Fdd's overnight brief

November 16, 2020

In The News


Iran’s Foreign Ministry on Saturday denied a report that Israeli agents had fatally shot Al Qaeda’s second-ranking leader on the streets of Tehran, likening it to a “Hollywood” scenario manufactured by “American and Zionist” officials. – New York Times

 Al Qaeda’s second-highest leader, accused of being one of the masterminds of the deadly 1998 attacks on American embassies in Africa, was killed in Iran three months ago, intelligence officials have confirmed. – New York Times

First came a leaked U.N. document showing yet another sharp rise in Iran’s stockpile of enriched uranium. Then, satellites tracked an Iranian oil tanker — the fourth in recent weeks — sailing toward the Persian Gulf after delivering Iranian petroleum products to Venezuela. – Washington Post

U.S. sanctions are preventing Iran from making advance payment to the global COVAX facility set up to provide COVID-19 vaccines to poorer countries, the Iranian government said as the virus death toll kept climbing in the Middle East’s hardest-hit state. – Reuters

Iran will impose stricter restrictions from next Saturday, President Hassan Rouhani said on state television, as the Middle East country hardest hit by the virus battles a third wave of COVID-19. – Reuters

Iran risks being suspended from international chess tournaments beginning next month unless it publicly approves of Iranian players facing competitors from Tehran’s regional foe, Israel, according to a senior member of the game’s global governing body. – Voice of America

Iranian forces launched an artillery barrage on armed rebels in a northwestern border area on Saturday, a day after three Iranian border guards were killed in the remote region where the borders of Iran, Iraq, and Turkey meet, Iranian state media reported. – Algemeiner

In a webcast hosted by Long Island University’s Global Service Institute yesterday, former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert expressed his hope that President-elect Joe Biden will have the “courage” to return to the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran and renegotiate “an even better agreement” that will “deter them from even trying to” advance their nuclear program. – Jewish Insider

Editorial: If Iran is serving as a safe haven for al-Qaeda terrorists in addition to backing other terrorist organizations such as Hamas and Hezbollah, this should concern all decent peace-loving people everywhere – especially as Iran continues to advance its nuclear weapons capabilities. No government can afford to ignore the deadly implications of the combinations of terrorism and nuclear weapons. When Iran receives funds through the lifting of sanctions, the world must ask where this money is going and what it is supporting. – Jerusalem Post

Editorial: US allies plainly want Biden to stand up. Saudi Arabia’s King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, for example, just urged the world to take “a decisive stance” against Iran’s continuing efforts “to obtain weapons of mass destruction,” stressing “the dangers of Iran’s regional project, its interference in other countries, its fostering of terrorism, its fanning the flames of sectarianism.” Those who live closest to the Islamic Republic see the dangers. Biden should heed their warnings. – New York Post

Seth J. Frantzman writes: In short, Iran does not trust the US and does not think everything done in the last several years can be reversed easily. This means Iran is planning for a future in 2021 where it will still be under a siege of sanctions. Some in Iran suggested moving closer to China, while others are hoping arms sales can bolster the country. Either way, what is clear is that Iran is treading carefully and considering the implications of another year of privation. – Jerusalem Post

Neville Teller writes: Little contact seems to exist between these two councils, both seeking essentially the same outcome for Iran. The main difference is that the NCRI has no thought of restoring the monarchy, but aims to establish a republic in post-ayatollah Iran. Pahlavi says that would be fine with him. He stands ready to serve his country regardless. […]To achieve success in their common purpose it would seem essential for the two national councils to come together, thrash out an agreed policy, and amalgamate. – Jerusalem Post


But the hours Dr Khaled spent queueing illustrate the extent of Syria’s economic collapse, which has been aggravated by pandemic-related lockdowns, the Lebanese banking crisis and the regime’s international isolation. Western financial sanctions prohibit fuel sales to Syria, meaning the only country it can buy oil from is Iran. – Financial Times

A top Lebanese security official said Saturday that he visited Syria for two days to speak with officials there about American journalist Austin Tice, who has been missing in the war-torn country since 2012. – Associated Press

Syria’s Foreign Minister Walid al-Moallem, a career diplomat who became one of the country’s most prominent faces to the outside world during the bloody Syrian civil war, died Monday. He was 79. – Times of Israel

