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A curated weekday guide to major news and developments over the past 24 hours. Here’s today’s news.
GLOBAL DEVELOPMENTS – NIGER
The U.S. embassy in Niger will be partially evacuated following last week’s coup. Spokesperson Matthew Miller said that, despite the partial evacuation, the embassy would remain open. The U.S. has reiterated its commitment to restoring Niger’s democratically elected government. Christy Cooney reports for BBC News.
Gen. Salifou Modi, a leader of Niger’s coup, flew to Mali yesterday to meet its rulers, in a sign that Niger, a key Western ally, could strengthen ties with Mali which has close links to the Kremlin-backed paramilitary organization Wagner group. The Wagner group has approximately 1,500 troops in Mali. Wagner chief Yevgeny Prigozhin offered Wagner’s services to the new rulers in Niger and praised their coup. Elian Peltier reports for the New York Times.
The junta in Niger has said it would not reinstate ousted President Mohamed Bazoum, raising tensions with the Economic Community of West African States (E.C.O.W.A.S.) that threatened to intervene following the coup last week. “The military option is the very last option on the table, the last resort, but we have to prepare for the eventuality,” said Abdel-Fatau Musah, E.C.O.W.A.S. Commissioner for Political Affairs, Peace and Security. Camillus Eboh reports for Reuters.
GLOBAL DEVELOPMENTS – CHINA
Chinese President Xi Jinping’s shake-up in the top levels of China’s military this week could suggest cracks in Xi’s hold on power. The shake-up comes amid Xi’s third anti-corruption campaign. The enduring corruption at the top levels of the military indicates Xi still lacks sufficient control to prevent abuses of military power, said Li Nan, a senior research fellow at the National University of Singapore’s East Asian Institute. Lily Kuo, Cate Cadell, and Ellen Nakashima report for the Washington Post.
The United States yesterday raised concerns over China “encouraging citizens to spy on each other” as part of its society-wide counter-espionage campaign. State Department spokesperson Matt Miller said that the United States has also been closely monitoring the implementation of Beijing’s expanded anti-spying law. Daphne Psaledakis and Humeyra Pamuk reports for Reuters.
OTHER GLOBAL DEVELOPMENTS
Outbreaks of deadly violence in India this week reveal the deep sectarian divides in a country set to host the Group of 20 leaders next month. Right-wing Hindu demonstrations, the destruction of Muslim-owned property, and the shooting of three Muslim passengers on a train by a police officer have raised tensions even further. A study by economist Deepankar Basu reported a 786% rise in hate crimes against all minorities between 2014 and 2018. Rhea Mogul and Sania Farooqui report for CNN.
Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has called for easing tensions between Ukraine and one of its most vocal allies, Poland. The diplomatic spat began after Poland limited imports of Ukrainian foods to bolster its farming sector. The resulting complaints led Poland to say Ukraine should “start appreciating the role Poland has played for Ukraine in recent months and years.” The Polish ambassador was subsequently summoned by Ukrainian officials, which drew strong criticism from Poland’s Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki. Nicolas Camut and Bartosz Brzeziński report for POLITICO.
Russian drones continue to strike Ukrainian food export infrastructure, hitting grain silos, a marine terminal, and port administrative buildings in and around Izmail on the Danube River, Ukrainian officials said. Yesterday’s strike coincided with the highly anticipated phone call between Russian President Vladimir Putin and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who helped broker the now-ended Black Sea grain deal. Erdogan warned Putin against escalation and said Turkey would use “intense” diplomacy to restart the grain deal. Jared Malsin and Laurence Norman report for the Wall Street Journal.
Ukrainians in Russian-occupied territory are being forced to adopt Russian citizenship. Ukrainians who do not assume Russian citizenship “are subjected to threats, intimidation, restrictions on humanitarian aid and basic necessities, and possible detention or deportation…” Moscow claims to have given more than 3 million Ukrainians Russian passports since 2014. Conflict Observatory reports.
