Fdd's overnight brief

October 22, 2020

FDD Research & Analysis

In The News


Iran is responsible for a barrage of emails sent to Americans that purported to be from a far-right group and were intended to intimidate voters and incite social unrest ahead of the presidential election, U.S. officials said. – Wall Street Journal

U.S. Director of National Intelligence John Ratcliffe said on Wednesday that Russia and Iran have both tried to interfere with the 2020 presidential election. – Reuters

Iran and Russia have obtained U.S. voter registration information and Iran is already using it to “intimidate” voters and “damage President Trump,” Director of National Intelligence John Ratcliffe said Wednesday night. – Washington Times

Last week, the Iranian-flagged oil tanker Samah entered the Mediterranean Sea via the Suez Canal. After a few miles, the 900-foot-long ship stopped reporting its position and destination. Evidence suggests the ship sailed to Syria, escorted by two Russian Navy ships, including a destroyer. – USNI News

Sen. Bob Menendez (N.J.), the top Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, on Wednesday said he would support a potential Biden administration rejoining the nuclear deal with Iran if the deal corrected shortfalls of the Obama-era agreement. – The Hill

Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei lashed out at the idea of Muslim nations compromising with Israel, calling it a “humiliation,” and issued an ominous warning to nations seeking to normalize ties with the Jewish state. – Times of Israel

Nir Boms and Shayan Arya write: Navid’s execution demonstrates that Iran’s decision earlier this year to commute the execution sentence of three young men represented an exception rather than a potential shift inside the country. Iran had halted the executions of three young protestors—Amirhossein Moradi, Mohammad Rajabi, and Saeed Tamjidi—under the pressure of an online campaign that attracted millions of tweets and a hashtag protesting their sentence. – Washington Institute


Explosions occurred in the Syrian village of of Al-Hurriya in northern province of al-Quneitra on Tuesday night, Syrian media reported. – Jerusalem Post

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Wednesday said the United States will not change policy toward Syria to obtain the release of U.S. journalist Austin Tice and other detained Americans.- Reuters

On Wednesday morning, the media in Iran and the Gulf highlighted a story claiming that Israel carried out an airstrike near the Golan Heights in a village called Hurriya near Quneitra. The incident comes in the context of growing tensions along the Syrian border, which have become part of a cycle dating back more than a year. – Jerusalem Post

Three Iran-backed paramilitary fighters were killed in an overnight Israeli strike that hit Syria’s southern province of Quneitra, a war monitor said Wednesday. – Times of Israel

Danny Makki writes: Ultimately it is difficult to gauge how events will play out as the U.S. continues its pursuit of a deal with Syria to secure the hostages’ release. But if U.S. officials are meeting with Syrian intelligence in Damascus in 2020, what’s to say 2021 will not herald a year of political change in relations? With these visits, Trump has started a risky process with no guarantees of success. – Middle East Institute


Turkey said on Wednesday it extended the stay of its Oruc Reis survey vessel and two other ships in a disputed area of the eastern Mediterranean until Oct. 27, in a move likely to further escalate tensions in the region. – Reuters

Turkey is sticking to its demands that the U.S. transfer missile technology and share production for any future missile-defense deal following Ankara’s purchase of a Russian system that has alarmed NATO partners. – Bloomberg

Salem Al Ketbi writes: Whatever the reasons and motives, the continuous Turkish provocations and crude intervention in several crises at the same time without a serious response from the major powers, especially the European Union, as the party most affected by Turkey’s behavior, encourages Erdogan to continue this behavior. The latest European reaction to Turkey came from the German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas. He recently called on Turkey to “put an end to the cycle of appeasement and provocation” in the Eastern Mediterranean after Ankara sent a ship to search for natural gas, threatening to escalate tension, again with Greece. – Jerusalem Post


Sudan has reportedly agreed to fully normalize relations with Israel, an initial report by Israel Hayom stated late Wednesday night. – Jerusalem Post

The terror tunnel found along the border with the Gaza Strip this week belonged to the Hamas terrorist movement, the IDF announced on Wednesday evening. – Jerusalem Post

An Israeli delegation made a rare visit to Sudan on Wednesday to discuss normalising ties, Israeli public broadcaster Kan radio said, as a minister predicted a possible diplomatic breakthrough between the two countries. – Reuters

A Senate resolution praising the recent normalization agreements between Israel, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain is gaining broad bipartisan support. – Jewish Insider

