Fdd's overnight brief

July 24, 2020

In The News


An American F-15 jet fighter flew within roughly 1,000 meters of an Iranian passenger plane in the vicinity of a U.S. air base in Syria on Thursday, a U.S. defense official said, an incident Iranian media said forced the aircraft to descend abruptly, injuring several passengers onboard before landing in Lebanon. – Wall Street Journal 

Special Presidential Envoy Richard Grenell accused an Iranian-American civil rights organization of serving as the “Iranian regime’s lobby” in a Twitter post. – The National Interest 

International investigators in France have completed the download and preliminary analysis of data from the black boxes recovered from the Ukraine International Airlines (UIA) jet shot down by Iran in January, killing all 176 people on board. – Radio Free Europe/ Radio Liberty

The Democratic Party released on Wednesday a draft of its platform, ahead of a final vote that is expected next week. The foreign policy chapter is calling to return to “mutual compliance” with the 2015 Iran nuclear deal and oppose regime change within the Islamic Republic. – Jerusalem Post 

An Iranian news website has named the suspect that authorities are claiming caused an explosion earlier this month targeting a centrifuge plant at the Natanz nuclear site. – Times of Israel 

Editorial: The Biden campaign says this is the candidate’s current position but didn’t respond when we asked if more details were coming. […]More likely, the mullahs simply will take the financial reprieve from the end of sanctions, spend much of it on regional imperialism, then pursue a nuclear weapon as the accord’s provisions start expiring. We understand that Mr. Biden will face pressure from his left to reverse everything Mr. Trump has done. But does he want a stronger revolutionary Iran on his résumé? – Wall Street Journal

Bobby Ghosh writes: But to promise a unilateral American return to the JCPOA is to ignore the lessons of recent history. “The nuclear deal was always meant to be the beginning, not the end, of our diplomacy with Iran,” say the authors of the Democratic platform. For Khamenei, it was and ever will be the end, not the beginning. As long as he and his ilk remain in power, Iran will remain an intractable menace. – Bloomberg

Mark Kirk and Joe Lieberman write: We must not allow the partisan political differences that divide us — a little over 100 days prior to a general election — to prevent us from developing an architecture that will disincentivize any nation from selling or transferring arms to Iran. Beijing, Moscow and Tehran won’t wait. Neither should we. – New York Daily News

Michael Eisenstadt writes: In particular, Iran would likely focus even greater resources on acquiring dual-use components, production technology, and special materials needed to upgrade its existing systems and advance its domestic arms industry. […]As experience has shown, further Iranian progress of this type would disadvantage the United States and its allies, with potentially unsettling consequences for regional stability and global oil markets. – Washington Institute


Friday prayers will be held for the first time at Istanbul’s Hagia Sophia since President Tayyip Erdogan declared the building once again a mosque after a top Turkish court ruled in favour of annulling its museum status. […]- A spokesman for the U.S. State Department said the United States was disappointed by the decision but looked forward to hearing Turkey’s plans for continued stewardship of the Hagia Sophia to ensure it remains accessible to all. – Reuters

French President Emmanuel Macron on Thursday demanded EU sanctions against Turkey for “violations” of Greek and Cypriot waters and said the European Union should act over the crisis in Libya. – Reuters

Turkey warned Egypt against any deployment of forces in the Libyan civil war and sharply criticized French President Emmanuel Macron’s role, highlighting the threat of escalating violence and geopolitical rivalries in the oil-rich country. – Bloomberg 

Greece warned Thursday it will do “whatever is necessary” to defend its sovereign rights in response to plans by neighboring Turkey to proceed with an oil-and-gas research mission south of Greek islands in the eastern Mediterranean. – Associated Press 

Turkey is headed for a showdown with Twitter, YouTube and Facebook after pushing ahead with a proposal to block social media sites if they refuse to comply with stringent new conditions. – Financial Times 

Turkish Rear Admiral Mustafa Ugurlu, a top officer at a NATO training command in Norfolk, Va., was just wrapping up a meeting when an aide rushed up to him. […]American military officers privately say that a number of officers arrested with whom they worked closely were clearly not culpable in the coup, but were suspect because they either worked for NATO or spent time in the US. – NPR 

Nathalie Tocci writes: Rather than banging our heads against the brick wall of mild confrontation, time has come for the EU — via Paris, Athens and Nicosia — to opt for a U-turn, and start treating Turkey as a partner, rather than an adversary. – Politico


