Fdd's overnight brief

October 1, 2021

In The News


Stalled talks between Iran and world powers to reinstate a 2015 nuclear deal will resume “soon”, the European Union’s foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said on Thursday, while Tehran said it was evaluating the previous rounds of negotiations. – Reuters 

 Iran’s army put its wary neighbors on notice Thursday that it’s about to conduct a wide-ranging military exercise near its northwestern border amid long-simmering tensions with Azerbaijan. – Associated Press 

Mehdi Dolatyari watched with dread in recent months as once-affordable goods at his central Tehran supermarket soared out of reach for his customers. Iranians who previously bought sacks of staple foods at the store now struggle to scrape together enough for meals, as the country’s currency sinks to new lows against the dollar. – Associated Press 

A fire erupted in an IRGC facility in Iran on Sunday leaving two dead and one injured. On Thursday, Tel Aviv-based ImageSat International – ISI, a commercial servicer for satellite images – estimated that the facility was not just any military compound – it was a secret missile base. – Jerusalem Post 

Iran’s Intelligence Ministry announced on Tuesday that it had killed the leader of a group that it claimed was supported and guided by the intelligence services of countries hostile to Iran. – Jerusalem Post 

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Thursday renewed warnings that time was running out for Iran to return to the 2015 nuclear deal. – Arutz Sheva 

“The war with Israel has already started,” Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh told Maariv. “Israel has carried out attacks that were intended to destroy our nuclear program for peaceful purposes. It murdered nuclear scientists and harmed the Iranian people. Iran is accused of terrorism, but there is no good or bad terrorist. The whole crisis in the region is Israel’s fault.” – Jerusalem Post 


Air Force Gen. Glen D. VanHerck, who heads the U.S. Northern Command, told reporters that flights to bring about 14,000 additional Afghans whose transit to the United States was suspended due to fears of a measles epidemic would begin arriving “potentially in the next week” after clearing a 21-day post-vaccination period. – Washington Post 

And so goes the cultural unraveling of Afghanistan’s capital six weeks into the Taliban’s resurgence. The group’s return to power — and its history of destroying precious art and relics it considered sacrilegious — has reopened the psychic wounds of the past, at once triggering anxiety and efforts by individual Afghans to protect their culture. – Washington Post 

The health care system in Afghanistan is on the brink of collapse, international aid groups warned this week, threatening to deepen the country’s humanitarian crisis just as temperatures begin dropping. – New York Times 

The evenly divided Senate narrowly turned back a Republican amendment Thursday that sought to curtail assistance to Afghan refugees who were rapidly evacuated to the United States and that would have made it more difficult for them to obtain Real IDs. – Washington Post 

The U.S. military next week will resume flights carrying Afghan evacuees to the United States following a three-week pause to administer measles shots, the head of U.S. Northern Command said Thursday. – The Hill 

The Taliban on Thursday ordered their fighters to leave private homes they had taken over during last month’s blitz when the group seized control of Afghanistan, an apparent effort to impose order among Taliban ranks. – Associated Press 

Attention is turning to the future of education in Afghanistan under Taliban rule, with calls among urban educated Afghans and the international community for equal access to education for girls and women. The madrasas — Islamic religious schools for elementary and higher learning, attended only by boys — represent another segment of Afghan society, poorer and more conservative. – Associated Post 

The Taliban on Thursday violently cracked down on a small women’s rights demonstration, firing shots into the air and pushing back protesters, AFP journalists witnessed. – Agence France-Presse 

Nomani, who served as mayor in the Afghan capital under the Taliban’s first government in the 1990s, said its people expected far more of the local government than when the movement first took power, after the city had been shattered by the 1992-96 civil war. – Financial Times 

Secretary of State Antony Blinken rejected the Pentagon’s suggestion that the State Department was solely responsible for delaying the Afghanistan withdrawal as the simmering blame game for the Kabul chaos bursts into the public eye. – Washington Examiner  

One senator is introducing a bill that would establish a nonpartisan commission to study the war in Afghanistan to try to cut through the political drama that has surrounded lawmakers’ consideration of the conflict this week. – Defense One 

“Over the horizon” strikes against terror groups in Afghanistan will be conducted under the war powers act Congress authorized just days after the Sept. 11 attacks in 2001, the Pentagon said Thursday. – Defense One 

