Fdd's overnight brief

July 22, 2021

In The News


Residents in southwestern Iran have held large protests for nearly a week, denouncing the country’s leadership amid severe water shortages in the region, according to activists and video footage. At least two people have been killed in the unrest. – Washington Post 

Iran is struggling with a fifth wave of the coronavirus pandemic, an economy strained by American sanctions and stalled talks on rescuing a nuclear agreement that was once seen as an economic salvation. – New York Times  

As protests by Iran’s Arab Ahwaz minority continued, the response by the international community remained limited. […] Despite the outrage, the response by the international community has been limited. To try to galvanize support for the movement, Heidari participated in a protest with the Ahwazi community in London outside of 10 Downing Street. – Jerusalem Post   

Mobile phone internet service in Iran is being disrupted a week into protests in the country’s southwest over water shortages, a monitoring group said Thursday, unrest that has seen at least three people killed. – Associated Press 

Iran has opened its first oil terminal in the Gulf of Oman, Iranian President Hassan Rohani said on Thursday, to allow Tehran to avoid using the Strait of Hormuz shipping route that has been a focus of regional tension for decades. – Reuters 

Kate Woodsome writes: Hostage advocates argue that the government should also collect the billions of dollars Iran owes its victims and use the 2020 Levinson Act to authorize wider sanctions. In the longer-term, Malley says the United States is discussing unifying international efforts to increase pressure on captors. But that does little for the hostages now. – Washington Post  

Yonah Jeremy Bob writes: Images taken on June 26 showed a small dark spot on the roof of the building that was not there in images taken June 21. By July 1, images portrayed the roof as being dismantled as part of cleaning. After all of that, there are no clear conclusions to be drawn yet. But there is a strong likelihood that the attacker of Karaj caused heavy damage, and that Iran, and possibly US imagery companies, are looking to play it down. – Jerusalem Post 

Zvi Bar’el writes: The government is not blind to the profound lack of faith in the regime, as expressed in the low participation rate in the presidential election and in the thousands of requests by educated young people to leave Iran for Europe. Nevertheless, the mutual dependence of government figures on one another, and the need to buy political stability to protect their ways, make remote the chance that the new nuclear accord will foster contentment among Iranians. – Haaretz 


Syria’s air defenses intercepted early on Thursday an Israeli attack on the al Qusair area in Homs, Syrian state media reported. A Syrian military source said in a statement there was some material damage from the strike and no casualties. – Reuters  

Three people were killed in American aerial attacks in Syria, the Syrian Arab News Agency (SANA) reported on Wednesday. According to the report, a house in the north-eastern town of Al Hasakah was the target. – Jerusalem Post  

Alexander Langlois writes: The renewal of one border crossing, while an achievement, only minimally addresses the sweeping humanitarian needs across a country facing a 90 percent poverty rate. The international and regional politics of the matter will continue to outweigh the basic interests and needs of a Syrian people in desperate need of a break, for which the world may someday recognize and act upon accordingly. Until then, the status quo remains. – The National Interest  


France’s view of Israel is slowly changing due to concerns about Iran’s nuclear program and Tehran’s support for terrorism, French parliamentarians visiting Israel said Tuesday. – Times of Isreal  

Israel’s Interior Ministry refuses to discuss the requests for family unification of Palestinians married to Israeli citizens – although the temporary ban on such family unification expired over two weeks ago. – Haaretz  

An explosion was reported at the Al-Zawiya market in Gaza City in the Gaza Strip on Thursday morning, killing one person and injuring 10 others, according to Palestinian media. – Jerusalem Post 

American transport planes touched down in Israel on Tuesday night, bringing US Air Force troops and equipment to take part in an in-person follow-up to an air defense exercise that was held virtually earlier this year, the US Air Force said. – Times of Israel 

Israel is launching an international cybersecurity network for like-minded countries to fight threats together, Prime Minister Naftali Bennett announced at the Cyber Week conference at Tel Aviv University on Wednesday. – Jerusalem Post 

So without a role in Israel’s governing coalition, Barkat spent a week in mid-July on a self-funded solo trip to the United States to lobby elected officials here. His goal was to convince the United States not to reopen a diplomatic consulate to the Palestinians in western Jerusalem that US President Donald Trump closed in 2019. – Times of Israel 

