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A curated guide to major national security news and developments over the past 24 hours. Here’s today’s news.
AFGHANISTAN – NEW AFGHAN GOVERNMENT
The Taliban are set to name Haibatullah Akhundzada as the country’s new supreme leader. “According to interviews with Taliban and other sources in Kabul and Kandahar, Mr. Akhundzada would be the supreme authority of the new Islamic government. Mr. Akhunzada, who has been meeting with leadership in Kandahar, has been referred to as either ‘za’eem’ or ‘rahbar’ in official discourse, both meaning ‘leader,’ a theocratic title similar to that of the Iranian head of state, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei … Other key positions in the government will go to Mawlawi Mohammad Yaqoob and Sirajuddin Haqqani, the supreme leader’s powerful deputies,” reports Matthieu Aikins for the New York Times.
The formation of Afghanistan’s new government is in its final stages and ‘will take shape in the following few days,” Anas Haqqani, a senior Taliban leader, told Al Jazeera, saying it was still too early to say who will be part of the new cabinet. “We have covered about 90 to 95 percent and we will announce the final outcome in the following few days,” he said. Al Jazeera reporting.
AFGHANISTAN – INTERNATIONAL TALKS WITH THE TALIBAN
The Indian ambassador to Qatar, Deepak Mittal, met with Mohammad Abas Stanikzai, the head of the Taliban’s political office, taking place Tuesday in Doha at Stanikzai’s request, the Indian Ministry of External Affairs said. In a statement Tuesday, the Indian government said its ambassador discussed with Stanikzai security issues related to Indian citizens stranded in Afghanistan and raised India’s concern that “Afghanistan’s soil should not be used for anti-Indian activities and terrorism.” Stanikzai “assured the Ambassador that these issues would be positive addressed,” the Indian statement said. Gerry Shih reports for the Washington Post.
A team of Qatari technical experts arrived in Kabul on Wednesday to discuss reopening the capital’s airport, a journey made at the request of the Taliban, a source with knowledge of the situation tells CNN. Mick Krever reports for CNN.
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s “Special Representative Simon Gass has travelled to Doha and is meeting with senior Taliban representatives to underline the importance of safe passage out of Afghanistan for British nationals, and those Afghans who have worked with us over the past twenty years,” a Downing Street spokesperson said. Luke McGee and Lauren Kent report for CNN.
AFGHANISTAN – U.S.-RELATED DEVELOPMENTS
Taliban fighters escorted clusters of Americans to the gates at Kabul airport in a secret negotiated arrangement with the U.S. military, two defense officials said, with one adding that U.S. special operations forces set up a “secret gate” at the airport and established “call centers” to guide Americans through the evacuation process. “While one of the military officials said the arrangement with the Taliban ‘worked beautifully,’ Americans involved in an unofficial network dedicated to helping Americans and vulnerable Afghans said there were problems – particularly in the beginning – as the Taliban turned away U.S. citizens and legal permanent residents the militant group was supposed to allow through. The two U.S. defense officials said Americans were notified to gather at pre-set ‘muster points’ close to the airport where the Taliban would check their credentials and take them a short distance to a gate manned by American forces who were standing by to let them inside amid huge crowds of Afghans seeking to flee,” Barbara Starr and Brianna Keilar report for CNN.
On July 23, during the last call between President Biden and his Afghanistan counterpart, Ashraf Ghani, the leaders discussed military aid, political strategy and messaging tactics, with Biden stressing a need to change perceptions – but neither Biden nor Ghani appeared aware of or prepared for the Taliban’s rapid takeover, a transcript reviewed by Reuters shows. The two leaders spoke for around 14 minutes, for most of which Biden focused on what he called the Afghan government’s “perception” problem. “I need not tell you the perception around the world and in parts of Afghanistan, I believe, is that things are not going well in terms of the fight against the Taliban,” Biden said. “And there is a need, whether it is true or not, there is a need to project a different picture.” Biden also told Ghani that if Afghanistan’s top political figures were to give a joint press conference, backing a new military strategy, “that will change perception, and that will change an awful lot I think.” Reuters reporting.
