Fdd's overnight brief

September 9, 2021

In The News


Afghanistan’s Taliban authorities are allowing some 200 Americans and other foreign citizens to leave the country on a flight to Qatar scheduled for Thursday, the first such departure by air since U.S. forces withdrew last month, Qatari and American officials said. – Wall Street Journal 

The Taliban’s newly named interim Afghan government, which includes former leaders ousted 20 years ago by the U.S. invasion and members of the al Qaeda-linked Haqqani network, dashed international hopes of providing more representative leadership, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said Thursday. – Wall Street Journal 

The last time the Taliban ruled Afghanistan, morality police roamed the streets, implementing the group’s austere interpretation of Islamic law — with harsh restrictions on women, strictly enforced prayer times and even bans on kite-flying and chess. – Washington Post 

Afghan women took to the streets of Kabul to protest for a second consecutive day, outraged by the formation of a hard-line Taliban government and posing an unfamiliar challenge to an Islamist movement that has never tackled peaceful demonstrations. – Wall Street Journal 

More than 100 Afghan children and teens are in U.S. custody without their parents after the chaotic crush to flee the Taliban takeover of Afghanistan, federal officials said Wednesday, a number that is expected to rise as more unaccompanied minors are identified among the thousands of evacuees airlifted to safety. – Washington Post 

Only one day after the Taliban named an acting cabinet to lead the nation they spent two decades trying to conquer, the dizzying challenges that accompanied victory were coming into sharp relief Wednesday. – New York Times 

China this week pledged to give $30 million in food and other aid to the new Taliban government in Afghanistan as well as three million Covid-19 vaccine doses, in a cautious overture to a potentially dangerous neighbor that Beijing is eager to influence. – New York Times 

The U.S., China and Russia are facing an early test of whether they can collaborate to keep Afghanistan from sinking even deeper into crisis as they negotiate the renewal of a long-running United Nations mission that’s scheduled to expire next week. – Bloomberg 

U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said Thursday the al-Qaida extremist group that used Afghanistan as a staging base to attack United States 20 years ago may attempt to regenerate there following an American withdrawal that has left the Taliban in power. – Associated Press 

Foreign countries greeted the makeup of the new government in Afghanistan with caution and dismay on Wednesday after the Taliban appointed hardline veteran figures to an all-male cabinet, including several with a U.S. bounty on their heads. – Reuters 

India and Russia believe that foreign militant groups operating from Afghanistan pose a threat to central Asia and to India and agreed to deepen anti-terrorism cooperation at a meeting of their national security chiefs on Wednesday, officials said. – Reuters 

Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi discussed on Wednesday the Afghan crisis with Turkish President Tayyip Erdoğan ahead of a G20 summit to be held in Rome on Oct. 30-31, Draghi’s office said. – Reuters 

A lack of clarity on the Taliban’s position on women in Afghanistan has generated “incredible fear” across the country, a senior U.N. official said on Wednesday, warning there were daily reports of curbs on the rights of women. – Reuters 

Panjshiri leader Ahmad Shah Massoud and former Afghan Vice President Amrullah Saleh have not fled Afghanistan and their resistance forces are still fighting the Taliban, the ousted Afghan government’s ambassador to Tajikistan said on Wednesday. – Reuters 

Afghanistan’s new rulers have rewarded Taliban veterans and hardliners with plum posts in the cabinet despite promising an inclusive government, but the choices could pose obstacles in the country getting Western recognition and aid. – Reuters 

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Wednesday said a provisional Afghan cabinet was not the inclusive government the Taliban had promised and that the Islamist group needs to earn the international legitimacy and support it seeks. – Reuters 

Former Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, who fled Kabul as Taliban forces reached the outskirts of the city last month, apologized on Wednesday for the abrupt fall of his government but denied that he had taken millions of dollars with him. – Reuters 

Roya Rahmani, Afghanistan’s first female ambassador to the United States who left her post in July, is clearly horrified by the Taliban takeover of her country. But she is not surprised. – Reuters 

After two decades in the wilderness, the Taliban told the world that they had changed and were ready to be inclusive — then they announced their new interim government. All male, the caretaker Cabinet is made up entirely of long-standing hard-line members of the militant group, including a U.S.-designated terrorist. – NBC 

