Fdd's overnight brief

June 24, 2021

In The News


Iran said Wednesday it foiled an attempt to sabotage a facility belonging to its atomic agency near the capital, the latest attack on its nuclear program and one that follows the election of a hard-line cleric as the country’s president. – Wall Street Journal

Iran said on Wednesday the United States had agreed to remove all sanctions on Iran’s oil and shipping but Washington said “nothing is agreed until everything is agreed” in talks to revive the 2015 Iran nuclear deal. – Reuters

Iran will decide whether to extend its monitoring deal with the International Atomic Energy Agency after its expiry on June 24, Iranian state TV’s news website quoted presidential chief of staff Mahmoud Vaezi as saying on Wednesday. – Reuters

The Pentagon was watching as Iran attempted, and failed, to launch yet another satellite into orbit earlier this month, multiple defense officials tell CNN. – CNN 

The Iranian centrifuge production site said targeted in a drone attack Wednesday was reportedly on a list of targets that Israel presented to the Trump administration last year. – Associated Press

U.S. negotiators are prepared to return to a seventh round of indirect talks with Iran on re-entering on 2015 nuclear deal once the leadership in Tehran is ready, a senior administration official said. – Bloomberg

Yonah Jeremy Bob writes: Iran always seems to try to lie and cover-up blows to its nuclear program as long as it can block the world from seeing the truth, but it would have a double incentive to lie here if there might also be undeclared nuclear program aspects. It may be some time before the fog clears on Wednesday’s incident, but there is at least one theory about why this target might matter greatly to Tehran. – Jerusalem Post 

Mohammad Javad Mousavizadeh writes: While analysts have little clue of what Raisi’s foreign policies will look like—in large part because he hardly talked about the topic during the campaign—there is little doubt that he will be obedient to the orders of Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei. Iran’s foreign policy was already heavily influenced by the supreme leader and the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC). By most accounts, this is only going to accelerate. – The National Interest

Ilan I. Berman writes: In recent years, Raisi’s name has figured prominently in those conversations. His current electoral triumph thus could well pave the way for yet another promotion. […]Tellingly, Iran’s elites seem to have come to the same conclusion. In their congratulatory messages to Raisi, the other presidential contenders are said to have offered felicitations not just for securing the presidency, but for his eventual ascension to the country’s top clerical post as well. – American Foreign Policy Council


Russia previewed a showdown with the United Nations, United States and Western nations Wednesday over the delivery of humanitarian aid to rebel-held northwest Syria from Turkey, rejecting their warnings that closing the only border crossing will leave more than 1 million people without desperately needed food and cause people to die because they lack medicine. – Associated Press

U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres appealed to the Security Council on Wednesday to renew a cross-border aid operation into war-torn Syria for another year, warning that a failure to do so would be devastating for millions of people. – Reuters

About 5,000 civilians in the north-west of Syria have once again been forced to flee their homes after a new wave of government shelling targeting the contested area, a local aid agency said. – The Guardian


Turkey has ramped up talks with other countries over securing a currency swap agreement and a deal with Azerbaijan looks likely to be the first achieved, four Turkish sources with knowledge on the matter told Reuters on Wednesday. – Reuters 

A senior U.S. official said Russia and Turkey have tentatively reached an agreement to begin the process of withdrawing foreign troops from Libya in agreement with Germany’s Foreign Minister pledging to remove foreign forces from Libya. – Newsweek

Turkey’s state-controlled military electronics company Aselsan has unveiled the first of what will become an upgraded armored combat vehicle used by the military. – Defense News


U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken will meet with Israel’s new Foreign Minister Yair Lapid in Italy over the weekend, a senior State Department official and Israel’s foreign ministry said on Wednesday. – Associated Press

The US is seeking to extend the time between rounds of indirect nuclear talks with Iran, in order to talk to the new Israeli government more about its position. – Jerusalem Post

