Fdd's overnight brief

November 15, 2021

In The News


US Special Envoy for Iran Robert Malley arrived in Israel on Sunday as part of a 10-day regional trip that began last week, as the Biden administration works to coordinate with Mideast allies before the resumption of indirect talks with Iran, aimed at reviving their multilateral nuclear accord. – Times of Israel 

Iran’s chief rabbi said on Sunday evening that the country’s Jewish community feared physical attacks from some Muslim neighbors in the wake of the January 2020 killing of Iranian al-Quds Force commander General Qassem Soleimani by the United States. – Times of Israel 

The husband of a British-Iranian woman who has been detained for more than five years in Iran said Saturday that he is ending his hunger strike outside Britain’s Foreign Office after 21 days. – Associated Press 

There is grave concern in Israel that the US and the West will try to reach a partial settlement with Iran, which will be even more limited than the original 2015 nuclear agreement which was heavily criticized by the Jewish State. – Arutz Sheva 

There are so many signals, it’s sometimes hard to understand the message. The Israeli military is busy with a broad and intense series of exercises, in various venues, largely described as a warning to Iran. The United States, which is sending forces for training in the region, is signaling support for Israel and its other allies in the Middle East. The Iranians are also flexing their muscles with military exercises. – Haaretz 

There is an “astonishing” lack of contact between Iran’s new government and the International Atomic Energy Agency, the nuclear watchdog’s director-general Rafael Grossi told reporters in Vienna on Friday. – Jerusalem Post 

Human rights activists holding a tribunal in London to investigate Iran’s deadly suppression of protests in 2019 say they have learned that Tehran is threatening to partially suspend upcoming nuclear talks with world powers if the tribunal continues. – VOA News 

Hamdi Malik, Crispin Smith, and Michael Knights write: In Militia Spotlight’s view, the drastic escalation since November 7 may be an indication that AAH and at least part of KH not only seek to use crisis to seize back the initiative from Iraqi rivals, but also seek to demonstrate to Iran what happens when the muqawama feels insufficiently supported by Tehran in its moment of ultimate need. – Washington Institute 

Seth J. Frantzman writes: But there are questions about what the overall effect of this will be when the next conflict emerges. While Israel has been doing important joint training with Western and local partners, such as the US Air Force and Marines, the next conflict always looms. That conflict could be a multi-front war. […]Iran must weigh this question before it makes any moves in Syria, or even in Iraq where it has brought in drones and ballistic missiles. – Jerusalem Post 

Seth J. Frantzman writes: It’s possible that Iran leaked this video to see how Israel and other media might react. If Iran is downplaying it at first, that means it is thinking to gauge US reactions. This contrasts other times that Iran seeks to take credit for incidents. Since 2019 Iran has increased tensions with the US. It has mined ships and launched increased drone attacks, and it has been striking at Saudi Arabia, US facilities in Iraq and Syria, and aiding the Houthis in Yemen. […]Iran has attacked commercial vessels over the last eight months, apparently thinking it is targeting Israel-linked ships.  – Jerusalem Post 

Einav Schiff writes: This is a complex, deep and a critical dilemma that should be getting far more attention than it has been getting recently under the guise of political chaos. And if Bennett really wants to make Israel safe, he can’t ignore the Iranian threat and attempts to shift the public’s attention elsewhere. – Ynet 


The U.S. has struck a deal with Qatar to represent its diplomatic interests in Afghanistan, where Washington doesn’t recognize the Taliban-led government and no longer maintains an embassy. – Wall Street Journal 

In Afghanistan, a parallel generation of Taliban fighters battled the Americans, their lives also distinctly shaped by the 9/11 attacks. Many were children when they first tasted war, trading their childhoods for what they were told was their duty as Muslims. – Washington Post 

A bomb exploded on a mini-bus Saturday on a busy commercial street in a Kabul neighborhood mainly populated by members of Afghanistan’s minority Hazara community, emergency workers and the bus driver said. At least one person was killed and five wounded. – Associated Press 

Afghanistan’s top diplomat in Beijing called on China to let in more of its agricultural products, saying that expanded trade would do more to ease a humanitarian crisis next door than fiscal aid. – Bloomberg 

Taliban forces held a military parade in Kabul on Sunday using captured American-made armoured vehicles and Russian helicopters in a display that showed their ongoing transformation from an insurgent force to a regular standing army. – Reuters  