The PLO Executive Committee is calling on the international community to formulate a mechanism to exert pressure on the “Israeli occupation” in order to stop its “aggression and crimes” against the Palestinian people, to impose sanctions against it, to boycott it and to prosecute it. – Arutz Sheva 

Palestinian Authority (PA) chairman Mahmoud Abbas on Thursday said he is willing to return to peace negotiations with Israel as soon as it retracts its plan to apply sovereignty over parts of Judea and Samaria. – Arutz Sheva 

Israel on Thursday freed a senior leader of Hamas in the West Bank after imprisoning him without trial for 16 months, his son said. Hassan Yousef, a co-founder of the Gaza-based terror group, was arrested on April 2 last year at his home near Ramallah. – Agence France-Presse 

Rep. Doug Lamborn writes: I am committed to working with the administration, with my colleagues in Congress, and with the many private citizens in the U.S. and Israel who want our relationship to grow even stronger, to see that this bureaucratic injustice is corrected. The American people’s desire to maintain and strengthen our deep friendship with Israel must be reflected throughout the whole of our government. – Washington Examiner 

Amotz Asa-El writes: Obviously, should China set out to arm Iran, Israel will have to respond. Otherwise, this deal should be seen as part of China’s Belt and Road Initiative and, by extension, as part of its broader Cold War with the US. And these things are much bigger than us Israelis. – Jerusalem Post  


France told Lebanon on Thursday it had no option other than an IMF deal to escape a financial crisis worsening by the day, and Beirut must enact reforms urgently if it is to win foreign aid. – Reuters

This potentially gives Hezbollah a longer arm in terms of retaliation options. Combining its infrastructure in Lebanon with precision-guided weapons and allies in the West Bank or Gaza may appeal to its asymmetrical warfare plans. This would add a new threat to its arsenal and also not risk a border escalation. – Jerusalem Post 

Amos Harel writes: Nasrallah, who emerged poorly from the strategic draw that was created with Israel in the 2006 war, isn’t eager to reprise the experience, even if it also left scars on the southern side of the border. At times, or so it appears to those observing Nasrallah from here, he behaves like the responsible adult of the Shi’ite axis and hastens to restrain overly ambitious ideas entertained by his patrons in Tehran and Damascus. – Haaretz

Middle East & North Africa

Saudi Arabia’s octogenarian King Salman underwent laparoscopic surgery Thursday to remove an inflamed gallbladder, prompting a call from President Trump to the kingdom’s crown prince to check on the ruler’s health. […]The health of both monarchs is being monitored closely as they preside over longtime U.S. allies that host thousands of American troops, together control around a fifth of the world’s proven oil reserves and are strategically positioned near Iran. – Wall Street Journal

A former Unaoil Group manager was sentenced to five years in prison in the U.K. after he was found guilty of conspiring to bribe public officials in Iraq to secure a $55 million contract there, the U.K.’s white-collar-crime prosecuting agency said Thursday. – Wall Street Journal

On July 22, 2020, Sabreen News, a Telegram channel affiliated with Iran-backed factions in Iraq, published a statement on behalf of Ma’sida [i.e. lions] Cyber Team, in which it claimed responsibility for the hacking of the social media accounts of Anas Ebraheem, an Iraqi-American social media influencer. – Middle East Media Research Institute 

The head of naval forces in the Middle East said Chinese actions in the region don’t pose a threat today but could lead to challenges down the road, with China laying the groundwork to gain economic and military leverage over countries in the Horn of Africa and the Arabian Peninsula. – USNI News

Michael Land and Diana Barany write: This Russian entrenchment poses risks to regional stability on the border of US allies Israel and Jordan and furthers Russia’s goals of building itself up as a mediator of regional conflicts. However, this entrenchment also presents opportunities for the United States. Long-term competition between Assad, Russia, and Iran imposes costs on all three regimes, all of which are already struggling under US sanctions. Russia taking a stronger stand against Iran in Syria’s south also increases the costs of Iran trying to build its presence in the region and limits the maneuverability of its proxies and access to key sources of income such as smuggling. – Institute for the Study of War

Korean Peninsula

One of South Korea’s most notorious fugitives was arrested in the United States this week on ​ embezzlement charges ​at home stemming from the 2014 sinking of a ferry that killed more than 300 people, many of them high school students. Yoo Hyuk-kee, 48, was arrested on Wednesday without incident at his home in Westchester County, N.Y., in response to an extradition request that South Korea submitted to the United States, a Justice Department spokeswoman said. – New York Times 

