Fdd's overnight brief

August 13, 2020

FDD Research & Analysis

In The News


The Iranian navy boarded and briefly seized a Liberian-flagged oil tanker near the strategic Strait of Hormuz amid heightened tensions between Tehran and the U.S., a U.S. military official said Thursday. – Associated Press 

U.S. efforts to get the U.N. Security Council to extend an arms embargo on Tehran would fail, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said in a televised speech on Wednesday, a day after U.S. officials circulated a revised proposal. – Reuters

Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani reacted with a three-day delay to The Persian Gulf Cooperation Council’s letter to the United Nations Security Council demanding an extension to the arms embargo against Iran. – Radio Farda 

The UN Security Council is gearing up for a vote to extend the arms embargo on Iran, and it is expected by the end of the week, US Ambassador Kelly Craft told The Jerusalem Post. Members of the council are still negotiating the details, she said. – Jerusalem Post 

French President Emmanuel Macron on Wednesday warned Iran against any interference in Lebanon after the gigantic blast last week that has prompted a political crisis in the country. – Agence France-Presse 

Jason M. Brodsky writes: Equally egregious is the failure to revise the travel ban to include the current leadership of the Aerospace Industries Organization (AIO) and its subsidiaries, the Shahid Bagheri and Hemmat Industrial Groups (SBIG and SHIG, respectively). SBIG spearheads the production of Iran’s solid-propellant missiles, whereas SHIG produces the liquid-propellant missiles. These components are vital in the advancement of Iran’s ballistic missile program. – Newsweek 

Bobby Ghosh writes: With the Council unlikely to extend the weapons ban, and the chances of a snap-back looking slim, the main hope of denying Iran access to sophisticated arms may rest on the threat of American sanctions against weapons manufacturers. Of course, the threat would be more potent if accompanied by European sanctions as well. But the Trump administration will have to get by without even a little help from America’s friends. – Bloomberg 


The Trump administration is preparing to impose anticorruption sanctions against prominent Lebanese politicians and businessmen in an effort to weaken Hezbollah’s influence in the aftermath of last week’s explosion in Beirut’s port, according to U.S. officials and others familiar with the plans. – Wall Street Journal 

Lithuania has announced that it is designating Hezbollah as a terror organization and is banning entry of Hezbollah affiliates into the country. – Arutz Sheva

US President Donald Trump’s administration is threatening to veto the extension of the mandate of the UN’s 42-year-old peacekeeping force in Lebanon, a US-based website claimed on Wednesday. – Algemeiner

Danielle Pletka writes: Corruption in Lebanon is so endemic, the metaphors fail. There are too many fish in the barrel, too many pigs at the trough, too many pigs getting fat, far too few hogs getting slaughtered. Is all this obvious to the people of Lebanon? You bet. Does it outrage the crowds that teemed in Beirut’s streets last year, and returned once COVID fears settled? Sure. Is their anger all the more intense now that much of their capital has been destroyed? Obviously. Will they throw the bums out? They’ll try. But there will just be other bums. – The Dispatch 

Mordechai Kedar writes: Hezbollah’s capacity to replace Beirut with the above-mentioned locations is the reason why it remains the most powerful force in Lebanon despite the damage it suffered at Beirut Port. It is able to remain in control despite Lebanon’s economic and political crisis. After all, the agony of the Lebanese people makes it easier for Hezbollah to take advantage of the conscience of the world and dip into its pockets, particularly those of Saudi Arabia. – Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies


Syrian President Bashar al Assad said on Wednesday that sweeping new U.S. sanctions amounted to a new stage of economic warfare against his government and were part of long-standing U.S. efforts to “choke” the living standards of Syrians. – Reuters 

The U.S. State Department is talking to Russia about Syria’s oil, the top U.S. general in the Middle East said on Wednesday. – The National Interest 

Syrian President Bashar al Assad said in a speech to the Syrian parliament on Wednesday that “the purpose of the Israeli attacks in the Deir al-Zor area is to facilitate the movement of ISIS members.” According to Assad, “the United States needs the terrorists in this area, who are led by ISIS. – Ynet 