David Ignatius writes: Spy stories don’t usually have happy endings, and this one doesn’t really, either. The heroism of the evacuation is a source of pride. But Kabul is controlled today by the Taliban, and many decent Afghans feel like prisoners in their homes. For former CIA officers who served in Afghanistan alongside brave partners, though, this is about closing a circle — one that began and ended with trust. – Washington Post  

Marc A. Thiessen writes: The awful agreement Trump negotiated was effectively voided by the Taliban’s failure to adhere to its terms. Biden’s decision to withdraw from Afghanistan was a choice — one that he made against the unified advice of his military commanders. As commander in chief, he was perfectly free to reject that advice. But as a president accountable to the American people for his decisions, he is not free to lie about it. – Washington Post 

Ruth Pollard writes: When decades of serious violations have taken place, laying the seeds for accountability, for acknowledging to the victims what happened, who was killed and harmed by whom, can prove key to future endeavors to rein in impunity. It can also send a powerful message to the Taliban that their actions — not their words — are under a microscope. – Bloomberg  

Thomas Saphr writes: Amid the broader debate over the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan, policymakers should remain focused on one crucial fact: terrorist groups in Afghanistan now have greater freedom to operate. To monitor this threat, Washington should re-posture its intelligence assets in the region. Otherwise, its ability to mitigate the terrorist threat through over-the-horizon strikes or other means will be substantially degraded. – War on the Rocks  


Turkey intends to seek compensation for its removal from a U.S.-led stealth fighter jet program, possibly during a meeting with U.S. President Joe Biden on the margins of a Group of 20 meeting next month, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said. – Associated Press 

Greece’s prime minister said Thursday that he has no intention of competing against Turkey in an arms race and hopes to resolve differences with the neighboring country through dialogue, but that Greece must defend its territory and sovereignty. – Associated Press 

Turkey could work with Russia to develop jet engines, warplanes and space technology, Recep Tayyip Erdogan has said as he signalled deeper co-operation with Moscow after meeting Vladimir Putin. – Financial Times 


The IDF has increased counter-terror operations in the West Bank due to a decrease in the readiness of the Palestinian Authority security forces to crack down on Hamas and Islamic Jihad infrastructure. – Jerusalem Post 

The Palestinian Authority accused Israel of carrying out “extra-judicial executions,” and called on the United Nations to provide protection for the Palestinians. – Jerusalem Post 

The State Department on Thursday spoke out against a violent attack by Israeli settlers on a Palestinian village in the West Bank earlier this week that injured at least 12 people, including a 3-year-old boy. – Times of Israel 

One of the Palestinian gunmen who was killed in a West Bank shootout with Israel Defense Force troops earlier this week was the brother of one of the Hamas fighters involved in the 1994 kidnapping and murder of Israeli soldier Nachshon Wachsman. – Times of Israel 

Mark Regev writes: The ultimate responsibility of every Israeli prime minister is for the security of the Jewish state, and while maintaining good relations with the US is a pivotal element in that, an Israeli prime minister needs to be firm with the Americans when the situation demands. – Jerusalem Post 

Yaakov Katz writes: The answer seems to be somewhere in the middle, which is why Israel is currently focused on two parallel efforts: getting the military ready, and trying to convince the White House to present its own credible military threat.Only those options, combined with tough sanctions, will stand a chance at getting the Iranians to stop, according to the IDF. And if all else fails, plans will be ready within the near future for whatever might be looming on the horizon. – Jerusalem Post 


Iraqis who participated in a conference calling for normalizing ties with Israel disavowed or recanted their remarks after being subjected to death threats and arrest warrants, with some participants saying they had been duped into attending. – Times of Israel  

David A. Dangoor writes: As has happened throughout many chapters of history, Iraq is at the crossroads of two competing movements, with both trying to influence its future direction. Let us hope, for the sake of the region and all of its people that Iraq chooses wisely and joins the circle of peace, because the wider that circle becomes, the less room there will be for those who seek endless conflict. – Jerusalem Post 

Dennis Ross writes: All those who participated in the conference clearly have a vision for the future. It very much reflects what they heard at the conference from the late Israeli Prime Minister Shimon Peres’s son Chemi Peres, the chair of the Peres Center for Peace and Innovation. […]The Erbil conferencegoers are acting on the secretary’s words, and the United States has a stake in their survival and success. – Foreign Policy 


