Fdd's overnight brief

August 19, 2019

In The News


The Iranian tanker impounded by Gibraltar sailed out of the British overseas territory on Sunday over the objections of the U.S., a Gibraltar official said, raising hopes that Iran would reciprocate and release a British-flagged tanker in the Persian Gulf. – Wall Street Journal

The global standoff between the United States and Iran took a new turn Saturday after the United States issued a warrant for the seizure of an Iranian oil tanker detained in Gibraltar, just hours after the ship was ordered released.  – Washington Post

Tehran says it has warned Washington against making another attempt to seize an Iranian tanker that has departed Gibraltar after being detained since July 4 – Agence FrancePresse

The US government is in possession of classified imagery that shows Iran is getting ready to launch a rocket as soon as next week that the Iranians claim will put a peaceful satellite into orbit, but that the US sees as furthering Tehran’s missile development, multiple US officials tell CNN. – CNN

During the past two days Iran’s state TV has broadcast unprecedented criticism of former Judiciary chief and current Expediency Council Chairman Sadeq Amoli Larijani at least in three programs. – Radio Farda

The Islamic Republic of Iran is planning to work on introducing a new generation of uranium enriching centrifuges, a lawmaker told local media on Sunday August 18. – Radio Farda

A Chinese-owned oil tanker could have changed its name in an apparent effort to avoid U.S. economic sanctions against Iran, according to a report from Reuters. – The Hill


Hezbollah terrorists on Friday ignited a fire near the Israeli border. The strong winds fanned the flames, thick smoke covered the Naftali Mountains, and the fire crossed the border into Israel, threatening an IDF base and the Galilee town of Margaliot. – Arutz Sheva

Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah on Friday praised a string of recent terror attacks in the West Bank carried out by so-called lone-wolf assailants, saying the young perpetrators were “the future” of Palestinian resistance against Israel. – Times of Israel

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu dismissed boasts by Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah of the terror group’s military strength and ability to defeat Israeli troops Saturday. – Agence FrancePresse


A U.S. agreement to set up a safe zone in northern Syria, a close ally of Iran, is “provocative and worrisome”, the Iranian foreign ministry was reported to have said by the semi-official Fars news agency. – Reuters

Syrian regime forces entered a key northwestern town on Sunday amid intense fighting with jihadists and their rebel allies which has left dozens of combatants dead, a war monitor said. – Agence FrancePresse

A car bomb killed one member of a security force and wounded two others in the Kurdish-controlled city of Qamishli in northeastern Syria on Sunday, the security force said. – Reuters

Air strikes have killed more than two dozen civilians in northwestern Syria in the last two days in an escalation of a Russian-backed offensive against the last major rebel stronghold, a war monitor and local activists said on August 17. – Reuters

Israeli doctors at a Jerusalem hospital have saved a one-and-a-half-year-old Syrian toddler with a heart defect whose parents fled with him from the carnage of their country’s civil war. – Algemeiner


Syria’s Foreign Ministry says Turkey has sent armored vehicles loaded with ammunition into the country, heading to a rebel-held northwestern town that’s part of a government offensive on the country’s last rebel stronghold. – Associated Press

A joint Turkish-U.S. operation centre to establish and manage a safe zone in northeast Syria will be fully operational next week, Turkish Defence Minister Hulusi Akar said on August 16. – Reuters

Turkish authorities fired three elected mayors and detained more than 400 people on Monday, escalating tensions in the Kurdish-dominated southeast as the government prepares to expand its military presence in Syria against separatist Kurdish militants.  – Bloomberg


U.S. President Donald Trump said on Sunday he would likely wait until after Israel’s Sept. 17 elections to release a peace plan for the region that was designed by White House senior adviser Jared Kushner. – Reuters

The Palestinian leadership is worried that the mandate of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian Refugees (UNRWA) may not be renewed this year due to charges of corruption in the agency. – Jerusalem Post

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday warned of a possible broad military campaign against the Hamas terror group in Gaza, following days of escalating tensions in the area. – Algemeiner

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who also holds the defense portfolio, faces growing criticism over his handling of the security situation in southern Israel. A host of prominent Israeli politician went on the offensive Sunday, attacking Netanyahu after a tense weekend on the Gaza border, with just a month to go until the September 17 elections. – Ynet

The Hamas terror group said on Sunday that “rebellious youth” were killed by Israeli forces near the border fence between the Jewish state and the Gaza Strip on Saturday night. – Times of Israel

