Fdd's overnight brief

October 29, 2021

In The News


Ali Shamkhani, two-star Iranian general and Secretary of the Supreme National Security Council of Iran, tweeted in Hebrew on Thursday that Iran had “foiled the enemy’s plans” regarding Tuesday’s cyber attack. – Jerusalem Post 

The husband of the detained British-Iranian aid worker Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe has said he will continue his hunger strike outside Whitehall after meeting Foreign Secretary Liz Truss. Richard Ratcliffe, who began his hunger strike on Sunday, said ministers continued to be “too timid” in efforts to bring his wife home from Iran. – BBC  

According to a report in Israel Hayom, Iran’s latest gesture to the international community is all about buying time and distracting attention, and meanwhile, it will continue on its march toward nuclear capacity. – Arutz Sheva 

Nazanin Boniadi and Agnes Callamard write: Iran’s torture epidemic has been sustained by a culture of impunity that has enabled officials who are reasonably suspected of responsibility for crimes under international law and gross violations of human rights to avoid justice and, instead, rise to powerful positions. The recent rise to the presidency of Ebrahim Raisi — who has been credibly implicated in crimes against humanity offers yet another grim reminder of this dire situation. – Washington Post 

Firas Elias writes: As the recent conference demonstrated, Iran will also seek to leverage the role that China, Qatar, Russia, and Pakistan can play in refining the Taliban’s discourse and behaviors, given that the Taliban is looking for international recognition and political/economic support to maintain control of the country. However, the success of these efforts depends on the ability of the Taliban to successfully navigate the economic, extremist, and humanitarian crises fast approaching the country. – Washington Institute  


Leading U.S. intelligence agencies failed to predict the rapid Taliban takeover of Afghanistan prior to the final withdrawal of American troops and instead offered scattershot assessments of the staying power of the Afghan military and government, a review of wide-ranging summaries of classified material by The Wall Street Journal shows. – Wall Street Journal  

The United States will provide nearly $144 million in new aid to those affected by the ongoing humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan, the White House announced Thursday. – Washington Post 

Simentov’s distant cousin, Tova Moradi, was born and raised in Kabul and lived there until last week, more than a month after Simentov departed in September. Fearing for their safety, Moradi, her children and nearly two dozen grandchildren fled the country in recent weeks in an escape orchestrated by an Israeli aid group, activists and prominent Jewish philanthropists. – Associated Press 

Human Rights Watch (HRW) says Taliban officials in Afghanistan’s provinces are imposing even stricter rules than those announced by the group’s leaders in Kabul, while often ignoring the meager rights protections they themselves had set out. – Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty  

When Instagram influencer Tommy Marcus read that Kabul had fallen to the Taliban he sprang into action, without knowing that like-minded US veterans were also desperate to do something. – Agence France-Presse 

From a bird’s eye view, the village of Salar is camouflaged against a towering mountain range in Wardak province. The community of several thousand, nearly 70 miles from the capital Kabul, serves as a microcosm of the latest chapter in Afghanistan’s history — the second round of rule by the Taliban — showing what has changed and what hasn’t since their first time in power, in the late 1990s. – Associated Press 

Attorney General Merrick Garland testified that he doesn’t know whether the Taliban’s takeover of Afghanistan will increase the risk posed by al Qaeda, seemingly downplaying warnings from the FBI and other intelligence and military officials. – Washington Examiner  

Anthony H. Cordesman writes: The United States needs to start planning now to provide the aid they will need during what may well be a decade long period of transition – and one where the U.S. may be able to persuade the Taliban to modernize and avoid any support of terrorism and extremist movements. This paper focuses on the challenges in providing such aid. – Center for Strategic and International Studies  

James M. Dorsey writes: The reopening of the EU mission serves the Taliban’s purposes not only to help garner international acceptance, but also because it would extend doubts about the United States’ “over the horizon” counter-terrorism strategy. One beneficiary of cracks in the international barrier erected around the Taliban may be Pakistan, which has long been criticized for its alleged support of the Taliban. – Algemeiner 


US President Joe Biden expects to meet with his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan on the sidelines of a UN climate summit in Glasgow next week, National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan said Thursday. – Agence France-Presse 

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan enters this weekend’s G20 summit in Rome fresh off an African tour aimed at cementing lucrative partnerships during another spell of tensions with the West. – Agence France-Presse 

Turkey’s central bank governor has argued that recent rate cuts will help to stabilise the plummeting currency and soaring inflation by erasing the country’s chronic current account deficit. – Financial Times 