Oklahoma Rep. Markwayne Mullin (R) threatened the U.S. ambassador to Tajikistan and embassy staff on a call Monday as he tried to enter Afghanistan through the country – in an apparent effort to rescue by helicopter five American citizens, a woman and her four children, stuck in the country – asking diplomats to help him transport a huge amount of cash into the country. Mullin told the embassy that he planned to fly from Tblisi, Georgia, into Tajikistan’s capital, Dushanbe, in the next few hours and needed the ambassador’s help, according to officials, but his request was rejected, with embassy officials telling him they could not assist him in skirting Tajikistan’s laws on cash limits on his way to visiting one of the most dangerous places on earth. “Mullin was outraged by the response, the officials said — threatening U.S. ambassador John Mark Pommersheim and embassy staff and demanding to know the name of staff members he was speaking with,” Tyler Pager and John Hudson report for the Washington Post.
The 20 U.S. service members who were injured in the attack outside Kabul airport last Thursday are recovering at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center after first being treated at Landstuhl Regional Medical Center (LMRC) in Germany, where they were stabilized. No details were given of those injured, but they were in critical conditions following the attack, and had shrapnel and gunshot wounds. The last group to be treated at Walter Reed left Germany Monday. “Every single service member that received care here left our facility in much better condition than when they arrived,” said Col. Andrew Landers, the LRMC commander. “Whether they make a full recovery depends on what “happens over the next four to six weeks in their treatment and recovery process,” he said. Jennifer H. Svan reports for Stars and Stripes.
The Defense Department has rejected reports that went viral claiming that several military dogs were left at Kabul airport when the U.S. left on Monday. “To correct erroneous reports, the U.S. Military did not leave any dogs in cages at Hamid Karzai International Airport, including the reported military working dogs,” Pentagon Press Secretary John Kirby said in a post on Twitter. Joseph Guzman reports for The Hill.
Russia and China are using the U.S.’s withdrawal from Afghanistan in a propaganda ploy to discredit the administration’s success in the region, but both Moscow and Beijing will rely, to an extent, on the U.S. to help address terrorism threats and ensure security in the Afghan region, and leaving Afghanistan in effect means greater resources to counter Moscow and Beijing. “In a phone call with U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Sunday, China’s foreign minister, Wang Yi, said the U.S. needed to remain involved in Afghanistan, including by helping the country to maintain stability and combat terrorism and violence, according to a statement on the Chinese foreign ministry’s website. Moscow, too, urged the U.S. and allies not to turn away. Zamir Kabulov, President Vladimir Putin’s special envoy for Afghanistan, said Western countries should reopen embassies in Kabul and engage in talks with the Taliban on rebuilding the country’s economy. “This applies first of all to those nations that remained there with their armies for 20 years and caused the havoc that we see now,” Mr. Kabulov told Russian TV. Yaroslav Trofimov and Jeremy Page repot for the Wall Street Journal.
During a minute-long pro forma session Tuesday morning, the Senate unanimously passed a measure that will increase funding available to provide temporary assistance to Americans returning from Afghanistan. H.R. 5085, the Emergency Repatriation Assistance for Returning Americans Act, was approved by the House last month. It expands the pool of funding for temporary aid to Americans evacuated from Afghanistan, generally for a period of 90 days after their arrival. The aid may include “money payments, medical care, temporary billeting, transportation and other goods and services necessary for the health or welfare of individuals,” according to the Social Security Act, which the legislation amends. Felicia Sonmez reports for the Washington Post.
The bill increases the amount the Department of Health and Human Services can spend to help repatriated Americans from $1m to $10m, by amending Section 1113 of the Social Security Act. Joanna Walters and Maanvi Singh report for the Guardian.
Vice President Harris made a rare recess appearance yesterday to preside over the Senate chamber during the passing of H.R. 5085. It is extremely rare for a vice president to preside over a pro forma session of the Senate. Sen. Ben Cardin (D-MD), who led the unanimous passage of the bill on the Senate floor, said he was scheduled to preside over the session of the Senate, a twice-weekly procedural event that prevents presidents from making recess appointments, but another senator needed to be present to ask for unanimous passage of the bill, and, according to Cardin, “we couldn’t find another senator, so [Harris] volunteered.” Andrew Desiderio reports for POLITICO.
The Treasury Department last week issued a license authorizing the U.S. government and its partners to continue to facilitate humanitarian aid in Afghanistan, a Treasury Department official told Reuters. The license expires March 1, 2022. Reuters reporting.
