Fdd's overnight brief

September 24, 2021

In The News


The window is still open to revive the 2015 Iran nuclear deal but won’t be forever, a senior U.S. official said on Thursday, saying Iran has yet to name a negotiator, set a date for talks or say whether it would resume where they left off in June. – Reuters 

Western powers suspect Iranian officials are using the diplomatic push for renewal of the 2015 nuclear deal to buy time for the expansion of their illicit program, U.S. and European officials acknowledged after a disappointing week at the United Nations General Assembly. – Washington Examiner 

Britain should repay its four decade-old £400m debt to Iran and take serious steps to lift sanctions, Iran has told the British foreign secretary, Liz Truss, in the first meeting between the two countries at foreign secretary level since 2018. – The Guardian 

Iran’s foreign minister said his nation’s “willpower is dedicated” to the elimination of Zionism at this week’s United Nations anti-racism conference. – Fox News 

Jonathan Spyer writes: So the emergent global contest between the US and China will not leave the Middle East as an area of nonalignment. And as the lines harden, Tehran, for both geostrategic and political reasons, is likely to continue to draw closer to Beijing. Iran’s admittance to the SCO is a significant milestone along that road. – Jerusalem Post 


It is unclear whether Uyghurs in Afghanistan face an immediate threat to their safety, but some say they dread the future that would await them if they were sent to Xinjiang. – New York Times  

Concerns are growing at the increased constraints the Taliban government has placed on the news media in Afghanistan, after officials issued a new framework of rules for journalists that critics say open the door for censorship and repression. – New York Times 

The World Health Organisation’s representative to Afghanistan called on the international community on Thursday to resume funding of the war-torn country’s health program which was suspended when the Taliban took over governing the country, as the healthcare system had plunged into crisis. – Reuters 

One of the founders of the Taliban and the chief enforcer of its harsh interpretation of Islamic law when they last ruled Afghanistan said the hard-line movement will once again carry out executions and amputations of hands, though perhaps not in public. – Associated Press 

The Taliban says two high-ranking Kyrgyz officials have traveled to Kabul for talks with the group’s leadership, the most-senior Central Asian delegation to meet with the militants since they seized power in mid-August. – Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty 

But Uzbekistan, which shares a 160-kilometer border with Afghanistan, has shown it is ready to talk and do business with the Taliban. – Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty 

Tajik President Emomali Rahmon has called on the Taliban to form an inclusive government in neighboring Afghanistan with the participation of all political and ethnic groups in order to allay tensions in the war-torn country. – Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty 

In the recent weeks, the Arab press has published many cartoons responding to the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan and the Taliban takeover of the country. Some of the cartoons convey that the Taliban defeated the U.S. and booted it out of the country, causing it to flee in humiliation and to abandon the Afghans who helped it. – Middle East Media Research Institute 

Hans-Jakob Schindler writes: The General Assembly hasn’t recognized the Taliban as the legitimate governing authority of Afghanistan, nor should it. It will require a sustained campaign from the U.S. and its allies to ensure that proper controls are exercised over funds flowing to Afghanistan while not hindering humanitarian efforts to relieve the suffering of the Afghans whose voices are being silenced by their new rulers. – Wall Street Journal 


President Tayyip Erdogan said on Thursday the Taliban’s current approach and their interim government were not inclusive but Turkey was willing to work with them if they formed a more encompassing government, broadcaster Haberturk reported. – Reuters 

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan said on Thursday that Turkey’s ties with the United States were not healthy and that Washington needed to “sort out” issues over Ankara’s purchase of Russian S-400 defence systems, according to broadcaster Haberturk. – Reuters 

Turkey’s central bank unexpectedly cut its policy rate by 100 basis points to 18% on Thursday, delivering stimulus long sought by President Tayyip Erdogan despite high inflation, and sending the lira to near a record low. – Reuters 


The U.S. House of Representatives voted overwhelmingly on Thursday to give $1 billion to Israel for its Iron Dome missile-defense system, two days after objections from the most liberal Democrats forced leaders to remove it from a broader spending bill. – Reuters 