The Biden administration has agreed to hold off on plans to reopen the US consulate in Jerusalem for the Palestinians until after the new Israeli government has passed a budget in early November, an Israeli official confirmed on Wednesday. – Times of Israel 

Israel is examining possible changes to its operational plans against the Iranian nuclear program in order to contend with a US reentry to the 2015 nuclear deal. – Algemeiner 

Israel’s Water Authority hired a cybersecurity company to protect its machinery following an attack on water infrastructure last year that Israel blamed on Iran, the firm said Wednesday. – Times of Israel  

Mehul Srivastava writes: In recent years, Israel has wooed Gulf countries such as the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Saudi Arabia into improving bilateral relations, by offering clandestine security co-operation against shared regional enemies, from the Muslim Brotherhood to Iran. […]In a separate filing, the company has also said the Israeli government itself uses NSO’s technology. Many of its staff are from elite military intelligence units. Financial Times 

Or Rabinowitz writes: A stream of recent incidents in Iran point to a possible intensification of Israel’s covert operations campaign aimed at deterring the Iranian leadership from advancing its nuclear program. In early July, two separate cyberattacks against the Iranian transport ministry and railway system took place; the hackers reportedly posted the phone number of Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Iran’s supreme leader, as the number to call for further information. A few days earlier, in late June, a drone targeted an Iranian centrifuge production site near Tehran. – Foreign Policy 


IDF soldiers arrested two suspects in northern Israel Thursday morning after they were spotted crossing the border from Lebanon into Israel overnight, the military said in a statement. The two were reportedly migrant workers and were questioned at the site where they were arrested. – Jerusalem Post  

In a message to the US Congress regarding Lebanon on July 20, President Joe Biden referred to Iran’s “continuing arms transfers to Hizballah”, as undermining Lebanese sovereignty. – Iran International  

Families in Lebanon are now spending five times the minimum wage on food alone, a report found Wednesday, as inflation caused by the country’s worst-ever economic crisis continues to soar. – Agence France-Presse 

Gulf States

An investigation by The Washington Post and an international consortium of news organizations may offer critical new insight: Latifa’s number and those of her friends appear on a list that includes phones targeted for surveillance with Pegasus, the hacking tool from the Israeli spyware giant NSO Group, amid the sprint to track her down. – Washington Post  

Qatar emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani directed the allocation of $100 million to support food security in Yemen, state news agency said on Wednesday. – Reuters  

A Saudi official denied claims by some media outlets that the kingdom used spyware to track communications, the state TV reported on Wednesday. – Reuters  

The decisions Abdulaziz took over the next 24 hours exposed a new Saudi oil policy—bolder, less constrained by Washington, defiant of a growing global consensus on climate change, and more centrally controlled by the royal family, including one of his half-brothers, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. – Bloomberg  

Saudi Aramco, the world’s largest oil producer, confirmed on Wednesday that some of its company files had been leaked via a contractor, after a cyber extortionist claimed to have seized troves of its data last month and demanded a $50m ransom from the company. – Financial Times 

The principal government responsible for selecting the UK numbers appears to be the United Arab Emirates, according to analysis of the data. The UAE is one of 40 countries that had access to the NSO spyware that is able to hack into and secretly take control of a mobile phone. – The Guardian 

Middle East & North Africa

A proposed U.N. Security Council statement would call on Turkey and breakaway Turkish Cypriots to reverse a decision to reopen a residential section of an abandoned suburb and avoid any unilateral actions that could raise tensions on the divided Mediterranean island. – Associated Press  

Morocco’s government on Wednesday threatened legal action against anyone accusing it of using the Israeli spyware program Pegasus, and deplored what it called a “false, massive, malicious media campaign.” – Agence France-Presse  

Former Salafi Moroccan researcher Mohamed Abdelwahhab Al-Rafiki said that while he was in prison, he resolved to fight Islamic extremism and extremist discourse. He made these remarks in an interview that aired on Sky News Arabiya (UAE) on July 3, 2021. – Middle East Media Research Institute  

‘Abd Al-Nasser Salama, the former editor of the Egyptian government daily Al-Ahram, has been arrested for publishing an article harshly critical of the Egyptian regime and its head, President ‘Abd Al-Fattah Al-Sisi, and has been charged with joining a terrorist ogranization and publishing fake news. – Middle East Media Research Institute  

