Fdd's overnight brief

November 29, 2021

In The News


As negotiators gather in Vienna for talks aimed at reviving an international nuclear agreement with Iran, one big question looms: Has Tehran advanced its nuclear work so much in the past two years that the 2015 deal can no longer be rescued? – Wall Street Journal 

Israeli officials are urging the White House not to strike a partial nuclear deal with Iran, warning it would be a gift to the new hard-line government in Tehran and stoking a growing public rift with the Biden administration over Iran’s nuclear program. – Wall Street Journal 

American officials estimate that Iran could now have enough highly enriched uranium for one bomb within about two months, although its ability to create a weapon — a goal Iran has always denied — would be perhaps two years away. – New York Times 

Millions of ordinary people in Iran and Israel recently found themselves caught in the crossfire of a cyberwar between their countries. […]The latest attacks are thought to be the first to do widespread harm to large numbers of civilians. Nondefense computer networks are generally less secure than those tied to state security assets. – New York Times 

For two weeks the Iranian government tolerated growing protests over scarce water supplies in the central Iranian city of Isfahan, watching them grow as restaurants served demonstrators free soup and barbers offered free haircuts. State television even aired interviews with farmers discussing their grievances. – New York Times 

An arbitration panel has ruled in favor of two Iranian banks in a financial dispute over the 2015 closing of a Bahraini financial institution accused of helping Iran skirt U.S. and U.N. economic sanctions. – Washington Post 

Can the landmark 2015 nuclear deal between Iran and world powers be restored? As Iran and six global powers gather in Vienna Monday to discuss the tattered treaty, the answer appears to be no. – Associated Press 

Iran, Azerbaijan, and Turkmenistan have signed a trilateral gas swap deal for up to 2 billion cubic meters per year, Iranian media reported. – Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty 

For the past two years, Mahboobeh Ramezani has been grieving the loss of her son while calling for justice over his death at the hands of Iran’s security forces. – Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty 

World powers and Iran will gather in Vienna on Monday to try to salvage their 2015 nuclear deal, but with Tehran sticking to its tough stance and Western powers increasingly frustrated, hopes of a breakthrough appear slim. – Reuters 

The US and its allies restart Iran nuclear talks on Monday unsure how Tehran’s new government will approach negotiations, not optimistic about the prospects ahead and emphasizing that if diplomacy fails, the US is “prepared to use other options.” – CNN 

The United States and its partners are likely to exert pressure on Iran if it uses talks scheduled to resume in Vienna on Monday as pretext to accelerate its nuclear programme, the U.S. special envoy to Iran said in an interview broadcast on Saturday. – Reuters 

“A US Navy vessel rescued two Iranian mariners (on Saturday) from a fishing vessel after it was adrift for eight days in the Gulf of Oman,” the US Naval Forces Central Command, or NAVCENT, said. – Agence France-Presse 

Iran has accused the UN’s nuclear agency of bowing to pressure from its Western financiers to “discriminate” against Tehran, as strains persist ahead of new talks to revive the 2015 atomic deal. – Agence France-Presse 

As talks on restoring the Iran nuclear deal resume in Vienna on Monday, after a five-month hiatus, the mood among negotiators is somber if not outright gloomy, and the rhetoric has gone from tough to strident. – Politico 

Israel’s military is continuing to develop its ability to conduct a military strike against Iran’s nuclear program should circumstances demand it.[…]The defense establishment does not see a war breaking out with Iran or its proxies, such as Hezbollah in Lebanon, but the IDF has been keeping an eye on the North and on the South. – Jerusalem Post 

“Israel is very concerned about the willingness to lift sanctions and allow the flow of billions to Iran in exchange for insufficient restrictions on the nuclear program,” Bennett said at the start of Sunday’s cabinet meeting. –  Jerusalem Post 

Israel will make its position heard ahead of the return to nuclear talks with Iran by world powers on Monday, with Foreign Minister Yair Lapid scheduled to visit London and Paris next week. – Jerusalem Post 

