Fdd's overnight brief

August 3, 2022

In The News

Russia & Ukraine

The Treasury Department unveiled a fresh raft of sanctions on Russian companies and people around Vladimir Putin on Tuesday, including a famed former Russian Olympic gymnast whom the U.S. government believes to be the Russian president’s girlfriend. – Wall Street Journal

Russian shells struck Ukrainian-held territory in the country’s south Tuesday morning, according to local officials, as both sides shift their attention toward a looming fight for the area. – Wall Street Journal

American basketball star Brittney Griner returned to a Russian courtroom Tuesday, holding up personal pictures of her loved ones as her trial for cannabis possession wrapped up and calls for diplomatic efforts to secure her release intensified. – Washington Examiner

At least 140,000 residential buildings in Ukraine destroyed or damaged. More than 3.5 million people left homeless. More than 12 million displaced. New tallies were added Tuesday to the merciless accounting that measures the losses from Russia’s invasion. – New York Post 

The Pentagon on Tuesday denied Russian claims that the country had destroyed six U.S.-made HIMARS missile systems since the beginning of the conflict in Ukraine. – Reuters

Russia’s top court on Tuesday designated Ukraine’s Azov Regiment as a terrorist group, a Reuters correspondent in the courtroom said, paving the way for captured soldiers to be tried under stringent anti-terror laws and be jailed for up to 20 years. – Reuters

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov will visit Myanmar on Wednesday, TASS news agency reported, marking one of the most high-profile visits to the Southeast Asian country since the military seized power in a coup last year. – Reuters

The rail link connecting Russian-occupied Kherson in southern Ukraine with Crimea is highly unlikely to be operational due to a Ukrainian strike against a Russian ammunition train, Britain said on Wednesday. – Reuters

The U.N. nuclear chief warned that Europe’s largest nuclear power plant in Ukraine “is completely out of control” and issued an urgent plea to Russia and Ukraine to quickly allow experts to visit the sprawling complex to stabilize the situation and avoid a nuclear accident. – Associated Press 

The designation of Russia as a state sponsor of terrorism by the United States would result in the breaking of diplomatic relations between the two countries, the Russian Foreign Ministry said on Tuesday. – Jerusalem Post 

Zalmay Khalilzad writes: The U.S. should be ready to facilitate and support a peaceful settlement. But the Russians will become serious about negotiations only if they see significant risks, costs and potentially failure ahead. A protracted conflict is acceptable to them, and they are content to seize Ukraine inch by bloody inch. To defeat their cruel logic will require making the conflict hit Russia closer to home. – Wall Street Journal

Tara D. Sonenshine writes: Now, here we are in a post post-Cold War period of renewed tensions between America and Russia, and it has engulfed Europe, and even China, India and other countries whose foreign policies are now calibrated with Ukraine in mind. That five-bedroom International Space Station is no longer a safe space to retreat to avoid conflict, nor is almost any part of Earth below. – The Hill

Victor Rud writes: Pressuring Ukraine for a settlement agreement would condemn to the death pits of Bucha and Mariupol the international order born of World War II horrors. Remember that “conflict”? It would make China’s certitude and contemptuous threat against America’s Speaker of the House visiting Taiwan but a prequel to the next one. – The Hill

Oleg Churiy writes: Every day of the war means more lives lost, children traumatised and homes destroyed. The economic cost of the war is no less staggering and it touches everybody — from ruined infrastructure in Ukraine to the spectre of hunger in Africa and elsewhere. Ukraine must win this war and win it quickly. But a long war increasingly looks like the baseline scenario. This requires recalibrating macroeconomic policies in Ukraine and allied countries to make sure that Ukraine’s economy can sustain the war effort as long as necessary. – Financial Times 

Kseniya Kirillova writes: The Kremlin may hope that the annexation of new territories will lead to a new patriotic groundswell, as happened in 2014 after the annexation of Crimea. If that is indeed Putin’s plan, it seems a flimsy basis for optimism. All the while, Ukraine’s counter-attacks are increasing and new units are being formed behind the front lines. Unless something radical changes, Russia’s military has plenty to worry about. – Center for European Policy Analysis


The head of the U.N. nuclear watchdog said on Tuesday “good words” from Iran are not enough to satisfy international inspectors and he hopes Tehran is ready to be transparent about its nuclear program, which was “moving ahead very, very fast”. – Reuters