Turkey is deporting at least seven Syrians for “provocatively” sharing their images while eating bananas on social media after a Turkish citizen complained that he can’t afford bananas while the refugees can. – Bloomberg  

More than 100 defense companies from around the world descended on Turkey this month as the nation eyes modern solutions to enhance its border protection capabilities. – C4ISRNET 

Grant Rumley and Soner Cagaptay write: Even so, Turkey will likely drift further into Russia’s orbit under Erdogan regardless of whether or not Washington approves the F-16 sale. In any case, the Biden administration and Congress should note that the wording and delivery of their response to the request will carry weight in the debate over the future of Turkey’s relations with the West, even if a decline in those relations seems inevitable. – Washington Institute  

Dr. Can Kasapoglu writes: The Turkish administration’s F-16V modernization request goes well beyond the realm of a simple arms deal. Ironically, it was the F-16 Fighting Falcon which once anchored a “special” military alliance between Turkey and the United States. Decades later, advanced F-16 sales may seal the fate of the Turkish-American strategic ties, as well as Turkey’s geopolitical orientation. – The National Interest 


Israeli moves in recent days to designate Palestinian human rights groups as terrorist organizations and approve the construction of new homes in West Bank settlements are causing friction both with the United States and inside Israel’s governing coalition. – Washington Post 

A group of 12 European countries on Thursday urged Israel to scrap plans for the construction of more than 3,000 settler homes in the occupied West Bank. – Agence France-Presse 

Six months after Operation Guardian of the Walls, the defense establishment is preparing as it expects Hamas to try and damage the border fence between the Gaza Strip and the southern border by blowing up car bombs, infiltrating Israeli territory and hitting soldiers. In an exercise held this week in the Gaza Division, the forces practiced such scenarios, including an infiltration into Israeli territory. – Maariv 

Hamas is concealing secret foreign investments worth hundreds of millions of dollars in seemingly legitimate businesses, The Jerusalem Post has learned. – Jerusalem Post 

The IDF complied with the law of armed conflict and “consistently implemented precautions to mitigate civilian risk,” during the May 10-21 Gaza War, a Jewish Institute for National Security of America (JINSA) said in a report released on Thursday. – Jerusalem Post 

Hamas condemned six people to death on Thursday for cooperating with Israel, the military judiciary in the Gaza Strip announced on Thursday. – Jerusalem Post 

Detailed satellite imagery of the Dimona nuclear facility and fighter jets at Israeli bases can now be accessed for free online, thanks to a change in satellite imagery regulations implemented under the Trump administration last year. – Jerusalem Post 

The US State Department has confirmed it cannot open a consulate for the Palestinians in Jerusalem without Israel’s authorization. – Jerusalem Post 

Benny Avni writes: Several Israeli organizations vehemently oppose the Israeli government’s policies. So do—surprise—most Palestinian counterparts. But a healthy civil society needs watchdog groups to expose malfeasance in its own government, not in the one it considers an enemy. Mr. Abbas’s authority more often prosecutes such Palestinian opponents than tolerates them. – Wall Street Journal 

Herb Keinon writes: Unlike the settlement issue, where the American opposition is widely known and can be assumed even if Israel makes a move in the settlements without notifying the US in advance, the same cannot be said about the NGO issue. […]While this incident does not speak of a crisis between Israel and the Biden administration, it does show the impact extreme forces in the Democratic Party are having on the debate when it comes to Israel. And that is something to worry about. – Jerusalem Post 

David M. Weinberg writes: The Bennett-Lapid government also needs quiet on the Palestinian front for its own basic political survival. Alas, all this gives Biden significant leverage against Israel on the Iranian nuclear matter, which is truly the ultimate, mega-strategic, even existential issue on the US-Israeli agenda. Bennett and Lapid cannot capitulate to the Biden administration regarding Iran. If necessary, they must hack the heat on Palestinian issues and keep objecting to renewal of the JCPOA while preparing to tackle Iran directly. – Jerusalem Post 

Milton Elbogen writes; Today, in 2021, we can proudly say that the previous US administration heeded the call of so many and went well beyond our 2016 expectations. The status of Jerusalem has been corrected. The embassy, in Jerusalem, is a beautiful testament to the friendship of the United States and Israel. What was once an alien consulate entity in the heart of a country closely allied to the United States has become one that truly represents the United States to all the citizens of Israel. – Jerusalem Post 