It seems that if Iran again grants the IAEA access to Karaj, then the Biden team will overlook all of the unanswered questions about illicit nuclear material and undeclared nuclear sites that inspectors have been trying to get answers about for years. – Jerusalem Post 

Over the past few months, essentially since the administration of US President Joe Biden entered the White House, officials in Riyadh and Abu Dhabi have adopted a new strategy in terms of their foreign policies regarding Iran and renewing diplomatic ties with the Islamic republic, Israel Hayom reported. – Arutz Sheva 

Germany, France and the United Kingdom on Thursday accused Iran of conducting “excessively invasive physical searches” on international nuclear inspectors. – Times of Israel 

The former head of Israel’s Military Intelligence warned Friday that Iran’s breakout time to a nuclear bomb will be much shorter if there is a return to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, as a result of the progress Tehran made in enriching uranium since former president Donald Trump vacated the agreement in 2018 at Israel’s behest. – Times of Israel 

The former head of the Mossad spy agency said Thursday that the option of an Israeli military strike on Iran’s nuclear sites must be seriously considered, days before nuclear talks renew between Tehran and Western powers. – Times of Israel 

Editorial: Tehran is also escalating support for terror attacks in the region. U.S. officials say Iran was responsible for a drone attack on a U.S. base in Syria last month, and Iraqi officials believe an Iran-backed militia was behind the attempt to kill Iraq’s prime minister this month. All of which suggests that all of Team Biden’s entreaties have merely made Iran more determined to demand a deal that is even weaker than Mr. Obama’s. Such an agreement will reassure no one beyond the spreaders of revolution in Tehran. – Wall Steet Journal 

Layla Hashemi writes: Information from Iranian use of social media provides valuable insights into a country that is isolated from policy analysis. The alternative to U.S. government promotion of internet access is the development of draconian domestic alternatives that will increasingly resemble the current isolated media environment in China. It is precisely because social media data is such a vital source of information communication in repressive contexts that these channels must remain open. – Washington Institute 

Omer Carmi writes: In any case, it is discouraging that Tehran has done little if anything to prepare the Iranian public for potentially walking back its oft-ballyhooed nuclear progress. To the contrary, its rhetoric could complicate the already difficult quest for a new accord by implying to domestic audiences that Iran need not lift a finger at the negotiating table to secure sanctions relief. – Washington Institute 

Ilan Berman writes: It took the United States more than a decade to figure out that, contrary to Zoellick’s contention, Beijing didn’t simply want a seat at the global table. Rather, as has now become painfully obvious, the PRC’s goal was—and remains—to overturn the existing international order in favor of one more advantageous to its strategic interests. One can only hope it takes us less time to acknowledge that Tehran seeks the very same thing. – Newsweek 

Lazar Berman writes: There is probably no one in the region who actually thinks Joe Biden would ever order a military strike on Iran’s nuclear program. […]But even when the military is ready, Israel’s political and diplomatic reality won’t be. – Times of Israel 

Josef Federman writes: Despite such threats, Israel might hesitate. Iran has spent the past decade scattering its nuclear sites and hiding them deep underground. Plus, Israel might be reluctant to sabotage a global diplomatic effort. – Times of Israel 


Before the militants took over in August, foreign donors — largely wealthy Western countries led by the United States — paid for up to 80 percent of all Afghan government expenses. Since then, donors have frozen all funding, as leverage to press the Taliban to meet demands including rights for women, girls and minorities, an inclusive government, and freedom from reprisals and of movement. – Washington Post 

In recent weeks, the United States and the European Union have pledged to provide $1.29 billion more in aid to Afghanistan and to Afghan refugees in neighboring countries. But aid can do only so much to fend off a humanitarian catastrophe if the economy continues to crumble, economists and aid organizations warn. – New York Times 

