Fdd's overnight brief

September 16, 2019

In The News


Iran has dismissed the possibility of a meeting between the country’s president, Hassan Rouhani, and President Trump on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly next week, Iran’s state-run news media reported. – New York Times

Iran said on Monday there would be no meeting between Iranian President Hassan Rouhani and his U.S. counterpart Donald Trump at the United Nations, Iranian state television reported, after the White House on Sunday left open the possibility of a potential meeting. – Reuters 

Iran hawks and doves alike believe that President Trump’s policy toward the Islamic Republic will shift with the ouster of national security adviser John Bolton. – The Hill

Former national security adviser John Bolton reportedly clashed with President Donald Trump about United States sanctions on Iran the day before his ouster. – New York Post

Two Iranian companies signed a $440 million agreement Saturday to develop a gas field in the sensitive Gulf, with the oil ministry saying it showed arch-foe the United States could not stop the country with sanctions. – Agence France-Presse

One of three Australians recently revealed to be detained in Iran was identified by her family on Saturday as a Melbourne University lecturer. – Agence France-Presse

Speaking at the Atlantic Council in Washington on Friday, Mr Billingslea appeared buoyant on the impact of the Trump administration sanctions on Iran and its juggernaut proxy, Hezbollah. – The National 

Crippling sanctions imposed by the United States on Iran since President Trump’s withdrawal from the nuclear deal last year have left pension funds throughout the country on the brink of collapse, according to documents reviewed by National Security Council officials and obtained by Fox News. – Fox News 

Rahim Hamid and Aaron Meyer write: Given the current international pressures already directed at the Iranian regime, the time is ripe for the free world to take concrete steps to force the regime to cease its pattern of abuses. There are ten million Ahwazis in Iran who are perpetual targets of a vicious bigoted regime, and this will remain the case unless the international community chooses to pressure Iran to stop this targeting. Decisive action must be taken, leaving no loophole for the regime to exploit in order to continue its heinous and illegal practices. – Washington Institute

James Phillips writes: Iran has embarked on a dangerous course. It seeks to escalate regional tensions and incremental nuclear brinkmanship to provoke a protracted crisis that it can exploit to deter increased sanctions and increase its bargaining leverage in future negotiations. To reach a satisfactory diplomatic solution, the Trump Administration must convince Tehran that if it continues on its present course, its hold on power will be jeopardized by economic exhaustion or a military conflict that it cannot win—and perhaps both. – Heritage Foundation

Saudi Arabia

Explosions and towering fireballs struck the heart of Saudi Arabia’s oil empire on Saturday in an apparent wave of drone attacks claimed by Yemen’s Houthi rebels. The blows knocked out more than half the kingdom’s oil output for days or more and threatened to drive up already high tensions between Iran and its foes in the Persian Gulf. – Washington Post

Iran denied U.S. accusations that it was behind Saturday’s strikes on Saudi oil facilities, as Riyadh and Washington rushed to respond to attacks that sent futures soaring and threatened to spark a broader clash with Tehran. – Wall Street Journal  

Crude prices surged Sunday evening following an attack on Saudi Arabia’s oil infrastructure and an announcement from President Trump that he has authorized the release of oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve. – Wall Street Journal 

The attacks on Saudi Arabia’s energy-production system thrust President Trump into a fierce foreign-policy crosswind, at a time when his national security team is at its thinnest point in over a year. – Wall Street Journal 

Iran distanced itself on Sunday from attacks on Saudi oil facilities but hardliners in Tehran might chalk the assaults up as a win against Washington’s tougher policy toward the Islamic Republic, officials and analysts said. – Reuters 

An Iranian Revolutionary Guards commander said on Sunday that U.S. bases and aircraft carriers in the region were within range of Iranian missiles after the U.S. accused Iran of leading attacks on Saudi oil plants, raising tensions in the Middle East. – Reuters 

The weekend drone attack on the world’s largest crude oil processing plant in Saudi Arabia that dramatically cut into global oil supplies is the most visible sign yet of how Aramco’s stability and security is directly linked to that of its owners — the Saudi government and its ruling family. – Associated press

