Fdd's overnight brief

August 18, 2023

FDD Research & Analysis

In The News


Iran on Wednesday detained at least 12 female activists in what rights groups say is an escalating campaign to deter protests to mark the anniversary of the “woman, life, freedom” uprising that swept the country last year. – Washington Post

Iran’s foreign minister traveled to Saudi Arabia on Thursday, marking the first trip to the kingdom by Tehran’s top diplomat in years after the two nations reached a détente with Chinese mediation. – Associated Press

An Iranian filmmaker and his producer reportedly face prison time and being barred from filmmaking after they showcased a movie at the Cannes Film Festival without government approval, drawing immediate criticism internationally from leading American director Martin Scorsese and others. – Associated Press

An Iranian journalist said Thursday she had no regrets over posting a picture of herself without a headscarf in defiance of Iran’s dress laws, sharing a similar image following her latest release from jail. – Agence France-Presse

Russian President Vladimir Putin and his Iranian counterpart Ebrahim Raisi discussed Iran’s possible future membership of the BRICS grouping during a phone call on Thursday, Russian state news agency TASS reported, citing the Kremlin. – Reuters 

Russian officials visiting Iran as part of cooperation on attack drone development earlier this year were forced to hunker down in their hotel after an alleged strike by Israel’s Mossad spy agency on a drone manufacturing facility in Tehran, according to a report Thursday. – Times of Israel 

Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian took advantage of his official visit to Saudi Arabia to reiterate the Islamic Republic’s support for the Palestinian cause, at a time when Riyadh is in talks with the United States about a possible normalization of ties with Israel. – Algemeiner

Eric R. Mandel writes: Iran’s release of illegally imprisoned hostages is something we all can celebrate on a human level. However, from an American national security perspective, it only encourages more kidnapping of U.S. citizens, while funding Iranian-controlled terrorists who will use the funds to escalate their expansionism into the Levant. It weakens American diplomacy for the future and makes it more challenging to get nations to endure economic hardship by participating in our secondary sanctions. – The Hill 

Kasra Aarabi writes: Like Putin’s Russia, Khamenei’s regime is an oligarchic, kleptocratic system that is corrupt to its core. While senior clerics and IRGC commanders violently enforce a hardline Islamist order on the Iranian people, their families — the aghazadehs in Farsi (nobleborn) — live lavish lifestyles in the UK. The UK must immediately set up a taskforce to identify and sanction Iranian regime oligarchs, elites and proxies, just as it has with Putin’s regime. – The Jewish Chronicle

Jonathan Broder writes: U.S. and Iranian officials say the agreement, which came together after more than two years of indirect negotiations, could be completed by the end of September.  And some observers say the deal could open the way for an additional agreement that would limit Iran’s nuclear program. The question now, London says,  is whether Salami will go along with any deal that reduces tension between Tehran and Washington. – SpyTalk

Russia & Ukraine

The cryptic job listings began appearing online early this year. The tasks were menial — posting fliers or hanging signs in public spaces — and the pay meager. But for a handful of refugees from eastern Ukraine, the promise of quick cash was too good to pass up. – Washington Post

The engineers at a once-bustling industrial hub deep inside Russia were busy planning. The team had been secretly tasked with building a production line that would operate around-the-clock churning out self-detonating drones, weapons that President Vladimir Putin’s forces could use to bombard Ukrainian cities. – Washington Post

The U.S. intelligence community assesses that Ukraine’s counteroffensive will fail to reach the key southeastern city of Melitopol, people familiar with the classified forecast told The Washington Post, a finding that, should it prove correct, would mean Kyiv won’t fulfill its principal objective of severing Russia’s land bridge to Crimea in this year’s push. – Washington Post

As Russian forces continued to bombard regions across Ukraine, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky on Thursday signed legislation extending martial law and a general military mobilization until mid-November. If martial law is not lifted, it would require postponing national parliamentary elections scheduled for fall. – Washington Post

Moscow and Washington operate a channel dedicated to prisoner-swap negotiations, Russia’s ambassador to the U.S. said this week when asked about his country’s appetite for such exchanges in light of the detention of Americans Evan Gershkovich and Paul Whelan. – Wall Street Journal 