Jacob Magid writes: Nonetheless, it is a combination of the continued US interest in keeping the coalition alive and Biden’s “instinct” to avoid public confrontation with the Jewish state that will likely prevent this episode from escalating beyond Blinken’s call, the former official speculated. […]Makovsky argued that while the US position is to publicly oppose all settlement building across the board, “in private conversations there is more nuance,” which is why the response to the latest announcements went much further than previous condemnations. – Times of Israel 

Yochanan Visser writes: Israel is extremely worried about the passivity of the international community in light of Iran’s quick progress in its nuclear weapons program and recently has tried to develop a joint alternative plan of action with the US Administration in case Iran continues to refuse to return to the negotiation table in Vienna. It remains unclear if the Israeli attempts to develop this joint plan B with the Americans were successful. – Arutz Sheva 

Amos Harel writes: In practice, Israel’s impact is currently minimal. It is the United States that is dictating the policy, seeking to resume negotiations over the nuclear deal and meanwhile encountering Iranian refusal and stalling tactics (on Tuesday Tehran promised to resume talks next month, but only with European countries – Britain, France and Germany). From the stands, Israel is anxiously watching what’s happening. – Haaretz 


The Beirut explosion was one of the ugliest manifestations of everything that has gone wrong with Lebanon since the end of the 15-year civil war in 1990, an indictment of a postwar system that has enabled a handful of politicians to dominate and exploit every facet of the state. The country has collapsed under the burden of concurrent crises that were decades in the making: a financial and economic implosion, grinding political deadlock, the Aug. 4 blast. – New York Times 

The U.S. Treasury Department is sanctioning two Lebanese businessmen and a member of the country’s parliament who officials say have undermined the rule of law in the nation. – Bloomberg  

Lebanon’s powerful Shi’ite group Hezbollah praised information minister George Kordahi, who delivered remarks critical of the Saudi-led military intervention in Yemen prior to taking office, and described the backlash against him from Riyadh and other Gulf countries as “unjust”. – Reuters  

Lebanon’s Shi’ite group Hezbollah condemned on Thursday Saudi Arabia’s decision to designate the financial charity body Al-Qard Al-Hasan Association as a terrorist entity, calling it a form of aggression against Lebanon and interference in its internal affairs. – Reuters  

Gulf States

Saudi Arabia’s annual cornerstone investment forum has drawn over 1,000 participants, with big-name U.S. financiers and business leaders back on the stage three years after many stayed away following the international outcry over the killing of a government critic. – Associated Press 

David H. Rundell writes: We, like the Saudis, have come a long way, and still have a ways to go.  While we should not ignore other human rights issues in Saudi Arabia, it would be sensible to recognize those changes that are taking place and support them. – The Hill  

Eli Lake writes: Beneath the surface, however, the White House is working with the United Arab Emirates to broker a deal. U.S. and Arab diplomats have told me that Brett McGurk, the coordinator for Middle East and North Africa at the National Security Council, has worked closely with Tahnoun bin Zayed al-Nahyan, the Emirati national security advisor, to negotiate Hamdok’s return to power with the Sudanese Army general now in charge of the country, Abdel Fattah al-Burhan. – Bloomberg  

Middle East & North Africa

Lebanon, Syria and Jordan have reached a deal to transfer electricity to Lebanon which is suffering an acute energy crisis, ministers from the three neighboring countries said on Thursday. – Reuters 

Libya has hosted its first group of foreign tourists in a decade, with an excursion to an oasis town deep in the desert previously off-limits to visitors due to years of war. – Agence France-Presse 

In an article in the London-based Al-Sharq Al-Awsat, Egyptian journalist Suleiman Gouda writes with nostalgia about the Jewish presence that once existed in the Arab countries. Noting that Bahrain recently saw its first Jewish wedding in 52 years, he uses this as an opportunity to express his views on Jews from Arab countries, on normalization with Israel and on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. – Middle East Media Research Institute  

Alison Pargeter writes: The recent adoption of a political system based on allocation, with posts in the recently appointed Government of National Unity (GNU) doled out by region and chosen to appease various towns, tribes and personalities, is evidence of such. It is little surprise, therefore, that Libyan Islamism remains characterized by division and discord. While Islamist elements will continue to represent an important component in the national picture, they will remain as fragmented as everything else in the country. – Hudson Institute 

Korean Peninsula

From printing coupons as replacement cash to breeding ornamental black swans to eat, North Korea is being forced to innovate to handle economic woes and food shortages as anti-pandemic border lockdowns drag on, reports suggest. – Reuters  

