Fdd's overnight brief

August 28, 2020

In The News


An Iranian-flagged vessel loaded a cargo of alumina in Venezuela this month after delivering supplies for an Iranian supermarket in the South American nation, three sources familiar with the shipment said, in the latest sign of closer ties between the U.S.-sanctioned nations. – Reuters

Four U.S. men have been charged by U.S. authorities with conspiring to evade economic sanctions against Iran by selling Iranian oil to Chinese buyers for a potential profit of $28 million a month. – Reuters

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani on Thursday stressed the “important responsibility” of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) in keeping the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), the name of the 2015 Iran nuclear deal. – Arutz Sheva

Under the pressure of U.S. measures aimed at crippling its economy, however, Iran has grown ever closer to America’s principal rival, China, and vice versa. The two are said to be contemplating a 25-year strategic partnership. – Bloomberg

The United States and most of the rest of the U.N. Security Council dug in their heels Thursday on diametrically opposed positions over the restoration of international sanctions on Iran. – Associated Press

Bobby Ghosh writes: President Hassan Rouhani asserted that the agreement with the IAEA showed “Iran is ready as ever to work closely with the agency in the framework of safeguards.” […]The regime will do its best to spin the new deal with the IAEA as a case for cutting Iran some slack. But there’s no concealing the reality that the Islamic Republic buckles under pressure. – Bloomberg

Yonah Jeremy Bob writes: Also, some IAEA visits have been timid and symbolic, with Iran collecting samples “on behalf” of inspectors, and the deal did not reveal how or when access would be given. But Israel unquestionably is more worried about whether this deal signals a reduction of pressure on Iran on the big-ticket issues than it is about any of the specific details involved. – Jerusalem Post

Seth J. Frantzman writes: If the US wants to understand the mentality it is contending with, it should listen to Rouhani’s speech, which indicates Iran’s regime is not entirely deterred and believes it is on a historic mission. Its belief is bolstered by its own media coverage of support it is getting from other countries. – Jerusalem Post


Following Hezbollah’s recent shooting at Israeli soldiers on Tuesday night, Israeli Ambassador to the UN Gilad Erdan submitted a letter of complaint to the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) in which he requested that the UNSC take immediate measures against the Lebanese government and to change the function of the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL).  – Jerusalem Post

An NGO has threatened to intercept the International Monetary Fund’s aid money earmarked for Lebanon if Hezbollah’s control over the state’s politics and finances is not ended beforehand. – Jerusalem Post

Seth J. Frantzman writes: The overall narrative among supporters of Hezbollah is that it keeps building up reasons to “respond” to Israel. It is unclear if that is a convenient narrative amid Lebanon’s many problems, or if it is more serious. – Jerusalem Post

Alex Fishman writes: It is safe to assume it’s not all about the killing of that same operative in Damascus, but also due to other actions taken by Israel against the organization, which have yet to be revealed to the public. Nasrallah needs a win, be it real or fictitious, to show to his followers.  And so, it is safe to assume the latest round against Hezbollah has not come to an end. – Ynet


The U.N. envoy for Syria says talks between government, opposition and civil society delegations will resume Thursday after a three-day pause caused by positive cases of coronavirus among four participants. – Associated Press

The Russian military on Thursday blamed U.S. troops for a collision of Russian and U.S. military vehicles in Syria’s northeast. – Associated Press

Anton Mardasov writes: Going forward, Moscow will try to pressure Assad to introduce at least some superficial changes to the political system against the current backdrop of steadily worsening economic problems. Moscow expects to sell this as evidence that the country is going through a much-needed transformation. – Middle East Institute 


An escalating dispute between Greece and Turkey over energy resources in the eastern Mediterranean is fast becoming militarized, raising the risks of a clash among NATO allies. – New York Times

But for Turkey the currency crisis, the second in less than two years, combined with the pandemic, presents a heightened risk of economic collapse. – New York Times

Turkey on Thursday announced new naval exercises near its shores and accused France of “bullying” as the conflict over Mediterranean energy riches risked turning into a military standoff. – Agence France-Presse

Jonathan Spyer writes: Until now, however, no force has proven able to harness the potential Sunni power in Lebanon to its cause. […]As of now, however, the first signs are emerging that Sunni Islamist Turkey is seeking to fill the vacuum, and to recruit the Lebanese Sunni street to its banner. Something is happening in northern Lebanon. – Jerusalem Post