South Korea should postpone military exercises with the United States in the hope of drawing North Korea back into talks, the South Korean politician set to take over responsibility for relations with the North said on Thursday. – Reuters

South Korea warned that Japan risked reigniting tensions if it didn’t acknowledge past forced labor abuses, saying Seoul was prepared to build a regional coalition to hold Tokyo to account for its colonial behavior. – Bloomberg 

Timothy S. Rich, Madelynn Einhorn and Andi Dahmer write: Without a deal, local South Koreans working on U.S. military bases could lose their jobs, which is particularly concerning during the coronavirus pandemic and global economic downturn. Such actions could be viewed as weakening U.S. support of South Korea, and, as many countries begin the question the necessity of U.S. military assistance, this action may also undermine pandemic cooperation and hinder American soft power in Asia. – The National Interest


Retaliating for the Trump administration’s order to close China’s consulate in Houston, China announced on Friday that it had told the United States to shut its consulate in the southwestern city of Chengdu. – New York Times  

China’s Communist Party expelled an influential businessman who has been an outspoken critic of Chinese leader Xi Jinping, as prosecutors prepare corruption charges in a case likely to chill dissent within the Beijing elite. – Wall Street Journal

The U.S. State Department is preparing for Beijing to close one or more U.S. consulates in China after Washington ordered the abrupt shutdown of the Chinese Consulate in Houston. – Wall Street Journal

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo called on the Chinese people to alter the ruling Communist Party’s direction in a speech explaining the Trump administration’s full-throttle response to an assertive China. – Wall Street Journal

The Mekong River has become a new front in U.S.-China rivalry, environmentalists and officials say, with Beijing overtaking Washington in both spending and influence over downstream countries at the mercy of its control of the river’s waters. – Reuters

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo took fresh aim at China on Thursday and said Washington and its allies must use “more creative and assertive ways” to press the Chinese Communist Party to change its ways, calling it the “mission of our time.” – Reuters

A flight bound for Shanghai carrying U.S. diplomats has left the United States as Washington presses ahead with its plan to restaff its mission in China a day after an American order to close the Chinese consulate in Houston sharply escalated tensions. – Reuters

China’s embassy on Thursday hit back at French criticism of Beijing’s treatment of Uighur Muslims, saying French politicians were being misled by a slanderous American, Australian and British campaign. – Reuters

President Donald Trump said that the trade accord with China means “much less to me” because of what he called that country’s role in the spread of the coronavirus. – Bloomberg 

China said Thursday that “malicious slander” is behind an order by the U.S. government to close its consulate in Houston, Texas, maintaining that its officials never operated outside ordinary diplomatic rules. – Associated Press

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s speech slamming China was an “angry lament” and “extended ideological rant” that would do little to change Beijing’s behavior, said a former top American diplomat to Asia. – CNBC

Editorial: The Financial Times has argued for realistic engagement with China. Whether on climate change, trade or global health, the country is too important to ignore. On many topics it will be a key plank in solving the common problems facing humanity. On the issue of Xinjiang, however, there can be no prevarication. For western governments to do otherwise would be to share in China’s moral shame. – Financial Times 

Keith Bradsher and Steven Lee Myers write: Behind the scenes, senior Chinese officials seem to have little desire to escalate the tensions even further, concerned that any moves could play into President Trump’s hands as he mounts his re-election campaign. A highly visible showdown with China could distract Americans from Mr. Trump’s botched response to the pandemic and allow him to campaign as a leader who is defending his country against a foreign power. – New York Times 

Gloria Xiong writes: Despite tensions at the national level, local governments in China still remain “very welcoming” to U.S. and other foreign investors. The Ministry of Commerce also urged local authorities to better accommodate foreign companies in their efforts to restart operations amid the pandemic. With Beijing looking at foreign investment as part of China’s pandemic economic recovery, China’s economic retaliation measures may turn out to be more symbolic than powerful. – Washington Post

Rep. Kay Granger writes: In the years to come, China will almost certainly grow at an exponential pace. We cannot allow American strength to suffer as a result, nor can we allow American lives to be put at risk because of a lack of medical equipment. This administration and Congress are laser focused on these issues, and I am committed to protecting America and its way of life. – The Hill 

Tom Rogan writes: In short, by closing the Houston consulate, the U.S. has limited Chinese action by cutting off that action at its source. This will allow FBI agents to be reassigned to support counterintelligence monitoring at other Chinese embassies. Closing a U.S. consulate in China, Beijing won’t do much to degrade American intelligence gathering. – Washington Examiner

