Good morning. Here’s your Daily SITREP for Monday, 23 October 2023.
- READ TIME: 4 Minutes, 22 Seconds
- Inside the Beltway
- (1) Israel-Gaza War Expands to the State Department
- Domestic INTSUM
- (2) Trump Allies Take Plea Deals in Atlanta Indictments
- (3) Border Patrol: Hamas and Allies Could Come Over Border
- Global SITREP
- (4) OPEC Cuts Leading To Global Oil Production Shortage
- (5) IEA: Grids are Incapable of Supporting Renewable Energy Goals
- (6) Austin Concerned About Middle East Escalation
- (7) China Lays Groundwork for Escalation After Collisions
INSIDE THE BELTWAY
- (1) ISRAEL-GAZA WAR EXPANDS TO THE STATE DEPARTMENT: Secretary of State Antony Blinken held “listening sessions” with Muslim, Arab-American, and Jewish staffers amid rising internal tensions after Director of Congressional and Public Affairs Josh Paul resigned over U.S. support for Israel.
- Paul said Biden administration policies on the conflict were “not in the long-term American interest,” and he could not work in support of a “shortsighted, destructive, unjust policy.”
- Why It Matters: The political discord between pro-Israel and pro-Palestine positions has now hit the State Department, and there could be further resignations of pro-Palestinian officials and foreign service officers if the U.S. supports an Israeli offensive against Gaza. – R.C.
- (2) TRUMP ALLIES TAKE PLEA DEALS IN ATLANTA INDICTMENTS: Trump lawyer Kenneth Chesebro is the second Trump ally and third defendant in the Georgia RICO case to take a plea bargain and avoid a trial.
- Sidney Powell, a member of Trump’s 2020 legal team, also took a plea deal in the Georgia RICO case on Thursday, 19 October, and six months of probation under Georgia’s First Offender Act.
- Why It Matters: Chesebro and Powell are the only two Trump allies in the case who requested speedy trials rather than take time to build their defense, which likely put them under extreme pressure to take a plea deal for significantly lighter sentences than the RICO felonies. Depending on their testimony to prosecutors, this could give the Fulton County District Attorney enough evidence to convict former President Trump. The Georgia RICO case remains the most likely to see Trump imprisoned ahead of the 2024 election. – R.C.
- (3) BORDER PATROL: HAMAS AND ALLIES COULD COME OVER BORDER: According to an unclassified Customs and Border Protection (CBP) internal memo, the San Diego Field Intelligence Unit of the CBP said foreign fighters and mercenaries with ties to Hezbollah, Palestinian Islamic Jihad, or Hamas could cross the southwest border into the United States.
- Why It Matters: As we previously reported, the southern border remains a significant hole in the physical security of the United States, and Hamas and Hezbollah already have a significant presence in the United States. Threat actors can move across the border with about a 32% chance of not being caught, according to a study by researchers from Yale, and even if they are caught, they can make an asylum claim and be released with a court date. The unclassified memo outlines some factors for border patrol officers to look out for, including association with Israel or Palestinian territories, single travelers, and military-age-males. Still, they will likely blend in with the other single military-age-males from the region who have been crossing the southern border for more than a year. – R.C.
- (4) OPEC CUTS LEADING TO GLOBAL OIL PRODUCTION SHORTAGE: OPEC, the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries, is forecasting that the global oil supply shortfall will increase to more than 3 million barrels per day this quarter.
- Voluntary OPEC production cuts are removing 1.3 million barrels of oil supply every day through December.
- Why It Matters: If OPEC’s forecast is correct, this will be the biggest oil inventory drawdown since 2007, right before oil prices skyrocketed and the Global Financial Crisis began. The Biden administration recently announced a 6-million-barrel purchase for the drained Strategic Petroleum Reserve (SPR), but this is sufficient for just one-third of a day of U.S. oil consumption and won’t lower Americans’ gasoline prices. – H.B.
- (5) IEA: GRIDS ARE INCAPABLE OF SUPPORTING RENEWABLE ENERGY GOALS: The International Energy Agency (IEA) said that the world’s electricity grid capacity is not keeping pace with the growth of clean energy technologies, which is potentially derailing governments’ climate goals.
- “At least 3,000 gigawatts (GW) of renewable power projects, of which 1,500 GW are in advanced stages, are waiting in grid connection queues – equivalent to five times the amount of solar PV and wind capacity added in 2022,” the IEA’s report wrote.
- About 50 million miles of global electric grids must be added by 2040 – the “equivalent of the entire existing global grid” – according to the IEA’s report.
- Why It Matters: Western governments continue to push renewable energy despite the challenges and unintended consequences. American electricity operators are rightfully concerned that electric reliability could impact U.S. economic and national security. – H.B.
- (6) AUSTIN CONCERNED ABOUT MIDDLE EAST ESCALATION: Officials in Washington D.C. warned on Sunday that the conflict between Israel and Hamas was escalating into a wider regional war.
- U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin said on Sunday, “We’re concerned about potential escalation. In fact, what we’re seeing … is the prospect of a significant escalation of attacks on our troops and our people throughout the region.”
- On Saturday, the Pentagon said it will send Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) systems and additional Patriot air defense missile systems to the region.
- Why It Matters: Iran designed and directed the Hamas attack on Israel to pull the U.S. into a wider regional Middle East war. Iran’s likely goal is to undermine nascent Arab-Israeli peace initiatives and take advantage of a weakened U.S. security posture to propel Tehran to a dominant power position in the region. The second- and third-order effects of the conflict could swing the war in Ukraine in favor of Russia and facilitate China’s objective of reunifying Taiwan under Beijing’s control – all will negatively affect oil and technology supply chains to the U.S. – M.M.
- (7) CHINA LAYS GROUNDWORK FOR ESCALATION AFTER COLLISIONS: Yesterday, the Philippines’ resupply ship headed to their outpost on the Second Thomas Shoal backed into a Chinese Maritime militia vessel and was hit by a Chinese Coast Guard vessel.
- Both sides are blaming each other for the collisions.
- China frames this as an escalatory move by the Philippines.
- Why It Matters: China’s framing means they will likely increase their presence around the Spratly Islands and the Philippines’ Exclusive Economic Zone. As of 03 May 2023, the U.S. and Philippines updated their mutual defense treaty to include any attacks in the South China Sea, including by the Coast Guard and “irregular warfare.” The more often these instances happen and the more violent they become, China risks initiating a war in its backyard that neither side is prepared for. – J.V.
— END REPORT
M.S. indicates analyst commentary from Mike Shelby
M.M. indicates analyst commentary from Max Morton
J.V. indicates analyst commentary from Jared Vaughn
R.C. indicates analyst commentary from Robert Cook
H.B. indicates analyst commentary from Harrison Burge
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