Fdd's overnight brief

August 2, 2021

In The News


The U.S. joined the U.K. and Israel Sunday in blaming Iran for a fatal drone strike last week on an Israeli-linked tanker near the coast of Oman in the Arabian Sea, and the U.S. said it would work with allies to develop a response to the incident. – Wall Street Journal  

Days before a new hard-line president is set to be inaugurated in Iran, Biden administration officials have turned sharply pessimistic about their chances of quickly restoring the nuclear deal that President Donald J. Trump dismantled, fearing that the new government in Tehran is speeding ahead on nuclear research and production and preparing new demands for the United States. – New York Times 

Iran’s ultraconservative Ebrahim Raisi will be inaugurated on Tuesday as the new president of the Islamic republic, a country mired in deep economic crisis and hit by crippling US sanctions. – Agence France-Presse 

Israel’s foreign minister said he has ordered the nation’s diplomats to push for UN action against Iran over a deadly attack on a ship managed by an Israeli billionaire. – Agence France-Presse 

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Israel’s Foreign Minister Yair Lapid will consider the “appropriate next steps” with international partners following the investigation of the attack on an oil tanker transiting through the Arabian Sea. – Bloomberg 

Iran’s outgoing president on Sunday acknowledged his nation at times “did not tell part of the truth” to its people during his eight-year tenure, as he prepares to leave office with his signature nuclear deal with world powers in tatters and tensions high with the West. – Associated Press 

Iran on Sunday denied it was involved in an attack on an Israeli-managed petroleum product tanker off the coast of Oman, in which two people were killed. – Arutz Sheva 

Israel is launching a political campaign against the new president of Iran, Ebrahim Raisi, following the attack on the ship in the Gulf of Oman, Israel Hayom reports this morning, Sunday. – Arutz Sheva 

Six Republicans senators sent a letter to President Joe Biden this past week calling on him to deny entry visas to Iranian President-elect  Ebrahim Raisi and other senior Iranian officials who wish to attend the UN General Assembly in September. – Jerusalem Post 

Israel will make its own decisions on whether to strike back at Iran after the attack on the Mercer Street ship, UK Deputy Ambassador to Israel Mark Power said on Monday, amid reports that the US and UK greenlit Israeli targets in Iran. – Jerusalem Post 

Now, a Swedish court will prosecute a former Iranian judiciary official for war crimes and murder in connection with Mr. Bazargan’s death. The case carries some notably public and damaging implications for Iran’s president-elect, Ebrahim Raisi, who helped decide which prisoners lived or died during those mass executions. – New York Times 

Iranians are warning of public anger and drawing parallels with the world’s most oppressive regimes as legislation makes its way through the country’s parliament that could intensify online censorship and further restrict Internet access. – Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty 

Editorial: In recent weeks Iran has plotted to kill an Iranian-born U.S. citizen in New York City, encouraged its proxies to attack U.S. bases in Iraq, and accelerated its violations of the 2015 nuclear accord. A new hardline President is taking power in Tehran and has said a renewed deal can contain no limits on Iran’s regional behavior. Instead of making more concessions, Mr. Biden should walk away and step up the sanctions. – Wall Street Journal  

Editorial: Iran, which is steaming ahead with its plans for nuclear weapons, must be held accountable for its aggression. The world needs to understand that this is not only an Israeli problem and Israel cannot be expected to stop the Iranian threat and destruction on its own. Above all, Iran needs to be shown that there is a solid global opposition to its violence. Appeasing Iran through a watered-down nuclear deal will mean that nowhere on land or at sea will be safe. – Jerusalem Post 

Zvi Bar’el writes: Iran’s problem is that the militias loyal to it have developed into quite an independent entity that must now see to its own economic survival. […]The international agreement, if and when it is signed in Vienna, might spell the end of the nuclear chapter of the West versus Iran, but then the whole Iraqi arena could open up with all its might. – Haaretz

