Iran Continuing Overt and Covert Activities in Iraq

Author : Mircea Birca | Tuesday, April 7, 2020
Posted in category Eurasia, Middle Orient

Despite the COVID-19 pandemic that has consumed the attention of both Iran and the United States, as well as that of Iraq, Iran has continued to try to ensure that it maintains preponderant influence in Iraq. Iran views U.S. forces in Iraq as the spearhead of U.S. influence there, as well as a national security threat to Iran itself.

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Trump Suggests Intelligence Watchdog Was Fired For Sharing Whistle-Blower Complaint

Author : Mircea Birca | Tuesday, April 7, 2020
Posted in category Eurasia

U.S. President Donald Trump told reporters on April 4 that the inspector-general of the intelligence community he fired the previous day had taken “a fake report and took it to Congress with an emergency,” lending weight to accusations that the dismissal was retaliation connected to Trump’s congressional impeachment over pressure he put on Ukraine.

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IntelBrief: The Humanitarian Impact of the Coronavirus Pandemic

Author : Mircea Birca | Tuesday, April 7, 2020
Posted in category Eurasia, Middle Orient

Bottom Line Up Front

While news headlines on COVID-19 are focused largely on its spread in the developed world, the virus has reached many countries ravaged by conflict with large populations in need of humanitarian aid.
The lack of clean water, sanitary facilities, and space in many locations hosting displaced communities make precautions to avoid contamination nearly impossible to follow.
The spread of coronavirus to conflict-affected countries could bring down entire health systems, which are already operating far under normal capacity in terms of being able to care for vulnerable populations.
Against the backdrop of a global pandemic, states have also placed a hold on resettlement arrivals given their public health situation, which impacts their capacity to receive newly resettled refugees.
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IntelBrief: Oil Price War Clouds COVID-19 Response

Author : Mircea Birca | Tuesday, April 7, 2020
Posted in category Eurasia

Bottom Line Up Front

A Saudi effort to regain dominance over world oil production is weakening regional economic powers at a time of crisis over the COVID-19 pandemic.
The dramatic drop in oil prices might render the Persian Gulf countries less able to provide funds to poorer regional governments that depend on donations to combat the COVID-19 outbreak.
Saudi Arabia’s oil strategy is primarily directed against Russia, but will have considerable effects on U.S. oil producers.
U.S.-Saudi relations are strained over the fallout on the U.S. economy from Riyadh’s decision to vastly increase oil production. 
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IntelBrief: The Economic Impact of the Coronavirus (COVID-19)

Author : Mircea Birca | Tuesday, April 7, 2020
Posted in category Eurasia

Bottom Line Up Front

President Trump signed a $2 trillion stimulus package into law last week, designed to provide relief for an American economy that many experts suggest is heading for a recession—some even predict a depression.
Overall, the bill has been credited for being more transparent than previous economic stimulus packages, including the 2008 stimulus.
An ongoing struggle for the Trump administration is when, and how aggressively, to push to reopen the economy, even as coronavirus cases continue to rise across the country.
Even after the world eventually reaches its infection peak and the virus begins to ebb, the economic and health challenges will have a lag effect, meaning the implications of COVID-19 will last for years to come.
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Lebanese Armed Forces must act against Hezbollah to retain America’s military aid

Author : Mircea Birca | Tuesday, April 7, 2020
Posted in category Eurasia

As Lebanon struggles with an economic crisis and the new coronavirus pandemic, momentum is building in Washington to curtail or end U.S. assistance to the Lebanese Armed Forces. Such a move could diminish U.S. influence and empower Russia and Iran. But the LAF is not helping its advocates to make their case. The Lebanese military must address Hezbollah’s growing arsenal if the LAF is to retain U.S. support.

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League of the Revolutionaries threatens U.S. Embassy in Iraq

Author : Mircea Birca | Tuesday, April 7, 2020
Posted in category Eurasia, Middle Orient

A new video released by the League of the Revolutionaries (LoR), a likely Iranian-backed front group, warned of a future attack against the U.S. Embassy in Iraq.

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Palestinian militants praise Houthi’s offer for a prisoner exchange with Saudi Arabia

Author : Mircea Birca | Tuesday, April 7, 2020
Posted in category Eurasia, Middle Orient

Palestinian militant groups the Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) recently praised the Iranian-backed Houthis for their offer to exchange prisoners with Saudi Arabia.

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Kurdish Officials, Rights Groups Concerned Coronavirus Will Spread Among IS Prisoners in Syria

Author : Mircea Birca | Tuesday, April 7, 2020
Posted in category Eurasia, Middle Orient

As the novel coronavirus continues to spread around the world, Kurdish officials and rights groups are warning of a catastrophe if thousands of Islamic State (IS) militants held in northeast Syria become infected with the deadly virus.