Nearly 20 years ago, about 150 family members of Sept. 11 victims sought a measure of justice for their losses by suing a list of targets like Al Qaeda and the Taliban. A decade later, a court found the defendants liable by default and ordered them to pay damages now worth about $7 billion. But with no way to collect it, the judgment seemed symbolic. – New York Times 

Undercover Taliban agents—often clean-shaven, dressed in jeans and sporting sunglasses—spent years infiltrating Afghan government ministries, universities, businesses and aid organizations. – Wall Street Journal 

Afghanistan’s Taliban prime minister defended the group’s rule in a public address Saturday, saying it was not to blame for a worsening economic crisis and is working to repair the corruption of the ousted government. He also dismissed international pressure for the formation of a more inclusive Cabinet. – Associated Press 

The leaders of several Asian countries called for boosting their economic ties and pledged to provide assistance to Afghanistan during a summit in Turkmenistan on Sunday. – Associated Press 

The Taliban co-founder and now prime minister of Afghanistan Mullah Mohammad Hassan Akhund pledged Saturday that his government will “not interfere” in other countries’ internal affairs, and urged international charities to continue offering aid to the war-ravaged country. – Agence France-Presse 

Almost none of the 82,000 people airlifted from Kabul in August were vetted before being admitted to the United States, despite claims to the contrary from the Biden administration, according to a congressional memo summarizing interviews with federal officials who oversaw the effort at domestic and international military bases. – Washington Examiner 

David Ignatius writes: Americans probably share mixed feelings about Afghanistan this Thanksgiving — happy that are our troops are home after the nation’s longest and perhaps most frustrating war, angry that power has been reclaimed by a Taliban government that treats women so shamefully and worried how the population will survive a cruel winter. The one thing we shouldn’t do now that we’ve left is to forget that nation and its pain. – Washington Post 


Syria’s military said Israeli warplanes attacked army positions in the country’s central region early Wednesday, leaving two civilians dead and seven people wounded — six of them soldiers. – Associated Press 

The IDF revealed the identity of a Syrian Army officer in charge of observing Israel on the Syrian Golan Heights on Israel’s border, who was helping Hezbollah’s activities in the buffer zone between the two countries. – Jerusalem Post 

David Gardner writes: The UAE and Saudi Arabia are hedging their bets through parallel de-escalation talks with Iran. Yet they know Syria, part of the Arab heartland, is a spinning compass in geo-policy terms. They are now taking their bearings. – Financial Times 


A Turkish court on Friday extended the imprisonment of philanthropist Osman Kavala, whose case caused a diplomatic crisis with the U.S. and other Western countries after they called for his release. The court’s decision paves the way for the Council of Europe to launch infringement proceedings against Turkey. – Associated Press 

A Turkish soldier was killed trying to stop people crossing into Syria, the Turkish Defense Ministry said Friday. – Associated Press 

Turkey and the United Arab Emirates signed accords for billions of dollars of investments on Wednesday, including in technology and energy, after talks between President Tayyip Erdogan and Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed al-Nahyan. – Reuters 

Editorial: If the president continues to pursue a programme of interest rate cuts then the lira will fall further and prices will inexorably rise. In those circumstances the only way for Turks to defend their savings will be to turn to a currency outside Erdogan’s control. Unless he suddenly changes course, the only question facing Turkey, a country with great potential, is how much longer the president will stay — and how much damage he can do before he goes. – Financial Times 


Israeli settlers have dramatically increased their attacks on Palestinians in the West Bank over recent months, with violent incidents up about 150 percent in the past two years, according to data presented by the Israeli military at a defense ministry meeting this month. – Washington Post 

Israel worries Iran will secure a windfall in sanctions relief in renewed nuclear negotiations with world powers but will not sufficiently roll back projects with bomb-making potential, Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett said on Sunday. – Reuters 

Britain and Israel will “work night and day” in preventing Iran from becoming a nuclear power, the foreign ministers of the two countries wrote in a joint article. – Reuters 

With nuclear negotiations in Vienna set to start on Monday of next week, the open conflict between Israel and the US over Iran policy almost seemed to overtake the conflict between Jerusalem and Tehran. – Jerusalem Post 