Sarah Chayes writes: Humanitarian assistance should be tailored to serve humanitarian purposes exclusively. And whatever rights, values and national interests the West sought to establish and protect in Afghanistan should now be required from the Taliban in return for saving them from themselves. Independent verification measures should be part of any agreement, and should be rigorously enforced. Let’s not let a squabbling gang of war criminals maneuver us into begging them to let us bail them out — and sacrificing the Afghan people yet again, as well as the labor and lives of our own citizens, in the process. – Politico 


The U.S. military killed dozens of people in Syria, including women and children, in airstrikes conducted during the final days of the war against the Islamic State, but did not disclose its actions for more than two years, defense officials said Sunday. – Washington Post 

Qatar is not considering normalising ties with Syria and hopes other countries will be discouraged from taking further steps with President Bashar al-Assad’s government, foreign minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani said on Friday. – Reuters 

Jordan Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi said the kingdom has resumed relations with the Syrian regime due to the absence of “any effective strategy to resolve the Syrian conflict”. In an interview with CNN, Safadi explained that Jordan’s coordination with its partners and friends is once again an attempt to direct the movement towards an effective mechanism that would put an end to the Syrian crisis. – Middle East Monitor 

Yonah Jeremy Bob writes: But new ICC Prosecutor Karim Khan recently decided to give the US a pass on torture allegations in Afghanistan and seems ready to give Russia a pass on other allegations, essentially due to a lack of resources or an inability to go after those parties. Israel claims the ICC should not go after it on sound moral and legal grounds. However, if the ICC chooses not go after Jerusalem for practical reasons or because going after Israel while leaving the US alone would look like open discrimination, the IDF will likely take that as a win also. – Jerusalem Post 


An Israeli married couple were arrested for espionage late Friday after taking photographs of the Turkish president’s residence in Istanbul, Turkey’s official news agency said. – Associated Press 

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan vowed to consolidate security lines on Turkey’s southern border with Syria, his latest hint of a potential offensive against American-backed Kurdish forces there. – Bloomberg 

Blaming Turkey or its national airline for the humanitarian crisis at the Polish border with Belarus is “misguided”, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s top foreign policy adviser told AFP on Saturday. – Agence France-Presse 

The National Security Council on Sunday issued a travel warning to Turkey. “In light of the high level of threat in Turkey, there are immediate risks of terrorist attacks. The threat is valid for all tourist centers in the country,” the warning says. – Arutz Sheva 

Concern is growing in Jerusalem about the status of Natali and Mordy Oaknin, the two Israelis arrested in Istanbul after taking a photograph of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s palace, with Israeli officials making little progress toward gaining their release. – Jerusalem Post 

Alex Fishman writes: The Israeli couple, who found themselves arrested in Turkey last week after taking a picture of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s residence during a tour of Istanbul, are merely unfortunate pawns in the decrepit sultan’s twisted game of political survival. – Ynet  

Herb Keinon writes: As of last week, however, terrorism is not the only threat facing Israelis in Turkey. Now they are also facing actions by the Turkish authorities themselves – and that is something Israel’s government has a responsibility to warn its citizens against in the strongest of terms if the Oaknin affair is not resolved soon: Don’t go to Turkey because you may be arbitrarily picked up by the police and thrown into jail on trumped-up “espionage” charges. – Jerusalem Post 

Adam Lammon writes: If the United States wants to keep Turkey close, rather than seeing Ankara fall further into Moscow’s orbit, and remain in the driver’s seat in Syria, rather than being left responding to events occurring outside of its control, it must assuage Ankara’s concerns, not let them fester. – The National Interest 


Now, with Tigrayan rebel forces pressing southward toward the capital, Addis Ababa, where the Ethiopian government has declared a state of emergency, Ethiopian-Israelis like Mr. Alamo are growing nervous about the safety of their relatives. They are pressuring the Israeli government to extricate thousands of them from the dangers of the civil war and to end the years-long trauma of split families once and for all. – New York Times 

Israel is set to ask donor countries to restore their financial contributions to the Palestinian Authority at the Ad Hoc Liaison Committee meeting in Oslo on Wednesday, according to a source in the Ministry for Regional Cooperation. – Jerusalem Post 