Israeli aircraft and tanks struck Hamas facilities in Gaza on Friday and militants fired half a dozen rockets towards southern Israel, the military said, as mediators work for calm along the volatile frontier. – Reuters

In a burnt and blackened wheat field along the Gaza border, Israeli firefighters brave the dry summer heat to extinguish blazes caused by fire balloons launched from the Palestinian enclave. – Reuters

The Hamas terror group warned on Friday morning that it would exact a “heavy price” from anyone who threatened the Gaza Strip, after overnight violence saw a volley of rockets launched toward southern Israel and two rounds of airstrikes on the enclave. – Times of Israel

The High Court of Justice in a Thursday ruling ordered the demolition of roughly three dozen buildings in a central West Bank outpost that were built on private Palestinian land. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said he was “saddened” by the decision. – Times of Israel

Government policy has changed from annexation to normalization, Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi told reporters in Berlin on Thursday. His remarks created an immediate political storm within the fragile coalition. – Jerusalem Post

In an IDF ceremony on Thursday inaugurating a new commander for the 300th Brigade, a territorial brigade that’s part of the IDF’s northern Galilee Division, Brig.-Gen Shlomi Binder, commander of the Galilee Division, referred to the tension in Israel’s northern border following the security incident that took place on Tuesday and saw IDF troops fired upon by Hezbollah operatives. – Jerusalem Post

Eric R. Mandel writes: Just as there is no free lunch for anything of value, the sale of F-35s to Israel’s neighbors and potential enemies is a serious concern, and it is up to the Israelis to convince whoever sits in the Oval Office that a real solution is needed to protect Israel’s qualitative edge, which is also an indispensable American national security interest.  – The Hill

Michal Cotler-Wunsh and Oded Revivi write: It is only when double standards are exposed and when leaders are held genuinely accountable that the culture of impunity can end, enabling real change. This is also the lesson that Israeli leaders must take to heart in this particular context, when it comes hopefully acting on – or perhaps sadly ignoring – the “Peace to Prosperity” vision. – Jerusalem Post

Zalman Shoval writes: A Democratic win is not assured, but even if Trump gets another four years in the White House, an important objective for Israel should be rehabilitating support for it on both sides of the American political divide. The American Jewish community, which plays a not insignificant role in the Democratic Party in more ways than one, must also be part of this supremely important task. – Jerusalem Post


Two people were killed and at least three wounded in clashes in a town south of Beirut, the Lebanese capital, on Thursday evening, the state news agency and a security source said, as several political parties urged calm. – Reuters

French President Emmanuel Macron has outlined political and financial reforms Lebanese politicians need to make to unlock foreign aid and rescue the country from multiple crises, including an economic meltdown, according to a document seen by Reuters. – Reuters

The UN Security Council is voting on a resolution that would extend the mandate of the UN peacekeeping mission in southern Lebanon for a year but reduce its troop ceiling from 15,000 to 13,000 in response to US pressure. – Times of Israel

Seth J. Frantzman writes: However, the sudden lack of interest in all those tons of ammonium nitrate highlights the largest mystery: No one seems to have owned the chemical or made any attempts to take possession of it after 2013. The answer to that mystery, like the answer to who ordered the killing of Hariri, will continue to haunt Lebanon and the region. – Jerusalem Post

Arabian Peninsula

Saudi Arabia is considering ending the use of the death penalty for drug-related offenses, a change that could spare the lives of dozens of prisoners in the kingdom every year, according to a Saudi official and human rights groups that monitor capital punishment in the country. – Washington Post

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo met the Sultan of Oman on Thursday as part of a Middle East tour following a U.S.-brokered deal on normalising relations between Israel and the United Arab Emirates. – Reuters

The Saudi-led coalition fighting the Houthi movement in Yemen said on Thursday it intercepted and destroyed a ballistic missile launched towards the city of Najran. – Reuters

Analysts are looking forward to potential cooperation among the defense industries of Israel and the United Arab Emirates, following the Aug. 13 announcement that the two countries are establishing full diplomatic relations in a U.S.-brokered deal. – Defense News

