FPI Overnight Brief: March 9, 2017

The Must-Reads

Middle East/North Africa

Iran
 
Iran has spent up to $100 billion in the past five years financing operations in Syria that were instrumental in keeping President Bashar Assad in power, according to a book on the hard-line Islamic theocracy’s vast business holdings and wealth. – Washington Times
 
Equally uncertain are the fates of at least seven people in Iran, five of them American citizens. Four were imprisoned after the nuclear accord took effect and relaxed sanctions against Iran in exchange for its verifiable guarantees of peaceful nuclear work. – New York Times
 
The Trump administration is emphasizing warnings against travel to Iran by U.S. citizens in light of the Islamic Republic's latest effort to implement a travel ban on Americans, which comes in response to the White House's new immigration order temporarily halting all immigration from Iran and several other Muslim-majority nations designated as terrorism hotspots, according to U.S. officials. – Washington Free Beacon
 
Former CIA Director David Petraeus said Wednesday that if the U.S. decides to nullify the 2015 deal between Iran and six major powers, the move would likely isolate the U.S. more than it does Tehran. – Fox News
 
ISIS
 
As Syrian fighters backed by the United States close in on Raqqa, some of the Islamic State’s leaders have fled their self-declared capital and are planning to carry on the fight from other sanctuaries in Syria and Iraq, an American defense official said on Wednesday. – New York Times
 
The Islamic State group’s elusive leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, is reportedly alive but flushed from his stronghold in the Iraqi city of Mosul, largely sidelined in the fight against the U.S.-backed forces battling to oust the terrorist organization from its Iraqi and Syrian strongholds. – Washington Times
 
The Trump administration has invited more than 60 nations and international organizations to Washington later this month for a strategy session on how to counter the Islamic State after a widely expected U.S.-backed military assault on the extremists’ home base. – Washington Post
 
The Trump administration is considering deploying as many as 1,000 American soldiers to Kuwait as a "reserve" force to support the U.S. offensive against ISIS in Syria and Iraq, according to a Reuters report on Wednesday. – The Hill
 
Syria
 
All roads lead to Raqqa—and as the Syrian conflict enters its sixth year, the outcome of the scramble for Islamic State’s de facto capital will shape the balance of power in the Middle East for the foreseeable future. – Wall Street Journal (subscription required)
 
The U.S. military is getting drawn into a deepening struggle for control over areas liberated from the Islamic State that risks prolonging American involvement in wars in Syria and Iraq long after the militants are defeated. – Washington Post
 
Marines from an amphibious task force have left their ships in the Middle East and deployed to Syria, establishing an outpost from which they can fire artillery guns in support of the fight to take back the city of Raqqa from the Islamic State, defense officials said. – Washington Post
 
Turkey has lost momentum in the war for northern Syria as the United States draws on Kurdish allies in the assault on Islamic State-held Raqqa, but Ankara is still pressing Washington for a deal that allays its fears of Kurdish ascendancy. - Reuters
 
The United Nations special envoy for Syria said Wednesday he intends to bring the government and opposition back to Geneva for a fifth round of talks on March 23 to pursue agreement on a transition to end the six-year war. – Associated Press
 
Air strikes killed 23 civilians, including eight children, on Thursday in countryside around the northern Syrian city of Raqqa, the Islamic State's base in Syria, a war monitoring group said. - Reuters
 
Christopher Kozak writes: Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s regime is neither sovereign nor a viable U.S. partner against ISIS and al-Qaeda. Russia and Iran have penetrated the Syrian Arab Army’s command-and-control authorities at all levels and propped up the force by providing the bulk of its offensive combat power. The pro-regime coalition cannot secure all of Syria and primarily serves as a vehicle for Moscow and Tehran’s regional power projection. Any U.S. strategy in Syria that relies on pro-regime forces will fail to destroy Salafi-Jihadists while empowering Iran and Russia. – American Enterprise Institute/Institute for the Study of War
 
Iraq
 
The Islamic State group has lost almost all access to Iraqi oil, though the terrorist organization has thousands of fighters protecting its remaining oil-rich territory in Syria, a U.S. defense official said Wednesday. – Stars and Stripes
 
