Fdd's overnight brief

October 15, 2019

In The News


Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said Tehran had evidence that the Iranian tanker damaged in the Red Sea was attacked with rockets fired from boats, warning that those responsible would face consequences but stopping short of blaming anyone. – Wall Street Journal 

Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani said on Monday Tehran would continue to scale back its commitments to the 2015 nuclear agreement until the European Union fulfils promises it made under the deal. – Reuters

A senior Iranian security official said Saturday that an attack on one of the country’s oil tankers won’t go unpunished, the official IRNA news agency reported. – Associated Press

Iran’s supreme leader called on the country’s elite military force to work on strengthening its weapon capabilities and produce more of its own military equipment. – Bloomberg

British and Chinese nuclear delegations are visiting Iran to discuss the redesigning and upgrading of the country’s heavy water reactor in Arak, Central Province, semi-official news agency ISNA reported on Monday, October 14. – Radio Farda

Iranian Kurds have come out into streets on Saturday protesting Turkey’s incursion into Syria’s Kurdish populated and controlled northeast, multiple social media images show. – Radio Farda

Iran announced on Sunday that it has discovered a new natural gas reserve with the capacity to produce nearly 400 million barrels of gas condensate, which could generate a total of $40 billion. – CNN

Iran offered on Saturday to engage Syrian Kurds, Syria’s government and Turkey in talks to establish security along the Turkish-Syrian border following Turkey’s military incursion into northern Syria to fight Kurdish forces. – Reuters

Leakage of cargo from an Iranian-owned oil tanker apparently hit by missiles in Red Sea waters off Saudi Arabia has been stopped as it heads for the Gulf, the semi-official Iranian news agency Mehr reported on Saturday. – Reuters

Pakistan will do its utmost to enable talks between arch regional rivals Iran and Saudi Arabia, Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan said on Sunday in Tehran, adding that he will travel to Saudi Arabia on Tuesday. – Reuters 

The conflict between Iran and the U.S. that has created tensions throughout much of the Middle East is now also being felt in Lebanon, where Washington has slapped sanctions on the Iran-backed Hezbollah and warned they could soon expand to its allies, further deepening the tiny Arab country’s economic crisis. – Associated Press


Syrian troops entered areas that have been outside their control for years on Monday, after a quickly forged pact between Kurdish forces and the Syrian government to confront a Turkish military campaign reshaped alliances in Syria. – Wall Street Journal 

The U.S. began pulling back from northeastern Syria, evacuating a small contingent of American diplomats and relocating troops as Turkey pressed its military campaign against Kurdish forces, displacing tens of thousands of people. – Wall Street Journal 

The escalating chaos in northern Syria as Turkey presses forward with its attack on the United States’ erstwhile Kurdish allies is raising fears about the fate of thousands of Islamic State detainees that the Kurds have been holding in makeshift wartime prisons. – New York Times

That operation, in the middle of the American-led campaign against the Islamic State in Syria, showed the extent to which the United States military was willing to protect the Syrian Kurds, its main ally on the ground. But now, with the White House revoking protection for these Kurdish fighters, some of the Special Forces officers who battled alongside the Kurds say they feel deep remorse at orders to abandon their allies. – New York Times

President Trump’s acquiescence to Turkey’s move to send troops deep inside Syrian territory has in only one week’s time turned into a bloody carnage, forced the abandonment of a successful five-year-long American project to keep the peace on a volatile border, and given an unanticipated victory to four American adversaries: Russia, Iran, the Syrian government and the Islamic State. – New York Times

Late Saturday night, the Trump administration pulled about 1,000 U.S. troops out of northern Syria, a move that threw the country — and region — into chaos. The hastily announced decision is the latest swerve in an ever-shifting foreign policy on the country. – Washington Post 

It has taken a week to reshape the map of the Syrian war, in the seven days since President Donald Trump used what he called his “great and unmatched wisdom” to order the withdrawal of US troops from northern Syria. – BBC 

