Fdd's overnight brief

September 14, 2021

In The News


Iran said Monday it planned to resume nuclear talks in the near future, the clearest indication yet that negotiations on reviving the 2015 nuclear deal could soon resume, and the Biden administration confirmed it would drop a resolution censuring Iran for failing to cooperate with nuclear inspectors. – Wall Street Journal 

Iran has come within roughly a month of having enough material to fuel a single nuclear weapon, crossing a threshold that may raise pressure on the United States and its allies to improve the terms of a potential deal to restore the 2015 nuclear agreement. – New York Times 

Western powers on Monday scrapped plans for a resolution criticising Iran at the U.N. atomic watchdog after Tehran agreed to prolong monitoring of some nuclear activities, even though the watchdog said Iran made no “promise” on another key issue. – Reuters 

The global nuclear watchdog said Monday that its surveillance of Iran’s atomic program is back on track after talks yielded a compromise with the country’s new government. – Bloomberg 

An incident at Iran’s Karaj nuclear facility in June, which was attributed by many to the Mossad, may have destroyed some of the IAEA’s monitoring equipment, International Atomic Energy Agency Director-General Rafael Grossi said Monday. – Jerusalem Post 

Editorial: Mr. Biden already has downgraded America’s relationship with Iranian rival Saudi Arabia, ended the “snap back” sanctions fight with Iran at the U.N. and pulled some restrictions against Iranian officials. […]Arms-control agreements work best among friendly nations. When dealing with adversaries, the agreement is only as good as the verification and monitoring measures that come with it. An IAEA censure would send a message that Mr. Biden understands this basic principle. – Wall Street Journal 


The United Nations said Monday that it obtained $1 billion in pledges of fresh funds to stave off a humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan, after receiving a written assurance by the Taliban authorities that they would allow aid workers to operate freely across the country. – Wall Street Journal 

With a new government in place and uncontested control over the country, Afghanistan’s Taliban rulers are clamoring for international recognition of their reinstated Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan. – Wall Street Journal 

As Taliban fighters cradling trophy assault rifles crowded a police headquarters base here, the new boss explained the new rules. – Wall Street Journal 

The chief U.S. diplomat on Monday defended the military withdrawal from Afghanistan, telling a House committee that the Biden administration was bound to former President Donald Trump’s agreement with the Taliban and that remaining would have risked more American lives. – Wall Street Journal 

The Pentagon continued to assert on Monday that the last U.S. drone strike in Afghanistan was necessary to prevent an attack on American troops, despite a New York Times investigation that raises doubts about the military’s version of events, including whether explosives were in the vehicle that was blown up and whether the driver had a connection to the Islamic State. – New York Times 

Millions of Afghans could run out of food before the arrival of winter and one million children are at risk of starvation and death if their immediate needs are not met, top United Nations officials warned on Monday, putting the country’s plight into stark relief. – New York Times 

The family of Mark Frerichs on Monday urged U.S. President Joe Biden to fire his chief Afghanistan peace negotiator, charging that the envoy has done little to win the release of the last American believed to be held hostage by the Taliban. – Reuters 

Hours after the last U.S. troops and diplomats were out of Afghanistan, President Joe Biden said in an address at the White House that Washington will continue to support the Afghans left behind and would defend their basic rights, especially those of women and girls. – Reuters 

Afghan women should not be allowed to work alongside men, a senior figure in the ruling Taliban said, a position which, if formally implemented, would effectively bar them from employment in government offices, banks, media companies and beyond. – Reuters 

Many Afghans are still fleeing their homes despite a drop in violence since the Taliban seized power last month, and the number of people crossing land borders has also risen, the head of the U.N. migration agency told an aid conference on Monday. – Reuters 

UN chief Antonio Guterres on Monday urged the international community to engage with the Taliban and to provide a “lifeline” of desperately needed aid to Afghans, as the first foreign commercial flight left Kabul — a hopeful sign for those still trying to leave the country. – Agence France-Presse 

UN rights chief Michelle Bachelet criticizes the new Taliban interim government in Afghanistan, which is drawn exclusively from loyalist ranks and counts no women. – Agence France-Presse 

Antony Blinken, the US secretary of state, gave an unapologetic defence of the American military’s chaotic and bloody withdrawal from Afghanistan as he appeared before lawmakers on Capitol Hill. – Financial Times 