A senior board member of Afghanistan’s central bank, Shah Mehrabi, has urged the U.S. Treasury and the International Monetary Fund to provide the Taliban-led government with limited access to the country’s reserves or risk economic disaster. Afghanistan faces an “inevitable economic and humanitarian crisis” if its international reserves remain frozen, Mehrabi warned. Reuters reports.
Visual analysis shows how the CIA shut down its operations at a secretive and highly secure compound in Afghanistan, Eagle Base – and how the Taliban then entered the site, by Christiaan Triebert and Haley Willis reports for the New York Times.
A new poll issued from Pew Research showed public support for the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan but not for how Biden got it done. In a survey conducted before the last U.S. soldier left Afghanistan, 54% of adults said the decision to withdraw was the right one, while 42% said it was wrong. The new poll suggests the public agrees with Biden on withdrawing troops but believes the subsequent process of withdrawal was mishandled. According to the Pew Research Center, 71 percent of those polled said handling of the evacuation was “only fair” or “poor.” Martin Pengelly reports for the Guardian.
A Reuters/Ipsos poll indicates that less than 40% of Americans approve of Biden’s handling of the U.S. military withdrawal from Afghanistan, and three quarters wanted U.S. forces to remain in the country until all American civilians could get out. Reuters reports.
AFGHANISTAN – U.S. COMPLETES WITHDRAWAL
Transcript of General Frank McKenzie’s briefing on the U.S. Withdrawal from Afghanistan, as well as a helpful infographic summarizing the main figures mentioned the head of U.S. Central Command. Al Jazeera reporting.
Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Mark Milley and his senior adviser, Ramon Colon-Lopez, told service members in a letter written Tuesday that “you can hold your head high that we prevented an attack on the United States homeland,” saying, “to each of you, your service mattered,” Oren Liebermann reports for CNN.
Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Wednesday that the U.S. military mission in Afghanistan had achieved nothing but tragedy and loss of life on all sides and showed it was impossible to “foist” foreign values on other nations. Reuters reporting.
Speaking before a male-only crowd at Kabul’s airport, Taliban spokesperson Zabihullah Mujahid implored the world to continue to invest in Afghanistan, insisting that the group wants good relations with the international community and Afghan factions. “Most important is our national unity, integrity,” he said. “And that’s why we need all the economic experts and professionals to step forward, come together and lay down a road map for the future.” “I invite you all to come and invest in Afghanistan,” he continued. “Your investments will be in good hands. The country will be stable and safe.” Miriam Berger reports for the Washington Post.
“Afghanistan is finally free,” Hekmatullah Wasiq, a top Taliban official, told The Associated Press on the Kabul airport tarmac after the U.S. had left. “Everything is peaceful. Everything is safe.” He urged people to return to work and stressed the Taliban’s offer of amnesty to all Afghans who had supported U.S.-NATO troops. “People have to be patient,” he said. “Slowly we will get everything back to normal. It will take time.” AP reporting.
Large crowds jostled outside the banks in Kabul and queues formed near foreign embassies, a day after the last U.S. troops left Afghanistan. BBC News reporting.
With Kabul airport closed, thousands of Afghans are seeking safe passage across Afghanistan’s borders with Iran, Pakistan and central Asian states. Reuters reporting.
AFGHANISTAN – BIDEN’S SPEECH
President Biden reiterated that the original mission in Afghanistan, and the U.S.’s national interest, was to protect America from any terror threats coming from Afghanistan, namely al-Qaeda factions housed in the country by the Taliban, which he says was successfully done – hence, he chose to end the war in order to focus the nation’s defenses on other national security issues, including China and Russia, though vowed to continue counterterrorism operations in the Afghan region. AP reporting.
Biden vigorously defended his decision to stick to the Aug. 31 withdrawal deadline and appeared to subtly suggest the true reason for the Taliban’s rapid takeover was not his administration’s handling of the withdrawal, but the Afghan military and decisions made previously by the Trump administration. Biden also stressed that even if evacuations had started earlier, there would have still been a rush to the airport, adding further, in a somewhat accusatory tone, that the U.S. had for several months been trying to reach out to all Americans in Afghanistan to help them leave, many apparently not making themselves known until the last minute. Reuters reporting.
Biden appeared to place a lot of the blame on his three predecessors. David Smith reports for the Guardian.
