Fdd's overnight brief

July 30, 2021

FDD Research & Analysis

In The News


The U.S. plans a sanctions campaign against Iran’s evolving capabilities for precision strikes using drones and guided missiles, according to U.S. officials, amid concerns over the threat these weapons represent to American and allied interests. – Wall Street Journal 

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said on Thursday the negotiating process with Iran to revive a 2015 nuclear deal could not go on indefinitely, and that the ball is in Tehran’s court. – Reuters 

Human Rights Watch (HRW) has called on Iranian authorities to “immediately and unconditionally” release those detained during protests against water shortages and economic hardships in Khuzestan and other provinces and to investigate the abusive use of lethal force. – Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty 

Iran has experienced recent issues with rolling blackouts and power shortages that have been blamed on new bitcoin mining farms in the region. After suffering through numerous power outages in Tehran and several other large cities, the Iranian government has placed the blame on Bitcoin miners. – Yahoo News 

Iran’s new president, Ebrahim Raisi, is due to take office next week on August 3, though aspects of the transition are expected to continue into mid-August. – Jerusalem Post 

Eli Lake writes: The overriding goal of all this outreach, and the main objective of the president’s Iran policy, should be to support the efforts of Iran’s people to achieve a democratic transition. The alternative to this approach is to patiently cajole an ailing supreme leader to limit his nuclear program while his ailing country collapses around him. – Bloomberg  

Tabby Refael writes: Over 40 years ago, some Iranians joined Khomeini in chanting “Death to Israel!” and “Death to America!” Today, their children chant against Hamas and Hezbollah. Iran’s misguided foreign policy, which effectively abandons Iranians at home for terrorists abroad, has left its own citizens enraged and seeking justice. And you can bet that those citizens are keeping count of that injustice—by the billions. – Newsweek 


Syrian rebels waged a spate of mortar attacks on Syrian army checkpoints in the southern province of Deraa in the biggest flare-up of violence since government forces retook the restive region three years ago, rebels, residents and the army said on Thursday. – Reuters  

Josh Rogin writes: Biden’s team faces the same question as the president’s predecessors: What are the options — short of military intervention — that could actually change the calculus of Moscow and Assad? More sanctions, targeting all Syrians involved in war crimes and the companies that aid them, would be useful but hardly enough. Biden must make clear that Assad can’t kill his way back into the good graces of the international community. – Washington Post 

Lazer Berman writes: It is clear that Iran is not about to stop sending Iranian troops and proxy militias to Syria. At the same time, Israel has shown a firm resolve not to let that happen, and has demonstrated that its intelligence and operational capabilities give it a distinct advantage over Iran in Syria. Russia as well is here to stay, along with its advanced air defense systems that could threaten Israel’s dominance in the skies over Syria. – Times of Israel 

Oula A. Alrifai and Ali Alleile write: To be sure, the United States has a full agenda of other regional and global issues to address with Iran and Russia. As it pursues negotiations and seeks agreements on these issues, however, it should be under no illusions that Tehran and Moscow will voluntarily abandon their ambitions to establish complete military and political control in northeast Syria. – Washington Institute  


The tension between Turkey and Google reflects how growing animosity toward Silicon Valley giants is popping up even in places, like Turkey, with little history of antitrust enforcement against the industry. The efforts threaten to upend conditions — an open global internet and light-touch government regulation — that have helped fuel the growth of those companies in the past two decades. – New York Times  

The U.N. Security Council on Thursday again demanded that Turkey and Turkish Cypriots immediately reverse all actions to reopen the abandoned resort of Varosha and backed further talks “in the near future” on reunifying the divided Mediterranean island. – Associated Press 

Three people died in a forest fire in southern Turkey on Thursday where authorities were battling multiple blazes for a second day amid suspicions of arson, the country’s AFAD disaster agency and the agriculture minister said. – Reuters  

Michael Rubin writes: But in addition to being an assault on the truth, Turkey’s willingness to use the rhetoric of anti-imperialism to promote itself at the expense of Western security comes at a potential cost to American lives, giving the green light to Ankara-backed jihadists. It is time for Secretary of State Antony Blinken to stand up, acknowledge Turkey is no partner and call the country what it is: a 21st-century colonizer that poses a growing threat to world peace. – Newsweek 