Ishtar Al Shami writes: Here, Syrian civilians need a military to fight for them; a Syrian national army fighting for the Syrian people would focus on strengthening security, thereby opening up safe corridors to return refugees from abroad and internally displaced people to their original cities, as stipulated by the Caesar Act. It is this type of force that neither Turkey nor any other force located in Syria have, and that will help drying up the sources of religious and ethnic extremism in the country while working towards a new beginning for a stable, safe and free Syria. – Washington Institute


President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey on Sunday visited disputed territory in northern Cyprus that is occupied by Turkish forces, angering Cypriot and Greek leaders and stoking a decades-long conflict. – New York Times

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan appeared to throw into doubt a new bid to restart dormant Cyprus reunification talks, saying Sunday that a two-state deal rather than the long-established federal formula is the way forward. – Associated Press

Cyprus Saturday condemned as a “provocation without precedent” Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s planned picnic in a long-abandoned beach resort to mark the anniversary of the divided island’s breakaway northern state. – Agence France-Presse


A settlement watchdog group said Sunday Israel is moving ahead with new construction of hundreds of homes in a strategic east Jerusalem settlement that threatens to cut off parts of the city claimed by Palestinians from the West Bank. – Associated Press

But with Israel now courting wealthy Gulf tourists and establishing new air links to the major travel hubs of Dubai and Abu Dhabi, Palestinians in east Jerusalem could soon see a tourism boon after months in which the coronavirus transformed the Holy City into a ghost town. – Associated Press

Israel’s military said it struck Hamas positions Sunday morning following a rocket attack from the Gaza Strip overnight. – Agence France-Presse

Abu Dhabi’s Etihad Airways will start daily flights to Tel Aviv in the first quarter as ties between the United Arab Emirates and Israel strengthen following a diplomatic breakthrough in August. – Bloomberg

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s planned visit to a settlement in the West Bank during his upcoming tour of the region is a provocation against the Palestinian people and their leadership,” Palestinian Authority presidential spokesman Nabil Abu Rudaineh said Sunday. – Jerusalem Post

Israeli firm Bazan signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with Emirati company Mazrui International, allowing it to import polymers not made in Israel to market them domestically, as well as in Europe and the US. – Jerusalem Post

Ambassador to the UN Gilad Erdan urged UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres to work with him to eliminate anti-Israel bias that permeates the international body. – Jerusalem Post

In his own words, former US President Barack Obama regarded Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu as a “smart, canny, tough…gifted communicator” who engaged in an “orchestrated” push against his administration. – Algemeiner

For the third time in just over two years, Israeli and Hamas officials identified a convenient cause for a rocket attack that threatened to upset the relative calm between the two sides: the weather. – Times of Israel

Israeli soldiers fired shots in the air to warn off two suspects who approached the border from Lebanon, the military said on Sunday night. – Times of Israel

UN envoy to the Middle East Nickolay Mladenov voiced his concern Monday over Israel’s settlement expansion project in a Jerusalem neighborhood beyond the Green Line, calling on Israel to stop the the bidding tender. – Haaretz

A senior Hamas delegation on Sunday left for Egypt in order to attend a meeting with representatives of the Fatah movement as part of another round of reconciliation talks. – Arutz Sheva

Bahraini Foreign Minister Abdullatif bin Rashid Al-Zayani will visit Israel for the first time on Wednesday, the Foreign Ministry confirmed on Sunday. – Jerusalem Post

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu issued a stark warning to Gaza’s terrorist organizations on Sunday following an overnight rocket attack, saying the price for further attacks “will be heavy, very heavy.” – Algemeiner

Seth J. Frantzman writes: The timing of the reports on the killing of Masri creates two converging narratives. First, it provides evidence of the close relationship between the US and Israel and showcases Israel’s capabilities in the region and why it is such a key ally of Washington. That means the relationship between Israel and the US is not just one of Washington supporting Jerusalem; it goes both ways. Israel provides key capabilities in the region for the Americans. – Jerusalem Post