Former Defense Secretary James Mattis, who led the Pentagon through the first two years of the Trump administration, warned during an exclusive interview with NBC’s “Meet the Press” that the president’s decision to pull troops from Syria’s border in advance of a Turkish incursion could have dire consequences and lead to ISIS’s resurgence. – NBC News

About 950 people associated with the Islamic State escaped a Syrian camp where they were being held as Turkish forces close in on Kurdish-held areas. – Washington Examiner 

President Trump defended his decision to withdraw U.S. troops from northern Syria while also blaming the Kurds for ISIS prisoners being released. – Washington Examiner 

The Pentagon on Monday announced the official withdrawal of U.S. forces from northeastern Syria. – The Hill 

Editorial: By now it’s not unreasonable to conclude that Mr. Trump’s foreign policy can be distilled into two tactics—sanctions and tariffs. Mr. Trump wields them willy-nilly against friend and foe alike as substitutes for diplomacy and the credible threat of military force. Mr. Trump won’t like to hear it, but the Syrian mess is hurting him at home too. – Wall Street Journal

Editorial: A few days ago there were valid options to answer the question of what the United States could do in response to the invasion. Harsh sanctions and other actions might have compelled Turkey to pull back, allowing for American troops to restore the status quo. Now the only alternative to Turkish control of the north is Mr. Assad’s control of the north. – New York Times

Editorial: More immediately, the U.S. and Europe need to rally international support for the Kurds and provide extensive humanitarian assistance for the refugees. In addition to imposing strong sanctions, the U.S. Congress should do everything in its power to prevail on Trump to reverse his senseless decision to end the American military presence in Syria — not least to brace for the inevitable resurgence of the Islamic State. – Bloomberg

David D. Kirkpatrick, Ben Hubbard, and David M. Halbfinger write: President Trump’s surprise acquiescence to a Turkish incursion into northern Syria this week has shaken American allies, and not just because it was a betrayal of a loyal partner. What alarmed them even more was his sheer unpredictability. – New York Times

Walter Russell Mead writes: The only man in Washington under more pressure than Mr. Pompeo is Mr. Trump. This president is a unique historical figure whose unconventional approach to politics has reshaped American political life. But at the moment Mr. Trump has lost control of the international agenda and faces some of the greatest risks of his presidency. His survival in office and his place in history both depend on putting American foreign policy on a more solid footing, and the clock is against him. – Wall Street Journal

Bret Stephens writes: It’s a signal that Americans are the friends you never want: there for you when, and only when, it’s convenient for them. It’s evidence that our moral values are tissue paper around the glass fragments of our president’s ego. It’s proof that the idealism that stormed Normandy, fed Europe, democratized Japan, and kept West Berlin free belongs to an increasingly remote past. – New York Times

David Ignatius writes: It’s probably impossible for Americans to fully grasp the sense of betrayal felt by the Syrian Kurds, who suffered 11,000 dead and 24,000 wounded in a war that we asked them to fight. But perhaps we can understand the shame and outrage of the Special Operations forces who fought alongside them and now see the Kurds cast aside to face their Turkish enemies alone. – Washington Post

Wladimir van Wilgenburg writes: As a result, the SDF took the bitter decision to invite the Syrian government to come to the border territories of northern Syria to stop further Turkish attacks and extension into Syrian territory. However, an SDF source says that so far, Syrian forces have only been deployed in Manbij and Kobani. Therefore, it remains to be seen in the coming months if Turkey will continue its operations, and if Damascus and Russia allow Turkey to further expand. – Washington Institute

Ketti Davison writes: The U.S. has pursued a maximum pressure campaign against Iran, but this decision just opened the door for them in Eastern Syria. Despite what our National Security Strategy claims, with this decision, America is no longer leading on the world stage. – Institute for the Study of War 

