Fdd's overnight brief

July 2, 2021

In The News


Iran has been restricting U.N. nuclear inspectors’ access to its main uranium enrichment plant at Natanz, citing security concerns after what it says was an attack on the site by Israel in April, diplomats say. – Reuters 

Iran’s supreme leader promoted a hardline cleric to serve as head of the judiciary on Thursday, amid international calls for investigations into allegations of abuses. – Reuters 

Recent US air strikes on Iran-backed militias in Syria are unlikely to deter Iran from further attacks, a defense think tank assessed on Thursday. The air strikes, which took place on June 27, were directed against Iran-backed militias along the Syrian-Iraqi border, following an attack on a US military base. – Algemeiner

Some parties to the Iran nuclear talks need more time before resuming negotiations in Vienna and a new round is unlikely before next week, Russia’s envoy said on Thursday. – Reuters

At a ceremony for the unveiling of the Iranian-made COVID-19 vaccine, Hossein Salami, commander of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), said that Iran had chosen to be among the leading countries of the world in all things and all matters. – Middle East Media Research Institute  

Iran Foreign Ministry Spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh said Thursday that the details of vaccine imports which Foreign Minister Mohammad-Javad Zarif has personally been involved in some cases will not be disclosed as it involves evasion of sanctions. – Iran International 

Conservative newspaper Jomhouri Eslami warned Iran’s leaders Thursday in its lead front-page story over “the presence of Taliban terrorists along Iran’s eastern borders.” It criticized media outlets and “decision-making centers” for playing down the threat. – Iran International 

Michael Rubin writes: While Iranians do not seek intervention, the goal of any U.S. administration should be to do nothing that would preserve the revolutionary system. Still, it is crucial to approach Iran’s transition with realism rather than a Pollyannaish notion of a pro-Western public waiting to embrace America. Iranians eventually will win their democracy, but it will be a long transition colored by history with a prickliness that will make French and Turkish nationalism seem easy-going. – The National Interest


President Biden’s decision Sunday to launch airstrikes against Iranian-backed militias in Iraq and Syria demonstrated how the administration plans to handle attacks on American troops and facilities in the region: The U.S. will respond forcefully even if no American personnel are killed or injured, a lower bar for retaliation than was employed by the Trump administration, U.S. officials said. – Washington Post 

The diplomatic isolation of the regime is the ideal setting for the continued prosecution of Israel’s air campaign against the Iranian infrastructure in Syria. This campaign is designed to degrade and slow Iran’s efforts, presumably in the hope of reaching deterrence with the Iranian project in Syria, of a type which has arguably been achieved in Lebanon. – Jerusalem Post 

Rabih Torbay and Dr. Zaher Sahloul write: Year after year, political and geostrategic interests have interfered in the availability and delivery of aid and contributed to a worsening humanitarian situation in Syria. This is reprehensible and unconscionable. The UN Security Council must vote to renew the Syria cross-border resolution. The international community has largely let down the Syrian people for 10 years. Let’s change that. – The Hill 

Charles Thépaut writes: These negotiations have become a recurring flash point of the Syrian war drama: While the council’s members generally support the mandate, Russia has regularly used its veto power to decrease the number of border crossings U.N. agencies can use, to the point where only one, Bab al-Hawa, remains open today. – Foreign Policy


Women marched in Istanbul and other cities late Thursday to protest Turkey’s formal exit from a European treaty aimed at preventing violence against women, saying the move stripped them of critical protection at a time when femicides are on the rise. – Washington Post 

The United States on Thursday added Turkey to a list of countries that are implicated in the use of child soldiers over the past year, placing a NATO ally for the first time in such a list, in a move that is likely to further complicate the already fraught ties between Ankara and Washington. – Reuters 

Turkey’s top court has ruled that the rights of a pro-Kurdish former lawmaker were violated by his detention on terrorism charges, opening the way for his release and restoration of his parliamentary status, broadcaster Haberturk said on Thursday. – Reuters 

Bobby Ghosh writes: Macron, for example, is employing a mutual suspicion of Erdogan’s ambitions to strengthen French ties to the Arab world. He has also been talking up the Turkish threat to French democracy, warning that Ankara will use misinformation campaigns to influence the presidential elections next year. – Bloomberg


