Fdd's overnight brief

August 19, 2022

In The News


The man accused of stabbing novelist Salman Rushdie last week in western New York pleaded not guilty to second-degree attempted murder and assault charges on Thursday and was held without bail. – Reuters

A resolution may be tantalizingly close. But as the U.S. and Europe weigh Iran’s latest response to an EU proposal described as the West’s final offer, the administration faces new and potentially insurmountable domestic political hurdles to forging a lasting agreement. – Associated Press

The West will show weakness if it does not stop nuclear talks with Iran now, Prime Minister Lapid told American and European interlocutors on Thursday. – Jerusalem Post

With the ball once again in the U.S. court to evaluate Iran’s final recommendations on reviving their 2015 nuclear agreement with major world powers, the stakes are higher for both sides than at any point since President Joe Biden set out nearly a year and a half ago to undo his predecessor’s exit from the landmark accord. – Newsweek

Iranian hardliners have claimed the US is set to make concessions as part of a nuclear deal with Tehran, according to a Thursday report. – Times of Israel

Reza Pahlavi writes: I wish Mr. Rushdie a swift and complete recovery. This contemptible attack wasn’t an assault only on him, but on the West and all freethinkers. It is time for the world to heed the Iranian people’s calls to treat this regime like the rogue state it is and to aid my compatriots in their campaign for freedom. Like the leaders of the 1990s, you must show Tehran that the West stands for its principles and its own citizen. – Wall Street Journal

Michael Rubin writes: Together, this creates a system of plausible deniability in which Iran can attack its enemies without ever paying the price. As Iranian assassins roam from California to New York to Washington, the question for the White House is how long will they remain blind to the insincerity of Iran’s excuses and recognize how the Iranian system really works. – Washington Examiner

Douglas Murray writes: Iran is a self-declared foe of the United States. It repeatedly incites the murder of this country’s citizens and the citizens of our allies, including Israel. Now it is plotting and carrying out the most brazen attacks imaginable on US soil. So what precisely does the Biden administration think can be gained from getting Iran “on side.” They’re not on our side. They haven’t been since the Revolutionary Islamic government took over in 1979. And far from preventing Iran getting the bomb, a nuclear deal of the kind the US signed up to before could be one of the fastest ways to see them get one. – New York Post

James Snell writes: Iran can only take the same lesson from the Rushdie attack. Just one more go at Rushdie, the ayatollahs must be saying. With just a little more luck, they think, we’ll really show everyone what we mean. – Haaretz 

Hasti Aryana Rostami writes: While Nouri’s sentencing is worth celebrating, international efforts to seek justice for the victims of the 1988 massacre and other crimes committed by the regime should not stop with him. Khavaran serves as a reminder of the crimes carried out by the Islamic Republic and no concrete walls, no matter how high, will erase them from the public memory of Iranians. The Swedish court decision is certainly a cause for optimism, but the path forward will be challenging and as the recent Belgian extradition treaty underscores, there is still a long way to go to bring justice to the victims of the Iranian government. – Middle East Institute 

Bob Feferman writes: The late Nobel Laureate and Holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel once said: “The opposite of love is not hate … it is indifference.” Through our investment decisions, we have the power to show that we are not indifferent to the growing threats that Iran and the IRGC pose to peace, human rights, and American national security. Each of us can make a difference. – Algemeiner

Caroline Glick writes: It is hard to see a happy end to this distressing tale. The only way forward at this point is for America’s endangered Middle East allies to join forces to block Iran’s path to nuclear hegemony and to push the Biden Administration off its devastating course. – Arutz Sheva

Russia & Ukraine

Until this week, Ukrainians seemed to see President Volodymyr Zelensky as beyond reproach, a national hero who stayed in Kyiv despite the risk to his personal safety to lead his country against invading Russian troops. – Washington Post

A clandestine branch of Russia’s security service was deeply involved in the Kremlin’s failed war plan, assuring officials in Moscow that Ukraine’s government would fall quickly and deploying operatives to install a puppet regime. – Washington Post

In the final days before the invasion of Ukraine, Russia’s security service began sending cryptic instructions to informants in Kyiv. Pack up and get out of the capital, the Kremlin collaborators were told, but leave behind the keys to your homes. – Washington Post