Anna Ahronheim writes: Iran knew that targeting the ship would not lead to Israeli casualties, but it was signaling that it had escalated its side of the tit-for-tat strikes. No ship remotely linked to Israel is safe from Iranian attacks, even with the US 5th Fleet nearby. Unlike the MABAM taking place in the dark in Syria, Israel has to take that into consideration; and take into consideration that Iran has no qualms about targeting and killing more civilians. – Jerusalem Post 

Seth J. Frantzman writes: Combined with the physical evidence, indications of where the drones came from is key. […]In addition, in the past, the US has not showcased evidence from Iraq regarding drone strikes by pro-Iran groups. This information may help. Finally, Iran mined boats in the Gulf of Oman in 2019. But the attacks went unpunished, and few details emerged, except for what the US released. It remains to be seen whether Israel, working with the US, UK or others, can find the drones’ smoking gun. – Jerusalem Post 


Syrian troops stepped up shelling of an opposition enclave in the southern city of Deraa in a bid to assert control over an area that has defied state authority since it was retaken three years ago, witnesses, the army and residents said. – Reuters 

Syrian President Bashar al Assad has tasked Prime Minister Hussein Arnous with forming a new government following an election in May that extended Assad’s two-decade-old presidency. – Reuters 

In the searing 108-degree heat, far from his Louisiana health care business, Army Col. Scott Desormeaux and his soldiers are on a dusty base near Syria’s northern border, helping Syrian rebel forces battle Islamic State militants and keeping an eye on Russian troops in the region. – Associated Press 

Przemysław Osiewicz writes: The conflict in Syria has been going on for over a decade. That is long enough for the international community to become desensitized to any negative news from the country. […]The most serious obstacle, however, may be Assad’s future. It is very unlikely that the EU will stop pushing for accountability for war crimes, human rights abuses, and violations of international humanitarian law, including the confirmed use of chemical weapons mentioned in its 2017 strategy on Syria. However, Assad’s foreign backers might not defend him if their broader geopolitical and economic interests were secured. – Middle East Institute  


Israel’s cabinet unanimously approved on Monday a state budget for 2021-2022, more than three years after the government last ratified a fiscal spending package, the finance ministry and the prime minister’s office said. – Reuters 

The Islamic militant group Hamas on Sunday said it has re-elected its supreme leader. Ismail Haniyeh, who has been living in exile for the past two years, was given a new four-year term by the Shura Council, the Islamic group’s top decision-making body. He was unopposed. – Associated Press 

Foreign Minister Yair Lapid responded on Friday to the attack on an Israeli-managed ship near Oman, in which two people were killed. “Iran is not just an Israeli problem, but an exporter of terrorism, destruction and instability that harms us all. We must never remain silent in the face of Iranian terrorism, which also harms freedom of navigation,” said Lapid. – Arutz Sheva 

The U.S. and Israel are working together to counter “Iranian terrorism,” Foreign Minister Yair Lapid said Saturday evening after speaking with American counterpart Antony Blinken about an attack on an Israeli-managed tanker that was blamed on Iran. – Reuters 

The U.S. State Department said Friday it has cleared a sale of 18 CH-53K heavy-lift helicopters to Israel potentially worth $3.4 billion and the sale of 300 Javelin FGM-148 missiles to Thailand potentially worth $83.5 million. – Defense News 

Seth J. Frantzman writes: In 2016, an athlete refused to shake the hand of an Israeli, insinuating that Israelis, as Jews, are beneath others. Only Israelis get this treatment systematically. There is simply no other example of such unsportsmanlike behavior. That is part of the unique discrimination that exists at the Olympics, driven by the far-right nationalist press and media linked to pro-Palestinian causes that depict those who refuse to compete with Israelis as heroes and mock those who do. – Jerusalem Post 

Alex Fishman writes: It is unclear whether Israel’s inevitable response to Friday’s attack will be part of an overall strategy to combat Iranian entrenchment in the region or an impulsive, knee-jerk reaction. But with Iran about to get a more extreme and conservative president who will surely want to prove himself, the country needs allies that today seem to be thin on the ground. – Ynet 