Israel’s new government reached a deal with leaders of an unauthorized settlement in the occupied West Bank that would see them evacuate the site, a temporary solution for an issue that has sharply divided the country’s ruling coalition. – Wall Street Journal 

Israeli fighter jets struck a weapons manufacturing site in Gaza overnight in response to incendiary balloons launched over the frontier into Israel, the military said early Friday. There were no immediate reports of casualties from the strike, which the military said targeted a facility used by the Islamic militant group Hamas to research and develop weapons. – Associated Press 

Yaakov Katz writes: The media front impacts the IDF’s ability to continue its operations no less than when a rocket strikes a home in Ashkelon or Sderot. One is dependent on the other. If there are a high number of casualties from rocket attacks, the operation will escalate; and if there is no international legitimacy due to poor media management, the operation will be shortened. This is why Israel cannot accept a situation in which the IDF and the government continue to neglect the foreign media. – Jerusalem Post

Ariel Beery writes: There is no way to know how the protests will end within the Palestinian Authority, but we can reasonably expect Hamas will work to strengthen its position by attacking Israel. The last round of violence against Israel was launched when Hamas sought to protest the PA’s cancellation of planned elections. This next round of violence will be Hamas’ attempt to put the final nail in the PA. From a policy standpoint, we are unprepared. – Times of Israel

Middle East & North Africa

Lebanon’s economic situation is facing “immediate catastrophe,” according to a top U.S. diplomat, who said the country’s leaders need to demonstrate the will to reform before any external assistance can take place. – CNBC 

The U.S. State Department on Thursday approved a potential sale of heavy tactical vehicles to Kuwait for $445 million. – Defense News

Michael Rubin writes: President Joe Biden entered office promising diplomacy. His administration scrambled military transport to bring emergency medical supplies to India as a devastating COVID-19 crisis struck the world’s largest democracy. Perhaps it is time to recognize that the key to delegitimizing and defeating Iran’s militias in Iraq is through not only symbolic airstrikes but also providing what Tehran cannot. – Washington Examiner

Elana DeLozier writes: Marib matters because it is the Yemen National Army’s last major stronghold in the north, home to much of the country’s resource wealth, and a potential gateway to the south, where the Houthis could directly exploit fissures between the government and the Southern Transitional Council (STC). As a result, many believe the fall of Marib would constitute a point of no return for the conflict. – Washington Institute

Michael Knights writes: Stuck between relentless militia foes and a skeptical Congress, the Biden administration has to find a formula that will work better than the tit-for-tat of the past few months. Having seen during my time in Iraq what does and doesn’t deter these militias, the solution is simple to say, harder to do, but nonetheless essential. – Politico

Korean Peninsula

South Korean President Moon Jae-in exchanged letters exploring prospects for a summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un ahead of his own meeting in May with U.S. President Joe Biden, the South’s JoongAng Ilbo newspaper said on Friday. – Reuters 

In a message of unity with China, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un called out “hostile forces” trying to curb Chinese advancements. To honor the 100th anniversary of the founding of the Chinese Communist Party, Kim sent a message to Chinese President Xi Jinping expressing North Korea’s “firm unity” with China’s ruling party. – Newsweek 

Kim Jong Un’s warning that North Korea faced a “great crisis” over a quarantine breach is raising more questions about what’s going wrong inside his secretive regime. – Bloomberg 

Olivia Enos writes: Severe food insecurity and economic hardship are no doubt destabilizing, and while we don’t know exactly how destabilizing they might be, the United States and its ally South Korea should always be prepared for a humanitarian crisis. Both countries should shore up humanitarian contingency plans and ensure that as they craft these plans, protection of the North Korean people’s human rights lies at the center of the strategy. – Heritage Foundation 

Laura Rockwood, Jaewoo Shin and Matthew Frank write: In evaluating the stability of the North Korean political system, analysts are presented with an unfortunate dilemma. While the omnipresent risk of war and the country’s nuclear arsenal underscore the paramount importance of the question, the opacity of that system makes it exceedingly difficult to answer with any degree of certainty. – The National Interest 

Timo Kivimäki writes: Similarly, the North Korean nuclear weapons could be put behind a North Korean-Chinese dual-key arrangement. These weapons could then only be used for the protection of North Korean sovereign territory under an arrangement in which Chinese and North Korean leaders would both be needed for the authorization of the use of North Korean nuclear weapons. – The National Interest


