Fdd's overnight brief

July 9, 2021

In The News


Saudi Arabia is concerned about increased nuclear activities by Iran which threaten regional security, a Saudi foreign ministry official said, after Tehran started the process of producing enriched uranium metal. – Reuters 

Iran’s expeditionary Quds Force commander brought one main directive for Iraqi militia faction leaders long beholden to Tehran, when he gathered with them in Baghdad last month: Maintain calm, until after nuclear talks between Iran and the United States. – Associated Press 

President Joe Biden’s team is beginning to grapple with the possibility that the 2015 nuclear accord with Iran he promised to revive may soon be beyond saving. – Bloomberg 

Iran without a nuclear weapon is still a central threat to Israel, but would become an existential threat only if it acquired such a weapon, retired IDF chief of staff Gadi Eisenkot has told The Jerusalem Post. – Jerusalem Post  

Israel should push for serious American engagement against Iran in the region should the US return to the JCPOA, says Ambassador James Jeffrey, a former envoy to Iraq. – Jerusalem Post 

Michael Rubin writes: Protesters in Shiraz might now chant “Death to Khamenei,” but they are hardly alone. Iran is a tinderbox as the government fails at basic services. Residents choke and swelter across the south, and the pace of strikes in Iran’s oil and gas industries is increasing with the admission of provincial authorities and oil industry managers. For the Islamic Republic, it is going to be a long, hot summer. – Washington Examiner


Russia on Thursday proposed extending by six months a border crossing into Syria in a compromise at the Security Council, UN and diplomatic sources said, but the United States insisted that a full year was vital to save lives. – Agence France-Presse 

Russia, Iran and Turkey will continue to cooperate in Syria to decisively defeat Islamic State and other militants, the RIA news agency cited a joint statement by the nations as saying on Thursday. – Reuters 

Samer al-Ahmed and Mohammed Hassan write:  However, Iran was not the only one to abandon the NDF during the Tayy neighborhood clashes. The Syrian regime also made no effort to support the militias, despite having a sizable military presence in Hasaka Province. The regime’s reluctance was the result of pressure from the Russians, who rejected its intervention in the battle. Leaving the NDF to fight alone without support operations was in line with Russia’s desire to weaken the emerging Iranian influence in the province — and the effort succeeded. – Middle East Institute 


Turkey has thwarted attacks on its economy aimed at making the country “kneel”, President Tayyip Erdogan said on Thursday and likened the motivations behind the so-called attacks to a 2016 failed coup attempt. – Reuters 

Turkey is ready to extend its support and expertise on migration to Lithuania, Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said on Thursday, after Lithuania accused Belarus of flying in migrants from abroad, including Turkey, to send to the European Union. – Reuters 

Kyrgyz officials have denied claims they colluded with Turkish intelligence to abduct a Turkish-Kyrgyz educator who disappeared from Bishkek last month. – Radio Free Europe/ Radio Liberty  


Israelis and Palestinians have been grappling with mounting tensions that have tested everyone from the country’s top officials to neighborhood organizers. – Wall Street Journal 

Israel said Thursday it will begin seizing cryptocurrency accounts used by the Palestinian Hamas group to raise money for its armed wing. – Associated Press 

Israel drew U.S. criticism on Thursday when it destroyed the family home of a Palestinian-American accused of involvement in a shooting that killed an Israeli and wounded two others in the occupied West Bank. – Reuters 

Foreign Minister Yair Lapid  is set to address a European Union forum of his peers Monday; the first such event in over 12 years. – Jerusalem Post  

A Lod imam was indicted Thursday on charges of incitement to violence during the May riots in the mixed city. – Jerusalem Post  

The High Court of Justice upheld the Nation-State Law on Thursday, as the justices voted 10-1 to reject 15 petitions against the law. They had been asked to determine if the law was fit to be a part of Israel’s future constitution, given its content. – Jerusalem Post 

Since the death of anti-corruption activist Nizar Banat, the Palestinian Authority has been facing widespread protests and criticism. – Jerusalem Post  

A senior United Nations diplomat has called on Israel to ease restrictions that have been in place at its crossings into Gaza since the May war in the enclave, expressing concern of catastrophic repercussions for the Gazan economy if they continue to remain in place. – Times of Israel 

The U.S. Congress’ Budget Committee Thursday approved the budget for the reopening of the American Consulate for the Palestinians in Jerusalem. – Ynet 

