Fdd's overnight brief

October 12, 2021

In The News


Iran on Tuesday kicked off a massive, two-day air defense drill in the country’s sprawling central desert, state TV reported, the latest show of force by the Islamic Republic. – Associated Press 

Iran has produced more than 120 kilograms (265 pounds) of 20% enriched uranium, the country’s nuclear chief said, far more than what the U.N. nuclear watchdog reported last month. – Associated Press 

The Microsoft Threat Intelligence Center (MSTIC) announced on Monday that Iranian hackers successfully targeted US and Israeli defense technology companies. – Jerusalem Post  

Iran plans to offer oil and gas condensate to “any investor” in exchange for either goods or capital investment in the Islamic Republic’s sanctions-hit energy sector, the country’s oil minister said. – Bloomberg 

Iran’s top nuclear official said it’s “not necessary” for United Nations inspectors to reinstall cameras at a centrifuge facility that was attacked earlier this year, because it goes beyond the terms of the 2015 nuclear deal. – Bloomberg 

The coming weeks are decisive for the future of the nuclear deal with Iran, German Chancellor Angela Merkel said on Sunday, adding that every day that passes without Tehran responding to U.S. overtures will result in Iran enriching more uranium. – Reuters 

Iran aims to continue sending fuel products to Lebanon in the future and hopes a bilateral agreement can be struck for that purpose, Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian said on Friday during a visit to Beirut. – Reuters 

Iranian foreign minister Hossein Amirabdollahian said on Friday that Saudi Arabian authorities had moved first in cutting ties between the two countries. – Reuters 

The State Department says Iran’s refusal to permit international nuclear inspectors access to its most contested atomic sites is making it harder for the Biden administration to achieve its goal of returning to the 2015 nuclear deal. – The Washington Free Beacon 

The Biden administration on Friday lifted sanctions on two Iranian entities involved in military missile programs. The sanctions, targeting the Mammut Industrial Group (Mammut Industries) and its subsidiary Mammut Diesel, were originally imposed by the Trump administration in September 2020 as part of efforts to increase a maximum pressure campaign of sanctions on Tehran over its nuclear activity and actions in the region criticized as malign and destabilizing. – The Hill 

Amnesty International is urging Iran to stop the execution planned for later this week of a man arrested at aged 17 and sentenced to death following a “grossly unfair” trial. – Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty 

Iran’s state electricity company has warned that illicit cryptocurrency miners in the country could cause new power cuts this winter. – Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty

Michael Doran writes: The Biden administration would be better served by following Israel’s example. The benefits to the U.S. of a rising Azerbaijan extend well beyond the effort to counter Iran. Azerbaijan is the only country to border both Iran and Russia. A strong and self-confident Baku is also a counterbalance to Moscow. – Wall Street Journal 


An Islamic State suicide bomber attacked a crowded mosque during Friday prayers in northern Afghanistan, killing nearly 50 Shiite Muslim worshipers and wounding dozens more, underscoring the growing challenge the extremist group poses to the authority of the Taliban. – Washington Post 

An Afghan interpreter who helped rescue then- Sen. Joe Biden in 2008 when his helicopter made an emergency landing in Afghanistan has escaped from the country. – Wall Street Journal 

More than a month after a frenzied U.S. effort to evacuate thousands facing retribution from the Taliban in Afghanistan, members of Congress are still quietly pushing the government to help extract a small group of stranded Afghans who are direct relatives of American military service members. – New York Times  

The Taliban on Saturday ruled out cooperation with the United States to contain extremist groups in Afghanistan, staking out an uncompromising position on a key issue ahead of the first direct talks between the former foes since America withdrew from the country in August. – Associated Press 

Afghanistan’s foreign minister appealed to the world for good relations on Monday but avoided making firm commitments on girls’ education despite international demands to allow all Afghan children to go back to school. – Reuters 

Warning that Afghanistan is facing “a make-or-break moment,” the United Nations chief on Monday urged the world to prevent the country’s economy from collapsing. – Associated Press 

The U.S. has agreed to provide humanitarian aid to a desperately poor Afghanistan on the brink of an economic disaster, while refusing to give political recognition to the country’s new Taliban rulers, the Taliban said Sunday. – Associated Press 

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Monday slammed the Taliban’s “broken” promises to Afghan women and girls, and urged the world to donate more money to Afghanistan to head off its economic collapse. – Agence France-Presse  

Biden administration officials over the weekend held their first face-to-face meeting with Taliban leaders since the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan in late August. A State Department official described the talks, held in Qatar, as “candid and professional.” – The Hill 

