Fdd's overnight brief

September 7, 2021

FDD Research & Analysis

In The News


The Taliban claimed Monday to have overcome the last pocket of resistance in Afghanistan, releasing images they said showed the conquest of the provincial capital of Panjshir, a region that has held out against the group’s takeover of the country. – Wall Street Journal 

The day Afghanistan’s capital fell, a contractor who had worked at the U.S. Embassy for six years was dismissed from work early. Embassy staff had collected his family’s information weeks before in preparation for a possible evacuation. But after he was told on Aug. 15 to leave the embassy’s grounds, “nobody called, nobody emailed.” – Washington Post 

The Pentagon was planning to pull out the bulk of its force and shut Bagram air base by early July to minimize the risk to its troops. With a large U.S. Embassy staff in Kabul and fresh intelligence suggesting the Afghan government was weakening, Mr. Sullivan, whose duties are to coordinate policy, questioned whether it was prudent to close the base so soon, according to U.S. officials. – Wall Street Journal  

The Afghan countryside is littered with abandoned and decaying power plants, prisons, schools, factories, office buildings and military bases, according to a watchdog agency, the legacy of the U.S.’s 20-year effort to fund the establishment of a modern Afghan state that could provide security and basic services for its citizens. – Wall Street Journal 

It has been only three weeks since an Italian military plane flew me out of Kabul, the morning after the government of President Ashraf Ghani collapsed and the Taliban took over the country. The Islamist movement, eager to secure international recognition and a resumption of aid, has since said it welcomes foreign reporters. With no passenger flights into the country, the only way in currently is overland, usually via Uzbekistan or Pakistan. – Wall Street Journal 

The airport has reopened with domestic flights taking off after a team of engineers from Qatar repaired parts of the air traffic control system last week, according to the Taliban commander in charge of airport security. But the Kabul airport was operating without radar or navigation systems, making it difficult to resume international civilian flights, a key step to enabling refugees to leave. – Washington Post 

Taliban fighters violently suppressed a women’s protest Saturday in Kabul, while 70 miles to the north ex-Afghan army and militia members battled the Islamist group in Panjshir Province, as pockets of anti-Taliban resistance continued to flare up. – New York Times 

They started closing their doors in a matter of days as the Taliban began their lightning advance through Afghan cities on Aug. 6. Most of the shelter directors grabbed or burned records, packed a few belongings and fled with their clients as word arrived that the Taliban were coming. – New York Times 

The U.S. military’s top officer asserted last week that a drone attack on a sedan near the airport in Kabul, Afghanistan, was a “righteous strike” that foiled a plot by the Islamic State in the waning hours of the immense evacuation effort. – New York Times 

At least four planes chartered to evacuate several hundred people seeking to escape the Taliban’s takeover of Afghanistan have been unable to leave the country for days, officials said Sunday, with conflicting accounts emerging about why the flights weren’t able to take off as pressure ramps up on the United States to help those left behind to flee. – Associated Press 

The United States has evacuated four Americans from Afghanistan into a bordering country, a State Department official said on Monday, in the first U.S.-facilitated overland evacuation since the Aug. 31 pullout. – Reuters 

Senior Taliban officials met in Kabul on Sunday with the U.N. undersecretary-general for humanitarian affairs, who promised to maintain assistance for the Afghan people, Taliban spokesman Suhail Shaheen said. – Reuters 

Veterans and active military service members were taken aback not only by the speed with which the Taliban swept through the nation but by what that meant for the scores of allies, including interpreters, still in the country and now at risk of getting left behind. – Politico 

Qatar has flown humanitarian aid into Kabul and said it will operate daily aid flights to Afghanistan over the next few days, providing much-needed supplies following a hiatus in much Western aid due to Taliban’s takeover last month. – Reuters 

Universities in Kabul were almost empty on the first day of the Afghan school year, as professors and students wrestled with the Taliban’s restrictive new rules for the classroom. – Agence France-Presse 

The last anti-Taliban forces in Afghanistan have acknowledged suffering major battlefield losses and called for a ceasefire, as the top US diplomat flew to Qatar to try and handle the chaotic aftermath of the American withdrawal. – Agence France-Presse 

Afghanistan will “likely” erupt in civil war, the top US general told US media Saturday, warning that those conditions could see a resurgence of terrorist groups in the country. – Agence France-Presse 

Over two decades, the United States and its allies spent hundreds of millions of dollars building databases for the Afghan people. The nobly stated goal: Promote law and order and government accountability and modernize a war-ravaged land. – Times of Israel 

Editorial: The White House hopes Americans forget about all this as it focuses on domestic affairs. But this is one of the more extraordinary political transformations in U.S. history. The Taliban, the sponsors of Osama bin Laden and killers of Americans for 20 years, have overnight turned into a courted U.S. partner. – Wall Street Journal 

Editorial: There are stubborn facts that the Biden apologists cannot get around. These include Biden’s reassurances about how the withdrawal would go and the stranding of hundreds of Americans. But one fact really stands out, and any attempt to spin it as “success” implies that Biden is a genius for gifting the Taliban 43,000 pickup trucks, 22,000 Humvees, 900 mine-resistant ambush-protected vehicles, 600,000 guns, and more than 200 aircraft paid for by U.S. taxpayers. – Washington Examiner  