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has recently lost about 20 kilograms (44 pounds), but remains healthy and is trying to boost public loyalty to him in the face of worsening economic problems, South Korea’s spy agency told lawmakers Thursday. – Associated Press  

An alleged Russian hacker appeared in court for the first time Thursday to face allegations that he played a role in a transnational cybercrime organization after being extradited to the United States from South Korea. – The Hill 

Donald Kirk writes: Interestingly, while the U.S., China and North Korea all signed the truce, South Korea’s first president, Syngman Rhee, stayed away, refusing to sanctify a deal that he believed would justify permanent division of the Korean peninsula. He had to submit to the terms of the armistice, but an end-of-war agreement indeed would represent the South’s first formal affirmation that the Korean War is over. That’s one reason for Moon to keep pleading his case while the Americans think of ways and reasons to avoid the whole annoying topic. – The Hill  


Xi’s absence is one of many signs that those waiting for more-substantial promises from China should manage their expectations. On Thursday, Beijing submitted an emissions-cutting plan to the U.N. that offered little new. – Washington Post 

American investors are probably warier of China now than at any time in decades. Relations between the two countries are tense, and the prospect of a wider fallout from the struggles of property giant China Evergrande Group EGRNF -6.06% hovers over the market. – Wall Street Journal 

Hong Kong is no longer in the top three listing venues globally as a widening crackdown by China on a vast range of industries hits investor sentiment and share prices. – Bloomberg  

China’s military development capabilities are “stunning,” while the United States has been hampered by bureaucracy, according to the second most senior U.S. general. Gen. John Hyten, the outgoing vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff , reiterated Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin’s characterization that China is the U.S.’s “pacing threat” on Thursday. – Washington Examiner 

More than a decade after the U.S. subprime crisis sparked the Great Recession, the threat of default at giant property developer Evergrande is raising the prospect that ghost towns of unoccupied homes could trigger a China property slump. – Bloomberg  

Editorial: The need for scrutiny of China’s actions is critical for three reasons. First, China is by far the world’s largest producer of carbon emissions, accounting for nearly twice as much carbon emissions as the next largest polluter, the United States. Second, President Xi Jinping’s Communist Party is demonstrably untrustworthy. Third, China is trying to leverage the issue of climate change in order to extract policy concessions in other areas. If Biden fails to put these concerns at the center of his COP26 dealings, China will exploit it. – Washington Examiner  

Rebeccah L. Heinrichs writes: The recent tests fit with the overall pattern of Chinese nuclear weapons expansion. Rather than waiting for new revelations and then reacting, it would be wise for the United States to make significant improvements to our own strategic posture to further complicate the Chinese’ calculations. We can persuade them through our actions that the United States is committed to defending our interests. – Newsweek  

Michael Mazza writes: It will involve the IOC not only remaining silent about abuses but effectively endorsing them. It will violate not only the victims’ dignity but that of participating Olympic athletes and the numerous officials and volunteers needed to carry off a successful Olympiad, all of whom the IOC is more than happy to make complicit in galling offenses. The Games must not go on. – Foreign Policy 

Robin Harding writes: China may suffer a nasty downturn — and a bout of bad debts linked to its property sector — but the chances of Evergrande becoming an enormous, systemic event like the collapse of Japan’s bubble economy are considerably smaller. […]The longer China hesitates to learn that hardest lesson, and accept a lower level of growth, the greater will be its ultimate pain. – Financial Times 

South Asia

An Indian missile test was seen by security experts as a warning shot to China after military talks between the two countries over a contentious border dispute broke down earlier this month. India’s Defense Ministry said it successfully launched on Wednesday the Agni-5, the country’s longest-range missile, with the power to hit a target up to 3,100 miles away. – Wall Street Journal  

The United Nations’ drug agency warned that political unrest in Myanmar may be driving a surge in production of methamphetamine, as authorities in neighboring Laos carried out Asia’s largest known drug-trafficking bust. – Wall Street Journal  

India’s government has asked Facebook Inc. for details about how it monitors and removes inflammatory content on its platform in the country, according to government officials. The Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology wrote to Facebook’s top executive in India this week, the officials said. – Wall Street Journal  

The soldiers in rural Myanmar twisted the young man’s skin with pliers and kicked him in the chest until he couldn’t breathe. Then they taunted him about his family until his heart ached, too: “Your mom,” they jeered, “cannot save you anymore.” – Associated Press 

