Fdd's overnight brief

July 14, 2021

In The News


Iranian intelligence agents plotted to kidnap a U.S.-based human-rights activist and critic of the Islamic Republic and forcibly return her to Iran, federal prosecutors said, marking an escalation of Iran’s attempts to silence dissidents around the world. – Wall Street Journal   

Iran said on Tuesday it was holding talks on prisoner exchanges with the United States aimed at securing the release of Iranians held in U.S. jails and other countries over violations of U.S. sanctions. – Reuters 

The State Department informed Congress late Tuesday that it would waive sanctions on Iran’s illicit oil trade so that the country can access frozen funds from South Korea and Japan, the same day the Department of Justice announced charges on an Iranian spy network that sought to kidnap an American. – The Washington Free Beacon 

An Iranian group which pretended to be a British-based academic in order to target individuals in a cyber-espionage campaign has been discovered. The group also compromised a real website belonging to the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), University of London, to try to steal information. – BBC  

American and Russian officials remained unsure if and when Iran will be willing to renew discussions on a return to the nuclear deal, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, ahead of the sixth anniversary of its original signing on Wednesday. – Jerusalem Post 

Iran said on Wednesday it could enrich uranium up to 90% purity — weapons grade — if its nuclear reactors needed it, but added it still sought the revival of a 2015 deal that would limit its atomic activities in return for a lifting of sanctions. – Reuters 

Amos Harel writes: Biden’s election instilled hope in Iran, among both conservatives and moderates, and fears of an American attack have waned. But it seems Khamenei’s sense of urgency has also dissipated, and he may now feel there is no burning need to reach an agreement, despite the heavy damage that Trump’s economic sanctions continue to inflict. – Haaretz 


Since the Syrian revolution began in 2011, it is believed that more than 150,000 civilians have disappeared into detention centres or been tortured and killed by either the Bashar al-Assad regime or other armed groups in a conflict that has ripped millions of families apart. – The Guardian 

 Thousands of foreign children, including British kids, are facing a lifetime of imprisonment in camps and jails in north-eastern Syria, with little hope of being released. A BBC investigation has found that the children, whose parents supported the Islamic State Group, are being moved from desert camps, to secure children’s homes, and onto adult prisons, in a conveyor belt of incarceration. – BBC  

Calvin Wilder and Charles Thepaut write: Given that the Biden administration defined the negotiations as a test of Russian willingness to cooperate with the United States on areas of mutual concern, the resolution’s significance stretches beyond Syria. Yet while functional diplomacy between the two countries is beneficial to international stability, Washington should not underestimate the consequences of making too many concessions on Syria. Its diplomatic success in New York can only last if it bolsters the balance of power it strove to establish in the lead-up to Resolution 2585. – Washington Institute 


Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan told his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping on Tuesday it was important to Turkey that Uyghur Muslims live in peace as “equal citizens of China” but said Turkey respects China’s national sovereignty. – Reuters 

U.S. President Joe Biden on Tuesday nominated Republican former U.S. Senator Jeff Flake as ambassador to Turkey, tapping a political appointee for a critical post as ties between the two NATO allies remains strained. – Reuters 

Seth J. Frantzman writes: The failed policy fueled Ankara’s aggression with little to show for it in Washington in return. A more reasonable policy would have tried to get Turkey and Israel on the same page on some shared issues, and not fueled Ankara or extremists or destabilization. Turkey’s destabilizing actions tended to help Iran. This eroded US support in the region as well. – Jerusalem Post 

Emily Milliken writes: Erdogan has chosen to work with ISIS members when it’s convenient to do so because he views certain Kurdish groups as the more pressing ideological and security threat to the country – and to his rule. Now that Biden and Erdogan appear to have committed to fixing frayed bilateral ties, Turkey is likely to showcase its domestic counterterrorism efforts as a major benefit to the West. That’s well and good, but the Erdogan government’s illicit ties to ISIS and other jihadists as part of its regional policy needs to be addressed as part of any reset in relations between Washington and Ankara. – 1945 


In a landmark ruling, a US federal court ruled on Monday that Syria, Iran, the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps and three Iranian banks were liable for the Hamas terror attack which killed Eitam and Naama Henkin in 2015. – Jerusalem Post  

Should the US and Iran reach a new nuclear agreement, Israel will request new military compensation from Washington — including technologies that have not previously been exported to Israel, sources say. – Breaking Defense  

There is a diplomatic push to find a resolution to prevent another Gaza escalation, or even war, by removing some of the points of conflict between Israel and Hamas. – Jerusalem Post 