At least three people were killed on Sunday in an ambush on Shi’ite mourners in a town south of Beirut, a day after a revenge killing of a member of Lebanon’s Hezbollah group, security sources and a senior source in the group said. – Reuters  

Lebanon’s President Michel Aoun told the country’s public prosecutor on Friday he was ready to give a statement about last year’s port blast in the capital Beirut if needed. – Reuters 

A panel of experts warned House members at a Thursday House Foreign Relations subcommittee hearing that the Lebanese military cannot be relied on as a bulwark against Hezbollah and that the entire nation is on the brink of state failure. The hearing comes as Congress scrambles to figure out ways to press for changes in the unstable Middle Eastern nation. – Jewish Insider 


Egypt’s Foreign Ministry on Sunday said it backed the “legitimate aspirations” of the Tunisian people, offering its support to the North African nation’s president after he froze parliament and fired the prime minister. – Bloomberg 

China plans to partner with Cairo to donate half-a-million vaccines to Palestinians in Gaza that would be produced in Egypt. – Jerusalem Post  

Islamic Sate group militants ambushed a checkpoint in the restive northern part of Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula on Saturday, killing at least five troops from the security forces, officials said. – Associated Press 

Gulf States

The United Arab Emirates has sent six Yemeni detainees who were first held at the U.S. base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and then in the Gulf Arab federation, to their home nation of Yemen, the families of the men and a government official said Thursday. – Associated Press 

An attack on a funeral procession in northern Iraq has claimed a number of victims, Iraq’s military said in a statement Friday. – Associated Press 

Lauren Morganbesser writes: As always, Oman has historically wanted to remain neutral towards Israel, limiting its contact with the country. […]As countries like the UAE and Bahrain benefit from the economic aspects of normalization, Oman might also realize the potential benefits. If the price of neutrality is economic stagnation, will the Sultanate continue to pay that price? Or will they realize the economic benefits afforded to them from alliances and taking sides? Sultan Haitham bin Tariq will have to determine his priorities to find out which direction the country will go in. – Jerusalem Post 

Middle East & North Africa

But a decade of stubborn unemployment, rising poverty, metastasizing corruption and political deadlock — and now the pandemic — have wiped out faith in the government. This past month, Tunisians again flooded into the streets to demand change, giving Mr. Saied his opening to seize power. – New York Times 

The head of Tunisia’s biggest party, the moderate Islamist Ennahda, on Saturday postponed a meeting of its highest council after senior members called for his resignation over his handling of the political crisis, party sources said. – Reuters 

U.S. national security adviser Jake Sullivan urged Tunisia’s president on Saturday to outline a swift return to the “democratic path” following his seizure of governing powers last Sunday, the White House said. – Reuters  

Libya’s warring sides reopened the main coast road across the frontline on Friday, a key element of a ceasefire they agreed last year that has involved months of negotiations. – Reuters  

Tunisia’s leader claimed Sunday that some desperate youths are being paid to try to leave Tunisia illegally for Europe, saying the goal is to damage the country from within and hurt its ties with Europe. – Associated Press 

Days of political turmoil in Tunisia over a crippled economy and surging coronavirus infections have unnerved allies in Europe and the United States, while garnering the support of key Mideast partners watching to see if Islamists and Tunisia’s fragile democracy will survive. – Associated Press 

Safwan M. Masri writes: While there’s a tendency to view this as a regional phenomenon—the latest twinge in a lingering Arab Spring hangover—what is happening in Tunisia is representative of a larger global phenomenon. […]The news from Tunisia is saddening and infuriating. The assaults on this nascent democracy’s extraordinary resilience have been unrelenting since its inception. The people of Tunisia, who fought courageously to secure their freedom, deserve better from their democratically elected leaders. – Wall Street Journal  

