Fdd's overnight brief

September 27, 2021

In The News


Accusing President Biden of continuing “the thick file of the Trump sanctions against Iran,’’ the new, hard-line Iranian foreign minister said on Friday that in return for agreeing to limits on its nuclear program, his country would demand far more sanctions relief than it received under the 2015 nuclear deal. – New York Times 

Nearly 35 years had passed, so long since the homecoming for the 52 Americans taken hostage by Iranian militants that the group had dwindled to 39, when what felt like a measure of justice was finally delivered. – Washington Post 

The U.N. nuclear watchdog said on Sunday Iran had failed to fully honour the terms of a deal struck two weeks ago to allow the watchdog’s inspectors to service monitoring equipment in the country. – Reuters 

Fire broke out in one of Iran’s elite Revolutionary Guards (IRGC) research centers in the west of Tehran on Sunday evening, state media said. – Reuters 

US sources have said in talks with their Israeli counterparts that the country is nearing the point at which it will be required to take steps to act against Iran, Kan News reported. – Arutz Sheva 

Danny Danon writes: If this dangerous regime attains the nuclear capabilities to which it aspires it will undoubtedly disturb the delicate balance that exists in the region, and it will be not only Israel and the Middle East region that will suffer. In diplomacy, politeness is maintained but positions should not be surrendered. The State of Israel must reveal the truth clearly and unambiguously that it is impossible to sign an already fractured agreement and simultaneously talk about halting the Iranian nuclear program. – Jerusalem Post 


Rank-and-file Taliban fighters have been having too much fun in Kabul after seizing the Afghan capital without a fight last month, and the Taliban leadership has now issued a stern order to stop. – Wall Street Journal 

The U.S. spent $145 billion over two decades in Afghanistan to turn one of the poorest nations on earth into a self-sustaining economy—the boldest effort this century at Western nation-building. That project has largely failed. – Wall Street Journal 

Interviews with more than a dozen members of the Afghan special forces, army and police in three provinces from May to July illustrate that the collapse of security forces was not abrupt. Instead, it was a slow, painful breakdown that began months before the fall of Kabul.  – Washington Post 

Taliban authorities have put the bodies of four alleged kidnappers on public display, in a sign the militant group is returning to a harsh version of Islamic justice in Afghanistan following the chaotic withdrawal of U.S. troops last month. – Washington Post 

For the Ukrainians, it was a crash course in dealing with a Taliban government struggling with internal division, bureaucratic chaos and a barely controlled inclination for violence. – New York Times 

The Taliban government in Afghanistan appealed on Sunday for international flights to be resumed, promising full cooperation with airlines and saying that problems at Kabul airport had been resolved. – Reuters 

U.S. State Department spokesperson Ned Price said on Friday that Washington condemns in the strongest terms reported comments by a Taliban official who said the group would restore the use of amputations and executions as punishment in Afghanistan. – Reuters 

Afghanistan is at risk of “imminent hunger” with winter approaching and services disrupted by the return to power of the Taliban, a UN official warned in an interview with AFP. – Agence France-Presse 

The State Department is under pressure to find creative solutions to aid vulnerable Afghans who were left behind in the evacuation now that the U.S. doesn’t have an embassy or any obvious way to facilitate their exit. – The Hill 

US President Joe Biden’s widely-criticized military withdrawal from Afghanistan could lead to the Taliban, the country’s new Islamist rulers, obtaining nuclear weapons from Pakistan, former US national security advisor John Bolton said Sunday on the WABC 770 radio station. – Jerusalem Post 

The U.S. military has identified the person who was targeted in the first of two drone strikes in Afghanistan during the withdrawal and evacuation from the country. – Washington Examiner 

Melissa Skorka writes: Mr. Haqqani marches in lockstep with his al Qaeda base. General John R. Allen, who commanded U.S. and coalition forces in Afghanistan from 2011 to 2013, said, “it seems impossible to imagine the U.S. and our liberal democratic allies recognizing the Islamic Emirate so long as Haqqani ‘officials’ and their allies are part of the emerging Afghan system of government.” – Wall Street Journal 

Peter Martin writes: Despite intense, bipartisan pressure in Congress to keep troops in Afghanistan or at least delay the withdrawal, President Joe Biden gave several reasons for ending America’s longest war after almost 20 years. […]It’s a tactic the U.S. has put to effect using weaponry such as Reaper drones in other places, including Syria and Somalia. The pilotless aircraft can be deployed with minimal risk to U.S. lives. But those efforts have also faced heavy criticism from human rights advocates, who say U.S. strikes too frequently miss their mark, killing innocent people and ultimately undermining U.S. interests. – Bloomberg 