On July 6, 2021, the Palestinian Authority (PA) announced the introduction of a new system for disbursing the allowances it pays to terrorists and their families: Allowance recipients will receive ATM cards for withdrawing the funds from the PA postal bank via ATMs at PA post offices. – Middle East Media Research Institute 


The French and U.S. ambassadors to Beirut held talks Thursday with Saudi officials in Riyadh, a rare joint visit aimed at finding a unified strategy to help Lebanon out of its unprecedented economic and political crises. – Associated Press 

Lebanon’s most senior Christian cleric said on Thursday he hoped for an improvement in ties with Saudi Arabia, which has withheld support for the crisis-torn Lebanese economy because of the rising influence of its arch-enemy Hezbollah. – Reuters 

Avi Issacharoff writes: Hezbollah’s growing hold and the disintegration of the Lebanese state continue a decades-long process in which the terror group has been slowly and steadily eating away at Lebanon’s sovereignty. Lebanon could be headed for a situation in which every sector and community withdraws into itself and only relies on its own people, while the state framework becomes purely theoretical. – Times of Israel  

Middle East & North Africa

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett secretly met with Jordan’s King Abdullah at his palace in Amman last week, as the two countries finalize a major water deal in advance of their separate trips to Washington later this summer. – Jerusalem Post   

Egyptian-German scholar Hamed Abdel-Samad said that the founder of the Muslim Brotherhood, Hassan Al-Banna, admired Hitler, and modeled the Muslim Brotherhood on the Nazi Party. – Middle East Media Research Institute 

Editorial: Critics said Trump wasn’t hard enough on Saudi Arabia, so, by God, Biden said he would make a “pariah” of the country. How’s that for tough? Here’s a word of advice: Tough usually looks better when you follow through. […]Saudi Arabia represents several strategic interests in the Middle East. We can’t just make a “pariah” of the crown prince now, can we? That’s a good question for the guy who promised to do just that. – Washington Examiner 

Simon Henderson writes: We are probably talking 20 years ahead, but it may be less if alternative and cleaner forms of energy can become a significant part of the supply mix. And technical breakthrough or not, politics may change preferences. Small wonder that many of us may hope that, if we close our eyes for a while, today’s problem may disappear. Unfortunately, it almost certainly won’t. – Washington Institute 


The Biden administration is set as early as Friday to add more than 10 Chinese companies to its economic blacklist over alleged human rights abuses and high-tech surveillance in Xinjiang, two sources told Reuters. – Reuters 

The U.S. State Department said on Wednesday it was concerned about reports that China had restricted use of social media accounts of LGBTQI Plus student groups and non-governmental organizations. – Reuters 

The U.S. envoy to the Conference on Disarmament in Geneva hinted that China is looking into developing so-called exotic nukes such as nuclear-powered underwater drones and cruise missiles being developed by Russia. – Newsweek 

A coalition of 48 progressive groups are calling on President Biden and members of Congress to look past China’s gross human rights abuses — including genocide — to ensure “cooperation” on climate action. – New York Post 

Tiana Lowe writes: The most Biden can do for our domestic crusade against climate change would be the expansion and development of the nation’s waning nuclear energy, but coalescing global trade out of China could arguably do even more for the rest of the planet. China will not cooperate with the West, and rather than fear that Biden will turn the CCP into the new USSR, we ought to embrace it. Too bad for the tankies who will lose their last powerful ally abroad. – Washington Examiner 

Marc Ang writes: The sentiment that once moved the world to anger and action after witnessing the events at Tiananmen Square has now been degraded by the rewriting and smudging of history. […]No matter what your personal feelings are concerning former President Donald Trump, his presidency should give you an indication of how China reacted to the U.S. simply balancing the scales and keeping it in check. – Washington Examiner 

Andy Keiser writes: Xi speaks often of a national rejuvenation, but the regime is focused on a rejuvenation not for China or for the Chinese people but instead for the party. For the sake of China and the world, let’s hope there is not another celebration for the CCP’s founding a century from now. Instead, let’s hope that with the world’s attentive focus and resolve, the CCP can be driven to what President Reagan declared should be the destiny of all Marxist-Leninist regimes — “the ash-heap of history.” – The Hill 