Israeli Aerospace Industries (IAI) and its partner Airbus DS Airborne Solutions, a subsidiary of Airbus, have won an estimated tens of millions of dollars tender as part of which they will lease Heron UAV systems to the EU’s Frontex – the European Border and Coast Guard Agency – to perform naval patrol and shore protection missions. – Jerusalem Post

The American position is that West Bank settlements should remain in place permanently and Israel should apply sovereignty to them at a later date, US Ambassador David Friedman said on Wednesday. – Jerusalem Post

Qatar announced Wednesday that it will keep its funding of the Gaza Strip through 2021. It is yet unknown how much monetary aid will be given how it will be used. – Ynet

Zev Chafets writes: Israel and Armenia are natural allies. They understand one another’s predicament as small democracies in a sea of Islamic dictatorships. Israel might even play a role in facilitating a peace settlement between Armenia and Azerbaijan. Even if that’s not possible, Israel can help Armenia leverage its own moral capital in the service of its national interests; and perhaps join together to combat genocide in other parts of the world. – Bloomberg

Mohamed Mokhtar Qandil writes: Put broadly, the ISIS views on the exaggerated value of the Al-Aqsa Mosque to the Salafi-jihadist movement may be winning out over Al-Qaeda’s earlier model, influencing a reduction of rhetoric around the Palestinian cause by terrorist organizations. As such, while many Salafi-jihadists seem to have lost their faith in the Palestinian cause as a rhetorical tool to boost support for their cause, Erdogan and Islamist groups see continued value in staking claims to the cause for themselves, demonstrating an alternative model of relying on this popular issue for self-gain. – Washington Institute

Tovah Lazaroff writes: Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was faced this August with an almost Solomonic choice: his political legacy or his diplomatic one. […]But elections would have put his diplomatic legacy at risk, by weakening Israel’s standing with regard to the normalization deals with the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain that had just come to light that month. – Jerusalem Post

Lahav Harkov writes: China may not have been foremost on anyone’s mind when the US fostered the Israel-UAE normalization, but it seems as if there is potential for weakening Beijing’s economic ties with Jerusalem, and this would be an added bonus for Washington. – Jerusalem Post

Joel H. Golovensky writes: The simple and stark fact is that the Arabs never succeeded in developing a civil infrastructure; while the Jews did. Certainly, no reasonable person can claim that from the 1930s to May 1948, the British favored the Jews over the Arabs. History demonstrates the opposite. Yet there was the Jewish Yishuv, with comprehensive self-government, a renowned university, renowned hospital, labor unions, a national health system, community elections, etc. – the complete structure of an organized, self-governing society. – Jerusalem Post


Lebanon’s President Michel Aoun began meetings with parliamentarians on Thursday to name a prime minister, after weeks of wrangling delayed agreement on a new government that could work to lift the country from financial crisis. – Reuters

Lebanon’s powerful Shi’ite group Hezbollah said on Thursday it had not nominated anyone for the position of prime minister during consultations to pick a new premier. – Reuters

Josh Rogin writes: Working to bring American hostages home is always a noble endeavor — and sometimes means working with unsavory characters. But our government must engage in such efforts without legitimizing terrorist groups or absolving people who tortured U.S. citizens. And we must not confuse ransom brokers with humanitarians in the process. The complexities of the issue don’t leave room for dogmatic approaches. But if dealing with Ibrahim to retrieve Americans undermines U.S. security and Lebanese stability, we should find another way to get it done. – Washington Post

Saudi Arabia

From pickled vine leaves to coffee and cheese, Saudi supermarkets are taking Turkish products off the shelves after calls for a boycott, as rivalry between Riyadh and Ankara heats up. – Agence France-Presse

A Saudi Arabian governmental body on Thursday insisted that executions have been abolished for crimes committed by minors, after Human Rights Watch said earlier this week that Saudi prosecutors are seeking the death penalty against a number of young men from the predominantly Shiite eastern region of the kingdom for protest-related crimes they allegedly committed as children. – Associated Press

Saudi Arabian Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman reportedly told Israeli-American billionaire Haim Saban that he couldn’t have joined neighbors Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates in normalizing ties with Israel because doing so would get him “killed by Iran, Qatar and my own people.” – Haaretz

Middle East & North Africa

Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said Wednesday he has been trying for some time to get the deeply divided countries in the Persian Gulf and their backers to step back from possible confrontation and engage in dialogue — so far without success. – Associated Press

