Fdd's overnight brief

September 23, 2021

In The News


Top diplomats from Iran, Saudi Arabia and the European Union met for the second time in less than a month on Tuesday in a sign of heightened efforts to reduce tensions in the Middle East as Tehran prepares to resume talks on the 2015 nuclear deal. – Bloomberg 

The European Union’s top diplomat urged Iran to return to talks on its nuclear program while the country’s foreign minister reiterated Tehran’s “willingness to resume negotiations” during a meeting at the United Nations, the EU said Wednesday. – Associated Press 

British foreign minister Liz Truss held her first meeting with Iran’s foreign minister and urged Iran to return rapidly to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) negotiations in Vienna with a view to all sides coming back into compliance and reducing tensions over Iran’s nuclear programme, a UK government spokesman said on Wednesday. – Reuters 

David Albright and Sarah Burkhard write: If Iran is unwilling to institute necessary changes, the U.S. and European strategy should shift from seeking the restoration of the JCPOA to one striving the negotiation of a stronger, longer, and more comprehensive agreement. The current pause in negotiations offers a welcome reprieve to reconsider a U.S. and European strategy, which so far must be judged in hindsight as a rush to a worse deal. – Institute for Science and International Security 

Yonah Jeremy Bob writes: The follow-up question is: would the IAEA know if Iran was smuggling some of its 60% enriched uranium to a clandestine site for a sneak-out to a nuclear weapon scenario? Maybe Grossi will be able to give some reassuring answers in the coming weeks, once his inspectors receive the expected restored access to the cameras. But this vacuum period of weeks or months might also be impossible for the IAEA to reconstruct. – Jerusalem Post  


A spate of attacks killed at least five people in eastern Afghanistan’s Nangarhar province on Wednesday, the latest outbreak of violence in an area where Islamic State’s regional affiliate is mounting a challenge to the Taliban’s control of the country. – Wall Street Journal 

Pakistan’s government is proposing that the international community develop a road map that leads to diplomatic recognition of the Taliban — with incentives if they fulfill its requirements — and then sit down face to face and talk it out with the militia’s leaders. – Associated Press  

The new rulers of Afghanistan have an uphill battle in their efforts to be recognized in time to address other world leaders at the United Nations this year. The Taliban are challenging the credentials of the ambassador from Afghanistan’s former government and asking to speak at the General Assembly’s high-level meeting of world leaders this week, according to a letter sent to the United Nations. – Associated Press  

A United Nations committee has been tasked with deciding whether Afghanistan’s interim government will be permitted to speak at the General Assembly’s high-level meeting of world leaders this week, according to a spokesperson. – Newsweek  

China has called for economic sanctions on Afghanistan to be lifted and the Taliban to be given access to billions of dollars in frozen foreign exchange reserves, highlighting a deepening rift between Beijing and the west over the future of the country. – Financial Times 

Afghanistan’s health system is near collapse, with thousands of health facilities lacking funding for medical staff or supplies, the World Health Organization said, warning of an impending disaster. – Newsweek  

Editorial: The Taliban’s move is unlikely to be favored by the U.N. Credentials Committee, which includes the United States, and which will not formally meet until later this fall. The request does, however, signal Taliban intent to upgrade its international status now that it has apparently crushed the last vestiges of armed resistance and nominated a de facto government. – Washington Post  

Editorial: Perhaps the Administration thinks its well-meaning gender appeals can’t hurt. But the dissonance between the Administration’s words and its actions in abandoning Afghanistan to the Taliban discredits its liberal humanitarian project. No single act by an American President has done more harm to more women than Mr. Biden’s willy-nilly withdrawal from Afghanistan. Noble but feckless exhortations at Turtle Bay can’t make up for that reality. – Wall Street Journal 


Coronavirus cases are surging to the worst levels of the pandemic in a rebel stronghold in Syria — a particularly devastating development in a region where scores of hospitals have been bombed and that doctors and nurses have fled in droves during a decade of war. – Associated Press  

