Fdd's overnight brief

July 23, 2021

In The News


The Danish military said Thursday it spotted an Iranian destroyer and a large support vessel sailing through the Baltic Sea, likely heading to Russia for a military parade in the coming days. – Associated Press 

A Chinese logistics firm has emerged as a central player in the supply of sanctioned oil from Iran and Venezuela, even after it was blacklisted by Washington two years ago for handling Iranian crude, seven sources with knowledge of the deals told Reuters. – Reuters  

Iranian human rights lawyer Nasrin Sotoudeh, whose health has “seriously deteriorated” since her arrest three years ago, has been granted a five-day treatment leave from prison. – Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty 

Iran is using unlawful and excessive force in a crackdown against protests over water shortages in its oil-rich but arid southwestern Khuzestan province, international rights groups said on Friday. – Agence France-Presse  

Bobby Ghosh writes: The political fallout of all this is not hard to predict: Climate migration on an epic scale. […]The leadership in Tehran won’t need reminding of what happened the last time this occurred. The dissatisfaction of the urban underclass was the kindling for the 1979 revolution that created the Islamic Republic. The fire next time could burn it down. – Bloomberg 

Eileen Walsh writes: If the Iranian regime’s goal was to discredit and embarrass the US, then it is crucial that the US flips this objective on its head as well. Blinken’s call – and tweet – were welcome news, but not quite strong enough in the wake of the State Department’s lax response failing to condemn the regime. […]The release of all American hostages – be they journalists or not – should be at the forefront of the conversation, before any sanctions are lifted. To do otherwise is to appease the Iranians, and to signal to them that next time, their hostage-taking plan need only be as practicable as it is daring. – 19fortyfive 


Syrian government artillery shells struck a village in the last rebel enclave in the country on Thursday, killing seven members of the same family, including four children, rescue workers and a war monitor said. – Associated Press 

Syria has warned Israel that it would defend its territory by any means granted to Damascus through international law, after blaming its foe for two back-to-back airstrikes that struck the country this week. – Newsweek  

Seth J. Frantzman writes: It is time to recognize the status of the Autonomous Administration of North and East Syria, says a chorus of voices who have supported or observed the region’s progress for years. […]This illustrates the struggle that the poor and vulnerable minorities face today, whether in Syria or other places, when coming up against authoritarian regimes that are able to have strong lobbies in the West, including powerful state-run media. – Jerusalem Post  


German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Thursday praised Turkey for hosting large numbers of Syrian refugees as part of an agreement with the European Union and said she wanted close relations with Ankara but did not anticipate Turkish membership of the EU. – Reuters 

The United States and Turkey reached an agreement under which Turkey is to secure Kabul’s airport after the withdrawal of all American and NATO allied troops from Afghanistan by the end of August, 2021. – Middle East Media Research Institute 

Oğul Tuna writes: Nevertheless, the EU’s mutual concern with the United States and NATO leadership on human rights and democracy could prevent an immediate partnership with Turkey. […]If Ankara and Brussels develop a mutual understanding, their partnership could also reshape the nature of European-Russian relations. Otherwise, Russo-Turkish cooperation in Europe’s Eastern neighborhood could threaten the unity and the strength of the Union after Merkel’s departure. – The National Interest  


Former United Nations human rights chief Navi Pillay will head an international commission of inquiry into alleged crimes committed during the latest conflict between Israel and the Islamist group Hamas in Gaza, the U.N.’s Human Rights Council said in a statement on Thursday. – Reuters 

The United States publicly called on Israel to refrain from West Bank settlement construction as some settler leaders have warned that a half-year freeze on planning activity is already in place. – Jerusalem Post  

Israel’s NSO Group is in the eye of a storm over its Pegasus spyware — but it is far from the only company helping governments with their covert surveillance operations. – Times of Israel  

Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador urged Israel on Thursday to cooperate in extraditing a fugitive former top investigator wanted in connection with the disappearance of 43 students in 2014. – Times of Israel  

Israel has established a commission to review allegations that NSO Group’s controversial Pegasus phone surveillance software was misused, the head of Knesset’s Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee said Thursday. – Ynet 

