Fdd's overnight brief

February 20, 2020

In The News


Iran said the black box of a Ukrainian airliner it mistakenly shot down is significantly damaged, complicating an already protracted investigation of an incident that sparked domestic protests and angry calls for greater government accountability. – Wall Street Journal

The so-called “principlists” wedded to the theocratic ideals of Iran’s 1979 Islamic Revolution look set to win parliamentary elections on Friday.  […]At a time when the Iranian electorate is showing little enthusiasm for the vote, Trump’s actions have largely empowered the conservatives. They never supported the nuclear deal in the first place. – Bloomberg

Amiri spoke with the Washington Examiner over the phone, recounting how he ended up in prison, and spoke about his hopes for an Iran free of dynastic or theocratic rule. Once kept in solitary confinement where he said his captors withheld food and sleep, he now is free and living in an undisclosed location. – Washington Examiner

Iran’s foreign minister said his meeting with a Democratic senator alarmed the Trump administration because it allowed him to talk directly to “the American nation.” – Washington Examiner

Campaigning officially ended on Thursday for Iran’s parliamentary election, state media said, a day before a vote seen as a litmus test of the popularity of the Islamic republic. – Reuters

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Wednesday said authorities in Washington were prepared to talk to Iran “anytime”, but that it needed to “fundamentally” change its behavior and that a campaign of maximum pressure against it would continue. – Reuters

Mohammad Baqer Qalibaf’s record as a Revolutionary Guards air force commander, a war veteran and a national police chief has endeared him to Iran’s supreme leader and boosted his chances of becoming the next speaker of parliament after Friday’s election. – Reuters

Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei on Wednesday said the United States will sink like the “Titanic,” blaming it on “wealthy Zionist individuals and corporate owners” who he said controlled the US economy. – Agence France-Presse

Austria’s foreign minister said Wednesday that he will travel to Tehran this weekend amid efforts by European countries to keep alive Iran’s nuclear agreement with world powers. – Associated Press

Bobby Ghosh writes: The bottom line is this: No matter the external conditions, the hard-liners were due a “comeback” in parliament, and Khamenei was going to ensure this outcome. Yes, Trump and the U.S. sanctions have been talking points in the election campaign, but they have been used by all factions, and their impact on the results will be moot. – Bloomberg

Mehdi Khalaji writes: The election gives the U.S. government an opportunity to amplify the voices of Iranians who have been calling out the regime’s increasingly anti-democratic nature. When remarking on the vote and its aftermath, U.S. officials should put the words of these Iranians front and center, since they are much more credible than foreign criticisms from the Trump administration. – Washington Institute


As aid workers rushed around Syria’s Idlib province in recent days to help its war-battered people survive, a Syrian relief agency was scrambling to save another struggling group: its own employees. – Washington Post

Russia on Wednesday warned Turkey against intervening in Syria as it blocked a UN bid to end the Damascus regime’s brutal assault on the last rebel enclave. – Agence France-Presse

The first civilian flight in eight years landed at Aleppo airport in northern Syria Wednesday, an AFP correspondent on board the aircraft reported. – Agence France-Presse


Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said on Thursday there was some rapprochement with Russia in talks about Syria’s Idlib region, where Ankara has threatened to mount an offensive, but added that discussions were not at a desired level yet. – Reuters

Turkey and Russia are discussing possible joint patrols around Syria’s northwestern Idlib region as one option to ensure security there, a Turkish official said on Thursday, as Ankara ramped up threats of a military offensive in the region. – Reuters

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan said on Wednesday that the main opposition party should be investigated for possible links to the U.S.-based cleric accused of orchestrating a 2016 coup attempt, amid a bout of finger-pointing between the two sides. – Reuters

Michael Rubin writes: The diplomatic price should also be high. American diplomats such as former U.S. Ambassador to Ankara Jim Jeffrey say America needs Turkey. Actually, they have got it reversed: Turkey needs America. The price of any diplomatic support should, however, be high: Nothing less than a full withdrawal of all Turkish forces and settlers from Cyprus, Iraq, and Syria. – Washington Examiner


Iraqi Prime Minister-designate Mohammed Tawfiq Allawi said on Wednesday he has put together a cabinet of political independents and called on parliament to hold an extraordinary session next week to grant it a vote of confidence. – Reuters

U.S. Secretary of State Michael Pompeo said Iran must be held accountable for its proxies’ attacks on American forces in Baghdad, warning that such violence can’t become routine. – Bloomberg