Following the normalization agreement between the UAE and Israel, writers in the Emirati media praised Israel’s scientific and technological achievements and called on the Arabs to learn and benefit from its experience. – Middle East Media Research Institute

William D. Hartung writes: Taken together, the UAE’s pattern of reckless and illegal foreign adventures and internal repression should disqualify it from receiving U.S. weaponry at this time. Not only might the weapons be misused, but sales of advanced systems will also represent an endorsement of the regime’s conduct. – Washington Post

Middle East & North Africa

Greece ratified an accord on maritime boundaries with Egypt on Thursday, hours after Turkey extended the operation of a seismic survey vessel in the Eastern Mediterranean and said it will hold firing exercises in the region next month. – Reuters

Three rockets landed just after midnight local time on Friday in Baghdad’s fortified Green Zone, which houses government buildings and foreign missions, the Iraqi military said in a statement. – Reuters

Israeli airline El Al was chosen to carry out the historic first commercial flight from Israel to the United Arab Emirates, according to Israeli media. – Jerusalem Post

Israel’s Bank Leumi has been negotiating a partnership with an unnamed bank in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), according to a Calcalist report on Wednesday, citing Shmulik Arbel, First Executive Vice President and head of the corporate and commercial section of the bank. – Jerusalem Post

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo took a lot of heat, particularly from Democrats, for addressing the Republican National Convention this week while on a trip with stops across the Mideast — but some analysts point out that there remains a lot of key diplomatic work to be done there. – Fox News

Samuel Ramani writes: Russia and China’s cautious responses to the Israel-UAE normalization reflect their commitment to balancing favorable relations with all major regional powers while also revealing their ambivalence about the implications of the so-called Abraham Accord. – Middle East Institute

Michael Freund writes: And how confident can we be that today’s rulers of the UAE, who have no electoral or democratic legitimacy, truly represent the will of the people living under their thumb? Or even that they will remain in power? I hope that despite the domestic political turmoil, economic uncertainty and the coronavirus crisis, someone, somewhere in the Israeli government is giving some thought to these important issues. Because whether one likes it or not, they can be pushed aside for only so long. – Jerusalem Post

Korean Peninsula

U.S. authorities on Thursday moved to seize 280 cryptocurrency accounts they said were used by North Korean hackers who stole more than a quarter of a billion dollars from cryptocurrency companies around the world, including one in the U.S. – Wall Street Journal

Kim Jong Un’s younger sister, Kim Yo Jong, has vanished from public view in what could be another sign that she’s taken more control in the regime, an expert said. – New York Post

Editorial: Mr Kim, although keen to showcase his concern for “the people’s well-being” during a visit to flood-hit areas, has rejected offers of foreign help, ostensibly for fear that it might bring the virus into the country. Shipments of humanitarian goods have slowed to a trickle, owing both to sanctions and to the quarantine. The vast majority of foreign aid workers have been forced to leave in recent months, along with most diplomats. The few who remain are barred from leaving Pyongyang. As life in North Korea grows ever more miserable, the rest of the world is ever less likely to hear about it. – The Economist


China’s coast guard detained a group of Hong Kong activists after intercepting a boat in the South China Sea en route to Taiwan, where the passengers planned to seek refuge from Beijing’s national-security crackdown. – Wall Street Journal 

China has fired a barrage of medium-range missiles across considerable distances into the South China Sea, Beijing’s latest move to demonstrate its strategic dominance and sovereignty over the disputed waters. – New York Times

The Pentagon on Thursday called out China over test launches of ballistic missiles in the South China Sea, a move that the United States views as “counterproductive” to quelling tensions in the region. – The Hill

China on Thursday accused the United States of violating international law by imposing sanctions on officials and companies involved in Beijing’s military buildup in the disputed South China Sea, but gave no indication of how it might retaliate. – Associated Press

A former CIA officer and contract linguist for the FBI accused of selling U.S. secrets to China must remain locked up because he’s a “serious flight risk” in a case involving “espionage over many, many years,” a federal judge ruled Thursday. – Associated Press

The Chinese government’s top diplomat, State Councillor Wang Yi, said on Thursday it was unclear whether the corona virus had first originated in China, casting doubt on the views of health experts and foreign governments. – Reuters

