Fdd's overnight brief

February 22, 2019

In The News


Iran on Friday began large-scale naval drills at the mouth of the Gulf, which will feature its first submarine cruise missile launches, state media reported, at a time of rising tensions with the United States. – Reuters

Islamic Republic’s Intelligence Ministry announced on Thursday the arrest of 13 “elements” of the Islamic State group who it said had plans to launch “military” operations in Iran’s Western Kurdistan province. – Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty

The commander of the overseas arm of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards threatened Saudi Arabia with revenge over an attack in southeastern Iran last week that killed 27 Guards members, the semi-official Tasnim news agency reported on Thursday. – Reuters

To Iranians, Shiraz is known as the city of poetry and roses. To Norwegian Air Shuttle ASA, it has become the focus of a two-month battle to retrieve a Boeing Co. jet that’s been trapped in the net of U.S. sanctions. – Bloomberg

Speaking after Friday prayers, the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps commander Qassim Soleimani threatened Saudi Arabia and condemned Israel and the US on Friday. He spoke in the wake of a terror attack in southeastern Iran that had killed two dozen members of the IRGC. Soleimani claimed that Wahhabism, a conservative version of Sunni Islam popular in Saudi Arabia, and America were the two threats to the Middle East and claimed Wahhabism has roots in Judaism. – Jerusalem Post

Editorial: Germany, France and the U.K. have gone so far as to create a special purpose vehicle for trade with Iran that’s clearly designed to get around U.S. sanctions. This strategy is doomed to fail. The Trump administration won’t be fooled by it — or to any extent mollified by European finger-wagging at the regime in Tehran. – Bloomberg

Joshua S. Block writes: Iran already possesses ballistic missiles capable of carrying nuclear warheads. The Islamic Republic’s ongoing defiance of the world directly threatens US security interests and the security of regional allies. It is now up to America to say, “no more,” and for Europe to stop shielding a murderous regime. – Algemeiner


The White House said Thursday that “a small peacekeeping group of about 200” U.S. troops will stay in Syria beyond the planned withdrawal of American forces this spring. – Washington Post

Islamic State fighters facing defeat in Syria are slipping across the border into Iraq, where they are destabilizing the country’s fragile security, U.S. and Iraqi officials say. – Associated Press

U.S.-backed Syrian forces fighting the Islamic State group handed over more than 150 Iraqi members of the group to Iraq, an Iraqi security official said Thursday, marking the biggest repatriation from Syria of captured militants so far. – Associated Press

Religious leaders of Russia’s republic of Chechnya have inaugurated a re-opened landmark mosque in Syria’s Homs, once the symbol of the rebellion against President Bashar Assad. – Associated Press

The U.S.-led coalition fighting Islamic State is verifying whether an air strike in Syria killed French jihadist Fabien Clain, who voiced a recording claiming the November 2015 attacks on Paris, U.S. and French sources said on Thursday. – Reuters

Two car bombings in two areas of northwest Syria killed at least six people on Thursday in the latest such attacks in towns held by Turkey-backed rebel groups, witnesses and rebels. – Reuters

Rick Noack writes: When German Chancellor Angela Merkel discussed the U.S. troops withdrawal from Syria at the Munich Security Conference earlier this month, she expressed concerns also held by some U.S. officials: “Is it a good idea for the Americans to suddenly and quickly withdraw from Syria? Or will it once again strengthen the capacity of Iran and Russia to exert their influence there?” Thursday’s announcement to keep some troops in the country suggests that waiting to find out the answer to that question appears to be an increasingly risky bet to the Trump administration, too. – Washington Post


Turkey ordered the arrest of 295 serving military personnel on Friday, the prosecutor’s office said, accusing them of links to the network of U.S.-based Muslim cleric Fethullah Gulen, who Ankara says orchestrated a 2016 attempted coup. – Reuters

Turkey’s Defense Minister Hulusi Akar will meet his acting U.S. counterpart Pat Shanahan in Washington this week to discuss the pullout of American troops from Syria and Ankara’s concerns over U.S.-backed Kurdish forces there. – Bloomberg

President Trump on Thursday spoke with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan about strategy in Syria ahead of a meeting between the top military leaders from each country. – The Hill


The U.S. ambassador to Israel on Thursday urged deeper business ties between Israeli settlers and Palestinian businessmen in the occupied West Bank, angering Palestinian leaders. – Reuters

Security forces were gearing up Friday morning for anticipated violence ahead of Friday prayers at Jerusalem’s Temple Mount as police announced 60 people were arrested overnight on suspicion of planning violence. – Times of Israel