In a gray four-story office building above a nightclub with a black door here, a company founded by a Turkish sock and underwear magnate has transformed into one of the world’s largest shipowners transporting Russian oil. – Wall Street Journal

Ukraine will not receive F-16 fighter jets from its allies this year as hoped, a spokesman for the country’s Air Force said late Wednesday, confirming that, as expected, the advanced planes won’t play a role in the current counteroffensive. – New York Times

Only Ukraine can decide when it might negotiate with Russia to end the war, and what an acceptable solution might be, Jens Stoltenberg, the secretary general of NATO, said on Thursday, clarifying NATO’s stance after his chief of staff, Stian Jenssen, suggested on Tuesday that Ukraine could gain alliance membership in exchange for ceding its Russian-occupied territory. – New York Times

Israel is selling its most advanced air-defense missile system to Germany, in a fresh sign of how the Ukraine war has created demand for weapons in Europe and fueled a boom for the Israeli arms industry. – Wall Street Journal

The first vessel that used Ukraine’s Black Sea corridor is crossing through Turkey’s Bosphorus Strait, a Reuters witness said on Friday. – Reuters 

Two Russian war ships repelled a Ukrainian attack with an unmanned boat near Crimea on Thursday, the Russian defence ministry said. – Reuters 

Ukraine has received two IRIS-T air defense systems from Germany, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said in his address on Thursday. – Reuters 

Russian President Vladimir Putin is not trying to push Belarus into joining the war in Ukraine, Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko said in an online interview published on Thursday. – Reuters 

There have been direct contacts between Ukraine and Belarus but Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy put a halt to them, Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko said during an online interview broadcast on Thursday. – Reuters 

A Ukrainian drone smashed into a building in central Moscow on Friday after Russian air defences shot it down, disrupting air traffic at all the civilian airports of the Russian capital, Russian officials said. – Reuters 

The United States has approved sending F-16 fighter jets to Ukraine from Denmark and the Netherlands to defend against Russian invaders as soon as pilot training is completed, a U.S. official said on Thursday. – Reuters 

A Russian court on Thursday imposed a 3-million-ruble ($32,000) fine on Google for failing to delete allegedly false information about the conflict in Ukraine. – Associated Press

Turkish authorities warned Russian counterparts after an incident involving a cargo ship in the Black sea which took place within international waters, Turkish presidency said in a post on X, formerly known as Twitter, on Thursday. – Reuters

The United States has imposed sanctions on four Russians who it says were involved in the 2020 poisoning of Russian opposition leader Aleksei Navalny. – Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty

Patrick Drennan writes: Whatever Putin says about protecting the Russian-speakers of Luhansk and Donetsk, his current priority is to hold onto Crimea. Russian offensives in northern Ukraine, and threats from Wagner mercenaries in Belarus, are diversions. In the center, Bakhmut offers little tactical advantage for either side. And while Ukrainian advances that directly threaten Crimea could force Putin to negotiate, even this would only be a delaying tactic. While he retains power, Putin’s long-term self-serving goals will never change. – The Hill 

David Albright, Sarah Burkhard, and Spencer Faragasso write: With all the components and manufacturing equipment needed by Alabuga, responsible suppliers have an opportunity and an obligation to do more in order to create bottlenecks in Alabuga’s and Russia’s manufacturing plans. In trying to prevent Alabuga from succeeding and discouraging Iran from aiding, the public revelations of these documents help shine a useful spotlight on this dangerous development and motivate governments to do more to stop Alabuga and Iran from succeeding. The revelation of these documents and the Washington Post’s reporting on them is a great public service to international security. – Institute for Science and International Security

Jade McGlynn and Kirill Shamiev write: Russia is now home to a dizzying array of nationalist movements, and it is hard to say what form Russian nationalism will take after Putin. But if it takes a welcome form, one that focuses on building solidarity and sharing power with Russia’s other nationalities, it would offer a fleeting opportunity to address the core driver of Russia’s recent aggression: the conflation of greatness with imperial ambitions. Russians could finally see their country not as an empire but as a nation. – Foreign Affairs

