Fdd's overnight brief

August 9, 2021

FDD Research & Analysis

In The News


The U.S. military said Friday that drone fragments recovered from an Israeli-linked merchant vessel damaged in a fatal attack in the Arabian Sea last week prove Iran was behind the incident. – Wall Street Journal 

The prospect of a bill set to come before Iran’s parliament, backed by allies of the new hard-line president, has renewed fears that what Internet access remains to Iranians could soon be restricted even further. – Washington Post 

Iran on Saturday denounced accusations by leading industrial nations that Tehran was behind last week’s deadly attack on an oil tanker in the Arabian Sea, the official IRNA news agency reported. – Associated Press 

Britain on Friday condemned the sentencing of British-Iranian dual national Mehran Raouf, a foreign office spokesperson said. – Reuters 

Last week, Michigan-based food and animal safety company Neogen Corp. disclosed in a public filing that it has been under investigation for potential violations of U.S. sanctions against the Islamic Republic of Iran since March 2020.  – United Against Nuclear Iran 

A senior European Union official says Iran is ready to resume suspended nuclear talks as soon early September, Western news agencies are reporting. – Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty 

Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi has named the chairman of a powerful state-owned conglomerate sanctioned by the United States as his first vice president. – Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty 

Marjan Keypour Greenblatt writes: The U.S. and other Western powers should not be duped. The international community should remain vigilant, and even in the absence of viable alternatives, hold Iranian leaders accountable for their actions rather than be impressed by empty gestures or meaningless maneuvers. Keeping up the pressure on the regime not only is a statement of principle about the U.S.’ interests and values in the region, it also can inspire hope for the people of Iran who for decades have suffered from the tyranny of low expectations. Let it end now. – Newsweek 

Seth J. Frantzman writes: The battle for the skies in the wake of Iran’s downing of the Sentinel in 2011 moved from a world that had one drone superpower to multiple drone makers. This fundamentally changed the equation and the threats that drones could pose. Iran’s goal was to create an independent drone army, much as Israel had done in the 1980s, providing Tehran with the impunity Washington had previously enjoyed.  – Breaking Defense 


The Jordanian military on Saturday said it thwarted an attempt to smuggle drugs and weapons into the country from neighboring Syria, killing one smuggler and wounding several others. – Associated Press 

Aaron Y. Zelin writes: From a U.S. policy perspective, it is important to understand that today’s HTS is not yesterday’s JN. At the same time, it would be wrongheaded for Washington to eagerly embrace and engage HTS. […]Letting HTS off the hook for these transgressions would undermine the Biden administration’s pledge to promote open, democratic governance, essentially falling back on the failed policy of supporting local authoritarian rule that benefits only those in power. – Washington Institute 

Hallam Ferguson writes: But the Yazidis have long memories, and can speak of more than seventy genocides inflicted on their people over the centuries. They know that the ISIS genocide is only the latest atrocity, and may not be the last. […]But as with the larger fight against ISIS, victory in genocide recovery is incomplete and tenuous: without continued investment and commitment by the United States, in both development and security, we may witness the final twilight of some of the region’s oldest religious communities. – The National Interest 


Israeli warplanes struck two targets in the Gaza Strip early Saturday, the Israeli military said, in response to incendiary balloons launched from Gaza into Israel. – Associated Press 

Israel’s prime minister said Sunday he holds the Lebanese government responsible for rocket fire launched from its territory, whether the Hezbollah militant group launched the weapons or not. – Associated Press 

Israel’s next ambassador to the U.S. will be the retired general and veteran peace negotiator Michael Herzog, according to a statement from the prime minister’s office on Friday. – Bloomberg

Israeli troops shot and killed a Palestinian and injured others on Friday during clashes at a protest against Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank, the Palestinian health ministry and medics said. – Reuters 

Israeli officials want the Iranian government “overthrown,” according to the top Israeli diplomat in the United States. – Washington Examiner 

Israel’s incoming National Security Chief (NSC) chief reportedly made a surprise trip to Cairo Sunday to meet with Egypt’s head of intelligence Abbas Kamel, according to a senior Israeli official, reported Israeli outlet Walla. – Algemeiner 

