Fdd's overnight brief

September 8, 2021

In The News


Four days before the 20th anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks that triggered the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan, the Taliban declared the restoration of their Islamic Emirate and named a new government, excluding other political forces and giving control of internal security to a U.S.-designated terrorist. – Wall Street Journal 

Secretary of State Antony Blinken said the U.S. is negotiating with the Taliban on resolving issues that are preventing American citizens and vulnerable Afghans from leaving Afghanistan through charter flights, while other countries are working to open the airport in Kabul for international flights within days. – Wall Street Journal 

As the Taliban swept to power in a matter of weeks in August, Afghans with ties to the U.S. looked for ways to escape. – Wall Street Journal 

Johnson and Davis were among the last U.S. personnel to flee Kabul after it fell to the Taliban. Both expected to be there for one year, but the Taliban got in the way. – Washington Post 

Sen. Lindsey O. Graham (R-S.C.) says he believes the United States “will be going back into Afghanistan” despite the recently declared end of nearly two decades of American military presence in the country. – Washington Post 

The list of ministers was the clearest indication yet that the group sees power as something to be shared exclusively among the victors, rather than fulfilling their promise of an inclusive government that factored in the reality of a changed Afghanistan where women and ethnic minorities were represented in decision making. – New York Times 

With the massive United States military effort to evacuate American citizens and endangered Afghans completed, those still scrambling to find safe passage from Afghanistan are now navigating a complicated and potentially dangerous diplomatic impasse. – New York Times 

Even as American and NATO forces and almost the entire Western diplomatic corps packed up and fled the Afghan capital last month as the Taliban seized control, a handful of international aid directors made a decision: They were staying put. – New York Times 

As the Islamist movement unveiled its new government on Tuesday after it swept to power as U.S.-led forces withdrew last month, the mysterious Akhundzada retained the role of supreme leader, the ultimate authority over the group’s political, religious, and military affairs he has held since 2016. – Reuters 

Afghanistan is facing the collapse of basic services and food and other aid is about to run out, the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said on Tuesday. – Reuters 

He co-founded the Taliban, helped it rebuild during two decades of war with the U.S. and then brokered a deal to get American troops out. Now, Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar’s job is about to get even harder. – Bloomberg 

Ashraf Ghani’s time as leader of Afghanistan seemed doomed to fail from the start, beginning with a hotly disputed election and ending with a helicopter ride out of his Kabul palace as the Taliban took the capital. – Washington Examiner 

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. – Associated Press 

The State Department on Tuesday expressed concerns over the makeup of the new interim Afghan government announced by the Taliban, including the lack of female leaders and the past actions of some of those appointed to top posts. – The Hill 

After America’s longest war, Taliban commander Mullah Hasnain contemplates all that is left of what was part of the last CIA base — demolished buildings, destroyed vehicles and piles of ammunition. – Agence France-Presse 

Editorial: In the aftermath of 9/11, George W. Bush declared that the U.S. would no longer distinguish between terrorists and the governments that harbor them. Now, after Mr. Biden’s calamitous withdrawal, the U.S. is in the incredible position of hoping to make a government run by terrorists our partners. – Wall Street Journal 

Seth G. Jones writes: Instead of bailing out the new government, the U.S. needs to treat the Taliban as the pariah it is. President Biden is correct that terrorism is the U.S.’s major vital national interest in Afghanistan. But his disastrous policies in Afghanistan are now compounding the very problem he wants to solve. – Wall Street Journal 

Ajmal Ahmady writes: The Taliban will face the same economic challenges as the previous regime — but under sanctions and with much less international financial support. Afghanistan’s new rulers must face this reality, form an inclusive government and adhere to international standards. Otherwise, they will further impoverish themselves and the Afghan people. – Bloomberg 

Tom Rogan writes: The Taliban Emirate of Afghanistan has appointed Sirajuddin (Siraj) Haqqani as interior minister. […]This new reality is poorly timed. Biden might waffle about the mirage that is his “over the horizon” counterterrorism capability in Afghanistan. But 20 years after the 9/11 attacks, Haqqani’s ministry means that al Qaeda has a close friend at the heart of power. – Washington Examiner 