The Israeli government will discuss Sunday a proposal to let 15,000 additional Palestinian construction workers into Israel, which would bring the total number of working permits issued for Palestinian construction workers in Israel to 80,000. – Haaretz  

Israeli Avi Zinger said the ice cream he makes usually brings joy, but Ben & Jerry’s decision to stop selling in occupied Palestinian territory has cast his factory into a political storm. – Agence France-Presse  

Unilever’s CEO, Alan Jope, told investors during a conference call Thursday that the company remains committed to its businesses in Israel after its subsidiary, Ben & Jerry’s, announced earlier this week that it will stop the sale of its ice cream in the occupied Palestinian territories. – CNBC  

An international exercise in the operation of military drones was held in Israel for the first time over the past two weeks, Israeli daily Yediot Aharonot reported Thursday. Other than Israel, the exercise involved five countries: Italy, the UK, Germany, France, and the US. – Algemeiner  

During the May 2021 Gaza-Israel conflict, Iranian regime spokesmen praised Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) for the thousands of rockets they fired into Israel and for their loyalty to the Iranian vision of the destruction of Israel. – Middle East Media Research Institute 

Zalman Shoval writes:  The new Israeli government will undoubtedly take the same tack with the Biden administration, as it should. […]There will also be tests on the Palestinian issue, although perhaps only at a later stage. Where the Golan Heights are concerned, it is, of course, much more pleasant to see the glass half-full, namely that “US policy regarding the Golan has not changed,” rather than the opposite, i.e. the Biden administration’s failure to explicitly acknowledge Israeli sovereignty there. – Jerusalem Post  

Ido Aharoni writes: The centrality of security and militarism has had profound implications on Israel’s diplomacy philosophy – Israeli leaders were, and still are, rarely inclined to exercise pure diplomacy. […]It is time for Israel to recognize that technology has irreversibly disrupted traditional diplomacy, and embrace a new diplomatic paradigm – a shift from a traditional model of advocacy to a modern model of marketing, public diplomacy, and the deployment of soft assets – a true “diplomacy of opportunities.” – Jerusalem Post  


Top Iraqi and U.S. officials plan to issue a statement calling for U.S. combat troops to leave Iraq by year-end, both nations’ officials said, but would reaffirm the need for a U.S. military presence to help Iraqi forces in their fight against Islamic State. – Wall Street Journal 

Russia’s Lukoil may reduce its stake in Iraqi West Qurna-2 oil project, Chief Executive Vagit Alekperov said on Thursday, adding that Iraq had denied the company such a right for now. – Reuters  

Former Iraqi MP Mithal Al-Alusi said that the Palestinian rights should not come at the expense of the Iraqi people and that the “the Palestinians live a life of luxury, while we in Iraq are slaughtered.” – Middle East Media Research Institute 

Middle East & North Africa

Algeria’s public prosecutor has ordered an investigation into media reports that the North African country may have been the target of the Israeli-made Pegasus spyware, it said in a statement on Thursday. – Agence France-Presse  

Jon B. Alterman writes: What is especially important to grasp here is how much of how this develops is beyond the ability of Middle Eastern governments to shape. The principal drivers of the global energy transition will come from outside the region. They will have a profound impact inside the region, and they will shape the way the region relates to the rest of the world. To hear some people tell it, that change could be profound, and it could be coming very soon. – Center for Strategic and International Studies 

Piotr Schulkes writes: The banks’ role in Vision 2030 cannot be overstated: They are central players in attracting foreign direct investment and facilitating economic diversification, they symbolize the more outward-looking policies of the crown prince, and they are at the forefront of changing how citizens, companies, and the state interact with each other. […]The capital region receives well over a third of SME funding despite having less than a quarter of the population, and forcing companies to put their headquarters there limits their reach, especially for banks. – Middle East Institute 


Chinese leader Xi Jinping’s push to crush organized crime has led to prosecutions and asset seizures targeting prominent entrepreneurs and sent chills through private businesses in the world’s second-largest economy. – Wall Street Journal 