Ben & Jerry’s brought in vocal Israel critic and anti-Zionist author Peter Beinart to talk to its store owners about Israel’s “illegal occupation” earlier this week, after franchisees raised concerns about the company’s boycott of the Jewish state, the Washington Free Beacon has learned. – The Washington Free Beacon 

Bianco Resort, one of the Gaza Strip’s most luxurious seaside tourist sites, was attacked last Thursday with an explosive device. – Jerusalem Post 

Hamas has agreed that Israel and the United States will examine the list of families in the Gaza Strip who were chosen to receive a monthly stipend from Qatar as a condition for transferring the money. Israel and the U.S. will ensure that the list of 160,000 families does not include any people who are Hamas activists or suspected of terrorism. – Haaretz 

Ruth Wisse writes: This alliance, which in the 1920s and ’30s supported Arab attacks on the Jews in pre-state Palestine, solidified internationally in 1975 when the Soviet and Arab voting blocs passed the United Nations resolution defining Zionism as racism—a calumny that today has spread through the academy and the media and into Congress. More than hate, anti-Semitism deforms all those who organize politics against the Jews. – Wall Street Journal 

Moshe Dann writes: “End the occupation” and “free Palestine” are Palestinian mantras and the core of Palestinianism, part of a long-term agenda to create a Palestinian state “from the river to the sea.” It begins with a PLO (or Hamas) state in Judea, Samaria and eastern Jerusalem; it ends with Israel’s demise. Sadly, it’s dangerous and destructive and it’s immoral, but it’s the reality. And one should never argue with reality. – Jerusalem Post  

Dan Magder writes: The current Israeli government has stated that, in order to maintain their fragile coalition, they do not intend to address controversial issues like the Palestinian conflict. But new Israeli leadership provides at least a chance for new thinking. […]The Palestinian conflict has not solved itself over the last 25 (or 54 or 70)+ years and it won’t tomorrow. It will not be easy, but Israel needs to keep trying and trying and trying, until we fix that damned leak. – Times of Israel 

Seth J. Frantzman writes: In the wake of the recent war in Gaza, Israel has realized the importance of keeping the Gaza Strip stable and that means providing economic incentives and some flexibility for people who need to leave the area for work. This also means working with Qatar, which has been providing funding for the Gaza Strip over the last several years. Qatar has taken an interest in Gaza for more than a decade. At times this has led to criticism that Qatar’s financial support, which has gone through Israel due to a close working relationship, might have helped enable Hamas to stay in power. – The National Interest 


Israel’s military said it struck areas in southern Lebanon after a barrage of rockets were fired across the border by the Iran-allied militant and political group Hezbollah, marking an escalation of tensions between the two neighbors. – Wall Street Journal 

The leader of Iranian-backed Lebanese group Hezbollah Hassan Nasrallah said on Saturday that his group had chosen to respond to Israeli air strikes on open land, but could escalate its actions in the future. – Reuters 

Lebanese group Hezbollah’s leader Hassan Nasrallah said in a speech on Saturday that the investigator of the Beirut port blast was politically biased. – Reuters 

Hezbollah fighters who fired rockets towards Israeli forces from Lebanon on Friday were intercepted by locals afterwards, the group said, a rare challenge to the Iran-backed Shi’ite movement as its members passed through a Druze area of the south. – Reuters 

Lebanon’s Maronite Patriarch Bechara Boutros al-Rahi called on Sunday for the Lebanese army to take control of the southern part of the country, Hezbollah’s stronghold, and strictly implement UN Security Council Resolution 1701, after recent clashes between Israel and Hezbollah. – Jerusalem Post 

David Billet writes: No society can thrive while murderous terrorists are leading the government. Resolving the economic crisis in Lebanon will be unsuccessful in the long term unless Hezbollah and all Iranian influence is uprooted from Lebanese society. Hezbollah has only brought death and despair to the Lebanese people while ever since its establishment, it has been determined to destroy the State of Israel. – Arutz Sheva 

Glora Eiland writes: The best way to ensure peace in the north is to back Lebanese calls for international financial aid, but condition it on a reduction of Hezbollah’s military and political power, while still maintaining the position that the whole country is responsible for all cross-border aggression. – Ynet 