Four key members of Congress, either individually or collectively, have quietly frozen all major U.S. arms sales to Turkey for nearly two years in a move to pressure Ankara to abandon its Russian-built S-400 air defense system, Defense News has learned. – Defense News 

Turkish police on Wednesday detained 25 women protesting against the possibility of President Tayyip Erdogan’s AK Party pulling Turkey out of an international accord designed to protect women against domestic violence, a police source said. – Reuters

Israel voiced its support for Greece in their dispute with Turkey over economic zones in the eastern Mediterranean. – Jerusalem Post

Simon Henderson writes: All these tensions have been growing for a decade or so but started escalating at the end of last year when Turkey announced that it had agreed upon a maritime border with Libya — both a geographical and legal stretch. Once again, the Turkish claim ignored any claim that Greece had on the basis of several of its islands, including Crete, where there is an American base. – The Hill 

Seth J. Frantzman writes: Ankara’s strategy has thus gained it some swaths of territory in Syria and northern Iraq and Libya, new bases in Somalia and Qatar and an ability to show off its drones in airstrikes. But it may have alienated many countries. From Ankara’s perspective, that is OK because it opposed the Egyptian regime anyway, was hostile to Cyprus and was on the side of Qatar in a standoff with the UAE. It has merely accelerated processes that existed. – Jerusalem Post 


Israel said Wednesday that it thwarted a North Korean cyber group’s attempt to steal sensitive information from leading defense companies in the country. Israel’s Defense Ministry identified the group as Lazarus and said it is backed by a foreign country, though it didn’t name North Korea. – Wall Street Journal 

Israel, desperate to rein in a resurgent coronavirus outbreak, has called in the army to take over testing and contact-tracing operations, part of a major restructuring of its pandemic campaign that includes naming a “corona czar” intended to be insulated from political pressures. – Washington Post 

The boisterous rallies have brought out a new breed of first-time protesters — young, middle-class Israelis who have little history of political activity but feel that Netanyahu’s scandal-plagued rule and his handling of the coronavirus crisis have robbed them of their futures. It is a phenomenon that could have deep implications for the country’s leaders. – Associated Press 

Israel on Thursday said it will stop shipments of fuel into Gaza in response to Palestinians in the enclave launching incendiary balloons that have torched tracts of farmland on the Israeli frontier. – Reuters

Israel’s “Lahav Or” (Light Blade) laser system, designed to intercept airborne incendiary threats launched from the Gaza Strip, was deployed operationally by the Border Police for the first time on Tuesday. – Israel Hayom

Egypt has demanded that Hamas and other Palestinian groups stop the incendiary balloon attacks on Israel, Palestinian sources said Wednesday. – Jerusalem Post

Joshua Mitnick writes: But the agreement left an exit option for the prime minister: Israeli law stipulates that the new government must pass a budget for the current fiscal year in parliament within its first 100 days or face a new election. Though Netanyahu and Gantz agreed in May to pass a two-year spending plan covering both 2020 and 2021—to ensure coalition survival through the end of next year—Netanyahu now insists on a one-year plan. – Foreign Policy 

Amos Harel writes: Netanyahu has leveraged the explosion to demand the removal of Hezbollah’s explosives and missiles from civilian population centers in Lebanon. He also warned Hezbollah, in a message he sent through Macron, about attempting a military escalation on the Israeli front in the hopes of drawing attention away from the internal Lebanese crisis. – Haaretz 

Raphael Ahren writes: In past decades, Jerusalem was never shy about voicing its opposition to its Arab neighbors’ nuclear ambitions. But the situation with Saudi Arabia today is different and very tricky for Israel, Krasna went on. Jerusalem views the kingdom as a strategic partner, not only in combating mutual foe Iran and its proxies, but and in other areas as well. Furthermore, Saudi Arabia has become an ever-closer partner of Israel’s closest ally — the United States. – Times of Israel


