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A curated guide to major national security news and developments over the past 24 hours. Here’s today’s news.


The House has voted to speed up the process that would allow Afghans who helped U.S. troops in Afghanistan and face retribution from the Taliban to immigrate to the U.S. More than 18,000 Afghans are waiting for their applications for Special Immigrant Visas to go through and the measure passed “would waive a requirement for applicants to undergo medical examinations in Afghanistan before qualifying, instead allowing them to do so after entering the United States,” Luke Broadwater reports for the New York Times.

The U.S. military could complete its withdrawal from Afghanistan within days, according to multiple U.S. officials. As many as 1,000 U.S. troops would remain in the country after the formal withdrawal to assist in securing the U.S. Embassy in Kabul and the city’s airport, a senior administration official has told CNN, though a senior defense official has insisted that no more than 650 troops would remain for embassy and airport security. Barbara Starr, Nicole Gaouette and Kevin Liptak report for CNN.

The German military completed its withdrawal from Afghanistan late on Tuesday night. “Wrapping up the operation, Germany said it would have to redeploy the equivalent of around 800 containers of equipment such as armored vehicles, helicopters, weapons and ammunition as the drawdown began,” Reuters reporting.

“The German military said that the last troops were on their way home via Tbilisi, Georgia, and that Brig. Gen. Ansgar Meyer, the last commander of the German contingent, was on board an Airbus A400M aircraft bringing them home,” reports AP.

The German military completed its withdrawal from Afghanistan late on Tuesday night. “Wrapping up the operation, Germany said it would have to redeploy the equivalent of around 800 containers of equipment such as armored vehicles, helicopters, weapons and ammunition as the drawdown began,” Reuters reporting.

“The German military said that the last troops were on their way home via Tbilisi, Georgia, and that Brig. Gen. Ansgar Meyer, the last commander of the German contingent, was on board an Airbus A400M aircraft bringing them home,” reports AP.

Taliban fighters have launched an attack on the central Afghan city of Ghazni, clashing with Afghan forces and using explosives to try and seize the city. “While senior Afghan officials confirmed the Taliban’s offensive, they also said that Afghan forces were trying to regain control of lost ground. The Taliban have had a strong presence in the province of Ghazni for years, but provincial police officials said the overnight attack from several directions was the fiercest launched by the armed group,” Al Jazeera reports.

Gen. Scott Miller, the top U.S. general in charge of withdrawing troops from Afghanistan, says that the security situation in the country is “not good” and warns of a possible Taliban push for power. “I think what you’re seeing, just if you look at the security situation, it’s not good,” Miller said during an interview with ABC’s Martha Raddatz in Kabul. “The Afghans have recognized it’s not good. The Taliban are on the move.” The Taliban have taken over numerous districts since the withdrawal started in April and have created conditions that “won’t look good for Afghanistan in the future if there is a push for a military takeover,” Miller said. “The loss of terrain and the rapidity of that loss of terrain has to be concerning,” Miller added. “As you watch the Taliban moving across the country, what you don’t want to have happen is that the people lose hope, and they believe they now have a foregone conclusion presented to them.” Ellen Mitchell reports for The Hill.

Miller said that it was crucial for the fractious civilian leadership to “unify” and for the array of armed groups joining the anti-Taliban fight to be controlled and made “accountable” for their actions in battle to avoid “very tough times ahead.” Miller also “stressed that for now he has ‘full authority’ under a U.S.-Taliban peace deal signed last year to provide armed support to Afghan ground forces, including U.S. airstrikes. Afghan military commanders have repeatedly said that U.S. air support is crucial to reversing recent gains by the Taliban,” Pamela Constable reports for the Washington Post.