An IDF quadcopter fell in Syrian territory on Wednesday after suffering a malfunction, according to the IDF Spokesperson’s Unit. – Jerusalem Post  

Russia has asked Israel to encourage the U.S. to agree to hold high-level trilateral talks on Syria, two senior Israeli officials tell me. – Axios  


Turkey, the only G-20 country that’s not yet ratified the Paris Agreement, is preparing to seek parliamentary approval for the accord next month, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Tuesday. – Bloomberg 

Erdogan’s political foes says Erbas’s growing profile is at odds with the Turkish Republic’s secular constitution, and shows the president is using religion to boost his waning ratings ahead of an election scheduled for 2023. – Reuters  

Michael Rubin writes: Erdogan long ago shed any pretense of valuing democracy, the rhetoric of his first years notwithstanding. But, events in Africa show him to be a hypocrite when it comes to coups. […]Erdogan may continue to say he opposes coups but the reality is he does not. It is time the world calls him on his hypocrisy. – 19fortyfive 


Israel on Wednesday reopened a crossing with the occupied West Bank for the first time since six prisoners tunneled out of a nearby Israeli prison, a rare escape that triggered a massive search before they were all recaptured. The Israeli military body that oversees civilian affairs in the West Bank said the Jalameh crossing into the northern West Bank would be open for the first time since Sept. 6, when the prisoners escaped. – Associated Press  

The leader of the US House of Representatives Appropriations Committee introduced legislation on Wednesday to provide $1 billion to Israel to replenish its “Iron Dome” missile-defense system, a day after the funding was removed from a broader spending bill. – Reuters  

New legislation by Republicans in the US House of Representatives seeks to reinforce the Trump-era instruction to label products of Judea and Samaria “Made in Israel.” – Jerusalem Post 

The status quo in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is unsustainable, Jordan’s King Abdullah told the UN General Assembly, as he called for a two-state resolution to the conflict. – Jerusalem Post  

“Significant progress” has been made toward reaching a prisoner exchange agreement between Israel and Hamas, Palestinian sources told the Quds News Network news agency on Wednesday. – Jerusalem Post  

The United Nations General Assembly on Wednesday commemorated a landmark but contentious 2001 anti-racism conference that was accused of being anti-Semitic over its attitude towards Israel. – Times of Israel  


For a brief window this summer, Moqtada al-Sadr, the former US foe who is now one of Iraq’s most influential political figures, withdrew his party from next month’s parliamentary elections. […]Far from turning away from politics, he hopes to double his share of seats and name the next prime minister. – Financial Times 

Iraq warned that oil demand will probably rise as the supply crunch in natural-gas markets forces consumers to look for alternative fuels, echoing the views of fellow OPEC member Nigeria. – Bloomberg  

There’s a new U.S. Army team conducting base support and force protection operations at Iraqi bases, but the Stryker Brigade Combat Team is leaving its Strykers behind. – Army Times  


Lebanon raised gasoline prices by 16% on Wednesday, the second hike in a week, cutting a subsidy on imported fuel which the new Prime Minister Najib Mikati has said the nation cannot afford. – Reuters  

A former Lebanese government minister on Wednesday asked the country’s top court to remove the lead judge investigating last year’s massive explosion in Beirut’s port because of allegedly “legitimate suspicion” over his handling of the case, state media reported. – Associated Press  

Hezbollah security official Wafiq Safa reportedly threatened Tarek Bitar, the judge leading the investigation into the Beirut Port explosion which devastated Lebanon’s capital in August 2020, this week, saying the movement would remove Bitar from his position by force if the judge displeases them. – Jerusalem Post  

Gulf States

Saudi Arabia’s monarch expressed hope Wednesday that the kingdom’s direct talks with Iran will lead to confidence building as the two bitter regional rivals take small steps toward dialogue following several years of heightened tensions. – Associated Press  