Raffaello Pantucci writes: The most immediate threat from Afghanistan will be local. Be it Isis-K spreading its wings regionally, extremists using Afghanistan as a base to launch attacks in neighbouring countries, or groups being inspired by the Taliban’s victory to have a go at toppling their own local superpower. This poses a very different and less immediate set of threats to western security planners at a moment when interest and focus on terrorist threats is reducing. – Financial Times 

Joe Ferullo writes: There’s no doubt that humanitarian and altruistic goals should have a prominent place in U.S. foreign policy, including military action. But when journalists send the message that those goals matter most of all, that they trump national interest, money spent and lives sacrificed, the news media is not serving the public. It’s not giving readers and viewers the kind of full account they need to judge matters of war and peace. – The Hill 

Daniel F. Runde writes: The United States and other donors should do what they can to help facilitate the dialogue between Afghans and the new government that can enable continued assistance and progress in Afghan society. We must proceed cautiously, and with humility, but we owe it to the Afghan people to continue to help their country and their society move forward, consistent with their own values and priorities. – The Hill 

Douglas E. Schoen and Carly Cooperman write: To that end, the most apparent risk of the United States’ Afghanistan withdrawal concerns the spread of terrorism in the Middle East. Taliban militants — who still have ties to transnational terrorist groups — have now seized control of Afghanistan. The country has no internationally recognized government and is facing grave economic and humanitarian crises. – The Hill 

Karim-Aly Kassam writes: Theirs is a concrete and deep legacy of service given to their own countries and to the people of Afghanistan that will outlive this generation of politicians, bureaucrats, pundits and Taliban. Their collective actions will be remembered by an entirely new generation of young Afghans whom they impacted. – The Hill 

Humira Noorestani writes: At the moment, eyes are turned to Kabul. But rural women, already struggling to access education and technology, will see opportunities crushed under the Taliban and their al Qaeda affiliates. Having just begun to feel the effects of American investment in their future, they too see their accomplishments turned against them. – The Hill 

Rich Powell writes: There is an important consequence of the Taliban’s resurgence in Afghanistan that has gone underreported: This regime now controls the nation’s massive deposits of rare earth elements and critical minerals. These coveted resources, such as the lithium that some are banking on to fuel the global transition to clean energy, could be worth $1 trillion. – Washington Examiner 


The United States has sanctioned four Iranian intelligence operatives behind a failed plot to kidnap a U.S. journalist and human rights activist, the U.S. Treasury Department said on Friday. The sanctions come after U.S. prosecutors in July charged the four with plotting to kidnap the New York-based journalist who was critical of Tehran. – Reuters 

Iran’s President Ebrahim Raisi told his French counterpart Emmanuel Macron that negotiations to revive the 2015 nuclear deal with the U.S. and other world powers had to lead to the removal of sanctions on the Islamic Republic’s economy. – Bloomberg  

Iran rebuked the Taliban for its capture of Afghanistan’s northern Panjshir valley, the last remaining opposition bastion, breaking with its largely muted stance since the fundamentalist group swept to power. – Bloomberg 

Iran’s president is calling for elections in Afghanistan to determine the future of the country, where he hopes peace will return after Western troops have left and the Taliban have seized control. – Associated Press 

Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi said on Saturday Iran was ready to hold talks with world powers to revive its 2015 nuclear accord but not under Western “pressure”, adding Tehran was seeking negotiations leading to a lifting of U.S. sanctions. – Reuters 

The spokesman for Iran’s Foreign Ministry said on Monday that the US administration must know the continuation of former President Donald Trump’s mentality would only result in “maximum failure.” – Arutz Sheva 

Erfan Fard writes: For its part, the Taliban claims to have needed al-Qaeda’s assistance to oust the US, but purports not to support its international agenda. Iran changed the game by cooperating with the Taliban to evict the US from Afghanistan. The regime now views the Taliban as a political partner, not a threat. It understands that it has no alternative but to collaborate. – Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies 


Turkish prosecutors have issued detention warrants for 214 serving and former military personnel over alleged ties to a 2016 coup attempt, the state-run news agency said Tuesday. – Associated Press 

Bobby Ghosh writes: Can Turkey and Erdogan pull off these ambitions in Afghanistan? Much will depend on the role of their allies, the Qataris, who have cultivated close relations with key Taliban leaders. Doha can certainly open doors in Kabul, so joint management of the airport, if that is what Mujahed was implying, might not be such a bad thing. But it is too early to tell if Qatar is prepared to share with Turkey the role as Afghanistan’s connection to the wider world — assuming Pakistan doesn’t beat them both to the punch. – Bloomberg 

Orhan Coskun and Alexander Cornwell write: Abu Dhabi’s sovereign wealth funds have also made significant recent investments in Turkey’s online grocer Getir and e-commerce platform Trendyol. Political differences will be harder to overcome, with Egypt and its Gulf allies insistent that Ankara pull out troops and Turkey-backed Syrian fighters from Libya, a demand which diplomats say is a priority for Cairo and its allies. – Reuters  

Ezgi Yazici, Doga Unlu, and Kursat Gok write: Turkey’s current objectives for a stabilized Afghanistan align with those of the United States and the NATO alliance. Turkey’s goals go beyond those of NATO, but this alignment could nonetheless create opportunities for the United States and NATO to maintain limited international access and to ensure communication and limited accountability from Kabul in exchange for the support the Taliban says it needs from Turkey. – Institute for the Study of War 


