Fdd's overnight brief

August 31, 2021

In The News

Afghanistan

A U.S. military C-17 carried the last American troops out of Afghanistan on Monday, marking the formal end of the longest war in U.S. history but leaving between 100 and 200 Americans and tens of thousands of America’s Afghan allies to face a future of uncertainty and danger. – Wall Street Journal 

The last American troops flew out of Afghanistan on Monday, with the country again under the control of the Taliban, a fundamentalist group that ruled the nation for five years before U.S.-led forces ousted them in 2001. – Wall Street Journal 

The Pentagon pledged a transparent investigation of an airstrike in Kabul on Sunday that it said was aimed at foiling an attack by Islamic State militants on the Afghan capital’s airport. – Wall Street Journal 

Mr. Amin was among the thousands of Afghans who swarmed Hamid Karzai International Airport since the chaotic fall of Kabul on Aug. 15, seeking to flee the Taliban for fear of reprisals for working with U.S. forces. – Wall Street Journal 

A divided U.N. Security Council on Monday adopted a resolution calling on the Taliban to allow safe passage for those seeking to leave Afghanistan but did not mention the creation of a safe zone in Kabul, as suggested by the French president on Sunday. – Reuters 

Kabul airport is without air traffic control services now that the U.S. military has withdrawn from Afghanistan, and U.S. civil aircraft are barred from operating over the country unless given prior authorization, the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) said on Monday. – Reuters 

The Taliban government in Afghanistan would accept any Afghan migrants whose applications for asylum were rejected in Europe and they would then face court, an Austrian newspaper quoted a Taliban spokesman as saying on Monday. – Reuters 

As evacuations from Kabul wind down in coming days, “a larger crisis is just beginning” in Afghanistan and for its 39 million people, the U.N. refugee agency UNHCR said on Monday, appealing for support. – Reuters 

A plane carrying World Health Organization medicines and health supplies landed in Afghanistan on Monday, the UN health agency said, the first shipment to get in since the country came under the control of the Taliban. – Reuters 

The Taliban triumphantly marched into Kabul’s international airport on Tuesday, hours after the final U.S. troop withdrawal that ended America’s longest war. – Associated Press 

The US military disabled scores of aircraft and armored vehicles as well as a high-tech rocket defense system at the Kabul airport before it left Monday, a US general said. – Agence France-Presse 

Taliban militants stood in the studio of a Kabul TV station as an anchor praised the new Islamic Emirate, according to footage posted to Twitter. – Washington Examiner 

White House press secretary Jen Psaki said Monday that it was not the Biden administration’s intention to arm the Taliban with billions of dollars in military equipment originally given to the Afghan government but claimed that the United States is taking steps to “reduce the amount of equipment” in the Taliban’s possession before completing the troop withdrawal at the end of the month. – Washington Examiner 

The Taliban has recently embraced the “great neighboring” country of China and has vowed to work closely with the Asian nation. – Newsweek  

The U.S. intercepted a rocket aimed at the Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul on Monday, one day before evacuation operations in Afghanistan are scheduled to end, while three others struck outside the facility and one landed inside the perimeter with “no effect,” officials said. – The Hill 

An Afghan folk singer has been executed by the Taliban just days after the Islamic fundamentalist group declared that “music is forbidden in Islam,” according to his family. – New York Post 

Since the Taliban took power earlier this month, Afghans have struggled through an economic meltdown, which analysts and aid groups say could spiral into financial collapse and widespread hunger. – Financial Times  

Massoud answered questions from Foreign Policy before communications into the valley were cut over the weekend. He says he does not want civil war but rather a fully representative government, justice, and equality for all ethnic and religious groups in Afghanistan, and an end to outside interference. – Foreign Policy 

Editorial: Mr. Biden and his aides have been repeating like a mantra that there will be time for assessing responsibility for what went wrong and why after the evacuation ends. That should start immediately. A national-security calamity of this magnitude demands an accounting, and it should start at the top. – Wall Street Journal 

Walter Russell Mead writes: Elsewhere, Kabul’s collapse increases the chance of an American confrontation with Iran. Iranian hard-liners feel vindicated by what they will interpret as signs of an accelerating U.S. retreat and decline. […]Mr. Biden’s options today are both fewer and uglier than they were a month ago. His standing in the polls has also declined. That’s what happens when policies fail. – Wall Street Journal 