Gary M. Shiffman writes: Finally, the United States can create a cacophony of voices expressing and supporting narratives to counter the Taliban. Freedom and respect for human dignity matter, and those who fight for these values will benefit from friendship with the American people. By diminishing the Taliban’s narrative, brand and funding, the U.S. can have an impact on what happens next in Afghanistan. – The Hill 

Roie Yellinek writes: All these domestic and international dynamics, including the superpower competition, are affecting the lives of hundreds of thousands of refugees. It is clear and understandable that the U.S. itself cannot take responsibility for all the refugees, and neither can Germany, France, or Italy. But just as the American government combined forces with other democracies to overthrow the Taliban, it must once again work to find the right solution for all the people and countries involved, especially in the context of the Chinese and American struggle for global influence. – Middle East Institute 


Turkey sent reinforcements to the last rebel-held enclave in northwestern Syria as Russia stepped up air strikes there on Sunday, several sources said, three days before leaders Vladimir Putin and Tayyip Erdogan are due to meet for talks. – Reuters 

Russia has asked Israel to push the United States to agree to hold trilateral talks on the ongoing conflict in Syria, the Walla news site reported last week. – Times of Israel 

Abdullah Alghadawi writes: There are discussions about the importance of restructuring the army and security forces on professional military bases to reduce Assad’s authority over the country. One can see that the Syrian military orientation is inclined to strengthen its control over the security and military apparatus of the state. Hence, the growing strength of the Fourth Division is extremely problematic as it impedes any attempt to restructure or engage in real change in the army for the benefit of the Syrian state and not specifically for the sake of the regime. – Middle East Institute 

Elie Podeh and Yogev Elbaz write: Israel has a clear interest in weakening the Iranian-Shi’ite axis, and therefore any Syrian move toward Arab states that maintain open or clandestine ties with Israel is welcome. However, the fact that the Gulf states are also flirting with Iran, even as they strengthen their ties with Israel, requires that Israel monitor closely the changes taking place in the Arab system and adopt a proactive approach in its contacts with Arab states. – Jerusalem Post 


The reconstruction of homes in Gaza that were destroyed or damaged in the May conflict between Israel and Hamas will begin in the first week of October using aid from Qatar, a senior Palestinian housing official said on Sunday. – Reuters 

The Palestinian Authority urged Sudan’s government on Saturday to hand over assets it has seized as part of a crackdown targeting Sudan-based operations to fund the Palestinian militant group Hamas. – Reuters 

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas accused Israel on Friday of destroying the two-state solution with actions he said could lead Palestinians to demand equal rights within one binational state comprising Israel, the occupied West Bank and Gaza. – Reuters 

Israeli troops firing rubber bullets shot and killed a Palestinian man and injured others on Friday during clashes at a protest against Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank, the Palestinian health ministry and medics said. – Reuters 

The IDF is bracing for a possible barrage of rocket fire from the Gaza Strip later on Sunday in response to the deaths of at least five Palestinians in a wave of Israeli arrest operations across the West Bank. – Jerusalem Post 

The IDF took down a Nazi flag bearing a swastika after it was hoisted by unknown perpetrators in the Palestinian town of Beit Ummar near Hebron on Saturday. – Jerusalem Post 

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett will seek to portray Israel as a global player whose expertise can offer solutions to pressing world problems during his speech at the United Nations on Monday, a senior adviser said. – Times of Israel 

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett recently told settler leaders that he pushed back against United States President Joe Biden on Iran’s nuclear program, the reopening of the American consulate in East Jerusalem, and Israeli settlement building, during his meeting with the American leader at the White House in August. – Times of Israel 

Israel has released Palestinian legislator Khalida Jarrar, a senior member of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), after two years in Israeli prison. – Times of Israel 

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett met with UAE Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Khalifa al-Marar and Bahraini Foreign Minister Abdullatif Al Zayani at his hotel in New York on Sunday evening, and told them that Israel’s original Arab peace partners support the Abraham Accords. – Times of Israel 

Editorial: Policy on Iran is important but that will anyhow be determined by the political echelon. Policy on the Palestinians is also important but everyone knows that not too much can happen now anyhow due to the unique makeup of the current government. Where the needle can potentially move is in the relationship between Israel and the current ruling party in the US. – Jerusalem Post 