Eli Lake writes: This is very good news for Democrats. The party’s left flank will likely continue to impose an anti-Israel purity test. But now there is a rising progressive star who has proudly resisted this pressure and thrived nonetheless. His name is Ritchie Torres, and on Jan. 3, he will be sworn in as a member of the U.S. Congress. – Bloomberg

Nadav Tamir writes: The Iranian position is understandable, the only way the apocalyptic calls of its leaders against Israel be realized is if we fail to reach a two-state solution with the Palestinians and the status quo will eliminate us demographically or morally. But in this case, it is us eliminating Zionism, not the Iranians. The possible change of leadership in the US is an opportunity for Israel to change course to a more appropriate policy also in terms of the Iranian challenge. – Jerusalem Post


Libya’s rival sides wrapped up a week of U.N.-brokered talks without agreeing on a transitional government that would lead the county to an election in December next year, the top U.N. official for Libya said Monday. – Associated Press

UN-led talks aimed at appointing an executive to help lead Libya out of a decade of conflict ended Sunday without discussing names, the world body said. – Agence France-Presse

As congratulations came pouring into President-elect Joe Biden’s Twitter feed from around the world late Saturday, one US ally remained conspicuously silent. It was more than 24 hours after the race was called for the former vice president that the king of Saudi Arabia, one of the most powerful Muslim nations in the world, released a short statement expressing “best wishes of success to Mr. Biden and to the friendly people of the United States of America.” – Jerusalem Post

Middle East & North Africa

The leader of a pro-independence group in Western Sahara declared war Saturday on Morocco, shattering a three-decade-long cease-fire and threatening a full-blown military conflict in the disputed desert territory in northwest Africa. – New York Times

The Polisario Front said Sunday it was mobilising “thousands of volunteers” to join its fighters, on the third day of a crisis in the disputed Western Sahara that pits the Sahrawis against Morocco. – Agence France-Presse

Michael Knights writes: As a first step, Washington should immediately press various factions in Baghdad to defer the KRG-related commitments in the funding deficit law and consider carefully how these strictures could undermine the 2021 budget. This pressure should be brought to bear both publicly and privately, and in coordination with efforts by the IMF, World Bank, UN, and European Union. Such an international compact could bolster the Iraqi government’s dialogue with the KRG and help the parties develop a more gradual—and thus more achievable—reconfiguring of their economic relationship over multiple years. – Washington Institute

Moshe Dann writes: A real two-state solution – Israel and Jordan – is in the national interests of both countries, as well as for Palestinians. It can bring peace and prosperity and ensures the security and stability of the region. A Jordanian-Israeli confederation can replace failure and despair with opportunity and hope. It can inspire creativity, cooperation, and freedom – the raison d’être of nation-states. – Jerusalem Post

Roy Pinchot writes: If Iran is set to become nuclear, Israel will be forced to attack, lighting a spark that will inflame the entire Middle East. Iran will lash out at Israel and the Sunni states. Hezbollah will fire off its arsenal of rockets, joined by Hamas. To stop the rockets, Israel will have to blanket Lebanon and Gaza without considering civilian casualties. Surely, American installations and personnel will become prime targets whatever the administration’s stance on the issues. The American military will be force to respond. – Jerusalem Post

Hillel Frisch writes: The prospect of an Israeli political presence in Sudan, which Egypt regards as its geostrategic backyard, has always alarmed Cairo. That President Sisi overcame, at least for the moment, inhibitions to welcome normalization of Israeli-Sudanese relations could be a harbinger of the much sought-for normalization of relations between the two veteran peacemakers in the area. – Algemeiner

Korean Peninsula

President-elect Joe Biden is expected to revert to a more conventional approach to negotiating with North Korea—one that mixes pressure with what he calls “principled diplomacy.” – Wall Street Journal

North Korea has still not reacted to the United States’ presidential election. Its silence speaks volumes. According to analysts, it’s highly unlikely that President-elect Joe Biden would have been North Korean leader Kim Jong Un’s preferred candidate. – CNN

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un ordered a tightening of state emergency anti-coronavirus systems in the face of the worldwide pandemic, as he presided over a meeting of the politburo of the ruling Workers Party, state news agency KCNA said on Monday. – Reuters


President Donald Trump skipped summits with his Asian counterparts for the third year in a row on Saturday, even as rival China is set to expand its influence with a massive free trade deal in the region. – Associated Press