Iran’s ultraconservative President Ebrahim Raisi plans to travel to New York for the UN General Assembly next month despite US sanctions against him, the government’s spokesman said on Tuesday. – Agence France-Presse

Iranian courts have sentenced three people to be blinded in one eye under the Islamic republic’s retribution laws, a newspaper reported Tuesday. – Agence France-Presse

Iran has been seeking to increase its influence in South America and undermine American interests and security, drawing little response from the Biden administration as it tries to salvage the Obama-era nuclear agreement with the country. – Fox News

Rights activist Maryam Karimbeigi has been sentenced to three years and seven months in prison for attending a concert by the popular Iranian singer Ebi in Turkey. – Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty

Iran’s nuclear program is “moving ahead very, very fast” and “good words” from Tehran are not enough for international inspectors, said the head of the UN nuclear watchdog on Tuesday. – Times of Israel 

Lawrence J. Haas writes: Globally, the stakes of a new U.S. strategy for Iran could hardly be higher. For years, China, Russia, and Iran have grown closer in an anti-U.S. coalition. […]Iran also is trading more with China and working to join the BRICS alliance of China, Russia, India Brazil, and South Africa. At this critical moment, Washington needs a post-JCPOA strategy that will force all three powers to take notice. – The Hill

Benny Avni writes: American interests and our laws at times clash with UN agreements. Mr. Raisi’s sheltering of Al Qaeda’s top men, as well as his country’s plots to murder Americans, seem as good a reason as any to override the UN Headquarters Agreement. – New York Sun

Michael Rubin writes: Such rewards would cost the Treasury a fraction of what military action or inaction leading to a nuclear Iran would. Given the talent of Iranian scientists, it might also enhance U.S. interests. It is time for a coherent Iran strategy that extends past endless talk or the threat of war. – Washington Examiner


The Taliban’s willingness to protect al Qaeda leaders in Afghanistan became much clearer following the U.S. strike that killed Ayman al Zawahiri, the successor of Osama bin Laden, the first such strike since America’s withdrawal. – Washington Examiner

Twitter users blasted National Security Council coordinator John Kirby Tuesday for his response to a question about whether pulling out from Afghanistan last year left it vulnerable to terrorists. – Fox News

The refugees minister has appealed to councils to help house 10,500 Afghans currently living in UK hotels at a cost to the taxpayer of £1m a day. – BBC

The Taliban’s killings of former members of the Afghan military and rights groups have spiked in recent months, according to a recent report compiled by Afghan diplomats and civil service staff. The militant group is seeking to crack down on perceived regime opponents while also clashing with resistance groups. – Foreign Affairs

Editorial: Some regional partners, such as Qatar, have urged western engagement with the Taliban through “reciprocal measures” that would free more financing aimed at helping the government to boost employment and growth in return for reforms such as restoring women’s rights. The tensions sparked by al-Zawahiri’s killing and the Taliban’s failure to meet their commitments make even limited engagement still more unlikely. As so often in recent decades, the victims will be the Afghan people — with radical groups the biggest potential beneficiaries. – Financial Times 

Asfandyar Mir writes: Al-Zawahri’s successful targeting in Kabul doesn’t mean that the threat is now over. If anything, it demonstrates that Al Qaeda is resurfacing in Afghanistan and that despite sanctions, the Taliban are comfortable, secure and enabling threats against the region and the Western world. – New York Times

Thomas Watkins writes: But as the one-year anniversary approaches, it is unclear the extent to which Al Zawahiri’s killing can deflect from the Biden administration’s humiliating end to the war in Afghanistan. And how much the American public, still grappling with record inflation and rising borrowing costs, will care before the November midterm elections is an open question. – The National


The first ship carrying grain from Ukraine under an agreement with Russia arrived in Turkey. The Kremlin said that Russian President Vladimir Putin will meet Turkish leader Recep Tayyip Erdogan for talks in the Black Sea resort of Sochi on Friday, including on the deal brokered by Turkey and the United Nations to unblock Ukraine’s grain exports. – Bloomberg

The Turkish Energy Ministry said it is seeking to resolve a dispute between the parties involved in the construction of a $20 billion nuclear power plant by Russia’s Rosatom at Akkuyu in southern Turkey. – Reuters