The prospect of peace between Israel and the Palestinians is fading by the day as violence and radicalism grow — and “the risk of war continues to loom large,” the UN Mideast envoy warned Wednesday. – Times of Israel

Neri Zilber writes: Israeli officials are adamant that Hezbollah only possesses a small handful of precision missiles at present—a claim Hezbollah Secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah, for his part, disputes. If the Israeli version is to believed, the IDF’s free-fire efforts in Syria have paid off. The concern in certain quarters is that for this reason Iran will move in greater force into the seemingly immune Lebanese space, upping the missile precision program. – The Daily Beast

Eli Lake writes: The Jewish Power Party embraces his policy of ethnic cleansing — that is, the expulsion of Palestinians from Israel and the territory it won in defensive wars with Arab states.  […]Netanyahu and Peretz have legitimized hateful fanatics until recently considered beyond the pale. Even if no Kahanists serve in a future government, the prime minister’s political embrace of them is a stain that cannot be ignored. For this reason alone, Netanyahu and his coalition deserve to lose power when Israelis vote for their next government in eight weeks. – Bloomberg

Ilan Berman writes: Israel thus finds itself on the horns of a serious strategic dilemma: It can sit back and hope that the Kremlin will continue to police and protect its northern border and keep Iran’s activities and influence at bay, or it can step up its targeting of the Iranian presence in southern Syria, potentially risking a political rupture with Moscow in the process. […]Israel is increasingly limiting its military operations in Syria, cognizant of the growing danger of escalation — and painfully aware that Russia no longer has its back. – The Hill

Middle East & North Africa

Open a little more than a year, the center has provided up to six weeks of schooling and play in a comfortable villa for more than 200 boys enlisted by armed groups fighting in Yemen. […]But the center also doubles as a propaganda stage set, where its Saudi funders and their Yemeni allies have brought a long roster of Western news organizations to hear the children talk about Houthi abuses. – New York Times

China sees “enormous potential” in Saudi Arabia’s economy and wants more high-tech cooperation, the Chinese government’s top diplomat said, as Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman began a two-day trip to Beijing. – Reuters

Eastern-based Libyan military forces took control on Thursday of the southwestern El Feel oilfield, their spokesman and a field engineer said. – Reuters

Editorial: There is an argument to be made for U.S. firms selling nuclear plants to Saudi Arabia: If the kingdom is determined to acquire them, then it would be better it do so from U.S. companies than from their Russian or Chinese competitors. But that logic holds only if the administration negotiates a deal with Riyadh imposing strict controls on the technology. In the case of Saudi Arabia, the only responsible accord would be one that prohibited the regime from any enrichment of uranium or reprocessing of spent fuel — techniques that can be used to build nuclear weapons. – Washington Post

Michael Knights writes: The trend is clear: most European and NATO nations did not give Iraq much diplomatic attention until they put their own troops in harm’s way. Conversely, since CJTF was formed, they have been highly committed. […]The U.S. government should ensure that every coalition partner—and particularly every CJTF contributor—communicates these points to the Iraqi government clearly and immediately. This gentle form of demarche may help Iraq’s leaders grasp the gravity of the moment, underlining how the future of their international political, economic, and military support is intricately linked to continuation of the CJTF mission. – Washington Institute

Korean Peninsula

When President Trump meets North Korea’s leader, Kim Jong-un, next week in Vietnam, his advisers hope to hammer out a road map for ridding the reclusive state of its nuclear weapons. But Mr. Trump appears more tantalized, at least for now, by declaring an end to seven decades of war on the Korean Peninsula. – New York Times

If there is anyone keeping his fingers crossed for President Trump and the North Korean leader, Kim Jong-un, to agree on how to denuclearize the North when they meet in Vietnam this month, it is President Moon Jae-in of South Korea. With no quick fix available for South Korea’s stubborn economic troubles, Mr. Moon’s best chance for reversing his falling approval ratings rests on whether he can jump-start his signature policy of helping advance the North’s denuclearization and improving inter-Korean ties. – New York Times

American negotiators are still working with their North Korean counterparts to “advance” to a “shared understanding of what ‘denuclearization’ is,” President Trump’s team said Thursday, less than a week before the two countries hold their second summit. – Washington Examiner

As President Donald Trump seeks a nuclear deal with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un next week in Vietnam, some in Seoul are wondering if the fate of Washington’s decades-long military alliance with South Korea could be at stake. – Associated Press

