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A curated weekday guide to major news and developments over the past 24 hours. Here’s today’s news.
The Pentagon reported there have been 146 U.S. casualties – most of which were non-serious injuries – in Iran-backed attacks in Iraq, Syria, and Jordan since last October. “Of those 146 casualties, three were killed in action, two sustained very serious injuries, nine had serious injuries, and 132 had non-serious injuries,” Pentagon spokesperson Maj. Pete Nguyen said Tuesday. Haley Britzky reports for CNN.
MILITARY CONFLICT WITH HOUTHIS
Iran-backed Houthi rebels say they have successfully targeted a U.S. and a British ship in the Red Sea, casting doubt on the effectiveness of three waves of U.S.-U.K. airstrikes on Houthi missile sites in Yemen. A third ship was targeted yesterday afternoon but was not struck, suggesting Houthi capabilities may have been degraded by recent U.S.-U.K. strikes. Patrick Wintour reports for the Guardian.
The Houthis yesterday fired six anti-ship ballistic missiles from Yemen toward commercial vessels, according to the U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM). One missile caused minor damage to the MV Star Nasia, a Marshall Island-flagged Greek carrier, CENTCOM said. No injuries were reported. Rashard Rose for CNN.
Hamas has responded to a significant ceasefire proposal that could free hostages in Gaza, officials in Qatar and the group said yesterday, although U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken cautioned that there is still “a lot of work to be done.” The Qatari Prime Minister offered a more positive assessment, saying, “We are optimistic.” Hamas confirmed that it had responded to the proposal, saying it had dealt with the framework “positively,” but reaffirmed earlier demands for a permanent cease-fire, reconstruction of Gaza, an end to the blockade, and the release of Palestinian prisoners – conditions Israel rejects. An Israeli official, speaking on the condition of anonymity, suggested that Israel was dissatisfied with Hamas’s counterproposal. Zolan Kanno-Youngs, Adam Rasgon and Michael Levenson report for the New York Times.
Hamas’s counterproposal has been published in Lebanon’s Al-Akhbar newspaper. A Hamas Official and two Egyptian officials confirmed its authenticity. The proposal lays out a three-phase plan to unfold over four and a half months whereby hostages would be released in exchange for hundreds of Palestinian prisoners in Israel, including senior militants, and an end to the war. The proposal would effectively allow Hamas to retain power in Gaza and rebuild its military capabilities, a scenario that Israel has rejected. Matthew Lee, Wafaa Shurafa and Samy Magdy report for the Washington Post.
President Biden said yesterday that Hamas’s counter-demands in response to the most recent hostage deal proposal “seems to be a little over the top.”
Israel has confirmed the deaths of 31 hostages held in the Gaza Strip since Oct. 7. The conclusion comes from a confidential assessment reviewed by the New York Times. The hostages have become a flashpoint for internal debate within Israel, with tensions building recently as negotiations for another ceasefire have accelerated. Ronen Bergman and Patrick Kingsley for the New York Times.
Saudi Arabia will have no diplomatic relations with Israel without the establishment of an independent Palestinian state, Riyadh said today, apparently in response to White House spokesperson John Kirby’s remarks yesterday saying that the issues of hostage release and Israel-Saudi normalization were “separate track[s].” “The Kingdom has communicated its firm position to the US administration that there will be no diplomatic relations with Israel unless an independent Palestinian state is recognized on the 1967 borders with East Jerusalem as its capital,” the Saudi Foreign Ministry said in a statement, adding another condition would be that “Israeli aggression on the Gaza Strip stops and all Israeli occupation forces withdraw from the Gaza Strip.” Reuters reports.
ISRAEL-HAMAS WAR — INTERNATIONAL RESPONSE
Argentinian President Havir Milei promised to move his country’s embassy to Jerusalem after arriving in Israel yesterday to start his first state visit as president. “I come to support Israel against the Hamas terrorists,” Mr. Milei said to Israel’s foreign minister, Yisrael Katz, at the airport in Tel Aviv. “I plan to move the embassy to West Jerusalem.” Milei’s declaration drew praise from the Israeli government. Jack Nicas and Lucía Cholakian Herrera for New York Times.
ISRAEL-HAMAS WAR — U.S. RESPONSE
The U.S. House of Representatives yesterday rejected a Republican-led bill to provide $17.6 billion to Israel. The bill garnered 250 to 180 votes, short of the two-thirds majority required. The standalone bill would have provided Israel $17.6 billion in military aid, which is strongly supported by most lawmakers in both parties. However, opponents called the legislation a political ploy to distract from their opposition to a $118 billion Senate bill that would overhaul U.S. immigration policy and fund border security while providing billions of dollars in emergency aid for Ukraine and Israel. The Guardian reports.
Russia today launched a missile attack on Kyiv and other Ukrainian cities, Ukraine’s air force said, killing one person in southern Ukraine and triggering air defense systems in the capital. The Guardian reports.
