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A curated weekday guide to major national security news and developments over the past 24 hours. Here’s today’s news.
An Israeli air strike in Syria killed two people and wounded seven others, including six soldiers, today, Syrian state media has said. The air strike is the fourth Israeli attack reported by Syria this month. Reuters reports.
The Saudi-led coalition in Yemen said that it has launched airstrikes against Iranian-aligned Houthi rebel drone sites in Sana’a, Yemen. The Saudi-led coalition bombed a building under construction that was being used as “a secret factory” for drones and urged civilians to stay clear of areas with “legitimate” military targets, Saudi state media reported. The airstrikes represent the second such raid in two days, the first being against a Houthi ballistic missile launch site. Reuters reports.
The head of the U.N. International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) left Tehran late yesterday after failing to reach a deal to allow IAEA inspectors to gain access to a factory involved in centrifuge production for the Iranian nuclear program. The factory in Karaj has resumed production of key centrifuge components for enriching uranium without IAEA monitoring. Diplomats have said that the talks between the IAEA and Iran are ongoing. Laurence Norman reports for the Wall Street Journal.
The number of displaced people in camps in Yemen’s Marib province has risen nearly 10-fold since September, with over 45,000 people fleeing their homes, the U.N. migration agency said today. The Houthi rebels have been conducting an offensive in the oil-rich region. Reuters reports.
Recovery in war-torn Yemen is possible if the conflict between the pro-government Saudi-led coalition and Iranian-aligned Houthi rebels ends now, according to a new U.N. Development Program report. The report argues that extreme poverty in Yemen could be eradicated within a generation, or by 2047, if the fighting ceases. UN News Centre reports.
Morocco and Israel have signed a defence memorandum of understanding (MoU) in Rabat. The MoU does not stipulate specific defence deals, but rather provides a legal and regulatory framework for such agreements in the future, a source has said. Reuters reports.
Qatar employed a former CIA officer to help spy on rival teams and key soccer officials who were responsible for picking the host of the FIFA 2022 World Cup in 2010, an investigation by The Associated Press has found. Alan Suderman reports for AP.
The U.S. is to drop the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) from a list of foreign terrorist organizations in a move intended to demonstrate U.S. support for a fragile five-year old peace agreement between rebels in Colombia and then-President Juan Manuel Santos. The officials said the move would come no later than Nov. 30, coinciding with the five-year anniversary of the historic peace accord. The FARC began to demobilize shortly after the signing of the accord, and have taken steps to transform their group into a political party, now called the Common People party. Vivian Salama and Juan Forero report for the Wall Street Journal.
U.N. Secretary General António Guterres has said that he celebrates the advances made to implement Colombia’s 2016 peace deal with the FARC rebels, but that efforts must be redoubled to sustain economic opportunities for ex-rebels in Colombia. Reuters reports.
President Biden’s administration has invited Taiwan to its “Summit for Democracy” next month, a move which has infuriated China. There are 110 participants on the State Department’s invitation list for the virtual event, which aims to help stop democratic backsliding and the erosion of rights and freedoms worldwide. The list does not include China or Russia. China’s Taiwan Affairs Office has called the inclusion of Taiwan a “mistake,” and has urged the “U.S. to stick to the ‘one China’ principle.” Nectar Gan reports for CNN.
The FBI is promising to make sure employees who have symptoms consistent with the mysterious “Havana syndrome” get access to medical care after a former agent suffering almost daily headaches was rebuffed by the FBI when he sought testing and treatment. In a statement to NBC News, which amounted to the FBI’s first formal acknowledgment that some of its current or former employees could have symptoms of Havana syndrome, the FBI stated that while it “does not have the authority to provide direct medical treatment, we now have a process to guide current and former employees to the interagency medical treatment and evaluation options that are available to them.” Ken Dilanian reports for NBC News.
Secretary of State Antony Blinken has decided to take Nigeria off a list of countries accused of engaging in or tolerating religious persecution, leading to anger from Christian groups, the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom, and former senior U.S. diplomats. Blinken’s decision was revealed last week before he visited Nigeria, where Muslim-Christian tensions have long flared. State Department officials have said that Blinken’s move followed the advice of various department sections, but critics are calling it political and designed to appease an important African partner. Nahal Toosi reports for POLITICO.