The U.S. will not move to ease economic sanctions on North Korea until it is confident that the nuclear weapons threat from Pyongyang has been “substantially reduced,” Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Thursday. – Associated Press

South Korean President Moon Jae-in has staked his legacy on the stunning diplomatic progress he has forged with North Korea, as well as the behind-the-scenes orchestration of the U.S.-North Korean summits. – Associated Press

Ever since he met Kim Jong Un in Singapore last year, President Donald Trump has shown a tendency the North Korean leader is sure to try and exploit: making unexpected concessions in one-on-one meetings. […]Heading into next week’s summit with Kim in Hanoi, the president’s top advisers will seek to ensure no last-minute giveaways happen this time around.  – Bloomberg

At South Korea’s northernmost train station, the tracks stop abruptly ahead of the demilitarized zone that marks the North Korean border. A sign reads: “The steel horse wants to run.” That may soon become a reality as U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korea’s Kim Jong Un prepare for a second summit next week in Vietnam. The outcome is expected to include some easing of sanctions in return for steps toward denuclearization — with a rail link first mooted more than 15 years ago one of several key inter-Korean projects that might finally get approved. – Bloomberg

Uri Friedman writes: The daunting task facing the president and his aides is to convince Kim that he can’t achieve his twin priorities of keeping nuclear weapons and developing his economy, and must choose between the two. Successfully convincing Kim that he will ultimately be more secure ruling a denuclearized, economically prosperous North Korea would require massive concessions by the United States. – The Atlantic

Bennett Murray writes: For Vietnam, the summit provides both prestige on the global stage and a chance to make a good impression on a U.S. president whose unpredictability the Vietnamese find worrying. […]Sweetening the prestige is the praise showered on Vietnam by the Trump administration in its messaging on North Korea. Vietnam, senior White House officials have said, can serve as a roadmap for North Korea, a fellow single-party state, in its economic development and global integration. – Foreign Policy

Zhiqun Zhu writes: Nearly seven decades after the outbreak of the Korean War, U.S.-North Korea relations are entering a critical phase. It is in the U.S. interest to grasp the historic opportunity and encourage North Korea’s reforms and shape the future of the Korean Peninsula. Inviting Kim Jong Un to visit the United States could be a catalyst to speed up the positive changes already happening. – The Hill

Bruce Klinger writes: The U.S. is now risking a second summit meeting with North Korea without first insisting on fleshing out the bare bones of the Singapore Summit statement. There are concerns in Washington, Seoul, and Tokyo that President Trump may agree to several North Korean proposals that appear beneficial but contain hidden perils. Much is riding on the outcome of the next Trump–Kim summit. The second summit must not repeat the mistakes of the first. It must have substance rather than simply the pomp and circumstance of the first. – Heritage Foundation


As U.S.-China trade talks reach a pivotal point, the Trump administration is counting on the Chinese leader’s special envoy, Liu He, to get Beijing to accept tough new strictures that are increasingly controversial in Beijing. – Wall Street Journal

Mr. Imin was one of millions of people caught up in a vast Chinese campaign of surveillance and oppression. To give it teeth, the Chinese authorities are collecting DNA — and they got unlikely corporate and academic help from the United States to do it. – New York Times

Australia’s prime minister sought to ease fears on Friday of a further rift in ties to China following a ban on coal imports at the northern port of Dalian that knocked coal exporters and the local dollar. – Reuters

A group of lawmakers from Italy’s ruling coalition is pushing the government to ban China’s Huawei Technologies Co Ltd from supplying equipment for the country’s rollout of 5G mobile communications, Il Messaggero newspaper said on Friday. – Reuters

David Fickling writes: The obvious fear is that Canberra’s increasingly rocky relationship with Beijing could be prompting more widespread import curbs, not unlike China’s brake on U.S. agricultural exports since the trade war began. For Australia, which counts China as its biggest trading partner, that could be devastating. […]If China really wanted to hurt Australia, it would crack down on visas for local students wanting to study there – a business that’s worth roughly the same amount of export dollars as coal. Mainland students could just as easily find substitute university courses in Europe, North America and elsewhere. – Bloomberg

Joseph Bosco writes: If China gets lured into a false sense of superiority, it could overreach and make its aggressive move against Taiwan. That could provide the pretext hardliners long have coveted to deal a crushing blow to the PRC before it further narrows the disparity in military capabilities — or at least give it enough of a “bloody nose” to deter further provocations. Despite President Trump’s declared affection for Xi Jinping, all bets would be off if the Chinese leader resorts to violence over Taiwan. – The Hill

