Fdd's overnight brief

July 8, 2021

FDD Research & Analysis

In The News


U.S. diplomats and troops in Iraq and Syria were targeted in three rocket and drone attacks in the past 24 hours, U.S. and Iraq officials said on Wednesday, including at least 14 rockets hitting an Iraqi air base hosting U.S. forces, wounding two American service members. – Reuters  

Iran’s decision to produce uranium metal enriched to 20% purity is solely for peaceful purposes, an Iranian foreign ministry spokesperson said on Wednesday, adding that Tehran will reverse its nuclear steps as soon as U.S. sanctions are lifted. – Reuters  

The United States on Tuesday called Iran’s decision to produce uranium metal enriched to 20% purity an “unfortunate step backwards” but said the window for diplomacy to allow both to resume compliance with the 2015 nuclear deal remained open. – Reuters  

The consequences of recurrent and long power outages that have paralyzed Iran in the past week continue to affect the economy and cause new threats to people’s lives and assets. – Iran International 

Janes, the trusted global agency for open-source defence intelligence, has worked in partnership with the Center for International Security and Cooperation (CISAC) at Stanford University, California; the global monitoring company BlackSky; and the data analysis company Orbital Insight to produce a comprehensive assessment of a nuclear site under construction in Iran using next-generation ‘structured observation management’ techniques. – Jane’s 360 

Samuel Ramani writes: While the JCPOA’s future hangs in the balance, Raisi’s presidency will likely see the strengthening of Russia-Iran relations. As Russia and Iran compete for influence in Syria’s post-conflict reconstruction, Eurasian integration and normative bonding will likely play an increasingly important role in driving bilateral cooperation in the post-Khamenei era. – Middle East Institute  

Seth J. Frantzman writes: Iran’s use of drones and rockets, provided to the militias in Iraq, is unprecedented in its use of them against diplomatic sites and also against the US military. While Iran has supplied rockets and drones to Hamas and Hezbollah, here in Iraq the role of the IRGC and Iran’s guidance appears more closely linked to Tehran. This is because it is clear the attacks can be dialed up when Iran wants to. This time the increase began with July 4. This was a message and it coincides with the US leaving Bagram base in Afghanistan. Iran thinks it can push the US out of Iraq at the same time. – Jerusalem Post 

Bruce Portnoy writes: It has been made crystal clear where Raisi stands. That said, we do not know where Biden stands, most especially with promises made vis-à-vis his Jewish constituency that helped put him into the presidency. […]The ultimate fate of Israel, the US and the free world may well rest on the Iran nuclear and sanction plan discussions outcome that are ongoing in Vienna. History will not well regard those elected leaders and their appointed representatives should they not recognize and engage evil; but flee from it in fear. – Jerusalem Post 


Parts of northern Syria will quickly face a massive and deadly humanitarian crisis if the U.N. Security Council fails this week to extend a resolution allowing the United Nations to deliver aid across the Turkish-Syrian border, according to relief workers, Syrian civilians and the Biden administration. – Washington Post 

A U.N. resolution proposed late Wednesday would allow the delivery of humanitarian aid to rebel-held northwest Syria through just one crossing point from Turkey for a year after objections to an initial Security Council draft that would have authorized sending aid through two border crossings. – Associated Press 

Before Syria’s war, it drew in thousands of visitors a year — including former US president Jimmy Carter and late Venezuelan leader Hugo Chavez — to visit its churches and monasteries and to hear its inhabitants speak Aramaic. But from 2011 onwards, the devastating conflict largely kept pilgrims away from the village, whose name in Aramaic means “entrance”, after the narrow passage between its limestone cliffs. – Agence France-Presse 

 Having fled their homes to escape President Bashar al-Assad’s rule, many of Syrians sheltering in the rebel-held northwest fear their fate may once again be placed in his hands. – Reuters  

Anna Borshchevskaya and Andrew J. Tabler write: In this Policy Note, Russia expert Anna Borshchevskaya and recent State Department senior advisor and NSC Syria director Andrew J. Tabler examine Russian diplomatic technique and subterfuge in Syria. The authors argue that by taking a strong stand and better uniting with partners and allies, the Biden administration can cut through Moscow’s rhetoric and ultimately promote a sustainable future for Syria. – Washington Institute 


Turkish Defence Minister Hulusi Akar and his U.S. counterpart Lloyd Austin on Wednesday had a “constructive and positive meeting” to discuss a plan for Turkey to operate and guard Kabul airport after the NATO withdrawal from Afghanistan, the Turkish defence ministry said. – Reuters 