Two Senate Democrats are hoping to delay the potential sale of the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter to the United Arab Emirates, introducing on Oct. 20 legislation that would block the delivery of aircraft to Abu Dhabi unless the U.S. government meets certain criteria. – Defense News

Russia’s foreign minister called for collective efforts Tuesday to prevent a large-scale war in the Persian Gulf and got strong support from all Security Council members except the United States, which called Iran the major culprit and urged that it be held accountable for supporting terrorists and destabilizing the region. – Associated Press

A Moroccan blogger is being persecuted and threatened by establishment media in her country due to her consistent pro-Israel writing. – Arutz Sheva

Hussein Ibish writes: But the greatest threat to Iran’s neighbors will come, not from any big-ticket spending by Tehran, but from its acquisition of technologies that enhance the its homemade weapons. State-of-the-art targeting and guidance systems for missiles and drones can help Iran inflict more damage than planes and tanks. – Bloomberg 

Munqith Dagher writes: The development crisis in Iraq proves yet again, as was proven in many other countries, that the economy is dependent on politics. Therefore, we cannot expect any improvement in the level of economic growth as long as there is no change to the failing and ineffective policies pertaining to governance, security, corruption, bureaucracy, social justice and political participation. In short, Iraq is in dire need of a complete political institutional overhaul to enable it to rectify its socio-economic crises. – Center for Strategic and International Studies


Huawei is set to launch a new flagship smartphone Thursday, in what analysts say could potentially be its last one if U.S. sanctions continue to bite, even as sales at home surge on patriotic buying. – Washington Post

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced on Wednesday the State Department was designating the U.S. operations of six more China-based media companies as foreign missions, a move he said was aimed at pushing back against communist propaganda. – Reuters

U.S. President Donald Trump’s bank account in China raises serious national security concerns, U.S. House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi said on Wednesday following a New York Times report revealing the previously undisclosed account. – Reuters

President Donald Trump’s national security adviser accused China on Wednesday of trying to steal COVID-19 vaccine research from the West, casting it as a malign rival that was seeking to monopolise every important industry of the 21st Century. – Reuters

The Vatican renewed an agreement with China, brushing aside pressure from the U.S. government which has denounced attacks on religious freedom in the Asian country. – Bloomberg

As the U.S.-China confrontation takes root, the ability to craft chips for everything from artificial intelligence and data centers to autonomous cars and smartphones has become an issue of national security, injecting government into business decisions over where to manufacture chips and to whom to sell them. Those tensions could kick into overdrive as Communist Party leaders set a five-year plan that includes developing China’s domestic technology industry, notably its chip capabilities. – Bloomberg

The Pentagon’s Defense Policy Board, an influential advisory panel of former officials, is dominated by experts who do not reflect the hard-line policies toward China put into place under President Trump, according to analysts. – Washington Times

China’s People’s Liberation Army (PLA) is likely to deploy unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) in the near future that can be operated in swarms, as shown in video footage released by the China Electronics Technology Group Corporation (CETC) around mid-October. – Janes

Greg Ip writes: The outcome formalizes the reset in U.S. trade policy the Trump administration has pursued since taking office in 2017. Mr. Trump hasn’t destroyed the global-trading system as some had feared, but he has fragmented it. Historically the U.S. sought rules and institutions like the WTO that apply equally to everyone. Under Mr. Trump, the U.S. now crafts its own rules, as it has with China, according to what it considers its own best interest. – Wall Street Journal

Noah Smith writes: Ever since China’s spectacular economic growth became apparent in the 2000s, people have wondered whether that country’s brand of authoritarian state capitalism has proven superior to the more liberal American model. Until recently, it was possible to dismiss those concerns, but Chinese successes and U.S. failures keep piling up. If the U.S. wants to maintain both its relative power and its prestige as a model for the world, it needs to make some big adjustments. – Bloomberg

Tony Munroe writes: As Donald Trump has pulled the United States inward under his “America First” presidency, China has had only halting success at capitalising on a global leadership vacuum, presenting openings for a more internationalist Joe Biden administration if he wins next month’s election. – Reuters

Kelly Craft writes: This isn’t a battle between the United States and China but between a multilateral system that serves the people and a multilateral system that protects dictators. Not only for the freedom-loving nations of the world, but for the sake of those suffering today under authoritarian and abusive regimes, President Trump, Secretary Mike Pompeo and I will continue to fight every day on the side of freedom. – New York Post 