In the wee hours of Jan. 8, Tehran retaliated over the U.S. killing of Iran’s most powerful general by bombarding the al-Asad air base in Iraq. […]More than a week after the attack, on Jan. 16, Defense Secretary Mark Esper was made aware that soldiers had suffered brain injuries from the missiles, the Pentagon said. That day, the Pentagon reported that an unspecified number of troops were treated for concussive symptoms and 11 were flown to Kuwait and Germany for higher-level care. – Reuters


Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who is facing his third election in less than a year on March 2, has vowed to annex the Jordan Valley and West Bank settlements. That campaign pledge was largely endorsed by the Trump administration last month when it released its long-awaited peace plan calling for extending Israeli sovereignty over the fertile valley. – Wall Street Journal

A group of House Democrats is calling on the Trump administration to restore U.S. assistance to Gaza, arguing Palestinians are facing a humanitarian crisis. – The Hill

The High Court of Justice on Thursday approved the IDF’s demolition orders of the houses of the killers of Rina Shnerb despite the impact on non-involved family members and their neighbors. – Jerusalem Post

Defense Minister Naftali Bennett and the Coordinator of Government Affairs in the Territories (COGAT) have notified the Palestinian Authority of the resumption of agricultural imports from the West Bank to Israel, after the PA ban on calf imports from Israel was removed on Thursday. – Jerusalem Post

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has disavowed a suggestion in US President Donald Trump’s peace proposal to redraw Israel’s border to include numerous Arab Israeli towns in a future Palestinian state. – Times of Israel

Khalil al-Hayya, a member of the Hamas political bureau and one of the organization’s senior leaders in the Gaza Strip, is calling for a national action plan to combat the so-called “Deal of the Century”. – Arutz Sheva

Israeli security forces arrested Rafat Nasif, a top Hamas official, at his Tulkarm home in the West Bank late on Wednesday night. – Jerusalem Post

Palestinian Authority Foreign Minister Riyad al-Maliki declined to answer what the PA is doing to bring about the release of the four Israeli captives in Gaza, during remarks to the European Parliament’s Foreign Affairs Committee on Wednesday. – Jerusalem Post

The Palestinians must show they are serious about peace by seizing the “Deal of the Century” as a vehicle for progress rather than rejecting it on the presumption that the international community has endless patience for their plight, visiting British Member of Parliament Stephen Crabb told The Jerusalem Post. – Jerusalem Post

Arabian Peninsula

Iran has developed a new type of antiaircraft missile and shipped it to Houthi rebels in Yemen, Pentagon officials announced Wednesday. The weapons were seized by United States Navy warships in two separate shipments in the Arabian Sea. – New York Times

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo arrived in Saudi Arabia on Wednesday to discuss regional security, namely Iran, after the U.S. killing last month of a top Iranian general pushed the oil-producing region closer to an all-out war. – Reuters

Ahead of Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s latest visit to Saudi Arabia, top lawmakers have urged him to raise the case of an American citizen who has been reportedly tortured while in Saudi custody. – ABC News

An explosion killed six guards of the Yemeni defense minister and wounded eight others Wednesday, military officials said, the latest casualties of unmarked landmines that litter the war-torn country. – Associated Press

Recognizing Iranian-backed weapons smugglers have the advantage evading U.S. patrols, and the Pentagon is taking to publicly calling out Tehran for helping fuel the ongoing conflict in Yemen. – USNI News


The United Nations urged Libya’s warring sides on Wednesday to return to the negotiating table, hours after the U.N.-installed government suspended cease-fire talks in the wake of an attack on Tripoli’s port, illuminating the festering obstacles to ending the war. – Washington Post

Mr. Hifter has cut off Libya’s oil production for the past month to try to deprive the Tripoli government of revenue. This week he began shelling its civilian port, killing three people, narrowly missing a ship loaded with liquefied natural gas and derailing United Nations-sponsored cease-fire talks. – New York Times

Turkey’s president criticized on Wednesday the European Union’s decision to launch a maritime effort focused on enforcing the U.N. arms embargo around Libya, accusing European nations that agreed to the operation of “interfering in the region.” – Associated Press

Turkey’s guarantees in Libya are dependent on a truce between warring sides being upheld, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said on Thursday, adding that Libyan commander Khalifa Haftar was violating the ceasefire. – Reuters

Algeria is ready to act as a mediator in any Libya ceasefire talks, its president Abdelmadjid Tebboune told French newspaper Le Figaro in an interview published on Thursday. – Reuters