Three political parties in Germany presented a coalition agreement which reiterated commitments to ensure Israel’s security and fight antisemitism and, for the first time, also pledged to promote Jewish life. – Jerusalem Post 

Israel intentionally did not respond to a Chinese firm’s application for a license to control its second-largest mobile communications company, Partner, out of security concerns and under US pressure, multiple sources confirmed. – Jerusalem Post 

Palestinian militant group Hamas called for unrest in the West Bank, following news that President Isaac Herzog would light the first candle of Hanukkah at a contested religious site located in Hebron on Sunday. – i24 News 

Defense Minister Benny Gantz said Thursday that Israel must maintain positive relations with the United States and ensure that the alliance between the two countries remains a bipartisan issue in the US, despite differences on the issue of Iran’s nuclear program. – Times of Israel 

The director general of the Israeli Foreign Ministry, Alon Ushpiz, is concerned. Next Monday, Iranian representatives will be arriving in Vienna to negotiate a revival of the international nuclear agreement that it signed with the major powers in 2015. Ushpiz believes that the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, as it is known, is a bad agreement that legitimizes a military nuclear program that the Iranians have no intention of retreating from. – Haaretz 

Editorial: Iran’s nuclear program has long been a challenge for the world and particularly the State of Israel, which is openly threatened and attacked by the Islamic Republic and its proxies. But to confront it appropriately, Israel needs to focus on policy, not politics. – Jerusalem Post 

Ruthie Blum writes: Despite his pronouncements, the temporary prime minister […]is hesitant to arouse Washington’s ire. For one thing, doing so would cause a coalition crisis at home. For another, it would expose the lie of “bipartisanship.” – Jerusalem Post 

Dan Diker writes: It is now time that Israel garners the resources and mobilize the collective political will to overcome the decades-long PLO, PA and Hamas’ led Hybrid War to dismantle Israel as a Jewish-Democratic state. – Times of Israel 

Gil Murciano writes: The Israeli government should adopt the public’s intuition on the matters described here. It must devise and implement a foreign policy that communicates and coordinates with global challenges. It should commit to a policy that sets its sights above all on forging cooperation frameworks with the world and the region as means to confront strategic challenges and restart the peace process with the Palestinians. – Times of Israel 


A roadside bomb attack by Islamic State group fighters in northern Iraq killed five Kurdish forces and wounded four others, Kurdish state news agency Rudaw reported Sunday. The peshmerga fighters were killed in the Garmian district in Iraq’s Kurdish-run north late Saturday. IS militants then attacked a peshmerga post, wounding four, according to the report. – Associated Press 

Hamdi Malik and Michael Knights write: Kataib Sayyid al-Shuhada may have exaggerated the numbers of recruits, but the episode points to muqawama desperation to look potent and regain leverage by threatening to destabilize Iraq in early 2022. – Washington Institute 

Michael Rubin writes: Bafil and Qubad may think they can win the family civil war but, at best, they will win a Pyrrhic victory. Masrour meanwhile may believe he can simply absorb Sulaymani. He will try, but does not understand culturally how different Sulaymani residents are. Put in an American context, it would be like a backwoods West Virginian clan leader trying to take over Berkeley, California. The trickle of Kurds heading to Belarus would turn into a deluge. The PUK may die, but its death will not bring peace, prosperity, or unity. – 19fortyfive 

Arabian Peninsula

A Saudi-led coalition fighting Yemen’s Houthi rebels launched airstrikes early Saturday morning targeting the country’s capital, Sanaa. Saudi state-run television reported the strikes, citing the Saudi-led coalition as urging civilians to stay away from the sites, without identifying them. – Associated Press 

It has been a momentous year since the Abraham Accords were signed, and Al Khaja is the UAE’s first ambassador to Israel, a unique and historic role. – Jerusalem Post 

