Fdd's overnight brief

October 26, 2020

In The News


The Trump administration plans a pre-election volley of sanctions against Iran intended in part to fortify its pressure campaign against any future effort to unwind it, according to people familiar with the matter. – Wall Street Journal

Iran’s foreign ministry on Saturday described a U.S.-brokered Sudan-Israel deal to normalise ties as “phoney” and accused Khartoum of paying a ransom in return for Washington removing it from a list of state sponsors of terrorism. – Reuters

The rhetorical about-face is typical of Iranian leaders’ inconsistent response to the pandemic that many see as helping to fuel the virus’ spread. Experts say the mixed messages reflect the fact that the leadership has little room to impose severe restrictions that would damage an already fragile economy — and thus stoke public anger. – Associated Press

Mehdi Khalaji writes: Today, however, a new sense of urgency among Iran’s political elite is undeniable as the country faces a major crisis. […]The Supreme Leader’s demise could produce chaos so great as to jeopardize the stability of the political system. This would hardly mark the crowning achievement Khamenei seeks to achieve with America’s next president, but rather the failure of his life’s work. – Washington Institute

Ilan A. Berman writes: Indeed, the “maximum pressure” policy deployed by the Trump White House over the past two years has been designed in large part to reverse those gains. Now, America’s Iran policy is once again approaching a critical crossroads. The path that Washington ultimately embraces – further isolation of the Iranian regime, or its rehabilitation – will go a long way toward determining the future complexion of the Middle East. – American Foreign Policy Council

Barry Rosen writes: While Nasrin battles for her health, her husband, Reza Khandan, fights in an inexorable battle against a corrupt system of injustice for his beloved to return home. For Nasrin and the Iranian men and women from all walks of life similarly unjustly imprisoned, we have a responsibility to lift their voices when they cannot speak themselves, and to demand their release. – United Against Nuclear Iran


Guatemala on Friday designated Hezbollah as a terrorist organization. The designation reportedly includes all of the Iranian-backed Shiite group’s branches. – Israel Hayom

Sudan has agreed to designate Lebanese Hezbollah as a terrorist organization as part of a recent deal to normalize ties with Israel, a senior US official said Friday. – Al-Arabiya

The Israel Defense Forces on Sunday morning launched a large-scale exercise simulating war against the Hezbollah terror group, aimed at improving the military’s offensive capability, it said. – Times of Israel



Hundreds of mourners including Syria’s religious affairs minister attended a funeral in Damascus on Friday for the state’s top Muslim cleric, who was killed in a bombing near the capital. – Reuters

Iran has delivered several gasoline and crude oil shipments to Syria, easing a near two-month gasoline shortage aggravated by tougher U.S. sanctions, shippers, port officials and traders said. – Reuters

Amos Harel writes: The Israeli army is seeing, more than in the past, cracks in the three-way alliance of interests between the regime and its two major patrons, Russia and Iran. […]Iran, more so than Hezbollah, has open accounts with the United States and Israel. Surprises are always possible but less than two weeks before the presidential election in the United States, it appears that Iran – like the rest of the countries in the region – prefers to wait for the results there. – Haaretz


The French Foreign Ministry said Sunday that it was recalling its ambassador to Turkey, a day after Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan sharply criticized French President Emmanuel Macron’s response to the beheading of a teacher who had shown students pictures of the prophet Muhammad, strictly prohibited by the Muslim faith. –  Washington Post

The State Department issued an unusually sharp warning Friday about new threats to U.S. citizens in Istanbul, saying that the U.S. Mission in Turkey has received “credible reports of potential terrorist attacks and kidnappings” targeting Americans and other foreign nationals. – Washington Post

Turkey has extended the seismic survey work of its Oruc Reis ship in a disputed area of the eastern Mediterranean until Nov. 4 – a move that Greece condemned on Sunday as “illegal”. – Reuters

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan confirmed on Friday that Turkey had been testing the S-400 air defence systems that it bought from Russia and said U.S. objections on the issue did not matter. – Reuters

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan challenged the United States to impose sanctions against his country while also launching a second personal attack Sunday on French President Emmanuel Macron. – Associated Press