The U.S. envoy to Afghanistan, Tom West, will be travelling to Afghanistan next week for two weeks of talks with the Taliban, State Department spokesperson Ned Price has said. “They’ll discuss … our vital national interests when it comes to Afghanistan,” Price said. “That includes counterterrorism, that includes safe passage for U.S. citizens and for Afghans to whom we have a special commitment, and that includes humanitarian assistance and the economic situation of the country,” Price added. Lexi Lonas reports for The Hill.
The Taliban has expanded its shadowy war against the Islamic State branch in Afghanistan, deploying more than 1,300 additional fighters to Afghanistan’s eastern Nangahar province in the past month. “Taliban night raids against suspected Islamic State-Khorasan members are also on the rise, and many of the hundreds arrested have disappeared or turned up dead, according to Jalalabad residents and Taliban fighters,” Susannah George reports for the Washington Post.
Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan have held military drills near Kazakhstan’s border with Afghanistan, imitating a response to an incursion, the Uzbek defense ministry has said. Reuters reports.
Just Security has published a piece by Sarah Fuhrman and Allyson Neville on ‘How U.S. Sanctions Make it Harder for Afghan Children to Get an Education’
Joint Chiefs of Staff Chair Gen. Mark Milley spoke via telephone yesterday with Russia’s top military officer, Chief of the Russian General Staff Gen. Valery Gerasimov, amid the U.S.’s concerns about a buildup of Russian troops near the Ukrainian border. The military leaders discussed “several security-related issues of concern,” a Joint Staff spokesperson said in a readout of the call. The Russian Defense Ministry said the military chiefs “discussed the ongoing issues of international security,” according to Russian news agency TASS. Jordan Williams reports for The Hill.
Russia and Ukraine have both staged military drills, as tensions between the two countries rise. Reuters reports.
Ukraine is racing to upgrade its navy amid fears of a new threat from Russia. Sebastian Shukla and Frederik Pleitgen report for CNN.
Russia has demanded that 13 foreign tech companies, including U.S. firms, set up offices in Russia by the end of the year or face potential restrictions and bans. Google, Facebook, Twitter, and TikTok are among the tech entities that must comply with the demand from the state communications regulator Roskomnadzor, which was issued Monday after a new Russian law took effect in July mandating that social media platforms with more than 500,000 daily users set up a physical presence in the country. Alexander Marrow and Gleb Stolyarov report for Reuters.
OTHER GLOBAL DEVELOPMENTS
Apple Inc. has sued the Israeli spyware group NSO Group, alleging the company misused Apple’s products and services. “The lawsuit alleges that NSO Group engaged in ‘concerted efforts in 2021 to target and attack Apple customers, Apple products and servers and Apple through dangerous malware and spyware,’ and seeks to bar NSO Group from using Apple’s products,” Robert McMillan reports for the Wall Street Journal.
The E.U. has given visas to Belarusian migrants fleeing repression, while seeking to rebuff Middle Eastern migrants coming through Belarus. Crossing from East to West of Belarus, the two groups briefly share the same fate, “but soon their lives diverge again: most Belarusians are quickly assured of staying in Lithuania and are allowed to move freely, while the others spend months detained in cramped containers, awaiting near-certain rejection of their asylum claims,” Anton Troianovski reports for The New York Times.
Authorities in El Salvador have raided the offices of seven social service and advocacy groups in an embezzlement investigation that rights advocates are saying is part of a politically motivated crackdown on independent groups. El Salvador’s attorney general’s office said that the raids had been carried out as part of an investigation launched by the Assembly into “a series of abnormalities that may have arisen in the process of adjudication, execution and monitoring of funds from the Salvadoran state.” However, critics are saying that the raids are the latest example of President Nayib Bukele’s assault on democratic norms and institutions. Bryan Avelar and Oscar Lopez report for The New York Times.
Belarus’s oldest newspaper, Nasha Niva, has been banned after the government accused the publication of extremism. Yuras Karmanau reports for AP.
Human rights activists have submitted evidence to the International Criminal Court as part of their calls for an investigation into abuses against migrants in Libya. The filing came from a coalition that included the European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights, the International Federation for Human Rights, and Lawyers for Justice in Libya. The coalition’s report on the abuses is based on interviews with 14 survivors who are now safely out of Libya. The filing names nearly 20 possible suspects for the abuse, including well-known Libyan militia chiefs, and calls for an investigation into “armed groups, militias and Libyan state actors” for crimes including “arbitrary detention, torture, murder, persecution, sexual violence and enslavement.” Monique Beals reports for The Hill.
