Fdd's overnight brief

October 18, 2021

In The News


Iran is to resume nuclear negotiations with world powers on October 21 that were suspended in June, an Iranian lawmaker said Sunday after a meeting with Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian. – Agence France-Presse 

Iranian naval forces intervened on Saturday to repel pirates who attacked an Iranian oil tanker in the Gulf of Aden, Iran’s state media reported. – Reuters 

Hezbollah helps Iran to project power across the region. Its secretary general, Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah, is a leading figure in the Iran-led “Axis of Resistance”, which aims to counter Israel, the United States and its Arab allies. – Reuters 

An Iranian appeals court has upheld a verdict sentencing an Iranian-British woman long held in Tehran to another year in prison, her lawyer said Saturday. – Associated Press 

The United States and its closest partners are stepping up pressure on Iran to return to stalled nuclear negotiations, warning that it will face greater international isolation, new economic penalties and possibly military action if it forges ahead with its atomic program. – Associated Press 

A court sentenced the former governor of Iran’s central bank to 10 years in prison for violating the country’s currency system, a judiciary spokesperson said Saturday. – Associated Press 

Both politicians and security officials in Israel increasingly suspect that Iran is purposely stalling, and has no interest in quickly resuming the talks on signing a new nuclear accord. According to their assessments, the Iranians are using the time to continue enriching uranium. The United States is more aware of this situation than it was a few months ago, but Israel suspects its ally has no real intention of applying substantial pressure on Tehran. – Haaretz 

Former Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was forced to leave the United Arab Emirates after he arrived in the country to visit the Expo 2020 in Dubai, due to the recommendation of Emirati officials, according to Iranian Fars News. – Jerusalem Post 

John Hannah writes: As Iran crashes through one nuclear red line after another, the day when Israel is forced to act could be much closer than many people think. Given the unprecedented threat to Israel’s existence that an Iranian nuclear bomb would entail, the United States should do everything in its power to arm its closest Middle Eastern ally, which could very soon be the final obstacle standing between Iran and the bomb. – Foreign Policy 

Joseph R. DeTrani writes: Khan showed the world that one serial proliferator can provide the technology and know-how necessary to a few nation-states interested in acquiring nuclear weapons. Ensuring that Iran doesn’t acquire a nuclear weapon and that North Korea denuclearizes completely and verifiably is necessary if we want to ensure that other countries — especially in East Asia and the Middle East — do not pursue their own nuclear weapons programs. – The Hill 

Simon Henderson writes: An Iranian opposition group has reported that the new nuclear chief Eslami, a civil engineer by training, was a key link with Khan in the 1990s. In Khan’s diaries are several references to “the Engineer.” I once asked Khan this person’s identity, but he never gave me a proper answer. Perhaps it was Eslami. – The Hill 


A complex suicide attack on a Shiite mosque in southern Afghanistan’s main city of Kandahar killed at least 65 worshipers Friday, breaking two months of relative peace in the Taliban’s historic stronghold and highlighting the threat posed by a spreading presence of Islamic State. – Wall Street Journal  

Pentagon offered unspecified condolence payments this week to the family of the 10 civilians, including seven children, who the military has acknowledged were mistakenly killed on Aug. 29 in the last U.S. drone strike before American troops withdrew from Afghanistan. – New York Times 

The push to resettle the first wave of Afghan evacuees brought to the U.S. is expected to take months longer than first anticipated as a measles scare, a nationwide housing shortage and paperwork delays have slowed the process, according to government and resettlement officials familiar with the effort. – Wall Street Journal 

Taliban authorities pledged to step up security at Shi’ite mosques as hundreds of people gathered on Saturday to bury the victims of the second Islamic State suicide attack on worshippers in a week. – Reuters 

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken spoke with Qatari Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani about Afghanistan on Sunday, the U.S. State Department said. – Reuters 

Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle say constant finger-pointing between the Pentagon and State Department is making it difficult to get a full accounting of the messy withdrawal from Afghanistan. – The Hill 

A visiting Kazakh presidential envoy has discussed humanitarian assistance to Afghanistan and the resumption of trade and economic ties with top members of the Taliban-led administration. – Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty  

