Fdd's overnight brief

October 28, 2019

In The News

Islamic State

The ideological leader of Islamic State died in a U.S.-led raid in northwestern Syria, President Trump said Sunday, fulfilling a long-held U.S. goal and marking the most significant setback for the militant group since losing the last of its territorial caliphate earlier this year. – Wall Street Journal

The violent death of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the leader of the Islamic State, in a raid by United States forces announced Sunday by President Trump, is a significant blow to the world’s most fearsome terrorist group. But analysts said it was unlikely to freeze attempts by Islamic State franchises and sympathizers around the world to sow mayhem and fear in the name of their extremist ideology. – New York Times

Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi led the terror group Islamic State as it conquered territory across Syria and Iraq and pulled the U.S. back into another Middle East war before losing his self-described caliphate. – Wall Street Journal

When Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi took the reins of the Islamic State of Iraq in 2010, few had heard of the organization or its new leader, then an austere religious scholar with wire-frame glasses and no known aptitude for fighting and killing. – Washington Post

A day after an American raid killed Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, a separate attack killed the man who was considered his likely successor, according to the leader of a Syrian Kurdish  militia and a Syrian activist. – New York Times 

For both Obama and Trump, the moments represented a measure of vindication — evidence that each had demonstrated the resolve as commander in chief to finish the job in the face of considerable risk and criticism from the opposing political party. – Washington Post

The Russian Defense Ministry’s spokesman, Major General Igor Konashenkov, refuted President Trump’s statement, stating in part: “The Russian Defense Ministry has no reliable information about U.S. servicemen conducting an operation for ‘yet another’ elimination of the former Daesh leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi in the Turkish-controlled part of the Idlib de-escalation zone.” – The Daily Beast

National security adviser Robert O’Brien revealed that U.S. forces named its mission to kill ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi after Kayla Mueller. – Washington Examiner

Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi was under surveillance for weeks and evaded “two or three” American strikes before blowing himself up as U.S. special forces stormed his northern Syrian hideout. – Bloomberg

On October 27, 2019, following media reports that Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi, the leader of the Islamic State (ISIS), was killed in a raid by U.S. forces, supporters of the organization on social media express skepticism, stress the need to rely only on official ISIS outlets, and defiantly declare that jihad will continue, even if the news is true. Following are examples of the reactions  – Middle East Media Research Institute

Editorial: Beyond the oil, the Baghdadi raid underscores the anti-terrorist purpose of maintaining a U.S. military presence. […]In his better moments, Mr. Trump seems to understand this. As he basks in the success of the Idlib raid, he should rethink his retreat from Syria in a still dangerous world. – Wall Street Journal

Aaron Blake writes: President Trump announced Sunday morning that a U.S. operation in Syria led to the death of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the leader of the Islamic State. Three things about the announcement were striking. – Washington Post

Gerald F. Seib writes: For Mr. Trump, the lesson is that eliminating Baghdadi certainly represents a significant short-term victory—but just as certainly won’t be enough to end what still promises to be a long struggle with ISIS and Islamic extremists more broadly, in Syria and beyond.- Wall Street Journal

Brett McGurk writes: Trump deserves full credit for approving the operation that led to Baghdadi’s demise. It’s a shame the information that led to the raid apparently did not come to him before the tragic decision to abruptly pull U.S. Special Forces from much of northeastern Syria. Because everything we already know about the raid reinforces just how valuable, unique and hard-fought the small and sustainable American presence there had been. – Washington Post

Thomas L. Friedman writes: Only Trump would boast of defeating ISIS and thinking that all that needs to be done now is to protect the Middle East’s oil wells and America’s favorite dictators — and not its wells of decency. – New York Times

Jessica Stern writes: ISIS will eventually be defeated. But we are fighting the jihadi movement, not a single jihadi group. And the jihadi movement is just one manifestation of the fundamentalist impulse — the desire to turn the clock back to an imaginary simpler time. – New York Times

David E. Sanger writes: Mr. Trump’s approach to the region has never been consistent, but he has struck consistent themes. The first is that the United States does not need to keep forces in the region to reach out and kill its enemies. […]The risk, of course, is that America looks like a force of exploitation, willing to enter hostile foreign lands for two reasons only: killing terrorists and extracting resources. The mission of the American Century — helping other nations to develop their economies and build democratic institutions — is missing from the strategy. – New York Times 