Israel Air Force Commander Maj.-Gen. Amikam Norkin traveled to the United Arab Emirates on Sunday to participate in the Dubai International Air Chiefs’ Conference as part of the Dubai Airshow. It is the first time that Israel is participating in the show, which kicked off on Sunday, following the signing of the Abraham Accords in August 2020 that normalized relations between the UAE and Israel. – Jerusalem Post 

Editorial: If, after 70-plus years, the Palestinian refugees still need more help than any other group of refugees, such as those struggling to enter Europe in the humanitarian crisis along the Polish-Belarus border, then UNRWA has clearly failed. UNRWA doesn’t need more funds – it needs to be closed down. – Jerusalem Post 

Eli Lake writes: In many ways the momentum to punish corporations that participate in BDS is a mirror of the woke capital movement, which targets corporations that harm the environment or have unfair labor practices. Both movements generate a lot of praise and criticism on social media. But they also show that, when activists and officials are organized, they can have an impact on corporate America that goes beyond Twitter or Facebook. – Bloomberg 


As the Taliban closed in on the Afghan capital, Kabul, in August, what had been a privileged education at the American University of Afghanistan suddenly became a dangerous liability. Students and staff frantically searched for an escape route from a country that, with the withdrawal of American forces, would fall to the Taliban — a group that has described the U.S.-funded university as a den of infidels and has shut schools and universities for girls and women. Iraq, though, was not the first destination that came to the students’ minds as a refuge. – New York Times 

Iran likely did not sanction a recent drone attack on the Iraqi prime minister though it was almost certainly carried out by Shiite militia forces that Tehran has armed and supported, current and former U.S. officials told NBC News. – NBC 

Bans are going up across the Middle East seeking to prevent Iraqis, Syrians and others from going to Belarus after a migrant border crisis developed between Belarus and Poland. – Jerusalem Post 

Hogr Tarkhani writes: Shi’ite militia groups linked to Iran could be at least partially defeated in a feasible and long-term manner if the United States and its allies began to openly identify them as a terrorist group and implement policies accordingly. – Jerusalem Post 

Arabian Peninsula

Kuwait’s emir issued a long-awaited amnesty decree, pardoning and reducing the sentences of nearly three dozen Kuwaiti dissidents in a move aimed at defusing a major government standoff. – Associated Press  

Forces loyal to Yemen’s internationally recognized government have withdrawn from the strategic port city of Hodeida, allowing the rebels to retake key positions there, Yemeni officials and the United Nations said. – Associated Press 

Russia showed off a prototype of its new fifth-generation warplane at the Dubai Airshow on Sunday as the United Arab Emirates’ deal to buy American F-35 fighter jets makes slow progress. – Reuters 

Yemen is now in the spotlight. Once again Iran believes to think it is winning. A setback for Saudi Arabia on any of the frontlines in Yemen will not be welcome news in Riyadh and it will appear as if Iran is empowered. If Saudi Arabia can open discussions with Iran it will face an uphill struggle because Iran thinks it is winning. – Jerusalem Post 

Editorial: The response from the Biden Administration has been to issue increasingly stern press releases. America’s enemies around the world sense weakness in the White House, and they are moving to take advantage. – Wall Street Journal 


Saif al-Islam Gadhafi, the son of Libya’s slain dictator, launched a presidential campaign on Sunday in an attempt to retake control of the country more than a decade after the fall of his father’s regime in an armed rebellion. – Wall Street Journal 

World powers will push for sanctions against anyone who disrupts Libya’s electoral process and political transition, they said in Paris on Friday, though big disputes remain over how to stage a vote intended to help end a decade of conflict. – Reuters 

Seif al-Islam, the son of slain Libyan dictator Moamer Kadhafi who registered to run in December’s presidential poll, is wanted for war crimes by the International Criminal Court. – Agence France-Presse 

Middle East & North Africa

Lebanon was long known for producing some of the Middle East’s best health-care workers and became a popular destination for foreigners seeking medical treatment. But over the past two years, life has become unbearable for many Lebanese, prompting doctors and nurses to leave the crisis-stricken country in droves. – Washington Post 

More than 1 000 Tunisians gathered on Sunday near the country’s parliament to protest a presidential power grab they have deemed a “coup”. It was the latest rally opposing President Kais Saied’s July 25 decision to sack the government, suspend parliament and seize an array of powers, citing an “imminent threat” to the country – birthplace of the Arab Spring uprisings against autocracy. – Agence France-Presse 

