The D Brief: Kabul summons warlords; INDOPACOM’s China warning; Troops to Haiti?; Germany creates space command; And a bit more...
Afghanistan security forces are collapsing faster than expected, The Guardian’s Emma Graham-Harrison reports from Kabul. “There is an acknowledgment on our side that we didn’t foresee this [Taliban] advance, we weren’t comprehensively prepared,” said one official with access to President Ashraf Ghani.
Writes Graham-Harrison: “In its desperation to stem the losses, the government has summoned one of the darker spectres from the country’s recent past, urging warlords and regional strongmen to call up militias that fought the Taliban—but also each other—during the all-out civil war of the 1990s. As recently as last year, Ghani had been trying to disband these groups.”More Afghans are fleeing their homes as the Taliban advance. Some 270,000 Afghans have been displaced since January, U.N. officials estimate, “bringing the total population forced from their homes to more than 3.5 million,” Reuters writes.
“Afghanistan is on the brink of another humanitarian crisis,” warns Babar Baloch, spokesman of the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees, but that can and should be avoided by reaching a peace agreement, he told reporters on Tuesday in Geneva. Read on, here.
U.S. diplomats keep working in Kabul. Despite fears that the Taliban might overrun the capital, U.S. officials returned after a monthlong COVID-related lockdown to restart, among other things, processing visa applications for interpreters and other American helpers—up to 200 a day. (New York Times)
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Welcome to this Tuesday edition of The D Brief from Bradley Peniston and Jennifer Hlad. If you’re not already subscribed to The D Brief, you can do that here. Ten years ago today, a trio of bomb blasts killed 26 people in Mumbai.
U.S.-Cuban relations erode as Biden voices support for protests. The United States “stands firmly with the people of Cuba as they assert their universal rights,” President Joe Biden told reporters Monday.
What’s happening: “The protests—the largest in decades—come as COVID-19 has crippled Cuba’s tourism economy and as power blackouts and food lines renew dissatisfaction in a country where dissent has historically been repressed,” The Hill writes.
Cuban President Miguel Diaz-Canal has blamed the U.S. embargo for the problems.
Responded Secretary of State Antony Blinken: It would be a “grievous mistake for the Cuban regime to interpret what is happening in dozens of towns and cities across the island as the result or product of anything the United States has done,” The Hill reports.
U.S. troops to Haiti? President Biden is reviewing a request made by Haiti’s interim prime minister to send troops to help the country secure “its airport and other infrastructure” after the assassination of President Jovenal Moise, Reuters reports.
More details emerge about the attack and its aftermath. “Despite the abundance of bullet holes documented inside the President’s home, not one member of the President’s security detail or residential staff was hurt,” CNN reports. And though the plot “allegedly spanned multiple countries and involved highly experienced former military officers and months of planning,” the suspects “appear to have been unprepared for their fierce pursuit by Haitian security forces.” Read more, here.
U.S. sanctions Nicaraguan officials. “The Biden administration on Monday announced visa restrictions on 100 members of Nicaragua’s political and judicial elite in a wide-ranging measure meant to crack down on government corruption and human rights abuses,” The Hill reports.
Lawmakers to Biden: explain your Syria strikes. Reps. Andy Biggs, R-Ariz., and Barbara Lee, D-Calif., wrote the president a letter saying the airstrikes “raise major constitutional concerns.” and asked him “to clarify the specific threats that led to airstrikes conducted against targets in Iraq and Syria last month.” The Hill has a bit more, here.
Germany has created a space command, joining Britain, France, and the United States as NATO allies that have stood up new organizations to oversee military operations in orbit over the past two years, Reuters reports.
The command will protect satellites that help the military communicate and sense by tracking space debris and fending off enemy attacks. It is also intended to be capable of “disrupting an adversary’s satellite operation in the event of a conflict.” Read on, here.
White House cyber czar to be sworn in today. Former National Security Agency Deputy Director Chris Inglis will be the first to serve in the position, an expansion of a coordinator role eliminated by the Trump administration in 2018. “The position is intended to serve as a coordinating mechanism for cybersecurity policy between federal agencies, Congress and the White House,” The Hill reports.
Streaming from DC today:
- 9:30 a.m.: Confirmation hearings by the Senate Armed Services Committee for: Carlos Del Toro, nominated to be Navy secretary; Gilbert Cisneros Jr.(defense undersecretary for personnel and readiness); Kathleen Miller (Pentagon comptroller); Mara Karlin (assistant defense secretary for strategy, plans, and capabilities); and Michael Connor (assistant Army secretary for civil works).
- 3:30 p.m.: HASC subcommittee hearing on the 2020 budget request for fixed-wing tactical aircraft and training. Scheduled to appear: Acting Director of Operational Test and Evaluation Raymond O’Toole; Acting CAPE Director Joseph Nogueira; Acting Secretary of the Air Force for Acquisition, Technology, and Logistics Darlene Costello; Air Force Deputy Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. David Nahom; Acting Assistant Secretary of the Navy for Research, Development, and Acquisition Frederick Stefany; Navy Air Warfare Division Director Rear Adm. Andrew Loiselle; USMC Deputy Commandant for Aviation Lt. Gen. Mark Wise; and F-35 Joint Program Office Program Executive Officer Lt. Gen. Eric Fick.
- 4 p.m.: SecDef Lloyd Austin III speaks at the National Security Commission on Artificial Intelligence’s Global Emerging Technology Summit.
Lastly today: So far, 526 people have been charged in federal court in connection with the Capitol riot, by NBC News’ count. Another 26 charges have been filed in a District of Columbia court.
Sharing evidence with all the defendants’ lawyers is such an immense task that the Justice Department has hired the Deloitte Financial Advisory Services consulting firm to help. The evidence includes “thousands of hours of video from surveillance and police body cameras, and material posted online by people who were in the Capitol,” plus “the results of search warrants for all the cellphones that were in the Capitol during the riot, the more than 1 million posts sent to the conservative social media outlet Parler, the contents of cellphones surrendered by defendants or obtained through search warrants, and material gained through more than 6,000 grand jury subpoenas,” NBC News reports.