Editorial: Mr. Trump might also apologize to John Bolton, who warned repeatedly that Iran would take advantage of perceived weakness in the White House. Mr. Bolton resigned last week over policy differences, notably on Iran. The weekend’s events proved the former adviser right. The Trump Administration’s pressure campaign has been working, and abandoning it now would encourage Tehran to take more military risks. – Wall Street Journal 

Editorial: The attack on Saudi Arabia’s oil and gas facilities in Abqaiq, which has suspended half of the kingdom’s processing — corresponding to 6% of world supply — is a blow to one of the main arteries of the global economy. The Trump administration should use the United Nations General Assembly this week in New York to marshal a global response. – Bloomberg

Eli Lake writes: Following the Houthi attack on Saturday on Saudi Aramco’s crude-oil processing facility, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo made an obvious and necessary point: Blame Iran. It is obvious because the Houthi rebels in Yemen lack the drones, missiles or expertise to attack infrastructure inside Saudi Arabia. – Bloomberg

Julian Lee writes: The chances of President Donald Trump easing sanctions on Iran’s oil exports have dropped to zero after an attack on Saudi Arabia’s oil industry that his Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has pinned on Tehran. The bigger challenge now will be reining in the U.S. hawks calling for retaliatory strikes on Iran’s energy industry facilities. – Bloomberg


A rigged car exploded near a hospital in the Syrian town of al-Rai at the border with Turkey on Sunday, killing 10 people and wounding 15, the local council and a medical worker said. – Reuters 

Syrian troops shelled the south of Idlib on Sunday, according to rescuers and residents in the rebel stronghold where a ceasefire had halted a fierce army offensive two weeks ago. – Reuters 

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad issued an amnesty on Sunday that reduces sentences for crime and pardons draft dodgers if they report for duty within three to six months. – Reuters 

More than 400,000 Syrians have been displaced by violence in the jihadist-run Idlib region since the end of April, the United Nations says. – Agence France-Presse

Louvre Hotels Group, owned by China’s Jin Jiang, has signed an agreement to open two hotels under its own name in Damascus, it said on Saturday, a day after the UN announced an internal investigation into the bombing of hospitals in Syria. – Agence France-Presse

Himbervan Kose writes: With Western and Arab states still refusing to receive ISIS fighters with their nationality, the coalition forces and the SDF could establish an international court in Syria similar to the courts established in Iraq. […]While the issue of recognizing the Autonomous Administration is currently stalling discussions, all parties involved must realize that there are real issues of radicalization at stake in the al-Hawl camp, and so efforts to reduce its ability to serve as an incubator of radicalization should also be more prominantly placed on the international agenda. – Washington Institute 


For many Syrian refugees without proper documents in Turkey’s economic hub, life has become a cat-and-mouse trial to avoid a dire fate: deportation to Syria. That prospect has become increasingly real, as Turkey’s government pulls away the welcome mat it once extended to those fleeing the war next door. – Wall Street Journal 

Turkey’s defence ministry said on Sunday that the delivery of a second battery of Russian S-400 missile defence systems has been completed as of Sunday, and added that the systems would become active in April 2020. – Reuters 

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan will host his Russian and Iranian counterparts on Monday for their latest summit on Syria, with attention focused on Damascus’s push on the last rebel-held bastion of Idlib. – Agence France-Presse

The US-led coalition said Sunday that “good progress” was being made in implementing a buffer zone in northern Syria along the Turkish border. – Agence France-Presse

Turkey electronics company Aselsan will team with Patria of Finland to pitch weaponized armored vehicles to customers in South America, the Middle East and Asia. – Defense News

