Fdd's overnight brief

August 30, 2021

FDD Research & Analysis

In The News


Efforts to assist people hoping to escape Taliban-controlled Afghanistan grew more urgent on Sunday, as renewed militant threats left Afghans largely shut out of evacuation flights ahead of Tuesday’s withdrawal deadline. – Washington Post 

Two weeks after the Taliban overran Kabul, seizing control of the capital and the country for the first time in 20 years, Afghans across the capital are bracing for what comes next. For some, each day is now infused with crippling fear. Others say the city is in a state of limbo. – Washington Post 

The U.S. toll from Thursday’s terrorist attack in Afghanistan has come into sharper focus with the Defense Department confirming Saturday the identities of all 13 U.S. service members who were killed. – Washington Post 

Despite its brutality and harsh Islamic codes, the Taliban was accepted by many Afghans who lived under its rule for a singular reason: The militants were thought to provide better security than previous governments, more so than any other force that had emerged in Afghanistan. By Friday, that perception had been seriously damaged. – Washington Post 

A U.S. military drone strike blew up a vehicle laden with explosives in Kabul on Sunday, Defense Department officials said, hours after President Biden had warned that another terrorist attack against the Afghan capital’s airport was “highly likely.” – New York Times 

The United States and 97 other countries said on Sunday that they would continue to take in people fleeing Afghanistan after the American military departs this week and had secured an agreement with the Taliban to allow safe passage for those who are leaving. – New York Times 

U.S. officials again warned Americans to leave the Kabul airport area immediately because of a security threat, hours after President Biden said that another terrorist attack there was “highly likely” in the coming days. – New York Times  

The sweeping international effort to evacuate thousands of vulnerable Afghans and foreign nationals from Kabul’s airport neared completion on Saturday as the United States continued to withdraw its remaining troops from Taliban-controlled Afghanistan after carrying out a retaliatory airstrike in response to a devastating terrorist attack. – New York Times 

As the Afghanistan war wound down, the C.I.A. had expected to gradually shift its primary focus away from counterterrorism — a mission that transformed the agency over two decades into a paramilitary organization focused on manhunts and killing — toward traditional spycraft against powers like China and Russia. – New York Times 

President Biden landed in Delaware on Sunday morning to join the families of the 13 members of the U.S. military who were killed in a bombing last week in Afghanistan. – New York Times 

As American troops rush to complete their withdrawal by President Biden’s Tuesday deadline, many Afghans are afraid that reprisals from the country’s new rulers will soon follow. – New York Times 

Hundreds of students, their relatives and staff of American University of Afghanistan gathered at a safe house on Sunday and boarded buses in what was supposed to be a final attempt at evacuation on U.S. military flights, the students said. – New York Times 

The United States is unlikely to keep diplomats in Afghanistan after the U.S. military departs on Tuesday, Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken said on Sunday, ending a 20-year mission of one of the largest American embassies in the world. – New York Times 

When Taliban troops seized control of the Afghan capital two weeks ago, the invading units made a beeline for two critical targets: the headquarters of the National Security Directorate and the Ministry of Communications. – New York Times 

U.S. and allied officials have begun holding talks with each other and with the Taliban over how to wield influence in Afghanistan once Western forces depart in days, leaving local partners and possibly some Americans stranded in the country. – Wall Street Journal 

Taliban forces are closing in on the one part of Afghanistan they don’t control: the Panjshir Valley, near the imposing Hindu Kush mountain range north of Kabul. The Islamist group is pressing opposition leaders there to join a new government, threatening a military assault if they don’t. – Wall Street Journal 

Rocket fire apparently targeting Kabul’s international airport struck a nearby neighborhood on Monday, the eve of the deadline for American troops to withdraw from the country’s longest war after the Taliban takeover of Afghanistan. It wasn’t immediately clear if anyone was hurt. – Associated Press 

Another terrorist attack on Kabul’s airport is “highly likely in the next 24-36 hours,” President Joe Biden said Saturday, citing US military commanders, while hours later, the US Embassy in Kabul issued a security alert. – CNN 

U.N. officials appealed for $800 million to fill a chronic funding gap for Afghanistan on Friday, with a senior aid official describing the situation as “catastrophic” with at least one third of people expected to be facing hunger. – Reuters 