Theodore Postol writes: Ignoring the fact that current U.S. missile defenses have limited capability against the competent adversaries we now face, when we actually have a technically feasible missile defense like the airborne patrol that could work in East Asia, is irresponsible, ignoring technology and history – a repeat of the Maginot line of World War II. At this time, we do not yet have any special insights into the wide-ranging, unpredictable and complex political implications of this singular but deeply disturbing development.  This should be a matter of greatest concern to the U.S. national security establishment. – Center for Strategic and International Studies


Last month, after the biggest Israeli military raid on a Palestinian refugee camp in the occupied West Bank in years, Palestinians turned their wrath on their own security forces. – Associated Press

Across the dusty villages of the occupied West Bank, where Israeli water pipes don’t reach, date palms have been left to die. Greenhouses are empty and deserted. Palestinians say they can barely get enough water to bathe their children and wash their clothes — let alone sustain livestock and grow fruit trees. – Associated Press

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken urged Israel to take steps to de-escalate West Bank tensions when he met with Strategic Affairs Minister Ron Dermer in Washington as the Biden administration eyes a deal with Saudi Arabia that would normalize ties between the Jewish state and Riyadh.  – Jerusalem Post

Some 1,000 Hamas prisoners held in Israeli jails threatened Thursday to launch a mass hunger strike, amid rising tensions between prisoners and the Israel Prison Service. – Times of Israel

As the pilot program for the entry of Palestinian Americans to Israel continues, the White House dismissed criticism of the promotion of the visa exemption program for Israelis and emphasized that it is above all an American interest. – Ynet

The Israeli National Security Council (NSC) warned Thursday of possible terrorist attacks in Sweden after incidents of Quran burnings by anti-Islam activists that have sparked outrage across the Muslim world. – Ynet

The U.S. State Department on Wednesday said repeated its stance that settlement expansion undermines the geographic viability of a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. “It incites tensions and further harms trust between the 2 parties and we strongly oppose the advancement of settlements and urge Israel to refrain from this activity including the promotion of outposts,” Deputy Spokesperson Vedant Patel said. – Ynet

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Thursday met with Georgian Prime Minister Irakli Garibashvili at the Israeli leader’s office in the Kirya complex in Tel Aviv. The two first met privately and then held an expansive meeting. – Arutz Sheva

President Joe Biden has not hidden his disdain of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s planned rehaul of Israel’s courts. But bubbling beneath the surface of Israel’s political crisis is another concern: shared U.S.-Israel security interests. – Jewish Telegraphic Agency

Aharon Barak writes: Will the constitutional moment that will lead to the enactment of a Basic Law on Legislation stop the rift in Israeli society from widening further and begin the healing process? I think it will. […]The governmental reform has caused grievous harm to Israeli society. Let us hope that this cloud has a silver lining, and that a process of recovery and social agreement will begin, based on a Basic Law on Legislation. – Haaretz

Carolina Landsmann writes: And there is nothing to be done about it. This frustration is felt by both sides. When the right is angry with Netanyahu not being right-wing enough, it doesn’t mean that he is left-wing; he is simply nothing. And when liberals get angry at Netanyahu for not defending liberal values, it doesn’t mean that he’s a Kahanist, rather that he is nothing. As he himself has said, “There will be nothing because there is nothing.” – Haaretz

Saudi Arabia

To broker a new diplomatic pact between Israel and Saudi Arabia, the White House would need to persuade two historic adversaries to find common ground on thorny issues like nuclear enrichment, weapons sales and the territorial rights of Palestinians. – New York Times

Britain’s prime minister said Thursday that he planned to meet with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman at the “earliest opportunity,’’ after a U.K. newspaper reported that officials from both countries hoped to schedule a meeting between the two leaders before the end of the year in London. – Associated Press

As President Biden reportedly toils to coax the Saudi crown prince into signing a peace treaty with Israel, Britain is rolling out the red carpet for the Riyadh royal, effectively ending his international “pariah” status.  – New York Sun