In May, Italian television journalists asked Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov about the role Wagner Group, a private military company, was playing as Moscow began its offensive in Ukraine’s eastern Donbas area. He dismissed the question. Wagner, he said, wasn’t deployed in Ukraine and had no connection to the Russian state. – Wall Street Journal

Tensions around the nuclear power plant on the front lines of the war in Ukraine escalated sharply on Thursday, as the Russian and Ukrainian militaries traded charges that each was preparing to stage an attack on the plant in coming days, risking a catastrophic release of radiation. – New York Times

It didn’t take long after Russia attacked Ukraine for French Colonel Clement Torrent to get his orders: He had six months to build a base for 1,000 soldiers on NATO’s eastern frontier. – Bloomberg

A Russian cargo ship that Ukraine alleges holds stolen wheat from territory seized by Moscow appears to have reached the Syrian port of Tartus, according to satellite images analyzed Thursday by The Associated Press. – Associated Press

The Russian military said Thursday that it has deployed warplanes armed with state-of-the-art hypersonic missiles to the country’s westernmost Baltic region, a move that comes amid soaring tensions with the West over Moscow’s action in Ukraine. – Associated Press

In July, TV Rain, Russia’s only independent news channel, resumed broadcasting from Latvia after a five-month hiatus. But soon afterwards, the reporters realised not everyone in the Baltic state was happy to have them there. – Financial Times

The Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant in Ukraine could be at risk for a shutdown, which one Russian Armed Forces lieutenant general says could lead to an emergency with the spread of radioactive substances. – Newsweek

Ukrainian intelligence said that Russian forces are planning to attack Ukraine in a “massive shelling” event next week. – Newsweek

Claims made by Russian President Vladimir Putin that the United States is intentionally prolonging the Russia-Ukraine conflict may not be as implausible as described, says one U.S. military veteran and journalist. – Newsweek

Russia’s military is running enlistment campaigns in Central Asian countries Uzbekistan, Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan as the number of Russians willing to fight in Ukraine decreases, Ukraine’s intelligence service (GUR) claimed. – Jerusalem Post

On top of the sanctions already imposed upon Russia for invading Ukraine, Russia is facing moves that would designate it a state sponsor of terrorism. A bipartisan “Sense of the Congress” resolution recommending that the Biden administration apply that designation passed the US Senate unanimously. The resolution cited Russian terrorism beginning with the war in Chechnya and continuing with Syria Georgia and Ukraine. – Middle East Media Research Institute 

Finnish startup ICEYE announced today that it will provide imagery from one of its synthetic aperture radar (SAR) satellites to Ukraine’s embattled government, via a contract with a Ukrainian foundation supporting the country’s military in the war with Russia. – Breaking Defense

Clara Ferreira Marques writes: Russians are experts at muddling along — they’ve survived years of anemic economic growth already. The government can keep the military machine going longer by reallocating spending, issuing domestic debt and printing cash. But this is not the 1990s. Russians are overlooking reality because they hope for a short-lived crisis, like those of the past. Putin, ever more out of touch, is offering a Potemkin future — where no one can acknowledge the fall in living standards, the isolation, the technological regression. But then, he has no options. Russians do. – Bloomberg

Herman Pirchner, Jr writes: Although removing Russia’s president from power won’t be easy, eventually the balance will inexorably shift from the dwindling number of stalwarts who still support his war aims to those who want to cut their losses. That point could well come if the stalemate in the Donbas continues, and Ukraine starts to recapture territory now occupied by Russia. Today, both of those outcomes are distinctly possible. As a result, so too is a possible end to the current war. – The Hill

Gordon G. Chang writes: Moreover, the U.S. Navy needs a new generation of short- and medium-range nuclear-armed cruise missiles, largely because various presidents, including the current one, have blocked development. Congress is trying to remedy the situation, but America is still in the unenviable position of having the wrong type of weapons to deter Russia’s use of low-yield warheads. Putin probably believes the U.S. would not start an all-out thermonuclear war over a tactical strike. – The Hill

David Brennan and Yevgeny Kuklychev write: Russia’s “legacy” clients, its remaining allies and countries intent on neutrality over the war, are likely to keep trading even if it means doing so on the black market. But others might now think twice: recent high-profile cancellations of orders, including by India and the Philippines, are bound to get the alarm bells ringing in Moscow. – Newsweek