After al-Qaeda attacked the twin towers in New York 20 years ago, the U.S., Europe, China, Russia and even Iran rallied around a rare common cause: To topple a Taliban regime in Kabul that had made Afghanistan a base for international terrorism. – Bloomberg 

The Pentagon does not plan to put investigators on the ground to assess whether “an imminent ISIS-K threat” targeted during a U.S. drone strike in Afghanistan actually had ties to the terrorist organization, the Defense Department’s top spokesman said Monday. – The Hill 

The Taliban reportedly is executing revenge killings of former Afghan security forces, according to Michelle Bachelet, the United Nations human rights chief. – Newsweek 

Qatar’s foreign minister said on Monday the Gulf state has urged Afghanistan’s new Taliban rulers to respect women’s rights and that it was still too early to consider recognising their government. – Reuters 

Editorial: Never mind that he and his boss ignored our allies when they begged for an extension to get their own citizens and allies to safety. Bizarrely, he pretended the international community’s “expectations” require every government to uphold “basic rights.” What of China? Iran? Team Biden is desperate to strike deals with both human-rights abusers. Blinken’s pathetic blame game makes it clear he’s not up to the task of representing a strong America to the world. But then again, his boss isn’t either. – New York Post 

Rebekah Koffler writes: The difference between the Soviet and the U.S. fiasco in Afghanistan is that the Soviets were faster learners — it took the Communist Party leaders 10 years to pull out of Afghanistan instead of 20. The tragedy of Afghanistan perhaps can best avoid being repeated if the Ivy League stewards of our national security team keep in mind a slightly updated version of a centuries-old serving of wisdom: Look carefully before you leap. – The Hill 

Clay D. Hanna writes: The problems in Afghanistan will not be solved easily or quickly. The humanitarian crisis and the violence are only in the early stages. It will get worse without action. […]The best way to further American interests is to hurt our enemies and help our friends, but if our definition of “friend” includes only largely white Western nations or partners who smirk at our values, pocket our cash and proceed to oppress their own people, then our interests are small, our standing is diminished, and our defeat is deserved. – The Hill 

Noah Rothman writes: Not only did the Biden White House renegotiate the so-called deadline for withdrawal in Afghanistan, they did have a plan to execute that withdrawal. Indeed, they stuck with it well after it had become clear that it would produce a historic disaster and an unprecedented betrayal of our wartime allies. A moral consistency would compel those who were incensed by the Trump administration’s sacrifice of American values to be just as outraged by the Biden administration’s failure to see to America’s responsibilities. The lack of that consistency today is instructive. – Commentary Magazine 

Thomas Waldman and Rory Cormac write: In the unlikely event of a major U.S. covert action program that overthrew the Taliban, a host of new problems would emerge — problems that the United States has already demonstrated, through 20 years of failed efforts, to be beyond its means to adequately address. Even if the United States considers more limited forms of covert action to disrupt the Taliban, it should proceed extremely cautiously. There would be a need for clear goals, alignment with wider policy aims, bipartisan support, bureaucratic control, and exit options. Any action should be based on a comprehensive analysis of associated risks. – War on the Rocks 

Roie Yellinek writes: During the years of American intervention in Afghanistan and other countries in the Middle East, the Chinese looked on from the outside at American actions, criticizing them from time to time, and largely waited. After it became clear the Americans would withdraw from Afghanistan, Beijing started to look for opportunities to expand their influence in the vacuum that was created. […]In doing so the main challenge will be the multiplicity of opinions, different approaches, and the variety of beliefs and values — a very different way of governance than that of China and some of its allies. – Middle East Institute 

Michael Kugelman writes: Perhaps most important, several top Taliban leaders believed to have less-than-cordial relations with Islamabad did not get top posts in the new caretaker cabinet announced on Sept. 7. And some of the very top postings went to those with close links to Pakistan. […]All this said, a relationship repurposed for a post-conflict, Taliban-led Afghanistan may not have a long shelf life. The Taliban’s struggle to consolidate their power could lead to armed resistance and a reemergence of conflict. In that scenario, the relationship would revert to the status quo ante in a hurry—and establish yet another phase in a partnership destined to endure, warts and all. – Foreign Policy 

Casey Michel and Paul Massaro write: Beyond these specific bills, though, the United States needs to reformulate the kind of “security first” doctrines that have driven so much of its efforts, and failures, in places like Afghanistan and Iraq. […]Paying off crooked warlords for supposed security, ignoring clear signs of kleptocratic behavior in pet clients, bankrolling those benefiting from the swills of dirty money sloshing around, all while leaving the door open for illicit funds to be laundered back in the United States—all of it points to ultimate failure. All of it is simply laying the groundwork for eventual defeat. – Foreign Policy  