When Israeli Defense Forces Chief of Staff Aviv Kochavi traveled to U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM) headquarters at MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa, Fla., yesterday, the visit marked the beginning of a new phase in a military relationship between the U.S. and Israel that is already strong and extensive. – Jewish Insider

CNN recently drew a bizarre parallel between Israel’s new prime minister and the president-elect of the Islamic Republic of Iran, whose rulers are dedicated to destroying the Jewish state. – Algemeiner

Israel was among 41 countries at the Human Rights Council on Tuesday that urged China to allow “immediate, meaningful and unfettered access” so independent observers can visit its western Xinjiang region, where Beijing is accused of a brutal crackdown on Muslim Uyghurs and other minorities. – Times of Israel

Prominent Palestinian political activist Nizar Banat died when Palestinian Authority security forces arrived at his home to arrest him early Thursday. The incident took place as the PA stepped up its security crackdown on political opponents and social media users in the West Bank. – Jerusalem Post

A senior Hamas official said on Wednesday that the Palestinian Authority’s decision to postpone the elections last month has hindered the efforts to end the internal Palestinian split, Xinhua reports. – Artuz Sheva

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas on Wednesday broke his silence on the formation of new government in Israel, welcoming Prime Minister Naftali Bennett and urging him to try and reach solutions on long-lasting issues between Palestinians and Israelis. – Ynet

Gulf States

Yemen’s Houthi rebels claimed they brought down two U.S.-made drones this week over central Marib province, the scene of heavy fighting between the Iran-backed rebels and forces loyal to the internationally recognized government. – Associated Press

In a June 1, 2021 column in the Saudi daily ‘Okaz, journalist Khaled Al-Sulaiman wondered what would happen if an independent Palestinian state were to be established  under the rule of Hamas. […]He therefore concluded that, before liberating Palestine from the Israeli occupation, it must be freed from  the clutches of Iran. – Middle East Media Research Institute 

Sheikha Latifa, one of the daughters of the ruler of Dubai, has issued a statement by email to Reuters saying she is free to travel, according to lawyers who said they were acting on her behalf. – Reuters

Saudi Arabia’s air defenses destroyed on Wednesday an explosive-laden drone launched by Yemen’s Houthis toward the province of Jizan in the south of the kingdom, Saudi state TV said. – Reuters


Libya’s transitional government underlined its commitment to holding elections on Dec. 24 at a conference Wednesday with powers that have interests in the North African country, while the German hosts vowed to keep up pressure until all foreign forces have been withdrawn from Libya. – Associated Press

The death of Sadeeq Ferjani from a booby trap left by fighters in his home in southern Tripoli is a reminder of the deadly stakes at play in Libya as international powers meet in Berlin to discuss the crisis. – Reuters

Building an effective democratic solution for Libyans is no easy task. Over the course of a decade, the Libyan people toppled an authoritarian regime, became entangled in a brutal civil war, and endured what subsequently evolved into a proxy war among multiple foreign powers seeking to promote their own national interests. – Foreign Policy

Middle East & North Africa

The owner and insurers of the enormous container ship that blocked the Suez Canal for six days in March and disrupted global shipping have reached a settlement with the Egyptian authorities, one of the insurers said on Wednesday. – New York Times 

Iraq’s government appears increasingly weak in the face of militias and parties that are expected to entrench their power in an upcoming election, dashing the hopes of protesters who were promised reform, say activists, officials and diplomats. – Reuters

David Gardner writes: There is growing conviction inside and outside Lebanon that the elites will only start to bargain if their bank accounts and property assets (mostly held abroad) are hit and they are prevented from travelling. Europeans are now preparing sanctions on those obstructing the formation of a government and involved in corrupt practices. […]But Washington started targeting key politicians last year. Nothing else has worked, and Lebanon is very close to hitting rock bottom. – Financial Times

Saif Abu Gulal writes: The democracy in Iraq is not perfect; it is still fractured and divided. Yet realpolitik with Israel can help the advancement of democracy in the new Iraq. Iraq can learn from the processes Israel struggled through to create an open and democratic society. – Jerusalem Post

