October 6, 2021 | FDD Tracker: August 28 – October 6, 2021

Biden Administration Foreign Policy Tracker: September

October 6, 2021 | FDD Tracker: August 28 – October 6, 2021

Biden Administration Foreign Policy Tracker: September

Trend Overview

Edited by David Adesnik

Welcome back to the Biden Administration Foreign Policy Tracker. Once a month, we ask FDD’s experts and scholars to assess the administration’s foreign policy. They provide trendlines of very positive, positive, neutral, negative, or very negative for the areas they watch. While Americans observed the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 terror attacks, the Taliban gave key ministerial posts to U.S.- and UN-designated terrorists, including close allies of al-Qaeda. Iran’s ultra-hardline president also unveiled his Cabinet, which includes terrorists wanted by Interpol as well as a dozen individuals under U.S., UN, or European sanctions. While it seemed that U.S. relations with Europe were destined to improve under President Joe Biden, Paris recalled its ambassador to the United States for the first time in the history of the alliance, outraged by Washington’s disruption of a $66 billion French arms deal with Australia. In contrast, the regime of Bashar al-Assad also made major strides toward diplomatic rehabilitation after Washington signaled its readiness to waive sanctions that would otherwise prevent Syrian participation in regional energy markets. Meanwhile, Beijing employed hostage diplomacy to secure the release of Meng Wanzhou, a top Huawei executive detained in Canada. Washington dropped plans to extradite Meng in exchange for the release of two Canadians held on false charges in China. As a candidate, Biden pledged that he would “rally the free world” and “champion liberty and democracy.” It is proving far more difficult than expected.

Arms Control and Nonproliferation

By Anthony Ruggiero and Andrea Stricker

Previous Trend: Negative

Negotiations to return to the 2015 Iran nuclear deal remain stalled two months after Tehran’s new president, Ebrahim Raisi, assumed office. Raisi’s speech at the UN General Assembly struck a hostile tone toward U.S. policy, raising doubts about Iran’s interest in restraining its nuclear program even temporarily. In mid-September, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Board of Governors discussed Iran’s non-compliance with its nonproliferation safeguards obligations, which are separate from the 2015 nuclear deal. However, the United States and its main European allies did not pursue a board resolution condemning Tehran for its nuclear advances, reductions in IAEA monitoring, and failure to cooperate with an ongoing IAEA safeguards probe.

The United States and United Kingdom announced a deal to provide nuclear submarine technology to Australia. The move will enhance the countries’ Indo-Pacific defense posture against China. The submarines will reportedly use highly enriched uranium (HEU), and the United States has historically led efforts to minimize the spread of HEU. Any lingering nonproliferation concerns are outweighed by Canberra’s strong nonproliferation track record. Elsewhere in the region, North and South Korea both conducted ballistic missile tests following Pyongyang’s test of a long-range cruise missile. Satellite images show that North Korea may be expanding its uranium enrichment plant at Yongbyon, potentially as part of Pyongyang’s planned effort to produce additional nuclear material and modernize and grow its nuclear force.


By Craig Singleton

Previous Trend: Negative

Crises abound for Chinese leader Xi Jinping as he confronts the most fraught moment of his political career, one compounded by his reliance on nationalist rhetoric to justify Beijing’s increasingly hostile policies. While Xi hailed Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou’s return to China as a victory, China’s and Huawei’s global images have suffered considerable damage as a result of Beijing’s heavy-handed approach. Beijing’s reliance on hostage diplomacy to secure Meng’s release was also met with skepticism from Chinese nationalists on Chinese social media — that is, before censors removed posts critical of Xi. The potential $300 billion default by Chinese construction conglomerate Evergrande has also raised questions about Xi’s stewardship of the economy. Potential social unrest following Evergrande’s probable collapse could further undermine the Chinese Communist Party’s legitimacy, and with it Xi’s political future.

Still absent, though, is a coherent China policy from the Biden administration, which often appears at odds with itself about how to counter China’s malign behavior. Case in point: Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo’s vision for improved business ties with China. The plan stands in stark contrast to President Biden’s stated concerns about Beijing’s human rights violations, intellectual property theft, and reliance on illegal subsidies to prop up Chins’s slowing economy. On these and other issues, the Biden administration cannot have it both ways. Facing pressure from all sides, Xi will seek to exploit the White House’s policy void, even at the risk of serious flare-ups with Washington over Taiwan.