Alice Su writes: The rising ire of elites and foreign powers is, in Xi’s view, a necessary part of China’s struggle on its socialist path. The intellectuals may be alarmed, but not the masses. A recent Harvard Kennedy School study of Chinese public opinion from 2003 to 2016 found that satisfaction with the government had risen, especially among the rural poor in inland regions, who received more targeted social assistance during the survey years. – LA Times

Robert C. O’Brien writes: Lasting peace comes through strength. The United States is the strongest country on earth, and it must speak out, fight back, and above all, stay true to its principles—especially freedom of speech—which stand in stark contrast to the Marxist-Leninist ideology embraced by the CCP. – Foreign Affairs


Many people in Afghanistan, a war-ravaged country with minimal health care facilities, cross the border into Pakistan for treatment. But since the spring, Pakistan had drastically reduced the number of visas that it issued to Afghans, hoping to minimize the spread of the coronavirus. – New York Times

As rising violence threatens to derail Afghan peace talks, the head of NATO said Wednesday that the military alliance will not leave Afghanistan until security conditions allow, even as some U.S. troops might be hoping to be back home in time for Christmas. – Associated Press

An Afghan military air strike targeting Taliban fighters killed at least 12 people, including children, and wounded 14 in an attack that hit a religious school in the northeastern province of Takhar, provincial officials said on Thursday. – Reuters


Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Defense Secretary Mark Esper are set to visit New Delhi next week, part of an effort to cement U.S. strategic and military ties with India in their mutual rivalry with China. – Wall Street Journal

A mix of sharp criticism from opposition politicians and public anger over economic woes is suddenly challenging the dominance of Pakistan’s long-powerful military, even as the United States and other foreign governments seek help from Pakistan’s generals in salvaging Afghan peace talks amid growing Taliban violence. – Washington Post

The U.S. State Department has approved the potential sale of three weapons systems to Taiwan, including sensors, missiles and artillery that could have a total value of $1.8 billion, the Pentagon said on Wednesday. – Reuters

China threatened on Thursday to retaliate against the latest U.S. arms sale to Chinese-claimed Taiwan, as the island welcomed the weapons package but said it was not looking to get into an arms race with Beijing. – Reuters

Basing Japan’s missile defence systems at sea may cost at least twice as much to complete as its now-abandoned plans for Aegis Ashore ground-based sites and delay it to 2028, a person with knowledge of the plans told Reuters. – Reuters

Michael Mazza writes: A number of recent essays suggest that China will have no choice but to launch a war should Taiwan continue to solidify its de facto independent status. The CCP, however, may not be so inflexible as to put its own rule at risk. – Global Taiwan Institute

South Caucasus

Azerbaijan is in full war mode as it engages in the heaviest fighting since the original conflict with Armenia in the early 1990s over the disputed territory of Nagorno-Karabakh, an ethnic Armenian district inside Azerbaijan. Azerbaijan suffered a bitter defeat then, losing about 13 percent of its territory, with as many as 26,000 dead and around 800,000 displaced. – New York Times

Armenia’s prime minister said on Wednesday he saw no possibility of a diplomatic solution at this stage in the conflict with Azerbaijan over the mountain enclave of Nagorno-Karabakh. – Reuters

David Ignatius writes: Pompeo has a big challenge. Russia and France brokered two cease-fires this month, and both failed. What’s needed is a plan that inserts the three big powers more directly in the Karabakh mess and provides a platform for addressing the underlying issues of sovereignty and refugees. The United States also wants to check Turkey, Azerbaijan’s ally, which Pompeo criticized in an interview this week for “coming in to lend their firepower to what is already a powder keg of a situation.” – Washington Post

Raffi K. Hovannisian writes: It was with Turkey’s funding, munitions and guidance that Azerbaijan attacked Artsakh on Sept. 27, 2020. Erdogan didn’t attempt to hide this. “We support the friendly and fraternal Azerbaijan in every way possible,” he said. And even then, as Stepanakert and Shushi and all towns of Artsakh were indiscriminately bombed, we didn’t want to accept what he meant. Yes, a church being bombed is a special kind of event. A church being bombed is an instantaneous narration of a 100-year history, clearing away a century’s worth of obfuscation and denial to reveal a quite apparent truth: Christians are in peril again. And genocide has once again besieged the black garden. – New York Post