President Biden yesterday sent a letter to Congress consistent with the War Powers Resolution (Public Law 93-148). “At my direction, on June 27, 2021, United States forces conducted targeted strikes against facilities at two locations in Syria and one location in Iraq near the Iraq-Syria border. These facilities were used by Iran-backed militia groups that have been involved in a series of unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) and rocket attacks against United States personnel and facilities in Iraq. These militia attacks have escalated in recent months. Recent rocket attacks have included ones on Balad Air Base on April 4, April 18, and May 3, 2021; the Baghdad Diplomatic Support Center near the Baghdad International Airport on May 2, 2021; and Al‑Asad Air Base on May 4 and May 24, 2021. Recent UAV attacks have included ones on United States facilities in Erbil on April 14, 2021; Al-Asad Air Base on May 8, 2021; Bashur Air Base on May 10, 2021; and United States facilities near the Baghdad International Airport on June 9, 2021. These attacks have injured and threatened the lives of United States and Coalition personnel. Additional UAV attacks have been attempted. I directed the June 27 strikes in order to protect and defend the safety of our personnel, to degrade and disrupt the ongoing series of attacks against the United States and our partners, and to deter the Islamic Republic of Iran and Iran-backed militia groups from conducting or supporting further attacks on United States personnel and facilities. In support of these aims, the targeted strikes were directed at facilities used by groups involved in these ongoing attacks for weapons storage, command, logistics, and UAV operations. I directed this discrete military action consistent with my responsibility to protect United States citizens both at home and abroad and in furtherance of United States national security and foreign policy interests, pursuant to my constitutional authority to conduct United States foreign relations and as Commander in Chief and Chief Executive. The United States took this necessary and proportionate action consistent with international law, and in the exercise of the United States’ inherent right of self-defense as reflected in Article 51 of the United Nations Charter. The United States stands ready to take further action, as necessary and appropriate, to address further threats or attacks,” the letter read.

U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Linda Thomas-Greenfield told the U.N. Security Council on Tuesday that the U.S. targeted Iran-backed militia in Syria and Iraq with airstrikes to deter the militants and Tehran from conducting or supporting further attacks on U.S. personnel or facilities. Reuters reporting.

Thousands of members of Iraq’s Hashd al-Shabi paramilitary alliance gathered in Baghdad yesterday to mourn comrades killed in U.S. airstrikes along the Iraq-Syria border. Chants of “death to America” and “vengeance for the martyrs” could be heard, and “Ahmad al-Maqsusi – a commander with the Sayid al-Shuhada militia, which has vowed ‘open war’ with U.S. troops – said it was time for the Americans to leave,” Al Jazeera reports


Tigray leaders have indicated that they have little appetite for a truce and will take the fight into Eritrea. A day after retaking the Tigray regional capital of Mekelle, “Getachew Reda, a senior Tigrayan leader, said that Tigray’s forces would not hesitate to enter Eritrea, and even try to advance toward its capital, if that is what it would take to keep Eritrean troops from attacking again. And he claimed that in recent days, Tigrayan forces had killed many Ethiopian troops and militia fighters, and took more prisoners,” Abdi Latif Dahir and Simon Marks report for the New York Times.

Tigray fighters have rejected Ethiopia’s cease fire as a “sick joke,” accusing Ethiopia of long denying humanitarian aid to the Tigrayans it now “pretends to care about.” Reda said that the fighters would “stop at nothing to liberate every square inch” of the Tigray region, in an interview with the Associated Press. Cara Anna reports for AP.

The Ethiopian army could re-enter Mekelle within weeks if needed, a spokesperson for the Ethiopian government task force said Wednesday, the first public statement by the country’s government since Mekelle was seized this week. Reuters reporting.


Russian authorities have raided the apartments of several investigative journalists and their family members, including the chief editor and a journalist for the Proekt investigative online outlet. AP reports.

A Russian court has arrested in absentia Ivan Zhdanov, a top associate of imprisoned Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny. “Zhdanov, who lives abroad, dismissed the ruling to arrest him as a ‘pseudo judicial procedure’ in a statement posted on his Instagram,” AP reports.


Myanmar’s authorities will release approximately 700 prisoners from Yangon’s Insein jail on Wednesday, including some of the thousands of people detained for opposing military rule, prison chief Zaw Zaw told Reuters. “The Myanmar Now news portal reported that across the country about 2,000 prisoners would be released. A prisons department official declined to comment,” Reuters reports.