An Israeli-owned merchant ship reportedly came under attack off the coast of Oman in the Arabian Sea, the British military said Friday, offering few other details about the incident. – Associated Press  

In 1971, under heavy secrecy, Israel built two detention camps in the Sinai Peninsula where innocent Palestinians were sent. One was used for the families of Fatah members who were suspected of terrorism, one was for unemployed young men. – Haaretz 

Israeli troops shot and killed a 20-year-old Palestinian man, Palestinian health officials said, during clashes that erupted in the occupied West Bank following the funeral of a Palestinian boy killed by army fire the previous day. – Associated Press 

US and Israeli troops have finished the week-long Juniper Falcon drill which tested the level of coordination between the two countries in the event of a ballistic missile threat against Israel. – Jerusalem Post  

Thirty years after establishing diplomatic relations with Israel, Azerbaijan inaugurated its Trade and Tourism office in Tel Aviv on Thursday, a preliminary step to the opening of the Azeri Embassy, the Tourism Ministry said. – Jerusalem Post 

Ruthie Blum writes: Indeed, the PA fosters anti-Israel sentiment and antisemitic violence among its populace, illustrating that any Western efforts at Israeli-Palestinian peace is a fantasy that won’t be realized until the powers-that-be in Ramallah and Gaza City are replaced by leaders who exchange their missiles, bombs, guns and knives for judo mats. – Jerusalem Post  

Julie Hammerman writes: Launching a counter controversy assault on Ben & Jerry’s and Unilever may or may not make the company back away from supporting BDS, but more importantly, it will signal to the CEOs of the 124 global (non-Israeli) companies actively being pressured by BDS that the controversy doesn’t go away once the company acquiesces to BDS — it only gets worse. – Algemeiner 


The House Subcommittee on the Middle East, North Africa and Global Counterterrorism met on Thursday to discuss Lebanon’s “political paralysis, economic crisis and challenges to US policy. – Jerusalem Post 

As Beirut prepares to mark the first anniversary of a blast that flattened large swathes of the city, politicians and senior security officials have yet to be questioned in a formal investigation. – Reuters 

David Schenker writes: Lebanon is not Hezbollah. To be sure, Hezbollah dominates Lebanon and will not be displaced anytime soon. The LAF will not militarily target the terrorist organization, and politicians and activists who too vocally oppose the group’s diktat are threatened or killed. The U.S. response to this dynamic should not be to leave Lebanon to become a full-fledged satrapy of Iran. – Washington Institute 

Gulf States

The United States is negotiating with Kuwait and other countries whether they can host Afghans who supported the American war effort and could face Taliban revenge attacks if they stay in Afghanistan, America’s top diplomat said Thursday. – Associated Press 

The United Arab Emirates has sent six Yemeni detainees who were first held at the U.S. base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and then in the Gulf Arab federation, to their home nation of Yemen, the families of the men and a government official said Thursday. – Associated Press 

Qatar’s emir approved laws on Thursday for the Gulf Arab state’s first legislative election in October, when Qataris will elect two-thirds of the advisory Shura Council, his office said. – Reuters 

Qatar’s Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani on Thursday named ambassadors to Egypt and Libya, his office said, as the Gulf Arab state moves to improve ties with some regional states. – Reuters 

Lauren Morganbesser writes: Although still neutral, Oman’s increased role in negotiations in Yemen show its increasing importance as a regional player, and its prioritization of stability over noninvolvement. Whether this policy will spread elsewhere is still unclear, but for the time being, watching Oman’s actions in Yemen is pivotal to understanding the future of the country in the region. – Jerusalem Post 

Middle East & North Africa

Tunisia, the country whose protest movement promised to transform the Middle East a decade ago, is in turmoil after its president suspended parliament and seized executive power this week, stirring concerns that the only democracy to emerge from the Arab Spring uprisings is slipping back to autocracy. – Wall Street Journal  

Despite Seif’s ghostlike status, his presidential aspirations are being taken very seriously. During the talks that formed Libya’s current government, Seif’s supporters were allowed to participate, and they have so far maneuvered deftly to beat back election rules that would bar him from running. – New York Times  