Gordon G. Chang writes: Chinese leaders are perhaps the most ambitious group anywhere, so it will be difficult for them to leave Afghanistan alone, especially as that country is one of China’s 14 land neighbors. […]So despite what Fudan’s Zhang writes, arrogant Chinese leaders are bound to make mistakes and seek deep involvement in Afghanistan. So far, no “empire” has been able to tame that “country” — if it can be called that — or bring it into the international community. China will almost certainly fail in the Afghan graveyard. – The Hill 

Evan S. Medeiros and Ashley J. Tellis write: Ultimately, what matters is not whether the United States can change China’s motivations but whether Washington can alter Beijing’s actions and conduct. Such an approach might make only tactical progress: neither the brutal character nor the revisionist impulses of the CCP are likely to change. But as long as Washington shifts how Beijing thinks about its interests and how it pursues them, the United States can protect the broader liberal international order—and that would be victory enough. – Foreign Affairs 

Anthony H. Cordesman writes: One key goal in developing this briefing is to illustrate the complexity of the various forms of competition, and the fact that the competition is both civil and military, is global rather than centered in one area like Taiwan or the South China Sea, and is often a competition for military and civil influence that goes far beyond Asia – and where each nation’s ability to influence and deter may well be more important than its ability to fight. – Center for Strategic and International Studies 


President Biden mounted an ardent defense of his decision to end the U.S. military involvement in Afghanistan, standing by the plan amid rapid gains by the insurgent Taliban, signs of strain on the Afghan military and grim forecasts from U.S. military and intelligence officials. – Wall Street Journal 

Most British soldiers have been pulled out of Afghanistan, ending Britain’s official role in a two-decades long conflict even as the Taliban are gaining ground and amid fears the departure of foreign soldiers could lead to civil war. – Reuters 

A prominent anti-Taliban commander with private militia will help Afghan forces in their fight against Taliban insurgents to claw back control over parts of western Afghanistan including a border crossing with Iran, local officials said on Friday. – Reuters 

The U.S. exit from Afghanistan is a headache for Moscow which fears spiraling fighting may push refugees into its Central Asian backyard, create a jihadist threat and even stir civil war in one ex-Soviet state, a former Russian diplomat and two analysts said. – Reuters 

The head of Britain’s armed forces warned there is the possibility that Afghanistan could be on a path to civil war as American and other foreign troops leave. – Reuters 

A Taliban delegation in Moscow said on Friday that the group controlled over 85% of territory in Afghanistan and reassured Russia it would not allow the country to be used as a platform to attack others. – Reuters 

The Taliban said Friday they had captured a key border crossing with Iran, hours after President Joe Biden issued a staunch defense of the US military withdrawal from Afghanistan. – Agence France- Presse 

White House press secretary Jen Psaki on Thursday declined to say what the US would do if Afghanistan falls to the Taliban — as President Biden prepared to speak on the pullout of US troops. – New York Post 

Two anonymous U.S. officials confirmed this week that the U.S. military had concluded its withdrawal from Afghanistan, although several hundred troops remained to guard sensitive facilities. – The National Interest 

Editorial: But note that Mr. Biden has finally agreed to have Afghan translators and their families who helped Americans airlifted to a third country as they await the visas to the U.S. they were promised. This is welcome news, but it underscores how perilous life will be for our Afghan allies as the Taliban take more territory. Mr. Biden didn’t have to withdraw completely from Kabul. There were alternatives, as the Afghanistan Study Group recommended this year. If there is a Saigon-like tragedy, Mr. Biden can’t wash his hands of responsibility. – Wall Street Journal 

Eli Lake writes: For now, Biden is unwilling to completely write off the government in Kabul. […]That’s better than nothing, but not nearly enough. Ever since April, when Biden announced his withdrawal plan, the Taliban has been on the march and, in just two months, has been able to seize 150 of Afghanistan’s 421 districts. If this trend continues, the Taliban will soon impose its own regime, one that negates the people’s right to decide their government.  – Bloomberg 

Hal Brands writes: For better and for worse, being a global superpower involves fighting conflicts that matter a great deal more to the enemy than they do to the U.S. The frustrations that America has encountered in Afghanistan aren’t a product of post-9/11 delusions: They are more normal than either critics or supporters of that mission might like to admit. – Bloomberg 

