Signup to receive the Early Edition in your inbox here.
A curated weekday guide to major national security news and developments over the past 24 hours. Here’s today’s news.
The prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC) is seeking approval to resume a war crimes investigation into Afghanistan, focusing on the actions of the Taliban and the Islamic State Khorasan militia. The ICC opened a full investigation into Afghanistan last year but the probe was put on hold by the Afghan government, which said it was investigating the crimes itself. “A statement said the request was being made to the court’s judges in light of developments since the Islamist Taliban movement seized control of Afghanistan in a lightning advance last month,” Reuters reports.
The Taliban publicly hung the bodies of four alleged kidnappers in the city of Herat on Saturday. The demonstration signals a return to the harsh punishments used by the group during its previous time ruling the country. The Taliban also announced that it will also bring back executions and amputations as punishments. Rachel Pannett reports for the Washington Post.
A series of killings of religious figures associated with Islamic State Khorasan Province (ISKP) in Afghanistan are highlighting the ongoing power struggle between ISKP and the Taliban. “Western officials and Afghan residents in the affected areas say they believe the Taliban have carried out the killings. The Taliban have publicly denied responsibility, but have admitted privately to a number of killings of ISKP militants,” Sune Engel Rasmussen reports for the Wall Street Journal.
The top Republican on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, Rep. Michael McCaul (R-TX), is asking President Biden’s administration to declassify and release its intelligence on Afghanistan. McCaul argued that the U.S. intelligence was caught off guard by the rapid fall of Kabul to the Taliban and that “it is imperative that Congress be given access to any and all reports and underlying intelligence products that led to the assessments so we may better understand how the situation deteriorated so quickly and why the Administration made the decisions they did regarding the disastrous evacuation,” McCaul wrote in a letter to the State Department, Department of Defense, and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence. Rebecca Beitsch reports for The Hill.
The State Department is under increasing pressure to cut the diplomatic red tape to aid vulnerable Afghans left behind now that the U.S. no longer has an embassy in Afghanistan. “Congressional staff and advocates have been meeting with State Department officials to discuss evacuation plans for the thousands of vulnerable Afghans who are still stuck in the country…The U.S. is running its diplomatic efforts through a remote mission in Doha, Qatar. But the distance is making it difficult to carry out a process that traditionally relies on in-person interviews and physical visas sealed into a person’s passport,” Rebecca Beitsch reports for The Hill.
The Taliban government’s Defense Minister Mawlawi Mohammad Yaqoob, has issued a stern warning against Taliban foot soldiers having too much fun in Kabul and has told them to stop taking selfies. Mawlawi Yaqoob was criticizing the young Taliban men from all over Afghanistan who have been sightseeing through Kabul and was particularly critical of Taliban soldiers taking pictures of leaders of the movement whenever they came across them. “As these photos end up on social media, they compromise security by giving away locations and activities of the Taliban’s senior members, he warned,” Saeed Shah reports for the Wall Street Journal.
The former Afghan government’s ambassador to Greece, Mirwais Samadi, has made a plea for Afghans to be let into the E.U., and has criticized the Greek government’s announcement of a media blitz to discourage “illegal migrant flows” from Afghanistan. “This is a time for solidarity, not the time for the west to turn its back on the people of Afghanistan and abandon them or have a campaign that urges [them] to stay,” Samadi told the Guardian. Helena Smith reports for the Guardian.
AFGHANISTAN – INTERNATIONAL AID AND DIPLOMACY
Ensuring that all Afghan girls can be educated must be “a zero condition” for the Taliban, before international recognition of their de facto authority, U.N. Deputy Secretary-General Amina Mohammed has said. Speaking at a panel discussion on supporting a future for girls’ education in Afghanistan, Mohammed also confirmed that international aid to Afghanistan could be conditional on education for women and girls, and stated that the issue “continues to remain upfront” in ongoing discussions with the de facto authorities. UN News Centre reports.
Italian Foreign Affairs Minister Luigi Di Maio said yesterday that the Taliban government in Afghanistan could not be recognized “since there are 17 terrorists among the ministers, and the human rights of women and girls are continuously violated.” Di Maio added that foreign governments need to work, however, to prevent a financial collapse in Afghanistan that would spark massive flows of migrants. The Afghan people should start receiving the financial support that was frozen after the Taliban took power last month, he said. Reuters reports.