Biden and his administration’s claim that the 2020 Doha agreement left no option but to leave Afghanistan unconditionally is “false,” writes S. Paul Kapur in an op-ed for the Wall Street Journal. The Biden administration, like the president in his speech yesterday, insist that their hands were tied to withdraw from Afghanistan due to agreements made in Doha in Feb 2020 by the Trump administration – but “the Taliban violated the Doha agreement, so the U.S. could have stayed,” Kapur writes. The U.S. promised to withdraw from Afghanistan by May 1, 2021, but only if the Taliban met commitments of their own. One of them was a pledge to participate in an “intra-Afghan dialogue,” to achieve a “permanent and comprehensive ceasefire” and to agree upon a “political roadmap” for Afghanistan’s future. If the Taliban didn’t honor this commitment, the U.S. had no obligation to withdraw, Kapur adds.
Biden’s speech was “defiant” and “accusatory,” its execution “so dishonest,” lacking in “self-reflection or accountability,” that it was unworthy of the sacrifices Americans have made in that conflict, writes the Wall Street Journal editorial board: “The President even had the ill grace to blame Americans for not leaving Afghanistan sooner, and Afghans for not fighting.” On dishonesty, the Journal addresses Biden’s suggestion that there was a binary choice between withdrawing or escalation through troops, referring to alternatives offered by his own advisers and a February report to Congress by the bipartisan Afghanistan Study Group — made up of former generals, Senators, ambassadors and national-security officials— which offered of a conditions-based withdrawal and also said that a withdrawal “would not only leave America more vulnerable to terrorist threats … it would also have catastrophic effects in Afghanistan and the region that would not be in the interest of any of the key actors, including the Taliban.”
Transcript of Biden’s speech on the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan.
AFGHANISTAN – AMERICANS, ALLIES AND AFGHAN LEFT IN AFGHANISTAN
House Republicans yesterday called for a vote on a bill from Rep. Mike Gallagher (R-WI) that would keep U.S. troops in Afghanistan until all Americans are evacuated, but Rep. Debbie Dingell (D-MI), who led the roughly five-minute pro forma session and moment of silence, adjourned the House without any further action, prompting outcry from the Republicans on hand who didn’t get a chance to be recognized to speak on the floor in favor of Gallagher’s bill. Gallagher’s bill would have prohibited a reduction in U.S. troops in Afghanistan until Biden certified that all U.S. citizens and permanent residents are evacuated, though it would have allowed an exception if the Defense Secretary determined that U.S. forces were facing “imminent hostilities.” Cristina Marcos reports for The Hill.
Up to 40,000 vulnerable Afghans and family members who worked with German organizations have been left behind in Afghanistan, and the German government is assessing if they want to leave the country, Chancellor Angela Merkel said Tuesday. Loveday Morris reports for the Washington Post.
AFGHANISTAN – TALIBAN TAKEOVER
Heavy fighting erupted in Panjshir Valley through Tuesday night, with 17 resistance fighters and 41 Taliban fighters killed, Fahim Qiami, a spokesperson for the loosely organized National Resistance Front, said by phone. “A Taliban fighter in the region, who asked not to be named because he was not authorized to speak to the media, denied that the Taliban suffered any casualties. He told The Washington Post that Taliban forces took control of one district in Panjshir province and were close to quashing the last remaining areas of resistance,” Steve Hendrix and Haq Nawaz Khan reports for the Washington Post.
Many Afghans fear that the Taliban’s pledge to grant amnesty is empty, with numerous reports of revenge killings by the insurgents. “Several sources confirmed that Taliban fighters last week executed two senior police officials – Haji Mullah Achakzai, the security director of Badghis province, and Ghulam Sakhi Akbari, security director of Farah province. Video footage showed Mr Achakzai was kneeling, blindfolded, with his hands tied behind his back before he was shot,” BBC News reports.
Reports have circulated that the Taliban has seized in excess of $80 billion dollars in U.S. military equipment, but that’s the figure for all of the money spent on training and sustaining the Afghan military over 20 years – the equipment portion is about $24 billion and the actual value of the equipment in the Taliban’s hands is probably much less, writes Glenn Kessler for the Washington Post, citing the July 30 quarterly report by the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR) for all spending on the Afghanistan Security Forces Fund since the U.S. invasion in 2001, and a 2017 Government Accountability Office report which estimated that about 29 percent of the funds spent on the Afghan security forces between 2005 and 2016 went to equipment and transportation.