Turkey will not help run Kabul airport after NATO’s withdrawal unless the Taliban agree to a Turkish security presence, two officials told Reuters after deadly attacks outside the airport highlighted the perils of any such mission. – Reuters 

Russia called on Friday for rapid efforts to help form an inclusive interim government in Afghanistan after a deadly attack at Kabul airport, saying Islamic State was trying to capitalise on chaos in the country and endangering everyone. – Reuters 

The United States launched a drone strike against an Islamic State attack “planner” in eastern Afghanistan, the military said on Friday, a day after a suicide bombing at Kabul airport killed 13 U.S. troops and scores of Afghan civilians. – Reuters 

The Taliban said on Saturday they were preparing a new cabinet as the U.S. evacuation nears its end and they expected that sharp currency falls and economic turmoil following their takeover of Kabul two weeks ago would subside. – Reuters 

A band of veteran Afghan leaders, including two regional strongmen, are angling for talks with the Taliban and plan to meet within weeks to form a new front for holding negotiations on the country’s next government, a member of a group said. – Reuters 

The Taliban will allow all foreign nationals and Afghan citizens with travel authorisation from another country to leave Afghanistan, according to a joint statement issued by Britain, the United States and other countries. – Reuters  

As many as five rockets were fired at Kabul’s international airport but were intercepted by a missile defense system, a U.S. official told Reuters, as the United States’ nears the complete withdrawal of its troops from the city. – Reuters 

British troops left Kabul on Saturday, ending the U.K.’s evacuation operation and its 20-year military involvement in Afghanistan. Prime Minister Boris Johnson praised the “heroic” evacuation effort, even as the government acknowledged some eligible Afghan civilians had been left behind. The U.K.’s top military officer conceded that “we haven’t been able to bring everybody out.” – Associated Press 

Afghan women will be allowed to study at university but there would be a ban on mixed classes under their rule, the Taliban’s acting higher education minister said on Sunday. – Agence France-Presse 

In the days since taking power in Afghanistan, a wide range of Taliban figures have entered Kabul — hardened commandos, armed madrassa students and greying leaders back from years of exile. There has been one major exception — the group’s supreme leader. – Agence France-Presse 

The United States has the capacity to evacuate the approximately 300 U.S. citizens remaining in Afghanistan who want to leave before President Joe Biden’s Tuesday deadline, senior administration officials said, as rocket fire in Kabul and another U.S. drone strike against suspected Islamic State militants underscored the grave threat in the war’s final days. – Associated Press 

Even if the US pulls out as planned by Tuesday — having presided over the evacuation of more than 100,000 civilians through a monumental airlift from Kabul airport that has now lasted two weeks — the chaos and bloodshed of the past few days risk leaving an indelible stain on Biden’s presidency. – Financial Times 

The United States will continue to be a “very generous” donor of humanitarian aid to the Afghan people and will aim to prevent any of its assistance from passing through Taliban coffers, State Department spokesman Ned Price said on Friday. – Reuters 

Editorial: The wreck of Mr. Biden’s Afghan withdrawal is damaging enough. But he compounds the harm to his credibility, and America’s, when he refuses to acknowledge mistakes and spins defeat as a victory for realism. Mr. Biden should take responsibility for his own bad decisions, instead of trying to hide behind the military brass. – Wall Street Journal 

Paul Wolfowitz writes: The fall of Kabul has been a wake-up call for many Americans. We can’t afford to hit snooze now and go back to sleep. If we do, the next alarm may sound like the one that roused us on Sept. 11, 2001. – Wall Street Journal 

David Von Drehle writes: Biden inherited the strongest Taliban and the smallest U.S. force in the war’s history. That was a very poor hand to play. That he has played his poor hand so poorly is now part of his presidential legacy. Sometimes, it’s hell to be chief. – Washington Post 

Abdul Sayed writes: For now, we can anticipate more violence from ISIS-K as the Taliban assumes control. The group’s horrific violence will continue to scar Afghanistan and its beleaguered civilian population. Afghanistan is entering another dangerous phase of violence. – Washington Post 

Elliot Ackerman writes: Apologists for the policies that brought us here claim that the catastrophic withdrawal was inevitable, that no degree of planning could have avoided this. […]The only way in or out is by air. So why were our U.S.-owned air bases shut down before an evacuation was complete? And that’s to say nothing of setting an arbitrary timeline of Sept. 11, 2021, for the complete troop withdrawal and then moving the timeline up to Aug. 31, 2021. If our back is up against a wall, it is a wall we built. – New York Times 