Uzbek officials have met with representatives of Afghanistan’s Taliban-led government to discuss cooperation in trade, border security, and humanitarian aid, Uzbekistan’s Foreign Ministry said. – Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty  


The death of a former Syrian Druse lawmaker, allegedly by Israeli sniper fire, could mark a new phase in what Israel calls its war against Iranian entrenchment in neighboring Syria. – Associated Press 

United Nations Special Envoy for Syria said on Sunday the government and opposition co-chairs of the Syrian Constitutional Committee had agreed to draft a new constitution. – Reuters 

Syrian government shelling of a rebel-held town near the border with Turkey on Saturday killed four people and wounded more than a dozen, Syrian opposition activists said. – Associated Press 


Angela Merkel’s final visit to Turkey as German chancellor on Saturday saw two of Europe’s longest serving leaders pay tribute to one another as Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan hosted her for farewell talks overlooking the Bosporus. – Associated Press 

Ezgi Yazici writes: Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s failure to work effectively with the United States and its NATO allies undermines his position with Russia and enables Putin to take advantage of Turkey’s strategic vulnerabilities. Ankara’s balancing act between the United States and Russia depends on maintaining Turkey’s strategic importance and relevance for both states, leverage that Erdogan may be losing. – Institute for the Study of War 

Michael Rubin writes: The lira, Turkey’s currency, is in free fall. A decade ago, it traded at 1.83 to the US dollar. Five years ago, it hovered around three to the dollar. Last week it surpassed nine to the dollar and, on Friday, it closed at 9.27. That the Turkish lira could drop an order of magnitude might sound farfetched, but it is not for a simple reason: Turkey’s foreign reserves are missing. – 19fortyfive 

Seth J. Frantzman writes: Turkey is threatening a new military offensive in northern Syria aimed at the Kurdish minority in Tel Rifat. These are Kurds who were ethnically cleansed from Afrin by Turkey and its extremist Syrian allies in 2018. – Jerusalem Post  

Aaron Stein writes: The U.S. Congress has made clear that future arms exports depend on resolving the S-400 issue. The Biden administration has, since taking power, shown deference to congressional prerogative on this issue. The likelihood for stalemate in the U.S. system is high. Turkish officials would be wise to seriously consider a compromise on the S-400. The future of the Turkish Air Force is murky and a single S-400 regiment is not worth the problems it will cause. – War on the Rocks


Israel does not want war with Hezbollah, but is prepared to face about 2,000 rockets a day from the terror group if conflict breaks out, a senior Israeli military official told AFP. – Agence France-Presse 

Sweden’s foreign minister will make the first official visit to Israel in a decade, the government said Sunday, following seven years of rocky ties after Stockholm recognized Palestinian statehood. – Agence France-Presse 

Indian Foreign Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar lauded the business relationship between his country and Israel on Sunday, saying at a meeting with CEOs and government officials that India regards Israel “in many ways as perhaps our most trusted and innovative partner.” – Times of Israel 

Hamas authorities in the Gaza Strip sentenced two men to death on allegations that they had collaborated with Israel, according to Sunday reports – Times of Israel  

Opposition Leader and former Israeli premier Benjamin Netanyahu accused Prime Minister Naftali Bennett of endangering Israel’s security and ensuring Iran acquires nuclear weapons, following a report in CNN. – Arutz Sheva  

Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett is set to travel to Moscow this coming Friday for his first meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin since Bennett took office earlier this year. – Arutz Sheva  

James Jay Carafano and Adam Milstein write: So here is the worry. Do the Squad and their ilk really believe the region would be better off if the Islamist voices from the Muslim Brotherhood to the Mullahs in Tehran were empowered? The short answer appears to be “yes.” If true, then blocking Iron Dome is the opposite of a humanitarian impulse. It is a warning light that there is a deep sickness in the American left, like a black hole with a powerful gravitational force pulling the president’s party in a dangerous direction. – The National Interest 


Standing at a podium with an Iraqi flag by his side, the cleric Muqtada al-Sadr looked the part of a statesman as he read a postelection address. […]Although still unpredictable, the cleric is consistently an Iraqi nationalist and now seems to be emerging as an arm’s-length American ally, helping the United States by preventing Iraq from tilting further into Iran’s axis. – New York Times 

