resign in protest at China’s intensifying crackdown on dissent in the city. – Wall Street Journal

The political party led by Myanmar’s civilian leader, Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, is poised to stay in power after winning what is only the second truly contested election the country has held in decades, though one in which many voters from ethnic minority groups were prevented from casting their ballots. – New York Times

The U.S. Embassy in Islamabad apologized on Wednesday after saying that its official Twitter account had been used without permission to retweet an anti-Trump post from a Pakistani opposition politician and rival of Prime Minister Imran Khan. – New York Times

As China flexes its muscles, President-elect Joe Biden is offering assurances to America’s top allies in the Asia-Pacific region that he’s not going to be a soft touch. – Washington Post

Australia’s Woodside Petroleum shelved talks to sell stakes in a gas field and liquefied natural gas (LNG) project to Chinese firms because of the diplomatic row between Australia and China, the company’s chief executive said on Thursday. – Reuters

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said on Thursday he would travel to Japan next week, becoming the first world leader to meet in person with Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga. – Reuters

British foreign minister Dominic Raab said the expulsion of four Hong Kong opposition lawmakers from their legislature was an assault on Hong Kong’s autonomy and freedoms, as set out by the UK-China Joint Declaration. – Reuters

The Philippines has suspended its decision to scrap a two-decade-old Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) with the United States for a second time as the allies work on a long-term mutual defence arrangement, Manila’s foreign ministry said on Wednesday. – Reuters

Germany, holder of the European Union’s rotating presidency, has criticized China for the dismissal of several pro-democracy opposition lawmakers from the city assembly in Hong Kong. – Reuters

Fifteen Asia-Pacific nations including China aim to clinch the world’s largest free-trade agreement this weekend, the culmination of Beijing’s decade-long quest for greater economic integration with a region that encompasses nearly a third of the global gross domestic product. – Bloomberg

Taiwan is hoping to repeat a convention-breaking telephone call with the incoming U.S. president, in defiance of warnings from China. – Bloomberg

U.S. National Security Advisor Robert O’Brien said China’s latest clampdown in Hong Kong shows that the one country, two systems arrangement for the territory amounts to a “fig leaf” for dictatorship, and warned of new sanctions. – Bloomberg

South Caucasus

The drone’s-eye view over Nagorno-Karabakh defined much of the six-week war in the mountainous enclave within Azerbaijan: The video first showed soldiers below in trenches, then came blasts and smoke, then nothing. – Washington Post

Nearly 2,000 Russian peacekeeping troops were deployed to the disputed region of Nagorno-Karabakh on Tuesday after a cease-fire deal reached overnight allowed Azerbaijan to hold on to the substantial territory it has regained in six weeks of heavy fighting. – Washington Post

The Armenian defence ministry declared a no-fly zone in Armenia and Nagorno-Karabakh, except for military aircraft, Russia’s Interfax news agency reported on Thursday. – Reuters

The Armenian parliament on Wednesday failed to discuss the prime minister’s resignation demanded by thousands of protesters over a ceasefire that secured territorial advances for Azerbaijan in Nagorno-Karabakh. – Reuters

Armenian police arrested an opposition leader and several others who tried to stage a rally on Wednesday demanding Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan resign over a ceasefire deal that ended fighting with Azerbaijan in Nagorno-Karabakh. – Reuters

Turkey and Russia signed an agreement on Wednesday to establish a joint centre to coordinate efforts for monitoring a ceasefire in the Nagorno-Karabakh region, President Tayyip Erdogan said. – Reuters

Andrew Osborn writes: Moscow has had an uneasy relationship with Pashinyan ever since, seeing him as less pro-Russian than his predecessors on key policy issues and as someone who unseated a generation of Kremlin loyalists. The Karabakh deal, seen by many Armenians as a sell-out, puts Pashinyan under pressure, with opposition political parties calling for him to resign[…] Moscow would be unlikely to mourn his downfall if it happened. – Reuters

Seth J. Frantzman writes: Israel enjoys amicable relations with Russia and would generally like to see peace in the Caucasus, a place where Israel has no political interests. Similarly, Azerbaijan rarely expresses deep interest in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, seeing the Middle East as further away from its traditional corridors of influence. The recent war may change that and it means Israel will have to tread carefully in coming years as it looks to keep the strategic relationship as strong as ever. – Jerusalem Post


Sanctions that could hinder one of Moscow’s most important projects in Europe, the Nord Stream 2 natural gas pipeline, have been included in the annual U.S. defense policy bill, two congressional aides said on Wednesday. – Reuters

Russia is on the brink of completing construction for a building that can withstand a nuclear attack, Russian President Vladimir Putin said Wednesday. – Washington Times

