Fdd's overnight brief

November 23, 2020

In The News


The Trump administration intensified pressure Friday on Iraq and Iran by reducing the length of a sanctions waiver that allows Iraq to power its already overstretched energy grid. – Washington Post

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, in an apparent message to U.S. President-elect Joe Biden, said on Sunday there should be no return to the 2015 Iran nuclear deal abandoned by President Donald Trump. – Reuters

U.S. Senator Chris Coons, a possible secretary of state in a Biden administration, said on Friday he would only support returning to the 2015 Iran nuclear deal if there were a path to limit Tehran’s missile program and support for regional proxies. – Reuters

Saudi Arabia’s U.N. envoy on Sunday dismissed the idea that the United States would re-enter the Iran nuclear deal under a Joe Biden administration, saying nobody would be “naive enough” to go back to a deal that has “proven its failure to the entire world.” – Fox News

Iran has instructed allies across the Middle East to be on high alert and avoid provoking tensions with the U.S. that could give an outgoing Trump administration cause to launch attacks in the U.S. president’s final weeks in office, Iraqi officials have said. – Associated Press

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Sunday defended his tour of Gulf Arab states and the Trump administration’s continued efforts to squeeze Iran, even as a new U.S. administration led by Joe Biden prepares to enter the White House in January. – Associated Press

Iran unveiled a new ship over the weekend called the Shahid Roudaki. It is part of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps and was given a spotlight at Bandar Abbas port near the strategic Straits of Hormuz on Thursday. – Jerusalem Post

Editorial: Fear of escalating hostility and ramped up nuke development may also be worrying Trump, who reportedly sought options to stop Iran. The prez was probably right to reject a military strike, but Biden can do much good by letting the mullahs know: He won’t be a patsy. And a change in the White House won’t weaken America’s resolve. – New York Post


At least 14 pro-Iran militia fighters from Iraq and Afghanistan were killed in air strikes in war-torn eastern Syria, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said Sunday. – Agence France-Presse

Syria’s President Bashar al Assad named veteran diplomat Faisal Mekdad as foreign minister on Sunday to replace Walid Moalem, who died last week, state media reported. – Reuters

Iran on Sunday vowed to defeat any Israeli attempt to harm its role in Syria, saying the era of “hit and run” attacks by Israel there was over, days after Israel carried out air strikes on Syrian army and Iranian paramilitary targets in the country. – Reuters


Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan said on Sunday that his country, an official candidate for European Union membership, sees itself as an inseparable part of Europe but will not give in to attacks and double standards. – Reuters

Turkey said it was extending the seismic survey work being carried out by its Oruc Reis ship in a disputed part of the eastern Mediterranean until Nov. 29, a move that could add to tensions in the region. – Reuters

A close ally of Turkey’s president called on Thursday for a prominent Kurdish politician and a philanthropist, arrested in the wake of an attempted coup in 2016, to be freed from jail. – Reuters

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan discussed ways of enhancing ties with King Salman of Saudi Arabia, in a rare phone call since the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, his office said. – Agence France-Presse

In a November 12, 2020 column in the Turkish daily Cumhuriyet,[1] Mustafa Ali Balbay, a journalist and MP representing İzmir on behalf of the opposition CHP, said of the recent agreement between Azerbaijan and Armenia: “Russia is the big winner from the process.” Balbay criticized what he viewed as the ruling AKP’s mismanagement of the situation: “Whether it be in the previous ceasefire agreement, or in the most recent agreement, Turkey was not at the [negotiating] table. – Middle East Media Research Institute


Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met Saudi Arabia’s crown prince in the kingdom on Sunday, according to Israel’s Army radio, in what is believed to be the first known meeting between the leaders of the longtime enemies and amid a U.S. push to normalize ties between them. – Wall Street Journal

Jonathan J. Pollard, the American convicted of spying for Israel in one of the most notorious espionage cases of the late Cold War, completed his parole on Friday, the Justice Department said, freeing him to go to Israel as he has said he intends to do. – New York Times

