Fdd's overnight brief

October 25, 2021

In The News


Rob Malley, the US envoy on Iran, spoke with his counterparts from Britain, France and Germany on how diplomacy “continues to provide the most effective pathway” on Iran, State Department spokesman Ned Price said. – Agence France-Presse  

The husband of Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, a British Iranian held in Iran since 2016, began a hunger strike Sunday to denounce the British government for “also letting us down” and failing to secure her release. – Agence France-Presse 

Russia’s lead negotiator at stalled multi-power talks to revive the 2015 nuclear deal said Iran’s demand for a guarantee from the U.S. government that it won’t quit the landmark accord again is “logical and justifiable”. – Bloomberg 

Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said the governing U.S. Democratic party was ultimately responsible for a recent spate of bombings targeting Shiite Muslims in Afghanistan, the state-run Islamic Republic News Agency reported. – Bloomberg 

Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said on Sunday that the Arab nations who have improved ties with Israel have “sinned” and must reverse course. – Jerusalem Post 

Ali Shamkhani, Secretary of the Supreme National Security Council of Iran said he had unveiled a strategy that will “the Zionists billions of dollars,” according to Iranian media this week. The report came after reports in Israel that had signaled Israel’s government was plowing money into confronting Iran as part of the new budget. – Jerusalem Post 

The head of the International Atomic Energy Agency said the watchdog’s monitoring program in Iran is no longer “intact” after Tehran refused requests to repair surveillance equipment damaged in a June attack on an Iranian nuclear site that has been blamed on Israel. – Times of Israel 

Katherine Lawlor writes: Iran’s Iraqi proxies will likely increase their use of violence and other forms of coercion against political opponents and the Iraqi state in the coming months. […]Iran’s Iraqi proxies may escalate against UN, US, Emirati, or suspected Israeli personnel or assets in retaliation for their perceived role in the proxies’ political losses in the coming months. Domestic political conflicts, Iranian decision-making, Iranian proxy attempts to enforce the December 31 deadline for the withdrawal of US forces from Iraq, and the potential for a new regional ISIS campaign to stir up sectarian violence could exacerbate post-electoral Iranian proxy violence in Iraq. – Institute for the Study of War 


The new government’s decision to so publicly memorialize its suicide bomb squads seemed to be both an effort to appease the aggrieved families for the movement’s use of their loved ones as weapons and an overt attempt to rewrite the history of the war by championing the bombers’ deaths as the highest level of sacrifice. In short, it sought to professionalize the role of suicide bomber. – New York Times 

A roadside bombing targeting a Taliban vehicle in eastern Afghanistan killed at least two civilians Saturday, including a child, Taliban and health officials said. Four others were wounded. – Associated Press 

Russian and Tajik troops conducted joint drills Friday near Tajikistan’s border with Afghanistan, as part of efforts to prepare for possible security threats issuing from Afghanistan. – Associated Press 

The EU is intending to reopen its diplomatic representation in Afghanistan within a month as the bloc seeks to deepen its limited engagement with the Taliban regime. – Financial Times 

The former special representative for Afghanistan reconciliation said on Sunday that the U.S. “did not succeed” in building a democratic Afghanistan after two decades spent fighting in the country. –The Hill  

The former chief negotiator of the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan says there could still be hundreds of Americans in the country. – Politico 

The U.S. is welcoming tens of thousands of Afghans airlifted out of Kabul but has disclosed little publicly about a small group who remain overseas: dozens who triggered potential security issues during security vetting and have been sent to an American base in the Balkan nation of Kosovo. – Military Times 

Andrew Radin writes: As shown in Afghanistan, the United States faces a tradeoff between incorporating allied views into U.S. decisions and compromising allies’ support for U.S. policy. If the United States is serious about strengthening alliances and burden-sharing, this may require finding ways to better incorporate allied concerns into U.S. decision-making. – War on the Rocks 



Syria has vowed to continue fighting Israel as it does outreach to Jordan. It is widely known that the Syrian regime has been doing more outreach across the region. – Jerusalem Post 

Israeli helicopters hit three targets in Syria near the border in the early hours of Monday, Syrian media reported. – Times of Israel 

Arab nations are re-establishing ties with neighbouring Syria as concerns about Iranian and Turkish influence, coupled with economic and security fears, spur a tentative regional re-engagement with the pariah state. – Financial Times  