The head of the U.N. food agency is warning that 16 million people in Yemen “are marching towards starvation” and says food rations for millions in the war-torn nation will be cut in October unless new funding arrives. – Associated Press  

Yemeni teacher Amina Mahdi gives a science lesson to children sprawled across the ground at her home in a remote village in the southern province of Hodeida. […]More than 2,500 schools in the country are unfit for use, with some destroyed and others turned into refugee camps or military facilities, according to the UN’s children’s agency. – Agence France-Presse  

David Gardner writes: The UAE can also outcompete the Saudis in social and legal liberalisation, even though their rulers can each wave the autocrat’s wand. […]The UAE might move to replace sharia law with common law — except for Muslim family issues. It has already allowed expats access to their personal law codes for questions such as divorce and inheritance. – Financial Times 

Middle East & North Africa

Libya’s powerful, east-based commander announced Wednesday he was suspending his role as leader of a self-styled Libyan army for the next three months — the clearest indication yet that he may be contemplating a run for president in December elections. – Associated Press  

Algeria’s supreme security council decided on Wednesday to close the country’s airspace to all Moroccan civil and military aircraft, the Algerian presidency said, less than a month after it cut diplomatic relations with the Kingdom. – Reuters  

Tunisian President Kais Saied took exceptional measures on Wednesday that strengthen the powers of his office at the expense of the government and parliament, which he will effectively replace with rule by decree. – Agence France-Presse  

There was a time not long ago when uprisings and wars in the Arab world topped the agenda at the U.N. General Assembly meetings in New York. With most of those conflicts in a stalemate, the world’s focus has shifted to more daunting global challenges such as the still raging coronavirus pandemic and climate change, as well as new crises in Ethiopia’s embattled Tigray region and the Taliban takeover of Afghanistan. – Associated Press  

The Abraham Accords states worked together as a group at the UN for the first time on Wednesday, garnering support at the Human Rights Council for a statement promoting women’s involvement in peace and diplomacy. – Jerusalem Post  

Korean Peninsula

In a pivotal 2018 address, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un announced he would shift from emphasis on nuclear development toward “concentrating all efforts” on modernizing and expanding the economy. But new research suggests that before Kim’s speech, the policy shift was openly debated among high-level officials in the North Korea regime. – Washington Post  

South Korean Foreign Minister Chung Eui-yong said he would meet his Japanese counterpart on Thursday and hoped for progress to end a dispute that has led to tit-for-tat trade restrictions. – Reuters 

Victor Cha writes: If the United States is unwilling to pursue such assistance, then it can roll the dice, wait for the next nuclear test by North Korea, and hope that traditional diplomacy can save the day. But with everything else that Biden needs to deal with, he hardly needs another crisis. – Foreign Affairs 


Some big U.S. investors are looking past the potential failure of a massive Chinese property developer whose debt woes shook global markets this week, giving a vote of confidence to China as an investment destination despite the rising regulatory and political risks foreign investors increasingly face there. – Wall Street Journal 

Xi Jinping, China’s top leader, said on Tuesday that his country would stop building coal-burning power plants overseas, a major shift by the world’s second-biggest economy to move away from its support of the fossil fuel. – New York Times  

A top Chinese diplomat claimed that China is a democracy, arguing its political system exemplifies the ideals of former U.S. president Abraham Lincoln and the ancient Greeks who invented a representative form of government. Qin Gang, China’s ambassador to the U.S., on Wednesday cited the right of Chinese people to participate in certain elections and consultations over major policies as evidence of a democratic system not unlike that in America. – Bloomberg 

Less than two years before the COVID-19 pandemic began, scientists at the Wuhan Institute of Virology planned to genetically alter viruses to make them more infectious for humans and release them into bat caves. – Newsweek  

