Fdd's overnight brief

August 22, 2022

In The News


Iran has officially dropped a key “red line” demand that had been a major sticking point in efforts to revive the Iran nuclear deal, a senior administration official told CNN. – CNN

A top Iranian spokesman, Mohammad Marandi, re-affirmed on Sunday that Tehran has received considerable concessions from Washington in the Vnuclear talks. – Iran International

A leaked report on alleged remarks by Iran’s chief nuclear negotiator obtained by Iran International, provides details on “concessions” Iran claims to have received from the US. – Iran International

In approving Barkat’s vaccine, the government demonstrated how a largely unaccountable Iranian state often pursues policies that benefit those connected to the regime, speciously identifying the Iranian elite’s interests with those of the public. But rarely had the stakes been higher. At the time, Iran was suffering the Middle East’s worst coronavirus outbreak and was on the brink of its deadliest wave yet. – Washington Post

The leaders of the United States, Britain, France and Germany discussed efforts to revive the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, the White House said on Sunday in a statement largely focused on Ukraine. – Reuters

Iran’s leading reformist coalition has called for the release of prominent reformist politician Mostafa Tajzadeh, who was arrested last month over accusations of undermining national security. – Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty

Iranian security officials have stepped up their pressure on filmmakers who signed a recent statement against state repression to force them to rescind their signatures. – Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty

Iran claims that Washington is “procrastinating” in indirect negotiations to revive a landmark nuclear deal and said a prisoner swap with the United States was not linked to the nuclear talks. – Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty

With Washington and Tehran on the verge of restoring the Iran nuclear deal, supporters and critics are prepping for a public relations clash reminiscent of the battle over the original agreement in 2015. – Politico

Israel is unsure whether it can influence the United States in a bid to limit American willingness to be flexible toward Iran ahead of a possible return to an agreement with the world powers over Iran’s nuclear program. The chances of signing an agreement have gone up over the past few days, but the gaps between the positions of the Iranian regime and the United States are still significant. – Haaretz

An Israeli official on Saturday expressed hope that ongoing efforts to restore the 2015 Iran nuclear deal will not ultimately yield an agreement, as talks between world powers and Tehran appeared to advance. – Times of Israel

It’s the deal that nobody is willing to walk away from because keeping the specter of its survival alive serves the interests of all involved. Ever since then-president Donald Trump pulled out of the 2015 nuclear agreement with Iran, it’s been on life support. And nobody seems willing to finally pull the plug. – Jerusalem Post

Iran has officially dropped a key “red line” demand that had been a major sticking point in efforts to revive the Iran nuclear deal, a senior administration official told CNN. In its Monday response to a draft nuclear deal agreement proposed by the European Union — which the EU has described as a “final” draft — Iran did not demand that the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps be removed from the State Department’s list of Foreign Terrorist Organizations, the official said. – CNN

Iranian regime and pro-Iranian media outlets reacted with enthusiasm to the attempted murder of British-Indian author Salman Rushdie last week. Officials of the Islamic Republic of Iran have maintained a studious silence. But the main mouthpieces of both the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC), and the various Shia militia franchises that the IRGC maintains throughout the Arabic-speaking world, have been open in their support for the would-be assassin, 24-year-old Hadi Matar, and for the attempt on Rushdie’s life. – Jerusalem Post

David Harsanyi writes: Even if this attacker is non-jihadi, the fact is that the fatwa still stands today. In 2016, Iran raised it to nearly $4 million. When Iran isn’t destabilizing the Middle East through proxies or blowing up Jewish centers in Argentina or intimidating American voters or plotting to kill former American officials or murdering over 600 American soldiers in Iraq, they are funding bounties against innocent writers. – New York Sun

David M. Weinberg writes: Thus, in today’s hyper-partisan American political atmosphere getting back to the JCPOA is no less than a sacred goal. It is the Holy Grail! Which is why Biden is going for broke. He will do everything, including making the most wildly nonsensical concessions to Iran, to ensure this. Unfortunately, the Iranians know this well, so they have Biden bent over the side of a barrel. They know that Biden will give them their billions and let them keep their nuclear infrastructure too, all for the greater glory of the ghost of Obama. – Jerusalem Post

