Fdd's overnight brief

September 1, 2021

In The News


After Afghanistan’s U.S.-backed government collapsed on Aug. 15, Beijing couldn’t contain its glee at what it described as the humiliation of its main global rival—even though Washington said a big reason for withdrawal was its decision to focus more resources on China. – Wall Street Journal  

President Biden on Tuesday forcefully rejected criticism of his decision to end America’s 20-year war in Afghanistan, hailing what he called the “extraordinary success” of the evacuation of Kabul and declaring the end of an era in which the United States uses military power “to remake other countries.” – New York Times  

The Biden administration on Tuesday began planning for the next phase of the U.S. relationship with Afghanistan, as the State Department scrambled to stand up a remote diplomatic mission and continue working to help those stranded under Taliban rule. – Washington Post 

An eerie quiet settled over Afghanistan’s capital Tuesday following the complete withdrawal of U.S. forces. Few cars or pedestrians were on the roads, and crowds of thousands of Afghans around the airport desperate to flee vanished overnight, leaving behind piles of garbage and discarded luggage. – Washington Post 

With Afghanistan under Taliban control, the world is watching to see how the group will govern after having been out of power since 2001. – Washington Post 

Taliban fighters and their supporters rallied across Afghanistan to celebrate the end of 20 years of foreign military presence on Tuesday, while in Washington, President Biden defended his decision to end the conflict as well as the execution of the evacuation and withdrawal. – Wall Street Journal  

Mike, a 29-year-old U.S. green-card holder who was an Afghan interpreter for the U.S. Army and later worked as an Uber driver in Washington, D.C., is now huddled in a hotel outside Kabul with his wife and three young children, his parents, two brothers and a sister, stranded in his own country, running out of money and hope. – Washington Post 

Refugee resettlement organizations across the U.S. are gearing up to resettle tens of thousands of newly arriving Afghans, many of whom are arriving with uncertain immigration statuses and little other than the clothing on their backs. – Wall Street Journal  

The truth of the image, as far as we know it, is precise but limited. While he may have been wearing “the last boots on the ground” by the definition of some journalists and politicians, he was certainly not the last American with feet on the ground. Americans remain in Afghanistan, some willingly, others not, and we will almost certainly be back one way or another. – Washington Post 

Thirteen years ago, Afghan interpreter Mohammed helped rescue then- Sen. Joe Biden and two other senators stranded in a remote Afghanistan valley after their helicopter was forced to land in a snowstorm. Now, Mohammed is asking President Biden to save him. – Wall Street Journal  

In the weeks leading up to President Biden’s Aug. 31 deadline to withdraw U.S. troops from Afghanistan, a secretive and highly secure compound used by the Central Intelligence Agency became a hub for clandestine evacuations before parts of it were deliberately destroyed, an investigation by The New York Times found. – New York Times 

The United States last week issued a license authorizing it and its partners to continue to facilitate humanitarian aid in Afghanistan, a Treasury Department official told Reuters, after the Taliban, which is blacklisted by Washington, seized control of the country this month. – Reuters 

Secretary of State Antony Blinken’s team will reconstitute the diplomatic mission to aid Americans and at-risk Afghan nationals from afar and manage “a range of functions” once conducted out of the now-shuttered embassy in Kabul from offices in Qatar. – Washington Examiner  

The Taliban called for friendly ties with the U.S. and indicated they were close to announcing details of a new government just hours after the last American soldiers flew out of Kabul to end 20 years of war. – Bloomberg 

In the last call between U.S. President Joe Biden and his Afghanistan counterpart before the Taliban seized control of the country, the leaders discussed military aid, political strategy and messaging tactics, but neither Biden nor Ashraf Ghani appeared aware of or prepared for the immediate danger of the entire country falling to insurgents, a transcript reviewed by Reuters shows. – Reuters  

The Taliban have surrounded Panjshir and brought heavy equipment to the region, utilizing their advantage in numbers and equipment in their offensive. The situation on the ground remains unclear, and each side has claimed victories over the other. – The National Interest  

Crowds seeking to flee Afghanistan gathered on its borders while long queues formed at banks on Wednesday, as an administrative vacuum after the Taliban’s takeover left foreign donors unsure how to respond to a looming humanitarian crisis. – Reuters  

As Afghanistan readies for a future without the presence of U.S. troops, American military officials will most likely combat ISIS-K through the use of drone strikes, said drone expert Brett Velicovich. – Fox News  

The Taliban and other Afghan leaders have reached a “consensus” on the formation of a new government and cabinet under the leadership of the group’s top spiritual leader, and an announcement could come in a few days, an official said. – Bloomberg  