For a century, the Chinese Communist Party has been a nationalist party. This can be a controversial point today, particularly among those who see the party’s focus on nationalist themes mainly as an instrument to retain power after the tarnishing of Communist ideology. But the reality is much more complicated. The party’s nationalist orientation is embedded in a long, historical line that connects the party of today with the patriotic ferment of the late Qing decline. – Foreign Policy 

In the span of one fateful century, a brief stretch for one of the oldest civilizations on the planet, the Chinese Communist Party has evolved from an intellectual guerilla movement of a few doven revolutionaries to a 95-million-strong titan that commands the world’s largest standing army and soon-to-be top economy. – Newsweek

The United States said on Thursday China’s rapid build-up of its nuclear forces was concerning and called on Beijing to engage with it “on practical measures to reduce the risks of destabilizing arms races.”  – Reuters

Joseph C. Sternberg writes: As China starts to imagine displacing the U.S. as the world’s largest economy, will its trading partners remain so tolerant of its lapses on economic reform, human rights and other matters? Beijing assumes the size of its economy will inoculate it against foreign pressure. But China’s export dependence raises the awkward question of whether that economic mass itself is largely a consequence of the rest of the world’s forbearance, which can be withdrawn. – Wall Street Journal  

Josh Rogin writes: The lesson of the last century was that appeasing aggressive, repressive, expansionist, nationalist, totalitarian dictatorships is more dangerous than confronting them. This July 1 is a stark reminder that we should believe Xi Jinping when he threatens to attack and undermine freedom and democracy — and then we must do more to push back, in Hong Kong, in Taiwan and in our own country. – Washington Post 

Edward Lucas writes: There’s also growing interest in collective security as a way of dealing with Chinese economic power. The new EU-US trade and technology council is a litmus test of such efforts. The British parliamentary China Research Group has a paper proposing a more ambitious Democracies’ Alliance Treaty Organisation (DATO). Any trade sanctions from the party-state would prompt a NATO-style joint response, blunting the impact and imposing countermeasures. – Center for European Policy Analysis 

David Asher writes: In sum, there is an opportunity for a nonpartisan, bicameral initiative, not only to hold Beijing responsible for its gross negligence and noncooperation but to establish a 21st century framework for defending the United States and international partners against the prospect of another devastating pandemic. – Hudson Institute 

Minxin Pei writes: If China resumes dialogue and takes proactive steps to address U.S. concerns, Xi can at least hope to establish a more stable relationship than will be possible under any conceivable Republican alternative. He would be foolish to miss the opportunity. – Bloomberg 

Bill Powell writes: Beijing is more confident than ever of its destiny to supplant the United States (a declining power, in the eyes of the Party) as the world’s preeminent superpower by 2049—precisely one hundred years after the CCP came to power pledging to follow the dictates of Marx, Lenin and Mao, so-called “communism with ‘Chinese characteristics.'” But in practice there’s little 20th-century Communism practiced there. “Totalitarianism with ‘Chinese characteristics,'” is more like it. – Newsweek


The U.S. military has vacated its most significant airfield in Afghanistan, three defense officials said, underscoring that the Pentagon expects to complete its withdrawal from the country after 20 years of war within days. – Washington Post

The State Department named Afghanistan among the countries with the world’s poorest records on human trafficking for the second year in a row, deepening questions about the fate of vulnerable Afghans when the United States withdraws its military forces from the country. – Washington Post

Four decades after the first wave of Afghan refugees fled in the face of a Soviet invasion, and nearly 20 years after a U.S.-led invasion transformed life in the country, humanitarian agencies say they are bracing for another round of displacement in Afghanistan as the Taliban gains territory and Western forces prepare to withdraw. – Washington Post

As US President Joe Biden prepares for the formal withdrawal of American troops from Afghanistan, the man responsible for peace talks between the rampant Taliban and the official Afghan government is not entirely optimistic about the country’s future. – CNN 

The U.S. military will remain involved in the Afghanistan war into September, keeping the option of launching airstrikes against the Taliban to defend Afghan forces, U.S. officials said Thursday, even as the final combat troops prepare to leave the country in coming days. – Associated Press