Israel’s defense minister announced on Sunday the establishment of a governmental commission of inquiry into the multibillion-dollar purchase of submarines and missile boats under Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, an episode often described as the worst corruption scandal in Israel’s history. – New York Times

It also capped what has been an extraordinary four-year stretch in the two countries’ relationship, during which President Trump’s treatment of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has been nothing short of lavish. – New York Times

Palestinian militants fired a rocket into Israel, drawing Israeli air strikes in the Gaza Strip, the Israeli military said on Sunday. – Reuters

Israeli leaders on Saturday welcomed the U.S. decision to end parole restrictions on Jonathan Pollard, a former U.S. Navy intelligence officer who served 30 years in prison after being convicted of spying for Israel. – Reuters

A deep schism threatens the unity of the Palestinian Authority, its ruling Fatah movement and the Palestine Liberation Organization amid turmoil among senior officials. Many of these officials were flabbergasted by Civil Affairs Minister Hussein al-Sheikh’s announcement last week that the PA would restore its relations with Israel, which were cut off five months ago amid Israeli talk of West Bank annexations. They say they were not consulted. – The Media Line

The latest rocket attack on Israel, which came on Saturday night, could signal increased desperation in the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip over soaring COVID-19 infections and the recent decision by the Palestinian Authority to renew security ties with the Jewish state. – The Media Line

Palestinian Authority security forces on Friday arrested Palestinian political activist Nizar Banat shortly after he criticized the PA’s decision to restore relations, including security coordination, with Israel. – Jerusalem Post

The Israel Defense Forces on Sunday morning thwarted an attempt to attack troops with improvised explosive devices in the central West Bank, the military said. – Times of Israel

The US has not green lighted plans by Israel to apply sovereignty over parts of Judea and Samaria, a senior State Department official said Sunday, pushing back on claims the Trump administration is encouraging Israel to extend its law over at least some Israeli communities beyond the Green Line. – Arutz Sheva

An IDF Merkava tank overturned on Sunday, while being loaded onto a carrier truck during an IDF training exercise in the Jordan Valley. The tank’s driver was slightly injured in the incident. – Ynet


The U.N. human rights office, the United States and several European countries on Friday criticised the arrest of three members of a prominent Egyptian rights group after a meeting with diplomats in Cairo. – Reuters

In an attempt to counter the Turkish influence in the Red Sea and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s ambitions in the region, there have been reports that Egypt has formed a tripartite front with Israel and Sudan. – Al-Monitor

Editorial: Though he won’t take office for another few weeks, Mr. Biden has an opportunity to send a different message. One of his top aides, Antony Blinken, already did so, tweeting that “meeting with foreign diplomats is not a crime. Nor is peacefully advocating for human rights.” Mr. Biden should speak out as well, and he should raise the case in any phone call he takes from the Egyptian ruler. He has pledged to revive U.S. support for democracy and human rights around the world. Egypt should be a prime target of that effort. – Washington Post

Saudi Arabia

For Saudi Arabia, hosting the Group of 20 summit in Riyadh this year was supposed to cement its global stature. Heads of state from the world’s richest nations were to be wowed by the kingdom’s rugged beauty and changing society — and encouraged to let its war in Yemen and murder of a prominent journalist drift into the past. – New York Times

Now Saudi Arabia is bracing for a new American leader who has vowed to end support for the Yemen war, penalize human rights violations and treat Saudi Arabia like “the pariah that they are.” – New York Times

Yemen’s Iran-aligned Houthi group on Monday said it fired a missile at a distribution station operated by the Saudi Aramco oil company in Saudi Arabia’s Red Sea city of Jeddah and struck it. – Reuters

Saudi Arabia’s foreign minister said on Saturday he was confident that Democrat Joe Biden’s incoming U.S. administration would pursue policies that help regional stability and that any discussions with it would lead to strong cooperation. – Reuters