Korean Peninsula

In a recent state-media reprimand, the Kim regime’s main newspaper ordered the country’s youth to speak the unadulterated North Korean language. That means clipping out unsanctioned foreign additions—believed to be largely borrowed from South Korea’s pop music and dramas. – Wall Street Journal  

Top U.S. and South Korean officials agreed Thursday to try to convince North Korea to return to talks on its nuclear program, which Pyongyang has insisted it won’t do in protest of what it calls U.S. hostility. – Associated Press 

The United States is hoping that North Korea responds to its offer to re-open talks on denuclearisation, South Korea’s presidential office said on Thursday, citing U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman. – Reuters 


China said it will not accept the World Health Organization’s suggested plan for a second phase of investigation into the origins of the coronavirus, pointing to obstacles ahead for international efforts to determine the source of the pandemic. – Washington Post

Record rainfall in central China caused severe floods that have claimed more than two dozen lives, turned city streets into gushing rivers and forced authorities to relocate hundreds of thousands of people. – Wall Street Journal  

The Uyghur inmates sat in uniform rows with their legs crossed in lotus position and their backs ramrod straight, numbered and tagged, gazing at a television playing grainy black-and-white images of Chinese Communist Party history. – Associated Press 

The Shenyang J-35 is China’s first carrier-capable stealth aircraft. The aircraft’s development represents a major leap in China’s domestic aerospace program; with it, the nation is on track to become the world’s second-largest aircraft carrier operator. This goal has long been an aspiration of China’s defense establishment, reflecting the country’s increasing ambitions at sea. – The National Interest  

Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman will travel to China this weekend on a visit that comes as tensions between Washington and Beijing soar on multiple fronts, the State Department said Wednesday. – Associated Press 

China and the U.S. are shipping goods to each other at the briskest pace in years, making the world’s largest bilateral trade relationship look as if the protracted tariff war and pandemic never happened. – Bloomberg  

 Four staff members from the now-closed pro-democracy Apple Daily newspaper were denied bail in a Hong Kong court on Thursday after they were charged with colluding with foreign forces under a national security law that has intensified fears over media freedoms. – Reuters  

Beijing said Wednesday that climate cooperation with Washington will depend on the overall strength of Sino-US relations, after America’s climate tsar John Kerry urged China to curb emissions quickly. – Agence France-Presse 

Staff at Hong Kong’s public broadcaster have been told to avoid “inappropriate terminology” that would imply Taiwan is a sovereign state as the Asian financial hub continues to try to curb dissent. – Bloomberg  

Editorial: If American diplomats are to make progress in advancing U.S. interests against this increasingly belligerent and hostile power, then Biden must first stop playing China’s game. Instead of engaging with corrupted multilateral institutions, Biden should be looking to forge bilateral partnerships with trusted allies to further U.S. interests around the world. – Washington Examiner  

Michael Rubin writes: While political economist Derek Scissors notes China’s investment in Ethiopia has not borne the fruit many Western analysts assume, Beijing’s ambitions likely remain high, however. Ethiopia may be a poor country, but it is still the continent’s seventh-largest economy. […] The question then becomes what might China do, if anything, to protect its economic interests and ambitions. – 19fortyfive  

Olivia Enos writes: However, there are other options—that do not punish American athletes, and also do not fail to hold human rights violators accountable. The U.S. should consider and explore policy options beyond a boycott, and instead postpone the 2022 Olympics for the purposes of selecting a new rights-respecting host. – Heritage Foundation  

Michael Sobolik writes: While transnational issues like climate change demand diplomacy and multilateral responses, great power competition depends principally upon American strength and consistency. By pulling its punches against other Xinjiang offenders, the Administration has sent a clear signal that climate, not human rights, is its priority. – The Hill  

Matthew Brooker writes: That can be read as a warning: In the event that China extends its anti-sanctions regime to Hong Kong, the U.S. government has no intention of backing down. Companies won’t be able to use Beijing’s law as a reason for failing to comply with U.S. measures. – Bloomberg  