Russia & Ukraine

Russian officials opened an investigation into a car bombing outside Moscow this weekend that killed the daughter of a prominent, far-right Russian ideologue who has long called for Russia to seize Ukraine. There was no claim of responsibility, and a Ukrainian official denied that Kyiv played any role. – Wall Street Journal

At home in Kyiv, Yaroslav Yemelianenko was glued to a secret live stream of the gate to Chernobyl, the site of the world’s worst nuclear disaster. In disbelief, he watched as Russian tanks rolled by the yellow information booth advertising his company, Chernobyl Tour, and drove south toward the Ukrainian capital. – Washington Post

Anxiety continued to surround the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant in Ukraine on Saturday following stark warnings by both sides of a potential attack on the facility, with fear coursing through the region and rippling around the globe. – Washington Post

Nearly six months into the war in Ukraine, the Kremlin still refers to its invasion as a “special military operation” while trying to maintain a sense of normalcy at home. – New York Times

The Ukrainian military extended the fight deeper into Russian-controlled territory on Friday, as it sharpens a strategy of trying to degrade Moscow’s combat capabilities by striking ammunition depots and supply lines in the occupied Crimean Peninsula and other areas the Kremlin had long thought to be safe. – New York Times

President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia, in his first public remarks about the battles raging in the vicinity of the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant in Ukraine, accused the Ukrainian military on Friday of risking a “large-scale catastrophe” by shelling the plant. – New York Times

When explosions rang out over the Kerch Strait bridge overnight into Friday, the social media accounts of people closely tracking the war lit up in a frenzy of activity. Was the bridge, a vital link connecting Russia to Crimea, under attack? – New York Times

“Vesti Nedeli,” the flagship weekly roundup of Kremlin-controlled television news, recently portrayed a long history of predatory Western powers coming to grief when they invaded Russia: Sweden in the 18th century, France in the 19th, Germany in the 20th. – New York Times

Russian state-owned energy exporter Gazprom PJSC said it would shut down the Nord Stream natural-gas pipeline to Germany for three days of maintenance later this month, ratcheting up the pressure on energy-starved Europe. – Wall Street Journal

Six months after Russian forces launched what they hoped would be a blitzkrieg invasion of Ukraine, the conflict has turned into a grinding campaign of daily air strikes and battles with no clear endgame in sight. – Agence France-Presse

On the second anniversary of the poisoning attack on Russian opposition figure Alexei Navalny, Germany and the United States hailed the determination of the Kremlin critic who is still imprisoned in Russia on charges those nations consider politically motivated. – Associated Press

Russia might take the provocative step of putting Ukrainian soldiers on trial as Kyiv marks 31 years of independence for the war-ravaged country next week, Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky warned Sunday. – Agence France-Presse

Russian forces pressed on with their offensive across several Ukrainian regions on Monday, while President Volodymyr Zelenskiy warned of the potential for more serious attacks ahead of Ukraine’s 31st anniversary of independence from Soviet rule. – Reuters

Russia has deployed hypersonic Kinzhal (Dagger) missiles three times over the course of what Moscow calls a “special military operation” in Ukraine, Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu said on Sunday. – Reuters

U.S. Deputy Treasury Secretary Wally Adeyemo told Turkish Deputy Finance Minister Yunus Elitas that Russian entities and individuals were attempting to use Turkey to bypass Western sanctions imposed over Moscow’s war in Ukraine, the Treasury Department said. – Reuters

Russia’s defence ministry accused Ukraine on Saturday of poisoning some of its servicemen in the Russian-controlled part of Ukraine’s southeastern region of Zaporizhzhia in late July. – Reuters

President Biden on Sunday discussed the importance of protecting the Zaporizhzhya nuclear power plant in Ukraine during a call with leaders of France, Germany and the United Kingdom, according to a White House readout. – The Hill

Russia’s new maritime doctrine signals its intent to challenge the United States and allies on the seas, but there is skepticism about the country’s ability to build a fleet capable of doing that given its limited options for shipyards and weakened supply chains, according to analysts. – Breaking Defense