Joshua Huminski writes: Equally too, it is unclear how the Intelligence Community’s role and effort to communicate the threat will affect the future use of strategic intelligence. While it may not have been an immediate success in convincing ally and adversary alike, the Intelligence Community’s performance in Ukraine is a demonstrable success. Yet, it is clear that the future use of strategic intelligence will be far broader in scope, and faster in practice, than in the past. – Breaking Defense


Military chief Aviv Kohavi revealed Thursday that the Israel Defense Forces carried out a strike on an unnamed country during the recent round of fighting in the Gaza Strip earlier this month. – Times of Israel

The Israeli government has been making last-ditch efforts to broker a deal with Moscow to avoid the closure of the Jewish Agency in the country, with top officials speaking to their Russian counterparts ahead of a first significant court hearing in the case on Friday, Israeli officials said. – Times of Israel

A high-ranking delegation from Vietnam’s Defense Ministry is due to visit Israel in September as guests of Israel Aerospace Industries to advance the half-billion-dollar purchase of three of the defense firm’s Barak 8 missile defense systems. The delegation is to be headed by the deputy commander of Vietnam’s air force as well as the head of the country’s air defenses. – Haaretz

Following the latest round of fighting between Israel and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) in Gaza, Arab journalists castigated the Palestinian factions, especially the PIJ and Hamas, for their alliance with Iran. They called this alliance an “unforgivable error” that allows Iran to control the decision-making in Gaza, use it as a bargaining chip in its nuclear negotiations with the West and drag it into confrontations with Israel for which Gazans pay with their lives. Iran’s exploitation of the Palestinian cause, they added, harms it and causes the Palestinians to lose the support of the Arab and Islamic world. – Middle East Media Research Institute 

Mark Regev writes: The Abraham Accords did not occur because Arab leaders read the writings of Theodor Herzl and embraced the vision of Jewish statehood. Rather, the 2020 agreements stemmed from changing geopolitical realities and the realization that Israel can be a reliable and valued partner. Ironically, although it was uncertainty about American commitment that paved the path to the Abraham Accords, in the end it was American leverage that led to their consummation. – Jerusalem Post


The rumbling of engines echoed across the valley at dusk, as scores of men with mismatched camouflage and mud-caked Kalashnikovs descended into the town in northern Afghanistan. – New York Times

The explosion scattered the Afghans desperate for a seat on the planes that evacuated more than 120,000 people through Hamid Karzai International Airport. It also cast the military police into a bureaucratic maze that had led Raoufi to a special immigrant visa and a job in Virginia, but left others — including an Afghan National Army sergeant major who says he oversaw the detention of now-empowered Haqqani leaders — to face an apparent dead end in a miasma of Taliban threats. – Washington Examiner

Jane Harman writes: Finally, lesson six: a global strategy for US leadership is needed. It is past time to build a compelling case for American leadership in the post-cold war world. Understanding what the US did wrong in Afghanistan, finding ways to provide ongoing effective help there, and getting Ukraine and other challenges right would be a good start. – Financial Times

Michael Rubin writes: Rather than seek to shore up Taliban legitimacy, the United States should plan for a post-Taliban future. One of the greatest mistakes of its two-decade experiment with democracy in Afghanistan was to insist on a strong Kabul. The reason for this was to enable the Afghan government to co-opt regional warlords while the U.S. military reconstructed the ANSF. – The National Interest

Ali Maisam Nazary writes: Afghanistan is at a critical juncture, and the situation will deteriorate if ignored by the international community, with damaging security and political consequences for all. Afghanistan’s people, under the banner of the NRF, have a chance to fight for and form a democratic and just government that truly represents their will and interests. Through its inaction, the international community only rewards and provides legitimacy to the Taliban—a terrible choice when a real alternative is taking shape. – Foreign Affairs

Marti Flacks and Lauren Burke write: Instead, the United States should approach the Taliban the same way it approaches other ideologically-driven repressive regimes, from Cuba to China: not by trying to change the regime’s beliefs, but rather by working to limit the ability of the regime to inflict harm on its people, and by providing robust support to civil society organizations (CSOs) seeking to protect civilians and activists in the short term and create sustainable change in governance in the long term. – Center for Strategic and International Studies