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Generation Jihad: Ep. 3 – AQAP Names A New Emir

Author : Mircea Birca | Tuesday, April 7, 2020
Posted in category Eurasia

Hosts Bill Roggio and Tom Joscelyn profile Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula’s (AQAP) new emir, Khalid Batarfi. They explain how Batarfi came to his leadership position, what’s ahead for the group’s local and global operations, and what AQAP can teach us about Al Qaeda’s larger structure and the ambitions of jihadist insurgencies the world over.

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Attack on Turkish soldiers spotlights Ankara’s Idlib conundrum

Author : Mircea Birca | Tuesday, April 7, 2020
Posted in category Eurasia, Middle Orient, Turkey

On March 19, Turkey’s defense ministry announced the death of two Turkish soldiers at the hands of “radical elements” in northwest Syria’s Idlib. The men were killed in a de-escalation zone that Turkey and Russia first delineated in 2018 and reaffirmed with a ceasefire deal on March 5. Hurras al-Din, an al-Qaeda-affiliated jihadist group, may have been responsible, although the group hasn’t claimed responsibility for the attack. The killings highlight Ankara’s challenges, as the deal with Moscow forces the Turkish government to either coopt, confront, or reach some other accommodation with the al-Qaeda-affiliated jihadists living and operating in Idlib.

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Kurdish-led forces put down revolt by ISIS detainees at prison in Syria

Author : Mircea Birca | Tuesday, April 7, 2020
Posted in category Eurasia, Middle Orient

Kurdish-led forces on Monday put down a revolt at a prison in northeast Syria for former Islamic State fighters after militants complaining about their conditions seized control of parts of the facility.

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Hezbollah Holds onto Lebanon’s Cabinet in Message to its Allies

Author : Mircea Birca | Tuesday, April 7, 2020
Posted in category Eurasia, Middle Orient

Hezbollah Secretary General Hassan Nasrallah’s strong support has salvaged the government of Prime Minister Hassan Diab from a shakeup, politicians with close ties to the March 8 alliance told Asharq Al-Awsat.

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Security forces arrest Palestinians terrorist suspects

Author : Mircea Birca | Tuesday, April 7, 2020
Posted in category Eurasia, Middle Orient

Israeli security forces have arrested two Palestinians in the Ramallah area, including the father of a terrorist responsible for two deadly attacks against soldiers and civilians in 2018.

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Coronavirus Pandemic: Goldman Sachs on possible future changes

Author : Mircea Birca | Tuesday, April 7, 2020
Posted in category Eurasia

The coronavirus pandemic is influencing the entire human world. The pandemic’s impact and the changes it will bring are searched. After the crisis is over, there will be many changes. The longer the pandemic lasts, the more people may embrace new aspects of lifestyle.

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US extends sanctions waivers on nuclear cooperation with Iran

Author : Mircea Birca | Tuesday, April 7, 2020
Posted in category Eurasia

The United States has once again waived its sanctions on nuclear cooperation with Iran, allowing firms of the remaining signatories to a 2015 nuclear deal to continue working on Iranian nuclear facilities.

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EU launches Operation IRINI to enforce Libya arms embargo

Author : Mircea Birca | Tuesday, April 7, 2020
Posted in category Africa, Eurasia

The European Union is stepping up its efforts to enforce the UN arms embargo on Libya, thereby contributing to the peace process in the country, through the launch of a new CSDP (Common Security and Defence Policy) military operation in the Mediterranean.

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Space Force identifies USAF missions for transfer to newest service

Author : Mircea Birca | Tuesday, April 7, 2020
Posted in category Eurasia

In a significant step that enhances the U.S. Space Force’s capabilities and development, the Department of the Air Force has identified 23 U.S. Air Force organizations whose space-related missions will soon transfer to the Space Force.

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Putin Signs Law Enabling Cabinet to Declare State of Emergency

Author : Mircea Birca | Tuesday, April 7, 2020
Posted in category Eurasia

Last week, Putin addressed the nation to announce a set of measures aimed at curbing the spread of coronavirus. Currently, the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Europe has exceeded 300,000, while in Russia the total number of registered infections stands at 2,777, according to Johns Hopkins University.

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China May Have Operational Anti-Satellite Program – Reports

Author : Mircea Birca | Tuesday, April 7, 2020
Posted in category Eurasia

Recent reports on global space threats suggest that at least one of China’s direct-ascent anti-satellite (DA-ASAT) programs may be operational and is expected to soon field launchers.

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Classified White House Intel Briefing Claims China Underreported COVID-19 Lethality – Report

Author : Mircea Birca | Tuesday, April 7, 2020
Posted in category Eurasia

US and Chinese officials began hurling accusations at one another over the genesis of the new coronavirus last month, with Western media and some officials now accusing the People’s Republic of attempting to “cover up” the pandemic. China has rejected the suggestion, accusing the US and its allies of spouting “utter nonsense.”