Buried in a long U.S. indictment accusing China of a global cyberespionage campaign was a curious detail: Among the governments targeted by Chinese hackers was Cambodia, one of Beijing’s most loyal Asian allies. – Reuters 

China said on Thursday that the United States should correct its mistakes instead of making baseless comments, after U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai backed Australia in trade disputes with China. – Reuters 

Xi Jinping has made his first visit to Tibet as Chinese president, affirming Beijing’s control over a region where its military build-up and ethnic-assimilation polices have drawn international criticism. – Bloomberg 

Reps. Steve Scalise and Mike Gallagher write: Since our founding, the United States has been a beacon of hope for those seeking freedom. Yet freedom itself is under threat globally from the CCP. President Biden and Speaker Pelosi’s weak leadership is failing to rise to the moment and is empowering the Chinese Communist Party to advance its malicious agenda without fear of the consequences. Congress must lead and hold the CCP accountable for unleashing COVID-19, stand against the Chinese Communist Party’s horrific human rights abuses, and deter Chinese aggression. – The Hill 

Chris King writes: We might say that Mao Zedong’s era was a totalitarian era characterized by class struggle and mass movements. The era of Deng Xiaoping was an authoritarian era characterized by economic development at the center of a relatively open society while still ensuring the leadership and power of the CCP. Xi Jinping’s era, then, is a combination of the two, totalitarian and authoritarian. This is the misfortune and sorrow of China. – Middle East Media Research Institute 

Jim Richardson writes: The United States certainly should not emulate every aspect of China’s engagement, but there are many lessons to learn. With serious budget reform, increased flexibility in how Washington can spend its money, and seating partner countries at the table when key aid decisions are made, the United States can fix the self-inflicted problems that are holding it back in the developing world—and offer a much better alternative to the CCP. – Foreign Policy 

Patrick M. Cronin writes: In short, even though China is “not hell-bent on world domination,” its behavior of capturing greater information power at the expense of the United States and its allies is worrisome, as the PRC leverages information power to maximize its influence and control over an increasingly contested Indo-Pacific region. The stakes are high, and past responses have been insufficient to keep pace with China’s information technology and power juggernaut. – Hudson Institute 

Joshua Rovner writes: In an important sense, the U.S.-Chinese relationship today is the opposite. Ambiguity reigns. No one really knows how the United States will respond in the event of a crisis over Taiwan. This means that clearer signals in peacetime are not terribly important, and policymakers should not pretend otherwise. Strategists, meanwhile, would do well to think more about the opportunities to take advantage of ambiguity in a way that increases caution on all sides. – War on the Rocks 


The U.S. military is preparing to house as many as 35,000 Afghan interpreters and family members at two American bases, in Kuwait and in Qatar, in an expanding effort to aid those who face Taliban retribution for helping American forces, U.S. officials said. – Wall Street Journal 

The argument between Afghan security forces erupted two miles inside Taliban-controlled territory, piercing the near-complete silence and threatening to unravel a night of modest gains in a city under siege. – Washington Post  

The Taliban say they don’t want to monopolize power, but they insist there won’t be peace in Afghanistan until there is a new negotiated government in Kabul and President Ashraf Ghani is removed. – Associated Press 

Reeling from a surge in battlefield losses, Afghanistan’s military is overhauling its war strategy against the Taliban to concentrate forces around the most critical areas like Kabul and other cities, border crossings and vital infrastructure, Afghan and U.S. officials say. – Reuters 

The European Union is weighing a new package of financial aid to Afghanistan and its neighbours to help limit the flow of refugees from the country, ravaged by intense fighting between government forces and the Taliban, two officials said. – Reuters 

The United States recently carried out air strikes as it backed the Afghan army’s bid to repel a Taliban offensive, the Pentagon said Thursday, with the withdrawal of international forces from the country all but complete. – Agence France-Presse  

Afghanistan’s Interior Ministry has accused Taliban fighters of raiding homes and killing at least 100 civilians in attacks in the southern Kandahar Province, near the border with Pakistan. – Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty 