Ajmal Ahmady writes: We will undoubtedly debate the reasons for the Afghan state’s quick collapse and cast blame for a long time to come. Understanding what led to its rapid downfall will, eventually, allow others to learn from our experience and formulate appropriate policy responses. In the meantime, the consequences will be borne—yet again—by Afghan citizens who had no say in any of these matters. – Foreign Affairs 

James J. Przystup writes: Today, in the wake of Afghanistan, the Biden administration’s primary challenge will be to restore its claim to competence and its perceived commitment to US alliances and to effective multilateralism—all wounded by the retreat from Kabul. This is therefore not the time for flashy new initiatives but rather for consistent, committed diplomacy. […]Today, the Biden administration would do well to adopt this approach, as the garden of our alliances and strategic partnerships badly needs tending. There is much gardening to be done. – Hudson Institute


For a man who has spent the last decade battling armed rebels, being shunned in international forums and watching a brutal civil war dismantle his economy, the past few weeks have been good to President Bashar al-Assad of Syria. – New York Times 

 A car bomb exploded in a northern Syrian town controlled by Turkey-backed Syrian opposition fighters Monday, killing at least four people, rescue workers and a war monitor said. – Associated Press 

Eli Lake writes: So it’s worth asking what, if anything, the Biden administration is doing about these thawing relations between Assad and America’s Arab allies. To be sure, the U.S. maintains its policy of not recognizing Assad’s government. […]Right now normalizing relations with Assad, if not Syria, seems quite easy for Abdullah. His opening to Syria’s leader has cost him nothing with his most important ally. – Bloomberg  

Ilan Berman writes: The Syrian regime, in other words, represents a vital strategic prize for Iran. As such, Abdah and his colleagues fear, lessening pressure on Syria could make for an attractive sweetener to bring Tehran back to the negotiating table. That, in turn, would be a boon to Assad, whose government remains politically weak and economically insolvent—and whose policies are fundamentally at odds with what the Biden administration has said that it wants for Syria: a more pluralistic future, the repatriation of refugees, a reconstruction of the country and a return to normalcy for its citizens. – Newsweek 


President Tayyip Erdogan said on Monday that Turkey was determined to eliminate threats originating in northern Syria, adding an attack by Kurdish YPG militants that killed two Turkish police was “the final straw.” – Reuters 

Turkey’s lira weakened on Monday to equal its record low level of 8.9750 against the dollar, which it set on Friday, weighed down by strength in the greenback as well lingering concerns over Turkish monetary policy. – Reuters  

Michael Rubin writes: Turkey is no ally, and it never again will be. It is time to check the power it seeks to exert on the global stage, diplomatically, economically and, when its proxies operate outside Turkey’s recognized borders, militarily as well. – The National Interest 


The Knesset on Monday launched a new caucus dedicated to the Abraham Accords, the US-brokered normalization deals with Arab countries reached one year ago. – Times of Israel  

A senior Israeli army official denied Palestinian Authority claims that Israeli soldiers forced PA premier Mohammad Shtayyeh to turn his car around near Jenin on his way to a cabinet meeting on Monday. – Times of Israel  

Iran aspires to build an army on Israel’s Golan Heights border, Prime Minister Naftali Bennett said on Monday as he doubled down on Israeli sovereignty in that region and warned Tehran against continued entrenchment there. – Jerusalem Post  

Israel’s hand is stretched out towards peace, ready to have a dialogue with any of its neighbors who wish to have one, President Isaac Herzog said at the 10th annual Jerusalem Post Diplomatic Conference on Tuesday. – Jerusalem Post  

The world must take Iran to task for violating its nuclear commitments, Prime Minister Naftali Bennett said at the 10th annual Jerusalem Post Diplomatic Conference on Tuesday. – Jerusalem Post  

Hamas will maintain calm in the Gaza Strip as long as “the occupation” does as well, a Hamas source told the Beirut-based independent news channel Al Mayadeen on Saturday, adding that the calm is part of a larger attempt at a mutual ceasefire. – Jerusalem Post  

The United Nations Human Rights Council approved a pro-Durban resolution on Monday 32-10, after the United Kingdom called for a roll call vote and prevented the text’s anticipated passage by consensus. – Jerusalem Post  

Foreign Minister Yair Lapid left for Washington on Monday night for a series of high-level meetings and a celebration of the Abraham Accords. – Jerusalem Post  

Germany’s lame-duck chancellor, Angela Merkel, received a warm welcome Sunday as she paid a final official visit to Israel, but differences quickly emerged between the close allies on the key issues of Iran’s nuclear program and the establishment of a Palestinian state. – Associated Press 

Israel will keep the Golan Heights, which it captured from Syria in a 1967 war, even if international views on Damascus change, Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett said on Monday. – Reuters 


Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr, the onetime leader of a rebellion against U.S. forces following the 2003 invasion of Iraq, is poised to become the country’s key political power broker after his movement won the largest share of seats in Sunday’s parliamentary election. – Wall Street Journal 

Iraqis voted in a parliamentary election that could shape the future for U.S. forces still based there and indicate how Baghdad will navigate a broader geopolitical power struggle between Washington and Tehran. – Wall Street Journal 

Iraqis voted Sunday in parliamentary elections meant to herald sweeping change to a dysfunctional political system that has dragged the country through almost two decades of deprivation. – New York Times  


Lebanon’s sputtering national electricity grid went back online on Sunday after the army provided emergency fuel supplies to the government, temporarily easing a daylong outage that served as the latest ramification of the country’s economic collapse. – New York Times  

The leader of Lebanon’s powerful Hezbollah group Monday escalated his attack on the judge leading the probe into last year’s port explosion, calling on authorities to replace him with a “truthful and transparent” investigator. – Associated Press 

Lebanon’s Hezbollah chief Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah repeated calls on Monday for the cabinet to seek a U.S. sanctions waiver to import Iranian fuel and alleviate crippling shortages. – Reuters 

Hezbollah Secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah attacked the Palestinian Authority in a speech on Monday over the death of Palestinian activist Nizar Banat, who was allegedly killed by PA security services earlier this year. – Jerusalem Post  

The commander of Iran’s Navy, Admiral Shahram Irani, claimed on Monday that Iranian Naval vessels escorted Iranian oil tankers sent to Syria to be transferred to Lebanon, according to the Fars News Agency. – Jerusalem Post 

Seth J. Frantzman writes: That is Iran’s strategy in a nutshell. It uses a strategy borrowed from corporate raiding to destroy places such as Lebanon and bankrupt them. Lebanon can’t be bailed out though, because all the bailing will go back to Tehran. In essence, this is the message of the recent electricity crisis. There is no way to fully help Lebanon, and its continuing crises will risk spreading worse problems across the region. – Jerusalem Post  

Arabian Peninsula

In 2020, the country’s own Human Rights Commission appeared to finally announce a ban on the practice, saying that “no one in Saudi Arabia will be executed for a crime committed as a minor, in accordance with the Royal Order of March 2020.” Except that royal order never materialized. Then, in June, Mustafa al-Darwish was executed, earning the kingdom a stern rebuke from the United Nations. – Washington Post 

At least six people were killed Sunday in Yemen’s port city of Aden by a car bomb that targeted two senior government officials who survived, an official said. The explosion targeted the convoy of Agriculture Minister Salem al-Socotrai and Aden’s Gov. Ahmed Lamlas in the district of Tawahi, said Information Minister Moammar al-Iryani. – Associated Press 

More than 150 Huthi rebels have been killed in air raids south of Marib, a major hotspot of Yemen’s civil war, the Saudi-led coalition fighting the militants said on Monday. – Agence France-Presse 

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken will meet with his Israeli and United Arab Emirates counterparts next week to discuss progress made on the so-called Abraham Accords as well regional security, the U.S. State Department said on Saturday. – Reuters 

Middle East & North Africa

Jordan’s King Abdullah II received Lebanon’s prime minister in Amman Sunday, saying his country will stand by the small nation and its people during its worst-ever economic crisis. The visit to Jordan by Prime Minister Najib Mikati is his first to an Arab country since he formed his Cabinet last month. It comes after the premier’s trips to France and Britain, as Mikati seeks their help. – Associated Press 

Tunisia got a new government Monday after more than two months without one, with the new prime minister naming her Cabinet, which includes a record number of women. – Associated Press 

At least 6,000 Tunisians rallied on Sunday against a presidential power grab in the only democracy to have emerged from the Arab Spring uprisings a decade ago. – Agence France-Presse 

Libya’s rival sides reached an initial agreement Friday on the withdrawal of foreign fighters and mercenaries from the North African nation, the United Nations said, a key step toward unifying the warring sides in violence-wracked country. – Associated Press 

The U.S. administration and Egypt are pressuring the Palestinian Authority and Hamas to try to form a coalition government, to promote long-term calm and the reconstruction of the Gaza Strip. – Haaretz 

James M. Dorsey writes: The reconciliation moves also signal the pressure on Middle Eastern players in what amounts to a battle for the soul of Islam, to change perceptions of the region as being wracked by civil wars, sectarian tensions, extremism, jihadism, and autocracy. Altering that perception is key to the successful implementation of plans to diversify oil and gas  dependent economies in the Gulf, develop resource-poor countries in the region, tackle an economic crisis in Turkey, and enable Iran to cope with crippling US sanctions. – Algemeiner 