The trial of 25 men accused of masterminding the 2019 Easter bombings in Sri Lanka has begun. “The bombings, which targeted three hotels and three churches. killed 267 people and injured about 500. More than 23,000 charges have been filed against the suspects, and 1,215 witnesses have been called to testify,” BBC News reports.
JAN. 6 ATTACK
The House select committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol issued subpoenas to three militia or paramilitary groups, including the Proud Boys and the Oath Keepers. “The subpoenas were issued to the Proud Boys International, L.L.C., and its chairman, Henry “Enrique” Tarrio; the Oath Keepers and its president, Elmer Stewart Rhodes; and the 1st Amendment Praetorian and its chairman, Robert Patrick Lewis,” Luke Broadwater and Alan Feuer report for The New York Times.
“We believe the individuals and organizations we subpoenaed today have relevant information about how violence erupted at the Capitol and the preparation leading up to this violent attack,” Chair of the committee Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-MS), said in a statement. Marshall Cohen reports for CNN.
The Jan. 6 select committee is increasingly focused on law enforcement failures that preceded the attack, including scrutinizing multiple warnings of possible violence that the FBI did not respond to. The committee’s interviews with people familiar with law enforcement actions before the Jan. 6 attack suggest that “the panel is pursuing a significant review of the intelligence and national security failures,” Aaron C. Davis, Carol D. Leonnig and Tom Hamburger report for the Washington Post.
Former New York City Police Commissioner Bernard Kerik is intending to comply with a subpoena he has received from the Jan. 6 select committee, but is also demanding an apology from the committee, according to his lawyer. The committee subpoenaed Kerik earlier this month because it alleged that he had attended a meeting at the Willard Hotel in Washington, D.C. on Jan. 5 in which options for overturning the 2020 election results were discussed. Kerik’s lawyer has written to the committee’s Chair, Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-MS), saying that “Mr. Kerik never attended any such meeting…If you were not personally responsible for this fabrication and false statements, then someone on your staff was and should be held accountable.” Paula Reid reports for CNN.
An Indiana man charged with carrying a loaded firearm onto the U.S. Capitol grounds and assaulting police officers during the Jan. 6 attack told investigators that if he had visited House Speaker Nancy Pelosi that day, “you’d be here for another reason,” according to court documents. Hannah Rabinowitz and Holmes Lybrand report for CNN.
The U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia has notified former President Trump’s lawyers, the Jan. 6 select committee, and the National Archives that they should be prepared to address whether the court has the legal authority to hear the dispute on Trump’s efforts to assert executive privilege over documents sought by the select committee. Pete Williams reports for NBC News.
OTHER U.S. DOMESTIC DEVELOPMENTS
Jurors have found the primary organizers of the deadly far-right 2017 rally in Charlottesville, Virginia liable under state law for injuries to counterprotesters, awarding more than $25 million in damages. “The “Unite the Right’ march began as a demonstration over the removal of a Confederate statue and led to the death of the counterprotester Heather Heyer, 32, when she was struck by a car driven by one of the defendants,” Neil MacFarquhar reports for The New York Times.
The Pentagon has announced a new group to investigate reports of unidentified aerial phenomena in sensitive areas. The group, which will lead an effort to “detect, identify and attribute objects” in restricted airspace, will be overseen by both the military and the intelligence agencies. Julian E. Barnes reports for The New York Times.
The death toll from the attack in Waukesha, Wisconsin on Sunday has increased to six people, after an 8-year old boy died, with more than 60 others having been injured. Prosecutors have had their request for a $5 million bail for the suspect Darrell E. Brooks granted. Mitch Smith, Brandon Dupré, Serge F. Kovaleski and Miriam Jordan report for The New York Times.
A jury has begun deliberating on the fate of the three white men accused of murdering Ahmaud Arbery, a 25-year old Black man. The deliberations started after the jury heard the final argument of the lead prosecutor, who pushed back against the defense’s contention that the men had the legal right to pursue Arbery, and that the defendant Travis McMichael was acting in self-defense when he fatally shot him. Richard Fausset, Rick Rojas and Tariro Mzezewa report for The New York Times.
The coronavirus has infected over 47.98 million people and has now killed over 773,800 people in the United States, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University. Globally, there have been over 258.96 million confirmed coronavirus cases and over 5.16 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.