By RADM (Ret.) Mark Montgomery and Annie Fixler

Previous Trend: Neutral

In September, the Biden administration continued its efforts to combat ransomware and strengthen information sharing between the government and private sector. Treasury issued the first-ever sanctions against a cryptocurrency exchange, targeting Russia-based SUEX for knowingly facilitating transactions for ransomware groups and other cybercriminals. Along with the sanctions, Treasury issued guidance once again urging companies not to pay ransoms, but with a novel incentive: Treasury is unlikely to take punitive action against a company that runs afoul of U.S. laws prohibiting paying ransoms to designated cybercriminal gangs — if the company reports the incident to law enforcement. President Biden also announced the administration will host a 30-nation virtual summit on cybercrime.

The sustained focus on ransomware comes against the backdrop of continued attacks. In June, following the summit between Biden and Russian President Vladimir Putin, National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan said the administration would evaluate Russia’s cooperation on combating ransomware “over the next six to 12 months.” After three months, National Cyber Director Chris Inglis and FBI Deputy Director Paul Abbate have both said that Russia is not cooperating.

Meanwhile, as Congress is debating cyber provisions in the annual National Defense Authorization Act, senior administration officials have testified in support of mandatory breach reporting, recognizing that today’s lack of information is impeding U.S. policymaking.


By Bradley Bowman

Previous Trend: Very Negative

In an attempt to defend the catastrophic U.S. military withdrawal from Afghanistan, President Biden told ABC that his top military advisors never counseled him to keep thousands of troops in the country. Biden’s assertion contradicted previous reporting that Pentagon leaders recommended keeping troops in Afghanistan. In congressional testimony last month, the commander of U.S. Central Command, General Kenneth McKenzie, said he “recommended that we maintain 2,500 troops in Afghanistan.” General Mark Milley, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said he believed throughout the process “that we should keep a steady state of 2,500” troops that could increase to approximately 3,500. While both military leaders refused to reveal their private discussions with Biden, it is safe to assume these opinions informed their advice to the president. To be sure, the commander in chief may disregard the advice of military leaders, but the president should not publicly mischaracterize what they tell him to cover for a bad decision. Alternately, if Biden forgot what his advisers told him, that would be equally problematic.

Also in September, the House of Representatives passed its version of the annual defense authorization bill on a bipartisan vote of 316-113. Following the Senate Armed Services Committee’s lead earlier this year, the House wisely voted to add approximately $24 billion to the Biden administration’s anemic defense budget proposal, which would not even have kept pace with projected inflation. That increase in funding is essential in light of growing threats to the United States, particularly from China.


By John Hardie

Previous Trend: Negative

Australia, the United Kingdom, and the United States last month unveiled a new partnership to counter China. Dubbed “AUKUS,” it aims to help Australia develop nuclear-powered submarines and to enhance broader trilateral security and technology cooperation, while strengthening UK engagement in the Indo-Pacific.

Although AUKUS is strategically sound, the three participants antagonized France while launching it. Some French pique was probably inevitable, as AUKUS caused Paris to lose a lucrative deal to supply Australia with diesel-powered submarines. But Washington and Canberra added insult to injury by deliberately keeping Paris in the dark while negotiating AUKUS. Furious, Paris recalled its ambassadors from Washington and Canberra for the first time ever, although the former returned after President Biden made a conciliatory call to French President Emmanuel Macron.

This controversy also overshadowed the European Union’s new Indo-Pacific strategy, unveiled mere hours after AUKUS. Meanwhile, Paris has intensified its push for EU “strategic autonomy.” France, the EU member most engaged in the Indo-Pacific, signaled its desire for a “Third Way” in the region and pressured Brussels into delaying EU-Australia free-trade talks. Paris reportedly has obstructed NATO modernization and watered down the joint statement for the inaugural meeting of the EU-U.S. Trade and Technology Council, an initiative aimed largely at countering China.

Following his call with Macron, Biden said he “recognizes the importance of a stronger and more capable European defense, that … is complementary to NATO.” While Washington has long urged European allies to boost defense spending, it has traditionally emphasized doing so within NATO.


By Hussain Abdul-Hussain

Previous Trend: Neutral

National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan visited Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, becoming the highest-ranking U.S. official to do so since President Biden took office in January. Local media reported scantily on the visit, aware that more senior officials, including Secretary of State Antony Blinken, have already visited Kuwait and Doha but have yet to find their way to Riyadh and Abu Dhabi.