David Fickling writes: It’s there, though, that we should look for signs that the economics of the U.S.-China relationship are souring with the politics. The tougher atmosphere for Chinese listings in the U.S. as Beijing seeks to close a key loophole used by tech companies and as U.S. lawmakers raise the pressure on corporate governance issues has both sides singing from the same hymn sheet. – Bloomberg  

Tom Rogan writes: Considering Xi’s obvious penchant for absorbing ever more power into his office, it will be interesting to see how this tension plays out over the coming years. It is Culver’s assessment of the People’s Liberation Army that will perhaps be of most interest. He offers the critical observation that the PLA is not a national military but the “armed wing of the Chinese Communist Party.” This loyalty to party above all else is imbued in PLA doctrine. – Washington Examiner  


The nation’s top military officer offered a glum assessment on Wednesday of the security situation in Afghanistan, saying the Taliban had seized “strategic momentum” over Afghan military forces who were falling back to prioritize the protection of important cities, including Kabul, the capital. – New York Times 

An additional 4,000 Afghans who worked with American forces, many of them interpreters, had been approved to relocate to the United States with their families in light of the withdrawal of U.S. troops, State Department officials said on Wednesday. – New York Times 

Taking advantage of US withdrawal from Afghanistan, Iranian regime has already set up a Shiite militia group named “Hashd Al-Shi’i” (Shiite Mobilization). According to Iranian newspaper Jomhouri Islami, the new group does not use Farsi, Dari or Pashtun name, but curiously borrowed from the Arabic name of Iraq’s umbrella outfit, Al-Hashd Al-Sha’abi, for a number of militias. – Times of Israel  

Anthony H. Cordesman writes: The key issue is not why the war was lost, it is whether letting it escalate and prolonging it was worth its cost. The examination of the civil and military challenges as well as the mistakes is the central focus of this analysis and, to some extent, a warning that the United States needs a far more realistic approach to “strategic triage.” Like the Iraq War, the U.S. needs to be far more careful in deciding if a conflict is worth fighting, escalating, and continuing. – Center for Strategic and International Studies  


Indian tax authorities on Thursday raided one of the country’s most prominent newspapers in what journalists and the political opposition denounced as retaliation for the outlet’s hard-nosed coverage of the government’s pandemic response. – Washington Post 

China’s government on Thursday offered an indirect thank you to Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen for her message of concern over devastating floods in the central Chinese province of Henan, in a rare show of goodwill between Beijing and Taipei. – Reuters  

Tajikistan says it has put its entire armed forces on high alert for a combat-readiness check and relocated thousands of troops to the border with Afghanistan amid increasing security concerns in Central Asia over the Taliban’s territorial gains in the northern part of the war-torn country.- Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty  

Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin will travel to Southeast Asia later this week, as China increased protests of U.S. military operations in the Western Pacific and enflamed territorial disputes with nations bordering the South China Sea. – USNI News 


A Russian court has ruled world champion kickboxer Alyaksey Kudzin can be extradited to his homeland, Belarus, despite concerns the athlete may be politically persecuted and tortured. – Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty  

A new law in Russia is cracking down on book covers with Nazi symbols, mandating bookstores to remove offending history books from their shelves, the Calvert Journal reported. – Jerusalem Post  

Police in Moscow have detained two former members of jailed opposition politician Aleksei Navalny’s team and extended the house arrest of his spokeswoman as a state pressure campaign against civil society groups continues. – Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty  

The fighter jet was manufactured by Rostec subsidiary Sukhoi, growing out of Russia’s Light Tactical Aircraft program, also known as the LTS program. The Checkmate brings a fairly respectable specs sheet, boasting a top speed of 1,900 kilometers per hour, an operational range of 3,000 kilometers or a combat radius of 1,500 kilometers, and payload in excess of seven tons. – The National Interest 

The first footage of the Almaz-Antey S-500 Prometey (‘Prometheus’) air and missile defence system (GRAU designation 55R6M), shown conducting a test launch, has been released by the Russian Ministry of Defence (MoD) via a video published on its YouTube channel on 20 July. – Jane’s 360 

Michael McFaul writes: The current Sino-Russian partnership is worrying, and the impulse to view all other foreign policy issues through the U.S.-China bilateral lens is tempting. But this particular Cold War play won’t work today — and even if it did, it would not yield the same benefits that it produced last century. – Washington Post 