Gerard Baker writes: As we watch the spectacle unfold in Afghanistan—the alarming deterioration in American security it represents, the trashing of trust in America’s word, the potentially fatal undermining of allies and the appeasement of enemies, Mr. Biden’s words then produce only uncomprehending disdain now. – Wall Street Journal 

Ashley Parker writes: But for President Biden, the end of the “forever war” is more of an inflection point than an actual conclusion. The departure of forces kicks off a new phase of the United States’s entanglement in Afghanistan that could also prove perilous — and no less challenging for American leadership than the previous two decades. […]National security threats remain, such as whether a Taliban-controlled Afghanistan will again become a haven for terrorists eager to attack the United States. – Washington Post  

Marc A. Thiessen writes: This much is certain: The Biden administration had the chance to control Kabul while we evacuated, but chose to cede it to the Taliban. That is a dereliction of duty unlike any we have seen in modern times. Our leaders made a conscious choice to put the safety of American civilians, service members and Afghan allies in the hands of terrorists rather than the U.S. armed forces — a decision that led directly to the deaths of 13 Americans in an Islamic State attack on the Kabul airport last Thursday at the hands of a suicide bomber. It is a national disgrace. – Washington Post 

Michael Gerson writes: It is difficult to claim that the Biden administration’s panicky, slapdash, humiliating exit from Afghanistan — dependent on the kindness of the Taliban and commemorated by indelible images of chaos and betrayal — is really the best we could do. This requires a Trumpian level of sycophantic self-delusion. Or it represents a belief that an arrogant imperial power deserves public punishment. This is self-flagellation masquerading as foreign policy. – Washington Post 

Thomas Gibbons-Neff writes: Afghanistan has once more completed a cycle that has repeatedly defined the past 40 years of violence and upheaval: For the fifth time since the Soviet invasion in 1979, one order has collapsed and another has risen. What has followed each of those times has been a descent into vengeance, score-settling and, eventually, another cycle of disorder and war. – New York Times  

Kaylee McGhee White writes: It is clear that Kabul fell because of Biden’s ignorant confidence in the Afghan military and that the Taliban blocked Americans and Afghans eligible for evacuation from reaching the airport because Biden willingly handed them control of the city. […]Biden owns this. His administration, not Trump’s, called the shots that turned our withdrawal into one of the most devastating foreign policy disasters of the last 50 years. And it’s well past time he took full responsibility for it. – Washington Examiner 

Salena Zito writes: There is only one person to blame, and that is Joe Biden — not for his decision to leave Afghanistan, but instead his stubborn insistence on leaving the country on a specific date. It is a stubbornness rooted in negligence, not incompetence, a word often thrown around as reasoning for his failure at this moment. – Washington Examiner 

Michael Rubin writes: Partisans may bicker about whether former President Donald Trump or Biden deserves the most blame for the Afghanistan withdrawal, but they cannot deny that it has been a strategic and moral disaster. If Sullivan’s comments are any indication, the humiliation is not over. […]It is time to bring Sullivan and Blinken before Congress to seek clarity and craft a bipartisan way forward. – Washington Examiner 

Anchal Vohra writes: By Aug. 31, Western forces will have evacuated and left the Taliban in charge of Afghanistan and the destinies of nearly 40 million people. The West can still use its diplomatic and financial leverage to have the Taliban respect basic political and human rights. But no one is hopeful it would make a drastic difference. – Foreign Policy 

Victor Mallet writes: France’s foresight about the imminent collapse of Kabul has contrasted with the lack of US preparedness and triggered speculation that French spies knew something the Americans did not. […]When the French were able to take a more dispassionate view and draw the obvious conclusions about the consequences of the US withdrawal, the Americans were blinded by their long association with the Afghan armed forces, their $1tn-plus investment in the country, and by the cumbersome nature of their own intelligence systems. – Financial Times  