The United States strongly condemned NATO ally Turkey on Friday after Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan confirmed the first test of a Russian-made S-400 air defense system and dismissed US criticism. – Agence France-Presse

The Turkish lira reached a new record low, trading at 8 against the US dollar for the first time, after President Recep Tayyip Erdogan goaded European leaders and dared the US to hit Ankara with sanctions. – Financial Times

The Palestinian terror group Hamas is secretly operating a facility in Turkey where it conducts cyberattacks and counterintelligence operations, according to a British newspaper report Thursday. – Times of Israel

Tom Rogan writes: Instead, Erdogan requires confrontation. The United States should join with the European Union in preparing sanctions on the Turkish central bank. The Turkish lira is already at pathetic lows (in no insignificant part, thanks to Erdogan’s economic mismanagement). Let’s see whether the sultan feels so supreme when his economy implodes. – Washington Examiner

Tom Rogan writes: U.S. and common NATO sanctions action is now needed. It is not enough simply to continue on the present track of restricting Turkey from accessing the F-35 strike fighter jet. […]The Turkish lira is already near junk value, hovering at extraordinary lows. Any new sanctions would carry major economic consequences. Erdogan must make a choice: his pet project from Putin or his economy. – Washington Examiner


Israel and Sudan agreed to normalize ties in a U.S.-brokered deal on Friday, the White House said, ending decades of hostility as one of Africa’s largest countries joined a broader diplomatic realignment in the Middle East. – Wall Street Journal

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s cabinet on Sunday approved Israel’s normalisation accord with Bahrain, which now awaits parliamentary ratification, a cabinet statement said. – Reuters

Israel said on Friday it will not oppose U.S. sales of “specific weapons systems” to the United Arab Emirates, in an apparent reference to the F-35 warplanes sought by Abu Dhabi. – Reuters

Thousands of Sudanese nationals seeking asylum in Israel have said they are monitoring the development of the newly-announced normalization agreement and would be willing to return to their country if the “peace” between the two states ends up being “real.” – Ynet

Senior defense officials have voiced their concern on Sunday regarding a deal that would see the U.S. sell advanced F-35 stealth jets to Saudi Arabia as part of a potential normalization agreement with Israel. – Ynet

Editorial: The U.S. establishment brought a sentimental approach to Arab-Israeli peace; these deals are the most concrete vindication of Mr. Trump’s foreign-policy realism. The 2020 election won’t be decided on foreign policy. But if Mr. Trump loses, a Biden Administration is less likely to be weighed down by a fractured Mideast. That would be a great asset as the U.S. confronts a growing challenge from China. – Wall Street Journal

Editorial: As the US heads to a critical election next week, we urge the new administration – whether under Trump or Biden – to continue pursuing the path of peace between Israel and Arab states. Perhaps the UAE, Bahrain and now Sudan can help to get the Palestinian leadership back to the negotiating table with Israel. – Jerusalem Post

Yuval Karni writes: Netanyahu marketed the deal with the UAE as “peace in exchange for peace.” Sure, Israel did not have to make any territorial concessions, but it paid a price, both politically and security-wise. First of all, Netanyahu forfeited his years-long vision of applying Israeli sovereignty to parts of the West Bank, giving up on a not only political asset, but also on one of his strongest campaign promises. Secondly, the country forfeited its strategic superiority in the region and allowed an Arab nation to be on the same technological footing as Israel. – Ynet


Persian Gulf waters off Iraq have become a new, important waypoint for Iranian oil smugglers looking to avoid U.S. sanctions, according to American officials, who expressed frustration that Baghdad and other allies aren’t acting more aggressively to enforce curbs on commerce with Tehran. – Wall Street Journal

Several thousand Iraqis took to the streets of Baghdad on Sunday, a year after large-scale protests over corruption and a lack of basic services swept Iraq and toppled the government. – Washington Post

Seth J. Frantzman writes: This is important; the U.S. must keep up the pressure, and share intelligence and security coordination with the Kurdish forces, to enable Erbil to be a strong ally in the region. If Washington continues to draw down forces in other parts of Iraq, it can anchor its role in Syria and Iraq via Erbil while working with other allies such as Israel, the United Arab Emirates and Greece to advance U.S. interests without putting American forces at risk. – The Hill