Editorial: The incoming Democratic Administration wants closer cooperation with Western Europe. That shouldn’t come at the cost of increasing NATO vulnerability to Russia. Congress would assist U.S. and European strategic interests if it gets the Nord Stream sanctions over the finish line in the lame duck session. – Wall Street Journal


Dutch police said they were investigating a shooting at the embassy of Saudi Arabia before sunrise on Thursday. No one was hurt. – Reuters

Irish Prime Minister Micheal Martin said on Thursday that U.S. President-elect Joe Biden wanted a Brexit trade deal to be clinched with the European Union so British Prime Minister Boris Johnson should knuckle down and strike an agreement. – Reuters

Greece and Egypt, which angered Turkey by reaching an agreement on natural resources in the Eastern Mediterranean, will welcome more decisive U.S. involvement in the region under President-elect Joe Biden, the Greek prime minister said on Wednesday. – Reuters

Prime Minister Boris Johnson said on Wednesday he and U.S. President-elect Joe Biden agreed in a call that the United Kingdom and United States should stand together once more in defending their values in the world. – Reuters

The European Union on Wednesday said it looked forward to better relations with the United States under the leadership of President-elect Joe Biden, and expressed hope the presidential transition will not be “bumpy.” – Associated Press

Editorial: In fact, maximizing free trade with high-wage, environmentally conscious Europe presents few of the problems trade opponents often attribute to deals with low-wage countries such as Mexico. Chastened by the costly trade wars of the Trump years, and needing new sources of growth to recover from the pandemic, both Europe’s leaders and President-elect Joe Biden have every reason to get to yes. – Washington Post

Barbara Moens and Jakob Hanke Vela write: Until now, Biden’s campaign has not publicly said where he stands on the issue. EU officials also don’t rule out that the incoming U.S. administration might use the current blockade as leverage to get concession from Okonjo-Iweala or other WTO members on future reform plans. Either way, U.S. actions in Geneva will be seen as an initial litmus test of whether Biden will chart an entirely new course. – Politico

Nicu Popescu writes: The EU must start developing military, intelligence and cybersecurity partnerships with several countries around its eastern and southern flanks. It needs to become a power that can exert influence in the security realm, in addition to its political and economic clout. Only then, with time, will the EU’s voice be better heard where it matters most. – Politico


The Islamic State militants, by several accounts, struck the tiny farming community on a plateau in northern Mozambique during an initiation rite to induct teenage boys into manhood. – New York Times

A little-known counterterrorism official named Christopher C. Miller flew to the Middle East last month to pursue a diplomatic idea: asking Qatar to help devise plans to buy off or otherwise marginalize some senior leaders of the Shabab, Al Qaeda’s affiliate in Somalia, who are more committed to attacking the West. – New York Times

Tensions over the deadly conflict in Ethiopia are spreading well beyond its cut-off Tigray region, as the federal government on Thursday said some 150 suspected “operatives” accused of seeking to “strike fear and terror” throughout the country have been detained. – Associated Press

Aid agencies are unable to restock food, health and other emergency supplies in Ethiopia’s northern Tigray region, where federal troops are fighting with local forces, the United Nations warned on Thursday. – Reuters

Ethiopia’s Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed said on Thursday that the national military had found bodies of its members who were tied and shot in Tigray, a region in the north where his forces are fighting local troops. – Reuters

Ethiopia’s Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed said on Thursday that a military offensive had “liberated” the western part of Tigray region where federal troops have been fighting local forces for a week. – Reuters

The United Nations agency for refugees said it was worried about a refugee emergency if more civilians are forced to flee fighting between federal troops and local forces in the Tigray region in northern Ethiopia, the agency’s representative in the country said on Thursday. – Reuters

A U.N. court registered a plea of “not guilty” for Rwandan genocide suspect Felicien Kabuga at his lawyer’s request on Wednesday after he remained silent during his initial appearance. – Reuters

Sudan has received more than 10,000 Ethiopian refugees since the start of an escalating deadly conflict in their country last week, a Sudanese government refugees official said on Wednesday, saying the humanitarian situation was “critical”. – Reuters

An explosion under a bridge in Ethiopia’s capital Addis Ababa injured one man on Wednesday, a federal police spokesman said. – Reuters

The United Nations called on Mozambique to investigate reports that militants had massacred villagers and beheaded women and children in a restive northern region. – Reuters

Tanzania’s opposition presidential candidate left for Belgium on Tuesday where he said he will campaign for democracy following a disputed election that the incumbent President John Magufuli won with 84% of the vote. – Reuters