Dennis Kwok and Johnny Patterson write: But the systemic funding of firms with ties to the Chinese Communist Party carries ethical implications and any firm that claims to be serious about ESG must start having these conversations. We are entering an era of one globe, two systems. The recent Hong Kong experience taught us that the old days of playing both sides are over. One can operate either within China’s orbit or outside it. For Western firms, straddling both sides will become unsustainable. – Wall Street Journal 

Mihir Sharma writes: The sight of those governments deliberating very publicly whether they are more willing to enrage Beijing or Washington is divisive in itself and will undermine any effort to create a principled alternative to China’s vision for the region. But this is about more than just America’s fading claims to leadership. We should be even more concerned about the future of globalization itself. – Bloomberg 

George M. Moore and Frank N. von Hippel write: The Biden administration has touted the agreement as a counter to growing Chinese naval intimidation of Australia and other countries in the Indo-Pacific region. It appears likely, however, that any beneficial impacts on China will be offset by negative impacts on the nuclear weapons nonproliferation regime. Other non-nuclear-armed states, such as South Korea and Iran, are likely to be incentivized to acquire nuclear-powered attack submarines from the U.S. and UK, or perhaps Russia or China. – The Hill  

Minxin Pei writes: If China only had to reach near-parity with the U.S. military, it would face a difficult but not completely impossible task. At its peak, the Soviet economy was less than half the size of its U.S. counterpart. China’s GDP is now about 70% the size of America’s in dollar terms and is likely to surpass it within 15 years. In the foreseeable future, China could conceivably match U.S. military spending. – Bloomberg 

Iain Marlow writes: The so-called Quad partnership, created after the devastating 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami, and even the World War II-era “Five Eyes” spy alliance now seem overwhelmingly focused on Beijing. The growing web has provoked fury from Beijing and worries in some Asian states that the new groupings could fuel a dangerous arms race in the region. – Bloomberg  

Jon B. Alterman writes: Iran represents an interesting example of how the United States has managed just such a task with Russia. If the United States could manage a similar trick with China over Iran issues, that could spread to other issues such as climate. If not, it could prove enormously difficult for the United States to win a return to the JCPOA, let alone the “longer and stronger” agreement that the administration has set as its goal. – Center for Strategic and International Studies 

South Asia

India’s Supreme Court on Wednesday opened the door for women to pursue military careers at the highest levels, a major milestone in a country where gender inequality is rife and where women have been leaving the work force in droves. – New York Times  

India and United Arab Emirates plan to conclude a Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA) by the end of the year with the aim to lift trade between the two countries by 70% in five years, trade ministers of both countries said. – Reuters 

Rana Ayyub writes: I highlight these abuses as President Biden and the United Nations prepare to host the Indian prime minister. Will the world develop amnesia over Modi’s attacks on the free press and dissent in India? Biden has made human rights the focal point of his foreign policy. But on India and many other fronts he has looked the other way. I now write knowing my words have consequences — but not the kind you might expect in a so-called vibrant democracy. – Washington Post  

John Quinley III and Matthew Smith write: If the U.S. issued a Rohingya-genocide determination now, it would fertilize those roots of contrition and foster the inter-ethnic and inter-religious unity already forming in Myanmar. It would serve the domestic political awakening that now sees the Myanmar military for what it is: A corrosive, authoritarian, genocidal regime that must be held accountable for its crimes in all possible ways — including through genocide determinations. – The Hill  


Taiwan filed to join a trans-Pacific trade group, days after China formally submitted its application, potentially compounding an already awkward position for the pact’s 11 members. – Wall Street Journal  

With increasingly strong talk in support of Taiwan, a new deal to supply Australia with nuclear submarines, and the launch of a European strategy for greater engagement in the Indo-Pacific, the U.S. and its allies are becoming growingly assertive in their approach toward a rising China. – Associated Press  

The leaders of the United States, Japan, Australia and India will hold a first in-person summit in Washington on Friday, aiming to bolster cooperation in the Indo-Pacific region and push back against China’s growing dominance. – Reuters 