Zachary Faria writes: Biden’s Afghanistan withdrawal was a disgrace. He can’t be allowed to run from that just because he feels like it’s time to move on. He managed to do everything wrong, culminating in the Taliban conquering the country and claiming a few hundred American hostages in the process. It shouldn’t need to be said that that is more important for the president of the United States than a languishing infrastructure bill or Newsom. – Washington Examiner 

Alberto M. Fernandez writes: The old king has living descendants but perhaps the country’s best hope is that the brutal Taliban themselves will be a transitional phase to something else, to something both authentically Afghan and humanistic, and worthy of benign neglect from would-be foreign saviors. And that this transition will be sooner rather than later. – Middle East Media Research Institute  

Anthony H. Cordesman writes: Accordingly, the key issue in learning from the Afghan War may not be whether the U.S. could have been far more effective in this war, but rather the fact that the U.S. never honestly came to grips with the strategic value of the mission, of Afghanistan, of its role in Central Asia, and of its other strategic interests. […]Like medical triage, the key objective in strategic triage is never where the wound is most serious, it is always where treatment can do the most good. Here, the judgment of history is likely to be far more predictable than any judgment as to whether the U.S. could have won. Like a poor gambler, the U.S. clearly committed far more resources than the war was worth. – Center for Strategic and International Studies 


Iran is refusing to allow inspectors access to nuclear-related sites and hindering a probe by the United Nations atomic agency while continuing to expand its nuclear activities, the International Atomic Energy Agency said in two confidential reports Tuesday, casting doubt on efforts to revive the 2015 nuclear deal. – Wall Street Journal 

Iran’s new Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian had phone calls with Abdullah Abdullah and former President Hamid Karzai to discuss the situation in Afghanistan, as the Taliban unveiled a government following their takeover of the country.  – Bloomberg 

Iranian political analyst Emad Abshenas, editor-in-chief of the Iran Diplomatic, said that the U.S. government and President Biden wanted the Kabul airport bombing to happen in order to undermine the security of the region. – Middle East Media Research Institute 

The commander of Iran’s navy says that two ships it sent around Africa to Russia have returned. – Jerusalem Post 

Seth J. Frantzman writes: This is big news for Israel because if Iran has successfully engineered an economic war by which Hezbollah and the Syrian regime are empowered, then Iran will likely use this leverage to further entrench itself in Syria and Lebanon in order to threaten Israel. Iran has shown its cards that it has a long-term economic goal stretching from China via Afghanistan to Iran and then through Iraq to Lebanon. This is the wider impact of the fuel war currently being waged. – Jerusalem Post 

Mahdi Ghodsi writes: However, after the return to full compliance with the JCPOA, Raisi has no intention of continuing negotiations with the U.S. over other issues of concern, such as Iran’s ballistic missile program, regional tensions, and the ongoing violation of human rights. […]Instead, as many hardliners praise Russia and China as opposed to resolving the problems with the United States, Raisi’s focus will likely be on strengthening economic relations with China. – Middle East Institute 


Government shelling of rebel-held areas in northwestern Syria killed four people, including a child and a woman, and wounded more than a dozen Tuesday night, opposition activists said. – Associated Press 

Lafarge lost a bid to dismiss a charge of complicity in crimes against humanity in Syria’s conflict on Tuesday when France’s highest court said the matter should be re-examined, overturning an earlier ruling. – Reuters 

Amnesty International said on Tuesday Syrian refugees who returned home were subjected to torture, detention and disappearance by security forces, urging governments to protect them from deportation and forcible return. – Reuters 


Turkey continued on Tuesday to reach out to regional rivals Egypt and the United Arab Emirates in a renewed bid to mend frayed ties that have stoked regional tensions. – Associated Press 

International flights to Kabul airport may not restart unless the Taliban agrees to allow international security firms to operate inside the terminal building, Turkey’s Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said Tuesday. – Bloomberg 

Turkey’s withdrawal from the treaty, which took effect on July 1, is being viewed as another sign that the predominantly Muslim nation is embracing a brand of conservatism that is out of sync with the European neighbors with which it once sought to forge closer ties. – Bloomberg 


Against the backdrop of the Jewish new year celebrations, the escape prompted a still-fruitless manhunt across northern Israel and the occupied West Bank on Tuesday, involving hundreds of police officers and soldiers at dozens of roadblocks. – New York Times 