The United Arab Emirates’ foreign minister, Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed expressed his country’s full confidence and support for Tunisia in a phone call with his Tunisian counterpart, bin Zayed’s office said in a tweet on Thursday. – Reuters 

Tunisia’s President Kais Saied on Thursday appointed a former national security adviser as interior minister, days after grabbing power in what his opponents labelled a “coup”. – Agence France-Presse 

Tunisian President Kais Saied’s firing of Prime Minister Hichem Mechichi and his suspension of the parliament and removal of lawmakers’ immunity met with approval from many Arab states. These measures taken by Saied, aimed at removing from power the Ennahda party, headed by parliamentary speaker Rachid Ghannouchi, which is an affiliate of the Muslim Brotherhood (MB), were perceived as a historic move marking the end of the MB era in the country that spearheaded the Arab Spring uprisings in the Arab world. – Middle East Media Research Institute  

Editorial: But the prime minister’s ouster reeks of a purge. Saied’s mass deployment of security forces seems unlikely to restore democratic order quickly. Unsurprisingly, the country’s vibrant array of political parties is unhappy. […] Biden must not sacrifice America’s commitment to Tunisia’s democratic future. He should condemn Saied’s action and threaten swift financial pain and other consequences for any failure to restore Tunisia’s democracy promptly. – Washington Examiner 

Bilal Y. Saab writes: Unlike in Afghanistan, we have much to work with in Iraq (although the corruption problem is probably as big in Baghdad as it is in Kabul): a less unstable political foundation, more capable units within the Iraqi army, a more literate Iraqi society, a more permissible security environment, and a reform-oriented prime minister. Let’s effectively leverage these conditions and commit to moving our relationship with Iraq from crisis mode to proactive planning. – Middle East Institute 

Tarek Amara and Angus Mcdowall write: Although it has retained a staunchly loyal base of supporters, who turned out in February for a massive rally in Tunis in a show of strength, the party has been closely associated with years of economic failure. That has dented the popularity of Ennahda, along with its role in fractious national politics that many Tunisians blame for paralysing misgovernance, as unemployment has risen and public services declined. – Reuters 

Korean Peninsula

At the beginning of the summer, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un described the country’s food situation as “tense” after border closures caused by the coronavirus pandemic and crippling floods. By midsummer, a cycle of grinding heat and record-low rainfall could be a sign of a greater food crisis and hunger ahead. – Washington Post 

North Korea said Friday that leader Kim Jong Un called for stronger capability to cope with any foreign provocation as he met with military officers ahead of annual drills next month between South Korea and the United States that Pyongyang views as an invasion rehearsal. – Associated Press 

The Korean marksman Jin Jong-oh has criticised the International Olympic Committee for allowing a member of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps to compete and win a gold medal in the 10-metre air pistol event, saying: “How can a terrorist win first place? That’s the most absurd and ridiculous thing.” – The Guardian 

Hawon Jung writes: Many South Korean women refuse to return to antiquated ideals of unquestioning, uncomplaining mothers and caregivers. Our feminist awakening has given us the language to redefine our lives and name the resentment we couldn’t describe before. – New York Times  


Beijing is right to see anticompetitive practices in its internet tech sector as a major problem. But when a government comes to believe it can snap its fingers and create—or destroy—whole industries at will, things can easily go awry. And the “disorderly” expansion of private capital has produced immense wealth for the country and its people. – Wall Street Journal 

A Hong Kong court sentenced a protester to nine years in prison on Friday for terrorism and inciting secession, highlighting the power of a sweeping new national security law to deter those who might speak out against the authorities. – New York Times 

China moved to ease investor concerns about crackdowns on listed companies, with a top regulator privately telling global financial firms that Beijing will consider the market impact before introducing future policies, people familiar with the matter said. – Wall Street Journal   

For decades, though, politics got in the way of Olympic achievement. Because its rival Taiwan competed in the Games as the Republic of China, Beijing boycotted the Summer Games until 1984, when Taiwan was renamed Chinese Taipei for Olympic competition. – New York Times  

The U.S. expressed concern over harassment and intimidation of foreign correspondents in China, marking an escalation of the two nations’ dispute over the work of journalists. – Bloomberg  

The U.S. military is warning about what analysts have described as a major expansion of China’s nuclear missile silo fields at a time of heightened tension between Beijing and Washington. – Associated Press 