As an outnumbered and out gunned Islamic State mount a fierce defense of their last stronghold in Iraq, snipers have been one of their most effective weapons. At times they can pin down advancing Iraqi forces for days. - Reuters
 
Andrew Exum writes: What decisions the Trump administration makes in Syria or elsewhere with respect to the Islamic State will be interesting and fraught with consequence. In Iraq, however, the Islamic State’s days are truly numbered. Although Islamic State terror attacks will continue, and although Islamic State redoubts remain spread out throughout the country, Mosul is the decisive battle, and when the Iraqi flag flies once again over all of Mosul’s neighborhoods, the Iraqis will have won a mighty victory. – Defense One
 
Arabian Peninsula
 
The State Department has approved a resumption of weapons sales that critics have linked to Saudi Arabia’s bombing of civilians in Yemen, a potential sign of reinvigorated U.S. support for the kingdom’s involvement in its neighbor’s ongoing civil war. – Washington Post
 
North Africa
 
Forces loyal to Libya’s UN-backed government have retaken control of two crucial oil facilities after several days of clashes that threatened to dent the Opec member’s crude exports. – Financial Times
 
Public spending in Morocco is being put at risk by the country's inability to form a government nearly five months after elections, opposition lawmakers said. - Reuters
 
Israel
 
A bill that would regulate the traditional use of loudspeakers for the Muslim call to prayer passed its first legislative hurdle in Israel’s Parliament on Wednesday, provoking frustration and anger among some Arab lawmakers. – New York Times
 
Grant Rumley writes: Without a diplomatic horizon in the West Bank or humanitarian improvements in Gaza, Fatah and Hamas have little to sell their people. Their more violent members may start to offer their own alternatives. – Foreign Affairs
 
Turkey
 
German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Thursday sharply criticized Turkey for comparing her government to the Nazis, the latest sign that a dayslong dispute was weighing on the relationship between Europe and a key ally. – Wall Street Journal (subscription required)
 
Turkey will extend a state of emergency when it expires in April, Prime Minister Binali Yildirim said Thursday, maintaining stringent measure imposed after a failed coup attempt in July of last year. – Wall Street Journal (subscription required)
 
Mercy Corps, a leading American charity that uses Turkey as a base to aid hundreds of thousands of civilians upended by the war in neighboring Syria, was forced to curtail its work on Wednesday after the Turkish government abruptly revoked its registration to operate. – New York Times
 
Using emergency powers in place since last July, Turkey has jailed 13 HDP lawmakers and more than 5,000 of the party’s workers over alleged terror links. In the Kurdish southeast, where the HDP enjoys an electoral majority, more than 80 locally elected district governments have been replaced by federally appointed caretakers, their former heads imprisoned….The crackdown has gutted what was once touted as a political bloc that could help end the PKK’s four-decades-long insurgency, which has claimed 40,000 lives. – Los Angeles Times

Asia

South Asia
 
Nobel Peace Prize-winner Malala Yousafzai has called for gender equality in her native Pakistan, urging women and girls there to struggle for their rights through education. – Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty
 
The death toll from an attack on a military hospital in Kabul by gunmen dressed as medics has risen to 49 with dozens wounded, a senior health official said on Thursday. - Reuters
 
Rep. Ted Poe (R-TX) and James Clad write: [S]omething must change in our dealings with a terrorist-supporting, irresponsible nuclear-weapons state, and it must change soon. Acquiescing in the current trends is not an option. – The National Interest
 
China
 
President Trump has won preliminary approval to register 27 new trademarks in China for industries including restaurants and advertising, business interests that could add to criticism over potential conflicts. – New York Times
 
China posted its first trade deficit in three years last month, driven by higher commodity prices, an unexpected drop in exports and the effect of the Lunar New Year holiday. – Wall Street Journal (subscription required)
 
The event, this fall, is expected to usher in a second five-year term as general secretary for Xi — China's most powerful leader in decades — along with a major infusion of new blood into the party's governing bodies. – Associated Press
 
China lashed out at the United States for its "terrible human rights problems" in a report on Thursday, adding to recent international criticism of Washington on issues ranging from violence inflicted on minorities to U.S. immigration policies. - Reuters
 