Crispin Smith writes: Collectively, this evidence suggests a strong possibility that the attack on al-Tanf was carried out by Iranian-backed militias from the Iraqi muqawama. The immediate catalyst for the attack may have been last week’s airstrikes on Palmyra, but the militias and Iran also have a broader strategic interest in seeing the U.S. garrison on the Baghdad-Damascus highway removed. This interest, combined with the growing number of attacks on U.S. sites elsewhere in Syria, means that further attacks are a serious possibility. – Washington Institute

Ari Cicurel and Blaise Misztal write: In the near-term, the United States must respond forcefully against the perpetrators of the Tanf attack, and the Iranian network supporting them, to deter further attacks. To protect U.S. personnel from further Iranian-backed attacks it is imperative that the Biden administration restore deterrence against Iran which has only be eroded by its limited and inconsistent retaliation for some past attacks, non-response to many others, withdrawal from Afghanistan, and reduction of U.S. forces in the Middle East. – JINSA


President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey has threatened to expel the ambassadors from 10 countries including the U.S., declaring them ‘persona non grata’ after they called for the release of a jailed philanthropist. – New York Times 

Turkish opposition parties are presenting an increasingly united and organized front aimed at replacing President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and even forcing early elections in the coming year to challenge his 19-year rule. – New York Times 

Seth J. Frantzman writes: Turkey has also threatened a new conflict in Syria if this doesn’t do enough to increase populism. Increasingly Ankara’s ruling party increases tensions with NATO, the West and the US every time it wants votes, positioning itself as one of the leading anti-western countries. Even Iran, Russia and China don’t have the same levels of extreme rhetoric. Oddly, Turkey remains a NATO member despite these incidents. – Jerusalem Post 

Tom Rogan writes: If Erdogan wants to expel foreign ambassadors for pointing out his injustices, that is his prerogative. But so must the United States also take a stand for what is right. It’s time for Kilic to be sent home. – Washington Examiner 

Selim Koru writes: Whether Yavaş runs or not, his popularity should be worrying. Gladiator is a nostalgic fantasy, and so is the idea of returning to a harmonious center-right order. At a time when technology, inequality, and great-power competition are accelerating change, Turkey needs to find a politics that builds up a new kind of society, one that dreams not of the republics of the past, but of those to come. – War on the Rocks 


Israel designated six leading Palestinian rights organizations as terrorist groups on Friday, in the latest blow to activists who say space for dissent in the occupied territories has steadily shrunk amid intimidation by Israeli and Palestinian authorities alike. – Washington Post  

A security source in Israel said on Sunday that there is clear-cut evidence, including footage and receipts, against the six Palestinians NGOs classified by the Defense Ministry as terror groups. – Haaretz  

The government approves a far-reaching plan that allocates NIS 30 billion ($9.4 billion) over five years to fight persistent gaps between Arab and Jewish Israelis. – Times of Israel  

In the coming months, Israel plans to ask the US to sell its new 5,000 pound GBU-72 bomb to the Israeli Defense Forces, sources here say, with the goal of utilizing it against Hamas’ subterranean bases. – Breaking Defense 

Jordan slammed Israel on Sunday, saying it “rejects and condemns” plans to build 1,355 housing units in the West Bank. Last week, the US expressed concern about Israeli plans to build 3,000 new homes in settlements, as well as the legalization of two illegal outposts. – Jerusalem Post 

Israel’s bombing of a building in the Gaza Strip that housed the Associated Press (AP) bureau during Operation Guardian of the Walls was an “own-goal,” former IDF general Nitzan Alon said on Sunday. – Jerusalem Post 

The US is “concerned” by the IDF’s intention to advance plans for 3,000 settler West Bank homes, including for the legalization of two outposts. – Jerusalem Post 

Israel and the US State Department clashed over the weekend after the Justice and Defense ministries on Friday declared that several leading Palestinian NGOs were arms of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) terrorist organization. – Jerusalem Post  

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett and Russian President Vladimir Putin agreed to continue the deconfliction mechanism between their air forces when it comes to Israeli strikes in Syria, in their first-ever meeting in Russia on Friday. – Jerusalem Post 

The British government announced on Thursday that it has stopped funneling direct funding to Palestinian education, as revealed by the NGO IMPACT-se. – Jerusalem Post 