Korean Peninsula

North Korea sees its nuclear program as essential to regime survival, serving to deter a U.S.-led invasion. Decades of denuclearization talks, economic sanctions and diplomacy have done little to slow Pyongyang’s advance to becoming a self-declared nuclear state. – Wall Street Journal

Stability isn’t the same as pregnancy; it isn’t a simple “yes” or “no” condition that is easily defined and (usually) recognizable. Instead, the spectrum ranges from the tremendously stable (iron-56 or the Burj Khalifa) to the incredibly unstable (New York Jets fans). And North Korea can fall on different places within that spectrum depending on what aspects of life are under consideration. – The National Interest

North Korea’s foreign minister on Wednesday said his country is not even considering a resumption of stalled nuclear talks with the United States, dismissing hopes expressed by U.S. and South Korean officials for a quick resumption of negotiations. – Associated Press


Apple Daily, Hong Kong’s defiant pro-democracy newspaper that drew the ire of China’s leaders, said it would print its final issue Thursday, ending an era of unfettered reporting critical of Beijing in the city’s mainstream print scene. – Wall Street Journal

Chinese researchers directed the U.S. National Institutes of Health to delete gene sequences of early Covid-19 cases from a key scientific database, raising concerns that scientists studying the origin of the pandemic may lack access to key pieces of information. – Wall Street Journal

Hong Kong’s raucous and politically diverse news media, though free from the constraints placed on journalism next door in mainland China, has contended with various threats over the years. But after a draconian national security law went into effect a year ago, those challenges have multiplied dramatically. – New York Times

More than 40 countries urged China on Tuesday to allow the UN human rights chief immediate access to Xinjiang to look into reports that more than a million people have been unlawfully detained there, some subjected to torture or forced labor. – Reuters

The first person charged under the national security law in Hong Kong pleaded not guilty as his trial began on Wednesday, almost a year after he was accused of driving his motorbike into officers at a rally while carrying a flag with a protest slogan. – Reuters 

China has introduced further reforms to encourage private sector companies’ involvement in the research, development, and production of military equipment. – Jane’s 360

Trade power tensions, regulatory hurdles and attempts by the West to counter Chinese competition are delaying a return of the 737 MAX in China, frustrating Boeing Co as a potential rival demonstrates its growing influence. – Reuters

China condemned the United States on Wednesday as the region’s greatest security “risk creator” after a U.S. warship again sailed through the sensitive waterway that separates Taiwan from China. – Reuters

France is attached to the freedom and plurality of the press, government spokesman Gabriel Attal told reporters on Wednesday, when asked about Hong Kong pro-democracy tabloid Apple Daily’s decision to print its last edition later this week. – Reuters

China has lodged a complaint with the World Trade Organization (WTO) over Australia’s anti-dumping and anti-subsidy measures against Chinese railway wheels, wind towers and stainless steel sinks, the commerce ministry said on Thursday. – Reuters

Xi Jinping is engaged in a personality cult. He has now lifted his own term limit as head of state, and revised the Party’s history to give fundamentally positive credit to the Cultural Revolution and Mao Zedong – a significant change in direction that is clear and worth watching closely. But I don’t think he can reach the level of Mao’s cult of personality. – Middle East Media Research Institute

President Joe Biden is set to launch the next phase of his China policy with a push for high-level meetings with Beijing officials after five months of pursuing a hardline stance. – Financial Times

The U.S. is poised to bar some solar products made in China’s Xinjiang region, according to several people familiar with the matter, marking one of the Biden administration’s biggest steps yet to counter alleged human rights abuses against the country’s ethnic Uyghur Muslim minority. – Bloomberg

James Hohmann writes: In April, the U.S. intelligence community’s annual threat assessment warned that “Beijing is working to match or exceed US capabilities in space to gain the military, economic, and prestige benefits that Washington has accrued from space leadership.” This threat isn’t limited to the vacuum of space. China’s efforts must be viewed in the context of its ongoing genocide in Xinjiang, smothering of Hong Kong, saber-rattling against Taiwan and obstruction of independent investigations into the origins of the coronavirus. – Washington Post