The ambassadors of Germany and France boycotted the US Embassy in Jerusalem’s annual Fourth of July celebrations earlier this month because the countries do not recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, a report said Tuesday. – Times of Israel  

Israel wants foreign aid to Gaza disbursed through a voucher system, as a safeguard against donations being diverted to bolster the Palestinian enclave’s Hamas rulers and their arsenal, a government minister said on Tuesday. – Reuters 

Israel on Tuesday signed its first cooperation agreements with the United Arab Emirates in the field of agriculture, further expanding the 2020 Abraham Accords normalizing relations between the two countries. – Times of Israel 

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett spoke Tuesday with Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro for the first time since taking office last month, with the two extending invites to each other for mutual visits, the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) said. – Times of Israel 

Egyptian mediators are optimistic that Israel and Hamas will soon implement the first stage of a prisoner exchange between the two sides, a critical step in stabilizing the fragile Gaza ceasefire, the pro-Hamas Lebanese daily al-Akhbar reported on Tuesday. – Times of Israel 

During Foreign Minister Yair Lapid’s meeting with his European Union counterparts on Monday, Israel and the EU moved closer toward agreeing on restoring a key annual bilateral forum that hasn’t taken place since 2012, sources inside the room told The Times of Israel. – Times of Israel 

A high-profile French diplomatic delegation will visit Israel next week to meet with the country’s new government to advance ties between the two countries and discuss shared interests between the Jewish state and Europe. – Algemeiner 

In the run-up to the 2015 nuclear deal between Iran and world powers, Eyal Hulata, the new national security adviser to Prime Minister Naftali Bennett, held the opinion that the accord was the lesser evil when compared to no deal at all, The Times of Israel has learned. – Times of Israel 

Herb Keinon writes: But here is the hard truth about Israel-Turkey ties: A true reboot of the relationship will only come about when Turkey finally gets a new leader, not when Israel does. And even when that day comes, it will take time to rebuild the trust because Erdogan has succeeded – through his constant demonization of Israel – in turning many of his countrymen against the Jewish state. – Jerusalem Post 


A fire caused by an exploding oxygen canister killed at least 86 people in a hospital treating Covid-19 patients in southern Iraq late Monday in the second lethal blaze in a coronavirus facility in the country in less than three months, according to Iraqi officials. – Wall Street Journal 

A senior Iranian Revolutionary Guard commander urged Iraqi Shi’ite militias to step up attacks on U.S. targets during a meeting in Baghdad last week, three militia sources and two Iraqi security sources familiar with the gathering said. – Reuters 

Iraq has picked China’s state-run CNCEC to build an oil refinery at the port of Fao on the Gulf, the oil ministry said on Tuesday. The refinery in Fao will have a 300,000 barrel-per-day capacity and will include a petrochemical plant, the ministry added in a statement. – Reuters  


Hezbollah released a new video of the 2006 attack and abduction of IDF soldiers Sgt. Eldad Regev and Sgt. Ehud Goldwasser.  – Jerusalem Post 

Lebanese riot police have fired teargas and scuffled with protesters and relatives of those who died in last year’s Beirut port blast amid growing anger at what they call the obstruction of an investigation into one of the largest non-nuclear explosions in history. – The Guardian  

The families of vulnerable children in Lebanon have started receiving UNICEF cash handouts in U.S. dollars as the U.N. children’s fund seeks to put a stop to hefty losses in aid due to unfavourable exchange rates at Lebanese banks. – Reuters 

Arabian Peninsula

Saudi Arabia’s crown prince pledged five years ago to unshackle the economy from oil by 2020. But as the world’s top crude exporter seeks to maintain growth and generate jobs, the kingdom is redoubling its commitment to hydrocarbons and veering away from greener energy sources. – Wall Street Journal 

An explosion Wednesday in Saudi Arabia struck what authorities described as an ammunition dump containing “unserviceable munitions.” Videos showed sparks, flames and smoke shooting out of a desert location southeast of Riyadh near a major air base. – Associated Press 

Fighting raged between Yemen’s government forces and Houthi rebels, killing 320 fighters from both sides in central Bayda province since the weekend, health and security officials said Tuesday. – Associated Press 

Lauren Morganbesser writes: For the time being, it appears that the war in Yemen is not coming to an end. As the stalemate drags on, the losers of the conflict are the Yemeni people, who suffer from widespread malnutrition and disease in one of the greatest humanitarian disasters in the world. Biden’s strategy for now does not appear to be ending the conflict, prompting the question: Will the war in Yemen ever end? – Jerusalem Post 