A cyber criminal who goes by the name “sangkanicil” is claiming to have stolen the personal information of around seven million Israelis, approximately 80% of Israel’s population, by hacking into a website used by municipalities – City4U. – Jerusalem Post 

Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) inmates at Ofer Prison who were supposed to be transferred to other prisons due to the Gilboa Prison escape remained in place due to fears of violent resistance, Israeli media reported on Wednesday. – Jerusalem Post 

Israeli forces arrested family members of several Palestinian fugitives during overnight raids in the northern West Bank, Palestinian media reports said Wednesday morning, as the massive manhunt continued for the six escaped security prisoners. – Times of Israel 

The Taliban are willing to establish ties with all countries except for Israel, a spokesman said Tuesday as the extremist group announced its new government after taking control of Afghanistan. – Agence France-Presse 

Three people were detained in the northern Israeli village of Na’ura on Tuesday on suspicion of assisting the six Palestinians on the run from Israeli authorities after their escape from Gilboa Prison. – Haaretz 

Israel has received its fourth and final Sa’ar 6 warship as the country implements a new naval doctrine aimed at bolstering defensive capabilities in its exclusive economic zone. – Defense News 


With the help of the United Nations, authorities in Iraq are taking measures to prevent voter fraud in national elections next month, the U.N. envoy to Iraq said Tuesday. – Associated Press 

Security forces in Iraq announced Tuesday that they have arrested one of the leaders of ISIS that was responsible for a terror attack in the north of the country. – Jerusalem Post 

Yesar Al-Maleki writes: While time will tell how successful the Iraqis were in distancing themselves from Lebanon’s opaque deal-making practices — not that they naturally fare any better — Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi has emerged as a clear winner, scoring points with both Washington and Tehran. Strategically timed, he oversaw the signing of the deal just days before his summit with President Joe Biden on July 27, in an attempt to bolster his image as a regional mediator. – Middle East Institute 

Gulf States

Qatar, a sandy, sun-baked peninsula in the Persian Gulf, received about 60,000 Americans and Afghans, more than any other country. And with its ties to both the United States — it hosts the largest American military base in the Middle East — and the Taliban, it is well placed to play a strong role as an intermediary between the new Taliban-run Afghanistan and the West. – New York Times 

The crown princes of Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates discussed bilateral relations and other issues in a phone call, state media of the two countries said on Monday. – Reuters 

In the days since the Taliban’s takeover of Afghanistan, the London-based Qatari daily Al-Quds Al-Arabi published several editorials slamming the U.S., mocking its “failure” despite its status as a “global superpower,” and attacking its invasion of the country 20 years ago. – Middle East Media Research Institute 

Qatar said the Taliban have demonstrated “pragmatism” and should be judged on their actions as the undisputed rulers of Afghanistan, but stopped short of announcing formal recognition of the Islamists. – Agence France-Presse 

Middle East & North Africa

Ten years on, observers say the unintended consequences of the toppling of Gaddafi — a dictator whose 42-year rule was marked by corruption and systematic human rights abuses — in August 2011 and his assassination two months later can be seen far beyond Libya: in migrant deaths in dinghies on the Mediterranean Sea, slave camps and brothels on land; and in the collapse in security across the western Sahel that has killed thousands, displaced millions and sunk France into what some consider its own “forever” war. – Financial Times 

Seven armed United States civilians attempting to make their way to Afghanistan via the United Arab Emirates were arrested on August 31, a State Department cable reviewed by Newsweek said. – Newsweek 

Editorial: President Biden has vowed to make human rights a centerpiece of his foreign policy. Secretary of State Antony Blinken is expected shortly to decide whether to withhold on human rights grounds $300 million of the $1.3 billion in military aid annually given to Egypt. In the past, the full sum was given despite Egypt’s miserable record on human rights, but the time has come for a change. The United States can no longer look away from Egypt’s grim toll. – Washington Post 

Elene Janadze writes: Recently, Washington has shifted its focus from the Middle East to the other areas of great power competition with Russia and China. The power vacuum created by the lack of U.S. engagement in the region is likely to be increasingly exploited by Russia. This will enable the Kremlin to continue advancing its zero-sum political agenda in the Middle East, which means that Putin’s win guarantees the loss of the West. – Middle East Institute 

Korean Peninsula

The United States, South Korea and Japan are preparing for a possible meeting of officials handling North Korea next week in Tokyo, Kyodo news agency reported on Tuesday. – Reuters 