South Asia

India vowed Thursday to cut back on water flowing through its rivers to arid Pakistan, a threat it has made before but now seems more determined to carry out in the wake of a suicide bomb attack last week for which India has blamed Pakistan. – New York Times

Pakistan’s prime minister on Thursday authorized the armed forces to “respond decisively and comprehensively to any aggression or misadventure” by neighboring India, as tensions soared between the nuclear-armed rivals. – Associated Press

Pakistan has re-instated a ban on two charities linked to the founder of an Islamist militant group that has carried out attacks in India, the interior ministry said on Friday. – Reuters

India, warily watching baby steps Pakistan and Israel are making toward one another, would like to see Jerusalem take a proactive role in helping New Delhi sanction Pakistan-based terror organizations, diplomatic officials told The Jerusalem Post. – Jerusalem Post

Joanna Slater and Pamela Constable write: Days after a militant group in Pakistan claimed responsibility for a massive suicide bombing in Indian-controlled Kashmir on Feb. 14, Trump called the incident “horrible” and delivered a brief message for India and Pakistan. “It would be wonderful if they got along.” Of course, there are important reasons for the animosity between the nuclear-armed neighbors. The main, ongoing source of conflict is Kashmir, a Himalayan border region whose status has been contested ever since India gained independence and Pakistan was created in the partition of British India. – Washington Post

Sadanand Dhume writes: The Valentine’s Day attack marks a sharp escalation of the conflict in Indian Kashmir, a majority-Muslim province both India and Pakistan claim. […]Pakistan would be foolish to underestimate India’s growing expectations for its military and intelligence agencies. – Wall Street Journal

Tom Rogan writes: If we mean to confront terrorists, we should stop investing in them! The key here, then, is for the U.S. to pressure Pakistan’s primary benefactors to suspend their aid support in lieu of serious Pakistani counterterrorism action. This should start with the International Monetary Fund, which is currently in advance stage negotiations with Pakistan over a new bailout. […]President Trump deserves credit for leading on this issue before now. He must now take the next step and tighten the screws. Pakistan can no longer expect access to foreign aid while simultaneously attacking an important American partner. – Washington Examiner

Marvin G. Weinbaum and Ahmad Majidyar write: While the Taliban are willing to negotiate with the U.S. about the withdrawal of foreign troops from the country, they continue to reject direct talks with the Afghan government for a political settlement. Even with inclusive peace talks, there is reason to question whether the Taliban’s vision of a future Afghan state and society can be reconciled with a liberal, democratic constitutional order. An alternative political pathway to a peaceful outcome is through executing better security and governance reforms. – Middle East Institute


Russian President Vladimir Putin said Russia is militarily ready for a Cuban Missile-style crisis if the United States wanted one and threatened to place hypersonic nuclear missiles on ships or submarines near U.S. territorial waters. – Reuters

The U.S. Embassy in Moscow is demanding that Russia give U.S. diplomats immediate access to American investment-fund manager Michael Calvey, who was formally charged with financial fraud and is being held in a Russian pretrial detention center. – Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty

Prosecutors in the treason trial of a top former Russian cybersecurity officer who was allegedly compromised by U.S. intelligence are seeking a 20-year prison term. – Bloomberg

Tom Rogan writes: When it comes to nuclear weapons, the U.S. continues to outmatch Russia. Russian claims to the contrary rest on delusional assumptions and flawed analysis. Still, Russian President Vladimir Putin is making big new claims about his nuclear forces. […]Regardless, the simple point here is that Putin’s threats must always be judged against their means of action. Because the former is almost always superior to the latter. The best way to preserve the peace is to ensure Putin has no doubts as to NATO’s readiness to fight and win at any level of escalation. – Washington Examiner


For the 22 years it has existed, Wavertree, a multiethnic, mostly working-class constituency in the northern city of Liverpool, has voted exclusively for Labour. It has been a safe seat in a strongly socialist city[…]. So its local leaders were aghast when tiny Wavertree emerged as the locus of the latest feud over anti-Semitism in the Labour Party, when its member of Parliament, Luciana Berger, resigned this week after receiving anti-Semitic abuse, and with local Labour activists having called her a “disruptive Zionist” and a supporter of a “murdering” government. – New York Times

Publicizing exercises like Trident Juncture has become an essential tool for NATO to get its message out and to showcase its military strength — especially in the face of fake news spread online by Russia. But such information published on social media platforms carries risks, researchers from the Strategic Communications Center of Excellence warned this week. – New York Times