Nigeria is investigating prominent participants in recent protests against police brutality for possible violations of a law against financing terrorism. – Bloomberg

The Americas

Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador on Wednesday dug in his heels as one of the few leaders of major countries yet to congratulate Joe Biden on his presidential election win, saying it was too early and that his country was “not a colony”. – Reuters

Mexico confirmed on Wednesday that its top diplomat Foreign Minister Marcelo Ebrard spoke to U.S. Attorney General William Barr about the arrest of former Mexican defense minister and retired army general Salvador Cienfuegos on U.S. soil. – Reuters

Colombia hopes the U.S. government under President-elect Joe Biden will maintain a $5 billion investment program to boost economic and social development, as well as improve security in regions affected by drug-related violence, President Ivan Duque said on Wednesday. – Reuters

Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro, who portrays himself as a close friend of U.S. President Donald Trump, took a swipe at President-elect Joe Biden, referring to Biden as a “candidate” and assailing him for his stand on the Amazon rainforest. – Reuters

Paula J. Dobriansky and David B. Rivkin Jr. write: Domestically, a strong stand against the modern slave trade that underpins Havana’s statecraft should draw bipartisan support. Internationally, given Britain’s indispensable role in eradicating the trans-Atlantic slave trade in the 19th Century, London should be a U.S. partner in cracking down on Cuba-driven slave trade and corruption. By strategically employing GloMag, the U.S. can curtail Cuba’s malign activities and push the Cuban regime toward major reforms. – Wall Street Journal

John Caulfield writes: Biden may be tempted to return to the foreign policy from his tenure as vice president, but any relief for Cuba should be tied to open economic activity for citizens, tolerance of political dissent, and no restrictions on access to information. The first move toward this must be to restore the American consular presence in Cuba after securing the assurances that diplomats will not be subject to physical harm or harassment. – The Hill

Latin America

Manuel Merino, the little-known head of Peru’s Congress, was sworn in as the country’s new president Tuesday, intensifying political turmoil following the legislature’s surprise move a day earlier to oust President Martín Vizcarra. – Wall Street Journal

Brazil’s decision to suspend trials of an advanced Chinese coronavirus vaccine has raised fears among doctors that politics will delay immunization efforts against a disease that has already claimed the lives of more than 160,000 Brazilians. – Wall Street Journal

The United Nations and rights groups have urged an investigation into the use of guns by police in the Mexican city of Cancun this week to disperse a feminist protest over the death of a young woman. – Reuters

Since the United States imposed sanctions on Venezuela in 2019, the state firm and some shipping agencies have been ignoring protocols for checking tanker identity, sources close to PDVSA said. This is part of a smokescreen which, according to one Iranian official, Tehran has helped develop so Venezuela’s oil exports can continue. – Reuters

Bolivia’s new president, Luis Arce, has moved swiftly to restore ties with Iran and Venezuela, receiving the credentials of ambassadors from the two countries on Wednesday, just three days after his socialist party retook the reins of power. – Reuters

North America

A Staten Island man was arrested at his home Tuesday after allegedly threatening to kill anti-Trump protesters, politicians and law-enforcement officers in the days following the presidential election, federal prosecutors said. – Wall Street Journal

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said on Wednesday that his country would not cave in to pressure from China over the case of Huawei Chief Financial Officer Meng Wanzhou who was arrested in Canada on a U.S. warrant almost two years ago. – Reuters

Jeff Abramson writes: Writ large, Joe Biden will take office at a moment when U.S. leadership can be crucial in setting and supporting the understanding that some weapons simply should not be, and others must be used and traded much more responsibly in order to prevent further human suffering. – Defense News

Joseph Bosco writes: As in 2016, we will need to make the best of what the process has produced. On dealing with China and Russia — America’s two greatest existential challengers — the Trump administration has built a more solid foundation than what it inherited. As for imperfections in America’s electoral institutions, it has the capacity and the will to correct and improve them before the next election — something our authoritarian adversaries have yet to learn about, and from, the United States. – The Hill


TikTok and its Chinese parent company are asking a federal appeals court in Washington, D.C., for additional time to work out a potential divestiture of the popular video-sharing app, in the midst of signs that the company is settling in for a longer fight with the U.S. government. – Wall Street Journal

Facebook Inc. and Alphabet Inc.’s Google plan to continue banning political ads on their platforms for the next several weeks to prevent confusion about election results, according to people familiar with the matter and an email reviewed by The Wall Street Journal. – Wall Street Journal

The 2020 election spurred social-media giants to adopt aggressive changes to how they police political discourse. Now the questions are whether that new approach will last and whether it should. – Wall Street Journal

