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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.
Hungary’s Parliament will ratify Sweden and Finland’s NATO membership in its first session in 2023, Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban has said. The announcement, which brings to an end several weeks of speculation that Orban would further delay the move, was made following a meeting with leaders of the Visegrad Group of central European nations. The group includes Poland, Slovakia, the Czech Republic, and Hungary. Mohammed Tawfeeq reports for CNN.
The European Parliament voted in favor of a resolution calling Russia a state sponsor of terrorism. Moscow reacted angrily to the decision. “I propose designating the European Parliament as a sponsor of idiocy,” Russian foreign ministry spokesperson Maria Zakharova wrote on Telegram. Reuters reports.
All three nuclear power plants under Ukrainian control are back online and will soon be producing energy at normal capacity, the head of the national energy utility has said. This comes after Russian attacks earlier in the week triggered emergency protections at the three plants and required a halt to production. On Thursday Rafael Grossi, the head of the U.N.’s nuclear watchdog said that “the complete and simultaneous loss of off-site power for Ukraine’s nuclear power plants shows that the situation for nuclear safety and security in the country is becoming increasingly precarious, challenging and potentially dangerous.” Victoria Kim and Marc Santora report for the New York Times.
Iran is in a “full-fledged human rights crisis” sparked by the authorities’ heavy-handed approach to anti-regime dissidents, the U.N.’s human rights chief Volker Turk has said. During a special session of the U.N. Human Rights Council yesterday, Turk called for “independent, impartial and transparent investigative processes” into violations of human rights in the country. Mostafa Salem, Niamh Kennedy and Sana Noor Haq report for CNN.
The U.N. Human Rights Council voted yesterday to create a new fact-finding mission to investigate alleged human rights violations in Iran. Twenty-five countries voted to create the new mission, and 16 abstained. China, Cuba, Pakistan, Venezuela, Armenia and Eritrea voted against the move. Julia Mueller reports for The Hill.
OTHER GLOBAL DEVELOPMENTS
Russia’s lower house of parliament has voted to expand its ban on so-called “gay propaganda.” Under the latest version of the law, any promotion of homosexuality – including in books, films and online – is illegal and carries heavy penalties. The law, which U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken has described as a “blow to freedom of expression,” was approved unanimously. Jasmine Andersson reports for BBC News.
Retired bishop and longtime Hong Kong democracy advocate Joseph Zen has been convicted of failing to register a fund providing aid to anti-government protestors. The conviction of the 90-year-old, along with other prominent activists, is the latest court verdict in a continuing crackdown on dissent in the city. Elaine Yu reports for the Wall Street Journal.
Local forces in north-east Syria have said that they may be forced to abandon camps holding members of the Islamic State terrorist organization. The Syrian Democratic Forces said they would no longer have the capacity to guard the compounds if Turkey launched a fresh ground operation there. Turkey has attacked hundreds of targets in the region in retaliation for a bombing in Istanbul. Poonam Taneja and Jewan Abdi report for BBC News.
Pakistan has announced the appointment of Lt. Gen. Syed Asim Munir as the country’s new army chief. The military plays a central role in Pakistani politics, with military leaders seen as the invisible hand guiding Pakistani politics. Munir has no known political inclination and has a reputation in the army for going “by the book,” according to a Pakistan-based political analyst. Munir inherits the position as a challenging moment for Pakistan, as the country has been hit by high inflation, devastating floods, and a surge in anti-Pakistani militants in neighboring Afghanistan bolstered by the new Taliban government. Salman Masood and Christina Goldbaum report for the New York Times.
Malaysia’s veteran opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim has been sworn in as the country’s new prime minister. The appointment ends days of post-election deadlock following inconclusive election results. Ibrahim, who has promised to give up his salary as prime minister, has pledged to fight corruption and focus on the economy. Yvette Tan and Jonathan Head report for BBC News.
The chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Court has said he wanted to launch proceedings against the Ugandan rebel leader Joseph Kony. This is the first time the prosecutor’s office has sought a hearing to confirm charges, in a suspect’s absence. An arrest warrant was issued for the leader of the Lord’s Resistance Army 17 years ago on 33 counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity, but he has not yet been apprehended. BBC News reports.
The U.K.’s Supreme Court unanimously voted that Scotland’s parliament doesn’t have the power to call a second referendum on independence. The Scottish National Party (S.N.P.), which has a majority in the Scottish parliament, had planned to force one next year. S.N.P. leader Nicola Sturgeon responded to the ruling saying she respected the court’s ruling but would continue to press for independence. Max Colchester reports for the Wall Street Journal.
The U.K. government has instructed its departments to stop installing Chinese-made surveillance systems on “sensitive sites.” Announcing the ban, Cabinet Office minister Oliver Dowden said it would cover visual surveillance equipment “produced by companies subject to the National Intelligence Law of the People’s Republic of China”. He said the decision had been taken after a security review found that “in light of the threat to the U.K. and the increasing capability and connectivity of these systems, additional controls are required.” Yuan Yang reports for the Financial Times.
The Venezuelan government and the country’s opposition will resume talks on Saturday in Mexico. The resumption of talks and steps towards a political agreement could pave the way for a relaxation of U.S. sanctions against the country. The talks are being mediated by Norway. Joe Parkin Daniels reports for the Financial Times.
The Justice Department is seeking to question former Vice President Mike Pence in connection with its criminal investigation into former President Trump’s efforts to overturn the 2020 election. The discussions about questioning Pence as a witness are in their early stages. Pence had not been subpoenaed, and Trump may seek to block, or slow, his testimony by trying to invoke executive privilege. However, according to people familiar with his thinking, Pence is open to considering the Justice Department’s request. Maggie Haberman and Michael S. Schmidt report for the New York Times.
Elon Musk has announced plans to reinstate nearly all previously banned Twitter accounts. After posting a Twitter poll asking, “Should Twitter offer a general amnesty to suspended accounts, provided that they have not broken the law or engaged in egregious spam?” in which 72.4 percent of the respondents voted yes, Musk declared, “Amnesty begins next week.” Taylor Lorenz reports for the Washington Post.
President Biden said yesterday that he would make a renewed effort to enact a ban on assault-style rifles following the recent wave of mass shootings. “The idea that we still allow semi-automatic weapons to be purchased is sick,” he said. “It has no, no social redeeming value. Zero. None. Not a single solitary rationale for it except profit for the gun manufacturers.” Peter Nicholas reports for NBC News.
COVID-19 has infected over 98.538 million people and has now killed over 1.08 million people in the United States, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University. Globally, there have been over 640.538 million confirmed coronavirus cases and over 6.63 million deaths. Sergio Hernandez, Sean O’Key, Amanda Watts, Byron Manley and Henrik Pettersson report for CNN.
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.