Iraq’s election was a disaster for the pro-Iranian former paramilitary force Hashed al-Shaabi, with voters desperate for an economic recovery rather than shows of military muscle. – Agence France-Presse  

Chloe Cornish writes: The poll confirmed Sadr’s ability to marshal more electoral clout than any other Iraqi leader. […]Despite controlling parliament’s largest bloc, Sadr must haggle over a new cabinet with other factions, some of which are armed and reject the election results. And with many Iraqis arguing that his own people are corrupt, Sadr’s claim that “all the corrupt will be held accountable” will now be tested. – Financial Times  

Seth J. Frantzman writes: Iran, unlike the Saddam regime or the regimes of Assad and Turkey, has never sought to erase the Kurds or genocide them. But Iran’s close relationship with Kurds in Iraq doesn’t mean it has the best interests of the autonomous region at heart. It wants the region divided. – Jerusalem Post 

Munqith Dagher writes: However, the Iraqi state’s current military capabilities are supported by the Atabat and the Sadrist militias, and these combined forces may be enough to prevent the losing factions from aggravating tensions. Even with what seems to be a reduced willingness of Iran to support its followers in Iraq and escalate the security threats there, the government and international community alike should remain vigilant to these possibilities to prevent the alternative of being caught off-guard. – Washington Institute 

Jennifer Cafarella and Caroline Rose write: The United States needs a more calibrated withdrawal plan in Iraq. Retaining U.S. advisors is necessary as a counterweight to Iran but is not sufficient to achieve sustainable security and governance conditions. The United States will continue to face pressure in Iraq from Iran’s proxies, who remain committed to escalating until all U.S. forces withdraw. Retreat in Iraq is fueling instability, not mitigating it. The United States must reorient on a long-term mission to stabilize Iraq based on its needs rather than continue a misguided acquiescence to Iran. – The National Interest 


Calm has largely been restored to the streets of Beirut after Thursday’s clashes, which killed six people and wounded more than 30 others. Lebanese military special forces patrolled the area Friday and set up checkpoints at the entrance of the neighborhoods rocked by the fighting. – Wall Street Journal 

The recent appointment of a new prime minister in Lebanon after more than a year of political bickering brought at least a small glimmer of hope to a country on its knees: a massive financial collapse, a huge chemical explosion, a chronic shortage of electricity and the absence of a government empowered to take action. – Washington Post 

The deadly clashes that broke out in Beirut on Thursday amounted to a “massacre” and its perpetrators should be held to account, the pro-Iranian al-Mayadeen TV cited a Hezbollah representative in the Lebanese parliament as saying on Sunday. – Reuters  

The head of the Christian Lebanese Forces party (LF) denied late on Friday his group had planned street violence in Beirut that killed seven people, and said a meeting held the day before was purely political. – Reuters 

Mohammad Bazzi writes: Today, the Lebanese are being offered a choice by the ruling parties and ex-warlords that have devastated their country: Forget accountability for the port explosion or risk all-out conflict on the streets. But this has been Lebanon’s false choice — between impunity and chaos — since the end of the civil war. The Lebanese compromised on accountability three decades ago, and yet their rulers have consistently failed to provide stability. – Washington Post  

Christophe Abi-Nassif writes: The United States should continue to support and empower an impartial and independent investigation into the Beirut port explosion with the Lebanese judiciary at its core and the international community in a supporting role as required. In the meantime, contingency planning is needed in the increasingly likely event of the establishment sacking Bitar and appointing a puppet judge to dilute the investigation. Actions could include closely coordinating with the Europeans to impose targeted and synchronized sanctions on anyone attempting to impede justice; which Lebanese and international organizations have consistently been calling for; and potentially releasing any information or intelligence reports that individual countries have already gathered on the blast. – Middle East Institute 

Anchal Vohra writes: Beirut’s battle for truth seems to have rattled the powers that be. But those powers still have guns and have now shown they are willing to use them. And that means, for the sake of keeping peace, the Lebanese might have to, once again, give up on justice. – Foreign Policy 