Ian Bremmer writes: Trump may have been doing this to score a victory with his political base as impeachment looms… but in the process ticked off the one group of people—congressional Republicans—he needs to stay in office. If this move really blows up in his face—if there is an uptick in U.S. casualties or ISIS suddenly resurges—it may be enough to cause some GOP senators to turn on him. – Time


President Trump authorized sanctions and raised steel tariffs on Turkey, while threatening more-powerful financial penalties if Ankara continued a military offensive in northern Syria launched after Mr. Trump decided to withdraw U.S. troops from the region. – Wall Street Journal

Turkish forces that launched multiple artillery rounds near a U.S. Special Operations outpost in northeastern Syria on Friday have known for months that Americans were there, according to four current and former U.S. officials, raising questions whether Turkey is trying to push American troops farther from the border. – Washington Post

European leaders said Monday that they were facing new security threats as a result of Turkey’s offensive in Syria, but they mostly trained their anger on Ankara, not on Washington’s sudden decision to pull out from the region. – Washington Post

Vice President Mike Pence said that he would soon be leading a delegation to Turkey and that President Trump spoke with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and called for an “immediate end” to Turkey’s invasion of Syria. – Washington Examiner 

The British government has refused to join its allies in halting arms sales to Turkey over the country’s military operation against Kurdish forces in Syria. – Independent

France’s president said on Sunday he had told Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan and U.S. President Donald Trump in telephone calls that the Turkish offensive in Syria had to stop immediately and that it risked creating a humanitarian crisis. – Reuters

President Donald Trump said Monday that he is prepared to “swiftly destroy” Turkey’s economy with sanctions if it continues its attack against US-allied Kurds in northeastern Syria — provoking a “let’s see” response from some analysts and Turkey experts. – CNN

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg on Monday defended his stance on Turkey’s attack on Kurdish militants in northeastern Syria as he came under pressure from some members of the NATO Parliamentary Assembly to be tougher with Ankara. – Reuters

President Tayyip Erdogan explained to French President Emmanuel Macron the aims of Turkey’s operation in northeastern Syria in a phone call, the Turkish presidency said on Monday. – Reuters

Editorial: Some sages claim Mr. Trump made this concession to Turkey as part of a strategy to win Mr. Erdogan’s support against Iran. But Mr. Erdogan has undermined America’s Iran sanctions in the past. And on Friday Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said Mr. Trump had given him “very significant new sanctions authorities” against individuals in the Turkish government if their invasion goes too far. – Wall Street Journal

Soner Cagaptay writes: President Trump also invited Erdogan to the White House on November 13—a date that may serve as a deadline for Ankara to do what it feels it must in Syria. Yet if the incursion causes massive civilian casualties or other major problems, it may trigger heavy congressional sanctions well before then. – Washington Institute

Yigal Carmon writes: In view of President Trump’s warning to Turkey that if it “does anything” that he “consider[s] to be off limits” he will “totally destroy and obliterate the Economy of Turkey,” it is worth considering the analysis below which explains why the president is, in fact, unable to do this. – Middle East Media Research Institute


Naama Issachar was boarding a connecting flight at the Moscow airport on her way home to Israel last April when the authorities found a few grams of marijuana in her luggage, an amount so small her lawyer predicted it would draw a slap on the wrist. But on Friday, when a Russian court sentenced her to seven and a half years in prison on drug possession and smuggling charges, it became clear that Ms. Issachar, an Israeli-American citizen, had become an unwitting player in a proposed international prisoner swap. – New York Times

The lawyer of an Israeli jailed in Russia for drug offenses said on Tuesday the extradition of a Russian hacker to the United States will “complicate our situation.”  – Ynet

Editorial: To keep Israel’s longest border not only secure but also flourishing over the long run, and to preserve the huge historic achievement by the peace agreement’s signatories, it isn’t enough to maintain clandestine ties among security agencies, no matter how close those ties are. The Israeli government must be more sensitive to its neighbors to the east, especially regarding Jordan’s special status at Jerusalem’s Islamic holy sites, and prevent baseless, irresponsible talk implying that the Palestinian people belong in Jordan. – Haaretz