Editorial: Mr. Biden’s unapologetic speech also signals that the White House intends to close the books on Afghanistan and pivot to domestic affairs. No one will lose their jobs. They’ll all talk from the same script. Mr. Biden may never speak of it again. All the more reason for Congress and the press to explore the many bad decisions that led to this American security debacle. – Wall Street Journal  

Editorial: The indifference, from Americans who long ago stopped caring about the U.S. project in Afghanistan, may not surprise the Afghans. The contradiction of bigotry and kindness may. – Washington Post 

Josh Rogin writes: The least the U.S. government can do is devise a plan to get these people to safety that does not depend on the good graces of the Taliban — which, according to reports, is already starting to take revenge on its opponents. It is a matter of U.S. honor and credibility, but also a matter of life or death. – Washington Post 

Baktash Ahadi writes: This isn’t just about Afghanistan. When it comes to cultural illiteracy, America is a recidivist. We failed to understand Iraqi culture, too, so that now, many Iraqis see Iran as the lesser of two evils. Before that, we failed to understand Vietnam. And so on. Wherever our relentless military adventurism takes us next, we must do better. – Washington Post 

David Ignatius writes: With the last C-17 flight out of Kabul Monday night, the unvarnished truth is that America’s war in Afghanistan is over. We must keep faith with Americans and Afghans left behind. And we’ll have a season of assessing blame for what happened. But we’ll compound the Afghanistan mistake if we keep fighting this last war. – Washington Post 

Joel Simon writes: The journalists and their families who made it to Doha are being housed in a comfortable and well-run relief center while we work to find them longer-term arrangements. Several countries, including Ireland and Canada, have agreed to accept Afghan journalists for temporary or permanent resettlement. The U.S. needs to step up and accelerate the visa process for the most vulnerable cases. – Wall Street Journal  

Rasheed writes: Afghanistan is no longer the country I loved. There is no guarantee that the Taliban will honor the assurances they gave the United States to allow eligible Afghans to leave the country. Still, I will try any possible way to get me and my family out, even if it means losing my life in the process. I will do so for my children’s future. – New York Times  

Yara Bayoumy writes: There are no easy solutions for Rasheed right now, but his story is essential to understanding the full scope of the repercussions of the American withdrawal from Afghanistan, particularly for those Afghans, like him, who have been left behind. – New York Times 

Asfandyar Mir writes: The United States could also choose to do nothing — and let the Taliban, their allies and ISIS-K battle it out. It’s a risky strategy: To demonstrate their strength, Al Qaeda and ISIS-K might try to inspire or launch transnational attacks. But the pressure of the local battlefield will limit the threat to some extent. – New York Times 

Paul Kapur writes: The Biden administration’s hope to succeed where others had failed, finally ending America’s long war in Afghanistan, apparently blinded it to the pitfalls of committing to an unconditional withdrawal from Afghanistan by a date certain. The administration’s subsequent attempts to shift blame to the Trump administration have led it to misrepresent the Doha agreement and to claim falsely that it made an avoidable disaster inevitable. This falsehood has exacerbated the current crisis. –Wall Street Journal 

Mark Fisher writes: The administration, which is pursuing an ambitious domestic agenda in a narrowly divided Congress, may be hesitant to divert more political capital to a country that it sees as peripheral. Still, Mr. Biden has seemed to relish rejecting political pressure on Afghanistan. Whether he chooses to privilege geopolitical rivalry, humanitarian welfare or counterterrorism in Afghanistan, he may find himself doing so again. – New York Times 

Anders Fogh Rasmussen writes: The failures in Afghanistan were primarily matters of execution; they do not invalidate the basic model of military intervention that begins with the application of massive force to eliminate terrorists and other hostile elements before drastically reducing the footprint in order to help local authorities build a free and more stable society. – Foreign Affairs  

Constanze Stelzenmüller writes: The outcome of the final, but as yet unfinished, act of the west’s intervention in Afghanistan will determine its legitimacy. And what happens now will affect trust between politicians, civil societies and the armed forces for years to come. Our priority now must be to save Afghans. But we are also saving ourselves. – Financial Times 

Anthony H. Cordesman writes: Working with America’s major European and Asian trading partners through another lead country might offer major benefits. And, if the Taliban will not negotiate on a reasonable basis, the U.S. and its allies will gain far more credibility with the more moderate elements that survive in Afghan politics, with the Afghan people, and the outside world. – Center for Strategic and International Studies  