The massive explosion that devastated swaths of Lebanon’s capital last week has severely damaged its health system, officials warned Wednesday, further straining medical facilities that were already wrestling with rising cases of the novel coronavirus. – Washington Post 

The force of the explosion lifted the ship clear out of the water, depositing the battered hull on the concrete pier. The side of the Amadeo II that had faced the blast was blown open, its metal innards spilling out toward the sea, its disfigured facade stripped of paint and reduced to a faded rust color covered with blotches of disgorged sea bottom. – Washington Post 

About four years before the Beirut port explosion that killed dozens of people and injured thousands, a U.S. government contractor expressed concern to a Lebanese port official about unsafe storage there of the volatile chemicals that fueled last week’s devastating blast, American officials said Tuesday. – Associated Press 

Lebanon may be in line for $298 million in emergency aid after the Beirut port blast, but the more than $30 billion (23 billion pounds) that some estimate it may need to rebuild its shattered economy will not be forthcoming without reform. – Reuters 

The U.N. Security Council remains at odds over the way the U.N. peacekeeping mission in southern Lebanon operates on the ground, with the United States backing Israel’s demands for major changes. – Associated Press 

Germany’s foreign minister said on Wednesday that Lebanon needed a government able to fight corruption and enact reforms as he toured Beirut port, scene of the devastating explosion that has kindled protests and led the government to resign. – Reuters

French President Emmanuel Macron spoke Wednesday to the leaders of Russia and Iran and urged them to cooperate with the rest of the international community to restore stability in Lebanon. – Associated Press

Lebanon is leaning toward accepting a French offer to reconstruct the demolished Port of Beirut after interest poured in from Qatar, Turkey, China and others, official sources with knowledge of the matter said Wednesday. – Al-Arabiya

Anna Borshchevskaya writes: But what matters most from Moscow’s perspective is that Washington remain largely absent from the scene. Tellingly, Zasypkin warned in an interview with Sputnik Arabic that U.S. influence in Lebanon is expanding and will lead to negative consequences for the country. His comment suggests that Moscow will continue pursuing influence there while driving the narrative of instability that supposedly results from American involvement. – Washington Institute 

Evan Nierman writes: Following the accident in Beirut, the Lebanese flag was projected onto the side of Tel Aviv City Hall as a sign of solidarity with the Lebanese people. […]For Israel’s citizens and its supporters and allies abroad, the aftermath of the recent tragedy served as a reminder that the Jewish state continues to hold itself to a higher standard. Israel was correct to offer aid – for that is precisely how to show the world the heart of a country that is dedicated to fulfilling its responsibility to be a moral nation-state for Jews all over the world. – Jerusalem Post

Gulf States

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo appropriately declared an “emergency” last year to push forward an $8 billion arms sale to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, but the department failed to fully consider the risk the deal posed to civilian casualties, a new State Department inspector general report found. – Washington Times 

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo dismissed watchdog allegations that he approved controversial arms sales at the expense of civilian casualties. – Washington Examiner

In his June 22, 2020 column in the daily Al-Watan, Saudi Journalist Asil Al-Ja’ed, a member of the legal council in the Saudi Journalists Association, harshly condemned the ancient tribal custom of hajr, in which a father promises his daughter in marriage to his brother’s son. This custom, says Al-Ja’ed, contravenes the Islamic shari’a, causes girls to suffer, delays their marriage and deprives them of the freedom to marry the man of their choice. – Middle East Media Research Institute

Paul Wolfowitz writes: But there were at least three alternative courses of action that should have been considered, separately or together, as part of a postcombat strategy: Demand that Saddam or one of his principal subordinates surrender personally; secure United Nations Security Council endorsement of the large “disengagement” zone along Iraq’s entire southern border, which our U.N. Ambassador Thomas Pickering had proposed; and insist that Saddam stop using at least his helicopters, if not his tanks as well, to slaughter the Shiite rebels in southern Iraq. – Wall Street Journal 