Rached Ghannouchi writes: We must build on what we have achieved, rather than throwing out democracy. We have seen in the past how gathering all powers in the hands of a single person led our country to plummet into the darkness and despair of dictatorship. Tunisia has overcome its problems through national dialogue in the past, and we are capable of doing it again. – New York Times 

Korean Peninsula

South Korea said on Monday no decision has been made on its joint military exercises with the United States but they should not create tension, after North Korea warned the South against holding the exercises amid signs of a thaw in relations. – Reuters 

South Korea said Monday it’ll keep pushing to improve ties and resume talks with rival North Korea, despite the North’s threat to rekindle animosities if Seoul holds its summertime military drills with the United States. – Associated Press 

Jonathan Corrado and Rachel Minyoung Lee writes: South Korea, the United States, and civil society organizations in both countries should continue to support North Korean defectors and refugees living in South Korea and elsewhere. Should the North Korean government collapse or open up, these individuals will be the natural bridge between the outside world and North Korea, and will prove instrumental in any scenario involving either a breakdown or integration. – War on the Rocks  

Andrei Lankov writes: In other words, South Korea might have money and tools which are necessary for a middle power, but its society still lacks global vision and the sense of the global responsibilities. Most of the country’s global undertakings and initiatives are likely to remain decorative and symbolic. South Koreans nowadays like to fancy themselves as a middle power with global reach, but the South Korean voters and taxpayers are still reluctant to see significant resources being used on issues which are not clearly related to their and their country’s immediate interests. – The National Interest  


China’s securities regulator said on Sunday it will seek closer cooperation with its U.S. counterpart and will support overseas listings, after U.S. regulators tightened disclosure for Chinese companies and voiced concern about Beijing’s regulatory actions. – Reuters  

The U.S. military is warning about what analysts have described as a major expansion of China’s nuclear missile silo fields at a time of heightened tension between Beijing and Washington. – Associated Press 

European shares chased gains in China after calls from Beijing for greater co-operation with Washington helped sooth jitters over a regulatory crackdown in the world’s biggest emerging market. – Financial Times 

Editorial: An unanswered question is what China thinks it will gain by vaulting to a nuclear posture closer to that of the United States and Russia. The response by the United States and the West is either more nuclear weapons — a new arms race — or nuclear arms control, in which China has not shown much interest. The new missile silos are an ominous sign of a growing challenge, made even more vexing by the other tensions between Washington and Beijing. – Washington Post 

Maureen Ferguson writes: Sadly, oppression of the Uyghur Muslims is only one piece of the Chinese communists’ real record over the last century. Through civil war, execution, or starvation, the CCP under Mao Zedong alone was responsible for the deaths of roughly 80 million Chinese people in the 20th century. […]Let us hope the Biden administration steps up and names an ambassador for international religious freedom with the leadership stature of a Sam Brownback or Katrina Lantos Swett. – Washington Examiner  

Scott Greytak writes: How Congress responds to China’s increasingly blatant international corruption will define whether the United States spends the next quarter century leading on anti corruption or reacting to an increasingly destabilizing series of Chinese adventures in open-air kleptocracy. The full House of Representatives and Senate must now act with a shared sense of purpose and urgency to ensure that the CROOK Act is included in their final China-focused policy package. – Business Insider 

Paul Heer writes: On balance, it appears for the time being that there will be no major constructive breakthrough in U.S.-China relations as long as strategic distrust outweighs mutual understanding. This stalemate will continue as long as Beijing and Washington calculate that they each have the balance of leverage with which to deflect the other’s proposed guardrails and terms for the relationship. […]It is hard to disagree with Beijing’s admission that the relationship is “facing serious difficulties.” – The National Interest 


The Taliban is ramping up pressure on some of Afghanistan’s largest cities, striking busy transit hubs and pushing front lines deep into urban areas for the first time since the militants were overthrown nearly two decades ago.- Washington Post 

Huddled in brightly lit yards late one recent night, hundreds of inmates taunted a team of about a dozen special forces who were rounding the walls along the top of Kunduz prison. – Washington Post 