Chinese consumers could boycott Apple if the United States bans WeChat, China’s foreign ministry spokesman warned Friday, as the clock ticks down on a US order to block the popular social app. – Agence France-Presse

China’s Foreign Minister Wang Yi cautioned against giving a Nobel Peace Prize to Hong Kong protesters as he visited Norway, underscoring the limitations of Beijing’s new diplomatic charm offensive targeted at Europe. – Bloomberg

China has secretly constructed new prisons and internment camps over the past several years as the Communist Party-ruled country ramps up its mass detention campaign against Muslim minorities, according to a report on Thursday. – New York Post

Josh Rogin writes: Wall Street must cease steering billions of U.S. dollars to Chinese state-owned firms committing bad acts. We may not be able to stop China from militarizing the South China Sea. But, at the very least, we should stop forcing Americans to pay for it. – Washington Post

Sen. Rick Scott writes: I have been sounding the alarm in the Senate on these issues, and I am thankful the Trump administration is working towards a proactive, strategic approach to combat the Chinese threat. But everyday people can step up now and treat China like the adversary it is. – Washington Examiner


The Taliban offered condolences to the victims and instructed its fighters to assist. But the group also attacked outposts in the area even as bodies were still lost under rubble, a continuation of violence that has escalated in the northern provinces in recent months, including some areas now affected by the floods. – New York Times

Peace talks between warring Afghan sides will begin in early September said the country’s top peace negotiator on Thursday in Kabul, a crucial diplomatic process needed to end about two decades of war in Afghanistan. – Reuters

A lead Taliban negotiator on Thursday said no peace talks were planned with Afghan officials for early September, hours after a senior government official said talks were to begin next month. – Reuters

The U.S. State Department has offered up to $5 million in rewards for information that helps locate and free two Americans kidnapped in Afghanistan. – Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty


Authorities denied a work visa to a Hong Kong-based foreign journalist after he was hired to join an independent local news outlet, the most recent sign of eroding press freedoms in the city after Beijing’s imposition of a new national-security law. – Wall Street Journal

There is no suggestion of a direct Chinese military threat to Palau. Instead the island nation is an example of the sometimes-obscure battleground on which the United States and China are pursuing a “great power” competition for global influence in an era of a more inward-looking Washington and an increasingly assertive and ambitious China. – Associated Press

A 21-year-old man told Reuters he was beaten and humiliated by guards in a Hong Kong prison during his sentence for possessing a Molotov cocktail at an anti-government protest in October. – Reuters

U.S. military alliances in the Pacific range from robust to tricky due in large part to China’s economic stranglehold on smaller Asian countries and bullying tactics with larger neighbors. – Washington Examiner

Joshua Wong, one of Hong Kong’s best-known pro-democracy campaigners, expects to be arrested at any moment and fears disappearing into a secret jail across the border in mainland China. – Financial Times

A guided-missile destroyer conducted a freedom of navigation operation in the South China Sea past the Paracel Island chain on Thursday, one day after China launched missile tests in the South China Sea, U.S. 7th Fleet announced on Thursday. – USNI News

Sumit Ganguly and Frank O’Donnell write: The question now is whether New Delhi will even admit it experienced an intelligence failure this year, especially given the Narendra Modi-led government’s desire to project itself as strong. […]Given that Modi’s early responses to the crisis were to deny any Chinese incursion had taken place, and with the national media’s focus now moving toward the worsening Indian coronavirus epidemic, these intelligence reform outcomes are unlikely. – Foreign Policy


President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia gave an ominous warning on Thursday to protesters in Belarus not to push too hard to topple their country’s embattled president, saying that Russia had formed a special reserve force of security officers to restore order in the event of chaos in its western neighbor. – New York Times

Alexei Navalny, 44, is Russia’s best-known opposition leader. He has been comatose since last week, when he fell ill after boarding a flight in Siberia. After a standoff with Russian doctors, he was evacuated to Berlin for medical treatment. – Washington Post

Russian authorities said Thursday they have found no indication so far that opposition leader Alexei Navalny’s coma, which his allies and German doctors treating him believe may have been brought about by poisoning, was caused by a criminal act. – Associated Press

A Russian submarine surfaced near Alaska on Thursday during a Russian war game exercise, U.S. military officials said. – Associated Press