The U.S. will “cut itself” if it continues its gradual support for Taiwan, China’s Defense Ministry said on Thursday, warning of “severe consequences.” – Newsweek 

Joseph C. Sternberg writes: As for the Western investors, no one thought buying a Chinese “share” in a VIE was the same as buying a normal stock. But they may well be guilty of misjudging the risk against which they hoped to earn their big returns. Wall Street tended to view these investments as speculative bets on China’s future economic growth. Really, investors were placing a bet on the limits of Beijing’s perception of foreign investors’ own usefulness to its political goals. – Wall Street Journal  

Edward Lucas writes: China reacted with fury as HMS Queen Elizabeth, the Royal Navy’s largest vessel, entered the South China Sea. The aircraft carrier has American warplanes on board and leads a flotilla including a Dutch warship. […]Aside from abundant sound and fury, what’s all this for? The Americans are hinting that Britain might be “more helpful” propping up the rickety defense of Europe. But that doesn’t fit with the post-Brexit  image of a buccaneering “Global Britain.” – Center for European Policy Analysis  

Danielle Pletka and Brett D. Schaefer write: And there are other growing challenges to civilian air traffic routes. In recent years, China has exploited loopholes in the Chicago Convention that underpins ICAO to advance its disputed territorial claims in the South China Sea. In some instances, Beijing has done so while violating ICAO-designated Vietnamese air traffic control (so-called flight information regions) with military flights that crossed commercial jet flight paths. There is no public record of ICAO responding to Vietnam’s formal complaint. – Real Clear World  

Graham T. Allison writes: But for students of war and peace, the big question is: in the great geopolitical rivalry, can the United States and China can find a way to structure and manage constructive competition. […]Since citizens’ lives in both countries depend on an affirmative answer, we must hope and pray that they can find their way to yes. – The National Interest  

Steve Milloy writes: The Biden administration has offered no solution for how to avoid becoming dependent on China for green technology. And China plans to use this dependence against opponents. Last fall, China announced a law that would ban exports of strategic materials for national security reasons. – Washington Examiner 


About 200 Afghan interpreters and their families arrived in Virginia on Friday, the first evacuations of thousands imperiled because of their work with the United States in Afghanistan as the Taliban gains control of more territory nationwide, U.S. officials said Friday. – Washington Post  

The Taliban’s offensive this spring included more than two dozen insider attacks during the 90-day period ending June 30, a wave of violence that left at least 81 Afghan troops dead, a new U.S. government report revealed Thursday, highlighting the rapid deterioration of security throughout much of Afghanistan as the United States completes its military withdrawal. – Washington Post 

More than 60 people are dead after evening flash floods tore through Nurestan, an impoverished and rugged region of eastern Afghanistan where the heavy Taliban presence makes it difficult to launch rescue efforts, officials said Thursday. – Washington Post 

Khasha was killed last week, but the newly released videos of him being struck have ignited wide condemnation across Afghanistan, drawing outrage at the brazen attack on this Kandahar police officer — often described as a comedian whose goofball charm was popular on social media. – Washington Post 

Taliban assassinations of Afghan pilots detailed by Reuters this month mark another “worrisome development” for the Afghan Air Force as it reels from a surge in fighting, a U.S. government watchdog said in a report released on Thursday. – Reuters 

The quarterly reports of the special inspector general for Afghanistan reconstruction are usually a lagging indicator of what’s happening in the war-torn country, given that they cover a three-month period that ends a month or two before the report is submitted to Congress. – Washington Examiner 

China is set to host Russia for mass drills together involving counterterrorism training next month just as the last of the U.S. soldiers are set to exit Afghanistan. – Newsweek 

Editorial: As the Taliban continue to gain ground in Afghanistan, the brutal reality of their advance is becoming hard to ignore. Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Wednesday responded to “reports of atrocities committed by the Taliban in areas that it’s taken over that are deeply, deeply troubling.” – Wall Street Journal 

Michael Rubin writes: But rather than confront reality, the Biden administration appears intent to whitewash Taliban crimes. To acknowledge the fact that the Taliban executed Siddiqui and that the photographer’s death was not a tragic accident would contradict White House spin. If only successive administrations focused more on defeating the Taliban rather than absolving them or projecting sincerity onto them, the situation might never have become so dire. – Washington Examiner  