Saudi Arabia’s foreign minister said the kingdom does not plan to engage with the Lebanese government at this time in a deepening rift, reiterating a call on the political class to end the “domination” of the Iran-allied Hezbollah movement. – Reuters 

Ksenia Svetlova writes: Egypt is important to Israel and vice versa. The Israeli government wisely decided to invest time and energy in improving ties with Cairo; alas some encouraging signs of melting the icy relations are also coming from Cairo. Peace with Egypt is strategic and of tremendous importance to Israel. The tight security cooperation must not obliterate a sober view of Egypt’s rearmament and its future implications for Israel’s security. It’s paramount for Israel not to solely develop the security ties, but also economic, diplomatic and cultural relations with Cairo. – Jerusalem Post 


Italian authorities are investigating the 2018 takeover of Alpi Aviation Srl by a Hong Kong-registered company that they say is a front for the Chinese state and was in the process of transferring the company’s technical and intellectual property to a new production site in China. – Wall Street Journal 

The summit at 7:45 p.m. on Monday night in Washington will mark the third time Biden and Xi have spoken directly this year. But it comes with relations between the world’s two biggest economies tense over disputes including the origin of Covid-19, human rights in Hong Kong and Xinjiang, and tensions over Taiwan. – Bloomberg 

Beijing has accused the EU of risking damage to world supply chains by throwing up regulatory and trade hurdles to foreign businesses, warning “discriminatory” practices could strain the global recovery from the coronavirus pandemic. – Financial Times 

Over the last two decades, China has stunned Washington with the relentless pace of its conventional military build-up, ranging from fighter jets and bombers to submarines and warships. Its navy is now by far the largest in the world. But the combination of the hypersonic test and the warhead warning has now focused attention on a potentially dramatic shift taking place in Beijing’s nuclear posture. – Financial Times 

Editorial: The United States government and private sector are decoupling from Mr. Xi’s regime, though there are limits, given mutual economic interest, to how far Mr. Biden can push that process. No limits, however, should be accepted on telling the truth — contemporary and historical — about China, no matter how aggressively Mr. Xi attempts to conceal it. – Washington Post 

Tong Zhao writes: The sooner the two sides realize that it is the shared understanding of agreeable behaviors — not unilateral nuclear buildup — that will stabilize their relationship, the quicker they can end this insanely wasteful and dangerous nuclear escalation and put resources to better use addressing pressing challenges like the pandemic and climate change. Acknowledging mutual nuclear vulnerability is a useful and necessary step toward putting the bilateral relationship on a much more constructive path. – New York Times 

Fred Hiatt writes: With the Beijing Olympics less than three months away, will Coca-Cola and other sponsors of the Games celebrate with China while this is taking place? While, a few hours’ flight due west of the stadiums and ice rinks, an entire people is being slowly, deliberately erased? We have learned to think of genocide as industrial-scale slaughter: gas chambers, killing fields, mass graves. A report published last week by the U.S. Holocaust Museum’s Simon-Skjodt Center for the Prevention of Genocide, “To Make Us Slowly Disappear,” suggests that China may have found a different way, more insidious if no less monstrous. – Washington Post 

Phelim Kine writes: The most important potential long-term impact of the virtual meeting will be a mutual recognition that the breakdown in bilateral communications that began under Trump is harmful and counterproductive. “I think after the Biden-Xi meeting, the trend will be set for at least more frequent ministerial-level or cabinet-level meetings between senior officials of both sides similar to what we saw under President [Barack] Obama … that would be big progress,” Lam said. – Politico 

Tom Rogan writes: Coal offers at least some consolidation against those concerns. So coal it will be. But the Biden administration, the EU, and Pacific island nations should take note: Xi doesn’t share their priorities. – Washington Examiner  

Matthew Brooker writes: Xi has dismantled that collective tradition. Power has been centralized. Incipient signs of a personality cult are hard to miss. Freedom of expression has become more constricted and self-serving narratives are once again beyond challenge. China’s economic achievements are real and spectacular. Yet its political system appears not to have changed significantly. The last time the country descended into chaos, its economy was isolated and tiny. If China takes a wrong turn again, the world won’t be spared. – Bloomberg 