South Korea weighs reforming the military justice system, including reducing the power of commanders over sex abuse cases and handing the responsibility to civilian courts. “Fewer than 10% of almost 2,000 sex crime cases tried in military courts from 2016-20 resulted in prison sentences, according to court documents,” reports Reuters.

A Human Rights Watch report says China’s government and its supporters have monitored, harassed and intimidated pro-democracy Chinese students living in Australia, while Australian universities have failed to protect the students’ academic freedoms. AP reports.


The Supreme Court yesterday dealt a blow for immigrants who have been deported from the U.S. and then reenter illegally claiming persecution or torture in their home countries if they are deported again. The justices were considering a complex federal law that authorizes the government to detain immigrants and deciding which section of it applies to this type of case. One section of the law states, “the alien may receive a bond hearing before an immigration judge” and thus the chance to be free while proceedings continue, Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr. wrote for the majority, which is expected to be published tomorrow. The other section of the law says, the immigrant is considered “removed,” and indefinite detention is warranted. Alito, Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. and Justices Clarence Thomas, Neil M. Gorsuch, Brett M. Kavanaugh and Amy Coney Barrett said the latter applied, and so the detainees do not get a bond hearing. “The court’s liberals, Justices Stephen G. Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan, saw it differently and would have affirmed the victory the plaintiffs won at the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit in Richmond,” Robert Barnes reports for the Washington Post.

Hundreds of undocumented migrants seeking settled status in Belgium, which would provide them with access to healthcare and government services, have been on hunger strike for more than a month in Brussels, including some who have stitched their lips together. More on this with Reuters.


Colombian officials have said that they have caught the Romanian hacker wanted by the U.S. for distributing the “Gozi” virus which infected more than a million computers between 2007 to 2012, including computers belonging to NASA. “Mihai Ionut Paunescu faces computer intrusion and banking fraud charges in New York, where prosecutors say he was part of a ring of criminals that developed and spread the ‘Gozi’ virus and other forms of malware that were used to steal money from bank accounts,” AP reports.

In a biannual report to the U.N. Security Council, U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres appealed to President Biden administration to lift or waive all sanctions on Iran as agreed under a 2015 deal.Guterres also urged the U.S. to “extend the waivers with regard to the trade in oil with the Islamic Republic of Iran, and fully renew waivers for nuclear non-proliferation projects.” Reuters reporting.

President Biden will nominate academic Amy Gutmann as U.S. ambassador to Germany, two sources familiar with the matter said. Reuters reporting.

The Transportation Department issued a ban yesterday on ticket sales for air travel to and from Belarus, after Minsk forced a Ryanair flight to land, arresting a dissident journalist and his girlfriend. The department said that the State Department had determined that limiting travel between the U.S. and Belarus was in Washington’s foreign policy interest following the diversion of the flight. The ban will still permit “the operation of any transportation deemed to be in the national interest of the United States, including on humanitarian or national security grounds,” according to the text. Reuters reporting.


The National Security Agency (NSA)’s extensive surveillance program, XKeyscore, continues to operate with no judicial and limited congressional oversight despite its potential to capture Americans’ communications, a member of a privacy watchdog agency has said. XKeyscore allows analysts to use a search function across databases of Internet traffic captured from sites worldwide to select emails, Web browsing histories and social media activity of specific people. The program was first revealed by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden in 2013 and was the subject of a five-year investigation by the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board (PCLOB) that ended in December. Travis LeBlanc, a Democratic board member, voted against approving the panel’s classified report on XKeyscore, saying that the board “failed to adequately investigate or evaluate” the NSA’s collection activities. His partly redacted statement was released after it went through a declassification process. Ellen Nakashima reports for the Washington Post.

The NSA has released a statement denying allegations from Fox News host Tucker Carlson that the NSA is spying on him and planning to leak his communications in a bid to take him off the air, reports Hannah Knowles for the Washington Post.