Ishtar Al Shami writes: While Arab tribal connections once served as a link between the SDF and the Gulf, this is proving a tenuous and disintegrating connection. The ongoing rapprochement between Gulf countries and Turkey is only furthering the isolation of the Autonomous Administration, and Kurdish leadership is consequently looking towards the Russian-backed Assad regime as its partner. – Washington Institute


After three decades of increasingly friendly ties, tensions over President Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine are triggering the worst rift in relations between Russia and Israel since the Soviet Union’s collapse. – Bloomberg

UN experts on Tuesday slammed Israel’s “harassment” of human rights defenders and humanitarian workers in the West Bank’s Masafer Yatta villages, where Israel has a military zone. – Agence France-Presse

With tensions rising in Asia, one of Shinzo Abe’s top former advisers, during a visit to the Jewish state, is calling for a trilateral defense partnership between Japan, America, and Israel. – New York Sun

The IDF has called up a limited number of reservists to deploy along the Gaza Strip as the military continued to close the roads in the area for the second day in a row on Wednesday over concerns of an attack after Israeli security forces arrested a senior Palestinian Islamic Jihad operative in the West Bank. – Jerusalem Post 

On Tuesday night, IDF, Israel Security Agency (Shabak), and Israel Border Police forces conducted counterterrorism activities in a number of locations in Judea and Samaria, including in the towns of Deir Abu Masha’al, Urif, Tell, Ein Qiniyye, Ein Al Sultan, Kifl Haris, Al Aroub, and the city of Hebron. – Arutz Sheva 

Prime Minister Yair Lapid will hold a situational assessment of the security situation following the arrest of a senior leader of the Islamic Jihad terrorist organization last night. – Arutz Sheva 

An 18-year-old Palestinian Arab with a knife was arrested at the Allenby Crossing Tuesday. The teen told guards at the border crossing with Jordan that he wanted to kill Israelis and that he had a knife in his bag, the Israel Airports Authority reported. – Arutz Sheva

Ben-Dror Yemini writes: The next intifada will surely see scores of Israeli Arab citizens join in the violence. They will still be a minority of the population, but will cause a rift that no one will know how to mend. Israel is in a dangerous diplomatic coma, and we better wake up. – Ynet

Ron Ben Yishai writes: If the Gaza faction fails to identify a possible target in Israel in the coming days, their anger and humiliation over the arrest of their senior operative may subside and the urging of Hamas to hold their fire in the hopes of preventing a new cycle of violence, might fall on more receptive ears. – Ynet 

Anna Ahronheim writes: However, all these moves are worth absolutely nothing when the main player is PIJ, a group that has no responsibility to care for the Palestinian civilians of the blockaded enclave or Israeli civilians that they see as legitimate military targets. The ball is in PIJ’s court. – Jerusalem Post 

Amos Harel writes: Some of the locations whose access was blocked were targeted by anti-tank missiles and sniper fire during previous escalations. At the same time, Egyptian intelligence officials spoke with leaders of factions in the Strip in an effort to head off renewed violence. If Hamas promises Cairo to keep the peace, a return to routine in Israel’s border communities is likely before the weekend. – Haaretz


Lebanon’s top prosecutor has lifted his seizure order on a ship accused by Ukraine of carrying stolen flour and barley, allowing it to sail after finding “no criminal offence committed”, a senior judicial source told Reuters. – Reuters

U.S. envoy mediating between Israel and Lebanon on the maritime border dispute arrived in Israel late on Monday and met with Prime Minister Yair Lapid. – Ynet

Israeli law requires the government to hold a national referendum about any agreement reached with Lebanon over the maritime border, think tank Kohelet Policy Forum wrote as the US-mediated talks between Jerusalem and Beirut appeared to be coming to a close. – Jerusalem Post


The United Nations said Yemen’s warring parties agreed Tuesday to renew an existing truce for two more months after concerted international efforts. – Associated Press 

A truce renewal agreed between Yemen’s warring sides is not enough in the long run, U.S. President Joe Biden said on Tuesday amid international pressure for an extended and expanded deal that would build on the longest stretch of relative calm in over seven years. – Reuters

Seth J. Frantzman writes: Reducing the Yemen crisis gives Iran less of an excuse to meddle. It also could be helped by Saudi-Iran talks and Iran’s interests in the Gulf. Whatever the overall regional cause and context, what matters is that there is now peace in Yemen, hopefully for the next several months at least. – Jerusalem Post

Gulf States

Rival street protests over the shape of Iraq’s government ended peacefully this week, but the country’s political crisis has entered a new and uncertain phase as the feuding elite offered no signs of resolution. – Washington Post 