Russia, China, Pakistan and the U.S. are working together to ensure that Afghanistan’s new Taliban rulers keep their promises, especially to form a genuinely representative government and prevent extremism from spreading, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on Saturday. At a wide-ranging news conference and in his speech afterwards at the U.N. General Assembly Lavrov also criticized the Biden administration, including for its hasty withdrawal from Afghanistan. Edith M. Lederer reports for AP.
Lavrov also said, speaking at the U.N. General Assembly, that international recognition of the Taliban was currently “not on the table.” Michelle Nichols and Daphne Psaledakis report for Reuters.
Russian fighter jets were scrambled to escort a U.S. Air Force plane that reportedly approached Russian airspace over the Pacific Ocean, Russian state news agency TASS said yesterday. There were no violations of Russia’s state border during the episode, according to TASS, which cited Russia’s National Defense Command Center. “According to the state-owned news agency, the fighter jets ‘strictly followed’ international rules and returned to base after the US plane moved away from the Russian border,” Manveena Suri and Olga Pavlova report for CNN.
Turkish President Recip Tayyip Erdoğan defended his government’s decision to buy another Russian air defense system despite pressure from the United States and NATO, in an interview aired on Sunday. “In the future, nobody will be able to interfere in terms of what kind of defense systems we acquire, from which country at what level. Nobody can interfere with that. We are the only ones to make such decisions.” Erdoğan also criticized the United States support for Kurdish groups in Syria and called for U.S. troops to be withdrawn from the nation. David Cohen reports for POLITICO.
Erdoğan confirmed his plans to purchase another round of the S-400 Russian-made anti-aircraft missile defense system, during the interview with CBS News. Erdoğan claimed that the U.S. refusal to sell Turkey the U.S.-made Patriots system as an alternative had led his government to purchase the Russian system instead. The U.S. has disputed this claim. Both President Biden’s and former President Trump’s administrations have maintained that the S-400 system is a danger if activated in the same country that flies U.S. F-35 jets, as it would collect detailed information about the F-35s, possibly erasing their stealth advantages. “Turkey had previously bought F-35 jets, which gave the NATO member a role in their production. But in retaliation for Turkey’s S-400 purchase, the Trump administration halted its delivery of the F-35s, dropped Turkey from the program and imposed sanctions on Turkish defense officials,” Margaret Brennan and Camilla Schick report for CBS News.
The Biden administration will investigate the possible national security risks of over-relying on imports of a rare type of earth magnets used in fighter aircraft and missile guidance systems as part of a global supply chain review, the Commerce Department said on Friday. The neodymium-iron-boron permanent magnets are essential to building weapons, as well as a variety of other equipment such as electric vehicles, and nearly all of the world’s production of the magnets takes place in China. Reuters reporting.
Biden’s national security adviser Jake Sullivan will travel to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates along with the U.S. special envoy to Yemen, Tim Lenderking, and Brett McGurk, the National Security Council’s Middle East and North Africa Coordinator, the White House National Security Council has said. The Council spokesperson said in a statement that Sullivan will meet “with senior leaders on a range of regional and global challenges.” Reuters reports.
Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga welcomed the establishment of the Aukus pact between Australia, the U.S. and the U.K. to provide Australia with nuclear submarines, at a meeting of the Quad group of countries (Australia, India, Japan and the U.S.) on Friday, a Japanese government official has said. David Brunnstrom reports for Reuters.
The Kremlin has said that the expansion of NATO military infrastructure crosses a red line for Russian president Vladimir Putin. The Kremlin added that Russia and Belarus would act to protect their own security. Reuters reporting.
An FBI informant was among those who entered the Capitol on Jan. 6, and texted his FBI handler a live account of the event. The informant, a member of the Proud Boys, gave a version of the events in which the Proud Boys did not have a premeditated plan to storm the Capitol but instead followed the crowd. The account may undermine the prosecution of several individuals for conspiracy charges. It also suggests that the FBI had more knowledge of the events as they were unfolding than was previously publicly known. Alan Feuer and Adam Goldman report for the New York Times.