Melissa Chen writes: Today the Pentagon announced the end of our 20-year war in Afghanistan. But there are hundreds of Americans and an estimated 250,000 Afghan allies who remain trapped there. Many of these Afghans, due to the nature of their work, their religious beliefs, their minority ethnic status or even just their appearance (say, sporting tattoos anywhere on their bodies), see escape as a matter of life and death. As Kabul descended into chaos, their pleas for help leaving were largely met with bureaucratic silence. – Common Sense with Bari Weiss 

Iran

Dan Shapiro, who served as US Ambassador to Israel during the Obama administration is returning to the State Department as a senior advisor, the State Department confirmed on Monday. He will be a member of Rob Malley’s Iran negotiations team. – Jerusalem Post  

It takes something special to find common ground between Iran’s anti-Israel government and Iran-hating far-right Israeli politicians, but an artfully trimmed video of President Biden being shared on social media by supporters of former President Donald Trump seems to have hit that sweet spot. – The Week

A. Savyon writes: The Iranians have realized that the Biden administration sees diplomacy as its main, or only, means of influence in the nuclear issue with Iran. Thus, the Islamic regime of Iran is racking up significant accomplishments on the long path to its final goal of achieving international recognition of Iran as a nuclear threshold state. If it cannot get the sanctions lifted, it will at least conduct unrestricted, unsupervised nuclear activity. –Middle East Media Research Institute 

Charlotte Lawson writes: So what does anticipating the possibility of Iranian regime change actually look like? The sticky phrase conjures to American minds a two-century history of covert and overt U.S. meddling in Latin America, Europe, Asia, and elsewhere. But in the case of Iran, opponents of the government just want to be heard. – The Dispatch  

Turkey

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan has spoken by phone with the UAE’s de facto ruler, Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Erdogan’s office said on Tuesday, in a fresh sign of improving ties between the regional rivals. – Reuters 

An Austrian court has ruled to extradite a Turkish businessman to Turkey where he is being investigated for money laundering charges, his lawyer Murat Volkan Dülger said on Monday. – Reuters 

Vuk Vuksanovic and Nikolaos Tzifakis write: Turkey and Erdoğan have multiple reasons for the recent policy change on Kosovo. When Erdoğan believes that he has an opportunity to make gains, he always takes action. September is growing closer, and so too are both the end of the Serbia-Kosovo recognition moratorium and the U.N. General Assembly high-level meetings. Ankara is unlikely to remain passive. – Middle East Institute 

Israel

Israel will lend the cash-strapped Palestinian Authority more than $150 million after the sides held their highest-level meeting in years, Israeli officials said on Monday, while playing down prospects of any major diplomatic breakthrough. – Reuters 

With negotiations regarding Iran’s nuclear program stalled, Israel is working to strengthen its capabilities against the Islamic Republic, Defense Minister Benny Gantz said Monday. – Jerusalem Post  

IDF Chief of Staff Aviv Kohavi said on Monday that the IDF will “not hesitate” to enter another round of fighting in Gaza if violence along the border continues. – Jerusalem Post  

An Israeli man from the coastal city of Ashkelon was arrested Tuesday, after he made threats against Prime Minister Naftali Bennett’s life. – Arutz Sheva  

Three Palestinians were wounded with one in serious condition as hundreds of young Palestinians gathered along the Gaza border fence Monday night after Hamas said nighttime protests would resume following Israeli airstrikes over the weekend. – Haaretz  

Defense Ministry Benny Gantz announced on Monday that Israel plans to legalize thousands of undocumented foreign nationals married to Palestinians as part of an overall Israeli strategy to strengthen the Palestinian Authority. – Times of Israel  

Hamas and Islamic Jihad condemned Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas on Monday for meeting with Defense Minister Benny Gantz, after the two held a rare high-level meeting of senior Israeli and Palestinian politicians on Sunday night. – Times of Israel  

But experts say that instead of provoking argument, Israel and Jordan could be poised for an unprecedented boom in water cooperation amid technological advancements, climate pressures and stronger ties. – Agence France-Presse 

Editorial: Israel and the Gulf states are celebrating the first anniversary of the Abraham Accords. As important as these accords undoubtedly are, they do not void the need for Israel to maintain relations with its Palestinian neighbors. The PA is far from perfect but Israel cannot afford for it to completely collapse. Nor can Israel allow Hamas to continue to give the impression that terrorism and the threat of more rockets attacks are the best way to make economic gains. – Jerusalem Post  