Michael Knights writes: Having emerged out of anonymity around 15 years ago, KH and other top-tier IRGC-QF proxies in Iraq may once again be ordered to atomize, reconfigure, and sink back into the shadows. It should not be surprising if today’s greatly enlarged KH itself begins to fall victim to factionalism and defections, especially due to the absence of either Soleimani or al-Muhandis as a peacemaker. The aforementioned formation of Al-Warithuun (The Inheritors) could be a signpost of a shaving-off of younger, talented, and anonymous operators that is highly reminiscent of the formation of KH itself. – Washington Institute


Lebanon’s top intelligence official has vowed to continue his effort to secure freedom for six Americans missing in Syria despite no evidence that the Trump administration’s outreach to President Bashar al-Assad has produced results. – Washington Post

Lebanon’s top Christian cleric urged Prime Minister-designate Saad al-Hariri on Sunday to avoid back-door deals and to quickly form a new government that will start lifting the country out of financial crisis. – Reuters

Hassan Mneimneh writes: If many private and public courageous voices highlight reason and national interests in challenging the ideological intimidation sought by the pro-Iran media machine, Lebanon could become free from Iran and choose the peaceful path. And by choosing to work with other Arab states in renegotiating the role of Israel, Lebanon could in turn be supported in any attempts to return to a more vibrant and open society, steering it away from the collapse to which Hezbollah has otherwise doomed it. – Washington Institute

Arabian Peninsula

Female passengers flying from Qatar were subjected to invasive searches after a premature baby was found abandoned in an airport bathroom, in an incident labelled “offensive” and “grossly inappropriate” by Australia’s government. – Agence France-Presse

The United States and Bahrain signed on Thursday a memorandum of understanding (MOU) on combating antisemitism. – Algemeiner

But just as Sheikh Mohammed, Abu Dhabi’s crown prince, has sought to cool the temperature with one nemesis, the UAE’s rivalry with Turkey has moved to a whole new level. – Financial Times

The Saudi-led military coalition engaged in Yemen said on Sunday night it intercepted and destroyed a second, explosives-laden drone launched by the Iran-aligned Houthi movement towards southern Saudi Arabia, Saudi state media reported. – Reuters

An Israeli cabinet minister said on Sunday that a U.S. sale of advanced F-35 warplanes to Qatar could be possible despite Israel’s objections to such a deal given the Gulf state’s links to Iran and Palestinian Hamas. – Reuters

Abdulkhaleq Abdulla writes: The Arab Gulf states’ time-tested recipe has worked well with President Trump, the most unpredictable president in American history, and it will also be able to accommodate President Biden as well. At the end of the day, a Biden presidency might not be all that different from Obama’s; indeed, some have already dubbed him “Obama lite.” – Middle East Institute

Saudi Arabia

President Trump said Friday he expects Saudi Arabia to open diplomatic ties with Israel soon, following the announcement that Sudan had agreed to normalize relations with the Jewish state. – The Hill

Lina al-Hathloul writes: As long as women inside of Saudi Arabia cannot safely speak, it is the role of the international community to raise its voice on their behalf. Several key delegates have already refused to attend the G-20 — now a virtual summit ― on the grounds that the conference represents grand-scale hypocrisy against the backdrop of the kingdom’s inexcusable human rights record.  […]Whether by calling for the release of human rights defenders such as my sister, or bravely and publicly speaking the truth about the reality of women inside the kingdom, the G-20 should be a moment for both men and women to speak out. – Washington Post

Smadar Perry writes: Despite all the rumors and hopes of headway regarding Israel and Saudi Arabia normalizing relations, a poll conducted in the kingdom several days ago sheds some light on the reality of the situation. According to the survey, only 9% of Saudis support normalizing relations with Israel, 3% said they do not know and the rest – an overwhelming majority – said they do not support it. – Ynet


Libya’s two main warring factions agreed to a cease-fire on Friday, raising hopes for an end to years of bloody turmoil that have drawn in military forces from Russia, Turkey and other regional powers. – New York Times