South Asia

With the start of peace talks between the Taliban and the government delayed by months, the Afghan war has spiraled into a deadlier phase, even as the United States continues to withdraw its forces. Car bombs, roadside bombs and airstrikes wreak carnage across the country, killing dozens of Afghans everyday. – New York Times  

Pakistan’s military this week said there had been an escalation in firing and shelling across the de facto border that separates Pakistani and Indian-controlled Kashmir, at a time of heightened diplomatic tensions between the nuclear-armed neighbours. – Reuters

India slapped new trade curbs on some of its neighbors, in a move primarily seen aimed at keeping Chinese businesses out after a border conflict and worsening economic ties between the two nations. – Bloomberg

Sadanand Dhume writes: At its heart, though, India’s bet conceals a wish: that Russia’s past as a great power will prevent it from subordinating itself to China. This is unrealistic. Since its annexation of Crimea in 2014, Russia has increasingly turned to China for trade, investment, technology and international prestige. – Wall Street Journal

Anders Corr writes: If Burma’s government continues to resist the voluntary repatriation of the Rohingyas, as it has done up until now, then repatriation should be swiftly executed under the protection of an international peacekeeping force. […]Unfortunately, military force must now be considered a viable alternative given Burma’s intransigence and flagrant violation of the norms against genocide. The Kosovo success exemplifies what could be repeated in Rakhine. – The National Interest


China’s tightening grip on Hong Kong has some in the West predicting the city’s days as a global financial center are numbered. Beijing, however, is betting the former British colony will grow into a bigger and more lucrative capital-raising hub for Chinese businesses. – Wall Street Journal

The United States has begun talks with Japan about deploying mobile U.S. Marine units in Okinawa armed with anti-ship and air defense missiles that would work closely with Japanese forces on islands that prevent easy access to the Pacific for China’s military, the Marine Corps commandant said on Thursday. – Reuters 

Australian warships have encountered China’s navy in the disputed South China Sea at a time of heightened diplomatic tensions between the two countries. – The Guardian 

The chairs of eight parliamentary foreign affairs committees from across Europe have written to the Chinese government in opposition to Hong Kong’s new security law, saying it infringes on “basic human rights” in their countries. – The Guardian 

Devin Stewart writes: While other studies have noted China’s influence in Japan is limited, this new report seeks to explain why that is the case. The report considers the malign and benign tactics used by the Chinese Communist Party in Japanese society; evaluates the objectives and effectiveness of these tactics; considers the factors that can explain Japan’s passive and active resilience toward foreign influence; and describes how Japan has sought to promote its own global image. – Center for Strategic and International Studies


Russia conducted an unusual anti-satellite test earlier this month, provoking concern that Moscow is working to improve its capability to attack American space-based systems, the U.S Space Command said on Thursday. – Wall Street Journal

The White House said President Trump spoke Thursday with Russian President Vladimir Putin on “efforts to defeat the coronavirus pandemic while continuing to reopen global economies.” – Wall Street Journal

Britain is concerned about a Russian satellite test which involved the launch of a projectile with the “characteristics of a weapon”, a British official said on Thursday, calling on Russia to behave responsibly in space. – Reuters

The top U.S. diplomat says the Soviet occupation and annexation of the Baltic states of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania in 1940 was “a criminal act” and draws parallel with present-day Russia’s military maneuvers in Ukraine and Georgia. – Associated Press 

The Russian state media watchdog has posted a draft instruction on how media outlets who have been registered as “foreign agents” must identify that fact in published or broadcast materials. – Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty

Prosecutors in the northern Russian city of Petrozavodsk have said they will appeal the 3 1/2-year prison term given to historian Yury Dmitriyev. […]Dmitriyev was convicted of “violent acts of a sexual nature committed against a person under 14 years of age,” allegations he denies and that he believes are aimed at stopping his research into the crimes of Soviet dictator Josef Stalin. – Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty

David Ignatius writes: How can the United States avoid making this messy situation even worse? As tempting at it might be to encourage more Russian-Turkish feuding, a better idea would be a diplomatic engagement through the Minsk Group co-chair framework. It’s the one significant diplomatic arena where Moscow and Washington still actively collaborate. Armenian and Azerbaijani officials seem eager for such great-power mediation. – Washington Post