Gordon Crovitz and Mark L. Clifford write: There is sad irony in what happened to Apple Daily. Hong Kong was transformed from a barren rock to a world business and financial center by immigrants from mainland China, such as Mr. Lai, who flourished under the rule of law developed when Hong Kong was a British colony. The free flow of information enabled prosperity and broad freedom. Now, Hong Kong shares and bank accounts can be frozen on the order of a single official, destroying private enterprise as well as freedom. – Wall Street Journal

William Danvers writes: Responding to the challenge of China and its BRI is important, but the U.S. and its G-7 allies can do well in challenging China’s efforts to be the preeminent global development force and do good by having a focused, sustained and effective development strategy with B3W. – The Hill

Peter Juul writes: But as we’re already seeing on climate change, cooperation between the United States and China remains possible in the midst of fierce competition – just as cooperation between the United States and Soviet Union was possible during the Cold War. In diplomacy as in dancing, it ultimately takes two to tango. – The Liberal Patriot


The U.S. intelligence community concluded last week that the government of Afghanistan could collapse as soon as six months after the American military withdrawal from the country is completed, according to officials with knowledge of the new assessment. – Wall Street Journal

The Biden administration plans to evacuate some Afghans who have worked with the U.S. government before the American withdrawal from Afghanistan concludes in coming months, an official said Wednesday, signaling an intent to take new action to safeguard allies as foreign forces depart. – Washington Post

Turkey will not send additional troops to Afghanistan as part of a plan to run and secure Kabul’s airport following the U.S. and NATO pullout from the country, Turkish Defence Minister Hulusi Akar said on Wednesday. – Reuters 

AU.S. lawmaker has proposed seeking the support of fellow NATO member states in helping resettle Afghans who supported the international military mission in their country and now fear reprisal from adversaries as foreign troops exit the country for the first time in two decades. – Newsweek

President Biden is set to meet with Afghanistan‘s top political leaders in Washington on Friday even as Taliban insurgents score major battlefield gains and the embattled government in Kabul warns of a looming civil war. – Washington Times

Anthony H. Cordesman writes: A post-U.S. withdrawal government in Afghanistan may well be even less capable than the present government – and Libya, Iraq, Mali, Venezuela, Syria, Myanmar, and Somalia are only a few examples of other cases in point. As a result, the real challenge the U.S. faces is not writing off the current Afghan government over the next four months, it is rather having to deal with a fragile world over the next four years. – Center for Strategic and International Studies

South Asia

At the center of much of the activity are Pakistan’s anti-terrorism courts, which were created in the late 1990s and intended to secure expedited trials and convictions through different rules for custody, detention and bail. […]Yet the issues in the nation’s legal system go beyond those special tribunals, according to international human rights groups. – Washington Post 

Narendra Modi will meet top Kashmiri politicians on Thursday, with discussions expected to focus on restoring democracy to the Muslim-majority region two years after New Delhi stripped the state of its political autonomy. – Financial Times

Britain’s top diplomat met Wednesday with his Cambodian counterpart as he pushed for closer economic relations to Southeast Asia, part of the U.K.’s new emphasis on the region. – Associated Press

The leader of Myanmar’s military junta on Wednesday attended an international conference in Moscow, an appearance that reflected Russia’s eagerness to develop ties with the junta despite international criticism. – Associated Press

Pankaj Mishra writes: Criticizing the assault on media freedoms and human rights in Russia and China has long been an American political reflex. Indeed, Biden’s insistent rhetoric that democracy is in a global contest with autocracy marks him as one of the U.S. leaders intellectually conditioned by the cold war’s simple oppositions. – Bloomberg