China’s foreign minister will visit South Korea next week amid stalled denuclearisation talks with North Korea, Seoul’s foreign ministry said on Tuesday. – Reuters 

South Korea’s military on Tuesday was closely watching North Korea amid signs the country was preparing to hold a new military parade to showcase its growing nuclear and missile capabilities. – Associated Press 

A Japanese court has summoned North Korea’s leader to face demands for compensation by several ethnic Korean residents of Japan who say they suffered human rights abuses in North Korea after joining a resettlement program there that promised a “paradise on Earth,” a lawyer and plaintiff said Tuesday. – Associated Press 

Tom Rogan writes: Yes, South Korea has the right to pursue whatever policies it sees fit. But so does the U.S. Washington should thus make clear to Seoul that its current defense spending and China policies are intolerable. And that America’s continued military presence in South Korea, at least at scale, is dependent on remedial action. – Washington Examiner 


China’s exports unexpectedly expanded at a faster clip in August, shrugging off the impact of a global resurgence of the coronavirus pandemic, port congestion and supply bottlenecks. – Wall Street Journal 

U.S. President Joe Biden said on Tuesday he was certain China would try to work out an arrangement with the Taliban after the Islamic insurgents seized power in Afghanistan on Aug. 15. – Reuters 

Chinese artist and dissident Ai Weiwei said Credit Suisse Group AG is closing his foundation’s account after the Swiss bank informed him that it was terminating the relationship because of an alleged criminal record. – Bloomberg 

In a country that regularly censors opposing viewpoints, Chinese President Xi Jinping’s push for “common prosperity” has triggered something unusual: A spirited public policy debate. – Bloomberg 

The mouthpiece of China’s ruling Communist Party has run a front-page editorial seeking to ease concern that President Xi Jinping’s regulatory crackdown will hurt foreign investors. – Bloomberg 

China’s military scientists appeared to confirm the existence of a hypersonic drone program this month after publishing research on the challenges of landing an unmanned aircraft travelling at Mach 5. – Newsweek 

China is considering deploying military personnel and economic development officials to Bagram airfield, perhaps the single-most prominent symbol of the 20-year U.S. military presence in Afghanistan. – US News & World Report 

Editorial: Mr. Xi’s two predecessors allowed China’s people more personal freedom and provided a rising living standard in exchange for loyalty to the party. These latest initiatives suggest that Mr. Xi is reversing that by putting more of an ideological stamp on society — with the Communist Party of China setting the pace — and that he will be far more intrusive in doing so. […]Maybe Mr. Xi knows best — about everything, on behalf of everyone. But the more power concentrates in one man, the more brittle the system may become. – Washington Post 

William Schneider Jr. writes: The current recapitalization and modernization of the U.S. deterrent was based on assumptions about peer-competitor nuclear aspirations when President Obama signed New START. But the optimism Mr. Obama expressed in his 2009 Prague speech on disarmament no longer reflects global realities. The world has underestimated China’s determination to field dominant military capabilities in naval forces and strategic nuclear forces. What’s next? China’s militarization of space. – Wall Street Journal 

Matthew Brooker writes: The likelihood is that in resisting reforms other economies have found necessary to compete at higher income levels, Xi will condemn China to a future of subpar growth. Galloping away from prescriptions that would limit the autocratic power of the Communist Party, he may end up inadvertently undermining the foundations of its legitimacy. Some appointments with destiny cannot be dodged. – Bloomberg 

Gordon C. Chang writes: In most countries, leaders adopt pro-growth policies when economies slow down. In China, however, Xi is doing the opposite, implementing strict anti-business and social-control measures. He needs foreign money, but the common prosperity rhetoric is scaring investors with neo-Maoist themes. […]Now, unlike Mao, Xi has the power to plunge the world into war—and he apparently feels the need to have an enemy to explain away China’s myriad failures. Whether they like it or not, Americans are now that enemy. – Newsweek 


Japan needs to consider building a missile-strike capability against potential foes, including China and North Korea, said one of the two top candidates to become the nation’s next leader, former Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida. – Wall Street Journal 

China’s top agency in Hong Kong praised the arrests of four members of a group that had organized an annual Tiananmen Square vigil, as authorities continued a broader push against local pro-democracy activists. – Bloomberg 