IDF soldiers and Israel Police foiled an attempt to smuggle weapons and drugs across Israel’s border with Lebanon, the Police said on Saturday. – Jerusalem Post 

An envoy from the Shin Bet security service and the Foreign Ministry will be sent to the United States with “unequivocal” information proving six Palestinian human rights groups had terror ties that justify them being outlawed, a senior Israeli defense official said Sunday. – Times of Israel 

Israeli Communications Minister Yoaz Hendel and United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres agreed to cooperate on countering hateful, inciting antisemitic content present on online social media platforms. – Algemeiner  

Susie Linfield writes: In the current, often bewildering international context, the venomous attacks on Israel qua Israel offer a seductively easy, morally antiseptic—and, I would add, appallingly self-absorbed—way to intervene in foreign affairs. The hysterical hyperbole, the self-referential projections, the lazy conflations, the warped histories that abound today: All substitute for solidarity. What is needed, I believe, is an entry into the world of political thought, whose foundation is the ability to make distinctions within the context of history rather than to crush them. – The Atlantic  

Yonah Jeremy Bob writes: If the West does not accept the terrorist declarations, it also will not accept future criminal proceedings against many of the NGOs’ personnel and may ignore Israeli calls to cease dealings with the groups. Will Israel bring charges against European government officials for continuing to fund such groups? Significantly, more specific evidence to connect the dots will need to be produced if Gantz wants to avoid some of the worst fallout from Friday’s decision. – Jerusalem Post  

Seth J. Frantzman writes: The fact is that Syria and Iran are close to Russia and China and were never going to be US allies. Rather than sunk costs there, the US worked closely with Israel and prospered. In the long run, the US is drawing down its footprint in the region and has left Afghanistan. That makes Israel’s partnership more crucial. Would some experts have preferred the US drawdown while having the Assad regime as its ally and partner in the region? If the US is to confront China in the next decades, the ability to rely on a strong Israel has been borne out. – Jerusalem Post 

Seth J. Frantzman writes: This is different than recent statements from China during the Gaza conflict in May where Beijing was more critical of Israel and perhaps has come to see it as a potential point of confrontation in the wider US-China tensions that exist globally. America has often stressed the need for Israel to distance itself from China. US policymakers have not generally said the same about the meetings between Israeli and Russian officials – and Moscow also doesn’t talk up the idea that its ties with Israel somehow are at odds with close Israel-US ties. – Jerusalem Post 

Gulf States

The Qatari government, which has aided in the evacuation of tens of thousands of Afghans and backed American counterterrorism operations in the Middle East, is voicing frustration with the Biden administration for slow-walking a request to buy advanced drones from the U.S. – Wall Street Journal 

A former senior Saudi security official who helped oversee joint counter-terrorism efforts with the United States claimed in an interview with “60 Minutes” that the kingdom’s crown prince once spoke of killing a sitting Saudi monarch before his own father was crowned king. – Associated Press 

Qatar has warned governments they risk “shooting yourself in the foot” if they do not signal greater support to international energy companies and accept that gas needs to be part of the transition to meet carbon net zero goals. – Financial Times  

A former Saudi intelligence official who says Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman is out to kill him alleged in a U.S. television interview that he knows of a video in which the prince boasted he could kill then King Abdullah in 2014. – Bloomberg 

Middle East & North Africa

Libya’s chief diplomat says the transitional government is working to hold long-awaited elections later this year, but security and political and economic stability are necessary for a peaceful transition to a new government. – Associated Press 

Two Pakistani citizens were arrested in Cyprus on suspicion of planning to attack Israeli targets, Cypriot media reported over the weekend. – Times of Israel 

Seth J. Frantzman writes: It remains to be seen if the pro-Iran groups in Iraq can pressure the election commission to get more votes or alter the results. So far, things have been peaceful but there are undercurrents of threats that illustrate worse could come unless the groups linked to the Fatah Alliance get their way. – Jerusalem Post 

Korean Peninsula

A senior U.S. diplomat on Sunday urged North Korea to refrain from additional missile tests and resume nuclear diplomacy, days after the North fired off its first underwater-launched ballistic missile in two years. – Associated Press 

South Korea’s president said Monday he’ll keep striving to promote peace with North Korea through dialogue until the end of his term next May, after Pyongyang raised animosities with a resumption of provocative weapons tests. – Associated Press 

