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Turkey Is Next as Wildfires Afflict Mediterranean Countries

Elian Peltier and Asmaa al-Omar / New York Times

Firefighters in Turkey struggled to contain dozens of wildfires raging for a third day on Friday, as fast-spreading blazes forced popular holiday resorts and dozens of rural areas along the Mediterranean coast to be evacuated. The fires, which authorities say may have been sparked by arson or human negligence, have killed at least four people and injured roughly 200 others. As tourists were forced to flee hotels, some on boats as flames licked closer, local residents in rural areas watched the fires burn their homes, kill their livestock and destroy their businesses.

U.S. aid chief to travel to Ethiopia in diplomatic push on Tigray

Daphne Psaledakis / Reuters

Washington is sending USAID Administrator Samantha Power to Ethiopia this week while warning of punitive measures if aid is unable to reach the Tigray region, where hundreds of thousands of people are believed to be experiencing famine. A statement said Power will travel to Sudan and Ethiopia from Saturday to Wednesday in a fresh diplomatic push by President Joe Biden’s administration amid fears of ethnic cleansing in the region and hopes for negotiations between the Ethiopian government and Tigrayan forces to resolve the conflict.

American Competitiveness

Path to Infrastructure Deal Shows Promise and Pitfalls of Bipartisanship

Andrew Duehren, Kristina Peterson and Andrew Restuccia / The Wall Street Journal

For President Biden and the group of senators who negotiated it, the roughly $1 trillion infrastructure agreement vindicates a long-held belief: With enough time, effort and expertise, bipartisanship on a major issue is still possible in a rancorously divided Washington. But the agreement—which cleared an initial procedural step in the Senate with broad bipartisan support on Wednesday and faces several more hurdles before it can become law—also took place in a context that may be difficult to replicate in coming legislative efforts.

Asymmetric Operations

About 200 Afghan interpreters and family members arrive in U.S., in first wave of evacuations

Alex Horton / The Washington Post

About 200 Afghan interpreters and their families arrived in Virginia on Friday, the first evacuations of thousands imperiled because of their work with the United States in Afghanistan as the Taliban gains control of more territory nationwide. The flight departed Kabul with Afghans on their first leg of travel to Fort Lee, Va., where they will finish the last rounds of processing over the next several days, Ross Wilson, head of the U.S. diplomatic mission in Afghanistan, said Friday. The Afghans will then be resettled across the country.

Myanmar leaders use pandemic as political weapon

David Rising / Associated Press

With coronavirus deaths rising in Myanmar, allegations are growing from residents and human rights activists that the military government, which seized control in February, is using the pandemic to consolidate power and crush opposition. In the last week, the per capita death rate in Myanmar surpassed those of Indonesia and Malaysia to become the worst in Southeast Asia. The country’s crippled health care system has rapidly become overwhelmed with new patients sick with COVID-19. Supplies of medical oxygen are running low, and the government has restricted its private sale in many places, saying it is trying to prevent hoarding. But that has led to widespread allegations that the stocks are being directed to government supporters and military-run hospitals.

Climate Security

Rapid Arctic Warming Is Accelerating Permafrost Collapse in Siberia, New Report Warns

The Moscow Times

Siberia and other Northern Russian regions are becoming increasingly vulnerable to the impact of the climate crisis, which is accelerating exceptionally fast in the Arctic regions, the international Climate Crisis Advisory Group (CCAG) said in a new report on Thursday. The Arctic is warming roughly three times faster than the planet as a whole, scientists warned in the report. Annual Arctic temperatures are now 3.5 degrees Celsius above the pre-industrial level, while Earth in general has warmed by 1.2 C.  However, the present scale of weather disasters is much bigger than climate scientists had anticipated for this level of global warming. Permafrost currently covers about 65% of Russian territory, but is melting fast due to the climate crisis. The Republic of Sakha and the Chukotka and Magadan regions are the most vulnerable to permafrost collapse, according to the report.