President Vladimir Putin said on Thursday that a group of Russians who were detained in Belarus prior to its Aug. 9 election and accused of being mercenaries had been lured to Belarus by a Ukrainan-U.S. intelligence operation. – Reuters

Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB) said on Thursday it had detained a serviceman in Siberia for having allegedly passed state secrets to Ukraine. – Reuters

In a tit-for-tat move, Russia is expelling a diplomat from the Norwegian embassy in Moscow, Norway’s foreign ministry said on Friday. – Reuters

Editorial: The poisoning of Mr. Navalny must be thoroughly investigated, no matter where the truth leads. Since Russia is unlikely to do it honestly, an international probe is warranted. Mr. Navalny, who doctors say is not now in danger of dying, cannot become just another name on the roll call of Mr. Putin’s victims. Who put poison in his tea — and who ordered it put there — must be found and exposed. – Washington Post

Nadya Tolokonnikova writes: These things happen in pieces, bit by bit, small acts. And each one may even seem relatively benign at first, perhaps bad, but not fatal. You get angry, maybe you speak out, but you get on with your life. The promise of our democracy was chipped away in pieces, one by one: corrupt cronies appointed, presidential orders issued, actions taken, laws passed, votes rigged. It happens slowly, intermittently; sometimes we couldn’t see how steadily. Autocracy crept in, like the coward it is. – New York Times

Anna Borshchevskaya writes: Political instability in Belarus, Lebanon and Khabarovsk all present shades of the same challenge for Russian president Vladimir Putin: They disrupt the status quo he prefers in parts of the world that matter to his regime’s survival. He’s not going to sit back. – The Hill

Daniel N. Hoffman writes: The Kremlin’s poisoning of Navalny is an admonition as well for the U.S., which remains in Putin’s crosshairs as we near the 2020 presidential election. If Putin felt vulnerable enough to poison Navalny, then we should expect him to increase the intensity of his attacks on our democracy — even at the risk of greater conflict between our nations. – The Hill


Montenegro is holding a parliamentary election this weekend with the pro-Western government facing pressure over the new coronavirus outbreak and ongoing tensions in relations with Serbia and the Serbian Orthodox Church because of a religious property law. – Associated Press

The European Union has agreed to impose sanctions on up to 20 senior Belarus officials suspected of election fraud and the crackdown on protesters and is likely to put President Alexander Lukashenko on its list at some point, the bloc’s foreign ministers said Friday. – Associated Press

Germany’s foreign minister on Thursday called for an end to military drills in the eastern Mediterranean to defuse tensions and create conditions for NATO allies Greece and Turkey to resolve a dispute over offshore energy exploration rights. – Associated Press

In a surprise move, Serbia has joined the European Union in its rejection of the election results in Belarus and criticism of a crackdown against those protesting against the country’s longtime autocratic leader. – Associated Press

NATO’s secretary general is meeting German Chancellor Angela Merkel in Berlin Thursday against a backdrop of challenges for the transatlantic military alliance and rising tensions in Europe. But there is skepticism over what role NATO can, and should, play in de-escalating international disputes, as divisions remain within the organization. – CNBC


Ibrahim Boubacar Keïta, Mali’s ousted president, was released from detention and driven to his home in the West African country’s capital early Thursday, nine days after a military coup brought an end to his seven years in power. – New York Times

Video of one gathering in the rural commune of Sangha shows leaders from the rival Dogon and Fulani communities, whose militias have slaughtered hundreds of civilians in tit-for-tat attacks this year, sitting down together and making peace. Also surprising were the mediators: fighters from al Qaeda’s Mali affiliate, who can be seen squatting in the shade with rifles and ammunition belts, many of their faces obscured by turbans and dark sunglasses. – Reuters

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has approved a plan to halt U.S. foreign assistance to Ethiopia as the Trump administration attempts to mediate a dispute with Egypt and Sudan over the East African country’s construction of a massive dam on the Nile River. – Foriegn Policy

Adem K. Abebe writes: There is no place for military putsches in 21st-century Africa. But the AU’s zero-tolerance policy toward army-led coups must be applied with equal fervor against democracy-stunting constitutional coups. Anything less will fail to restore the AU’s legitimacy among ordinary Africans.  – Foreign Policy