Gulf States

Trade threatens to become the latest flashpoint in the economic and strategic rivalry between Riyadh and Abu Dhabi and risks adding to tensions in the six-nation Gulf Co-operation Council after Saudi Arabia imposed new tariffs on imports from its neighbours. – Financial Times 

The United Arab Emirates on Wednesday formally inaugurated its embassy in Israel, capping a process that began with an agreement to normalize diplomatic relations nearly a year ago. – Times of Israel 

Qatar said Tuesday that it has been given a preliminary green light by a UN body on a proposal to control its own airspace, months after resolving a rift with its neighbors. – Agence France-Presse 

In the recent years, the London-based Qatari daily Al-Quds Al-Arabi has taken a virulently anti-Israel and antisemitic line. Since its founding in 1989 by Palestinian businessman ‘Abd Al-Bari ‘Atawan, who lives in London, the paper has been known for its harshly critical stance against Israel and its allies and support for terror organizations such as Hamas, Hizbullah and even Al-Qaeda. – Middle East Media Research Institute 

Alessandra Bocchi writes: Washington should also use its relations with Qatar and the United Arab Emirates to pressure them to end their proxy fight in Libya. Qatar backs the western government and Islamist militias associated with the Muslim Brotherhood, and has an extensive media outreach in the West to advance its interests. The U.A.E. has given money to the eastern government and Gen. Haftar’s army. Mr. Biden shouldn’t repeat Mr. Obama’s mistake, but the election is his opportunity to help clean up the mess the U.S. left a decade ago. – Wall Street Journal 

Robert Mason writes: Sultan Haitham will be looking to maximize inward investment while continuing to leverage Oman’s geostrategic location to guarantee its security and punch above its weight in regional and international affairs. But, facing internal and external challenges simultaneously will diminish the economic and foreign policy options available to him and his government as he seeks to quicken the pace of diversification. – Middle East Institute 

Middle East & North Africa

The US-led coalition that is continuing efforts against ISIS has faced new challenges in Iraq and Syria in recent months. Among these are continuing drone and rocket attacks likely carried out by pro-Iranian militias. In early July, the attacks were taking place several times a week and had expanded to include threats to US forces in Syria. – Jerusalem Post 

The Foreign Ministry is in talks with Morocco to arrange an official visit by Foreign Minister Yair Lapid to the Arab nation, diplomatic sources told the Times of Israel Tuesday. – Times of Israel 

Seth J. Frantzman writes: Drone-swarming technology and AI may perform well in Israel’s theaters of conflict, similar to the one Turkey found in Libya. The question is what happens when it comes up against more complex near-peer enemies. […]Nevertheless, as drone-swarm technology and artificial intelligence come to influence future battlefields, the recent conflict in Gaza – along with Turkey’s role in Libya and Iran’s attacks on Saudi Arabia – may be seen as precursors to the next big artificial-intelligence-driven conflict. – Jerusalem Post 

Karen E. Young writes: The transition is propelling opportunity for a small set of actors, especially the UAE and Saudi Arabia, which will empower their own view of winners and losers, and those most deserving of their investment and attention within the Middle East and North Africa. It would be better now for the U.S. to engage these states in a regional approach to achieve both its goals of stability and economic development in the region, and its aspirations on climate change. – Middle East Institute 

Korean Peninsula

North Korea is facing its worse food shortages in more than a decade, it said in a report to the United Nations, giving the world notice Pyongyang is bracing for one of its biggest domestic challenges since Kim Jong Un took power. – Bloomberg 

Bruce Klingner writes: Despite previous North Korean rejections of aid, Washington should again offer to provide medical and humanitarian assistance, while maintaining sanctions until the regime ceases the nuclear and missile activity that triggered the sanctions response. Would Kim accept the offer? Probably not. While the North Korean people suffer, he still enjoys a life of luxury. Still, it is an offer worth making. – Fox News 

William Jeynes writes: There is a third door of opportunity as well, that is probably the most obvious one. That is, the meetings former President Donald Trump had with Kim Jong-un provided a certain degree of momentum that must not be lost, especially in the name of simply doing the opposite of what the previous political party did. Whatever the developing situations at this time in North Korea, this is not the time for America’s leaders to sit and watch. Rather, it is a time to embrace the opportunities and seek to move relations with North Korea forward rather than, by lack of inertia, to allow the situation to go backward. – The National Interest 

Soo Kim writes: Against the current backdrop of U.S.-China competition for influence, Beijing may perceive its North Korea card to be even more useful in undercutting Washington’s efforts to address perennial security challenges and contend for clout in the region. Therefore, the Biden administration may be met with Beijing’s intransigence in the follow-through on sanctions implementation and utilizing its diplomatic leverage over Pyongyang to persuade Kim to adhere to international norms and laws. – The National Interest 