On the gold and green plains of northern Afghanistan’s Balkh province, the days seem peaceful; the nights are anything but. Once darkness falls, armed gunmen speed out of Taliban-occupied villages like motorcycle gangs on the rampage, charging checkpoints manned by citizen militias intent on protecting themselves from an insurgent onslaught. – Foreign Policy

A catastrophe is unfolding in Afghanistan, where a COVID-19 surge has overwhelmed a public already caught in the cross fire as government forces battle rapidly advancing Taliban militants. – Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty  

Afghans, however, say international forces are leaving a country deeply impoverished, on the brink of another civil war and with a worsening lawlessness that terrifies some more than the advancing Taliban insurgency. The warlords with whom the U.S.-led coalition partnered to oust the Taliban are resurrecting militias with a history of devastating violence to fight the insurgents, who have made gains even in the warlords’ northern strongholds. – Associated Press 

In August 2020, the man who is now U.S. President Joe Biden’s deputy national security advisor, Jonathan Finer, co-wrote a privately circulated memo titled “Ending the ‘Forever Wars.’” Written with two others who have since joined the Biden administration, Christine Abizaid and Brett Rosenberg, the memo laid out a detailed program for extricating the United States from the two-decade-long campaign dubbed the “war on terror” that began on 9/11. – Foreign Policy 

Last week, the United States reiterated its “enduring partnership” with Afghanistan during a visit of Afghan leaders to Washington. It pledged continued security and humanitarian assistance to Kabul as Afghanistan faces a rising tide of Taliban violence amid the withdrawal of international forces and stalled peace talks with the hard-line Islamist group. – Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty 

Robert Burns and Lolita C. Baldort write: The U.S. troop withdrawal doesn’t mean the end of the war on terrorism. The U.S. has made it clear that it retains the authority to conduct strikes against al-Qaida or other terrorist groups in Afghanistan if they threaten the U.S. homeland. – Associated Press

South Asia

China and India have sent tens of thousands of soldiers and advanced military equipment to their disputed border, as troop deployments in the region reach the highest level in decades. – Wall Street Journal 

Plans by Big Tech to foray further into India’s financial sector pose risks for traditional banks as the tech firms have the potential to become dominant players in financial services, the central bank said. – Reuters

U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres urged Myanmar’s military on Thursday to release Nobel Laureate Aung San Suu Kyi and President Win Myint now, a U.N. spokesperson said on Thursday, a day after thousands of other detainees were freed. – Reuters

Sumit Ganguly writes: Late last week, in the small hours of the morning on Sunday, two unmanned aerial vehicles successfully detonated two improvised explosive devices at an Indian Air Force base in Jammu in the disputed territory of Jammu and Kashmir. […]And not surprisingly, given that the base is a mere handful of miles from the border with Pakistan, most observers believe Islamabad was involved—a suspicion that does seem justified given the recent development of Pakistan’s drone program. – Foreign Policy 

Andrew Nachemson writes: On June 1, Myanmar Senior Gen. Min Aung Hlaing, who leads the junta that took power in a February coup, presided over a ceremony to rename a bridge in Mon state, one of seven regions where most inhabitants are not Bamar, the country’s ethnic majority. A civil war has simmered in Myanmar’s borderlands, where ethnic armed groups have fought the central government for greater autonomy and political rights. Myanmar’s military, known as the Tatmadaw, has oppressed ethnic minorities for decades. – Foreign Policy


U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken met with the top diplomats of Uzbekistan and Tajikistan on July 1, with Afghanistan high on the agenda as U.S. forces prepare to exit the war-torn country and Washington seeks Central Asian partners. – Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty 

Two key American allies in the Indo-Pacific region are launching their first joint air force exercises as the United States seeks to assemble a coalition to counter threats from China. – Washington Examiner

Armenia’s opposition alliance, led by former president Robert Kocharyan, has asked the constitutional court to overturn the results of a June 20 election which it lost, the TASS news agency cited the group as saying on Friday. – Reuters

Malaysia’s predominant human trafficking crime is forced labour, the U.S State Department said on Friday, after downgrading the Southeast Asian country to the worst tier in its annual report on human trafficking. – Reuters