Herb Keinon writes: A visit by Bennett to a Conservative or Reform synagogue would help rip off this mask . […]Such a visit won’t solve the problem of alienation from Israel among a swath of American Jewry, just as setting up an egalitarian prayer space at the Western Wall won’t stop this estrangement. What it will do, however, is demonstrate in a tangible way that Israel now wants to be a more inclusive place for Jews, regardless of how they pray and whom they count in a minyan. – Jerusalem Post 

Dov S. Zakheim writes: There are a variety of ways to push Jerusalem both to improve the lives of Palestinians and take a two-state solution seriously. Denying defensive systems to a state that continues to view itself as embattled is not one of them. On the contrary, it would simply reinforce Israel’s sense that its existence remains in jeopardy, with results that not only would reverse America’s ability to lower its profile in the Middle East but could drag it back into that region even more deeply, and dangerously, than ever before. – The Hill 

Ron Ben-Yishai writes: The Shin Bet and the IDF sought a large and swift operation that would demonstrate to both the Palestinian Authority and Hamas that Israel will not allow Hamas to entrench itself either in Gaza or the West Bank militarily, politically and mentally. To put it simply, Israel will not allow Hamas to coalesce Gaza and the West Bank into a single, unified front in which it controls and leads the population according to its interests and ideologies. – Ynet 

Tzippy Shmilovitz writes: If we put the progressives aside, the Democratic Party, including President Joe Biden, still overwhelmingly belongs to the older generation that supports Israel unconditionally. But the future of the Democratic Party isn’t Biden, who will soon turn 79. The future is Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Cori Bush and even young Jews who support Bernie Sanders. So, in order to turn back the clock and return to the days when the U.S.’s policy vis-à-vis the Jewish state was not a wedge issue, Israel must find a way to reach out to them. – Ynet 

Amos Harel writes: Hamas faces a more difficult dilemma. Because it rules Gaza, its leaders know that rocket fire from Hamas would likely prompt a harsher Israeli response and could thereby endanger Egypt’s efforts to broker a long-term truce between Hamas and Israel. – Haaretz 

Amir Tibon writes: Bennett won’t be happy, obviously, about this new approach in Washington. But he would be wise to remember what he just learned about Israel’s friends in Washington – when he needed them last week in Congress, they came through for him. He shouldn’t agree to all of their wishes and demands, obviously, but unlike his predecessor, he should offer them constructive steps and bold ideas that can truly improve things between Israel and the Palestinians. If he fails to do that, he will discover that 420-9 was a one-time kind of margin. – Haaretz 

Jack Rosen writes: Biden will need bipartisan Congressional support for each of these, and he is now able to get it, demonstrating the true breadth of support for Israel across America under his leadership. When Naftali Bennett speaks at the UN, there’s one thing he can be assured of – that Israel’s relationship with America has never been stronger. – Times of Israel 


Hamas on Monday praised Iraq for issuing arrest warrants to Iraqi leaders who expressed support of normalization with Israel. – Jerusalem Post 

A spokesman for the US-led coalition to defeat the Islamic State on Sunday distanced himself from a recent event in Iraq where some 300 prominent local officials issued statements backing normalization with Israel. – Times of Israel 

Wisam Al-Hardan writes: We have a choice: tyranny and chaos, or legality, decency, peace and progress. The answer is clear. Just as we demand that Iraq achieve federalism domestically, we demand that Iraq join the Abraham Accords internationally. We call for full diplomatic relations with Israel and a new policy of mutual development and prosperity. […]No power, foreign or domestic, has the right to prevent us from moving forward. Iraq’s anti-normalization laws, which criminalize civil engagement between Arabs and Israelis, are morally repugnant. – Wall Street Journal 

Lazar Berman writes: What Israeli leaders can do when they address Iraqi calls for peace is support the right of Iraqis to express dissenting political opinions. […]Israel’s message — especially to Western leaders — would resound best if it centers on the argument that Iraqis should enjoy the same right to gather in a hotel to express political opinions that their own citizens enjoy. The world should expect more from Iraqi leaders than threats of arrest against citizens reading out declarations and publishing op-eds. – Times of Israel 


French President Emmanuel Macron urged Beirut on Friday to implement urgent reform measures and push ahead with International Monetary Fund (IMF) talks, adding that France would continue to support Lebanon. – Reuters 

The reverberations of terrorism across the oceans and war in their own neighborhood have left Lebanon and its fellow nations in the Middle East struggling with the consequences, Lebanon’s president said Friday, calling for international help to save his own crisis-hit country. – Associated Press 