Tom Rogan writes: The main obstacle to that reform is Hezbollah. […]And as Lebanon’s crisis worsens and Hezbollah continues refusing to give ground, the anger against it is only growing. Put simply, we should expect more incidents like this one. Lebanon’s stability as a state is increasingly in question. – Washington Examiner 

Ehud Eilam writes: The current tensions between Israel and Hezbollah could result in further escalation of the ongoing conflict. It could lead to a small round, or possibly another war. Israel does not want war. The IDF is much stronger than Hezbollah, yet the latter has drones and 150,000 rockets and missiles that can reach almost all of Israel. Hezbollah is a serious threat to Israel, but Israel should avoid a war and focus on other priorities. – Jerusalem Post 

Ron Ben-Yishai Writes: Iranian-backed group says it launched barrage into northern Israel in retaliation for IAF strike that was itself a response to rocket fire from Palestinian groups across border: but with Lebanon in tatters, it like Israel has no desire to see death and destruction. – Ynet 

Anna Ahronheim writes: Neither Israel nor Hezbollah, and definitely not Lebanon, are itching for war any time soon. No one wants it, and no one can afford it. Israel is experiencing a new wave of coronavirus, and Lebanon is going through the most devastating economic and social collapse in more than a century. And despite what Nasrallah says, Hezbollah is not immune to that collapse. – Jerusalem Post 

Middle East & North Africa

His moves, labelled a coup by opponents, have left Tunisians and foreign states wondering about the future of the country whose 2011 revolution inspired the Arab Spring and then followed a democratic path unmatched by its peers. – Reuters 

The chief negotiator for Yemen’s Iran-aligned Houthi movement said on Sunday it would be futile to hold talks with the United Nations new special envoy for Yemen without movement on the group’s key conditions under stalled peace efforts. – Reuters 

The 2015 nuclear agreement between world powers and Iran led to greater violence and extremism in the Middle East, Bahrain Undersecretary for International Relations at the Foreign Ministry Dr. Shaikh Abdulla bin Ahmed Al Khalifa said in Jerusalem on Sunday, the first day of a four-day trip aimed at deepening relations between Bahrain and Israel. – Jerusalem Post 

For the past decade, the Roth family has lobbied for Tamimi’s extradition from Jordan to the US to face federal charges — appealing to officials in Israel, DC and Jordan. – New York Post 

The crisis in Turkey’s prison system is no less alarming when told through official statistics. These numbers suggest a system near breakdown and severely unprepared to manage the excesses of its own government. – Foreign Policy 

Korean Peninsula

North Korea continued developing its nuclear and ballistic missile programs during the first half of 2021 in violation of international sanctions and despite the country’s worsening economic situation, according to an excerpt of a confidential United Nations report seen by Reuters on Friday. – Reuters 

South Korea’s presidential office on Friday dismissed opposition lawmakers’ calls for explanations on a relationship between President Moon Jae-in and three activists who were arrested on charges of coordinating with North Korean agents. – Reuters 

The demise of the scheme to raise funds in the Gulf is one result of the 15-year-long campaign of increasingly harsh sanctions dubbed “maximum pressure”, led by the UN and the US, that have been designed to choke off the regime’s sources of income. – Financial Times 

In his July 27 address commemorating the anniversary of the Korean War’s 1953 armistice, North Korean supreme leader Kim Jong-un acknowledged that the coronavirus pandemic had created a “crisis of hardship” in the country. – The National Interest 


Chinese export and import growth slowed in July as flooding and extreme weather at home disrupted factory and port operations and constrained consumption, while the fast-spreading Delta variant of the coronavirus loomed on the horizon. – Wall Street Journal 

China’s government pledged to supply other nations with more vaccines that protect against Covid-19, targeting two billion exports for this year and calling for greater international cooperation as the Delta variant spreads. – Wall Street Journal 

U.S. lawmakers and Biden administration officials are stepping up pressure on American businesses to stop imports from the Western Chinese region of Xinjiang as Beijing’s alleged use of forced labor emerges as a top item on their bilateral trade agenda. – Wall Street Journal 

Beijing prosecutors initiated a civil public-interest lawsuit against a Tencent subsidiary on Friday, saying the “youth mode” on the company’s popular social messaging app WeChat does not comply with laws protecting minors. – Reuters 