This fall, the academic year in Lebanon is gripped by the same chaos that has overwhelmed everything else in the country in its financial and economic meltdown. – Associated Press 

An Israeli military drone crashed in southern Lebanon on Thursday afternoon, with the Hezbollah terror group claiming that it brought the device down. – Times of Israel 

A senior official in the Lebanese Shi’ite group Hezbollah told the judge investigating the disastrous Beirut port blast that it would remove him from the probe, according to a journalist who says she conveyed the message and a judicial source. – Reuters 

Andrew Doran writes: Lebanon must find a way to preserve the country’s tradition of liberalism and pluralism amid its descent into chaos and darkness. Perhaps the Christian, Sunni, Druze and even some Shiite communities will decide that they have had enough of Iran and Hezbollah and their corrupt elites, and seek to establish some kind of decentralized political community to salvage what they can of the original idea of Lebanon—that is, somehow to change everything so that it can remain the same. – Wall Street Journal 

Saudi Arabia

Saudi Arabia has revised its forecast for this year’s budget deficit to 2.7% of GDP from 4.9% and is aiming for a further cut next year, its preliminary 2022 budget statement said, highlighting the government’s tight grip on finances despite projected higher crude revenues. – Reuters 

Hatice Cengiz writes: Instead of words in support of lofty ideals, we need policies in support of human rights defenders, journalists and dissidents, policies that will protect them in Saudi Arabia and beyond. My heartfelt plea today to those who have power and influence is: Stop this ruse; stand brave and strong against coldblooded killers who crush democracy and our common humanity. – Washington Post 

Mili Mitra and Elías E. López write: The assassination of our colleague Jamal Khashoggi three years ago, carried out on orders from Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, was part of a far-reaching campaign to silence critics in Saudi Arabia and beyond. That campaign continues to this day. Here we highlight just a few of the figures who remain in prison or are otherwise unable to live freely inside the kingdom, where secret trials, detention and censorship have created a climate of fear. – Washington Post 

Gulf States

Bahrain hosted the Israeli foreign minister on Thursday for the highest-level visit since the countries established ties last year and which included a tour of a U.S. naval headquarters to signal common cause against Iran. – Reuters  

Qatari women are standing in the country’s first legislative election Saturday, but in far lower numbers than men, prompting warnings that their influence on issues that affect women could be limited. – Agence France-Presse 

Iran said on Friday that a visit by Israel’s foreign minister to Bahrain this week to mark the establishment of relations left a stain on the Gulf Arab state’s rulers that “will not be erased.” – Reuters 

Simon Henderson writes: On the regional front, overt official criticism of Qatar has mostly stopped since this January, when Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain, and Egypt pledged to end the long political and economic embargo they imposed on Doha in 2017 over its maverick behavior, ties to Iran, and other disputes. […]At the same time, as Qatar’s economy develops and its society modernizes, its citizens will naturally want a greater voice in the gas-rich sheikhdom—if not a share of the action. – Washington Institute  

Middle East & North Africa

The U.N. Security Council voted unanimously on Thursday to extend the U.N. political mission in Libya until after the country’s critical presidential and parliamentary elections scheduled for late December. – Associated Press  

Jordan says it has discussed ways to expedite Egyptian natural gas shipments via its territory and Syria to Lebanon, which is dealing with a grueling energy-crisis. – Associated Press 

Spain launched a diplomatic offensive to preserve its essential stream of Algerian natural gas Thursday as energy prices across the world skyrocket and souring relations between Algeria and Morocco threaten to disrupt the gas supply chain in North Africa. – Associated Press 

US President Joe Biden is not quite as committed to the Abraham Accords as the Trump administration was, former National Security Council chief Meir Ben Shabbat said on Thursday night. – Jerusalem Post 

Editorial: Less U.S. production will make global oil and gas prices higher for longer than necessary. OPEC and Russia might compensate for reduced U.S. supply. But there could still be an enormous oil shortage if U.S. and European giants scale back global production under pressure from green investors. – Wall Street Journal 

Intissar Fakir and Aesha Soliman write: In recent years, China and Russia have gradually increased their influence in the Maghreb. The two powers, relative newcomers to the regional scene compared to Europe and the U.S., have been building stronger commercial, security, and diplomatic ties to the Maghreb countries of Morocco, Algeria, and Tunisia. However, these ties have not yet translated into significant popular approval or support. […]If Russia and China are looking to make a greater impact among citizens of the Maghreb, they have a long way to go. – Middle East Institute  