Editorial: Lebanon has long been buffeted by larger geopolitical struggles. A few tankers of fuel from Iran, or a trickle of gas from Egypt, will not repair its long-mismanaged energy industry. As ever, though, fixing Lebanon’s problems is not the real goal. – The Economist 


The head of Libya’s Presidency Council said on Saturday he would urge candidates in elections proposed for December not to take part unless there was consensus on the vote’s legal framework. – Reuters 

Several thousand Libyans packed a Tripoli square late on Friday for a state-funded mass wedding celebration that also drew supporters of transitional Prime Minister Abdulhamid Dbeibah and protesters against the eastern-based parliament. – Reuters 

Libya’s best chance of peace in years is at risk of unravelling as factions tussle over looming national elections that were envisaged as a way to end a decade of chaotic division. – Reuters 

Middle East & North Africa

Algeria may escalate its dispute with Morocco and take more steps after having cut off relations and closed airspace, a senior Algerian diplomat said on Friday. – Reuters 

President Tayyip Erdogan said Turkey still intended to buy a second batch of S-400 missile defense systems from Russia, a move that could deepen a rift with NATO ally Washington and trigger new U.S. sanctions. – Reuters 

At least 50 Huthi rebels and Yemeni pro-government troops have been killed as fighting intensifies for the city of Marib, a key battleground of the seven-year conflict, military sources said on Sunday. – Agence France-Presse 

Haisam Hassanein writes: Generally, the reduction of U.S. power does not worry Cairo in the same manner as the Gulf states in the region, which have a tight security architecture with Washington. What does concern Egypt is that the vacuum left by America will likely increase the peak of terrorism throughout the region. Hence, further crackdowns on Islamists and further efforts to regional alliances with likeminded states is likely to be the Egyptian strategy in the years to come when navigating these new regional realities. – Washington Institute 

Korean Peninsula

North Korea would consider holding a summit meeting with South Korea and declaring an official end to the Korean War if the South can restore trust with it, the North’s official news agency reported on Saturday, citing the sister of its leader, Kim Jong-un. – New York Times 

She is often at her brother’s side during key events in the one-party state. Among her various titles, Ms. Kim is the nominal head of the North’s propaganda and agitation department. – Wall Street Journal 

Britain said on Sunday it had collected evidence of multiple ships from various nationalities apparently breaching United Nations sanctions against North Korea which ban the sale of fuel to the country. – Reuters 

South Korean officials on Sunday called on North Korea to restore the communication hotline between the two countries, one day after North Korean leader Kim Jong Un’s sister signaled that the reclusive country is open to renewed communication. – The Hill 


Chinese authorities have seized and sold at auction tens of millions of dollars in assets owned by jailed Uyghur business owners amid a broad government campaign to assimilate ethnic minorities in the country’s northwest Xinjiang region. – Wall Street Journal 

The U.S. Justice Department agreed to allow Huawei Technologies Co. finance chief Meng Wanzhou to return to her home in China nearly three years after she was detained in Canada on behalf of the U.S., removing one irritant in a deteriorating relationship between the U.S. and China. – Wall Street Journal 

In a rapid-fire climax to a 1,030-day standoff, China welcomed home a company executive whose arrest in Canada and possible extradition to the United States made her a focus of superpower friction. – New York Times 

The release of Huawei Chief Financial Officer Meng Wanzhou is an opportunity for a reboot of bilateral relations with the United States and Canada but “toxic political rhetoric” could still “poison” the atmosphere”, Chinese state media said on Monday. – Reuters 

The situation in the Taiwan Strait is “complex and grim”, Chinese President Xi Jinping wrote in a congratulatory letter on Sunday to the newly elected leader of Taiwan’s main opposition party, who has pledged to renew talks with Beijing. – Reuters 

China is set to debut its dedicated electronic-attack aircraft on public display at the upcoming Zhuhai airshow, giving observers a first look at the newly developed type. – Defense News 

Editorial: The Biden Administration wants better relations with China, which has been bullying U.S. envoys and refusing to cooperate on climate change (which seems to be President Biden’s main foreign-policy priority). The Huawei case looks like collateral damage in a diplomatic repair effort. The release of Messrs. Spavor and Kovrig is good news. But China, and the rest of the world, will get the message that the coercive diplomacy of hostage-taking gets results. – Wall Street Journal 

Editorial: This episode illustrates the pitfalls of growing Chinese influence over the world’s multilateral institutions. The World Bank has discontinued its “Doing Business” reports, which seems like the right call in the immediate aftermath of such a blow to its credibility. […]Ranking systems are not perfect, or incorruptible, but, at their best, they can provide a measure of transparency, in a world that needs more. – Washington Post 