Israeli forces launched a search for a Palestinian militant leader and five other inmates who staged an elaborate escape from a high security prison, raising political pressure on Prime Minister Naftali Bennett as he attempts to burnish his security credentials after leading a wide-ranging new coalition to power in June. – Wall Street Journal 

Palestinian groups celebrated Monday’s escape of six inmates from the high-security Gilboa prison in northern Israel, calling the jailbreak “heroic,” and urging Palestinian civilians to help the group of terror convicts and suspects continue to evade capture. – Times of Israel 

Israel launched airstrikes on what it said was a Hamas military site in the Gaza Strip early on Tuesday, after incendiary balloons were sent into Israeli territory, the army said. – Associated Press 

Israel has “greatly accelerated” preparations for action against Iran’s nuclear program, military chief Aviv Kohavi said in an interview published Monday. – Times of Israel 

Foreign Minister Yair Lapid praised the Biden administration’s evacuation of Afghanistan during a Monday call with United States Secretary of State Antony Blinken, in what appeared to be an attempt to paper over criticism he voiced over the withdrawal last week. – Times of Israel 

Border Police on Monday arrested a Palestinian in Hebron who allegedly tried to enter the Tomb of the Patriarchs with a knife. – Times of Israel 

Former Israeli ambassador to the US Ron Dermer told Israeli daily Israel Hayom in an interview published Sunday that the world will allow Iran to get a nuclear weapon, leaving Israel to contend with the threat alone. – Algemeiner 

Editorial: So why must the law be carried out for a few dozen people in shacks in the West Bank? Assuming the Bedouin would even be amenable to the idea, wouldn’t it be better to build homes for them and standardize their living standards than pretend, every year, that tomorrow the bulldozers will come? Israel needs to decide what it wants to do. Continuously postponing the removal of Khan al-Ahmar is not a strategy. It is kicking the can down the road. A country should know how to do better. – Jerusalem Post 

Editorial: What happens in the IDF is intrinsically connected to what happens in Israeli society. The two play off of one another. Just like Kohavi needed to explain why he was fighting for a pension boost for career officers while not saying a word about the inexcusable wages regular soldiers are paid, he also should have spoken up sooner about the Gaza incident to explain what happened and to throw his support behind his men. – Jerusalem Post 

Steven Emerson writes: Despite all these realities, anti-Israel activist Osama Abuirshaid stood outside the White House on August 26, protesting President Biden’s meeting with new Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett. “Israel,” Abuirshaid said, “is the real danger to stability and peace in the Middle East.” […]But if ISIS and Al-Qaeda hijacked Islam, as Abuirshaid argued outside the White House, Awad had a golden opportunity to explain that to the American people. He passed. – Algemeiner 

Lahav Harkov writes: But Bennett and Lapid are undeniably different from what came before them. The most obvious change is, of course, in the name and face at the helm. But there’s also a change in attitude. While it’s true that it takes an incredible amount of hubris for someone who only won seven seats in the last election to even think he could be prime minister, this government is structurally immune to the kind of concentrated power that Netanyahu had cultivated. – Jerusalem Post 


Islamic State militants killed at least 12 Iraqi policemen and wounded several more in an overnight attack at an outpost near the city of Kirkuk amid concerns that the group is expanding its attacks in Iraq and Syria. – Wall Street Journal 

With this year’s lack of rainfall, Iraq is badly short of water, and officials trying to revive rivers like the Sirwan say lower flows from upstream neighbours Iran and Turkey are worsening home-grown problems such as leaks, ageing pipes and illegal siphoning off of supplies. – Reuters 

Total signed contracts with the ministry to develop the Ratawi oil field in southern Iraq, a gas processing hub to capture natural gas from five southern oil fields, and a much needed project to treat Gulf seawater and inject it into reservoirs to maintain oil production levels. – Associated Press  


Jordan will host a meeting of Egypt, Syria and Lebanon’s energy ministers on Wednesday to discuss transportation of Egyptian gas to Lebanon for electricity generation, said state-owned broadcaster Mamlaka. – Reuters  

A Jordanian soldier killed in the 1967 Middle East war was given a military funeral and laid to rest in east Jerusalem on Monday, in an extraordinary scene that pointed to improved ties between Israel and Jordan after years of tensions. – Associated Press 

President Isaac Herzog traveled last week to Jordan for talks with King Abdullah II, the president revealed on Saturday night, in the latest sign of warming ties between the countries. He spent a very positive and important evening with the king at his palace, Herzog told Channel 12 and 13 primetime news. – Times of Israel 

It is “highly likely” that the six high-risk security prisoners that escaped from Gilboa Prison overnight have crossed into Jordan, a police official said Tuesday. – Haaretz 

Arabian Peninsula

Saudi Arabia intercepted a ballistic missile and armed drones fired at its oil-rich Eastern Region by Yemen’s Houthi group on Saturday, and two children were injured by the resulting shrapnel, the ministry of defence said. – Reuters 

The Saudi-led coalition fighting Yemen’s Houthi group said it intercepted an explosive-laden drone launched by the Iran-aligned group towards the Saudi city of Khamis Mushait, Saudi state media reported on Saturday. – Reuters 

Dubai-based Saudi state-owned media companies will start moving staff this month to the capital Riyadh, sources said, as Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman presses ahead with plans to remould the kingdom as a regional business hub. – Reuters 

Editorial: One of President Biden’s first acts in office was ending U.S. weapons support for Saudi Arabia in its war against the Iran-backed Houthis in Yemen. The U.S. hoped the concession would persuade the Houthis to negotiate. Instead they have escalated. – Wall Street Journal 