The popular mayor of the Philippine capital said Wednesday he will run for president in next year’s elections, the latest aspirant in what is expected to be a crowded race to succeed the controversial Rodrigo Duterte. – Associated Press  

The U.K. government is alerting people in Britain who were named in a Hong Kong national security case to avoid traveling to countries that have extradition treaties with the Chinese territory. – Bloomberg 

China’s rapidly growing military influence and unilateral changing of the status quo could present a risk to Japan, Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga said in an interview with Bloomberg, ahead of the first Quad summit. – Bloomberg 

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said he has tried to arrange a conversation with French President Emmanuel Macron but has been unsuccessful so far, a week after his cancellation of a major submarine deal sparked a diplomatic row with Paris. – Reuters 

Barak M. Seener writes: A dedicated U.S. policy to rebuild its credibility and counterterrorism deterrence is needed. For those strategic goals, the United States needs to boost cooperation with our long-time partners in Central Asia to engender faith among friends and caution among adversaries. – The National Interest 


The top U.S. military officers from United States and Russia held six hours of talks in Helsinki on Wednesday, in the first face-to-face meeting between them since 2019 as both nations adjust to the U.S. pullout and Taliban takeover in Afghanistan. – Reuters 

The Kremlin and its loyalists have said they will maintain and in some cases intensify their tough approach to internal and external critics and organisations that they view as a threat to Russia’s stability. – Reuters 

Russia’s Afghanistan failures in the 1980s are driving the Kremlin’s thinking of how to deal with the Taliban and the possible rise of religious extremism near its borders, two scholars on Central Asia said Wednesday. Pavel Baev, a professor at Oslo’s Peace Research Institute, said Moscow quickly changed from gloating over the American and NATO pullout in August to thinking “United States, you can’t just run away” from the situation it created. – USNI News  

Andrei Soldatov and Irina Borogan write: The Soviet experience of technological autarky was a disaster. Could the Kremlin figure out a way to make it work this time? Putin seems to think so. The Russian authorities have made huge progress in introducing domestically produced cutting-edge surveillance technologies, including facial recognition systems, which they have successfully used to identity protesters. – Washington Post  

Leonid Bershidsky writes: Russia is a paradox: A modern, technologically advanced nation in the grip of a retrograde tough-guy regime. It’s also still somewhat freer than China, so the interactions between its 21st-century and 20th-century sides are relatively public. The rest of the world is not insured against 20th-century relapses; it should take note of modernity’s failures and defeats in Russia — someday soon, they could become reality in the West, too. – Bloomberg  


President Biden and France’s President Emmanuel Macron, speaking for the first time since a diplomatic spat arose over a deal by the U.S. and United Kingdom to supply Australia with nuclear-powered submarines, vowed to seek ways to patch up an alliance that is part of American efforts to counter China’s influence in the Pacific. – Wall Street Journal 

A top Ukrainian presidential aide, Serhiy Shefir, narrowly survived assassination when one or more attackers opened fire on his car with a barrage of at least 18 bullets Wednesday. – Washington Post 

Only days before Germans cast their ballots for a new Parliament and with it a new government and leader, Chancellor Angela Merkel was on the campaign trail this week — further proof that her conservatives are in a perilous position. – New York Times   

For France, this week’s geopolitical drama — its nixed submarine sale to Australia, and its furious response to the United States’ jumping the deal — encapsulates a problem the once-mighty nation has struggled with for decades: how to assert itself as an independent power, which French leaders see as essential, while maintaining the alliances on which they know France relies. – New York Times 

Leaders who are “playing” at unity and stuffing pressing problems into an overflowing bag of woe. A world that’s in the same boat, but first-class passengers get the lifeboats. A United Nations that resembles ”a retired superhero” that has lost sight of what it used to be. – Associated Press  