Catherine Cleveland and David Pollock write: As private Israeli-Saudi negotiations continue, Saudi engagement and the resulting concessions on the Palestinian issue it may obtain from Israel are likely to find favorable reception among many in Gaza. In the West Bank, more residents may be cautious about whether such an agreement is in their interests. But the majority of Palestinians are clearly searching for change, one way or another. If steps toward Saudi-Israeli normalization can provide meaningful improvements in Palestinian life—even without full Palestinian statehood—many Palestinians are not likely to see them as the “stab in the back” that some of their leaders have proclaimed. – Washington Institute

Dalia Dassa Kaye writes: The Saudi deal that Biden appears to be considering would demand a high price, probably without yielding real benefits to his legacy. It is unlikely to improve Israeli-Palestinian relations, contain China or Iran, or reduce regional conflict. Israel and Saudi Arabia may well normalize relations on their own timetable, given their mutual interests in doing so. Now is not the time to push them. The Biden administration should give its plan for a normalization deal a second look; its reported contours only reveal that Washington has profound blind spots when it comes to a changing Middle East. – Foreign Affairs

Middle East & North Africa

At least 55 people have been killed this week in fighting in the Libyan capital of Tripoli, the deadliest clashes there in a year. – New York Times

One of Libya’s rival prime ministers warned Thursday that his government would not tolerate any further militia fighting, days after the year’s bloodiest bout of clashes rocked the capital, Tripoli, killing at least 45 people. – Associated Press

The United States on Thursday imposed sanctions on two Turkey-backed Syrian militias and the groups’ leaders accused of human rights abuses in Syria’s northwestern, opposition-held enclave. – Associated Press

Two weeks after clashes between armed factions in Lebanon’s largest Palestinian refugee camp ended, militants are still occupying a United Nations-run school complex, U.N. officials said Thursday. – Associated Press

Andreas Kluth writes: Most punditry now focuses on the obstacles to such a deal. One way to understand those is as the resistance of the idealists in each country. The Saudis, wards of Mecca and Medina, don’t want the Muslim ummah to think that they’re selling out the Palestinians or going wobbly on the Zionists. The Israeli cabinet, with its hard-right values, would rather annex the West Bank than limit Jewish settlements. American progressives consider Israel racist and Saudi Arabia inhumane. American isolationists, meanwhile, would rather exit the region altogether. – Bloomberg 

Winthrop Rodgers writes: Peshmerga reform stands at a junction that speaks to more general dynamics. Will the political leadership put aside their mutual mistrust and advance a unified vision in service of all people and institutions of the Kurdistan Region regardless of political affiliation or will they crawl deeper into partisan self-interest as their foreign partners gradually tune out? Opportunity remains, barely and not for long. – Middle East Institute

Korean Peninsula

The United Nations Security Council on Thursday took up North Korea’s human rights record for the first time in six years, with officials painting a grim picture of extreme hunger, forced labor and medicine shortages in the country. – New York Times

North Korea may launch an intercontinental ballistic missile or take other military action to protest a summit of the United States, South Korea and Japan, a South Korean lawmaker said on Thursday, citing the country’s intelligence agency. – Reuters 

Yulgok Kim writes: In short, South Korea must strive to gain support for nuclear-powered submarines from the United States. Seoul must establish a government-led task force and consider improving the current infrastructure for building SSNs through foreign cooperation and localization to shorten lead time development, given the volatile Asian security environment and opponents’ threatening military build-ups against Seoul. – The National Interest


Chinese Defense Minister Li Shangfu on Thursday visited Belarus and said his country would increase military cooperation with Russia’s neighbor and ally, where Moscow is deploying tactical nuclear weapons. – Associated Press

China says it would welcome a visit by U.S. Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo following the imposition of foreign investment controls by her agency that have stung numerous Chinese companies. – Associated Press

Electric-vehicle batteries and other car parts are the latest products under scrutiny as part of Washington’s effort to stamp out U.S. links to forced labor in Chinese supply chains, according to a document seen by Reuters, agency statistics and sources. – Reuters

The mayor of Taipei will visit Shanghai at the end of this month for an annual city forum, his office said on Friday, a trip that will take place against the backdrop of frozen ties between the Taiwanese and Chinese governments. – Reuters 