A US ban on American investors holding shares in companies with suspected ties to China’s military sent stocks tumbling on Friday and threatened to create a host of compliance problems for global investors. – Financial Times

China has used Western struggles with the coronavirus pandemic to help avoid domestic political backlash against Beijing, according to the security official tasked with maintaining regime stability. – Washington Examiner

Editorial: It’s probable Beijing would have shut down the opposition legislators at some point even without turmoil in Washington. But the spectacle of Mr. Trump sulking in the White House while purging the Pentagon of competent personnel can only be an inviting prospect; China may not be done taking advantage. Effective response to the Xi regime will have to await the inauguration in two months of President-elect Joe Biden, who has rightly pledged to work with U.S. democratic allies as China intensifies internal repression and external aggression. For now, Mr. Trump has handed Mr. Xi, Vladimir Putin and other U.S. adversaries an open field. – Washington Post

Niall Ferguson writes: Nevertheless, as in Kissinger’s time, detente cannot mean that the U.S. gives China something for nothing. If the incoming Biden administration makes that mistake, the heirs of Ronald Reagan in the Republican Party will not be slow to remind them that detente — diplomatic French for “let’s not fight” — was once a dirty word in American English. – Bloomberg


In the run-up to the election, President Trump’s tweet saying that all U.S. troops in Afghanistan should be “home by Christmas!” raised alarm among senior U.S. officials who had been working on a more gradual withdrawal.[…] After consulting with senior military officers, Defense Secretary Mark T. Esper sent a classified memo to the White House this month expressing concerns about additional cuts, according to two senior U.S. officials familiar with the discussion. – Washington Post

Afghan forces have captured the mastermind of two brutal attacks on education institutes in the country’s capital which killed nearly 50 people, officials said Saturday. – Agence France-Presse

Newly appointed Pentagon chief Christopher Miller signaled Saturday that he could accelerate the withdrawal of US troops from Afghanistan and the Middle East, saying, “It’s time to come home.” – Agence France-Presse

South Asia

Already bursting with pride at Kamala Harris’s ancestry, India has now started digging up potential local roots for US President-elect Joe Biden. – Agence France-Presse

Pakistan on Saturday said India was sponsoring “terrorism” aimed at destabilizing the country and targeting its economic partnership with China, accusations that top Pakistani officials delivered at a dramatic press conference. – Associated Press

At least 10 civilians and five security personnel were killed in cross-border shelling between India and Pakistan on Friday, in one of this year’s deadliest days along the heavily militarised frontier separating the nuclear-armed rivals, officials said. – Reuters


After eight years of talks, China and 14 other nations from Japan to New Zealand to Myanmar on Sunday formally signed one of the world’s largest regional free trade agreements, a pact shaped by Beijing partly as a counterweight to American influence in the region. – New York Times

Following large and at times violent democracy protests that rocked the city last year, Beijing is now rapidly dismantling the hallmarks of self-governance in Hong Kong. Though the city never achieved full democracy, even the limited elections Mr. Lee fought for as co-founder of Hong Kong’s largest pro-democracy party are in doubt. – Wall Street Journal

The moves sent a chill through the city’s once-freewheeling media, already shaken by a new Chinese security law that ended free-speech protections long available in Hong Kong but not elsewhere in China. Combined with newsroom censorship, managerial shake-ups and visa denials, the arrests underscored officials’ intensifying drive to tighten control over what is said, written and heard in Hong Kong. – Washington Post

The United States on Friday urged Japan and South Korea to speak out against China’s treatment of minority Muslims and its actions toward Hong Kong and Taiwan, despite their trading relationships with Beijing. – Reuters

Japanese Foreign Minister Toshimitsu Motegi said on Monday that Japan is maintaining dialogue with North Korea to resolve long-standing issues on its nuclear and missile developments and on Japanese citizens abducted by North Korean agents decades ago. – Reuters

Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga and his Australian counterpart, Scott Morrison, may agree an historic defence pact on Tuesday that will closely align two key U.S. allies in Asia as a counter to China’s growing influence in the region. – Reuters

White House national security adviser Robert O’Brien will lead the United States delegation at two Southeast Asian virtual summits this weekend, the White House announced in a statement Friday.  – The Hill