A power struggle in Iraq between the Shi’ite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr and rivals aligned with Iran is testing Tehran’s ability to stave off a conflict that could damage its interests and further destabilise the oil-rich country. – Reuters

The Biden administration on Tuesday approved two massive arms sales to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates to help them defend against Iran. – Associated Press 

Michael Knights writes: At this stage, with the abyss gaping right in front of Iraq and its partners, there is a need for rapid, unconventional policy thinking that sends a sign to Moqtada al-Sadr that there is more than one way to fix the current impasse and that the wrong of the stolen election can be righted without a second coup. – Washington Institute

Sardar Aziz writes:  It is important for Iraqis and outside observers alike to know the understand nature of these circles and the influence they exercise over political decisions, as their influence will have to be addressed if Iraqi politics hopes to reform. Overall, these meetings are a demonstration of how culture and traditions can continue to be an impediment to any form of modernization. – Washington Institute

Middle East & North Africa

Libya’s oil production has risen in the past two weeks, bringing hope the OPEC member’s exports can stabilize at more than 1 million barrels a day and provide relief to a tight global market. – Bloomberg

Zeynep Tufekci writes: Someone with power has to let the Egyptian government know that while loftier goals may be abandoned, the world hasn’t completely forgotten how it once admired those courageous young people who dared to dream of a better future. The least we owe them is more half-hours, to walk and breathe freely, to hold their children and perchance to keep dreaming of a better world. – New York Times

Fadil Aliriza writes: This prioritization reflects Saied’s laser focus on his long-term project to revamp the governing structure. In contrast, pressing economic issues like the debt crisis, an International Monetary Fund (IMF) loan under negotiation, and the related issues of inflation, wage depreciation, and collapsing public services appear to have been delegated to his ministers or not prioritized at all. – Middle East Institute


The Biden administration has spent months building an economic and diplomatic strategy in Asia to counter China, shoring up its alliances and assuring friendly countries that the United States is in the region for the long haul. – New York Times 

China denounced Secretary of State Antony Blinken’s call for nuclear arms control talks as an attempt to “deflect blame” amid a brewing crisis over House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s (D-CA) visit to Taiwan. – Washington Examiner

China’s anger over House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s (D-CA) long-discussed visit to Taiwan is “absolutely justified,” according to Russian officials. – Washington Examiner

China has suspended imports from dozens of Taiwanese food exporters since Monday, ahead of an unscheduled visit to the island by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA). – Washington Examiner

Weibo, China’s biggest social media network, on Tuesday saw an outpouring of anti-US vitriol ahead of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s potential visit to Taiwan. – Business Insider

Mike Ives writes: And in 2019, a Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman, Hua Chunying, said Ms. Pelosi was partly to blame for the civil unrest gripping Hong Kong, where some activists had been trying to draw the United States into their movement. “It is precisely because of the naked cover-up and connivance of external forces such as Pelosi that the violent anti-law forces are even more fearless,” Ms. Hua said. – New York Times 

Chris Buckley writes:  On Monday, the 95th anniversary of the founding of the People’s Liberation Army, the official Liberation Army Daily stressed Mr. Xi’s goal of achieving key parts of military modernization by 2027. Last year, Adm. Phil Davidson, then poised to retire as commander of United States Indo-Pacific Command, sparked debate by telling a Senate committee that China could move to seize Taiwan before then. – New York Times 

Paul Mozur and Amy Chang Chien write: China has wasted little time in signaling that it is serious. On Wednesday its state broadcaster released images from preparatory drills in the area indicating Chinese forces were in the north, southwest and southeast of Taiwan to practice sea assaults and land strikes, aerial combat and “joint containment.” Also on Wednesday, Taiwan’s military sought to hold the line, while signaling that it did not wish to escalate the situation. – New York Times 

Joseph Bosco writes: Biden should inform Xi that the same logic applies to the Shanghai Communique — time and events have passed it by, certainly in the distorted form that Beijing insists on. He should quote Nixon, usually lionized in China, who saw the reality of a new, democratic and independent Taiwan when he wrote in 1994 of Taiwan and China: “The separation is permanent politically, but they are in bed together economically.” Biden should reinforce that message as he edges toward an explicit one China, one Taiwan policy. – The Hill