Few world leaders are as closely watched and as shrouded in mystery as Kim Jong Un. […]While Kim has proven the rumors wrong so far, developments in the past year suggest that behind closed doors, North Korea may be preparing for a day when Kim Jong Un is really gone. – Business Insider  



U.S. counterintelligence officials have begun a concerted push to warn companies and universities about the risks of working with Chinese entities in key emerging technologies such as artificial intelligence, biotechnology and quantum computing. – Washington Post  

President Xi Jinping vowed on Monday that China would always uphold world peace and international rules, amid concerns expressed by the United States and other countries over the nation’s increasing assertiveness globally. – Reuters  

Paul Krugman writes: China does, however, have an autocratic government — the kind of government that in other times and places has tended to respond to internal problems by looking for an external enemy. And China is also a superpower. It’s not hard to tell scary stories about where all this might lead. And with that, I return you to your regular worries about what’s going on in the United States. – New York Times 

Hal Brands writes: But recently, Beijing’s conduct has become brasher and more alarming. So it has begun to trigger the type of encirclement — the revival of the so-called Quad, the formation of Aukus, the hostility of countries from the Western Pacific to South Asia and beyond — Mackinder might have envisioned. China’s Eurasian challenge isn’t surprising to those with a long historical memory. The surprise would be if Beijing managed to succeed. – Bloomberg 

Peter Huessy writes: Mike Pillsbury warned in The Hundred-Year Marathon of China’s plan to replace the United States as the world’s greatest military and economic power by 2049. If the disarmament community gets its way, China will achieve its goal this decade—one-quarter of a century ahead of schedule. Not only will millions of U.S. manufacturing jobs have been lost in the process, but the reliable and credible U.S. nuclear deterrent, which was built over many decades, will disappear and never recover. – The National Interest 

Brian Radzinsky writes: A favorable view of the nuclear balance, qualitatively or quantitatively, could provide Chinese leaders with greater confidence in crises and a sense of greater opportunity in war. In peacetime, a favorable nuclear balance could also affect China’s willingness to enter disputes that incur some risk of nuclear escalation. […]All this could shift the balance of influence in Asia toward China. Much will depend on how key regional actors connect developments in the nuclear competition to broader judgments about U.S. and Chinese longer-term intentions, reliability, and power. – War on the Rocks 


South Asia

As the Islamic State-Khorasan is ramping up attacks in Afghanistan, Pakistan is using a network of informal channels to feed intelligence and technical support to the Taliban to combat the threat, according to two Taliban leaders. – Washington Post  

The U.S. is nearing a formalized agreement with Pakistan to use its airspace to conduct operations in Afghanistan, according to a CNN report Saturday. Though the U.S. military already uses Pakistan’s airspace for intelligence-gathering operations, a formalized agreement would be significant in guaranteeing that this access would continue. – Politico 

Southeast Asian leaders are meeting this week for their annual summit where Myanmar’s top general, whose forces seized power in February and shattered one of Asia’s most phenomenal democratic transitions, has been shut out for refusing to take steps to end the deadly violence. – Associated Press 

A radical Islamist party on Saturday said seven of its supporters have died in clashes with authorities in Pakistan’s eastern city of Lahore after two police officers were killed in the unrest. – Agence France-Presse 

Paul Kapur writes: The United States needs to be prepared to accept a certain amount of imbalance in its approach to South Asia: publicly criticizing bad Pakistani behavior; conditioning further aid to Pakistan on the implementation of more constructive Pakistani policies; and aggressively pursuing U.S.-India cooperation, even if doing so risks tipping the regional balance further in favor of India. Given the stakes in the Indo-Pacific, that is a price worth paying. The principle of equivalence is increasingly irrelevant to the current strategic environment and should no longer guide U.S. policy in the region. – The National interest 


Unions have folded. Political parties have shut down. Independent media outlets and civil rights groups have disappeared. The Hong Kong government, its authority backed fully by Beijing, is shutting down the city’s civil society, once the most vibrant in Asia, one organization at a time. – New York Times 

Australia is backing the purchase of mobile networks in six Pacific countries, a move that foreign-policy experts say is designed to block a military rival from buying the strategically important assets. – Wall Street Journal 

The White House sought to clarify a comment from President Biden about defending Taiwan against a hypothetical attack from China, saying he didn’t intend to signal new U.S. policy in the increasingly delicate situation. – Wall Street Journal 

