Fdd's overnight brief

November 4, 2019

In The News


Iranian conservatives on Monday celebrate the 40th anniversary of an event that has poisoned U.S.-Iran relations, and introduced what has become a frequent Iranian tactic: detaining foreigners as political pawns. – Wall Street Journal

Thousands of Iranians chanted “Death to America” near the old U.S. embassy on Monday, the 40th anniversary on the seizure of the mission and a day after Iran’s supreme leader vowed it would not lift a ban on talks with the United States. – Reuters

Iran will not lift its ban on talks with the United States, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said on Sunday, describing the two countries as implacable foes on the eve of the 40th anniversary of the seizure of the U.S. embassy in Tehran. – Reuters

Iran’s supreme leader poured scorn on French President Emmanuel Macron on Sunday for trying to promote talks between the United States and Iran. – Reuters

Iran signed a preliminary agreement with Syria on Saturday to help rebuild the Arab ally’s electricity grid, Iranian state media reported, as Tehran seeks a deepening economic role after years of the Syrian conflict. – Reuters

The United States should return to a 2015 nuclear deal between Iran and major powers, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said on Friday, saying the new U.S. sanctions imposed on Tehran showed failure of Washington’s policy. – Reuters

His revolutionary fervor diminished by the years that have also turned his dark brown hair white, one of the Iranian student leaders of the 1979 U.S. Embassy takeover says he now regrets the seizure of the diplomatic compound and the 444-day hostage crisis that followed. – Associated Press

Iran’s supreme leader said Sunday that his country has outmaneuvered the United States in the four decades since the 1979 Islamic Revolution. – Associated Press

The US State Department’s new report on terrorism lists the Islamic Republic of Iran as the top international state-sponsor of terrorism and cites Tehran’s work with facilitating the activities of Sunni terrorist organization al-Qaeda. – Jerusalem Post

The secretary of a religious watchdog office in Iran has admitted that since the establishment of the Islamic Republic four decades ago (1979), the authorities have executed 15,000 people for drug-related crimes. – Radio Farda

He was three months into his job as press attache for the US Embassy in Tehran when Barry Rosen was introduced to the Iranian Revolution. – New York Post

The Union of Oil Products Exporters in Iran says shipment of gasoline, diesel and other oil products continue to the Kurdish region of Iraq, despite U.S. sanctions. – Radio Farda

The United States is working with allies to ensure adequate global oil supplies after its sanctions barred nations from buying Iranian crude, U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said on Friday. – Reuters

Michael Rubin writes: Simply put, if the goal is empowering the Iranian people, President Trump and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo would be better off facilitating visas for ordinary Iranians while blocking those for the Germans who facilitate their repression. – Washington Examiner


The powerful Lebanese Hezbollah group said on Friday a new government must listen to the demands that fueled protests against the country’s rulers and led Saad al-Hariri to quit as prime minister this week. – Reuters

The leader of Iran-backed Hezbollah called on Friday for the quick formation of a new Lebanese government that he said must hear the demands of protesters and work to restore confidence. – Reuters

The television station of Lebanon’s powerful Shiite movement Hezbollah protested Saturday that most of its Twitter accounts had been suspended. – Agence France-Presse

The European Union should support Israel more in the fight against Hezbollah and Iran, said senior European Parliament members who visited Israel and toured Hezbollah’s flagship cross-border attack tunnel. – Jerusalem Post

David Ignatius writes: The anti-corruption protests that have swept Lebanon over the past two weeks have a remarkable and little-noted feature: They’re in open defiance of Hezbollah, the Iranian-backed militia that dominates Lebanese politics. And there’s another aspect of this reform movement that’s highly unusual for a Middle East that often seems addicted to bad news: It appears to be succeeding, at least initially. – Washington Post


Eight months on, more than 10,000 men and children are still crammed into at least 25 makeshift prisons, lingering in legal twilight. The Kurdish-led force that holds them does not have the capacity to investigate or try them, and their home governments are mostly unwilling to take them back to face trials there. – Washington Post