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan said on Friday he hoped that the sides in the Libya conflict will abide by the ceasefire which they signed, but “its reliability does not seem too achievable to me.” – Reuters

A commercial passenger plane flew from the Libyan capital Tripoli across front lines to the eastern city of Benghazi for the first time in more than a year on Friday after talks between the country’s warring parties in Geneva. – Reuters

Libyans have reacted with a mix of hope and scepticism after the signing of a nationwide ceasefire deal intended to pave the way towards a political solution to the country’s grinding conflict. – Agence France-Presse

Middle East & North Africa

Sudan on Friday became the latest nation to make peace with Israel, after reaching a deal with the Trump administration ending the African nation’s designation as a state sponsor of terrorism. The agreement to normalize relations further shifts the balance of power in the Middle East and northern Africa away from Iran. – Wall Street Journal

Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi said on Friday he welcomed joint efforts by Sudan, the United States and Israel to normalise ties between Tel Aviv and Khartoum. – Reuters

Calls to boycott French goods are growing in the Arab world and beyond, after President Emmanuel Macron criticised Islamists and vowed not to “give up cartoons” depicting the Prophet Mohammed. – Agence France-Presse

Dov S. Zakheim writes: Should the Muslim Brotherhood, or some other radical government, once again seize power in Egypt, the absence of America’s small but stabilizing presence in the Sinai might encourage Egypt to rupture relations with Israel and increase its force levels in the Sinai. The prospect of a recurrence of hostilities between the two states would then become very real. And ending what is currently a small American investment in peace could result in America once again being drawn into another unwanted Middle East war. – The Hill

Danielle Pletka writes: In short, while a rekindling of the Democratic love affair with Tehran promises rough seas ahead in the Middle East, the larger problem may be that both a Trump second term or a Biden administration will likely wash their hands of the region, feeling that the mission as they defined it has been accomplished. – The Dispatch


A group of Hong Kong activists who have been granted asylum in the United States, Canada and Germany in recent weeks are the latest catalyst for deteriorating relations between China and the West. – New York Times 

The deputy White House national security adviser on Friday denounced China’s treatment of Uighur Muslims, saying there was no justification for the country maintaining “concentration camps” within its borders. – Reuters

Chinese Communist Party officials are “assembling dossiers” on millions of foreign citizens as part of a wide-ranging campaign to manipulate people in Western countries, according to a senior U.S. official. – Washington Examiner

David Sauer writes: In dealing with China in the 21st century, America will be facing the most powerful competitor we have encountered in our history. […]In the near term, to thwart China’s ambitions, the next president would be wise to increase America’s military power in Asia, re-energize our standing alliance structure in the region, and ensure that our economy is not dependent upon China. Taking policy measures on these fronts early in the next administration will help to keep peace in Asia. – The Hill

Ray Dalio writes: Prejudice and bias always blind people to opportunity. So, if you have been a China sceptic for reasons that don’t square with what is happening there, I suggest you clear your mind. Likewise for events in the US and its place in the changing world. The eve of the US election is a good time to reflect on both. – Financial Times

Tom Rogan writes: Joe Biden claims that he’s the candidate to hold China to account and put U.S. interests first. Just nine days prior to the election, not everyone in the Democratic Party appears to have gotten the memo. […]Whatever one thinks of President Trump, the reality of Chinese President Xi Jinping’s global strategy is now clear. The truth is that Xi seeks to replace the U.S.-led liberal international order with a feudal mercantile order of Beijing-led authoritarianism. – Washington Examiner


Even as Taliban delegates continue to nominally participate in peace talks with Afghan leaders in Qatar, the insurgents have shown no intention of reducing violence. – Washington Post

A suicide bombing at an education centre in Afghanistan’s capital Kabul killed 24 people including teenage students and wounded dozens more on Saturday, officials said. – Reuters

Afghan security forces have killed Abu Muhsin al-Masri, a senior al Qaeda leader who was on the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Most Wanted Terrorists list, Afghanistan’s National Directorate of Security (NDS) said in a tweet late on Saturday. – Reuters