Mr. Eli’s fate brings to life an overlooked element of China’s suppression of ethnic minorities in Xinjiang: the arrests of elite Uyghur business owners whose wealth and commercial interests enabled them to act as a bridge between Chinese authorities and Uyghur civil society. Some scholars saw them as helping narrow the economic gap between China’s Han majority and Xinjiang’s mostly Muslim ethnic minorities—a disparity that has fueled tensions in the strategically vital but fractious northwestern region. – Wall Street Journal 

China will launch a national emissions-trading program on Friday, according to people familiar with the matter, creating the world’s largest carbon market and doubling the share of global emissions covered under such programs. – Wall Street Journal 

When, on Monday, a hotel in the Chinese city of Suzhou abruptly collapsed, killing at least 17 people, some Chinese users were quick to point out the irony online, citing other recent safety lapses in the country. But pro-government leaders and the party faithful doubled down, comparing the efficiency of the American and Chinese rescue efforts. – Washington Post 

The U.S. State Department said on Tuesday the United States would continue to hold Hong Kong authorities accountable for the erosion of rule of law in the territory. – Reuters 

Joe Biden’s administration is poised to warn US companies of the rising risks of operating in Hong Kong as China asserts more control over the financial hub. – Financial Times 

China said on Tuesday it opposed the United States interfering in its internal affairs, in response to a report that Washington will warn U.S. companies of risks of operating in Hong Kong. – Reuters 

China on Tuesday denounced an appeal by Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen for a U.S.-European “unified front” against Chinese “unfair economic practices” and human rights abuses. – Associated Press 

Chinese state media outlets have criticized the U.S. over discussions for a digital trade agreement among Indo-Pacific economies, calling them a bid to protect American hegemony and the profits of tech companies. – Bloomberg 

Six months into his presidency, Joe Biden is revealing a hard-edged China policy that suggests relations between the world’s two biggest economies are only going to get worse. – Bloomberg 

Chinese official has laughed off accusations of human rights abuses including continuing genocidal policies against Uyghurs in northwestern China, calling a new U.S. State Department report a “a piece of waste paper.” – Newsweek 

Kurt Tong writes: The contradiction in Hong Kong’s political and economic circumstances reflects the fact that politics only narrowly affects the core incentives that guide financial and business decisions. The gravitational pull of large economies is a powerful force—maybe even strong enough to resist the growing antagonism between China and the West. – Foreign Affairs 

Paul Wolfowitz and Bill Drexel write: Our country has become largely desensitized to its largest conglomerates habitually selling out to a brutal dictatorship. American corporations which want to demonstrate their independence from PRC pressure — or their willingness to stand up to it — can do so by supporting the many China commentators being silenced and harassed by the CCP. Even Lenin wasn’t cynical enough to think that democracies would sell out their freedom of speech. It is high time that companies with integrity began to stand up. – CNBC 

Joseph Bosco writes: Those who have worked with Campbell and believe they know his personal views describe him as a “friend” of Taiwan. Yet, Beijing can be expected to pocket what is on the public record. Washington’s coyness about defending Taiwan and the recent Milley-Campbell remarks encourage China to continue preparing for a military showdown that it expects the Biden administration to avoid or sidestep — and they explain Beijing’s expectation that its relentless pressure on Taipei, Washington and Tokyo ultimately will succeed. – The Hill


The Afghan way of war in 2021 comes down to this: a watermelon vendor on a sweltering city street, a government Humvee at the front line just 30 feet away, and Taliban fighters lurking unseen on the other side of the road. – Washington Post 

A high-powered Afghan government delegation, which will include the head of the country’s reconciliation council, is to meet the Taliban in Doha to jump-start a long-stalled peace process, an Afghan official said Tuesday. – Associated Press  

Taliban fighters on Wednesday said they have gained control over an important trade route linking Pakistan with southern Afghanistan, hours after Afghan forces surrendered the critical transit point to the Islamist hardline insurgent group. – Reuters 

The Afghan government says it has repelled a Taliban attack on a strategic border point into Pakistan, rejecting claims by the militants that they had captured the crossing amid a string of territorial gains ahead of a deadline next month for the pullout of U.S. troops from the war-wracked country. – Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty 

More Afghans are likely to flee their homes due to escalating violence, the U.N. refugee agency warned on Tuesday, as the Taliban take control of more territory in response to the withdrawal of U.S.-led foreign forces. – Reuters 