Sullivan’s visit also came just days after Democrats in the House passed a measure that would require Washington to end maintenance services and intelligence to the Saudi air force, in a bid to stop its strikes against the pro-Iran Houthi militia in Yemen. In 2019, Democrats managed to win bipartisan support for a similar measure, which passed in both houses but was later vetoed by President Donald Trump. Sullivan expressed support for similar measures before Biden was elected. When he met with Saudi Crown Prince Muhammed bin Salman, Sullivan likely addressed whether Biden will sign such a law if it reaches his desk.

America’s Gulf allies, including Saudi Arabia, have repeatedly complained that despite its public statements to the contrary, Washington has yet to debrief them on the Vienna nuclear negotiations with Iran. Gulf officials have previously claimed that when the Obama team negotiated with Tehran, it never consulted with them, but only presented them with what had been agreed upon as a done deal they were expected to support.


By Craig Singleton

Previous Trend: Negative

Speaking at the United Nations, President Biden pledged to rebuild America’s alliances, yet the fallout from a controversial military deal overshadowed his promise. In September, Australia, the United Kingdom, and the United States (or AUKUS) announced plans to build nuclear-propelled submarines, even though Canberra had already signed a $66 billion submarine deal with France. The AUKUS countries deliberately kept Paris in the dark, spurring outrage and a decision to recall the French ambassadors from Washington and Canberra. The fumbled AUKUS rollout also alienated EU officials, who are debating whether the bloc should establish strategic autonomy from Washington on Indo-Pacific matters.

The AUKUS debacle serves as a sobering reality check about the difficulties inherent in revitalizing U.S. alliances to meet this century’s defining challenge, China. The AUKUS controversy also sent shockwaves throughout the region, where countries fear it could spark an armed conflict with China. Already, the Indo-Pacific is splitting into pro- and anti-AUKUS camps. Indonesia and Malaysia openly criticized the deal, portraying it as a destabilizing development. Meanwhile, Singapore and Vietnam, two countries with rising concerns about Chinese expansionism, appeared to quietly welcome it. As expected, China reacted angrily, claiming that AUKUS will stoke an arms race.

Beijing was equally dismissive after “Quad” (India, Japan, Australia, and the United States) leaders met at the White House. While the meeting produced little beyond planned cooperation on vaccine diplomacy and climate change, by any measure it appears that battle lines are being drawn. Still missing is an actual U.S. strategy for the Indo-Pacific.

International Organizations

By Richard Goldberg

Previous Trend: Very Negative

Two words were noticeably absent from President Biden’s address to the UN General Assembly: China and Russia. While noting challenges posed by Iran, North Korea, COVID-19, and climate change, Biden did not mention the two countries leading efforts to upend the rules-based international system.

Biden claimed his administration has “reengaged at the World Health Organization,” but his administration failed to nominate a candidate for the WHO’s top post — thereby ensuring the re-election of the incumbent director-general, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, who parroted Chinese talking points during the early days of the pandemic and facilitated Beijing’s efforts to obstruct any serious investigation of COVID-19’s origins. The development is a victory for Beijing’s ongoing campaign to co-opt international organizations.

Earlier in the month, Iran scored its own victory over the Biden administration when the State Department opted against introducing a resolution at the quarterly IAEA board meeting to censure Iran for concealing undeclared nuclear activities from international inspectors. The failure to hold Iran accountable for non-compliance with its most fundamental long-term nuclear obligations (its Comprehensive Safeguards Agreement and the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty) may irreparably harm the integrity of the multilateral nonproliferation framework and lead other states to disregard their treaty obligations.

Finally, the Biden administration refused to rule out recognition of a Taliban-designated ambassador to the United Nations — something the UN credentialing committee never did from 1996 to 2001, when the Taliban last ruled Afghanistan — even though the Taliban remain subject to UN sanctions and the United Nations’ own reports confirm an ongoing Taliban-al-Qaeda relationship.