Trevor Hunnicutt writes: Biden was sometimes the only senior White House official opposing troop surges to back the counterinsurgency strategy. Yet the years that passed only sharpened Biden’s concerns and those of close aides, including Secretary of State Antony Blinken. […] Biden’s administration hopes it can maintain some leverage over the Taliban in U.S.-backed peace talks with threats to withhold financial assistance that the poor, landlocked country needs. Yet the swift exit risks giving the Taliban free rein. – Reuters 

Peter Apps writes: What happens next in Afghanistan may go similarly largely ignored. Most coverage so far has focused on what the United States and Britain might do next, not what is happening on the ground. […]That doesn’t mean multiple countries will not be paying attention. The West might wish Afghanistan had ceased to exist once its troops are no longer there, but in many ways the 21st-century “Great Game” for influence there is only just beginning. – Reuters  

Jack Detsch writes: Leaving behind American-hired contractors, even as most remaining U.S. combat troops closed down Bagram Airfield last week and departed the country, is a sign that the Biden administration’s calculus on providing postwar air support to the Afghans could be changing. But it’s not yet clear what the threshold would be for the United States to provide air cover of its own. – Foreign Policy 

Karlyn Bowman writes: As late as 2020, polls conducted by the Chicago Council showed that Americans were split on keeping long-term bases in Afghanistan, but President Biden is continuing President Trump’s plan to withdraw completely. Polls shouldn’t be used to make policy, but they tell us that the urge to leave is strong. – Forbes 

South Asia

For two decades, a large part of the Pakistani security establishment rooted for the Taliban in the Afghan war. Now that the Taliban are taking over vast tracts of the country and seem to be on the cusp of seizing power, panic is spreading through Pakistan’s halls of power. – Wall Street Journal 

Twitter Inc’s India unit has appointed an interim chief compliance officer and will soon designate other executives to meet the country’s new IT rules, the social media giant said in court on Thursday, amid tensions with the government. – Reuters 

Editorial: Five months after its military seized power to prevent the seating of a new, democratically elected parliament, Myanmar is steadily sliding toward failed state status. […] While the United States and the European Union have adopted some sanctions, China and Russia have blocked action by the U.N. Security Council, and the response of Asian countries, including India and Japan, has been weak. – Washington Post  


Five years after a landmark international arbitration court ruling repudiated China’s claims to the waters where Megu fishes, the 48-year-old complains that his encounters with Chinese boats are more frequent than ever. – Reuters 

The widely monitored national security case of 47 Hong Kong democracy activists charged with conspiracy to commit subversion, most of whom have been in custody for more than four months, will resume in September, a judge ruled on Thursday. – Reuters 

Hong Kong Media group Next Digital on Thursday said it had received an email from the solicitors of its chief executive officer, Cheung Kim-hung, stating that he had resigned, as the company faces investigations under the national security law. – Reuters 

France’s overseas territories minister on Thursday welcomed news that New Caledonia had elected Louis Mapou as its first pro-independence president since a 1998 deal with Paris to grant more political power to the French Pacific territory. – Reuters 

It would be desirable for South Korean President Moon Jae-in to visit Japan and meet its leaders during the Olympics, South Korea’s sports minister said on Friday, after the Japanese leader suggested it was up to South Korea to mend ties. – Reuters  

The United Nations’ International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) announced on Thursday that it has reached an agreement with the Japanese government to monitor the discharge of the radioactive water that has been stored in the Fukushima nuclear plant since the tsunami disaster in 2011. – The Hill 

Kyrgyz and Tajik border guards have exchanged fire along the Central Asian states’ disputed border, leaving one Kyrgyz soldier dead and another wounded in an incident each side blamed on the other. – Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty 

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un’s major weight loss has not affected his ability to rule the Hermit Kingdom, a South Korea lawmaker briefed by a spy agency says in a new report. – New York Post 


Russia on Thursday said its airlines can resume charter flights to Egyptian resorts, which had been banned for more than five years after the suspected bombing of a Russian airliner in which 224 people died. – Associated Press 

A group of leading rights organizations has urged the United Nations to condemn the deterioration of civil rights in Russia, which has “constructed a legal landscape that is inconsistent” with international standards. – Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty 

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov has said that foreign actors would “regret” any attempt to interfere in his country’s upcoming parliamentary elections. – Newsweek 

Mason Clark writes: Expanded NATO exercises and freedom of maneuver missions are necessary to support US partners in the Black Sea region and counter the Kremlin’s illegal efforts to limit international access to the Black Sea. The Kremlin seeks to limit Ukraine and NATO’s freedom of action in the Black Sea to cement Russian dominance over this region and pressure US allies including Ukraine, Georgia, and Turkey. – Institute for the Study of War 