Arabian Peninsula

Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan said on Friday that Iran’s acceleration of its nuclear activities is putting the world in “a very dangerous place” amid efforts to bring Tehran back into a 2015 nuclear deal. – Reuters 

Yemen’s rebels continued their weekslong blockade of a district in the central province of Marib, cutting off humanitarian aid and halting movement of its 37,000 people, officials and U.N. aid workers said Sunday. – Associated Press 

President Biden came into office calling Saudi Arabia a “pariah” and promising to put human rights at the center of his foreign policy. But advocates and regional experts say the president has failed to impose serious costs on Riyadh, while emboldening the kingdom’s day-to-day ruler, Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman, to act with impunity when it comes to respecting human rights, including the targeting of dissidents. – The Hill 

Middle East & North Africa

When part of one of Tunisia’s only monuments to its 2011 revolution disappeared earlier this year, not many noticed. Some residents of Le Kram, a suburb of the capital, Tunis, say the plaque bearing the names of eight locals killed while protesting was broken off by someone with a mental illness. Others say a passing drunk was to blame. – New York Times 

United Nations inspectors have completed their examination of a small aircraft stored in Cyprus that was reportedly suspected of violating a U.N. arms embargo on Libya, an aviation official in the east Mediterranean island nation said Friday. – Associated Press

A threat to cut off gas supplies, allegations of support for a separatist group and renewed strains over disputed territory — relations between Algeria and Morocco, arch rivals who once fought a border war, have worsened in recent weeks. – Financial Times  

The Moroccan government announced on Saturday that it is about to review and ratify two bilateral cooperation treaties with Israel, potentially further boosting the ties between the countries, i24NEWS reported. – Arutz Sheva  


When Kevin Rudd, the former Australian prime minister and longtime China expert, told a German newsmagazine recently that a Cold War between Beijing and Washington was “probable and not just possible,” his remarks rocketed around the White House, where officials have gone to some lengths to squelch such comparisons. – New York Times 

Chinese military on Sunday condemned the United States and Canada for each sending a warship through the Taiwan Strait last week, saying they were threatening peace and stability in the region. – Reuters 

China tested a nuclear-capable hypersonic missile in August that circled the globe before speeding towards its target, demonstrating an advanced space capability that caught US intelligence by surprise. – Financial Times 

Factory owners in China and their customers worldwide have been told to prepare for power supply disruptions becoming part of life as President Xi Jinping doggedly weans the world’s second-biggest economy off its dependence on coal. – Financial Times  

Countering the security threat from the rise of China will be an important part of Nato’s future rationale, the alliance’s chief has said, marking a significant rethink of the western alliance’s objectives that reflects the US’s geostrategic pivot to Asia. – Financial Times   

China’s economic growth is sinking under pressure from a construction slowdown and power shortages, prompting warnings about a possible shock to its trading partners and global financial markets. – Associated Press 

South Asia

At least four people have been confirmed to have died and more than 100 others wounded since Wednesday as violence expanded across the country following allegations that a copy of the Quran, the Muslim holy book, was disrespected in a temple in Cumilla, a district southeast of the capital, Dhaka. Authorities shut down mobile internet access in Dhaka for much of the day. – New York Times 

Assailants fatally shot two non-local workers in two targeted attacks in Indian-controlled Kashmir on Saturday night, police said, days after five people were killed in a similar fashion in the disputed region. […]Police blamed militants fighting against Indian rule for the Saturday attacks in the region’s main city and a village in southern Kashmir and called the killings “terror attacks.” – Associated Press 

In Pakistan’s rugged tribal regions along the border with Afghanistan, a quiet and persistent warning is circulating: The Taliban are returning. Pakistan’s own Taliban movement, which had in years past waged a violent campaign against the Islamabad government, has been emboldened by the return to power of the Taliban in Afghanistan. – Associated Press 

Chinese and Indian military commanders are deadlocked over the best way to pull back troops from a strategic area in the Himalayas, people familiar with the discussions said, raising the prospect for another tense winter along the border. – Bloomberg 