At least three rockets have been fired from the Gaza Strip into southern Israel with the Iron Dome defense system intercepting of the projectiles, Israeli military said Saturday. – Ynet

The mayor of the southern town of Sderot on Sunday morning called for an Israeli ground operation in the Gaza Strip to “eradicate” the Hamas terror group, following heightened tensions on the border that included several rockets fired by terror groups at his city. – Times of Israel

The IDF on Sunday published footage showing terrorists attempting to infiltrate Israel Saturday night. – Arutz Sheva

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu landed Sunday in Ukraine, kicking off a two-day trip seen as a bid to drum up support among Russian-speaking voters, ahead of general elections in Israel next month. – Times of Israel

Jordan has summoned Israel’s ambassador to protest “Israeli violations” at a Jerusalem holy site sacred to Muslims and Jews. – Associated Press

Boris Lozhkin writes: Ukraine and Israel must continue to build on their shared Jewish heritage and strengthen their partnership through various joint initiatives in economic, security and cultural spheres. Ukrainians have a lot to learn from Israel, which has managed to thrive despite being surrounded by hostile neighbors – an experience particularly pertinent for the eastern European country right now. This year – political agendas aside – conditions are ripe to boost Ukraine-Israeli relations to the next level. – Jerusalem Post

Elior Levy writes: The thing Hamas is most sensitive about is internal criticism. Whether this criticism relates to its inability to provide economically for two million Gaza residents or its constant calls for another intifada despite investing a lot of effort into reaching a ceasefire agreement with Israel. So what Hamas is trying to do is to neutralize the criticism while simultaneously pushing Israel into the corner. – Ynet

Amos Harel writes: All of this gives Hamas reason to continue to avoid a major military confrontation. The key question will be whether these relief measures are enough at this point to satisfy Gazans. Or could frustrations over the lack of implementation of more extensive such measures – some of which were halted when talks over the return of Israel’s civilians and the bodies of its soldiers reached a dead end – lead to more widespread efforts to commit terror attacks, whether Hamas is controlling the situation or not? In such a case, the result could be a downhill slide into conflict. – Haaretz

Arabian Peninsula

Yemen’s Houthi rebels struck Saudi Arabia’s Shaybah oil field, one of the kingdom’s largest, Saudi officials and the Houthis said, deepening tensions between Iran and its rivals that have engulfed the region’s energy facilities. – Wall Street Journal

Crude oil prices rose on Monday following a weekend attack on a Saudi oil facility by Yemeni separatists and as traders looked for any signs that Sino-U.S. trade tensions could ease. – Reuters

More than seven years after Raif Badawi was thrown in prison, lawyers and allies of the Saudi blogger are increasingly lobbying foreign governments in an effort to secure his release as Saudi Arabia prepares to host next year’s G20 meeting. – The Canadian Press

The refusal of Yemeni southern separatists to hand back control of Aden port has delayed a summit in Saudi Arabia that is due to discuss reshuffling Yemen’s ousted government to include the separatists and end the stand-off, three Yemeni sources said. – Reuters

Iran’s foreign minister said Sunday that he was praying for the “speedy recovery” of Kuwait’s ruling emir, though there has been no public word on the 90-year-old ruler being ill or injured. – Associated Press

Korean Peninsula

North Korea spat out insults at South Korean President Moon Jae-in on Friday, rejected the idea of dialogue with Seoul and launched two more missiles into the sea, in the latest display of rage at joint U.S.-South Korea military exercises. – Washington Post

North Korea said on August 17 that leader Kim Jong Un supervised another test-firing of an unspecified new weapon, seen as an attempt to pressure Washington and Seoul over slow nuclear negotiations and their joint military exercises. – Associated Press

The U.S. special envoy for North Korea will travel to Japan and South Korea next week to coordinate efforts to secure the denuclearization of North Korea, the State Department said on August 16. – Reuters

Ramon Pacheco Pardo writes: Ultimately, whether FOIP replaces the Asia-Pacific or East Asia as the main way Asian geopolitics are conceptualized will not be decided in Washington or Beijing. Superpowers need followers that will help make or break their foreign policy strategies. This is why South Korea is the key country to bring real legitimacy to FOIP. – The Hill

Kelli Kennedy writes: All of this should matter a great deal to Washington, because discord between America’s east Asian allies weakens our position vis-à-vis China and North Korea. As such, the U.S. should encourage both countries to take ownership of past decisions and take steps that lead to a permanent political reconciliation. For, in an already unpredictable region, an unstable South Korea-Japan relationship is bad for the region, and bad for the United States. – The Hill