When the Islamic State finally broke its silence about the killing of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, it did so with a 1,200-word communique that included Koranic verses, florid tributes and one very specific warning: Americans would pay for the death of the terrorist group’s leader. – Washington Post

A car bomb killed a dozen people and injured 30 on Saturday in a market of a Syrian border town that Turkish-backed forces seized last month, prompting Ankara to blame the Kurdish YPG militia it had targeted in its incursion. – Reuters

U.S. President Donald Trump said on Friday the ceasefire in northeastern Syria where Turkey has sent in troops to clear the area of Syrian Kurdish militia forces has held very nicely. – Reuters

The United States is researching the new leader of the Islamic State to determine his previous roles in the organization, Nathan Sales, the U.S. counter-terrorism coordinator, said on Friday after a U.S. raid last month killed its former leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. – Reuters

Turkey captured two Russian nationals believed to be members of the Islamic State militant group near the Syrian border, after they illegally entered the country, state broadcaster TRT Haber said on Friday. – Reuters

US military vehicles Saturday entered a Kurdish-held area in northeastern Syria and met with officials, AFP correspondents and a local source said, in the second such visit since an announced US pullout from the Turkish border area. – Agence France-Presse

An air strike Saturday by key Damascus ally Russia killed six civilians including a child in the embattled opposition bastion of Idlib in northwestern Syria, a war monitor. – Agence France-Presse

Shelling by Turkey-backed opposition fighters killed a Burmese medic and wounded another Iraqi member of the humanitarian team on Sunday in northeastern Syria where fighting between Kurdish fighters and Turkey-backed gunmen continued, the humanitarian group said. – Associated Press

In recent days, Trump also related details from Syria that the Pentagon and diplomats contradicted. When the stock market went up, he took credit — “Enjoy!” — and when it went down, he blamed the impeachment inquiry despite scant evidence the market cares. A look at some claims and the reality over the past week:  – Associated Press

When Bassam Ishak heard that Vice President Mike Pence had secured a cease-fire in Syria – one that included protections for religious minorities – he felt a wave of optimism that his family back home would be safe. But in the weeks since that deal was announced in Turkey on Oct. 17, Ishak’s hometown in northern Syria has nearly emptied, with Christians and Kurds fleeing amid fears of persecution by Turkish-backed militias. – USA Today


Turkey will send captured Islamic State members back to their countries even if their citizenships have been revoked, Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu said on Monday, criticising the approach of European countries on the issue. – Reuters

Turkish-backed forces fighting Kurdish militias in north-east Syria have been accused of committing war crimes, with acts of brutality surfacing on mobile phone footage. – BBC

Amid a bipartisan call for the Senate to take up a Turkey sanctions bill that overwhelmingly passed the House this week, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has doubled down on his opposition to broad action against Turkey, warning it might cause economic damage and alienate the Turkish people. – Defense News

Can Dundar writes: A long shadow has extended over Turkey as it wages war in Syria. President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has used the invasion to crack down on dissent. While the benefits for national security are far from clear, the chilling effect is playing in Erdogan’s favor politically. – Washington Post


Following the death of Islamic State’s leader and the U.S. troop pullback from Syria, America’s closest ally in the Middle East is urging the Trump administration to keep up the pressure on their common adversary: Iran. In recent weeks, current and former Israeli officials have repeated their calls for the U.S. to confront Tehran, even as Washington basks in the success of its recent raid targeting the head of Islamic State. – Wall Street Journal

Israel carried out retaliatory strikes on Gaza Saturday killing a Palestinian and wounding two others, following two nights of rocket attacks that were the first since September. – Agence France-Presse

The absence of a government has prevented Israel from taking strategic decisions on Gaza or proceeding toward a deal for sustained calm, Hamas leader Yahya Sinwar said on Sunday. – Jerusalem Post