The U.S. State Department expressed outrage and demanded an investigation on Friday after The Associated Press reported that Myanmar’s military has been torturing detainees in a systemic way across the country. – Associated Press 

Balwan Nagial writes: Though China is Pakistan’s all-weather friend yet, Pakistan is also a battleground for China for encounters with Islamic terrorism-which has got a boost with the Taliban in power in Afghanistan. China’s involvement in the wars in South Asia has to face two fronts; one to fight the rivalry of India and the US and the threat posed by the terrorism to Internal Security by the Islamic Terrorism. – Times of Israel 


Australia’s prime minister, Scott Morrison, has laid out an ambitious vision, saying that at least eight nuclear-propelled submarines using American or British technology will be built in Australia and enter the water starting in the late 2030s, replacing its squadron of six aging diesel-powered submarines. – New York Times 

French President Emmanuel Macron and Australian PM Scott Morrison have held talks for the first time since a major row over a scrapped submarine deal. – BBC 

Tajikistan has accepted a Chinese proposal to build a police outpost on the Afghan border, local media reported, in the latest indication of Beijing’s growing security concerns in the region after the U.S. withdrew from Kabul. – Bloomberg  

The sultan of Brunei said Thursday that Myanmar remains an integral part of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations and the bloc hopes its military government will work with an ASEAN envoy to defuse the political crisis triggered by its seizure of power in February. – Associated Press 

The U.S. wants to deepen its relationship with Taiwan, the self-ruled island that has become a major point of conflict in the strained U.S.-China relationship, and will work to counter Beijing’s “malign” influence, a U.S. official said Friday. – Associated Press 

Taiwan’s defense minister said Thursday that the island must defend itself and not depend entirely on others for help if China were to launch an attack, even as Taiwan’s president said she had faith the U.S. would defend it. – Associated Press 

Chinese strategists and officials across the Indo-Pacific see a heightened risk of an accident that triggers a conflict between the communist regime and the United States, due in part to Beijing’s intensifying military pressure on Taiwan. – Washington Examiner  

China is likely using an unused civilian airport just across the Strait of Taiwan to conduct its overflights near the island, with satellite imagery on different occasions showing military aircraft parked on the ground that correspond with Taiwanese military reports. – Defense News 

In preparation for President Biden’s participation in the U.S.-ASEAN and East Asia Summits, the White House announced $102 million in new initiatives to expand the U.S.-ASEAN Strategic Partnership. Of this, $60 million will go toward strengthening the region’s public health infrastructure and bolstering its economic recovery from Covid-19. The administration also committed $20.5 million to various climate cooperation initiatives and $21.5 million toward people-to-people ties, education, and gender equality efforts. – Center for Strategic and International Studies  

Natasha Kassam writes: Taiwan can exist as an independent state, with its own elections, judiciary, currency and military. China doesn’t relinquish its claim to Taiwan, and other countries avoid recognizing Taiwan as a sovereign state, instead pursuing informal relations with it. The United States sells Taiwan arms for self-defense and does not clarify whether the United States will defend Taiwan if China invades. This serves to deter Beijing while not provoking it. – New York Times 

Sheila A. Smith writes: The conspicuous uptick in Chinese military activities in and around Japan, as well as North Korea’s successful upgrade in its missile and nuclear capabilities, has provided fodder for a fuller debate on Japan’s military options within the LDP. Younger LDP Diet members are far less restrained by the taboos of their elders when it comes to evaluating and asserting Japan’s military needs. How much this defense realism becomes entwined with a more revisionist nationalism, however, remains to be seen. – Foreign Affairs 


Russia is finally engaging with the global effort to fight climate change after years of denial. That’s an important step from one of the world’s largest fossil-fuel producers, but the Kremlin’s green conversion may complicate negotiations at next week’s COP26 summit and beyond. – Bloomberg  

The European Union’s top diplomat has said that Russia is weaponizing its natural-gas supply to bully Moldova, one of Europe’s poorest nations, as a gas dispute between Moscow and Chisinau continues. – Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty  

The United States and its allies on Thursday urged Russia to protect media freedom, condemning what they called a crackdown on independent outlets. – Agence France-Presse 

An 18-member group of nations, including the United States and United Kingdom, has expressed “deep concern” over what it calls the Russian government’s “intensifying harassment of independent journalists and media outlets” in the country. – Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty  

The United States says Russia has approved U.S. airlines’ requests for more overflight permits after some passenger and cargo carriers sent a letter “urgently” asking for the State Department’s help in dealing with Moscow. – Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty  