Dror Shalom writes: In other words, the latest Gaza confrontation and the evident nadir of PA legitimacy should serve as a wake-up call to the new governments in Jerusalem and Washington. […]Indeed, if one accepts the premise that Israel may be focusing even more intently on the Iranian challenge in the near future, the wake-up call may in fact be a final call. This imperative could become even more urgent if the “Afghanistan effect” reshapes the broader American approach to the Middle East and alters the calculus of Iran and its partners in Lebanon, Yemen, Iraq, and Gaza. – Washington Institute 

Walter Bingham writes: The alternative to total war and unconditional surrender is a continuance of unending rocket fire of increasing distance, border skirmishes, riots, balloons carrying incendiary devices and the like. I am fully aware that regrettably, war causes unavoidable casualties, but don’t we suffer casualties during the status quo? The Germans have a proverb translated: “Better an end with shock, than shocks without end.” It is now high time to act. – Jerusalem Post  

Haisam Hassanein writes: With equal enthusiasm from the UAE and Israel in nurturing their newfound friendship, the current administration can continue to play a key role in ensuring that this relationship will flourish. First, the Biden administration should take a note from the Emiratis and Israelis and leave the Palestinian issue out of economic and political matters. Second, the administration should encourage Israelis and its wealthy new Gulf partners to take steps toward improving the lives of Palestinians through initiatives like those that have been discussed bilaterally. – Jerusalem Post  

Lebanon

UNIFIL is already tasked with helping the Lebanese Army keep the area south of the Litani River free of unauthorized armed personnel, such as Hezbollah, as well as to prevent arms smuggling. – Jerusalem Post  

A dispute over scarce fuel supplies ignited sectarian tensions between neighbouring Shi’ite Muslim and Christian villages in southern Lebanon over the weekend, forcing the army to intervene, a security source said. – Reuters 

The Israel Defense Forces is turning back African asylum seekers who cross into Israel from Lebanon. The High Court of Justice ruled against such a practice when it was used against asylum seekers who crossed into Israel from Egypt. – Haaretz 

Arabian Peninsula

The UAE, who sent troops to Afghanistan during the twenty year war including to train Afghan forces, says it has facilitated the evacuation of at least 36,500 people from Afghanistan and that as of this week it was temporarily housing around 8,500 Afghans. – Reuters 

The Saudi-led coalition in Yemen said on Tuesday that it intercepted a Houthi drone that was targeting Saudi Arabia’s Abha International Airport, state media reported . – Reuters 

Qatar played an outsized role in U.S. efforts to evacuate tens of thousands of people from Afghanistan. Now the tiny Gulf Arab state is being asked to help shape what is next for Afghanistan because of its ties with both Washington and the Taliban, who are in charge in Kabul. – Associated Press 

The Taliban’s refusal to allow a foreign security presence at Kabul airport is thwarting international efforts to enable the transport hub to reopen to commercial flights after the US completes its withdrawal from Afghanistan, a senior Qatari official said. – Financial Times 

Michael Keating and Thanos Petouris write: A southern dialogue process that engages all relevant stakeholders and groups, in close coordination with regional actors and the international community, can tangibly contribute to tackling the complexities of the Yemeni conflict. It could yield benefits for both national-level dialogue as well as for the south. By contrast, failure to reach greater consensus among southern actors increases the prospect of more fighting, extremism, and humanitarian crisis. – Middle East Institute 

China

China’s services sector suffered an unexpectedly severe blow in August as a wave of coronavirus infections sparked new lockdowns across the country, sending an official gauge of nonmanufacturing activity into contractionary territory for the first time since the country’s pandemic recovery began more than a year ago. – Wall Street Journal 

The U.S. Treasury Department said the acquisition of Magnachip Semiconductor Corp by a Chinese private equity firm posed “risks to national security”, in another hurdle for Chinese companies trying to invest abroad in critical tech industries. – Reuters 

China’s crackdown on celebrity culture and its moves to rein in giant internet firms are a sign of “profound” political changes under way in the country, a prominent blogger said in a post widely circulated across state media. – Reuters 