China's largest missile maker is developing military drones with stealth abilities that can evade anti-aircraft weapons, the official China Daily said on Thursday, in another advance for the country's ambitious military modernization program. - Reuters
 
North Korea
 
The United States rebuffed a proposal from China to “apply the brakes” to an escalating standoff with North Korea, saying “positive action” was required before either country would engage with “irresponsible” leader Kim Jong Un. – Washington Post
 
North Korea attempted to sell a form of lithium metal, a key material for developing miniaturized nuclear weapons, to unidentified international buyers last year, according to United Nations investigators tracking dictator Kim Jong Un’s weapons-of-mass-destruction programs. – Wall Street Journal (subscription required)
 
The Security Council unanimously condemned North Korea’s most recent provocation at an emergency meeting Wednesday but announced no new action in response to the launch of four missiles this week toward the Sea of Japan. – Wall Street Journal (subscription required)
 
A sophisticated missile defense system being delivered to South Korea may give President Trump a bargaining chip that no other U.S. president has had to pressure China to rein in North Korea’s ballistic missile and nuclear programs. – Washington Times
 
Josh Rogin reports: The Trump administration has no intention of taking up China on its proposal of a deal between the United States and North Korea. But behind the scenes, the White House is working to come up with an alternative approach that could be ready soon. – Washington Post
 
Bruce Klinger writes: Although the new administration is still conducting its North Korea policy review, it should have been able to swiftly enact an appropriate response to Pyongyang’s recent belligerence. In February, the Trump administration replied to an Iranian missile launch by imposing sanctions on twenty-five individuals and companies connected to Iran's ballistic missile. – The National Interest
 
Anthony Ruggiero writes: A new report alleges that North Korea is helping Iran continue development of a nuclear weapon in violation of the 2015 nuclear deal. If true, the allegations would mark a dangerous development in the two rogue states’ efforts to advance each other’s illicit nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles programs, and would represent a significant violation of the deal. – Foundation for Defense of Democracies
 
South Korea
 
The Constitutional Court of South Korea said Wednesday that it would rule on Friday whether to reinstate President Park Geun-hye or formally oust her from office on charges of corruption and abuse of power. – New York Times
 
Five executives at Samsung, including the conglomerate’s de facto leader, Lee Jae-yong, formally denied bribery charges against them on Thursday, in a preliminary hearing for a trial with the potential to shake South Korea. – New York Times
 
The political turmoil over the impeachment of the South Korean president raises troubling questions about Seoul’s direction when it comes to security relations with the United States, Japan, China and its northern neighbor. – USNI News
 
There is one constant in this equation but three major unknowns. The constant is the THAAD system itself, whose capabilities — almost six times the maximum range of current Patriot missile defenses and roughly five times the maximum altitude — will definitely improve the defenses of South Korea against missile attack. – Breaking Defense
 
South Korean firms have had a torrid time in China since Seoul dismissed Chinese objections and approved a new missile defense system, but for all the discriminatory tactics Korean firms say they are victims of, there is little Seoul can do to retaliate. - Reuters
 
East Asia
 
Richard Fontaine writes: What matters more is American strength added to that of its treaty allies and partner nations. In this measure, both strengthening security ties with Pacific nations and helping them resist coercion accrues to U.S. benefit. The Obama administration’s effort to rebalance U.S. foreign policy to the Asia-Pacific won a rare measure of bipartisan support. The new budgetary era offers the chance to give greater meaning to the rebalance by resourcing it at a level commensurate with its strategic importance. – Wall Street Journal (subscription required)
 
Michael Auslin writes: The time is ripe for the alliance between the United States and Japan to help create a new community of liberal nations in Asia and to forge a cooperative security architecture. Based on shared democratic values and concrete security interests, and working with a host of partners throughout the region (and even in Europe), the alliance has the potential to halt the continued deterioration of Asia’s security environment. – War on the Rocks
 
Ian Easton writes: Going forward, the Trump White House would do well to develop a new strategy for advancing U.S.-Taiwan relations. Making sure Taiwan has the strong self-defense capabilities it needs will help keep the globe's greatest powder keg from ever igniting. Ignoring the China problem would only make it worse. – Project 2049 Institute
 