Beijing said Wednesday it welcomed the end of “three weeks of anarchy” in Afghanistan with the establishment of a new interim government in Kabul, calling on the Taliban to restore order in the country. – Agence France-Presse 

Thousands of fighters opposed to the Taliban can return “anytime” in the Panjshir Valley, said the uncle of a commander who led fierce battles against the Islamists, appealing on Tuesday for international support for their cause. – Agence France-Presse 

The last Jew in Afghanistan, Zabulon Simantov, has left the country and is now en route to the United States. – Jerusalem Post 

After the fall of Kabul to the Taliban last month, western governments urged Afghanistan’s new rulers to form an “inclusive” administration, dangling the prospect of co-operation if they showed signs of newfound moderation since their ousting from power by the US-led invasion in 2001. On Tuesday, the Islamist militants unveiled a government pointing to the opposite. – Financial Times 

Mohammad Hasan Akhund, the senior Taliban leader named acting prime minister in Afghanistan, urged Afghans who worked with the U.S. and had fled to return to the country and assured their safety upon return. – Fox News 

Days before the Fall of Kabul on August 15, 2021, Taliban fighters had begun infiltrating the Afghan capital. Among them were jihadi fighters from Pakistani jihadi organizations such as Jaish-e-Muhammad (JeM) and Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT). As Kabul fell and Afghan President Ashraf Ghani left the country on August 15, the Taliban mujahideen met no resistance from the Afghan security forces. Afghanistan had fallen to the Islamic Emirate. – Middle East Media Research Institute 

Editorial: On that basis, and that basis alone, the United States should pursue its remaining goals in Afghanistan, which must include advocating the human rights of its people. There has been too much wishful thinking already. – Washington Post 

Editorial: Blinken confessed it’s a “challenge” to evacuate people without “personnel on the ground.” No kidding. That’s why Biden initially vowed to keep a presence in Afghanistan until every American and ally was out — and why his team is now trying to pretend it hasn’t abandoned thousands of them to a terrorist group with every incentive to use them as leverage. With Americans trapped in enemy hands, it’s just obscene that the White House actually keeps trying to “turn the page” from Afghanistan to Biden’s big-spending agenda. – New York Post 

Frank Sobchak and Matthew Zais write: The first step in recovery is admitting that one has a problem. Deep introspection is necessary at the Defense Department to understand the role the U.S. military and its uniformed leaders played in the Afghanistan tragedy. The military isn’t infallible, and it is time to be held accountable for our part in defeat. – Wall Street Journal 

Karl Rove writes: This cynical mindset doesn’t diminish the extraordinary accomplishment of those who removed the Taliban from power and kept us safe. It won’t destroy the Afghan people’s desire for liberty. Having tasted freedom, many will work for its return. Nor will this cynicism keep the Biden administration from suffering righteous anger if the U.S. is struck again. On this 9/11 the country should face the fact that Mr. Biden’s Afghan surrender didn’t end the war on terror—it emboldened our enemies. – Wall Street Journal 

Bobby Ghosh writes: And there’s bad news for India, which invested heavily in Afghanistan over the past 20 years. The hardliners are all closely tied to Islamabad. The Taliban has historically sided with Pakistan in its dispute with India over Kashmir, and many Indians fear the group will contribute more than just moral support to insurgents in the restive region. Just as in Washington, fingers were crossed in Beijing, Tehran and New Delhi in the hope of a Baradar-led Afghan government. Now they must all brace for the worst. – Bloomberg 

Kay C. James writes: New territory, new weaponry, hostages, and the fact that the Taliban was able to release thousands of fellow terrorists from American prisons in Afghanistan as they overtook the country will make Afghanistan a new hub for terrorism and more of a threat than it was on Sept. 11, 2001. – Heritage Foundation

Zachary Faria writes: The State Department talking about its “concerns” is made all the more pathetic by the fact that everyone knows there will be no consequences. State Department officials keep trying to pretend that the Taliban care about international legitimacy for this reason. It’s a made-up “punishment” because the administration is not going to hold the Taliban accountable for anything. In fact, it handed them everything they wanted: abandoned military equipment, the Afghans who helped us, and even some American hostages to boot. – Washington Examiner 