Janusz Bugajski writes: But despite his calculations, Putin’s empire-building may also backfire at home. […]Paradoxically, instead of distracting attention from domestic woes, a foreign offensive can both exacerbate and refocus public anger. A costly escapade that further impoverishes and isolates Russia may help convince large sectors of the Russian population that the only solution is Putin’s ouster. – The Hill


As Western diplomats try to revive stalled talks on normalising ties between Serbia and Kosovo, Bosnian Serb leaders on Thursday put pressure on Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic to include the status of their own region in any future negotiations. – Reuters

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson praised the “strength of the union” on Thursday, using a visit to Scotland to dismiss the possibility of a new independence referendum for a nation that is increasingly at odds with his government. – Reuters 

Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko on Thursday threatened to expel foreign journalists whom he accused of inciting protests against him ahead of an August election, urging them to focus on the harvest instead. – Reuters

Britain and the European Union clashed on Thursday over the chances of securing a free trade agreement, with Brussels deeming it “unlikely” but London holding out hope one could be reached in September. – Reuters 

Allegations that President Donald Trump’s envoy to Britain made inappropriate remarks about women and minorities and may have violated federal ethics rules are roiling the U.S. Embassy in London. – Associated Press 

Airbus announced on Friday that it had moved to eliminate subsidies deemed illegal by the World Trade Organization in the latest move to end a long-running dispute with the US over state aid to aircraft manufacturers. – Financial Times

The European parliament’s biggest parties have threatened to reject the EU’s coronavirus budget, demanding increased spending on common projects and a stronger rule of law mechanism as their price for backing the deal. – Financial Times

Documents obtained by RFE/RL, outlined in an exposé published on July 23, show how the fates of several men were decided by the “tribunals,” established by Igor Girkin, a former Russian intelligence officer better known by his nom de guerre Igor Strelkov, on the basis of a draconian law conceived by dictator Josef Stalin and imposed shortly after Germany invaded the Soviet Union in World War II. – Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty


A Nigerian terrorist group has executed five men — three of them aid workers — who disappeared while providing assistance in the northeastern state of Borno last month. A video surfaced on Wednesday showing the men kneeling and blindfolded. They were then shot. – New York Times  

A French soldier was killed in Mali on Thursday morning after combat operations against militants, President Emmanuel Macron’s office said. – Reuters

Presidents from five West African countries arrive in Mali on Thursday to try to negotiate an end to a political crisis that has rocked the country and raised fears it could undermine a regional fight against Islamist militants. – Reuters 

A prominent South Sudanese activist has fled to the United States with the help of the U.S. government, which issued emergency visas to him and his family after he said South Sudan’s president ordered him abducted or killed. – Associated Press 

Peter Biar Ajak writes: If nothing changes, the world will have squandered billions of dollars to create another African failed state led by a brutal dictator. But if the people of South Sudan can exercise their rights and elect their own president, their dreams for peace, development, human rights and a real democracy may finally come true. – Wall Street Journal

The Americas

The United States on Thursday imposed sanctions on two Venezuelans over accusations they helped support the government and son of Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro, the latest actions by Washington targeting the socialist leader. – Reuters 

The director-general of the World Health Organization upbraided U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Thursday for “untrue and unacceptable” allegations during the coronavirus pandemic after British media reported that Pompeo made a comment about the health agency chief having been “bought” by China. – Associated Press  

Authorities in Colombia have seized a luxury mansion complete with a spa, tennis court and two pools allegedly belonging to a businessman detained in Cape Verde on U.S. corruption charges related to Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro. –  Associated Press 

Adm. Craig Faller, head of U.S. Southern Command, the geographic combatant command responsible for U.S. interests in Central and South America and the Caribbean, lowered his camo mask for a recent Zoom video call with the Washington Examiner. The 11 combatant commanders represent the third-highest tier of defense officials following the commander in chief and the secretary of defense. – Washington Examiner


Cybersecurity researchers revealed on Thursday a newfound vulnerability in an app that controls the world’s most popular consumer drones, threatening to intensify the growing tensions between China and the United States. – New York Times 

A Dutch politician whose “verified” Twitter account was among those taken over by hackers this month told Reuters on Thursday the company believes his private messages had been accessed, potentially exposing dissidents in other countries. – Reuters

The U.S. intelligence community (IC) on Thursday rolled out an “ethics guide” and framework for how intelligence agencies can responsibly develop and use artificial intelligence (AI) technologies. – The Hill

The National Security Agency (NSA) and the Department of Homeland Security’s Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) on Thursday warned that foreign hackers are attempting to target U.S. critical infrastructure.  – The Hill