By Behnam Ben Taleblu and Richard Goldberg

Previous Trend: Very Negative

In his address to the UN General Assembly, President Biden broadcast no messages of deterrence to Iran despite the regime’s continued enrichment of uranium to 60 percent purity, concealment of undeclared nuclear activities, employment of advanced centrifuges, attacks against U.S. forces and U.S. allies, and appointment of sanctioned and Interpol-wanted individuals to Iran’s Cabinet. While the administration continues to seek the restoration of the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, the administration also claims — without setting any political deadline or material red line — that the window for diplomacy is closing. Biden’s remarks contrast sharply with Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi’s verbal assault on America, reinforcing the sense that Washington is negotiating from a position of weakness — made even worse by statements from the Iranian foreign minister suggesting sanctions relief as a precondition for talks.

Meanwhile, the administration declined to pursue a resolution censuring Tehran at the IAEA Board of Governors meeting — the result of which was Iran again impeding the IAEA’s access to its own monitoring equipment.

Finally, the administration designated four Iranian Ministry of Intelligence and Security officials already indicted by the Justice Department for attempting to kidnap a U.S. citizen and journalist from New York. But the designations were released on a Friday before a holiday weekend and were not announced by a Cabinet official. The administration was also silent on the one-year anniversary of the regime’s murder of champion wrestler Navid Afkari, as well as on the more recent suspicious death of his cellmate, who alleged Afkari was tortured.


By David May

Previous Trend: Neutral

The Biden administration reportedly pressured the Palestinians in private to halt their campaign to have Israel tried at the International Criminal Court. According to an Israeli media report, President Biden also signed a letter reaffirming the U.S. commitment not to pressure Israel to join the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, in exchange for Israel’s reaffirmation that it would not declare, test, or threaten to use its alleged nuclear weapons.

In early September, U.S. Central Command officially assumed responsibility for the U.S. military relationship with Israel, a sign of Israel’s increased normalization in the Arab world. On September 15, the United States, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Israel, and Morocco celebrated the one-year anniversary of the Abraham Accords. Despite speculation that the Biden administration would not promote the milestone, Secretary of State Antony Blinken attended an event alongside representatives of the five countries. For the first time, Blinken referred to the normalization deal as the Abraham Accords.

During his UN General Assembly speech, Biden declared support for Israel’s security and expressed doubt that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict can be resolved in the near future. Meanwhile, the United States was one of the first countries to announce that it would boycott the fourth Durban conference, which was held on the sidelines of the General Assembly. The first Durban conference, held 20 years ago in the South African city of that name, helped legitimize calls to destroy Israel by rebranding them as a form of anti-racism.


By David Maxwell

Previous Trend: Neutral

The Biden administration’s diplomacy toward Pyongyang remains stalemated because North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un continues to refuse ROK and U.S. offers to meet anywhere, anytime, and without preconditions to conduct denuclearization talks. On September 15, North Korea conducted its fourth and fifth missile tests of 2021; within hours, South Korea tested a submarine-launched ballistic missile (SLBM) of its own. A sixth North Korean missile test, which Pyongyang claims was a hypersonic missile, was conducted on September 29.

Kim continues to employ blackmail diplomacy, as indicated by the rhetoric and mixed messages from Pyongyang’s Propaganda and Agitation Department and especially from Kim Yo Jong, the dictator’s sister. North Korea’s UN ambassador blamed the United States for instability on the peninsula during his speech at the General Assembly. Pyongyang’s rhetoric and missile tests are not surprising and are in accordance with the regime’s playbook. They are intended to drive a wedge in the ROK-U.S. alliance.

Meanwhile, the alliance pledged to strengthen its defenses. The ROK Navy launched its third 3,000-ton submarine capable of launching an SLBM that is nearly ready for operational deployment. ROK President Moon Jae-in continues to press for an end-of-war declaration and humanitarian assistance in an attempt to jump-start North-South engagement and denuclearization talks. The United States is willing to discuss an end-of-war declaration but is unlikely to give Kim what he demands — sanctions relief — because the Biden administration’s policy remains the full implementation of all relevant UN Security Council Resolutions.

Latin America

By Carrie Filipetti and Emanuele Ottolenghi

Previous Trend: Negative

The Biden administration’s continued mismanagement of crises in the region overshadowed the Senate confirmation of Latin America expert Brian Nichols as assistant secretary of state for Western Hemisphere affairs. In addition to the second consecutive month of more than 200,000 illegal immigrant encounters on the southern border, the refugee crisis escalated in recent weeks with the arrival of over 14,000 Haitian migrants. The recent resignation of career Foreign Service Officer and Special Envoy for Haiti Daniel Foote is the clearest sign of disarray. The administration’s relations with Mexico also continue to spiral downward: During a propaganda tour with Cuban dictator Miguel Diaz-Canel, Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador publicly condemned the Biden administration for what he called its “vile” and “perverse” attacks on the Cuban people.