Israel and the US held secret talks last week to discuss a possible “Plan B” to deal with the issue of Iran’s nuclear program if negotiations between the US and Iran fail, Axios reported Wednesday, citing Israeli officials. – Algemeiner  

Azzam al-Ahmad, one of the senior leaders of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) and Fatah, said on Thursday that Palestinian Authority (PA) chairman Mahmoud Abbas’ speech at the UN General Assembly on Friday “will upset the enemies of the Palestinian people.” – Arutz Sheva 

Editorial: Rather than allowing itself to be portrayed in some parts of the world as “a racist, apartheid state,” Israel and its allies should seize the historical moment and stand together – including the Gulf states with which it recently celebrated the anniversary of the Abraham Accords – to lead the international struggle against racism and religious persecution. Rather than needing to lead a boycott of world conferences on racism, the Jewish state should have a special place at the table. – Jerusalem Post 

Bret Stephens writes: Congress is never without its embarrassing or disreputable members, and no shortage of attention has been paid to Republicans like Matt Gaetz and Marjorie Taylor Greene. This week, the weight of shame fell on the other side of the aisle. It would behoove Democrats in the honorable majority to start treating their Israel-hating members not as parliamentary nuisances or social media embarrassments but as the ill-intended bigots they well and truly are. – New York Times 

Liat Collins writes: The Iron Dome anti-rocket system needs a civilian equivalent to intercept anti-Israel lies and libel, distortion and demonization. It should be fueled by buy-cotts instead of boycotts of the Start-Up Nation. Above all, it must normalize normalization. The Abraham Accords, now celebrating their first anniversary, are doing more to bring about peace and fight terrorism than anything that came out of the Durban Conference 20 years ago. Giving Israel the cold shoulder does nothing to create a warm peace. – Jerusalem Post 


French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian held “thorough and confident” talks with Iraq’s President Barham Salih late on Thursday, wrote Le Drian on his Twitter page. – Reuters 

U.S. oil refiners hunting to replace crude lost after a storm hit the U.S. Gulf of Mexico last month have been turning to Iraqi and Canadian oil, while Asian buyers have been pursuing Middle Eastern and Russian grades, analysts and traders said. – Reuters 

Munqith Dagher writes: By choosing to become Iraq’s strategic partner and strengthening its relationship with France, there are multiple important gains for France. The most notable, however, are the geostrategic benefits that France and the West can secure by encouraging and supporting this partnership. […] Having provided training and leadership to the joint forces of the G5 Sahel in their fight against terrorism, France can play a similar role in Iraq, with support from the rest of the West, to curtail the threat ISIS poses in Iraq and the whole region. – Center for Strategic and International Studies 


Lebanon’s Hezbollah announced the arrival of a second ship loaded with diesel coming from Iran to Syria’s Baniyas port Thursday evening, the group’s al-Manar TV said on its Telegram channel early on Friday. – Reuters 

Lebanon’s state electricity company said on Thursday it risked a total blackout across the country by end-September as its fuel oil reserves dwindle. – Reuters 

Tom Perry and Maha El Dahan writes: The new prime minister, billionaire tycoon Najib Mikati, and his government need to acknowledge the scale of losses and work out how to share them out to deliver on a promise to secure International Monetary Fund assistance with economic reforms. […] Mikati may have a better shot in IMF talks than his predecessor partly because there is now broader political recognition – including, it seems, within Iran-backed Shi’ite group Hezbollah – that an IMF deal is the inescapable path to aid. – Reuters 

Middle East & North Africa

Tunisia’s president assumed the right to rule by decree and signaled plans to amend the constitution, strengthening his grip over the only democracy to emerge from the Arab Spring uprisings a decade ago. – Bloomberg 

Flighting flared up this week between Yemen’s Houthi rebels and pro-government forces in the country’s southern province of Shabwa, killing 35 from both sides, tribal leaders and security officials said Thursday. – Associated Press 

The head of Libya’s presidency council said on Thursday he will hold an international conference in October to garner support for the country’s stability, warning that it faces “serious challenges” that could undermine planned December elections. – Reuters 