China warned the United States could face “countermeasures” following President Joe Biden’s approval of a $750 million arms sale for Taiwan as Beijing ramps up its commitment to a “one-China” policy. – Washington Examiner 

Editorial: President Biden issued an advisory to businesses, investors, individuals and academic institutions last month about the deteriorating situation in Hong Kong. On Thursday, he offered temporary haven in the United States to Hong Kong residents, saying China “has continued its assault on Hong Kong’s autonomy” and is “undermining its remaining democratic processes and institutions.” As Mr. Biden likes to point out, a global contest is intensifying between democracy and dictatorship, and right now the despots are taking over Hong Kong. – Washington Post 

Thomas Spoehr writes: As for China, the Trump administration’s 2020 China Military Power report predicted Beijing intended to double its nuclear arsenal within the decade. Last month’s discovery of the new missile fields now leads some analysts to postulate China may in fact quadruple its nuclear holdings. […]Over time, the public proved it can handle hard truths. And many of today’s hard truths suggest that the Biden administration needs to invest more in national defense. – Washington Examiner 

Tracy Wen Liu writes: China isn’t necessarily heading back to those years of chaos—but the energy online feels worryingly familiar. In China today, there are still people taking huge risks to fight for freedom and democracy. But for some, reporting and hurting each other is an opportunity to demonstrate loyalty to the ruling party. – Foreign Policy 

Michael Schuman writes: The domestic market is big enough for local firms to flourish, including in the digital currency space. But if China is ever to displace the U.S. as the world’s indispensable economy, Beijing will have to embrace, not shun, emerging global trends. The country can’t be a leader if Chinese are forced to invest, shop and use technology differently from nearly everyone else. In the end, if Beijing can’t adapt to change in the global economy, it certainly won’t shape it. – Bloomberg 


Afghan government defenses collapsed in key cities in northern Afghanistan, as the Taliban seized the strategic hub of Kunduz and overran two other provincial capitals, taking advantage of the American military withdrawal. – Wall Street Journal 

The muted American response on Sunday showed in no uncertain terms that America’s 20-year war in Afghanistan is over. The mismanaged and exhausted Afghan forces will have to retake the cities on their own, or leave them to the Taliban for good. – New York Times 

The Taliban ambushed and killed the director of Afghanistan’s government media center on Friday in the capital, Kabul, the latest killing of a government official just days after an assassination attempt on the country’s acting defense minister. – Associated Press 

An Afghan Air Force pilot was killed by a bomb in Kabul on Saturday, officials said, in an attack claimed by the Taliban. – Reuters 

Suspected Taliban fighters killed an Afghan radio station manager in Kabul and kidnapped a journalist in southern Helmand province, local government officials said on Monday, reporting the latest in a long line of attacks targeting media workers. – Reuters 

Recent actions by the Taliban will not help them gain international legitimacy, the White House said on Friday, after insurgents from the group killed the government’s senior media officer in Kabul. – Reuters 

The Taliban cannot be trusted to keep their promise to China not to harbour Islamist militants seeking separatism in its Xinjiang region, Afghanistan’s ambassador to China told Reuters, a week after China hosted Taliban officials. – Reuters 

Some of the foreign contractors who powered the logistics of America’s “forever war” in Afghanistan now find themselves stranded on an unending layover in Dubai without a way to get home. – Associated Press 

The State Department says all U.S. citizens should leave Afghanistan “immediately” as the Taliban advance. – Washington Examiner 

Taliban insurgents are fighting to penetrate deeper into this historic city in western Afghanistan after already taking nearly all the districts in the province. For now, they are being held off by 75-year-old warlord Ismail Khan and his 2,000-person militia, which—like other civilian militias across the country—is providing the first real pushback against the insurgents. – Foreign Policy 

Editorial: Extremist groups don’t fight wars because they want a diplomatic solution. They fight because they want to win and impose their terms on the loser. That’s what the Taliban is now doing after President Biden ignored military advice and withdrew so recklessly and without a plan to prevent disaster. – Wall Street Journal 

Editorial: Sadly, the US lost its own leverage to make such demands when it confirmed its departure. It should be trying to stimulate regional diplomatic action — though it is hampered by its inability to talk to Iran. Either way, after a two-decade presence, Washington must recognise that its moral obligations towards Afghanistan do not end when the last military cargo plane takes off. – Financial Times 