Two days after terrorists in Gaza fired rockets toward Israel, the European Union on Sunday evening condemned the launching of projectiles against civilians as “unacceptable,” saying the practice “must stop immediately and unconditionally.” – Times of Israel


Iraqi protesters attacked the Iranian consulate in the city of Karbala, in the latest sign of mounting anger against Tehran’s involvement in the country’s affairs. – Wall Street Journal

Tens of thousands of Iraqis, with support from Shiite religious authorities and the country’s president, gathered in the center of the capital on Friday in the largest of a month’s worth of antigovernment protests. – New York Times

The Trump administration is refusing to take in thousands of Iraqis who risked their lives helping American forces during the Iraq war, cutting the number of high-priority refugees allowed into the United States this year and drastically slowing background checks they must undergo. – New York Times

Iraq’s Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi appealed on Sunday to protesters to help restore normal life across the country and said the unrest was costing the economy “billions of dollars”. – Reuters

Security forces killed a protester and wounded 91 others in Baghdad on Saturday, security and medical sources said, as tens of thousands of Iraqis gathered in mass anti-government protests in the capital and blocked roads leading to a major port. – Reuters

The Iraqi government should listen to Iraqi protesters and relax recently imposed restrictions on the media and free expression, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said in a statement on Friday. – Reuters

Iraq’s top Shiite cleric Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani warned foreign actors on Friday against interfering in anti-government protests that erupted early last month and urged political factions to avoid “infighting”. – Agence France-Presse

Dozens of Iraqi protesters attacked the Iranian consulate in the Shiite holy city of Karbala on Sunday, scaling the concrete barriers ringing the building, bringing down an Iranian flag and replacing it with the Iraqi flag, eyewitnesses said. – Associated Press

Thousands of protesters were blocking all roads leading to Iraq’s main Gulf port Umm Qasr on Saturday, after security forces used live rounds and tear gas on them overnight, security sources said. – Reuters

Bobby Ghosh writes: But if anything, these responses will only fan the anger in the streets against Iranian interference in Iraqi and Lebanese politics.  But the prospect of the protests being led by one and backed by the other is certain to rattle turbaned heads in Tehran. And if Sistani and Sadr were to throw their combined weight behind demands for a referendum — and who knows, maybe even inspire emulation by the Lebanese — that might be the stuff of Khamenei’s nightmares. – Bloomberg

Thanassis Cambanis writes: Local reconciliation processes in some areas have enabled people who had ties to ISIS but didn’t commit crimes to return home. A more systematic reconciliation process is needed for Iraq to achieve long-term stability. Before that process of healing can begin, however, Iraq must close the camps and send home as many of their inhabitants as possible. – Foreign Affairs


The Trump administration has suspended security assistance to Lebanon, congressional officials said Friday, including more than $100 million for the Lebanese Armed Forces. – Wall Street Journal

A criminal court in Lebanon on Friday sentenced an Uber driver to death in connection with the killing of an employee of the British Embassy in Beirut nearly two years ago. – Associated Press

Protesters blocked roads in Beirut and in other parts of Lebanon on Monday, pressing a wave of demonstrations that have paralyzed the country for more than two weeks. – Reuters

Officials from Lebanon and the United Arab Emirates discussed potential joint projects during Lebanese Prime Minister’s Saad Hariri’s visit to Abu Dhabi in October, the U.A.E. central bank Governor said. – Bloomberg

Lebanon’s president said on Saturday he will soon set a date for formal consultations with lawmakers to pick a new prime minister following Saad al-Hariri’s resignation this week, but is working to resolve some complications first. – Reuters

Looking down on Lebanon from the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights, soldiers wonder whether the political turmoil in the neighbouring country will weaken arch-enemy Hezbollah or make it more dangerous. – Agence France-Presse

Arabian Peninsula

Yemen’s internationally recognised government will sign an agreement with southern separatists on Tuesday aimed at ending a conflict simmering within the country’s long-running civil war, Yemeni and Saudi officials said. – Agence France-Presse