The U.S., Japan and Sri Lanka wrapped up the Sri Lanka Cooperation Afloat Readiness and Training (CARAT) exercise on Thursday. The U.S. Navy, the Japanese Maritime Self-Defense Force (JMSDF), and the Navy, Sri Lankan Navy and Air Force participated in the drills, which took place over the course of a week and included two days of subject matter expert exchanges (SMEE) and a five-day sea period. – USNI News

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte said he’s still considering a vice-presidential run in the 2022 elections, again signaling his intention to stay in a top post after his term ends next year. – Bloomberg 

The Australian government is facing fresh calls to repatriate women and children from camps in north-east Syria, with top Red Cross officials warning time is running out “to prevent further distress and suffering”. – The Guardian 

Li-Chen Sim writes: No other Gulf states made it to the list; Saudi Arabia and the UAE are more focused, at least for now, on scaling up production of blue hydrogen (hydrogen derived from natural gas, after which the resulting carbon dioxide is captured and stored). In any case, the hydrogen trade and related investments are likely to open up a promising new dimension in Singapore-Gulf economic engagement. – Middle East Institute 

Akshobh Giridharadas writes: China is pursuing all of these things through its wolf-warrior diplomacy, meeting critiques with corrosive aggressive countering, and not overly concerning itself with international opprobrium. Xi Jinping has made clear that he will secure what the Chinese Communist Party believes are China’s core interests, at all costs, and the rest of the world had better take note. – The National Interest  

Tim Culpan writes: Having decided it actually cares about cybersecurity, and by implementing policies to ensure a coordinated strategy to deal with it, Malaysia’s greatest advantage may not be its own skillset but an ability to leverage stronger allies. For a small country, that’s an effective way to maintain the balance of power in cyberspace. – Bloomberg


Russian President Vladimir Putin has vowed to continue supporting the regime of Belarus’s authoritarian ruler Alyaksandr Lukashenka, which is facing increasing international pressure over its brutal crackdown on dissent in the wake of last year’s disputed election. – Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty 

Kommersant’s popular radio columnist Dmitry Drize wrote then about a vaccination crisis: “If tough measures won’t be taken, we’ll have to introduce a lockdown. It’s also interesting that the vaccination incentive program has also failed. In other words, a political decision needs to be made. – Middle East Media Research Institute  

Aliide Naylor writes: Russian covid wards have not been so badly overrun since last fall. A new covid-19 wave is engulfing the country amid collapsing vaccination efforts, as many Russians simply refuse to be vaccinated with Russian-made vaccines. But there is a darker side to the vaccination process. – Center for European Policy Analysis


Belarusian authorities have thrown open its border with the Europe Union to human trafficking and potential drug smuggling, a top Lithuanian official said, after Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko vowed to punish the 27-nation bloc for sanctions. – Washington Post 

Dutch criticism of Hungary over a new law on LGBT rights reeks of a moral supremacy rooted in a colonial past, Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban said on Friday. – Associated Press

Outgoing German Chancellor Angela Merkel will address Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s cabinet of top ministers during a visit to Britain on Friday, the first time a foreign leader has done so in nearly 25 years. – Reuters

The flagship of Standing NATO Maritime Group 2 entered the Black Sea on Thursday with two more alliance warships set to join the Sea Breeze exercises that started earlier this week, NATO announced. – USNI News

Dalibor Rohac writes: Not only does China remain the focal point of U.S. foreign policy but, unlike during Trump years, the current president is vocal about placing the rule of law, democracy, and human rights at the center of America’s engagement with its allies—something that does not bode well for Orbán’s autocratic practices. Yet just how much leverage Biden’s America has to stop and reverse Hungary’s ongoing Sinicization is an open question, and I am not holding my breath. – The Dispatch 

Berthold Kohler writes: Immediately after taking office, Germany’s new government must therefore send clear signals to the east, to partners as well as to Putin: Germany is interested in better political and economic relations with Russia, but only if Russia’s aggression stops. The West should not tolerate Russia’s current approach, which Putin interprets as weakness and which simply encourages him to continue his ugly litany of invasion, interference, assassination, sabotage, and anti-democratic conspiracy. – Center for European Policy Analysis 