Anthony H. Cordesman writes: It does not take much vision to predict that the collapse of the present Afghan government is now all too likely, and that if the current Afghan central government collapses, a partisan U.S. political battle over who lost Afghanistan will follow. […]It takes equally little vision to foresee that any such partisan political debate will be largely dishonest and focus on blaming the opposing party. “Dishonesty” seems to be the growing definition of American political dialogue. – Center for Strategic and International Studies 

Annie Pforzheimer and Nilofar Sakhi write: The complex and competing motives driving many others who will fill the void left in the wake of disengagement in Afghanistan suggest an ominous future for the people of Afghanistan, the region, and, indeed, American strategic interests. We may think we are shutting the door on our difficult 20 years in Afghanistan, but before long we will have little choice but to respond to what’s happening behind it. – Middle East Institute  

South Asia

The gruesome death last week in an upscale neighborhood of the Pakistani capital, Islamabad, is the latest in a series of attacks on women in Pakistan, where rights activists say such gender-based assaults are on the rise as the country barrels toward greater religious extremism. – Associated Press 

With coronavirus deaths rising in Myanmar, allegations are growing from residents and human rights activists that the military government, which seized control in February, is using the pandemic to consolidate power and crush opposition. – Associated Press 

Mihir Sharma writes: If India feels it has neither the capability nor the inclination to contribute to the larger security effort east of its borders, it’s hard to see how concerned the U.S. should be about the security environment to India’s west. India will have to commit more deeply and broadly to the partnership if wants to be seen by its fellow democracies as anything more than a transitory partner of convenience against China. – Bloomberg  


Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte restored a key military deal with the U.S., boosting President Joe Biden’s efforts to counter China and strengthen ties with allies in the Asia-Pacific. – Bloomberg  

Singapore’s success as a financial hub has long been tied to its openness to global talent. But as the city-state battles to recover from its worst recession, a backlash in some quarters against overseas workers has again forced its way up the political agenda. – Bloomberg  

Thailand banned on Friday the dissemination of “false messages” that affect security, drawing accusations from media groups that it is trying to crack down on criticism of its handling of the coronavirus pandemic. – Reuters 

Kyrgyz lawmakers have approved a controversial bill that they say is aimed at stopping the spread of fake news online, but which civil rights defenders and opposition activists fear is an attempt to stifle free speech. – Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty  

The new prime minister of Samoa has confirmed she will cancel a China-backed port project, but hasn’t closed the door to China as she navigates a path for the Pacific nation against a backdrop of intensifying regional competition between Beijing and Washington. – Reuters 

Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan proposed on Thursday that Russian border outposts be stationed along the length of Armenia’s border with Azerbaijan after a rise in tensions between Yerevan and Baku. – Reuters  

Bruce Klingner writes: For now, Japan and the United States should continue ongoing bilateral discussions and operational planning. Washington should articulate its expectations of Japan’s roles, while Tokyo should take steps to preemptively expedite decision-making during various Taiwan crisis scenarios. Trilateral intelligence-sharing and contingency planning with Taiwan should be also be expanded. – The Japan Times  


Protests across Russia in January and early February had prompted a massive crackdown on the Russian opposition and civil society groups, and Tsvetkov’s event — in line with unsubstantiated claims by Putin and other Russian officials — portrayed foreign chicanery as the reason for Russia’s unrest. – Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty  

The Kremlin’s ambitions to win soft-power dividends around the world from Russia’s Covid-19 vaccine are being hampered by delays in delivering Sputnik V to foreign buyers clamoring for supplies. – Bloomberg  

A Russian court on Thursday ordered Google to pay a fine after the tech giant refused to keep personal data belonging to Russian users on servers that are based in Russia. – The Hill 

A court in southern Russia has sentenced three Jehovah’s Witnesses to prison for belonging to the banned religious group, in the latest persecution against its members. […] Russia labeled the Jehovah’s Witnesses an extremist group and banned it in 2017, leading to a wave of court cases and prison sentences against its members. – Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty  

The International Space Station (ISS) was thrown briefly out of control on Thursday when jet thrusters of a newly arrived Russian research module inadvertently fired a few hours after it was docked to the orbiting outpost, NASA officials said. – Reuters 