Protesters have destroyed around a dozen military-owned communications towers in Myanmar, witnesses and reports said Wednesday, after the country’s self-proclaimed shadow government issued a call for a “defensive war” against the junta. – Agence France-Presse 

The Russia-led Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) has started three days of military exercises in Kyrgyzstan it says are needed in response to the ongoing situation in Afghanistan. – Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty 

In southern Tajikistan, hundreds of ethnic Tajiks have volunteered to join the anti-Taliban coalition forming in Afghanistan’s Panjshir Valley. – The National Interest 

Pakistan is hosting a virtual meeting of foreign ministers from countries neighboring Afghanistan to discuss the situation there. – Associated Press 

Jason Rezaian writes: Across repressive regimes, “fake news” charges have become a common tool to suppress expression. The term is usually little more than a euphemism for critical reporting on those in power — the kind of reporting that outlets such as Frontier Myanmar have been known for. Fenster’s family is coordinating its efforts to secure his release with the State Department, but, thus far, requests by U.S. representatives in Myanmar to visit him in prison have been denied, according to Bryan Fenster. – Washington Post 

Evan Montgomery writes: For example, the Biden administration should use the upcoming global posture review to begin enhancing presence and addressing operational challenges in the Indo-Pacific — and not make the mistake of assuming that subtraction in Central Asia equals addition elsewhere or that an unchanged air and naval footprint in the Middle East represents a sustainable situation. It also means making tangible progress in preparing for major conventional conflicts against well-armed state rivals, especially China, whether through near-term programs like the Pacific Deterrence Initiative or longer-term efforts like the joint warfighting concept — each of which got off to a rocky start and needs to find its footing. – War on the Rocks 


A prominent lawyer who represented both a former Russian journalist accused of treason and the team of imprisoned opposition leader Alexei Navalny said on Tuesday that he has left Russia after authorities launched a criminal probe against him. – Associated Press 

Russian officialdom is gloating over America’s debacle in Afghanistan, but even more balanced observers are aghast. – Middle East Media Research Institute 

Presenter Vladimir Solovyov, whose programs Evening with Vladimir Solovyov and Solovyov Live push the Kremlin line and savages Putin’s critics, continued to pile on the Americans after the Afghanistan withdrawal. – Middle East Media Research Institute 

Russia’s domestic intelligence agency, the Federal Security Bureau (FSB), has accused five detained Crimean Tatar activists of sabotaging a gas pipeline one day after Ukraine dismissed the charges as fabricated. – Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty 

An outspoken critic of Ramzan Kadyrov, the authoritarian leader of Russia’s North Caucasus region of Chechnya, says his relatives are being pressured in Russia because of his activities. – Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty 

Michael Kofman writes: The Russian military continues to see itself as militarily inferior to NATO, in the context of a regional or large-scale war. The Zapad series of exercises is a cogent manifestation of these concerns. […]Despite the strong reorientation toward China in the U.S. policy establishment, Zapad serves as a reminder that Russia continues to be a capable conventional and nuclear military power. It retains the ability to upend much that is taken for granted about stability and security in Europe. – War on the Rocks 


The Czech Republic has become the first EU member state to contribute funds for Lithuania to build a barrier along its border with Belarus amid a surge in migration and upcoming Russian-led military exercises. – Reuters 

Poland faces European Union fines for failing to meet an EU ultimatum to halt a controversial regime to discipline judges, further escalating a clash over the rule of law in the bloc’s biggest eastern member. – Bloomberg 

The UK government has announced further delays to some Irish Sea border checks. The checks are a requirement of the Northern Ireland Protocol, a deal reached by the UK and EU in 2019. – BBC 

When US secretary of state Antony Blinken arrives in Germany on Wednesday for talks on Afghanistan, he will both thank his hosts for helping to evacuate thousands of people from Kabul — and get an update on how soon they think they can get their diplomats back in. – Financial Times 

The German Federal Criminal Police Office (BKA) purchased Israeli-made Pegasus spyware in 2019, German newspaper Die Zeit confirmed on Tuesday. – Jerusalem Post 

Tom McTague writes: The truth is that Biden didn’t screw over the Brits and the Europeans; he just brutally reflected the reality of the world he inherited, one in which 20 years of American commitment had failed. By ending the war the way he did, he is also part of that failure. But it is Europe, so fond of trumpeting its own sophistication, that is living in a made-up world: stuck believing in a past that never was and a future it doesn’t have the will to bring about. – The Atlantic 