The Saudi government pressured the United Arab Emirates to back off a major solar energy deal with Israel and Jordan, two senior Israeli officials with direct knowledge and another source briefed on the matter tell Axios. – Axios 


The U.N. mission in Libya condemned on Friday an attack by armed men on an appeals court as it was set to re-examine an earlier decision that disqualified the son of longtime dictator Moammar Gadhafi from running for president. – Associated Press 

Libya’s top electoral body on Wednesday disqualified the son and onetime heir apparent of the late dictator Moammar Gadhafi from running for president in elections to be held next month, citing his previous convictions. – Associated Press 

Some 21 family members of the 1972 Munich Olympics massacre that killed 11 Israelis are demanding compensation from Lybia over its role in the attack, according to a Friday report by German newspaper Sueddeutsche Zeitung. – Jerusalem Post 

Middle East & North Africa

The Moroccan military has purchased the Israeli counter-drone system Skylock Dome, according to a Nov. 21 post on the armed forces’ official Facebook page. […]The post also said the military purchased four other counter-drone systems, but it’s unclear what they were. – Defense News 

A top Algerian official said on Thursday that Defense Minister Benny Gantz’s visit to neighboring Morocco, with which Algiers has cut diplomatic ties, “targeted” his country. […]“The enemies are mobilizing more and more to undermine Algeria,” which was “targeted” by the visit, said Senate President Salah Goudjil. – Agence France-Presse 

Dov S. Zakheim writes: Israel’s leaders, of course, would prefer that their cooperation with all of their Arab counterparts — indeed, with additional Arab states — be as open as it is with its three newest Arab partners. That development may not happen anytime soon. Nevertheless, there can be little doubt that the process of Israel’s integration into the region, which policymakers and analysts alike term “normalization,” is on a positive trajectory, even if the Jewish state’s enemies, both in the region and in the U.S. Congress, would very much wish otherwise. – The Hill 

Korean Peninsula

Under its leader, Kim Jong-un, North Korea has plotted to lure North Korean defectors in the South back to their former homeland using whatever means it could, including recruiting people like Ms. Song. But the South’s counterespionage authorities are equally determined to thwart the North’s operation, carefully screening newly arriving defectors from the North, like Ms. Song, to catch anyone linked to its efforts. – New York Times 

The South Korean ruling party’s candidate for president has downplayed the prospect of the future reunification of the Korean peninsula, as the country’s voters tire of decades of fruitless diplomacy with the North. – Financial Times 

Joe Biden’s lack of ambition in finding a diplomatic breakthrough with North Korea has left some South Koreans missing the flamboyant summitry of Donald Trump. – Financial Times 

Nicholas Eberstadt writes: Such virtue-signaling in the Korean Peninsula would leave Japan more exposed and less secure. Throughout the postwar era, the U.S. has been one of Tokyo’s only reliable friends. Japanese leaders would start to question American credibility and act accordingly. Other allies would do the same. […]An end-of-war declaration would help the Kim regime get back on its feet and back to its familiar menacing playbook. – Wall Street Journal 


Yet Peng’s bombshell allegation of sexual abuse by former Chinese vice premier Zhang Gaoli, 75, earlier this month has galvanized calls to boycott the upcoming Beijing Winter Olympics over alleged human rights abuses in China. Beijing has slammed the campaign as a “farce” that politicizes the Games. – Washington Post 

Lithuania has not yet decided to boycott the Winter Olympics in Beijing this year but plans to coordinate any action with the United States and European Union, the country’s foreign minister said during a visit to Washington this week. – Washington Post 

For the first time, the United States is trying to nudge China’s leadership into a conversation about its nuclear capability. U.S. officials, describing the American strategy, say Mr. Biden and his top aides plan to move slowly – focusing the talks first on avoiding accidental conflict, then on each nation’s nuclear strategy and the related instability that could come from attacks in cyberspace and outer space. – New York Times 

China’s tech giants are feeling the pinch of an economic slowdown, adding financial pressure to an industry beset by a bevy of new regulations this year. – Wall Street Journal 

