Middle East

  • Israel and the UAE unexpectedly announced a “full normalization of relations,” making the UAE the third Arab country to normalize relations with Israel (after Jordan and Egypt). The White House apparently helped broker the deal.

  • As part of the agreement, Israel agreed to forgo “declaring sovereignty over occupied West Bank territory for now.” However, that wasn’t enough to appease Libya, Iran, and Turkey, who both criticized the deal. Iran called it a “dagger that was unjustly struck by the UAE in the backs of the Palestinian people and all Muslims.”

  • In other news, the U.S. DoJ seized $2 million in cryptocurrency from a variety of Middle Eastern terrorist groups including Islamic State, Al Qaeda, and Hamas’s Qassam Brigades. That’s the largest-ever seizure of cryptocurrency from terrorists.


  • Police beatings and detentions continue in Belarus, and the government has sought to silence journalists and shut down communications to prevent reports of its misdeeds from spreading.

  • I read that Svetlana Tikhanovskaya—the opposition candidate who has since fled to Lithuania—got up to 70% of the vote in the handful of polling stations where the presence of observers prevented ballot stuffing…far more than the 10% the official national results gave her. Ms. Tikhanovskaya was reportedly forced to read a statement conceding after she went to the election commission headquarters to complain about an unfair process.


  • TikTok’s parent company, ByteDance, reportedly censored content on its Indonesian news app for criticizing the Chinese government, which adds to suspicions of links between the Chinese government and TikTok.


  • Libya’s sovereign wealth fund is asking the UN if it can invest the billions of dollars it’s been holding since 2011, when it was sanctioned because it was controlled by Col. Qaddafi’s family. In the years since, the fund has paid around $23 million in negative interest rate charges to hold onto the money, while it also missed out on an estimated $4 billion in market appreciation. It seems like the UN has good reason to let the fund invest (though Haftar will probably object); let’s see if that happens.

North Korea

  • Cyberanalysts say that members of North Korea’s Lazarus Group of hackers breached the Israeli Defense Ministry’s computer systems and stole a significant trove of classified data—although Israel claims it thwarted the attack and didn’t lose any sensitive information.

  • North Korea is apparently facing severe flooding that has killed at least 26 people and is dangerously approaching the country’s main nuclear reactor. However, Kim Jong Un says he’s too worried about importing coronavirus to accept help from the Red Cross.


  • The U.S. claimed to have now seized the cargo of those four tankers transporting Iranian fuel to Venezuela back in July by threatening ship owners, insurers, and captains with sanctions (rather than military force). Iran says the ships were not, in fact seized, but it’s hard to tell who’s telling the truth—the ships all turned their transponders off weeks ago.


  • The Afghan Ministry of Defense is investigating a video that purports to show Afghan soldiers mutilating Taliban bodies. The Taliban says the video came from Arghandab, Zabul, and it appears to have been filmed after an incident there in April in which the Taliban killed a large number of ANSF troops.

  • The Afghan government began the process of releasing the last 400 prisoners agreed to be freed under the peace deal, starting with 80 of them. Pres. Ghani called the release “dangerous” but “necessary.”

  • However, Taliban attacks in Faryab and Kapisa killed at least eight ANSF. The Gerizwan district chief in Faryab was targeted but survived.


  • An Air Force UH-1N Huey helicopter flying near Manassas, VA was struck by a bullet shot from the ground. One crew member suffered a hand injury, and the helo was forced to make an emergency landing. It’s not clear whether the bullet was aimed at the aircraft or just randomly shot into the air.