Cambodia’s parliament on Monday passed constitutional amendments barring holders of the country’s top posts, including prime minister, from being citizens of other countries. – Reuters 

Taiwanese and U.S. officials have discussed how Taiwan can “meaningfully” participate at the United Nations just days before Chinese President Xi Jinping will give a speech to mark his country’s half century since accession to the global body. – Reuters 

Myanmar’s military rulers pledged on Sunday to cooperate “as much as possible” with a peace plan agreed with ASEAN, despite a stern rebuke of the regional bloc for excluding the country’s top commander from a summit this week. – Reuters 

Amnesty International said Monday it would close its two offices in Hong Kong this year, becoming the latest non-governmental organization to cease its operations amid a crackdown on political dissent in the city. – Associated Press 

Myanmar’s junta on Sunday labelled the United Nation’s latest rights report on the conflict-wracked nation an “incitement to violence” and accused the body of interfering in its internal affairs. – Agence France-Presse 

Kyrgyz President Sadyr Japarov has rejected the idea of hosting a U.S. military base in his country, saying such a move would place Kyrgyzstan in a “cat and mouse” game in terms of its relations with Washington and with Russia. – Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty  

Gary Schmitt and Michael Mazza write: A fight over Taiwan’s membership in the U.N. might at a minimum lead the U.N. to reverse its dubious reading of Resolution 2758 and in turn open the door for Taiwan’s greater participation in international organizations. But it could also move the U.S. and its allies to take a more principled position toward an island democracy that is increasingly important to the global order that the U.N. was intended to promote. – Wall Street Journal 

Noah Rothman writes: It would have been nice if Joe Biden was articulating a coherent policy on the stage last night, but the White House has made it clear that the president doesn’t know what he’s talking about. That incomprehensibly foolish misstep could have disastrous implications. Washington should take this opportunity to restore stability to the region with a clear statement that leaves no room for uncertainty: The United States will go to war to defend Taiwan. But that would be to expect a level of competence from this administration we’ve not yet seen. – Commentary Magazine 


Russia’s boldest moves to censor the internet began in the most mundane of ways — with a series of bureaucratic emails and forms. The messages, sent by Russia’s powerful internet regulator, demanded technical details — like traffic numbers, equipment specifications and connection speeds — from companies that provide internet and telecommunications services across the country. Then the black boxes arrived. – New York Times 

Russians hoping to apply for an immigrant visa to the United States are now required to travel to the US Embassy in Warsaw, the State Department confirmed Sunday, while blaming restrictions imposed by Moscow. – Agence France-Presse 

A joint Chinese-Russian naval armada has sailed around Japan following a joint exercise in the Sea of Japan, sailing through a narrow international waterway between two of Japan’s main islands. – Defense News 

Russell A. Berman and Ricky Gill write: The Chinese have also found ways to extract leverage from Washington’s incompetence. […]Like the Russians, the Chinese are benefiting from Biden’s weakness on NS2, as Germany’s Port of Mukran on the Baltic Sea where the pipeline materials are stored figures prominently in Beijing’s Polar Silk Road. This is sadly predictable for an administration pushing an infrastructure plan and green energy initiatives that rely on Chinese solar panel production. In this era of great power competition, the Biden administration needs to be called out on its three strikes in pipeline politics, military basing, and mineral resources. – The National Interest 


The European Union is facing a growing challenge from Poland that is pitting its own institutions against each other and leaving member states divided: What to do when a member repeatedly violates rules agreed on by the bloc’s 27 countries, but shows no intention of leaving? – New York Times 

Now Mr. Zemmour, who says he has drawn inspiration from former President Donald Trump, is harnessing his celebrity to explore a run for president, an effort that is shaking up French politics. Polls show he has inched ahead of the far right’s longtime standard-bearer, Marine Le Pen, to become the leading challenger to President Emmanuel Macron in next year’s election. – Wall Street Journal 

Matteo Salvini, a former interior minister and the head of Italy’s right-wing League party, is on trial on kidnapping charges related to his denial of entry to a humanitarian ship carrying migrants and asylum seekers abandoned at sea in 2019. – Washignton Post   

Tens of thousands of supporters of Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban and his right-wing government marched in Budapest on Saturday in a demonstration of unity behind the populist leader’s contentious policies that have led to challenges to his power both in Hungary and the European Union. – Associated Press  