Korean Peninsula

North Korea said it had successfully tested a new antiaircraft missile, state media reported, as Pyongyang embarks on a long-term weapons strategy aimed at countering military threats from Washington and Seoul. – Wall Street Journal 

South Korean Foreign Minister Chung Eui-yong is calling on the U.S. government to detail more specific incentives it might offer North Korea in face-to-face negotiations, warning the Biden administration that Pyongyang is using the long-stalled talks to improve its missile and nuclear capabilities. – Washington Post 

North Korea leader Kim Jong Un expressed willingness to restore stalled communication lines with South Korea in coming days while shrugging off U.S. offers for dialogue as “cunning ways” to conceal its hostility against the North, state media reported Thursday. – Associated Press 

Kim Yo Jong, a key adviser to her brother, was promoted to a position on the State Affairs Commission, amid a raft of changes approved by the Supreme People’s Assembly, the rubber-stamp parliament. – 24Matins 

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Thursday that North Korea was increasing instability after a series of weapons test launches including one which it claims was a hypersonic missile. – Agence France-Presse 

Shaun Tandon writes: The Biden administration has repeatedly said it is willing to resume talks without preconditions but it also shows little interest in enticing North Korea, which wants an end to sweeping sanctions. […]More proactive diplomacy would open Biden to accusations either that he is rewarding “bad behavior” or that he went too far or not far enough. – Agence France-Presse 


A Chinese citizen journalist whose viral videos offered an unfiltered early glimpse of the Covid-19 outbreak as it consumed the city of Wuhan has resurfaced more than 600 days after he went missing. – Wall Street Journal  

A once senior Chinese law-enforcement official on Thursday was ejected from the Communist Party in a blaze of accusations, an indication that the anticorruption campaign that defined President Xi Jinping’s early years in power is far from over and could pick up pace as he seeks to stay on as leader. – Wall Street Journal  

Access to an online museum commemorating the Tiananmen Square massacre appeared to be blocked in Hong Kong, the latest regression for Internet freedoms and a strike against a symbol of what distinguished the city from mainland China. – Washington Post 

It was never a secret that China tightly controls what its people can read and write on their cellphones. But it came as a shock to officials in Lithuania when they discovered that a popular Chinese-made handset sold in the Baltic nation had a hidden though dormant feature: a censorship registry of 449 terms banned by the Chinese Communist Party. – New York Times 

China’s restrictive practices present fundamental problems for its application to join a major pan-Pacific free trade pact, and if it joins before Taiwan there is a risk it could block their application, the island’s economy minister said. – Reuters  

China has launched a vituperative attack on Taiwan’s foreign minister, evoking the words of revolutionary leader Mao Zedong to denounce him as a “shrilling” fly for his efforts to promote Taiwan internationally. – Reuters 

China published new draft measures on Thursday aimed at bolstering its new data security law, including definitions of what it considered “core” and “important” data. – Reuters  

U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai will unveil the Biden administration’s long-awaited strategy for the troubled U.S.-China trade relationship in a speech on Monday at a Washington think tank, her office said. – Reuters  

 Police in Hong Kong halted a four-person pro-democracy protest on China’s National Day Friday amid a expanding crackdown on free speech and opposition politics. – Associated Press 

Chinese leader Xi Jinping paid respects at a solemn commemoration Thursday for those who died in the struggle to establish Communist Party rule, as he leads a national drive to reinforce patriotism and single-party authority. – Associated Press 

China’s top state-owned energy companies have been ordered to ensure there are adequate fuel supplies for the approaching winter at all costs, a report said Friday, as the country battles a power crisis that threatens to hit growth in the world’s number two economy. – Agence France-Presse 

Eight years later, things could not have panned out more differently, especially for Hong Kong’s once vibrant media. Yu’s main rival, pro-democracy media tycoon Jimmy Lai, is behind bars and his popular Apple Daily tabloid newspaper has been shuttered. Both were high-profile targets of Xi’s crackdown on civil freedoms after anti-government protests shook Hong Kong in 2019. – Financial Times 