Korean Peninsula

North Korea on Monday showed off its growing arsenal of missiles in one of its largest-ever exhibitions of military gear, as its leader, Kim Jong-un, said he didn’t believe repeated assertions by the United States that it harbored no hostile intent toward his country. – New York Times 

 The leader of nuclear-armed North Korea, Kim Jong Un, has blamed the United States for tensions on the peninsula, state media reported Tuesday. – Agence France-Presse  

North Korea said Monday leader Kim Jong Un urged officials to overcome a “grim situation” facing the country and make stronger efforts to improve the food and living conditions of his people. – Associated Press 

Richard Weitz writes: Moscow and Washington should also intensify constraints on the main driver of U.S. BMD programs—North Korea’s increasingly sophisticated threats. They must urgently press Pyongyang to curtail its destabilizing missile programs. The United States should also invest in robust air and missile defenses for Guam, Hawaii, and Palau; superior global sensor systems; and the Next Generation Interceptor to deter North Korea from ever considering an attack. – The National Interest 


After launching experiments aimed at more forcefully assimilating ethnic minorities in remote regions, China’s Communist Party has moved subtly but decisively to make cultural assimilation the central tenet of its policy for managing minority populations nationwide. – Wall Street Journal 

Editorial: Understanding the origins of this pandemic could help prevent the next one. But without a thorough investigation, these questions will not be answered. So far, such a probe does not exist. The initial efforts, such as the joint China-WHO mission and the U.S. intelligence community report, raised more questions than they answered. No investigation will succeed as long as China’s doors remain shut. The silence is deafening. – Washington Post 

Walter Russell Mead writes: This is a pause, not a change of direction. There are no signs that Beijing is reconsidering the basic assumptions of the Xi Jinping era that China is rising while America sinks. Before any serious rethinking of Beijing’s current policies of repression at home and aggressive competition abroad, China’s leaders would need to see evidence that the U.S. is more resilient than thought and that the Chinese domestic economic model is less robust than believed. – Wall Street Journal 

David Von Drehle writes: Xi, 68, won’t last forever. But as long as he is ruler, the United States and its allies must move carefully to limit global exposure to Chinese mismanagement and deploy every tool short of war to deter rash action by China against Taiwan. A whole new way of thinking is required. Western policy has long been shaped by China’s rapid ascent, but that could be child’s play compared with confronting a China in decline. – Washington Post 

Dimon Liu  writes: The West may have lost confidence in the idea, but universal human rights represent a continuing allure for many of the world’s oppressed peoples, and this is therefore where democracies can win the argument. The promise of a better future, where individuals are respected and valued, appeals to the Chinese people the same way it appeals to Americans. […]Democracy is simply not worth its salt if it is not effective in protecting human rights. The contest of values is not only strategic, it is an area where democracy can and should win overwhelmingly. – Center for European Policy Analysis 

Ian Johnson writes: Embracing this sort of agenda could return Germany to a more forceful foreign policy toward China, echoing the period from 1998 to 2005 when the Greens’ Joschka Fischer was foreign minister. Motivated by the party’s strong positions on human rights, Fischer advocated for German participation in the Kosovo war and the stationing of troops in Afghanistan. – Foreign Affairs 

Michael Schuman writes: The implications for Washington are huge. No longer would containing China be the primary focus of U.S. foreign policy, or the dominant theme of its relations with allies in Europe and Asia. It would require a different approach to a different China with a different future. – The Atlantic 

South Asia

U.S. and Pakistani officials held difficult talks on Friday in Pakistan’s capital amid a worsening relationship between Washington and Islamabad as each searches for a way forward in a Taliban-ruled Afghanistan. – Associated Press 

Five Indian soldiers were killed in a fierce gunbattle with militants fighting against Indian rule in the Himalayan region of Kashmir on Monday, officials said, as violence in the disputed region has increased in recent weeks. – Associated Press 

The United Nations and Bangladesh’s government have signed an agreement to work together to help Rohingya refugees on an island in the Bay of Bengal where thousands have been relocated from crammed camps near the Myanmar border. – Associated Press 

Government forces have detained at least 500 people in a sweeping crackdown in Indian-controlled Kashmir, local officials said Sunday, following a string of suspected militant attacks and targeted killings in the disputed region. – Associated Press 


The latest round of high-level military talks between India and China failed to reach a deal to defuse tensions along their disputed border, the two countries said Monday, as troop deployments in the region have reached their highest level in decades. – Wall Street Journal 

Taiwan will not “bow to pressure” from China for reunification, President Tsai Ing-wen said in a speech Sunday before a parade and military ceremony marking Taiwan’s National Day. The island will continue to develop and invest in its defensive capabilities, Tsai said, “to ensure that nobody can force Taiwan to take the path China has laid out for us” — a path she said “offers neither a free and democratic way of life for Taiwan, nor sovereignty for our 23 million people.” – Washington Post 