The State Department is offering potential refugee status to new categories of Afghans who assisted the United States during the war in Afghanistan, including those who worked for news media and nongovernmental organizations. – New York Times 

An important city in Afghanistan’s south was in danger of falling to the Taliban on Saturday as their fighters pushed toward its center despite concerted American and Afghan airstrikes in recent days. – New York Times 

The body of Danish Siddiqui, a Pulitzer Prize-winning Reuters photojournalist who was killed in Afghanistan this month, was badly mutilated while in the custody of the Taliban, officials said this week. – New York Times 

For foreign diplomats, a top posting in Washington is typically a career-capping assignment, or a steppingstone to the highest government echelons at home. […]But Roya Rahmani, whose selection as Afghanistan’s first female envoy to Washington in 2018 was seen as heralding a new era for Afghan women, was unceremoniously replaced in July, with no official explanation or follow-on job. She says she will not return to Afghanistan, where she fears for her life. – Washington Post 

A U.N. office in western Afghanistan came under fire Friday and one of its guards was killed as the Taliban and Afghan forces waged fierce battles in the area, the United Nations said. – Associated Press 

A mortar shell struck a taxi in Afghanistan’s southern Kandahar province on Sunday, killing at least five civilians including two children, an Afghan official said. – Associated Press 

The owner of a private hospital in Afghanistan said the Afghan air force bombed the facility on Saturday, killing one person and injuring three others. He said the hospital was targeted because the military erroneously believed Taliban fighters were being treated there. – Associated Press 

Taliban forces attacked the Kandahar airport in southern Afghanistan with at least three rockets overnight, a spokesman for the insurgent group said Sunday. – Washigton Examiner  

The State Department is looking to evacuate a second round of Afghan interpreters from Kabul in August, according to the head of the task force newly created to coordinate the effort. – Politico 

Kai Eide and Tadamichi Yamamoto write: The U.N. must step into this vacuum. […]The U.N. is often criticized for failing to deliver on its original purpose: to maintain international peace and security. This is an opportunity to show its worth. In the past, international diplomacy has helped bring an end to conflicts in places as varied as Cambodia, Mozambique, El Salvador and Guatemala. The organization now needs to summon the same spirit, courage and energy. It cannot stand by and watch Afghanistan collapse. – New York Times 

Brett Bruen writes: America asked Afghan women and girls to be brave. The government loudly heralded the start of every new program that created a more equitable country. Unfortunately, we evidently lack the same kind of courage that was so often seen on the streets of Kabul and Kandahar. President Biden opted for the easy way out. It will now make achieving progress on the status of women worldwide much, much harder. – Business Insider 

South Asia

Myanmar’s junta leader has pledged to hold democratic elections within two years, extending a state of emergency imposed by the military when it overthrew the country’s elected government in February. – Wall Street Journal 

Top Indian and Chinese army commanders met Saturday after a gap of three months to discuss the expeditious disengagement of thousands of forces in a bid to ease the 15-month border tensions and clashes. – Associated Press 

Southeast Asia’s top diplomats were meeting Monday to appoint a special envoy to help deal with the political crisis and violence gripping Myanmar and finalize an emergency plan to help control a coronavirus outbreak that many fear is spiraling out of control in the military-ruled nation. – Associated Press 

Christopher Clary writes: This means that out of the United States’ three Quad partners, only India has the population and location to serve as a potential counterbalance to China. A post-pandemic recovery in India, with the economy growing by 9.5 percent this year according to IMF projections, would further help U.S. officials overlook whatever concerns they have about Modi’s new India as a political, security and economic partner. – Washington Post 


Authorities in Hong Kong said they would cut ties with the city’s largest teacher’s union, in the latest attempt to change an education system that Beijing blamed for fueling social unrest and dissent among students. – Wall Street Journal  