South Caucasus

Under a Russia-brokered peace deal ending a six-week war that killed thousands, Azerbaijan on Sunday was set to take control of a swath of the breakaway, ethnic Armenian region of Nagorno-Karabakh, which is part of Azerbaijan under international law. – New York Times

Azerbaijan on Sunday postponed taking control of a territory ceded by Armenian forces in a cease-fire agreement, but denounced civilians leaving the area for burning houses and committing what it called “ecological terror.” – Associated Press

Russia is in talks with Armenia and Azerbaijan on the deployment of United Nations structures in Nagorno-Karabakh, Russia’s foreign minister said on Friday, as Russian peacekeeping troops moved into the enclave under a recent truce deal. – Reuters

Thousands of protesters rallied in the Georgian capital Tbilisi on Saturday to back opposition calls for a re-run of the Oct. 31 parliamentary election they say was rigged. – Reuters

An opposition leader in Armenia has been arrested and accused of preparing to kill the prime minister, his lawyer said, adding to the political turmoil created by a controversial peace deal with neighbouring Azerbaijan. – Agence France-Presse

Villagers in Nagorno-Karabakh set their houses on fire Saturday before fleeing to Armenia ahead of a weekend deadline that will see parts of the territory handed over to Azerbaijan as part of a peace agreement. – Agence France-Presse

Gwynne Dyer writes: By mobilizing the support of its Diaspora a great deal better. Immigration has grown Israel’s Jewish population from 800,000 to 7 million since independence. In contrast, the population of the Republic of Armenia has actually fallen by a quarter-million, and there was no big influx of Armenians from overseas to Armenia proper, Nagorno-Karabakh or the empty occupied territories. As with immigrants, so also with money for defense. Why Armenia couldn’t exploit its diaspora more effectively is a mystery, but that’s the difference. The military defeat was the eventual, inevitable result of a long-running political failure. – Jerusalem Post

Michael Rubin writes: The outcome of the Nagorno-Karabakh region sets back U.S. interests considerably. Armenia’s democratic revolution is under threat, a new wave of refugees strains the region, Russian influence in Azerbaijan, which has already grown against the backdrop of neglect from both the Obama administration and Trump administration, has increased further still. Additionally, an anti-American regime in Turkey has succeeded in inserting itself and battle-hardened and, in some cases, terror-linked mercenaries into the region. The State Department and U.S. intelligence community were seemingly caught flat-footed. It should be a bipartisan imperative for Congress and other oversight elements to determine why. – The National Interest


Russia will establish a naval logistic center and repair yard in Sudan under a new agreement signed by Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin on Nov. 6 but just made public this week. – Defense News

On November 10, 2020, Russian President Vladimir Putin stated that on November 9 the President of the Republic of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev and Prime Minister of the Republic of Armenia Nikol Pashinyan signed a Russia-brokered agreement on a total ceasefire and the termination of hostilities in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict zone. – Middle East Media Research Institute

Vladimir Kara-Murza writes: However detached from reality one must be after more than 20 years in power, the warning signs for the regime are hard to miss — from the street protests in Moscow and Khabarovsk, to humiliating defeats for the ruling party in local elections, to Putin’s plummeting numbers in opinion polls, to a marked rise in the popularity of opposition leader Alexei Navalny. Russia’s next presidential election is set for 2024, and given that it is likely to be manipulated in just the same ways as previous ones, the prospect of mass nationwide demonstrations of the kind that toppled authoritarian rulers in other post-Soviet countries looms ever larger. The latest legislative measures are an attempt to provide an insurance policy. The problem for Putin is that deposed dictators are rarely treated under the rules they had written. – Washington Post


The U.K.’s chief Brexit negotiator said Sunday before renewed talks that a trade deal with the European Union may not succeed, but he was still hopeful of a resolution. – Associated Press

Moldovans returned to the polls Sunday for a presidential runoff, facing a stark choice between the staunchly pro-Russian incumbent and his popular challenger, a pro-Western former World Bank economist. – Associated Press

German prosecutors have charged 12 men with plotting well-funded, armed attacks on mosques in which they planned to kill or injure as many Muslims as possible, authorities said on Friday. – Reuters