William Danvers writes: The collapse of the Afghan government is a blow to the U.S. and its NATO allies, and a tragedy for the Afghan people. But it also will be problematic for China, Russia and Iran. These nations have taken advantage of the security that the U.S. and NATO have provided in Afghanistan, and the Taliban ascendancy now becomes an existential problem for them. – The Hill 

Michael Kofman, Aaron Stein and Yun Sun write: Leaders in Beijing, Ankara, and Moscow likely shed no tears while watching Ghani’s American- and NATO-backed regime crumble, taking with it any lingering hope that the two-decade mission in Afghanistan could create in the troubled country a durable regime sympathetic to America and the West. But the rise of the Taliban creates its own set of challenges for leaders in China, Turkey, and Russia, each of which see themselves as important regional powerbrokers. – War on the Rocks   

Eli Lake writes: Now Biden is about to find out whether the U.S. can prevent domestic terrorist attacks without any troops in Afghanistan, from where those last attacks originated. For his sake and the nation’s, he should remember the lesson that cruise-missile diplomacy doesn’t prevent terrorism from happening. It only punishes it after the fact. – Bloomberg 


Iran plans to hold a fourth round of talks with regional rival Saudi Arabia in Iraq after the new Iranian government is set up, the Iranian ambassador in Baghdad was quoted on Tuesday as saying. – Reuters  

Iranian prosecutors opened criminal cases against six guards at the country’s notorious Evin prison, the judiciary reported on Tuesday, after footage showing the widespread abuse of detainees at the facility leaked out last week. – Associated Press  

As the last of the U.S. military presence in Afghanistan was set to depart, Iran’s recently sworn-in president sent his new top diplomat to Iraq and Syria to send a message of Tehran’s enduring commitment and to discuss recent events in the region. – Newsweek  

Iran’s new government may not resume negotiations with world powers to revive the 2015 nuclear deal until late November, dashing hopes of a quick conclusion of talks that would allow Iranian oil back onto the market in exchange for curbs on its nuclear program. – Bloomberg  

The Iranian member of parliament representing the country’s Jewish community told Fars News Agency that American presidents do not have control over US foreign and domestic policies, according to a report by Iran Front Page. – Arutz Sheva 

James Sinkinson writes: Rather than cozying up to Iran, the U.S. administration could counterbalance its growing reputation appeasers by taking a harder line against Iran’s true global threat. They should foremost end all contacts with Iran until it significantly reduces its uranium enrichment, definitively ends its nuclear weapons program and stops its destabilizing presence in the region and beyond. That would be a foreign policy win worth celebrating. – Arutz Sheva 


As U.S. forces withdrew from Afghanistan, precipitating the chaotic collapse of its government, another American ally watched warily and hoped that its fate will be different. The painful memories of an earlier American military drawdown are still fresh for the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces in northeastern Syria. – Washington Post 

Syrian elite forces aided by pro-Iranian militias stepped up an offensive on Tuesday against a rebel enclave in a southwestern pocket bordering Jordan and Israel, according to residents, military and opposition sources. – Reuters 

An oil spill that originated from Syria’s largest refinery is growing and spreading across the Mediterranean Sea, and could reach the island of Cyprus by Wednesday, Cypriot authorities have said. Syrian officials said last week that a tank filled with 15,000 tons of fuel had been leaking since August 23 at a thermal power plant on the Syrian coastal city of Baniyas. They said they had been able to bring it under control. – CNN  


Turkey’s economy likely rebounded sharply in the second quarter to grow at a record pace after contracting at the height of the Covid pandemic. Data on Wednesday will show gross domestic product rose 21% from a year earlier and 1% from the first quarter, according to the median forecasts in Bloomberg surveys. – Bloomberg  

A new partnership between a Turkish aerospace trade association and Ukraine’s arms trader aims to provide repair and maintenance services for up to 1,500 Russian-made Mi-17 helicopters. The Turkish Aeronautical Association and Ukrspecexport signed a contract to team up earlier this month at the International Defence Industry Fair in Turkey. – Defense News  

Vuk Vuksanovic and Nikolaos Tzifakis write: Turkey and Erdoğan have multiple reasons for the recent policy change on Kosovo. When Erdoğan believes that he has an opportunity to make gains, he always takes action. September is growing closer, and so too are both the end of the Serbia-Kosovo recognition moratorium and the U.N. General Assembly high-level meetings. Ankara is unlikely to remain passive. – Middle East Institute 


Israeli troops shot and killed a Palestinian in the occupied West Bank overnight, the Palestinian health ministry said on Wednesday. Village residents said there were no disturbances or clashes in the area at the time of the shooting, which occurred near the village of Beit Ur Al-Tahta, west of the city of Ramallah. – Reuters  