Joseph J. Collins writes: Afghanistan once again stands at a crossroads. The next U.S. president will decide whether to increase support for Kabul, or withdraw all of our troops and leave Afghan forces to fight on alone against the Taliban and its ugly foreign backers, all of whom would delight in our failure there. A precipitous exit from Afghanistan is not in America’s interests. – The Hill

South Asia

The U.S. and India are expected to sign a key military agreement this week, bolstering cooperation in the Pacific and Indian oceans to counter an increasingly assertive China, Indian officials said. – Wall Street Journal

Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan said on Sunday that French President Emmanuel Macron has “attacked Islam” by encouraging the display of cartoons depicting the Prophet Muhammad. – Reuters

A global dirty money watchdog decided on Friday to keep Pakistan on its “grey list”, despite progress by Islamabad on meeting international anti-terrorism financing norms. – Reuters

Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan Khan’s on Sunday appealed to Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg asking the social media giant to take down Islamophobic content. – Agence France-Presse


Thai demonstrators said on Sunday they would petition Germany to investigate King Maha Vajiralongkorn’s use of his powers while he has been staying in the European country, as thousands of people again took to the streets of Bangkok. – Reuters

The U.S. national security adviser said on Friday the U.S Coast Guard was basing Enhanced Response Cutters in the western Pacific for maritime security missions, citing illegal fishing and harassment of vessels by China. – Reuters

North Korea has warned its citizens to stay indoors, saying seasonal yellow dust blowing in from China might carry the new coronavirus into the country. – Reuters

The U.S. State Department’s approval of the potential sales of air- and ground-launched, long-range land-attack missiles is a marked departure from previous American policy of only selling so-called defensive weapons to Taiwan. – Defense News

The United States is stepping up its military presence and activity in and around the small island nation of Palau in the Philippine Sea, a strategic location coveted by Pentagon planners as the US looks to expand its footprint in the region. – Breaking Defense

The shift is here to stay: Berger clamped a non-disclosure requirement on participants in the wargames that led to the rethinking and, just last week, cancelled the “Metropolis II” exercise testing tactics the Marines would adopt to fight in cities. Instead, the service will focus on building a new Marine Littoral Regiment (an MLR) that would allow it to operate on small atolls and islands against a projected threat in the Pacific — read: China. – Business Insider

Zack Cooper and Hal Brands write: Japanese leaders have shown over the last few years that they can often be more strategic and reliable than their American counterparts. To maximize the value of the world’s most important bilateral alliance, the U.S. needs to embrace this larger concept of burden-sharing — and view Japan not as the junior partner it once was but as the equal ally it has become. – Nikkei Asian Review

Hiroyuki Suzuki writes: Amid growing competition between the United States and China, middle power countries, especially Japan, should play important roles in shaping the foundation for stability and prosperity in the Indo-Pacific region. The leadership role of the United States remains critically important, but it is necessary to build a network of middle powers, including Japan, Australia, India, and Indonesia, rather than a bipolar or unipolar Indo-Pacific subject to Chinese coercion. – Center for Strategic and International Studies

Cordelia Buchanan Ponczek writes: Trust should be won back. Vice-President Biden has said that support for democracy abroad would undergird his global strategy. Regardless of who wins the US presidency, the upcoming administration should consider piggybacking off EU programs to engage with Kyrgyz democratic development. Investing in Kyrgyz democracy makes sense. Kyrgyzstan, after all, borders Xinjiang, China’s most restive region. Placing a long-term bet on democracy in Kyrgyzstan is morally sound and strategically foresighted. – Center for European Policy Analysis 

Mark Galeotti writes: Ultimately, Georgia is in an unenviable strategic position so long as the Kremlin retains its neo-imperial attitudes towards its so-called ‘Near Abroad,’ something likely to persist while President Vladimir Putin remains in power. It is thus crucial not just that it maintains a sustained, determined yet also imaginative approach to resisting Moscow’s pressure, but also that its Western partners explore the ways they can help – and in the process also help themselves. – Middle East Institute

South Caucasus

Armenia and Azerbaijan have agreed to “a humanitarian cease-fire” to begin at 8 a.m. Monday in the disputed separatist enclave of Nagorno-Karabakh, the U.S. State Department announced Sunday — a potential respite from heavy fighting after an initial truce brokered by Russia two weeks ago quickly fell apart. – Washington Post