Saudi Arabia’s giant state oil company finally kick-started its initial public offering (IPO) on Sunday, announcing its intention to float on the domestic bourse in what could be the world’s biggest listing as the kingdom seeks to diversify its economy away from oil. – Reuters

From its beginnings in 1938 when it first struck oil with the aptly named “Prosperity Well”, Saudi Arabia’s energy giant Aramco, whose IPO could be announced Sunday, has delivered unimaginable riches. – Agence France-Presse

Middle East & North Africa

Egypt’s Islamic State affiliate, Sinai Province, has sworn allegiance to the new leader named by the group following the death of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the affiliate said on Telegram on Saturday. – Reuters

To break free of what they decry as a failed system, Iraqi and Lebanese demonstrators are calling for new election laws. But protesters know they have a long fight ahead, and the powerful political classes of both countries will do what they can to ensure the endurance of the system and their own survival. – Financial Times

Andrew England writes: It is creating uncertainty at a time of heightened regional tensions, fuelled by the stand-off between the US and Iran. At issue is whether Washington can still be counted on as a dependable ally — and whether Mr Trump, who is averse to costly military interventions, would be there if they got into a fight? – Financial Times

Korean Peninsula

It’s all about projecting the image of a hero in a campaign of intimidation aimed at both the U.S. and South Korea in a climactic drive to get President Donald Trump and the South’s President Moon Jae-in to yield at last to his demands.  – The Daily Beast

North Korea and the United States could hold another round of working-level talks as soon as mid-November to expedite progress before a year-end deadline set by the North, a member of South Korea’s parliament said on Monday. – Reuters

Soldiers on the Korean Peninsula are in the final stages of a relocation plan that consolidates U.S. forces at a new hub south of Seoul, in an area North Korea appears to have labeled a “fat target” for its new weapons. – Army Times

South Korea’s President Moon Jae-in on Monday suggested high-level talks to resolve a deepening political and trade row with Japan during a meeting with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, Moon’s spokeswoman said. – Reuters


Senior Chinese and US officials again sent positive signals on Friday about their efforts to formalize the partial trade bargain announced last month, with President Donald Trump saying he may meet with Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping in the state of Iowa. – Agence France-Presse 

Major state telecom operators are rolling out 5G wireless advances in China as the country races to close a technology gap with the United States amid a bruising trade war. – Agence France-Presse 

A World Trade Organization arbitrator on Friday authorised China to slap tariffs on US imports worth up to $3.58 billion annually in a years-long dispute over US anti-dumping practices, a trade official said. – Agence France-Presse 

A U.S. envoy denounced Chinese “intimidation” in the South China Sea at a meeting of Southeast Asian leaders on Monday and invited them to a special summit in Washington on behalf of President Donald Trump. – Reuters

President Trump said Friday that he is considering meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping in Iowa to sign phase one of the trade agreement between the two countries. – The Hill

Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross expressed optimism the U.S. would reach a “Phase One” trade deal with China this month and said licenses would be coming “very shortly” for American companies to sell components to Huawei Technologies Co. – Bloomberg

A senior Chinese official has highlighted plans to “improve” the system by which Hong Kong’s leader is appointed or removed, after almost five months of anti-government unrest in the Asian financial hub. – CNN

Editorial: TikTok has enabled an explosion of creativity here in the United States, allowing a rising generation to enjoy some of the early promise of the Internet. It’s exactly this promise that China threatens to crush. This government should pull whatever levers it can to ensure that a country that will not allow democracy in is unable to push authoritarianism outward. – Washington Post

Franklin D. Kramer writes: It should be clear, however, the character and far-ranging nature of Chinese state-directed economy is a significant challenge that needs to be met in part by a government response, albeit one that works through competitive markets and with privately-owned and commercially-motivated firms. Combined with the support to innovation, the establishment of fair and efficient markets for strategic sectors and advanced and emerging technologies will provide the elements critical to the future economy and security of the United States. – The Hill