Bonnie Kristian writes: The United States already so outmatches North Korea militarily that we can remain confident of our security — thanks to conventional deterrence, North Korea wouldn’t dare launch an unprovoked attack on the United States. That reality gives us space to maneuver and turn Trump’s relationship with Kim into something of lasting value. – The Hill


President Trump suggested Sunday that his administration is not likely to grant another temporary reprieve to Huawei Technologies, pushing back against reports that an extension was expected to come Monday. – Washington Post

U.S. President Donald Trump on Sunday said he did not want the United States to do business with China’s Huawei even as the administration weighs whether to extend a grace period for the company. – Reuters

A decade of “delayed and unpredictable funding” for the U.S. military’s budget has seen America lose its primacy in the Western Pacific, giving the edge to an increasingly sophisticated China, a Sydney-based think tank warned. – Bloomberg

President Donald Trump said the U.S. is “doing very well with China, and talking!” but suggested he wasn’t ready to sign a trade deal, hours after his top economic adviser laid out a potential timeline for the resumption of substantive discussions with Beijing. – Bloomberg

Chinese soybean buyers hoping for a cascade of Russian beans to replace American supplies as the trade war with Washington rumbles on are likely to be disappointed. – Bloomberg

Yaroslav Trofimov writes: In the U.S., resistance to China’s international expansion, trade practices and military moves—highlighted by Donald Trump in his 2016 campaign—has now solidified into a bipartisan consensus. […]The great question raised by China’s new posture is whether it can navigate the shift in its relative power without spiraling into an outright confrontation with the U.S. Such a clash could handicap the world’s two largest economies—and, in the worst-case scenario now being openly discussed by policy makers on both sides of the Pacific, even throw Asia into a major war. – Wall Street Journal


At least 63 people were killed when a suicide bomber linked to the Islamic State blew himself up in a crowded wedding hall in the Afghan capital late Saturday, one of the most devastating attacks on civilians in years of conflict and terror. – Washington Post

The death toll from a suicide attack on a crowded wedding hall in Kabul soared to at least 63 people, Afghan authorities said Sunday, ratcheting up worries in a capital already taut with fears that an imminent peace deal with the Taliban and a hasty withdrawal of U.S. forces will worsen security. – Wall Street Journal

President Trump met with his top national security advisers Friday to consider a deal with the Taliban that could lead to the withdrawal of most U.S. forces from Afghanistan and the end of America’s longest military engagement abroad, U.S. officials said. – Wall Street Journal

For months, Afghans have been waiting anxiously to see whether negotiations between U.S. officials and Taliban insurgents will lead to a lasting peace and a solid path to power-sharing or leave them bereft, facing revived conflict and a possible Taliban takeover. Those concerns deepened Saturday as news spread that President Trump’s top peace negotiator, Zalmay Khalilzad, had presented him Friday with a nearly finished deal that would remove thousands of U.S. troops but had not locked in Taliban commitments to a cease-fire or political negotiations with Afghan officials. – Washington Post

The proposed Afghan peace deal presented Friday to President Trump by the administration’s top peace negotiator would accomplish the president’s major goal of beginning to withdraw thousands of U.S. forces from the country, after nearly 18 years of fighting and just over 2,400 U.S. personnel killed. […]Beyond that, however, the agreement as described by U.S. officials leaves several key issues unaddressed, others not yet explicitly endorsed by the Taliban, and still others to be worked out at future meetings between Taliban and Afghan leaders that have not yet been confirmed or announced. – Washington Post

US President Donald Trump hailed progress in negotiations on an Afghanistan peace deal, saying that talks with both the Taliban and the Afghan government are going well – Agence FrancePresse

Afghanistan’s president on Monday vowed to “eliminate” all safe havens of the Islamic State group as the country marked a subdued 100th Independence Day after a horrific wedding attack claimed by the local IS affiliate. – Associated Press

Western intermediaries are trying to persuade arch foes Iran and the United States to cooperate on bolstering security in Afghanistan as US President Donald Trump seeks to extract America from its longest war, according to three sources familiar with the efforts. – Reuters

Afghan Taliban officials said on Saturday the killing of the brother of their leader in a bomb attack would not derail talks with the United States aimed at securing the withdrawal of U.S. troops after 18 years of war. – Reuters

US President Donald Trump wants to end the “endless wars,” which he says have burdened the US for decades and become a sunk cost with diminishing returns. He and others who have sought to work out a deal in Afghanistan, such as envoy Zalmay Khalilzad, are focused on technical details after a recent round of talks with the Taliban. – Jerusalem Post