According to Russian state TV, the future of the Ukrainian regions captured by Moscow’s forces is all but decided: Referendums on becoming part of Russia will soon take place there, and the joyful residents who were abandoned by Kyiv will be able to prosper in peace. – Associated Press

Diane Francis writes: Moscow maintains that its undersea continental shelf extends beneath most of the Arctic Ocean. (Such submissions are made to a United Nations agency, which corroborates evidence, but settlements must be reached between disputing nation-states and rarely happens.) Equally absurd was a recent demand by a Russian politician that Russia should take Alaska in retaliation for American sanctions. That will happen when hell freezes over. – The Hill

Ramon Marks writes: If the United States continues to keep its head buried in the historical assumptions that prompted the creation of NATO in 1949, things are going to get steadily worse for over-stretched United States military resources and capabilities. The United States is no longer the world’s sole dominant power. More burden sharing in the U.S. alliance system will have to happen sooner or later to deal with the reality of an increasingly multipolar world. – The National Interest


Tensions between Israel and Palestinian militants have twice erupted into violence in recent months, but Hamas, usually a central player in the long-running conflict, has sat out on both occasions. – Wall Street Journal

State Department spokesperson Ned Price said on Thursday that there is “no question” of “the terrorist threat that Israel faces,” following raids by Israeli security forces on the offices of six Palestinian NGOs that Jerusalem alleges have ties to terror groups, but said the U.S. was “concerned” about the military’s moves. – Jewish Insider 

National Security Adviser Eyal Hulata is expected to head to Washington this week as Israel attempts to sway the United States to walk away from the Iran deal just as Tehran hinted it may be willing to finalize the agreement. – Jerusalem Post

The Israel Defense Forces on Sunday announced it would formally charge a senior Palestinian Islamic Jihad member whose arrest at the beginning of the month sparked a round of fighting between Israel and the terror group in the Gaza Strip. – Times of Israel

The Biden administration in recent days has been seeking to reassure Israel that it hasn’t agreed to new concessions with Iran and a nuclear deal isn’t imminent, U.S. and Israeli officials told Axios. – Axios

A terrorist shooting was thwarted Saturday when personnel from the Defense Ministry’s Crossing Points Authority arrested three Palestinian women in possession of a homemade submachine gun and notes stating they wished to die carrying out a terrorist attack against Israelis. – i24 News

Israel is set to sell its Iron Dome air defense system to regional ally Cyprus, a Greek newspaper has reported. – Times of Israel

Defense Minister Benny Gantz confirmed on Monday that a diplomatic crisis erupted in recent days between Israel and Egypt over the fighting with Gaza earlier this month. – Haaretz

Yoseph Haddad writes: Of course, there are extremist voices on both sides – including some members of the Knesset. But the vast majority of Israel’s Arab community wants to live together in partnership. We can achieve a mutually beneficial partnership in this country for Arabs and Jews alike, no matter how unrealistic members of Knesset like Zoabi would like to make it seem.  – Jerusalem Post


Israel’s security forces are on high alert near the northern border amid fears the Hezbollah terror group may attempt to carry out an attack in order to sabotage talks between Israel and Lebanon on a maritime border dispute, with the sides said to be nearing an agreement. – Times of Israel

Hezbollah terror chief Hassan Nasrallah warned of an “escalation” with Israel if Lebanese demands are not met in maritime border talks. – Times of Israel 

A reporter from the Lebanese Al-Mayadeen television channel, which is affiliated with Hezbollah, visited Khalil Awawdeh, a member of the Islamic Jihad terrorist organization who has been on hunger strike for 177 days and whose administrative detention was frozen on Friday after he was hospitalized. – Arutz Sheva

Seth J. Frantzman writes: It is clear from these reports and statements that Hezbollah is laying the groundwork for a kind of “casus belli” that would let it resume threats and attacks on Israel. The head of the IRGC similarly made comments claiming that the recent conflict between Israel and Islamic Jihad had shown that there was “no safe place” for Israel in the region. –  Jerusalem Post