Turkey has joined the NATO Baltic Air Policing mission for the first time since 2006, with a detachment of Lockheed Martin F-16 Fighting Falcons arriving at Malbork Air Base in Poland on 6 July. – Jane’s 360 

Turkey is considering agreeing to a visit by a Lithuanian delegation in the coming weeks to hold talks on migration and countering human trafficking, Turkish diplomatic sources said on Wednesday, after Lithuania accused Belarus of flying in migrants to send to the European Union. – Reuters  

Turkey is hammering out a deal with the US to take over security operations at Kabul’s civilian airport, offering the Nato partners a rare chance for co-operation after a series of disputes have chilled relations. – Financial Times 

Turkey is considering a fresh capital injection for state banks but they also need a plan to deal with lingering bad debt after the lenders depleted their resources helping Ankara’s battle against COVID-19, senior bankers and government officials say. – Reuters  


Israel and Hamas are “on a path” toward another round of violence just weeks since the most recent flareup in the Gaza Strip, an official familiar with the indirect negotiations between the sides in Cairo told The Times of Israel on Wednesday. – Times of Israel  

Israeli Ambassador to the United Nations Gilad Erdan has lauded the General Assembly’s passage of a resolution that for the first time linked antisemitism and other forms of hate as causes of terrorism. – Times of Israel 

Israeli forces on Thursday demolished the family home of a Palestinian-American man accused of being involved in a deadly attack on Israelis in the West Bank in May. – Associated Press 

Israel invited Moroccan Foreign Minister Nasser Bourita for a first-ever visit on Wednesday, while a high-level US Congressional delegation was in Jerusalem. – Jerusalem Post 

Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh said that “there is no connection between Israelis and the Jews.” He said modern Israelis are not descendants of Jacob, but are “Khazar Jews” who converted to Judaism in the sixth century CE. He made these remarks in a public address that was aired on Palestine TV on June 29, 2021. – Middle East Media Research Institute 

Recognizing that the Biden administration is intent on returning to the Iran nuclear agreement in its original form, Israel has focused on convincing the US to leave in place sanctions instituted by former president Donald Trump after the 2015 accord was signed, an Israeli official told The Times of Israel on Wednesday. – Times of Israel 

Former Labor party leader Isaac Herzog took office on Wednesday as Israel’s 11th president, succeeding Reuven Rivlin. – Times of Israel 

Mohammad Amjad Hossain writes: Saudi Arabia tried to broker a deal to resolve the crisis between Fatah and Hamas but failed. Hamas has now tilted toward the Islamic Republic of Iran. That was a poor decision in the context of the dispute between Israel and Iran. Therefore, both Fatah and Hama should make efforts to remain united for the sake of a future Palestinian state, since a favorable climate has been developing in the US for a two-state solution. – Jerusalem Post 

Ahmed Charai writes: The Biden administration should offer its full support to Israel’s novel experiment in coalition management, and do so with concrete measures. In Bennett they may well find receptive ears; for all his reputation as a man of the far Right, he bears even stronger cultural affinities for the US than the average Israeli. […]The electoral impasse in Jerusalem has hindered the consolidation of an effective working relationship between the American and Israeli heads of government for some time. An opportunity to end that impasse now stands before us; it should not go to waste. – Jerusalem Post 

David M. Litman writes: By remaining silent amid Hamas and PIJ’s crimes against their own children, while unfailingly condemning Israel for acting in self-defense, organizations like the UN and Human Rights Watch only encourage the terrorists to brainwash and endanger even more children. – Algemeiner 


The U.S. and Iran were poised for a dangerous escalation in violence early Wednesday following a new rocket strike on a U.S. military base in Iraq – at least the fourth attack on U.S. facilities in the region in three days. – U.S. News & World Report  

According to Al Masirah news channel(link is external), the Thar Al-Muhandis Brigade group has claimed responsibility for the attack on the Ain al-Asad air base which hosts US and other international forces in western Iraq. – Iran International   

The leader of an Iran-backed Iraqi militia has vowed to retaliate against America for the deaths of four of his men in a U.S. airstrike along the Iraq-Syria border last month, saying it will be a military operation everyone will talk about. – Associated Press 


The French ambassador has rebuked Lebanon’s prime minister for saying the country is under siege and blamed years of “mismanagement and inaction” by Lebanese leaders for its economic collapse. – Reuters 