Adam Taylor writes: Saturday’s attack marks one of the worst assaults on Afghan civilians in years of conflict, and it comes at a perilous time for the country: The United States is in the midst of peace talks with the Taliban, a Sunni Islamist fundamentalist group that proclaimed a totalitarian Islamic emirate in Afghanistan in 1996 and has been fighting a brutal insurgency since being forced from power after the U.S.-led invasion of the country in 2001. […]Even if the deal with the Taliban goes as planned, it is not clear that all Taliban commanders would abide by the terms agreed to by their leadership: Some may choose to join the Islamic State, as others have done in the past. – Washington Post

South Asia

U.N. Security Council members believe India and Pakistan should refrain from taking unilateral action over the disputed region of Jammu and Kashmir, China’s U.N. envoy said on August 16 after the council met on the issue for the first time in decades. – Reuters

Pakistan is stoking terrorism against India in the wake of an administrative change in contested territory, according to a top Indian diplomat. – Washington Examiner

President Trump on Friday spoke by phone with Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan about the situation in Kashmir, roughly a month after the foreign leader visited the White House. – The Hill

A Hindu nationalist group close to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s ruling party has stepped up criticism of Chinese telecom equipment makers, warning that their presence in India posed “an unacceptable security risk”. – Reuters

India has stuck to its commitment of ‘no first use’ of nuclear weapons but future policy will depend on the situation, the defense minister said on Friday, which analysts said introduced a level of ambiguity in a core national security doctrine. – Reuters

Pakistan said Indian troops have fired across the Line of Control in the disputed Kashmir region, killing two civilians and wounding another. – Associated Press


Hundreds of thousands of protesters, facing an intensifying police crackdown and threats of military force from Beijing, responded Sunday with a huge and peaceful march, underscoring continued mass support for the pro-autonomy movement here. – Washington Post

The chief executive of Cathay Pacific Airways, Hong Kong’s flagship carrier, resigned Friday, the company said, after coming under intense pressure from officials in Beijing for its employees’ taking part in protests that have carried on for over two months. – Washington Post

President Trump warned Chinese President Xi Jinping against reacting violently to protests in Hong Kong, saying that could threaten a trade deal, speaking hours after administration officials confirmed a new round of talks. – Wall Street Journal

Vietnam has demanded that China remove an oil survey vessel and its escorts from the Southeast Asian country’s exclusive economic zone, amid a month-long standoff in waters seen as a potential global flashpoint as the United States challenges Beijing’s maritime claims. – Reuters

China lashed out at Taiwan on Monday over its offer of political asylum to participants in Hong Kong’s pro-democracy protest movement, a day after hundreds of thousands of people marched peacefully in the latest massive demonstration in the Chinese territory. – Associated Press

In response to a statement from EU’s top diplomat, a spokesperson of the Chinese Mission to the European Union (EU) said on Sunday that China is gravely concerned and strongly opposed to the EU’s meddling in Hong Kong affairs. – Xinhua

Hundreds of pro-China demonstrators marched through Sydney on August 17 in response to a growing number of rallies in support of the Hong Kong democracy protests as tensions between the two groups increasingly flare in Australia. – Agence FrancePresse

Fiji Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama accused Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison of insulting leaders of Pacific island nations during a regional summit earlier this week, and said Chinese officials were far more tactful and better mannered. – Reuters

Myra Lu writes: Democratic countries, and companies that claim to believe in corporate social responsibility, should band together to ignore the whimpering of China’s internet army. That would give hope to those who cherish democracy, freedom and reality. – Wall Street Journal

Anne Applebaum writes: But it may also be that the young protesters of Russia and China are simply ahead of us. We’ve gotten used to the idea that political influence flows from West to East, but are we so sure that is still true? A generation of Eastern dissidents has thought harder than we have about how to self-organize, about how to operate in a world run by secretive, kleptocratic elites who go out of their way to create distraction and apathy.  […]It may be that we in the West simply haven’t thought about what tactics ordinary people need to deploy to compete in a world where money is offshore, power is invisible and apathy is widespread. It may be that we need to learn from people who have. – Washington Post

Joseph Bosco writes: Trump can make clear to his Chinese friend that the United States is fully prepared to state its moral support for Hong Kong’s people and that any resort to force will be met by severe U.S. economic, diplomatic and information actions that will be seen and heard not only around the world, but throughout all regions of China. – The Hill