John Saleh writes: For the United States to preserve its interests in Syria and continue the countering of extremism, it should protect its Kurdish allies from Turkish threats in the safe zone area. It can do so by establishing secure borders between Turkey and the Kurds inside Syria, authorizing military points to monitor the region, pressuring Turkey to withdraw from Syrian cities, and advocating for a UN-sponsored political solution. The United States must work to give Kurds in Syria autonomy to ensure their interests and future in the region. After all, the United States’ Kurdish allies in Syria have proven more faithful to the interests of the United States and NATO than Turkey. – Washington Institute 

Jiwan Soz writes: Moreover, recent criticism of Erdogan’s policies suggests a fragmentation in Erdogan’s party, it is possible that Erdogan’s warning will come true: that the HDP will form an alliance with the CHP, especially since the Kurds alone cannot make real changes in the country without engaging in political alliances. The Kurds have become an integral part of the Turkish political equation and should be expected to continue to exercise their voting weight as an effective instrument to pressure for their legitimate rights and their dream of autonomy. – Washington Institute 


The bond between Messrs. Netanyahu and Trump, however, also potentially deepens the rift between Israel and millions of American Jews, a predominantly liberal community where 36% approve of Mr. Trump’s handling of U.S.-Israel relations and 26% endorse the president’s overall performance, according to the survey. – Wall Street Journal 

President Trump tweeted on Saturday that he spoke with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu by phone to talk about a potential defense treaty between Israel and the United States after the upcoming Israeli elections. – Washington Examiner

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said for the first time on Monday morning that if re-elected on Tuesday, he would annex Kiryat Arba and the Jewish areas of Hebron. – Jerusalem Post

With Israel heading to the polls Tuesday, Rep. Ilhan Omar said Sunday she hoped the country would break from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s agenda and defended her support for the Boycott, Divestment, Sanction movement. – Politico

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu planned a large offensive in Gaza after rockets were fired near an Ashdod rally where he was speaking last week, but he scotched the plan after the attorney general advised him he would need to get cabinet approval, according to a report Monday. – Times of Israel

The Organization of Islamic Cooperation on Sunday expressed its “total rejection” of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s pre-election pledge to extend Israeli sovereignty to parts of the West Bank, Saudi state media said. – Agence France-Presse

The European Union’s diplomatic mission in Israel was vandalized Sunday with graffiti railing against the bloc and its largest member state, in an attack claimed by a right-wing anti-immigration activist. – Times of Israel

Middle East & North Africa

Tunisians head to the polls Sunday for a presidential election seen as a crucial test for the country, the only democracy to emerge from the Arab Spring revolts of 2011, but a distinctly fragile one as it struggles with economic woes and the threat of Islamist extremism. – Washington Post

Sunday’s vote was another milestone in Tunisia’s transition from 22 years of dictatorship into the Arab world’s purest democracy. Although economic troubles and jihadist attacks have marred its progress, Tunisia has worked to remain an island of political openness — and perhaps a model for others — in a region of wars, monarchs, strongmen and sectarian divides. – New York Times

In a country splintered by conflict and propaganda wars, Libya’s journalists are caught in the crossfire between battle fronts and partisan employers, exposing them to risks on the ground. – Agence France-Presse

The self-styled Libyan National Army says three of its forces, including two commanders, were killed in a drone attack by militias loosely allied with the U.N.-supported government. – Associated Press

Korean Peninsula

New U.S. sanctions against North Korean hackers and revelations about North Korean malware show how Pyongyang’s cyber operations have become a crucial revenue stream and a security threat that soon could rival its weapons program, U.S. and industry officials say. – Wall Street Journal 

Each year, human smugglers take thousands of women seeking to flee North Korea, promising them jobs in China, according to human rights groups and trafficking survivors. But once in China, many of the women are sold to unmarried men in rural towns or to pimps for exploitation in brothels and cybersex dens. – New York Times

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un invited U.S. President Donald Trump to visit Pyongyang in a letter sent in August, a South Korean newspaper reported on Monday, citing diplomatic sources. – Reuters 

South Korea’s imports of U.S. crude oil soared in August, whereas its imports of Iranian oil stayed at zero for a fourth month in a row, following U.S. sanctions waiver end in May, customs data showed on Sunday. – Reuters 