In light of the severe energy crisis in Lebanon, which has caused long lines at gas stations and sparked protests across the country, as well as violent clashes between protesters and the Lebanese security forces, Hizbullah secretary-general Hassan Nasrallah suggested to deal with the shortage of fuel by importing gasoline and diesel from Iran, in violation of the international sanctions on this country. – Middle East Media Research Institute 

Editorial: What is needed is a unique, unprecedented and innovative solution that will enable some support from Israel for our cousins in Lebanon. In addition, our close friends in the UAE, Bahrain, Morocco and Sudan may provide a way to aid Lebanon in this time of troubles. This could build on the emerging coexistence and new ties emerging in the region and Eastern Mediterranean. Lebanon needs help, and Israel is offering it. If only life in the Middle East was as simple as that. Perhaps with the assistance of the above bodies and countries, it can be. – Jerusalem Post

Zvi Bar’el writes: Diab had summoned foreign ambassadors to a special emergency meeting, at which he voiced his plea for saving Lebanon, while at the same time accusing the international community of laying siege to the country. – Haaretz

Lauren Morganbesser writes: Another pro-Hezbollah outlet, Al Mayadeen, had no mention of the situation in the country on its home page, focusing instead on missiles in Iraq and the strength of new weapons of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps. […]Other reports in the country heavily criticize the political situation. – Jerusalem Post 

Gulf States

A fiery explosion erupted on a container ship anchored in Dubai at one of the world’s largest ports late Wednesday, authorities said, sending tremors across the commercial hub of the United Arab Emirates. – Associated Press 

Josh Rogin writes: At the very least, the Biden administration should have conditioned the visit on some sign that MBS and his brother are getting the message that the kingdom’s unrestrained brutality and flagrant disregard for international laws and norms must end. That would bring Biden a step closer to fulfilling his promise to secure justice for Jamal Khashoggi and his family. – Washington Post 

David Gardner writes: Alternatively, intra-Gulf competition could lead to increased ties with GCC neighbours — including Iran and its wobbly alliance of failed states. […]Kuwait, Oman and Qatar (which shares the world’s largest offshore gasfield with Iran) have lines open to Tehran. Now Saudi Arabia and the UAE do too, taking their sharpening competition across the water to talk separately to their supposedly sworn enemy. Ostensibly rational solutions are easily betrayed by different logics. But it is definitely game on in the Gulf. – Financial Times 

Middle East & North Africa

Behind the standoff inside OPEC over whether to boost oil production is a key cartel member with a new strategy: sell as much crude as possible before demand dries up. The United Arab Emirates’s strategy, as described by officials familiar with the matter, represents one of the most significant shifts in oil policy by a major Mideast petrostate. – Wall Street Journal 

President Joe Biden will host Jordan’s King Abdullah II at the White House on July 19, just months after the detention of his half-brother amid a rare moment of palace intrigue for the close American ally. – Associated Press 

James Arnold writes: Continued corruption in Jordan is an unfortunate reality that has been used as a poor excuse to try to undermine King Abdullah, despite his efforts to reform corruption laws and procedures. Through recent adversity, opportunity now presents itself for further change, without likely resistance from members of the Jordanian Court. – The Hill  

Ben Cahill writes: On July 5, the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and allied producers canceled a planned meeting, leaving the group without a clear plan to raise output after August 1. An internal rift is raising questions over the group’s cohesion and market messaging, at a time when demand is growing, and OPEC states want to take advantage of higher prices. – Center for Strategic and International Studies 

Korean Peninsula

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un lost up to 44 pounds but has no major health issues affecting his rule, according to a South Korean lawmaker briefed by a spy agency. – Bloomberg  

North Korea is expected to enter a “harsh lean period” next month with a food shortage of 860,000 tons this year, according to a recent report. – Newsweek  

Joseph Bermudez and Victor Cha write: The Mayang-do Navy Shipyard and submarine bases are the largest facilities of their kind in North Korea. As such, they play a crucial role in the operational status, repair, and maintenance of the nation’s submarine force. […] This is the second of several reports providing a unique view of the Sinpo South Shipyard, Sinpo area, and Mayang-do navy facilities using a remarkable high off-nadir (HON) image collected by Maxar Technologies during April 2021. – Center for Strategic and International Studies 