Antigovernment protesters staged a series of pickets across Moscow on August 17, trying to sustain the momentum of the growing Russian opposition movement that has roiled the capital every weekend for a month. – New York Times

Two Russian monitoring stations designed to detect nuclear radiation went silent soon after the explosion at a missile test site this month, spurring concerns among observers that the Russian government is trying to restrict evidence of the accident. – Wall Street Journal

Russia will not deploy new missiles as long as the United States shows similar restraint in Europe and Asia, Russian defense minister Sergei Shoigu said on Sunday, after Washington’s withdrawal from a Soviet-era arms pact. – Reuters

Russia’s Defence Ministry said on August 16 that two of its nuclear-capable TU-160 bombers had left an airfield opposite Alaska after training exercises and returned to their base, Interfax news agency reported. – Reuters


An increasingly likely “no-deal” Brexit could wreak havoc on Britain’s economy, infrastructure and social fabric, the government says in classified documents leaked to a British newspaper. – Washington Post

President Trump confirmed Sunday that he has asked his administration to explore the possibility of buying Greenland, opining that “essentially, it’s a large real estate deal.” – Washington Post

President Trump faced a fierce European backlash to his reported interest in acquiring Greenland from Denmark, as some lawmakers compared the idea to colonialism on Friday while officials on the island said they welcome investment but not a new owner. – Washington Post

Prime Minister Boris Johnson will tell French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel that the Westminster parliament cannot stop Brexit and a new deal must be agreed if Britain is to avoid leaving the EU without one. – Reuters

Poland is considering supporting a U.S.-led mission to protect the Strait of Hormuz, but has not made a formal decision yet. – Reuters

The Pentagon sought to underscore the existing defense relationship between the U.S. and Greenland amid reports that President Trump has inquired about purchasing the Danish territory. – The Hill

Luke Coffey writes: The recent media reports that President Donald Trump is interested in purchasing Greenland for United States has brought the unlikely country into the world’s headlines. – The Daily Signal

Leonid Bershidsky writes: To protect U.S. interests in the Arctic, Trump would be better off working closely and constructively with European allies, including Denmark and Norway. Such cooperation can make more economic sense than territorial expansion. Trump may be wrong on Greenland but he unwittingly raised the question of sovereign territory transactions. If they can be used to avoid violence and unnecessary tension and benefit denizens of the territory for sale, why not?  – Bloomberg


Sudan’s military and civilian leaders signed a landmark power-sharing deal at a joyous ceremony in Khartoum, on August 17 after eight months of popular protests, a coup and a bloody military crackdown – New York Times

A group of 16 African countries has called on the US and EU to “immediately lift” economic sanctions imposed on Zimbabwe. – BBC

Judd Devermont writes: Whether it is Muslim hardliners denouncing polio vaccination campaigns as anti-Muslim plots or Christian hardliners accusing Muslim politicians of scheming to Islamize Nigeria by force and trickery, the country’s religiosity often combines explosively with socioeconomic and political factors that underpin Nigeria’s volatility. However, any recommendation to increase religious regulation by the Nigerian state, especially if under pressure from Washington, would risk doing harm. – Center for Strategic and International Studies

United States

Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.) said Friday that she would not travel to Israel under “oppressive conditions” to see her 90-year-old grandmother after the Israeli government reversed course and said it would allow her to make the trip. – Washington Post

Palestinians reacted with mixed feelings to Palestinian-American Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib’s decision to cancel her planned visit to east Jerusalem and the West Bank. […]Tlaib’s letter drew criticism from several Palestinians, who took to social media to express their opposition to the congresswoman’s request to visit her relatives in accordance with Israeli preconditions. – Jerusalem Post

Reports on Saturday indicated that House Democrats could be interested in pursuing retaliation against Israel’s decision to block Reps. Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib from entering the country. – Washington Examiner

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Friday vowed that the U.S.-Israel relationship would not suffer because of the “weakness” of President Trump and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. – Washington Examiner

Rep. Rashida Tlaib has suggested that viewers boycott comedian Bill Maher’s HBO show after he denounced the international boycott movement against Israel as a “bulls–t purity test.” – New York Post

Latin America

Inside an Oslo hotel in May, negotiators for Venezuela’s President Nicolás Maduro made a startling offer. The opposition and the United States were demanding new presidential elections. The Maduro loyalists, who were in Norway with the opposition for mediated talks, had signaled their willingness to hold such a vote within nine to 12 months.  – Washington Post