Elsewhere, the Biden administration continues its punitive approach to regional leaders who built strong personal relations with Biden’s predecessor. The administration’s tough criticism of these leaders would be more credible if the administration dealt similarly with worse offenders, such as Cuba, Nicaragua, and Venezuela. China is the biggest winner as it exploits U.S. leadership gaps in Latin America.

In positive news, the Spanish government detained Hugo “Pollo” Carvajal, the former head of Venezuela’s military intelligence unit, whose extradition to the United States has already been approved. This, along with a decision by Cape Verde’s highest court to extradite money launderer Alex Saab, is a good sign, though it remains to be seen whether either man will ever make it to the United States.


By Tony Badran

Previous Trend: Very Negative

The Biden administration continues to push out the door any funds it can creatively allocate to the Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF). On September 7, the White House announced it was using presidential drawdown authority to send $47 million to the LAF. The funds are intended to subsidize the salaries and benefits of active-duty and retired personnel as well as their families.

Even as the administration professes that the LAF cannot afford to pay for fuel or maintenance, the administration approved a visit by the USNS Choctaw County, an expeditionary fast transport ship, to a Lebanese naval base — a first. The visit aimed “to build the LAF Navy’s capacity to maintain regional security and stability.” Apparently, what the LAF, which answers to a government run by Hezbollah, was lacking in order to “maintain regional security” was better “naval capacity” — and U.S.-subsidized salaries and benefits.

The administration also renewed the mandate for the UN Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL). Even though the LAF continues to block UNIFIL’s access to Hezbollah sites, the United States turned the renewed mandate into a fundraising call for the LAF. The administration followed up with a statement welcoming and pledging support for the new Hezbollah-run Lebanese government. The statement never mentioned Hezbollah. Although the Treasury Department imposed sanctions in mid-September on Gulf-based Hezbollah financial networks, those designations were overshadowed and undercut by the administration’s acquiescence to Iranian fuel shipments to Lebanon and by its plan to waive sanctions on the Assad regime.


By John Hardie

Previous Trend: Positive

On September 6, the administration outlined its goals for U.S.-Russia arms control: “capture new kinds of intercontinental-range nuclear delivery systems”; “address all nuclear warheads, including … non-strategic nuclear weapons”; and “retain limits” on Russia’s nuclear triad “after New START expires in 2026.” Moscow, however, wants to address “all factors affecting strategic stability,” including U.S. missile defense and non-nuclear offensive capabilities. Moscow also rejects Washington’s position on non-strategic nuclear weapons and prefers to focus on addressing delivery systems rather than warheads.

The two sides held the latest round of strategic stability talks on September 30. They agreed to establish working groups on “Principles and Objectives for Future Arms Control” and “Capabilities and Actions with Strategic Effects.” The latter’s broad mandate could accommodate Moscow’s more comprehensive agenda. However, Russian delegation head Sergei Ryabkov said Washington still opposes Moscow’s proposal for a moratorium on deployment of missiles covered by the now-defunct INF Treaty. Moscow, whose violations led to the treaty’s collapse, likely hopes to constrain America while preserving Russia’s freedom of action.

In other news, the administration approached Moscow about using military bases — including Russian ones — in Central Asia for U.S. counterterrorism operations in Afghanistan. In June, President Putin reportedly told President Biden he opposes any U.S. military role in Central Asia. Instead, Putin reportedly suggested putting Russian bases to “practical use.” U.S. officials apparently interpreted this to mean hosting American forces, although reporting by Kommersant suggests Putin simply meant Russia could share intelligence. General Mark Milley raised the issue last month with his Russian counterpart, who reportedly was noncommittal. Ryabkov, however, later indicated the administration misunderstood Putin’s comments.