Michael Rubin writes: If Netanyahu truly believes that Turkey, a state that assists Iranian sanctions-busting and supports groups like Hamas and the Islamic State, should be stopped in its Syrian land grab and that the “gallant Kurdish people” deserve outside support, he should provide them with that they need most. Otherwise, he once again does the Kurds a disservice with empty posturing. – Washington Examiner

Amos Harel writes: This is the Moscow that has gained such influence in the Middle East thanks to the withdrawal by Obama and Trump. There should be no more illusions regarding Russia – there are no sentiments there for Israel’s worries or special circumstances. – Haaretz

Arabian Peninsula

The Pentagon will deploy an additional 1,800 troops to Saudi Arabia, senior defense officials said Friday, a modest increase in the U.S. military’s presence in the Middle East meant to deter Iranian aggression. – Washington Post 

Russian President Vladimir Putin landed in Riyadh on Monday for his first state visit to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates in more than a decade, emphasizing not only coordination between three of the biggest oil producers in the world but also Moscow’s growing influence in the Middle East. – Washington Post

Several years of adroit diplomacy and politicking have left Russia in a new and untested position in the Middle East: It is the one country all sides can talk to. – Washington Post 

Saudi Arabian forces have taken over control of Yemen’s southern port of Aden as part of efforts to end a power struggle between the Saudi-backed Yemeni government and southern separatists, four sources familiar with the matter said. – Reuters

A Saudi minister said on Sunday that Riyadh was not behind a suspected strike against an Iranian-owned oil tanker in the Red Sea, which Iranian state-run television said was hit on Friday by missiles but denied reports they came from Saudi Arabia. – Reuters


The interim trade pact announced Friday between the United States and China came together as both countries’ leaders faced mounting political pressures and rising economic worries at home. – New York Times

A partial US-China deal may only offer a temporary tariff reprieve because it lacks specifics and leaves the thorny issues for later, analysts said, allowing both economic powers to claim success. – Agence France-Presse

Hunter Biden is stepping down from the board of a Chinese-backed private equity company and promising to forgo all foreign work if his father, former U.S. Vice President Joe Biden, is elected president in 2020. – Bloomberg 

New tariffs on $156bn of Chinese goods will be imposed if a trade deal is not finalised by 15 December, the US Treasury Secretary has warned. Steven Mnuchin said he still hoped a tentative US-China deal agreed last week to suspend fresh tariffs would be formally approved. – BBC

The Chinese Communist Party has gained the ability to spy on more than 100 million citizens via a heavily promoted official app, a report suggests. – BBC

Editorial: Assuming the truce holds through the 2020 election, Mr. Trump may believe he can then resume negotiations in a stronger position vis-a-vis China. He made no concessions on Huawei, the Chinese telecom company whose chief financial officer has been charged with fraud in an attempt to evade U.S. sanctions against Iran. If Huawei is a threat to U.S. national security, then it should be considered separately from these trade talks. – Wall Street Journal 

Sean Patrick Maloney writes: Turning away members of Congress is only the latest step. Chinese officials would be wise to accept that the U.S. has an abiding interest in fulfilling its obligations under the 1979 Taiwan Relations Act, which calls for robust unofficial ties between the U.S. and Taiwan. Ham-handed and obtusely enforced pressure campaigns, such as the one targeting my delegation, will invigorate congressional support for Taiwan. – Wall Street Journal


Tens of thousands of protesters waving U.S. flags and with the Star-Spangled Banner blaring from loudspeakers gathered in downtown Hong Kong late Monday to call for U.S. lawmakers to pass legislation that would increase scrutiny of freedoms in the city. – Wall Street Journal 

Hong Kong’s more hardline pro-democracy protesters have embraced increased violence towards private property, businesses and even people, triggering some soul-searching within the movement. But few moderates are willing to abandon their more radical comrades. – Agence France-Presse