China’s President Xi Jinping on Saturday vowed to achieve peaceful “unification” with Taiwan, just days after a record number of Chinese military jets conducted drills close to the island, escalating tensions between the two sides. “Compatriots on both sides of the Taiwan Strait should stand on the right side of history and join hands to achieve China’s complete unification,” Xi said. – Washington Post 

China reiterated calls for the United States to cut off military ties with Taiwan on Friday in a cautious response to reports that U.S. Marines have been stationed on the self-ruled island for more than a year to strengthen its defenses against intensifying Chinese aggression. – Washington Post 

A Taiwan official has asked Australia to support its bid to join the CPTPP pan-Pacific trade pact, which China opposes, saying Taiwan can boost high technology trade flows and demand for Australian minerals. – Reuters 

Malaysia is hoping for a clear consensus among Southeast Asian nations on a new Indo-Pacific security partnership between Australia, the United States and Britain, its defence minister said on Tuesday. – Reuters 

China’s embassy in Australia said former Prime Minister Tony Abbott was a “pitiful” politician on Saturday after he denounced Chinese pressure against Taiwan during a visit to the island. – Reuters 

Azerbaijan’s State Border Service (SBS) rejected claims by Iranian officials that Israeli forces are present in Azerbaijan near the Iranian border, saying that Azerbaijan “does not need the support of foreign forces.” – Jerusalem Post  

Editorial: Washington needs to help Taiwan become a nut too tough to crack, with stronger air and cyber defenses, more anti-ship missiles and mines — and supplies to withstand a blockade. Biden must stand up to a dictatorship that’s intent on dominating not just an independent island but the world. What does Beijing have to do to wake him up? – New York Post 

Elaine Luria writes: As Woodrow Wilson International Center fellow Michael Kofman writes, “Chinese leaders either believe they will have to fight the United States for Taiwan, or they do not.” It is time to untie the hands of our president so that he can, in fact, carry through with the “rock solid ” commitment to Taiwan if actions by China require it. – Washington Post 

Ruth Pollard writes: Beijing’s abandonment of decades of established protocols agreed with New Delhi along its disputed border is contributing to alarms across the Indo-Pacific. […]No one has found the magic formula for dealing with China’s expansionism while maintaining restraint. India is just the latest nation to be tested, and the jury is out on whether relations have hit their lowest point since the border war of 1962 or if there’s still further to fall. – Bloomberg  

Bonny Lin and David Sacks write: As China escalates its military coercion of Taiwan, the risk of an accidental crisis will only increase. Taiwan and the United States should continue to work together to deter a Chinese invasion of the island, but that agenda is no longer enough to prevent a conflict. Taipei and Washington must also develop responses to Chinese military pressure that reduce the risk of a potentially deadly miscue or blunder. Years ago, U.S. President Joe Biden reportedly told Chinese President Xi Jinping that “the only thing worse than a war is an unintentional war.” Now, as the risk of such a war over Taiwan increases, it is incumbent upon Biden to help stave it off. – Foreign Affairs

Brent D. Sadler writes: Having a close ally, such as Australia, that contributes nuclear submarines to the maritime competition with China is invaluable. Success will depend on the three AUKUS allies quickly establishing an irreversible pathway to an Australian nuclear submarine. If the project falls into the cost-and-delay trap that characterized the French program, it will meet the same end and risk further eroding the ability of the United States and its allies to deter China. – Heritage Foundation 

Alexander L. Vuving writes: Australia is fortunate not to have a dilemma between the best choice based on the values it holds dear and the best choice based on geopolitical calculations. Its membership in the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue and AUKUS will solidify its place on the winning side of the century’s global contest. – Foreign Policy 

Emil Avdaliani writes: The shortfall of Western influence and recurrent internal troubles create fertile ground for malign influence from major Eurasian illiberal states targeting Georgia. Shaken internally and overlooked externally, the country is a perfect example of those states on the periphery of Europe, on the border between liberal and openly illiberal worlds, that are especially vulnerable. – Center for European Policy Analysis 

Lianchao Han and Bradley A. Thayer write: Any war is a contest of wills. China has displayed its will of using force against Taiwan, if and when necessary, and it is America’s turn to show ours by strengthening our efforts to win this contest. – The Hill 


Russia on Friday accused three U.S. Embassy employees of theft and demanded that they leave the country or face prosecution, exacerbating already tense relations. – Washington Post 

The Kremlin’s ambassador to the EU has called on Europe to mend ties with Moscow in order to avoid future gas shortages, but insisted that Russia had nothing to do with the recent jump in prices. – Financial Times 