Jonathan Lemire writes: Despite the Trumpian flourishes, the president’s White House reveal of al-Baghdadi’s death gave him a destined-for-history image to place alongside Barack Obama’s iconic announcement of the killing of Osama Bin Laden. It also offered him a reprieve from the escalating impeachment inquiry and a ready-made line for this 2020 reelection campaign. – Associated Press 

Tom Rogan writes: A new leader will rise. Trump must double down on his decision to retain some forces in eastern Syria’s Deir ez-Zor province in order to marginalize that leader’s power. Let’s be clear that controlling Deir ez-Zor’s oil fields is not a means to American greed, but a means to ensuring the Kurdish peoples and Sunni-Arab tribes local to that area, rather than ISIS, Russia, or Iran, get prosperity and peace from their lands. […]Brave Americans have honored their fallen comrades and brave men and women such as Kayla Mueller and James Foley. An evil man is dead, and another American enemy vanquished. But the struggle continues. – Washington Examiner

Tiana Lowe writes: We ought to celebrate today. But remember that while Baghdadi may be dead and the ground game of ISIS demolished, the war on terror never ends. – Washington Examiner

James Stavridis writes: Killing Baghdadi was a necessary and welcome step; but it alone is not sufficient to defeat ISIS. Above all, the U.S. needs to retain a small, quick-reacting force in the region for this type of operation, despite frustration with what President Donald Trump calls the “blood-stained sands.” The alternative is letting ISIS rise again. – Bloomberg

Spencer Ackerman writes: Terrorism, as old as human history, will indeed be present throughout our lifetimes. But that elides the choice America makes to wage a war against it that only makes jihadism worse. While the bombs drop, American officials never get around to addressing Mattis’ undefined “root causes,” because some of those root causes are the bombs themselves. And all that means Baghdadi’s death gains the U.S. as much as the broader war on terrorism does: ultimately nothing, only a fleeting feeling of national pride briefly concealing the worsening wreckage of a generation. – The Daily Beast

Graeme Wood writes: For years now, the hardest thing for outsiders to understand about the Islamic State has been its ability to inspire—to get some Muslims to leave comfortable circumstances to fight and die. For the past year, even as the world has diverted its attention from ISIS, the group’s ability to inspire has been severely diminished, and almost no one is leaving home to die for ISIS, or choosing to die in suicide attacks for ISIS at home. The inspiration is gone, and the party is over, for now. – The Atlantic

Michael Rubin writes:In short, Trump and U.S. forces deserve congratulations for ridding the earth of the murderous would-be caliph. But to believe the forces which propelled him to power and infamy will dissipate with his death would be naïve. Trump has closed the chapter on the end of the beginning, but the next chapters in Baghdadi’s concept of the caliphate will play out for years, decades, and perhaps centuries to come. – The National Interest


The United Nations’ atomic agency is seeking a new leader in an increasingly tight competition overshadowed by Iran’s nuclear activities. – Wall Street Journal

Iran would need oil priced at $194.6 a barrel to balance its budget next year, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) said. – Reuters

The death of Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi was “not a big deal”, Iran’s information minister Mtukohammad Javad Azari-Jahromi tweeted on Sunday, accusing Iran’s longtime foe of creating Islamic State. – Reuters

Amnesty International has condemned Iranian authorities for cutting off the fingers of a man convicted of theft. – BBC

An Iranian lawyer representing two French researchers in custody in Tehran says that prosecutors have given no evidence of spying and security charges against them, the semi-official ISNA news agency reported on Monday. – Associated Press 

Michael Rubin and Alex Vatanka write: What Iran needs is not maximum pressure, but smart pressure: Trump and Pompeo should wield a big stick against the regime, but if they seek positive change, then they also must both simultaneously shield the Iranian public from its bruises and perhaps even offer independent Iranian civil society some carrots. – Fox News

Eric R Mandel writes: Iranian and Turkish hegemonic ambitions may one day cause them to come into conflict with one another. That day seems far off, and the unintended consequences of that scenario could lead to a rise of sectarian violence, once again drawing America into the region, this time without any cards to play to influence the situation. – Jerusalem Post


President Trump knew the Central Intelligence Agency and Special Operations commandos were zeroing in on the location for Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the Islamic State leader, when he ordered American troops to withdraw from northern Syria earlier this month, intelligence, military and counterterrorism officials said on Sunday. – New York Times

The Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces and the Syrian government reached the deal on Oct. 13, following President Trump’s announcement that he was withdrawing U.S. troops that had worked with the SDF to fight Islamic State. – Wall Street Journal

Renewed clashes between Kurdish and Turkish forces tested a shaky cease-fire in northern Syria on Friday, as the Russia-backed Syrian government moved troops into the area in part of its efforts to reclaim territory it ceded during the eight-year war. – Wall Street Journal

President Trump was persuaded to leave at least several hundred troops behind in Syria only when he was told that his decision to pull them out would risk control of oil fields in the country’s east, according to U.S. officials. – Washington Post

The Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) said on Sunday it had agreed to withdraw more than 30 km (19 miles) from the Turkish border, an announcement welcomed by Damascus which said Turkey should now end its “aggression” in northeast Syria. – Reuters

U.S. President Donald Trump’s suggestion on Sunday that Exxon Mobil or another U.S. oil company operate Syrian oil fields drew rebukes from legal and energy experts. – Reuters

Mike Giglio writes: In Syria, aligning with the United States has often proved costly. Throughout eight years of civil war, Syrians who tied their fortunes to the changing whims of American policy have been systematically arrested, killed, and driven from the country. […]Now, with Trump having suddenly decided this month to pull American forces out of northern Syria, unleashing a Turkish invasion and chaotic days of violence and displacement, the U.S.-allied Syrians who remain in the country are having to choose whether to press ahead with their own unlikely causes or escape. – The Atlantic

Bilal Wahab writes: Despite this highly uncertain picture, the United States remains distinctly capable of limiting the damage to the Kurdish population, finding a path toward peace, and stymying an Islamic State resurgence. The first step in doing so is making the ceasefire stick and transforming it into a durable truce, even if one short of full peace. More urgently on this count, Washington must strive to achieve a cessation of hostilities, including any rumblings of ethnic war, with its potential for ethnic cleansing and other war crimes. – Washington Institute


Turkey will clear northeast Syria of Kurdish YPG militia if Russia does not fulfill its obligations under an accord that helped end a Turkish offensive in the region, President Tayyip Erdogan said on Saturday. – Reuters

Turkey is close to reaching a deal with Moscow over the purchase of Su-35 fighter jets as well as co-manufacturing some components of the Russian-made jets, Turkish sources said Friday. – Daily Sabah

Human rights organisations on Friday accused Turkey of “forcibly” deporting refugees to war-torn Syria in the months leading up to its military incursion in the neighbouring country. – Agence France-Presse

A Turkish soldier died in hospital after an attack by the Kurdish YPG militia in Syria’s Ras Al Ain region, Turkey’s Defense Ministry said on Monday, bringing the death toll from the attack to two. – Reuters


Israel’s prime minister and his main rival opened a new round of unity talks Sunday in the latest effort to break a political stalemate and avoid an unprecedented third parliamentary election in less than a year. – Associated Press

The military investigation into a Hezbollah missile strike on an IDF ambulance along the northern border has led to disciplinary action against several senior officers, after a series of significant failures were found. – Jerusalem Post

Israeli troops carried out raids throughout the West Bank late Sunday and early Monday, arresting 19 Palestinians and escorting Jewish worshipers to a flashpoint holy site. – Times of Israel

Israeli police and military are searching for an Israel Defense Forces soldier who has been missing for over 24 hours, the army said Monday. – Ynet

Ksenia Svetlova writes: Despite the frustration and disappointment, we returned from Amman with a clear sense that repairing or restarting the relationship is within the realm of the possible. Israel could win back Jordan with the right media coverage and attention, by revving up significant economic projects that would help resolve Jordan’s water shortages and create jobs, with an effort to break though the deadlock in the Palestinian arena. – Jerusalem Post


Masked and black clad security forces fired barrages of pepper spray, tear gas and sound bombs into crowds of antigovernment protesters in a central Baghdad square for hours on Saturday evening, timing their assault at one point to a shutdown of electricity that left the area enveloped in darkness. – New York Times

Iraqi security forces clashed with protesters Friday during some of the fiercest anti-government demonstrations in years, leaving at least 30 people dead, according to the country’s human rights commission. – Washington Post

At least seven protesters were killed and 38 wounded in the Iraqi city of Hilla early on Sunday when members of the Iranian-backed Badr Organization militia opened fire on demonstrators, police and health sources said. – Reuters