A group of over 70 State Department officials sent a letter to Secretary of State Antony Blinken calling for the removal “openly antisemitic” Fritz Berggren, a U.S. foreign service officer, who maintains a website, bloodandfaith.com, where he writes online posts and publishes video and audio files assailing Jews, the LGBTQ community, and called for the creation of Christian nation-states, according to a copy of the letter obtained by Foreign Policy. Robbie Gramer reports for Foreign Policy.
John Pierce, the go-to attorney for Jan.6 Capitol riot defendants, seems to have disappeared, missing several court appearances over the past week, with the reasons given for his absence changing. The young associate who initally replaced Pierce had a “conflict,” though at the time, no one seemed to give it much attention. But in the days that followed, Pierce – who is defending more cases connected to the riot than any other attorney – missed additional hearings and the reasons for his absence started changing. “On Wednesday, his associate told a judge in one case that Mr. Pierce had gotten Covid-19 and was in the hospital on a ventilator – but only after telling a prosecutor in another case that Mr. Pierce had been in a car accident. That same evening, a different associate told a reporter that Mr. Pierce had in fact been hospitalized, but was getting care for ‘dehydration and exhaustion.’ Finally, on Monday – after Mr. Pierce had still failed to emerge – the government got involved. Federal prosecutors issued letters to several judges in 17 Capitol riot cases, informing them that no one in the Justice Department had heard from Mr. Pierce in a week and that ‘multiple’ phone numbers for his law firm appeared to have been disconnected,” Alan Feuer reports for the New York Times
The select committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol is preparing an expanded inquiry into what role or knowledge former President Trump and the White had in the insurrection. Hugo Lowell reports for the Guardian.
The House Oversight and Reform Committee and the Commerce Department yesterday reached a proposed deal filed in court that could help settle a lawsuit filed in 2019 by the panel against two Trump administration officials involving the 2020 census and an investigation into efforts to add a citizenship question to the survey. The proposed deal would authorize members on the House committee and their staffers to review the census documents in person and write down notes but not make copies, whether they be electronic or photographic. “Some information, however, will still be redacted. The committee will then have 30 days to request that specific, relevant documents be disclosed,” Mychael Schnell reports for The Hill.
Stephen M. Alford was yesterday charged by the Justice Department in a plot to defraud Matt Gaetz’s father, Don Gaetz, of $25 million by offering false assurances that he could get Biden to consider a pardon of his son, according to court records and a person familiar with the matter. “According to the indictment and people familiar with the matter, Alford and another man, Bob Kent, got in touch with Don Gaetz, referencing the investigation into his son and asking to discuss their effort to locate Robert A. Levinson — the longest-held American hostage in Iran, whose family has said they were told he is dead. The men wanted $25 million to fund a bid to rescue Levinson as part of an effort they called ‘Project Homecoming.’ Alford, according to the indictment, ‘falsely represented’ that his team had been assured by President Biden that he would ‘strongly consider’ a pardon — or a direction to the Justice Department to end any investigations involving Matt Gaetz — if the rescue effort was successful. The indictment alleges that Alford texted Don Gaetz after that meeting to say he could secure Levinson’s release for a ‘significantly lower amount.’ According to the indictment, he also promised to take Don Gaetz ‘by the hand’ to see the president, and said he could ‘guarantee’ that Matt Gaetz would not go to prison if Don Gaetz gave him money,” Mattt Zapotosky reports for the Washington Post.
Reps. Veronica Escobar (D-TX) and Ro Khanna (D-CA) will offer amendment aimed at restricting the transfer of military-grade weapons to local police departments when the House Armed Services Committee meets to consider its version of the annual defense policy bill, according to a copy of a letter supporting the amendment obtained exclusively by The Hill. Rebecca Kheel reports for The Hill.
The Texas legislature yesterday passed the final version of a Republican bill that will tighten voting procedures across the state, sending it to Republican Gov. Greg Abbott’s desk for signing into law.“The House approved the measure by a vote of 80 to 41, with one Republican joining Democrats in opposition. The Senate followed several hours later with a party-line 18-to-13 vote,” reports Eva Ruth Moravec and Elise Viebeck for the Washington Post.
“The bill, nearly identical to a measure that passed the legislature last week, would prohibit 24-hour and drive-thru voting – two things officials in Harris County, home of Houston, used for the first time in 2020. It would also prohibit election officials from sending out unsolicited applications to vote by mail, give poll watchers more power in the polling place, and provide new regulations on those who assist voters. The restrictions would only add to those already in place in Texas, which has some of the most burdensome voting requirements in the country and was among the states with the lowest voter turnout in 2020,” Sam Levine reports for the Guardian.