Joseph Bosco writes: And, if China chooses to punish the Czechs even more severely, their national leaders, heirs to the Havel legacy, may decide that democratic Taiwan is a better long-term partner than Communist China. Other countries under pressure from Beijing may find it an example to follow. – The Hill


The U.S. special representative for Afghanistan is in Kabul discussing a possible prisoner exchange to free two Western hostages held by the Taliban since 2016, according to two Afghan officials. The move follows U.S. envoy Zalmay Khalilzad’s visit earlier this week to Pakistan, where he was seeking ways to revive peace talks with the Taliban nearly two months after they were upended by President Trump. – Washington Post

Nine Afghan children were killed on Saturday when a mine exploded as they walked to school, police said, the latest victims in a growing toll of civilian casualties in the war. – Reuters

Pakistan’s embassy in Kabul said Sunday it was indefinitely closing its consular office in the Afghan capital due to security reasons, amid mounting tensions between the neighbouring countries. – Agence France-Presse

South Asia

One person died and at least 34 were injured on Monday in a grenade attack in Indian-administered Kashmir’s main city of Srinagar, Indian officials said, in the bloodiest incident since New Delhi stripped the region of special status on Aug. 5. – Reuters

President Donald Trump has invited Southeast Asian leaders to a “special summit” in the United States early next year after skipping their ongoing annual summit in Thailand. – Associated Press

Anchal Vohra writes: This gulf—between dialogue and violence, between engaging with New Delhi and rebelling against it with force—is a long-running division here. But it is one that has been exacerbated by the Indian government’s recent decision to strip Kashmir of its limited autonomy, a move that has also had the effect of shifting the balance of opinion away from the former group—Rehman’s—which, though no proponent of the central authorities, has favored talks to ease restrictions in the region. – The Atlantic


The United States represents democracy, and the activists hope that maybe, just maybe, it will save Hong Kong. Five months in, they are trying harder than ever to draw the United States into their movement. – New York Times

Thailand said negotiations have concluded for a sprawling China-backed regional trade agreement, bringing 16 Asia-Pacific countries involved in the talks closer to signing the pact. – Wall Street Journal

Chinese state-run media on Monday called for a “tougher line” on democracy protesters in Hong Kong, after a weekend of violence following Beijing’s plans to tighten control over the semi-autonomous city. – Agence France-Presse

China warned Friday it would not tolerate any challenge to Hong Kong’s governing system, as it laid out plans to boost patriotism in the city and change how its leader is chosen or removed after months of pro-democracy protests. – Agence France-Presse

Asian countries held conclusive talks on what could be the world’s biggest trade pact and there will be an announcement of success at a summit in Bangkok, despite doubts raised by India, the Thai hosts said on Monday. – Reuters


A law known as the “sovereign Internet” bill came into force Friday in Russia, tightening state control over the global network, which free speech activists say will strengthen government oversight of the country’s cyberspace. – Washington Post

Russian officials in August held up the evacuation from Moscow of a sick American military attaché to a hospital in Germany in the latest episode of a long-running campaign of harassment against American diplomats in Russia. – New York Times

A Russian arms control official said for the first time on Friday that there was not enough time to replace the last and most important nuclear arms-limitation treaty with the United States before it expires early in 2021, raising the possibility that Washington and Moscow would then be free to expand their arsenals without limits. – New York Times

Russia said on Friday there was no longer enough time left for Moscow and Washington to negotiate a full-fledged replacement for the New START nuclear arms control treaty before it expires in February 2021. – Reuters

Janusz Bugajski writes: The Trump administration and a bipartisan Congress finally rectified this damage to a NATO partner. But if Congress concludes that the Trump White House was prepared to undermine the security of a vulnerable NATO partner for assistance in a domestic political struggle, this will simply accelerate Moscow’s attacks on American democracy. By feeding disinformation to selected presidential candidates, the Kremlin can aggravate political conflicts in Washington and weaken the NATO alliance without firing a shot. – The Hill