Iraq has suspended Saudi Arabian state-owned broadcasters Al-Hadath TV and Al Arabiya, Al-Hadath said on Saturday, amid renewed anti-government protests that saw scores killed over two days in clashes with security forces and militia groups. – Reuters

Anthony H. Cordesman writes: Iraq is not really “burning” – at least yet. It is going to take far more than narrow military aid and counterterrorism efforts, however, to bring the changes Iraq needs. Without them, today’s demonstrations and protests can only be the prelude to more extremism, violence, and tragedy. – Center for Strategic and International Studies


The Lebanese army said it fired gunshots into the air after a clash at a protest road-block near the northern city of Tripoli on Saturday, injuring several people. – Reuters

Protesters poured back onto streets and squares across Lebanon on Saturday, despite army efforts to unblock roads, with no end in sight to a crisis that has crippled the country for 10 days and kept banks closed. – Reuters

In light of the crisis, even before the outbreak of the current mass protests, some Lebanese politicians and journalists held Hizbullah responsible for the economic situation in the country. They claimed that the organization’s activity in the service of Iran had caused trouble for Lebanon and brought its economy to the point of collapse. Hizbullah, for its part, placed the blame for the crisis on Riad Salameh, the governor of Lebanon’s central bank, who implemented the sanctions on the organization, although this accusation was widely rejected. – Middle East Media Research Institute

Jesse Rosenfeld writes: Lebanon’s political establishment is digging in as a new vision for the country comes together in the streets. What has become a protracted battle over turning the page on the political system that lead the country into and out of civil war is now transforming how people see their future and each other. – The Daily Beast

Arabian Peninsula

U.S. Energy Secretary Rick Perry said on Saturday that conversations with Saudi Arabia on a nuclear program are going forward. – Reuters

Dozens of global policymakers and tycoons will attend a Saudi investment summit starting Tuesday, helping the kingdom turn the page on a critic’s murder that triggered a mass boycott last year. – Agence France-Presse

Abu Bakr Al-Faqih writes: In terms of the conflict itself, the international community, and particularly the United States, must place maximum pressure on both Saudi Arabia and the Houthis to abide by international laws that criminalize the use of children in armed conflict, as well as publicly condemn Saudis’ attacks on educational facilities. External and internal steps directed at saving Yemen’s educational system from collapse are vital. Only when teachers are able to do their jobs and educational facilities and children are not targeted will Yemen’s youth be able to choose receiving an education over joining armed groups. – Washington Institute

Middle East & North Africa

Ever since the national trauma of the war in Iraq, both winning presidential candidates have run on pledges to extricate the U.S. from costly Middle Eastern entanglements. […]The past decade has shown, however, that the U.S. can’t wish away the Middle East, no matter how tempting that may be for American voters.  – Wall Street Journal

Unemployment and sluggish economic growth are fuelling social tension and popular protests in several Arab countries, the International Monetary Fund said Monday. – Agence France-Presse

Anthony H. Cordesman writes: The analysis warns that these same structural problems are likely to shape many new civil conflicts and outbreaks of extremism, terrorism, and civil conflict in the MENA region, South Asia, and Central Asia. It also warns that there will be powerful and enduring destabilizing forces regardless of how successful the U.S., its partners, and the host country are in terms of defeating terrorist movements and insurgencies. – Center for Strategic and International Studies

Korean Peninsula

Internal Egyptian government documents show officials in Cairo scrambling to do damage control after U.S. spy agencies uncovered an alleged scheme to smuggle North Korean military cargo into the country in defiance of international sanctions. – Washington Post

North Korea on Sunday said it’s running out of patience with the United States over what it described as hostile policies and unilateral disarmament demands, and warned that a close personal relationship between the leaders alone wouldn’t be enough to prevent nuclear diplomacy from derailing. – Associated Press

North Korea said on Sunday there has been no progress in the North Korea-United States relations, and hostilities that could lead to an exchange of fire have continued, according to North Korea’s state news agency KCNA. – Reuters

South Korea proposed talks with North Korea on how to handle the North’s Mt Kumgang resort, once a rare example of cooperation between the Koreas, which Pyongyang wants removed amid frayed ties, Seoul’s Unification Ministry said on Monday. – Reuters