The Taliban controls 90 percent of Afghanistan’s borders, a spokesman for the group told Russian media on July 22 as militants continue to make territorial advances across the war-torn country while U.S.-led foreign forces near the completion of their pullout. – Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty 

The fight back against a vicious Taliban advance appears to be taking hold in the country’s remote central highlands, where armed residents have joined security forces to defend themselves and their property against insurgent assaults. – Foreign Policy 

David Ignatius writes: Biden’s options for stabilizing Afghanistan now are severely limited. U.S. combat troops are gone: Once the military was given the order to retreat, it didn’t waste any time. But Biden still has some leverage that could check the panic that’s spreading in Afghanistan following the U.S. military’s departure — and forestall a Taliban armed takeover in Kabul in the next three months, as analysts fear is likely. – Washington Post  

Clay D. Hanna writes: It is as irresponsible and foolhardy to deploy our forces and topple a government without an exit strategy as it is to then withdraw those forces without a clear criterion of re-engagement, and to leave a vacuum of power that every expert agrees will quickly devolve into a bloody civil war and dire humanitarian crisis. – The Hill 

South Asia

A war of words between Pakistan and Afghanistan has escalated dramatically on social media and reverberated up the political ranks, threatening a diplomatic breakdown and highlighting security concerns in the region. – Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty 

Sadanand Dhume writes: Where have all the Indian panda huggers gone? Over the past two years, the once-ubiquitous commentary urging India to deepen cooperation with China and work together toward shaping an “Asian century” of continental dominance has all but vanished from Indian public discourse. It’s unlikely to reappear soon—to Washington’s benefit. – Wall Street Journal 

Hussain Haqqani writes: For those Pakistanis who see the world through the prism of competition with India, a Taliban victory offers some consolation. Pakistan has not been doing well in competition with India on most fronts, but its proxies in Afghanistan appear to be succeeding—even if Pakistan cannot fully control them. But it is a pyrrhic victory. These developments will take Pakistan further away from becoming “a normal country,” perpetuating dysfunction at home and locking it into a foreign policy defined by hostility toward India and dependence on China. – Foreign Affairs 


Hong Kong’s national-security police arrested five people for allegedly conspiring to commit sedition through a series of picture books that portray sheep being targeted by wolves—an allusion to China’s crackdown on pro-democracy supporters in the city. – Wall Street Journal 

Tajikistan is preparing to take in up to 100,000 refugees from neighbouring Afghanistan where fighting has escalated as United States-led troops withdraw, a senior Tajik official said on Friday.- Reuters 

Uzbekistan said on Thursday there was no legal basis for accepting a U.S. request to temporarily house thousands of Afghans while they await U.S. immigrant visas after having worked for American forces now pulling out of the country. – Reuters 

Angered by doctors’ support for anti-junta protests, Myanmar’s military has arrested several doctors treating COVID-19 patients independently, colleagues and media said, as the health system struggles to cope with a record wave of infections. – Reuters 

The United States is seeking a “reliable, predictable and constructive” way to secure progress in stalled denuclearisation talks with North Korea, U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman said on Friday. – Reuters 

Human rights activists have urged Beijing to stop repatriating North Korean refugees over fears that more than 1,000 people detained in China could be tortured by Kim Jong Un’s security officials. – Financial Times 

A court in Baku has sentenced a Russian citizen to 10 years in prison on charges of fighting on the Armenian side against Azerbaijan’s armed forces in the breakaway Nagorno-Karabakh region last year. – Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty 

Central Asia has long advertised itself as the crossroads of the Eurasian continent — a region that, with development, could be an important transit hub for shipping goods from east to west and from north to south. – Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty 

The U.S. Defense Department’s onetime acting top Asia official has left the building’s policy shop, a blow for the Pentagon as the Biden administration battles Congress to bring more nominees on board. – Foreign Policy 

Editorial: Modest legislation like this isn’t a substitute for a stronger U.S. Navy, and American defense spending is stagnant. Yet it’s a sign of growing bipartisan recognition that Taiwan’s independence could soon come under intense pressure, and that the U.S. has a significant strategic interest in helping the island defend itself. – Wall Street Journal 