The prospect of a victory for Joe Biden in the U.S. election has weighed on the rouble for months and its fortunes now appear more closely tethered to the White House contest in two weeks’ time than Russia’s economic health. – Reuters

Tara D. Sonenshine writes: But so much has happened between the United States and Russia with investigations of hacking, charges of cyber intrusions in Western elections, alleged poisoning of Russians and the minefield of issues around Russia and Ukraine that culminated in impeachment hearings. It is fair to be skeptical about whether or not this is really an arms control announcement or just a diversion from COVID-19 and other global unpleasantness. – The Hill

Clara Ferreira Marques writes: The hard truth is that the Kremlin hasn’t benefited from a Trump presidency as much as it had hoped — even after it sought to tip the electoral scales in Trump’s favor, as U.S. intelligence showed, with cyberattacks and fake news disseminated over social media. Putin has said Russia is a mere bystander, but it may be meddling even now: On Wednesday, U.S. security officials again said Russia, along with Iran, obtained voter registration data, which can be used to convey misinformation. – Bloomberg

Bonnie S. Glaser, Michael J. Green, and Richard C. Bush write: This task force report explains why Taiwan matters to the United States, the framework for U.S. policy toward Taiwan, and the trends that affect economic, defense, and diplomatic aspects of U.S. policy toward Taiwan. The report concludes with a set of specific recommendations to upgrade U.S. policy on Taiwan consistent with long-standing U.S. interests in the Indo-Pacific region while also responding to the new and emerging challenges. The members of the task force participated in their individual capacities rather than as representatives of their respective organizations. – Center for Strategic and International Studies


France, one of Europe’s biggest military powers, will reach a NATO spending goal of 2% sought by the United States this year, the alliance said on Wednesday, but most member states still lag behind in a continual sore point for Washington. – Reuters

Two of the Trump administration’s top national security officials have signaled in the last week that the NATO target of spending 2 percent of gross domestic product on defense is now the “gold standard” being applied to all allies around the globe. – Defense News

To buttress its nascent operational domain of space, NATO is refurbishing four satellite ground stations across its territory and will soon approve a new space situational awareness centre in Germany, according to allied officials. – Janes

Britain and the European Union will resume their stalled trade negotiations at an “intensified” pace, the British government said Wednesday, in hope of striking a deal within weeks to avoid a messy economic breakup at the end of he year. – Associated Press

Viorica Dancila writes: Europe and Russia’s strategic interests seem to me more conflicting with each and every passing year. Russian influence in European affairs is both aggressive and detrimental. This is evidenced not only through Russia’s well-documented efforts to fan the fire of nationalism in the European Union, but also by its support for pro-Russian forces in our partner nations. – Jerusalem Post


Two weeks of nationwide protests against police brutality in Nigeria turned deadly Tuesday as security forces fired live rounds on demonstrators, killing several people. The decision to use military force to quell the demonstrations shifts politics into an uncertain phase in West Africa’s most populous nation and largest oil producer. […]The demonstrations fit into an emerging global pattern of youth-led calls for change, from Hong Kong to Sudan and Chile. – Wall Street Journal

Sudanese security forces fired tear gas to disperse hundreds of people in demonstrations across the capital Khartoum on Wednesday[…]. The rallies came just days after President Donald Trump announced the United States would remove Sudan from its list of state sponsors of terrorism, a designation that dates back to toppled ruler Omar al-Bashir and which made it difficult for the transitional government to access urgently needed debt relief and foreign financing. – Reuters

A United Nations judge on Wednesday ordered that Rwandan genocide suspect Felicien Kabuga, who has been in a French jail since May, be sent to a detention unit in The Hague out of health considerations amid the coronavirus pandemic. – Reuters

The Trump administration has begun the process of removing Sudan from the U.S. list of state sponsors of terrorism while also working to get Khartoum to recognize Israel, which it hopes will happen quickly, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Wednesday. – Reuters

Editorial: It’s rare for a country to turn from a regional menace into a responsible partner, but the Trump Administration’s diplomacy with Sudan is helping make that happen. This project has reached a critical point, and Congress should support the White House effort. – Wall Street Journal

Alberto M. Fernandez writes: The danger that the current (or next) American administration will overpromise and underdeliver is an ever-present one, and has often been a bone of contention between the two countries. But the idea that Sudan had all the time in the world to get this agreement just right, or to wait for a Biden administration to appear and magically save the day, is a pipe dream. The country’s deep crisis is now, and any tangible benefits Khartoum can obtain now is worth more than some romanticized future ideal. – Middle East Media Research Institute 