Russia said on Thursday that it wanted Britain and France to be included in wider nuclear arms control talks with the United States, while it said that Washington wanted China to be included. – Reuters 


Belarusian opposition leader Svyatlana Tsikhanouskaya made clear that she saw her meeting with U.S. President Joe Biden at the White House on July 28 as crucially important, thanking him for a “powerful sign of solidarity with millions of fearless Belarusians who are peacefully fighting for their freedom.” – Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty  

Dan De Luce and Veronika Melkozerova writes: In its diplomacy with China, Zelenskyy’s government is deliberately sending a signal to Washington that Ukraine’s partnership and cooperation cannot be taken for granted, said a source close to the president’s office. – NBC News  

The European Union’s top migration official is urging member countries to help Lithuania beef up surveillance on its border with Belarus and not to give in to political pressure from Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko. – Associated Press 

The leaders of Serbia, North Macedonia, and Albania have moved forward on a regional border-control initiative — changing the name of the project from Little Schengen to Open Balkans. – Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty  

The phone of France’s finance minister Bruno Le Maire is currently being investigated to determine whether it has been infected by a spyware known as Pegasus. – Reuters 

The European Commission’s top migration official is urging EU member states to support Lithuania as thousands of irregular migrants cross from Belarus in what Baltic defense ministers are calling a “hybrid attack.” – Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty 

Belarusian opposition leader Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya called U.S. sanctions “the most powerful lever” to weaken the country’s regime and said she’s “confident the USA will do everything possible to be with Belarusians in this fight” during an interview with the Associated Press. – Newsweek 

Divisions between the US Administration and Poland widened this week, as a top State Department official condemned the passage of new legislation in the upper house of the Polish parliament that closes off the restitution claims of Holocaust survivors. – Algemeiner 

Diane Francis writes: Russia has already begun to flex its muscles before the line has been hooked up. Since Biden backed off sanctions, Russia began cutting shipments of gas through Ukraine to European countries, driving storage supplies down dramatically and increasing prices. The maneuver is clearly designed to put pressure on Germany’s next government to rapidly approve commissioning of the pipeline. – The National Interest  


The road, a 300-mile strip of tarmac that passes through some of the most inhospitable terrain on earth, is the only way into a conflict-torn region where millions of Ethiopians face the threat of mass starvation. But it is a fragile lifeline, fraught with dangers that have made the route barely passable for aid convoys trying to get humanitarian supplies into the Tigray region, where local fighters have been battling the Ethiopian army for eight months. – New York Times  

The International Criminal Court has withdrawn its arrest warrant for the wife of former Ivory Coast president Laurent Gbagbo following her husband’s acquittal on charges of involvement in deadly violence that erupted following his country’s disputed 2010 presidential election. – Associated Press 

US lawmakers have put on hold a proposal to sell almost $1 billion of weapons to Nigeria over concerns about possible human rights abuses by the government, three sources familiar with the matter said on Thursday. – Reuters  

The U.N. Security Council extended the arms embargo against the Central African Republic for a year on Thursday despite an appeal from China to lift it, saying the government hasn’t met U.N. benchmarks including ensuring the protection and control of all weapons. – Associated Press 

The U.S. official who wrote a Pulitzer Prize-winning book on genocide is visiting Ethiopia next week to press the government to lift what the U.S. calls a blockade on humanitarian aid to the conflict-hit Tigray region, where hundreds of thousands of people now face deadly famine. – Associated Press 

France said on Thursday one of its military helicopters carrying six soldiers had been detained after landing in Equatorial Guinea, in a diplomatic incident that demonstrated the strained ties between Malabo and Paris. – Reuters 

Former Malian spy chief Moussa Diawara has been charged and detained as part of an investigation into the disappearance of a journalist in 2016, legal and security sources said on Thursday. – Agence France-Presse 

Editorial: Comfortable South Africans have been jolted by the ease with which malls were ransacked and businesses destroyed. Many had failed to recognize the extent of privation and desperation, lately made even worse by the pandemic. South Africans are newly alert to the need for action, and that gives Ramaphosa an opening. Desperate times invite radical departures. – Bloomberg  