Luke Coffey writes: Georgia cannot join NATO because the Kremlin wants to keep Georgia out of the Alliance more than the Alliance wants Georgia in. NATO and Georgian policymakers can either get creative to chart out a realistic and reasonable path to get Georgia into NATO, or they can continue to allow Russia to veto NATO enlargement. The only question is whether leaders on both sides of the Atlantic have the required creativity and political will to do so. – Middle East Institute 

Eli Lake writes: Yet it’s also important to understand the limits of these international tribunals. They are no substitute for revolution or intervention. It took nearly 30 years for a tribunal to find Stanisic and Simatovic guilty. Had it not been for the Serbian activists who ousted the dictator these men served, they would still be free. – Bloomberg


Many Kenyans view proposed constitutional amendments that are being driven by President Uhuru Kenyatta and opposition leader Raila Odinga as an attempt to influence who’ll become the nation’s next leader, a survey found. – Bloomberg 

The United Nations Security Council will likely meet next week to discuss a dispute between Sudan, Ethiopia and Egypt over a giant dam built by Ethiopia on the Blue Nile, French U.N. Ambassador Nicolas de Riviere said on Thursday. – Reuters

The gunmen who tried to kill a Ugandan minister last month trained in an Islamist rebel camp in Democratic Republic of Congo, police said on Thursday. – Reuters 

After leaving Somalia in December, U.S. forces are “commuting to work” from other parts of Africa and Europe to combat the rising terrorist threat in Somalia and across the region. – USNI News

In many parts of the African continent borders are porous. People cross them to visit their kin and for economic reasons such as herding, farming, fishing, hunting and trading. They are also spaces in which human smuggling, human trafficking, gun-running, terrorism and money laundering take place. – The Conversation 

Adam Taylor writes: The situation in Madagascar comes as rising temperatures are causing new alarm in the United States. Parts of Oregon and Washington state have broken all-time temperature records by large margins, while Canada has also shattered its hot-weather records. – Washington Post

Laird Treiber writes: The United States should look to wrap all these items together in a Strategic Economic Partnership with Africa. This would provide a clear framework from which to track progress on the various related themes. The United States already has an annual strategic dialogue with the AU. Forming a Strategic Economic Partnership would make the new process slightly more formalized and would better incorporate ongoing trade and investment discussions. – Center for Strategic and International Studies

The Americas

Venezuela is preparing to once again lop off zeroes from the national currency in an attempt to simplify daily transactions which sometimes barely fit on a calculator or require swiping cards multiple times to complete a purchase. – Bloomberg

There is currently no political path for launching impeachment proceedings against Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro, the head of the lower house said on Thursday, dashing threats to the under-pressure leader of Latin America’s biggest country. – Reuters

Central American presidential aides, top judges and former presidents were put on a U.S. State Department list on Thursday that names individuals the U.S. government accuses of corruption, obstructing justice, or undermining democracy. – Reuters

Venezuela’s oil exports inched higher in June, boosted by cargoes to Asia and expanded sales of upgraded crude, data from state-run oil firm PDVSA and tanker monitoring showed, as the nation rushed to deliver crude to China ahead of an import tax. – Reuters

United States

The U.S. has won international backing for a global minimum rate of tax as part of a wider overhaul of the rules for taxing international companies, a major step toward securing a final agreement on a key element of the Biden administration’s domestic plans for revenue raising and spending. – Wall Street Journal 

A group of Republican lawmakers asked President Joe Biden to end the “self-inflicted harm” his GOP predecessor, Donald Trump, caused in starting a multi-front trade war with China and European allies. – Bloomberg 

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) raised its projection for U.S. growth in 2021 to seven percent amid recovery from the coronavirus pandemic. The IMF said on Thursday that the economic performance could continue into 2022, during which growth is projected at 4.9 percent. – The Hill 

China and Russia are exploiting their influence at the United Nations as part of a pushback against U.S. interests and to advance their own authoritarian interests on the world stage, according to a new report released Wednesday. – Fox News


Two weeks after President Biden met President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia and demanded that he rein in ransomware attacks on U.S. targets, American and British intelligence agencies on Thursday exposed the details of what they called a global effort by Russia’s military intelligence organization to spy on government organizations, defense contractors, universities and media companies. – New York Times

Chinese-speaking hackers recently targeted the top tiers of the Afghan government, along with the governments of other nearby nations, research published Thursday found. – The Hill