A Russian court fined U.S. social media firms Facebook  and Twitter on Thursday for failing to delete illegal content, the latest salvo in a standoff between Russia and Big Tech. – Reuters 

Russia has announced it will hold joint air drills with Uzbekistan along the Central Asian nation’s border with Afghanistan but has dismissed the notion that real airstrikes were being planned. – Newsweek 

The European Union has urged Russia to stop its “unabated crackdown” on independent media outlets, journalists, and civil-society organizations, calling the clampdown ahead of parliamentary elections in September “particularly worrisome.” – Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty 

Russia has filed a complaint against Ukraine with the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) saying Kyiv is responsible for the 2014 crash of a Malaysian airliner and civilian deaths and human rights abuses in Russia and Ukraine. – Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty 

Mason Clark and Rachel Kenny write: The Kremlin is increasing its military presence and diplomatic outreach in Central Asia to prevent Taliban-led violence from destabilizing former Soviet states. […] Potential refugee flows, Taliban advances beyond Afghanistan, or the creation of safe havens for jihadist groups to strike across Central Asia could all threaten the Kremlin’s campaign to maintain dominant influence over Central Asia. – Institute for the Study of War 

Ben Dubow writes: And yet, despite its advanced messaging to English-speaking audiences, Russia once again finds itself seeing an allied regime losing its grip, following crushing losses for friendly political coalitions in Armenia and Moldova elections this summer. As always, Russian information operations are more effective at tearing down adversaries than building up allies. – Center for European Policy Analysis 


Britain should be concerned about the harvesting of genetic data from millions of women by a Chinese company through prenatal tests, a senior British lawmaker told Reuters. – Reuters 

The European Union is seeking a two-month delay in talks on Hungary’s pandemic recovery plan, with funding likely to be delayed over contested issues as part of an “ideological war” with Brussels, Prime Minister Viktor Orban said on Friday. – Reuters 

Prime Minister Boris Johnson urged European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen on Thursday to consider seriously Britain’s proposals to change what he called the “unsustainable” way a Brexit deal is governing trade with Northern Ireland. – Reuters 

France’s Europe minister Clement Beaune rejected on Thursday Britain’s request to renegotiate the Brexit deal governing trade with Northern Ireland, dismissing British accusations of European dogmatism as a “tall tale”. – Reuters 

The U.N. Security Council on Thursday rejected a resolution put forward by Russia and China that would have immediately stripped the powers of the international high representative overseeing implementation of the 1995 peace agreement that ended the devastating war in Bosnia, and eliminated the position entirely in one year. – Associated Press 

German Chancellor Angela Merkel said Thursday that a compromise deal that will allow the completion of a Russian gas pipeline to Europe without the imposition of further U.S. sanctions is “good for Ukraine.” – Associated Press 

Montenegro put an end to a joint federation with Serbia by declaring independence following a bitterly contested referendum in 2006, a move that is still a source of mutual resentment across their shared border. – Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty 

Belarusian strongman Alyaksandr Lukashenka on July 22 pledged to keep up his accelerated “sweep” against activists, media, and other elements of civil society as the country approaches the one-year mark since a disputed presidential election that sparked unprecedented protests. – Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty 

An appeals court in the Czech Republic has sentenced a 41-year-old Belarusian citizen to 21 years in prison for taking part in the war in eastern Ukraine on the side of pro-Russian separatists. – Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty 

A bipartisan group of U.S. lawmakers has called on the administration of Joe Biden to reschedule a visit by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy in order to allow Congress an opportunity to meet the head of state, saying the White House appears to be “play[ing] politics.” – Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty 

Eli Lake writes: Now, some Republican lawmakers, led by Senator Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania, are considering a longshot maneuver to kill the deal with Germany. Under the countering adversaries law, they feel, the administration is obligated to designate Nord Stream 2 AG, the Swiss-based subsidiary overseeing the pipeline, and should not be free to immediately waive such sanctions, as it has in the past. […]It’s unclear if this gambit will work. But either way, it shows just how hollow the Democratic Party’s positioning on Russia was during the Trump years. – Bloomberg 