Southeast Asia
 
Two Malaysian workers with the United Nations World Food Program were allowed to leave North Korea on Thursday, two days after the unpredictable Pyongyang government barred all Malaysians from leaving the country. – New York Times
 
Malaysia has warned that an investigation into the murder of the North Korean leader's half brother "may take longer than what we hope," as Pyongyang ally China said on Wednesday that no international action should be considered until it is finished. - Reuters
 
Myanmar looks set to escape an international investigation into alleged atrocities against its Rohingya minority, after the European Union decided not to seek one at the U.N. Human Rights Council, a draft resolution seen by Reuters showed on Wednesday. - Reuters
 
More than 20,000 people from Myanmar have flooded into border camps in neighboring China, seeking refuge from bitter fighting between ethnic groups and security forces in the country's north, China said on Thursday. - Reuters
 
Thailand's top religious council will consider the case of a renegade monk being hunted by police and steps that could go as far as disrobing him, a senior official said on Thursday. - Reuters
 
The Philippine defense minister on Thursday said he was "disturbed" by what he believes are survey missions by Chinese ships deep into its 200 nautical mile exclusive economic zone (EEZ) and in an area designated as its continental shelf. - Reuters
 
Joseph Bosco writes: What we do know is that over the past two years the United States made major concessions to China’s illegal claims. Those gratuitous concessions need to be rolled back by fresh new FONOPS under the Trump administration. – The Diplomat

Security

Defense
 
The U.S. House voted 371-48 to pass an overdue $578 billion defense spending bill for fiscal 2017 on Wednesday, but the measure faces an uncertain future in the Senate, where Democrats will be unwilling to advance it on its own. – Defense News
 
The Army’s deputy chief of staff for logistics said he is concerned about the service’s shrinking munitions stockpile. – Defense News
 
The US Air Force’s new B-21 bomber stealthily hit a milestone recently, wrapping up its preliminary design review. – Defense News
 
The Navy’s Littoral Combat Ship (LCS) fleet moved closer to missile-based operations with the recent successful test-firing of weapons of one of the LCS vessels. – Scout Warrior
 
The head of U.S. Strategic Command has asked the Navy to lay the groundwork for a future airborne command and control aircraft, one that could include a joint development with the Air Force. – Defense News
 
Trump's expansion plans come as evidence mounts that potential enemies have built new anti-ship weapons able to destroy much of the United States’ expensive fleet of carriers. And as they have been for decades, carriers remain vulnerable to submarines. - Reuters
 
Intelligence
 
The C.I.A. scrambled on Wednesday to assess and contain the damage from the release by WikiLeaks of thousands of documents that cataloged the agency’s cyberspying capabilities, temporarily halting work on some projects while the F.B.I. turned to finding who was responsible for the leak. – New York Times
 
[I]n their descriptions of elaborate exploits and sketches of specific employees, the documents also point to the CIA’s vulnerabilities. As much as it is organized to exploit the pervasive presence of digital technology abroad, the CIA’s own secrets are increasingly created, acquired or stored on computer files that can be copied in an instant. – Washington Post
 
Sen. John McCain is raising the alarm about WikiLeaks' release of CIA surveillance techniques and predicting "a real fundamental evaluation of everything we do" in U.S. intelligence. - Politico
 
The CIA on Wednesday pushed back against WikiLeaks's release regarding the agency's hacking programs, insisting it never acted unethically, unconstitutionally or illegally. – The Hill
 
Two former heads of the CIA are expressing suspicion at the timing of the WikiLeaks' "Vault 7" document dump that claims to offer a look into the agency's secret hacking program. – Washington Examiner
 
WikiLeaks published a trove of purported CIA files this week, renewing debate over government hacking and surveillance techniques. But many experts say the anti-secrecy group’s analysis of the data may have been intentionally misleading. – The Hill
 
Apple says it has already fixed many of the iPhone and iPad security flaws mentioned in the WikiLeaks dump of CIA hacking strategies and other files. – The Hill
 