Editorial: Europe should retaliate against this Russian bullying, but the Continent is consumed by its own energy problems. Germany has spent years pushing for deeper European dependence on Russian gas through the Nord Stream 2 pipeline, a project President Biden conceded to. Reducing nuclear power as European economies invest heavily in unreliable solar and wind projects has made the problem worse. – Wall Street Journal 

Editorial: Mr. Putin’s declaration of values was cynical fiction. The reality is that he leads a police state that brutally represses the Jehovah’s Witnesses with the entirely false charge of extremism. Mr. Putin’s lodestar is not the moral or spiritual conservatism he professes, but rather a kleptocratic authoritarianism that rewards itself and grinds innocent people into oblivion when they dare lift voices in prayer. “Monstrous,” indeed. – Washington Post 

David Ignatius writes: Like hypersonic missiles, space weapons and cyberattacks, these directed energy systems will be weapons of the future, regardless of what emerges in the investigation of Havana Syndrome. They’re double-edged swords — as dangerous to Russia as to America. Message to the Kremlin: We’re not making any allegations. But we need to talk. – Washington Post  


France escalated a fishing rights dispute with Britain on Thursday, announcing that French authorities had seized a British boat that lacked a license to operate in French waters and have issued a warning to another British vessel. – Washington Post 

Since their relationship imploded in a welter of recrimination six weeks ago, poisoned by what France saw as a betrayal by the United States over a sabotaged submarine deal, the two countries have worked hard to overcome the dispute. France has demanded “concrete” results. – New York Times 

In the months before Desic broke out of jail, calls for autonomy were intensifying in Yugoslavia, a federation of six republics cobbled together and ruled under communism after World War II. Slovenia and Croatia seceded in June 1991, and others followed suit. The bloody Yugoslav wars had begun, including the Bosnian conflict breaking out three months before Desic broke out of prison. – Washington Post  

After a fitful day of talks over the fate of twin infrastructure and social spending bills that he cast as a choice between “leading the world, or letting the world pass us by,” Biden landed in Rome aboard Air Force One in the dark early Friday with the answer still undetermined. – Associated Press 

Poland’s justice minister on Thursday said his country should not pay fines imposed by the European Union’s top court over a controversial judicial reform and another tied to Warsaw’s failure to shut a massive coal mine. – Agence France-Presse 

A former British diplomat has accused the government of being “deliberately misleading” over Brexit and its effect on the Northern Ireland peace process. – BBC 

Isabelle Huber writes: The German hydrogen strategy must be viewed in the context of the European hydrogen strategy. The German government used its EU Council presidency from July through December 2020 to promote and develop the EU hydrogen strategy for common energy policies. The EU hydrogen strategy was published the same day as the EU energy system integration strategy, which highlights the key role the European Union sees for hydrogen in future coordinated planning and operation of the whole EU energy system. – Center for Strategic and International Studies  

Andreas Fulda and David Missal write: We need to talk about Germany’s strange marriage with China—again. But this time, it’s not just about Germany’s unhealthy economic dependence on China. This time, the issue is hybrid interference from the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), which is increasingly using state and nonstate agents under its control to threaten academic freedom in Germany. – Foreign Policy  


Kenya’s President Uhuru Kenyatta said Thursday that Africa is at a crossroads, poised on one hand to reap the economic benefits of its youthful population and economic reforms but facing the spread of terrorism and insurgency on the other that are challenging almost all 54 nations on the continent. – Associated Press  

The United Nations Security Council called for the restoration of the civilian-led transitional government in Sudan, following this week’s military coup. – Bloomberg  

U.S. President Joe Biden called Thursday for Sudan’s people to be allowed to protest peacefully as the number of those killed in recent demonstrations against the military coup rose to nine. – Associated Press  

Children were among 10 people killed when an Ethiopian military airstrike hit the capital of the country’s Tigray region on Thursday, a doctor and a Tigray spokesman said. It was the deadliest of a new round of airstrikes that began last week as the year-long war intensifies. – Associated Press 

A United Nations special envoy on Thursday urged the United States to end sanctions that she says have worsened Zimbabwe’s humanitarian crisis, while urging dialogue to end the impasse between the two countries. – Associated Press 

The Ethiopian police officers raided the cathedral in Addis Ababa before sunrise, interrupting prayers and forcing a dozen ethnic Tigrayan priests and monks into a pickup truck. – Agence France-Presse 