Josh Smith writes: Last week, North Korea announced the latest in a series of leadership changes that may be the most significant reshuffle of top officials in years. State media has not given details of the personnel changes but analysts believe they included demotions for those Kim blamed for causing an unspecified “great crisis” with coronavirus lapses amid economic problems and food shortages compounded by anti-pandemic border closures. – Reuters 


As China’s leader, Xi Jinping, forged a more muscular and confident foreign policy, Zhao was there to introduce a new, chaotic tone into Chinese diplomacy — one that proved perfectly complementary to the president’s vision. Online and in the media, Zhao was called the “wolf warrior” diplomat, a moniker taken from a pair of ultranationalistic Chinese action films of the same name. – New York Times 

Few people appeared to notice the middle-aged man as he walked up to one of dozens of police officers patrolling one of Hong Kong’s busiest streets on the July 1 anniversary of the city’s return to Chinese rule.  […]Since the attack, authorities have intensified warnings over rising terrorist threats, having sounded the alarm for years that radical opponents of the government could resort to more violent tactics. – Wall Street Journal  

A low-profile government committee that reviews business deals for national security concerns is receiving expanded emphasis as part of the Biden administration’s plan to compete with China. – Wall Street Journal 

The British government should back a political boycott of the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing to pressure the Chinese government over the “genocide” of Uyghurs and other ethnic groups in the northwest province of Xinjiang, an influential group of lawmakers said Thursday. – Associated Press 

On June 6, 2021, a bipartisan team of U.S. senators visited Taiwan, arriving aboard a C-17 U.S. military transport plane. Netizens from Mainland China were surprised that Beijing did not react strongly to the presence of a U.S. military airplane in Taiwan, since in the past Chinese diplomats and media persons had repeatedly stated that “the day U.S. troops appear in Taiwan will be the day we reunify Taiwan by force.” – Middle East Media Research Institute  

Companies including internet giants Alibaba and Tencent were fined Wednesday by anti-monopoly regulators in a new move to tighten control over their fast-developing industries. – Associated Press 

China’s most popular social media service has deleted accounts on LGBT topics run by university students and nongovernment groups, prompting concern the ruling Communist Party is tightening control over gay and lesbian content. – Associated Press 

With the launch of the single-aisle C919, an industry dominated by Europe’s Airbus and its US rival Boeing faces a new, deep-pocketed and politically connected competitor: state-backed aerospace champion Comac. – Financial Times 

Last year, China imposed a national security law on the territory, under which one of his former students from his years teaching at Hong Kong universities has already been arrested. […]But one year on, analysts said the law was rapidly undermining legal norms in the city, such as the presumption of innocence and the right to bail in cases involving the security law. Judges were also being shown to have less sway over these cases. – Financial Times 

China’s climb to the top of world economic rankings is considered a foregone conclusion in many circles, especially those inside the Chinese Communist Party. But all is not assured: Beijing faces economic and demographic challenges that make surpassing the U.S. less of a no-brainer than one might think. – Bloomberg  

Editorial: The debate in the House of Representatives, followed possibly by a conference to iron out any differences with the Senate version, creates an opening to address these concerns, both for taxpayers and allies. Meanwhile, the Biden administration has started to shore up ties with Taiwan by opening talks on a long-delayed trade and investment framework agreement, a wise step to show China that the United States seeks to protect strategic supply chains, not abandon Asia’s democracies. – Washington Post 

Editorial: For both sides, decoupling will always carry costs. Chinese tech companies listing in the US are likely to face a “China penalty” in future — reducing their ability to raise capital from international investors. Investment banks that handle IPOs will charge higher fees to compensate for the legal and reputational risks they are facing from any sudden change in stance from the Chinese regulators. That may ensure that Chinese tech remains national, as the government wishes, but will also stop it from being as successful. – Financial Times 

Matthew Kroenig writes: China’s buildup threatens all major U.S. defense and deterrence goals. It makes it harder for the Pentagon to deter Chinese strategic attacks and coercion and to maintain a favorable balance of power and assure allies in the Indo-Pacific. This means that for the first time in history, the U.S. will have to contend with two adversaries with substantial nuclear arsenals. – Wall Street Journal  

Xu Tianran writes: At that time, improving Beijing’s external environment and international image in order to facilitate China’s growth was of great importance. The same economic consideration also resulted in the establishment of the official China-South Korea diplomatic relations in 1992 at the cost of Beijing’s significantly reduced leverage with Pyongyang. – The National Interest 