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 

Ramy Salhi writes: Saied must end the marginalization and exclusion of Tunisia’s political groups from the country’s decision-making processes. The solution to Tunisia’s present crisis must be an internal Tunisian one, built on democratic consultation among the relevant national Tunisian factions, be they political parties, unions or civil society organizations. […]The outcomes of this national dialogue must receive real support from Tunisia’s international friends who share our values of democracy, rule of law, institutional legitimacy and respect for human rights and freedoms. – Newsweek 


U.S. Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo said on Thursday the Biden administration will take further action against Chinese telecoms firm Huawei if necessary, after some Republican lawmakers have pressed for more steps. – Reuters 

Power rationing and forced cuts to factory production in China are widening amid electricity supply issues and a push to enforce environmental regulations. – Bloomberg 

China has listed 102 ways the U.S. has interfered in Hong Kong since mass anti-government protests gripped the city in 2019, as the world’s largest economies continue to clash on everything from trade, to human rights and the coronavirus’ origins. – Bloomberg 

China sent 24 fighter jets toward Taiwan in a large display of force Thursday, after the self-governing island announced its intention to join an 11-nation Pacific trade group that China has also applied to join. – Associated Press 

Editorial: America’s presence in a revised TPP would also strengthen the economies of friendly or neutral states that the U.S. needs to resist Chinese hegemony. […]The Biden Administration has been mostly silent on the Obama -era pact for political reasons, fearing anti-trade populism. But attitudes toward China have changed since 2017. Sold properly, a renewed TPP might have a bipartisan fighting chance. – Wall Street Journal 

Josh Rogin writes: As many point out, a Cold War with China would be more complex and more dangerous than the U.S.-Soviet struggle of the 20th century, because of our deep interconnectedness and China’s immense economic power. But it takes two sides to avoid such an outcome. If Beijing insists on heading down that road, the only choice left for us is to make sure we prevail in the end. – Washington Post  

Edward Luce writes: Several near-misses during the first cold war taught America that it was wise to get inside Soviet heads and see the world from their perspective. There is less such knowledge of China in today’s DC. Sinologists are thinner on the ground. Efforts to set up a hotline between Beijing and Washington have yet to bear fruit. The margin for error is not great. The more Biden could acknowledge the possibility of a US-China collision — by accident or ignorance — the more he would reduce the risk. – Financial Times  

South Asia

U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris met India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday and stressed the importance of a free and open Indo-Pacific region at a time when the United States is trying to solidify its pivot toward Asia and strengthen ties with allies to take on China’s growing influence in the region. – Reuters 

India’s long-delayed plans to overhaul its military are getting a new life as Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government moves closer to the U.S. and its allies, which are strengthening defense cooperation against China. – Bloomberg 

In a candid and wide-ranging interview, Newsweek Senior Foreign Policy Writer Tom O’Connor conversed with Prime Minister Imran Khan of Pakistan, a nation that straddles Afghanistan and China both geographically and strategically. Khan discussed his goals and fears for his country and the region, and explained why he believes America must remain engaged in Afghanistan. – Newsweek 

C. Raja Mohan writes: Today, New Delhi fully recognizes Beijing’s ambitions to dominate Asia and its waters. India is no longer defensive about partnering with the West to rebalance power in Asia, and it is also confident about negotiating mutually beneficial terms of engagement with Washington. These factors are at the root of the Quad’s advance of the last three years. Look to this week’s summit as another important landmark. –Foreign Policy 


North Korea said Friday it was “premature” to declare a formal end to the Korean War, a reference to renewed efforts by South Korean President Moon Jae-in to put the discussion back on the table amid stalled nuclear negotiations with Pyongyang – Washington Post 

A first in-person meeting of the leaders of the Quad group of countries – the United States, Japan, Australia and India – on Friday will yield progress in several areas including infrastructure, health and cyber, a senior U.S administration official told Reuters. – Reuters 

Japan on Friday welcomed Taiwan’s application to join a trans-Pacific trade pact, citing shared democratic values with the island, which China claims as its own. – Reuters 

China is an “arch criminal” intent on bullying Taiwan and has no right to oppose or comment on its bid to join a pan-Pacific trade pact, Taiwan’s government said in an escalating war of words over Taipei and Beijing’s decision to apply. – Reuters 