Some West Africans bemoaned a democratic backslide. Others celebrated the downfall of an unpopular leader who, critics say, enabled foreign mining companies to wreck farmland and drinking water. – Washington Post 

The International Monetary Fund said on Tuesday it was crucial for Chad to reach comparable terms on its debt restructuring with private creditors as it did with public creditors in June. – 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 

The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) will hold an extraordinary summit on Guinea on Thursday, according to a staff memo shared with Reuters. – Reuters 

Cape Verde’s highest court ruled on Tuesday that Alex Saab, a Colombian businessman who is wanted by U.S. authorities on charges of laundering money on behalf of Venezuela’s government, should be extradited to the United States. – Reuters 

The UN on Tuesday denied claims that Tigrayan rebels were holing up in refugee camps in Sudan after Ethiopian officials said fighters had been caught with refugee ID cards. – Agence France-Presse 

Editorial: Guinea’s elites of course share the blame, as do those of other extractive economies such as Angola, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Nigeria. […]The world — led by policymakers in western financial capitals, through which much of this trade passes — needs to devise a better system to police transactions that amount to near-robbery from some of the world’s poorest people. Guinea’s new military leaders have assured international markets that supplies of bauxite will keep flowing. But where minerals are abundant, legitimacy is often in short supply. – Financial Times 

Fanuel Getaneh, Ustath Jemal Beshir Ahmed, Yared Tilahun, Endalkachew S. Ayo, and Dagnachew H. Thomas write: As leaders of Ethiopia’s faith communities in the U.S., we appeal to President Joe Biden and his government to reconsider their current policy stance and enter a more constructive period with the Ethiopian government. If it stands for anything, the U.S. must choose democracy over authoritarianism and peace over conflict. – Washington Examiner 

The Americas

Jason Miller, a former senior adviser to Donald Trump, said Tuesday that he was briefly detained and questioned by Brazilian authorities on a day in which the South American country inched yet closer to a full-blown constitutional crisis. – Washinton Post 

El Salvador faced a rocky transition in its adoption of Bitcoin as legal tender on Tuesday. The government’s app for facilitating transactions — its “digital wallet” — went offline temporarily, protesters took to the streets of the capital to denounce the move, and the price of Bitcoin dropped sharply, demonstrating the volatility of the cryptocurrency market. – New York Times 

El Salvador’s President Nayib Bukele is dismantling democratic institutions at a more alarming pace than former President Hugo Chavez did in Venezuela, according to Human Rights Watch.  – Bloomberg 

Mexico is seeking to strengthen supply chains and speed up economic help to the south of the country and Central America in meetings with the Biden administration in Washington this week. – Bloomberg 

Editorial; Whatever Bukele’s motives, it is hard to see the experiment ending well. El Salvador’s hasty adoption of bitcoin is fraught with risk and ordinary citizens are likely to pay a heavy price for their president’s gamble. This is not to oppose innovation: central bank digital currencies, for example, hold much promise if carefully implemented. But bitcoin is not cool as government-backed legal tender. – Financial Times 


United States

What type of effect the Jan. 6 insurrection on the Capitol will have on lawmakers in the long term is yet to be seen. But what is clear 20 years later is how much the 9/11 terrorist attacks changed the careers and personal lives of many members of Congress. – Washington Post 

President Joe Biden’s team faces new congressional pressure to provide a detailed plan to assist Americans and U.S. partners stranded in Afghanistan after U.S. officials ended the evacuation operation at Kabul airport last week. – Washington Examiner 

White House press secretary Jen Psaki tamped down expectations Tuesday about a meeting with President Joe Biden and Afghan refugees. – Washington Examiner 

Republicans are furious and some Democrats are seething over the ongoing chaos to evacuate Americans and allies from Afghanistan. – The Hill 

Secretary of State Antony Blinken will appear before lawmakers on Monday to answer questions about the State Department’s role in the evacuation of Afghanistan. – The Hill 

The Biden administration is planning to ask Congress for funding to bring some 95,000 Afghans to America and assist in resettling them — a sign both of U.S. commitments to allies and the likelihood that efforts to evacuate them will linger for months. – The Hill 