Chair of the House Armed Services Committee Adam Smith (D-WA) said that in mid-July the committee will consider a standalone bill that would overhaul the military justice system, including removing the decision to prosecute major crimes from the chain of command and giving that responsibility to independent military prosecutors. Smith told reporters that “consideration of the stand-alone bill from Rep. Jackie Speier (D-CA) would come on top of trying to tackle the issue through the annual defense policy bill,” Rebecca Kheel reports for The Hill.

Democrats on the House Appropriations Defense Subcommittee yesterday released a $706 billion Pentagon funding bill, chiming closely with the Biden administration’s request for a total of $753 billion for defense programs for the 2022 fiscal year, including $715 billion for the Pentagon. Details of the similarities and differences between the House bill and the administration’s request are provided by Rebecca Kheel for The Hill.

Democrats on the House Appropriations subcommittee for State, Foreign Operations and Related Programs advanced legislation that would increase the State Department’s budget by more than 12 percent for next year, providing $62.24 billion for the federal government’s foreign policy operations.Laura Kelly reports for The Hill.

The House yesterday voted 366-46 to repeal a pair of decades-old war authorizations. “Lawmakers passed the two measures — one bill that would repeal the 1991 Gulf War authorization and a second that would rescind a vague Cold War-era military authorization for the Middle East passed in 1957 — with bipartisan support under expedited procedures that required two-thirds majorities to pass,” reports Connor O’Brien for POLITICO.


A Department of Homeland Security (DHS) intelligence bulletin from Monday warned its law enforcement partners about concerns about violent attacks in the lead-up to the anniversaries of two domestic terror attacks. “While violent extremists typically have not conducted attacks on dates they perceive as significant, DHS continues to review publicly available social media for explicit threats of violence in the lead-up to anniversaries of DVE [domestic violent extremist] attacks, including the 2019 El Paso shooting on 3 August and the 2017 Charlottesville car attack on 12 August,” the bulletin said, adding, “Additionally, Qanon conspiracy theory adherents continue to promote the idea that the former president will return to power in August … We have no evidence of associated threats with the August date but historically some DVEs have conducted violence in furtherance of conspiracy theories.” Betsy Woodruff Swan reports for POLITICO.

The Department of Justice (DOJ) is investigating Rudy Giuliani for possible lobbying of former president Trump on behalf of Turkish interests, including pressuring Trump to drop federal charges against Reza Zarrab, an Iranian-Turkish gold trader accused of helping a state-owned Turkish bank funnel $10 billion to Iran in defiance of Washington sanctions, and urging Trump to extradite exiled Turkish cleric Fethullah Gülen to Turkey, a top priority of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, according to people familiar with the matter. It is not a criminal investigation and is separate to the ongoing criminal probe of his activities in Ukraine. “Robert Costello, a lawyer for Giuliani, said the Justice Department’s Turkey inquiry was driven by an October 2019 Washington Post story that, citing unnamed officials, said that Giuliani had insistently sought Gulen’s deportation in several White House meetings with Trump,” report Christian Berthelsen, Greg Farrell and Chris Strohm for Bloomberg.

The House has passed legislation to remove statutes of Confederate leaders from the U.S. Capitol. The legislation also replaces the bust of Roger B. Taney, the U.S. chief justice who wrote the 1857 Supreme Court decision that said people of African descent are not U.S. citizens. 67 Republicans joined Democrats in backing the measure which passed 285 to 120 votes and was reintroduced this year by House Majority Whip James Clyburn (D-SC) after a similar bill passed the House last year but did not advance to the Senate, then controlled by Republicans. John Wagner and Eugene Scott report for the Washington Post.

Rep. Paul Gosar (R-AZ) has denied planning to attend an America First fundraiser planned for this week, a group that promotes white nationalist ideas. Gosar denied any knowledge of the event, despite an invitation for the fundraiser circulating online that includes Gosar and Nick Fuentes, a far-right operative who leads America First, and Gosar appearing to defend the fundraiser in a tweet on Monday evening. Marianna Sotomayor reports for the Washington Post.