Hong Kong’s anti-corruption watchdog on Monday charged a singer and prominent pro-democracy activist, Anthony Wong, with “corrupt conduct” at a 2018 election rally, the latest legal action against dissent by authorities in the Chinese-ruled city. – Reuters 

Vice President Kamala Harris will visit Singapore and Vietnam next month on a trip focused on strengthening economic ties and celebrating America’s cultural connection with the Indo-Pacific region. – Associated Press 

The Duterte administration has re-committed to the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) basing deal that would let U.S. forces operate from the Philippines after a meeting with U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin. – USNI News 

Countries in the Indo-Pacific region are acquiring or expanding their own arsenals of long-range missiles, largely with China in mind. Those missiles are conventionally armed but also have offensive capability. – Business Insider 

Japan’s defence minister has called on the international community to pay greater attention to the “survival of Taiwan” as he warned that China’s military build-up was enveloping the island. – Financial Times 

Editorial: What’s the Chinese word for chutzpah? It’s surely the best way to describe this week’s announcement by Hong Kong Financial Secretary Paul Chan Mo-po that he has appointed a special inspector to investigate Next Digital, parent company of the defunct Apple Daily newspaper. […]The Hong Kong that once prided itself on the rule of law and free markets is now a place where the government feels free to jail critics on dubious grounds and interfere in the normal workings of its capital markets and financial regulators. – Wall Street Journal  


Russia will send an additional contingent of 800 troops to take part in military exercises at the Afghan border and use two times more hardware there than originally planned, Interfax news agency reported on Monday citing the defense ministry. – Reuters     

The United States says it has laid off nearly 200 local employees from its diplomatic missions in Russia ahead of an August 1 deadline set by the Kremlin to do so — a move made by Moscow in response to U.S. sanctions and the expulsion of Russian diplomats from the United States. – Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty 

Editorial: But letting Russian hackers continue to wreak havoc on America’s and the world’s digital infrastructure with impunity is an immediate and critical challenge. If this is not stopped soon, further escalation — and the growth of organized cybercrime syndicates in other dictatorships — is all but certain. […]If he refuses, Mr. Putin should know that he will be regarded as an accomplice and be punished as such. – New York Times 

Rebekah Koffler writes: Biden must stop playing footsie with the Russian master spy and suspend relations with Russia until US investigators rule out Moscow as the source of the Havana syndrome attacks. Until then, a “reset” or any other overtures to the Kremlin must be off the table. – New York Post 

Ben Dubow writes: The Russian government can genuinely claim to have not created the conspiracy itself. Rather, it created the conditions where such a conspiracy could develop and adapt. Since WHO’s announcement, Sputnik and RT have posted more than twice a day in six languages on the Fort Detrick conspiracy, but most of these have been republications from outside outlets. The spread of a conspiracy that fits Russia’s goals so well, while requiring so little from Russia, shows the success of focusing on the right conditions over the right content. – Center for European Policy Analysis  

Mariya Y. Omelicheva writes: The risks of future state repression are high as Russia’s various security organs, including Rosgvardiya, become more militarized, and as separate security agencies compete to outdo each other and demonstrate their loyalty to the Kremlin. […]Intensified domestic political turbulence will only amplify the mistrust in Moscow’s relations with Washington and will challenge the international stability and predictability that U.S. policymakers actively seek. – Center for Strategic and International Studies  

John Ruehl writes: Russian president Vladimir Putin will no doubt feel extremely satisfied with the results of the meeting between a departing German chancellor and a U.S. president in his first year. […]The White House is hopeful this will put an end to Russia highlighting the tension between Berlin and Washington—particularly when the departure of Angela Merkel as chancellor in September will inevitably mean a reset of what has been a difficult relationship. – The National Interest  


Kristina Timanovskaya, the Belarusian Olympic sprinter who sought protection at a Tokyo airport as her nation tried to forcibly send her home from the Summer Games, has been offered asylum in Poland. – New York Times 