Ruchir Sharma writes: What we are likely to witness over the coming months is an epic clash between a leader with supreme powers determined to change the course of his nation, and the economic constraints imposed by gargantuan debts. For now, the markets are still betting that the stakes are too high, even for a leader as powerful as Xi, to wean China suddenly off a debt-fuelled form of capitalism the world has been practising for years. – Financial Times 

Joshua P. Meltzer writes: As President Biden made clear in his speech to the UN General Assembly this week, the U.S. needs to lead a collation of countries to counter China’s strategic challenges. To do this, the U.S. will need to continuously show up, lead and demonstrate consistency of purpose. […]Leaving CPTPP was costly and China’s decision to join CPTPP has raised the stakes even higher. – The Hill 

Tom Rogan writes: China is also likely to look at the Biden administration’s decision as evidence that it should advance its climate change strategy. That is to say, Beijing’s strategy of claiming that it takes climate change seriously while demanding U.S. concessions in other areas in return for carbon emissions cuts. Coming so soon after his Afghanistan debacle, and his enabling of Vladimir Putin’s energy war on Europe , Biden’s foreign policy credibility isn’t looking great. – Washington Examiner 

Hal Brands and Michael Beckley write: The United States, then, will face not one but two tasks in dealing with China in the 2020s. It will have to continue mobilizing for long-term competition while also moving quickly to deter aggression and blunt some of the more aggressive, near-term moves Beijing may make. In other words, buckle up. The United States has been rousing itself to deal with a rising China. It’s about to discover that a declining China may be even more dangerous. – Foreign Policy 

South Asia

Pakistan’s foreign minister said Friday that the United Nations ambassador from Afghanistan’s toppled government had no standing and that its seat at the 193-member organization should remain vacant for now. – New York Times 

For years, the Red Mosque in Pakistan’s capital has stood as a bastion of religious defiance, a nerve center of radical Islamist preaching that has drawn thousands of worshipers to hear rabble-rousing sermons by its longtime pro-Taliban leader, Maulana Abdul Aziz. – Washington Post 

China’s Foreign Ministry called a report by a U.S. cybersecurity company “entirely made up,” denying claims that Chinese hackers had targeted an Indian government agency and a media conglomerate. – Bloomberg 

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi didn’t directly mention Pakistan or China in his Saturday speech to the United Nations General Assembly, but the targets of his address were clear. – Associated Press 

At the start of his first bilateral White House meeting with Modi as leaders, Biden explained that he had learned about an Indian branch of the Biden family when he was first elected to Congress in 1972 and received a letter from someone called Biden living in Mumbai. – Reuters 

PM Imran Khan writes: If we do this right, we could achieve what the Doha peace process aimed at all along: an Afghanistan that is no longer a threat to the world, where Afghans can finally dream of peace after four decades of conflict. The alternative — abandoning Afghanistan — has been tried before. As in the 1990s, it will inevitably lead to a meltdown. Chaos, mass migration and a revived threat of international terror will be natural corollaries. Avoiding this must surely be our global imperative. – Washington Post 


The race to become Japan’s next prime minister has set up an unpredictable leadership election — with candidates facing challenges over the pandemic, a stagnant economy and a region increasingly dominated by China. –  Washington Post 

No official representing Myanmar will speak on Monday, the final day of the United Nations General Assembly plenary, U.N. officials said, in an apparent 11th-hour compromise that would deny a global platform to the country’s warring democratic and militarist factions. – New York Times 

An air transport mission by China’s military to island bases in the South China Sea has drawn a rebuke from Vietnam and raised concerns among security experts that Beijing is trying to normalize its activities in the disputed waters. – Wall Street Journal 

President Biden gathered the leaders of Japan, Australia and India at the White House on Friday to cement an emerging partnership of four Indo-Pacific countries, known as the Quad, united in their misgivings about China. – Washington Post 

Taiwan needs to have long-range, accurate weapons in order to properly deter a China that is rapidly developing its systems to attack the island, Defence Minister Chiu Kuo-cheng said on Monday. – Reuters 

Myanmar’s military launched air strikes at the weekend after clashes with fighters opposed to the junta in the Sagaing region, according to media and a militia member, as phone lines and the internet were also severed in some districts. – Reuters 

A British frigate was sailing through the sensitive Taiwan Strait on Monday en route to Vietnam, according to an official tweet from the vessel, in a move likely to anger Beijing amid heightened tensions between China and Taiwan. – Reuters 