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken told foreign ministers from the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) on Thursday that Washington would soon release a new comprehensive strategy for the wider Indo-Pacific region. – Reuters 

The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights on Thursday warned of a human rights catastrophe under military rule in Myanmar and urged the international community to do more to prevent conflict from worsening. – Reuters 

Vietnam said on Thursday it is willing to share its experience and information with China for the world’s second largest economy’s bid to join the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP). – Reuters 

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 

A closely monitored national security case involving 47 Hong Kong democracy activists charged with conspiracy to commit subversion, most of whom have been in custody for more than six months, will resume on Nov. 29, a judge ruled on Thursday. – Reuters 

Arthur Sinodinos writes: To demonstrate Australia’s deep gratitude for his friendship, I had the distinct privilege of awarding Sen. Blunt with an Order of Australia on Sept. 22. Established in 1975, the Order of Australia is an honor few achieve which recognizes individuals for their achievement or meritorious service — and many fewer non-Australians have ever received the award. On behalf of all Australians, I extend our deepest appreciation and thanks to Sen. Blunt for being our mate. – The Hill 

Mihir Sharma writes: To build trust without and within, the Quad needs its own map — a more detailed guide to the plans and projects that its members feel would help create a more balanced and inclusive regional economic and security order. This would help each partner country decide what exactly they stand to gain if they buy into the Quad’s strategy for the Indo-Pacific. And maybe it’ll convince them that the whole thing isn’t just a front to sell them more submarines. – Bloomberg 

Myron Brilliant writes: In sum, the Biden administration’s attention to the Quad as a platform for constructive progress on key issues in the Indo-Pacific is well-placed. The U.S. business community is equally committed to helping achieve the Quad’s promise as an important new forum to advance our shared values and interests. – The Hill 

Jeff M. Smith writes: The Quad has consistently defied skeptics and the first-ever in-person meeting of Quad leaders this week will send a powerful signal to adversaries abroad and critics at home that the Quad is here to stay. As four democracies with common security concerns, a shared strategic outlook, and the collective power and will to resist Chinese coercion, the Quad must seize the opportunity to elevate cooperation even further while advancing a positive agenda for security and prosperity in the Indo–Pacific. The world is watching. – Heritage Foundation 

Emil Avdaliani writes: In the end, the shift from fixation on the West to a policy of criticism as part of a broader foreign policy reflects changes in the balance of power. The West is no longer seen in the wider Black Sea region as a decisive power. The rise of an illiberal alternative to the Western liberal democratic model allows countries to take another path. That of course ultimately harms the U.S. and its friends, reduces their credibility, and may reverse liberty’s advances, achieved over several decades, both in Georgia and Ukraine. – Center for European Policy Analysis 

Andrew Tillett writes: But there are plenty of risks for Australia. What happens, for example, if the UK’s renewed focus on the Indo-Pacific does not endure beyond the mercurial Boris Johnson’s time in Downing Street, or if a future U.S. President takes a more skeptical view of the transfer of highly sensitive nuclear technology? – Center for European Policy Analysis 


A Russian spy chief on Thursday accused Britain of lies and trying to divert attention from other issues after British police said a third Russian suspect had been identified in the 2018 Novichok murder attempt on a former double agent. – Reuters 

A coalition of defeated parliamentary candidates in Moscow who allege they were cheated of victory in a parliamentary election by a crooked online voting system said on Thursday they would try to overturn the results via lawsuits and public pressure. – Reuters 

Russia’s navy practised firing at targets in the Black Sea off the coast of annexed Crimea using its Bastion coastal missile defence system, Russia’s Defence Ministry said on Thursday as Ukraine held joint military drills with the United States. – Reuters 

Opponents of Russia’s latest natural gas pipeline to the European Union long saw the project as a threat to Ukraine’s economy and security. In the time it has taken to complete Nord Stream 2, the risks have changed. – Bloomberg 

The top U.S. military officer says the United States should explore ways to expand its military contacts with Russia as a way to increase trust and avoid a miscalculation. – Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty 