The U.S. Treasury Department said on Wednesday it wants a resolution of national security concerns it has raised over China-based ByteDance’s acquisition of U.S. social media app Musical.ly, which it then merged into video-sharing app TikTok. – Reuters

Microsoft Corp MSFT.O, Oracle Corp ORCL.N and other companies that have provided information to the U.S. government for its antitrust lawsuit against Alphabet’s Google GOOGL.O were granted more time on Wednesday to propose a protective order for their confidential data. – Reuters

A U.S. official said on Wednesday that Chinese surveillance of the world through 5G technology was like Big Brother in George Orwell’s novel 1984, as he urged Brazilian companies not to buy equipment from China’s Huawei Technologies Co Ltd. – Reuters

A group of 165 companies and industry bodies have called on EU antitrust enforcers to take a tougher line against Google, saying the U.S. tech giant unfairly favours its own services on its web searches. – Reuters

European Union regulators filed antitrust charges Tuesday against Amazon, accusing the e-commerce giant of using its access to data from companies that sell products on its platform to gain an unfair advantage over them. – Associated Press

Pressure to reinstate a cyber czar within the White House is growing, with bipartisan allies lining up on Capitol Hill to push such a proposal while the incoming administration zeroes in on addressing cybersecurity challenges. – The Hill

Joseph Curl writes: It’s too early to tell what will happen in Election 2020, but one thing we do know. Mr. Trump’s claims that an outside force — voter fraud — altered the outcome of the 2020 election are not at all equal, in the eyes of the MSM or social media, to Mrs. Clinton’s claims that an outside force — Russia — altered the 2016 results. – Washington Times


The Pentagon Tuesday confirmed the resignations of the department’s top civilian officials for policy and intelligence, a day after Defense Secretary Mark Esper was forced out by President Donald Trump. – Defense News

Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) sounded the alarm Wednesday over a continued shake-up in Pentagon leadership following President Trump’s defeat in the White House race, reiterating calls for a nuclear no-first-use policy. – The Hill

As the world watches to see whether and how the executive branch hands off power between President Trump and presumptive President-elect Joseph R. Biden, the legislative branch is wrestling with what to do with a mammoth defense policy bill in the coming lame-duck session. – Washington Times

This week a squadron of Marine F-35B Lightning II Joint Strike Fighters wrapped up nearly two months of training aboard the U.K. Royal Navy HMS Queen Elizabeth (R08), paving the way for U.S. and U.K. fighters to operate interchangeably when the British aircraft carrier leaves on its first deployment. – USNI News

The chief of naval operations remains mindful of deployment lengths, crew sizes, maintenance capacity and other measures of a healthy fleet even amid calls to grow the Navy to 500 ships or more, during what could be an important time in determining the future of the Navy. – USNI News

The United States has actively pursued the development of hypersonic weapons—maneuvering weapons that fly at speeds of at least Mach 5—as a part of its conventional prompt global strike program since the early 2000s.  – USNI News

Senate appropriators are proposing $21.35 billion for Navy shipbuilding that would fund nine battleforce ships, according to the text of the legislation that was released on Tuesday. – USNI News

The Senate wants to spend an additional $1.7 billion to buy 17 more F-35 fighter jets for the military in fiscal 2021. – Defense News

The first shipment of amphibious combat vehicles hit the fleet Nov. 4, according to the Marine Corps. – Marine Times

The US Army has put several promising prototype command and control (C2) and intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) platforms through a series of intensive field experiments, in the hopes those technologies can be funnelled into the service’s key combat networking initiatives. – Janes 360

Henry A. Obering III  writes: It is excellent news that the Army has acquired the Iron Dome. However, limiting the purchase and deployment undervalues its potential to protect American troops. Washington and Jerusalem should work together so that the U.S. military can implement more of these gamechanging defenses. – Defense News

Long War

European leaders on Tuesday called for a tougher asylum regime for the continent and stronger border protection to help stop the spread of Islamist extremism following a string of terrorist attacks in three countries. – Wall Street Journal

Austria would allow courts to extend the sentences of convicted terrorists and it would establish a new criminal offense for people who “create the breeding ground” for terrorism, as part of a package of legislative proposals announced a week after an Islamic State sympathizer killed four people in Vienna. – New York Times

A man has admitted killing three people during a stabbing spree in the southern English town of Reading in June, the BBC reported on Wednesday, an attack police declared a terrorism incident. – Reuters

Pankaj Mishra writes: The spirit of contention, grown nasty, even lethal, is ravaging societies around the world today while the impulse to charity grows ever more feeble. Macron can do a lot more to squash the impression that insulting the core beliefs of nearly 2 billion Muslims is what will sustain the core beliefs of French people. – Bloomberg