Peter Baker writes: In framing the decision before him as either complete withdrawal or endless escalation, Mr. Biden has been telling the public that there was in fact no choice at all because he knew that Americans had long since grown disenchanted with the Afghanistan war and favored getting out. The fact that Mr. Trump was the one to leave behind a withdrawal agreement has enabled Mr. Biden to try to share responsibility. – New York Times 

Dennis B. Ross writes: It’s easy to despair over the idea that the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan has forever doomed American credibility. Undeniably, the United States has paid and will likely continue to pay a high price in Afghanistan. But it can recoup, just as it has before. – New York Times 

Emile Simpson writes: Whatever the story of the war in Afghanistan in years to come, the least Biden could do is acknowledge the sacrifices of ordinary Afghan soldiers, rather than, shamefully, to blame them. But perhaps it is too incongruous in the same breath to say to them, terrified as they must be at the prospect of Taliban retribution: thank you for your service, but we can’t evacuate you. – Financial Times 

Michael Rubin writes: The buck should stop with Biden. As a senator, he was an opportunist. He praised Wallenberg but clearly never understood why. While Wallenberg is a lionized figure in history, Biden will go down in history as the anti-Wallenberg — a man when faced with a moral choice turned his back on those could save. – Washington Examiner  

Rachel Ellehuus and Pierre Morcos write: If the fall of Kabul is often described as a “Saigon moment” for the Biden administration, especially after the dramatic recent terrorist attacks in Kabul, it could also be seen as a new “Suez moment” for Europeans and NATO as the crisis brings to light the limitations of Europe’s strategic ambitions and the need for adaptation in NATO. While this crisis is unlikely to jeopardize the transatlantic alliance, it could serve as another cautionary tale for both Europeans and the United States as they embark in a revision of NATO’s strategic concept. – Center for Strategic and International Studies 

Mike Watson writes: The Taliban’s stunning victory has unsettled many in the United States and around the world. […]Because the U.S. has global interests, this is an extremely challenging task. It grows harder as the world becomes more complex and more threatening, but also more vital to perform well. There are many parts of the world that stand on a knife’s edge, and the next slip may cause even greater harm than this one. – Hudson Institute 

Cliff Rieders writes: This does not mean that the United States, Europe or any other democracy can or should wage war against another religion or ethnicity. What it does mean is that we need to strengthen and focus on our own national goals, get our economic house in order, and be proactive in terms of addressing threats that undermine the existence of our way of life and that of our friends and allies. – Jerusalem Post 

Vas Shenoy writes: While Afghanistan cements the end of Pax Americana, it opens the door to a new era of fluid geopolitics which must be values-based. If we have learned any lessons from World War II, the most important is that dictators must not be appeased. What stand we take today, as a civilized democratic society will determine the future of the world and the future of liberty. – Jerusalem Post 


Iran and Syria vowed on Sunday to take “mighty steps” to confront U.S. sanctions imposed on the two regional allies, saying their relations will strengthen under Iran’s new leadership. – Associated Press 

Senior officials from Saudi Arabia and Iran attended a regional summit together for the first time in more than five years on Saturday as efforts are stepped up to cool tensions in the Middle East. – Financial Times 

A top Iranian security official accused U.S. President Joe Biden on Saturday of illegally threatening Iran after he said he may consider other options if nuclear diplomacy with Tehran fails. – Reuters 

Iran’s newly elected President Ebrahim Raisi has appointed a new head of the country’s atomic agency, replacing the nation’s most prominent nuclear scientist with someone with no expertise in the field. – Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty 

Evan Omeed Lisman writes: But the big policy challenge that lies ahead is how to deter Iran and its proxies from using autonomous systems to launch more destructive attacks on high-value targets. Among the means to do so, American officials should consider ways to credibly threaten the imposition of clear and decisive costs on not only Iran-backed proxies that launch any such attacks, but also on the Iranian forces supplying the weapons and programming the targets. Most critically, Iran’s potential targets should not risk emboldening Iranian military officials by allowing them to develop a sense of AI-enabled impunity. – War on the Rocks 

Ruthie Blum writes: Considering the makeup of the current Israeli government, there’s virtually no chance that it will affirm massive military action without at least a tacit nod from Biden. The theory that the US president might be amenable to such a move right now, in face of his humiliation at the hands of the Taliban, sounds too good – and far-fetched – to be true. – Jerusalem Post 