Armenia and Azerbaijan on Monday accused each other of violating the new cease-fire announced the day before in a bid to halt the fighting over the separatist region of Nagorno-Karabakh that has killed hundreds, and possibly thousands, in just four weeks. – Associated Press

So far Russia has refrained from intervening militarily in the Nagorno Karabakh fighting, preferring to nudge Armenia and Azerbaijan to a truce that Russian peacekeeping forces will enforce. – Middle East Media Research Institute

Seth J. Frantzman writes: Since the international community and its various discussions have tended to fail to end conflicts like the one in Syria many countries see the Iranian, Russian, China and Turkish approach as more appropriate than waiting for the EU, NATO, UN or US to do anything. The people of Ganja and Stepanakert, under shelling during the recent war, have paid the price. – Jerusalem Post


The United States on Friday imposed economic sanctions against a Russian government research organization that was responsible for a potentially deadly cyberattack on a Saudi petrochemical facility in 2017. – New York Times

The Kremlin said on Friday it regretted that U.S. election campaigns seem like competitions for candidates to show how much they dislike Russia, but that it was only up to American voters to pick a new president on Nov. 3. – Reuters

Russia’s deputy foreign minister said on Friday that Moscow and Washington were still not close to reaching an agreement over the New START arms control treaty, the RIA news agency reported. – Reuters

Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Sunday that he saw nothing criminal in Hunter Biden’s past business ties with Ukraine or Russia, marking out his disagreement with one of Donald Trump’s attack lines in the US presidential election. – Reuters

The Kremlin on Monday proposed that Russia and the United States agree not to deploy certain missiles in Europe and introduce mutual verification measures following the demise of the INF nuclear arms control treaty. – Reuters

President Trump is “very, very close” to securing a nuclear deal with Russia involving a freeze on warheads for a year, according to Trump’s arms control envoy. – New York Post

Ignat Solzhenitsyn writes: If Western policy makers’ objective remains to bring Russia into the community of free nations, they might heed Solzhenitsyn’s plea and engage with Russia equitably, according to the virtues or failings of current policy, rather than judge her reflexively by a fictitious, maleficent historical narrative that bars any path forward. – Wall Street Journal

Peter Brookes writes: Russia’s involvement with and use of CWs for offensive purposes over the past two decades is deeply troubling and undermines the well-established international norms, law, and agreements against their use as enshrined in treaties, such as the CWC. If the international response to Russia’s acts is not swift and stern, a failure to address growing concerns about Russia’s bad behavior on CWs will assuredly only serve to encourage additional Russian bad behavior, not only with chemical weapons, but in other areas as well. – Heritage Foundation

Ekaterine Meiering-Mikadze writes: As attention drifts, Europeans and Americans are well-advised to keep an eye on the larger picture. One of the shortcomings in Western policy over the last two decades has been a failure to hold Russian actions to account. When the Ukraine crisis erupted in 2014, Western capitals didn’t adequately link Russia’s aggression in Ukraine with previous aggressions in Georgia, nor did they call out these incidents as parts of an underlying strategy of aggression rather than separate events. – Middle East Institute


On the final day of what Belarus’s opposition has called the “People’s Ultimatum” — a demand that President Alexander Lukashenko resign or face a nationwide strike — tens of thousands of protesters marched in Minsk on Sunday before police cracked down with stun grenades. – Washington Post

Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko told U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in a phone call on Saturday that Belarus and Russia were ready to respond jointly to external threats, Russian agencies quoted Belarus state media as saying. – Reuters

British special forces stormed a Greek-operated oil tanker in the English channel on Sunday to wrestle control of the vessel from seven stowaways who had threatened the crew in a suspected hijacking. – Reuters

Europe’s border security agency Frontex has been involved in several illegal “pushbacks” of asylum seekers crossing the Aegean Sea from Turkey to Greece, media including Germany’s Der Spiegel reported Saturday. – Agence France-Presse