Seth G. Jones et.al., write: However, many of these PMCs have a poor track record—including operational failures and human rights abuses—and there are opportunities to exploit PMC vulnerabilities. Although Russian PMCs present only one of a variety of national security threats and challenges facing the United States, this report assesses that they warrant a more substantive and coordinated response from the United States and its partners. – Center for Strategic and International Studies  


The Biden administration reached an agreement with Germany on Wednesday that allows for the completion of a controversial natural gas pipeline between Russia and Germany, ending a heated dispute between the two allies that overlapped three successive U.S. administrations. – Washington Post 

 The U.K. government set the stage for a new clash with the European Union after Prime Minister Boris Johnson said he wants to renegotiate the parts of the Brexit agreement dealing with the politically sensitive question of Northern Ireland. – Wall Street Journal  

The French government said Thursday that investigations are underway into reports from The Washington Post and other international news organizations that phone numbers for President Emmanuel Macron and other world leaders, as well as for activists and journalists, were found on a list that included some people targeted by government clients of the Israeli surveillance giant NSO Group and its spyware tool Pegasus. – Washington Post 

The United States on Wednesday rejected Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s proposal for two states in Cyprus, urging continued efforts for a united island with two zones. – Agence France-Presse 

Israel put its close relations with Cyprus and Greece on display, repeatedly and publicly supporting Cyprus’s side in its dispute with Turkey about northern Cyprus. – Jerusalem Post 

Hungary’s government wants to hold a national referendum in an effort to showcase public support for a new law that the European Union says discriminates against LGBT people. – Associated Press 

An official at Israeli cybersecurity company NSO Group said Wednesday that the firm’s controversial Pegasus spyware tool was not used to target French President Emmanuel Macron. – Agence France-Presse 

The current U.S. administration is eager to deepen and strengthen ties with Ukraine, as the two countries’ military relationship is of “paramount importance” for Kyiv’s establishing a closer relationship with NATO, a senior State Department official has told RFE/RL. – Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty 

Brussels has insisted it will not renegotiate the EU’s Brexit deal with the UK after London inflamed tensions by launching a bold push to overhaul trading rules for Northern Ireland. – Financial Times 

Polish authorities have detained Russian human rights activist Yevgeny Khasoyev, acting upon a red-notice request from Moscow via Interpol. – Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty  

Julian Wieczorkiewicz writes: To remain the most successful military alliance in history, NATO needs to map and analyze the security implications of climate change. Those need to be factored into the process of developing future strategies and capabilities. Allies also need to fully understand the military, economic and political consequences of climate change on other nations, notably Russia and China. – Center for European Policy Analysis  

Rachel Ellehuus writes: Conversely, if unity of purpose and shared values are lost, the security burden is carried by only a few allies, internal resilience is unaddressed, and U.S. leadership is absent, NATO will find itself on the negative trajectory. And while the status quo of “muddling through” may seem good enough for now, it will likely also land NATO on the negative trajectory over time. – Center for Strategic and International Studies  

Charlie Gao write: However, in NATO, CBRN training has lapsed. While Czechia retains one of the only live-agent chemical weapons training facilities in NATO, there is far less focus on the CBRN threat in NATO nations, in both civil defense and military settings. While Russia has upgraded its CBRN reconnaissance vehicles twice since the 2000s, the United States last procured an upgrade for its German M93 Fox CBRN reconnaissance vehicles in 2007. – The National Interest  

Philip Stephens writes: There is a depressing madness about all this — much as there is about Downing Street’s handling of the Covid-19 pandemic. The government has made an offer it knows the EU cannot accept. Even where it is inclined to be flexible, Brussels now has confirmation that the UK cannot be trusted to keep its word. The danger is that Northern Ireland will pay the price. – Financial Times 

John E. Herbst writes: Nordstream 2 would only strengthen the ties between the Kremlin and the German business community, which then serves as apologists for Moscow’s provocative foreign policy. Why should the U.S. facilitate a “bad deal” that looks like the hydrocarbon equivalent of the 1994 Budapest Memorandum, in which the U.S. gave Ukraine worthless security assurances in exchange for Kyiv sending its ample nuclear arms to Russia? – The Hill  

Janusz Bugajski writes: The Biden administration says it is committed to promoting democracy. Well, Ukraine provides a potent example that national independence is indispensable for building a democratic state. Securing Ukraine’s independence and integrity would simultaneously thwart the Kremlin’s authoritarian expansionism. – Washington Examiner  