China has stepped up its charm offensive to attract U.S. and other foreign companies in recent weeks, seeking to offset the debilitating impact of the trade war while still exchanging blistering comments with Washington. – Wall Street Journal

The elite Central Committee of China’s ruling Communist Party will hold a closed-door meeting from Monday to Thursday to set the major policies for the year ahead and beyond, and probably discuss crises ranging from Hong Kong to the trade war with Washington. – Reuters

Chinese Vice Premier Liu He had a phone call with U.S. trade officials as both countries confirmed technical consultations on some parts of a trade agreement were basically completed, China’s Ministry of Commerce said in a statement on Saturday. – Reuters

The head of the Justice Department task force on China pledged today to continue prosecuting espionage cases regardless of trade negotiations with Beijing. – Breaking Defense 

Editorial: President Xi Jinping and his fellow Communists appreciate that with this prize Europe is directing the world’s attention to China’s larger assault on the Uighur people. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has called this assault “reminiscent of the 1930s.” The U.S. government has begun to take a stronger line on behalf of the Uighurs, imposing sanctions on the Chinese officials who are responsible. Good to see Europe join in. – Wall Street Journal

Jude Blanchette writes: Taking place nearly 600 days after previous plenary session—the longest gap since the start of the post-Mao era—the meeting comes amidst mounting internal and external challenges for the Party’s leadership including unrest in Hong Kong, the upcoming election in Taiwan, growing hostility with the United States, and an economy growing at the slowest pace in three decades. These difficulties have prompted speculation that Chinese leader Xi Jinping is facing a growing backlash amongst the Party elite, but the focus of the upcoming plenum on a key element of “Xi Jinping Thought” indicates that he remains firmly in power. – Center for Strategic and International studies


In the last five years, WhatsApp has become second only to Facebook as a way for Afghans to communicate with one another, and with the outside world. The app, which is owned by Facebook, has now also fully penetrated the highest echelons of the Afghan government and military. – New York Times

U.S. President Donald Trump’s top negotiator for Afghanistan was in Kabul on Sunday to brief the Afghan president on peace efforts on his first trip back since Trump ended talks with the Taliban aimed at ending America’s longest war. – Reuters

Michael Rubin writes: For Trump, one of the major reasons to retreat from Afghanistan is the cost of continued operations — easily $30 billion per year, even at the current reduced levels. But, encouraging a dialogue inside Afghanistan would cost little to nothing. It might deny the ambitious Khalilzad a central seat at the central podium and the mechanism to shore up his diplomatic credentials and business contacts, but it would provide a path to a more solid diplomatic outcome for Afghanistan, one that does not hand the country to the Taliban, Pakistan, China, or Russia on a silver platter. – Washington Examiner


Police officers in Hong Kong on Sunday fired tear gas and fought with angry demonstrators outside a luxury hotel, another sign of fraying civility in a financial hub roiled by nearly five months of protests. […]Demonstrators carried signs saying, “Justice will prevail” and “Oppose the Communist Party, fight against totalitarianism.” – New York Times

Fat Boy oversees 50 or so Hong Kong protesters, ages 15 to 35, who focus their attacks on the police, government offices and Chinese-owned banks or other businesses they view as hostile to their movement. […]They are part of a core of combative young agitators, garbed in black, who have come to define the antigovernment protests that have convulsed this semiautonomous territory for more than four months and that have posed a bold challenge to the authority of China’s ruling Communist Party. – New York Times

Southeast Asian countries fighting Islamic State’s influence in the region lauded the killing of its leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi but said security forces were preparing for a long battle to thwart the jihadist group’s ideology. – Reuters


Maria Butina, a convicted Russian operative who infiltrated conservative groups during the 2016 presidential election, has been deported to Russia. – Wall Street Journal

The White House national security adviser on Sunday emphasized that Moscow is not an ally of the US despite President Trump giving Russia a heads up about the military raid on Islamic State terror leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi in Syria. – New York Post

David Axe writes: As tensions between Russia and the West escalate and Russia cements its land-grab in Ukraine, U.S. and allied military planners have cast a nervous gaze on this contentious bit of real estate. If the new cold war turns hot, the Suwalki Gap just might be where the fighting starts. – The Daily Beast


The European Union extended the Brexit deadline until Jan. 31, with an earlier exit possible if the U.K.’s Parliament passes a withdrawal deal, European Council President Donald Tusk said in a tweet Monday. – Wall Street Journal