A 100-year-old man who allegedly served as a guard at a Nazi concentration camp during World War II will stand trial in October for alleged complicity in the murder of over 3,500 people during the conflict, German media reported Sunday. – Washington Post 

Belarus’ authoritarian president said Friday he’s prepared to invite Russian troops into the country if such a move is necessary to ensure the security of both Belarus and Russia. But, President Alexander Lukashenko said, at the moment “there is absolutely no need” to do that. – Associated Press 

Charity ships rescued nearly 450 migrants from a wooden boat that was taking on water in the Mediterranean Sea, aid groups said Sunday, while dozens of mostly Tunisian migrants reached the Italian island of Sardinia unaided. – Associated Press 

Good news for the Franco-British relationship: The two sides agree on something! The bad news: They agree their relationship is in a terrible state. One sign of how bad things are, and how hard they may be to repair: Conversations with French and British officials suggest they don’t even agree on what type of relationship they’re in, even as they try to play up the chances of an improvement. – Politico 

Poland has accused Germany’s justice system of putting European standards at risk after a Cologne court fined a Polish theologian for an article describing gay people in the Catholic clergy as “parasites.” – Politico 

Germany has little intention of shutting off Nord Stream 2 if Vladimir Putin tries to use the controversial pipeline as a geopolitical weapon, whatever the U.S. might say, according to Berlin officials familiar with the plans. – Bloomberg 

A senior EU official is due in Lithuania on August 2 to discuss further measures to curb the growing number of people illegally crossing the border from Belarus. – Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty  

Christian Schmidt of Germany takes over as the United Nations’ top official in Bosnia-Herzegovina on August 1 amid recent pressure inside and outside the country over the fate and direction of the post of the UN’s high representative. – Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty 

Editorial: Far from uniting democracies, as Biden has pledged, this deal has split the EU east-west, with Poland and neighbours such as the Baltic states deeply worried about the implications. Most importantly, failure to stand up to Russia’s annexation of Crimea and assaults on Ukraine’s sovereignty sets a dangerous precedent that will be noted in Beijing, which has its own territorial pretensions towards neighbours. Responding to the Chinese threat means responding properly to the Russian threat — not trying to wish it away. – Financial Times 

Chelsea Michta writes: So, what do these latest actions by Hungary and Poland portend for their relations with the EU? With its somewhat tendentious phrasing, Orbán’s referendum could be construed as an effort to double down on national sovereignty in defiance of criticism from the EU and drive home the proposition that Hungarian affairs ought to be adjudicated by the Hungarian people. […]The Polish government may be backing away from its earlier stance, potentially avoiding the oft-invoked specter of a legal “Polexit.” – Center for European Policy Analysis  


French President Emmanuel Macron called for the opening of talks to end hostilities in Ethiopia’s northern region of Tigray, the Elysee Palace said in a statement on Saturday. – Reuters  

Rebels killed six civilians and wounded several others Saturday in an attack on a village in the northeast of the volatile Central African Republic, the UN peacekeeping mission said. – Agence France-Presse 

Zambian President Edgar Lungu deployed the army and other security forces to join the police in maintaining law and order after the killing of two supporters of the ruling Patriotic Front. – Bloomberg 

The U.S. official who wrote a Pulitzer Prize-winning book on genocide landed Saturday in Sudan, aiming to support the country’s fragile transition to democracy before travelling to Ethiopia to press the government there to allow humanitarian aid to the war-torn Tigray region. – Associated Press 

The Americas

This month, the Supreme Court of Chile was notified by the National Court of Spain that an investigation had been reopened in Madrid into whether a bank, Banco de Chile, helped General Pinochet and his associates launder millions of dollars overseas, according to court documents sent to the lawyers in the dispute. – New York Times 

The United States imposed sanctions on the Cuban police force and two of its leaders on Friday in response to the Havana government’s crackdown on protesters, and President Joe Biden promised Cuban-American leaders more actions were coming. – Reuters 