Political rabble-rouser and talk-radio host Nigel Farage announced Friday that his potentially vote-splitting Brexit Party will field candidates for every seat in Britain in the December general election — unless Prime Minister Boris Johnson agrees to abandon the withdrawal deal he negotiated with European leaders and form an alliance with the most zealous Brexit backers. – Washington Post

U.S. President Donald Trump on Sunday urged British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Brexit Party leader Nigel Farage to come together to safeguard prospects for expanded U.S.-UK trade after Britain leaves the European Union. – Reuters

Italy is set to ban flights by Iran’s Mahan Air, an Iranian industry official said on Saturday, as the United States seeks action against the airline accused by the West of transporting military equipment and personnel to Middle East war zones. – Reuters

Norwegian authorities have arrested a high-profile U.S. white supremacist scheduled to speak at an international far-right conference in Oslo and say they will seek his deportation. – Associated Press

The German city of Dresden has declared a “Nazi emergency” after years of “right-wing extremist, racist” activity in the city, a local councilor says. – CNN

A major UK Jewish group slammed the Labour Party’s Shadow Chancellor of the Exchequer on Sunday after he claimed on television that Labour is “doing everything we can” to deal with antisemitism in its ranks. – Algemeiner

In explaining his tiny Baltic nation’s commitment to NATO membership by sending soldiers to Afghanistan and deploying ground forces to Iraq, the prime minister of Estonia told an audience earlier this week, “we try to punch above our weight.” – USNI News


A deadly attack on a remote military outpost in Mali has highlighted the resilience of Islamist fighters across huge stretches of Africa, even as President Trump boasts of the defeat of Islamic State forces in other parts of the world. – Washington Post

President Trump said he will soon ax Cameroon from a trade program that allows African countries to sell goods to the United States on a duty-free basis, citing “persistent human rights violations” in a letter to Congress on Thursday. – Washington Post

A day after dozens of Malian soldiers died in a devastating jihadist raid on a military base, a roadside bomb killed two more troops in the violence-wracked West African country, the army said Sunday. – Agence France-Presse

Somalia’s Islamic State affiliate, one of the most important outposts of the militant group, swore allegiance in a statement on Sunday to the new leader named by the organization following the death of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. – Reuters

On Wednesday, Facebook announced it had removed three networks of accounts, totaling dozens of pages, targeting a number of African countries. The pages were linked to Russian businessman Yevgeny Prigozhin, dubbed by the Russian media as “Putin’s chef,” who was sanctioned by the US for funding the Internet Research Agency that US prosecutors allege meddled in the 2016 presidential election. – CNN

Nigerien Air Base 201 is now operational — roughly a year after it was supposed to be completed. U.S. Africa Command announced Friday that intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) operations are now being conducted out of the base in Agadez, Niger, which is designed to house armed drones and other aircraft that have historically operated out of Niger’s capital, Niamey. – Air Forces Times

The Americas

The suddenness of the protests, the anger that spilled onto the streets every day, might have been surprising anywhere. But in the country often lauded as Latin America’s great economic success story, it has shocked the world. – New York Times

Venezuela’s foreign ministry said on Sunday it was expelling El Salvador’s diplomats from the country, in response to the Central American country’s decision to kick out their counterparts representing Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro. – Reuters

Mexico’s security minister said on Friday that U.S. efforts to curb the opioid fentanyl were behind the brief arrest of a son of imprisoned kingpin Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman last month in Sinaloa, home turf for the notorious Sinaloa Cartel. – Reuters

Hundreds of millions of dollars in cash has been shipped from Russia to Venezuela, providing a lifeline to the South American country as U.S. sanctions limit its access to the global financial system. – Bloomberg