The U.S. has made secret contact with Venezuela’s socialist party boss as close allies of President Nicolás Maduro’s inner circle seek guarantees they won’t face prosecution for alleged abuses and crimes if they cede to growing demands to remove him, according to a senior Trump administration official. – Associated Press

United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi appealed on Sunday for more humanitarian aid for Venezuelan refugees pouring into neighboring countries where they are overwhelming social services and sparking local tensions. – Reuters

China National Petroleum Corp, a leading buyer of Venezuelan oil, has halted August loadings following the latest set of U.S. sanctions on the South American exporter, two Beijing-based senior sources with direct knowledge of the matter told Reuters on August 19. – Reuters

President Trump privately suggested stationing Navy ships around Venezuela to block goods from entering and exiting the country multiple times, Axios reported Sunday. – The Hill

Daniel Di Martino writes: Some also fear that the Venezuelan TPS program would become indefinitely extended, since courts have stopped the administration from terminating the program for other nations. But court battles regarding TPS designations for other nations shouldn’t stop President Trump from joining with Congress to advance the fight against socialism by helping Venezuelans. There are only great things to be gained by stopping socialism at home while advancing U.S. interests abroad. – Washington Examiner


Two elite Army cyber/electronic warfare units — critical components of its plans for high-tech war — have struggled to fill their ranks, the Government Accountability Office reported. – Breaking Defense

At least 20 local government entities across Texas were hit by a ransomware attack, authorities announced Friday. – The Hill

Almost 80 percent of Americans will consider a candidate’s stance on cybersecurity when deciding their vote in elections, a poll made public Friday by IT security company Anomali found.  – The Hill


The U.S. Navy is months behind schedule getting its latest batch of Virginia-class attack subs under contract, and no resolution appears imminent — leading to mounting concerns that delays on the Virginia will affect the Navy’s top acquisition priority, the Columbia-class submarine. – Defense News

This report provides a basic overview of interim continuing resolutions (CRs) and highlights some specific issues pertaining to operations of the Department of Defense (DOD) under a CR. – USNI News

U.S Coast Guard is mulling its future in the Asia-Pacific region once the National Security Cutter USCGC Stratton (WMSL-752) completes its current deployment in end November, region commander Vice Adm. Linda Fagan told reporters on Friday. – USNI News

Guided-missile destroyer USS Porter (DDG-78) left the Black Sea after an eight-day patrol and visits to Romania and Bulgaria. – USNI News

James Stavridis writes: In the likely scenario that all this smoke reveals not much fire but rather disgruntled competitors and political angst (and a strong component of anti-Amazon influence from the White House, where Amazon founder and Washington Post owner Jeff Bezos is despised), Esper should press through to a contract award as soon as is legally appropriate. Warfighting in the 21st century will be “brain on brain” combat, and a large, singular cloud structure is the gray matter the U.S. military needs. – Bloomberg

Long War

Hamas, the militant Palestinian group, has been designated a terrorist organization by Western governments and some others and has been locked out of the traditional financial system. But this year its military wing has developed an increasingly sophisticated campaign to raise money using Bitcoin. – New York Times

Canada said on Sunday that Britain’s decision to strip Jack Letts – dubbed “Jihadi Jack” by the media – of his British citizenship was an attempt to shift responsibility for what to do with him onto Canada, where he also has citizenship. – Reuters

Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, introduced legislation Friday that would make domestic terrorism a federal crime. – The Hill

Seth J. Frantzman writes: This fall represents a clear crossroads in the U.S. desire to see the total defeat of ISIS. With a commitment of limited forces, ISIS mostly has been defeated. But the lesson of 2014 resonates — that is, ISIS can reorganize quickly and burst onto the scene if security forces in Iraq and Syria, partnered with the U.S., don’t keep constant tabs on enemy movements and its attempts to regroup. – The Hill

Trump Administration

Speaker Nancy Pelosi is warning the Trump administration that a White House proposal to cut billions of dollars in foreign aid could imperil a recent two-year budget agreement. – Politico

The Trump administration is aggressively pursuing economic sanctions as a primary foreign policy tool to an extent unseen in decades, or perhaps ever. Many are questioning the results even as officials insist the penalties are achieving their aims. – Associated Press

On her show on August 15, MSNBC host Rachel Maddow slammed President Trump’s nomination of Steven Menashi to the Second U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, describing an academic paper authored by the attorney in defense of Israel’s standing as a Jewish state as “a highbrow argument for racial purity.” – Jewish Insider