Giorgio Cafiero writes: Given that the succession in Kuwait may be less smooth than the transfer of power in Oman earlier this year, there are certain unknown variables in the equation. It remains to be seen whether the next Kuwaiti emir will keep the country’s military forces nominally involved in the coalition and its diplomats working on negotiations with the Hadi government, Saudi officials, and Houthi representatives. – Middle East Institute 

Nave Shachar writes: It’s the right time to do business in our neighbourhood. Israeli companies should explore the GCC market potential and GCC investors should invest in Israeli technologies. It will not be easy at first, but once we have favourable examples of investment and partnerships with local resellers in the GCC, this cooperation will be considered the usual course of business. – Al-Arabiya

Middle East & North Africa

The top American military commander in the Middle East said on Wednesday that U.S. troop levels in Iraq and Syria would most likely shrink in the coming months, but that he had not yet received orders to begin withdrawing forces. – New York Times

The Pentagon’s top officer for the Middle East warned Wednesday that the U.S. will face “huge problems” from a resurgent Islamic State over the coming decade unless Washington develops a sweeping initiative to deradicalize young men and women in several Middle East hot spots. – Washington Times 

The U.N. Security Council remains at odds over the way the U.N. peacekeeping mission in southern Lebanon operates on the ground, with the United States backing Israel’s demands for major changes. – Associated Press 

Turkey will continue its cross-border operations against Kurdish militants in northern Iraq if Baghdad continues to overlook the militants’ presence in the region, the foreign ministry said on Thursday, urging Iraqi authorities to cooperate with Ankara. – Reuters

France will increase its military presence in the eastern Mediterranean, President Emmanuel Macron said on Wednesday, calling on Turkey to halt oil and gas exploration in disputed waters that has heightened tensions with Greece. – Reuters

Judah Waxelbaum writes: France has a long and complicated history in the Middle East. Unfortunately, Macron’s administration has only muddied the waters more on where France stands. France is taking high-stakes gambles with low-ceiling returns, moves that run counter to French allies. If Macron is not careful, he threatens an already fragile region with even more unneeded international interference. – Jerusalem Post 

Korean Peninsula

Satellite imagery suggests recent flooding in North Korea may have damaged pump houses connected to the country’s main nuclear facility, a U.S.-based think-tank said on Thursday. – Reuters 

South Korea plans to start building its first aircraft carrier next year, and acquire fighter jets to operate on it, the country’s Defense Ministry has announced. – CNN 

North Korea has aimed thousands of artillery rockets at South Korea. In wartime, they could rain destruction on Seoul’s troops—and even Seoul itself with its million of inhabitants. So it should come as no surprise that the South Korean government wants to develop a missile system that can shoot down incoming rockets. The problem is, it might not be worth the cost. Not when there are other ways of stopping bombardments. Namely, attacking the artillery pieces themselves. – Forbes 

Never mind that most North Koreans can’t access the Internet. In line with a new effort to give its stolid state propaganda a makeover and reach out to foreign audiences, North Korea has established a foothold in Western social media via videos like these on YouTube and on Twitter. – NPR


For decades, Chinese leaders embraced foreign investments and exports to power China’s economy. Now, with the world in recession and U.S.-China tensions deepening, President Xi Jinping is laying out a major initiative to accelerate China’s shift toward more reliance on its domestic economy. – Wall Street Journal 

U.S. agriculture officials said they are working with their counterparts in China to determine who is sending mysterious seed packages to U.S. residents and to stop future shipments. […]The USDA has said it hasn’t identified any link to agricultural terrorism, though the situation is evolving and officials are evaluating every possibility. – Wall Street Journal 

The Trump administration is increasing scrutiny of a long-established Chinese-government funded program that’s dedicated to teaching Chinese language and culture in the U.S. and other nations, the latest escalation of tensions with Beijing. — Bloomberg 

A mysterious increase in Chinese government bond (CGB) holdings by unknown investors has prompted speculation that China’s central bank has bought the debt in recent months to bolster the country’s economic recovery. – Reuters