George Barros writes: This deployment may have been part of Putin’s military pressure campaign against Lukashenko given it occurred between two Russian conventional military deployments for the Slavic Brotherhood and Unbreakable Brotherhood exercises and during a period of unprecedented Russian Western Military District exercises near Belarus. The branding of this deployment as a regular preplanned activity is consistent with Russian hybrid warfare informational tactics used to obscure Russian conventional military deployments to Belarus. – Institute for the Study of War


The military operation at Lekki Toll Gate appears to have deepened the rifts between the government and many of those governed in Africa’s largest oil producer. The street protests against police brutality have dissipated and given way to widespread looting and vandalism. – Wall Street Journal

Ethiopia accused President Trump on Saturday of “incitement of war” between Addis Ababa and Cairo, a day after Trump said Egypt will “blow up” a contentious Ethiopian dam. – Washington Post

Gunmen stormed a school in Cameroon on Saturday and opened fire indiscriminately, killing at least six children and wounding about eight more in a region where separatist insurgents operate, officials and parents said. – Reuters

Prominent political factions in Sudan have rejected a deal brokered with the help of the United States to take steps to normalise ties with Israel. – Reuters

The International Monetary Fund on Friday said U.S. government plans to remove Sudan from its list of state sponsors of terrorism would clear away one of the hurdles facing the heavily indebted African country as it seeks debt relief. – Reuters

A Rwandan court extended the detention of “Hotel Rwanda” hero Paul Rusesabagina on Friday pending trial on terrorism charges and denied him bail, the judge hearing the case said. – Reuters

An Israeli delegation will travel to Sudan in coming days after the two countries agreed to take steps to normalise ties, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Saturday. – Reuters

Guinea’s president, Alpha Condé, has won a controversial third term with 59.49% of the vote, the National Independent Electoral Commission declared on Saturday. – The Guardian

Sudanese protesters marching in Khartoum set the Israeli flag on fire on Wednesday, expressing their rejection of normalizing relations with Israel. – Jerusalem Post

Chinese lenders have lent money to almost every country on the continent and eight have borrowed more than $5bn apiece this century. But Beijing’s involvement in a debt service suspension initiative from the G20 group of the world’s largest economies has been slow. – Financial Times

The Americas

A treaty aimed at destroying all nuclear weapons and forever prohibiting their use has hit an important benchmark, with Honduras becoming the 50th country to ratify the accord — the minimum needed for it to enter into force as international law. – New York Times

Following the stunning arrest of Mexico’s former defense minister on drug charges in the U.S., Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador is backing away from a cleanup of the Mexican army and has shifted some blame to U.S. officials. – Wall Street Journal

A Joe Biden presidency would lower border tensions and raise pressure on Mexico to respect U.S. business interests as the two neighbors implement a trade deal designed to claw back jobs from China, officials and industry sources say. – Reuters

If Donald Trump wins a second term, his Mexico strategy will likely take a similar tack to what we’ve seen so far. But don’t mistake a lack of change for a lack of impact. The US administration’s policies have created some profound changes to date. – CNN

But López Obrador’s approach to the United States is a calculated one. Next to nothing should get in the way of Mexico capitalizing on its relationship with the world’s largest economic power. – CNN 

Editorial: This mystery could — and should — be less mysterious. Congress must have the Relman report and should make it public. That is the first of many steps still needed to identify the perpetrators, protect Americans abroad and respond properly. – Washington Post

Latin America

After years of jail and house arrest, Venezuelan opposition leader Leopoldo López, a prominent leader in the movement to overthrow President Nicolás Maduro’s authoritarian regime, is in Spain reunited with his family after having fled his homeland in what his aides called a daring escape. – Wall Street Journal

Chileans voted overwhelmingly to change their dictatorship-era constitution in a referendum on Sunday, beginning a process that could upend the political landscape in one of Latin America’s wealthiest nations amid a social backlash against the status quo. – Wall Street Journal

Colombian security forces have killed a top National Liberation Army (ELN) rebel commander known best by his nom de guerre Uriel, during an operation in the coastal Pacific province of Choco, President Ivan Duque said on Sunday. – Reuters

Bolivian former President Evo Morales has left Argentina on a flight traveling to Venezuela, Argentine state news agency Telam reported on Friday, which would come in the wake of his socialist party’s election win in Bolivia. – Reuters