A federal judge has told a Capitol riot defendant that he had been a part of an “attack on our government” and had “disgraced America.” Judge Reggie B. Walton continued in his remarks, “My inclination is to lock you up.” These remarks are the latest in a series of federal judges’ using strong language to reprimand accused individuals. Hannah Rabinowitz reports for CNN.
Democratic Senators are planning to speed up the confirmations of diplomatic nominees which have been delayed by Republicans in the Senate. Only 15 nominees have been confirmed so far, with over 80 still waiting. Confirmations are being delayed by Senators Ted Cruz (R-TX) and Josh Hawley (R-MO), who are looking to burnish their foreign policy credentials before potentially running for president in 2024. Josh Lederman and Abigail Williams report for NBC News.
The National Defense Act Authorization (NDAA) passed by the House last week would require the Pentagon to factor in extreme weather risks and publish studies and testing results for drinking and groundwater on toxic “forever chemicals.” “The NDAA would create a two-year deadline for the Pentagon to finish testing at Defense Department and National Guard installations for the chemicals known as per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS). In cases where state PFAS cleanup standards are stricter than federal rules, the Pentagon would be required to follow the tougher rules,” Zack Budryk reports for The Hill.
CHINA AND TAIWAN
A Canadian court on Friday signed Huawei Chief Financial Officer Meng Wanzhou’s order of discharge, vacating her bail conditions and allowing her to go free after nearly three years of house arrest as her U.S. extradition case ended. Meng reached a deal with U.S. prosecutors earlier on Friday that ended their bank fraud case against her, and Canadian government lawyers subsequently asked the Canadian court to withdraw the authority to proceed in Meng’s case and discharge her. Reuters reporting.
Key events in Meng’s extradition case are provided by Moira Warburton reporting for Reuters.
Two Canadians who were detained by Beijing for more than 1,000 days were freed hours after the deal with Huawei’s CFO was reached by the U.S. Justice Department. Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor returned home on Saturday, where Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau received them. Both men were detained by China nine days after the police in Canada arrested Meng. “Trudeau declined to comment on how the case, and the release, has affected Canada’s relationship with China, saying ‘there is going to be time for reflection and analysis in the coming days and weeks,’” Ian Austen reports for the New York Times.
Canada’s “eyes are wide open” on normalizing its relationship with China, Canadian Foreign Minister Marc Garneau said yesterday, following the release of the two Canadian nationals by China. “Let me say, our eyes are wide open. We have been saying that for some time. There was no path to a relationship with China as long as the two Michaels were being detained,” Garneau said in an interview. Garneau explained that the Canadian government is now following a fourfold approach to China: “coexist,” “compete,” “cooperate” and “challenge.” Reuters reports.
China has condemned the U.K. for sailing a warship down the sensitive Taiwan strait. China said that it was behavior that “harbored evil intentions” and that the Chinese military followed the vessel and warned it away. Reuters reporting.
Taiwan’s main opposition party elected former leader Eric Chu as its chair over the weekend, who pledged to renew stalled talks with China. Speaking after his victory, Chu said that his party, the Kuomintang (KMT), “will re-build cross-Taiwan Strait exchange platforms and communication channels.” Reuters reporting.
Chinese President Xi Jinping congratulated Chu on his election, saying that both parties had had “good interactions” based on their joint opposition to Taiwan independence. In the letter, a copy of which was released by the KMT, Xi said that the situation in the Taiwan Strait is “complex and grim. All the sons and daughters of the Chinese nation must work together with one heart and go forward together.” Reuters reporting.
NORTH KOREA AND SOUTH KOREA
The U.K. has said that it has collected evidence of multiple ships from various nationalities apparently breaching U.N. sanctions against North Korea which ban the sale of fuel to the country. U.K. Defense Minister Ben Wallace said in a statement that British frigate HMS Richmond, which has been taking part in U.N. sanctions enforcement operations in the region, has “identified ships acting in suspected breach of U.N. sanctions and tracked vessels which had previously not been flagged to the Enforcement Coordination Cell.” The statement did not detail those thought to be in breach of the sanctions. Reuters reports.