Marco Rubio writes: A strong and unified NATO is a powerful asset in the contest with Beijing. When Finland and Sweden join the alliance’s ranks and the free peoples of Europe become stronger than ever, more U.S. resources will be available to focus on countering Communist China. If we do not rise to the challenge, it will be too late, and Americans will be held hostage by a totalitarian regime half a world away. – Washington Examiner

Tom McTague writes: What does that mean for the U.S.? If it wants to construct a coalition behind its attempt to contain China, it will need to be prepared to threaten and cajole, yes, but also bribe far more effectively than it has until now. No longer is America the only dog in the pound, even if it still has the biggest bark. – The Atlantic

South Asia

Pakistan’s ex-premier Imran Khan’s party accepted millions of dollars in illegal funds from foreign individuals and groups, the election commission ruled Tuesday. – Agence France-Presse

Separatist insurgents in Pakistan’s resource-rich Balochistan province said they shot down a military helicopter that went down during a flood relief operation on Monday, killing all six on board including a top army commander. – Reuters 

India will extend an additional $100 million line of credit to the Maldives, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said on Tuesday, after a meeting with the island nation’s President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih in New Delhi. – Reuters

Sri Lanka’s new President Ranil Wickremesinghe told parliament on Wednesday that talks with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) for a bailout package would restart in August, as the country wrestles with its worst economic crisis in decades. – Reuters

Bangladesh is seeking $2 billion from the World Bank and the Asian Development Bank (ADB) amid efforts to bolster its foreign exchange reserves, Bloomberg News reported on Wednesday. – Reuters

Michael Rubin writes: In the meantime, the Biden administration should be cautious about allowing Pakistan to profit from continued terror support. It is time to tell Pakistan: Deliver every Al Qaeda asset now and abide by every Financial Action Task Force (FATF) counter-terror recommendation or be designated a terror sponsor and face bankruptcy. – 19FortyFive

Husain Haqqani writes: Pakistan’s domestic narrative is the reason why it has always moved one step forward, one step back in acting against terrorist groups even though it has promised to do so since 9/11. Support for Islamist extremism has been a major factor in depriving Pakistan of large amounts of U.S. aid and one of the reasons the country’s economy cannot easily be brought back on track. Large-scale investment is unlikely to come to a country seen as constantly tarred with allegations of being soft on terrorists. – Foreign Policy


House Speaker Nancy Pelosi met with Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen on Wednesday, in what she called a show of American solidarity for the island, defying repeated warnings from Beijing and fueling U.S.-China tensions. – Wall Street Journal

The White House worked urgently to de-escalate tensions with China as House Speaker Nancy Pelosi met Wednesday with Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen and other officials during a high-profile visit to the self-governing island against the administration’s wishes, hoping to head off a geopolitical crisis amid threats and military maneuvers by Beijing. – Washington Post 

A coalition of Republican senators released a statement Tuesday praising House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s (D-CA) visit to Taiwan , underscoring Washington’s bipartisan support for the democratic island in the face of mounting Chinese threats. – Washington Examiner

North Korea’s foreign ministry on Wednesday criticised what it called U.S. “imprudent interference” in China’s internal affairs over House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan, the official KCNA said. – Reuters

Top Southeast Asian diplomats meeting in Cambodia’s capital intensified efforts Wednesday to stop the escalating violence in Myanmar, and to address other pressing — and often divisive — regional issues. – Associated Press

The United States and Indonesian militaries began annual joint combat exercises Wednesday on Indonesia’s Sumatra island, joined for the first time by participants from other partner nations, signaling stronger ties amid growing maritime activity by China in the Indo-Pacific region. – Associated Press 

Editorial: China’s reaction to the Pelosi visit should concentrate minds in Taipei and the U.S. about moving urgently to buttress the island’s defenses. […]The U.S. and its allies also need to prepare in case China begins to employ a strategy of gradual economic strangulation or quarantine. This will require creative thinking and fortitude because China is making its intentions all too clear. The Taiwan crisis looms. – Wall Street Journal

Josh Rogin writes: The silver lining is that Beijing’s overreaction to Pelosi’s visit might result in Taiwan and other countries accelerating their own plans to reduce their dependence on China. Beijing’s use of economic coercion and military aggression are only set to rise over time. Therefore, the international effort to bolster Taiwan militarily, economically and diplomatically must increase accordingly. – Washington Post 