Michael Rubin writes: Regardless, it is time to recall Khalilzad home. His judgment proved wrong, and he has lost control of the process. Rather than interfere where Afghans no longer want him, it is time to investigate the intelligence failures, poor assumptions, and misjudgments that tainted the peace process from day one. Khalilzad should spend his days at Senate hearings answering questions about what went wrong and why. – Washington Examiner 

Patrick C. Fine and Krish O’Mara Vignarajah write: By devoting themselves to rebuilding their homeland after decades of war, our Afghan colleagues helped to safeguard U.S. security in a critical theatre in the war on terrorism. They came to our aid when we needed them — now it’s our turn to come to theirs.  – The Hill 

South Asia

Australian special envoy and former Prime Minister Tony Abbott said a free trade agreement between his nation and India would signal the “democratic world’s tilt away from China.” – Washington Post 

Pakistani counterterrorism police said Sunday they killed five people involved in the abduction for ransom and subsequent death of a nationalist political party leader. – Associated Press 

India’s National Investigation Agency (NIA) said on Sunday it conducted raids at nearly five dozen places linked to banned religious organisation Jamaat-e-Islami (JeI) in Jammu and Kashmir in an alleged terrorism funding case. – Reuters 


Protests against Myanmar’s military government broke out across the nation on Sunday, the anniversary of the bloody suppression of a 1988 uprising against a previous army junta. – Reuters 

The United States on Saturday condemned a thwarted plot to attack Myanmar’s U.N. ambassador in New York, saying it fits a “disturbing pattern” of authoritarian leaders and their supporters seeking to persecute opponents around the world. – Reuters 

The U.S. Senate passed a bill late on Thursday calling on the State Department to submit a plan to help Taiwan regain its observer status at the World Health Organization, one of several U.S. bids to boost Taiwan as it faces pressure from Beijing. – Reuters 

Hong Kong’s justice secretary said on Sunday that a mainland Chinese law to counter foreign sanctions could also be adopted in the China-ruled city by writing it into Hong Kong’s mini-constitution, pending a decision by the Chinese parliament. – Reuters 

Daniel F. Runde writes: Through its bilateral agencies and multilateral partners, the United States can help Laos improve its business climate and spur private investment into the nation. […]The Biden administration has a chance to forge a new economic partnership with Laos, once an overlooked nation, strengthening its sphere of influence in the Indo-Pacific, a strategic region for the United States. – The Hill 


Lyubov Sobol, a prominent ally of jailed Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny, has left Russia days after being sentenced to parole-like restrictions amid a crackdown on the opposition, Russia’s RT and REN TV channels cited sources as saying on Sunday. – Reuters 

Paul Whelan, a US citizen detained in Russia, has been released from solitary confinement and was able to speak with his parents, his brother David Whelan told CNN Sunday. – CNN 

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy says he is doing “everything” he can to end the war with Russia-backed separatists but that peace and control of territory in the so-called Donbas depends “90 percent” on Russian President Vladimir Putin. – Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty 

Tom Rogan writes: Does Putin seek such a conflict? It’s unlikely. That would risk new Western sanctions in an environment where Putin has credible aspiration of seeing the European Union dilute the sanctions it imposed in 2014. Instead, Putin will want to leverage these deployments to pressure Zelensky into a ceasefire on his terms. […]In short, this deployment gives Putin improved political leverage and greater military freedom of action. – Washington Examiner 

Vuk Vuksanovic writes: The West-Russia rapprochement will not happen overnight, for among other reasons, because of the weariness of Eastern Europe towards this move, and because relations with the United States are full of open questions. However, approving Nord Stream 2 was a way of not burning all the bridges with Russia and creating a window of opportunity for rapprochement in the future to ensure that Russia does not permanently end up in China’s embrace. […]A goodwill gesture on Nord Stream 2 is just one small piece of the puzzle. Eastern Europe will not be happy, but that’s the way it is. – The National Interest 


For months after Belarusian leader Alexander Lukashenko declared himself the victor in presidential elections last year, hundreds of thousands of protesters thronged the streets in weekly protests accusing him of rigging the result. – Wall Street Journal 