Taiwan’s main opposition party elected former leader Eric Chu as its chairman on Saturday with a pledge to renew stalled talks with China, which has ramped up military and political pressure against the island Beijing claims as its own territory. – Reuters 

A Hong Kong group that organises an annual vigil on June 4 to remember protesters killed in China’s 1989 Tiananmen Square crackdown will disband, it said on Saturday, after facing national security charges. – Reuters 

Harlan Ullman writes: China views AUKUS as a clear and present danger. That may not be a bad thing. But if China takes the long view, 2040 is a long way off and this consortium is ripe with pitfalls and lurking technological land mines.  Other options are feasible. Australia could lease a nuclear submarine on a trial basis. […]There are far too many unknowns and imponderables to predict with certainty how well or badly AUKUS will evolve. But as this unfolds, do not forget Skybolt. – The Hill 

Dan Hannan writes: Macron has not behaved like an ally. He has twice threatened an energy blockade against Britain, backed an export ban on Italian-manufactured vaccines that Australia had legally purchased, and supported a deal that gave China better investment access to the European Union than the Anglosphere nations have. It is hardly surprising that those nations do not turn to France when freedom is in the balance. Yet the French may benefit despite themselves from the resolve of the Anglo-Saxon powers. Not, it must be said, for the first time. – Washington Examiner 

Michael Martin writes: Under the current circumstances, the appointment of a new special representative and policy coordinator for Burma would facilitate the coordination of interagency policy on Myanmar, centralize efforts to organize multiparty opposition to the Tatmadaw’s coup, and improve communications with Congress on framing U.S. policy in Myanmar, including improved oversight and possible new legislation—all duties mentioned in the JADE Act. – Center for Strategic and International Studies 

Luke Coffey writes: Central Asia has been, is, and will continue to be an area of geopolitical importance to the United States. The situation developing in Afghanistan is a reminder of this. If the U.S. is to have a strategy to deal with the geopolitical fallout from the crisis in Afghanistan, policymakers in Washington simply cannot ignore Central Asia. Unfortunately for the U.S., the level of engagement by Washington in the region has been minimal in recent years. The U.S. needs a new approach to protect its national interest in the region. – Heritage Institute 


Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov called on the Biden administration to be “more active” in resolving disputes with Iran by removing sanctions that were “unlawfully” applied. – Bloomberg 

Valentina Chupik, a human rights lawyer who operates a hotline for migrants in Russia, said she has been detained at a Moscow airport after the country’s security service revoked her refugee status. – Reuters 

Hundreds of people, angered by last week’s parliamentary election, joined a protest in central Moscow on Saturday, holding posters carrying slogans such as “bring back the elections”. – Reuters 

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on Saturday that international recognition of the Taliban was not currently under consideration. – Reuters 

Vladimir Kara-Murza writes: Whatever remains of that legitimacy will be finally shed in the event of Putin’s illegal prolongation of his mandate beyond 2024. […]The year 2024 will be an important test — both for Russian society’s tolerance to autocratic rule, and for the West’s adherence to the rule of law not just in words but in practice. It’s now time to start preparing for that moment. – Washington Post 

Heather A. Conley, Colin Wall, Andrew Lohsen, Nikos Tsafos, Ben Cahill and Cyrus Newlin write: This study attempts to identify the most significant climate impacts across the Russian Arctic to understand the broader implications for Russia’s economy, internal political dynamics, and security posture. With this information, this study sought to predict whether Russia’s considerable economic and military ambitions in the Arctic would succeed and, based on this analysis, tease out meaningful geostrategic implications. – Center for Strategic and International Studies 


Germany faces weeks and perhaps months of uncertainty as Sunday’s narrow victory for the center-left in national elections left open the shape and agenda of its next government and offered little clarity about who would succeed Chancellor Angela Merkel. – Wall Street Journal 

An Italian court released a former leader of Spain’s Catalonia region from jail on Friday, a day after his arrest on a warrant seeking his return to Spain for trial over a failed independence bid he led four years ago. – New York Times 

Two Serbian warplanes flew close to a border crossing with its former province of Kosovo on September 26 amid an intensifying dispute over license plates as U.S. and European Union officials scramble to calm the situation. – Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty 

French President Emmanuel Macron spoke over the phone on Friday with British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, said Macron’s office, during which Johnson had told Macron that Britain wanted to restore its co-operation with France. – Reuters 

Catalan separatist leader Carles Puigdemont said on Saturday he would be in Sardinia on Oct. 4 to attend a court hearing on his European arrest warrant after being kept in police custody in Italy for less then 24 hours. – Reuters 