At an August 20, 2021 press conference, Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Hua Chunying said of the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan and the events that followed showed that democracy “imposed and transplanted by others” will not “last” or “be firm.” – Middle East Media Research Institute 

The August 2021 U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan elicited strong feelings of schadenfreude in China, along with apprehension about any spillover effects that might harm its interests. – Middle East Media Research Institute 

Tim Culpan writes: China’s latest tightening of gaming rules is much ado about nothing. Except, of course, that nothing Beijing does is minor or inconsequential these days because everything the leadership says should be taken both literally and seriously. […]Games and education companies will avoid this fate by keeping the kids safe, listening to Xi, and promoting common prosperity. Luckily for investors, that won’t immediately hurt the bottom line. – Bloomberg 

Tom Rogan writes: To accept Beijing’s diktat would thus undermine the fundamental principle of international maritime law. It would also reinforce Beijing’s confidence that it can bully transiting vessels and regional powers into submitting to its will. The U.S. should make clear that all U.S. vessels, whether civilian or military, will continue to travel freely through international waters. Washington should add that any force that attempts to constrain such activity will meet U.S. reprisal. – Washington Examiner 

Tom Rogan writes: Recognizing that victory in any South China Sea conflict would require limiting the People’s Liberation Army’s freedom of action, the Marines have returned to their 1940s roots. […]This is not to say that the Marine Corps is a perfect institution. Recent events have shown that leadership and responsibility remain far too heavily weighted on the lower ranks . But the lesson from last Thursday is defining. Just as we’ve learned what we’ve lost, China is reminded who it faces. The world has been reminded that young Americans are willing to die for each other and for strangers. – Washington Examiner 

Steve Kelman writes: Even more important, while China covered things up at the beginning of the pandemic, their success at beating back the virus itself, although through fairly draconian lockdowns, has been starkly better than ours. One might say we did a good job telling the truth about the virus, but the Chinese did a good job combating it. So let’s neither exaggerate how good we are nor ignore our strengths. That is how an open society should behave. – The Hill 

Lianchao Han and Bradley A. Thayer write: With the Taliban’s return to power, the U.S. is rightly worried about what will follow in the weeks to come. But there is a far greater danger looming. China’s global reach and increasing power means that U.S. interests, values, allies — indeed, the world’s population — should be considered vulnerable to the CCP’s depredations. The U.S. and its allies cannot afford to give China’s communist leaders another period of strategic opportunity. – The Hill 

Kevin R. Brock writes: All of this gives China tremendous running room to manipulate outcomes in their favor. The newly released 90-day assessment by the IC is so pathetically inadequate that it only gives rise to suspicions that it was written to preserve a particular political/business paradigm. Americans can assess, with high confidence, that China is quite pleased with this report. Ignore their theatrical protestations. – The Hill 

Jacqueline Lee writes: What China’s regulations on technology and data will ultimately mean for foreign companies and the world market can only be hypothesized at this point with more clarification expected from the state in the coming months according to various experts and authorities in the field.   Still, the outcomes of these opening battles currently playing out on the stage set by the DSL will provide key lessons in what to expect for companies and countries looking to engage with the Chinese market. – Center for Strategic and International Studies 

South Asia

Afghanistan will form a government within days, Pakistan’s foreign minister said on Tuesday, after weeks of uncertainty following the Taliban’s conquest of the country. – Reuters  

Speaking on a Pakistani television program, Afghan Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid has said that it is not for the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (the Afghan Taliban organization which seized power in Kabul on August 15) to decide about the legitimacy of the Pakistani Taliban group Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP). – Middle East Media Research Institute 

Simon Henderson writes: The White House, meanwhile, will want to work with India, the much bigger economy and putative strategic partner. And all the time there is the awareness that Pakistan and India have nuclear weapons, not just for doomsday use but also in case a conventional clash runs out of control. The Kabul evacuation has been untidy and tragic. Afghanistan as an issue may be about to lose its place center stage, but it is unlikely to go away. – The Hill 

Asia

Facing Taliban pressure, Uzbekistan has warned the U.S. that a group of highly trained Afghan pilots who fled there two weeks ago aboard Afghan Air Force helicopters and airplanes face expulsion from the country, officials say. – Wall Street Journal 