Israel should use the positive meeting last week between Prime Minister Naftali Bennett and US President Joe Biden to stop Iran’s march toward hegemony in the Middle East and toward a nuclear weapon, former Mossad director Yossi Cohen wrote on Wednesday. – Jerusalem Post 

Israel must investigate the brutal assault on a Palestinian teen by right-wing Jewish extremists that took place earlier this month, urged United Nations Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process Tor Wennesland. – Jerusalem Post 

Israel announced it was rolling out a series of goodwill gestures toward the Gaza Strip on Wednesday, expanding its fishing zone to its furthest point in years and allowing into Israel thousands more workers from the enclave, despite ongoing nightly riots along the border. – Times of Israel 

Editorial: Israel and the Gulf states are celebrating the first anniversary of the Abraham Accords. As important as these accords undoubtedly are, they do not void the need for Israel to maintain relations with its Palestinian neighbors. The PA is far from perfect but Israel cannot afford for it to completely collapse. Nor can Israel allow Hamas to continue to give the impression that terrorism and the threat of more rockets attacks are the best way to make economic gains. – Jerusalem Post 

Khaled Abu Toameh writes: Abbas’s political enemies, including Hamas, are now exploiting the Gantz-Abbas meeting to incite against the PA leadership. Their main argument is that Abbas has chosen to align himself with the Israelis and Americans instead of working to reunite the West Bank and the Gaza Strip and end his conflict with Hamas. – Jerusalem Post 

Lazar Berman writes: The “new spirit” of cooperation is nice, but Bennett will have to start expressing his government’s principles and goals if he wants to be a leader worthy of the name. – Times of Israel 

Marek Siwiec writes: Israel and Poland can do so much good together. Our recent history has proven this. However, the only way to return to the optimistic horizons of yesteryear is to embrace dialogue, open those channels of diplomacy and go back to investing in education, education, education. – Times of Israel 

Maurice Hirsch writes: The PA, and only the PA, is responsible for its financial distress. The PA payment of the terror rewards has made the US, Canada, Australia, and the Netherlands cut financial aid to the Authority, while other countries have limited their aid to certain PA projects. If the PA were to abandon its terror rewarding policy, the decision would not only relieve the PA’s financial crisis, but it would also open a door to other changes in PA priorities and values, which are all prerequisites for peace. – Algemeiner 

Gulf States

At least eight people were wounded on Monday in Houthi drone strikes on Saudi Arabia’s Abha airport that also damaged a civilian airplane, Saudi officials said. – Reuters  

Saudi Arabian news channels are starting to transfer operations out of Dubai amid a push by the country’s crown prince to get multinational companies to relocate their headquarters to the kingdom. – Bloomberg  

Tarek Fadlallah writes: The preference is for GCC conglomerates to submit to rigorous self-assessments and undergo a thorough realignment of their increasingly complex organizational structures. However, and given the lack of action by the private sector to initiate wide-scale corporate restructuring so far, it is likely that legislative or regulatory action may be required to advance economic efficiency. – Middle East Institute  

Michael Keating and Thanos Petouris write: A southern dialogue process that engages all relevant stakeholders and groups, in close coordination with regional actors and the international community, can tangibly contribute to tackling the complexities of the Yemeni conflict. It could yield benefits for both national-level dialogue as well as for the south. By contrast, failure to reach greater consensus among southern actors increases the prospect of more fighting, extremism, and humanitarian crisis. – Middle East Institute  


Countries neighboring Libya wrapped up their meeting Tuesday in Algeria, with calls for foreign fighters and mercenaries to be pulled out from the conflict-stricken North African nation. The two-day meeting also urged Libyan parties to stick to a political road map that ended hostilities last year and set parliamentary and presidential elections in December. – Associated Press  

The head of Libya’s state energy company rejected an attempt by the OPEC nation’s oil minister to have him suspended and the board disbanded. – Bloomberg  

Clashes erupted at a government building in central Tripoli on Tuesday after a dispute over the leadership of a state institution, its head said, underscoring the volatility and insecurity in Libya months before a planned election. – Reuters 

Middle East & North Africa

Driving back to base after firing rockets toward Israeli positions from a border area last month, a group of Hezbollah fighters was accosted by angry villagers who smashed their vehicles’ windshields and held them up briefly. It was a rare incident of defiance that suggested many in Lebanon would not tolerate provocations by the powerful group that risk triggering a new war with Israel. – Associated Press  

OPEC+ meets today for the first time since July, with delegates expecting the group to stick to its planned production increase. With crude prices mostly recovered from their mid-August slump and the supply outlook relatively tight for the rest of the year, the group has little reason to change the established schedule of gradual monthly supply hikes. – Bloomberg  