President Volodymyr Zelensky is expected to raise during today’s meeting with Biden questions about the U.S.’s security commitments and also emphasize the important role Ukraine plays in containing Russia, aides to the Ukrainian leader said. Zelensky seeking a commitment from Biden comes as, in less than two weeks, Russia and Belarus plan to sign a treaty on closer integration that could position Russian troops on Ukraine’s northwestern borders. Andrew Kramer reports for the New York Times.
The U.S. has pledged $60 million in military aid to Ukraine, sending a notification to Congress that the aid package for Ukraine was necessary because of a “major increase in Russian military activity along its border” and because of mortar attacks, cease-fire violations and other provocations. AP reporting.
Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) in recent weeks looted warehouses belonging to the U.S. government’s humanitarian agency in the Amhara region, USAID’s Ethiopia director, Sean Jones, told state broadcaster EBC in an interview televised on Tuesday. Al Jazeera reporting.
Russia is expected to soon deliver a huge military hardware consignment to Belarus, including aircraft, helicopters and air defense systems, Belarusian leader Alexander Lukashenko was quoted as saying on Wednesday by the Belta news agency. “Lukashenko and Russian President Vladimir Putin are due to hold talks in Russia on Sept. 9.,” reports Reuters.
Two former Guatemala generals – former generals Manuel Benedicto Lucas and Manuel Antonio Callejas – will stand trial on genocide charges for their role in the country’s civil war. “Lucas and Callejas are accused of committing genocide, crimes against humanity and forced kidnapping from 1979 to 1982. Their actions led to the deaths of more than 1,700 people in 31 separate massacres,” reports Reuters.
South Korea’s National Assembly has approved legislation that bans app store operators such as Google and Apple from forcing developers to use their in-app payment systems, the first country in the world to pass such a law. “The legislation prohibits the app market operators from using their monopolies to require such payment systems, which means they must allow alternative ways to pay. It says the ban is aimed at promoting fairer competition. The bill aims to prevent any retaliation against developers by banning the companies from imposing any unreasonable delay in approving apps,” AP reporting.
Pakistan’s counter-terrorism police say 11 militants of the Islamic State group were killed in a raid in southwestern Baluchistan province before dawn on Tuesday. “The units, acting on intelligence, carried out the raid in the district of Mastung, where IS militants had recently killed two police officers. The police said suicide belts, hand grenades and assault rifles were confiscated in the raid,” reports AP.
The Saudi-led coalition intercepted three explosive-laden drones over Yemen sent by the Houthi rebel group on Wednesday, a day after shrapnel from a drone destroyed over Saudi Arabia wounded eight and damaged a civilian plane. “The three drones, intercepted and destroyed in Yemeni airspace, had been fired by the Houthis and were aimed at civilian targets, according to coalition statements reported by Saudi television channels Al-Arabiya and Ekhbariya,” Reuters reporting.
Israeli troops shot and killed a Palestinian in the occupied West Bank overnight, the Palestinian health ministry said on Wednesday, and local resident said there had been no disturbances or clashes in the area at the tiem of the shooting, which occurred near the village of Beit Ur Al-Tahta, west of the city of Ramallah. Reuters reporting.
Tunisia has issued an arrest warrant for former presidential candidate Nabil Karoui and his brother,according to authorities, a day after reports that they were detained in neighboring Algeria. On Tuesday Riadh al-Nouioui, spokesperson for the Kasserine court in central Tunisia said an “arrest warrant has been issued against Nabil and Ghazi Karoui for illegally crossing the border”. Al Jazeera reporting.
The coronavirus has infected close to 39.2 million and has now killed over 640,100 people in the United States, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University. Globally, there have been over 217.82 million confirmed coronavirus cases and over 4.521 million deaths. Sergio Hernandez, Sean O’Key, Amanda Watts, Byron Manley and Henrik Pettersson report for CNN.
The U.S. is now approaching January’s hospitalization peak, with more than 101,000 Americans now hospitalized. ABC News reporting.
Alabama, Georgia, Texas, Florida and Arkansas have less than 10% left of their ICU bed capacity, according to data from the Department of Health and Human Services. Madeline Holcombe reports 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.