Hello, all! Cristina here. It's been a busy week as everyone in Washington gears up for oversight hearings on Afghanistan next week. I'm bringing you just the news this week, but I'll be back with a very exciting interview next week.
In the meantime, read my first article for National Journal, which is, of course, about the Biden administration's approach to Ukraine. This article is unlocked, but most of my future articles won't be. You'll have to subscribe to National Journal to read my work.
You can also listen to me talk about Afghanistan and the Biden administration's foreign policy on National Journal's Quorum Call podcast.
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From the U.S. State Department on El Salvador 😬
What I'm reading:
• The leaders of Austria and Serbia are vowing to stop Afghan refugees from entering Europe.
• Kosovo will take in Afghans who don’t pass initial security screenings and host them for up to a year, the Associated Press reports.
• Protests kicked off in Montenegro when a large group of demonstrators barricaded the road from the capital Podgorica to the city of Cetinje, trying to prevent the patriarch of the Serbian Orthodox Church (SOC), Porfirije, from attending the inauguration of Bishop Joanikije as the new head of the Montenegrin branch of the SOC. Read Una Hajdari's piece for Politico Europe.
• Belarusian opposition leader Maria Kolesnikova was found guilty of conspiracy to overthrow the Minsk government and sentenced to 11 years in prison after a closed trial. Her colleague, Maxim Znak, was sentenced to 10 years, the Washington Post reports.
• The European Commission moved to impose fines against Poland for its refusal to comply with Court of Justice of the EU rulings seeking to re-establish the independence of the country’s courts.
• Speaking at the Yalta European Strategy summit, Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said relations with the United States are better than before. However, Ukraine still hasn't received a clear position on joining NATO, Reuters reports.
• Spanish police arrested the former head of Venezuela’s military intelligence unit, Hugo Carvajal, who had been hiding since a Spanish court approved his extradition to the U.S. almost two years ago, the New York Times reports.
• The United States strongly condemned the September 4 detention of the Deputy Chairman of the Crimean Tatar Mejlis, Nariman Dhezlal, and at least 45 other Crimean Tatars by Russian occupation authorities in Crimea, according to a statement from the State Department.
• The Russian independent newspaper Novaya Gazeta’s data investigations team sifted through 2,000 Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) reports from war-torn eastern Ukraine over the past seven years. The region has had 20 failed ceasefires during that time, and the data suggests violence closely corresponds with Kremlin campaigns to exert political pressure on Ukraine. That could indicate a correlation between ceasefire violations and Russian political and information warfare, Novaya reports.
• Russia’s FSB security service accused Ukrainian military intelligence of organizing an attack on a gas pipeline in Russian-annexed Crimea after Moscow arrested a Crimean Tatar leader over the incident, Reuters reports.
• Britain’s Brexit point man David Frost announced to the House of Lords that the U.K. would extend the grace period governing customs checks on goods traveling from Great Britain to Northern Ireland, which was due to expire at the end of the month. It is the third time the deadline has been extended.
• The Taliban has claimed total control over Afghanistan after claiming capture of the Panjshir Valley, the last remaining enclave of resistance against their rule. But the leader of the resistance forces in Panjshir, Ahmed Massoud, did not concede defeat, Al Jazeera reports.
• The Taliban announced the formation of a new acting government in Afghanistan. Top posts went to former Guantánamo inmates, members of the U.S.-designated terror group the Haqqani network, United Nations sanctions lists subjects, and a member of the FBI’s most-wanted list. No women or members of Afghanistan’s recently ousted government are in government. The New York Times has a rundown of the main characters.
• Myanmar’s shadow government has called for a “people’s defensive war” against the country’s military, which seized power in a coup in February. Duwa Lashi La, the acting president of the National Unity Government (NUG), formed by the elected legislators who were thrown out of office by the generals, made the call in a video posted on Facebook, Al Jazeera reports.
• Myanmar’s military junta released from prison a controversial Buddhist monk named Ashin Wirathu, known for his nationalist and anti-Muslim rhetoric, the BBC reports.
• Syrian refugees pressured to return home by host countries in Europe and Asia were subjected to detention, disappearance, and torture, including sexual violence, at the hands of Syrian security forces, according to a report by Amnesty International.
• A UN panel said that at least 18,000 Yemeni civilians have been killed or wounded by airstrikes since the country’s war escalated in 2015, the Associated Press reports.
• The Palestinian Authority indicted fourteen members of its security services for beating to death an outspoken activist known for online criticism, the New York Times reports. Family members of the victim, Nizar Banat, expressed outrage that military prosecutors failed to indict more senior officials.
• The ambassadors of the G7 nations urged Tunisia’s president to appoint a new head of government and return to a constitutional order in which an elected parliament plays a significant role, Reuters reports. The statement is the most important public expression of unease by major democracies since President Kais Saied seized power in July.
• Khalifa Haftar, a Russian-backed warlord vying for power in Libya, hired Lanny Davis, an ex-senior aide to former President Clinton and former Republican lawmaker Robert Livingston to lead a $1 million effort to lobby President Biden’s administration for support, the Wall Street Journal reports.
• Guinea’s military junta, which seized power in the country earlier this week, said it had ordered the central bank and other banks to freeze all government accounts, Reuters reports.
• A delegation of West African leaders went to Guinea to meet with the military that toppled President Alpha Conde earlier this week, the Associated Press reports.
• The Economic Community of West African States, West Africa's leading political and economic bloc, suspended Guinea’s membership following the military coup, Reuters reports.
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