Aref Dostyar and Zmarai Farahi write: These short- to medium-term measures by America are achievable. They could exert some pressure on the Taliban and reassure non-Taliban groups that they are not alone in their struggle. They could also mobilize the region to prevent Afghanistan from becoming a regime-run safehouse for terrorists with objectives reaching far beyond its borders. Lastly, these steps, if sustained long enough to jumpstart a potential political process and see it through to completion, could contribute to the restoration of America’s reputation after its catastrophic withdrawal from Afghanistan. – Middle East Institute 

Chris Mason writes: The people of the world have heard the words but seen the deeds in South Vietnam, Iraq, and Afghanistan. The Taliban have shown that they will not change or compromise except under duress. In Ukraine, the United States is clearly following a policy of “sanctions, support, and arms.” The United States should act with the same resolve and consistency in Afghanistan, and continue the fight against the Taliban dictatorship with, in Carl von Clausewitz’s well-known phrase, “the addition of other means.” – The National Interest


Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said he discussed avenues to end the Russia’s war during talks with his Ukrainian counterpart, as well as conditions for a possible prisoners exchange. – Bloomberg

Desmond Lachman writes: If there’s a silver lining to Turkey’s economic mess, it is that Erdogan will likely be forced to leave the political stage after next year’s election. If that happens, we might have a more reliable Turkish NATO partner to help us in standing up to Russia in its war with Ukraine. – New York Post

Michael Rubin writes: Rather, Sullivan should demand a stop to Turkey’s military dealings with Moscow; its support for Hamas, the Islamic State, and al-Qaeda, an end to Turkey’s overflights of Greek islands; China-like violations of its neighbors’ maritime waters, and exclusive economic zones; and Russia-like occupations of other neighbors. The White House and State Department may believe boilerplate diplomacy and moral clarity are smart, but statecraft is more than an algorithm or purposeful neglect of a country’s true behavior. It is time to take the F-16s off the table and ratchet up sanctions in response to the new S-400 deal. – 19FortyFive

Middle East & North Africa

Energy-rich Middle East states are set to reap up to $1.3tn in additional oil revenues over the next four years, according to the IMF, as they enjoy a windfall that will bolster the firepower of the region’s sovereign wealth funds at a time when global asset prices have sold off. The IMF’s projections underscore how high energy prices driven by Russia’s war in Ukraine are buoying the Gulf’s absolute monarchies while much of the rest of the world grapples with soaring inflation and fears of recession. – Financial Times

The Foreign Ministry confirmed on Thursday evening that Israel has asked Oman, through technical-professional channels, to allow Israeli flights to fly over its territory, despite the fact that Israel does not have a peace agreement with the country. – Arutz Sheva

Amos Harel writes: There’s also the matter of the “war between the wars.” The Russians have hardly interfered with Israeli airstrikes in Syria, and there is no indication that this will change any time soon. In the long-term though, it’s clear that the warming of Russian-Iranian relations does not bode well for Israel. – Haaretz

Korean Peninsula

The influential sister of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un on Friday rebuffed Seoul’s offer of economic benefits in exchange for denuclearization steps, calling South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol “really foolish” and his plan “absurd.” – Washington Post

A South Korean minister expressed regret on Friday over the slamming by North Korea’s Kim Yo Jong of President Yoon Suk-yeol and the rejection of Seoul’s proposal to boost the North’s economy in exchange for giving up nuclear weapons. – Reuters

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un held a ceremony to thank and praise military medics for spearheading the country’s fight against the coronavirus in the capital Pyongyang, state media said on Friday. – Reuters


Climate policy is fast becoming a new bone of contention between Washington and Beijing, after China retaliated for this month’s visit to Taiwan by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi by halting talks with the U.S. over how to combat global warming. – Wall Street Journal

A court in Shanghai sentenced Chinese-born Canadian billionaire Xiao Jianhua on Friday to 13 years in prison after finding him guilty of bribery, illegal use of funds and other financial crimes in a case that has touched upon the highest rungs of Chinese political power. – Washington Post

Most members surveyed by the American Chamber of Commerce in Taiwan said they had not been significantly affected by recent Chinese military drills around the island, but had heightened concerns, the group said on Friday. – Reuters

Taiwan’s defence ministry said 51 Chinese aircraft and six Chinese ships had been detected operating around Taiwan on Thursday as Beijing continued military activities near the island. – Reuters

