Today's Headlines and Commentary

Today’s Headlines and Commentary

By Christiana Wayne
Tuesday, September 14, 2021, 1:57 PM

Secretary of State Antony Blinken defended the Biden administration’s withdrawal from Afghanistan during his testimony before the House Foreign Affairs Committee, according to the Washington Post. Republicans on the committee condemned the administration for leaving American citizens stranded in Afghanistan and abandoning the Bagram air base, but they stopped short of advocating for new troops to be deployed again into the country. Blinken said the administration could not have anticipated the speed of the Taliban takeover. He told the lawmakers, “Even the most pessimistic assessments did not predict that government forces in Kabul would collapse while U.S. forces remained.” He also defended the success of the evacuation efforts, saying, “In the end, we completed one of the biggest airlifts in history, with 124,000 people evacuated to safety.” Blinken told the committee that the U.S. pledge of $64 million in aid will go directly to nongovernmental organizations and United Nations agencies in the country, not to the Taliban government.

Chinese property giant China Evergrande says it faces “tremendous” financial pressure, according to the New York Times. The company has become one of China’s biggest corporate messes, owing suppliers, creditors and investors more than $300 billion and leaving several unfinished properties. Evergrande’s shares are down by 12 percent today, losing a total of over 80 percent of their value in the past year. The company blamed negative media coverage for its inability to sell property, and it said it has hired restructuring experts to “explore all feasible solutions” for its future.

The Biden administration will impose new conditions on its aid to Egypt, a rebuke over alleged government abuses in the country, according to the Washington Post. The new policy will affect part of the $1.3 billion in security assistance the U.S. gives Egypt each year. Officials decided the administration will provide $130 million only if the Egypt government will end its prosecution of human rights and civil society organizations known as Case 173 and drop charges against or release 16 individuals the U.S. has identified. The decision is a break from past administrations, which cited national security concerns to provide an aid package which is usually contingent upon Egypt meeting human rights standards.

Taliban spokesman Sulail Shaheen denied reports that the new government’s Prime Minister Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar has been killed in a shootout with rivals, according to Reuters. The rumours come after months of speculation about internal splits between military leaders, specifically between Baradar and Sirajuddin Haqqani, head of the Haqqani network that has committed the worst suicide attacks of the war. The Taliban has repeatedly denied claims of divisions, and it released unverified videos of Baradar attending meetings in Kandahar.

Leaders of the military coup in Guinea have begun negotiations with political, religious and business leaders that they promise will result in the formation of a transitional government, according to Al Jazeera. The meetings are expected to lay out a new constitutional framework after last week’s coup, in which Mamady Doumbouya led Guinea’s forces to remove President Alpha Conde from power. Cellou Dalein Diallo, the country’s main opposition leader, said after the session, “We are going to return to our respective staffs and alliances to try to formulate in writing our vision, our proposals which we will submit to the new authorities.”

ICYMI: Yesterday on Lawfare

Jen Patja Howell shared an episode of the Lawfare Podcast in which David Priess talks to Lawfare co-founders Benjamin Wittes and Jack Goldsmith about the history of Lawfare and its connection to the aftermath of the Sept. 11 attacks.

Robert Chesney shared an episode of the National Security Law Podcast in which he and Steve Vladeck discussed their memories of 9/11 and the major legal developments since then.

Rohini Kurup posted newly released documents related to the FBI’s investigation into the Sept. 11 attacks.

Kurup also posted a livestream of Blinken’s testimony before the House Foreign Affairs Committee.

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