Mira Milosevich writes: The European Union must strengthen its democratic resilience and must have a clear and realistic strategy toward its eastern neighbor as the Kremlin treads a path of self-isolation. Russia’s internal limitations—the political and economic system based on clientelism and corruption, demographic problems, and the inability to transform its own economy without seeking great accommodation with the West—will gradually weaken its ability to act in its neighborhood but may also embolden its policies to counter this perception. – Center for Strategic and International Studies 


Moldovan voters go to the polls this weekend in a snap parliamentary election that could decide whether the former Soviet republic fully embraces pro-Western reforms or prolongs a political impasse under strong Russian influence. – Associated Press 

Belarusian authorities blocked the website of a leading online media outlet and detained some of its journalists and several reporters from other news organizations Thursday, the latest moves in a sweeping crackdown on dissent and independent media in the ex-Soviet nation. – Associated Press 

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban vowed on Thursday he would not give in to EU pressure to repeal a new law banning schools from using materials seen as promoting homosexuality, as the bloc’s lawmakers called for penalties over the legislation. – Reuters 

The European Union will “never, ever” accept a two state deal on ethnically-split Cyprus, the head of its executive said on Thursday. – Reuters 

Northern Ireland’s Loyalist Communities Council, which represents the views of loyalist paramilitaries, said Ireland was an errant government that had effectively instigated a Cold War with Northern Ireland over trade. – Reuters 

Brussels and London were on Thursday locked in a dispute over the size of the UK’s Brexit bill, after the EU suggested that Britain would be obliged to pay €47.5bn (£40.8bn) as part of its post-Brexit arrangements. – Financial Times  

European officials should “decline invitations” to attend the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing due to China’s human rights abuses, lawmakers in the European Parliament agreed Thursday, but Chinese officials are using their economic clout on the continent to avoid a comprehensive boycott. – Washington Examiner 

Antisemitic vandals defaced a memorial to the Holocaust in the French city of Grenoble  by engraving swastikas into its metal plate using a blowtorch. – Algemeiner  

Hungarian Prime Minister and vociferous EU critic Viktor Orban has used a visit to Serbia to press for the bloc to accept that country and thus unlock the Western Balkans to inject “new energy” before it’s too late. – Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty 

Ethnic Hungarian communities and civic groups in western Ukraine have received at least 115 million euros from the Hungarian government over the past 10 years, a new RFE/RL investigation found. – Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty 

President Sauli Niinistö writes: As far as the format goes, in the most ambitious scenario, this route could ultimately lead to another Helsinki Summit in 2025. With partly different participants, given the global approach. With partly different issues but fully respecting the original spirit created 50 years earlier. With leaders, despite their unresolved disagreements, jointly agreeing to a set of shared principles, striving for common solutions to shared problems, and mitigating conflicts through dialogue. – Foreign Policy 

Emil Avdaliani writes: To deal with this, Western support is important, but much depends on Georgian governments and the population at large. A pushback against radicalism and anti-liberalism should come in the guise of time and resources for the development of stronger and currently faltering institutions. Urgency in addressing these problems has never been higher — internal and foreign challenges converge and present a fundamental challenge to what Georgia has been pursuing since the days of Eduard Shevardnadze – the Western path to development. – Center for European Policy Analysis 


Egypt and Sudan urged the U.N. Security Council on Thursday to undertake “preventive diplomacy” and call for a legally binding agreement to resolve a dispute with Ethiopia over the availability of water from its dam on the Nile River, but Ethiopia insisted the matter can be solved by the African Union and many council members agreed. – Associated Press 

Human rights groups welcomed the imprisonment Thursday of former South African President Jacob Zuma, who began serving a 15-month sentence for defying a court order to testify at a judicial commission investigating allegations of widespread corruption during his 2009-18 tenure. – Associated Press 

As Ethiopia begins diverting 13.5 billion cubic meters of water from the Blue Nile river to its controversial new mega-dam, residents of Sudan to the south fear a repetition of last year’s devastating drought. – Bloomberg 