Authorities in Hong Kong say 29 out of 47 pro-democracy activists charged with “conspiracy to commit subversion” under a tough National Security Law have entered guilty pleas in court, as the Beijing government seeks to further silence opposition voices in the regional financial hub. – Associated Press

China’s response to U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan was anything but subtle — dispatching warships and military aircraft to all sides of the self-governing island democracy, and firing ballistic missiles into the waters nearby. – Associated Press

A former top Department of Energy official revealed details about the Chinese government’s efforts to conduct espionage against American technology, warning the United States must do more to protect U.S. innovation. – Washington Examiner

China’s Huawei has signed a deal to build 161 telecoms towers across the Solomon Islands in a sign of strengthening ties between the Pacific nation and Beijing just months after they agreed a controversial security deal. – Financial Times

Xi Jinping and Vladimir Putin will attend the G20 summit in Bali this year, raising the prospect of a meeting with Joe Biden at a time of heightened tensions between the world’s military superpowers over Taiwan and Ukraine. – Financial Times

Intensified military pressure from China has reinforced Taiwan’s desire to acquire large weapons platforms such as warships and fighter aircraft, deepening Taipei’s differences over arms procurement with the US. – Financial Times

The Chinese People’s Liberation Army Navy possesses the resources to field up to five aircraft carriers and 10 nuclear ballistic missile submarines by 2030, according to a new think tank report on Beijing’s ongoing military expansion. – USNI News

Elbridge A. Colby and Alexander B. Gray write: The U.S. may soon need to fight and win a more intense war than it has faced in decades. China won’t be deterred unless it sees that the U.S. is ready, and the industrial base is essential to that. There is no time to waste. – Wall Street Journal

Gregory Poling writes: The South China Sea isn’t lost to the United States and its partners yet. No other government has endorsed China’s interpretation of maritime law; no country has accepted Beijing’s territorial claims. The United States is still the preferred security partner for most of the region. And the U.S.-Philippine alliance is still alive and overwhelmingly popular. There continues to be a path to secure U.S. national interests at an acceptable cost. It is narrower and more uncertain than it was a few years ago. But that should be cause for urgency, not resignation. – Foreign Affairs

Satoru Nagao writes: If China tried to invade Taiwan, it would need to prepare dumps of ammunition and rations for large landing forces. It would also need large naval air and missile forces to invade. US and Japanese long-range missiles could attack these dumps, naval ships, airports, and missile-launching bases to prevent a Chinese invasion. Mr. Abe has contributed to defending Taiwan by enhancing the defense capability of Japan. – The Prospect Foundation

South Asia

The power struggle between Pakistan’s government and its ousted prime minister, Imran Khan, has escalated dramatically, with authorities targeting the pro-Khan press, and officials charging that India, Pakistan’s archrival, is among those supporting his surging comeback campaign. – Washington Post

Sri Lanka’s central bank chief said Thursday he hopes the government can reach a preliminary agreement that could lead to a bailout package with the International Monetary Fund when its officials visit the crisis-hit island nation later this month. – Associated Press

Hamid Mir writes: President Arif Alvi belongs to the biggest opposition party, which is led by Khan. Shehbaz Sharif is the younger brother of Nawaz Sharif, who made Pakistan a nuclear power in 1998. Can these two power players start a dialogue with all political stakeholders to strengthen democratic institutions? The best way forward is the rule of law and supremacy of the constitution. Only they can save the institutions from crumbling. – Washington Post


The leaders of Serbia and Kosovo failed to resolve differences fuelling tension between the estranged Balkan neighbours during talks on Thursday, but they agreed to resume discussions ahead of a Sept. 1 deadline that could stoke further unrest. – Reuters

For tiny Moldova, an impoverished, landlocked nation that borders war-torn Ukraine but isn’t in the European Union or NATO, it’s been another week plagued by bomb threats. – Associated Press

Estonia’s foreign minister on Thursday defended his country’s decision to bar Russian tourists, saying they are shirking their “moral responsibility” to stand up to Russian President Vladimir Putin’s regime and its “genocidal war” in Ukraine. – Associated Press

Already some EU nations neighbouring Russia are barring Russian visa applications or limiting visas issued by their own services, but no EU-wide ban is in place. – Agence France-Presse