Dead zones, a ‘horseman’ of climate change, could suffocate crabs in the West, scientists say

María Luisa Paúl / The Washington Post

As the Pacific Ocean’s cool waters hugged Oregon’s rugged shore, Nick Edwards, a seasoned commercial fisherman, could not believe his eyes. Stretching over at least 100 yards, he said, were the carcasses of hundreds of Dungeness crabs piled in the sands of a beach south of Cape Perpetua. The remains of what Edwards deemed “the crème de la crème of seafood” — also one of the state’s most prized fisheries — are the most visible byproduct of a process that usually goes unnoticed by most beach-dwellers: hypoxia, or the emergence of swaths of low-oxygen zones in marine waters. Hypoxic areas in Oregon, researchers found, have surfaced every summer since they were first recorded in 2002 — leading scientists to determine a recurring “hypoxic season,” akin to wildfire and hurricane ones.

Energy Security

A Geothermal Energy Boom May Be Coming, and Ex-Oil Workers Are Leading the Way

Dan Gearino / Inside Climate News

Some of the leaders in geothermal energy and energy policy gathered virtually to talk about a form of clean energy that they said is getting close to a technological leap forward. Geothermal energy comes from harnessing heat from beneath the Earth’s surface, which can be used to run power plants, heat buildings and provide heat for industry. Some form of geothermal has been used for decades, with power plants in the West and Mountain West, and even older geothermal heating systems in cities like Boise, Idaho. The opportunity ahead is for researchers and entrepreneurs to develop ways to affordably use geothermal energy at a larger scale and in many more places.

An Oil Industry Hub in Washington State Bans New Fossil Fuel Development

Marianne Lavelle / Inside Climate News

Eight years ago, Whatcom County, on the northwest coast of Washington State, seemed destined to become the gateway through which North America’s expanding fossil fuel industry would connect with the hungry energy markets of Asia. But the massive coal proposal would prove to be the undoing of the vision of Whatcom County as a fossil fuel export mecca. The plan produced a ferocious backlash, killing the project in 2016 and sparking a local political upheaval that culminated on Tuesday night. At its weekly meeting, the Whatcom County Council voted to approve an overhaul of local land-use policies, allowing existing refineries to expand but prohibiting new refineries, transshipment facilities, coal plants, piers or wharfs in its coastal industrial zone. The new rules also require a public review of the environmental impact of any significant expansion at existing refineries and other facilities, including any increase in greenhouse gas emissions.

National Security Strategy

Duterte restores Philippines’s key military agreement with US

Al Jazeera

President Rodrigo Duterte has restored a pact governing the presence of US troops in the Philippines, the two countries’ defense secretaries announced on Friday, retracting a decision that had caused increasing concern among policymakers in Washington and Manila. The Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) provides rules for the rotation of thousands of US troops in and out of the Philippines for war drills and exercises. It has assumed additional importance as the United States and its allies contend with an increasingly assertive China, particularly in the disputed South China Sea.

Brutal killing spotlights violence against women in Pakistan

Kathy Gannon / Associated Press

A gruesome death last week in an upscale neighborhood of the Pakistani capital, Islamabad, is the latest in a series of attacks on women in Pakistan, where rights activists say such gender-based assaults are on the rise as the country barrels toward greater religious extremism. Mukadam was the daughter of a diplomat, and her status as a member of the country’s elite has shone a spotlight on the relentless and growing violence against women in Pakistan, said prominent rights activist Tahira Abdullah. But the majority of women who are victims of such violence are among the country’s poor and middle classes, and their deaths are often not reported or, when they are, often ignored.

Latin America and the Caribbean

Report reveals illegal detention and torture in Colombia protests

Genevieve Glatsky / Al Jazeera

Colombian authorities unlawfully detained, tortured, and used lethal weapons against peaceful protesters during the demonstrations that have swept the country since April, said a new report from Amnesty International. Through an “exhaustive digital verification” of images and videos, Amnesty also confirmed that National Police officials permitted acts of violence and urban paramilitarism by armed civilians against demonstrators and human rights activists. The protests, which reached their peak in May, have since calmed, although they saw a resurgence on July 20, Colombian Independence Day.