On Friday, the first officials from Saudi Arabia and Iran began arriving in Baghdad, the capital of Iraq, in advance of a summit between the two nations intended to promote a wider understanding across the region. – The National Interest  

Sarah Feuer, Grant Rumley, Ben Fishman and Aaron Y. Zelin write: Whatever Saied’s plans are, Washington should be working to ensure Tunisia does not revert to a full-blown autocracy or deeper instability, which would open a space for bad actors in the region to exploit. Quiet but firm U.S. inducements could go a long way toward that end. – Washington Institute  

Samir Bennis writes: What Algeria suggests through this decision is that it wants unchallenged hegemony in North Africa—which necessitates unfettered access to the Atlantic Ocean in southern Morocco and an assertive presence in African geopolitics. However, this requires catching up with Morocco’s continental strategic depth, or altogether spoiling Rabat’s African successes. – Washington Institute  

Korean Peninsula

There has been a great deal of controversy about North Korea, coronavirus, and vaccines. North Korea has claimed repeatedly, including as recently as this week, that it is entirely free of the coronavirus, despite taking stringent measures to mitigate the effects of the pandemic. – The National Interest  

South Korea’s parliament on Tuesday approved a first-of-its-kind law aimed at decreasing the dominance of the major app stores operators. The bill, expected to be signed by President Moon Jae-in, would ban Apple and Google from forcing developers to use their proprietary payment systems. – The Hill 

One of Asia’s biggest shipping companies is facing the threat of imminent worker strikes, risking further disruption to global supply chains that are already battling surging costs and shortages of containers and computer chips. – Financial Times 

Bruce Klingner writes: Diplomacy and deterrence are not mutually exclusive. North Korea is unlikely to intimidate or attack South Korea if it perceives that the U.S.-South Korean alliance is strong and that the U.S. commitment to defend South Korea is beyond doubt. The U.S. should make absolutely clear to friend and foe alike that it will defend its allies and maintain current levels of U.S. forces until the North Korean nuclear, missile, and conventional force threats have been sufficiently reduced. – The Daily Signal  


China’s ruling party will convene for the first time in more than a year in November, laying the ground for a twice-a-decade party congress in 2022 that could extend Xi Jinping’s term as leader. – Bloomberg  

Seven Hong Kong democracy activists were sentenced on Wednesday to up to 16 months in jail for their role in an unauthorised assembly at the height of anti-government protests in 2019. – Reuters  

The first-of-its-kind F-35B fighter jet with short-takeoff-and-vertical-landing capability is now a threat factor possessed by U.S. Navy amphibious assault ships across the world. The jet has many merits yet one key factor eclipses all of the others: China does not have an equivalent. – The National Interest  

Tencent has increased its investments in overseas start-ups more than sevenfold this year, accelerating the global expansion of China’s most valuable company as Beijing tightens regulatory scrutiny of tech groups. – Financial Times 

A blogger’s tirade endorsed widely by Chinese state media has called for Beijing’s snowballing regulatory overhaul to target the high costs of housing, education and healthcare while also instituting deep reforms to finance and cultural industries. – Financial Times 

In an August 23, 2021 article, titled “What does China expect from the new Afghan government?” the editor of the CCP-owned  Global Times, Hu Xijin, made four suggestions for the new Taliban government in Afghanistan. […] Hu then added that China has neither the strength for nor the interest in “reforming Afghanistan and that the idea of deciding whether or not to develop relations with the new regime in that country based solely on the issue of human rights is “irrational.” – Middle East Media Research Institute  

Mark Gongloff writes: Xi’s aim is to reassert the Communist Party’s dominance and ostensibly to make Chinese society more equitable and protective of its children. But Michael Schuman argues the real effect could be to crush the entrepreneurial spirit that flourished in China after Deng Xiaoping’s reforms back in those glorious ‘80s. – Bloomberg  

Joseph Bosco writes: Yet, his entire presidential campaign was premised on his claim of unique foreign policy judgment and experience to serve as commander in chief. The world now sees that the U.S. president’s judgment may be permanently flawed and that he has learned nothing — or all the wrong lessons — from his long government service. – The Hill 

Justin Haskins writes: The Taliban need at least some semblance of economic activity to maintain order. In addition, China’s presence in Afghanistan would make it difficult, if not impossible, for America or any other nation to return. Even, that is, if the country was crawling with terrorists. Unfortunately, Biden’s Afghanistan debacle is not likely to end any time soon. China, too, has much to gain from Biden’s gift. – Washington Examiner  