Afghan interpreter Jamil Hassan appeared on “Sunday Night in America” to discuss the state of his home country after being forced to flee from it last year. […]Hassan, who was one of many Afghan allies evacuated through the Kabul airport, lamented to host Trey Gowdy that he has felt betrayed by Biden and his decision to abandon the country. – Fox News

U.S. President Joe Biden’s administration will press ahead with talks on releasing billions of dollars in Afghanistan’s foreign-held assets despite late al Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri’s presence in Kabul and foot-dragging by the Taliban and Afghan central bank, according to three sources with knowledge of the situation. – Reuters

The Taliban will deal with the international community in line with sharia law, the supreme leader of the hardline Islamist group said, according to a copy of his speech shared by the information ministry on Friday. – Reuters

Editorial: Of all the responsibilities left over from the war in Afghanistan, none is higher than the duty the United States still owes to translators, contract employees, journalists, human rights workers and others who stood with us, and for our shared cause, during 20 long, hard years. – Washington Post

Brett D. Schaefer writes: Already, the Taliban is audacious enough to run for a seat on the U.N. Human Rights Council and will again seek U.N. recognition to represent Afghanistan in the world body after failing last fall. What a comeuppance for the “adults in the room” who promised to “bring to bear all the tools of our diplomacy to defend human rights and hold accountable perpetrators of abuse.” – Heritage Foundation


A surge in anti-immigrant sentiment over the past year in Turkey has brought deadly assaults on refugees and mob attacks on immigrant neighborhoods — a perilous turn for Turkey, which once took pride in extending a welcome to Syrians, and hosts at least 4 million refugees and asylum seekers, more than any country in the world. – Washington Post

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas is scheduled to head to Turkey on Monday for a three-day visit during which he will hold talks with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. – Jerusalem Post

After announcing the revival of full diplomatic ties and will return of ambassadors to each other’s countries, officials in Israel and Turkey said the envoys are set to be appointed before the November 1 elections. – Ynet

Jawad Ghafari, an Iranian general in the Revolutionary Guards and former commander of the Quds Force in Syria, spearheaded the recent attempts to harm Israelis in Turkey, the Iran International website reported on Saturday. So far, there is no additional confirmation of this report. – Haaretz

Mehmet Alaca writes: Although the government crisis in Iraq has muted immediate reactions against Turkey’s success in securing the airport contract for now, the implications of the project in the context of political chaos in the country and growing regional tensions remain. In spite of their recent success, larger trends suggest that pressure against their airport bid is far from the last hurdle Turkey will have to overcome in its efforts to grow its economic influence in Iraq. – Washington Institute

Aslan Doukaev writes: Ultimately, rolling out the red carpet for Kadyrov, who has long reveled in his unofficial role as Russia’s chief purveyor of violence, never shied away from voicing anti-Ankara sentiments, and has been targeted by many states with travel bans, may not be in the interests of the Turkish Republic itself. – Middle East Institute

Arabian Peninsula

The United Arab Emirates plans to reinstate its ambassador to Iran for the first time in six years, the Emirati Foreign Ministry announced Sunday, as the Gulf Arab federation accelerates efforts to improve ties with the nation it has long viewed as a regional threat. – Associated Press

The U.S. Air Force said Saturday it was the subject of a “propaganda attack” by a previously unheard-of Iraqi militant group that falsely claimed it had launched a drone attack targeting American troops at an air base in Kuwait. – Associated Press

Megan K. Stack writes: While the kingdom has always been opaque, these days, a kind of eerie silence has taken hold. It is no longer the slightly messy political culture I used to cover in the early years of the Iraq war, when gadflies and critics like Mr. Khashoggi buzzed around the edges and dissenting members of the royal family gossiped over coffee. All those people have shut up or gone to ground. I can’t even locate some of the sources I used to speak with. – New York Times

Salem Alketbi writes: Saudi-Russian relations are advancing. Day by day, they prove that they have elements of strength and continuity. This does not detract from the importance of Saudi-US relations. But Washington must seriously address the current geopolitical variables. It must recognize that the Gulf is not just about oil but also about a wide web of mutually strategic interests. – Jerusalem Post