National Security and Space

Russian space module mishap knocks ISS out of position

Al Jazeera

Flight controllers have regained control of the International Space Station (ISS) after it was knocked off course by a newly arrived Russian research module. Thursday’s mishap saw the jet thrusters of the multipurpose Nauka module inadvertently fire about three hours after it had latched on to the orbiting outpost, briefly throwing it out of control, officials with the United States space agency NASA said. The module’s jets inexplicably restarted, causing the entire ISS to pitch out of its normal flight position some 400km (250 miles) above the Earth. In response, the mission’s flight director declared a “spacecraft emergency”, NASA officials said.

Recent Reports

Briefing Note – The Case for an Engagement-Focused U.S. Strategy in Cuba
Savarni Sanka / American Security Project
The United States’ sanctions against Cuba were initiated in 1960 as a response to Fidel Castro’s nationalization of American assets on the island. In the more than sixty years since, the sanctions have made little progress toward the U.S.’ goals of realizing Cuba’s economic and political liberalization. Instead, the embargo has harmed American businesses, tourists, and farmers. It has also exacerbated poor living conditions on the island and threatened U.S. national security. A new U.S. strategy in Cuba is long overdue: to minimize the embargo’s adverse impacts and further U.S. objectives, the U.S. should reform its sanctions to be more targeted and allow for increased economic, touristic, and diplomatic engagement with Cuba.

Perspective – Preparing for the Consequences of Withdrawal from Afghanistan
Claire Brenner and Matthew Wallin / American Security Project
America’s longest war will come to a symbolic close by September 11th, 2021. Yet the departure of foreign troops does not signify an end to Afghanistan’s conflict. Intra-Afghan negotiations are still underway, fighting continues between Afghan security forces and the Taliban, and Afghan civilians nervously await the fate of their country. The Biden administration, with the realization that U.S. military presence is not the answer to achieving lasting peace in Afghanistan, has decided to make a clean break with previous strategy by implementing a non-conditions-based withdrawal deadline. The withdrawal of foreign forces from Afghanistan will have profound implications on the fate of Intra-Afghan Negotiations, governance and security, terrorism, regional dynamics, great power competition, human rights, humanitarian issues, and development, which the United States, along with its partners and allies, must be prepared to deal with.

On Our Flashpoint Blog

The U.S. Must Counterbalance China in the Renewable Energy Market
Holly Sarkissian and Emily Kachinski
As China currently dominates the clean energy market, the U.S. must ramp up its capabilities through public and private investments in renewable energy supply chains to remain a viable renewable energy competitor.

5 Ways IUU Fishing Threatens National Security
Alyssa Withrow
Illegal, Unreported, and Unregulated (IUU) fishing threatens national security in many ways. This article summarizes five ways IUU fishing poses a security risk

New Age, New Weapons: How Extremists Are Using Alternative Social Media Platforms
Dominique Varier and Jennifer Soler
Mainstream media gets a bad rep. So as many turn to Telegram, Clubhouse, & TikTok, one wonders: how are extremists exploiting these alternative platforms?

Event Recap: How Infrastructure Plays a Role in US National Security
Emily Kachinski
On July 15, The American Security Project (ASP) hosted a virtual event highlighting the role of infrastructure in U.S. National Security and climate resiliency. Featured speakers included David M. Rubenstein Senior Fellow for Energy and the Environment Alice Hill, Atlantic Council Deputy Director for Climate and Advanced Energy Maggie Jackson and Fusion Industry Association CEO Andrew Holland, with ASP’s Senior Fellow for Climate Security David Haines moderating the discussion.

The Careful Balancing Act of Military Exercises
Lera Toropin
While military training exercises are a common practice for most nations, their size, frequency, and proximity to adversarial borders has been noticeably increasing, and in turn, their capacity to heighten tensions and trigger conflict.

Event Recap: National US Security Risks in the Face of Sea Level Rise
Holly Sarkissian
On June 29th the American Security Project and Florida International University co-hosted a discussion with Dr. Jayantha Obeysekera, Richard Miller, and ASP’s David Haines on national security threats caused by rising sea-levels and how the United States can prepare military bases for increasing climate security threats.

 

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