Alberto Fernandez writes: According to Sudan’s governing agreement, neither the two generals nor Hamdok can be a candidate in the next election scheduled for late 2022, but all three will be essential in keeping the country on a relatively even keel in the short term. Despite its state of near-constant crisis, Sudan is the only nation to achieve something positive out of the turmoil that rocked several Arab countries in 2019. This fragile progress deserves a chance to overcome its flaws and succeed. – Washington Institute 

Comfort Ero and Alan Boswell write: African and UN officials promoting the peace process should offer support for such a broadened constitutional review and back South Sudanese demands for inclusion. […]The political road ahead will not be short or easy. But with appropriate reforms it could become less violent, and hope could once again return to the world’s newest country. – Foreign Affairs 

Latin America

The Salvadoran government has expelled an editor of the country’s most prominent digital news publication, El Faro, saying that authorities could not verify the Mexican journalist’s work credentials, the newspaper’s founder said Thursday. – Washington Post 

Haiti’s interim prime minister said his government is intensifying a manhunt in the aftermath of the assassination of President Jovenel Moïse, arresting several suspects believed to have participated in a killing that came as gang violence had been sharply escalating. – Wall Street Journal 

The crisis in Haiti is adding to the Biden administration’s slate of challenges in the Western Hemisphere, where officials had sought to focus on the flow of unauthorized migrants across the U.S.’s southern border. – Wall Street Journal 

Gunman assassinated Haitian President Jovenel Moïse early Wednesday, storming his house in the capital. Police said they killed four suspected assailants and arrested two others late Wednesday. The country is bracing for unrest and uncertainty following the killing. – Wall Street Journal 

Cuba says it has developed a vaccine against Covid-19 that its ally, Venezuela, has begun administering despite warnings from regional health authorities and Venezuelan doctors that they haven’t seen evidence of the shot’s efficacy or safety. – Wall Street Journal 

After Moise was shot dead early Wednesday, they have fretted over the WhatsApp text chats and audio memos they get from relatives back in Haiti who describe being cooped up in their homes as the nation is now all but locked down. – Reuters 

The United States is responding to a request from Haiti’s national police for investigative assistance following the assassination of President Jovenel Moise, the U.S. State Department said on Thursday. – Reuters 

Representatives of Venezuela’s government and opposition are set to meet in Mexico beginning in August for a new round of negotiations aimed at ending the South American country’s deep political crisis, five people familiar with the matter said. – Reuters 

United States

New Jersey imam Mohammad Abbasi said that the reason the Israelites are mentioned so many times in the Quran, despite there being only a handful of Jews in the Arabian Peninsula at the time of the Prophet Muhammad was the extent of corruption, mischief, and tumult they would cause in the world according to the prophecy. – Middle East Media Research Institute 

Editorial: Canadians and Mexicans retain investor protections under the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade pact, which the U.S. did not join. But cross-border investments between the U.S. and its largest trading partner are now unprotected. Treating foreign investment like a banana republic would isn’t a good look for America. – Wall Street Journal 

Daniel F. Runde, Romina Bandura and Sundar R. Ramanujan write: The United States needs to be more active in this space to ensure that the underpinnings of ID systems remain democratic and are not used as tools of repression and surveillance. The United States must not take for granted that advances in technology and digitization will reinforce rather than erode democracy. […]As USAID and related development agencies work with countries and other donors, avoiding the misuse of these systems and abuse of data should be a fundamental priority. – Center for Strategic and International Studies 


New York City has become the first major American metropolitan area to open a real-time operational center to protect against cybersecurity threats, regional officials said. – Wall Street Journal  

The firm was part of what cybersecurity researchers are calling potentially the largest ransomware attack ever, affecting hundreds of businesses and other entities globally. In a ransomware attack, hackers break into a company’s systems, lock them and demand money for a key to unlock those systems. – Washington Post 

The top lawyer for U.S. Cyber Command is calling for the United States to push back against transnational criminal hackers with military cyber operations. – The Hill 

As ransomware attacks surge to unprecedented levels, the intricacies of mounting such a potentially destructive and deceptive operation would seem to be far beyond the reach of the average netizen. – Newsweek 

Todd Rosenblum writes: At its core, the VEP decides whether the government prefers cyber defense or offense, which has massive societal implications. Yet, the public and vendors also need voice and confidence that decisions about vulnerabilities are made in the best interest of the nation as a whole. The VEP is a strong starting point, but it needs to be improved if we are to counter the prolonged cyberattacks on Americans and the homeland. – The Hill 