Editorial: Procedures for vetting employees and contractors and providing them access to highly classified information must be studied again, and servers hardened against external penetration. One thing the agency must not do, though, is stop trying to develop a qualitative technological edge over U.S. adversaries, including the means to surveil them. – Washington Post
 
Video: FPI Fellow James Kirchick discussed the implications of Wikileaks’ alleged revelations on The Debate – France 24
 
The War
 
The Trump White House's effort to defend an inaccurate presidential tweet about Guantanamo prisoners appears to have compounded the error. - Politico
 
Nuclear Weapons
 
The U.S. military is relying on zero-hour modernization to maintain its aging nuclear arsenal as an effective deterrent against adversaries, according to two top U.S. generals. – Washington Free Beacon
 
Hours after top Pentagon officials traveled to the Hill to defend the need for a new nuclear-capable cruise missile, a group of nine Democratic Senators has introduced legislation to slow the development of the system, known as the Long Range Standoff Weapon, or LRSO. – Defense News
 
The number one priority of the nation’s nuclear modernization program is command and control of the strategic forces, the vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff told the House Armed Services Committee Wednesday. – USNI News
 
Bill Gertz reports: Drone aircraft recently carried out unauthorized intrusions over Air Force and Navy nuclear facilities, and the incidents pose a growing threat, the commander of the U.S. Strategic Command disclosed to Congress Wednesday – Washington Times
 
Cybersecurity
 
Researchers are reporting a bevy of security flaws in Confide, the encrypted chat app reportedly used by White House staffers — including flaws that are trivially easy to discover. – The Hill
 
The world needs an international treaty to protect people's privacy from unfettered cybersurveillance, which is being pushed by populist politicians preying on fear of terrorism, according to a U.N. report debated on Wednesday. - Reuters

Russia/Europe

Ukraine
 
Nasirov, who heads the politically important fiscal service, is the highest-ranking government official to face the real prospect of jail time over corruption charges — a symbolic victory for a system of government characterized by corruption and influenced by oligarchs. – Foreign Policy’s The Cable
 
Russia
 
Even as Russia insists that RT is just another global network like the BBC or France 24, albeit one offering “alternative views” to the Western-dominated news media, many Western countries regard RT as the slickly produced heart of a broad, often covert disinformation campaign designed to sow doubt about democratic institutions and destabilize the West. – New York Times
 
A senior American general told Congress on Wednesday that Russia has deployed a prohibited cruise missile, the first public confirmation by the United States that the Kremlin had fielded the weapon in violation of a landmark arms control agreement. – New York Times
 
The U.S. and Russia have discussed Moscow’s deployment of a nuclear-tipped cruise missile in violation of an arms treaty as part of a communications channel established under a separate arms treaty, but there’s no indication Russia plans to go back into compliance with the treaty, the U.S. military’s second-highest ranking officer said Wednesday. – The Hill
 
President Trump and his administration have a unique chance to convince Russian leader Vladimir Putin to give up power and return the country to the path of democratic political reform, a leading Russian opposition leader says. – Washington Free Beacon
 
Mikhail Khodorkovsky writes: The window for handling Mr. Putin is very narrow. Mr. Trump’s brashness has stopped at attacking Mr. Putin personally. That atypical restraint horrified many Russia hawks in the West. But it may turn out that Mr. Trump took a better approach. Whether accidentally or by design, he has left the door open for Mr. Putin to make a graceful exit. That would be good for everyone. – Wall Street Journal (subscription required)
 
Europe
 
Now, as Russia’s neighbors grow increasingly worried about Moscow’s ambitions in the region, Belarus has joined them: The country’s ever-more-tenuous relationship with Moscow has deteriorated to the point of a regional crisis. – Los Angeles Times
 
EU leaders are expected to hand former Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk a new 30-month mandate as European Council president despite a lack of support from his own country. – Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty
 
With Donald Trump’s election also expected to see the US step back from the region, EU leaders are struggling to show that the bloc can be a stabilising force in the continent’s most troubled corner. – Financial Times
 
NATO and the United States warned Wednesday they could scale back cooperation with Kosovo's security services if the government goes ahead with plans to transform its lightly-armed security force into an army without the required constitutional changes. – Associated Press
 