After months of discord and delay, the House will soon be moving ahead on Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer’s China-targeted $250 billion U.S. Innovation and Competition Act, bolstered by a bipartisan consensus that the U.S. government needs to act decisively to better compete with China. – Politico 

China is drawing a link between nuclear non-proliferation talks and a western submarine pact in the Pacific that it opposes, potentially adding another obstacle to the tortured process of reaching a deal with Iran. – Bloomberg 

Josh Rogin writes: The students are taking the lead because our political and business class have abdicated responsibility for stopping the Chinese government’s human rights abuses. This next generation of activists is determined to force all of us to decide if we want to be complicit in a genocide or not. The movement’s success may be the Uyghurs’ only hope. – Washington Post 

Li Chen and Odd Arne Westad write: Unfortunately, in both the United States and China, historians of international affairs interact with analysts and political leaders less frequently than they did a generation ago. Given the likelihood that relations between China and the United States are going to get worse before they can get better, it will take all the accumulated knowledge of the past to avert worst-case scenarios and find a way forward together. – Foreign Affairs 

South Asia

Militants targeted a Pakistani military post in the northwestern tribal belt near the Afghan border, killing two soldiers in a firefight, the army said in a statement. The Pakistani army’s media wing said late Saturday that militants attacked a post in the Datta Khel area of the district of North Waziristan in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province. The area is a former militant stronghold. – Associated Press 

The top U.S. diplomat for Asia will meet with senior government officials in Southeast Asia next week to “reaffirm” America’s commitment to allies in the region. – The Hill 

The Philippines’ defense chief rejected on Thursday China’s renewed demand that it remove its outpost on a disputed South China Sea shoal and said Chinese coast guard ships should leave the area and stop blocking Manila’s supply boats. – Associated Press


The Biden administration invited Taiwan to participate in a meeting of democracies, further bucking Beijing’s long-pressed campaign to isolate the island diplomatically and testing a recent lessening of U.S.-China tensions. – Wall Street Journal 

Japan’s cabinet approved a boost in defense spending that for the first time will bring the annual total beyond ¥6 trillion, to the equivalent of $53 billion, responding to China’s rapid military expansion and U.S. requests for upgrades. – Wall Street Journal 

Taiwan said 27 Chinese aircraft entered its air defense buffer zone on Sunday, the latest in a long series of incursions as part of Beijing’s pressure on the self-ruled island. The Defense Ministry said Taiwan scrambled combat aircraft to “warn” the Chinese planes to leave. It also deployed missile systems to monitor them. – Associated Press 

For decades, the tiny Marshall Islands has been a stalwart American ally. Its location in the middle of the Pacific Ocean has made it a key strategic outpost for the U.S. military. But that loyalty is being tested amid a dispute with Washington over the terms of its “Compact of Free Association” agreement, which expires soon. The U.S. is refusing to engage the Marshallese on claims for environmental and health damage caused by dozens of nuclear tests it carried out in the 1940s and ’50s, including a huge thermonuclear blast on Bikini Atoll. – Associated Press 

The Solomon Islands most populous province, the source of anti-government protestors who converged on the capital Honiara last week, is unhappy Australia sent in police and soldiers at the request of the Pacific island nation’s prime minister, a provincial political aide told Reuters. – Reuters 

Taiwan and Europe must work together to defend against authoritarianism and disinformation, President Tsai Ing-wen told visiting lawmakers from the Baltic states of Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia on Monday. – Reuters 

A rare joint opinion article by the ambassadors of China and Russia has sharply assailed President Joe Biden’s plans for a virtual summit of democratic countries — from which they were pointedly excluded.- Agence France-Presse 

China has targeted a large corporate donor to Taiwanese political election campaigns with extensive business in the mainland as it broadens efforts to undermine support for the country’s governing pro-democracy party. – Financial Times 