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo argued that the economic power the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) holds over countries worldwide is a greater threat than what Russia posed during the Cold War. – Fox News 

A sharp escalation in tensions with the United States has stoked fears in China of a deepening financial war that could result in it being shut out of the global dollar system – a devastating prospect once considered far-fetched but now not impossible. – Reuters

Chinese forces have conducted anti-aircraft drills in the country’s southeast overlooking Taiwan as a U.S. aircraft carrier sails nearby the self-ruling island that is increasingly becoming central to the feud between Washington and Beijing. – Newsweek 

Stephanie Segal, Dylan Gerstel and Olivia Negus write: On June 4, President Trump tasked the President’s Working Group on Financial Markets (PWG)—a group of U.S. financial regulators led by the secretary of the treasury—to examine the risks to U.S. investors posed by the lack of access to audit work papers for Chinese companies listed on U.S. exchanges. Last week, the PWG released its report and issued five recommendations, including “Enhancing Listing Standards for Access to Audit Work Papers. – Center for Strategic and International Studies 

Hal Brands writes: The more united a front the democracies present, the less ability Beijing will have to play divide-and-conquer. Similarly, building on existing  democratic partnerships — such as the expanded G-7 proposed by Britain’s Boris Johnson — could serve as a counterbalance to China’s technological dominance. – Bloomberg


U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Wednesday said he warned his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov that there would be “an enormous price to pay” if Moscow is offering bounties to kill U.S. soldiers or other Western troops in Afghanistan. – Reuters

The request is of a piece with the U.S. envoy’s successful push to get the Afghan government to agree to release a final tranche of 400 Taliban prisoners from detention, fulfilling one of the Taliban’s conditions in the U.S.-Taliban agreement, current and former U.S., Afghan and western officials say. All of the officials spoke on condition of anonymity to describe the confidential discussions. – TIME 

On August 11, 2020, the pro-Taliban Urdu newspaper Roznama Ummat published a report titled “The Taliban prisoners were released due to American threat [to the government of Afghanistan President Ashraf Ghani].” It stated that “behind the scenes, Ashraf Ghani was warned [by the U.S. to free the prisoners]. The decision about freeing the prisoners was not made in the jirga, nor were the delegates informed of the details.” The daily’s assertion is that the U.S. had virtually bludgeoned the organizers to approve the release of the prisoners. – Middle East Media Research Institute

South Asia

Pakistan’s army chief will visit Saudi Arabia this weekend, officials said, seeking to calm diplomatic strains over Kashmir as financial support for Islamabad hangs in the balance. – Reuters

The Pakistan Navy recently parked one of its submarines in the middle of Chinese Navy warships visiting Karachi. The strong defense ties between Pakistan and China are well reported. Currently the Pakistani Navy is massively growing its submarine branch with eight Chinese-designed Type-039B Yuan Class boats. Parking the sub there shows that the two navies are sharing knowledge as well as hardware. – Forbes 

Abdul Jabbar Memon writes: The international community must speak up and hold India accountable for its crimes—and there is no country better suited to lead the charge than the United States of America. In the twentieth century, the United States repeatedly stood up in defense of those who are oppressed, threatened, and or vulnerable. Under U.S. leadership, the world fought back the forces of fascism, communism, and totalitarianism in all its forms. – The National Interest


Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen said she wants to start talks on a free-trade pact with the U.S., part of a broad effort to deepen her island democracy’s partnership with Washington and resist pressure from Beijing. – Wall Street Journal 

Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen called on the international community to speak out against Beijing, as her government announced a 10% increase in defense spending to help offset China’s increasing military advantage. – Bloomberg 

A sweeping new national security law, though, has made singing it in public risky. As China’s Communist leaders tighten controls that many believe are stripping semi-autonomous Hong Kong of its freedoms, some families are considering leaving the former British colony, but few can afford to do so. – Associated Press 

A Chinese official lashed out at U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar on Wednesday for visiting Taiwan amid an ongoing pandemic back home, accusing him of putting politics ahead of the lives of the American people. – Associated Press 