Gulf States

U.S. authorities are investigating whether payments by Raytheon Technologies Corp. to a consultant for the Qatar Armed Forces may have been bribes intended for a member of the country’s ruling royal family, according to people familiar with the matter. – Wall Street Journal 

Qatar will soon resume funding for civil servants and poor families in the Gaza Strip under a new mechanism involving the Western-backed Palestinian Authority and the United Nations, the Gulf state’s aid envoy said on Monday. – Reuters 

Political leaders have flocked to Doha and some countries have moved their Kabul embassies to Qatar, all praising their host for its key role in the airlift out of the Afghan capital. – Agence France-Presse 

Qatar’s ruling emir and the visiting U.S. secretaries of state and defense discussed developments in Afghanistan and efforts to enhance security there, the emir’s court said on Monday. – Reuters 

Italy plans to move its Afghan embassy to Doha, in Qatar, Italian Foreign Minister Luigi Di Maio said on Sunday, the latest indication of Western diplomats setting up permanently outside Afghanistan in the wake of the Taliban takeover. – Reuters 

Middle East & North Africa

Top U.S. officials are headed to the Middle East as the Biden administration grapples for ways to continue getting American citizens and Afghan partners out of the country now that all U.S. forces have left, while looking toward future relations with the Taliban-controlled government. – Wall Street Journal 

Syrian army units backed by Iranian-backed militias resumed the shelling of a rebel enclave in southern Syria on Sunday after the collapse of Russia-brokered deal to allow the government to reinstate full control over the area. – Reuters 

An Algerian court on Saturday ordered former Tunisian presidential candidate Nabil Karoui to be placed in custody on a charge of illegally crossing a border, a judicial source said. – Reuters 

Libyan authorities on Sunday released one of Muammar Gadhafi’s sons after more than seven years of detention in the capital of Tripoli following his extradition from neighboring Niger, the country’s interim leader said. – Associated Press 

The group Human Rights Watch accused Egypt on Tuesday of routinely killing opponents in “unlawful extrajudicial executions” made to look like shootouts and urged international sanctions against Cairo. – Agence France-Presse 

Korean Peninsula

Older South Koreans invariably cite the evacuation when they talk about their country’s alliance with the United States, forged during the war. When South Korea airlifted 391 Afghans last month — people who worked for South Korean troops stationed in Afghanistan and their family members — its decision was compelled in part by what the American military did in Hungnam. – New York Times 

North Korea could hold a military parade this week as it celebrates a national anniversary, Yonhap News Agency reported, an event that would mark the first major public display of its weaponry since U.S. President Joe Biden took office. – Bloomberg  

North Korea has elevated a general long seen as a rising star in the country’s powerful military and a major player in its missile programme to a position in the presidium of the ruling Workers’ Party of Korea (WPK) politburo, state media reported on Tuesday. – Reuters 

South Korea has successfully test-launched a missile from a submarine, stepping up its strike capabilities and joining a small list of seven other countries to demonstrate the technology. – Bloomberg 

South Korea has launched a task force to further develop space capabilities for its military, following U.S. approval earlier this year to lift a restriction on the country’s missile production program. – Defense News 


For decades, China pursued a brand of centrally planned economic policies that the U.S. was happy to stand back and watch. But a subtle yet critical recalibration by Beijing begun almost 15 years ago has recently set off alarms in Washington about China’s goals and tactics—not least because China is catching up in many cases by adopting past U.S. approaches. – Wall Street Journal  

The four remaining directors of a publishing company that recently closed the pro-democracy Apple Daily newspaper founded by jailed tycoon Jimmy Lai resigned, saying authorities forced the company into liquidation while bypassing the courts. – Wall Street Journal 

The police in China released a former Alibaba manager who had been accused of rape by a co-worker after prosecutors declined to charge him, adding fuel to an episode that has shaken the Chinese technology industry and prompted a reckoning for the fledgling #MeToo movement in the country. – New York Times 

China’s export growth unexpectedly surged in August as suppliers likely boosted orders ahead of the year-end shopping season, offsetting any port disruptions due to fresh outbreaks of the delta virus. – Bloomberg 

A German Foreign Ministry spokesperson said on Monday there was no reason to believe that the sudden death of Jan Hecker, Germany’s newly appointed ambassador to Beijing, had a political dimension. – Reuters 

China’s ride hailing giant Didi Global Inc said on Saturday that media reports that the Beijing city government is coordinating companies to invest in it are not correct. – Reuters 

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg urged China on Monday to join international efforts to limit the spread of nuclear weapons amid concerns that the Asian superpower is rapidly developing missiles capable of carrying atomic warheads. – Associated Press 

The group behind the annual Tiananmen Square memorial vigil in Hong Kong said Sunday it will not cooperate with police conducting a national security investigation into the group’s activities, calling it an abuse of power. – Associated Press 

South Asia

Myanmar’s shadow government, comprising members of the democratically elected administration ousted in a coup, declared a war against the military junta on Tuesday, prompting an immediate escalation of fighting in parts of the country. – Washington Post  

In the two weeks since Kabul fell to the Taliban on Aug. 15, Pakistan’s typically fractious political voices joined in something rare: unison. – Washington Post 

Myanmar’s military rulers have agreed to an ASEAN call for a ceasefire until the end of the year to ensure distribution of humanitarian aid, Japan’s Kyodo news agency said, citing the envoy of the southeast Asian bloc to the crisis-torn nation. – Reuters 