Editorial: Energy supply is a key asset in the global balance of power. Russia and China know this, and the Biden Administration’s obsession with unrealistic climate goals at the expense of energy security will do real harm to the U.S. economy and global interests. – Wall Street Journal 

Toomas Hendrik Ilves writes: There is much we can do. We must impose transparency on anonymous shell companies. We must impose visa bans on corrupt officials who aim to benefit from our institutions (and the spies who aim to undermine them). The United Kingdom’s unexplained wealth orders, which unfortunately are not widely or strictly applied, should be copied and rigorously enforced across our rule-of-law-based West. – Washington Post 

Peter Huessy writes: Appeals of restraint are not going to work. Japan recently urged China to exercise such restraint regarding Taiwan. A Chinese television channel responded that if Japan came to the defense of Taiwan, China would bomb Japan with nuclear weapons until Japan “for the second time” unconditionally surrendered. History shows that increased entitlement spending will not deter China or Russia. Increased spending on defense and deterrence will. – The National Interest 

David T. Pyne writes: Most urgently, U.S. leaders should immediately inform Moscow and Beijing that America will not intervene militarily in any potential wars over Taiwan or the former Soviet republics (all of which are indefensible anyway), essentially renouncing future U.S military interventions in their spheres of influence. […]As history shows, nothing has united Russia and China more than America’s short-sighted attempts to project its power into Eastern Europe and East Asia along with its efforts to become the dominant superpower. Without America instigating their ire, their historically adversarial relationship might have resumed long ago. – The National Interest 


Tens of thousands of protesters marched through Warsaw and other Polish cities late Sunday to oppose a court ruling that European Union legal judgments have become incompatible with the Polish constitution, a decision protesters fear could prompt Poland to follow the U.K. out of the bloc. – Wall Street Journal 

The European Union is considering providing a military training mission to Ukraine amid lingering tensions between Russia and its neighbor, officials said Monday. – Associated Press 

The European Union wants to build its own microchip manufacturing capability to counterbalance the dominant Asian market and ensure enduring technological sovereignty. – Defense News  

Britain’s new aircraft carrier the HMS Queen Elizabeth made a stop in Singapore on Monday, part of a move to reassert itself globally and boost its military presence in Asia amid rising competition among major powers. – Reuters 

European Council President Charles Michel is expected to focus on human rights and trade issues during a phone call Friday with Chinese leader Xi Jinping amid strained relations between Brussels and Beijing, according to an EU official. – Politico  

Anders Fogh Rasmussen writes: The cold-war rhetoric is overplayed, but free societies are facing a challenge from China’s nationalist leadership. At stake is whether we want our children and grandchildren to grow up in a world ruled by democratic America or by communist China. Europe can’t be a bystander in this battle and expect Uncle Sam to pick up the tab. – Wall Street Journal  

Hans Binnendijk and Alexander Vershbow write: Agreeing to greater European strategic autonomy will be much more effective at rebalancing transatlantic military responsibilities than continued American harping about burden sharing and NATO’s 2 percent of GDP defense spending goal. Rather than focusing on abstract percentages, Europeans will be more effectively stimulated by understanding what they are expected to contribute and why. – Defense News  

Daniel F. Runde writes: Moldova has toyed with Western rapprochement before, but to the disappointment of its people, has yet to deliver — until now. Strong support from the Biden administration would be a way to move Moldova more closely to the West, consolidate democracy, reduce poverty and support a Moldovan leader ready to engage with the United States and European Union. – The Hill 

Therese Raphael writes: If all goes well, Boris Johnson will hope to declare victory by the end of year in the “sausage wars,” as a growing trade dispute the European Union over Northern Ireland is sometimes called. […]Let’s hope that the usual Brexit script of heat followed by light prevails here, too. Trade wars may not be hot wars, but they do real damage — and it mostly falls not on the armchair generals prosecuting them but on the foot soldiers who, in this case, will live on to vote another day. – Bloomberg  

Andreas Kluth writes: By going officially and formally rogue, Poland may unwittingly have done the European Union a favor. In blatantly challenging the bloc’s legal authority, Warsaw is forcing the EU to decide whether it wants to become the “ever closer union” it claims to be, or to remain the malleable club of nations it actually is. Union or club — either way the EU will have to make fundamental changes if it intends to survive in the long run. – Bloomberg  


The Ethiopian government has launched a “staggering” ground offensive against rebel Tigrayan forces, according to a spokesman for the Tigray People’s Liberation Front, reigniting a devastating civil war that international humanitarian groups say imperils hundreds of thousands. – Washington Post 