South Asia

India’s economy is growing at a record pace but still digging out from one of the deepest recessions to hit any major economy during the pandemic. The country’s gross domestic product grew 20.1% in the three months ended June, a period when India suffered through one of the world’s worst Covid-19 surges of the pandemic. – Wall Street Journal  

India’s ambassador in Qatar met with the deputy head of the Taliban’s political office to discuss regional security, India’s foreign ministry said in a statement. – Bloomberg  

There is growing concern among Pakistani officials about security in neighbouring Afghanistan, as the Taliban tries to form a government and stabilise the country following the departure of U.S. and other foreign forces. – Reuters  

Michael Rubin writes: That Price dismisses such concerns by implying India does not border Afghanistan is disingenuous. At the very least, it also suggests that Biden and Secretary of State Antony Blinken’s talk of putting diplomacy first is empty. Simply put, Biden, Blinken, National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan and his deputy Jon Finer owe India a huge apology and must accept personal responsibility for the bloodshed that is sure to come. – 19fortyfive 

Andy Mukherjee writes: Cheery spin can’t hide the mass suffering across the country. Nor should it detract from the long road to recovery ahead. The number policy makers should focus on is minus 20%, for that’s the shortfall in production from India’s pre-coronavirus growth path. – Bloomberg  


Japan’s Defense Ministry is seeking a record $50 billion annual budget that would entail the largest percentage jump in spending in eight years as it seeks to bolster its capabilities amid simmering tensions with China. – Bloomberg  

China’s armed forces can “paralyse” Taiwan’s defences and are able to fully monitor its deployments, the island’s defence ministry said, offering a stark assessment of the rising threat posed by its giant neighbour. – Reuters  

Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga told reporters on Wednesday that he had no plans to dissolve the country’s lower house, in the latest turn of political drama as he fights to hold onto his job. – Reuters  

Beijing’s vaccine diplomacy is the clearest sign yet of its attempts to slow down the unprecedented rapprochement between Hanoi and Washington. – Financial Times 

In an article published August 21, 2021, renowned Chinese dissident Wang Dan, one of the student leaders of the 1989 Tiananmen Square protests, argued that following the political blow it suffered for the mishandled Afghanistan withdrawal, the Biden administration “cannot bear” the political price of losing Taiwan. – Middle East Media Research Institute 


BBC journalist Sarah Rainsford left Russia on Tuesday after Moscow abruptly refused to extend her permission to work in what it said was a tit-for-tat row with Britain over the treatment of foreign media. – Reuters  

Violetta Grudina, an opposition activist in Russia’s Arctic port city of Murmansk, says the intimidation began after she said she would run for the city council in local elections being held alongside a federal parliamentary vote on Sept. 17-19. – Reuters  

Russia will hold a new round of talks with the United States on nuclear strategic stability next month, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on Tuesday. – Reuters  

The Russian Navy continues to develop how it intends to deploy its latest strategic weapon – a bus-sized torpedo tipped with a nuclear warhead. – USNI News 

On August 20, 2021, the independent Dozhd TV was placed on the list of “foreign agents”. This joins a series of steps against independent voices in Russia, who have been labeled “extremists” (supporters of the imprisoned opposition leader Alexei Navalny, or “foreign agents.” – Middle East Media Research Institute 


Unnerved by America’s abrupt and chaotic withdrawal from Afghanistan, the president of Ukraine, Volodymyr Zelensky, is expected to raise questions about U.S. security commitments when he meets President Biden on Wednesday, an adviser to the Ukrainian leader said. – New York Times 

The UK is in talks with the Taliban to secure safe passage out of Afghanistan for a number of British nationals and Afghans who remain there. – BBC 

France’s foresight about the imminent collapse of Kabul has contrasted with the lack of US preparedness and triggered speculation that French spies knew something the Americans did not. – Financial Times 

Poland’s military acquisition efforts have hosted several unexpected twists and turns this year. The Defence Ministry awarded a deal for 24 Turkish Bayraktar TB2 drones in May without a tender, and it later unexpectedly unveiled plans to buy 250 M1A2 Abrams SEPv3 tanks from the United States. The next major procurement in the pipeline concerns Poland’s Narew short-range air defense system, with numerous foreign suppliers competing for the deal. – Defense News 

Editorial: As in the U.S. and United Kingdom, the usual suspects are emerging to argue eurozone inflation will be transitory. For Europe, these allegedly temporary factors are a shortage of agricultural labor, surging demand for services such as tourism, a temporary German consumption-tax cut last year setting a deceptive baseline, and so on. – Wall Street Journal  