Peter Juul writes: At home, there’s no reason for either anti-China hysteria or denial. As Pew’s survey shows, Americans do not like the Chinese government and its ruling Communist Party – primarily because it fails to respect basic rights and freedoms at home. China’s power and influence are a concern and a challenge, but ones the United States can handle without losing its mind or sticking its head in the sand. – The Liberal Patriot 

William H. Overholt writes: Would America have accepted a Cold War leadership without Soviet expertise? The more you see China as a dangerous adversary, the more important it is to actually understand China. It is insufficient for officials to be well-connected, experienced on Middle East issues, and dislike China. – The Hill  


The Taliban’s mounting pressure campaign on key cities across Afghanistan continued Wednesday as fighters battled government forces in the capital of Badghis province, the latest advance in a string of attacks on government-controlled districts since foreign forces began to withdraw in May. – Washington Post 

The Taliban pushed their way into a provincial capital in Afghanistan’s northwest on Wednesday, freeing prisoners there and threatening to overrun the city itself. – New York Times 

Afghanistan’s professional class of men and women, part of a generation that came of age under the shield of the U.S. military, are weighing the danger of rapidly advancing Taliban forces. Many are packing their bags. – Wall Street Journal 

Iran on Wednesday hosted the first significant talks in months between the Taliban and Afghan government representatives — a previously unannounced meeting that comes as the U.S. completes its withdrawal from Afghanistan and districts increasingly fall to the Taliban across the country. – Associated Press 

U.S. President Joe Biden said he will speak on Afghanistan on Thursday, days after American troops pulled out of their main military base 20 years after entering the country. Biden made the remark to reporters at the White House when asked if he was worried about Kabul falling in the face of a ramped-up Taliban offensive. – Reuters  

Taliban fighters on motorbikes roamed a provincial Afghan capital Thursday after a day of heavy fighting that saw them storm the city in their most brazen assault since the United States stepped up its troop withdrawal. – Agence France-Presse 

Canada is planning to take in hundreds of vulnerable Afghan interpreters, embassy staff and their families as the United States draws down its military presence in Afghanistan after two decades, a government source said on Wednesday. – Reuters 

Russia on Wednesday said the situation in Afghanistan could “swiftly deteriorate” amid the withdrawal of U.S. troops, offering assistance to neighboring Tajikistan over the wave of Afghan forces fleeing the Taliban. – The Hill  

The Biden administration is considering offering an expedited visa path for vulnerable Afghans including women politicians, journalists, and activists who may become targets of the Taliban, U.S. officials say. – Reuters  

In early October 2001, then-U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell sent a cable to his envoy in Pakistan, ordering her to get a message to the head of the Taliban through Pakistani middlemen: Stop harboring al Qaeda or else. The message, channeled through U.S. Ambassador to Pakistan Wendy Chamberlin to Taliban leader Mullah Mohammed Omar, came days before the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan, amid fears al Qaeda was planning more terrorist attacks on U.S. soil following Sept. 11. – Foreign Policy 

David Von Drehle writes: For those old enough to remember Saigon 1975, the feeling today is of deja vu. The Afghanistan quagmire involved different tactics but betrayed the same lack of strategy. The lesson, then and now, is: Never start a war without a clear definition of victory and the plans and means to achieve it. Let’s hope the learning lasts longer this time. – Washington Post  

Leonid Bershidsky writes: The Taliban can be particularly convincing about it. If you’re not going anywhere no matter what happens, what price you’re forced to pay over how long, you can outlast superpowers. Attachment to a place and a way of life is a powerful constant that, as Afghanistan’s example shows, creates other constants. – Bloomberg  

South Asia

Years, and perhaps decades, of progress have been unwound in months, as many Indians who had clawed their way out of poverty face grim job prospects and carry heavy debt loads wracked up to get themselves and loved ones through the pandemic. – Bloomberg  

Shafiur Rahman writes: Over the past four decades, Bangladesh national policy has been unable to devise anything that resembles a humane outcome for the Rohingya. The strong-arm tactics of the early days continue today in Bangladesh’s approach, including its covid-19 restrictions. Bangladesh’s responsibility toward protecting refugees goes beyond the pandemic. – Washington Post 

Salah Uddin Shoaib Choudhury writes: Hamas, Palestinian Jihad and Pakistani spy agency ISI’s latest bids to spread Hamas activities in foreign countries is a matter of grave concern particularly for Bangladesh and India. As we know, there are over eight thousand Palestine-repatriated Bangladeshi fighters. Our intelligence agencies and counterterrorism organizations should bring these fighters under strict surveillance, as they may onwards emerge into another threat to national security similar to those of ex-fighters from Afghanistan. – Arutz Sheva 