The United States yesterday accused Russia of firing at least nine North Korean-supplied missiles at Ukraine, while Moscow called Washington a “direct accomplice” in the downing of a Russian military transport plane last month. The accusations were traded during a U.N. Security Council meeting on Ukraine. Moscow and Pyongyang have denied the U.S. accusations, but vowed last year to deepen military relations. Reuters reports.
President Volodymyr Zelenskyy yesterday ordered the creation of a separate branch of Ukraine’s military devoted to drones, which Ukraine views as crucial to battlefield successes in its war with Russia. Mykhailo Fedorov, Ukraine’s Minister for Digital Transformation, said drones had “fundamentally changed the situation on the battlefield” and that the separate branch would provide “a powerful impetus” to the military’s technological development. Reuters reports.
Russia appears poised to bar the only remaining antiwar candidate seeking to run in the country’s upcoming presidential election. Russia’s Central Election Commission rejected paperwork filed by Boris Nadezhdin, an antiwar physicist and politician, alleging irregularities in over 15 percent of the signatures he submitted in support of his campaign and recommending that he be barred from standing for election. The ban is part of a longstanding pattern of Russian authorities manipulating elections, even though observers believe that Nadezhdin has no realistic chance of defeating Putin. Robyn Dixon and Natalia Abbakumova report for the Washington Post.
Former Fox News host Tucker Carlson said he will “soon” interview Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow. In a video posted on X, Carlson said he wanted to do the interview because “Americans have a right to know all they can about a war they are implicated in.” It would be Putin’s first one-on-one interview with a Western journalist since Russia launched its full-scale invasion of Ukraine in February 2022. Tiffany Wertheimer reports for BBC News.
Former two-time Chilean president Sebastián Piñera died in a helicopter crash yesterday. In a national address, Interior Minister Carolina Tohá said Piñera, 74, was killed and three people survived. It was not immediately clear what caused the crash. Ana Vanessa Herrero, María Luisa Paúl, and Samantha Schmidt report for the Washington Post.
Azerbaijan’s President Ilham Aliyev is set to be re-elected today following the recapture of Nagorno-Karabakh from Armenia. Aliyev, who succeeded his father in 2003, has typically captured over 85% of the vote in elections that rights groups have said are neither free nor fair. Azerbaijani officials claim the elections are fair and transparent and that the Karabakh victory has boosted Aliyev’s popularity. Reuters reports.
Russia said today that two of its strategic bombers flew over waters near Alaska but stayed in international airspace. The North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) said it had detected four Russian military aircraft, confirming “[t]he Russian aircraft remained in international airspace and did not enter American or Canadian sovereign airspace.” Reuters reports.
Two blasts in Pakistan’s Balochistan province Balochistan today killed 24 people and injured dozens, raising security concerns on the eve of the country’s general elections. Reuters reports.
The Philippine defense chief has ordered the military to increase the number of troops stationed at the country’s northernmost islands near Taiwan to fortify Manila’s territorial defense capabilities. Reuters reports.
A Haitian prosecutor has recommended charges against 70 people for the 2021 assassination of President Jovenel Moïse, including his wife, former First Lady Martine Moïse. A copy of the criminal complaint obtained by the New York Times does not accuse her of planning the assassination or of direct involvement, and instead says she and other accomplices gave statements that were contradicted by other witnesses, suggesting they were complicit in the attack. Observers have raised concerns about the complaint, with some saying it may be a tool to deflect from accusations against senior government officials. Andre Paultre, David C. Adams and Frances Robles report for the New York Times.
A federal appeals court in Washington, D.C. found that former President Donald Trump is not immune from prosecution for his alleged efforts to overturn the results of the 2020 election. A three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit unanimously found that, with regard to Trump, “any executive immunity that may have protected him while he served as president no longer protects him against this prosecution.” Trump has until Feb. 12 to appeal the case to the U.S. Supreme Court, which may continue a stay of the underlying proceedings. Alan Feuer and Charlie Savage report for the New York Times.
The Justice Department is preparing to release a special counsel report criticizing President Biden and his aides for mishandling classified documents. Prosecutors do not plan to pursue criminal charges in the case. While the facts of Biden’s case appear to differ significantly from Trump’s case, the conclusions drawn by special counsel Robert Hur will likely face intense scrutiny from Republicans in Congress. Devlin Barrett and Peter Stein report for the Washington Post.
Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin has agreed to testify before Congress on his hospitalization in January. Lloyd will appear before a House Armed Services hearing on Feb. 29 to face questions about the delay in informing the White House about his recent hospitalization. Connor O’Brien reports for Politico.
The U.S. House of Representatives defeated a measure to impeach Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas. The failed vote, which transpired after three Republicans broke party lines, was a stunning rebuke of a months-long investigation into Mayorkas over the Biden administration’s immigration policies. Jacqueline Alemany, Amy Wang, Marianna Sotomayor and Paul Kane report for the Washington Post.
Republic presidential candidate Nikki Haley suffered a major defeat yesterday in a nonbinding Republican primary in Nevada where she was the only major candidate on the ballot. In a contest that Donald Trump skipped, more voters selected the “none of these candidates” option than chose Haley on the primary ballot. Maeve Reston reports for the Washington Post.