Seth J. Frantzman writes: Clearly the willingness to be more open about these types of meetings is part and parcel of a movement in a direction that has been paved by Abu Dhabi and its innovative approach to rapidly expanding ties. Flights begin on November 26 to Dubai, for instance. That is symbolic, as symbolic as the business jet that left Israel at five in the afternoon yesterday and appeared headed to Neom. Trump helped to create a safe space for these kinds of meetings. But as he leaves office, the countries must work together closely and create their own future – that they will then present to the world. – Jerusalem Post


Russia on Friday stopped a U.N. Security Council committee from blacklisting a Libyan militia group and its leader for human rights abuses because it said it wanted to see more evidence first that they had killed civilians. – Reuters

There’s little question that Libya’s lawlessness poses a threat to European security. But while the danger of a failed state on the Continent’s doorstep remains largely abstract for most, it has become a painful reality for Insaf Jemmali. – Politico

Libya’s interior minister has completed a three-day charm offensive in France, as a tentative ceasefire in the war-torn country holds and diplomatic jostling for its leadership roles intensifies. – The Guardian

Middle East & North Africa

Palestinian academic and author Khaled Hroub was a founding member of the International Prize for Arabic Fiction, but says he can no longer be affiliated with the award as long as it is funded by the United Arab Emirates. Mr Hroub resigned in protest at the UAE’s agreement to normalise relations with Israel, calling it a “shocking and sad trade-off” for the rights of Palestinians. – Financial Times

Jackson Diehl writes: So what does President-elect Joe Biden do with this mess? First, he will want to remember the mistakes he and Obama made on their watch — above all, wrongly judging an Israeli-Palestinian peace deal to be the key to the region, and making it a priority despite the manifest unwillingness of the current leaders on both sides. But then he ought to revive Obama’s equilibrium strategy, which allows the United States to align itself against the aggression and human rights abuses of both Iran and Saudi Arabia, while gradually making the pivot away from the Mideast the past two presidents aimed for. – Washington Post

Seth J. Frantzman writes: US allies in the Middle East also know this, and they have large air forces too. It’s not as if Israel, Egypt, and others lack their own firepower. The UAE is seeking to acquire the US F-35 in a deal that the current administration is trying to get approved but Congress and other sectors may seek to slow down the push for the stealth jet’s deliveries, which anyway, will take years to implement. For now, the B-52s will suffice as a clear message, apparently. – Jerusalem Post

ETANA Syria writes: Securing the interests of NATO and the safety of its regional partners requires decisive collective action. As Russia seeks to cement its influence in Syria as a part of its aggressive expansionism across the Middle East, NATO allies must cohere in response. They must act as a collective of like-minded allies, greater than the sum of its parts, in order to address the complexities of the Syrian crisis together. – Middle East Institute


Some of China’s most influential dissidents and human-rights activists based in the U.S., who approve of the Trump administration’s tough line on Beijing, have come out in support of the president’s unsubstantiated allegations of widespread U.S. election fraud. – Wall Street Journal

The Trump administration is close to declaring that 89 Chinese aerospace and other companies have military ties, restricting them from buying a range of U.S. goods and technology, according to a draft copy of the list seen by Reuters. – Reuters

U.S. Democratic Senator Chris Coons, seen as a contender for secretary of state in the incoming Biden administration, told Reuters on Friday he hoped to see a bipartisan policy take shape for the United States to “out-compete” China. – Reuters

China will respond to the reported visit of a U.S. Navy admiral to Taiwan and firmly opposes any military relations between Taipei and Washington, China’s Foreign Ministry said on Monday. – Reuters

China said on Monday it opposes a potential move by the United States to declare that 89 Chinese aerospace and other companies have military ties, restricting them from buying a range of U.S. goods and technology. – Reuters

China will consider joining a free trade pact once championed by the US but abandoned by Donald Trump,president Xi Jinping said Friday, as Beijing increasingly seeks to influence the global rules of commerce. – Agence France-Presse