European ministers will begin debating on Friday how and when to start trade negotiations with the United States, aware that U.S. President Donald Trump may impose punitive tariffs on EU car imports if the bloc waits too long. – Reuters

The European Union expects U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May to be forced to request a three-month delay to Brexit, two EU officials said. – Bloomberg

The Central Council of Jews in Germany and American Jewish organizations blasted the Roland Röhl Foundation for its decision to award in March a peace prize to a BDS group which is widely considered to be antisemitic. – Jerusalem Post

As the diplomatic falling out with Israel continues, Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki stated in an interview published Friday that while he acknowledged that the Polish population included “individual criminals, as in any nation,” he would not accept a generalization about his country’s involvement in the horrors of the Holocaust. – Times of Israel

Anti-Semitism in 2019 manages to reach far-fetching conclusions in the name of hatred of Jews, thus uniting the extreme right and extreme left in this ideology. Groups that identify themselves as either anti-globalization or anti-Zionist, use their platforms to spread anti-Semitic and racist propaganda, according to the findings of Israeli media research company Vocativ. – Ynet

A research group affiliated with with the North American Treaty Organization (NATO) found it was able to “instill undesirable behavior” in soldiers and gain “very detailed” personal information about them. – The Hill

Anthony H. Cordesman writes: It is time to put an end to one of the most pointlessly divisive debates in NATO’s history, and focus on what is really needed to deter Russia and deal effectively with the key threat to Western security. The United States and its European allies have fixated on one of the most meaningless and truly stupid strategic debates in modern history: the extent to which given NATO countries spend 2% of their GDP on defense by 2024. – Center for Strategic and International Studies

Helle C. Dale writes: Will Pompeo’s visit prove to heal or exacerbate divisions between the U.S. and European partners? The most likely outcome will be a re-establishment of the close ties that were so carefully constructed under the Bush administration. That would be a major step in the right direction for U.S. foreign policy, particularly with Eastern European countries – Heritage Foundation

United States

The U.S. Coast Guard lieutenant spent hours on end planning a wide-scale domestic terrorist attack, even logging in at his work computer on the job at headquarters to study the manifestos and heinous paths of mass shooters, prosecutors say. He researched how to carry out sniper attacks, they contend, and whether rifle scopes were illegal. And all the while, investigators assert, he was amassing a cache of weapons as he ruminated about attacks on politicians and journalists. – Washington Post

Congress is set to begin considering resolutions to nullify President Trump’s emergency order for a wall along the southern border next week, though the need for Republican support in the Senate makes for a tough road to passage. – Wall Street Journal

Laurie Cardoza-Moore, President of Proclaiming Justice to the Nations (PJTN), launched a campaign to demand the immediate resignation of Congresswoman Ilhan Omar. “Ilhan Omar recently made some antisemitic statements and has communicated her support for the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement,” Cardoza-Moore stated. – Jerusalem Post


In an apparent bid to counter international criticism of turning away the aid — provided by the United States and other countries advocating for Maduro’s ouster — Maduro’s vice president, Delcy Rodríguez, said the government on Thursday had sent the United Nations a list of medicines the country needed for “humanitarian assistance.” Maduro also announced that 7.5 tons of medical supplies had arrived Thursday from Russia and the Pan American Health Organization. – Washington Post

A former intelligence chief in Venezuela who is one of the government’s most prominent figures turned against President Nicolás Maduro on Thursday, calling him a dictator with a corrupt inner circle that has engaged in drug trafficking and courted the militant group Hezbollah. – New York Times

Venezuelan strongman Nicolas Maduro closed the border with Brazil in order to stymie efforts to deliver humanitarian aid from allies of U.S.-backed leader Juan Guaido. – Washington Examiner

Eleven Venezuelan diplomats in the United States have defected from President Nicolas Maduro’s government since opposition leader Juan Guaido declared himself interim president last month, a representative of the opposition said on Thursday. – Reuters

Vice President Mike Pence will go to Colombia on Monday to speak with the Colombian president and regional leaders about the ongoing turmoil in Venezuela and rally the international community behind opposition leader Juan Guaidó. – McClatchy

Editorial: Mr. Maduro is trying to frame the aid brigades as pawns of a U.S. invasion. That sounds familiar because it is the narrative that Mr. Maduro’s Cuban patrons have used for 60 years to justify their repression. […]But those won’t be foreign troops arriving Saturday. They’ll be Venezuelans carrying food and medicine for a country plunged into malnutrition and disease by Cuban-Maduro socialism. The aid showdown puts in stark relief the choice in Venezuela between a dictator who wants to block aid for the people, and the Guaidó government that wants to deliver it. – Wall Street Journal