France’s rage over its abrupt sidelining by an Australian-British-US defense pact is drawing fresh attention to nascent European Union cooperation programs designed to build bridges across the Atlantic and the English Channel. – Defense News  

U.S. diplomats could continue to get the cold shoulder from Europe if President Joe Biden’s conversation with French President Emmanuel Macron failed to temper the outrage in Paris over an unexpected Australia-U.S.-U.K. arms deal. – Washington Examiner  

Britain’s defence ministry said on Wednesday an employee has been suspended over a data breach revealing details of interpreters in Afghanistan seeking relocation to Britain after the Taliban retook control of the country last month. – Reuters 

Poland’s Constitutional Tribunal on Wednesday adjourned its sitting on whether the country’s constitution or European Union treaties take precedence. An EU commissioner said earlier the challenge was holding up the release of EU funds to Warsaw. – Reuters 

Denmark’s prime minister said on Wednesday she did not believe a new security pact between Australia, Britain and the United States that excluded France and cost Paris a defence project was grounds for a transatlantic dispute. – Reuters 

The French ministry of defense is pouring billions of euros into critical technologies and new equipment in 2022, as it sets its sights on a future battlefield dominated by advanced platforms, cyber defenses and space-based capabilities. – Defense News  

A region in southern Poland revoked an anti-LGBT resolution Wednesday under the threat of losing European Union funding. The regional assembly of Swietokrzyskie voted in a special session to revoke the resolution, first passed in 2019, that stated “opposition to the attempts to introduce LGBT ideology to local government communities and the promotion of this ideology in public life.” – Associated Press  

Editorial: The short-term political interests of the French and British leaders work against detente. Johnson wants dividends from Brexit, Macron wants to show its costs. They need to work with each other, though, to fulfil their ambitions. Johnson’s aspirations for Global Britain are meaningless without full UK engagement in European security — as are Macron’s hopes for a stronger Europe without some role for the UK. – Financial Times 

Philip Stephens writes: Britain has now positioned itself as Washington’s pliant partner. The rest of Europe is left with a dilemma. It can try to play the equidistance game as between China and the US. Or it can acknowledge that when the choice is between US arrogance and Chinese hegemony, there is only one side to be on. Pace Macron, it is not enough to be right. – Financial Times 

Ali Demirdas writes: The French have already been questioning the purpose of being a part of NATO, and the submarine issue has given them a concrete reason to revise France’s place in the Transatlantic alliance, just like Paris did in 1966. Having already cozied up with Russia in the eastern Mediterranean, Paris should be expected to increase its intimacy with Moscow, which is more than enough to damage the foundations of NATO, raising concerns among Poland, the Baltic states, Ukraine, and Georgia. – The National Interest 

Kevin Baron writes: The Biden White House’s one-line acknowledgement that a European defense capability that is separate but complementary to NATO is “important” was buried in a diplomatic readout of a private conversation. That is hardly a ringing endorsement. But it’s new, and rest assured Paris will use those words to continue making their case. Macron can now say he moved Biden further toward Paris’s position. And Biden can say he’s open to European defense evolution. Both can say they still love NATO. But none of us yet knows how far Biden is really to go down this path with Marcon, if at all. – Defense One 


The 37-year-old Canadian and her Italian companion Luca Tacchetto, were captured by jihadis in December 2018 in eastern Burkina Faso while touring the region and attempting to cross into neighboring Benin. […]For six years, jihadi groups linked to al-Qaida and the Islamic State in the Sahel, the vast expanse south of the Sahara Desert, have used hostage taking for ransom as a way to fund operations and expand their presence. – Associated Press  

The corruption trial of former South African President Jacob Zuma was postponed until Oct. 26 while the judge considers a plea from Zuma’s lawyer that the prosecution team be dismissed from the case for being biased. – Associated Press  