Michael Goodwin writes: Indeed, Blinken sounded like a shill for the terrorist group by describing the plane delay as a matter of routine paperwork. […]His doubletalk is proof there is no limit to how low the White House will sink to portray the chaotic, bloody withdrawal as a great success. Its defense of the Taliban’s misconduct is a defense of its own misconduct. – Fox News 

Shanthie Mariet D’Souza writes: Taliban cadres are conducting door-to-door searches for thousands of Afghans who could not be evacuated and are now believed to be in hiding. Scarce media reporting from Kabul may have camouflaged the scale of such incidents in the provinces, but there is little doubt that the group is committed to sending a message of retribution to its vanquished adversaries. The worst affected are women and minority groups. […]Sadly, history repeats itself and yet, no one ever wants to learn. – Middle East institute 


The U.S. and Germany on Wednesday stepped up pressure on Iran to return soon to talks on its nuclear program, with Germany’s foreign minister saying that a delay of two or three months floated by Tehran is too long. – Associated Press 

The new head of the U.N. nuclear test ban treaty organization said Wednesday his goal is to have the treaty enter into force, which would require ratification by eight countries — the U.S., China, Iran, Israel, Egypt, India, Pakistan and North Korea. – Associated Press 

Iran’s president on Wednesday warned Western states against rebuking Tehran at the U.N. atomic watchdog after its latest reports criticised his country, while the top U.S. diplomat said time was running out to revive a nuclear deal with world powers. – Reuters 

The United Nations nuclear watchdog has said some of its surveillance equipment was damaged in a June attack on an Iranian nuclear site that has been tied to Israel. – Times of Israel 

Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi has added to his hardline conservative Cabinet in selecting Esmail Khatib to serve as his Minister of Intelligence and Security. The intelligence ministry post is a negotiation, at best, between the Presidency and the Office of the Supreme Leader. Khatib is a former student of Khamenei and previously served in the Office of Supreme Leader Protection Organization which directs facility and personnel protection for Khamenei’s inner circle. His appointment is indicative of their close relationship – United Against Nuclear Iran 

Henry Sokolski writes: This report reflects what happened during a three-move diplomatic simulation NPEC hosted in August 2021 and in the game’s three preparatory meetings. […]The Security Council, Decides that Iran shall cease any work on implosion devices and suspend its NPT withdrawal, Directs the IAEA to conduct inspections for implosion devices, Requires that in a matter of days the IAEA is able to inspect any site that the IAEA deems necessary, and that the IAEA issue a statement on the status of Iran’s nuclear program and the location and status of the implosion devices, enriched nuclear matter and centrifuges. – Nonproliferation Policy Education Center 

Emily Schrader writes: None of this means that the US should be launching a full-scale war against Iran today, but it does mean that the US is not taking the Iranian threat seriously, and the ramifications could be deadly. The US took its security for granted ahead of 9/11 due to geographic proximity and global strength. They refused to learn from the experience of others, like Israel. As both an American and an Israeli, I know we can’t afford to make the same mistake again. – Jerusalem Post 


A few hundred Palestinians held protests in the occupied West Bank on Wednesday in support of six militants who broke out of a maximum security Israeli jail this week in an escape that has boosted Palestinian spirits and alarmed Israelis. – Reuters 

The Palestinian Authority and several Palestinian factions on Wednesday warned Israel against punishing Palestinian security prisoners in the aftermath of the escape of six inmates from Gilboa Prison. – Jerusalem Post 

The prison break by six terrorists out of the high-security Gilboa Prison in northern Israel is not only an embarrassment but poses a risk for an escalation of violence as security forces comb the country in an attempt to catch them. – Jerusalem Post 

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken has invited Foreign Minister Yair Lapid to visit Washington, the State Department said Tuesday. – Times of Israel 

As night falls on the Gaza Strip, Palestinian protesters approach the border fence with Israel, carrying homemade stun grenades and Molotov cocktails to hurl toward Israeli soldiers. – Agence France-Presse 


Lebanon’s crippling fuel shortages have already forced baker Ali Moazen to cut his production by a quarter and ration bread sales. Now they are threatening to put his entire business on ice. – Financial Times 