The apparent firing of US National Security Adviser John Bolton has boosted the chances of fresh nuclear talks with North Korea, despite its summer of missile tests. – Telegraph


The Senate’s top Democrat plans on Monday to ask the Federal Communications Commission to consider whether two major Chinese telecommunications companies should be barred from operating in the United States. […]In the letter, they will say that the two Chinese government-linked telecom operators could use that access to “target” Americans’ communications. And they will warn that the companies could reroute communications traveling on their networks through China.  – New York Times

China said on Friday it was canceling planned tariff increases on American soybeans and pork, the latest sign of a diplomatic thaw in the U.S.-China trade war that could lead to an interim agreement this fall. – Washington Post

Economic activity in China cooled further in August, testing Beijing’s tolerance for slower growth as it seeks to ease trade tensions with the U.S. – Wall Street Journal 

GOP Sen. Ben Sasse warned of a doomsday scenario in which China wipes out US satellites to cripple the military’s GPS and communications systems in a cyber war that takes place in outer space. – New York Post

Australian intelligence determined China was responsible for a cyber-attack on its national parliament and three largest political parties before the general election in May, five people with direct knowledge of the matter told Reuters. – Reuters 

Thomas Sherlock and John Gregory write: The U.S. can strengthen these positive views and its soft power by adhering to its liberal-democratic principles. Such conduct will help blunt the narrative of the Russian and Chinese governments that America’s expression of universal values is a self-interested smokescreen. The U.S. must also avoid demonizing Russia and China as it grapples with the challenge of great-power competition. Otherwise, Washington risks stoking anti-American nationalism as well as support for Sino-Russian collaboration—even as a rising generation of elites prefers to stand apart. – Wall Street Journal 


Now, the candidates are racing one another — and President Trump — to demonstrate how quickly they would end the long-running conflict. In the debate on Thursday night, there was almost no discussion of American goals for the country, like building a democracy or protecting the rights of women — objectives that were staples of past Democratic campaigns. – New York Times

After nearly two decades of bloody fighting, the United States and the Taliban were on the verge of a provisional agreement that could help end the long war — then President Trump pulled the plug on negotiations. Many Afghans, who express an urgent need for ending the bloodshed, have remained skeptical of the agreement. – New York Times

A militant commander said to be behind the kidnap of a British aid worker who was later killed in a rescue attempt has been pardoned under an amnesty deal. Mullah Abdul Basir has agreed to give up his fight against the Afghan government and will not face charges for the kidnap that led to the 2010 death of Linda Norgrove. – Telegraph

The top U.S. general for NATO said Friday that he expects increased violence in Afghanistan in the lead-up to the election later this month, adding that allies will make necessary adjustments to military operations there to protect the vote. – Associated Press

The Taliban on Sunday revoked their ban on the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) in Afghanistan and gave a guarantee of security for its staff doing humanitarian work in areas under their control. – Reuters 

A Taliban delegation held talks with Russian officials in Moscow after US negotiations with the Afghan insurgents collapsed, the Russian foreign ministry said Saturday. – Agence France-Presse

An Afghan official says five civilians have died when their vehicle struck a roadside bomb in western Farah province. – Associated Press

Jonah Goldberg writes: Fully pulling out of Afghanistan would solve one problem: our understandable impatience with a war. But it wouldn’t solve the problem that prompted us to send troops there in the first place: the Taliban’s capacity to harbor and support terrorists bent on killing Americans. Problems without solutions aren’t problems; they’re facts, even if you put a clock on them. – Townhall 

South Asia

Even as the Indian government begins to lift some of the restrictions that it imposed in Kashmir last month, the militants are enforcing their own restrictions, ordering people not to go to work or even leave their homes. Their intent is to paralyze life in Kashmir and make it ungovernable, raising tensions inside the region and with neighboring Pakistan, which also claims part of Kashmir. – New York Times

President Trump will travel to Texas next weekend to attend an event with India’s prime minister and then will visit Ohio with Australia’s leader, the White House said. – Wall Street Journal 