China’s efforts to join a regional trade deal that originally aimed to exclude Beijing “should set off alarm bells” in Washington, where a growing number of lawmakers are calling for the U.S. to re-assert its influence in Asia, according to a key U.S. senator overseeing trade. – Bloomberg

The U.S. will likely need to deploy a hybrid system to defend Guam due to its difficult terrain and the variety of missile threats it faces, the head of the Missile Defense Agency said this week. – USNI News

Protesters in Thailand have returned to the streets to demand the government’s resignation as the parliament discusses the amendment of the country’s constitution and changes to its electoral system. – Bloomberg

An Australian court on Thursday ruled that a Chilean woman accused of kidnapping seven people during the military dictatorship of Augusto Pinochet must be extradited to face the charges, rejecting her legal appeal. – Reuters

China wants the ability to invade and hold Taiwan within the next six years but might not intend to do so in the near term, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark Milley told Congress today. – USNI News

Jeffrey Mankoff and Cyrus Newlin write: As the United States plans for the next, post-withdrawal phase of its decades-long effort to stabilize Afghanistan, engagement with its Central Asian neighbors will remain an important element of any strategy. To be successful, though, that engagement must stop short of the direct military presence the United States maintained until 2014. – War on the Rocks


Russia’s Defense Ministry said its armed forces fired warning shots at a British destroyer that was violating what it considers its territorial waters near Crimea, but the U.K. government said its ship was “innocently” passing through Ukrainian waters and that no shots were fired. – Wall Street Journal

Russia will be ready to fire to hit to protect its borders, a senior diplomat warned Thursday in the wake of a Black Sea incident in which a British destroyer sailed near Crimea in an area that Russia claims as its territorial waters. – Associated Press

Russian ships recently practiced destroying a “carrier strike group of a mock enemy” off the coast of Hawaii, according to a statement from the country’s ministry of defense. The exercises come at the same time as the U.S. aircraft carrier Carl Vinson and ships from its carrier strike group are operating in the area. – Military.com

The U.S.-Russia summit in Geneva on June 16, 2021, was considered an exceptional event well before it had started. Russian President Vladimir Putin was elevated by Western observers to a level equal to that of the American leader, despite Russia having an economy smaller than that of California, Texas, or even New York, with a per capita nominal GDP matching the world’s average. – Middle East Media Research Institute 

Germany and France have called for a new EU strategy of closer engagement with Russia to build on discussions with Moscow in the wake of US president Joe Biden’s Geneva summit with Vladimir Putin. – Financial Times

Leonid Bershidsky writes: Potentially, Russia plus the EU could be a powerful military, economic, technological and cultural combination that would rival, if not exceed, the might of the U.S. and China. But, even leaving values aside, creating this combination is not in Europe’s cynical interests. – Bloomberg


A culture war between Hungary and the European Union escalated Wednesday after a top official from the bloc said she would use all her powers to thwart a new Hungarian law that critics say targets the L.G.B.T. community. – New York Times

Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Wednesday began his second trip to Europe in barely a week, part of the Biden administration’s determination to show up at international forums and reclaim America’s global leadership role. – Washington Post

European Union leaders will discuss a new strategy to manage relations with Russia and a controversy over a new Hungarian law banning LGBT references in school material at a two-day summit opening on June 24 in Brussels. – Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty 

The United States and Germany struggled Wednesday to resolve a major dispute over a Russian gas pipeline, even as the Biden administration seeks to improve relations with Western Europe that had been strained during Donald Trump’s presidency. – Associated Press

A Dutch parliamentarian is demanding that the Ministry of Education in The Netherlands take urgent measures to combat antisemitism in schools, following the publication of a shocking article that exposed the antisemitic bullying which some Jewish students suffered during the armed conflict in May between Israel and the Hamas regime in Gaza. – Algemeiner

The UK’s export credit agency, UK Export Financing (UKEF), revealed in its annual report on 22 June that it had underwritten a record GBP12.3 billion (USD17.1 billion) for UK industry during the 2020/21 financial year. – Jane’s 360