Egyptian natural gas will be piped to Lebanon via Jordan and Syria to help boost its electricity output under a plan agreed by the four governments on Wednesday to ease a crippling power crisis. – Reuters 

A top Lebanese intelligence official said Wednesday the country would not deport six Syrians back to their war-torn homeland, after they were detained last month for smuggling themselves across the border. – Agence France-Presse 

Arabian Peninsula

A United Nations panel said Wednesday that at least 18,000 Yemeni civilians have been killed or wounded by airstrikes since the country’s war escalated in 2015. – Associated Press 

Saudi Arabia on Wednesday issued a preemptive statement of innocence in advance of the expected release this week of previously declassified documents related to the U.S. government’s investigation in the Sept. 11 attacks and expressed indignation that accusations persist of its connection to the hijackers. – U.S. News & World Report 

Alexander Cornwell writes: As a small state surrounded by better-armed rivals that would no doubt covet its gas fields, Qatar has long felt the need to protect itself with ambitious diplomacy. Four years ago, it found itself in peril when Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Egypt and their allies, with the apparent tacit approval of the Trump administration, imposed trade bans and diplomatic isolation. – Reuters 


A Russian-backed warlord vying for power in Libya has hired a one-time senior aide to President Bill Clinton and a former Republican lawmaker to lead a nearly $1 million effort to lobby the Biden administration for political support, documents show.- Wall Street Journal 

Germany’s foreign minister arrived in Libya on Thursday to reopen the country’s embassy in Tripoli. – Associated Press 

Libyan interim Prime Minister Abdulhamid Dbeibeh said on Wednesday he would visit Tunisia on Thursday and meet President Kais Saied after weeks of friction between the North African neighbours over security. – Reuters 

Emily Milliken writes: By doing so, the LNA is deftly positioning itself as the guarantor of security in southern Libya ahead of national elections this coming December. But the threat from ISIS is also real—and should be of serious concern to Africa watchers and policymakers alike. For years, observers have warned that Libya’s civil war could provide the perfect storm for the group to recruit new members and launch attacks. It looks like those predictions may finally be coming true. – American Foreign Policy Council 

Middle East & North Africa

Morocco’s moderate Islamist party suffered major losses in parliamentary elections on Wednesday, a stinging setback in one of the last countries where Islamists had risen to power after the Arab Spring protests. – New York Times 

Syrian army troops entered Deraa al Balaad, the birthplace of the uprising against President Bashar al-Assad’s rule, for the first time since it lost control over the area a decade ago, residents, the army and former rebels said. – Reuters 

Egypt is seeking ways to restore ties with Turkey and has no interest in armed conflict with Ethiopia over a controversial Nile dam, Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry said. – Bloomberg 

Korean Peninsula

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and President Donald Trump were sitting across a circular wooden table for a brief photo opportunity at their 2019 summit in Vietnam when a U.S. reporter asked a question of Kim. […]In the 2½ years since, North Korea has basically clammed up again. It has become so opaque that Kim’s stunning exchange in Hanoi seems unimaginable in the current information vacuum. – Washington Post 

North Korea held its first military parade since President Biden took office, though the event didn’t feature major military hardware or a speech from leader Kim Jong Un. – Wall Street Journal 

North Korea has been barred from competing at the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing as part of its punishment for its “unilateral decision” to drop out of the Tokyo Games this summer, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) said Wednesday. – CNN 


A dizzying regulatory crackdown unleashed by China’s government has spared almost no sector over the past few months. This sprawling “rectification” campaign — with such disparate targets as ride-hailing services, insurance, education and even the amount of time children can spend playing video games — is redrawing the boundaries of business and society in China as Xi prepares to take on a controversial third term in 2022. – Washington Post 

For years, Li Guangman, a retired Chinese newspaper editor, wrote in obscurity, firing off attack after attack at chic celebrities and celebrated tycoons whom he accused of betraying the sturdy socialist values of Mao. Few outside China’s fervent but narrow world of Maoist leftists read them. Until now. – New York Times 

A Chinese businessman was sentenced on Wednesday to two years in prison after admitting that he illegally exported marine technology with uses in anti-submarine warfare from the United States for the benefit of a Chinese military university. – Reuters 