The Trump administration restored a small trade benefit to Ukraine late Friday, two years after the benefits were revoked on grounds that the country wasn’t protecting U.S. intellectual property rights. – Wall Street Journal

A former U.S. spy, pardoned by Italy in connection with the CIA kidnapping of a terrorism suspect in Milan, has fled from Italy to the United States fearing for her safety, Italian newspaper Il Corriere della Sera on Sunday quoted her as saying. – Reuters

French Interior Minister Christophe Castaner, in a letter to police prefects seen by Reuters, called on Sunday for increased vigilance to prevent possible revenge attacks following the death of Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. – Reuters

France wants clarity from Britain before it can consider extending the deadline for Brexit negotiations with the European Union, French European Affairs Minister Amelie de Montchalin said on Sunday. – Bloomberg

On paper, the Baltic nations appear to have closely aligned defense modernization needs that make the joint procurement of advanced military equipment a no-brainer. After all, Latvia, Estonia and Lithuania have historically shared national interests, are currently facing a similar threat from Russia and each have relatively small defense budgets. […]But then there’s the reality of the situation. – Defense News

Dalibor Rohac writes: Both the E.U. and the U.K. face many urgent matters, including conflicts in Syria and Ukraine, a looming economic downturn, rising authoritarianism in member states such as Hungary, and long-term challenges posed by an ailing transatlantic partnership and the rise of China. European leaders can’t afford to squander any more time and energy on a country that has its own political priorities. The U.K. is a distraction.  – Washington Post

Andreas Kluth writes: So von der Leyen and the rest of the Eurocrat elite are right to be anxious about geopolitics. They know that Europe will never turn into a carnivore. Realists like Sigmar Gabriel want the EU at least to become “flexitarian,” by occasionally biting with whatever incisors it has (usually euros). In the long run, none of this is reassuring. – Bloomberg


Leaders from more than 40 African nations descended on the southern Russian city of Sochi last week, shaking hands, snapping photos and inking billions of dollars in business deals. President Vladimir Putin met with six presidents on Thursday alone. – Washington Post

Four Burundian journalists arrested this week were charged on Saturday with undermining state security, an editor at their newspaper tweeted, as Burundi’s government clamps down on journalists and human rights groups ahead of elections in 2020. – Reuters

Michael Rubin writes: Although the United Kingdom, Norway, Denmark, the Netherlands, and Germany do provide some additional development assistance and have created a Somaliland Development Fund, albeit at $15 million per year, this remains several orders of magnitude below what Somalia receives. […]Somaliland is not now in danger, but its success may be tarnished if Somalilanders blame their problems only on the lack of international recognition—something which will likely come sooner rather than later as Somalia falls farther behind and teeters on the brink of chaos. – American Enterprise Institute

The Americas

The Transportation Department announced Friday that it would suspend flights from the United States to nine airports in Cuba beginning in December. […]The suspensions were made at the request of Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who endorsed the measure as “in line with the president’s foreign policy toward Cuba,” according to a statement from the State Department, which has targeted Cuba in the last year over its support for President Nicolás Maduro of Venezuela. – New York Times

Brazil and the United Arab Emirates have agreed to expand trade between the two nations and foster investment fund partnerships in sectors such as agribusiness, infrastructure, energy and defense, according to a joint statement released on Sunday. – Reuters

A Marine combat veteran who served in Iraq and was deported to El Salvador this week said he would fight for America again and hopes his country would not turn its back on him as he grapples with life in a dangerous country he has not known since he was three years old. – NBC News


Microsoft Corp. MSFT 0.56% ’s win of a landmark Pentagon cloud-computing contract adds force to the software company’s effort to unseat Amazon.com Inc. AMZN -1.09% as the undisputed leader in the multibillion-dollar cloud-computing market. – Wall Street Journal

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson is preparing to grant China’s Huawei technologies Co Ltd access to the UK’s future 5G telecoms network, the Sunday Times reported on Sunday. – Reuters

China’s largely rubber stamp parliament has passed a new law on cryptography as the country gears up to launch its own digital currency, state media reported late on Saturday. – Reuters

Jonathan Greenblatt writes: Anti-Semitism and other forms of bigotry predate the Internet. Cracking down on social media will not cure society of this hatred, nor will it end violence against Jews or other vulnerable communities. However, social media companies need to recognize how their extraordinary creations are emboldening extremists. They need to act far more responsibly than they have to date. – Washington Post