Editorial: This scandal is a symptom of the larger problem of rising Chinese influence in multilateral institutions. China’s economic rise will inevitably give the country more sway across the United Nations and organizations like the World Bank and IMF. But China has a habit of turning these institutions to serve the interests of the Communist Party. The World Health Organization’s fealty to Beijing during the Covid-19 pandemic shows the risks. – Wall Street Journal  

Josh Rogin writes: Participation in the Beijing Olympics represents the greatest leverage the United States or any other country will have to press China to begin to respect international public health and the rights of its citizens. Absent that, boycotting is the right move strategically, morally and for the safety of our athletes and their communities. – Washington Post 

John Bolton writes: The Biden administration’s decision last week to suspend the criminal case against Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou signals dangerous weakness in our China policy. Whether this was the result of an explicit political deal between Washington and Beijing or just a straightforward Justice Department prosecutorial judgment, the immediate perception of a highly questionable concession will not fade quickly. Ironically, if President Joe Biden compromised a legitimate criminal prosecution in a dubious political trade-off, he walked in Donald Trump’s shoes on Huawei, with identical negative consequences. – Washington Examiner  

South Asia

As Myanmar’s economic slump deepens after February’s military coup and parts of its financial system freeze up, many in the strife-torn country are turning to online groups to bypass official channels to trade currencies. – Reuters 

Myanmar’s military-installed government on Thursday defended its detention of an American journalist it has now held for four months, without offering any details of the crimes it alleges. – Associated Press 

Stephanie Findlay writes: The deterioration of the security situation has cast doubt on Pakistan’s assurances that across the border in Afghanistan the Taliban can keep extremist groups such as the TTP and al-Qaeda from launching attacks on neighbouring countries, China and the west. […]The biggest risk to the Khan government is if its gamble on the Taliban backfires and if TTP and other groups scale up their attacks, returning Pakistan to the dark days when it struggled to contain a full-blown terrorist insurgency. – Financial Times 

Fabien Baussart writes: FATF will fail in its duty if it delays blacklisting Pakistan for its terrorist sponsorship. Time is of great essence. Timely and adequate sanctions can compel Pakistan to turn around or else the world will be faced with a monster state with nuclear weapons run by a powerful army. The US Congressional report may be brief but it sounds a loud warning of Pakistan’s slide towards becoming a terrorist state. – Times of Israel 


Asia’s manufacturing activity broadly stagnated in September as pandemic-induced factory shutdowns and signs of slowing Chinese growth weighed on the region’s economies, surveys showed on Friday. – Reuters 

Newly retired boxing icon Manny Pacquiao was the first to file his candidacy to be the next president of the Philippines at the start of registration for thousands of political posts in what is expected to be a hotly contested election in May next year. – Reuters  

Incoming Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida named new top ruling party executives, including a rival known for hawkish policies toward China, as he girds for a general election that a report said could come on Nov. 7. – Bloomberg  

U.S Marine F-35Bs from Iwakuni will support the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force’s post refit trials of the destroyer helicopter carrier JS Izumo (DDH183) next month. – USNI News 

Sadanand Dhume writes: Can the Quad contain China? Last week the leaders of the four nations that make up the informal grouping—the U.S., Japan, India and Australia—met for the first time in person at the White House. […]It’s too soon to say whether the Quad will achieve its unstated goal: stopping an authoritarian China from becoming Asia’s undisputed hegemon. But the four nations have signed on to an ambitious strategy, spanning cooperation on vaccines, infrastructure and technology, designed to blunt Beijing’s challenge. – Wall Street Journal 


The United States and Russia said in a joint statement on Thursday that they had held “intensive and substantive” talks in their second meeting within a framework that is aimed at easing tensions between the world’s largest nuclear weapons powers. – Reuters 

The editor of a Russian news outlet that angered the Kremlin with its investigations, including into the poisoning of opposition politician Alexei Navalny, said the authorities had declared him a wanted man. – Reuters  

Russia is holding up the appointment of independent experts to monitor implementation of sanctions on four African countries, saying the panels proposed by the U.N. secretary-general are not geographically balanced and some members are not impartial, U.N. diplomats said Wednesday. – Associated Press 

Russian authorities on Wednesday designated a popular independent media outlet and two rights groups “foreign agents,” a move that comes as part of a months-long crackdown on opposition supporters, independent media and human rights activists. – Associated Press 

Russian authorities have arrested an executive of a top cybersecurity company on the charges of high treason, a move that has sent shock waves through Russia’s business community. – Associated Press 