The European Union warned Britain on Sunday that triggering a safeguard clause in its Brexit deal governing trade with Northern Ireland was “not helpful” and the country should instead pursue solutions. – Reuters 

The United Nations human rights chief called on Belarus’ neighbours on Friday to protect asylum seekers after four people died near the Polish border earlier this week amid a surge in illegal migration across the European Union’s eastern frontier. – Reuters 

Italian Foreign Affairs Minister Luigi Di Maio said on Sunday that the Taliban government in Afghanistan could not be recognised, but urged foreign governments to prevent a financial collapse there that would spark massive flows of migrants. – Reuters 

Henry Foy and Sam Fleming write: To optimists, an EU partnership with the UK could provide a way to draw a line under the bitter Brexit withdrawal agreement negotiations and pivot relations towards a more constructive footing. […]The most urgent question facing the EU now, however, is how to respond to the realisation that while America’s rhetoric may have changed from the Trump years, its intensifying focus on its rivalry with China has not. – Financial Times 

Tom McTague writes: When you step back, it is hard to avoid concluding that there are as many similarities between Britain and France as there are differences. The mirror they provide for each other has long projected back an image they wish to see, obscuring the reality of the challenge they both face. – The Atlantic 

John R. Deni writes: Worrisomely, the exercise may result in a permanent Russian presence in Belarus. Meanwhile, Belarus has recently weaponized migrants, sending thousands of Iraqis and sub-Saharan Africans across the border into Lithuania over the last year. […] Lithuania and its Baltic state neighbors are punching above their weight within NATO, consistently bearing more than their share of the common defense burden. But Washington needs to fix the holes in NATO’s deterrent posture in the region and the glaring lack of persistent U.S. presence. – Defense News 


A former Rwandan army colonel who was accused of masterminding the slaughter of 800,000 people during the 1994 genocide has died in prison in Mali, Malian officials said on Saturday. – Reuters 

Mali has asked a private Russian military company to help it fight against insurgents, Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov said on Saturday at the United Nations. – Reuters 

Sudan’s government reached an agreement with tribal protesters on Sunday to allow the resumption of exports of landlocked South Sudan’s crude oil via a terminal on the Red Sea, Sudanese officials said. – Reuters 

Sudan’s Foreign Minister on Sunday played down the normalization agreement between her country and Israel, saying Israel will not be opening an embassy in Khartoum any time soon. – Arutz Sheva 

U.S. envoy for the Horn of Africa Jeffrey Feltman will visit Sudan next week to reaffirm American support for the country’s governmentdays after Sudanese authorities said they had thwarted an attempted coup, the White House said Friday. – Reuters 

Chad’s transitional government said on Friday that it plans to drastically increase the size of its army to deal with security challenges, including threats from Islamist militants and armed rebels. – Reuters 

Rights groups called on military authorities in Democratic Republic of Congo on Friday to release a journalist arrested on terrorism charges for the possession of a video showing the assassination of two U.N. sanctions monitors in 2017. – Reuters 

Ethiopia told the international community Saturday to steer clear of sanctions and avoid meddling over its war with forces from its Tigray region, and to let the African Union work on bringing all parties together. – Associated Press 

Fighters from the Russian mercenary group Wagner may soon have another stamp in their passports, this time from the West African country of Mali, after already littering at least five fragile African states with human rights abuses, extrajudicial killings, and political interference. – Foreign Policy 

The Americas

Venezuela has agreed to a key contract to swap its heavy oil for Iranian condensate that it can use to improve the quality of its tar-like crude, with the first cargoes due this week, five people close to the deal said. – Reuters 

Mexico has sent a letter to Israel’s government urging it to facilitate the extradition of a former Mexican official in charge of a controversial investigation into the disappearance of 43 student teachers seven years ago, a senior official said on Friday. – Reuters 

Up to 4,000 migrants, most of them Haitians, have passed through the treacherous jungles of the Darien Gap in Panama on the Colombian border as they make their way north to the United States, two Panamanian government sources said. – Reuters 

Canada’s “eyes are wide open” when it comes to normalizing its relationship with China, Foreign Minister Marc Garneau said on Sunday, two days after the release of a Huawei executive following almost three years of house arrest in Vancouver. – Reuters 

Mary Anastasia O’Grady writes: The border mess is only the latest fallout from a strategy that puts the accumulation of power by Democrats above national security. Flying below the radar is another troubling Biden project: resuming the effort, begun during the Obama administration, to impose progressivism on Guatemala. […] So why is Mr. Blinken engaged in what appears to be a smear of this respected legal mind, who is also a U.S. ally? Americans have no way of knowing because the evidence is being withheld by the U.S. government. – Wall Street Journal 