Thousands of people took to the streets of Minsk and other Belarusian cities on Friday, after a 31-year-old anti-government protester died in hospital following what demonstrators said was a severe beating by security forces. – Reuters

European regulators are racing to avoid London branches of EU banks having to route derivatives trades through New York, if Brussels fails to deem the City’s regulatory standards robust enough after Brexit. – Financial Times

France’s Emmanuel Macron will be forced to walk a diplomatic tightrope on Monday when he hosts US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, a staunch defender of President Donald Trump, for talks while at the same time seeking to build relations with President-elect Joe Biden. – Agence France-Presse

Britain will not change its stance as it seeks a post-Brexit deal with the European Union, negotiator David Frost said Sunday as he arrived in Brussels for talks. – Agence France-Presse

Joe Biden’s U.S. election victory has triggered renewed debate across the Atlantic over Europe’s role on the world stage. – Politico

The European Union is ready to impose additional sanctions on Belarusian officials, the bloc’s diplomatic service said following the death of a pro-democracy protester. – Politico

French President Emmanuel Macron said the European Union must push on with its efforts to develop the capacity to act independently in technology, international finance and defense, even after President-elect Joe Biden takes over in the U.S. – Bloomberg

The Lithuanian Ministry of National Defence signed a €181 million (U.S. $213 million) deal Friday with its U.S. counterpart for four Lockheed Martin UH-60M Black Hawk helicopters. – Defense News

A group of Jewish and Muslim bikers came together this week in the Danish capital of Copenhagen to protect a Jewish cemetery in the city from a feared far-right attack. – Algemeiner

Luke McGee writes: In many respects, the 21st century has not been kind to the EU. However, with Brexit finally done, a friendly US President in office and support for the bloc higher among its citizens following the way it’s handled Covid-19, 2021 presents Brussels with an opportunity to reinvent itself. Whether it succeeds or not, as ever, will come down to whether the member states are able to get on the same page and put national interests aside for the interest of the union. That — and the reality that Brussels must address the structural problems that have existed in the union for decades — is something the EU has historically found easier to do in principle than in practice. – CNN

Barbie Latza Nadeau writes: Still, the very fact that Trump once won is still more important for European populists, Zerka writes. The fact that Trump was elected at all gives them hope “making them more electable or giving them hope that one day they, too, could win” he says. More even “than the fact that he eventually lost. It will be giving them hope for years to come.” – Daily Beast


A top member of South Africa’s governing African National Congress party appeared in court on Friday, charged with corruption, in a rare sign that powerful members of the party could be held to account for endemic pilfering of public funds under former President Jacob Zuma. – New York Times

Ethiopia’s conflict with its regional government of Tigray is spilling into the wider Horn of Africa region, after militias in the rebellious state fired rockets at targets in the capital of neighboring Eritrea and threatened more. – Wall Street Journal

The U.S. State Department’s top diplomat for Africa on Friday denounced the killing of civilians in a conflict between federal and local troops in Ethiopia’s Tigray region. – Reuters

Sudan’s Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok welcomed rebel leaders to the capital Khartoum on Sunday, as crowds celebrated what they hoped was the end of war following a landmark peace deal. – Agence France-Presse

Around 25,000 Ethiopians fleeing conflict in the Tigray region have crossed into neighbouring Sudan, state news agency SUNA reported, as the UN said it was working to find them shelter. – Agence France-Presse

Gunmen killed at least 34 people in a “gruesome” attack on a passenger bus in west Ethiopia, a part of the country that has recently seen a spate of deadly assaults on civilians, the national human rights body said Sunday. – Agence France-Presse

Rockets from Ethiopia’s northern Tigray region hit the capital of neighbouring Eritrea on Saturday, diplomats said, the latest indication that Ethiopia’s internal conflict is spreading beyond its borders. – Agence France-Presse

The Americas

Peru’s new president, Manuel Merino, is facing a backlash after helping to orchestrate the impeachment of his predecessor and angering Peruvians already battered by a devastating coronavirus outbreak and a sharp economic downturn. – Wall Street Journal

Thousands of supporters of President Trump protesting the outcome of the election rallied in Washington on Saturday, earning a brief drive-by visit from the president himself, in a day of orderly demonstrations that devolved into violence as the night wore on. – New York Times