A hundred people in northwest Nigeria have been freed 42 days after gunmen went on a kidnapping rampage in their village, police said. Among the victims: dozens of mothers with small children. – Washington Post 

The head of Tanzania’s main opposition party was arrested Wednesday ahead of a planned forum to demand constitutional reform, a move denounced as a throwback to the oppressive rule of the country’s late leader. – Agence France-Presse 

Joshua Meservey writes: The Ramaphosa government pins blame for the turmoil on Zuma supporters. Last week authorities said they had identified 12 ringleaders of what Mr. Ramaphosa called a “deliberate, coordinated and well-planned attack” on South Africa’s democracy. There may be a kernel of truth to that. Some pro-Zuma voices openly agitated for violence, and some of the attacks on infrastructure appeared to be coordinated. – Wall Street Journal 

Emilia Columbo and Kelly Moss write: It is important that President Nyusi has acknowledged the need for external support to tackle the challenges in northern Mozambique, a proposition that he had resisted for more than a year due to sovereignty concerns. However, the prioritization and emphasis on additional external security partners belies the complexity of the overall situation, which is rooted in historic grievances around inequality and continued distrust of armed actors. – Center for Strategic and International Studies  

Bobby Ghosh writes: After South Africa’s week from hell, the trial of Jacob Zuma has been postponed until August 10, and it will be months, perhaps even years, before a judicial panel decides whether or not the former president is guilty of corruption. His successor faces far swifter judgment in the court of public opinion. – Bloomberg  

Michael Rubin writes: It has now been almost 14 years since U.S. Africa Command became operational. Its establishment during the George W. Bush administration was a sign that Africa mattered and partnerships on the continent were important. For largely political reasons, though, AFRICOM has not lived up to its initial billing. The Obama administration largely ignored Africa, while Donald Trump treated the continent with disdain. The Biden administration’s policy remains one of strategic neglect. – Washington Examiner  

The Americas

The struggle for power in Haiti after the assassination of the country’s president has spilled onto K Street, where rival Haitian politicians, business leaders and interest groups are turning to lobbyists to wage an expensive and escalating proxy battle for influence with the United States. – New York Times 

Cuba criticized the United States and President Joe Biden on Wednesday for a series of statements by senior officials after the unprecedented protests on the island last week, accusing the U.S. government of seeking to justify a military intervention. – Associated Press 

Rights activists say this is just the start of what they predict will be a wave of summary trials of hundreds of people detained during and after the unusual protests on July 11 and 12 that the government has blamed on U.S.-backed counter-revolutionaries. – Reuters 

Ryan C. Berg and Rodrigo Castillo Perez write: While the Biden administration seemed content to leave Cuba on the back burner and delay the promised thaw in relations, the protests will force the administration to contend with Cuba policy more directly. Mishandling the situation in this region, where migration has been on the rise, could lead to a migration crisis exacerbated not only by recent events in Cuba but also the ongoing political crisis currently roiling Haiti. – Center for Strategic and International Studies  

Latin America

Four years later, Pegasus has become the most prominent symbol of an explosion of high-tech political spying in Mexico. – Washington Post 

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro on Wednesday called a letter sent by the Vatican’s foreign minister to local businesses, which urged Caracas politicians to take seriously negotiations to resolve the country’s crisis, a “compendium of hatred.” – Reuters 

Just like the Zapatista rebels before them, the indigenous people of Chiapas state in southern Mexico have taken up arms, though this time they said it was to beat back the organized crime gangs plaguing their communities. – Reuters 

Editorial: More than a month after citizens went to the polls, Pedro Castillo has been named the winner of Peru’s presidential runoff. The former teacher ran as a champion of the populist left. As well as complaining of election fraud (despite evidence to the contrary), his opponents have played up fears that he will lead the country toward expropriations and communism. He should aim to prove them wrong by choosing moderation, however difficult this might be. Otherwise, the country’s prospects are bleak. – Bloomberg 

Shannon K O’Neil writes: The good news is that Latin Americans care deeply about climate change (far more than Americans). Savvy politicians will find votes are to be gained by doing their part to slow the rise in global temperatures. If these forces bring political and policy changes, Latin America can have a better shot at a wealthier and more sustainable future. – Bloomberg 