Jose R. Cardenas write: The Trump administration has been clear it sees Venezuela’s current path as “irreversible,” meaning that “there is not a single scenario” in which Maduro remains in power. Venezuela is no longer a problem to be managed—it is to be solved. The courage shown by Guaidó and Venezuelans in the streets confronting armed paramilitaries demands nothing less. No one can predict the timing of Maduro’s exit, but thoughtful and tactical Trump administration policies can likely hasten that day. – Foreign Policy

Cyber Security

A recent report throws cold water on one of the U.S. government’s key pillars for what it calls whole-of-government deterrence in cyberspace: indictments. – Fifth Domain

President Donald Trump challenged U.S. telecommunications companies on Thursday to boost their efforts to build advanced networks and said leadership should come from competition, not by blocking competitors. […]The worldwide mobile industry is racing to deploy advanced 5G networks that promise faster connections, allowing uses such as autonomous vehicles and remote surgery. China has a narrow lead over the U.S. and South Korea, according to research commissioned by CTIA, a Washington-based trade group for mobile carriers. – Bloomberg

Warner, the vice chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee and co-chair of the Senate Cybersecurity Caucus, cited a Government Accountability Office report that found that more than 113 million health care records were stolen in 2015 through cyberattacks. – The Hill


Raytheon will participate in a missile defense radar “sense-off” to test designs that could be included in the U.S. Army’s Integrated Air and Missile Defense system under development. – Defense News

Artificial intelligence could be used not only for faster decision-making on the battlefield but also for faster training as the Navy inserts more weapons and tools onto ships and aircraft, the Navy’s top weapons buyer said last week. – USNI News

The Marine Corps has put the Amphibious Combat Vehicle through its paces in the eight months since the service selected BAE Systems to build the new wheeled vehicles, using the original 16 ACVs to conduct high surf testing and cold weather/cold water testing around the country. – USNI News

Technology and weapons upgrades to the MV-22 Osprey tiltrotor will give Marines a better edge in the networked battlespace, a combat pilot said last week. – USNI News

Sarah Bidgood writes: Much of the concern over the end of the INF Treaty has understandably centered on its implications for missile proliferation, the U.S. relationship with NATO, and whether a replacement agreement that includes China can possibly be negotiated. While these are all valid, however, it’s also worth appreciating just how widespread the impact of the end of the treaty is likely to be—particularly with respect to nonproliferation. The international community, experts, and policymakers should start bracing for the ripple effect of its demise. It has the potential to be much more significant—and more pervasive—than they may appreciate. – Foreign Policy

Long War

British Home Secretary Sajid Javid said late Wednesday that he would not render any individual “stateless.” But Shamima Begum, a 19-year-old Briton, and other foreign nationals who moved to the Islamic State’s self-proclaimed caliphate and now want to return home may ultimately be left in citizenship limbo. – Washington Post

The father of an Alabama woman who joined ISIS and is now seeking a return to the U.S. filed a lawsuit Thursday against President Donald Trump and other senior officials after the president said he had moved to bar her from reentry. – Politico

Rick Noack writes: When President Trump urged U.S. allies in Europe last week to “take back over 800 ISIS fighters that we captured in Syria and put them on trial,” his remarks triggered rare approval among some security analysts. […]All of those concerns may also apply to some extent in the case of Muthana, indicating there won’t be an easy option out of the repatriation dilemma, no matter which path European and U.S. authorities choose to take. – Washington Post

Michael Rubin writes: It would be profoundly immoral to let ISIS volunteers reinvent themselves, even though journalists’ desire for a compelling human interest story may allow them to try. Rescuing the children of ISIS, however, should be a cause worth embracing. – Washington Examiner

Trump Administration

U.S. Ambassador to Canada Kelly Craft is emerging as the front-runner to be the next U.S. ambassador to the United Nations. – Associated Press

The White House is bracing for Robert Mueller’s report, which the special counsel investigating President Trump’s campaign and Russia could submit to the Department of Justice as early as next week. – The Hill

CIA Director Gina Haspel, despite her own quiet repudiation of the president’s rhetoric, appears to be safe in her post. And that may be in part because the agency and most of its former senior officials have avoided public criticism of Trump for fear of incurring his wrath and jeopardizing Haspel’s job as well as the institution, according to former agency officials.  – Foreign Policy