A top manager of Russian natural-gas producer Novatek has been arrested in the United States on tax evasion charges related to offshore bank accounts allegedly holding tens of millions of dollars. – Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty 

Russia’s domestic intelligence agency, the Federal Security Service (FSB), has ratcheted up the charges against jailed Crimean Tatar politician Nariman Dzhelyal over the alleged sabotage of a pipeline last month. – Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty 

A Russian court has rejected jailed opposition leader Aleksei Navalny’s appeal to annul his designation as a “flight risk,” which subjects him to hourly nighttime checks while he is incarcerated. – Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty 

The United States’ mission to the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) has criticized Russia’s recent national elections as taking place under conditions “not conducive to free or fair” voting and called Moscow’s claims of outside interference as “baseless allegations” to distract from a flawed process. – Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty 

The attempt to detach France from the Western Alliance has been a constant in Soviet/Russian diplomacy, and the new AUKUS defense partnership between the US, the UK and Australia granting Canberra access to US nuclear submarine technology is seen by Ria Novosti commentator Petr Akopov as an opportunity to wean France from the “Anglo-Saxons” – Middle East Media Research Institute 

Mason Clark and George Barros write: However, the Kremlin must manage the costs of further eroding Putin’s veneer of legitimate public support and risks growing discontent among the Communist Party and other managed opposition groups. The Kremlin and Untied Russia are highly likely to remain stable for several years, but the 2021 Duma elections indicate the Kremlin will likely need to expand its authoritarian toolkit ahead of Russia’s next presidential election in 2024. – Institute for the Study of War 

Heather A. Conley and Andrew Lohsen write: The Kremlin believes it can maintain its grip on power though manipulations and repression. In the short term, this strategy has worked. But where will Russian public discontent go in the future, and who or what will lead it? – Center for Strategic and International Studies 


The European Union’s biggest countries want to carve a middle path between China and the U.S. Last week’s surprise announcement of a new defense pact among the U.S., the U.K. and Australia, alongside the cancellation of a multibillion-dollar French submarine deal with Canberra, shows how hard that will be. – Wall Street Journal 

Europe’s need for gas is drawing cargoes of American liquefied natural gas, or LNG, across the Atlantic, feeding into higher prices for gas in the U.S. itself. It has also handed more sway to Russia, Europe’s biggest supplier. – Wall Street Journal 

Carles Puigdemont, the fugitive former leader of Catalonia, was arrested by Italian police Thursday at an airport in Sardinia, marking the latest chapter in a nearly four year-long quest by Spain to extradite one of the world’s most prominent secessionists. – Washington Post 

French defense contractor Naval Group is preparing to send Australia a bill after a $66 billion contract was sunk by a secret deal between Canberra, Washington and London to share technology on nuclear-powered submarines and form AUKUS, a new three-nation defense alliance. – Washington Post 

As Germany prepares to elect its next chancellor Sunday, Europe is readying itself for a major shake-up of the unofficial hierarchy of continental leaders. – Washington Post 

The CIA has removed its top officer in Vienna following criticism of his management, including what some considered an insufficient response to a growing number of mysterious health incidents at the U.S. Embassy there, according to current and former U.S. officials. – Washington Post 

At a time when Europe is trying to recover from the pandemic, the European Union has withheld tens of billions of dollars in grants to Hungary and Poland, and Poland is looking at hefty fines for flouting decisions of the bloc’s highest court, the European Court of Justice. – New York Times 

In an interview Thursday with The Associated Press on the sidelines of the U.N. General Assembly’s meeting of world leaders, Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto said his country would not cede ground on policies that have caused the European Union to impose financial penalties and start legal proceedings against it over violations of the bloc’s values. – Associated Press 

French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian told U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Thursday it would take “time and actions” to restore confidence in ties after a crisis triggered by Australia’s cancellation of a submarine contract with Paris. – Reuters 

Central European leaders signed a joint declaration on Thursday saying immigration should not be the answer to the European Union’s declining birth rate, while calling on the bloc to keep family policy under national jurisdiction. – Reuters 

Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko said some employees at state-run factories were secretly working for the West against his government on Thursday after human rights activists reported the detention of 14 workers at a fertilizer plant. – Reuters 

A court in Belarus has extended the pretrial detention of Sofia Sapega, who was arrested along with her boyfriend, opposition blogger Raman Pratasevich, in Minsk after authoritarian ruler Alyaksandr Lukashenka ordered a passenger plane they were on diverted as it flew over the country. – Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty 

Ukraine’s president has called on the United Nations to do more to respond to the ongoing war in Ukraine’s east, where government forces continue to face off against Kremlin-backed separatists in a seven-year-war that has killed more than 13,200 people. – Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty 

North Macedonia had a “moral obligation” to take in Afghan refugees who fled the Taliban after the militants seized power in a blitz offensive last month, President Stevo Pendarovski has told the United Nations General Assembly. – Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty 

Serbia has raised the combat readiness of its troops on the border with Kosovo as a four-day flare-up over mutual recognition of state authority bedevils the Balkan neighbors, with Serbia’s president suggesting there are limits to what Belgrade will “tolerate.” – Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty 

The United States is permitting a company owned by a Ukrainian tycoon to sell a Texas building the government froze as part of a civil money-laundering case so that it can pay down the property’s back taxes and other debts. – Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty 

Tim Culpan writes: One advantage is that small countries don’t have the massive populations and production capacity that require one or two large economies to buy their wares. Lithuania, for example, does little trade with China, and it’s easier to find new markets when you don’t make as much stuff, anyway. When you take China’s deep pockets out of the equation, more nations are starting to see Beijing’s intimidation as too steep a price to bear. – Bloomberg 

Garvan Walshe writes: The bargain will require canceling Nord Stream 2 and building institutional structures to prevent Western Europe making a “separate peace” with Russia. It will mean folding the European External Action Service into the European Commission and having foreign-policy decisions taken by qualified majority vote to prevent hostage-taking by small, Russia and China-suborned countries such as Hungary. France (and Germany too) will find many of these changes uncomfortable, but they could give birth to a European Gaullism to replace a national Gaullism whose time has run out. – Foreign Policy 


U.S. retail behemoth Amazon.com Inc.  is once again embroiled in politically charged controversy as it tries to establish another regional headquarters—this time in Cape Town, South Africa. – Wall Street Journal 

The African Union’s (AU) top health official called Britain’s lack of recognition for coronavirus vaccines administered in Africa regrettable, saying on Thursday it sends a confusing public health message. – Reuters 

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 

Tensions between Sudan’s civilian politicians and army neared breaking point after an alleged coup bid, risking a democratic transition seen as a rare bright spot in a region marked by dictatorship and conflict. – Bloomberg 

Judd Devermont and Erol Yayboke write: Rwanda, Uganda, Somaliland, and Sudan have a history of generosity toward displaced persons and refugees and should be appreciated for their willingness to host vulnerable Afghans, no matter the reason. It is important—and possible—for policymakers to support these good deeds without compromising or adjusting other priorities. – Center for Strategic and International Studies 

The Americas

The resignation Thursday of the U.S. special envoy to Haiti in protest of what he called “inhumane” deportations of Haitian migrants spotlighted a widening crisis for the Biden administration, as Democratic allies turned on the White House over images of pursuit and squalor that some lawmakers denounced as racist and immoral. – Washington Post 

The unprecedented wave of Haitian migrants at the U.S. southern border is causing a crisis in Mexico, which now must contend with thousands of asylum seekers turned back by the U.S. – Wall Street Journal 

The Biden administration has no plans to send any of the thousands of Haitian migrants caught crossing the U.S.-Mexico border to a special holding facility at the U.S. naval base in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, U.S. officials said on Thursday. – Reuters 

The possible inclusion of the United Kingdom in the USMCA trade pact, also known as TMEC in Spanish, needs consultation with all countries, Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador said on Thursday. – Reuters 

The State Department on Thursday said the resignation of the U.S. special envoy to Haiti was “unfortunate” and defended the Biden administration’s policies, saying for the envoy “to say his proposals were ignored is simply false.” – Reuters 