Tom Rogan writes: Unfortunately, it is likely that Xi’s long-term escalation against Taiwan is all but inevitable. For reasons of Communist Party ideology and Xi’s own sense of destiny, war is very likely coming to Taiwan. Most U.S. military and intelligence analysts I have talked to believe that war will arrive before 2030. Pelosi’s trip has likely shortened that timeline further. The U.S. should thus massively ramp up the speed and scale of its arms sales to Taiwan. – Washington Examiner

Minxin Pei writes: For all the tensions surrounding Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan, it will have served some purpose if it spurs the U.S. and China to revive dialogue and look for ways to avoid a similar crisis in the future. The alternative is too bleak to contemplate. – Bloomberg

Seth J. Frantzman writes: They have watched the US walk away from places like Afghanistan and they wonder whether US power is declining or if the US is really positioning itself for what is called “near-peer” rivalry; a real rivalry with China in Asia in which the US will need to back its partners and allies. They also read the new isolationist agendas appearing in US media and know that in the future, the US might have a President more circumspect about US power. – Jerusalem Post 

Wallace C. Gregson writes: This historical example may be expandable to incorporate Australia, which is already a partner in technology development through the AUKUS agreement. Japan hosts most U.S. forces in the region and is moving to active collective defense. India, the fourth member of the Quad, has much to contribute. Energizing and operationalizing the Quad would by itself serve as a deterrent as it works to build greater deterrence. – The National Interest


The stakes are high. If Russia severs the supplies of gas it has already drastically reduced, authorities fear Europe risks becoming a colder, darker and less-productive place this winter. – Associated Press 

The Senate is set to ratify NATO membership for Finland and Sweden, a crucial step toward swiftly expanding the Western military alliance with a show of U.S. support in response to Russia’s war with Ukraine. – Associated Press 

Germany’s controversial former chancellor, Gerhard Schroeder, confirmed that he met with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow last week and insisted that the Kremlin is open to talks to end the war in Ukraine. – Bloomberg

Spain cannot send its mothballed Leopard 2A4 tanks to Ukraine as they are “in an absolutely deplorable state” and could be a danger to the people firing them, Spanish Defence Minister Margarita Robles said on Tuesday. – Reuters

Former President Trump on Tuesday met with Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán, a far-right nationalist and a close ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin. – The Hill

William A. Galston writes: At the National Conservatism Conference this September, Mr. Orbán’s supporters must either separate themselves from his speech or, through silence, associate themselves with its noxious sentiments. – Wall Street Journal

Leslie Vinjamuri writes: Boris Johnson has done little to drum up support at home for the United Kingdom’s leadership in foreign assistance and has rallied his base against some of the country’s central treaty commitments. Repairing the United Kingdom’s reputation will entail international compromise, something the party’s Brexit advocates have steadfastly rejected. – Foreign Affairs


A former deputy leader of the al-Shabab extremist group has been named a government minister by Somalia’s new administration in what some call a chance to persuade fighters to denounce violence. – Associated Press 

Democratic Republic of Congo’s government will re-evaluate the withdrawal plan of the United Nations peacekeeping mission after deadly anti-U.N. protests last week, it said late on Monday, suggesting it may ask the force to leave sooner than expected. – Reuters

Police dispersed about 100 demonstrators in Congo’s eastern town of Beni on Monday, a day after U.N. peacekeepers returning to duty killed three people and wounded more than a dozen at the border with Uganda. – Associated Press

The Americas

The European Union is asking the Haitian government to step up its fight against gangs, warning that armed groups are using sexual violence to tighten their grip on the nation’s capital amid a rising death toll. – Bloomberg

Mexico’s attorney general’s office is investigating former President Enrique Pena Nieto for alleged money laundering, illicit enrichment, and illegal international transfers, two sources familiar with the matter told Reuters on Tuesday. – Reuters

The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) on Tuesday asked for permission to confiscate an Iranian plane sold to Venezuelan owners and impounded in Argentina on suspicions it was linked to international terrorist groups, the agency said in a statement. – Reuters

Outages disrupting Venezuela’s power and gas supplies to state-run energy firm PDVSA hit July oil exports, contributing to a 27% fall from the previous month, according to Refinitiv Eikon vessel tracking data and the company’s internal documents. – Reuters


The official website of Taiwan’s presidential office experienced an overseas cyberattack on Tuesday before a visit of Speaker Nancy Pelosi to Taiwan, the office said in a statement. – New York Times