David Pilling writes: Paradoxically, the return of the coup is the flipside of more entrenched democratic norms. Across the continent, regular elections are now standard. But leaders have become adept at manipulating the democratic process and at tweaking the constitution to extend their rule. […]One coup tends to lead to another. Mali is on its second and there are already rumours of disgruntled army officers gunning for Mugabe’s brutal and ineffective successor, Emmerson Mnangagwa. And, once in power, soldiers may get a taste for it. – Financial Times

The Americas

Venezuelan security forces and authorities under President Nicolás Maduro have used the coronavirus as an excuse to crack down on dissenting voices on social media and even in private messages, Human Rights Watch reported Friday. – Associated Press

A federal magistrate judge in Virginia refused Thursday to free a former Army Green Beret who was arrested last week on a charge that he divulged U.S. military secrets to Russian intelligence agents. – Associated Press

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Thursday said reports of hundreds of Chinese vessels near the Galapagos Islands were “deeply troubling,” following recent reports out of Ecuador about vessels from a predominately Chinese fishing fleet. – Reuters

The U.S. Embassy in Ottawa on Thursday issued a rare statement praising Canada’s military service in Afghanistan after White House trade adviser Peter Navarro sharply criticized Canadian policies in a new book. – The Hill


US retail giant Walmart said Thursday it had teamed with Microsoft to buy TikTok, the Chinese-owned short-form video app that has come under fire from the administration of President Donald Trump. – Agence France-Presse

Editorial: Hong Kong is the latest frontier in a fight over Internet freedom that is occurring around the world. Just this week, Facebook challenged an order to partially shut down a group critical of the monarchy in Thailand, a nation whose computer crime law is frequently revised to tighten government control over the Internet. But Facebook first complied with the order, caught between its view that the request violated international human rights law and its commitment to obey local law. What happens if the courts rule against Facebook in Thailand, and what will companies do when officials in other places insist that they assist in quashing civilian expression? – Washington Post

Shira Ovide writes: It is also a reminder that in the absence of effective government policy in the United States to limit digital privacy intrusions, we have Apple and Google remaking how the digital world works without input or oversight on this important policy issue. I’m glad that these powerful companies are flexing their muscle for what I think is a worthy mission. It also makes me queasy. – New York Times

Js Tan writes: In the meantime, the public can begin to use more secure options such as ProtonMail or Signal and reduce our reliance on tech conglomerates, whether they are American or Chinese. Perhaps then, we—unlike Google, TikTok, Facebook, or Tencent—won’t end up trapped between Beijing and Washington in their ever deteriorating relationship. – Foreign Policy


The National Armaments Consortium, along with the DoD Ordnance Technology Consortium and Army Contracting Command-New Jersey, is taking steps to fast-track their armament prototyping efforts, it was announced Thursday. – Defense News

A new request for information from the U.S. Navy outlines the service’s interest in launching a “hardware factory and hardware pipeline” to keep its fleet computing platforms up-to-date. – C4ISRNET

Artificial intelligence (AI) is a rapidly growing field of technology with potentially significant implications for national security. As such, the U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) and other nations are developing AI applications for a range of military functions. As such, the U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) and other nations are developing AI applications for a range of military functions. – USNI News

Long War

Australia’s prime minister said Friday he was open to allowing an Australian white supremacist who slaughtered 51 worshippers at two New Zealand mosques to serve his life sentence in his homeland but the victims’ wishes would be paramount. – Associated Press

Fourteen alleged accomplices in the 2015 jihadist attacks on the Charlie Hebdo satirical weekly and a Jewish supermarket go on trial next Wednesday more than half-a-decade after days of bloodshed that still shock France. – Agence France-Presse

In his first-ever public statement at the time, the twentysomething Yaqoob called for unity within the Sunni extremist group and dismissed rumors that his father’s death was the result of an inside job. Since that first audio message in 2015, the ambitious Mullah Yaqoob has soared through the Taliban’s ranks. – Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty

Ilan Berman writes: In other words, though diminished by counter-terrorism measures and temporarily sidelined by the pandemic, the Islamic State is hardly defunct. Rather, the organization has proven itself to be both resilient and adaptive. As such, it remains a long-term problem for the United States and its regional partners. It is a danger that we — and our allies — ignore at our peril. – USA Today