The Philippine government says it has repatriated all 55 Filipina women who had sought refuge in its embassy in Damascus amid complaints they had been trafficked to Syria to work as indentured servants for wealthy families. – Washington Post 

Taiwan has asked its office in Washington to remind the United States not to cause “unnecessary speculation or misunderstanding” after the White House deleted a social media post on COVID-19 vaccine donations that included Taiwan’s flag. – Reuters 

Forcibly pushing back migrant boats is a “cruel and deadly practice” that violates international law, and risks sending people back to death, torture or persecution, a senior UN official has said, warning countries that militarised borders and boat interdictions were contributing to deaths, not saving lives. – The Guardian 

Editorial: Since early June, China Coast Guard (CCG) vessels have been contesting new Malaysian oil and gas development off the coast of Sarawak. The activity coincides with a patrol by Chinese military planes near Malaysia, which prompted scrambles by Malaysian aircraft and recriminations from Kuala Lumpur. – Center for Strategic and International Studies 


A Council of Europe legal advisory body has sharply criticized recent Russian amendments to laws regulating so-called ‘’foreign agents,” saying they constitute “serious violations” of basic human rights and will have a “chilling effect” on political life. – Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty  

The Russian-linked cyber crime gang associated with carrying out a major ransomware attack against a software company used a code that avoids targeting systems that use Russian and other former Soviet-era languages as a default, according to a new report. – The Hill  

On July 2, 2021, Vladimir Putin approved Russia’s updated national security strategy, the previous version was authored in 2015. The national security strategy gives the appearance of a laundry list.  It runs the gamut from military concerns to building internal consensus and defending Russia from pernicious Western ideas. – Middle East Media Research Institute 

Russia says it has given an Estonian diplomat 48 hours to leave after briefly detaining him for allegedly receiving classified documents in what the Baltic state called a “setup.” – Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty  

Editorial: If the U.S. doesn’t respond, it will be open season on America’s digital infrastructure. Proportionate retaliation runs the risk of escalation. But after publicly drawing a red line, Mr. Biden has no choice lest he show Mr. Putin and other thugs around the world that the U.S. President’s words are empty. – Wall Street Journal  

Editorial: Mr. Biden shouldn’t believe it. Mr. Putin won’t act in the absence of credible consequences for inaction, and now it’s on the White House to make clear what those consequences could be. […]The consequences must also include the aggressive disruption of these gangs where they are: in Russia, on its Internet, throughout the cyberspace over which it claims sovereignty — and where Mr. Putin would likely prefer U.S. authorities not prowl. The least acceptable answer is to wait longer to “find out” what everyone already knows. – Washington Post 

Dominick Sansone writes: Russia needs to be caught in the act when it engages in illegal activity on the global stage. By all means, the United States should send clear signals to Moscow that it will meet extraterritorial Russian aggression with an asymmetric response. Putin has preemptively called the United States’ bluff when it comes to Crimea, however, and further pursuing a strategy of brinkmanship in this area will only tar the reputation of Washington and its NATO allies. – The National Interest  

John Herbst and Jeffrey Stacey writes: Letting Putin cross Biden’s redline with impunity would only encourage the China hawks anxious to move on Taiwan. A strong response to this latest provocation will put Putin in his place and solidify U.S. credibility across the world. – The National Interest 

Janusz Bugajski writes: The lifting of quarantine restrictions could witness a major upsurge in protests as people express their repressed frustrations with government failure. And although the September elections will be rigged to favor Putin’s United Russia Party, they might unleash a new wave of grievance that Moscow will try to deflect on to foreign scapegoats. – Washington Examiner  


This account of Prince’s ambitions in Ukraine is based on interviews with seven sources, including current and former U.S. and Ukrainian officials as well as people who worked directly with Prince to try to realize his aspirations in Ukraine. – TIME 

Speaking to the European Parliament in Strasbourg on Wednesday, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen called the law “a disgrace” and warned Hungary that the EU’s executive arm would use all its powers to uphold European law. – Associated Press 

Over the coming weeks the US Army’s 2nd Cavalry Regiment will begin outfitting 64 Stryker double v-hull vehicles inside Germany with a package of network technologies included under the service’s Capability Set (CS) 21 Integrated Tactical Network (ITN) umbrella, according to service officials. – Jane’s 360 