China cited discrimination by Canada when asked why the North American nation was left off a new list of approved travel destinations for tourists, moves that ramp up a five-year-old feud. – Bloomberg 

Joel Gehrke writes: “China is ready and willing to help these African countries to provide the technology that will be necessary for them to export finished goods, but those finished goods are ending up in China,” Nantulya said. “And [Ghana is] a very important country to China, as far as the westward expansion of China’s influence is concerned.” – Washington Examiner

Taehwa Hong writes: This is also not to argue that Washington should give up on cooperating with Beijing where it can. Indeed, domains of collaboration exist where China already feels an independent, urgent, and significant need to address its own problems. For example, China has consistently, proactively cooperated with the West on counterterrorism because it faces its own issues in its western regions. China could also become more cooperative on climate change in the future, once it starts seriously affecting economic growth. However, the United States should not fall for any traps by granting concessions elsewhere to elicit cooperation. – Foreign Policy

Timothy R. Heath writes: For offensive operations, China’s vulnerabilities will likely pose lucrative targets. Perpetually discontented minority regions, potential fractures between the central government and powerful regional powerholders, and simmering discontent across the country could combust under the pressures of war. Any attack on China’s domestic security would, of course, invite retaliation in kind. Where the war could escalate from that point cannot be predicted, but in all likelihood, serious domestic threats for both sides would persist so long as the war endures. – The National Interest

South Asia

Pakistan’s election oversight body said Thursday that parliamentary elections must be delayed because it needs four months to redraw constituencies to reflect the recently held census. – Associated Press

Paramilitary troops have cordoned off a Christian settlement in eastern Pakistan where a Muslim mob vandalised and torched several churches and scores of houses after two men living there were accused of desecrating the Koran, police and witnesses said on Thursday. – Reuters 

Sadanand Dhume writes: Khan supporters may find it hard to accept, but over the past decade U.S. interest in Pakistan has declined precipitously, spurred by alleged Pakistani perfidy in the war on terror, the continuing U.S. pivot to India, and the 2021 U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan. […]The U.S. may have had reason to smile at the ejection of Mr. Khan, the subcontinent’s most openly anti-American major politician. But disliking someone isn’t the same as deposing him. – Wall Street Journal 

Michael McKinley writes: Put simply, there is no evidence that any Taliban policies are affected by external pressure. […]There may come a moment when the Taliban will decide to change course. As Ronald Neumann, a former U.S. ambassador to Afghanistan, suggested in an article in The Hill, Washington should remain flexible in its responses to what the Taliban does and consider confidence-building measures such as easing sanctions on groups and individuals who work with Taliban authorities, which make it more difficult to assist Afghans directly. – Foreign Affairs


Taiwan Vice President William Lai returned on Friday from a sensitive visit to the United States, a trip China has condemned and which has brought warnings from Taiwanese officials it could prompt more Chinese military drills near the island. – Reuters 

U.S., Japanese and South Korean diplomats are locked in last-minute negotiations over whether the documents for the three countries’ trilateral summit meeting opening on Friday should explicitly mention China as a challenge to peace and stability in the Indo-Pacific. – Politico 

Editorial: The biggest prize would be a joint pledge effectively acknowledging that an attack on one is an attack on all. The three nations might agree to respond collectively in the event of a North Korean strike, for instance, even if Japan’s pacifist constitution would make it difficult to commit formally to defend South Korea. Whether at this summit or later, a leaders’ statement would be powerful and hard to renounce; China and North Korea would certainly take notice. – Bloomberg 

Gearoid Reidy writes: The three countries will likely expand their cooperation across Southeast Asia. That leaves much ground to cover this weekend. The leaders will discuss their cooperation on Ukraine and a new world of supply chains. A possible North Korean intercontinental ballistic missile test ahead of or during the summit might focus thoughts on how to deal with Pyongyang’s threat. But for once, it’s not the past that’s on the agenda. That’s reason enough to be optimistic. – Bloomberg


The former and current heads of Slovakia’s spy agency and five other police and intelligence officers have been accused of abuse of power and criminal conspiracy, the top police officer announced Thursday, in a scandal that a former leader called “a police coup” ahead of an upcoming early election. – Associated Press