President Xi Jinping has warned that any attempts to split China would result in “bodies smashed and bones ground to powder”, amid four months of anti-Beijing unrest in Hong Kong. – Agence France-Presse 

Joseph Bosco writes: The damage to U.S. honor and credibility has only just begun, and the most terrible consequences are yet to unfold as Moscow, Beijing, Pyongyang and Teheran perceive that Erdogan has taken Trump’s measure. […]The administration’s superb national security team on Asia has strived mightily to carry out the critical missions set forth in the National Security Strategy, the National Defense Strategy and the Indo-Pacific Strategy Report. Their task has been made significantly more challenging because of this week’s events in Syria, short of a policy reversal there and/or a stepped-up deterrent campaign in the Indo-Pacific. – The Hill


Thousands renewed protests against President Volodymyr Zelensky’s plan to end a simmering conflict with Russia by withdrawing Ukrainian forces and holding elections in Ukrainian territories controlled by Russian-backed separatists. – Wall Street Journal 

Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a key deal Monday with Saudi Arabia during a key visit for an OPEC+ grouping aimed at stabilising global oil prices and seeking to calm regional tensions with Iran. – Agence France-Presse

Lithuania wants NATO to reframe its mission of protecting the Baltic airspace with more of a combat punch in mind, as nations in the region consider their defensive posture toward Russia. – Defense News 

For an anxious Lithuania staring down the barrel of Russia’s heavily fortified Baltic enclave at Kaliningrad, military officials will relish the rumble of U.S. tanks rolling through the country. – Defense News 

U.S. President Donald Trump said on Friday he will nominate U.S. Deputy Secretary of State John Sullivan to be the U.S. ambassador to Russia. – Reuters

Lawrence J. Haas writes: Washington must not join the appeasement bandwagon. It should expand U.S. sanctions on Moscow in the face of Putin’s increasingly aggressive behavior and provide additional military aid to Kyiv as needed. At the same time, U.S. officials should prod Zelensky to build upon recent Ukrainian reforms in health and other areas that will improve governance, enhance living standards, and give Washington more reason to embrace the embattled state. To date, he has sent mixed signals about whether he’s serious about reform. – The Hill


Spain’s highest court sentenced nine Catalan separatist leaders to between nine and 13 years in jail for their role in an illegal independence referendum, a sentence that triggered protests and will likely play a central role in Spain’s national elections next month. – Wall Street Journal 

A crucial week for Brexit began Monday with Queen Elizabeth II presenting Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s vision for Britain outside the European Union during a pomp-filled ceremony to reopen parliament. – Wall Street Journal 

A deal to smooth Britain’s departure from the European Union hung in the balance on Monday after diplomats indicated the bloc wanted more concessions from Prime Minister Boris Johnson and said a full agreement was unlikely this week. – Reuters

Brexit divorce talks in Brussels are making such slow progress that three European Union nations predicted Monday the negotiations could spill beyond this week’s crucial Brexit summit. – Associated Press 

Germany’s security services said Tuesday they’re seeking greater powers to fight the kind of far-right extremism behind last week’s synagogue attack, including requiring internet companies to report illegal hate speech to police. – Associated Press 

The priority of Britain’s government is to leave the European Union on Oct. 31, Queen Elizabeth said on Monday, setting out Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s program for a country deeply divided over Brexit. – Reuters

British and EU negotiators agreed Friday to intensify efforts to find a new Brexit withdrawal agreement, just days before a key European summit. – Agence France-Presse 


Gunmen killed about 15 people in an attack on a mosque in northern Burkina Faso during prayers on Friday evening, a security source and a local official told Reuters. […]An Islamist insurgency by groups with links to Islamic State and al Qaeda has crossed into Burkina Faso this year from neighboring Mali, igniting ethnic and religious tensions, especially in northern regions. – Reuters

Police in northern Nigeria rescued nearly 70 men and boys from a second purported Islamic school where they were shackled and subjected to “inhuman and degrading treatments.” – Reuters