Cordelia Buchanan Ponczek writes: In this version of events, Finland’s ownership of Fortum, control of Uniper, its murky relationship to Russian state-owned entities — themselves the catspaws of Russian state policy — are simply facts created by this reality. But regardless of whether the government wants to admit it, Finnish interests are all-too-often bound up with Russia’s. – Center for European Policy Analysis 

Jack Crawford and Lauren Speranza writes: The history of NATO-EU relations offers uncertain prospects for progress, and a primary goal of these summits was simply to repair U.S.-European ties following four tumultuous years of transatlantic skepticism. Nonetheless, the summits could have done much more to both restore the transatlantic bridge and to bring nearer the dawn of a new era in NATO-EU cooperation. – Center for European Policy Analysis 


Jacob Zuma, the former president of South Africa, was taken into custody on Wednesday to begin serving a 15-month prison sentence, capping a stunning downfall for a once-lauded freedom fighter who battled the apartheid regime alongside Nelson Mandela. – New York Times 

On June 29, a dull, somewhat grainy picture of Nigerian activist Nnamdi Kanu in handcuffs began circulating on the internet, shortly after what seemed like unlikely news about his arrest in and extradition from a yet-to-be officially disclosed foreign country—possibly Kenya or Ethiopia—had broken. Kanu is the leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), a separatist organization in Nigeria agitating for the secession of the country’s east. – Foreign Policy 

After nearly a decade battling terrorists in West Africa, France is now winding down its largest overseas military mission—and potentially unwinding decades of deep involvement in former colonies like Mali, Chad, and Burkina Faso. – Foreign Policy  

Twenty-seven people died last week during pro-democracy protests in the southern African kingdom of Eswatini, a minister told AFP on Wednesday. – Agence France-Presse 

Ethiopia has been at loggerheads with downstream neighbors Egypt and Sudan for years over a $4.8 billion mega-dam it’s building on the Nile River. Tensions ratcheted up in early July when Ethiopia resumed filling a 74 billion cubic-meter (2.6 trillion cubic-foot) reservoir behind the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam. – Bloomberg  

An Army Green Beret was instrumental in retaking a key al-Shabab stronghold during a brutal firefight six years ago, newly released records of his Silver Star award reveal. – Military.com 

Ibrahim Mohamed and Vahe Mirikian write: Given the presence of al-Shabaab and civil militia groups, a military approach is a conditioned reflex in Somalia. However, decades of violence have proven this approach does not work. A different approach is needed to stop the ongoing cycles of violence and forge a path to stability in Somalia. Local peacebuilders must take the lead. – The Hill   

Daniel F. Runde and Conor M. Savoy write: Financing tends to be inaccessible and unaffordable for African SMEs because they carry a high degree of perceived risk and because governments borrow a lot, which crowds capital out of the private sector. […]These guarantees are especially useful during the Covid-19 pandemic because they ensure that SMEs with existing loans can keep them. For foreign investors, de-risking currency fluctuations is also important, particularly in countries with macroeconomic instability. – Center for Strategic and International Studies 

United States

The U.S. government has given assurances to the U.K. that Julian Assange wouldn’t be held under the strictest maximum-security conditions if extradited to the U.S., a concession aimed at resolving Washington’s yearslong battle to put the WikiLeaks founder on trial on espionage charges. – Wall Street Journal 

LinkDoc Technology Ltd. has halted plans for a U.S. initial public offering, people familiar with the matter said, the first known company to pull out of a debut after China’s government cracked down on overseas listings. – Bloomberg  

With antisemitic incidents on the rise globally, a bipartisan group of senators is calling for a $250,000 funding boost for the office of the State Department’s Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat Antisemitism in 2022, Jewish Insider has learned. – Jewish Insider 

Jason Poblete writes: Rather than act in the wake of tragedy to prioritize the safe return of Americans held hostage or unlawfully imprisoned in foreign lands, as has usually been the case since our founding, the US should lean into this issue and make it a national and international priority so other responsible nations can join in this effort to eradicate hostage-taking and other forms of unlawful detentions the world over. President Biden and Congress can make this happen today by using the many tools at their disposal. What is needed above all is political will, moral courage to do right, and putting Americans first when dealing with adversaries. – Jerusalem Post 


With a massive ransomware attack last week intensifying pressure on the Biden administration to demonstrate it can curb the threat, top national security officials briefed the president Wednesday on the government’s efforts to counter and blunt the impact of the costly, increasingly brazen assaults by Russia-based hackers. – Washington Post 