Russian authorities have charged one of the leaders of a prominent independent election monitoring group with being involved with an “undesirable” organization, his lawyer said Thursday. – Associated Press

Spain’s newly elected Parliament voted Thursday by a majority to elect a Socialist candidate as chamber speaker, breathing some life into acting Socialist Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez´s aspirations of forming another leftist government. – Associated Press

The U.N. mission in ethnically divided Cyprus said Thursday it will block construction by breakaway Turkish Cypriots of a road that would encroach on a U.N.-controlled buffer zone and likely raise tensions on the Mediterranean island nation. – Associated Press

A scheduled performance by Russian opera singer Anna Netrebko in the Czech capital has been canceled over political pressures as Russia wages war on Ukraine, Czech officials said Thursday. – Associated Press

Sweden raised its terrorist alert to the second highest level on Thursday, saying it had thwarted attacks after Koran burnings and other acts against Islam’s holiest text outraged Muslims and triggered threats from jihadists. – Reuters 

Germany will hold its next general election in 2025, but already its politicians, from the president on down, are scrambling over what to do about the rising right-wing party known as Alternative for Germany. – New York Sun


German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock has held talks with African Union Chair Moussa Faki Mahamat, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken and other stakeholders about the coup in Niger, and Germany is now backing EU sanctions against the military junta, her ministry said on Thursday. – Reuters 

At least 36 Nigerian soldiers were killed in two attacks during operations against armed gangs in the northern-central state of Niger, the military said on Thursday. – Reuters 

West African army chiefs were due to hold a second and final day of talks on Friday in Ghana’s capital Accra, where they have been hashing out the details of a possible military intervention in Niger if diplomacy fails to reverse a military coup. – Reuters 

A Libyan factional commander whose seizure triggered the worst fighting in Tripoli for years, with 55 killed and 146 wounded, was returned to his unit on Wednesday, officials in the commander’s organization said. – Reuters 

The West African bloc ECOWAS stands ready to intervene militarily in Niger should diplomatic efforts to reverse a coup there fail, a senior official told army chiefs who were meeting in Ghana on Thursday to discuss the details of a standby force. – Reuters 

China’s President Xi Jinping will attend the BRICS leaders’ meeting and visit South Africa on Aug. 21-24, the Chinese foreign ministry said in a statement on Friday. – Reuters 

A leading rights group and U.N. experts accused Sudan’s powerful paramilitary on Thursday of sexual violence and attacks on women in the restive western Darfur region as the African country entered its fifth month of conflict. – Associated Press

West African defense chiefs met Thursday to discuss the crisis in Niger after coup leaders there ignored their deadline to step down, leaving the region’s countries with few options in their effort to restore democratic rule. – Associated Press

Uganda’s president on Thursday slammed the World Bank, calling the global lender “insufferable” for holding up new loans after the East African country enacted an anti-gay bill that includes the death penalty in some cases. – Associated Press

The Americas

The United States on Thursday escalated its objections to Mexico’s curbs on genetically modified corn imports, requesting a dispute settlement panel under the North American trade pact, the U.S. Trade Representative’s office said. – Reuters 

A Brazilian hacker claimed at a congressional hearing Thursday that then-President Jair Bolsonaro wanted him to hack into the country’s electronic voting system to expose its alleged weaknesses ahead of the 2022 presidential election. – Associated Press

Ecuadorians will choose a new president Sunday, less than two weeks after the South American country was shaken by the assassination of one of the candidates — a crime that laid bare people’s fears over unprecedented violence in their once-calm nation. – Associated Press

For much of Guatemala’s troubled electoral campaign, authorities seemed determined to limit voters’ options to a range of presidential hopefuls unlikely to shake up a corrupt political system, keeping several candidates seen as threats off the ballot. – Associated Press

James Stavridis writes: The reality is that both Russia and China have global ambitions in the Pacific, Atlantic and the Arctic — and very capable nuclear submarines. Our cousins up north could seize the moment and join us in a powerful, albeit expensive, defense program to face them together. Spending the money would move them where they should be in terms of overall defense spending. In the end, of course, these are decisions for Canadians — but American policymakers should encourage them to take the leap to nuclear submarines at sea. – Bloomberg