Editorial: One lesson from the United States is that this isn’t just about bringing in the health experts. A lot of the behavioral science expertise was ignored or brought in far too late when it came to vaccinations. This has been costly. In countries like Mali, we have been thinking about behavioral science and norm shifting as it relates to issues like conflict and corruption—and we must ensure this thinking informs the vaccine roll-out process too. – Center for Strategic and International Studies  

Jake Wheeler writes: It’s uncertain what, if anything, can pull South Sudan from its cycle of intractable conflict. The scars of its history run deep. What is clear are the consequences of continuing the status quo. We can’t know what might have happened had Garang lived. But we can see how little has changed. That makes his vision as timely as ever. Until it becomes a reality, South Sudan will remain a land of unfulfilled promises — a country with everything it needs but peace. – Washington Post 

The Americas

When Secretary of State Antony Blinken released a statement this week designed to show how “democracies around the world are coming together” to support oppressed Cubans, the countries not listed as signatories were more notable than the 20 that were. – Washington Post 

Over just nine days this month, Cuban state media announced the deaths of five generals, sparking a wave of discussion and rampant speculation among analysts and exiles. – Washington Post 

U.S. President Joe Biden will meet with Cuban-American leaders Friday to discuss the recent social protests in Cuba, the possibility of new sanctions on its government and options for providing internet access to the island’s population. – Associated Press 

Peru’s new President Pedro Castillo swore in most of his new cabinet in a late-night ceremony on Thursday, but didn’t name an economy minister, leaving the nation in a state of uncertainty. – Bloomberg  

Editorial: Add to all that the complete absence of any legitimate authority — almost no Haitian elected officials remain in office, thanks largely to Mr. Moïse’s own dictatorial impulses — and the result is a powder keg. We have called for outside forces to help stabilize the country and enable elections. But sustained diplomacy and answers to the swirling questions about the assassination may be minimum requirements for avoiding an explosion. – Washington Post 

Editorial: These cases are just a glimpse of how Cuba’s dictatorship has responded to the largely peaceful demonstrations: a wave of detentions, followed in some cases by summary trials and accusations of contributing to “public disorder.” By several different tallies, some 600 to more than 700 people have been investigated, detained, disappeared or formally charged with crimes after what was overwhelmingly an exercise in free speech. – Washington Post 

Luke Hogg writes: Even if Biden is willing to support such an effort, bringing free and open internet to the people of Cuba will not be easy. But broadcasting behind the Iron Curtain when the Soviets were continually employing signal jammers wasn’t easy either. Working together, a Republican governor and a Democratic president could present the country with a genuine show of “unity.” Hopefully, we can give the Cuban people increased volume for freedom. – Washington Examiner 

United States

Advocates of industrial policy in Congress and the White House are no longer satisfied simply promoting innovation; they want the resulting products to be made in the U.S. They have multiple goals: to secure U.S. supply, create jobs and ensure that the resulting intellectual property stays in the U.S. rather than being transferred to Chinese competitors via outsourcing. – Wall Street Journal  

Congress on Thursday rapidly cleared a $2.1 billion emergency spending package that will avert a Capitol Police funding crisis sparked by the Jan. 6 riot and also provide urgent funds to evacuate and resettle Afghans who aided U.S. forces during the 20-year war in their homeland. – Washington Post 

A former CIA officer who is accused of spying for China claims to have memory issues, saying he believes he has early Alzheimer’s disease. In a court filing on Wednesday, an attorney for Alexander Yuk Ching Ma requested a competency evaluation and a hearing to determine his competency to stand trial. – The Hill  

Five Republican senators are questioning why the Department of Health and Human Services redacted a portion of an email between Dr. Anthony Fauci and Peter Daszak, the president of a research organization that worked with the Wuhan Institute of Virology on coronavirus studies before the pandemic. – Washington Examiner 

Kurt Volker writes: When the EU and U.S. act in concert on sanctions it sends a far stronger message than when it is only one or the other. And if they acted in concert also in negotiating the conditions for lifting sanctions, it could have an even greater real-world effect. There is good reason to use sanctions as an important policy tool, especially when done in coordination with others. But to achieve real impact through sanctions, we need to get smarter. – Center for European Policy Analysis 