Israeli aircraft struck a series of targets in the Gaza Strip early Monday while Palestinian militants launched rockets into Israel in the third consecutive night of fighting between the sides. – Associated Press 

The leaders of Egypt and Israel met Monday as part of the first official trip to Egypt by an Israeli prime minister in over a decade, and rising tensions in the Gaza Strip were at the top of their agenda. – Associated Press 

A Palestinian stabbed and wounded two people in a Jerusalem cosmetics shop on Monday before being shot and wounded by police, Israeli officials said, amid heightened tensions since a prison escape by Palestinian inmates a week ago. – Reuters 

The city of Burlington, Vt., is expected to vote tonight on a resolution endorsing the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement targeting Israel. If passed and approved by the city’s mayor, Burlington will become the first city in the country to enact BDS legislation. – Jewish Insider 

A new round of fighting commenced between Israel and Hamas over the weekend, leading the Israeli foreign minister to call for a new approach to the decades-long conflict. Foreign Minister Yair Lapid suggested Sunday that Israel will work toward international investment in Gaza’s infrastructure in exchange for pressure on the militant group Hamas to recede. – Newsweek 

Legislators and parliamentarians from Europe and North America are calling upon EU member countries and global democracies to help end the “systematic” discrimination against Israel at the United Nations. – Algemeiner 

Editorial: On the one hand, Israel should listen to US concerns and suggest innovative ways to engage positively with the Palestinians without the need for a consulate. A special envoy or some other form of diplomatic post at the US embassy in Jerusalem could, for example, serve the interests of the Palestinians. But Israel also needs to clearly articulate its opposition to a consulate. It undermines the chances for peace, threatens the stability of the government and erases the accomplishment of getting the embassy moved from Tel Aviv. – Jerusalem Post 

Lukas Mandl and Daniel Schwammenthal write: The late UN Secretary General Kofi Annan famously remarked that both Israel and the United Nations “rose from the ashes of the Holocaust.” As the declaration therefore concludes: “The transatlantic community of democracies has thus a sacred duty to ensure that the UN system is no longer misused to constantly vilify the Jewish state and, in so doing, damage the world body itself and its universal values.” May this be the year the transatlantic community finally acts on this duty. – Newsweek 


Lebanon’s new government held its first meeting Monday with a call by the president to resume talks with the International Monetary Fund to help kick-start its recovery from one of the world’s worst economic crises in more than a century. – Associated Press 

The leader of the militant Hezbollah group said Monday the first tanker carrying Iranian fuel to Lebanon has arrived in a Syrian port and the diesel will be shipped to Lebanon by tanker trucks later this week. – Associated Press 

Lebanon’s new Prime Minister Najib Mikati, who took office last week promising to revive IMF talks to unlock aid, said on Monday there was no time to lose and no easy path to tackle one of history’s worst economic meltdowns. – Reuters 

The Special Tribunal for Lebanon said on Monday it has secured enough funding to hear the appeal of its main case, centering on the 2005 assassination of Prime Minister Rafik Hariri, which will start Oct. 4. – Reuters 


The Biden administration will impose new conditions on security aid to Egypt, officials said Monday, a decision that sends an unusual rebuke to a key Middle Eastern ally over alleged government abuses but stops short of a larger penalty sought by human rights groups. – Washington Post 

U.S. President Joe Biden was widely expected to reverse course on the Trump administration’s foreign policy when he took office, with Egypt widely seen as one of his most likely initial targets. Nine months in, however, he has followed the well-tread path of previous administrations. – Haaretz 

The Biden administration has decided to withhold some military assistance to Egypt due to human rights concerns, according to reports Monday. – Times of Israel 

Haisam Hassanein writes: Questions surround policy toward Gaza as well. After the May showdown between Hamas and Israel, Sisi pledged to help with Gaza reconstruction and sent trucks full of aid to the territory, but the current status of his offer is unclear. Israel may oppose additional assistance unless Hamas agrees to return the bodies of slain Israelis—a concession that may itself depend on Jerusalem agreeing to release Palestinian prisoners. – Washington Institute 

Arabian Peninsula

A year has passed since Israel and the United Arab Emirates normalized ties in a US-brokered agreement, leading to a raft of deals ranging from tourism and aviation to cutting-edge technology. – Agence France-Presse 