Sunni Jihadism

By Bill Roggio

Previous Trend: Very Negative

In Senate testimony, General Mark Milley, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, described the outcome of the withdrawal from Afghanistan as a “strategic failure.” Early in September, the Taliban established their new government, and it is anything but moderate. Most of the leaders who hold top ministerial posts served in the previous Taliban regime from 1996 to 2001. Sirajuddin Haqqani, a Specially Designated Global Terrorist whom the United Nations has identified as an al-Qaeda leader, now serves as interior minister. The government also includes five former Guantanamo Bay detainees and several leaders with close links to Iran. None of the members of the government come from outside of the Taliban’s organization. The Taliban also disbanded the Ministry of Women and repurposed its building for the new Ministry of the Propagation of Virtue and Prevention of Vice, which harshly enforces the Taliban’s version of Islamic law.

Meanwhile, the U.S. military admitted that a drone strike targeting an Islamic State operative in Kabul in fact killed 10 civilians instead, including seven children. General Kenneth McKenzie, the head of U.S. Central Command, previously described the strike as “righteous.” Another U.S. drone strike killed a senior al-Qaeda leader in Idlib, Syria. France also killed the leader of the Islamic State in the Greater Sahara via drone. On the terror finance front, the U.S. government sanctioned key al-Qaeda facilitators in Turkey, the seventh time it has done so since 2019 — a reflection of the permissive environment created by Turkish strongman Recep Tayyip Erdogan.


By David Adesnik

Previous Trend: Neutral

The regime of Bashar al-Assad began making rapid strides toward diplomatic rehabilitation after the U.S. government announced its support for Lebanese imports of natural gas and electrical power through Syria, which would violate U.S. sanctions unless President Biden grants a waiver. Two years ago, with overwhelming bipartisan support, Congress passed the Caesar Act to increase economic pressure on Assad, in particular by mandating sanctions on foreign (that is, non-American) companies that do business with the Damascus regime.

Following the American announcement, the Syrian, Lebanese, Jordanian, and Egyptian energy ministers gathered in Amman to discuss the prospective gas and power deal. Assad’s foreign and defense ministers also met senior Jordanian officials in September. Then, on October 3, Assad himself placed a call to Jordan’s King Abdullah, marking their first public interaction in over a decade.

While it has professed support for the Caesar Act, the Biden administration’s enforcement efforts have been tepid. Ahead of the 2020 elections, future Secretary of State Antony Blinken pledged to support the Syrian people and said it would be “virtually impossible” for him to imagine normalizing relations with the Assad regime. The administration is now invoking Lebanon’s humanitarian needs to justify cooperation with Assad. Instead, the administration should find a way to help that does not break faith with Assad’s victims. Congress should likewise insist that the administration honor the letter and spirit of the Caesar Act. Biden has not yet issued a waiver, so there is still a chance to turn back before making a historic mistake.


By Aykan Erdemir

Previous Trend: Negative

In September, the Biden administration maintained radio silence about Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s transgressions, continuing the appeasement policy it adopted in June following an ill-advised decision to outsource security at the Kabul airport to Ankara. After Secretary of State Antony Blinken and National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan held meetings with their Turkish counterparts, the administration’s readouts contained only praise for the Erdogan government. Blinken, who during his confirmation hearing had referred to Turkey as a “so-called strategic partner of ours,” pulled a volte-face by describing Ankara as an “important NATO Ally and an invaluable partner.” When Erdogan slammed President Biden personally and accused the United States of “supporting terrorist organizations,” Biden administration officials looked the other way.

Erdogan advertised Washington’s capitulation during a CBS interview, stating that Biden has never raised any concern about human rights issues with him during their personal conversations. Following Treasury’s September 16 designation of Turkey-based jihadist financiers for the seventh time since 2019, Blinken provided cover for the Erdogan government by stating that Washington will “continue to work closely with our partners and allies, including Turkey,” to disrupt al-Qaeda networks.

When Erdogan threatened to purchase a second batch of Russian S-400 air defense systems, the Biden administration responded meekly. An anodyne State Department comment referred to Turkey as “an ally and friend” with which Washington seeks to strengthen partnership “even when we disagree.” Washington also continued its policy of downplaying repeated attacks that Turkish forces and Ankara’s Islamist proxies carried out against vulnerable minorities in northeastern Syria.


The analyses above do not necessarily represent the institutional views of FDD.


Afghanistan Arab Politics China Cyber Gulf States Indo-Pacific International Organizations Iran Israel Jihadism Lebanon Military and Political Power North Korea Russia Syria The Long War Turkey U.S. Defense Policy and Strategy