Josep Borrell Fontelles writes: The events in Afghanistan are not an invitation to withdraw from further international challenges. On the contrary, they should embolden Europe to deepen its alliances and strengthen its commitment — and ability — to defend its interests. Some events catalyze history: The Afghanistan debacle is one of them. We Europeans must learn its lessons. – New York Times 

Edward Lucas writes: Ukraine’s almost unimaginable progress since 1991 is a nightmare for Russia, a country whose tortured relationship with history is expressed through geography and implemented with violence. A desperate threat to Putin’s regime could prompt desperate measures. That is why Western support for Ukraine is so vital — and its absence makes me so angry. – Center for European Policy Analysis  

Kevin Tammearu writes: This paper looks at what the United States can learn from Estonia’s experience with implementing interoperability, secure data exchange, and digital identity with the goal of achieving greater trust in government, reducing the time people spend navigating bureaucracy, and protecting privacy in a way that the private sector develops further. – Center for European Policy Analysis  

Patryk Szczotka writes: The EU’s external affairs directorate, the EEAS, as well as other EU bodies, should craft a united front among member states to firmly oppose such practices. According to the EU’s core values, the threat of violence cannot form a part of foreign policy. The case of Lithuania puts the credibility of the entire EU foreign policy at stake, and it is, therefore, crucial to grasp this opportunity to show European solidarity. – Center for European Policy Analysis  

Dominik Istrate writes: Not only was Ukraine unable to obtain support for a MAP, the Biden Administration – reversing a previously tough stance – backtracked on sanctioning the new 1,200km (746 miles) Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline, which will allow completion of the nearly finished project. Critics argue that Biden chose to reward President Vladimir Putin with a summit instead of first meeting Zelensky and that the U.S  parked “the Russia issue,” which effectively put Ukraine’s problems on the backburner. – Center for European Policy Analysis  


Forces from Ethiopia’s Tigray region in recent weeks looted warehouses belonging to the U.S. government’s humanitarian agency in the Amhara region, USAID’s mission director in Ethiopia said on Tuesday. – Reuters  

Ethiopia plans to form a national government on Oct. 4 following a general election that Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s party won by a landslide. Tagesse Chafo, speaker of the Ethiopian House of Peoples’ Representatives, made the announcement on Tuesday. – Bloomberg  

The Nigerian air force has about a squadron worth of light attack aircraft — their pilots and maintainers trained by U.S. Air Force personnel — to fight terrorists in the African nation. – Defense News 

Daniel F. Runde and Conor M. Savoy write: Incorporating SMEs into supporting alternative renewable energy sources is a positive step. This will help channel SMEs’ contributions to the nationally determined contributions of the sub-Saharan African countries, which are at the heart of the Paris Agreement and a step toward achieving long-term goals. It will also establish distribution channels and funding streams from social impact investors. – Center for Strategic and International Studies 

Bobby Ghosh writes: Anticipating a ratcheting up of Western pressure, Abiy is seeking support elsewhere: He got some from Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on a visit to Ankara earlier this month. But the combined clout of the U.S. and Europe remains substantial, and it should now be deployed to save millions of Ethiopians from calamity. – Bloomberg  

Latin America

Venezuela’s main opposition parties on Tuesday announced an end to their three-year boycott of elections organized by the government of President Nicolás Maduro, abandoning one of the main tactics of their long struggle to oust the authoritarian socialist by agreeing to field gubernatorial and mayoral candidates in upcoming races. – Washington Post  

Mexican immigration agents and security forces stepped up efforts to halt the progress of a caravan of hundreds of Central American and Caribbean migrants as they moved toward Mexico City from southern Mexico on Tuesday. – Reuters  

A court in Colombia has rejected a move by the attorney general’s office to bring charges against a former army commander for his alleged responsibility in 104 extrajudicial killings because it does not have jurisdiction, it said on Tuesday. – Reuters  

Colombia’s ex-President Andres Pastrana said on Tuesday his government had laid the ground work for building peace in the South American country, even though he did not reach an agreement with leftwing guerrillas and rightwing paramilitaries. – Reuters  

United States

Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy , a California Republican, assembled a group of GOP lawmakers and military veterans to press the Biden administration to put forward a plan to repatriate the hundreds of Americans stranded in the country. Republicans also seek an assessment of the massive stockpile of U.S. weapons, aircraft, and tanks left to the Taliban. – Washington Examiner 

President Joe Biden’s new mission to hold the planners of the deadly terror attacks at the Kabul airport accountable throws an unexpected wrinkle into congressional attempts to limit the president’s war powers — something Biden himself has voiced support for in the past. – Washington Examiner 