Senator Ted Cruz writes: Instead of demonstrating strength and following U.S. law by keeping those sanctions, when Biden got elected, he started sending signals he would be soft on Russia, and then he waived the sanctions and is now allowing Putin to finish the pipeline. Overall, Biden handed Putin the biggest gift he’s received in years. He also signaled to Putin that when push comes to shove, the American president is weak and will bow to political pressure. And the State Department knows it and even says it out loud. – Washington Examiner 


Police in Madagascar this week arrested six people, including one foreign citizen, suspected of plotting to kill the president following what officials in the Indian Ocean island nation said was a months-long investigation. – Reuters 

Britain on Thursday sanctioned the son of Equatorial Guinea’s president for misappropriating millions of dollars which London said was spent on luxury mansions, private jets and a $275,000 glove worn by Michael Jackson. – Reuters 

Israel will be joining the African Union as an observer state, the Foreign Ministry announced Thursday. – Times of Israel 

A widening conflict in northern Ethiopia displaced tens of thousands of people, after fighting spread from the Tigray region to neighboring Afar state, a government official said. – Bloomberg 

Tanzanian authorities plan to charge the main opposition leader with conspiracy to commit terrorism, the police said. – Bloomberg 

The Americas

The Biden administration on Thursday imposed sanctions against Cuba’s defense minister and a special forces unit of the Interior Ministry it said was directly involved in human rights abuses during a government crackdown on widespread protests on the island this month. – Washington Post 

Cuba’s communist authorities have for decades treated private entrepreneurs as a threat to be contained, not encouraged. Long after China and Vietnam embraced market reforms, using material prosperity to buttress authoritarian rule, Cuba has clung to an economic model based on centralized planning and state control. – Washington Post  

Cuban citizens took to the streets across the country for the first time in more than six decades to protest against deteriorating living conditions and the lack of basic goods and services, including medical attention amid increasing numbers of coronavirus infections. – Wall Street Journal 

The United States on Thursday announced a special envoy to help coordinate U.S. assistance in Haiti, including efforts promoting long-term peace and elections after the assassination of Haitian president Jovenel Moise this month. – Reuters 

Mexico will send two navy ships loaded with food and medical supplies to Cuba, the foreign ministry said on Thursday, after President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador blamed the U.S. embargo for fomenting the biggest unrest in Cuba in decades. – Reuters 

Seven of the former Colombian servicemen arrested in connection with the July 7 assassination of the Haitian president had received U.S. military training, the Pentagon’s top spokesman confirmed Thursday. – The Hill 

Antonio García Martínez writes: Let the Cuban people tweet and troll and livestream — let them show the world the reality of Cuban communism. For far too long, outsiders with conflicting agendas have been defining the reality of Cuba to Western minds. It’s time for the Cubans to tell their own story —and, perhaps more important, to tell it to their own government. – Washington Post 

Latin America

Britain on Thursday sanctioned one of Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro’s envoys, Alex Saab, in connection with an allegedly corrupt deal to obtain supplies for Maduro’s government-run food subsidy programme. – Reuters 

Colombia has arrested 10 people accused of involvement in attacks on a helicopter carrying President Ivan Duque and a military base last month that officials said on Thursday were planned by former FARC rebel leaders based in Venezuela. – Reuters 

Ecuador’s president declared a state of emergency Thursday in the country’s prisons following fighting between rival gangs that killed 22 inmates and injured dozens. – Associated Press

North America

The U.S. Justice Department moved on Thursday to drop all charges against a Chinese researcher arrested last year over visa fraud in its “China Initiative” that aims to prevent the transfer of U.S. technology. – Reuters 

The U.S. Justice Department on Thursday accused a prosecutor employed by the Chinese government of traveling to the United States to direct a harassment campaign aimed at bullying Chinese residents to return home to face criminal charges. – Reuters 

Justin Trudeau’s government appears unwilling to join the U.S. in hitting Cuba with targeted sanctions against those responsible for repressing a recent wave of protests on the island. – Bloomberg 

CIA Director William Burns said the agency has tripled the size of the medical team investigating cases of “Havana syndrome” attacks. – The Hill 