Mary Anastasia O’Grady writes: Full-blown censorship is associated with totalitarian regimes using military enforcement. But dive into the tragedy of tyranny in the Americas and you often find, long before the consolidation of power, insidious support from public intellectuals for controlling thought and speech. Over and over again their role in the “revolution” has been to define virtue and justice, and unleash the mob to denounce and condemn the unrepentant. – Wall Street Journal

Evan Ellis writes: Latin American governments may be reluctant to jeopardize trade, loans, and investment from the PRC by demanding it take responsibility for its fishing fleet. Yet if the Chinese government does nothing as boats under its flag pillage Latin America, how can the region trust any Chinese company, including those extracting the region’s petroleum and mineral wealth, signing secret MOUs (memorandums of understanding) with its politicians, or building the communication and surveillance infrastructure that carries the personal data of its leaders and citizens? – Center for Strategic and International Studies


White House national security adviser Robert O’Brien said Sunday that there is “nothing” foreign adversaries “can do to change your vote or stop you from voting.” – The Hill

Facebook announced updates on its privacy policy based on an agreement with the Federal Trade Commission on Friday amid reports that the agency is considering an antitrust case against the social media giant. – Washington Examiner

Multiple videos and images purportedly showing Hunter Biden engaging in sexual acts with several women and using drugs were uploaded on a Chinese digital video platform Saturday evening. – Washington Examiner

The Louisiana National Guard was dispatched to stop a series of cyberattacks aimed at government offices across the state in the run-up to the presidential election next month, according to a report. – New York Post

Arthur Herman writes: No matter who sits in the White House on January 21, Americans are realizing that our economic and national security future depends not only on how the technology we rely on is made, but where it’s made. Much of that secure and prosperous future will depend on the health and safety of our microchip industry. As the Latin phrase has it: sine qua non— without it nothing. Without a strong semiconductor sector, the future will look very bleak indeed. – National Review


The U.S. Army’s tactical network science and technology arm made major breakthroughs at a recent experiment on several pieces of advanced technologies that will likely be part of the service’s next set of new network tools. – C4ISRNET

John Lauder, Frank Klotz and William Courtney write: NASA is pursuing Artemis Accords with international partners “to create a safe and transparent environment” in space, particularly as human space exploration and possible economic activities venture beyond Earth orbit. Such multilateral cooperative efforts could help set a foundation for the adoption of additional transparency and confidence measures. They may offer realistic hope of reducing risks and protecting freedom of access to space for all nations. – The Hill

William D. Hartung and Ben Freeman writes: Thankfully, although he has expressed skepticism, Chairman Smith is open to further discussion on how much Pentagon spending is needed to protect us, as he noted in a recent meeting with the organization Win Without War. Let the discussion begin. – The Hill

Long War

On October 20, 2020, French-Tunisian Imam Hassen Chalghoumi, the President of the Conference of Imams of France, gave an interview to the press, including CNEWS (France), in response to the beheading of French teacher Samuel Paty in a recent terror attack. Imam Chalghoumi strongly denounced Paty’s murder, saying that he is a “martyr of freedom” and that the murderer was a criminal terrorist. – Middle East Media Research Institute

Ibrahim Anderson, 43, from Luton, has been charged with 10 counts of disseminating terrorist publications. – BBC

A French mayor said on Friday he had received threats of having his head cut off – just one week after the decapitation of schoolteacher Samuel Paty shocked France. – Reuters

Trump Administration

Joe Biden leaned heavily on a letter from former U.S. intelligence and defense officials in Thursday night’s debate to argue that Russia orchestrated a disinformation operation allegedly involving damaging information obtained from his son’s laptop that was promulgated by President Trump’s personal attorney, Rudolph W. Giuliani. – Washington Post

A federal judge on Friday ordered prosecutors in the Michael Flynn case to swear under penalty of perjury to the accuracy of evidence they had filed after a former FBI agent accused prosecutors of altering documents. – The Hill

Republican National Committee spokeswoman Elizabeth Harrington sparred with CNN anchor Christiane Amanpour over claims that Hunter Biden’s emails are part of a Russian disinformation plot. – Washington Examiner