A misinformation campaign on social media in support of Chinese government interests has expanded to new languages and platforms, and it even tried to get people to show up to protests in the United States, researchers said on Wednesday. – Reuters 

China’s foreign minister Wang Yi said the United States and its allies have more of a duty to supply economic and humanitarian aid to Afghanistan than any other country, according to a statement from the foreign ministry on Wednesday. – Reuters 

But sweeping new policy moves – from crackdowns on internet companies, for-profit education, online gaming and property market excesses – to the promulgation of “Common Prosperity”, show Xi’s seriousness in steering China back towards its socialist roots. – Reuters 

Tom Rogan writes: Regardless, U.S. Navy transits of international waters are one thing. PLA transits within 12 miles of sovereign U.S. or allied coasts would be a very different matter. Put another way, where the U.S. is walking through a public park, China claims a right to seize public parks and then engage in home invasions. The reality is clear: By its intent and international law, any Chinese incursion as threatened would constitute an act of provocation bordering on war. – Washington Examiner 

South Asia

The Pakistan authorities are watching worriedly to see whether more refugees like Mohammad and his family come pouring over the border. The government is expecting as many as 700,000 at a potential cost of $2.2 billion as the authorities set up camps and ways to track and feed them. – New York Times 

Pakistan on Wednesday suggested inviting Taliban-run Afghanistan to a regional forum of six countries to help avert a humanitarian and economic crisis in the country. – Reuters 

White Taliban flags have marked the Afghanistan side of the strategic crossing since the day in early August when the Taliban arrived at 9am to take over the border post. Foreshadowing the bloodless collapse of Kabul, Pakistani officials said that the Afghan soldiers walked away without a fight. But the relative calm at the crossing belies Islamabad’s fears that the Taliban takeover will trigger a flood of refugees and embolden extremist groups in the region, including those targeting Pakistan. – Financial Times 

The anti-Pakistan protests, which were held in Herat and other cities, reflect a deeply buried understanding among Afghans that it was the Pakistani military’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) that planned and engineered a long-running bloodshed in Afghanistan that has gone on for the past four decades by aiding and nurturing the current Afghan Taliban leaders after 9/11 and their predecessors, with American and Saudi aid, during the 1980s. – Middle East Media Research Institute 


Hong Kong police on Thursday raided the premises of the closed June 4th Museum, dedicated to the victims of China’s 1989 crackdown on pro-democracy protesters in and around Beijing’s Tiananmen Square. – Reuters 

Indonesia and Australia renewed a defence pact and agreed to boost training ties among a series of joint security agreements on Thursday at a meeting in Jakarta of defence and foreign ministers of both countries. – Reuters 

Philippine Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said on Wednesday there was a need for a comprehensive review of his country’s alliance with the United States, complaining Manila got less from its relationship with Washington than non-treaty allies despite growing pressure from China. – Reuters 

Jack Detsch and Zinya Salfiti write: Since the end of the Trump administration, the United States has maintained that it wants to make only minor changes to the pacts, the former U.S official said. But the expiration of the compacts could jeopardize the Pentagon’s ability to continue to turn the islands and atolls into a critical counterweight against China. The Pacific Islands are already critical to U.S. missile defenses. – Foreign Policy 


Foreign Minister Yair Lapid departed for Moscow on Wednesday night for a snap visit, his office said. He will meet Thursday with his Russian counterpart Sergey Lavrov. The two will also hold a joint press conference, according to a Foreign Ministry statement, which did not say what the two were set to discuss. Lapid will also meet with Israeli diplomatic staff at the embassy. – Times of Israel 

Russian President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday told European Council President Charles Michel that the European Union was continuing to discriminate against residents of Crimea, the Kremlin said in a statement. – Reuters 

Tim McMillan writes: For Putin, any response by the West to “grey zone” action, including mere accusations, will be a win because it allows the external threat narrative to be reinforced. Conversely, as Navalny and Smart Voting have demonstrated, a fairly well-connected and informed Russian society could end up being the ultimate stress test for a regime that prides itself on its ability to manipulate perception and distort the truth. – Washington Examiner 