The president of Taiwan thanked five U.S. lawmakers for meeting with her this week and discussing the alliance between the island nation and the U.S. – The Hill 


NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg warned Russia Friday that any attempt to invade Ukraine would have costs, as concern mounts about a Russian military buildup near its former Soviet neighbor’s borders. – Associated Press 

Russia’s ambassador to the United States said that 27 more Russian diplomats and their families were expelled from the United States and would leave on Jan. 30. – Reuters 

The Biden administration, led by Secretary of State Antony Blinken, is pushing back on Congress passing tougher sanctions against a Russian energy project even as President Biden is coming under pressure to get tougher on Moscow. – The Hill 

Washington is on edge as Russia’s military buildup threatens a confrontation, with fears escalating following reports that U.S. intelligence shows Russian forces preparing to push into Ukraine. – The Hill 

A top diplomat for a NATO member country says the North Atlantic military alliance plans to discuss ways to deter Russia during a summit next week. – The Hill 

George Barros, Frederick W. Kagan, Mason Clark, and Kateryna Stepanenko write: Russia is setting conditions to conduct military operations against Ukraine and/or in Belarus in the coming weeks or months. The Russian Federation has positioned military forces around Ukraine’s border and near the border with Belarus able to initiate offensive operations on very short notice with very little warning. Russian officials and media outlets have been setting conditions in the information space to support such operations. – Institute for the Study of War 

Tanya Lokot and Mariëlle Wijermars write: Russia’s new law tasking social media companies with finding and removing “illegal content” creates a dangerous precedent for other authoritarian — and democratic — regimes. Although the Kremlin’s efforts to establish a sovereign internet and its clashes with international technology companies over adherence to local laws have garnered international attention, the country’s social media self-censorship law, which came into force on February 1, 2021, has gone almost unnoticed. This is a dangerous oversight. – Center for European Policy Analysis 

Daniel Szeligowski writes: Until a window of opportunity opens, there is a need to build a transatlantic consensus on Ukraine and Russia, which should be based on a premise of denying Russia success in subordinating a neighbor. This would entail enhanced pressure on Russia so as to increase the cost of its policy against Ukraine and prevent further incursions, as well as greater efforts to strengthen the Ukrainian state, including further support for its defense capabilities. Russia will not lose its appetite to swallow the whole of Ukraine, but the West can at least make sure it grows sufficiently large to become indigestible. – Center for European Policy Analysis 


After two months of talks, German parties announced a new governing coalition Wednesday that will pave the way for Olaf Scholz of the center-left Social Democrats to take over from Chancellor Angela Merkel after her 16 years in power. – Washington Post 

When Olaf Scholz is sworn in as chancellor in early December, he will have to deal with a surging pandemic, tensions on the Polish-Belarusian border, a Russian president mobilizing troops near Ukraine, a more confrontational China and a less dependable United States. – New York Times 

Europe says Belarus is turning thousands of migrants into pawns in a standoff between the European Union and Belarus leader Alexander Lukashenko. Belarus says Europe is blocking them from seeking refuge, turning its back on a growing humanitarian crisis. – Wall Street Journal 

France and Italy signed a cooperation treaty on Friday that its advocates hope could shift the balance of power in the European Union, matching Germany’s influence by deepening cooperation between the bloc’s second- and third-biggest members. – Wall Street Journal 

Germany said on Sunday it was continuing to work closely with the United States on implementing a deal on the Nord Stream 2 pipeline, which runs under the Baltic Sea and carries gas from Russia to Germany. – Reuters 

Germany will continue to host U.S. nuclear weapons, the incoming government has decided, despite strong anti-nuclear traditions within the major parties of the coalition. – Washington Examiner 

President Volodymyr Zelenskiy on Friday said Ukraine had uncovered a plot to overthrow his government next week, involving individuals from Russia caught on tape talking about roping Ukraine’s richest businessman into backing a coup. – Reuters 