Belarus calls it shocking: state media reports on an Iraqi migrant who died while trying to cross into Lithuania. – Washington Post 

A court in Austria convicted a Russian man of murder Friday over the execution-style shooting death of a 43-year-old Chechen in a Vienna suburb last year that drew international attention amid claims the killing had been politically motivated. – Associated Press 

Hungarian authorities have ordered shops to wrap children’s books that depict homosexuality in a positive light in closed packaging as the government of Prime Minister Viktor Orbán doubles down on his fight with civil rights campaigners and the European Union. – Politico 

European Union negotiators are optimistic on the chances of reviving the nuclear deal with Iran, despite the election of hardliner Ebrahim Raisi as the country’s new president, a senior EU official said Saturday. – Politico 

Poland will do away with a disciplinary system for judges which the EU’s top court has ruled violates EU law, the head of the ruling PiS party said, in a bid to diffuse a row that could result in financial penalties against the country. – Reuters 

The “weaponisation” of migration by Belarus on its border with Lithuania and an imminent military exercise involving Russian and Belarusian troops risks an “incident” with Nato troops in the Baltic states or Poland, said Latvia’s foreign minister. – Financial Times 

European Union home affairs ministers will discuss a surge of illegal border crossings from Belarus to EU member state Lithuania at an extraordinary meeting on August 18, the Slovenian EU Presidency said on August 6. – Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty 

The U.S. Army in Europe and Africa said Friday it will retain six sites that were previously scheduled to be returned to Germany and Belgium amid growing demand for facilities on the continent. – Associated Press 

Mark Dietzen writes: To ensure that autocracy will not triumph in Belarus, Washington must persist in its strategy of pressure, promotion and possibility in support of the democratic movement. It must signal to the Belarusian people and the world its ongoing commitment to meeting the center challenge of our age — pairing strong words with strong support for those fighting for the basic civil and human rights we take for granted each day. – The Hill 

Amy MacKinnon writes: On a trip to Washington last month, Tsikhanouskaya received a welcome that would make many world leaders envious, meeting with the most senior ranks of the U.S. government including Secretary of State Antony Blinken and President Joe Biden. The question is, how did she do it? – Foreign Policy 


Separatists in Nigeria have sued two of the Biden administration’s top officials for clearing the sale of warplanes to Africa’s most populous country, asserting the military aircraft will harm civilians supporting a decades-long push to form a new nation. – Washington Post 

Thirty-six years separated the infamous race riots of 1949 and 1985 in this area, when people of African and South Asian descent — pitted against one another at the bottom rungs of the apartheid system — killed each other in a bubbling over of resentment. – Washington Post 

Among President Biden’s favorite terms, “rules-based order” is near the top of the list. Used by his administration as a foreign policy mantra, it means supporting the international laws and institutions that have kept the world relatively peaceful since World War II. – Washington Post 

Six more bodies have been found floating down the river separating Ethiopia’s troubled Tigray region from Sudan, refugees and a physician said on Saturday. They urged Sudanese authorities and the U.N. to help in search efforts. – Associated Press 

Sudan said Sunday it ordered its envoy to Ethiopia home for consultations after a government spokeswoman in Addis Ababa rejected a Sudanese initiative to mediate a cease-fire in the Tigray war and accused it of occupying Ethiopian territory. – Associated Press 

The Americas

Now, with the plot and motives still murky, many Haitians have begun to believe the authorities are also using the investigation as cover to crack down on political foes of the administration trying to keep power after gunmen killed Moïse on July 7. – Washington Post 

The Cuban regime is facing the biggest threat to its authority in decades, just four months after President Miguel Díaz-Canel consolidated his power on the communist-run island. – Financial Times 

The United States has slapped visa restrictions on 50 immediate family members of Nicaraguan officials who have been involved in or benefited from President Daniel Ortega’s growing repression, the U.S. State Department said Friday. – Associated Press 

Armando Chaguaceda and Coco Fusco write: The Cuban people are tired of Communism and broken promises. For the first time, in more than 50 cities and towns throughout the island, they took to the streets to demand change. They have been told that it is unchangeable, but they are asking for the right to alter the conditions of their lives. They want more than an end to the embargo. – New York Times 