With Kenya poised to assume the presidency of the United Nations Security Council next month, the country’s president outlined his priorities. Uhuru Kenyatta said Wednesday in a pre-recorded speech at the U.N. General Assembly that he believes multilateral systems need to be fair, inclusive and effective. – Associated Press  

The inequity of COVID-19 vaccine distribution will come into sharper focus Thursday as many of the African countries whose populations have little to no access to the life-saving shots step to the podium to speak at the U.N.’s annual meeting of world leaders. – Associated Press 

During a heated parliamentary debate, Namibian opposition lawmakers on Wednesday criticised a 1.1 billion euro ($1.3 billion) compensation offer from Germany for its 1904-1908 genocide in the southwest African country and called on the government to renegotiate terms. – Reuters 

Bobby Ghosh writes: The frustration felt by many Sudanese has been boiling over into the streets. There have been protests in Khartoum over the removal of fuel subsidies, part of an economic reform package agreed with the International Monetary Fund. More ominously, intercommunal violence is again escalating in parts of Darfur, Kordofan and the Blue Nile region, forcing hundreds of thousands of people to flee their homes. – Bloomberg 

Sergio Chichava and Henry Tugendhat write: China often prides itself for its policy of non-intervention and its principle of “developmental peace” by which economic engagements may drive peacebuilding. But in places like Cabo Delgado, China’s limited action and inability to control the economic engagements of its nationals are fundamentally destabilizing a state that needs more support. – War on the Rocks 

The Americas

Uproar over treatment of thousands of Haitian immigrants who have encamped at the U.S.-Mexico border is echoing from the streets of U.S. cities to the halls of the Capitol as people mobilize over what they believe is a racist and unequal U.S. immigration system. – Washington Post  

The influx poses a challenge for the Biden administration. Encounters of migrants at the U.S.-Mexico border are near a 20-year high. Border apprehensions are expected to reach about 1.7 million this year, twice the number from 2019. It is unknown how many cross undetected. The administration this week sent hundreds of Customs and Border Protection agents to stabilize the border and try to keep more migrants from entering. It began deporting Haitians at the border in flights back to their home country. – Wall Street Journal 

A political marriage of convenience that once appeared to be a stroke of genius is unraveling as Argentina’s president and vice president trade blame over their party’s tumbling fortunes. – New York Times  

Germany said Wednesday it was nominating World Health Organization chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus for a new term, with diplomatic sources saying he appeared to be the sole candidate. With Germany’s nomination secured, the 56-year-old former Ethiopian health and foreign minister appeared to be the only person in the race a day before the deadline for submissions on Thursday. – Agence France-Presse  

Lawyers for Colombia on Wednesday dismissed Nicaragua’s claims before the International Court of Justice (ICJ), insisting that Bogota did respect a 2012 ruling on their maritime boundaries in the western Caribbean by the same court. – Reuters 

Riva Levinson writes: I contend that U.S. sponsored polling — credibly conducted and made publicly available — should be an essential gauge of the suitability and sustainability of American foreign policy. I hope to encourage the Biden administration to learn from Afghanistan as it develops an Africa policy including in the Sahel, which has the fastest growing Islamist insurgency in the world. –The Hill


Facebook’s independent Oversight Board forcefully reiterated demands for more transparency from the company on how it treats high-profile users and politicians who break the platform’s rules, according to a blog post Tuesday. – Washington Post  

A federal judge ordered Facebook Inc. on Wednesday to hand over records related to accounts it shut down in 2018 that were linked to government-backed violence against the Muslim Rohingya minority in Myanmar, as the social-media giant grapples with the effects content on its platform has in the real world. – Wall Street Journal 

An Israeli cyber investigator has discovered a breach in tech giant Microsoft’s software that allowed for a leak of over 372,000 usernames and passwords, cybersecurity company Guardicore announced on Wednesday. – Jerusalem Post  

