A Retreat

In the aftermath of killing Qasim Soleimani, the Iranian government is trying to create the impression of subsequent American retreat from the Middle East.

Certainly Iran’s leaders already are working to create that impression. Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif, citing the angry reaction to the Soleimani killing within Iran and Iraq, tweeted Monday that the “end of malign US presence in West Asia has begun.”

Iran’s government isn’t the only one trying to manufacture the impression.  See Gerald Seib’s characterization of Soleimani in his piece at the link:

Iran’s top military leader, Maj Gen Qassem Soleimani

and

It’s a Start

TikTok is a People’s Republic of China company (for all its public moves to resite its headquarters outside the PRC) that’s a popular social-media app that’s used for posting short videos.

However.

TikTok collects information about its users, including data that could be used to track the location and movements of individuals….

As a result, tour military is banning the use of the app on government devices; the Coast Guard and Air Force have joined DoD, the Navy, the Army, and the Marines in the ban.

Engraved Invitations

…personally hand-delivered.

President Donald Trump has notified Congress of his intent to respond to any Iranian attack against Americans or American facilities:

Donald J. Trump
@realDonaldTrump
These Media Posts will serve as notification to the United States Congress that should Iran strike any U.S. person or target, the United States will quickly & fully strike back, & perhaps in a disproportionate manner. Such legal notice is not required, but is given nevertheless!
2:25 PM · Jan 5, 2020

Progressive-Democratic Party Presidential candidate and Mayor Pete Buttigieg is dismayed by this form of notification.

A Strike

President Donald Trump ordered the strike against Qassem Soleimani that led to the killing of Soleimani at the Baghdad Airport a couple days ago.  The Left, here expressed by members of those unified by their disdain for and resistance to Trump, has been objecting ever since.

[M]any Washington insiders and defense experts remain skeptical about whether those attacks were truly imminent.

Bar Them

It turns out the hacks into various cloud-based services and cloud providers by the People’s Republic of China was far more extensive in depth and breadth than heretofore reported.

They came in through cloud service providers, where companies thought their data was safely stored. Once they got in, they could freely and anonymously hop from client to client, and defied investigators’ attempts to kick them out for years.
Cybersecurity investigators first identified aspects of the hack, called Cloud Hopper by the security researchers who first uncovered it, in 2016….
A Wall Street Journal investigation has found that the attack was much bigger than previously known. It goes far beyond the 14 unnamed companies listed in the indictment, stretching across at least a dozen cloud providers, including CGI Group Inc, one of Canada’s largest cloud companies; Tieto Oyj, a major Finnish IT services company; and International Business Machines Corp.

Countering Interference

The Republic of China has passed a law aimed at blocking the People’s Republic of China’s efforts at interfering with the RoC’s elections, which will occur 11 Jan.

Passage gained urgency after RoC opposition parties—especially the KMT—nominated candidates who openly and enthusiastically support “reunification” with the PRC and after the PRC’s influence over RoC media companies became overt.  The PRC has been

providing campaign funds and even mobilized support on social media for candidates from the main opposition Nationalist Party (KMT)….

These elections, with President Tsai Ing-wen expected to be reelected despite PRC interference, make this an especially fragile time for the nation.

“New Strategic Weapon”

Baby Kim, MFWIC of northern Korea has told us all that he’ll soon unveil one of these. Timothy Martin, writing in Wednesday’s Wall Street Journal, speculated that it’ll likely be something along traditional lines.

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un said the world will witness a “new strategic weapon” from the isolated regime in the near future as he sees little reason to stick with his country’s suspension of testing long-range missile technology.
But Mr Kim left vague whether the new weapon would be a nuclear test or an intercontinental ballistic missile.

Time to Leave

Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has announced that if the US goes forward with sanctions over this NATO member’s purchase of advanced weapons systems from one of NATO’s (and the US’) staunchest enemies, he’ll close the bases we use there. He also implied such action in response to Congress’ belated official recognition of the genocide the then-Turkish government perpetrated on Armenians 100 years ago.

If necessary, we’ll close Incirlik and also Kurecik. If the threat of sanctions is implemented against us, we’ll respond to them in the framework of reciprocity.

Aside from air operations staging from these bases, we also have some nuclear bombs stored there.

“Peace” in Donbas

Russia and Ukraine say they have agreed a ceasefire, to be effective by year’s end, in eastern Ukraine, currently occupied by Russia (along with Crimea) and Russia-instigated and -backed “rebels.”  It’s an unsatisfactory ceasefire.

There is no agreement on a timetable for free elections in the occupied eastern oblasts, even assuming the dubious need at all for elections there separate from the regular national elections. Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskiy wants Russian troops out of those oblasts before the elections; Russia’s President Vladimir Putin insists merely that Ukraine should give those oblasts autonomy before the elections. Zelenskiy is right: elections have no possibility of being free with Russian troops occupying the region.  It’s an unsatisfactory ceasefire.

Surveillance

It turns out the People’s Republic of China government is a collection of pikers compared to Russia’s Vladimir Putin.

Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a pair of bills Monday, one of which will require all consumer electronic devices sold in the country to be pre-installed with Russian software, while the other will register individual journalists as foreign agents.

Government spyware pre-installed on Russian citizens’ devices, so Russia’s modern-day KGB successor can track where Russian citizens are, with whom they’re communicating, what they’re doing, down to the last detail.