Josef Olmert writes: Bennett and Gantz dilemma raises a question larger than that of their own political fortunes, as it touches upon the more fundamental question of what REALLY is the level of Israel’s dependence on the US , or put simply, can Israel make such fateful decisions about its most vital national interests without a very clear green light from the US?. […]The moment when they will have to make their decision that could send them to either the hall of fame of Jewish history, or God forbid, the hall shame. – Times of Israel 


Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett met President Biden at the White House for the first time since taking office and pressed the U.S. to back off reviving the Iranian nuclear accord while invoking the long ties between the nations and the persistent threat of terrorism. – Wall Street Journal  

US President Joe Biden told Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett on Friday that when it comes to Iran, his administration is “putting diplomacy first, seeing where that takes us.” “But if diplomacy fails,” the president added, “we’re ready to turn to other options.” – Jerusalem Post 

Israel’s defense minister has held talks with the Palestinian president in Ramallah, the first high-level meeting between the two sides in years, officials said. – Associated Press  

Hundreds of Palestinians gathered Sunday night along the separation fence with Israel, setting tires on fire and throwing explosives as Gaza’s Hamas rulers pressed ahead with a campaign aimed at pressuring Israel to ease a stifling blockade of the territory. One protester was moderately wounded by Israeli gunfire. – Associated Press 

Israeli aircraft struck Hamas sites in Gaza early on Sunday in response to incendiary balloons launched from the Palestinian enclave, the military said, as a recent rise in cross-border violence tests a fragile truce that ended fierce fighting in May. – Reuters 

Iran is slowly entrenching itself in the Syrian Golan region at the border with Israel, a top Israeli analyst stated on Sunday. The area of conflict is taking place in southern Syria, where certain rebel groups are still holding out after 10 years of civil war have seen the ruling regime of dictator Bashar Assad take back most of the country. – Algemeiner 

Traveling with Israel’s first-ever Orthodox prime minister wasn’t supposed to be that different. His spokesman did send out a moving photo of him praying with tallit and tefillin on the morning before his scheduled meeting with US President Joe Biden. – Jerusalem Post 

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett deemed his trip to Washington a success, on his way onto the plane back to Israel on the tarmac at Joint Base Andrews. – Jerusalem Post 

Palestinian officials on Saturday expressed satisfaction with US President Joe Biden’s renewed commitment to the two-state solution, but said that they were disappointed that he did not call for an immediate cessation of settlement construction and Israeli “assaults” on Palestinians. – Jerusalem Post 

Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett presented President Biden in their meeting today with what Israeli officials described as “a death by a thousand cuts” strategy against Iran. – Axios 

US President Joe Biden reaffirmed his plan to reopen the US consulate in Jerusalem and expressed his opposition to Israeli evictions of Palestinian families in the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood during a closed Oval Office meeting with Prime Minister Naftali Bennett, a senior White House aide in the room told American Jewish leaders in a subsequent phone call on Friday. – Times of Israel 

Gregg Roman writes: Israel has repeatedly tried diplomacy to the point where it must start believing that there is a military solution to the Israel-Palestinian conflict. It is not preferred but it might be the only option left to truly end the conflict and bring about a better future for both Israelis and Palestinians, freed from the burden, bloodshed and pain of this ‘forever war’. Defeating Hamas has never been more important, and hopefully Prime Minister Bennett and President Biden will be reminded of this. – Arutz Sheva  

Alan Baker writes: Alternatively, another option could be the deployment in this security zone of a foreign police presence such as the multinational force and observers (MFO), which is already present in the area, or even an Egyptian or Qatari police presence. Such presence would likely restrain Hamas from exploiting the separation line area for pressure or for the purpose of heating up the area. – Jerusalem Post 


Iraqi populist Shi’ite Muslim cleric Moqtada al-Sadr said on Friday that he and his supporters would take part in an October general election, reversing a decision last month to stay out. – Reuters  

French President Emmanuel Macron on Sunday visited Iraq’s northern city of Mosul, which suffered widespread destruction during the war to defeat the Islamic State group in 2017. He vowed to fight alongside regional governments against terrorism. – Associated Press 