The Senate version of the annual National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) approved Thursday included a raft of measures designed to shore up federal cybersecurity, including a clause giving the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) cybersecurity agency subpoena power. – The Hill

Top members of the US Senate committee overseeing trade have issued a warning shot to the UK over its hopes of a swift deal because of the country’s newly implemented digital services tax. – Financial Times

The COVID-19 pandemic is evidence that Russia and China have accelerated adoption of their age-old influence and disinformation tactics to the modern era, national security experts and military leaders said. – C4ISRNET

Cole Stevens writes: While the considerations of 2016 are understandable, neither the intelligence community, nor the executive branch more broadly, have reason to be caught off guard again. Greater transparency is needed going forward, for the 2020 election and beyond. Today the intelligence community, its congressional overseers, and the public are well aware of foreign efforts to influence elections and democratic processes. Lessons learned should be applied. Center for a New American Security


The Senate passed an annual defense-policy bill on Thursday with strong support from both parties, 86-14, despite President Trump’s opposition to a provision that would rename military bases honoring the Confederacy. – Wall Street Journal

White House officials are expected to announce Friday a new interpretation of an export control agreement, which the defense industry hopes will lead to increased sales of military unmanned vehicles abroad, sources tell Defense News. – Defense News

Boeing, Northrop Grumman, General Atomics and Kratos will move forward in the Air Force program to build an AI-enabled drone wingman known as Skyborg. – Defense News

As defense spending flattens, it may be difficult for the Defense Department to further push down the unit cost of the F-35 joint strike fighter, the head of the Pentagon’s joint program office said Wednesday. – Defense News

Despite numerous warnings of critical problems from experts within and outside the government over roughly 10 years, the cost to develop the now-canceled Redesigned Kill Vehicle program for homeland missile defense more than tripled, and the program’s schedule slipped by four years, a new U.S. government watchdog report reveals. – Defense News

The U.S. Navy is over the halfway mark in certifying the new aircraft carrier Gerald R. Ford’s 11 advanced weapons elevators, which have been at the center of an ongoing controversy over delays in getting the Navy’s most expensive-ever warship ready for its first deployment. – Defense News

The Defense Innovation Unit has selected Ball Aerospace to develop a new prototype antenna for the U.S. Navy’s new stealth destroyers, the company announced July 21. – C4ISRNET

On January 6, 2011, after spending approximately $3 billion in developmental funding, the Marine Corps cancelled the Expeditionary Fighting Vehicle (EFV) program due to poor reliability demonstrated during operational testing and excessive cost growth. Because the EFV was intended to replace the 40-year-old Amphibious Assault Vehicle (AAV), the Pentagon pledged to move quickly to develop a “more affordable and sustainable” vehicle to replace the EFV – USNI News

Jack Detsch writes: The Trump administration fears that China will more than double its nuclear arsenal over the next decade, senior defense officials said, as it is likely to move away from its traditional “minimum deterrence” approach toward a full array of nuclear-armed bombers, submarines, and ballistic missiles. […]At a time of heightened international tensions, some arms control experts wonder about the wisdom of trying to rope in China rather than renew the deal with Russia, America’s major nuclear rival. – Foreign Policy

Bryan Clark and Dan Patt write: New classes of unmanned ships and robotic ground vehicles could also benefit from this approach, forming a force better suited to the emerging combat concept called Joint All-Domain Operations. But applying the Digital Century Series approach to the most expensive, constrained, and tightly-integrated platforms in the U.S. military is likely to kill the idea in its infancy. In a coming era of budget constraints, the U.S. military cannot afford to waste time or money on another failed attempt at disruptive innovation. – Breaking Defense

Long War

The latent danger posed by thousands of defeated and captured fighters who joined the Islamic State (IS) group is festering and growing in the squalid, overcrowded prison camps of north-east Syria, where riots and attempted breakouts are becoming commonplace. – BBC 

There has been a significant rise in ISIS attacks in Iraq and Syria, with the group exploiting security gaps in Iraq caused by the coronavirus pandemic to relaunch and invigorate its rural insurgency in the country, according to a report submitted to the UN Security Council that was made public on Thursday. – CNN 

Two of the British ISIS terrorists dubbed the “Beatles” further incriminated themselves in the mistreatment of Western hostages in Syria, including Americans Kayla Mueller and James Foley, in interviews obtained exclusively by NBC News. – NBC News