The United Nation’s migration agency has put its Ethiopia chief on administrative leave, citing “unauthorised interviews” in which she complained of being sidelined by UN higher-ups she claimed were sympathetic to Tigrayan rebels. – Agence France-Presse 

The UN’s top court will rule in a bitter border dispute between Somalia and Kenya on Tuesday, delivering a verdict with potentially far-reaching consequences for bilateral ties and energy extraction in the region. – Agence France-Presse   

The US administration is pressing Sudan to sign a normalization agreement with Israel, and to establish diplomatic relations with Israel, Kan 11 News’ Amichai Stein reported on Sunday. – Arutz Sheva 

The Americas

In a bid to mend their frayed security relationship, senior U.S. and Mexican officials met Friday to overhaul the Merida Initiative, a pact that has channeled billions of dollars in aid to Mexico but failed to curb massive drug trafficking and spiraling bloodshed. – Washington Post 

The new U.S. ambassador to Mexico, Ken Salazar, said Saturday the United States has asked the Mexican government to allow agents, including those from the Drug Enforcement Administration, to work in Mexico. – Associated Press 

Officials on the Colombia and Venezuela border have developed a back channel for communications, bypassing the drawn out diplomatic impasse between the two governments, and are negotiating the restoration of some bilateral relations. – Bloomberg 

United States

Editorial: Apparently forgetting Biden’s Nord Stream 2 gift, Germany continues to spend just 1.3% of its GDP on defense. […]What will happen, for example, if Trump reenters power and again points to the continuing absurdity of rich European nations relying on Uncle Sam to carry the weight of their defense? Answer: The world’s most successful alliance may well die. Talk is cheap. When it comes to U.S. alliance interests in Europe, Biden is full of hot air. – Washington Examiner 

Michael McFaul writes: Of course, the United States should not get back into the Cold War propaganda business. We do not want to mimic the disinformation elements of Russia’s RT or China’s CGTN. But if we want to compete in the battle of ideas against populist demagogues and aggressive authoritarians, we must do a better job of explaining our actions and our ideas. […]The time for incremental reform of public diplomacy has passed. The time for radical reform is now. – Washington Post 


Most Americans across party lines have serious concerns about cyberattacks on U.S. computer systems and view China and Russia as major threats, according to a new poll. – Associated Press 

Former Facebook employee Frances Haugen, who testified in front of Congress last week that the tech company placed profits ahead of children’s safety, said on Monday that she has agreed to speak with the Facebook Oversight Board – The Hill 

Adam Szubin writes: Some in the crypto community understand the inevitability of regulation and are working on solutions. […]But for companies that want to have a hand in influencing the outcome, now is the time to engage with the government. Public-private collaboration provides the best hope to craft regulation that preserves the promise of DeFi without upending safeguards that protect us all. – Wall Street Journal 

Stewart Baker writes: Sixth, making industrial policy on strictly national lines will not be enough this time around. The U.S. can’t have an industrial policy on semiconductors that doesn’t include Taiwan and South Korea. Its industrial policy on artificial intelligence will depend heavily on cooperation from the UK. Its machine tool policy will need help from Germany and Japan, just as its space policy has long been tied to Europe’s. – The Hill 

Eriks Selga and Abigail LaBreck write: Common rules on cyberbreach reporting represent a concrete example of how the U.S. and Europe can and should cooperate, and not just fight over a key digital challenge. Americans and Europeans will never put the same value on privacy. But they can put the same value on fighting dangerous cyberattacks. – Center for European Policy Analysis 


A Navy nuclear engineer and his wife have been charged with repeatedly trying to pass secrets about U.S. nuclear submarines to a foreign country, in an alleged espionage plot discovered by the FBI, according to court documents. – Washington Post 

The Israeli Air Force has asked the US Air Force to advance the acquisition of four out of eight tankers that are required for long-range missions, with two of them asked to be delivered immediately. – Jerusalem Post 

Two Iron Dome batteries purchased by the US Army are heading to Guam for further tests and training of troops who will be manning the system, Defense News reported. – Jerusalem Post   

The Pentagon’s former software chief resigned and said that China is headed toward global dominance in artificial intelligence due to the relatively slow pace of innovation in the United States. – The Hill 

The U.S. Army has approved the Precision Strike Missile program to move into the engineering and manufacturing development phase, just ahead of a major test at Vandenberg Air Base, California, where the weapon will be shot to observe its range, said the official in charge of the service’s long-range precision fires modernization. – Defense News 

Having failed to achieve desired lethal effects on a maritime target, the U.S. Army and Marine Corps had to delay fielding of the Joint Air-to-Ground Missile. But now a full-rate production decision is expected in summer 2022, according to Maj. Gen. Robert Rasch, the Army’s program executive officer for missiles and space. – Defense News  