2020 saw the Indian government take a drastic measure by banning 220 Chinese apps in India. The reason behind this decision was security concerns amid the ongoing tensions between China and India. It looks like the Indian government is now targeting Chinese smartphone brands with notices sent seeking details on the data and components used in the phones. – Business Insider 

Zahid Shahab Ahmed and Dalbir Ahlawat write: While multilateral forums face challenges due to the existing geopolitical dynamics between India and Pakistan in the SAARC and India and China in the SCO, New Delhi and Islamabad stand to gain by bilaterally engaging on the issue of Afghanistan. Instead of turning their neighbor into a liability, they can turn Afghanistan into an asset through constructive engagement aimed at stability in the region. – The National Interest 

Karan Deep Singh and Bondita Baruah write: The campaign is taking place in a state famous for its lush green hills and tea gardens, and where many people consider themselves Assamese before identifying as Indian. Many of the local residents, who speak Assamese, have sometimes chafed under Indian rule, fueling a separatist movement. – New York Times 


Myanmar’s military junta will be excluded from a regional summit in late October, foiling the regime’s latest bid for international legitimacy and ratcheting up pressure on the country to cooperate with neighbors on resolving its political crisis. – Wall Steet Journal 

An American journalist detained almost five months in military-ruled Myanmar is being prosecuted for an offense allegedly carried out by a news service for which he had stopped working more than half-a-year previously, his lawyer said Friday. – Associated Press 

Malaysia and Indonesia share strong reservations over Australia’s decision to acquire nuclear-powered submarines, even though nuclear weapons were not part of the plan, Malaysia’s foreign minister said on Monday. – Reuters 

Japan’s new Prime Minister Fumio Kishida sent a ritual offering to the controversial Yasukuni Shrine for war dead for the autumn festival, Kyodo news agency reported on Sunday, prompting the South Korean government to express “disappointment”. – Reuters 

The intelligence chiefs of the United States, South Korea and Japan are expected to meet in Seoul early next week for closed-door discussions about North Korea, among other issues, Yonhap news agency reported, citing a government source. – Reuters 

Myanmar will release more than 5,000 people jailed for protesting against a February coup which ousted the civilian government, the country’s junta chief said Monday. – Agence France-Presse

U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin arrived in the Georgian capital, Tbilisi, for the first leg of a three-nation visit to the Black Sea region to show allies and partner states support in the face of “Russian aggression.” – Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty 

The U.S. military said the Arleigh Burke-class guided missile destroyer USS Dewey sailed through the narrow waterway that separates Taiwan from its giant neighbor China along with the Canadian frigate HMCS Winnipeg on Thursday and Friday. – Reuters 

Asian demand for U.S. oil is rising as the energy crisis boosts prices for other crudes that are priced against the global Brent futures contract. – Bloomberg 

Editorial: This is good news for security in the Pacific and the ability of free countries to counter China’s desire for regional dominance. Modern Japan has no designs on its neighbors. But Beijing’s Communist Party is less likely to make a mistake of imperialist ambition if it faces an alliance of democracies willing to buttress the U.S. military deterrent. – Wall Street Journal 


A Russian MiG-31 fighter jet has been scrambled to escort a U.S. B-1B strategic bomber over the Sea of Japan, TASS news agency reported on Sunday citing the Russian military, just days after an incident with a U.S. naval destroyer in the same region. – Reuters 

Russia’s promise to tackle ransomware hackers operating within its borders has yet to result in concrete action, according to one of the US’s top cyber security officials. – Financial Times 

Robyn Dixon writes: Russian independent analysts say officials manipulated statistics and underplayed the crisis, most likely for political reasons — claims that have been made about governments in other countries, including China and Turkey. Critics alleging data manipulation by governments say the practice is an obstacle to a full global reckoning of the pandemic’s reach. […]As Putin’s government tightens political control in the country, the handling of the pandemic has largely been left to the regions. The pandemic has exposed fragilities in a system in which regional officials conceal problems for fear of losing their posts and critics — even analytical experts — are sidelined. – Washington Post  


Hungary’s opposition parties on Sunday banded around a single candidate to try to unseat Prime Minister Viktor Orban, the populist leader accused of chipping away at the country’s democracy during more than a decade in power, in next year’s election. – Washington Post  