Chinese technicians were making final preparations Monday for a mission to bring back material from the moon’s surface in what would be a major advance for the country’s space program. – Associated Press

China on Monday lashed out at Washington over its withdrawal from the “Open Skies Treaty” with Russia, saying the move undermined military trust and transparency and imperiled future attempts at arms control. – Associated Press

Chinese President Xi Jinping is pushing for a global Covid-19 tracking system using QR codes, to help fast-track international travel and business during the coronavirus pandemic. – CNN

Michael Pettis writes: Either there is in effect no limit to China’s debt capacity, or Beijing boosts consumption by managing a massive redistribution of income to ordinary households. History suggests that the former is very unlikely, and that the latter will set off substantial and unpredictable political and social change. Either way, it is an unlikely bet. – Financial Times

Alla Hurska writes: To obtain strategically important aerospace technologies, China is making a new attempt to acquire shares from one of the world’s largest manufacturers of missile, helicopter, and jet engines: Ukraine’s JSC Motor Sich.[…] Given the strategic importance of its relationship with the United States, as highlighted in Ukraine’s new National Security Strategy, Ukraine should reject Yaroslavsky and Skyrizon’s offer. Instead, Kyiv should look to other potential investors, including from India, the fastest-growing aerospace market in the world, and Turkey, where companies have already expressed interest in cooperating with Motor Sich. – Center for European Policy Analysis


In Arghandab district, which in Afghanistan is almost synonymous with the fruit, a Taliban offensive has cut the heart out of the harvest season, leaving farming families desperate. – New York Times

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Saturday visited the Gulf nation of Qatar, where he met with Afghan and Taliban negotiators who are trying to break a deadlock in their stalled peace negotiations. He landed hours after a deadly rocket attack in Kabul, the latest evidence of the violence spiraling across Afghanistan. – New York Times

A barrage of rockets struck a handful of neighborhoods in the heart of the Afghan capital Saturday morning, killing eight people and wounding 31. The rockets slammed into small businesses, a school, residential buildings and one embassy, sending plumes of smoke and dust into the air. – Washington Post

The Taliban’s attacks outside this large provincial capital began this month with little out of the ordinary: sporadic small-arms fire on military outposts. Quickly, though, the gunfire morphed into a barrage of heavy artillery that allowed thousands of Taliban fighters to pour into the district of Arghandab. – Washington Post

Afghan Vice President Amrullah Saleh vowed Sunday to track down those responsible for a rocket attack on the capital that killed at least 10 people, even as the Islamic State group claimed to have fired the salvo. – Agence France-Presse

Female assassins who lured an Afghan security official to his death with promises of sex before shooting him and dumping his body at a cemetery are among thousands of Taliban criminals freed as part of a fragile peace plan. – Agence France-Presse

The Afghan government and the Taliban are “very close” to breaking a deadlock in peace talks, a senior Afghan official said Saturday, adding that the US troops military presence was still necessary. – Agence France-Presse

The Islamic State (IS) group claimed responsibility for the salvo, which slammed into various parts of central and north Kabul — including in and around the heavily fortified Green Zone that houses embassies and international firms — just before 9:00 am (0430 GMT). – Agence France-Presse

Afghanistan’s chief peace envoy Abdullah Abdullah said Saturday that the U.S. decision to begin withdrawing troops from Afghanistan has come too soon, as his country is still struggling to attain peace and security amid an ongoing conflict. – Associated Press

South Asia

A Pakistani minister on Sunday withdrew comments she made earlier that President Emmanuel Macron was treating Muslims like Nazis had treated Jews in World War Two. – Reuters

India on Saturday summoned a senior Pakistani diplomat over what New Delhi said was a foiled attack this week in the frontier territory of Jammu and Kashmir by a Pakistan-based militant group, a charge the neighbouring country denied. – Reuters