Bobby Ghosh writes: Even on those rare occasions when the Trump administration makes the right call on foreign policy, it’s usually the wrong way, and for the wrong reasons. Its decision to take Sudan off the U.S. list of states that sponsor terrorism is a perfect example. A deserved reward for good behavior was given in a way that will undermine the credibility of Sudan’s well-meaning transitional government. – Bloomberg

Erol Yayboke and Rakan Aboneaaj write: No matter the interventions, addressing irregular migration through the Sahel will take time, especially given Covid-19-related migration disruptions. Nevertheless, migrants will play a critical role in the economic recovery to come. When it comes to the Sahel, policymakers can either pour resources into trying to contain irregular migration through increased securitization—endangering lives and regional stability in the process—or they can have policies that reflect migration for what it is: a driver of development and economic growth, both for host and origin countries. – Center for Strategic and International Studies

The Americas

One of the first things he will do if elected president, Joe Biden has said, is “get on the phone with the heads of state and say, ‘America’s back, you can count on us.’ ” To prove his point, Biden plans a few quick hits, reversing some of the centerpieces of President Trump’s foreign policy, just as Trump quickly moved to overturn much of the Obama agenda in January 2017. – Washington Post

From Iran to Cuba, from China to Israel, American involvement and influence on the international stage has evolved sharply since Trump took office in 2017. He swept away agreements with some nations, alienated longstanding allies and pulled out of multilateral obligations that he said didn’t serve the interests of the United States. – Associated Press

A senior Trump administration envoy met secretly with a representative of Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro last month to try to work out Maduro’s peaceful exit from power, but no agreement was reached, three people familiar with the matter said on Wednesday. – Reuters


The U.S. Army official who led the service’s largest test of its developing network, artificial intelligence systems and sensors in September said there needs to be a shared laboratory where the joint forces can work together on improving those capabilities. – C4ISRNET

The U.S. Army is about to start the implementation phase of its major enterprise-IT-as-a-service pilot awarded to AT&T, Verizon and Microsoft. But this is just one of several major initiatives underway at the Army’s Program Executive Office Enterprise Information Systems, a $4.3 billion operation that is responsible for meeting IT and business system needs of the service. – C4ISRNET

Major hacks can cause even more damage than nuclear weapons, National Cyber Directorate director-general Yigal Unna said Monday. – Jerusalem Post

Bronwyn Howell writes: The elimination of Chinese firms Huawei and ZTE reduces the number of global suppliers from five to three (the remaining ones being Nokia, Ericsson, and Samsung), which according to the ECTA would increase costs, delay 5G deployment, and constrain innovation.  […]Instead, the ECTA proposes the use of the European Union’s 5G toolbox as “a suitable EU framework for responding to security issues affecting the networks of the future while respecting European and national sovereignty.” – American Enterprise Institute

Martijn Rasser, Rebecca Arcesati, Shin Oya, Ainikki Riikonen and Monika Bochert write: The body of the report consists of seven sections. They detail the case for why collective action by the world’s tech-leading democracies is needed, present the purpose and goals of the proposed grouping, make recommendations on the bureaucratic considerations to create it, discuss the common code for technology policy with specific courses of action, and close with a preview of what steps follow. A survey of existing international organizations and new initiatives, and survey results are included in two appendices. – Center for a New American Security


The United States is urging countries that have ratified a U.N. treaty to ban nuclear weapons to withdraw their support as the pact nears the 50 ratifications needed to trigger its entry into force, which supporters say could happen this week. – Associated Press

As reliable as the clanking of railroad cars as they pass through Cheyenne day and night just outside the gates of Francis E. Warren Air Force Base, America’s nuclear arsenal has been at the ready for half a century. But experts and those protecting the ICBMs now say there is no room left to extend the life of the 1970 Minuteman III missiles, even as the nation faces mounting budget pressures. – Washington Examiner 

The Pentagon’s classified military intelligence budget received $23.1 billion for the recently ended fiscal year, the department announced Wednesday. – The Hill

Two weeks after Defense Secretary Mark Esper unveiled the outline for his Battle Force 2045 initiative to grow the Navy to more than 500 ships, the Trump administration has yet to give final approval. – USNI News

BAE Systems is teaming up with Elbit Systems of America to develop combat vehicle technology, according to an Oct. 21 BAE statement. – Defense News