US President Joe Biden and French President Emmanuel Macron discussed strengthening European defenses in a telephone call Friday, the White House said, as Washington seeks to mend ties after a bitter row over submarine contracts. – Agence France-Presse 

Germany’s interior minister on Sunday said the country would increase controls on the border with Poland, as police broke up an armed group of far-right activists trying to prevent migrants from entering. – Agence France-Presse 

Talks between Britain and the European Union to resolve problems with the Brexit agreement regarding Northern Ireland will move to London next week with the UK government warning on Saturday that “substantial gaps” remained. – Agence France-Presse 

A Munich court will decide on Monday whether a German woman believed to have joined the Islamic State jihadist group is guilty of the war crime of letting a five-year-old Yazidi “slave” girl die of thirst in the sun. – Agence France-Presse 

German Chancellor Angela Merkel is worried “it is getting harder and harder” to find compromises between European Union countries on hot-button issues like migration and the rule of law. – Politico  

Poland’s prime minister has accused the EU of making demands of Warsaw with a “gun to our head”, urging Brussels to withdraw threats of legal and financial sanctions if it wanted to resolve the country’s rule of law crisis. – Financial Times  

German chancellor Angela Merkel has said she is “deeply concerned” about the “ever-widening spiral” of conflict between Warsaw and Brussels over the rule of law. – Financial Times  

Michelle Goldberg writes: And in the end, Merkel didn’t leave the border open, eventually negotiating a controversial deal with President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey to take in asylum seekers and prevent them from continuing on to Europe. She didn’t remain in power for 16 years by letting emotion outpace her sense of realpolitik. All the same, in absorbing a million desperate people at a time when others were putting up razor wire, Germany did something great, something the rest of the world could learn from as wars and ecological calamity send many millions more trudging across the globe in search of sanctuary. – New York Times 

Nicholas Lokker writes: None of the Associated Trio nations are currently ready for EU accession. Despite their progress, they remain far from meeting the full Copenhagen Criteria for membership. […]Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine have all demonstrated a clear desire to integrate with the bloc. These countries should not be held back by those who do not want to integrate. By offering a dedicated approach to the Associated Trio, the European Union stands to gain geopolitical influence in the region. This would also help showcase the enduring ideological appeal of the European project. – New Eastern Europe 

Melinda Haring writes: Moscow’s intentions in Transcarpathia thus are not hard to discern. Russia wants to destabilize western Ukraine. When Russia forcibly annexed Crimea and gobbled up some of eastern Ukraine in 2014, Russian Orthodox priests in the Carpathians were quick to describe the conflict as a civil war within Ukraine. This fiction helps to bolster Moscow’s contention that it was simply reclaiming what always belonged to it. – The National Interest 


A United Nations humanitarian flight to the Ethiopian region of Tigray, epicenter of a year-old war that threatens to cause deepening famine, was ordered to abort a landing on Friday as government airstrikes hit the area for a fourth day. – New York Times 

But in Somalia, as in countries like Yemen and Syria, the United States turned to a different playbook, eschewing major troop deployments in favor of spies, Special Operations raids and drone strikes. Private contractors and local fighters were recruited for risky tasks. The mission was narrow at first, a hunt for Qaeda fugitives, only later expanding to include fighting Al Shabab and building up Somali security forces. – New York Times 

The apparent detention by Sudan’s military of the country’s prime minister and a large number of his cabinet and party members early Monday morning plunged the country’s fragile democratic transition into disarray just days after the capital, Khartoum, was swept by the biggest pro-democracy street protests since 2019, when longtime dictator Omar Hassan al-Bashir was toppled by a wave of popular discontent. – Washington Post  

Gunmen have attacked a prison in southwest Nigeria, freeing around 575 inmates, officials said Saturday. – Associated Press 

A U.N. Security Council mission that is visiting Mali this weekend to assess the security situation is urging the country’s authorities to set elections for February to meet agreements reached with a West African regional bloc after a coup last year. – Associated Press 

Africa’s last absolute monarch on Saturday called for calm and dialogue in the kingdom of Eswatini following a visit by regional mediators to try resolve a national crisis and deadly unrest. But opposition political parties and civil society groups, have rejected the call to talks. – Agence France-Presse 

The British High Commission in Nairobi on Sunday said it was “fully cooperating” with a police investigation into the 2012 murder of a Kenyan woman last seen with a British soldier. – Agence France-Presse 