United States

A new law that bans citizens of China and some other countries from purchasing property in large swaths of Florida can be enforced while being challenged in court, a federal judge ruled Thursday. – Associated Press

The U.S. Commerce Department on Thursday said it will impose preliminary anti-dumping duties on tin-plated steel imports from Canada, Germany and China, sparing five other countries in a decision that drew some relief from food can manufacturers that had feared higher tariffs. – Reuters 

Queensland University of Technology has cast doubts on claims made by a suspected Russian spy to have studied at the Australian institution between 1997 and 2001. – The Record


Commanders and their troops need to be better educated about the application and limits of cyber in major military operations, U.S. Army officials said. – Defense News

Ransomware gangs are accelerating their attacks against educational institutions as schools prepare to reopen, with the K-12 school for Cleveland, Tennessee telling parents and administrators this week that it is dealing with a ransomware attack. – The Record

Hackers based in China are targeting the gambling sector across Southeast Asia in a campaign that researchers say is closely related to data collection and surveillance operations identified earlier this year. – The Record

Even though quantum computers are still under development, researchers are already working to protect sensitive data from attacks fueled by the expected advances in computing power. – The Record

Hillary Brill writes: Individual state legislation is not the most effective solution to a lack of federal comprehensive technology policy. The existence of varying state regulations can lead to inconsistencies and lack of uniformity, creating confusion and compliance difficulties. […] Despite the challenges within the US legislative process, Congress must proceed and enact a comprehensive technology policy to encourage responsible technology use. A balanced and coordinated approach between states and the federal government can achieve more coherent and effective policy outcomes on a broader scale. – Center for European Policy Analysis


A Defense Department review of biological threats released Thursday said the U.S. military is at a “pivotal moment” in biodefense and must act urgently to address the potential of bioweapons and other catastrophic events, including pandemics. In particular, the review highlighted a growing threat posed by China as well as acute dangers emanating from Russia and persistent threats from North Korea, Iran and violent extremist organizations. – Washington Post

Colorado-based startup True Anomaly, which develops satellites and software for military space customers, revealed a 35,000 square-foot manufacturing facility Aug. 17. – Defense News

After less than five years in service, the littoral combat ship Sioux City was decommissioned Monday in a ceremony aboard Naval Station Mayport, Florida. – Defense News

The Navy will continue uninterrupted despite the lack of a confirmed chief of naval operations, Adm. Lisa Franchetti said in her first message to the fleet since taking over the duties of CNO. – USNI News

The Navy’s Columbia (SSBN-826) class ballistic missile submarine (SSBN) program is a program to design and build a class of 12 new SSBNs to replace the Navy’s current force of 14 aging Ohio-class SSBNs. Since 2013, the Navy has consistently identified the Columbia-class program as the Navy’s top priority program. – USNI News

In the run up to the final meeting of the UN working group on military space norms of behavior, the 27 nations of the European Union have committed to a Biden administration proposal not to conduct tests of destructive, direct-ascent anti-satellite (ASAT) missiles. – Breaking Defense

With directed-energy research now coming to fruition, the Missile Defense Agency is putting “increased emphasis” on development of directed-energy weapons for shooting down adversary missiles, according to a senior MDA official. – Breaking Defense

The Army is “very close” to awarding contracts to suppliers for Phase I of the Robotic Combat Vehicle (RCV) program, according to an official of the Army Contracting Command. – Breaking Defense

The US Army plans to increase the involvement of warfighters in the current and next phases of the XM30 Mechanized Infantry Combat Vehicle program, in order to ensure the next-gen vehicle is meeting real-world, operational needs, a top officer said Wednesday, . – Breaking defense

Ian Strebel and Matt McKenzie write: As the U.S. military moves from counter-insurgency toward great power competition, military intelligence professionals must be ready to deal with complex and dynamic adversaries acting in an increasingly complex and dynamic world. Now is the time for experimentation to learn new skill sets and find new ways to fulfill the intelligence professional’s mandate. Dungeons and Dragons is a powerful tool to do just that. If you get to kill some imaginary orcs along the way, all the better. – War on the Rocks