It also reflects the power of Facebook, YouTube and platforms like WhatsApp, which migrants use to share information that can get distorted as it speeds through immigrant communities, directing migration flows. – Associated Press  

A pair of tech industry groups are suing Texas over a controversial new social media law aimed at reducing anti-conservative bias. HB 20, signed into law earlier this month, made Texas the latest red state to go after social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter for alleged anti-conservative bias and censorship. – Washington Examiner  

China’s Xiaomi Corp said on Wednesday that its devices do not censor users’ communications, a day after Lithuania’s Defence Ministry recommended that consumers avoid Chinese phones due to a censoring feature in the smartphone giant’s flagship phone. – Reuters 

Google employees are reportedly furious over the company’s decision to remove a Russian voting app ahead of elections amid a legal threat from the country’s government. – Newsweek  


The U.S. Air Force’s top civilian is unsatisfied with existing hypersonic weapons programs and isn’t sure whether the weapons under development will meet the service’s needs, he said on Monday. – Defense News  

Soldiers aren’t rushing to use the artificial-intelligence tools that Pentagon leaders are rushing to develop, so Army leaders at Fort Bragg are launching a training program meant to convince commanders that trusting data, algorithms, and AI will keep them alive in battle. – Defense One  

The Senate Armed Services Committee is considering requiring the U.S. Navy to better defend its requests to retire ships before the end of their expected service lives. – Defense News  

The Navy will cut about 1,000 civilian jobs in the U.S. and reduce base services across the country as part of a budget move to reduce costs on domestic bases, according to a message from the head of Navy Installations Command (CNIC) reviewed by USNI News. – USNI News  

The U.S. Space Force’s next-generation missile warning constellation will likely be delayed, pushing the launch of the first satellite beyond its anticipated 2025 launch date, according to a Sept. 22 Government Accountability Office report. – Defense News  

Northrop Grumman said it successfully demonstrated interoperability during a recent test of a new electronic warfare system meant for F-16s. – C4ISRNET  

The Coast Guard’s Defense Readiness mission is to ensure Coast Guard personnel, vessels, and aircraft are capable and equipped to support DOD operations—specifically those identified in a 2008 Memorandum of Agreement between DHS and DOD. As part of its Defense Readiness mission, the Coast Guard carries out operations and exercises, including securing Washington, D.C. airspace and providing force protection for the Navy. – USNI News  

The US Army intends to decide which company will build its new ‘light tank’ in the April-to-June 2022 timeframe and is currently conducting a limited user test with two different prototypes to help guide this decision. – Jane’s 360  

Mark Mazzetti writes: For years, top lawmakers have denounced the fact that subsequent presidents have continued to use the 2001 resolution, the Authorization for Use of Military Force, to justify operations against groups that did not even exist when the Sept. 11 attacks occurred. But there has never been sufficient political consensus on Capitol Hill to repeal or replace the decades-old authorization. – New York Times 

Rep. Don Bacon writes: Speed is security. My colleagues and I from the congressional defense committees stand ready to provide the authorities and resources necessary to deter and defeat advanced UAS threats. We must be prepared to “ground” the adversary UAS threat now! – The Hill  

Long War

The State Department reaffirmed that the Taliban and the Haqqani network are “distinct” groups despite their ties and the fact that one of the top leaders of the terrorist group is now Afghanistan’s interior minister. – Washington Examiner  

Sudanese authorities have taken control of lucrative assets that for years provided backing for Hamas, shedding light on how the country served as a haven for the Palestinian militant group under former leader Omar al-Bashir. – Reuters 

Editorial: Biden’s administration claims its over-the-horizon strategy will be different. It points to similar operations against al Shabaab in Somalia, al Qaeda in Yemen, and ISIS in Syria and Iraq. The administration says the United States has greatly improved its counterterrorism capabilities since 2001. But that’s only partly true. Yes, the U.S. is better at counterterrorism today than it was in 2001, but the enemy has also learned. – Washington Examiner