Alaa Salah became a symbol of resistance two years ago, when the young Sudanese student climbed on to a car outside Khartoum’s military garrison to rally the crowd demanding the removal of dictator Omar al-Bashir. – Financial Times 

Killian Clarke and Mai Hassan write: A strong showing of popular discontent on Saturday would significantly increase the pressure on wavering generals — after all, it was the mass protests and sit-in of June 2019 that persuaded the military to begin a transition to civilian rule. If coupled with firm pressure from abroad, the generals may be convinced to back down. The prospects for democracy in Sudan certainly look grimmer today than they did a week ago. But all is not yet lost. – New York Times 

The Americas

Starting on Sunday, world leaders, negotiators from 190 countries, British royals, official observers, journalists, activists, celebrities — and as many as 100,000 demonstrators — will descend on Glasgow, Scotland, to try to save the planet from runaway warming. – Washington Post 

Venezuela’s government quietly offered last year to release imprisoned Americans in exchange for the U.S. letting go a key financier of President Nicolás Maduro, according to people with knowledge of the proposal and message exchanges seen by The Associated Press. – Associated Press 

Haitian police have received proof that 16 Americans and a Canadian abducted by a gang are alive, a police source said Thursday. – Agence France-Presse 

An envoy for Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro will plead not guilty to money laundering charges he is facing in the U.S., his lawyer told Reuters Thursday. – The Hill  

George Baker writes: Further, and again contrary to the columnist’s assertions, it is precisely the dispute-settlement mechanisms contained in the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement that would channel any disagreements arising from the reform. The treaty includes procedures for private investors to dispute what they consider to be a violation and, if the decision is in their favor, to receive remediation. This does not imply a risk: Legal certainty is essential for economic prosperity and the USMCA offers a clear path for settling any controversy with any company. – Wall Street Journal   

North America

When President Biden gathered with world leaders at an English seaside resort in June, it was a backslapping celebration of America’s return to diplomatic stability after four years of public dressing-downs and impulsive policy withdrawals under President Donald J. Trump. – New York Times 

U.S. government promises that WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange would not face harsh prison conditions if he is extradited to face American justice are not enough to address concerns about his fragile mental health and high risk of suicide, a lawyer defending him argued Thursday. – Associated Press  

Two neo-Nazis who were recorded plotting a violent attack to bring down the US government have been sentenced to nine years in prison. – BBC 

William A. Reinsch, Emily Benson and Catherine Puga write: Furthermore, China and the United States have clear political motivations to conclude an environmental goods deal. Both are significantly behind the European Union when it comes to climate progress, and reaching a deal, however limited in scope, would add momentum to global efforts to mitigate climate change. On the U.S. side, committing to an agreement on environmental goods would also demonstrate that the country is back and reengaging in earnest with the multilateral system—a core goal of the Biden administration. – Center for Strategic and International Studies  


The Office of the National Cyber Director wants to bring cohesion to efforts to strengthen computer defenses across a sprawling set of more than 100 civilian agencies even as it seeks to drive more robust cybersecurity in the private sector. – Washington Post 

Facebook sent out a companywide notice on Tuesday ordering employees to preserve documents and communications dating back to 2016 in response to legal inquiries from around the world, according to internal documents obtained by The Washington Post. – Washington Post 

Chinese telecoms giant Huawei paid Democratic lobbyist Tony Podesta $1 million to lobby the Biden administration on its behalf, double what the lobbyist has revealed publicly, according to two people familiar with the matter. – Reuters  

FBI Director Chris Wray urged companies to work more closely with law enforcement to stop foreign hacking, as he reiterated warnings about Chinese infiltration of American information networks. – Bloomberg  

Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.), said Thursday that cyberattacks pose larger risks than conventional warfare, citing the recent SolarWinds and Colonial Pipeline hacks as examples of a “dramatically” different security environment that has taken shape over the past decade. – The Hill  

British lawmakers grilled Facebook on Thursday over how it handles online safety as European countries move to rein in the power of social media companies. – Associated Press 

The Army wants to improve the ability of its local network defenders, a move it believes will raise the entire level of the service’s – and by extension, joint – cybersecurity posture. – C4ISRNET 

Chris Inglis writes: This is our office’s unique charge: to reserve this atomization, organize a collective defense against bad cyber actors, and restore our positive ambitions. Cybersecurity is a team sport requiring collaboration among agencies, sectors and nations, and the U.S. and its allies are an extraordinary team. By creating this office the Biden administration has taken a step toward fielding a championship team. – Wall Street Journal  