Daniel F. Runde writes: Multilateral organizations need to monitor the constitutional convention process as well. The International Monetary Fund, the World Bank and Inter-American Development Bank should be speaking out about the financial dangers of such dramatic reforms to one of the most robust and most stable economies of Latin America — one with which the U.S. has a free trade agreement. – The Hill  

JP Carroll writes: If Castillo is truly committed to uniting the Peruvian people after a long and divisive election, he should not follow through with his campaign promise of redrafting the country’s constitution. Leaders that have done this in other countries in the region have often gone on to govern in an undemocratic manner, hence the fear that this proposal has understandably caused many in Peru. – Washington Examiner  

United States

A senior CIA officer who played a leading role in the hunt for Osama bin Laden will head a task force investigating the cause of mysterious, debilitating illnesses that have plagued dozens of agency personnel and other U.S. government personnel, according to current and former officials familiar with the matter. – Washington Post 

Writing in Fortune magazine two weeks before the 2016 election, Donald Trump’s old friend and fundraiser, Thomas J. Barrack, outlined a new U.S. policy for the Middle East. The “best hope” for America and the Arab world, he said, was U.S. support for the new, “brilliant young leaders” in places such as the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia. – Washington Post 

An Ohio man who was part of an online community of “incels,” or misogynists who blame women for denying them what they believe is their right to sexual intercourse, was arrested on Wednesday and charged with plotting to shoot students in sororities, federal prosecutors said. – New York Times 

U.S. President Joe Biden will meet with his Ukrainian counterpart Volodymyr Zelenskiy in Washington next month to discuss energy issues and threats posed by Russia to the eastern European country’s sovereignty, according to the White House. – Reuters  

U.S. President Joe Biden is poised to nominate a seasoned career diplomat, John Bass, to a key U.S. State Department management role as part of his administration’s efforts to revive a demoralized diplomatic corps. – Foreign Policy  

A police official who has run large departments in Maryland and Virginia has been selected as chief of the U.S. Capitol Police in the aftermath of the Jan. 6 insurrection, in which pro-Trump rioters stormed the building in a violent rage, disrupting the certification of Joe Biden’s presidential win. – Associated Press 

Attorney General Merrick Garland restricted the Justice Department’s contact with the White House in a sharp break from the policies of former President Donald Trump, who often urged the agency to investigate or prosecute political foes or other entities. – Washington Examiner  

Editorial: A troubling pattern is emerging in President Biden’s foreign policy: Officials talk tough—then follow up with diplomacy that amounts to little. Two examples this week—on Chinese hacking and Russia’s Nord Stream 2 pipeline—underscore the point. – Wall Street Journal 

Elisa Epstein writes: The fact that in just its first half year in office the administration has notified Congress of three major weapons sales to notoriously abusive governments is highly troubling. […] The U.S. government cannot claim to promote human rights while selling advanced weapons to rights-abusing governments. It not only undermines Biden’s credibility, but also undermines respect for human rights across the globe. – Washington Post 

Julie Gerberding et al., write: The United States will not achieve security, nor will the rest of the world, until far more has been done to vaccinate everyone, put in place the basic elements of health security preparedness, and close the dangerous disparities and inequities that are the world’s collective, greatest vulnerabilities. In this document, the CSIS Commission on Strengthening America’s Health Security has outlined its best thoughts on the changes needed in U.S. leadership for the United States to have a strategic impact at this moment of such complex peril. – Center for Strategic and International Studies  

Rep. French Hill writes: The U.S. is facing an array of challenges across the globe. We have been here before, and we have succeeded. If America is to address these challenges once again, the nation needs leaders who are up to the challenge. Grand overtures and misplaced promises will not cut it. Through their recent trips abroad, both Biden and Harris have shown their inability to work toward tangible outcomes that strengthen our standing abroad, hold our adversaries accountable, and prepare America to face 21st-century challenges. – Washington Examiner  


President Biden said he plans to nominate Jonathan Kanter, who has long opposed Big Tech companies as a lawyer, to lead the Justice Department’s antitrust division. It’s the latest sign of the administration’s willingness to crack down on the power and influence of Silicon Valley titans. – Washington Post 