Acher-Daniels-Midland (ADM), one of America’s largest agricultural company, sold a small grain plant in South Carolina to Sonny Perdue’s company at a fraction of its price, just weeks after former President Trump tapped Perdue to be his Agriculture Secretary, an investigation by the Washington Post has found. ADM stood to benefit from a friendly Agriculture Secretary, however a spokesperson for the company has “denied that the company sold the property at a discount, saying that ADM began negotiations with Perdue’s former company, AGrowStar, in 2015 — well before Trump was elected — and could not find another buyer.” Desmond Butler reports for the Washington Post.

The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) yesterday tapped New Jersey Attorney General Gurbir Grewal to head its enforcement unit responsible for policing markets. Reuters reporting.

The Navy will not pursue further action against retired SEAL Eddie Gallagher after he said on a podcast that aired in May that “we killed that guy,” referring to a case in which he was acquitted of murdering 17-year-old Islamic State captive Khaled Jamal Abdullah in 2018 but convicted of posing for a photograph with the corpse and demoted from chief petty officer to petty officer first class. The decision not to pursue further action was taken after the Navy reviewed Gallagher’s inflammatory comments and determined they were “not corroborated,” Navy spokesperson Cmdr. Courtney Hillson told POLITICO yesterday, adding, “No substantive information was found to merit an investigation based on those statements.” Lara Seligman reports for POLITICO.


Violence erupted in East Jerusalem on Tuesday after Israeli forces began demolishing a Palestinian butcher’s shop in the al-Bustan area. There are reports that Israeli forces used tear gas and batons to push back the family that owned the shop and protestors. Al Jazeera reports.

The top leaders of militant groups Hezbollah and Hamas held talks in Beirut, Lebanon yesterday about last month’s Gaza war between Hamas and Israel. In their first meeting since September, Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh and Hezbollah leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah discussed how they could build on the experience of the latest violence in Gaza, though there were no comments after the meeting. AP reports.

The U.N. International Residual Mechanism for Criminal Tribunals (IRMCT) will today deliver judgments in the retrial of two allies of the late Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic who are accused of organizing, arming and supporting Serb paramilitaries that committed atrocities in Croatia and Bosnia in the early 1990s. “Jovica Stanisic and Franko Simatovic were originally acquitted in 2013 by judges who said prosecutors had failed to prove important elements of their links to the crimes. Appeals judges quashed the not-guilty verdicts in 2015 and ordered the retrial that took place at the [IRMCT],” reports AP

Iran-backed Houthi rebels fired two missiles at the Yemeni government-held city of Marib, killing at least three people and wounding at least ten others, a Yemeni government official has said. The missiles landed in the Rawdha neighborhood in the crowded city, according to the provincial governor’s press secretary. “The Houthis said they targeted military camps in the city, though they did not provide evidence to support their claim,” Samy Magdy reports for AP.

A Dutch court has convicted and sentenced a woman to six-years’ imprisonment for her involvement in war crimes committed by the Islamic State (IS) extremist group in Syria and Iraq. The Court ruled that IS is a “criminal organization with the aim of committing war crimes and convicted the woman of involvement in the war crimes for spreading IS propaganda from her home near Amsterdam,” AP reports.

The IS’s Central Africa Province group has claimed responsibility for two explosions in eastern Congo, including its first suicide bombing in the region. The claim of responsibility has deepened fears that IS has now laid roots in the Congo and may be working with a rebel group known as the Allied Democratic Forces. Al-Hadji Kudra Maliro reports for AP.


The coronavirus has infected over 33.651 million and now killed over 604,400 people in the United States, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University. Globally, there have been over 181.851 million confirmed coronavirus cases and over 3.938 million deaths. Sergio Hernandez, Sean O’Key, Amanda Watts, Byron Manley and Henrik Pettersson report for CNN.

A map and analysis of the vaccine roll out across the U.S. is available at the New York Times.

A map and analysis of all confirmed cases of the virus in the U.S. is available at the New York Times.

U.S. and worldwide maps tracking the spread of the pandemic are available at the Washington Post.

A state-by-state guide to lockdown measures and reopenings is provided by the New York Times.

Latest updates on the pandemic at the Guardian.