Spain’s High Court approved on Friday the extradition of a Venezuelan woman who was part of the late President Hugo Chavez’s inner circle to the United States on charges of money laundering and belonging to a criminal group. – Reuters 

The European Union’s top diplomat Josep Borrell said on Monday he hoped EU and Iranian diplomats would meet soon to try and revive nuclear talks but declined to confirm reports of a meeting in Brussels on Thursday. – Reuters  

The minister hosting Britain’s “global investment summit” this week said China is welcome to carry on investing in non-strategic parts of the UK economy and backed Saudi investment in Newcastle United Football Club in spite of human rights concerns. – Financial Times  

Belgium, sandwiched between pro-nuclear France and pro-gas Germany, epitomises one of the problems the EU faces in its energy supply as it moves towards a carbon-neutral future. – Financial Times  

Belarus has kicked out French Ambassador to Belarus Nicolas de Lacoste amid poor relations with the European Union over strongman Alyaksandr Lukashenka’s brutal rule. – Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty  

David Amess, the British Conservative lawmaker who was allegedly murdered on Friday by 25-year-old Ali Harbi Ali in what police have deemed a terror-motivated attack, may have met his demise due to his rumored support for Israel. – Jerusalem Post 

Editorial: The leader of Belarus, Alexander Lukashenko, who stole the country’s 2020 presidential election, is descending to new depths of repression. In the past, he jailed journalists, shuttered their outfits, closed their websites and crushed most nongovernmental organizations. This month, a police unit announced that people will be charged with crimes for what they see or subscribe to online, especially the encrypted Telegram channels. […]Freedom of expression is a democratic norm that Mr. Lukashenko constantly tramples. – Washington Post


Sudan’s prime minister on Friday announced a series of steps for his country’s transition to democracy less than a month after a coup attempt rocked its leadership. – Associated Press 

President Faustin Archange Touadera declared a unilateral cease-fire Friday with the armed rebel groups that have threatened to overthrow him once already this year in Central African Republic, though it was not known whether militants would hold their fire. – Associated Press 

Hundreds of pro-military Sudanese protesters rallied for a second day on Sunday, aggravating what civilian Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok called the “worst and most dangerous crisis” of the country’s precarious transition. – Agence France-Presse 

Frederick A. Davie and Tony Perkins write: Government authorities in Nigeria continue to engage in and tolerate systematic, ongoing, and egregious violations of international religious freedom. The Biden administration must maintain leadership on religious freedom, as Secretary Blinken promised, and hold Nigeria accountable for these violations by redesignating the country as a CPC. – The Hill 

The Americas

Haiti on Sunday became the center of an international crisis as officials in the beleaguered Caribbean nation sought to liberate 17 missionaries and family members, most of them Americans, taken captive a day earlier by a street gang known for mass kidnappings and ransoming religious groups. – Washington Post  

News that an armed Haitian gang kidnapped 17 members of an Ohio-based missionary group on Saturday once again pushed Haiti into the center of an international crisis. […] Here’s what to know about 400 Mawozo and Haiti’s gang violence. – Washington Post 

Thousands of protesters marched in San Salvador Sunday against President Nayib Bukele’s government, including the move to make bitcoin legal tender in the country. – Agence France-Presse 

Latin America

Venezuela’s government said Saturday that it would suspend negotiations with the country’s U.S.-backed opposition in retaliation for the extradition of a close ally of President Nicolás Maduro to the United States, where he is wanted on money laundering charges. – Washington Post  

The chair of the Venezuelan opposition’s negotiating team at talks with the government urged President Nicolas Maduro’s administration on Sunday to resume dialogue as soon as possible, after the government suspended its participation this weekend. – Reuters 

An Iran-flagged supertanker on Saturday was about to set sail from Venezuelan waters carrying 2 million barrels of heavy crude provided by state-run oil firm PDVSA (PDVSA.UL), according to documents seen by Reuters and vessel tracking services. – Reuters   