Three dozen states and the District of Columbia filed an antitrust lawsuit against Alphabet Inc.’s Google on Wednesday, alleging that the company operates an illegal monopoly with its Google Play app store. – Wall Street Journal  

Former president Donald Trump on Wednesday filed class-action lawsuits targeting Facebook, Google and Twitter, escalating his long-running battle with the companies following their suspensions of his accounts. – Washington Post 

Embattled Chinese telecom Huawei recently hired three new lobbying firms, according to disclosure reports filed with Congress. The new hires come as President Biden keeps in place policies enacted by former President Trump that have stifled Huawei’s ability to do business internationally. – The Hill  

The U.S. is investigating a cyberattack against the Republican National Committee believed to have been carried out by Russian hackers. – Bloomberg  

The White House said Wednesday that President Biden has a “range of options” that he can choose from to respond to new Russian-linked cyberattacks, but the president hasn’t yet decided whether to take action. – The Hill  

The Army will pilot a new idea to place coders and software developers at the tactical edge to reprogram electronic warfare and radio frequency systems. – C4ISRNET 

The US Department of Defense (DOD) has cancelled its contract with Microsoft on the controversial Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure (JEDI) cloud computing programme, with department officials opting to walk away from a multibillion deal to integrate the Pentagon’s legacy computer and networking into the cloud. – Jane’s 360 

Elaine Luria writes: Military leaders identify China as our No. 1 challenge, often calling Beijing “an increasingly capable strategic competitor,” as Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Mark Milley has warned, or a “pacing” threat. Yet the budget request reduces the ability of the Navy and the Air Force—the services that would have outsize roles in any conflict in the Western Pacific—to respond to threats in that region. – Wall Street Journal 

Ivana Stradner and Pulkit Agarwal write: If open societies like that of the United States learn anything from the history of malicious actors interfering with democracies through the growing influence of social media, it is that the task of setting up an influence operation must be made more difficult. It is way past time for us to re-evaluate social-media platforms from a national security perspective and lay guidelines that will protect both user privacy and address national vulnerability to malicious foreign attacks. – Defense One 


The Air Force was mostly responsible for the 2017 massacre at a Sutherland Springs, Tex., church because it failed to submit records to federal law enforcement that could have prevented the attacker from buying guns, a judge determined this week. – Washington Post 

Lockheed Martin Corporation and Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) have announced a new collaboration. A press release on Tuesday explained that the alliance will allow both companies to explore potential joint experiences in research and development, marketing, and for collaboration in Integrated Air and Missile Defense (IAMD) systems. – Jerusalem Post  

Under current estimates, the U.S. Air Force will reach a tipping point where projected F-35 sustainment costs become too expensive, forcing the service to either cut its planned buy of the Lockheed Martin-made jet or drastically reduce flying hours, the Government Accountability Office found in a new report. – Defense News 

The US Army is delaying plans to roll out a Common Modular Open Suite of Standards (CMOSS) as part of its network modernisation initiative, the Integrated Tactical Network (ITN), in 2023, and will wait to field the capability two years later. – Jane’s 360 

Gerrit De Vynck writes: Today, efforts to enact a total ban on lethal autonomous weapons, long demanded by human rights activists, are now being supported by 30 countries. But the world’s leading military powers insist that isn’t necessary. The U.S. military says concerns are overblown, and humans can effectively control autonomous weapons, while Russia’s government says true AI weapons can’t be banned because they don’t exist yet. – Washington Post  

Seth Cropsey writes: Despite Xi’s promises to ensure party control over the military, he has grown a large modern professional armed force that could challenge any element of Chinese society. He has prioritized improving the PLA’s readiness and capabilities virtually from the moment he gained power in 2012. He has purged the old officer corps of its kleptocratic grandees, initiated large-scale military exercises, and invested in the technology and defense industrial base necessary to construct a modern power-projection force. – Hudson Institute 

Seth J. Frantzman writes: In the end, the drone was the next logical development for the battlefield. It reduced the threat to soldiers in the field, sending in armed drones instead of special forces. Now drones would hunt the enemy down. Predator was mostly hunting down enemies in “permissive” or “non-contested” airspace, where shoot-down risk was low. This was a result of US global hegemony and funneling investment into a weapon that was tailored to the war on terror. It was a product of the 1990s, evolving for the post-9/11 wars. – Algemeiner