Latin America

Colombia said it has arrested its most-wanted drug-trafficking kingpin, the leader of a rural militia of more than 1,000 fighters who American prosecutors say oversaw a lucrative cocaine-smuggling network to the U.S. – Wall Street Journal 

Ecuador’s attorney general is investigating President Guillermo Lasso after an opposition politician filed allegations of tax fraud against the president on the basis of the Pandora Papers. – Washington Post  

U.S. officials in Colombia are prohibited from working with former FARC combatants such as Catatumbo — and sometimes, from being in the same room with them. […]The FARC’s inclusion on the State Department’s list of Foreign Terrorist Organizations restricts U.S. officials from funding programs aimed at advancing the peace accords in which former combatants participate or benefit. – Washington Post  



Google said in an internal document that it had successfully “slowed down” European privacy rules in collaboration with other tech companies, according to a legal filing released on Friday. – New York Times 

Facebook in India has been selective in curbing hate speech, misinformation and inflammatory posts, particularly anti-Muslim content, according to leaked documents obtained by The Associated Press, even as its own employees cast doubt over the company’s motivations and interests. – Associated Press 

Facebook held back from doing all it could to stop users from being radicalized and US election misinformation from flooding the social network, according to media reports Friday. – Agence France-Presse 

Sen. Richard Blumenthal on Sunday tore into Facebook, calling the company’s stated attitudes on regulation a sham. – Politico 

Microsoft Corp. said the hackers behind the SolarWinds cyberattack are engaged in a fresh campaign to compromise global networks by targeting the tech supply chain, including resellers and providers of cloud technology. – Bloomberg 

At the same time as Israeli doctors were contending with the ramifications of the significant blow to their health system, the White House National Security Council was convening a virtual conference on the topic of countering ransomware. Over 30 countries, including Israel and the United Arab Emirates, participated. – Jewish Insider 

Alex Harman writes: For an industry built on disrupting and displacing established incumbents, it is shocking how quickly a few dominant Big Tech companies have solidified their position by employing the worst anticompetitive tactics of the old economy. By limiting competition, copying competitors, and stifling new innovation, Big Tech platforms like Apple, Amazon, Facebook, Google, and Microsoft are robbing users like us from the promise of new and better products and services that we may never know. – The Hill 

J.D. Work writes: Western policymakers face a very different prospective future than the one long assumed. This future is one in which the offensive cyber power available to the United States and its allies in crisis is not an overwhelming option available anytime it is needed, but whose employment should be considered only under the greatest restraint. […]It is vital to ensure that these tools remain available as options to contest Chinese efforts to compromise U.S. critical infrastructure systems and networks, blunt malicious disruption and destruction, and prevent Beijing from escalating cyber exchanges. – War on the Rocks 


NASA is aiming to launch its uncrewed lunar mission Artemis 1 in February next year, the space agency said Friday, the first step in America’s plan to return humans to the Moon. – Agence France-Presse  

One of U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin’s top jobs at the NATO ministerial conference this week was to keep steering the 30-member alliance’s focus to China, but some Eastern European allies say the U.S.-China rivalry must not overshadow concerns about Russia. – Defense News  

The Marine Corps has taken possession of two MQ-9A Reapers that it was previously leasing from General Atomics ASI, the company announced Wednesday, an important step in advancing the service’s No. 2 acquisition priority. – Breaking Defense  

The US Army’s future Common Tactical Truck will be an “essential transportation link” for soldiers on the future multi-domain battlefield, according to service acquisition documents posted online. – Breaking Defense 

The Marine Corps is expanding its mission set to include operating robots in shallow waters, a first for the service that comes as it prepares to operate on islands in the Indo-Pacific. – USNI News 

Michael Lind writes: The alternative to trade war is neither unilateral nor universal economic disarmament. It is economic arms control. The sooner that policymakers, politicians, and pundits accept that, the sooner the United States will be able to reform its institutions as well as its ideology to flourish in a world which it can no longer dominate but must share with other great powers. – The National Interest 

Long War

Islamic State claimed responsibility for an attack on a village this week in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, according to a statement published on Friday on its affiliated Telegram channels. – Reuters   

The U.S. military says it killed a senior al-Qaida leader in an airstrike Friday in northwest Syria. – Associated Press 

An explosion at an eatery in Uganda’s capital was an apparent terrorist act, President Yoweri Museveni said on Sunday. – Associated Press