Britain will work with the Taliban should they enter the government in Afghanistan, British Defence Minister Ben Wallace told the Daily Telegraph in an interview published on Tuesday. – Reuters 

France on Tuesday urged all its citizens to leave Afghanistan immediately given growing security risks, and is arranging a special weekend evacuation flight. – Associated Press 

As the Taliban surge through northern Afghanistan — a traditional stronghold of U.S.-allied warlords and an area dominated by the country’s ethnic minorities — thousands of families like Sakina’s are fleeing their homes, fearful of living under the insurgents’ rule. – Associated Press 

The Taliban do not want to battle government forces inside Afghanistan’s cities and would rather see them surrender, a senior insurgent leader said Tuesday, as the militants also warned Turkey against extending its troop presence. – Agence France-Presse 

The U.S. position is that with American troops gone, the Afghan government, supported by a U.S.-equipped, 300,000 strong military force, will be able to negotiate a sustainable and lasting peace with the Taliban from a position of strength. Meanwhile, the Taliban, racking up battlefield gains and flushed with success, smell all-out victory and are making no moves to restart the moribund peace talks in Doha. – Washington Examiner 

South Asia

Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan has come under fire from politicians and commentators for his praise of China’s autocratic one-party system, which he said offered a better model for countries compared to electoral democracy. – Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty  

Israel Aerospace Industries has announced the sale of dozens of counter-UAV Drone Guard systems to an unnamed South Asian country. – Defense News 

The family of Danny Fenster, a U. S. journalist who has been detained in Myanmar since May, is raising concerns about his health, as Covid-19 levels surge across the country. – CNBC 


In unusually blunt terms, Japan on Tuesday warned that military posturing by Beijing and Washington over Taiwan was posing a threat to its security. – New York Times 

President Joe Biden’s nominee to be the next U.S. ambassador to Vietnam vowed at his Senate nomination hearing on Tuesday to boost security ties with Hanoi while seeking equitable market access and pressing Hanoi to respect human rights. – Reuters 

Four foreign electricians engaged in maintenance works for the Tokyo Olympic Games have been arrested for allegedly using cocaine, the Tokyo metropolitan police said on Tuesday. – Reuters 

The governments of Japan and the United Kingdom are discussing a potential joint programme to develop aero-engine technologies that will power Japan’s next-generation F-X fighter aircraft, officials have confirmed to Janes. – Jane’s 360 

The Philippines’ defence minister on Tuesday ordered the military to investigate a report by a U.S.-based tech firm that hundreds of Chinese vessels were dumping sewage into contested areas of the South China Sea. – Reuters 

China’s military is gaining ground on the United States and threatening to overpower Taiwan, according to an unprecedented warning from Japanese defense officials. – Washington Examiner 

The United States rejects China’s “unlawful” maritime claims in the South China Sea and stands with Southeast Asian nations faced with Beijing’s “coercion”, Secretary of State Antony Blinken said on Wednesday. – Reuters 


Russia has strongly warned the United States against deploying its troops in the former Soviet Central Asian nations following their withdrawal from Afghanistan, a senior diplomat said in remarks published on Tuesday. – Associated Press 

Chancellor Angela Merkel and President Joe Biden hold talks at the White House on Thursday that experts say are unlikely to yield major breakthroughs on divisive issues like a Russian gas pipeline to Germany and a U.S. push to counterbalance China. – Reuters 

The Russian government sees itself as increasingly vulnerable to foreign and domestic subversion, according to a July 3 update to the Kremlin’s 2015 national security strategy, and is moving to shield Russian citizens from outside voices and improve its influence-warfare capabilities. – Defense One 

Tom Rogan writes: The West would do well to pay attention to this rhetoric. It speaks to Putin’s rising tolerance for escalation and growing disinterest in compromise. If the West truly values Ukraine’s democratic sovereignty and the principle of European territorial inviolability, it will have to make sure Putin understands that. – Washington Examiner 

Pierre Morcos and Cyrus Newlin write: Country-specific differences notwithstanding, the lesson the United States can learn from France is that a dialogue with Russia on cyber issues can fulfill goals short of halting Russian cyber misconduct. Such a discrete and frank dialogue provides an important forum to be more specific about standards of attribution and redlines, to identify and build relationships with the relevant officials overseeing cyber in Russia, and to manage cyberspace escalation in the event of a crisis. – Center for Strategic and International Studies 


France’s Competition Authority fined Google $593 million for allegedly violating orders to negotiate paid deals with news publishers, raising pressure on the company in a global fight over how and whether tech companies should pay for news. – Wall Street Journal 