Mobile services in Indian Kashmir were restored late on Friday, two days after they were suspended following the death of a veteran secessionist leader in the disputed Himalayan region, a police official told Reuters. – Reuters 

A court in Myanmar on Monday extended the pre-trial detention of Danny Fenster, an American journalist in the military-led Southeast Asian nation who was arrested in May. – Associated Press 

Pakistan’s military spy chief visited Afghanistan to meet Taliban leaders and discuss security and border issues. – Bloomberg 

Kunwar Khuldune Shahid writes: Having this week declared China its “principal partner,” if the Taliban can prove itself to be a  more reliable guarantor of stability along the Af-Pak border, then the now-preening Pakistani army will, at best, now quickly sell the West one more delivery of empty reassurances for one last hefty payday, before China takes over. – Haaretz 


A suspected Islamist extremist’s knife attack has prompted New Zealand authorities to accelerate an overhaul of counterterrorism laws, including by criminalizing the planning of an attack for the first time. – Wall Street Journal 

Japan’s defense minister on Monday welcomed the British aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth as it made its first Japanese port call, saying the involvement of European nations in the Indo-Pacific region is key to peace and stability as China’s military strength and influence grow. – Associated Press 

Taiwan’s air force scrambled on Sunday against renewed Chinese military activity, with its defence ministry reporting that 19 aircraft including nuclear-capable bombers had flown into Taiwan’s air defence identification zone. – Reuters 

Editorial: Candidates must do better than a list of populist spending pledges. The LDP electorate, too, should resist the temptation to plump for a compromise choice. What is needed for the party election, and then the general election, is a leader with the vision to take on the tasks confronting the country, and the political skills to carry the Japanese public with them. Such a figure would stand the best chance of restoring the kind of stability Japan enjoyed under Abe, rather than the revolving door of premiers it experienced before. – Financial Times 


Russia on Sunday denied it has discussed participation in an online G7 ministerial meeting about Afghanistan, Interfax news agency reported, citing Russian foreign ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova. – Reuters 

A court in Russian-annexed Crimea ordered Crimean Tatar leader Nariman Dzhelyal to be held in custody for two months on September 6 on suspicion of involvement in an attack on a gas pipeline, a charge dismissed by Ukraine as fabricated. – Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty 

The United States on Sunday strongly condemned what it said was Russia’s detention at the weekend of the deputy leader of the main representative body of Crimean Tatars and at least 45 other members of the ethnic group. – Reuters 

Russian authorities on Monday blocked access to a website affiliated with imprisoned opposition leader Alexei Navalny that advises voters on how to undermine the dominant pro-Kremlin party in this month’s parliamentary election. – Associated Press 

Germany is calling on Russia to end cyberattacks against the country before its parliamentary elections. – The Hill 

The traumatised families of 298 people killed in the shooting down of flight MH17 over Ukraine in 2014 demanded justice from Russia on Monday as they testified in the Dutch trial of four suspects. – Agence France-Presse 

Russian opposition candidates rallied members of the media on Saturday ahead of the country’s parliamentary election in September. – The Hill 

David J. Kramer writes: Today, I’d advise Biden to avoid the mistakes of his predecessors and to instead take the tougher approach that seemed to be his instinct early in his presidency. Hoping Putin will just go away so the administration can focus on China or, worse, that he can be channeled in a more positive direction ignores the lessons of the past 15 years. This will only lead to more regrets down the road. – Politico 

Max Seddon writes: The shift in approach indicates how Sberbank, which has a quasi-monopoly in retail banking, wants to use the competitive advantages from its enormous funding base to offer users everything from food delivery to streaming entertainment. – Financial Times 

Tom Rogan writes: The Russian navy also recently deployed a regiment of air-to-ground fighter jets to the Crimean peninsula. Also a problem is Biden’s hesitancy both to support Ukraine and to resist Putin’s intimidation. While it is positive that Biden met with Zelensky and gave him new weapons, Biden hasn’t shown much courage in other areas relevant to Ukraine. For one thing, that meeting had been long delayed. – Washington Examiner 

Ara Papian writes: The State Department should call out the Kremlin’s inconsistency: Putin justified Crimea’s annexation in both Russia’s historical control and the local population’s right to self-determination, not on the basis of Soviet administrative borders. […]Biden may talk about recalibrating U.S. policy to face future threats but, in the South Caucasus, his State Department is not only dropping the ball but actually playing into Putin’s hands. It is not too late, though, for Biden and Secretary Antony Blinken to promote America’s strategic interests in that vital region. – The National Interest 


A Belarusian activist who avoided deportation by tearing up her passport last year was sentenced to 11 years in prison on a variety of charges, including plotting to oust the country’s leader, Alexander Lukashenko, effectively silencing the last main opposition voice still in the country. – Wall Street Journal 

The chaotic withdrawal and evacuation from Afghanistan, which has already prompted soul-searching among Western partners, is now reviving a decades-old debate within the European Union: Does the 27-nation club need its own military? – Washington Post 

Camped out in a cluster of small tents on the edge of a muddy field at Poland’s border with Belarus, 32 stranded Afghan refugees have become a symbol of Europe’s latest border dispute. – Washington Post 