Pakistan has summoned diplomats from Afghanistan and India after several shooting incidents along two different borders killed four Pakistani soldiers and a civilian woman. – Reuters 


Political turmoil engulfing this global financial center showed no signs of abating as tens of thousands of pro-democracy demonstrators marched Sunday in defiance of a police ban, with many venting their anger at Beijing just two weeks before China celebrates the 70th anniversary of the People’s Republic. – Wall Street Journal 

Australia has a particularly complicated economic and geopolitical relationship with China, a dynamic that shapes its views toward Hong Kong. As these issues now come to the fore on Australian campuses where international students are a large presence and a financial lifeline, students of Chinese descent say they are feeling a deepening sense of anxiety, leaving them unsure whom to believe and whom to trust. – New York Times

Hong Kong pro-democracy activist Joshua Wong said on Saturday he was seeking the support of U.S. lawmakers for the demands of his fellow protesters who have led months of streets demonstrations, including a call for free elections. – Reuters 

Pro-democracy protesters rallied outside Britain’s consulate in Hong Kong on Sunday, demanding London do more to protect its former colonial subjects and ramp up pressure on Beijing over sliding freedoms. – Agence France-Presse

Editorial: The London stock exchange rejected a surprise takeover bid from its Hong Kong rival on Friday, citing “fundamental concerns” about the price and purpose of the offer. More intriguing may be what the bid says about the costs of Chinese political encroachment in Hong Kong. […]The real problem is that authorities in Hong Kong and Beijing are eroding the city’s reputation as a place where property rights are protected, courts are independent, and corruption is low. Rule of law underpins Hong Kong’s status as a global financial capital, so this political crisis is now becoming an economic one. – Wall Street Journal 

George F. Will writes: Now, however, thanks to the ongoing drama in Hong Kong’s streets, it is possible to hope that the West has passed “peak China” — the apogee of blinkered admiration for a nation in which approximately 19 percent of the human race is saddled with one of the world’s most sinister regimes. – Washington Post 


Whistleblower Edward Snowden, living in Russia since leaking a trove of classified documents showing the scope of post-9/11 US government surveillance, wants to claim asylum in France, according to an interview published Saturday. – Agence France-Presse

The Ukrainian president’s envoy for peace talks with Russia-backed separatists has stressed that Kyiv should not make unacceptable concessions to Russia. – Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty

Ukraine is looking to exchange hundreds more prisoners with Russia as it seeks to pave the way for revived peace talks with Moscow to end the conflict in the eastern Donbas region, according to Ukrainian officials. – Financial Times

In the latest display of deepening cracks in the West’s formerly unified economic campaign against Russia, France’s Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian told reporters Monday that “the time is right” for reconciliation in EU-Moscow relations. – CNN


Britain has traditionally sacrificed privacy more than other Western democracies, mostly in the name of security. […]Britain’s experience mirrors debates about the technology in the United States and elsewhere in Europe. Critics say the technology is an intrusion of privacy, akin to constant identification checks of an unsuspecting public, and has questionable accuracy – New York Times

Julian Assange, the founder of WikiLeaks, must remain in prison until an extradition hearing next year, a judge in London ruled on Friday, citing a “history of absconding,” according to British news agencies. – New York Times

The contours of a possible Brexit deal are now clear so divorce talks between Britain and the European Union are at a crucial juncture, British Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said on Monday. – Reuters 

Britain’s exit from the European Union without a divorce agreement would be a disaster and must be ruled out, Europe’s biggest business organisation said on Monday, as EU officials warn this worst-case scenario is increasingly likely. – Reuters 

Six weeks after he took office and six weeks before he is due to lead Britain out of the European Union, Prime Minister Boris Johnson is to meet Jean-Claude Junker. – Agence France-Presse

Britain’s Communities Secretary, Robert Jenrick, announced on Sunday that the UK government will fund a new program to fight antisemitism online. – Algemeiner