Britain’s top domestic spymaster cautioned the population on Wednesday to treat the threat of spying from Russia and China as vigilantly as terrorism, warning that foreign spies were seeking to steal technology, sow discord and attack infrastructure. – Reuters  

The German chancellor is making her 19th and likely final official visit to the U.S. on Thursday for a meeting with President Joe Biden — her fourth American president — as she nears the end of her 16-year tenure. – Associated Press 

British lawmakers voted on Tuesday to support a contentious cut to the U.K.’s foreign aid budget, a move that has slashed billions from programs helping some of the world’s poorest people. – Associated Press 

U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai and her British counterpart Liz Truss agreed to continue working to strengthen bilateral ties in a meeting in Washington on Tuesday, Tai’s office said in a statement. – Reuters 

Lithuania’s parliament on Tuesday approved the mass detention of migrants and curbed their right of appeal, a move meant to deter high numbers crossing the border with Belarus but which stirred an outcry among humanitarian groups. – Reuters 

A top Polish court postponed a ruling on whether the constitution takes precedence over EU treaties on Tuesday, in a case that could bring Warsaw’s conflict with Brussels over the rule of law to a head. – Reuters 

Hopes have been rising that Germany and the US might finally be close to resolving their differences over Nord Stream 2, the pipeline bringing Russian gas to Europe. This week, Angela Merkel went out of her way to damp them down. – Financial Times 

The European Union is set to transform every corner of its economy — from how people heat their home to the cars they drive — as the bloc uses a massive overhaul of rules to position itself as a global leader on climate change. – Bloomberg 

When Joe Biden met with Vladimir Putin last month, the U.S. president set an example to Europe. Just not the example he might have anticipated. As Biden held talks with his Russian counterpart in Geneva, Europe found itself in the surreal position of having to sit around and wait for a U.S. debrief on issues of direct relevance to the continent, according to a diplomat with knowledge of German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s thinking. – Bloomberg 

Constanze Stelzenmüller writes: But both are far more focused on fighting straw men of their own invention, such as the notion that the US is trying to force Europe to “decouple” from China. In reality, it is China that is decoupling from the west. Trump’s raging hostility forced Germany to examine the unhealthy aspects of its dependency on America. Biden, in contrast, treats Germany as a peer nation. It almost seems as though that is too much for Germans to handle. – Financial Times 


Violence and looting in parts of South Africa, triggered by the arrest of former President Jacob Zuma, are broadening to reflect more deep-seated problems in the continent’s most developed economy, where a third pandemic lockdown is exacerbating economic pain and joblessness that has disproportionately affected the poor. – Wall Street Journal 

Jamaica is preparing to request compensation from Britain over its role in the transatlantic slave trade in the 17th and 18th centuries — when at least 600,000 Africans were shipped to the Caribbean as enslaved people — Jamaican officials told Reuters. – Washington Post 

Forces in Ethiopia’s Tigray pushed deeper into land claimed by neighbouring Amhara region on Tuesday, prompting its leaders – allies of the central government – to urge local militia to arm themselves and mobilise. – Reuters 

The Tigray leaders have rejected a unilateral cease-fire that Ethiopia’s government announced as its soldiers retreated from Mekele, and they have vowed to chase “enemies” out of the rest of the Tigray region. With the retreat of Ethiopian and Eritrean forces, that means fighting against forces from the neighboring Amhara region who seized large parts of western and southern Tigray during the eight-month war. – Associated Press 

Witnesses say thousands of Tigrayans are being detained and their businesses closed in cities across Ethiopia in a new wave of ethnic targeting by authorities over the eight-month conflict in the Tigray region. – Associated Press 

The head of the UN refugee agency says he has received “credible and corroborated reports of reprisal attacks, abductions, arrests and violence meted out against Eritrean refugees for their perceived affiliation with one side or the other throughout this bloody conflict”. – BBC 

Security forces in South Africa are struggling to contain spreading unrest, with dozens dead after violent scenes that President Cyril Ramaphosa admitted have “rarely [been] seen before in the history of our democracy”. – Financial Times 

The Americas

Barely a week after withdrawing nearly all U.S. forces from Afghanistan, President Biden faces, in Haiti, a strikingly similar dilemma, now much closer to home. – New York Times  

Colombian officials have said that their investigation into their citizens’ involvement in the assassination plot is focused on Germán Alejandro Rivera, a retired captain, who they say appears to have been a primary contact for the U.S.-based recruiters. – New York Times 