Suzanne Freeman writes: In summary, a significant weakness in Russia’s expeditionary capability is the limited sea and airlift available. Russia’s largest military transport plane is a very low-density asset, although the next-largest size is more plentiful. Russia’s limited landing ship fleet is composed chiefly of smaller and slower ships. Given these speed limitations, Russia is unlikely to be able to make use of its force ratio advantage before Sweden can reinforce Gotland using marines from mainland Sweden. – Center for Strategic and International Studies  


A 96-year-old woman charged with Holocaust-related crimes for her role as a secretary in a Nazi concentration camp was detained by police on Thursday after she absconded before her trial. – Wall Street Journal  

Klara Dobrev’s first political campaign two years ago earned her leftist party a better-than-expected four seats in the European Parliament. Now she is one step closer to her next goal: ousting nationalist Prime Minister Viktor Orban. – Reuters  

Poland’s Constitutional Tribunal on Thursday delayed for a fourth time a ruling on whether the country’s constitution or European Union treaties take precedence, with critics saying Warsaw may be stalling to try to put pressure on Brussels. – Reuters  

Page BreakSwitzerland’s upper house of parliament on Thursday approved unblocking 1.3 billion Swiss francs ($1.41 billion) in payments to poorer European Union members in a bid to thaw frosty ties with its biggest trading partner. – Reuters 

The European Union is halting its trade talks with Australia after the country dropped its submarine deal with France for a deal with the U.S., causing high tensions among the countries.  – The Hill 

A human rights group in Belarus said Thursday that more than 50 people have been detained in the wake of a shootout that left an opposition supporter and a KGB officer dead. – Associated Press 

Serbia and Kosovo have reached an agreement to deescalate tensions on their mutual border that have been triggered by a dispute over vehicle license plates, a European Union mediator announced Thursday. – Associated Press 

The European Union expressed concern Thursday about media freedom in Slovenia after the head of the country’s only news agency stepped down over a new public service contract that would dictate the way STA is funded. – Associated Press 

Henry Olsen writes: The United States could try to use economic and military power to enforce its will more effectively on the Europeans, but this would make a mockery of their democracies and independence. Maintaining the status quo is also increasingly problematic. The United States would weaken its own interests if it deployed troops in Europe and watered down its own initiatives to cajole Europe into half-hearted participation in endeavors against China. – Washington Post 

Simon Kuper writes: Instead of acquiring a hammer, Europe should use its more sophisticated toolbox of sanctions, diplomacy, aid and arms negotiations. Admittedly, soft power doesn’t work very well. But judging by the US’s military record since 1950, it works better than hammers and kills fewer people. […]Americans have worked this out, too. Most of them now seem to want to emulate Europe and become a quiet suburb of geopolitics. – Financial Times 


Ethiopia on Thursday ordered the expulsion of seven senior United Nations personnel as it faced mounting pressure to end a blockade of the embattled Tigray region and aid agencies warned of impending famine. – Washington Post 

Ethiopians in three regions where elections had been delayed head to the polls on Thursday to vote for their representatives and one area will also vote on whether to form its own regional state. – Reuters  

Sudan is making progress as it reconnects with the global economy but patience is needed as the country seeks to tackle shortages and attract investment, the head of the World Bank said on Thursday during a visit to Khartoum. – Reuters  

Thousands of Sudanese rallied in the capital of Khartoum on Thursday to demand an exclusively civilian transitional government and accusing the generals now in power of derailing its transition to democracy. Security forces fired tear gas as protesters neared a central street housing government headquarters. – Associated Press 

The U.K. government urged Mali to reconsider its engagement with a Russian mercenary group, warning that any deal risks undermining stability in West Africa. – Bloomberg 

Any decision by Mali to hire Russian private security company Wagner to help it fight Islamist insurgents would be “suicide” and “a red line” for other countries in west Africa, Alassane Ouattara, president of Ivory Coast, has said. – Financial Times 

Latin America

Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro said on Thursday that profits from state-run oil firm Petrobras could be used to alleviate rising fuel prices in the country, among possibilities for confronting higher prices. – Reuters  

A U.S. appeals court ruled on Thursday that the Biden administration can continue expelling migrant families caught crossing the U.S.-Mexico border under a COVID-19 pandemic order while a lawsuit challenging the policy proceeds. – Reuters 