Officials and cyber experts are expressing confidence in reforms made to prevent a repeat of election hacking and foreign interference one year ahead of their biggest test yet, Election Day 2020, even as they remain vigilant. – The Hill

Major Jewish groups applauded the micro-blogging website Twitter on Sunday for suspending a series of accounts affiliated with the terrorist groups Hamas and Hezbollah. – Algemeiner

Indiana will be home to the Midwest’s first National Guard cyber battalion, according to officials. The 127th Cyber Battalion will be comprised of nearly 100 soldiers who will be trained on cyber security and cyber warfare at the Muscatatuck Urban Training Center in Jennings County, about 75 miles (121 kilometers) southeast of Indianapolis. – Associated Press

China has launched an ambitious effort to challenge the US dominance in blockchain technology, which it could use for everything from issuing digital money, to streamlining a raft of government services and tracking Communist Party loyalty. – Agence France-Presse


The US Department of the Interior has grounded its fleet of Chinese-made drones as it conducts a review of the program. – Agence France-Presse

Not-for-profit consulting firm LMI announced Nov. 1 it has acquired Clockwork Solutions, a firm based in Austin Texas, as a way to bolster its predictive maintenance capabilities. – Defense News

Three teams have been picked to move on in the U.S. Army competition to build medium-sized Robotic Combat Vehicle prototypes, according to a Nov. 1 announcement on the National Advanced Mobility Consortium’s website. – Defense News

The Senate has unanimously confirmed Navy Vice Adm. Charles Richard to be the next head of U.S. Strategic Command. – Defense News

Ellen Lord, the head of Pentagon acquisition, will meet with Air Force officials later this month to decide if service is on the right path with its Space Command and Control program, which will enable Space Command’s critical command and control system known as ESBMC2. – Breaking Defense

Pentagon policymakers — prodded by Congress — are taking electronic warfare seriously again. But reforms at the top will take years to trickle down to tangible improvements for the troops. – Breaking Defense

A board of top technology experts voted Thursday on a proposed set of ethical principles for the Defense Department to follow as it expands its foray into artificial intelligence. But, members noted, the Pentagon needs to take a serious look at how it trains and assigns troops for these high tech jobs if it ever hopes to fulfill AI’s potential promise to the military. – Military Times

Long War

NATO’S secretary general says the death of Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi is a “milestone” in the fight against the extremist group but is cautioning that the struggle is far from over. – Associated Press

Lawyers for 23 women who joined Islamic State from the Netherlands asked a judge on Friday to order the Netherlands to repatriate them and their 56 young children from camps in Syria. – Reuters

Ethnically and racially driven terrorism rose alarmingly in 2018 both worldwide and in the United States, and groups have often mimicked the tactics of armed Islamist militants to radicalize and recruit people, the U.S. State Department said on Friday. – Reuters

Survivors of the 2015 Paris attacks on Friday urged France and other countries to stop Western jihadists escaping from prisons in Syria to perpetrate new atrocities following the US withdrawal. – Telegraph

Trump Administration

Foreign financial assistance — such as military funding or trade benefits, among its many forms — is a powerful way for Washington to build up allies and shape its interests abroad. And Trump’s “America First” model — broadly defined as a more isolationist foreign policy — has left many leaders around the world wondering what that actually means in practice for their countries and priorities. – Washington Post

A U.S. federal judge on Friday ordered the State Department to make public certain “readouts or summaries” of the July 25 call between President Donald Trump and his Ukrainian counterpart at the center of a congressional impeachment investigation. – Reuters

The whistleblower who raised alarms about President Donald Trump’s dealings with Ukraine and touched off the Democratic-led impeachment inquiry is willing to answer written questions submitted by House Republicans, the person’s lawyer says. – Associated Press

White House hopeful Joe Biden in an interview released Friday accused President Trump of engaging in a cover-up regarding his July conversation with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky in which he asked him to investigate the former vice president on unfounded corruption charges. – The Hill