But the election of Joe Biden, followed soon after by the signing of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership — a 15-nation Asian trade deal that India abandoned last year — has left Mr Modi looking more vulnerable. – Financial Times

This report reviews recent anti-France protests in Pakistani towns led by Islamic scholars, who have declared jihad against France. The clerics are demanding  the beheading of French President Emmanuel Macron, the expulsion of France’s French ambassador from Pakistan, and a boycott of French products. – Middle East Media Research Institute


Joshua Wong and two other prominent young activists face jail terms after admitting they incited a large protest outside police headquarters last year, the latest key figures to be targeted by authorities over a monthslong antigovernment uprising that angered Beijing. – Wall Street Journal

But rather than providing their relatives in Hong Kong with assurances, the letters, which present a rosy picture of Chinese detention, served to highlight the isolation of the 12 detainees, who have been denied the right to choose their lawyers and prevented from directly contacting their loved ones. Their families are pushing authorities in Hong Kong and mainland China to grant such rights and access. – Washington Post

Thousands of people took to Taipei’s streets on Sunday for the annual “Autumn Struggle” protest march organised by labour groups, with much of the anger focused on the government’s decision to ease restrictions on imports of U.S. pork. – Reuters

The head of the Tibetan government in exile has visited the U.S. White House for the first time in six decades, a move that could further infuriate Beijing, which has accused the United States of trying to destabilise the region. – Reuters

Hundreds took to the streets in Kyrgyzstan Sunday to protest a proposed constitution that critics say would empower the presidency and damage freedom of speech. – Agence France-Presse

A two star Navy admiral overseeing U.S. military intelligence in the Asia-Pacific region has made an unannounced visit to Taiwan, two sources told Reuters on Sunday, in a high-level trip that could vex China. – Reuters

U.S. President Donald Trump’s administration provided precision-guided missiles and other weapons to help the Philippines battle Islamic State group-aligned militants and renewed a pledge to defend its treaty ally if it comes under attack in the disputed South China Sea. – Associated Press

South Caucasus

The ethnic Armenian inhabitants of the area are fleeing this land that is to be turned over to Azeri forces on Nov. 25 as part of a Russian-brokered peace deal between Armenia and Azerbaijan. And they are determined to destroy whatever they can’t take with them. – Wall Street Journal

Nagorno-Karabakh’s war is over for now under a Moscow-brokered peace deal, and its costs are still being counted. – Washington Post

The rugged valley in Azerbaijan’s Nagorno-Karabakh region delineates the new and ambiguous border that separates the Armenian fighters and Azerbaijan forces after a recent peace deal ended weeks of fierce clashes. – Agence France-Presse

Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan called Saturday for greater military cooperation with Russia, a day after Azerbaijani troops began moving into disputed territory previously held by Armenian separatist forces. – Agence France-Presse


Russian President Vladimir Putin said Sunday he wouldn’t congratulate the winner of the U.S. election until it was clear who the victor was and criticized what he called problems in the electoral system, echoing allegations from President Trump that the vote was flawed. – Wall Street Journal

Russia on Saturday imposed sanctions on 25 British diplomats in a move it described as a response to U.K. penalties against Russian officials over alleged human rights abuses earlier this year. – Politico

Vladimir Kara-Murza writes: Russia’s recent constitutional changes allow the authorities to create artificial quasi-regions with the ill-defined status of a “federal territory” and with their own representatives in parliament. The first such “territory” has been formed near the Black Sea resort of Sochi in southern Russia and, according to parliament’s legislative committee chairman Pavel Krasheninnikov, may get its own electoral district with its own member of parliament, all for a population of 12,500. To compare, the average electoral district in Russia numbers around a half-million voters. So even if the opposition manages to win in large cities next year, its voice would be diluted by pro-Kremlin lawmakers sent by a few thousand votes in “rotten boroughs.” – Washington Post