Nigeria’s war against the Islamist extremist group Boko Haram was supposed to be over by now. President Muhammadu Buhari, a former military ruler, was re-elected earlier this year after boasting about his progress battling Boko Harm[…].A full decade into the war, however, Boko Haram militants are still roaming the countryside with impunity. – New York Times

Even in death, Robert Mugabe, the former strongman leader of Zimbabwe, has remained a source of contention, this time caught in a dispute between his family and the government over where to bury him. – New York Times

When Islamic State gunmen stormed the northeast Nigerian town of Magumeri on the night of August 21, they had free rein. […]People familiar with the military’s thinking and security officials, however, say the new tactic for fighting Islamic State’s West Africa branch and Boko Haram is mainly an attempt to stem casualties. – Reuters 

Egypt’s foreign minister said Cairo had resumed talks with Sudan and Ethiopia over a $4 billion dam Addis Ababa is building on the Nile which had been suspended for over a year. – Reuters 

The U.N. Security Council voted unanimously Thursday to ease the arms embargo on the Central African Republic’s government following its signing of a peace agreement with 14 armed groups in February and progress in reforming its security sector. – Associated Press

Where the broken asphalt meets the deep-red earth along one of the main roads in the Central Africa Republic’s capital city, a rusted billboard is patched with a colourful new poster. – Telegraph

North America

A top intelligence official with the Royal Canadian Mounted Police who had access to a wide array of highly sensitive information gathered by Canada and its allies has been charged with passing along or offering secrets. – New York Times

Republicans reignited controversy over Rep. Ilhan Omar’s comments about 9/11 after she was asked about it on a Sunday morning television interview. – USA Today 

Rep. Ilhan Omar defended previous comments she made about the September 11 terror attacks in her first Sunday show sit-down on “Face the Nation.” – New York Post

Latin America

The U.S.-led effort to force Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro from office has moved into a new stage, with rising fears of military conflict between Venezuela and Colombia, and the activation of a 70-year-old mutual defense treaty among countries of the Western Hemisphere. – Washington Post

Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez in the mid-2000s ordered his top lieutenants to work with Colombian Marxist guerrillas to flood the U.S. with cocaine in his government’s efforts to combat the Bush administration, according to U.S. documents obtained by The Wall Street Journal that shed new light on the leftist regime’s struggle with Washington. – Wall Street Journal 

Cuba’s Communist government is taking emergency measures to avoid power blackouts and contain a severe fuel shortage it blames on U.S. attempts to cut off the island’s oil lifeline with Venezuela. – Wall Street Journal 

Venezuela’s opposition said on Sunday a dialogue mediated by Norway’s Foreign Ministry to try to resolve the country’s political crisis had ended, six weeks after President Nicolas Maduro’s government suspended participation. – Reuters 

Mary Anastasia O’Grady writes: Dialogue or not, this—and leaving all options on the table—is what set Mr. Trump’s policy apart from the unrelenting appeasement practiced by Mr. Obama with Castro, Chávez and the terrorist FARC. Call it maximum pressure. As long as it stays in place, the Bolton strategy may still prevail even if the former national security adviser doesn’t get the credit. – Wall Street Journal 


Even if Huawei is 100 percent sincere about sharing its trade secrets — a tremendous ‘if’ — a 5G network built on Chinese technology would still be more vulnerable to Chinese hacking than one designed entirely in the West. – Breaking Defense

Recruiting more cyber professionals is the key to improving the Army’s cyber capabilities, Ryan McCarthy, the White House nominee to become the next service secretary, told senators in a Sept. 12 hearing. – Fifth Domain

Speaking at the Dell Technologies Forum on Sept. 12, Hurd addressed a range of tech and cybersecurity issues frustrating the government: from artificial intelligence (AI) to the Internet of Things and cyber workforce training. The key to these problem is the security clearance process, he said, adding that “I never thought I’d have to work on such a basic issue as this.” – Fifth Domain