Latin America

The Associated Press with Spanish-language broadcaster Univision accompanied the Ocean Warrior this summer on an 18-day voyage to observe up close for the first time the Chinese distant water fishing fleet on the high seas off South America. – Associated Press 

A FARC dissident commander has taken responsibility for a June bomb attack on a military base in the northeastern Colombian city of Cucuta, as well as the recent shooting of a helicopter carrying President Ivan Duque. – Reuters 

Shannon K O’Neil writes: During the Cold War, Latin American nations were more often pawns than protagonists, the conflict between the U.S. and Soviet Union precipitating some of the region’s darker moments. This historical fallout during previous geopolitical showdowns is another reason for today’s Latin American leaders to try to balance the heavyweights. Rather than choose sides, they should seek to exploit the advantages that can come from intensifying superpower competition. – Bloomberg 

United States

The U.S. House of Representatives has approved an amendment that would ban U.S. citizens from buying or selling newly issued Russian sovereign debt on both primary and secondary markets. – Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty 

The Democratic-controlled U.S. House of Representatives has agreed to add legislation to the annual defense-spending bill that would place sanctions on Russia’s Nord Stream 2 project, potentially putting into jeopardy an agreement reached between the Biden administration and Germany in July. – Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty 

A senior U.S. Democrat said on Thursday that multiple congressional committees will investigate a drone strike that killed 10 Afghan civilians last month, to determine what went wrong and answer questions about future counterterrorism strategy. – Reuters 

The U.S. Navy’s chief of naval operations is committed to helping Australia with its newly announced nuclear-powered submarine program and equally committed to operating seamlessly alongside the French Navy, after the recent Australia-U.K.-U.S. submarine agreement caused a political fallout between the triad and France. – Defense News 

Ted Anthony writes: So this week, they’re here. They’re talking. They’re still committed, still determined. Yes, the topics may veer toward existentialism and extinction, but they’re still promising — in oceans of speechified words and ideas and plans — to figure it all out and not simply go down with the ship. Perhaps — again, staying on brand — that’s building resilience through hope after all. – Associated Press 


The phones of five French cabinet ministers bore traces of powerful Pegasus spyware, according to an analysis done by their country’s security agencies, France’s Mediapart news outlet reported Thursday. – Washington Post 

The European Commission confirmed that the inaugural meeting of a new trade council with the U.S. will go ahead as planned after France sought to have it postponed.  – Bloomberg 

The Port of Houston, a major U.S. port, was targeted in an attempted cyber attack last month, the Port shared in a statement on Thursday. – The Hill 

The nation’s top cybersecurity officials on Thursday urged Congress to consider passing legislation that would fine organizations if they failed to report cybersecurity incidents to the federal government, part of an effort to do more to confront a recent spree of attacks. – The Hill 


Both the Secret Service and the FBI bought surveillance drones from a company that the Department of Defense believes could be a national security threat. – Washington Examiner 

The House on Thursday rejected a measure that would have kept the aging Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missile online through 2040 and paused development of its replacement for a year while the Biden administration completes its sweeping nuclear posture review. – Defense News 

House lawmakers on Thursday approved plans for a $740 billion defense authorization bill that provides billions more in equipment purchases than the White House requested and all but assures steady growth in military spending next year. – Defense News 

The U.S. Space Force is bringing in industry to view and comment on new digital models that will drive the service’s future capability development, officials announced at the 2021 Air, Space and Cyber Conference. – C4SIRNET 

A tool created by an Air Force software factory played an important role in the recent evacuation of civilians from Afghanistan, according to the service. – C4SIRNET 

The Senate Armed Services Committee has crafted legislation to give the Navy more ownership over its fleet architecture studies, according to the text of the annual defense policy bill released this week. – USNI News 

The effort to build Australia’s fleet of nuclear attack submarines could take decades to both design the boats and create the shipbuilding capacity and adequate oversight to support the effort, Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Mike Gilday said on Thursday. – USNI News 

The Department of Defense is developing a new long-range bomber aircraft, the B-21 Raider (previously known as LRS-B), and proposes to acquire at least 100 of them. B-21s would initially replace the fleets of B-1 and B-2 bombers, and could possibly replace B-52s in the future. – USNI News 