Taiwan is emphasizing asymmetric defenses from mines to anti-ship missiles, overhauling its reserve forces and professionalizing its military structure to better defend itself from “a more belligerent and aggressive” China, the island’s president said Wednesday. – USNI News 

A key U.S. ally in Europe, the Czech Republic, intensified its confrontation with China with a plan to send a 90-strong delegation to Taiwan to meet President Tsai Ing-wen. – Bloomberg 

Michael Mazza writes: Navies will play a significant role in any armed conflict over Taiwan’s fate. The United States has an interest in ensuring that the ROC Navy is highly capable and highly prepared. The US Navy likewise has an interest in ensuring it can communicate and operate seamlessly with its Taiwanese counterpart. Committing upfront to an annual exercise not only sets a precedent, but makes abundantly clear that US-Taiwan defense relations will look different going forward—that bilateral exercises will be a feature of the broader relationship and not just a product of this current moment in time. – Global Taiwan Institute


Russia plans investment of $1.5 billion in rare earth minerals, critical to the defence, telecommunications and renewable energy sectors, as it strives to become the biggest producer after China by 2030, a top government official told Reuters. – Reuters 

Even before last week’s intelligence assessment on foreign election interference, Republican Sen. Ron Johnson was facing criticism from Democrats that his investigation of presidential candidate Joe Biden and Ukraine was politically motivated and advancing Russian interests. – Associated Press 

The head of Russia’s sovereign wealth fund, Kirill Dmitriev, was not subtle about what his country’s push for a COVID-19 vaccine meant for national prestige. “It’s a Sputnik moment,” the head of the group funding Russia’s coronavirus research, told CNN last month as he recalled the time when the Soviet Union won the space race with the 1957 launch of the first satellite into orbit. – Newsweek 

Russia now receives more euros than dollars for its exports to China, in the latest sign President Vladimir Putin is plowing ahead with his pledge to reduce dependence on the U.S. currency. – Bloomberg 

A Russian YouTube blogger who makes videos of industrial sites and abandoned facilities was arrested earlier this month on a charge of illegally obtaining and disseminating state secrets, a court said on Wednesday. – Reuters


U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo called on authorities in Belarus to protect protesters and give the country’s citizens more political freedom, the latest pressure on a regime that might now face new sanctions from the neighboring European Union. – Wall Street Journal 

The official numbers were published Wednesday, and they are officially ugly. The British economy has plunged into a record-shattering recession, shrinking by a fifth in the second quarter and posting the steepest decline of any Group of Seven nation. – Washington Post 

Parties across Bolivia’s political spectrum are racing to defuse massive street blockades that have paralyzed the nation, as some protesters threaten to march on La Paz and demand the resignation of interim president Jeanine Áñez. – Washington Post 

Thousands of protesters rallied in Belarus’ capital and other cities for a fourth straight night Wednesday, decrying an election they say was rigged to extend the 26-year rule of the country’s authoritarian leader and the crackdown on subsequent demonstrations. – Associated Press 

Editorial: But Mr. Johnson has more to gain economically and politically from a good deal soon and the domestic reforms necessary to strike one. The case for Brexit was that leaving the EU would let Britain shed continental protectionism and open its economy to the wider world. Mr. Johnson should do that. The stakes in getting trade politics right on agriculture, health scare and taxation are enormous, and a U.S. pact is the first crucial step. – Wall Street Journal 

Robbie Gramer and Amy Mackinnon write: The debate on Capitol Hill drives at an existential question in the world of American diplomacy: Is it better to engage with authoritarian regimes in a bid to check rival powers’ influence, or does that risk undermining U.S. values in supporting democracy and human rights? – Foreign Policy


Fighters linked to Islamic State seized control of a northern Mozambican port town that’s been a key logistics link for a $23 billion natural-gas project that Total SE is building, according to Risk Advisory Group. – Bloomberg

A court in Nigeria has fined three men $52,000 (£40,000) each for hijacking a ship in March and securing a ransom of $200,000 for the release of its crew. These are the first convictions in the West African state since a new anti-piracy law came into force last year. – BBC