Matthew Continetti writes: Moreover, Hungarian-style nationalist-populism is not readily transferable to the U.S. America’s indigenous agrarian populism is more individualistic and evangelical and is imbued with the cultural mannerisms and idiosyncrasies of the South. Viktor Orban is more of an intellectual than a rabble-rouser. His audience at CPAC was politely enthusiastic. Mr. Trump’s was uproarious. Even so, Mr. Orban’s increasing profile on the American Right should not be dismissed. It is a sign that the ascendant forces within the conservative movement no longer look to the Anglosphere for guidance, but to continental Europe. – Wall Street Journal

Ben Hall writes: The election of a Mussolini admirer as Italian premier will create deep unease in EU capitals. The promise of large unfunded tax cuts — a big issue for Salvini’s League — and unspecified “revisions” to Italy’s €200bn EU recovery fund and reform programme will add to concerns. Meloni presents herself as disciplined and sensible. For Italy and for Europe, a government with three populist leaders is unlikely to be so. –  Financial Times

Andreas Kluth writes: So let’s let Switzerland stay Switzerland, because otherwise we’d have to invent it again. Let it be a neutral country that can serve as messenger, mediator, arbitrator and — one day — host of another peace conference. But let the Swiss remember that their neutrality is legal, diplomatic and military in nature — not moral. And let them remind Putin of that as well. – Bloomberg

Latin America

The full reopening of the Colombia-Venezuela border will come sooner rather than later, but will depend on legal conditions and the overall re-establishment of bilateral ties, Colombia’s commerce minister said on Thursday. – Reuters

Paraguay Vice President Hugo Velázquez Moreno said Thursday he will not resign from his post, backtracking on a vow he made last week shortly after he was included on a U.S. corruption list for his alleged involvement in offering bribes to a public official. – Associated Press

The administration of far-right President Jair Bolsonaro has removed a top environmental official in a potential act of retribution, just days after he appeared in a report on illegal gold mining in the Amazon rainforest for the Brazilian television station Globo. – Associated Press


Estonia said on Thursday that it had repelled the biggest wave of cyberattacks in more than a decade, unleashed shortly after the removal of a Soviet-era tank from a war memorial celebrating the Red Army on its border with Russia. – New York Times

Russia has failed to gain ground in cyberspace against Ukraine almost six months after its invasion of the country, the head of Britain’s GCHQ intelligence service said on Friday. – Reuters

Europe’s regulators are preparing for legal challenges to landmark legislation designed to tackle Big Tech, as member states have become increasingly concerned over how the new rules will be enforced. – Financial Times

U.S. Cyber Command recently sent a team of “elite defensive cyber operators” to Croatia for the first time as part of its hunt forward operations aimed at collecting information on adversary activity and strengthening partner cyber defenses. – The Record

Army Cyber Command plans to convert one of its regional centers in the U.S. into a hub that can better coordinate digital operations across the world. – Defense News

Long War

Australia’s leader said Friday that it’s upsetting Indonesia has further reduced the prison sentence of the bombmaker in the Bali terror attack that killed 202 people — which could free him within days if he’s granted parole. – Associated Press

Mali’s foreign minister is accusing France of having colluded with the same Islamic extremists that it spent nearly a decade fighting until its troops departed earlier this week, an allegation sharply denied by the French government. – Associated Press

In recent years, China has expressed concern over threats from jihadi groups active in Afghanistan-Pakistan region, especially Uyghur jihadis advocating for the independence of East Turkestan (i.e., China’s Xinjiang province) from Chinese control. However, China has also consistently refused to join other permanent members of the United Nations Security Council like the United States to place leading Pakistani jihadi commanders on the UN sanctions list of global terrorists. – Middle East Media Research Institute 

Haroro J. Ingram and Craig Whiteside write: After the collapse of the Islamic State’s caliphate, al-Qaeda remains a healthy competitor for the leadership of global jihad, with strong African franchises such as Jama’at Nasr al-Islam wal Muslimin in the Sahel and al-Shabaab in Somalia. But leadership succession remains an Achilles heel for the group and has previously had an erosive impact on its cohesion and resilience. The question now is whether its key rivals — from the Islamic State to counterterrorism officials around the world — will exploit these vulnerabilities. – War on the Rocks

Salem AlKetbi writes: Rather, the main issue is the challenge of breaking away from the ideological ties and intellectual credos that the Taliban share with Al Qaeda in particular. And this is without going into the decrees that fell upon the Afghan people, especially women, since the takeover. – Arutz Sheva