The United States’ chaotic withdrawal from Afghanistan has raised questions for its Arab allies in the Middle East about whether or not they can continue to rely on Washington, a senior Gulf Arab official said on Monday. – Reuters 

The United Arab Emirates is seeking to grow economic ties with Israel to more than $1 trillion over the next decade, Economy Minister Abdulla Bin Touq said Monday, strengthening a year-old relationship that’s already produced billions of dollars worth of business. – Bloomberg 

Middle East & North Africa

Libyan authorities arrested two suspected human traffickers and facilitated the return of more than 50 Egyptian migrants to their home country, officials said. – Associated Press 

The badly damaged old section of the southern Syrian city of Daraa, which until recently was held by opposition gunmen, appeared to slowly return to some sense of normalcy Sunday. – Associated Press 

Turkey is working with the U.N.’s refugee agency to repatriate Syrians to their home country, the Turkish foreign minister said Sunday. – Associated Press 

Algerian judoka Fethi Nourine has been banned from competition for 10 years by the International Judo Federation after his withdrawal from the Tokyo Olympics to avoid a potential bout against an Israeli opponent. – Associated Press 

Three Senate Democrats who recently returned from the Middle East expressed optimism about a range of challenges in the region — including the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, contentious issues in the U.S.-Israel relationship, controversial Palestinian Authority policies and the political crisis in Lebanon — in a briefing with reporters on Friday. – Jewish Insider 

Korean Peninsula

The United States remains prepared to engage with North Korea, a White House spokeswoman said on Monday, despite Pyongyang’s announcement that it had tested a new long-range cruise missile over the weekend. – Reuters 

Top nuclear envoys from Japan, the United States and South Korea held talks in Tokyo on Tuesday to discuss how to rein in North Korea’s missile and nuclear programmes, a day after Pyongyang said it conducted a new long-range missile test. – Reuters 

South Korea fined Alphabet Inc.’s Google $177 million for hampering the development of rivals to its Android operating system, sustaining a campaign targeting the U.S. search giant’s dominance in smartphone software. – Bloomberg 


Chinese police are using a new anti-fraud app installed on more than 200m mobile phones to identify and question people who have viewed overseas financial news sites, according to individuals summoned by the authorities. – Financial Times 

The United Nations’ rights chief lamented on Monday that efforts to gain access to China’s Xinjiang region to probe reports of serious violations against Muslim Uyghurs have not succeeded, adding that she was finalising a report on the situation. – Reuters 

Gideon Rachman writes: Xi’s creation of a cult of personality and his moves to become, in effect, “ruler for life” are part of a disturbing global pattern. […]Donald Trump used to “joke” enviously that the US should emulate China’s abolition of presidential term limits. But the US has checks and balances, which have so far managed to thwart Trump’s worst instincts. In a country such as China — without independent courts, elections or a free media — there are no real constraints on a leadership cult. That is why Xi is now a danger to his own country. – Financial Times 

Rose Gottemoeller writes: We must keep a sharp eye on China’s nuclear deployments. But we have a long head start on them and can ensure that they do not surprise us in the nuclear space. If we fail to stay focused, we may find one day that they have achieved strategic superiority with entirely new military systems that we can neither defend against nor match. – The Hill 

Tom Rogan writes: Those who signed this letter should wake up. China is engaged in an industrial-scale campaign to steal American secrets. China doesn’t even hide its prioritization of universities in this regard. Indeed, one of its best civilian universities is led by a spy ! The very least the U.S. government should be doing in face of this threat is enforce the law. – Washington Examiner 

Edward Lucas writes: The Chinese party-state aims to control not just outsiders’ deeds, but their words. When that works, it is chillingly effective. If you cannot even discuss a different policy, you will not be able to implement it. But this hegemonic approach is also vulnerable to disobedience, as IPAC’s members are so effectively demonstrating. – Center for European Policy Analysis 

Seth G. Jones and Jude Blanchette write: Even so, it is China, not the United States, that confronts the greatest degree of uncertainty in the wake of the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan. […]As China confronts new and legacy challenges in every direction, it could soon find itself overstretched and overwhelmed. Far from offering any tangible benefit, the U.S. exit from Afghanistan could bog down Beijing at precisely the moment it needs to focus on escalating competition in the East. China’s post-U.S. honeymoon in Afghanistan, in other words, may end before it has begun. – Foreign Affairs 