Ryan C. Berg writes: Since regaining power in 2007, and especially since 2018, Daniel Ortega has transformed the Nicaraguan government into a highly personalist regime. […]Rather than give credence to the canard that November’s vote will be an election in any true sense of that word, as opposed to a coronation ceremony for the ruling couple, the United States and the international community should plan for long-term forms of pressure on Ortega that orient themselves well beyond November 2021. – Center for Strategic and International Studies 

Latin America

But 1,000 miles away, in Colombia, the arrest of 18 of those veterans in Port-au-Prince has torn open a debate over the way the nation treats its ex-soldiers, who are the products of a civil conflict that has lasted 73 years and created the second largest military in Latin America. – New York Times 

When U.S. National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan visited Brazil’s far-right President Jair Bolsonaro on Thursday, he brought a message from Washington: Don’t mess around with elections. – Reuters 

Mary Anastasia O’Grady writes: One risk seems clear: With enough legal backing, control of the coca-growing regions, a paramilitary acting as his local enforcer, and command of the army, Mr. Castillo could easily copy the model used by Bolivia’s Evo Morales to build a narco-state and stay in power indefinitely. But Mr. Castillo’s Shining Path links suggest something more extreme in the making. – Wall Street Journal 

Dov S. Zakheim writes: It is time the White House named a new envoy to address Maduro’s illegal rule and his ongoing defiance of U.S. sanctions in coordination with the Tehran government. Failing to do so will only give Iran’s mullahs evidence that Washington is not really serious in asserting that it will seek a follow-on to any resumption of the nuclear deal to address Iran’s destabilizing activities in the Middle East and beyond. That is most definitely not a perception, much less the reality, that the Biden administration should wish to foster. – The Hill 


United States

President Biden’s top aides were told on Friday that experts studying the mysterious illnesses affecting scores of diplomats, spies and their family members were still struggling to find evidence to back up the leading theory, that microwave attacks are being launched by Russian agents. – New York Times 

U.S. President Joe Biden picked two major fundraisers for his campaign for office as his ambassadors to Switzerland and Argentina, the White House said on Friday. – Reuters 

Dozens of U.S. House of Representatives Democrats, including the leaders of the Armed Services, Foreign Affairs and Intelligence Committees, called on President Joe Biden on Thursday to immediately close the military prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. – Reuters 

Nearly 1,800 friends and family members of 9/11 victims, first responders, and survivors released a statement Friday calling on President Joe Biden to skip tributes on the 20th anniversary of the attacks unless he releases documents that they believe could shed light on Saudi Arabia’s alleged complicity. – Washington Examiner 

Ben Cohen writes: In the meantime, Jewish organizations should be devoting more resources to studying and combating pandemic-related antisemitism. When the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement targeting the State of Israel’s sovereign existence emerged in the early 2000s, some Jewish leaders argued, mainly in private, that depriving it of the oxygen of publicity was the best way to defeat it. Two decades later, the acronym “BDS” is still with us, albeit with a litany of failures and only a handful of successes to its name. – Algemeiner 

Sherwin Pomerantz writes: What should worry those of us who live here is how the vote will be used by our enemies. While the Republicans in Congress explained why they voted against the bill, our enemies will not make that distinction. Rather, as time passes we can be sure that in the propaganda put out by the BDS movement, for example, we will see the vote being interpreted as how some of America’s strongest supporters of Israel (i.e. the Republicans) have turned against us. – Jerusalem Post 


The Federal Trade Commission is pushing back against Facebook’s reasoning for suspending researchers with the New York University’s Ad Observatory. – Business Insider 

Ashley Boyd writes: As Big Technology companies exert ever more influence over our individual and collective lives, visibility into what they are doing and how they operate is more important than ever. We can’t afford to let transparency become a meaningless tagline — it’s one of the few levers for change in the public interest that we have left. – New York Times 

Dana Rao writes: There is much work ahead, but the creation of a National Deepfake and Digital Provenance Task Force is a crucial step in joining the knowledge, perspectives, and influence of the private and public sectors to address these challenges. We encourage the Senate to take up and pass this bill so we can work together in our collective fight against the dangers of disinformation. – The Hill 