Sudan has beefed up security in Red Sea state and imposed a curfew in its main sea gateway of Port Sudan after 32 people died in recent tribal clashes, the country’s interior ministry said late on Wednesday. – Reuters

Thousands of people had gathered at Independence Square in Bamako on Tuesday after the opposition resumed protests as talks mediated by West African regional leaders to resolve the crisis stalled. […]Despite being dispersed by a France-led intervention, and the presence of thousands of peacekeepers, the Islamists, including those linked to Islamic State, have continued to carry out attacks and spread to neighbouring countries. – Reuters 

A dispute between Fulani herders and their nomadic Tuareg neighbours over stolen cattle and motorbikes threatened to turn violent in the village of Amataltal when one man grabbed his rifle and fired skywards. It was a rare outburst in the quiet commune of a few hundred people in north Niger, residents said, and sent a warning: disputes like this have opened a door for jihadists expert at exploiting conflict to boost recruitment and spread chaos. – Reuters

The Americas

U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres warned Wednesday that the COVID-19 pandemic not only threatens gains in fighting global poverty and building peace but risks exacerbating existing conflicts and generating new ones. – Associated Press 

Steve Bucci writes: To emerge from COVID-19, we’ll need the strong, long-term value of American oil and gas. The world still needs energy amid this crisis and has seen a worldwide 4 percent increase in natural gas-fired power generation. With American production and exports both at record levels, now is the time to build American energy, not use the court to hamstring it. – The Hill 

Jacob Helberg writes: Preserving American preeminence will require reconstituting a national manufacturing arrangement that is both safe and reliable—particularly in critical high-tech sectors. If the United States is to secure its supply chains and information networks against Chinese attacks, it needs to reindustrialize. The question today is not whether America’s manufacturing jobs can return, but whether America can afford not to bring them back. – Foreign Policy

Latin America

For Mexicans, the news is disturbing — and disturbingly familiar. A key witness in a major corruption case has accused former President Enrique Peña Nieto of directing bribes to fund his presidential campaign. – New York Times

Venezuela’s government has negotiated an agreement with Chinese banks for a grace period until the end of the year on some $19 billion in loans that are paid off with oil shipments, according to three sources in Caracas with knowledge of the situation. – Reuters 

A last-minute battle is unfolding over the fate of a former paramilitary warlord who the Colombian government wants returned following a long drug sentence in U.S. prison. Salvatore Mancuso, the top commander of a since-disbanded group of right-wing militias, completed a 12-year cocaine trafficking sentence in March. – Associated Press 

Venezuela’s opposition-run congress has opened an investigation into an oil spill that continues to pollute palm-lined beaches along the South American nation’s Caribbean coast, legislator Maria Gabriela Hernandez said on Wednesday. – Reuters


A network of fake Chinese accounts has been posting videos bashing President Trump, criticizing his recent closure of China’s consulate in Houston, his handling of the coronavirus pandemic and his threats to ban the popular social media app TikTok, according to research published Wednesday. – Washington Post 

Facebook, Alphabet Inc.’s Google and Twitter Inc. have discussed with federal officials how the social-media platforms can prevent the spread of misinformation in the days before and after the election, after the U.S. intelligence community warned of foreign interference and President Trump called the vote’s integrity into question. – Wall Street Journal 

Facebook said Tuesday that it took down 7 million posts pushing covid-19 misinformation from its main social media site and Instagram between April and June as the company tried to combat the rapid spread of dangerous information about the novel coronavirus. – Washington Post 

Social media giant Facebook on Tuesday announced explicit bans on conspiracy theories claiming that the world was controlled by a Jewish cabal as well as on “blackface” content that derides black people — but one top Jewish leader characterized the moves as “minor steps.” – Algemeiner

The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency is looking to industry for “revolutionary security technologies” that can protect the military’s growing number of Internet of Things devices. – C4ISRNET 