At least ten Kenyan police were killed when their vehicle struck a homemade bomb near the border with Somalia on Saturday, according to a police report seen by Reuters. Police believe the device, for which no one immediately claimed responsibility, was planted by Islamist group Al Shabaab, the report said. – Reuters

Latin America

Ecuador began counting the cost Monday of 12 days of indigenous protests against fuel hikes that left eight demonstrators dead and severely dented President Lenin Moreno’s austerity program. […]The cuts were part of an austerity package to obtain a $4.2 billion loan from the International Monetary Fund to shore up the oil exporter’s brittle economy. – Agence France-Presse

Venezuelan authorities on Saturday denied Guatemala’s president-elect Alejandro Giammattei entry into Venezuela, where he was scheduled to meet with opposition leader Juan Guaido. – Reuters

Nikki Haley writes: The United States must continue to fight for the protection of human rights and human dignity. That is who we are. But the fight cannot be ours alone. If the U.N. General Assembly elects Costa Rica instead of Venezuela, we will know that a majority of the world’s countries agree. – Miami Herald


Guided-missile destroyer USS Porter (DDG-78) is operating in the Black Sea as part of the Navy’s ongoing presence operation in the region, Turkey-based ship spotters posted on social media on Saturday. – USNI News 

At a pair of special meetings on Friday morning, shareholders approved the United Technologies’ purchase of Raytheon, paving the way for creating a defense industry behemoth. – USNI News 

The U.S. Army is wading into a major science and technology development area to build a strategic, long-range cannon — one that can shoot a projectile 1,000 nautical miles — and plans to put the program through its first test soon, according to Col. John Rafferty, who is in charge of executing modernization efforts for the service’s top priority, long-range precision fires. – Defense News 

The U.S. Army is preparing to embark on a third all-encompassing deep dive into its budget to ensure it properly allocated money to cover its ambitious modernization efforts. And while the process may be getting easier, the decisions will get tougher. – Defense News 

After conducting a third test launch of the ground-launched small diameter bomb this month, Boeing and Saab now believe they have the data necessary to move the munition into production, company officials said Monday. – Defense News 

Rare is the flying machine whose most interesting feature comes into play when it is sits stationary on the ground. Bell’s APT-70 tiltbody is, primarily, a resupply vehicle, a flying solution pitched at meeting urgent needs in small landing zones. – C4ISRNET 

New simulation technology will ensure the next generation of military antennas have the anti-spoofing and anti-jamming capabilities contractors claim they do. War fighters rely on accurate positioning, navigation and timing data on the battlefield, primarily using the Air Force’s space-based GPS signal for that information. – C4ISRNET 

Fifth-generation telecommunications technology, known as 5G, and data-driven decision-making are changing how the Army operates and what the service’s workforce will need. – C4ISRNET 

The U.S. Army has had a role in space for years, from soldiers that operate satellites to roles as astronauts, and the service is reliant on the domain for communications and surveillance. But as the United States expands its mission in space, things are heating up for the typically terrestrial service. – Defense News 

Lockheed Martin is designing a future attack reconnaissance aircraft for the U.S. Army using its Raider X2 coaxial technology with a focus on how it will perform “at the X.” – Defense News 

The Army is moving into the final phase of bringing its electronic warfare visualization and planning tool to the entire force. – C4ISRNET 

The Defense Department is making headway to build a hypersonic weapons industry in the Untied States, and the Army is spearheading the manufacturing of a key component that will be used by all the services — the Common Hypersonic Glide Body. – Defense News 

As the U.S. Army begins to replace its existing fleet with fresh platforms that will form a force capable of countering adversaries across multiple domains and theaters, the acquisition side of the house will face tough choices. – C4ISRNET 

Missile Defense

The U.S. Army is expected imminently to choose a winner to build a new radar for the Patriot air and missile defense system, and Raytheon has boldly brought its massive 360-degree offering in the competition to the Association of the U.S. Army’s annual conference. – C4ISRNET 