David Ignatius writes: “Tech policy” is the new “trade policy,” so to speak. The Biden administration (like the GOP) unfortunately remains allergic to the Trans-Pacific Partnership, or TPP, ceding that ground to China, which is racing to join the organization that the United States created and then abandoned. Biden’s team is trying to insert its coordinated global tech agenda into the vacuum, in part as an alternative to multilateral trade partnerships like TPP. – Washington Post 

Rep. John Katko and Rep. Andrew Garbarino write: Many cyberattacks are easily preventable. It simply requires a level of vigilance that can be reached through the numerous free resources provided by CISA. As we increase awareness about the importance of cybersecurity across our nation, we encourage you to take some time this month to evaluate your cybersecurity posture and join the fight to secure our nation’s networks against the numerous bad actors looking to do us harm. – The Hill  


The Israel Defense Forces dispatched an officer to serve as its first representative to the United States Central Command this week, further solidifying Israel’s move to its area of responsibility, the military said Thursday. – Times of Israel 

The U.S. Navy has filled in the details for the first five years of its 20-year Shipyard Infrastructure Optimization Program and begun executing some early steps, but a congressional subcommittee said the service needs to commit more money to its aging repair infrastructure. – Defense News 

Following protests filed with a government watchdog, the Space Development Agency is abandoning traditional Department of Defense contracting in favor of other transaction authority, a more flexible contracting method used for prototyping that has become popular with the military. – Defense News 

Unplanned repairs to the damaged attack submarine USS Connecticut (SSN-22) could disrupt the backlog of planned ship maintenance in the public naval yards, Jay Stefany, acting assistant secretary of the Navy for research, development and acquisition, told Congress on Thursday. – USNI News 

The outgoing vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff is concerned ongoing work on electronic warfare could stall if there’s a gap between his November retirement and a successor assuming the number-two position in the Pentagon. – USNI News 

Fareed Zakaria writes: The task of U.S. foreign policy is to recognize that traditional power politics can indeed deter Chinese expansionism while also recognizing the ways in which interdependence might also constrain it. The United States should make an effort to deploy both tools. This approach will certainly prove far more complicated to implement than scaremongering and chest-thumping, but it is precisely the one that is likely to keep the world at peace and prosperity. – Washington Post  

Andreas Kluth writes: In reality, China probably appears so aggressive only because it feels incredibly insecure. The greatest fear in Beijing is that in an escalating conflict — over Taiwan or whatever else — the U.S. might be tempted one day to launch preemptive nuclear strikes to take out all or most of China’s arsenal. The Americans would only contemplate such a drastic step, of course, if they thought that their own defenses could parry any remaining missiles coming from China in retaliation. – Bloomberg  

Jacob Ware writes: Strong international diplomatic and military alliances do not just deter Chinese or Russian aggression, they provide the United States greater reach in its more militaristic counter-terrorism pursuits. Providing economic and governance support to countries around the world does not just align them closer to the United States, it strengthens their capacity to defeat extremism within their own borders. If the United States intends to largely deprioritize counter-terrorism — and, more broadly, irregular warfare — in this “new Cold War,” it will miss out on some of its most effective tools. – War on the Rocks  

Long War

A military court convened on Thursday to sentence an admitted al-Qaeda operative who has been imprisoned for 15 years at the Guantánamo Bay prison, in a case that highlights how the treatment of terrorism suspects has obstructed judicial reckonings following the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. – Washington Post 

Nigeria’s army said on Thursday it had killed the new leader of insurgent group Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP) in a military operation this month, two weeks after announcing the death of the group’s former head Abu Musab al-Barnawi. – Reuters  

Patrick Dunleavy writes: Attempting to de-radicalize potential terrorists may be a noble ideal. But it is flawed with uncertainty, and poses genuine security risks. While no program can be 100 percent effective, the risk of failure could be reduced by involving law enforcement and intelligence services in the process. – Algemeiner 

Michelle Macander writes: While the Mumbai attack gained LT an international reputation, the Salafi-jihadist group was active in South Asia for decades prior, predominantly targeting India. This piece outlines the history, ideology, organizational structure, and targets and tactics of LT. It provides a threat assessment that LT will remain committed to Pakistan’s annexation of Kashmir and is likely to pose a continuing threat to India and the region following the withdrawal of U.S. forces in Afghanistan. – Center for Strategic and International Studies