Authorities in northern Italy arrested the captain of a Lebanese-flagged cargo ship on suspicion of international arms trafficking Wednesday while they investigate if the vessel transported tanks, rockets and other weapons from Turkey to Libya. – Associated Press

Middle East & North Africa

A team of IMF experts met Prime Minister Hassan Diab on Thursday at the start of a visit to provide Lebanon with advice on tackling a deepening financial and economic crisis, an official Lebanese source said. – Reuters

On February 15, 2020, Hizbullah unveiled in the village of Maroun Al-Ras in South Lebanon a large statue of Qassem Soleimani, the commander of the Qods Force in the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps who was killed in an American airstrike on January 3, 2020 in Baghdad. – Middle East Media Research Institute

Michael Rubin writes: Trump’s supporters can say that his efforts to stop “endless wars” are necessary. It is certainly true that the United States is overextended. But if that’s the case, then it is also necessary to recognize that Trump’s statements can hamper that goal in the long-run rather than create the security and stability that would enable a more permanent withdrawal. – The National Interest

Przemysław Osiewicz writes: Following America’s lead in the MENA region is no longer possible due to the growing divergence in interests. Although the situation may change after the coming presidential election in the U.S., EU officials will likely try to pursue their own policies when it comes to Israeli-Palestinian tensions, Iranian nuclear program, the Syrian conflict, and the war in Libya. – Middle East Institute

Korean Peninsula

Iran does not want to purchase nuclear weapons from North Korea because it wants its own nuclear arsenal, top Blue and White MK and former defense minister Moshe Ya’alon recently told the Magazine in an extensive interview. – Jerusalem Post

Biting disagreement over the Trump administration’s demand that Seoul pay more for the upkeep of nearly 30,000 U.S. troops in South Korea will hang over the agenda next week when Defense Secretary Mark T. Esper hosts his South Korean counterpart at the Pentagon. – Washington Times

North Korea indicated Wednesday that it is shifting its strategy to focus on its own independent economic development, with a key state propaganda newspaper in Pyongyang calling the pursuit of support from outside nations a “stupid idea.” – Washington Times


U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo criticized China’s move to revoke the press credentials of three Wall Street Journal reporters over a controversial headline, a decision that comes as Beijing continues to lash out at countries that fault its handling of the deadly coronavirus outbreak. – Bloomberg

The Trump administration is planning to retaliate for China’s expulsion Wednesday of three U.S. journalists over an editorial Beijing claimed was “racist,” escalating a clash over media access and freedoms that has broken out between the two countries. – Washington Times

The commander of U.S. Strategic Command told Congress recently that China is engaged in a troubling buildup of nuclear forces that could be used to wage regional conflict or to coerce nations in Asia. – Washington Times

Editorial: China’s expulsions are so extreme that they surely have more to do with its domestic politics than American opinion. Perhaps they are also in part a response to the State Department’s decision Tuesday to identify the U.S. operations of state-run Chinese media as foreign missions, which subjects them to the same restrictions as embassies. – Wall Street Journal

Jimmy Lai writes: The devil’s bargain Mr. Xi has always offered the people of China is this: Surrender your freedom, and in exchange you will enjoy continuing material improvement in your day-to-day lives. But if the consequence of surrendering your freedom may be losing your life, that becomes a much harder sell. Today Mr. Xi is seeking still more control as a means to stop the coronavirus. But control does not mean stability—especially when it helps create and feed a health epidemic. If the coronavirus does nothing more than expose this single truth, it may prove as revolutionary as any event in China’s history. – Wall Street Journal

Emily Rauhala writes: It is not that the Communist Party cadres that monitor the foreign press do not understand the distinction between news and opinion. They do. But as they fight the coronavirus at home and face off with the Trump administration, they feel besieged and may be lashing out. – Washington Post

South Asia

U.S. special envoy Zalmay Khalilzad and Afghan President Ashraf Ghani on Wednesday discussed a U.S. deal with Taliban militants on a weeklong reduction in violence, meeting the day after Ghani was declared a winner of a disputed presidential poll. – Reuters

The long-awaited result of Afghanistan’s bitterly disputed presidential election was expected to end months of uncertainty. Instead, President Ashraf Ghani’s reelection has triggered a political crisis that has threatened to spill over into violence and derail a historic peace deal between the United States and the Taliban. – Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty

Sri Lanka’s prime minister said Wednesday that the government has decided to withdraw from co-sponsorship of a 2015 U.N. Human Rights Council resolution calling for the investigation of allegations of war crimes committed during the island nation’s long civil war. – Associated Press