Japan’s defence ministry is seeking an annual budget increase that will add to past hikes to expand military spending over a decade by almost a sixth, as it looks to counter the growing strength of neighbouring China. – Reuters 

Taiwan launched a new English-language news and media streaming platform on Monday aiming to give it a greater voice on the world stage and help to tackle Beijing’s “squeeze” of the Chinese-claimed island on the world stage. – Reuters 

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un met with young people who had “volunteered” to work in “difficult and challenging” sectors and praised them, the country’s state media reported on Tuesday. – Reuters 

U.S. climate envoy John Kerry met in Tokyo on Tuesday with Japan’s top diplomat to push efforts to fight climate change ahead of a United Nations conference in November. – Associated Press 

John Bolton writes: To the contrary, the departure constitutes a major, and deeply regrettable, U.S. strategic realignment. China and Russia, our main global adversaries, are already seeking to reap advantages. […]Sadly for those believing withdrawal from Afghanistan was a one-off decision with limited consequences, the world is far more complicated. The results are already deeply negative, and China and Russia are invested in making them worse. Over to us. – Wall Street Journal 

Europe

British Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab urged his counterparts from other countries on Monday to work together to provide safe passage out of Afghanistan for eligible Afghans still in the country, the ministry said. – Reuters 

Britain’s last military flight left Kabul late on Saturday after evacuating more than 15,000 people in the two weeks since the Taliban took control of Afghanistan, ending nearly 20 years of British military presence in the country. – Reuters 

EU governments must push ahead with a European rapid reaction force to be better prepared for future crises such as in Afghanistan, the EU’s foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said. – Reuters 

The European Union’s mission in Kosovo said Monday it has assisted the country’s police in developing a database to help investigate war crimes. – Associated Press 

A group of pro-democracy activists in Poland entered the grounds of the country’s constitutional court in an act of civil disobedience Monday, on the eve of an expected court ruling critical to the country’s future relationship with the rest of the European Union. – Associated Press 

A contingent of Ukrainian soldiers rescued a group of Afghan translators after U.S. and Canadian forces declined, according to a new report. – Washington Examiner 

President Vladimir Putin told the congress of the United Russia Party (UR) that in the September 19 parliamentary elections he expects United Russia to retain its position as the majority party in parliament. – Middle East Media Research Institute 

Vladislav Davidzon writes: To be sure, in stark contrast to Afghanistan, the Ukrainian state functions and possesses an organized and capable military of its own—one that has fought Russian-backed forces to a standstill. However, anxieties about U.S. commitment remain. The meeting with Zelensky will thus represent a litmus test of whether the Biden administration will continue to prioritize previous U.S. commitments to Kyiv or if Ukrainians have a real reason to be concerned. – Foreign Policy 

Alexis Mrachek, Daniel Kochis and Luke Coffey write: Modern Ukraine represents the idea in Europe that each country has the sovereign ability to determine its own path, decide with whom it has relations, and how and by whom it is governed. No outside actor (in this case Russia) should have a veto on membership or close relations with organizations like NATO. It is in America’s interest that Ukraine remains independent and sovereign, and that it maintains the ability to choose its own destiny without outside interference. – Heritage Foundation 

Latin America

Mexico received 86 media workers and their family members from Afghanistan on Sunday, the government said, as more people flee the country after the Taliban militant group’s takeover earlier this month. – Reuters 

At least 13 people were injured following an explosion at a police station near Colombia’s border with Venezuela, officials in the city of Cucuta said on Monday. – Associated Press 

Laura Tedesco and Rut Diamint write: Any policy toward Cuba must aim to move power away from the aging communist generals who have enriched themselves and who are holding onto power at all costs. […]Only by stripping Cuba’s military regime of its power, resources, and influence can the country have a viable future: one that lies in the hands of its people rather than its armed forces. – Foreign Affairs 

North America

Family members of some of the 13 U.S. service members killed in a terror attack outside Kabul’s airport last week chastised President Joe Biden for his response to the deaths of their loved ones. – Washington Examiner 

Former President Trump on Monday said the U.S. should respond with “unequivocal Military force” if the Taliban refuse to return the billions of dollars worth of military equipment that was left behind in Afghanistan or “at least bomb the hell out of” the hardware. – The Hill 

