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BLACKWATER USA | DAILY BRIEF


COVID-19

  • U.S. coronavirus cases rose 65% over the past two weeks alone. The Trump Administration claims the jump was just due to increased testing, but health officials aren’t so sure.

  • An unpublished study suggests SARS CoV-2 was present in Barcelona’s wastewater in March 2019, which would substantially shift the virus’s timeline. However, there are signs the study was flawed.

Iran

  • Iran issued an arrest warrant for Pres. Trump and dozens of other U.S. officials for ordering and executing the killing of IRGC chief Qassem Soleimani. Iran also asked Interpol to issue a “red notice” that could—but probably won’t—lead to their arrest. [Interpol has a committee that discusses such “red notice” requests and decides whether or not to publicize them to member states—in this case, it will probably decline.]

Pakistan

  • The Balochistan Liberation Army (BLA) claimed a gun attack on the Karachi Stock Exchange that killed at least five people. All four attackers—who were reportedly wearing police uniforms—were shot dead by security forces. The BLA was initially dedicated to fighting the government’s perceived monopoly over natural resources in Balochistan, and its insurgency has simmered for two decades. Balochistan remains poor.

China

  • Chinese state media reported that Beijing reinforced troops in the Himalayan region where they recently clashed with Indian forces by sending in mountain climbers and martial arts fighters. India also said it had reinforced its fighters there as it worried about Chinese “encroachment.” Sounds like a plot line for a new generation of Rocky movies.

  • China is drafting a law to sanction U.S. officials involved in “egregious conduct relating to Hong Kong,” but didn’t specify who would be targeted. It’ll most likely be the hawks who pushed hardest for visa restrictions on Chinese officials.

Libya

  • Libya’s warring sides are both said to be preparing to fight in Sirte. Al Jazeera (which is owned by the Qatari state and has an implicit bias against the UAE—and thus against Haftar) says thousands of foreign mercenaries from Russia, Sudan, and Chad are streaming in to back Haftar’s LNA.

  • However, there are also reports that Haftar’s side may be willing to end its blockade of Libya’s oilfields after talks with the UN, U.S., France, and Egypt—which could allow the GNA to reduce some pressure on Sirte (for now).

Russia

  • Pres. Trump tweeted that U.S. intel didn’t find credibility in reports that Russian military intel paid bounties to Taliban-linked militants for attacking U.S. and coalition forces, and thus didn’t brief Trump or VP Pence on those reports.

Afghanistan

  • A rocket attack on a cattle market in Sangin, Helmand killed at least 25, reportedly including two Taliban militants and 23 civilians. The Taliban blamed the government and the government blamed the Taliban, but TOLOnews cited the military’s reports that a car bomb involved too—which sounds decidedly more like a Taliban tactic (if true—that area is remote and Taliban controlled, so media and official reports are unreliable).

  • There were also reports of another blast in Helmand that killed civilians—this one was a roadside mine that killed a family of six. The Taliban denied responsibility, as it often does for incidents that kill civilians.

  • Separately, four ANSF were killed in a Taliban attack on security checkpoints in Ghor.

DRC

  • DRC’s fragile political coalition continues to crack. After Pres. Tshisekedi ordered the (brief) arrest of his Justice Minister, PM Ilunga (who is a member of the Justice Minister’s FCC party that’s aligned with ex-Pres. Kabila) threatened to resign over the dispute. It sounds bad: “This serious and unprecedented incident is likely to weaken the stability and the harmonious functioning of institutions, and to cause the resignation of the government.”

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