USS John S. McCain (DDG-56) is back at sea after completing repairs from a fatal 2017 collision off the coast of Singapore, U.S. 7th Fleet announced on late Sunday. – USNI News

The U.S. Air Force is officially putting down its money to buy two different models of light-attack aircraft. […]The handful of planes will be used to support “allies and partner capacity, capability and interoperability via training and experimentation,” according to an Air Force announcement. – Defense News

Now, the Army has joined the extraterrestrial fray in a big way, inking a contract with DeLonge’s TTSA to collaborate in the study of “exotic” metals that both parties hope will lead to the development of advanced technologies. – Army Times

A top Navy official suggested today the service is reconsidering its long-stated goal of a 355-ship fleet, floating the idea that a number around 310 ships would be about the best it can do if current funding projections hold. – Breaking Defense

Hypersonics and “pitch days,” two of the hottest concepts at the Air Force right now, will come together for the first time Nov. 7. Air Force experts will judge products and ideas from startup firms related to solving key challenges to hypersonic flight, such as Mach 5-plus propulsion and new materials that can withstand extremely high temperatures. – Breaking Defense

One of those needs is the ability to track and target land threats that are beyond the war fighters’ line of sight. […]To help build this capability, the Army is teaming with the Space Development Agency on a space-based sensor layer dedicated to deep targeting that can feed information to the war fighter on the ground in real time. – C4ISRNET

Erin C. Conaton writes: There are myriad important national security issues at play as conferees work to finalize the fiscal 2020 National Defense Authorization Act. As we consider the future of America’s security, one of the most critical issues involves the future of national security space launch, or NSSL, and our long-term assured access to space. – Defense News

Missile Defense

The Trump administration has taken steps toward leaving a nearly three-decade-old agreement designed to reduce the risk of war between Russia and the West by allowing both sides to conduct reconnaissance flights over one another’s territories, U.S. officials said. – Wall Street Journal

Rebeccah L. Heinrichs writes: The “bureaucracy” is not implementing the explicit mandates of the elected leadership. Unless the president or his most senior deputies focus on the issue, despite other whirling distractions, there is little reason to hope for an improvement in the next — and last — budget request to Congress of this term. That would mean that after a single presidential term, the country is no safer from missile attack than it was during the Obama administration, and if one considers the steady improvement of the missile arsenals of our adversaries, we are perhaps more vulnerable. – Real Clear Politics

Sebastien Roblin writes: The Pentagon’s development of Ballistic Missile Defense and a program called Prompt Global Strike, designed to give the capability to precisely strike any location on the planet within an hour, caused Moscow to grow paranoid that the United States was acquiring the capability to wipe out the Russian arsenal with a preemptive strike, while counting on the missile defense to mop up any survivors. […]Moscow may be looking for redundancy in its ability to produce a retaliatory nuclear holocaust, but the Barguzin was ultimately deemed too dated and expensive given a constricted defense budget. – The National Interest

Trump Administration

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Sunday called on the White House to brief lawmakers on the raid that targeted Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, noting that President Trump had informed Russia of the military operation before telling congressional leadership. – Washington Post

A top U.S. diplomat told House committees last week that efforts by President Trump and his allies to press Kyiv to open investigations in exchange for a White House meeting with Ukraine’s president amounted to a quid pro quo, his lawyer said. – Wall Street Journal

House committees are expected to hear from about a half dozen more witnesses in their impeachment inquiry this week, including a top White House official who has been mentioned in testimony linking a hold on aid to Ukraine to investigations President Trump and his allies pressured the country to pursue. – Wall Street Journal

A senior U.S. diplomat told lawmakers on Saturday he did not know whether President Donald Trump had withheld aid for Ukraine to force an investigation of a political rival, two sources said, even as Democrats said he corroborated evidence gathered in their impeachment probe. – Reuters

The top U.S. diplomat for Europe did not know U.S. security aid may have been withheld to pressure Ukraine’s new president to conduct investigations politically helpful to U.S. President Donald Trump, a source familiar with the matter told Reuters. – Reuters

A U.S. judge on Friday validated the legality of the Democratic-led impeachment inquiry against President Donald Trump and ordered his administration to hand over an unredacted copy of former special counsel Robert Mueller’s report detailing Russian meddling in the 2016 election. – Reuters