The remains of Gen. Charles Étienne Gudin, who was killed in action in 1812 during Napoleon’s invasion of Russia, would be flown home with official pomp, and President Emmanuel Macron of France would host his Russian counterpart, Vladimir V. Putin, for a funeral that would serve as a symbolic burying of the hatchet. – New York Times 

The UK government has extended the so-called grace periods designed to ease the burden of a contentious section of the Brexit withdrawal agreement governing post-Brexit trade with Northern Ireland. – Financial Times 

The last section of the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline has been welded into place, its operator said on Monday, meaning the two long stretches of the pipe can now be joined to complete the Baltic subsea link. – Reuters 

The Polish government’s imposition of a state of emergency on the border with Belarus turned into a political flashpoint Monday, with the opposition accusing it of trying to block the media from reporting on how troops and border guards are responding to migrants trying to cross the frontier. – Politico 

Rights activists said Monday they had filed a criminal complaint in Germany against five retailers including C&A, Lidl and Hugo Boss, accusing them of benefiting from forced labour among China’s Uyghur population. – Agence France-Presse 

Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon is facing mounting criticism after it emerged that her government’s coalition partner branded Zionism a “racist ideology.” – Arutz Sheva 

U.S. allies in Europe see an increased risk of terrorism because of the way the Biden administration handled the withdrawal from Afghanistan, a Republican senator said after meeting officials in the U.K. and Brussels. – Bloomberg 

John Ruehl writes: Europe’s current crisis has shown how vulnerable the continent remains to political destabilization and social unrest on the issue of refugees—even by a small country like Belarus. This problem will only be exacerbated by the potential flood of new refugees from Afghanistan. If EU member states take further steps to reduce the freedom of movement enjoyed in the Schengen Area, it will steadily erode one of the pillars of the EU itself. – The National Interest 

David M. Herszenhorn writes: In terms of the EU’s broader foreign policy objectives, the implications are similarly chastening. If two decades of huge military and economic investment in Afghanistan could not create a durable framework for democracy, human rights and rule of law there, there seems to be little chance that more moderate pressure like economic sanctions will change the facts on the ground in Belarus, occupied Ukraine, Syria, or Iran, let alone break the grip of authoritarian regimes in Beijing or Moscow.   – Politico


A faction of Guinea’s military claimed to have taken charge of the mineral-rich nation on Sunday, as officers from an elite special forces unit declared that they had suspended the constitution and detained President Alpha Condé following hours of clashes in the West African nation’s capital. – Wall Street Journal 

Mobs of mostly Indian residents, worried that their community was under siege, erected roadblocks on street corners. They indiscriminately stopped Black people, and sometimes beat or killed them, the police said, inflaming the long-fragile relationship between Black and Indian South Africans — two marginalized groups under white apartheid rule. – New York Times 

Jacob Zuma, the former president of South Africa, has been released on medical parole a little over two months after he was ordered imprisoned on contempt charges. – New York Times 

The leaders of a military coup in Guinea promised on Monday to set up a transitional government of national unity after ousting President Alpha Conde and dissolving his cabinet. – Reuters 

Footage of war-hit northern Ethiopia published by the U.N. World Food Programme (WFP) on Monday reflected the severe humanitarian crisis there, after the United Nations warned that a de facto blockade on aid is bringing millions to the brink of famine. – Reuters 

Mobile telephone networks were shut down in the northwestern Nigerian state of Zamfara, residents said on Monday, after authorities ordered a telecoms blackout to help armed forces tackle armed gangs of kidnappers terrorising the area. – Reuters 

Russia’s Rusal said on Monday it aimed to keep its three major bauxite mines and one alumina refinery in Guinea operating after the military coup there, but could evacuate all Russian personnel if the crisis worsened. – Reuters 

Sudan’s interior ministry said on Monday that more than 70 boxes of weapons seized by authorities had turned out to be part of a legal cargo imported by a licensed arms trader. – Reuters 

The small, rigid-hulled inflatable boat sped from the Brazilian Navy Frigate BNS Independencia (F-44) last week, taking an armed boarding team to a ship suspected of harboring illicit or piracy activities off western Africa’s coast. – USNI News 

Clara Ferreira Marques and David Fickling write: But there’s a Guinean twist. The very nature of the country’s mineral wealth means its version of the resource curse is not just about failures immediately visible in the disruption on the streets today. […]If Guinea becomes unstable in part because of past resource failures — especially if contracts and the very continuity of institutions are called into question — it will only become harder to turn it around. – Bloomberg 

The Americas

But as the country prepares to receive the Afghan families — for a temporary stay fully paid for by the United States — Colombians have described Duque’s decision less as an act of solidarity than a bid to improve his image with the United States.. – Washington Post 

Tuesday is B-day, or Bitcoin-day, in El Salvador. The tiny and impoverished Central American nation became the first country in the world to adopt bitcoin as legal tender on Tuesday, allowing Salvadorans to use the cryptocurrency to buy a cup of coffee, get a haircut or even pay taxes and home loans. – Wall Street Journal 

Supporters of two Canadians accused of spying and held in prison in China for 1,000 days rallied on Sunday, demanding their release in a case that has soured diplomatic ties between Ottawa and Beijing. – Reuters 

Supporters of President Jair Bolsonaro broke through police roadblocks Monday night that had sought to prevent access to the capital’s central mall on the eve of a demonstration scheduled to coincide with Brazil’s Independence Day. – Associated Press 