David Wilezol writes: The U.S. also has an obligation to confront China’s attempts to create economic dependencies in the hemisphere. But the Development Finance Corporation’s efforts to support projects in Latin America seem to have cooled. […]Continued failure to engage with greater seriousness of purpose and respect for democratically elected governments will mean a generational erosion of the distinction between what the U.S. and China stand for. A drastic erosion of U.S. interests in Latin America won’t be far behind. – Washington Examiner 

United States

The top Republican on the House Foreign Affairs Committee is asking the Biden administration to declassify and release its intelligence on Afghanistan after arguing they were caught off guard by the rapid fall of Kabul. – The Hill 

Rep. Chris Stewart writes: Among America’s most important allies, there is no longer any trust that President Biden can be relied on as a serious partner. Among America’s most competitive rivals, there is no longer any belief that President Biden can protect our interests. And among the American people, there is no longer any faith that President Biden can defend our most fundamental ideals.  – The Hill 

Morgan Lorraine Viña writes: It doesn’t take decades of practicing international statecraft to understand that actions prove a leader’s mettle. For all the talk of President Biden’s “relentless diplomacy,” he has a funny way of showing America’s allies and partners that he has their backs. – The Hill 


China on Friday escalated its crackdown on cryptocurrency trading, issuing a nationwide ban on crypto mining and reiterating that all virtual currencies were considered illegal in the country. – Washington Post 

The European Union’s foreign policy chief has warned Russia against carrying out “malicious cyber activities” on the eve of elections in Germany that Berlin fears are being targeted by Kremlin-backed hackers. – Washington Post 

Kiril Avramov writes: To make informed decisions, lawmakers need to continue to solicit an intelligence community assessment on the nature of Russian state involvement in the ransomware industry. And, although it may seem counterintuitive, policymakers should attempt to secure limited Russian cooperation on developing norms against AI-enabled ransomware attacks. – The Hill 


The U.S. Army has finalized a $247 million contract with Leidos-owned Dynetics to build prototypes for its enduring system to counter both drone and cruise missile threats, confirming the decision Defense News broke last month. – Defense News 

The Pentagon has demonstrated another round of systems capable of countering small drone threats focused on cheap, ground-launched and hand-held options in the desert in Arizona. – Defense News 

The U.S. Army can’t exactly build a field of solar arrays every time it sets up shop in remote locales, and fossil fuels can be expensive and difficult to transport out to the field. – Defense News 

After two years of operational experimentation, the Army has inked a deal to spend nearly $350 million for thousands of new radios that the service hopes will give soldiers more resilient communications on future battlefields. – Breaking Defense 

The Army recently completed its latest demonstration of ground-based aerial denial and handheld solutions to counter small drone threats that the military views as perilous to warfighters. – Breaking Defense 

Long War

Islamic State’s Afghan franchise, which is also known as ISIS-K, poses a threat to the country’s new rulers because it was formed by former Afghan and Pakistani Taliban members who thought that the insurgent movement wasn’t radical enough. – Wall Street Journal 

In a critically acclaimed documentary on the rescue of women and girls sexually enslaved by ISIS, tension-filled scenes play out in a Syrian detention camp and later in a safe house where victims are faced with agonizing choices. – New York Times 

A suicide car bomb killed at least eight people in the Somali capital on Saturday at a street junction near the president’s palace, police said, and al Qaeda-linked al Shabaab said it was behind the attack which targeted a convoy going into the palace. – Reuters 

A French serviceman was killed early on Friday in a clash with an armed militant group in Mali, French officials said. – Reuters 

Rwandan President Paul Kagame said the country cannot stay forever in Mozambique’s Cabo Delgado province, where allied Rwandan and Mozambican troops have been recapturing areas from Islamist militants since July. – Reuters 

When U.S. Central Command authorizes strikes against groups like ISIS-K or al Qaida in Afghanistan, they won’t be negotiating with the Taliban about where and when they can drop bombs. – Military Times 

Alex Tarquinio writes:The young Afghan democracy was far from perfect. Voter turnout had been low in recent elections because of Taliban attacks on polling places and widespread sentiment that the government was corrupt. Still, before the Taliban returned to power, the political transitions had all been democratic and freedom of expression was arguably better than it had been during South Korea’s early years. […]Historically, had the US walked away from its role in South Korea, millions more Koreans might have grown up in an oppressive gulag, facing the prospect of hunger and arbitrary group punishment. –New York Post