In public comments this week, senior Air Force leaders seem to have soured on the promise of hypersonic missiles, just as the Defense Department is being urged by key lawmakers in the Senate to put more focus on air-breathing hypersonic engine technology. – Breaking Defense 

Peggy Noonan writes: The military isn’t a fortress and doesn’t have a drawbridge it can pull up. It comes from us and will reflect us. That’s good. The services should be bringing in everybody—women, sexual minorities—gathering all the talent they can, because only our talent will give us the edge in future wars, which will come. […]But that doesn’t mean adopting the ideologies and assumptions of the leftist cultural regime that reigns in other institutions—Critical Race Theory, wokeness. Don’t let that stuff in. – Wall Street Journal 

Tom Rogan writes: Considering the stakes involved in space-related security, the Space Force’s $18 billion budget is a good deal. Moreover, the Air Force should accrue savings as it transfers capabilities and responsibilities to the new service. Hoffman’s bill is likely to go nowhere fast. But that doesn’t make the congressman’s delusions any less worrisome. Our adversaries will certainly welcome his leadership on this issue. – Washington Examiner 

Patty-Jane Geller writes: Missile defense can instill doubt in a rogue state that its plan will succeed. By removing the credibility of a homeland attack option, missile defense can prevent coercion or blackmail strategies used by rogue states to extract concessions from the U.S. To continue to reap these benefits, the U.S. needs NGI to address the growing North Korean and potential Iranian threats. False accusations and claims about strategic stability should not interfere with the prudent and bipartisan pursuit of better defending the U.S. – The Hill 

Jennie Matuschak writes: Ultimately, as technology advances, Congress and the DoD need to not only focus investments on capabilities, but also on DoD processes and organizational culture. Modernizing and standardizing the presentation of defense budget data is long overdue. It’s Congress’ responsibility to push the DoD to make these improvements, as lawmakers owe the very taxpayers that elect them greater oversight of how resources are aligning to strategy. – Defense News 

John Whitley and Gregory Pejic write: The Senate’s proposed commission is an exciting opportunity to advance the National Defense Strategy and help the U.S. defense establishment to maintain its competitive edge over China. But these efforts have come and gone in the past with little impact. A smart commission focused on the right problems, with a sober understanding of the realities of government decision-making, and open to creative solutions that involve more than just process reforms, including fully leveraging the strengths of America’s dynamic commercial sector, could make a real difference. – War on the Rocks 

Christine Parthemore and Andy Weber write: National security leaders should make it clear that the tools now exist to stop biological threats more effectively than ever, and that America intends to use them. They should also invest in the research and programs that will make this claim credible. […] Deterrence by denial is achievable, but not simple. Alternatively, if the nation chooses to perpetuate the problems that led to the death of more than 650,000 Americans in less than two years, we can expect adversaries to continue contemplating how to exploit them. – War on the Rocks 

Long War

Although he clearly identifies with Israel and its values, it was Conrad’s basic qualities that also enabled him to earn the trust of terror organizations. – Haaretz 

Now, thousands of Boko Haram fighters have surrendered, along with their family members, and are being housed by the government in a compound in the city of Maiduguri, the group’s birthplace and its frequent target. – New York Times 

Emily Estelle writes: The responsibility falls on local governments and their international backers to outcompete Salafi-jihadis on their own terms by providing better governance and addressing the needs of aggrieved and vulnerable populations. Winning the governance fight also avoids consigning hundreds of thousands to live under brutal Salafi-jihadi governance, with all of the atrocities it entails. Undermining the Salafi-jihadi state-building project will also deflate the ideology, dimming the shine of the false promises it makes to would-be martyrs around the world. – The Hill 

Jake Harrington and Jared Thompson write: Al Shabaab’s historical resilience highlights the importance of a multifaceted response that addresses the broader political factors that gave rise to the insurgency. The group’s historical ability to navigate and withstand both external and internal pressures likely signal that the threat from al Shabaab will persist absent a more coherent and comprehensive regional strategy to address the drivers of the conflict. – Center for Strategic and International Studies