Colorado Imam Karim AbuZaid asked why it is acceptable for French President Macron to deny Muslim women in France the right to wear the hijab, while the Taliban is not allowed to force Afghan women to wear one. – Middle East Media Research Institute 

Editorial: Congress should let them do their job. Meanwhile, Democrats should let Congress get back to doing real and important work on COVID, instead of wringing this modern-day bloody shirt for whatever drops of political advantage they think they can get out of it. – Washington Examiner 

William McGurn writes: In demanding moments, great presidents appeal to the better angels of our nature. But Mr. Biden’s presidency now rests on a cynical bet that, by the time Sept. 11 rolls around, a war-weary American people will share the president’s indifference to what he has now wrought in Afghanistan. We can already imagine his response to any newsman who dares bring it up. C’mon, man. That was two weeks ago. – Wall Street Journal

Kristen Soltis Anderson writes: But even if none of that has a durable effect on our domestic politics, should al Qaeda regroup as quickly as they are now expected to and launch attacks against the West, Afghanistan will become an issue that hits very close to home. Today, we have so many issues that are top of mind for voters: stopping the continued spread of COVID-19, rebuilding the economy, and strengthening our democracy. It is easy to assume people will turn inward and move on from what has unfolded in Afghanistan. – Washington Examiner 

Cybersecurity

Companies must pay closer attention to what they say after hackers strike, lawyers warn, as regulators crack down on inaccurate disclosures and Congress debates mandatory reporting of cybersecurity breaches. – Wall Street Journal  

The Biden administration on Monday announced it was establishing a program to recruit and train people to serve in digital positions within the federal government and address issues related to the COVID-19 pandemic and cybersecurity concerns. – The Hill 

Units of three broker-dealer and investment advisory firms agreed to pay hundreds of thousands of dollars in penalties to settle charges from the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) over cybersecurity failures, the regulator said on Monday. – Reuters 

Rep. Abigail Spanberger writes: Accountability for these crimes — and protection against them — can’t fully take shape until we have a clear picture of the current state of play. For this reason, we need to take real steps to improve how we track, measure, analyze, and prosecute cybercrime.  […]With this legislation and an improved understanding of the threats ahead, we can prevent more Americans from becoming targets — or victims — online. – The Hill 

Defense

The Marine Corps officer who was relieved of duty last week after questioning senior leaders’ decisions on Afghanistan has resigned from the service. – The Hill 

In a rebuke to President Joe Biden’s proposed defense budget, a key Republican is recommending $25 billion more in spending for the House’s draft defense policy bill. – Defense News  

Six task groups from the U.S, U.K., Australian, Japanese and Indian navies are currently on operational deployments in the Indo-Pacific region amidst an intense fall and early winter period of multilateral exercises. – USNI News  

The Navy needs to resist “requirements creep” in changing designs to complete its number one strategic priority, the Columbia class ballistic missile submarine program (SSBN-826), Navy Secretary Carlos Del Toro said on Monday at a virtual conference hosted by the Southeastern New England Defense Industrial Alliance. – USNI News  

Long War

President Biden and his aides promise that the U.S. can keep terror threats from Afghanistan at bay from afar with “over the horizon” surveillance and strikes now that U.S. troops have departed. Counterterrorism and intelligence officials say it will be much harder and less effective than the White House suggests. – Wall Street Journal 

In other words, it’s likely that the Taliban rulers now in charge in Afghanistan actually do want to stop Islamic State fighters—who are, in fact, their sworn enemies—as well as other Islamic extremists from plying their lethal trade on Afghan soil. – Wall Street Journal 

With the U.S. military having completely withdrawn from Afghanistan, the Taliban will have their hands full dealing with ISIS-K, according to Gen. Kenneth F. McKenzie Jr., U.S. CENTCOM commander. – Washington Examiner 

President Biden has told his top generals that they should “stop at nothing” to make Afghanistan’s ISIS affiliate pay for the 13 U.S. service members’ deaths in Kabul last week, White House press secretary Jen Psaki said Monday. – The Hill 

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. […]Security assistance needs to be better coordinated with allies and partners, and better thought through in terms of what U.S. security assistance providers attempt to instill and the forces they strive to build. – War on the Rocks