Seth J. Frantzman writes: It will also show how US leadership in the region has been sidelined. America is leaving Afghanistan, and many see the US as withdrawing from the region. Washington has left many facilities in Iraq in recent years as pro-Iran militias targeted US forces. Turkey has been bombing US-backed SDF fighters in Syria and it is concerned that the US-led anti-ISIS coalition no longer cares about them. Iraq, meanwhile, is stepping up – and so is France. – Jerusalem Post 


Lebanon is heading towards complete collapse unless action is taken to remedy the crisis caused by its financial meltdown, Grand Mufti Sheikh Abdul Latif Derian, the state’s most senior Sunni Muslim cleric, warned on Friday. – Reuters 

Lebanon’s Prime Minister-designate Najib Mikati said on Friday he still had to overcome major hurdles to forming a new government, amid a deep economic and political crisis that has left the country with a caretaker administration for a year. – Reuters 

The leader of Lebanon’s Iran-backed Hezbollah group, Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah, said on Friday a third vessel of Iranian fuel was agreed to ease crippling shortages in the country. – Reuters 

A prominent physician in Australia, Jamal Rifi from Lebanon, was sentenced in absentia to ten years in prison in Lebanon for the crime of “normalization with Israel,” VOA and Albawaba reported on Wednesday. – Jerusalem Post 

Hezbollah has increasingly become more powerful than the State of Lebanon, conducting its foreign policy, sending fighters to wage wars on behalf of Lebanon in Syria, and now looking to have a stranglehold on the country’s energy needs. The Iranian-backed Lebanese group said it would begin to import gasoline and diesel from Iran in mid-August. In the two weeks since then, Hezbollah has clarified some of the details.  – Jerusalem Post 

Arabian Peninsula

A missile and drone attack on a key military base in Yemen’s south on Sunday killed at least 30 troops, a Yemeni military spokesman said. It was one of the deadliest attacks in the country’s civil war in recent years. – Associated Press 

Saudi Arabia’s Investment Minister Khalid al-Falih was visiting Oman on Sunday to discuss opportunities in both Gulf countries, Saudi state news agency SPA said. – Reuters 

The Taliban will ask Qatar for technical assistance in operating Kabul airport, Qatari based Al Jazeera news channel reported on Friday citing a source in the Islamist movement. – Reuters 

Gokhan Demirtas and Hasim Tekines write: After all, as both sides stated several times, Turkey and the UAE do not have deep-rooted problems with the other. But much is dependent on the state of Turkish internal politics; if the Turkish economy recuperates and Erdogan suppresses the growing waves of dissent against his domestic policy, the geopolitical and ideological rivalries between Turkey and UAE could once again become more dominant. – Washington Institute 

Middle East & North Africa

Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi met Qatar’s Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani in Baghdad on Saturday, the Egyptian presidency said, the first meeting since the two countries agreed in January to end a long-running dispute. – Reuters  

Algerian authorities arrested on Sunday Tunisia’s media mogul and former presidential candidate Nabil Karoui, after he entered Algeria secretly and illegally, Tunisian media said. – Reuters 

The U.S. State Department has raised concerns with Jordan about the possible mistreatment of a former top official imprisoned for sedition in an alleged plot against the Western-allied monarchy involving the half-brother of King Abdullah II. – Associated Press  

The chaotic withdrawal of US forces from Afghanistan has sent shockwaves throughout the Middle East, where America’s allies are weighing the impact on the region’s security amidst talk from scholars of the post Pax Americana era. – Breaking Defense 


U.S. officials have begun blocking the import of solar panels that they believe could be products of forced labor in China, implementing a recent ban that could slow construction of solar-energy projects throughout the country. – Washington Post 

China, in the midst of a rapid nuclear weapons buildup, will soon surpass Russia as the United States’ top nuclear threat, a senior U.S. military official said on Friday, warning that the two countries have no mechanisms to avert miscommunication. – Reuters  

Chinese State Councillor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi told U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken in a phone call on Sunday that the international community should engage with Afghanistan’s new Taliban rulers and “positively guide” them, China’s foreign ministry said. – Reuters 

Derek Grossman writes: Even if China has real concerns about the Taliban’s willingness to keep their promises, the potential geostrategic and economic windfall of the bilateral relationship is simply too great for Beijing to ignore. Just as importantly, a delay in giving the Taliban the recognition and legitimacy they crave risks angering the group, which could seriously harm Beijing’s security interests. All the risks and rewards point at growing and solidifying Chinese-Taliban ties. – Foreign Policy 