Edward Lucas, Ben Hodges, and Carsten Schmiedl write: Though European allies pay lip service to the idea of peer competition, many are still rooted in thinking shaped by low-intensity conflicts of the past 30 years, or the newly visible (to some) threat from so-called hybrid warfare. As the next section explains, the necessary political and military planning for dealing with all aspects of the Russian threat is largely lacking. – Center for European Policy Analysis 

Edward Lucas, Ben Hodges, and Carsten Schmiedl write: The Russian regime’s foremost interest is its own hold on power. All policy, internal and external, stems from this overriding goal. The Kremlin sees the West, the European Union (EU), and NATO as threats to this stability, and as potential instigators of “color revolutions” that will exploit Russia’s ethnic, religious, political, and other fissures. – Center for European Policy Analysis 

Edward Lucas, Ben Hodges, and Carsten Schmiedl write: The most vital factor in alliance credibility is, therefore, the permanent or persistent presence of outside forces, coupled with continued focus by U.S. decision-makers on the region’s security. Political changes in the United States, or distracting security crises elsewhere, would immediately highlight the underlying fragility of the region’s defenses. Nor can the role of the other outside military powers, the United Kingdom and France, be regarded as fixtures. […]Russia realizes this. It, therefore, seeks to distract and weaken Western alliances. – Center for European Policy Analysis  


Slovakia’s government apologized on Wednesday for World War II legislation that stripped the country’s Jews of their human and civil rights. – Associated Press 

Germany is not filled with optimism by the make-up of the new government in Afghanistan, Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said on Wednesday, after the Taliban appointed hardline veteran figures to top positions. – Reuters 

Bruce Stokes writes: In the debate over the future reliability of the United States, young European political leaders have a generational sensibility attuned to the challenges of climate change. For them, their faith in America will not necessarily depend on what happened in Kabul, but what will happen in Glasgow. – The Hill 

Philip Stephens writes: Macron is not always the best advocate for his case when he talks about building Europe’s “strategic autonomy”. But he is right that, as the world splits into democratic and authoritarian camps, Europeans have a choice. They can translate the continent’s economic heft into a significant geopolitical voice, or they can look on helplessly as competition between the US and China sets the terms of a new world disorder. If it is the latter, the irony is that a slumbering Germany will be among the biggest losers. – Financial Times 


Local officials in Ethiopia alleged Wednesday that Tigray forces have killed more than 120 civilians in recent days following battlefield losses, in what would be one of the deadliest massacres of the East African nation’s 10-month war. Tigray forces denied killing civilians. – Associated Press 

Gunmen kidnapped 20 people in remote Sokoto State in northwest Nigeria, police said on Wednesday, in what a local government source described as a spillover from a crisis in neighbouring Zamfara State where a military crackdown is underway. – Reuters 

The detained leader of a separatist group in Nigeria has filed a lawsuit alleging that he was illegally transferred from Kenya to Nigeria and demanding he be freed and allowed to go to Britain, according to media reports citing legal documents. – Reuters 

Judd Devermont writes: Doumbouya and the CNRD probably will use the same coup playbook perfected by Goïta and Déby, parroting the 18-month transition timeline and pledge to rewrite the constitution to placate the international community. If Guinea’s neighbors and external partners quietly accept these conditions, it will serve as a signal to ambitious soldiers in Benin, Cote d’Ivoire, and Niger—to name just a few potential candidates—that there are limited consequences for seizing power. – Center for Strategic and International Studies 

United States

Sanctions owe their popularity today not just to the aversion to military conflict, especially among the nuclear-armed, but to globalization, which increases potential pressure points, and the rise of China, whose challenge to the U.S. is primarily economic, not military. – Wall Street Journal 

James Freeman writes: Mr. Biden is desperate to appear caring and competent after his disgracefully executed departure from Afghanistan. He may never have a better set of facts to drive a bipartisan plan to boost border enforcement and increase legal migration. All he has to do is stop indulging the Sandernista desire to remake America and instead focus on solving the country’s problems. – Wall Street Journal 

Merrill Matthews writes: Of course, Biden is trying to quickly change the narrative away from his multiple management failures — sort of like the president’s advice to the former Afghan president to “change the perception.” Biden wants voters focused on his $3.5 trillion spending spree. But why would anyone hand that much money to a president who has proven, repeatedly, that he cannot effectively manage many of the tasks he already has? – The Hill 