Approximately 10,749 civilians have been killed, including 499 children, in Ukraine since Russia invaded the country in February last year. Another 15,599 others were wounded. Mariya Knight reports for CNN.
Republicans on the House Oversight and Accountability Committee yesterday launched an investigation “to understand the extent and ramifications of the breach by Chinese hackers” of email systems at federal agencies, including the State Department and the Department of Commerce. In letters to Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo, the lawmakers requested a briefing in the next week from their respective departments. Sarah Fortinsky reports for The Hill.
North Korea, for the first time, confirmed custody of Travis King, the U.S. soldier who dashed across the demilitarized zone, the U.N. Command has said. U.N. Command would not give any further details. North Korea’s confirmation could indicate that Pyongyang is ready to start negotiating. Jean Mackenzie and Kelly Ng report for BBC News.
The United States and Mongolia are set to sign an Open Skies civil aviation agreement, Vice President Kamala Harris and Mongolian Prime Minister L. Oyun-Erdene confirmed in a meeting in Washington yesterday. Open Skies civil aviation agreements grant airlines from both countries the right to operate in each other’s countries, liberalize airline regulation and impose safety and security standards. The Biden administration’s effort to strengthen ties with Mongolia is part of the U.S. objectives of combating climate change, upholding democracy and human rights, and bolstering the international rules-based order. Trevor Hunnicutt reports for Reuters.
Israel’s Defense Ministry confirmed yesterday that the United States approved the sale of a co-developed advanced air-defense system David’s Sling, to Finland in a $345.80 million deal. Reuters reports.
The Mexican government reported yesterday that for the first time, a body was seen along the floating barrier that Texas Gov. Greg Abbott installed in the Rio Grande in July. Mexico, which has warned of the risks the barrier poses, claimed the barrier violates treaties regarding the use of the river and violates Mexico’s sovereignty. Migrant drownings occur regularly on the Rio Grande. AP News reports.
DOMESTIC DEVELOPMENTS – TRUMP LEGAL MATTERS
Former president Trump is expected to appear in person today for his arraignment in federal court in Washington on charges that he conspired to subvert the results of the 2020 election. Niha Masih, Lyric Li, John Wagner, Amy B Wang, Mariana Alfaro, Spencer S. Hsu and Dan Rosenzweig-Ziff report for the Washington Post.
Former President Trump’s legal team is framing his indictment in the 2020 election interference investigation as an attack on his right to free speech, suggesting a forthcoming First Amendment defense. Experts suggest such a defense has little merit given the range of steps taken by Trump and his allies that prosecutors say transformed speech into action. These actions include enlisting fake electors to sign false certificates; attempting to use the Justice Department to launch election fraud probes; and pressuring Vice President Pence to disrupt Congressional proceedings on Jan. 6, 2021. Eric Tucker and Alanna Durkin Richer report for AP News.
Bill Barr yesterday said that while former President Trump can “tell people that the election was stolen, when he knew better … That does not protect [him] from entering into a conspiracy.” “All conspiracies involve speech, and all fraud involves speech. So, free speech doesn’t give [Trump] the right to engage in a fraudulent conspiracy,” Barr added. Rebecca Falconer reports for Axios.
Former President Trump’s standing in the Republican party has shown no sign of waning, even after the latest indictment by a federal grand jury. Key Republicans on Capitol Hill have rallied around Trump. The indictment is likely to dominate the news, which could make it more difficult for his primary opponents to gain attention. John McCormick and Simon J. Levien report for the Wall Street Journal.
OTHER DOMESTIC DEVELOPMENTS
U.S. Capitol Police responded to a possibly “bogus” 911 call reporting an active shooter in the Senate. Officers found no shooter or anyone who had witnessed a shooter, Capitol Police Chief J. Thomas Manger said. Talal Ansari and Simon J. Levien report for the Wall Street Journal.
U.S. Supreme Court Approval ratings remain at 40%, record low levels, according to a Gallup poll conducted in July. Ariane de Vogue reports for CNN.