Human rights group Amnesty International said Wednesday that the practice of migrant pushbacks in Greece has become so bad that even people who have applied for asylum and been in the country for some time are being summarily picked up and deported. – Associated Press

The United States has no better partner in the world than Germany, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said on Wednesday. – Reuters

Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko said Tuesday night that his country will no longer “protect” neighboring countries from allowing undocumented immigrants to freely pass through their borders due to what he called a “hybrid war” waged by the West against Belarus. – Newsweek

A European financial institution is prepared to help refinance Montenegro’s $1 billion debt to China, which the Balkan country incurred over a controversial highway project. – Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty 

Gabrielius Landsbergis writes: The EU is right to worry about its strategic communication. However, the problem goes beyond communication – now is the right time to focus on the EU’s strategic presence in the Eastern Partnership. If we loiter for too long, communication will no longer be relevant, since we will no longer be considered as present in the region. – Center for European Policy Analysis 


U.S. officials condemned reports of an airstrike hitting a crowded market in Ethiopia’s northern Tigray region Wednesday, raising concerns about a bloody escalation of the seven-month conflict that has fueled famine and uprooted more than a million people. – Washington Post

But many Nigerians are outraged that only a fraction of these treasures are even under discussion for return — and not even the most cherished ones, like the Queen Idia masks. To them, the stolen works are not just physical objects of art, but narratives. – New York Times

The United States, Britain and France accused Russian mercenaries on Wednesday of operating alongside Central African Republic forces and committing human rights violations against civilians and obstructing U.N. peacekeeping — charges immediately denied by Russia which denounced the Western nations for engaging in an “anti-Russia political hit job.” – Associated Press

The International Monetary Fund has announced a debt relief package for Sudan, a step in helping the country as it tries to rejoin the global economy after years of isolation. – Associated Press

A summit of southern African leaders has agreed to send a regional military force to Mozambique to help the country battle its growing crisis caused by a jihadi insurgency. – Associated Press

An Ivory Coast court has sentenced prominent opposition figure and former prime minister Guillaume Soro to life in prison for “undermining the security of the state.” – Associated Press

Dozens of militia fighters in the Democratic Republic of Congo have laid down their weapons and surrendered, the first to do so since President Felix Tshisekedi announced martial law to tackle worsening security in two eastern provinces. – Reuters

Mauritanian authorities have arrested former president Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz, one of his lawyers said on Wednesday, amid an ongoing investigation into alleged high-level corruption during his time in office. – Reuters

Jose Ramos-Horta writes: Military means will never resolve the political dispute that led to the Tigray crisis. They will only increase the suffering of the civilians in the region, which has already been far too great. […]For the good of Tigray, Ethiopia, the East Africa region and the world, we ask the prime minister to work toward a political solution as fast as possible. We and others in the international community stand ready to support the effort to achieve lasting peace in Ethiopia, and help Tigray start healing. – Newsweek

The Americas

John McAfee, creator of the anti-virus company that bears his name, was found dead in his jail cell in Barcelona on Wednesday while awaiting extradition to the United States to face charges of tax evasion. Authorities were investigating the cause of death, the Catalan Department of Justice said, “but everything points at a suicide.” Medics tried to resuscitate him but were not able to do so. – Washington Post 

A Brazilian Senate committee on Wednesday formally approved a request to call representatives of Alphabet Inc’s Google (GOOGL.O), Facebook (FB.O) and Twitter (TWTR.N) to testify in an ongoing probe into the government’s handling of the COVID-19 pandemic. – Reuters

International pressure mounted on Nicaragua on Tuesday, with President Daniel Ortega’s crackdown on the opposition described by Washington as a “campaign of terror” that the United Nations said meant November elections were unlikely to be free or fair. – Reuters

The United States voted against a UN resolution Wednesday that overwhelmingly condemned the American economic embargo of Cuba for the 29th year, maintaining the Trump administration’s opposition and refusing to return to the Obama administration’s 2016 abstention. – Times of Israel