Nomad, a San Francisco-based crypto firm, has lost $190 million worth of its digital currency in a series of thefts, according to blockchain security firm PeckShield. – The Hill

Voting by Britain’s Conservative Party members to pick the next Prime Minister was delayed on Tuesday after the GCHQ spy agency warned that cyber hackers could change people’s ballots, Reuters reports, citing The Telegraph. – Arutz Sheva

The Defense Information Systems Agency extended its Thunderdome cybersecurity contract with Booz Allen Hamilton, citing lessons learned from the Russia-Ukraine war and the need to better secure the Pentagon’s communication system for secrets. – Defense News


Eleven Republican senators voted Tuesday against a bipartisan measure, the PACT Act, that is designed to help veterans who were exposed to toxic chemicals while deployed abroad. – Business Insider

The Rafael-made Iron Dome system successfully defeated cruise missile and unmanned aerial system surrogates during a recent test with the US Army at White Sands Missile Range, the Israeli company announced today. – Breaking Defense 

U.S. Special Operations Command’s new Armed Overwatch aircraft will be able to carry multiple weapons configurations and modular sensors that can be quickly swapped out as well as be disassembled for deployment within hours. – Defense News 

Mackenzie Eaglen writes: The Department of Defense simply cannot afford another cycle of delayed authorizations and appropriations. The Senate must pass the bill as soon as possible so conferencing may begin and this needed legislation can head to the President’s desk on time. – 19FortyFive

Caleb Larson writes: Including Australia in the sixth-generation fighter program would also increase interoperability with a key ally in the Indo-Pacific region. Given that tensions with China are at an all-time high, building a robust and organic Australian capability would serve American, British, and Australian interests. – The National Interest

Long War

The CIA drone strike that killed al Qaeda’s leader over the weekend demonstrates potent U.S. capabilities to target individual terror chieftains, but leaves unanswered the question of whether Washington can remotely thwart plots in Afghanistan before they become a threat. – Wall Street Journal

Al Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri had been living for months in the heart of Kabul, a short walk from the now-closed British embassy and next door to a house owned by a longtime ally: Sirajuddin Haqqani, the Taliban’s powerful minister of interior, according to a person briefed by Taliban officials. – Wall Street Journal

Former President Obama on Monday said the killing of al Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri demonstrates that the United States can fight terrorism without being at war in Afghanistan. – The Hill

The terrorist who played a “central role” in the “Black Hawk Down” attack in Somalia and facilitated the deadly U.S. Embassy bombings in Africa in the 1990s could be the next al Qaeda leader following Ayman al Zawahiri’s death in a U.S. airstrike in Kabul. – Washington Examiner

Editorial: This is what Mr. Biden’s disorderly withdrawal has wrought, the return of a Taliban that presents old risks and will certainly bring new dangers to the people of Afghanistan and beyond. At least in the case of Zawahiri, justice was done. – Washington Post

Editorial: The Taliban have been pursuing aid and international recognition ever since; they should receive neither as long as they continue to coddle terrorists. For now, it’s enough to say that justice has been served — and that the world is a safer place with Ayman al-Zawahiri in his grave. – Bloomberg

Hal Brands writes: The successful mission reveals a great deal about the tools the US developed to wage the war on terrorism in the period after 9/11. What it reveals about the efficacy of counterterrorism policy in a moment of competing priorities and fewer resources is harder to say. – Bloomberg

Christopher P. Costa writes: The U.S. cannot weaken its counterterrorism resolve, even with the success of the drone strike that killed al-Zawahiri. The United States must remain relentless in its pursuit of intelligence on al Qaeda’s next generation of leaders in Afghanistan — wherever their hiding or being protected by the Taliban. – The Hill

Tom Rogan writes: But human sources and boutique mobile ground sensors remain critical to truly effective counterterrorism operations. Satellites and drones can only gather so much intelligence. Top line: Al Qaeda is stronger for the U.S. withdrawal, even as it is temporarily weakened by Zawahiri’s demise. – Washington Examiner

Matthew Levit and Aaron Y. Zelin writes: As for Zawahiri’s leadership legacy, one cannot escape the fact that AQ has been steadily devolving from the unipolar leader of the global jihadist movement since he took over. Despite the major threat posed by certain affiliates abroad, AQ lost its two strongest branches in the heart of the Arab world under his watch—IS and HTS—and is now weaker on the world stage. – Washington Institute