Jenny Jun writes: As the source of wealth moves elsewhere — that is, as countries’ most valued assets move from the physical to the virtual realm — the weapons will also adapt accordingly. Encryption is one excellent tool to hold such connected assets at risk, and soon actors will learn to use this tool to extract more than money. – Politico 

Michael Hirsh writes: But where are Biden’s red lines, short of a major attack on a U.S. nuclear power plant, defense, critical manufacturing, or the emergency services sector? Experts question whether Biden is really ready to escalate with attacks on Russia’s own infrastructure, possibly causing civilian injuries and deaths, especially if the United States can’t prove definitively the Kremlin is responsible. – Foreign Policy 


The Navy’s push to retire seven guided-missile cruisers stems from management and planning in its original modernization program that caused exorbitant cost growth, according to service officials. – USNI News  

The U.S. Space Force opened a new satellite operations center July 7 at Kirtland Air Force Base in New Mexico designed to advance the still nascent service’s space war-fighting capabilities. – C4ISRNET 

Maj. Gen. Ryan Heritage took the helm of Marine Corps Forces Cyberspace Command during a change of command ceremony July 7. – C4ISRNET 

Whenever Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Mark Milley testify about the Biden defense budget before Congress, they get an earful about the inadequacy of the Navy’s shipbuilding plans. – Washington Examiner 

The possibility that nuclear weapons will be used in a regional or global conflict has increased over the past decade, according to a newly released report from the Pentagon. – New York Post 

With America in a new Cold War with Russia, the U.S. Marine Corps is placing high hopes on a new amphibious armored vehicle to replace older models. – The National Interest  

Christopher Stone writes: America faces rapidly emerging threats to our space assets in Earth orbits and beyond, and our strategic approaches must just as rapidly evolve to meet these challenges. We must move past a situation comparable to basing space defense upon a Civil War observation balloon, when we need the space equivalent of a modern fighter jet powered by nuclear thermal propulsion. The cost of inaction is high; China aims to build fleets of nuclear spacecraft in the next few years to achieve space superiority over the United States and its allies. – Defense News  

Marik Von Rennenkampff writes: As the proliferation of nuclear weapons barrels on unchecked and a drought of “biblical proportions” grips the United States, Hynek’s rhetorical question to Congress whether we can “afford to overlook a potential breakthrough of great significance” is more relevant than ever. Perhaps more importantly, as Hynek eloquently stated in his congressional testimony, “even if the sole purpose of such a study is to satisfy human curiosity, to probe the unknown and to provide intellectual adventure, then it is in line with what science has always stood for.” – The Hill 

Joseph R. Detrani writes: Strategic stability is especially important now, and effective and meaningful arms control talks, especially among the P-5 nuclear powers, all committed to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, must ensure that nuclear war is never fought. – The Hill 

Andrew Radin and Thomas Szayna write: With these inputs, and ideally an ability to link possible changes to military effectiveness, more persuasive arguments about reforming Department of Defense procedures can be made.  […]Some senior military officers may be skeptical of the need for the civilians to have a greater role, but understanding how civilian input can lead to better policy outcomes, as well as socialization of a new cohort of military leaders, may change their perspective. – War on the Rocks 

Bruce Held and Brad Martin write: Once America entered World War II, it took almost a year to enable offensive operations in combat theaters, a year that was used by the country’s enemies to make victory much costlier. […]This means potential peer and near-peer adversaries may not be deterred if they think they can score an easy win. And, absent a direct attack on the United States, the “easy win” may not be challenged for fear of escalation and lack of political will. Rebalancing America’s military capabilities is required if the U.S. military is to have the resources needed to be relevant to major operations against its primary potential adversaries. – War on the Rocks 

Long War

During a grueling, weeks-long mission in northern Mali, French soldiers were confronted by a familiar threat: Extremists trying to impose the same strict Islamic rule that preceded France’s military intervention here more than eight years ago. – Associated Press 

The Pentagon said on Thursday it was deeply concerned about a series of attacks on U.S. personnel in Iraq and Syria in recent days. – Reuters 

Vera Mironova writes: Years of online communication from jailed Islamic State members show that, with time, women become less and less interested in radical topics and more interested in everyday issues. […]This could be the case either because the most radical women are already repatriated (or have managed to escape) or simply because women in the camp are realizing that radicalism is not sustainable in such close quarters. In the end then, the decline of the Islamic State may come down to room-sharing. – Foreign Policy