China’s growing assertiveness toward Taiwan has triggered a public push by Japanese leaders to plan for a possible conflict, a shift that could lead to closer cooperation with the U.S. military. – Wall Street Journal 

North Korea appears to have restarted a reactor in its main nuclear complex, the United Nations’ nuclear watchdog said in a report, an indication that the North has been ramping up its nuclear weapons program while talks with the United States remain stalled. – New York Times 

China’s defense ministry protested Saturday the passage of a U.S. Navy warship and Coast Guard cutter through the waters between China and Taiwan, a self-governing island claimed by China. – Associated Press 

US allies in Asia have drawn a distinction between President Joe Biden’s chaotic withdrawal from Afghanistan and Washington’s commitment to its partners in the region, rejecting claims that the pullout has undermined trust in America’s willingness to defend its friends. – Financial Times 

Jane Perlez writes: Pakistan was ostensibly America’s partner in the war against Al Qaeda and the Taliban. But it was a relationship rived by duplicity and divided interests from its very start after 9/11. Pakistan’s intelligence service nurtured and protected Taliban assets inside Pakistan through the course of the war. […]A Taliban-run state on its border will no doubt embolden Taliban and other Islamist militants in Pakistan itself. And aside from maintaining the stability of Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal, the Americans now have less incentive to deal with Pakistan. – New York Times 

Anjani Trivedi writes: It’s clear New Delhi failed to change its diplomatic posture in line with the shifting balance of power on the ground in Afghanistan. […]India’s policy in Afghanistan was mostly about soft power. Along with the parliament and the dam, several community projects and schools were set up, and of course, Afghans do love their Bollywood. Yet, India’s middling path has turned into a diplomatic dead end. – Bloomberg 

Noah Smith writes: These changes would help Vietnam make the transition to a high-tech country and help it avoid the middle-income trap. That would certainly make Vietnam a more valuable strategic partner. But these moves would also strengthen the ties between American and Vietnamese society, drawing the two countries closer together. Both stand to benefit enormously from this sort of deepened integration. Let’s hope that Harris’ visit is just the first step in that process. – Bloomberg 


Britain is ending its civilian evacuations from Afghanistan on Saturday, the head of the British armed forces said, telling the BBC that the operation had “gone as well as it could do in the circumstances.” – New York Times  

When Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky makes his first White House visit on Wednesday, he will be desperate for military and economic aid to demonstrate that the Biden administration will not abandon his country as it has Afghanistan. – Financial Times 

French President Emmanuel Macron was to pay a visit Sunday to the Islamic State group’s former Iraqi stronghold Mosul, a day after vowing to keep troops in the country. – Agence France-Presse 

Henry Olsen writes: None of this is written in stone. European leaders could try to persuade their voters of the enduring value of a strong, global, Western alliance. Barring that, however, European leaders will likely continue to follow their voters, underinvesting in defense and avoiding the strong anti-China stances U.S. leaders want. […]Europe’s worst nightmare would thus become true more because of its own inclinations than because of American fecklessness. – Washington Post 

Mark Temnycky writes: For reasons of economy, energy and national security, the pipeline must be stopped. Crucially, that’s still possible. U.S. sanctions on the project previously stopped it in its tracks, as the companies responsible for constructing and laying the pipeline abandoned the project. – New York Times 


“Two decades of patience,” said Iyad Ag Ghaly, head of an al-Qaeda affiliate that aims to conquer Mali. The rare public statement illustrated how Afghanistan’s collapse has lifted morale and offered fresh motivation to militant groups driving rapidly growing insurgencies across West Africa. – Washington Post 

Mali’s former interim president Bah Ndaw and prime minister Moctar Ouane have been released from house arrest by the authorities who ousted them in May, a committee monitoring the post-coup transition said on Friday. – Reuters 

The spokesman for the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF), Getachew Reda, accused the AU of “partiality” towards the Ethiopian government and said it would be “naive to expect this mission to work”. – Agence France-Presse 

Editorial: U.S. sanctions against Eritrea probably will not force Eritrean troops out of the conflict. […]But they should be a warning shot, signaling to Ethiopia’s government and to Tigrayan forces that the world is watching this horrific war — and that the United States will act. The United States should use whatever leverage it has not only to end human rights abuses but also to force both sides to the bargaining table. – Washington Post 