Honduras’ main left-wing opposition party, led by ousted former president Manuel Zelaya, said on Sunday that if it wins November’s presidential election it will seek to “readjust” the country’s debt and establish diplomatic relations with China. – Reuters 

El Salvador’s top court has ruled that the country’s president can serve two consecutive terms, opening the door for Nayib Bukele to stand for re-election in 2024 and sparking condemnation from the U.S. government. – Reuters 

Chile on Friday reasserted its claim to undersea territory off its southern coast in a dispute with Argentina, which has said Santiago’s move violates international treaties. – Reuters 

Venezuelan government and opposition representatives on Monday said they reached partial agreement during talks in Mexico City as part of a roadmap drawn up to tackle the once prosperous country’s long-running crisis. – Reuters 

The United Nations will convene an international aid conference in Geneva on Sept. 13 to help avert what U.N. Secretary General Antonio Guterres called a “looming humanitarian catastrophe”. – Reuters 

Mary Anastasia O’Grady writes: A petition circulating among supporters of the regime calls on Mr. Biden to lift sanctions imposed by President Trump. The petition alleges that shortages of food and medicine are the fault of the sanctions, which have restricted the flow of dollars to Cuba. But the real reason for Cuban privation is totalitarianism. – Wall Street Journal 

United States

In the chaotic finale of America’s 20-year war in Afghanistan, a Biden Doctrine is emerging: a foreign policy that avoids the aggressive tactics of forever wars and nation building, while uniting allies against the authoritarianism of rising powers. – New York Times  

President Biden is seeking to press his legislative agenda and redouble efforts to combat the Covid-19 pandemic after Labor Day but the tumultuous withdrawal from Afghanistan may cast a long shadow over the fall. – Wall Street Journal 

The attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, led policy makers to embark on one of the largest spending binges in federal government history, transforming the private sector, the Washington metropolitan area and Americans’ relationship with their government. – Wall Street Journal 

Secretary of State Antony Blinken will appear before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Tuesday, Sept. 14 to testify about the administration’s withdrawal from Afghanistan. – The Hill 

The U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan is over, but congressional oversight has just barely begun. Lawmakers continue to have lingering questions about a withdrawal that saw the deaths of 13 U.S. troops, as well as scores of Afghans, and are promising hearings and probes in the coming weeks. – The Hill 

Veterans are grappling with the fallout from the chaotic withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan that ended the nation’s longest running war but also left the Taliban in control. – The Hill 

“America is back,” goes President Joe Biden’s catchphrase, but his unapologetic exit from Afghanistan shows America won’t be back to business as usual. – Agence France-Presse 

Ross Douthat  writes: The American imperium can’t be toppled by the Taliban. But in our outer empire, in Western Europe and East Asia, perceived U.S. weakness could accelerate developments that genuinely do threaten the American system as it has existed since 1945 — from German-Russian entente to Japanese rearmament to a Chinese invasion of Taiwan. – New York Times 

Gerard Baker writes: This is not leadership. It is followership; and it helps explain the sudden collapse of the Biden presidency. The Afghan debacle over which he’s presiding is no issue of conscience, merely one of incompetence. Mr. Biden’s wider problems are born of his slavish devotion to a party whose lead he has chosen to follow. – Wall Street Journal 

Mark Whittington writes: No one is going to do anything just because Biden wants it to happen. Afghanistan has called into question — even to his erstwhile friends — his ability to make sound decisions. Biden’s continued zombie presidency is likely to be a detriment to getting more funding for NASA, expanding and strengthening the Artemis Alliance, and keeping the return to the moon on schedule. – The Hill 


The German government called on Moscow on Monday to cease “illegal cyber activities” immediately amid an increase in phishing attacks on politicians in the lead-up to pivotal parliamentary elections later this month. – Washington Post 

The UK will launch a fresh push to bolster online privacy this week by seeking to persuade G7 countries to crack down on internet tracking via “cookies”. – Financial Times 

Google has temporarily locked down an unspecified number of Afghan government email accounts, according to a person familiar with the matter, as fears grow over the digital paper trail left by former officials and their international partners. – Reuters 

The U.S. Army network research team reported various advances at its latest annual experiment that could translate to future battlefield capabilities. – C4SIRNET 

Users on Instagram are randomly exposed to antisemitic content often associated with anti-Israel attitudes and conspiracy theories, even when not searching for related terms on the platform, according to a report released by a charity that helps secure British Jewish groups. – Algemeiner 

Nvidia is facing fresh opposition over its $54bn plan to buy UK chip design company Arm, this time from EU officials who say that concessions made by the US chipmaker do not go far enough to mitigate potential damage to rivals. – Financial Times 

Over two decades, the United States and its allies spent hundreds of millions of dollars building databases for the Afghan people. […] Built with few data-protection safeguards, it risks becoming the high-tech jackboots of a surveillance state. As the Taliban get their governing feet, there are worries it will be used for social control and to punish perceived foes. – Associated Press 

James Kynge and Sun Yu write: In recent weeks, Beijing has pushed through reams of regulations and policies designed to shore up China’s data security […]Such moves comprise a crucial part of the vision of Xi Jinping, China’s leader, to build what some analysts call a “techno-authoritarian superpower” in which people are monitored and directed to an unprecedented degree through the agency of government-controlled cyber networks, surveillance systems and algorithms. – Financial Times 


Sen. Steve Daines (R-Mont.) announced Friday that he is introducing a bill to award the 13 service members killed in Afghanistan with Congressional Gold Medals. – The Hill 