Kim Yo Jong, the sister of North Korea’s leader Kim Jong Un, has said that North Korea is willing to consider another summit with South Korea if mutual respect between the countries can be assured, state news agency KCNA said on Saturday. “I think that only when impartiality and the attitude of respecting each other are maintained, can there be smooth understanding between the north and the south,” Yo Jong, said. Reuters reporting.
South Korea welcomed the prospect of another summit with North Korea and urged North Korea to restore dormant communication hotlines. South Korea’s Unification Ministry called Yo Jong’s statement “meaningful,” and said Seoul hopes North Korea and South Korea can resume talks on many pending issues. Hyung-Jin Kim reports for AP.
Sudan has said that it has repelled an attempted “incursion” by Ethiopian troops into its territory. Sudan said that the incident happened in the district of Umm Barakit and “the head of the Sudanese military, General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, said this showed how the army was protecting the country after last week’s coup attempt,” BBC News reports.
Speaking at the U.N. General Assembly Ethiopian Deputy Prime Minister Demeke Mekonnen told the international community to be “constructive” and avoid meddling over Ethiopia’s Tigray region and to steer clear of sanctions. Mekonnen defended Ethiopia’s conduct in the war in the Tigray region and insisted that the government is committed to aiding its people. Mekonnen added that Ethiopia was willing to work with the African Union, and its new special representative to the Horn of Africa, toward an “Ethiopia-led national dialogue.” Jennifer Peltz reports for AP.
U.N. GENERAL ASSEMBLY
Myanmar will not address the U.N. General Assembly, while Afghanistan’s presentation will be made by the ambassador for the ousted government. Competing claims have been made for control of both seats. Last week, Taliban Foreign Minister Amir Khan Muttaqi requested to address the General Assembly and nominated a new UN ambassador. Instead, Ghulam M. Isaczai, the current U.N. ambassador who represents the government ousted by the Taliban, is slated to speak today. Kyaw Moe Tun, appointed by Aung Sun Suu Kyi’s government in Myanmar, had been expected to speak. Instead, a deal between the United States, China, and Russia will allow him to remain Myanmar’s representative to the UN as long as he does not speak during the summit. Michelle Nichols reports for Reuters.
For more information on how representatives are seated at the United Nations when there are rival government claimants, see Just Security’s backgrounder by former UN Assistant-Secretary-General for Legal Affairs, Larry D. Johnson.
Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas yesterday justified President Biden’s administration’s handling of the immigration crisis at the Texas-Mexico border. Myorkas addressed specifically the cases of Haitian migrants who had been encamped under a bridge in Del Rio, Texas. “I’m intensely and immensely proud of the men and women of the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CPB). In fact, in Del Rio, Texas, I saw them act heroically,” Mayorkas said. Myorkas defended the use of horseback patrols by Border Patrol officers, however he said that the viral images of immigration officers on horseback chasing and intimidating mostly Haitians “does not reflect who CBP is, who we are as a department, nor who we are as a country.” Teaganne Finn reports for NBC News.
Myorkas said that the deportations to Haiti under the controversial Title 42 policy were justified because of the Covid-19 pandemic and the need to protect public health. Under Title 42, people can be returned to Mexico or deported to their home countries without an opportunity to test their asylum claims. “The Centers for Disease Control [and Prevention, or CDC] has a Title 42 authority that we exercise to protect the migrants themselves, to protect the local communities, our personnel and the American public,” Mayorkas said. “The pandemic is not behind us. Title 42 is a public health policy, not an immigration policy,” he added. Amanda Holpuch reports for the Guardian.
Myorkas also confirmed that about 4,000 migrants in del Rio, Texas have been expelled under the Covid-19 public health rule, Title 42, and 10,000 to 12,000 migrants have been released into the U.S., Priscilla Alvarez and Chandelis Duster report for CNN.
The international border crossing at Del Rio, Texas is being reopened, after having been closed for more than a week following a surge in migration. Dave Meistich and Carrie Khan report for NPR.
OTHER GLOBAL DEVELOPMENTS
Myanmar’s military launched air strikes over the weekend after clashes with fighters opposed to the junta in the Sagaing region in northwest Myanmar, and phone lines and the internet were also severed in some districts. The DVB news portal reported the air strikes occurred as the army staged an offensive in the Pinlebu area, citing residents who heard aircraft and explosions on Saturday night. Reuters reports.