South Asia

U.S. climate envoy John F. Kerry said Monday that he remains hopeful that key world leaders, including India’s prime minister, will announce more-ambitious emissions reduction targets in the six weeks ahead of a crucial U.N. climate summit in Scotland, as he and Indian officials unveiled a new renewable-energy financing scheme meant to assuage Indian concerns about Western support. – Washington Post 

The United States will be looking at its relationship with Pakistan in the coming weeks, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said on Monday, to formulate what role Washington would want it play in the future of Afghanistan. – Reuters 

India’s leaders are anxiously watching the Taliban takeover in Afghanistan, fearing that it will benefit their bitter rival Pakistan and feed a long-simmering insurgency in the disputed region of Kashmir, where militants already have a foothold. – Associated Press 

India and the U.K. will start negotiations for a free trade deal later this year, including a series of working groups from this month, the British High Commission in New Delhi said in a statement on Tuesday.  – Bloomberg 

Samuel Ramani writes: After assiduously balancing close relations with India and Pakistan for over a decade, Russia is primed to cooperate with both countries against the threats posed by a Taliban-led Afghanistan. Given the polarizing nature of the Afghanistan crisis in Islamabad and New Delhi, Russia will have to tread cautiously to avoid alienating either of its South Asian partners. – Middle East Institute 


The United States and China have brokered an agreement that will effectively block Myanmar’s military rulers from addressing the United Nations’ General Assembly next week, according to diplomats, dealing a blow to the junta’s quest for international legitimacy after it took power in a coup earlier this year. – Foreign Policy 

Singapore introduced a new parliament bill on Monday that empowers the government to investigate and stop foreign actors from influencing national politics and inflaming social issues, in the latest move to assert control over potentially threatening content online. – Time 

U.S. President Joe Biden will host a first in-person summit of leaders of the “Quad” countries – Australia, India, Japan and the United States – next week, a senior U.S. official told Reuters on Monday. – Reuters 

Grateful for COVID-19 vaccine gifts and other support, Taiwan will send a senior minister to head an investment delegation to three central and eastern European countries next month to boost business ties, Taiwan’s foreign ministry announced on Tuesday. – Reuters 

The United Nations is faced with rival claims to Myanmar’s seat at the 193-member world body as the ruling junta seeks to cement its coup with international legitimacy by ousting the U.N. ambassador appointed by Aung San Suu Kyi’s elected government. – Reuters 

Japan’s Foreign Ministry urged its citizens on Monday to stay away from religious facilities and crowds in six Southeast Asian nations, warning of a possible attack. – Associated Press 

Japan’s former top diplomat and candidate to head its ruling party said Monday that he supports boosting Tokyo’s defense budget amid China’s growing assertiveness in the region. – Associated Press 

Anti-regime guerrillas are escalating attacks on Myanmar government troops and telecom towers after a declaration of “war” by the National Unity Government, the parallel cabinet formed by supporters of the arrested leader Aung San Suu Kyi. – Financial Times 

The Japanese Ministry of Defense detected a Chinese submarine operating in the contiguous zone of Japan’s southern islands, they announced in a Sept. 12 press release, and the Japan Maritime Self Defense Force (JMSDF) air and naval units are maintaining surveillance on the submarine. – USNI News 

Oriana Skylar Mastro writes: Chinese leaders already expected a tense relationship with the Biden administration. Now they are faced with the fact that the United States might have the will and resources to push back against Chinese aggression, even if it means war. So, while there may be other reasons to oppose the end of the war in Afghanistan, the impact on China’s Taiwan calculus is not — and should not be — one of them. – New York Times 


Russian President Vladimir Putin has observed military exercises being conducted in coordination with Belarus that have raised concerns in bordering countries. – Associated Press 

President Vladimir Putin received Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad in Moscow for the first time since 2015 on Monday and criticised foreign forces that are in Syria without a U.N. mandate, the Kremlin said, in a rebuke of the United States and Turkey. – Reuters 

Russian President Vladimir Putin oversaw vast joint military exercises with Belarus on Monday ahead of his country’s parliamentary elections later this week, as NATO member Poland voiced concern over the drills. – Reuters 

Some Russian mobile users were unable to download updates from the AppStore on Monday and Apple (AAPL.O) reported an outage, as the authorities sought to block a banned tactical voting app ahead of parliamentary elections this week. – Reuters 