Patricia M. Kim writes: This is not to say that Washington should distance itself from its allies in hopes of moderating China’s behavior. After all, Beijing’s choices will be chiefly informed by its own strategic vision and ambitions. Nevertheless, the Biden administration would do well to consider how its successes in rallying friends could impact Beijing’s threat perceptions and unwittingly spur the creation of a rival Chinese-led alliance network. – Foreign Affairs 

Danny Russel writes: The world is not likely to see a return to the large-scale, ponderous, and protocol-heavy diplomacy of the U.S.-China Strategic and Economic Dialogues of the past, no matter how productive Biden and Xi’s conversation is. The yield of such diplomacy was too small for U.S. officials, given the deficit of real-world solutions that those talks produced. […]The U.S.-Chinese relationship is in dire need of such diplomacy—particularly at high levels—in order to stem a downward spiral that could lead to war. – Foreign Affairs

South Asia

Security chiefs from Iran to Russia met on Wednesday in New Delhi to call for “unimpeded” humanitarian assistance for Afghanistan, where millions face starvation as a harsh winter sets in. On Thursday in Islamabad, the Pakistani capital, another set of leaders urged “uninterrupted” aid. – New York Times 

A remotely detonated roadside bomb killed two policemen on Saturday in a northwestern district in Pakistan that borders Afghanistan, authorities said. According to the Bajur district police chief, Abdus Samad Khan, the two officers were on security duty near the Raghan Dam, when unknown assailants set off the bomb, killing both. – Associated Press 

Five Indian soldiers were killed in an ambush in the northeastern state of Manipur, the country’s Defence Minister Rajnath Singh said in a Twitter post. – Bloomberg 


Sara Duterte, Mr. Duterte’s daughter, had yet to confirm that she was supporting Mr. Marcos in the May election. But she declared her candidacy for the vice presidency on Saturday, after much speculation that she would run for president herself. – New York Times 

Taiwan’s November of intense public diplomacy continued Saturday, with its leader thanking Boston Celtics center Enes Kanter for his widely publicized backing of the self-governing island, shortly after Australia’s defense minister said it was “inconceivable” that Canberra would not aid Washington in a potential defense of Taiwan. – Washington Post 

American journalist Danny Fenster, held since May in a Myanmar jail, was released Monday back to his family in the United States, according to former U.S. diplomat Bill Richardson. – Washington Post 

Secretary of State Antony Blinken told China’s Foreign Minister Wang Yi in a phone call on Friday that he had concerns regarding China’s “continued military, diplomatic, and economic pressure against Taiwan.” […]President Biden and Chinese President Xi Jinping are set to hold a virtual meeting on Monday, their first bilateral meeting since Biden took office. – The Hill 

U.S. and Japanese officials agreed Monday to launch talks aimed at settling a dispute over American tariffs on imports of Japanese steel and aluminum. – Associated Press 

Australia’s defence minister has said it was “inconceivable” that his nation would not support the US in a campaign to defend Taiwan from China, amid rising concerns about Beijing’s increasingly assertive military activity. – Financial Times 

North Korea is converting an air base near its border into a disinfection facility for containers transported by train, a move analysts say may lead to the resumption of trade with China and undermine US hopes that economic pressure might force Pyongyang back to the nuclear negotiating table. – Financial Times 

Bruce Klingner writes: The United States and its allies should be wary of initiating peace talks with North Korea without a thorough understanding of the complexity of such negotiations, as well as the wide-ranging strategic ramifications of such an agreement. – Heritage Foundation 


Secretary of State Antony Blinken speaks with French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian about “concerning” Russian military activity taking place “in and near Ukraine,” a US official says – Radio Free Europe/  Radio Liberty 

Russian President Vladimir Putin said in an interview aired Saturday that Moscow considered recent Black Sea exercises by the US and other NATO ships as a serious challenge. – Agence France-Presse 

 Western intelligence suggests a “high probability of destabilisation” of Ukraine by Russia as soon as this winter after Moscow massed more than 90,000 troops at its border, according to Kyiv’s deputy defence minister. – Financial Times 

Ukraine’s president has said some 100,000 Russian troops are amassed near his country’s border, as the Kremlin rebuffed allegations that the buildup reflects Moscow’s aggressive intentions, saying Russia needs to ensure its security in response to alleged NATO threats. – Associated Press 

Russia on Friday pushed back on suspicions that a military buildup near its border with Ukraine was indicative of a looming invasion, claiming it was responding to so-called NATO threats. – The Hill 