Michael Shurkin and Aneliese Bernard write: “More special operations forces” appears to be the response the Biden administration has chosen to the growing terrorism problem in Africa. […] None of the suggestions above constitute silver bullets, and in any case success or failure really rests in the hands of the people of the Sahel themselves. However, they are answers to the basic questions of what the United States can do to be of help in the region. – War on the Rocks 

The Americas

Peru’s Congress on Friday confirmed a new leftist Cabinet nominated by President Pedro Castillo, allowing the fledging administration to continue an agenda focused on higher social spending coupled with higher taxes for the mining industry. – Reuters 

The Biden administration has nearly completed a policy to govern counterterrorism drone strikes and commando raids outside conventional war zones, but the abrupt collapse of the Afghan government and a recent flurry of strikes in Somalia have raised new problems, according to current and former officials. – New York Times 

Editorial: Perhaps most important, the United States and its allies need to make a concerted effort to reach out to diaspora communities on their territory and encourage them to report untoward efforts by leaders or intelligence services from their former lands to threaten, infiltrate, spy on, assail or otherwise harass them. People who seek refuge in free countries, as Mr. Khashoggi did in America, should be clearly beyond the reach of power-hungry despots. – New York Times 

Mel Pavlik writes: A revised left foreign policy must reflect the values the left champions domestically and recognize the structural problems inherent in almost any foreign policy the United States pursues. […] Whatever Afghanistan policy the United States pursues next—sanctions, covert operations, nothing—will have severe consequences for Afghans. The left must grapple with this ethical dilemma, openly and honestly. – Foreign Policy 


The select committee investigating the Jan. 6 insurrection is seeking a massive tranche of records from social media companies, on whose platforms many defendants charged in the Capitol attack planned and coordinated their actions. – Politico 

The Air Force Research Laboratory awarded contracts to Booz Allen Hamilton and Ball Aerospace to research advanced cybersecurity and digital engineering to protect aircraft electronic systems against digital threats. – Defense News 

“Greetings The Government of Israel. We Are DragonForceMalaysia. We are always here to punish you!” This is the message that greeted users on several Israeli websites on Sunday afternoon after a cyberattack by a pro-Palestinian Malaysian hacker group known as DragonForce. – Jerusalem Post 

Parmy Olson writes: At the summit, they pledged billions of dollars towards bolstering the security of their products in support of the government’s initiative, and that is just the start. A more challenging task will be finding new ways of working with the U.S. to rein in the growth of ransomware attacks or intellectual property thefts. – Bloomberg 


The Army’s Airborne Reconnaissance and Electronic Warfare System, or ARES, aircraft will help the service modernize its airborne intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance capabilities and will feed into the High Accuracy Detection and Exploitation System program, which could produce an aircraft to replace the Army’s aging Guardrail ISR aircraft fleet with greater capability and increased standoff ranges. – Defense News 

U.S. Space Force leaders said the service has made headway in implementing its vision to become the world’s first fully digital service, when asked at the 36th annual Space Symposium. – Defense News 

The Army is now in the second phase of the Future Long Range Assault Aircraft (FLRAA) Competitive Demonstration and Risk Reduction program, the zenith of which will be the selection of a next-generation transport to help the Army deter and fight in multi-domain environments. – Breaking Defense 

Long War

Shortly after a bombing attack killed masses of people on Thursday, including at least 13 U.S. troops and more than 170 civilians outside Afghanistan’s main airport, President Biden vowed to get revenge. – New York Times  

The Ugandan military said on Friday they had arrested a man who was planning a suicide bombing at the funeral of a top police official and had seized materials including a suicide vest and bombs during his arrest. – Reuters 

Suspected Islamist militants killed at least 19 people in a raid on a village in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, local authorities said. – Reuters 

For such groups, the chaotic U.S. departure following the collapse of security forces it had trained for two decades is a gift, underlining their message that Washington eventually abandons its allies, and that defeating powerful armies is possible with enough patience. – Associated Press 

Salah Uddin Shoaib Choudhury writes: Meanwhile, radical Islamic political parties and jihadist groups in Bangladesh and India in particular are feeling emboldened at the Taliban invasion of Afghanistan. Similar sentiments are also prevailing within jihadist outfits such as Hezbollah in Lebanon, Houthis in Yemen, and Hamas in Gaza. – Times of Israel