Natia Seskuria writes: Ultimately, Putin’s recent demonstration of power sheds light on the regime’s long-term vulnerabilities. By targeting smaller media outlets as well as more prominent ones, the Kremlin hopes to avoid Belarus-style mass protests. But by closing off a necessary safety valve—even as social, economic, and political pressures continue to build—Putin’s strategy could backfire. – Foreign Policy 


Britain’s Brexit minister David Frost on Monday said that the European Union must move in negotiations over the trading arrangements in Northern Ireland or Britain may unilaterally suspend the so-called “protocol”. – Reuters 

Western Balkan states have a long way to go to achieve membership in the European Union but it is Germany’s goal that they do, Chancellor Angela Merkel said on Monday. – Reuters 

The Lithuanian government said on Monday work would start this month on the first section of fence along the Belarus border aimed at keeping out migrants, a 110 km (70 miles) stretch topped with razor wire that should be finished by April. – Reuters 

Pope Francis honored Slovakian Holocaust victims and atoned for Christian complicity in wartime crimes as he sought to promote reconciliation Monday in a country where a Catholic priest was president of a Nazi puppet state that deported tens of thousands of its Jews. – Associated Press 

James McAuley writes: In March 2016, the E.U. signed a deal with Turkey that turned back all those migrants who entered Europe via Greece across the Aegean Sea. That deal significantly decreased the number of new arrivals. Whatever one’s opinion on refugees, the Afghanistan situation is unlikely to come anywhere near the situation in 2015. But that’s another issue. The deeper question, as European leaders keep promising to avoid another 2015, is why they can’t admit the strength of their earlier success. – Washington Post 

Dalibor Rohac writes: Likewise, there are unpleasant trade-offs involved in Europe’s propensity toward cooperation and multilateralism, including in its efforts to keep China at the negotiating table to address the problem of climate change. In short, the competition of democracies against the world’s autocrats requires making hard choices that do not come naturally to European policymakers. To see a U.S. administration adopt the same habits of mind should be a cause for alarm, not comfort, in European capitals. – Politico 


The United Nations human rights chief on Monday said a highly awaited joint investigation into abuses in Ethiopia’s Tigray conflict was unable to deploy to the site of one of its deadliest attacks, the alleged massacre of several hundred people in the holy city of Axum. – Associated Press 

Burkina Faso’s slow and insufficient humanitarian response to the country’s escalating attacks is forcing people to choose between violence or hunger, the Norwegian Refugee Council warned on Monday. – Associated Press 

Dozens of children kidnapped by gunmen this month have been released as their captors cracked under military pressure, according to a Nigerian state official. – Washington Examiner 

Bobby Ghosh writes: These factors may explain why he is leery of antagonizing the new rulers of Mali, Chad and now Guinea. But by handing out yet another free pass to a military strongman, Macron is in effect inviting others to take advantage of his weak hand. […]Even if there are no more coups between now and the French presidential election next April, the democratic retrenchment in Africa will at the very least be a source of embarrassment for Macron. He will only have himself to blame. – Bloomberg 

Remi Adekoya writes: This increasing probability of coups will make Africa in general less predictable and stable, a negative for investors that could end up worsening the economic situation. Can this undesirable trend be reversed? Yes, but while the international condemnations of coups in Guinea and elsewhere are crucial as deterrents to other would-be power grabbers, the only actors who truly have the power to reverse this worrying trend are African leaders themselves. – CNN 

Sam Wilkins writes: Ethiopia’s slide into civil war represents the humanitarian and geopolitical crisis that will define the broad contours of Africa’s next decade. Will African organizations like the African Union create a pathway to end the violence? Based upon the previous ten months, the answer is, sadly, “no.” […]If the situation continues to degrade into full-fledged civil war, the consequences for the region and the continent will prove tragic. Regional and international cooperation amid these anarchic conditions remains possible, but the pathways to end conflicts such as the Tigray war face stronger headwinds. – War on the Rocks 

United States

More than 100 heads of state and government are planning to attend the U.N. General Assembly’s annual gathering of world leaders in person next week, including U.S. President Joe Biden, King Abdullah II of Jordan and the presidents of Brazil and Venezuela, according to the latest speakers list. – Associated Press 

Editorial: Republicans across several Congressional committees have asked U.S. agencies for documents, but their power is limited in the minority and Democrats have shown little interest in a real investigation. GOP candidates should promise to make this a priority if they retake Congress in 2022. Finding out where Covid-19 came from could save lives, and it doesn’t hurt that the electorate wants answers too. – Wall Street Journal 