Iran has failed to fully honor two terms of the nuclear monitoring deal struck two weeks ago, the U.N. nuclear watchdog, International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), has said. The deal would allow the IAEA’s inspectors to service monitoring equipment in Iran, however the IAEA in a statement said that “Iran’s decision not to allow agency access to the TESA Karaj centrifuge component manufacturing workshop is contrary to the agreed terms of the joint statement issued on 12 September.” Francois Murphy reports for Reuters.
Warplanes attacked Turkey-backed opposition fighters in northern Syria yesterday, killing and wounding about 20. Opposition activists have said that the airstrike, which struck a position in an area near the town of Afrin, was carried out by Russian warplanes. AP reports.
Five Palestinians have been killed during raids by Israeli forces in the occupied West Bank. “The Israeli army said the operation was against Hamas militants about to carry out attacks, adding that as far as it knew all the dead were Hamas members. Two soldiers were seriously injured by Palestinian gunfire in one of the raids, it said. Hamas said four of its members were killed. Palestinian militant groups say they are considering their response. According to the Palestinian health ministry, two people were killed in Burqin near Jenin and another three in Biddu near Jerusalem,” BBC News reports.
The center-left Social Democratic Party (SPD) have claimed a narrow victory in Germany’s federal election. However, the SPD does not have a majority to govern on its own, and it may take months for a coalition to be formed. Paul Kirby reports for BBC News.
The Washington Post provides a summary of possible coalitions alongside an explainer on the main parties’ leaders.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov has defended the Mali government’s right to hire a private Russian military company to help fight terrorists and has accused the French troops in Mali of failing to get rid of the terrorists in the region. Speaking to a news conference at the U.N. General Assembly, Lavrov said that “the company has a ‘legitimate’ right to be in the West African nation because it was invited by the transitional government, and insisted Russian government is not involved,” Edith M. Lederer reports for AP
Several thousand demonstrators rallied in Tunis over the weekend to protest against Tunisian President Kais Saied’s seizure of power. In the biggest show of public anger since Saied dismissed the prime minister and suspended parliament, the protestors called on Saied to step down, calling his intervention a “coup.” Tarek Amara reports for Reuters.
“More than 100 prominent officials of Tunisia’s Islamist Ennahda party, including lawmakers and former ministers, resigned on Saturday in protest at the leadership’s performance, the biggest blow yet to the party which is facing a severe split,” Tarek Amara reports for Reuters.
Neo-Nazis in Germany are using popular social media platforms to gain supporters, spread their ideology, and make money. The groups are using Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and other platforms to publicize events and to sell tickets and merchandise. They “avoid blatant violations of platform rules, such as using hate speech or posting swastikas, which is generally illegal in Germany,” leading to questions about how social media companies should moderate content. Erika Kinetz reports for the Associated Press.
The coronavirus has infected over 42.93 million and has now killed over 688,000 people in the United States, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University. Globally, there have been over 231.8 million confirmed coronavirus cases and over 4.74 million deaths. Sergio Hernandez, Sean O’Key, Amanda Watts, Byron Manley and Henrik Pettersson report for CNN.
The World Health Organization (WHO) is seeking to revive its stalled investigation into the origins of the Covid-19 virus, assembling a new group of scientists with a mandate to hunt for new evidence in China and elsewhere. “The possibilities that the new team is charged with examining include whether the Covid-19 virus could have emerged from a lab, according to WHO officials, a hypothesis that has especially angered China,” Drew Hinshaw and Betsy McKay report for the Wall Street Journal.
A federal appeals judge on Friday blocked New York City schools from implementing a vaccine mandate for teachers and other workers. The mandate was set to take effect on Monday. Instead, “a judge for the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals granted a temporary injunction and referred the case to a three-judge panel on an expedited basis.” AP reports.
New York state officials are considering bringing in the national guard to address staff shortages in health care when the state’s health care worker vaccination mandate takes place today. The officials are also considering looking at medical professionals from other states and countries being brought in to help. Rachel Treisman reports for NPR.
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.