Brian Atwood writes: History shows that investments in effective development have paid dividends. The goal of self-reliance has been achieved in many developing countries that have now become stable middle income nations. […]The amount we Americans spend on crises that spill over onto our shores has begun to dwarf what we spend on prevention. That makes no sense. The Biden administration has begun to reverse that trend and the effort deserves the support of all Americans. –The Hill 

Brent McIntosh and Ashok Pinto write: U.S. representatives to the World Bank and other international financial institutions are critical to advancing those objectives—as are U.S. Treasury Department officials who coordinate policy for those institutions. The Biden administration can and should lead the charge by promptly nominating forceful leaders who understand the challenges that lie ahead and are willing to roll up their sleeves and work toward pragmatic solutions. With a pandemic still raging, there’s no time to waste. – Foreign Policy 

Margaret K. Lewis writes: It takes more than billions of dollars to strengthen innovation. By reining in the excesses of the present approach and renewing America’s commitment to welcoming the best and brightest minds, the United States can regain an innovative edge that the China Initiative has eroded. – Foreign Policy 


The technology provider at the center of a ransomware attack this month said it obtained a tool to unlock data targeted by hackers in an incident that disrupted hundreds of firms in several countries. – Wall Street Journal  

A cyber attack has disrupted container operations at the South African port of Cape Town, an email seen by Reuters on Thursday said. – Reuters 

French President Emmanuel Macron held an emergency cybersecurity meeting Thursday to weigh possible government action after reports that his cellphone and those of government ministers may have been targeted by spyware. – Associated Press 

The Israel Water Authority announced that it has chosen cybersecurity company SIGA to protect the country’s water utilities against foreign cyberattacks. – Jerusalem Post 

The bipartisan leaders of two Senate committees on Thursday introduced legislation to shore up the cybersecurity of critical infrastructure after months of crippling cyberattacks. – The Hill 

Hungary, Israel and Algeria on Thursday probed allegations that Israeli-made spyware was used on journalists, rights activists and 14 heads of state, as French leader Emmanuel Macron ordered tighter security and changed his phone over espionage concerns. – Agence France-Presse 

Leading cyber policy and strategy experts say that while the US’s Monday formal attribution and response to China for a widespread cyberespionage campaign earlier this year may not be as strong as some would like, it must be viewed as just the first step in a longer campaign to pressure China on its cyberspace activities. – Breaking Defense  

Dakota Cary writes: China’s new policy would enable the behaviors that the United States, NATO and EU countries denounced earlier this week. Putting itself in a privileged position to evaluate and harvest all software vulnerabilities from researchers within China is an audacious implementation of its military-civil fusion strategy: Harnessing the efforts of researchers outside China is a step too far. Vulnerabilities used to be an area of common interest whose public disclosure was largely respected as necessary to improve everyone’s cybersecurity. China’s new policy will weaponize that public good. – The Hill 

Michael Hirsh writes: The administration is also trying to be sensitive to big business’s desire not to go too far in offending Beijing. Even though there are apparently clearer ties between Beijing’s Ministry of State Security and the hackers who were indicted this week than there are between the Kremlin and Russian hackers, Biden is resisting imposing sanctions as he did on Russia after the SolarWinds hack. Partly, that’s because so many U.S. tech companies heavily invest in China. – Foreign Policy 

Elise Labott writes: The United States, in fact, saw the largest worsening on the fragility scale, given some of the country’s largest-ever protests against police violence (that were often met by a heavy-handed reaction by law enforcement) and efforts to delegitimize the election process, which escalated violently in early 2021. This shows it is not enough to have a strong military, a strong economy, and excellent hospitals. We need reconciliation. Eventually, there will be another shock. And if the United States doesn’t come to grips with its fraying social cohesion, it will be at least as vulnerable next time—or even more so. – Foreign Policy 

Rep. Jim Cooper writes: As it matures, the Space Force should remember the phrase “What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas,” because what happens in space should stay in space. This is not permission for the Space Force to misbehave but a rule that the Space Force must clean up its own mess. Outside of Vegas, few people believe your story, even when you are telling the truth. – War on the Rocks 