Editorial: Britain is in the middle of bruising fights over how to remake its economy post-Brexit, and France’s presidential election next year promises to be contentious. Germans voted as if they want a government that would sit out major arguments about the country’s economic or strategic direction. Voters’ wish has become Mr. Scholz’s coalition. – Wall Street Journal 

Editorial: The Biden administration decided not to sanction the pipeline earlier this year, swallowing concerns about Russia’s intentions for the sake of better relations with Berlin. For the Washington-Berlin partnership, shoring up Ukraine while deterring Russia should be the first order of business. – Washington Post 


Ethiopia’s government on Thursday warned the United States against “spreading false information” as fighting in the country’s yearlong war draws closer to the capital, Addis Ababa, while thousands protested outside the U.S. and British embassies. – Associated Press 

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken is greatly concerned about Ethiopia’s military escalation and called for urgent negotiations over the crisis, a U.S. State Department spokesperson said. – Reuters 

Sudan’s military leader has overhauled top intelligence positions, dismissing at least eight general intelligence officers and replacing the head of military intelligence, two official sources told Reuters on Sunday. – Reuters 

Ethiopia’s army has retaken the town of Chifra in Afar region, the state-run broadcaster said on Sunday, its first major seizure from rebellious Tigrayan forces since Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed appeared on the frontlines two days ago. – Reuters 

France will begin repatriating some of its nationals from the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa on Sunday night after chartering a special flight to bring them back to Paris, a Foreign Ministry source said. – Reuters 

An Iranian man, Mohammed Saeid Golabi, has been arrested in Kenya on suspicion of planning terror attacks against local and Israeli interests, according to an exclusive report in the daily Kenyan newspaper The Star. – Jerusalem Post 

At least 20 Sudanese soldiers were killed in clashes with Ethiopian militias near a disputed border, a local official said, deepening a feud that risks turning into all-out conflict between the Horn of Africa’s most populous nations. – Bloomberg 

Latin America

Hondurans are voting Sunday in a tense presidential election that pits a ruling party dogged by allegations of corruption against the wife of a controversial former leftist president deposed by the military. – Wall Street Journal 

Venezuela’s President Nicolas Maduro on Sunday denounced members of the European Union’s (EU) electoral observation mission who monitored voting last weekend as “spies,” and accused them of looking to “stain” the regional elections on their preliminary report. – Reuters 

The United Nations’ committee against enforced disappearances expressed concern on Friday that the Mexican government has not adopted its recommendations aimed at preventing disappearances in the Latin American country. – Reuters 

The United States will revoke its designation of the Colombian group the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia as a foreign terrorist organization on Tuesday while designating two breakaway groups as such, a senior State Department official said on Friday. – Reuters 

Long War

Nigeria has designated armed groups blamed for hundreds of abductions and killings in northern areas as terrorist organizations, in a major swing in response to a key security challenge facing Africa’s most populous country. – Associated Press 

Britain on Friday designated all of Hamas an “Islamist terrorist group,” warning that its members and those who support the group could face stiff jail terms. – Times of Israel 

Tom Rogan writes: The Palestinian Authority in the West Bank is increasingly unstable, for example, and faces resurgent Hamas pressure. […]Similarly, Hezbollah’s corrosive influence in Lebanon threatens a second civil war in that fractured nation. It is thus important that the West advance a unified stance in opposition to Hezbollah’s blackmail over much-needed political reform in Beirut. But the most basic takeaway here is the most simple: These terrorist groups are finally being treated for what they are — fanatics who spill innocent blood and undermine democratic peace processes. – Washington Examiner 

Shannon Sedgwick Davis and Tara Candland write: Yet to downplay or dismiss the link between the ADF and the Islamic State is to ignore the main cause of worsening mass atrocities in eastern Congo—and to miss opportunities for robust policies, such as targeted defection messaging and active counter-radicalization measures that can protect civilians and reduce transnational violent extremist networks’ ability to do harm. The international community needs a new approach to counterterrorism that prioritizes civilian protection and addresses local and international drivers of violence. – Foreign Policy