The Latin American nation’s political turmoil took a chaotic turn Sunday when interim leader Manuel Merino quit and Congress couldn’t decide on his replacement. That left Peru rudderless and in crisis less than a week after legislators ignited a storm of protest by removing President Martín Vizcarra, an anti-corruption crusader highly popular among Peruvians. – Associated Press

After receiving an anonymous tip about explosives entering the country ahead of a potential terrorist attack on the Jewish community, the government has asserted controls at Argentina’s border crossing at with Paraguay, according to the Buenos Aires Times. – Jerusalem Post


Hackers working for the Russian and North Korean governments have targeted more than half a dozen organizations involved in COVID-19 treatment and vaccine research around the globe, Microsoft said on Friday. – Reuters

US authorities have given the Chinese owner of TikTok two additional weeks to divest the social media sensation in order to resolve national security concerns voiced by President Donald Trump’s administration. – Agence France-Presse

Hopes are high that the Democrat — who was hailed as the winner of the tightly contested US presidential election just over a week ago — will oversee an easing of tensions with China and bring some much-needed stability back to business. But there are also questions hanging over Mr Biden, including how he intends to rein in Big Tech in America, and how much scope he will have to implement his policies if his party fails to gain control of the Senate.- Financial Times


A Biden presidency is expected to strike a relatively steady course at the Pentagon, seeking to restore stability in military decision-making while reemphasizing alliances and pressing ahead with efforts to respond to China’s rise. – Washington Post

Senate appropriators are calling on the State Department to certify that a pending sale of F-35 Joint Strike Fighters to the United Arab Emirates would not threaten Israel’s military edge or make U.S. military systems vulnerable to Russia and China. – Defense News

The U.S. Air Force flew Bahrain’s terminally ill prime minister to America for hospital care two months before his death, the State Department acknowledged Friday, underlining the importance of the island kingdom. – Associated Press

Long War

The French government is bristling at international criticism of its response to recent Islamist terrorist attacks, accusing foreign leaders and journalists of misrepresenting an attempt to target extremist violence on French soil as a crackdown on Islam. But some French Muslims say the government’s own mixed messaging is to blame. – Washington Post

In the densely forested, oil-and-gas-rich northeast corner of Mozambique, a local Islamic insurgency has steadily escalated with a growing allegiance to the Islamic State and the arrival of foreign fighters using operational techniques similar to those from conflicts in Syria, Afghanistan and Iraq. – Washington Post

The man suspected of knifing to death three people in a church in the French city of Nice had on his telephone pictures of the man who beheaded a middle school teacher near Paris 13 days earlier, prosecutors said on Friday. The discovery of the photos on the phone of 21-year-old Tunisian Brahim al-Aouissaoui, who was shot and wounded by police in the Oct. 29 attack, could indicate a common motive behind the two attacks. – Reuters

EU interior ministers on Friday adopted a controversial statement vowing to fight terrorism, including by tightening protection of the bloc’s external borders, and by moving more quickly to take down radical or extremist material posted on the internet. – Politico

A Moroccan man goes on trial in France on Monday accused of an attempted terror attack on an Amsterdam-Paris train five years ago which was foiled by passengers whose heroic actions were turned into a Hollywood film. – Agence France-Presse

Ethiopian security officials have arrested 14 suspected members of al-Shabaab and ISIS accused of planning terrorist attacks in the capital Addis Ababa and other parts of the country, the Ethiopian Broadcasting Corp. reported, citing a statement from the National Intelligence and Security Service. – Bloomberg

Laurence Bindner, Hugo Micheron, and Aaron Y. Zelin write: In light of this background, it unsurprising that Tunisians have carried out four of the jihadist attacks conducted in France since November 2015, most notably the tragic Bastille Day operation in Nice. Tunisian networks in France share many links with homegrown extremists in Tunisia itself, and substantial numbers of French foreign fighters traveled to Tunisia en route to the IS caliphate. More recently, the church attack in Nice was carried out by a recent illegal migrant from Tunisia who arrived in France via Italy. These factors present a compelling rationale for greater intelligence cooperation between authorities in Paris and Tunis. – Washington Institute