The Senate Armed Services Committee has approved a $778 billion defense policy bill, adding nearly $25 billion more to the defense budget than the Biden administration requested. – The Hill 

A group of Democratic lawmakers is urging President Biden to be actively involved in his administration’s review of the nation’s nuclear policy and make “bold decisions” that would reduce the role of nuclear weapons in U.S. national security strategy. – The Hill 

A U.S. Army National Guard unit is set to get the first Victor-model Black Hawks this month, Brig. Gen. Robert Barrie, the program executive officer for Army aviation, said in a July 21 press event at the Army Aviation Center of Excellence’s industry day at Fort Rucker, Alabama. – Defense News 

2022 will be a big year for the Zumwalt-class destroyer program, as first-in-class Zumwalt and sister ship Michael Monsoor continue finding their place in the fleet – and perhaps make a debut at a major naval exercise, the head of the surface navy told reporters today. – Defense News  

A bipartisan group of lawmakers wants to require the Pentagon in the upcoming defense policy bill to get a better handle on who sells the military critical technologies to reduce reliance Chinese-sourced products. – Defense News  

The U.S. Space Force successfully delivered the fourth of five planned software updates to its protected satellite communications system, enabling international partners to access new features. – C4ISRNET 

The Senate Armed Services Committee Fiscal Year 2022 authorization bill adds an additional destroyer, a Spearhead-class Expeditionary Fast Transport and five more F-35C Lighting II Joint Strike Fighters for the Navy, according to a summary of the markup issued on Thursday by the SASC. – USNI News  

China and Russia are developing “a suite of capabilities” to threaten American assets in space, according to a top U.S. general who acknowledged the pressure to keep ahead of these adversaries in orbit. – Washington Examiner 

Jamie McIntyre writes: The Senate Armed Services Committee has set down a bipartisan marker, adding $25 billion to President Joe Biden’s proposed $715 billion defense budget. […]It was a stunning rebuke of the Biden budget strategy Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark Milley defended as “an appropriate balance” between preserving present readiness and future modernization but that Republicans derided as “woefully inadequate.” – Washington Examiner 

Bob Nugent writes: Defense procurement is requirements-driven, so ensuring that more is done to address parts and component supplies at the requirements level, and earlier in program life, makes sense. This solution would help industry and government plan ahead, rather than playing catch up during some high-intensity and short-duration crisis that surges demand for key parts and weapons. – The Hill 

Kris Osborn writes: Due to its long-range sensors, an F-35 is capable of finding, tracking, and destroying groups of enemy fighters before it is seen itself, something which has been proven in multiple wargames. […] When fewer numbers of aircraft are able to perform and sustain a mission, then the actual scope of a combat mission can massively expand. Essentially, a smaller number of well-networked F-35s might be able to perform a mission it would otherwise take twenty 4th-gen fighters to complete.  – The National Interest  

Joan Johnson-Freese writes: Now, with U.S. government attention now shifted to great-power competition, integrating women into security sectors across the board can give the United States an important edge over China and Russia. Internal and external implementation of the WPS framework is a security imperative. – War on the Rocks 

Long War

The French army has killed two members of the EIGS “terrorist” group, which France says has links to Islamic State, in Mali, French armed forces minister Florence Parly said on Thursday. – Reuters 

Jared Thompson writes: While French operations have resulted in the killing and capture of senior ISGS commanders, violence has continued to surge and the group has expanded its territorial reach. […]In order to correct this trend and reduce the ISGS threat, military interventions should be reimagined and aim to mollify community conflicts, secure local ceasefires, and emphasize local development and civilian protection. – Center for Strategic and International Studies 

Bruce Hoffman and Jacob Ware write: Counter-terrorism will thrive when governments and citizens think proactively rather than reactively about societal weaknesses and shortcomings, and do so together. Counter-terrorism also remains an essential national security priority: The anniversary of the King David Hotel bombing and Breivik’s attacks demonstrates the power of even less remembered terrorist acts to create profound and lasting effects. – War on the Rocks