Clara Ferreira Marques writes: With collective memory put to political use, neither side wants an actual discussion of the past. Putin’s glaring omissions, resistance to opening Stalin-era archives and the jail sentence given to gulag historian Yuri Dmitriev in September attest to that. For a measure of China’s sensitivity, consider the uproar in Hong Kong over a college entrance exam that asked students to discuss whether Japan had done “more good than harm” to China between 1900 and 1945. – Bloomberg

Henry Foy writes: Putin knows how to manage presidential transitions. When Boris Yeltsin, Russia’s first president, sought to step down, his choice of Mr Putin as successor was partly based on a promise that he and his family would be protected. Mr Putin has honoured that pledge. Tellingly, even his frequent boasts about rescuing Russia from economic calamity rarely admonish the man who presided over it. – Financial Times


France’s foreign minister said on Sunday he shares U.S. President-elect Joe Biden’s view that President Donald Trump’s challenge to the Nov. 3 presidential election result is irresponsible. – Reuters

Former French president Nicolas Sarkozy goes on trial Monday on charges of trying to bribe a judge, in what could be a humiliating postscript to a political career tainted by a litany of legal investigations. – Agence France-Presse

Tens of thousands of Belarus opposition protesters took to the streets on Sunday, the latest large-scale rally against President Alexandre Lukashenko’s contested re-election. – Agence France-Presse

Britain and Canada agreed today to continue trading together under existing EU terms when the current Brexit transition period ends shortly, the UK government said. – Agence France-Presse

Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s brinkmanship has brought UK-EU talks down to the wire and his choice boils down now to a barebones deal or serious economic disruption in the middle of the coronavirus pandemic. – Agence France-Presse

France has called on Pakistani authorities “to rectify” the “blatant lies” of a Pakistani minister who compared President Emmanuel Macron’s treatment of Muslims to the Nazis’ treatment of Jews in World War II. – Politico

Five NATO member nations have signed on to build the alliance’s next-generation helicopter, planned to replace existing fleets starting in 2035. – Defense News

Andreas Kluth writes: What is happening is really shocking. The populist governments of Hungary and Poland are holding the entire EU to ransom, so that they can continue to receive very large sums of money from the EU while undermining two of the most fundamental principles on which the European Union is based — namely, number one, that it’s a community of democracies; and number two, that it’s a shared community of law. – Bloomberg

Lionel Laurent writes: But closer integration will require more than Merkel’s famed negotiation skills. The bloc needs to upgrade its “convergence machine,” code for closing economic gaps between members. This matters especially for Eastern Europe, where China and Russia are making inroads. Macron wants stronger political institutions such as the European Parliament to fill the bloc’s democratic deficit too. Without all that, further EU disintegration can’t be ruled out. Macron and Merkel’s legacy isn’t safe yet. – Bloomberg


The Trump administration is considering a plan to pull hundreds of U.S. troops out of Somalia, reposition them in neighboring countries and shift the focus of their mission from training Somali government forces to directly combatting the al-Shabaab militant group. – Wall Street Journal

Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed gave Tigrayan regional forces 72 hours to surrender before the military begins an offensive on the regional capital of Mekelle. – Reuters

Ethiopia’s military is warning civilians in the besieged Tigray regional capital that there will be “no mercy” if they don’t “save themselves” before a final offensive to flush out defiant regional leaders — a threat that Human Rights Watch on Sunday said could violate international law. – Associated Press

The Ethiopian government rebuffed an African effort to mediate on Saturday, saying its troops had seized another town in their march towards the rebel-held capital of northern Tigray region. – Reuters

The United Arab Emirates called on Ethiopian leaders to return to talks and end a military conflict that’s pitting the country’s central government against the dissident northern Tigray state, the UAE’s official news agency WAM reported. – Bloomberg

Ethiopia’s government and Tigrayan authorities have issued contradictory accounts of who’s winning a conflict that’s been raging in the dissident northern state since Nov. 4 and has triggered a humanitarian crisis in Africa’s second-most populous nation. – Bloomberg