U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris will visit the U.S.-Mexico border on Friday for the first time since taking a lead role in immigration issues, her office said, bowing to pressure that she make the high-profile trip. – Reuters

Jake Morris and Mallie Kermiet write: To further illustrate Russia and China’s intentions, Western bodies can also emphasize that at the outset of the pandemic Russia and China claimed to have donated medical supplies, when they in fact convinced desperate countries to buy often faulty equipment. The West’s vaccine diplomacy is already starting to work. Soon, desperate nations will not have to accept political strings and trade-offs from Russia and China in return for life-saving vaccines. That is something to welcome. – Center for European Policy Analysis


A House committee approved far-reaching legislation to curb the market dominance of tech giants, including Alphabet Inc.’s Google and Facebook Inc., but much of the effort faced intensive lobbying by affected firms that slowed the committee’s work and foreshadowed a pitched battle in the Senate. – Wall Street Journal

With booms spreading almost the length of a football field, the Air Force Research Laboratory’s Demonstration and Science Experiments spacecraft is the largest self-supporting satellite ever placed on orbit. Last month, nearly two years after it launched and a year after its mission was expected to end, AFRL decommissioned the satellite. – C4ISRNET

U.S. Cyber Command is using its annual training exercise this week to codify best practices for defensive cyber teams. – C4ISRNET

Marines on the future battlefield will need connections with the service’s enterprise network to make fires decisions and bolster command and control, a top Marine Corps general said Wednesday. – C4ISRNET 

FBI Director Christopher Wray on Wednesday told a Senate panel that a request for a $40 million increase in its cybersecurity budget for the upcoming fiscal year would go in part towards combating increasing and damaging ransomware attacks. – The Hill

At a recent exercise, National Guard cyber units practiced how to get ready for a scenario that feels increasingly possible in the climate of raging ransomware and hacks: Cyberattacks took down utilities on the West Coast and migrated across the country toward New England critical infrastructure. – C4ISRNET

Attorney General Merrick Garland said Tuesday that private industry needs better safeguards to avoid calamitous consequences in the event of cyberattacks like the ones that have targeted American infrastructure and corporations. – Associated Press

A French court has set Sept. 17 as the date for hearing a case brought by the finance ministry against Apple over allegedly abusive contractual terms imposed by the tech giant for selling software on its App Store. – Reuters

The EU has announced a formal investigation into Google’s advertising business, to establish whether it harmed competition by restricting or excluding its rivals from data and services. – Financial Times


UVision Air has been contracted to supply its Hero-120 tactical aerial loitering weapon system for the US Marine Corps’ (USMC’s) Organic Precision Fires-Mounted (OPF-M) system requirement. – Jane’s 360

The US Special Operations Command (USSOCOM) has contracted Boeing to build 14 H-47 Extended Range (ER)-variant Chinook heavy-lift/assault helicopters. – Jane’s 360

Could there truly be a way to track and intercept or destroy enemy hypersonic missiles speeding at more than five times the speed of sound while skipping along the upper boundaries of the earth’s atmosphere before descending upon targets? – The National Interest

Long War

A linguist for a U.S. Special Operations task force in Iraq was sentenced Wednesday to 23 years in prison in a rare terrorism espionage case, after she admitted she turned over names of informants and other classified data to a Lebanese man with ties to the militant group Hezbollah. – Washington Post 

Four police officers who had gone missing after a militant attack in Burkina Faso on Monday have been found dead, raising the police death toll to 15, police sources said on Wednesday. – Reuters

Counter-terrorism police have charged a 29-year-old man with possessing and sharing extremist material online. Musa Muhammad, from Dunsink Road in Witton, Birmingham, was due to appear at Westminster Magistrates’ Court on Thursday, West Midlands Police said. – BBC 

A bipartisan committee urged the Australian government to list Hezbollah as a terrorist organization. The inquiry’s findings move the country’s federal government one step closer to placing Hezbollah on Australia’s terror group list. – Arutz Sheva