Jeff M. Smith writes: While the relationship isn’t without its warts, Delhi and Washington are more aligned now than ever before. The Trump administration has already left its own lasting imprint on the partnership and will add a new chapter to the saga when the president arrives in Delhi next week. – Heritage Foundation


Federal authorities have arrested a Mexican citizen on charges that he collected information about a U.S. government informant on behalf of Russia. – Washington Post

A Mexican man has allegedly confessed to spying for Russia in the US — after getting caught taking photographs of an FBI counterintelligence informant’s car, according to officials. – New York Post

President Vladimir Putin says the ouster of Russia’s prime minister and a cabinet reshuffle that caught many in Russia off guard in January was not in fact unexpected, but he remains vague about the reasons for the move. – Associated Press

Michael Singh writes: The challenge for the Trump administration is to preserve the benefits of New START while leveraging Russia’s desire for an extension to address new nuclear threats. To this end, the Trump administration should offer an extension in exchange for a series of commitments from Moscow. – Washington Post


The suspect in several shootings that killed nine people Wednesday night in central Germany was found dead at his house, police said early on Thursday without adding any information on possible motives. […]While violent crime is relatively rare in Germany, the country has experienced a rise in far-right and Islamist terrorism as well as an organized-crime wave. – Wall Street Journal

European Union leaders are set to clash Thursday over the bloc’s next seven-year budget as they seek to fill the cash gap left by Britain’s departure. – Wall Street Journal

A lawyer for Julian Assange said in a British court Wednesday that former Republican congressman Dana Rohrabacher, an ally of President Trump, made an offer to the WikiLeaks founder on behalf of Trump to pardon Assange in exchange for saying that Russia had nothing to do with the 2016 hack and leak of emails from the Democratic National Committee. – Washington Post

Ukraine wants to move on in its relationship with the U.S. after the country was pulled into domestic politics during the impeachment process of President Donald Trump, the country’s foreign minister said. – Bloomberg

European Union member states are at loggerheads over their negotiating position in post-Brexit trade talks as French President Emmanuel Macron pushes for more demanding conditions to be imposed on Britain. – Bloomberg

The reluctance of Jews in the Netherlands to report antisemitic attacks to the authorities out of skepticism that they will not be taken seriously is as much of a problem as the rise in antisemitism itself, a Dutch MP told his colleagues during a parliamentary debate on the subject this week. – Algemeiner

“Antisemitism and hatred of Jews is growing” in Germany, the mayor of Frankfurt warned on Wednesday. – Algemeiner

LGBTQ activists in Iceland are protesting the planned deportation of a transgender teen and his family who fled Iran last February, warning he could face imminent harm if he is forced to leave his new home in the progressive Nordic nation. – NBC

Switzerland’s financial market authority has penalized Julius Baer bank for violating its obligations to fight money laundering over a nearly nine-year span. The sanctions are related to alleged corruption linked to Venezuela’s state-owned oil company and global soccer body FIFA. – Associated Press

German officials confirmed Wednesday that a court has ordered the release of an Iranian man wanted by the United States, but declined to comment on reports that the move was part of a prisoner swap with Iran. – Associated Press

Army aviation forces from Greece and the United States took part in a live-fire training exercise Wednesday at the foot of Mount Olympus, marking deepening defense ties between the two countries. – Associated Press

Margarita Assenova writes: The struggle to stop Russia’s Nord Stream 2 natural gas pipeline did not end in December 2019, when the Switzerland-based Allseas Group S.A. suspended pipe-laying work in the Baltic Sea and recalled its ships under the threat of U.S. sanctions. […]Copenhagen is currently under significant pressure from Moscow and Berlin to allow for the completion of the pipeline. U.S. policymakers should support and encourage Denmark in resisting such pressure so that efforts to stop Nord Stream 2 are not in vain. – Center for European Policy Analysis

Bennett Feinsilber writes: While Americans blithely believe we are protecting Europe from Russia, Europeans are more and more entangled in many other military and trade deals with Russia. Germany is financing a gas pipeline from Russia, France is providing technical know-how, etc. Europe and Russia have very profitable relationships, and it is not to the benefit of either to engage in mutual conflicts. – Wall Street Journal


Capping a three-country swing across Africa, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo delivered a speech Wednesday in Ethiopia’s capital in which he warned African countries to “be wary of authoritarian regimes and their empty promises” and said economic partnership with the United States was the path to “true liberation.” – Washington Post