Mary Anastasia O’Grady writes: Constitutional amendments proposed by AMLO, as the president is known, and sent to Congress for approval in a bill last month are labeled electricity reform. Yet while “reform” normally suggests improvement, this legislation, if passed, will take Mexico, and North American integration, backward. […]In a July 22 press conference Mr. López Obrador pooh-poohed concerns that the U.S. might object to his crackdown on competition, insisting that Washington hasn’t complained. If Mexico’s Congress reads that as implicit U.S. approval of the bill, it will be a tragedy not only for investors but for all Mexicans. – Wall Street Journal 

United States

Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs Victoria Nuland traveled to Moscow earlier this week for three days of high-profile bilateral talks with senior Russian officials. She met with a variety of senior officials, including presidential aide Yury Ushakov, Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov, and President Vladimir Putin’s deputy chief of staff, Dmitry Kozak. – The National Interest 

Michael Rubin writes: In seeking new leadership for the CIA, Biden turned to Burns, a man with whom he was well acquainted from Biden’s days on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and in the vice presidency. The best way for Burns to fulfill his ambition to become the 72nd secretary of state is not to leverage his portfolio into diplomatic missions and face time with Biden. It is for Burns to show that he is truly committed to the position in which he now serves. He should leave the diplomacy to Blinken. – Washington Examiner 

Patrick Quirk writes: Biden’s team would be wise to apply his pragmatism towards identifying and neutralizing—rather than naively looking past—threats from fragile and conflict-affected areas. Doing so will enable the White House to address higher-level policy priorities. – The National Interest 


China will continue its scrutiny of the internet sector, rooting out practices including the blocking of site links by rival platforms and ensuring smaller players have room to develop, its industry minister said in an interview published on Sunday. – Reuters 

Health Ministry cybersecurity chief Reuven Eliyahu said Monday morning that last week’s massive ransomware attack on Hillel Yaffe Hospital in Hadera was likely carried out by Chinese hackers whose motives were “purely financial.” – Times of Israel 

A report released by the Treasury Department Friday found that around $590 million had been paid by victims of ransomware to their attackers in the first six months of 2021, as such attacks skyrocketed. – The Hill 


President Tayyip Erdogan said on Sunday that the United States had proposed the sale of F-16 fighter jets to Turkey in return for its investment in the F-35 programme, from which Ankara was removed after purchasing missile defence systems from Russia. – Reuters 

U.S. Navy and Japanese helicopter squadrons joined forces to conduct an unprecedented anti-submarine warfare tracking exercise for the units, according to the U.S. Navy. – Military Times 

The United States and its partners conduct exercises in the Indo-Pacific so like-minded countries and navies can work toward interoperability, not to send a message toward a specific country, Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Mike Gilday said Thursday. – USNI News 

The Navy’s Columbia (SSBN-826) class ballistic missile submarine (SSBN) program is a program to design and build a class of 12 new SSBNs to replace the Navy’s current force of 14 aging Ohio-class SSBNs. Since 2013, the Navy has consistently identified the Columbia-class program as the Navy’s top priority program. The Navy procured the first Columbia-class boat in FY2021 and wants to procure the second boat in the class in FY2024. – USNI News 

The Pentagon finds itself in the “shocking and eye-opening” position of needing more electrical power to protect distributed naval and ground forces from long-range attack at a time when China dominates the global production of advanced batteries needed to meet that mission, a panel of security experts said Thursday. – USNI News 

Long War

The fatal stabbing of a British lawmaker in a suspected terrorist attack on Friday shook the British political establishment and highlighted the continued challenges governments face against lone-wolf extremists armed with basic weapons. – Wall Street Journal 

Britain’s interior minister on Sunday said MPs’ security would be beefed up, after a lawmaker was stabbed to death as he held a public meeting with constituents, in the second such attack in five years. – Agence France-Presse 

French schools on Friday were paying tribute to a teacher beheaded by a radical Islamist last year after he showed caricatures of the prophet of Islam to his class. – Associated Press 

Seth J. Frantzman writes: There are many groups across Europe, such as drug gangs, that have guns. But the fact that – unlike ISIS in 2015 in Belgium and Paris and other places – these perpetrators didn’t build bombs or have guns, means the kind of planning behind these attacks may be more simple. That points to more lone-wolf organizing and extremism. – Jerusalem Post