The past few years have also seen a rise in ransomware-for-hire gangs based mostly in Russia that have made it far easier for other cybercriminals to conduct ransomware attacks with only minimal skills.  – Washington Post 

Howard University, one of the country’s leading historically Black colleges and universities, canceled some classes for a second day after it was hit with a ransomware attack. – New York Times 

A group of bipartisan House lawmakers rolled out legislation this week to put in place a term limit for the director of the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) in the wake of escalating cybersecurity incidents and turmoil in agency leadership last year. – The Hill 

The military has relied heavily on contractors for highly technical work to develop software for cyber operators. But the Army, Navy and Marine Corps have found that in-house engineers and tool developers can quickly create mission capabilities to improve threat response times and mission outcomes. – C4ISRNET 


Navy Secretary Carlos Del Toro is going to be on hand for the groundbreaking of a $1.7 billion project that will expand the number of dry docks at Portsmouth Naval Shipyard. – Associated Press 

A new tactical aircraft study underway could make certain what has until now been a suspicion: The U.S. Air Force is unlikely to purchase all of the 1,763 F-35A jets in its program of record. – Defense News 

After spending nearly a year preparing in the lab and in the field, the U.S. Army is set to launch a second round of its major experimentation event this fall, dubbed Project Convergence. – Defense News 

The completed constellation of the military’s narrowband satellite communications system has been on orbit for more than four years, yet users still cannot access its full range of advanced capabilities and are forced to rely on overtaxed legacy capabilities. – Defense News 

With the use of drones becoming more prevalent, the Navy has found a way to ensure all of its surface ships can repel unmanned aerial vehicles. – USNI News 

The Defense Department has formed a new group to coordinate small satellite efforts across the department and services, according to Doug Schroeder, who oversees prototyping of command, control and communications networks at the Pentagon’s Research & Engineering office. – Breaking Defense 

The Air Forces of the US and India have signed a new agreement to cooperate on the development of unmanned aerial vehicles, according to the Pentagon. – Defense News 

David A. Cooper writes: The role that SLCM-N could play in assuring skittish allies about the credibility and resolve of American security guarantees thus could be a critical factor. In this context, the question of whether SLCM-N is really necessary for extended deterrence is, oddly, in some sense beside the point. […]Staying the course on SLCM-N will not by itself lead to new arms control talks or preserve nuclear nonproliferation. Cancelling it, however, is likely to undermine both of these worthy causes. – Breaking Defense 

Al Mauroni, Zachary Kallenborn, Seth Carus, and Ron Fizer write: Additionally, the strategy should clarify how it relates to other complementary strategies and national guidance documents, such as the National Biodefense Strategy and the National Response Framework. Both of these documents address aspects that overlap with WMD non- and counter proliferation and, as such, this revision should also reduce friction and ambiguity between strategies. […]Despite the constant turmoil of today’s crises, the Biden administration should take the time to revisit and improve the U.S. approach to the very real threat of weapons of mass destruction. – War on the Rocks 

Long War

It was supposed to be a hearing intended to get the case against the five men accused of plotting the Sept. 11 attacks back on track after a long delay caused by the coronavirus pandemic. Instead, it turned into another example of how legal maneuvering and a changing cast of characters continue to slow the process of trying the defendants 20 years after the horrific events that the prosecution says they helped set in motion. – New York Times 

France is set to open a trial Wednesday that will examine the origins and fallout of terrorist attacks that ripped through the French capital nearly six years ago, killing 130 people and rattling the national psyche. – Wall Street Journal 

Swedish authorities arrested two women from Sweden suspected of committing war crimes in Syria, the prosecutor’s office and local media said Tuesday, the first such arrests in the Scandinavian country. – Associated Press 

During the time an Islamic State-inspired extremist was incarcerated in New Zealand, he was moved to a maximum security prison after punching officers and repeatedly throwing feces and urine at them, corrections officials said Tuesday. – Associated Press 

David Gardner writes: The threat right now is less to the west than to the countries and regions in which its forces intervened, where local populations are trapped in desolate landscapes of despotism and paramilitarism — and the default western preference is for autocrats they fondly believe can deliver stability. But where varieties of tyranny and Islamism keep feeding off each other in a sort of infernal symbiosis, and cross-border disasters from the Covid pandemic to climate change drive people to emigrate, western states will not be able to stand aloof for long. – Financial Times