Russia and China abstained in a U.N. Security Council vote on Friday to extend a U.N. peacekeeping mission in the Central African Republic (CAR) as the United States called on Russia to investigate accusations of abuse by Russian contractors in the country. – Reuters 

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken has spoken with his French counterpart to discuss concerns about reports of Russian military activity “in and near Ukraine” and to stress their commitment to Kyiv’s territorial integrity. – Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty 

U.S. officials, increasingly alarmed by Russia’s monthslong troop build-up near Ukraine, are warning their European counterparts that the Kremlin may be on the verge of another invasion of that country. – Politico 

Joshua C. Huminski writes: One may quibble with the latter portion of that statement about what Putin embodies, but his articulation of how Washington should approach Russia is spot on. These senior-level engagements are the right approach and are a first step. – The Hill 


The sudden surge of migrants to Belarus from the Middle East that is now the focus of a political crisis in Europe was hardly an accident. […]And Belarusian security forces gave them directions on how to cross into the European Union countries, even handing out wire cutters and axes to cut through border fences. – New York Times 

A mercurial dictator and sometime proxy of Russia using people as political weapons against the West. A war of words between the strongman and his Western rivals. Moscow, shadowy in its intentions, deploying nuclear-capable bombers and staging paratroop drills in the area. In a region where memories of East-West divisions run deep, the standoff between Belarus’s leader, Aleksandr G. Lukashenko, and Poland, a European Union and NATO member, is fueling concerns about possible military conflict, however unlikely. – New York Times 

Russia on Friday brushed aside a Belarusian threat to cut supplies of Russian natural gas to Europe, soothing European gas markets and circumventing President Alexander Lukashenko’s attempt to escalate his confrontation with Europe. – Washington Post 

European Union sanctions against Belarus over the migrant crisis on the Polish border are “hopeless” and “counter-productive”, Minsk said on Sunday. The comments by Belarus’s Foreign Minister Vladimir Makei to EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell came in the first high-level contact between Brussels and Minsk since the crisis that the West blames on the authoritarian country. – Agence France-Presse 

EU foreign ministers will widen sanctions on Belarus on Monday to include airlines and travel agencies thought to involved in bringing migrants to the bloc’s border, the European Union’s foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said. – Reuters 

U.S. President Joe Biden on Friday expressed concern about the situation in Belarus as it faces accusations of encouraging migrants to cross into Poland and Lithuania via its territory. […]Biden’s remarks came hours after Vice President Kamala Harris voiced similar concerns during a visit to France, where she said she discussed the issue with President Emmanuel Macron. – Reuters 

Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid condemned a “horrific” far-right rally in Poland last week that featured antisemitic invective, calling for action against those behind the display. – Algemeiner 

Editorial: The only way this situation is going to end positively is if Putin and Lukashenko feel pain for what they are doing. Otherwise, they will simply continue ruining human lives in order to hurt the West. Reliable allies need U.S. help, and Biden must step forward now and provide it. – Washington Examiner 

Tom Rogan writes: Tensions at the Ukraine-Russian border are real and escalating. But on the front lines, Ukraine stands alone. – Washington Examiner  

William Courtney writes: Now is probably not the best time to be breathless about the risk of increased Russian threats in Ukraine. This may, or may not, be Moscow’s purpose. But the West will be watching. – The Hill


Sudanese security forces fired tear gas and live gunfire into crowds of demonstrators on Saturday, killing at least five people and wounding many others, as one of Africa’s largest countries plunged deeper into a crisis set off by a recent military coup. – New York Times 

As South Sudan marks the 10th anniversary of its independence, the world’s youngest country is at a crossroads. Violence remains so entrenched, even though the civil war technically ended in 2018, that Gatjani is among 1.6 million people who have been internally displaced, with 2.3 million more in neighboring countries. – Washington Post 

Eritrea slammed the United States on Saturday for slapping new sanctions on the country over the deadly conflict in neighbouring Ethiopia, calling the move “illicit and immoral”. The US measures announced on Friday came in response to Eritrea’s decision to send troops into Ethiopia’s Tigray region to back Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed in the war against the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) rebel group. – Agence France-Presse 

The Qatar-based satellite news network Al-Jazeera said Sunday its bureau chief in Sudan was detained by security forces, a day after mass protests against last month’s military coup. – Associated Presse 