Audio: FPI Fellow James Kirchick discussed his new book, “The End of Europe,” with John J. Miller - Ricochet
 
FPI Board Member Eric Edelman and Whitney McNamara write: The United States has a number of options for countering and limiting Russian aggression but U.S. policymakers have grown accustomed to a Europe that has been largely free of the major security challenges that characterized the Cold War. Today, defending Europe demands greater attention from policy makers and more resources than it has since the Cold War ended. Unless the U.S. takes steps to reverse the unfavorable trends of the past few years, the result is likely to be a less stable and less prosperous Europe. – Breaking Defense
 
Aaron Korewa writes: NATO members like Norway and Denmark seem to have gotten the message that Trump thinks in transactional terms. They have committed troops to the “tripwire” NATO battalions in the Baltic states as well as special forces to Iraq and Syria. This is the right way to go; it shows the United States that they are dedicated to both the defense of Europe and the fight against terrorism….Regardless of what Nordic leaders may think of Trump’s statements and policies, the defense of Europe stands and falls with NATO. – Atlantic Council
 
United Kingdom
 
The British economy has outperformed expectations since last year’s vote to leave the European Union. In his annual budget presentation delivered Wednesday, the chancellor of the Exchequer, Philip Hammond, predicted the economy would continue to do so, giving him the flexibility to guard against the uncertainties that lie ahead as Britain leaves the European Union. – New York Times
 
Editorial: Mrs. May has announced Britain will make a clean break from the EU precisely to give the country an opportunity to go big on economic growth. Free from Brussels peer pressure, Britain should be slashing corporate- and personal-tax rates, overhauling entitlements to reduce their drain on the private economy, and finding some way to deregulate every industry. That’s what Brexit was for, and it’s also the only way to make it a success. – Wall Street Journal (subscription required)
 
Germany
 
The U.S. Army is scouting locations in Germany for potentially basing more soldiers in Europe, where a post-Cold War period of military downsizing is undergoing a reappraisal. – Stars and Stripes
 
The U.S. Consulate in Frankfurt was the hub for U.S. cyberespionage in Europe, the Middle East, and Africa, according to some of the thousands of purported Central Intelligence Agency documents released by WikiLeaks. – Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty
 
A 31-year-old Pakistani man went on trial Wednesday in Berlin on allegations he operated as a spy for Iran in Europe, collecting information on possible Israeli and Jewish targets for attack in Germany and France. – Associated Press

Americas

United States of America
 
Speaking at a cybersecurity conference in Boston, FBI director James Comey seemed to put to rest any speculation that he will be leaving his position. – Roll Call
 
Nearly two dozen senators on Wednesday slammed the White House for proposing major cuts to the Coast Guard's budget to help pay for President Donald Trump’s border wall and stepped-up immigration enforcement. - Politico
 
Sen. Ben Cardin (D-Md.) will oppose President Trump's ambassador to Israel during a vote this week. – The Hill
 
Trump-Russia Connections
 
As Republicans resist calls for a select committee or special prosecutor to oversee the matter, the Democrats’ best hope for acquiring answers most likely remains an investigation by the Senate Intelligence Committee, where Mr. Warner is vice chairman. – New York Times
 
More than half of those who responded to a new Quinnipiac poll released this week said Attorney General Jeff Sessions lied under oath during his Senate confirmation hearings when he said he “did not have communications with the Russians” and should resign because of it. - Politico
 
U.S. and Ukrainian authorities have expressed interest in the activities of a Kiev-based operative with suspected ties to Russian intelligence who consulted regularly with Paul Manafort last year while Manafort was running Donald Trump’s presidential campaign. - Politico
 
Donald Trump’s former campaign manager Corey Lewandowski approved foreign policy adviser Carter Page’s now-infamous trip to Moscow last summer on the condition that he would not be an official representative of the campaign, according to a former campaign adviser. - Politico
 
Editorial: We believe that Russian interference in the election is a matter of such grave public importance that appointing a special counsel would add to the Justice Department’s appearance of independence and integrity. But we respect Mr. Rosenstein for refusing to pre-commit. So should the Senate. – Washington Post
 