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Trials of IS Fighters in Syria Suspended Indefinitely

Author : Mircea Birca | Tuesday, April 7, 2020
Posted in category Eurasia, Middle Orient

“It’s like we are holding a ticking bomb in our hands,” a guard in a prison in northeastern Syria told us in February. The facility holds roughly 5,000 accused Islamic State militants from all over the world.

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Germany’s Luftwaffe Looks to Replace Tornado Aircraft With Eurofighters, Super Hornets

Author : Mircea Birca | Wednesday, April 1, 2020
Posted in category Eurasia

The German air force has settled on replacements for its aging Panavia Tornado fleet, agreeing to buy Eurofighter Typhoons and Boeing F/A-18E/F Hornets in both Super Hornet and Growler configurations. However, the Hornets will need a new certification to wield the nuclear weapons the Tornados once carried.

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Iran to Increase Explosive Power of Its Missile Warheads – Defence Minister

Author : Mircea Birca | Tuesday, March 31, 2020
Posted in category Eurasia, Iran, Middle Orient

Earlier this month, following attacks on a base holding US troops in Iraq, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani warned that Iran will continue to respond to America’s assassination of Commander Qasem Soleimani on 3 January.

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North Macedonia Officially Joins NATO

Author : Mircea Birca | Tuesday, March 31, 2020
Posted in category Balkans, Eurasia

North Macedonia has officially become NATO’s 30th member, the military alliance says.

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Houthi leader proposes prisoner exchange of Hamas members detained in Saudi Arabia

Author : Mircea Birca | Tuesday, March 31, 2020
Posted in category Eurasia, Middle Orient

In a recent address marking the 5-year anniversary of the start of Yemen’s current civil war, the leader of the Houthi movement, Abdel Malik al Houthi, offered to exchange a captured Saudi pilot for Hamas members currently awaiting trial in Saudi Arabia.

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Kazakhstan says foils Islamic State bomb attack

Author : Mircea Birca | Tuesday, March 31, 2020
Posted in category Eurasia

Kazakhstan’s National Security Committee has detained a man suspected of planning a bomb attack in the capital, Nur-Sultan, on behalf of Islamic State, the security body said on Thursday.

The man had an improvised explosive device, it said in a statement without providing any other details. Hundreds of Kazakhs joined the radical Islamist group at the time when it controlled large parts of Syria and Iraq.

Tunisian handed ten years for ricin bomb plot in Germany

Author : Mircea Birca | Tuesday, March 31, 2020
Posted in category Africa, Eurasia

A German court sentenced a 31-year-old Tunisian to ten years in prison Thursday for planning a foiled biological bomb attack with the deadly poison ricin.

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‘Manifestation of the wrath of God’: Jihadists see coronavirus as call to duty

Author : Mircea Birca | Tuesday, March 31, 2020
Posted in category Eurasia, Middle Orient

Jihadists and other militant extremists are seeing a world health crisis as a window of opportunity.

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State designates Iran-backed League of the Righteous as Foreign Terrorist Organization

Author : Mircea Birca | Tuesday, March 31, 2020
Posted in category Eurasia, Iran, Middle Orient

The U.S. Department of State has added Asaib Ahl al Haq, an Iranian-backed Iraqi Shia terror group also known as “League of the Righteous,” to its list of Foreign Terrorist Organizations. Additionally, the group’s leader, Qais al Khazali, and his brother, Laith al Khazali, have been listed as Specially Designated Global Terrorists.

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Hezbollah derides release of former SLA member into U.S. custody

Author : Mircea Birca | Tuesday, March 31, 2020
Posted in category Eurasia, Middle Orient

In a recent speech, Hezbollah’s Secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah blamed U.S. pressure for the release of former South Lebanon Army (SLA) member and American citizen Amer Fakhoury.

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Far-right terrorism driven by austerity in UK, former head of MI5 says

Author : Mircea Birca | Tuesday, March 31, 2020
Posted in category Eurasia

The rise of far-right terrorism in Britain has been driven by years of austerity, the former head of MI5 has said.

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Hezbollah and Its Friends

Author : Mircea Birca | Tuesday, March 31, 2020
Posted in category Eurasia, Middle Orient

The most noteworthy aspect of Hezbollah’s general-secretary’s last speech was the shift from denial to affirmation.

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Now is the time to save Lebanon from Hezbollah

Author : Mircea Birca | Tuesday, March 31, 2020
Posted in category Eurasia, Middle Orient

Usually we hear about Lebanon when tensions escalate on the border. Lately, we neglect to observe that it is going bankrupt and on the fast track to being declared a failed state.

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Syrian Kurdish officials setting up court to try foreign IS fighters

Author : Mircea Birca | Tuesday, March 31, 2020
Posted in category Eurasia, Middle Orient

Amid ongoing operations to find and eliminate remnants of the Islamic State (IS), the Kurdish-led Autonomous Administration of North and East Syria plans to begin public trials for accused members of the extremist organization.

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