Walter Russell Mead writes: Barring a dramatic, new attack on the scale of 9/11, radical violence from fanatical Islamists, however, appears unlikely to play a large role in the next era of U.S. foreign policy debates. Even as it steels itself for the struggles ahead, America should recognize that as a victory, which is something to be grateful for in a dark and dangerous time. – Wall Street Journal 

Gerard Baker writes: Among America’s most important allies there is no longer any trust that Mr. Biden can be relied on as a serious partner. They’re now making their own plans. At home, people are so bewildered and angry about the endless inconsistencies on masks, lockdowns and vaccines that many of them have simply stopped paying attention. It’s not the first, to be sure, not by a long shot. But what an awesome—incredible—presidency. – Wall Street Journal 

Scott Barker writes: Finally, we must remember that American power is ultimately grounded on the success of our republican form of government, the strength of our people, the vibrancy of our society and the success of our economic model. Every dollar we spend on foreign wars is a dollar taken from our crucial efforts to build a better America at home. – The Hill 


Spyware researchers have captured what they say is a new exploit from NSO Group’s Pegasus surveillance tool targeting iPhones and other Apple devices through iMessage, in yet another sign that chat apps have become a popular way to hack into the devices of political dissidents and human rights activists. – Washington Post 

President Biden on Monday nominated the law professor Alvaro Bedoya to the Federal Trade Commission, further cementing the consumer-protection agency’s next phase as a check against Big Tech’s power. – Washington Post 

Ireland is failing to apply the EU’s privacy laws to US Big Tech companies, with 98 per cent of 164 significant complaints about privacy abuses still unresolved by its regulator. – Financial Times 

The coronavirus created the largest cyber-vulnerable surface for terrorists to attack in history, Israel Cyber National Directorate Chief (INCD) Yigal Unna said on Monday. – Jerusalem Post 


Up to half of the $14 trillion spent by the Pentagon since 9/11 went to for-profit defense contractors, a study released Monday found. It’s the latest work to argue the U.S. reliance on private corporations for war-zone duties that used to be done by troops contributed to mission failure in Afghanistan. – Associated Press 

With Iran inching closer to amassing enough weapons-grade uranium for a nuclear bomb, Boeing and the US Missile Defense Agency (MDA) have announced that they successfully demonstrated an advanced interceptor capability for the Ground-based Midcourse Defense (GMD) system. – Jerusalem Post 

Concerned with a gap in the military’s ability to detect low-flying hypersonic weapons, lawmakers want the Pentagon to deliver a progress report on efforts to fill it, particularly through commercial solutions, according to the House Armed Services’ markup of the fiscal 2022 defense policy bill. – Defense News 

Long War

Indonesia’s elite counterterrorism squad has arrested a convicted militant and suspected leader of an al-Qaida-linked group that has been blamed for a string of past bombings in the country, Indonesia police said Monday. – Associated Press 

Afghanistan is no longer the US’ top concern among international terrorist threats to the American homeland, the nation’s top spy said at an intelligence and national security conference in Washington on Monday, even amid ongoing fears from some critics who argue that the country could become a haven for terrorist organizations like ISIS and al Qaeda to regroup following the US withdrawal. – CNN 

Following the Taliban’s recent rise to power in Afghanistan, articles in the Arab press, especially the Saudi and Emirati press, claimed that the Taliban shares many similarities with other extremist organizations in the Arab and Muslim world, including Al-Qaeda, ISIS, the Muslim Brotherhood (MB), Hamas and Hizbullah. – Middle East Media Research Institute 

Max Boot writes: If it hadn’t been for the war on terror, there likely would have been many more victims of Islamist terrorism in the United States. That is a lesson we are at risk of forgetting — to our great potential cost — if we write off the whole 20-year effort as a costly debacle. While right-wing terrorism has surged in recent years, Islamist terrorism has hardly disappeared — and could be turbocharged by the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan. We need to keep our guard up. – Washington Post 

Cole Bunzel writes: Both al Qaeda and ISIS face serious challenges in trying to reestablish themselves in Afghanistan. The return of the Taliban could create the biggest opportunity for al Qaeda to reconstitute and reorganize in more than a decade, but it is not well positioned to seize it. ISIS will seek to play a spoiler role, but it will have a hard time winning domestic support or matching the Taliban in terms of manpower and resources. – Foreign Affairs