Ira Stoll writes: The New York Times, which was publishing frequent op-eds and even letters to the editor from Afrasiabi denouncing “Israel’s neocolonial expansionism” and “the growing apartheid-like cantonization of Arab areas manned by some 700 Israeli checkpoints, not to mention alarming signs of growing violence by vigilante Jewish settlers against the Palestinians,” has yet to publish a word about the criminal case against Afrasiabi. […]The Times failed to disclose to its readers that Afrasiabi was being paid by the Iranian UN Mission, and it hasn’t appended notes to Afrasiabi’s articles, which remain readily available on the paper’s website. – Algemeiner 

Michael Rubin writes: Make no mistake: I am no fan of Carter. His naive progressivism enabled dictators like Zimbabwe’s Robert Mugabe and Somalia’s Siad Barre. It diminished America on the world stage. But Carter also held deep convictions and sought to be true to them. His advisers did not hesitate to present him with cold, hard facts, and he listened to reality. Biden is the opposite. His career shows that he pivots on a whim and lets the wind and ego guide his policy rather than principle. – Washington Examiner 


Facebook will weigh negative user feedback to reduce political content in the platform’s News Feed, the company said Tuesday. The announcement is part of Facebook’s updates to its previously announced plan to cut down on political content. – The Hill  

In an increasingly complex battlespace, the U.S. Army must make sure that electronic warfare soldiers can accomplish six tasks, a top EW leader said. – C4SIRNET 

The chair of the US Securities and Exchange Commission is warning that cryptocurrency trading platforms are putting their own survival at risk unless they heed his call to work within the nation’s regulatory framework. – Financial Times 

Paul Rosenzweig writes: The United States should also take action to ensure that offshore cryptocurrency exchanges abide by internationally agreed-upon rules for lawful banking. Ideally, such actions would be multilateral, but given the unlikelihood that Russia will agree to stop serving as a safe haven for ransomware gangs, unilateral action will probably be necessary. – New York Times 


The Israeli Navy participated in a combined maritime security patrol with the US Naval Forces Central Command’s 5th Fleet in the Red Sea for the first time on Tuesday. – Jerusalem Post 

Air Force Secretary Frank Kendall recently announced construction and renovation to Grand Forks Air Force Base, North Dakota, solidifying its position as the future of intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance missions for the service. – Defense News 

Sparring over the size of the defense budget and partisan recriminations over the U.S. exit from Afghanistan are expected to dominate the House Armed Services Committee’s marathon markup of its annual policy bill on Wednesday. – Defense News 

Nearly four-and-a-half years after his indictment, a former U.S. 7th Fleet official on Tuesday admitted he traded classified ship schedules in exchange for luxury hotel stays, meals and entertainment while helping a Singapore-based company secure inflated Navy ship husbanding contracts. – USNI News 

Questioning the $12 billion price tag of new aircraft carriers, the chairman of the House Armed Services Committee said “presence still matters” in reassuring allies in the Persian Gulf and the South China Sea so they have a role in future strategy. – USNI News 

Olivia Letts and Stephen Rodriguez write: Getting intellectual property policy right is another challenge that must be solved in order for OTAs to support the goal of protecting U.S. national security interests. The broad liberties enjoyed by contractors to retain their IP rights in the OTA process poses potential national security risks. If the whole purpose of using more OTAs is to improve the U.S. military’s technological advantage, then we could end up paradoxically hurting ourselves by allowing cutting-edge, OTA-developed products to be sold to malicious actors. – Defense News 

Long War

A notorious British member of the Islamic State who is facing federal charges over accusations that he helped jail and tortured Western hostages is preparing to plead guilty, according to a court notice filed late Tuesday. – New York Times  

Six men said to belong to an Islamist militant group were convicted and sentenced to death on Tuesday over the 2016 killings of a prominent Bangladeshi gay rights activist and his friend. – New York Times 

Following the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan and the Taliban’s rise to power there, Hamas, its leader Isma’il Haniya and other officials in the movement were among the first to congratulate the Taliban on “expelling the occupiers” by means of their “jihad,” while claiming that this was proof of the effectiveness of resistance. – Middle East Media Research Institute  

Frank Gardner writes: The purported return to Afghanistan this week of Osama Bin Laden’s former security chief Amin ul-Haq is a worrying sign. That such a high-value individual, classified by the US as a Specially Designated Global Terrorist, should feel safe enough to return now the US has left will be deeply troubling for counter-terrorism officials in many countries. They won’t be taking their eyes off Afghanistan for many years to come. – BBC