The U.S. Navy’s Mideast-based 5th Fleet said Wednesday it will launch a new task force that incorporates airborne, sailing and underwater drones after years of maritime attacks linked to ongoing tensions with Iran. – Associated Press 

The U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan prompted Pentagon officials working on the Joint All-Domain Command and Control concept to ask: Do troops have access to data they need on the ground, absent of an adversary capable of disrupting that access? The answer was “no.” – Defense News 

The U.S. Air Force’s top general backs proposed legislation that would cap the number of F-35s the Defense Department can buy unless it meets affordability goals for operating and sustaining the jet. – Defense News 

The U.S. Army is working to ensure the cost of the withdrawal from Afghanistan does not negatively impact its readiness and how it shapes its future budgets, top service leaders said at the Defense News Conference on Sept. 8. – Defense News 

The U.S. Navy is disputing a claim from China that it chased an American warship out of the South China Sea after the U.S. vessel performed a freedom of navigation exercise. – USNI News 

Long War

The main suspect in a jihadist rampage that killed 130 people across Paris described himself defiantly as “an Islamic State soldier” and shouted at the top judge on Wednesday at the start of a trial into the 2015 attacks. – Reuters 

Immigration officers feared him. So, too, did prosecutors, prison officials and police. They thought he could launch a terror attack at any moment. Even the prime minister wanted him deported. Yet, in the end, nobody in New Zealand was able to stop an extremist inspired by the Islamic State group from walking free from prison in July. Seven weeks later, he grabbed a knife at an Auckland supermarket and began stabbing shoppers, injuring seven in a frenzied attack. – Associated Press 

The judge presiding over the death penalty case against five al Qaeda members who played key roles in 9/11 said he wasn’t “shocked” the terrorist attack happened but was stunned by its massive “scope” as he recounted his personal experience while grilled by defense lawyers Wednesday. – Washington Examiner 

Seth J. Frantzman writes: WHAT WE learned after 9/11 was that the US embarked on a wide-ranging global war on terror, but the US never really sought to eradicate all terror groups. Instead the question of what constituted a “terror” group would constantly change. Israel likely thought that the US joining the war on terror would mean US sympathy for what Israel was facing. However, deeply ingrained views in the West that portray the Israeli-Palestinian conflict as sui generis mean that terror groups like Hamas were seen as different than al-Qaeda. Iranian-backed groups like Hezbollah have also been seen consistently as different. – Jerusalem Post 

Ameem Lutfi and Kevin L. Schwartz write: While the ignominious U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan may at first appear to signal a waning empire and the closing chapter on the war on terror, it must be remembered that America’s imperial power was never solely tied to an on-the-ground presence in foreign lands. […]These legacies resonate most prominently not in the form of soldiers, invasions and military operations, but through the manner in which people and states have come to frame and understand the world around them. – The Hill 

Alia Brahimi writes: Twenty years on, the group that perpetrated the 9/11 attacks, al Qaeda, finds itself with the remarkable opportunity to relive its golden years through sanctuary and freedom of movement in Taliban-controlled Afghanistan—alongside such militant cousins as the Haqqani network and the Islamic State. Washington will have to manage this complex threat from a much less advantageous position than when it had a ground presence, and with considerably weakened global standing. As this new chapter unfolds, and shared global challenges multiply, the crisis of authority surrounding the 9/11 attacks will be felt more keenly than ever. – Foreign Policy 

David R. Shedd writes: But tragically, the political decisions to pursue a hasty retreat in Afghanistan snatched defeat from the jaws of victory in the war on terror, and Americans are now less safe.The reverberations from the events of the past several weeks likely will affect the security of the U.S. and its allies for years to come, and in ways we cannot yet foresee. – Heritage Foundation 

Katherine Zimmerman writes: The Taliban’s announcement of its government for the “Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan” on September 7, 2021, heralded a new era under the fundamentalist interpretation of Sharia, or Islamic law, that Salafi-jihadi groups support. Salafi-jihadi groups had already celebrated the Taliban’s victory over the U.S.-backed Afghan forces after the U.S. and NATO withdrawal. The global movement has been reinvigorated, taking the Taliban’s success as proof of a winning strategy. – American Enterprise Institute