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo concluded a three-country tour of Africa, where the Trump administration has pledged continued U.S. aid and called for greater private-sector involvement in the economy. – Wall Street Journal

Nigeria needs to recruit 100,000 additional soldiers to defeat a long-running insurgency by the Islamist Boko Haram group, the governor of a state at the epicenter of the violence in the country’s northeast said. – Bloomberg

The owner of a bus company says three people have been killed by suspected extremists from Somalia after they were pulled out of a bus in northeastern Kenya. […]Abass said suspected al-Shabab fighters in full police uniform flagged the bus down, but the conductor and passengers who knew the route said there was no police roadblock in the area, so the driver kept going. – Associated Press

The Republican chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee warned Wednesday that any drawdown of U.S. military forces in West Africa would have “real and lasting negative consequences” after visiting the continent. – The Hill

The Americas

The long-awaited trial of the Citgo Six — oil executives, including five U.S. citizens, detained in Venezuela on corruption charges for more than two years — failed to open as scheduled on Wednesday, leaving fearful family members calling on the U.S. government to do more to protect their imprisoned fathers and husbands. – Washington Post

The International Monetary Fund said Wednesday that Argentina’s debt was unsustainable and private creditors would need to make a “meaningful contribution” to help end a financial crisis in the South American country. – Wall Street Journal

The New York City Commission on Human Rights is launching a campaign to combat antisemitism. – Algemeiner

Trump administration officials are discussing whether to renew their unsuccessful campaign to oust Venezuela’s Nicolas Maduro by persuading some ruling party members to temporarily share power with opposition leaders, according to people familiar with the matter. – Bloomberg

Venezuela’s President Nicolas Maduro declared an “energy emergency” as he announced a commission to revamp state oil company Petroleos de Venezuela SA, redoubling efforts to shore up the nation’s crumbling oil industry. – Bloomberg

White House senior adviser Jared Kushner is organizing an investment conference in Mexico City, aiming to pair private money with foreign aid for Central America that his father-in-law President Donald Trump froze as punishment for the region’s high level of migration to the U.S. – Bloomberg

Eli Lake writes: Any hopes that Trump is interested in cutting a deal or softening U.S. strategy are misplaced. Rosneft may still attempt to defy the new U.S. sanctions. But the company’s aid to Maduro is not merely political or altruistic. The price for selling Venezuela’s toxic oil just went up. – Bloomberg

Liam Denning writes: In that sense, when it comes to sanctions pertaining to Venezuela, Trump may be more focused for now on the racing rather than winning the race. Oil traders may take that as a signal to relax somewhat about the prospects for sudden, Venezuela-inspired disruption between now and November. The question they should be asking themselves is what happens after that. – Bloomberg


American tech companies will soon need to meet new requirements in the European Union regarding artificial intelligence and sharing data with smaller rivals, as the bloc seeks to assert its “technological sovereignty” from the U.S. and China. – Wall Street Journal

Cybersecurity-focused venture firm ForgePoint Capital Management has raised a $450 million second fund to focus on startups addressing emerging cyber threats. – Wall Street Journal

Dell Technologies on Tuesday announced a $2.08 billion cash deal to sell cyber-security unit RSA to a consortium led by Symphony Technology Group. – Agence France-Presse

A meeting of U.S. government officials to discuss further curbs on exports to Huawei and China is still on for Thursday, two sources said, despite pushback from President Donald Trump against the restrictions. – Reuters

Russia, China and North Korea will pose the biggest cyber threats to the upcoming 2020 Tokyo Summer Olympics, a report released Wednesday found. – The Hill

The Department of Homeland Security’s Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) is warning of potential cyber threats to companies operating critical systems this week, with the alert coming on the heels of a cyberattack last year on a pipeline operator. – The Hill

The Department of Homeland Security’s cybersecurity agency released an alert Feb. 18 that said it had responded to a ransomware attack on an unnamed pipeline operator. – Fifth Domain

Hackers have gained access to sensitive data from at least five law firms in the past four months, releasing stolen data that includes pain diary entries from veterans’ personal injury cases, Emsisoft, a cybersecurity and anti-malware company, told Military Times. – Fifth Domain

Holman W. Jenkins, Jr. writes: Washington wants Western companies to dominate the next generation of wireless to gain an intelligence and cyberwarfare advantage over China. Unfortunately, as numerous reports in the Journal and elsewhere are discovering, what 5G can do for consumers right now is not wowing them enough that they are willing to foot the bill for the rollout. – Wall Street Journal

