Sign up for our daily briefing

Make your busy days simpler with Axios AM/PM. Catch up on what's new and why it matters in just 5 minutes.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Catch up on the day's biggest business stories

Subscribe to Axios Closer for insights into the day’s business news and trends and why they matter

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Stay on top of the latest market trends

Subscribe to Axios Markets for the latest market trends and economic insights. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Sports news worthy of your time

Binge on the stats and stories that drive the sports world with Axios Sports. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Tech news worthy of your time

Get our smart take on technology from the Valley and D.C. with Axios Login. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Get the inside stories

Get an insider's guide to the new White House with Axios Sneak Peek. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Denver news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Denver

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Des Moines news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Des Moines

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Twin Cities news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Twin Cities

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Tampa Bay news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Tampa Bay

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Charlotte news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Charlotte

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Sign up for Axios NW Arkansas

Stay up-to-date on the most important and interesting stories affecting NW Arkansas, authored by local reporters

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Mike Pompeo during the Peace and Security in the Middle East conference in Warsaw, Poland, on Feb. 14, 2019. Photo: Maciej Luczniewski/NurPhoto via Getty Images

The Trump administration on Tuesday sanctioned — for the first time — an Arab, Iran-backed Shiite militia operating in both Iraq and Syria.

Why it matters: Since unveiling its Iran strategy in October 2017, the administration has struggled to implement regional elements of the policy. Washington has been reluctant to sanction Iran-backed forces, but now appears willing to do so to name, shame and penalize Iran’s agents of influence in the Middle East.

Details: The group, Harakat al-Nujaba, and its leader, Sheikh Akram al-Ka’abi, were sanctioned by the State Department as Specially Designated Global Terrorists, subjecting them to punitive economic measures.

  • Al-Ka’abi, who was first designated by the U.S. Treasury Department in 2008, traces his origins to the various Iran-backed terror groups that emerged in U.S.–occupied Iraq after Muqtada al-Sadr’s Mahdi Army splintered, and remains an ardent follower of Iran’s Supreme Leader.
  • Al-Nujaba, which was created in 2013, has since become one of Iran’s most important militias in Iraq, having participated in key battles in the Syrian conflict, such as the siege of Aleppo. The commander of Iran’s elite foreign operations has been photographed alongside al-Nujaba members in Syria.

The big picture: Iran arms, trains and funds proxy and militia forces like al-Nujaba to project power, shore up its partners and clients, and its influence across the Middle East with little direct involvement.

  • While the administration has relied on sanctions to change Iran’s regional behavior in the past — having designated two Shiite militias fighting in Syria in January — it has until now done so only with non-Arab militias, which constitute a much smaller portion of those operating in Iraq and Syria than do Arab ones.

The bottom line: Ahead of Iranian President Rouhani’s visit to Iraq, the sanctions send an important signal about Washington’s willingness to punish and stigmatize Iran’s proxy network. But if the Trump administration is serious about getting Tehran to change its behavior, it will need to broaden the scope of militias it targets — some of which are politically represented in Iraq — and work to impede their mobility across the heartland of the Middle East.

Behnam Ben Taleblu is a senior fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies

Go deeper

Students vandalize and steal from schools for viral TikTok challenge

TikTok logo displayed on a phone screen in Krakow, Poland on July 18, 2021. Photo: Jakub Porzycki/NurPhoto via Getty Images

A viral TikTok challenge is leading students nationwide to shatter mirrors, steal fire alarms and intentionally clog toilets, The Washington Post reports.

Driving the news: Dubbed the the “Devious Licks challenge, students are showing off their "devious licks" on TikTok — with a sped-up version of "Ski Ski BasedGod" by rapper Lil’ B playing in the background.

Axios-Ipsos poll: People of color face more environmental threats

Expand chart
Data: Axios/Ipsos poll; Note: ±2.5% margin of error; Chart: Sara Wise/Axios

Americans of color are much less likely than white Americans to experience good air quality or tap water or enough trees or green space in their communities, and they're more likely to face noise pollution and litter, a new Axios-Ipsos poll finds.

The big picture: Our national survey shows Black and Hispanic Americans are more likely than their white counterparts to live near major highways or industrial or manufacturing plants — and to have dealt in the past year with water-boil notices or power outages lasting more than 24 hours.

18 hours ago - Health

FDA advisory panel recommends Pfizer boosters for those 65 and older

A healthcare worker prepares a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine at the Key Biscayne Community Center on Aug. 24, 2021. Photo: Eva Marie Uzcategui/Bloomberg via Getty Images

A key Food and Drug Administration advisory panel on Friday overwhelmingly voted against recommending Pfizer vaccine booster shots for younger Americans, but unanimously recommended approving the third shots for individuals 65 and older, as well as those at high-risk of severe COVID-19.

Why it matters: While the votes are non-binding, and the FDA must still make a final decision, Friday's move pours cold water on the Biden administration's plan to begin administering boosters to most individuals who received the Pfizer vaccine later this month.