Middle East & North Africa

Six years later, Tunisia’s freely elected government granted an amnesty to corrupt former officials who had looted the country before the 2011 revolution. To those who had battled for change, as well as those who had never gotten justice for the former regime’s crimes, the 2017 amnesty came as a slap. – New York Times

Shin Bet head Ronen Bar visited Egypt on Sunday and met with the head of Egyptian intelligence Abbas Camel following as tensions rose between Israel and Egypt following an IDF arrest in Nablus in which three Palestinians including the suspect were killed, according to Israeli media. – Jerusalem Post

A rocket attack on a crowded market in a town held by Turkey-backed opposition fighters in northern Syria killed 15 people on Friday and wounded dozens, an opposition war monitor and a paramedic group said. – Associated Press

Seth J. Frantzman writes: The IRGC believes that despite Israel’s outward appearance of strength, it is unstable and vulnerable to “psychological operations.” Indeed, this interview may be seen as one example of such an operation. Iran’s goal is to use groups like Islamic Jihad to erode Israel’s power slowly. The Guard Corps will marshal the strategies above, trying to use other Palestinian groups, create more conflicts, and use Hezbollah and others to threaten Israel in a multi-front war. Iran believes that time is on its side in this equation. – Jerusalem Post

Korean Peninsula

For the first time in four years, the U.S. and South Korea will revive their live-action military drills, sharpening their preparedness as the North Korean nuclear threat worsens and China steps up its presence around Taiwan. – Wall Street Journal

Anthony B. Kim writes: He added, “We have become stronger in the process of defending and expanding this freedom.” Indeed, now is the time for Washington and Seoul, the two key drivers of trans-Pacific stability and peace, to act on that steadfastness and elevate the bilateral relationship to a next level by preserving and advancing freedom. – Heritage Foundation

Trevor Filseth writes: Amid rising tensions over the past year, North Korea has carried out a series of weapons tests, including the country’s first intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) test since 2017. Western officials have also warned that Pyongyang is also likely to conduct a nuclear weapons test in the near future. The KCNA report declared that North Korea had fired two cruise missiles from its western coast into the Yellow Sea on Wednesday, confirming an earlier South Korean report. – The National Interest

Seung-Whan Choi writes: Most importantly, how soldiers perceive Yoon’s low approval rating and military budget matters far more than the actual figures (19 percent of the approval and 13 percent of the military budget). If Yoon fails to quickly ameliorate these negative perceptions that are permeating among soldiers, there is a chance that history will record him as the first civilian president subject to a military insurrection since the introduction of the 1987 democratic Constitution. – The National Interest

Stephen Silver writes: “I am curious to know why those always talking about the pursuit surveillance and full preparedness under the close cooperation between South Korea and U.S. could not indicate the launching time and place properly and why they do not open to the public data on the weapon system.” – The National Interest


Just days before House Speaker Nancy Pelosi was expected to visit Taiwan, Chinese President Xi Jinping had a request of President Biden: Find a way to keep Pelosi from visiting. – Washington Post

For all the talk in Western capitals of reducing reliance on Chinese factories, China has in the past two years consolidated its position as the world’s dominant supplier of manufactured goods. – Wall Street Journal

Xiao Jianhua, a Canadian-Chinese billionaire whose abduction from Hong Kong five years ago sent shock waves through China’s business community, was sentenced to 13 years in prison by a Shanghai court after pleading guilty to charges including graft and illegal handling of funds. – Wall Street Journal

As China carves out its place in a changing world order, Mr. Wang has been its public face, particularly because Mr. Xi hasn’t visited a foreign country since the start of the pandemic. Mr. Wang has been extolling Mr. Xi’s vision for China as a global leader that embraces the developing world and that leads an authoritarian axis against the United States and its allies. – New York Times

Editorial: This is life under China’s dictatorship — where reforms are ignored, laws mean little and those who complain are ­considered mentally ill. – Washington Post

Seth D. Kaplan writes: While the Biden administration has established a set of rules to ensure information and communications products such as WeChat don’t pose security risks, it’s unclear whether any investigation to evaluate them has been launched. The Chinese Communist Party is influencing the information consumed by millions of Chinese-speaking Americans. If Beijing’s propaganda campaign remains unchecked, all Americans will suffer. – Wall Street Journal