The U.S. Navy plans to put hypersonic missiles on all Arleigh Burke-class destroyers, President Donald Trump’s top national security official said Wednesday. – Defense News

The U.S. Space Force officially has its first field command, after the service redesignated Air Force Space Command at Peterson Air Force Base in Colorado as the new headquarters of Space Operations Command during an Oct. 21 ceremony. – Defense News

The Coast Guard’s program of record (POR) calls for procuring 8 National Security Cutters (NSCs), 25 Offshore Patrol Cutters (OPCs), and 58 Fast Response Cutters (FRCs) as replacements for 90 aging Coast Guard high-endurance cutters, medium-endurance cutters, and patrol craft. – USNI News

Maj. Gen. (Ret.) Howard N. Thompson writes: While our nation is understandably focused upon election year politics, members of Congress and defense oversight committee staffers are wrestling with another challenge that will have serious repercussions of its own: production and passage of a National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) and Defense Appropriations Bill. […]A credible and capable defense against a rogue nation, such as North Korea or Iran, and their intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) has been, and will continue to be, a national imperative. – The Hill

Hal Brands writes: The Pentagon has no more important task than preparing to win a sharp, intense conflict with Russia or China. Yet it has also been seeking to make itself relevant to subtler, long-term competitions for influence. That necessitates a delicate balancing act, given that the requirements of preparing for war and those of competing in peace can pull America’s military in different directions. – Bloomberg

Dimitar Bechev, Armand Gosu, Melinda Haring, Iulia-Sabina Joja, Ana Khizanishvili, Maxim A. Suchkov, Gönül Tol write: The Black Sea region lies at the geopolitical fault line between Western Europe, Russia and China to the East, and Iran and Syria in the South. Today, the Black Sea is a hotbed of great power competition. While Russia continues to militarize the region in order to project power into the Middle East, China is building inroads through Black Sea countries to access European markets. Stability and conflict resolution in the Black Sea depends largely on United States presence, but U.S. policies in the region vary from passive observer to committed ally. – Middle East Institute

Long War

French President Emmanuel Macron led a national tribute on Wednesday to the schoolteacher Samuel Paty, who was beheaded after showing caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad in class as part of a lesson on free speech. – Wall Street Journal

German authorities are treating the killing of a tourist earlier this month as a possible act of terror after they detained an Islamic State supporter as their prime suspect, prosecutors said on Wednesday. – Wall Street Journal

German police have arrested a 20-year-old Syrian suspected of attacking two tourists in the eastern city of Dresden at the start of October, killing one of them, police said on Wednesday. – Reuters

France will ban an Islamist group named after the late Sheikh Yassin as part of a crackdown on militants following the murder of a French schoolteacher last week, government spokesman Gabriel Attal said on Wednesday. – Reuters

The Guantanamo detainees were promised they were being sent to a Muslim country for rehabilitation that would help integrate them into society, opening the way to jobs, money, and marriage, according to their lawyers and families. […]In short, sporadic phone calls from undisclosed locations in the UAE — including a notorious prison rife with torture — several whispered to their families that as bad as life in Guantanamo was, they wish they could return there. – Associated Press

Noah Rothman writes: Americans are and have been eager to wash their hands of the seemingly fruitless conflict in Afghanistan, but a rushed withdrawal that is obviously timed for maximum domestic political benefit isn’t strategically sound. And if the president’s efforts discomfit the Pentagon, America’s allies seem outright contemptuous of them. – Commentary Magazine

Elizabeth Dent writes: As attacks by ISIS increase in both Iraq and Syria, the upcoming U.S. presidential election offers a turning point for how U.S. foreign policy will seek to address a potential ISIS resurgence. This paper lays out this growing problem and recommends policy, which will be constrained by the outcome of the November election. – Middle East Institute

Trump Administration

Biden’s foreign policy credentials have largely been overshadowed by questions about how he would lead the U.S. through the worst pandemic in a century. But the issue could reemerge Thursday as Trump and Biden take the stage for a final debate, with a topic list including national security. – Associated Press

The Trump administration is considering declaring that several prominent international NGOs — including Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and Oxfam — are anti-Semitic and that governments should not support them, two people familiar with the issue said. – Politico

While the world will be closely watching the U.S. election, some countries will be watching more closely than others. A number of world leaders have a personal stake in the outcome, with their fortunes depending heavily on the success – or failure – of President Donald Trump. – Associated Press