The US Department of Defense (DoD) and President Donald Trump’s administration have agreed to carve out 100 MHz of contiguous spectrum bandwidth, traditionally used to support advanced military radar, air defence, and battlefield management systems, specifically for the development of commercial 5G cellular communications. – Jane’s 360


A Virginia-based U.S. Navy chief is facing court-martial on charges that he sent classified and “national defense” information to a Russian national, among other alleged offenses. – Navy Times 

The two OPCs will be based at Naval Station Newport, R.I., home of the Naval War College, Navy Officer Candidate School and Surface Warfare Officers school. – USNI News 

The Navy may have to sacrifice modernization efforts if it does not receive adequate relief funding to cover acquisition costs sustained due to the coronavirus pandemic, according to a top service official. Navy acquisition chief James Geurts told reporters today that to sustain a ready force, the service would have to make cuts to procurement and modernization if it does not get additional relief money for contractors. – USNI News 

The Army has validated its design for its future helicopter engine, and the program remains on schedule to deliver the first engine for testing in the fourth quarter of fiscal 2021, according to service officials in charge of the effort. – Defense News 

The following is the RAND Corporation report, Raising the Flag Implications of U.S. Military Approaches to General and Flag Officer Development. – USNI News 

The Defense Information Systems Agency awarded a $106 million contract to Deloitte Consulting to build the Pentagon’s artificial intelligence hub’s AI development platform, the U.S. Department of Defense announced Aug. 12. – Defense News 

Michael Singh writes: If the United States is to strike a balance between prudence and disengagement and between economical missions and “forever wars,” it must approach conflicts with discipline and foresight. Efforts to change the behavior of small adversaries have a place in a broad foreign policy predicated on great-power competition and can even complement it. But approached incautiously, conflicts with small adversaries can sap American strength and resolve at a time when they are sorely needed. – Foreign Affairs

Missile Defense

The U.S. Navy announced the first successful fight test of its new upgraded airborne electronic warfare system. The Next Generation Jammer Mid-Band pod was mounted and flown on an EA-18G Growler aircraft at Patuxent River, Maryland, on Aug. 7, the Navy said in an Aug. 10 news release. – C4ISRNET

Taiwan is in discussions with the United States on acquiring underwater sea mines to deter amphibious landings as well as cruise missiles for coastal defense, Taiwan’s de facto ambassador to United States said on Wednesday. – Reuters 

Israel successfully tested its Arrow-2 ballistic missile interceptor on Wednesday, the U.S. Missile Defense Agency (MDA) said. – Reuters

Trump Administration

Just over a month after leaving the Pentagon, former Under Secretary of Defense for Research and Engineering Mike Griffin has joined the board of Rocket Lab, a small launch provider with increasing business with the U.S. government. – C4ISRNET 

Former national security adviser Susan Rice said foreign meddling in November’s election essentially has the green light from President Trump. – Washington Examiner

U.S. President Donald Trump’s campaign is inadvertently funding Chinese state media outlets and entities tied to the Kremlin through automated advertisements on YouTube, according to a study of thousands of videos on the Google service. – Bloomberg 

Sen. Kamala Harris warned of foreign meddling in her and Joe Biden’s coming clash with President Trump and Vice President Mike Pence. – Washington Examiner

U.S. Ambassador to Britain Woody Johnson has made insensitive and inappropriate comments during his tenure, including about race, religion and sex, the State Department’s inspector general has found, judging that morale in some parts of the mission has dropped. – Reuters

Congressman Doug Lamborn has called on the Trump Administration to sever all ties with Palestinian Authority leadership until it “gives up its obsession with violence”. On August 2nd, Palestinian Liberation Organization Secretary General Saeb Erekat condemned Rep. Lamborn’s call for officially designating the PA/PLO Commission of Prisoners’ Affairs and its Director Qadri Abu Bakr as “sponsors of terror” for their continued role in providing generous payments to families of murderers. Erekat called the official request by Congressman Lamborn “incitement”, “thuggery and blackmail”, and “punishing the victim”. – Arutz Sheva