A 22-year-old man was arrested in Spain on Wednesday in connection with the hack of more than 100 Twitter accounts last July, becoming the fourth person charged in the incident, which led to a temporary shutdown of the social media service. – New York Times 

Rogue governments are increasingly outsourcing cyberattacks to criminals in the borderless domain of cyberspace to wreak havoc on the U.S. and other nations around the world. China, Iran, Russia and other foreign adversaries have contracted with hackers, deployed sophisticated spyware technology and used social media platforms as tools to facilitate espionage. – Washington Times 

The Twitter account of the Nation of Islam – the religious movement led by controversial figure Louis Farrakhan, who has a history of promoting antisemitic conspiracy theories – was suspended. – Jerusalem Post  

It’s been known for quite a few years that an Israeli company called NSO Group offers a product called Pegasus, which can use malware to break into cell phones to a degree that’s practically unheard of otherwise. NSO Group markets its products as a tool to stop criminals and terrorists, but it’s often been reported that governments use the technology to crack down on dissidents. – The National Interest  

The House Energy and Commerce Committee on Wednesday approved multiple pieces of legislation meant to strengthen telecommunications against cyberattacks. – The Hill  

Lawmakers and experts on Wednesday warned of gaping cybersecurity vulnerabilities in the nation’s critical water sector amid escalating attacks against a number of U.S. organizations. – The Hill  

The recent ransomware attack on software group Kaseya hit small businesses especially hard, targeting companies that often have few resources to defend themselves and highlighting long-standing vulnerabilities. – The Hill 

Leaders of the Senate Intelligence Committee and other bipartisan lawmakers on Wednesday formally introduced legislation requiring federal contractors and critical infrastructure groups to report attempted breaches following months of escalating cyberattacks. – The Hill  

The Hong Kong government will gain powers to restrict local access to the world’s biggest technology platforms under legislation to punish “doxing” offences expected to be passed this year. – Financial Times 

Joseph Marks writes: Hacks that destroy or disrupt infrastructure are viewed as far more aggressive than those merely aimed at spying. However, government-backed hackers often lay the groundwork for such destructive attacks without triggering any damage. […] A new bipartisan bill would mandate many companies report hacks to the federal government. – Washington Post 


The Pentagon’s top officials on Wednesday defended the military’s tradition of staying out of elections, after a new book reported that Gen. Mark A. Milley, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, feared former president Donald Trump would attempt a coup. – Washington Post 

The International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN) released a report last month, Complicit: 2020 Global Nuclear Weapons Spending, that highlights the money that flowed from the government to corporations to lobbyists and back again. This cycle of funding helps to maintain and develop nuclear weapons. – The National Interest  

The Navy’s submarine force of the future will have to balance its need to remain stealthy against a need for information from the joint force. – Defense News 

As the U.S. Air Force restructures its aircraft inventory to compete with China, the service is taking calculated risks in its intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance aircraft portfolio, a top general said Wednesday. – Defense News 

Senate lawmakers will consider increasing White House military spending plans for next year by $25 billion as part of their debate over the annual defense spending bill this week. – Military Times 

The Biden administration’s budget request, which would decommission ships while ramping up Navy investments for 2045 fails to counter China now, two key lawmakers said Wednesday. – USNI News 

Richard Weitz writes: This study, produced for the US Defense Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA) assesses the hypersonic capabilities and strategies that the Russian Federation and the People’s Republic of China could plausibly deploy over the next decade. It further evaluates the implications for sustaining US operational advantages, particularly in Europe and the Indo-Pacific region, to inform future US national security operations, activities, and investments. – Hudson Institute  

Charles Dunst writes: Certainly, it is impossible to argue that Western powers should intervene in countries like Myanmar and Haiti as they did in Cambodia, Afghanistan, or the Sahel. But it is similarly impossible to look at these crises and think that regional powers will be able to control them. More likely, without a substantial Western military presence, these crises will deteriorate and metastasize, transitioning from local calamities to regional ones, with governments abroad feeling their effects. – The National Interest 

Hal Brands writes: The Biden administration, like the Trump administration, is trying to signal that it is losing patience with proxy attacks. Proving that point may require a degree of sustained reprisal — and sustained confrontation — that will take Biden considerably further than he wants to go. – Bloomberg