U.S. Air Force Gen. Mark Kelly, who leads Air Combat Command, wishes he could tell the public more about the service’s secretive sixth-generation fighter program, Next Generation Air Dominance. – Defense News 

The U.S. Army network research team reported various advances at its latest annual experiment that could translate to future battlefield capabilities. – Defense News 

A novel sixth-generation digital multifunction active electronically scanned array (AESA) developed by Northrop Grumman under US Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) sponsorship has been delivered to Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Dayton, Ohio, for continued testing by the Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) Sensors Directorate. – Jane’s 360 

Senior officials at satellite communications (satcom) provider Viasat are drilling down into efforts to support development of the US Army’s plans for satcom on-the-move capabilities, which service officials have tagged as a critical requirement for its Integrated Tactical Network (ITN) – Jane’s 360 

India’s Ministry of Defence (MoD) and the US Department of Defense (DoD) have signed an agreement for the joint development of an air-launched unmanned aerial vehicle (ALUAV) under their bilateral Defence Technology and Trade Initiative (DTTI): an indication of the deepening defence technology co-operation between the two countries. – Jane’s 360 

Elaine McCusker writes: It is always good to try to learn from a disaster like the abrupt US departure from Afghanistan, though directing the headline grabbing Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction to assess the performance of the Afghan security forces from February 2020 to August of 2021, as the committee now proposes to do, hardly seems useful. – American Enterprise Institute 

John Venable writes: OTH operations are framed by regional access, assets, their capabilities, and their limitations. With the withdrawal of forces from Afghanistan, U.S. OTH capabilities are very limited, and non-clandestine operations will likely rely on satellites, U-2s, unmanned aerial systems (UAS), and strategic airlift platforms for the foreseeable future. – Heritage Foundation 

Michael Ryan writes: There will always be a frontier as long as there are those who oppose our values and who abuse our goodwill. A vigilant tailored presence and a powerful deterrent posture on the frontier along with a demonstrated willingness to respond appropriately to either hostile or friendly intent is the best “lifetime guarantee” of both U.S. prosperity and the American way of life. – The National Interest 

Peter Huessy writes: Part of the emerging posture the United States might seek is a greater number of platforms or assets, apart from the extent to which warhead levels are limited. Years ago, I asked Cartwright if it didn’t make more sense to expand our platforms and SNDVs even as the United States reduced warheads so the calculus of deterrence improved. He explained the Russians would not agree. – The National Interest 

Nick Danby writes: The U.S. Navy cannot reach the 335-ship goal by the 2030s with a budget skewed toward readiness. Without a larger and lethal fleet, the Navy cannot realize its “distributed lethality” operational concept, which necessitates more ships. If so, then the Navy may make the outcomes of its war games a reality: China handily defeating the United States in Taiwan—and elsewhere. – The National Interest 

Long War

Indian authorities have issued a countrywide alert due to intelligence information that Jews may be targeted by terrorist groups during the high holidays. – Algemeiner 

U.S. President Joe Biden on Friday ordered the Department of Justice to review documents from the FBI’s probe into the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks for declassification and release. – Reuters 

The prosecution of alleged September 11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and four others restarts Tuesday, just days before the 20th anniversary of the attacks, stirring new hopes for justice and retribution. – Agence France-Presse 

The Taliban had barely completed their takeover of the Afghan capital Kabul when the local affiliate of the Islamic State group struck, sowing mayhem with a bloody airport attack. – Agence France-Presse 

Al-Qaeda planned to carry out massive terrorist attacks on Israeli nightclubs in 2002 and was in the final stages of the plan, but was thwarted with the help of United States intelligence operatives, a former Federal Bureau of Investigation researcher has said. – Times of Israel 

France is putting on trial 20 men accused in the Islamic State group’s 2015 attacks on Paris that left 130 people dead and hundreds injured. The proceedings begin Wednesday in an enormous custom-designed chamber. – Associated Press 

Claire Parker writes: The attacks on Sept. 11, 2001, catapulted al-Qaeda from relative obscurity to a household name in the United States. As the World Trade Center and part of the Pentagon crumbled, it became clear that the United States had underestimated the threat posed by the Islamist extremist group, led by a Saudi outcast in Afghanistan who dreamed of uniting Muslims and destroying the “myth of American invincibility.” – Washington Post 

Ali Soufan writes: In 1989, as a very different superpower withdrew from Afghanistan in defeat, the United States shut down its embassy in Kabul. For 12 years, we tried our best to ignore Afghanistan — until the horror of 9/11 finally forced us awake. Now, Western governments are being tempted to turn the page on Afghanistan again. That would be a colossal mistake. – Washington Post 

Max Hastings writes: The West needs to resolve fundamental contradictions about its interventions in faraway places. Neo-colonalist policies — installing U.S. or allied officials to run other people’s countries, as the British did in large parts of the world for more than two centuries — are unacceptable. But local puppet regimes have proved chronically corrupt and incompetent. – Bloomberg 

Robert D. Kaplan writes: Remember, the United States had just closed a decade of successful military interventions in Panama, Bosnia, and Kosovo, which were all more-or-less wars of choice. Such adventures and the way they turned out subtly encouraged more adventures to come. And then there was the necessary war to eject Iraqi forces from Kuwait, which ended in triumph. America was invincible, even as it had just been seriously wounded. The result: the psychological need for revenge, and on a grand scale, no less—as grand as the attacks themselves. – The National Interest