The world’s largest social media network has long been under pressure from lawmakers and civil rights groups to combat extremism on its platforms, including U.S. domestic movements involved in the Jan. 6 Capitol riot when groups supporting former President Donald Trump tried to stop the U.S. Congress from certifying Joe Biden’s victory in the November election. – Reuters

David Ignatius writes: When it comes to Huawei, though, it’s important to avoid blurring issues. It seems clear that the company itself poses a potential national security threat to the United States and its allies if it dominates global 5G telecommunications. The Biden administration has been right to follow Trump in denying Huawei access to sensitive U.S. hardware and software. Maintaining U.S. primacy in key technologies is an absolute priority for whatever administration is in power. – Washington Post 

Mark Pomerleau writes: One of the biggest undertakings for the Army’s cyber operational and training arms in the last two years is shifting the service’s thinking and approach to the broader concept of information advantage. Now, the service is on the heels of making that concept official doctrine. – C4ISRNET


Despite the Navy’s current “procurement pause” regarding the MQ-4C Triton maritime warfare drone, the ongoing upgrades to the platform may point to service plans to configure the drone for major combat on the ocean, and possibly even fire weapons. – The National Interest 

The Italian Navy aircraft carrier Cavour will receive its first F-35B this month after the vessel started certification work in the U.S. earlier this year to host the aircraft. The fighter jet is undergoing final checks at the Cameri air base in Italy, home to the country’s F-35 final assembly and checkout facility, which is due to turn out 90 F-35s for Italy, including 30 F-35Bs. – Defense News

From June 28 to July 9, two German Eurofighter Typhoons are policing the skies over the Black Sea region, side by side with British Typhoons and Romanian MiG-29s. The German Luftwaffe aircraft will rely on maintainers, refuelers and other servicers from Britain’s 121 Expeditionary Air Wing, and the two nations’ jets will scramble in a mixed formation during missions. – Defense News

The U.S. Navy has pulled the plug, for now, on a futuristic weapon that fires projectiles at up to seven times the speed of sound using electricity. – Defense News

The Space Development Agency has launched a handful of demonstration satellites into orbit, which will be used to test critical technologies for a new military-owned proliferated constellation. – C4ISRNET

Lockheed Martin’s F-35 Joint Strike Fighter has emerged victorious in Switzerland’s $6.5 billion fighter competition, beating out entrants from Eurofighter, Dassault and Boeing. – Defense News

Joanna van der Merwe writes: Although the future battlefield and hybrid threats will be characterized by complex threats countered by complex systems, leaders should not lose sight of the comparatively simple steps that can be taken now. The low-hanging fruit that will enhance tactical and operational superiority by effectively listening to, and addressing servicepeople’s educational needs, must have priority. – Center for European Policy Analysis

Katie Tubb writes: American nuclear companies could have much to offer in a world where hundreds of millions of people are still without access to electricity, and where some competitors in the field have questionable commitment to transparent business practices and political freedom. America’s freedom of enterprise is one of its greatest selling points. Rather than doing the work of industry, Congress and the Administration would provide leadership toward a strong future for the nuclear industry by addressing underlying policy problems. – Heritage Foundation 

Long War

The 50-year-old man who stabbed a Hong Kong policeman on the anniversary of the city’s return to Chinese rule on Thursday was a “lone wolf” who committed a terrorist act, Secretary for Security Chris Tang said. – Reuters 

A group of Senate Democrats are repeating demands for the Justice Department and FBI to release key information about the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks that victims hope to use to hold Saudi Arabia accountable for alleged involvement. – The Hill 

Pasar Sherko writes: Thus far, current efforts addressing the ideology of the Islamic State have not been as effective as they could be, partly due to counterterrorism forces’ vague grasp of that ideology. Increasing resources towards counter-radicalization efforts and a better understanding of how to counter this ideological narrative will be key in order to strip the Islamic State of its ability to weave a compelling narrative and radicalize future recruits. – Washington Institute

Salah Uddin Shoaib Choudhury writes: While there is disturbing news about goring relations between Hamas, Hezbollah, Houthis and Iran, there also is extremely alarming news about Pakistani spy agency ISI’s latest bids of helping Hamas in going international by recruiting those foreign fighters who fought against Israel in establishing an international terrorist outfit copying Al Qaeda and Islamic State. – Times of Israel