Trump Tower
 
White House officials declared on Wednesday that President Trump was not the target of an investigation, five days after Mr. Trump himself raised the prospect with an unsubstantiated claim that his predecessor ordered the wiretapping of Trump Tower. – New York Times
 
After President Donald Trump made unsubstantiated claims that former president Barack Obama wiretapped him, two senators asked the Justice Department if it has any proof to back up the extraordinary allegation. – Foreign Policy’s The Cable
 
In the long and storied history of congressional investigations, there’s no record of lawmakers acting at the president’s behest to get to the bottom of his own extraordinarily explosive but totally unsubstantiated allegations. But that is going to be the case in the already amply unprecedented era of President Donald Trump. The result could not only change the very nature of legislative branch oversight, but also alter the turbulent course of this nascent administration. – Roll Call
 
Marine Corps
 
The House Armed Services Committee will be briefed next week by the commandant of the Marine Corps on the nude photo scandal that's rocking the service. – The Hill
 
A top Marine on Wednesday defended the Marine Corps’s subdued response to a nude photo-sharing scandal, saying that a stronger statement could jeopardize potential future prosecutions. – The Hill
 
The Facebook page where Marines allegedly shared nude photos of women without their consent is just “the tip of the spear,” as cyber predators can safely operate on many websites, the Corps’ top enlisted adviser told lawmakers on Wednesday. – Military Times
 
United Nations
 
Faced with persistent allegations of sexual abuse by United Nations peacekeepers, the new head of the world body is proposing to stop paying countries that fail to investigate claims against their soldiers “in a timely manner,” and to put that money instead into a trust fund to assist survivors. – New York Times
 
The board of the International Atomic Energy Agency on Wednesday reappointed Yukiya Amano as director general for a third four-year term, leaving the United Nations agency in the hands of the former Japanese diplomat who played a key role in sealing the Iranian nuclear deal. – Wall Street Journal (subscription required)
 
[T]he U.N. Development Programme (UNDP) is now seeking to carve out a big role for itself in preventing terrorism from taking root, requesting $108 million over the next four years to fund what would be the U.N.’s largest global push to limit the spread of violent extremism, according to a confidential UNDP draft strategy paper obtained by Foreign Policy. – Foreign Policy
 
Latin America
 
Investigations into Brazil’s embattled construction giant Odebrecht SA are exposing a larger network of graft in Latin America than was already revealed in a massive anticorruption settlement, according to prosecutors in several countries. – Wall Street Journal (subscription required)
 
Years of easygoing patrols like the one on this recent afternoon in the steamy seaside district of Cite Soleil is a clear sign to many both in Haiti and around the world that it's time to wrap up a U.N. force that has been cycling through this Caribbean country since a 2004 rebellion engulfed Haiti in violence. – Associated Press

Africa

As the world adjusts to the Trump era, the message for Washington, D.C., and its allies is that Iran wields growing influence in unexpected places. The Islamic power has been able to expand its reach regardless of the economic sanctions that excluded it from much of the global oil market until last year. In this case, it's in Africa's most populous nation, key oil producer and a country where the sectarian battle that has thrown the Middle East into chaos is festering. - Bloomberg
 
Kenya's state sector doctors, who have been on strike for three months, said on Wednesday they would not resume work after a government order the day before, and would wait for the conclusion of court-supervised resolution of the dispute. - Reuters

Trump Administration

Former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman has been offered the job of U.S. ambassador to Russia and is in the process of submitting paperwork to accept the position, two administration sources have confirmed. - Politico
 
President Donald Trump's former national security adviser Michael Flynn wrote an op-ed on Election Day calling for the U.S. to kick out an anti-government Turkish cleric without disclosing he was being paid by a firm linked to the Turkish government, according to documents newly filed with the Justice Department. - Politico
 
Christian Caryl writes: We are not even two months into the new administration. Yet this newfound American tolerance for dictators, strongmen and human rights abusers is already having a notably destructive effect. Will the White House and the State Department ever come to their senses? – Washington Post

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The Foreign Policy Initiative seeks to promote an active U.S. foreign policy committed to robust support for democratic allies, human rights, a strong American military equipped to meet the challenges of the 21st century, and strengthening America’s global economic competitiveness.
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