Luke de Pulford writes: But the argument against Huawei isn’t just about data security. It’s about human rights. Which is why the US should make it clear that the UK is turning its back against the special relationship for a company knee-deep in rights abuse. It’s a grotesque betrayal of our closest ally — and of one of the world’s most vulnerable religious minorities. – New York Post


Alarmed by the technological shortcomings, the Navy’s acting secretary circulated an internal strategy memo last week outlining goals to quickly modernize computer infrastructure. – Wall Street Journal

Nuclear weapons modernization is a top priority of the Pentagon’s FY 2021 budget request, and at Minot Esper will be able to see both B-52 strategic bombers assigned to the 5th Bomb Wing, as well as visiting the missileers of the 91st Missile Wing deep underground in their control rooms, where they stand ready to launch Minuteman III missiles in the event of nuclear war. – Washington Examiner

The new U.S. Space Force could see procurement reach $4.7 billion in fiscal 2025 as it expands steadily from the $2.4 billion requested for acquisitions in the coming year, according to projections by the White House budget office. – Bloomberg

The Defense Department justified redirecting shipbuilding funds to pay for border barrier construction by saying the yards don’t currently have the capacity to spend the money, a Pentagon spokesman told reporters. At least one shipbuilder disagrees. – USNI News

The Navy’s information technology is antiquated and unable to provide sailors, Marines and civilians with basic resources that any private sector employee with a computer can access, according to a report issued Wednesday by the sea service. – Navy Times

This is just a piece of a larger demonstration that the lead shooter, and top Army enlisted soldier, Sergeant Major of the Army Michael Grinston, tested this week on his visit to explore the Integrated Visual Augmentation System, or IVAS. – Marine Corps Times

Hal Brands writes: U.S. bases boost area economies by employing local residents and infusing cash into local businesses. The result is that contact with U.S. personnel tends to foster not just more positive attitudes toward the American military, but toward the American people as a whole. – Bloomberg

Long War

A Turkish court has delayed its verdict in the case of 11 rights activists arrested in 2017 on terror charges. – BBC

Kosovar prosecutors on Wednesday filed terrorism charges against an ethnic Albanian woman who allegedly joined a terror group in Syria. – Associated Press

Finland’s constitutional committee said on Wednesday it has asked the Prosecutor General to investigate the legality of Foreign Minister Pekka Haavisto’s push to repatriate Finnish children from a camp in Syria and his handling of one director at his ministry. The center-left government said in December it would seek to repatriate the children of Finnish mothers who traveled to Syria to join Islamic State and who are now being held at the al-Hol displacement camp controlled by Kurds in northeastern Syria. – Reuters

Angie Omar writes: As Jamille Bigio and Rachel Vogelstein emphasized in their article the need to recognize women’s roles in terrorist organizations, “eighteen years since the devastating terrorist attacks of 9/11…The United States has spent nearly $6 trillion to counter terrorism, yet the number of Islamist extremist fighters last year was 270 percent higher than it was in 2001.” […]Female terror is just one aspect of the ingrained terror crisis in the Middle East that reshapes itself into more aggressive portraits–whether in Iraq, Yemen, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, or essentially any other country in the Middle East. However, it is crucial to underline the ideologies that profane women’s bodies and minds. – Washington Institute

Trump Administration

President Trump said Wednesday that John Rood, who as the Pentagon’s undersecretary of defense for policy was one of the top officials in the department, is leaving his post. – Wall Street Journal

President Trump on Wednesday named Richard Grenell, the ambassador to Germany who quickly antagonized the establishment after arriving in Berlin in 2018, to be the acting director of national intelligence overseeing the nation’s 17 spy agencies. – New York Times

President Trump on Wednesday thanked a top Pentagon official for his service, confirming that the undersecretary of Defense for policy was on his way out of the administration. – The Hill

Josh Rogin writes: Congressional frustration with the perceived failure by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to defend State Department personnel from political attacks spilled over during a “heated” private meeting last weekend in Munich. […]Pompeo, like most Trump officials, is caught between doing the right thing and remaining loyal to the president. That’s understandable. But lawmakers, journalists and others will continue to point out the State Department he’s running has real personnel and morale problems — even if he doesn’t want to hear it. – Washington Post

Adam Taylor writes: At the Munich Security Conference, Pompeo’s speech about how the West was “winning” highlighted the stark difference between the braggadocio of the United States and the unease of Europe. A subsequent three-stop visit to Africa, which ended on Wednesday, brought no solace to those who argue that the Trump administration’s Africa policy is an afterthought. – Washington Post