About 1,900 fighters belonging to Colombian rebel and crime groups are operating from Venezuela, where they plan attacks and participate in drug trafficking, the commander of Colombia’s armed forces said. – Reuters  

United States

Federal authorities are scrutinizing two U.S. trading giants and the financial advisers who handled the accounts of a businessman under investigation for allegedly helping a former Venezuelan oil minister launder billions of dollars, according to people familiar with the matter. – Wall Street Journal  

An inquiry into how the FBI handles some of its most sensitive surveillance work found “widespread” failure to follow one of the key rules in the program, according to a report issued Thursday by the Justice Department inspector general. – Washington Post 


Lawmakers took sharp aim at Facebook on Thursday, harshly questioning one of its executives about Instagram’s effect on teenagers, in a Senate hearing that illuminated the growing bipartisan frustrations and concerns with the social media giant. – New York Times 

US secretary of state Antony Blinken has called for the US and Europe to improve information sharing on companies that pose a risk to national security, in a sign of growing White House appetite for more security co-ordination with the EU after their flare-up in tensions over a submarine defence contract. – Financial Times 

The expiration of a key digital encryption service on Thursday sent major tech companies nationwide scrambling to deal with internet outages that affected millions of online users. – Washington Examiner  

Christine Emba writes: We want to apply individualist principles to all areas of life, and we find it hard to accept limitations imposed on a societal level, even if they will ultimately make us better off. But to push back against the myths of inevitability — to help us help ourselves — we may need to redevelop our appetite for restraint. We should remember that nothing, not even Facebook, is inevitable. There are still choices to be made, if we choose to make them. – Washington Post 

Ashish Kumar Sen writes: Democratic governments have their work cut out: How to make clear the difference between their decisions to bar online disinformation and those of authoritarian regimes designed to silence critics? […]A Making information available to everyone is a challenge, Bhatia conceded. He said it is, therefore, important that the United States and the EU continue to stand up for internet freedom and human rights in the internet space. – Center for European Policy Analysis  

Lauren M. Speranza and Joanna van der Merwe write: Short term sacrifices in economic gain and political pride will go a long way in preserving long-term success on strategic technological issues. The U.S. and Europe must work in lockstep to strengthen their collective technological edge over Russia and China and ensure a democratic technological domain. The future of our alliance, and the free world it defends, depend on it. – Defense One 


Determined to keep track of their guns, some U.S. military units have turned to a technology that could let enemies detect troops on the battlefield, The Associated Press has found. – Associated Press 

Staff from the U.S. Army’s National Simulation Center at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, have tested a new variant of a tool they say will help soldiers prepare for battle more effectively and efficiently. – Defense News 

The National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency has issued a $10 million contract to commercial satellite company HawkEye 360 to help it detect and map radiofrequency emissions all over the world. – Defense News 

Last week’s successful demonstration of a hypersonic glide vehicle is a “step in the right direction” in closing the research and testing gap between the United States and rivals Russia and China, a top Air Force technologist said this week. – Defense One 

Adam Mount and Van Jackson writes: Mr. Biden should guarantee that agreements like AUKUS do not undermine the United States’ deterrence credibility, its alliances and partnerships and its long-term interests like nuclear nonproliferation. Too often, a narrow focus on great power competition just leaves America less competitive in the long run. – New York Times 

Long War

An Uber driver on trial for planning to travel to Afghanistan to kill U.S. citizens there was on his way to complete his mission when he was arrested at New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport in July 2019, federal prosecutors said in opening statements Wednesday. – Washington Post 

New Zealand politicians on Thursday passed a law that makes plotting a terrorist attack a crime, addressing a legal loophole that drew heightened scrutiny after a knife attack in early September. – New York Times 

The British attorney-general has told the country’s Court of Appeal to review the sentencing of a right-wing extremist who was convicted of a terrorism offense and ordered to read classic literature as a punishment, the BBC reported Wednesday. – Times of Israel 

A U.S. drone strike has killed an al Qaeda leader in Syria, the Pentagon said. The September 20 strike hit a vehicle on a rural road outside the city of Idlib in rebel-controlled northwestern Syria, killing at least one person, the Associated Press reported. That person has been identified as Salim Abu-Ahmad, a senior leader of al Qaeda, a militant multi-national terrorist organization. – Newsweek