The United States on Friday imposed sanctions on the Eritrean military and other Eritrea-based individuals and entities as it seeks to increase pressure on parties to the conflict to bring an end to fighting in northern Ethiopia. – Reuters 

Rebellious Tigrayan forces threatened on Friday to “hunt down” foreigners they said were supporting the Ethiopian government as mercenaries and technical experts in a year-long war. – Reuters 

The Americas

Security forces surrounded the homes of Cuban activists on Sunday, the day before a planned march that will test the strength of the protest movement that erupted last summer when Cubans poured into the streets to demand more political freedoms on the communist-ruled island. – Washington Post 

The General Assembly of the Organization of American States voted Friday to condemn Nicaragua’s Nov. 7 presidential vote, saying the elections “were not free, fair or transparent, and lack democratic legitimacy.” – Associated Press 

Two members of the Lebanese Hezbollah terrorist organization were arrested in Colombia two months ago, Colombian Defense Minister Diego Molano revealed in an interview with the Colombian newspaper El Tiempo on Sunday. – Jerusalem Post 

Hezbollah planned to assassinate an Israeli national in Bogata as part of an operation that also targeted Americans to avenge the January 2020 killing of Iranian al-Quds Force commander General Qassem Soleimani, a Colombian newspaper reported Sunday. – Agence France-Presse 

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken condemned what he called “intimidation tactics” by the Cuban government ahead of Monday’s planned protest march in Cuba and vowed that Washington would pursue measures seeking “accountability” for the crackdown. – Reuters 


The U.S. Treasury Department announced on Sunday that it would work with the Israeli Ministry of Finance to address ransomware and cybersecurity issues. – The Hill 

Hackers compromised a Federal Bureau of Investigation email system on Saturday and sent tens of thousands of messages warning of a possible cyberattack, according to the agency and security specialists. – Reuters 

China’s cyberspace regulator on Sunday proposed requiring companies pursuing share listings in Hong Kong to apply for cybersecurity inspections if they handle data that concerns national security. – Reuters 


The top U.S. Air Force general in the Mideast said Saturday that American airmen would continue to be stationed in the region even as military planners consider competition with China and Russia as Washington’s next major challenge. – Associated Press 

The Senate is “likely” to vote on its long-delayed annual defense policy bill this week, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said in a Sunday letter to lawmakers. – Defense News 

The statement by the 5th Fleet did not specify where in the Red Sea the exercise was taking place. The sea, which connects the Mediterranean Sea by the Suez Canal with the Indian Ocean by the Gulf of Aden is one of the world’s key oil shipping routes. – Associated Press 

Editorial: Yet the President decides whether to order the use of a nuclear weapon, and he would only be boxing himself in by narrowing America’s freedom of action. The next Republican President would promptly reverse the unilateral change. – Wall Street Journal 

George Robertson writes: Advocates of change are right to say that progress on nuclear disarmament is painfully slow. But it will be achieved only by skilful diplomatic management of the conflicting ambitions and interests of the major powers. Painstaking efforts are needed to revive bilateral and, in time, multilateral steps towards verifiable nuclear disarmament and the prevention of proliferation. Eye-catching gestures from the US such as declarations of “sole purpose” or ‘no first use’ would undermine the Nato alliance and lead only to greater instability and insecurity. – Financial Times 

Peter Huessy writes: Four new geostrategic realities are challenging U.S. deterrent and arms control strategy. These are the rise of China’s nuclear forces; the near-completed Russian nuclear build-up; the modernization of the U.S. nuclear deterrent; and the need to defend against directed energy and hypersonic, maneuverable missiles. – The National Interest 

Long War

UK counterterror police said they had arrested three men under the Terrorism Act in connection with an explosion in a car in Liverpool on Sunday that killed one person and left another seriously injured. – Financial Times 

An attack by jihadis on a gendarme post in northern Burkina Faso killed at least 19 officers and one civilian Sunday, the ministry of security said. […]The attack is the latest in a series of violent incidents across the conflict-riddled nation, which has been overrun by jihadi groups linked to al-Qaida and the Islamic State for more than five years. Violence by the groups has killed thousands and displaced more than 1.4 million people. – Associated Press 

French prison guards thwarted an escape attempt from the Paris region’s second-largest jail on Sunday, with French media identifying the would-be escapee as a suspected Islamic State sympathizer who dug a hole in the wall of her cell and rappelled out on knotted sheets. – Associated Press