The Department of Defense established an “Algorithmic Warfare Cross-Functional Team,” known as Project Maven, in 2017 to use artificial intelligence to process drone footage more efficiently. – C4ISRNET

Lindsey R. Sheppard writes: In the 2019 Artificial Intelligence Strategy, the U.S. Air Force declared its intent to employ artificial intelligence (AI) and dominate the air, space, and cyberspace domains. While recognizing that adversaries are pursuing AI for their own gain, the Air Force strategy provides the ways and means to prevent competitors from gaining an advantage over the United States. It recognizes that leveraging AI means investing in the AI ecosystem: the people, computing infrastructure, data, and policies necessary to support any organization’s deployment of AI technology. – Center for Strategic and International Studies


The U.S. Marine Corps has been refining a pair of related concepts, Expeditionary Advance Base Operations (EABO) and the overarching Littoral Operations in a Contested Environment, for the past couple years. – USNI News

A Senate panel has recommended cutting nearly $46 million in next year’s budget from a highly anticipated Army tool that would improve situational awareness on the battlefield. – C4ISRNET

After several months of delays, the U.S. Air Force is hoping to release a request for proposals for new B-52 bomber engines by the end of 2019, once the service gets the chance to solidify its solicitation and answer congressional concerns. – Defense News

The B-52 bomber first flew in 1952, but remains a vital part of America’s nuclear deterrent. Now, to keep the bomber relevant for its nuclear mission, the U.S. Air Force is preparing to spend billions of dollars to develop a new air-launched cruise missile. – Defense News

The genius of today’s tablet and smartphone technology is that they are portable newspapers, shopping carts, TVs and many other things. The engineering and business lessons are important for the military. For too many decades we have purchased weapons that could not be further removed from the iPad and today’s ever-evolving, interconnected tech world. – Defense News

The proliferation of armed ground robots at recent defense trade shows indicates the U.S. military as well as its allies and partners are warming to the idea of sending such platforms onto the battlefield — but that comes with its limits. – Defense News

The Air Force and Congress are simply sucking up the latest calamity to befall the KC-46 tanker, with representatives on both sides of Capitol Hill — and the prospective new Air Force Secretary Barbara Barrett — expressing support for the beleaguered program. – Breaking Defense

Northrop Grumman has rebuffed a request by Boeing to team up to develop America’s next intercontinental ballistic missile, according to the latter company. – Defense News

Long War

President Trump said that Hamza bin Laden, a son of al Qaeda founder Osama bin Laden, had been killed in a U.S. counterterrorism operation. – Wall Street Journal 

Attorneys for an Indiana woman accused of providing support to the Islamic State group received a judge’s approval to seek depositions from three Yazidis who were taken as slaves by her husband, who she says died while fighting for IS. – Associated Press

West African leaders have pledged $1 billion to combat the spiraling threat of Islamist militancy in the region, the head of the regional ECOWAS bloc said on Saturday. – Reuters 

Counter terrorism officers and a bomb disposal team are searching a property in Maidenhead after a man was arrested on suspicion of terrorism offences. – BBC

Trump Administration

President Trump entered his next phase of vetting for a new national security adviser, interviewing his top hostage negotiator Robert C. O’Brien at the White House on Friday and combing through a growing list of candidates with diplomatic, military and business experience. – Washington Post

Mr. Moran and some other Republicans—including Sen. Chuck Grassley of Iowa, chairman of the Senate Finance Committee—are searching for ways to team up with Democrats to reassert congressional authority over the levying of tariffs. They aim to curb the type of tariff-by-tweet policy-making that has whipsawed markets and stressed U.S. businesses in recent months. The White House didn’t respond to requests for comment. Mr. Trump has said the U.S. has long been taken advantage of by other nations and that tariffs are the best way to make trading partners comply with U.S. demands. – Wall Street Journal 

The Justice Department is offering more insight into how it addressed potential conflicts of interest when former FBI Director Robert Mueller was appointed special counsel for the Trump-Russia investigation more than two years ago, but officials are continuing to keep key parts of their internal ethics analysis secret. – Politico