President Joe Biden hosted a meeting at the White House on Friday with Cuban-American leaders to discuss the largest demonstrations in decades that erupted in Cuba earlier this month. – Bloomberg 

Cuba this week received shipments of food and medical supplies from allies Mexico, Russia and Bolivia in a bid to ease shortages and discontent amid the island’s worst economic crisis in decades and a surge in coronavirus cases. – Reuters  

The assassination of Moise has plunged the Western hemisphere’s poorest nation deeper into chaos, and launched an international manhunt for mercenaries and the murder masterminds across the Americas. – Reuters  

US media coverage of antisemitism last year left clear indications that the issue has become politicized, according to an Israeli study released on Sunday. – Times of Israel 

Mary Anastasia O’Grady writes: The State Department is sowing trouble again in Guatemala. If Foggy Bottom gets its wish, political instability is likely to increase in Central America, and migration pressures at the southern U.S. border will get worse. […]Ms. Porras’s critics allege that she is protecting bad actors. Even if that were true, it wouldn’t justify feting Mr. Sandoval, who eagerly violated the most fundamental norms of American justice. To borrow from Mr. Blinken, Guatemalans deserve better. – Wall Street Journal  


Hackers have attacked and shut down the IT systems of the company that manages COVID-19 vaccination appointments for the Lazio region surrounding Rome, the regional government said on Sunday. – Reuters  

The U.S. Justice Department says the Russian hackers behind the massive SolarWinds cyberespionage campaign broke into the email accounts of some of the most prominent federal prosecutors’ offices in the United States during 2020. – Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty 

In mid-June, US president Joe Biden held talks with his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin to discuss a recent scourge of cyber attacks against the US, including by Russian-based criminal ransomware hackers.- Financial Times 

Hal Brands and Klon Kitchen write: Remember, China’s Data Security Law dictates that both private and state or partially state-owned or controlled corporations must cede control over user data to the Beijing government. […]This one Chinese company alone soon may control hundreds of millions more “smart” devices enabled by 5G — even non-Huawei 5G — essentially rolling back any progress made in defending proprietary personal or government data from China’s ruling Communist Party. – The Hill  


To counter threats from China, a top U.S. lawmaker Friday called on the U.S. Navy to develop a new maritime strategy that would rebalance how it deploys and strategically scattered persistent deterrent force in an arc throughout the Indo-Pacific region. – USNI News 

Philip Potter, George W. Foresman, and Michael Horowitz write: Space began as a relatively slow-moving arena heavily controlled by governments. It is easier for norms to form in such an environment. But space is now evolving to look more like cyberspace: fast-moving with lots of private actors. This is a much more challenging environment, one that policy makers need to get in front of. The United States can no longer cling to the old approach given how much is at stake. – War on the Rocks 

Kris Osborn writes: The simple logic is that considering the number of planes the U.S. military will replace with the F-35, the threats from Russia and China the stealth fighter is built to take on, and the multinational coalition now spending billions to acquire the plane, the F-35 should indeed have the brightest of futures. We should learn the lesson from the F-22 cut debacle and understand that doing the same would doom the U.S. military to obsolescence when Moscow and Beijing could only dream of having such a fighter jet, as they seem all too eager to emulate it.  – The National Interest  

Long War

Fifteen soldiers were killed as a result of an ambush in southwestern Niger on Saturday, the country’s defense ministry said, blaming the attack on “armed terrorist groups.” – Reuters 

Five women and 14 children who were the families of Albanian nationals who joined Islamic extremist groups fighting in Syria and Iraq on Sunday returned to their homeland from Syria’s Al Hol camp. – Associated Press 

The number of children recruited by armed groups in Burkina Faso rose at least five-fold so far this year, up from four documented cases in all of last year, according to information seen by the AP in an unpublished report by international aid and conflict experts. – Associated Press 

Western powers must step up the supply of intelligence and military hardware to governments in the Sahel following France’s decision to halve its anti-terrorist troop deployment in the region, Niger’s president told the Financial Times. – Financial Times