The U.S. Navy is trying to improve its readiness while reining in the rising costs of maintenance and modernization. While these goals can seem at odds, the service’s first stab at this effort allowed it to boost its fighter jet mission-capable rates from below 50 percent to 80 percent in 2019. The Navy said it revamped processes rather than throwing money at the problem. – Defense News  

The first platoon of the U.S. Army’s Maneuver-Short-Range Air Defense System arrived in Europe five months ago, and the first unit to receive the Stryker-based systems have now put them through their paces ahead of live-fire events and bigger exercises down the road, Lt. Col. Abraham Osborn, the head of 5th Battalion, 4th Air Defense Artillery Regiment, told Defense News in an Oct. 4 statement. – Defense News  

The U.S. military exercise Defender Pacific is getting a makeover in hopes the event will improve joint targeting capabilities and concepts over the next few years. – Defense News  

As the Pentagon pivots its focus to the Pacific, the Army — worried for years that the Navy and Marines will eat its budget and cachet if Asia becomes the primary theater of competition — is eager to remind members of Congress and senior Defense Department officials that they are central to America’s ability to project power of all kinds in the Pacific. – Breaking Defense  

As data proliferates and attack surfaces expand, the Defense Department continues to have a fundamental need to discover, understand, track, and manage its data and intellectual property that is exposed on the internet. – Breaking Defense  

Kyle Atwell and Paul Bailey write: In counter-insurgency, tactics are reality. While war is hard, war with partner forces is harder. However, given the unmistakable and overwhelming abundance of irregular conflict short of conventional state-on-state war, the United States will continue to pursue its national security objectives through the guided efforts of others. Success in future partner-warfare endeavors will require removing the capability of tactical units to get their gun on and incentivizing tactical leaders to drive their partner forces to fight harder in line with U.S. interests. – War on the Rocks 

Alexander Wooley writes: But none of the short-term fixes can patch decades of failure to keep the Navy in trim. Promised warships decades ahead of their time, American sailors instead are left to go into harm’s way with ships from decades past. U.S. policymakers need to own up to that—and fix it. – Foreign Policy 

Stacie Pettyjohn writes: For more than a decade, analysts have been warning the Defense Department that the U.S. military could lose a war against a great-power adversary and that significant changes to U.S. force structure, operational concepts, and acquisition processes are needed. This is not a resource problem. The problem is the department’s inability to make hard choices, prioritize, and then follow through by planning and programming against the priorities. […]The greatest risk is further deferring conventional and nuclear modernization and finding that America has fallen so far behind that it cannot defend itself or its allies, partners, and interests. – War on the Rocks 

Bruce M. Sugden writes: Although the publicly available data suggests that the homelands of the great powers are already facing the peril of conventional attack, additional data collection and analysis is required to tease out Russia’s thinking about America’s nuclear threshold and the U.S. military’s conduct of counter-homeland conventional operations, as well as its thinking about its own threshold and plans for carrying out counter-homeland conventional strikes.[…]Moreover, how the United States thinks about its conduct of long-range conventional-strike warfare in relation to nuclear thresholds and escalation risk might be evolving as China’s nuclear forces become more capable. – War on the Rocks 

Dani Kaufmann Nedal writes: Rather than performing nuclear security theater, the administration and the world would be better served by genuine efforts to advance multilateral arms control, strengthen norms of nuclear nonproliferation and non-use, and engage, rather than combat, the non-nuclear states and civil society organizations at the forefront of the global push toward disarmament. This approach not only satisfies the need for “doing something,” it is also consistent with the broader goals of exercising responsible, democratic leadership in a more multipolar world. – The National interest 

Long War

Iraq’s prime minister said Monday that security forces had detained a senior member of the Islamic State who was once among the most important players in the group’s financing efforts. Prime Minister Mustafa ­al-Kadhimi wrote on social media that the suspect, Sami Jasim, had been a deputy of the organization’s founder, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, and that the operation to arrest him had taken place outside of Iraq. – Washington Post 

With the Taliban in power in Afghanistan, there’s a new enemy ascending. The Islamic State group threatens to usher in another violent phase. Except this time the former insurgents, the Taliban, play the role of the state, now that the U.S. troops and their allied Afghan government are gone. – Associated Press 

The African Union says it will extend and expand its military operations against Al-Qaeda-linked Islamists in Somalia to include other member states, as its current mandate nears an end on December 31. – Agence France-Presse 

Yoram Ettinger writes: Against the backdrop of the aforementioned developments, one should not subordinate the reality of Islamic/Arab/Palestinian terrorism to well-intentioned oversimplification, lest it erodes the US posture of deterrence and security. – Algemeiner