Teachers and religious leaders, lawyers and farmers, they are veterans of crisis who thought they had seen it all in recent years, looking on in outrage as the democracy they were fighting for was whittled away, gutted under the watch of President Jovenel Moïse. – New York Times 

A troubled past of foreign military intervention has made many Haitians anxious or hostile to calls requesting U.S. or other foreign troops be sent to the Caribbean nation in the aftermath of last week’s assassination of the President Jovenel Moise. – Reuters 

U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas on Tuesday warned would-be migrants from Cuba and Haiti against trying to reach the United States illegally by sea, saying the voyage was too dangerous and they will not be allowed to enter. – Reuters 

Two U.S. government sources on Tuesday identified the former Drug Enforcement Administration informant accused of taking part in the assassination of Haitian President Jovenel Moise as Joseph Vincent, 55, of Florida. – Reuters 

The United States sent a small number of personnel to shore up security at its embassy in Haiti after the assassination of President Jovenel Moise, three U.S. officials said on Tuesday. – Reuters 

The International Monetary Fund and Argentine Economy Minister Martin Guzman flagged “progress” in debt talks after meetings between the two sides in Italy concluded, with the country looking to revamp the roughly $45 billion it owes the Fund. – Reuters 

Editorial: Now, in addition to an absence of basic security, Haiti is faced with a power vacuum in which at least four men have staked a claim to its government; no constitutional road map exists for installing an interim president; and the national police and army, which have proved powerless or complicit in the rising gang violence, report to no one. No agreed-upon blueprint has emerged in Haiti to extricate the nation from its mayhem. Without international intervention, the country’s ordeal will deepen. – Washington Post 

Latin America

The protesters pouring into streets across Cuba have a common rallying cry: “Patria y Vida,” or “Fatherland and Life.” The phrase comes from a hip-hop song released a few months ago by dissident Cuban artists who set out to challenge the government—and in the process helped spark a wave of protests against the 62-year communist regime. – Wall Street Journal 

Cuba has restricted access to social media and messaging platforms including Facebook and WhatsApp, global internet monitoring firm NetBlocks said on Tuesday, in the wake of the biggest anti-government protests in decades. – Reuters 

The United States and the United Kingdom on Tuesday condemned the detention of Venezuelan opposition politician Freddy Guevara, who faces charges of terrorism and treason following his arrest on a Caracas highway on Monday. – Reuters 

Spanish Foreign Minister Jose Manuel Albares called on Cuba on Tuesday to immediately release Camila Acosta, a journalist detained in Havana on Monday after covering civil unrest in the country for Spanish newspaper ABC. – Reuters 

Russia, China and Iran have warned the United States that it must not intervene in Cuba after the island was rocked by major protests for which U.S. President Joe Biden cast his support. – Newsweek 

Latin American governments have split along ideological lines over widespread protests in Cuba, with Mexico’s president blaming the U.S. embargo for fomenting the unrest while Chile and Peru urged the Cuban government to allow pro-democracy protests. – Reuters 

The U.S. State Department on Tuesday called for calm in Cuba and said it was concerned by images of violence it had seen in the past few days. – Reuters 

 Editorial: As the world’s attention moves away from Cuba and its Sunday protests, we shouldn’t forget the brave individuals being rounded up and brutalized by the government of Miguel Díaz-Canel. His crackdown has been vicious. Cuban police in riot gear, military troops and paramilitary groups have been unleashed on civilians and the press trying to chronicle events. Thanks to cell-phone technology, much of this ugly stuff is available for the world to witness. – Wall Street Journal 

United States

The United Nations decided on Tuesday to set up a panel of experts to investigate systemic racism in policing against people of African descent, adding international weight to demands in the United States for accountability for police killings of African Americans, and reparations for victims. – New York Times 

President Joe Biden on Tuesday nominated Alan Estevez, a former Pentagon official, to be the U.S. Commerce Department’s undersecretary for industry and security, a key post in the U.S.-China tech battle. – Reuters 

The House Appropriations Committee advanced a bill for Department of Homeland Security funding Tuesday that would allocate millions toward technologies for surveilling immigrants. – The Hill  

Zachary Faria writes: Biden can’t really do anything to stop the WHO from promoting dictators or spreading Chinese propaganda. He has shown that he will commit U.S. taxpayer dollars to the WHO regardless of what they do. There is no threat of him walking away from the table. He has no leverage to influence WHO policies or procedures or hold WHO officials accountable for their failures during the pandemic. – Washington Examiner 


Just days after President Biden demanded that President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia shut down ransomware groups attacking American targets, the most aggressive of the groups suddenly went off-line early Tuesday. – New York Times 