The U.S. Army will adjust its maximum range requirement following critical test shots of the two precision strike missiles competitively under development by Raytheon and Lockheed Martin later this year, according to Brig Gen. John Rafferty, who is in charge of the service’s long-range precision fires modernization effort. – Defense News 

The U.S. Army’s major missile defense command-and-control system is headed toward a critical test in 2020 that is essentially a redo after the system was unsuccessful in its first attempt at entering production in 2016. – Defense News 

A debate on the future of aircraft carriers is roiling the U.S. Department of Defense, and it is increasingly spilling out into the open. […]At issue is a choice about continuing to invest in aircraft carriers and the associated air wing — the mainstay of U.S. global power projection since World War II — or to gradually reduce investment in those systems and increase investment in new capabilities such as long-range conventional hypersonic missiles. – Defense News 

Long War

European states are trying to fast-track a plan to shift thousands of foreign Islamic State militants out of Syrian prison camps and into Iraq, after the outbreak of fresh conflict in Syria raised the risk of jihadists escaping or returning home. – Reuters

NATO powers might sanction Turkey over the assault on U.S. partners that has “resulted in the release of many dangerous ISIS detainees,” Defense Secretary Mark Esper said. –Washington Examiner 

A man who drove his car at members of the public and police officers outside Britain’s parliament last year in what authorities treated as a terrorist attack was sentenced to life in prison on Monday. – Reuters

A French court on Monday handed down sentences of at least 25 years in jail for two women with ties to Islamist militants who made a failed attempt to set off a crude car bomb outside Paris’s Notre-Dame cathedral three years ago, Le Figaro newspaper reported. – Reuters

Denmark will fast-track legislation allowing people with dual citizenship who have gone abroad to fight for militant groups like Islamic State to be stripped of their Danish nationality, Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen said on Monday. – Reuters

Graeme Wood writes: The celebration in ISIS’s propaganda does not automatically mean that the group is resurgent. (A car bomb here and there does not a caliphate make.) But ISIS is an opportunistic infection, and the chaos of the moment leaves the group with an attractive opportunity. – The Atlantic

Trump Administration

The effort to pressure Ukraine for political help provoked a heated confrontation inside the White House last summer that so alarmed John R. Bolton, then the national security adviser, that he told an aide to alert White House lawyers, House investigators were told on Monday. – New York Times

Fiona Hill, the White House’s former top Russia adviser, told impeachment investigators on Monday that Rudolph W. Giuliani, the president’s personal lawyer, ran a shadow foreign policy in Ukraine that circumvented U.S. officials and career diplomats in order to personally benefit President Trump, according to people familiar with her testimony. – Washington Post

Lawmakers returning to Washington this week will find a political landscape transformed by the impeachment inquiry in the House and President Trump’s withdrawal of U.S. troops from northern Syria. – Wall Street Journal 

President Trump bristled at accounts on Saturday that his personal lawyer, Rudolph W. Giuliani, had become a focus of a widening criminal investigation into his dealings in Ukraine, insisting that Mr. Giuliani was a “crime buster” and target of a “witch hunt.” – New York Times

Two candidates with starkly different backgrounds sit at the top of President Trump’s list of possible replacements for outgoing acting Department of Homeland Security Secretary Kevin McAleenan, according to three current and former senior DHS officials familiar with the discussions. – Washington Examiner 

The acting head of US Homeland Security, Kevin McAleenan, has resigned after six months in the post. In a tweet, President Donald Trump said Mr McAleenan wanted to spend more time with his family. He said his replacement would be named next week. – BCC

Bilal Y. Saab writes: The key actors involved in security cooperation—the White House, Congress, Department of Defense, and Department of State—do not have a unified understanding of security cooperation: what it’s supposed to achieve, how to use and improve it, and how to tell if it’s working. Moreover, they have failed to coordinate their efforts on various matters including oversight and accountability. – Middle East Institute