Jake Harrington and Riley McCabe write: Just like the trends that are enabling advances in consumer electronics and cloud computing, the technology enabling the broader U.S. ISR enterprise benefits from Moore’s Law. […]This trend carries significant potential to disrupt and transform U.S. ISR doctrine. Cheap, highly capable alternatives to scarce collection tools are fundamental to resolving resource constraints and advancing the intelligence mission. Adversaries are using tradecraft new and old alike to hide. The United States must embrace the promises and challenges of the information age to find them. – Center for Strategic and International Studies 


The Senate has confirmed President Biden’s pick for Navy secretary, Carlos Del Toro, making him the second Hispanic secretary in the Navy’s history and filling the final service secretary position. – The Hill 

One of two teams building competing payload designs for the U.S. Space Force’s next missile warning satellites completed critical design review, clearing the way for fabrication. – C4SIRNET 

NATO sees continued investment in autonomous platforms, artificial intelligence and big data as critical to understanding how a thawing Arctic Ocean will impact military operations, planning, and infrastructure in the High North. – C4SIRNET 

The White House today will announce Melissa Dalton as its choice for assistant secretary for homeland defense and global security affairs, Breaking Defense has learned. – Breaking Defense 

Spurred in part by a potential sale to Columbia of F-16 fighters, the Defense Department is considering novel ways for cash-strapped allies and partners to finance a buy US weapon systems — by bolstering the ability of domestic industry to compete, an Air Force international sales expert said today. – Breaking Defense 

Peter Pry writes: Perhaps a new bipartisan consensus can be forged to support space-based missile defenses, such as the “Brilliant Pebbles” ballistic missile defense proposed in 1987, which could be deployable in five years for $20 billion; or much needed protection from electromagnetic pulse (EMP) and cyber attacks for life-sustaining critical infrastructures. Thus, we would replace Mutual Assured Destruction (MAD) with the principle of protecting life — call it “Strategic Assured National Existence” (SANE) — so there will be no Hiroshimas and Nagasakis in our future. – The Hill 

Lukas Autenried writes: The cost of inaction is high; both China and Russia view information superiority as the central line of effort in future conflicts and are developing the operational concepts and capabilities to achieve it. If data is the “digital lifeblood of modern warfare” as Air Force Director of Joint Force Integration Brig. Gen. Jeffery Valenzia recently said, then investing in laser communications technologies that ensures the right information gets securely to the war fighter, when and where they need it, is paramount. – C4SIRNET 

Matthew Costlow writes: Calculated ambiguity is best positioned among all the other alternative policies to provide U.S. and allied leaders the freedom of action necessary to respond to a growing range of threats. […]The tension between when to clarify and when to be ambiguous about U.S. intentions will remain, but preemptively removing the ability to make particular deterrent threats continues to be unwise. The policy of calculated ambiguity may remove the “fine distinctions” that Lord Balfour treasured, but for the purposes of deterring nuclear and non-nuclear threats, it is a “high policy” worth keeping. – War on the Rocks 

Long War

At least 12 soldiers were killed in an attack in northwestern Burkina Faso on Sunday and seven others are missing, three security sources said. – Reuters 

Mozambican and Rwandan security forces have recaptured the port town of Mocimboa da Praia, an insurgents’ stronghold, the two countries said on Sunday, adding to a growing list of retaken towns and villages. – Reuters 

Michael Rubin writes: The Rwandans, however, are demonstrating what leadership means. While even American generals repeat the mantra that all conflicts must have a diplomatic solution, the Rwandans (like the elected Afghan government) recognize the reality that diplomacy will not resolve the threats posed by the extremist group. If only American policymakers sheltered in Washington and behind compound walls and immune from the consequences of their decisions would learn the same lesson, the world would be a much safer place. – 19fortyfive 

Thomas Hegghammer writes: It follows from the Cheese Bell Theory that the jihadi movement will suffer if its opportunities to engage in foreign fighting are reduced in the future. It is probably impossible to completely eliminate jihadi foreign fighting, but it is certainly possible to do more than governments did from the 1980s to the mid-2010s. […]In recent years, many countermeasures have been put in place, and Byman offers further suggestions on what to do. Jihadi strategists thus have every reason to be unhappy with the publication of Road Warriors. – War on the Rocks