Top U.S. and international security officials called Tuesday for new partnerships to oppose China’s burgeoning influence over emerging technologies and standards for their use. – C4ISRNET 

If the United States is going to bring allies together to set norms  around new technologies like AI, they’ll have to address concerns about privacy, said Jake Sullivan, the national security advisor to U.S. President Joe Biden, said on Tuesday. – Defense One 

Ivana Stradner writes: Above all, the United States should learn from history. It was successful nuclear deterrence, not the United Nations, that prevented a Cold War apocalypse. Russia, China and non-state actors — all of which routinely violate international law — will not abide by any reasonable treaty system; they will use it, instead, to tie the hands of their rivals. But the United States can stop them from launching cyberattacks by vigorously pursuing new offensive and defensive cyber-capabilities. – Washington Post  

Robert H Bishop writes: If the right steps are taken, we can position them as vital contributors to a new era of conflict —one that trades combat boots for coding. We have an opportunity now to shape the future of our defense ecosystem. As the battlefield becomes increasingly complicated, sophisticated and digital, we must expand the weapons in our arsenal to include less-than-lethal options for the new age of warfare. – The Hill 


President Joe Biden’s pick to lead the Navy voiced strong support Tuesday for plans to maintain a 355-ship Navy but also acknowledged that reaching that goal will require “additional resources” from Congress in coming years. – Military Times

The U.S. Navy and the Pentagon’s Strategic Capabilities Office are making the most of the remaining months of their partnership on the Ghost Fleet Overlord unmanned surface vessel program, taking lessons learned from two recent voyages across the Panama Canal and upping the ante by putting these vessels into fleet exercises and operations. – Defense News 

In a new report, members of the House Appropriations Committee raised concerns that the U.S. Space Force has failed to take substantial action on reforming space acquisitions. – C4ISRNET 

A dozen of President Joe Biden’s senior national security nominees — including his pick to lead the Air Force — are stalled in the Senate because multiple senators have placed procedural holds on their confirmations, Defense News has learned. – Defense News 

President Joe Biden’s nominee to serve as the Navy’s top civilian had a congenial confirmation hearing on Tuesday before the Senate Armed Services Committee, with the nominee echoing calls for a larger fleet to balance out a rising China. – USNI News 

The next pair of ships slated for the Navy and the Pentagon’s test program for autonomous ships are under construction on the Gulf Coast and set to join the service next year, defense officials told reporters on Tuesday. – USNI News 

US company Volansi and its new CEO, Will Roper, plan in 2021 to demonstrate the Voly M20 autonomous hybrid-electric unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) for US Air Force Special Operations Command (AFSOC). – Jane’s 360 

Bryan Clark and Dan Patt write: The Pentagon should not give up on future weapons and platforms, but innovations delivering in the 2030s or 2040s will be irrelevant if U.S. forces fail to prevent Chinese or Russian aggression during the next decade. With the window of potential Chinese adventurism now opening, Pentagon leaders must accept they missed their opportunity to maintain a persistent military advantage and focus on doing the most with the force they have. Enabling theater commanders to compose and integrate forces is the best approach to create the adaptability and complexity that could deter aggression. – Defense News 

Long War

The U.S. war against al-Shabaab, conducted largely behind a veil of secrecy since 2007, remains in limbo as Mr. Biden weighs his national-security priorities and wrestles with the last-minute decisions of his predecessor. – Wall Street Journal 

Ahmed Jibril, one of the most extreme of the Palestinian militants who opposed Israel in the 1970s and ’80s and the leader of a group that was responsible for a series of airplane hijackings, kidnappings and attacks, died on July 7 in Damascus, Syria. He was 84. – New York Times

At least 10 people, including at least six Chinese nationals and two Pakistani soldiers, were killed in a blast targeting a bus in a remote region of northern Pakistan on Wednesday, multiple sources told Reuters, adding that the toll could rise. – Reuters 

The Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) movement called on Tuesday for Palestinians to respond to a string of home demolitions which were ordered by Israel in the past week in Jerusalem which it called “terrorism that targets Jerusalemites.” – Jerusalem Post 

A visiting congressional delegation expressed their disapproval over payments to terrorists and their families during a meeting in Ramallah with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas last week, several members of Congress told The Times of Israel Tuesday. – Times of Israel 

At least a dozen men are seen shot to death amid cries of “Allahu Akhbar” — God is Great. The victims were members of an Afghan Special Forces unit: their executioners, the Taliban. The summary killings took place on June 16 in the town of Dawlat Abad in Faryab province, close to Afghanistan’s border with Turkmenistan. – CNN