William Reinsch and Emily Benson write: The current system provides ample leeway to advance a climate-driven agenda, but ongoing challenges, including the lack of a global agreement to phase out coal and geopolitical tensions with China, present obstacles for the Biden-Harris administration to implement and reach its climate goals. – Center for Strategic and International Studies 


Ride-hailing giant Didi Global Inc. is considering going private in order to placate authorities in China and compensate investors for losses incurred since the company listed in the U.S. in late June, according to people familiar with the matter. – Wall Street Journal  

A Senate proposal to ramp up IRS surveillance over cryptocurrency transactions has the industry and investors questioning the plan’s viability and its promise of generating $28 billion in tax revenue. – Bloomberg  

A German federal court on Thursday faulted aspects of Facebook’s handling of “hate speech,” at least in the past. It ruled that the social network giant can’t delete posts without at least informing users afterward, and must give users advance notice when it moves to suspend their accounts. – Associated Press 

Alphabet’s Google has asked a judge hearing the Justice Department’s antitrust lawsuit against the search and advertising giant to compel Microsoft to turn over documents, saying it has failed to comply with a subpoena, according to a court filing unsealed late Thursday. – Reuters 

Verity Bligh writes: Geopolitics matter in cyberspace. Each state’s approach to intelligence-gathering, of which cyber-espionage constitutes a legitimate technique, is grounded in national strategic culture and contemporary regional politics. Whilst Five Eyes perceive cyber as a fifth domain, China embeds it within information operations. – Center for European Policy Analysis  


The Navy will bring criminal charges against a sailor suspected of setting a fire on the amphibious assault ship USS Bonhomme Richard, which burned for four days at pier in San Diego last summer and was eventually scrapped with at least $2.5 billion in repairs needed. – Washington Post 

The U.S. Space Force launched a new experimental satellite July 29 that will test the possibility of installing large, deployable weather sensors on small satellites.- C4ISRNET 

The latest the Talisman Sabre exercise proved that the U.S. and its Pacific allies could form a unified and capable naval force in a matter of days, the commander of the U.S. Navy’s Japan-based expeditionary strike group said this week. – USNI News 

Michael J. Mazarr writes: But, today, U.S. defense planners are working heroically to prop up a zombie strategy that represents the worst of both worlds, neither safeguarding Americans from the things that most directly and urgently imperil their well-being nor assuring victory in distant wars. The United States can deliver the security Americans deserve and expect and achieve our most essential geopolitical aims while discovering new ways to deliver a decisive application of force far from home. – War on the Rocks  

Long War

A British man who went to Syria to join the Islamic State (IS) group has admitted sharing beheading videos. Stefan Aristidou, 27, entered guilty pleas to four terrorism offences at the Old Bailey and will be sentenced in September. – BBC  

Islamist hate preacher Anjem Choudary has been banned from Twitter, less than a week after he set up a profile on the social media platform. […] He was convicted on terrorism charges in 2016, which included inviting support for the terrorist group Islamic State. – Sky News (UK)  

Moroccan security services have ended the hectic career of an Daesh terrorist. The General Directorate of Studies and Documentation (DGED) and the General Directorate of Territorial Surveillance were able, thanks to precise information, to arrest, in Athens, the so-called Abou Mohamad Al Fateh, a 28-year-old Moroccan who joined the ranks of Daesh and which was the subject of an international arrest warrant at the initiative of the Moroccan justice system. – Jerusalem Post 

Arif Rafiq writes: The militant group’s battlefield gains have forced a tacit acceptance of it by regional states and global powers. But should the Taliban seek all-out victory on the battlefield and the forceful reimposition of an unreconstructed Taliban regime, they will find that Afghanistan’s neighbors will harden the fortifications along their borders. – Middle East Institute 

Seth J. Frantzman writes:  The US under the Obama administration intervened and agreed to send troops back to Iraq to fight ISIS in part because of the ISIS genocide of Yazidis. Yet by 2019 groups seeking to kidnap and enslave Yazidis and continue the ISIS war crimes were being backed by Ankara to do so. By putting out such a major and unprecedented statement about Ahrar al-Sharqiya’s crimes the US administration is illustrating that it will stand by its promise to put human rights first. This includes a promise to support women and minorities in Syria. – Jerusalem Post