Oriana Skylar Mastro and Derek Scissors write: For years to come, the United States is more likely to face a confident, capable China than an insecure, reckless one. Washington will not emerge victorious from this contest because Beijing steps out of the race, as Moscow did at the end of the Cold War. To secure its interests in Asia, therefore, the United States must prepare for a war with China, whether tomorrow or two decades down the road. – Foreign Affairs

Georgia Nichols and Mark C. Storella writes: Tensions between the world’s two largest powers will persist. But collaborative health projects in Africa could build bridges, advance shared goals and strengthen African countries’ health systems, ultimately benefitting the safety and security of the entire international community. – The Hill

South Asia

Imran Khan, Pakistan’s former prime minister, has been charged under the country’s anti-terrorism act, in the latest chapter of the tense struggle for power with Pakistan’s current government since his ouster. – Washington Post

Pakistan’s former premier Imran Khan, who was facing charges on Sunday under an anti-terror act for threats to police and a magistrate, accused the government of temporarily blocking YouTube to deny live access to his speech at a political rally. – Reuters

Neha Ansari writes: Unmanned warfare is no panacea. A counterterrorism strategy relying on unmanned assets is a short- to medium-term policy solution at best, and should be complemented with more long-term, non-military strategies. Yet as both the al-Zawihiri strike and my research in Pakistan show, drones have an important — and still sometimes underappreciated — role to play. – War on the Rocks


A delegation including Indiana’s governor arrived in Taiwan on Sunday to begin trade talks with Taipei amid increased U.S. political tensions with China, which launched a barrage of military drills near the island in response to visits this month by American government officials. – New York Times

Japan is considering amassing an arsenal of more than 1,000 of its planned long-range missiles, the Yomiuri newspaper reported, citing unidentified people with knowledge of the plans. – Bloomberg

Taiwan wants to ensure its partners have reliable supplies of semiconductors, or “democracy chips”, President Tsai Ing-wen told the governor of the U.S. state of Indiana on Monday, saying China’s threats mean fellow democracies have to cooperate. – Reuters

Taiwan’s defence ministry said 12 Chinese aircraft and five Chinese ships were detected operating around Taiwan on Sunday, including five aircraft that crossed the Taiwan Strait median line, as Beijing continued military activities near the island. – Reuters

Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong on Sunday said tensions between the United States and China and the Russia-Ukraine war affects security in the Asia-Pacific. – Reuters

Editorial: Both moves would get China’s attention, since Beijing isn’t part of IPEF. Not long after the U.S. announced plans for IPEF last year, China asked to join the Asia-Pacific successor to the Trans-Pacific Partnership that Donald Trump unwisely abandoned. Your move, Madam Speaker. Put some military and economic muscle behind your show of moral support. – Wall Street Journal

Brent Sadler and Jackson Clark write: Finally, the U.S. must continue to sow doubt among senior CCP leadership that they will be able to achieve their political objectives through force. One clear way to do that would be by better positioning and operating U.S. military forces in the region to confound Chinese military planning. China may well regard this decade as offering a limited strategic window of opportunity for taking Taiwan. Washington has little time to avert disaster and close the current U.S. window of vulnerability. It takes years to build up navies, making now the time to start. – Heritage Foundation


The authorities in Albania arrested two Russian men and a Ukrainian woman suspected of espionage on Saturday after one of the men was found inside a weapons factory, Albania’s Defense Ministry said. – New York Times

Serbia’s president called on NATO on Sunday to “do their job” in Kosovo or he says Serbia itself will move to protect its minority in the breakaway province. – Associated Press

Shortly before his two-day trip to Canada, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz received support for his interest in Canadian liquid natural gas to help replace Russian gas imports from an unexpected ally: Ukrainian state-owned gas company Naftogaz. – Reuters

French President Emmanuel Macron is planning to travel to Algeria next week, the Elysee palace announced on Saturday, saying that the official visit will take place from Aug.25-27. – Reuters


A 30-hour siege by Shabab militants at an upscale hotel in the Somali capital, Mogadishu, has left 21 people dead and more than 100 wounded, government officials said. – New York Times

