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SnapshotsJan 15, 2021 | 18:53 GMT
A Turkish-backed fighter guards the rebel-held province of Aleppo in northern Syria on Nov. 17, 2020.
Turkey Tests the Limits of the Cease-Fire in Northeastern Syria
Turkey’s gambit to undermine the U.S.-brokered 2019 cease-fire in northeastern Syria could strengthen its position on the battlefield, while increasing the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF)’s reliance on Russia and the Syrian government. For weeks, the Turkish-backed Syrian National Army (SNA) has been shelling the SDF-held strategic town of Ain Issa in northeastern Syria. Some nearby villages have fallen to Turkish-backed forces -- paving the way for a possible full offensive to take control of Ain Issa. The U.S.-backed SDF has called on Russia to set up observation posts west of Ain Issa to deter further Turkish-backed attacks, while the United States has stepped up diplomatic activity to negotiate a settlement between the SDF and Turkey to avoid further escalation in the area.
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SnapshotsJan 14, 2021 | 21:50 GMT
Targeting China’s third-largest oil company highlights the South China Sea’s importance to U.S. strategy, which is unlikely to change under Biden.
The U.S. Adds Chinese Oil Giant CNOOC to Its Export Blacklist
The U.S. Commerce Department added the Chinese National Offshore Oil Corporation (CNOOC) to its entity list on Jan. 14, effectively cutting off China’s third-largest oil company from U.S. exports. The move highlights the South China Sea’s importance to U.S. strategy, which will likely continue -- though not necessarily expand -- under U.S. President-elect Joe Biden. The Trump administration has significantly increased pressure on CNOOC in recent months, beginning in December when it added CNOOC to a separate U.S. Pentagon list of companies that are either owned by or controlled by the Chinese military, which will force certain U.S. investors to divest from CNOOC’s shares by mid-November. Just hours before the Commerce Department’s announcement, the S&P Dow Jones announced it was removing CNOOC from impacted indices to comply with a Jan. 13 presidential order banning U.S. investment into designated Chinese military-linked companies. As a result, major U.S. exchanges will likely delist
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SnapshotsJan 14, 2021 | 21:32 GMT
Israeli troops are pictured during a military drill in Golan Heights on Jan. 13, 2021.
Amid U.S. Political Uncertainty, Israel and Iran Go Head-to-Head
Israel will escalate pressure on Iran in the final days of the administration of U.S. President Donald Trump, increasing the risk of Iranian retaliation -- particularly in proxy theaters like Syria, Lebanon, Iraq and potentially Yemen. On Jan. 12, Israel conducted a widespread series of strikes against at least 15 Iranian-linked targets along the Iraqi-Syrian border, reportedly killing at least 23 people and injuring dozens more. A senior U.S. intelligence official said that Israel conducted the strikes based on intelligence provided by the United States. The strikes targeted facilities that stored Iranian weaponry, which the U.S. official claimed served as a pipeline for components of Iran’s nuclear program. The Iranian-linked, Afghan-dominated militia Fatemiyoun was also one of the targets. 
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SITUATION REPORTJan 14, 2021 | 16:59 GMT
China, U.S.: Washington Adds Major Chinese Energy Company CNOOC to Entities List
The U.S. Commerce Department's Bureau of Industry and Security has added the state-owned Chinese National Overseas Oil Corporation (CNOOC) to its entities list, citing the company's involvement in China's moves to enforce its sweeping territorial claims in the South China Sea by harassing Vietnam and other countries’ offshore energy exploration activities in the region, according to a Jan. 14 press release.
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AssessmentsJan 14, 2021 | 11:00 GMT
U.S. Naval Update Map: Jan. 14, 2021
The Naval Update Map shows the approximate current locations of U.S. Carrier Strike Groups (CSGs) and Amphibious Ready Groups (ARGs), based on available open-source information. No classified or operationally sensitive information is included in this weekly update. CSGs and ARGs are the keys to U.S. dominance over the world's oceans. A CSG is centered on an aircraft carrier and includes significant offensive strike capability. An ARG is centered on three amphibious warfare ships, with a Marine Expeditionary Unit embarked.
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SITUATION REPORTJan 12, 2021 | 19:45 GMT
Cuba: Country Designated as U.S. State Sponsor of Terrorism
The administration of U.S. President Donald Trump declared Cuba a state sponsor of terrorism, citing the country’s refusal to extradite 10 guerilla leaders of Colombia’s National Liberation Army (ELN), as well as an American who fled to Cuba after being convicted of killing a New Jersey State Trooper, Reuters reported Jan. 11.
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