United States

President-elect Joe Biden has selected Antony Blinken, one of his closest and longest-serving foreign policy advisers, as secretary of state as he prepares to unveil a slate of new nominees this week that will emphasize a deep well of experience in the foreign policy and national security establishment. – Washington Post

A 15-year-old suspect was arrested in connection to the shooting at a Wisconsin mall that left eight people injured on Friday. – Washington Examiner

Midtown Manhattan saw at least three knife attacks in a matter of hours this weekend. A 51-year-old man was left bleeding on 34th Street and 8th Avenue early Sunday morning, in the latest knife attack in the area. – Washington Examiner

Thomas Wright: Biden’s election is a reprieve from Trumpism. Whether that break is permanent or temporary depends very much on the choices that Biden makes. Biden must act with a degree of urgency and boldness to demonstrate that his brand of liberal internationalism effectively addresses the real concerns and anxieties Americans have about the world. – The Atlantic

Tom Rogan writes: In an August conference call, Sullivan hinted that he had little humility or concerns over the Obama administration’s failures. Instead, he said, that administration offered an example for Biden to follow, because it recognized that the choice to “leverage diplomacy backed by pressure, is the kind of formula that can work again to make progress, not just on the core nuclear issues but on some of [the] other challenges as well.” – Washington Examiner


At the end of a desolate road rimmed by prisons, deep within a complex bristling with cameras, American technology is powering one of the most invasive parts of China’s surveillance state. – New York Times

U.S. Cyber Command’s vision for developing its core cyber platforms and capabilities lacks clear goals and guidance, according to an audit by the Government Accountability Office. – C4ISRNET

The sudden and massive shift to a remote work policy across the Department of Defense and the contracting community has created a perfect storm of cyber challenges needing to be addressed. Keenly aware of this, threat actors are taking advantage. – C4ISRNET


The United States has formally withdrawn from the Treaty on Open Skies, a decades-old pact meant to reduce the chances of an accidental war by allowing mutual reconnaissance flights by parties to the 34-nation agreement. The exit comes six months after President Trump first announced his intention to withdraw, saying Russia has been violating the pact. – Washington Post

The U.S. Army has made the consolidation of its Europe and Africa commands official, according to a Nov. 20 statement. – Defense News

Biden will enter the White House with more foreign policy experience than any of his four immediate predecessors, from Donald Trump to Bill Clinton, stretching back nearly three decades. – USA Today

Long War

Some 50 prisoners in Iraq face possible execution on Monday following conviction on terrorism-related crimes in unfair trials, United Nations human rights experts said on Friday. – Reuters

Al-Qaida’s North African branch said it has appointed a new leader after confirming the death of its former chief, who was killed in June by French forces, according to the SITE Intelligence Group. – Associated Press

While the Trump administration may feel confident that Afghanistan is no longer a safe haven for al-Qaida, experts who testified before the House Armed Services Committee on Friday warned that withdrawing troops without a peace agreement amounts to a gradual surrender and could lay the groundwork for terrorist networks to once again make a home in the country and begin plotting against the U.S. anew. – Military Times

Police chiefs in Tanzania and Mozambique have agreed to launch joint operations against fighters linked to Islamic State whose three-year-old insurgency recently spilled over the border between the two southeast African countries. – Bloomberg

Trump Administration

A defiant President Trump continued efforts to contest the outcome of the election, as his legal options narrowed and a number of Republicans expressed frustration with his refusal to acknowledge defeat. – Wall Street Journal

Officials at the Group of 20 summit meeting released a closing statement on Sunday that served as perhaps the Trump administration’s final reminder of the wide gulf between the United States and its allies on handling global threats like the coronavirus pandemic and climate change. – New York Times

In recent weeks, the White House, State Department and other agencies have been working overtime to produce new policy pronouncements on Iran, Israel, China and elsewhere that aim to lock in Trump’s vision for the world. Some have attracted significant attention while others have flown largely under the radar. – Associated Press