The leaders of Mali’s junta gathered at Bamako airport earlier this month to hail the latest delivery from their new benefactor: the Kremlin. On the northern end of the airstrip stood a line of attack aircraft, including Russian jet fighters and helicopter gunships to send to the front line of a decadelong war against jihadists, according to footage of the ceremony on Malian state television. – Wall Street Journal

Jenai Cox and Mike Brodo write: In the long term, the U.S. government should increase U.S. financial and technical support for democracy and governance capacity-building programs for institutions such as the National Election Commission (CNE) and the judiciary, and for civil society organizations, independent media and political parties. When Angolans head to the polls this week, they should be able to do so with the confidence that every vote will count. America has a compelling moral and strategic interest in ensuring that this important partner does not slide toward instability and must be prepared to stand up for democracy in Angola. – The Hill

Alexander Jelloian writes: Like it or not, the United States and China have entered a tentative Cold War, and the recognition of Somaliland by the American government would help the United States position itself to win this ideological battle. President Abdi has presented America with a golden opportunity, and America should take it. – The National Interest


A close friend of Finland’s embattled prime minister Sanna Marin may have had his or her phone or social media accounts hacked by Russian intelligence operatives, a leading Finnish cybersecurity expert says. – New York Sun

Regulators with China’s main cybersecurity watchdog sent a conciliatory message on Friday towards the country’s tech industry, which has been chastened by a years-long crackdown, including a $1.2 billion fine against international ride-hailing giant DiDi. – The Record

When it comes to privacy and cybersecurity regulations, the European Union often sets the standards that other governments follow. In 2016 the EU adopted the landmark General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), which imposes multimillion-dollar penalties for failing to safeguard consumer data, as well as the Network and Information Security Directive (NIS) that sets cybersecurity requirements on critical infrastructure operators. Lawmakers are negotiating an updated version of the law, called NIS-2, that expands its scope. – The Record

James Van de Velde writes: Cyberspace will continue to favor authoritarian states that violate sovereignty, law and international norms in peacetime as long as the U.S. does not successfully engage the malicious actors. Many of our attitudes and prior thinking may explain the state of cyberspace today. – CyberScoop


A new $775 million military aid package for Ukraine marks the first time the U.S. is sending ScanEagle drones, for targeting artillery, as well as 105mm howitzers and anti-tank rounds for the Carl Gustaf rifle to the fight against Russia, the Pentagon announced Friday. – Defense News

USS Ronald Reagan (CVN-76) pulled into Yokosuka, Japan on Friday, wrapping a three-month patrol in the Western Pacific, USNI News has learned. – USNI News

Melissa Flagg writes: It will require courage to push back on Congress and the Government Accountability Office and their obsession with predicting an unchanging future seven years out in this dynamic new threat and technology landscape. It will require the department to be a better customer and recognize the economic realities of the startups it engages. It will require officials to learn to love the valley of death. This transition will take time, but the United States cannot fight and win in this new multipolar world unless it begins today. – The National Interest

Long War

An Islamic State militant who was one of the ringleaders torturing international hostages, demanding ransom payments from their families and broadcasting videotaped executions to the world was sentenced Friday to life in prison. – Washington Post

Raffaello Pantucci writes: Twenty years of conflict have changed the international terrorist threat that we face. But it has not gone away, and in a nightmarish twist it may start to fuse with the great power conflict we find ourselves locked into. The world has a habit of throwing multiple problems at us. In a growing world of threat, disinformation, proxies and opacity, terrorist groups offer a perfect tool. The west may one day rue the fact that it no longer has the relative clarity of the early years of the war on terror. – Financial Times

Seth G. Jones writes: A failure to improve the U.S.’s counterterrorism capabilities and posture—particularly by establishing relations with local partners in Afghanistan and negotiating additional bases—will put the United States and its partners at growing risk of a terrorist attack. U.S. intelligence agencies now assess that Al Qaeda and ISIS-K could develop external operations capabilities later in 2022 or 2023. This reality makes it important for the United States to move expeditiously—before the next attack. – The National Interest