Today’s Headlines and Commentary

Christiana Wayne
Tuesday, September 7, 2021, 1:41 PM

Lawfare’s daily roundup of national security news and opinion.

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The United States has surpassed 40 million recorded coronavirus cases, according to the New York Times. The unvaccinated population and the highly contagious Delta variant have combined to create the current surge in infections that is burdening health care systems nationwide. Roughly 46 percent of Americans are not fully vaccinated, and health officials say most of the hospitalizations due to infection are among the unvaccinated.

The Taliban have announced their interim government, led by one of their founders Mullah Mohammad Hassan Akhund, according to the BBC. Taliban co-founder Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar will be his deputy. New acting interior minister Sarajuddin Haqqani was head of the Haqqani network, a militant group affiliated with the Taliban which has orchestrated some of the deadliest attacks during the war in Afghanistan and which the United States has designated as a terrorist organization. Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid announced the new government to reporters today, saying, “We know the people of our country have been waiting for a new government.”

The Taliban seized the Panjshir province, the last holdout in Afghanistan, according to the Washington Post. Mujahid told reporters, “Our last efforts for establishing peace and security in the country have given results.” A senior official for the National Resistance Front of Afghanistan also confirmed that Taliban forces had conquered the Panjshir Valley, a region that had remained unconquered by both Soviet forces in the 1980s and Taliban forces in the 1990s. The official also said Amrullah Saleh, the vice president of Afghanistan before the Taliban takeover, has fled to Tajikistan.

On Sunday Col. Mamady Doumbouya led a military coup in Guinea, storming the president’s palace and taking him into custody, according to NPR. In a meeting on Monday, Doumbouya told the ministers not to leave the country and to turn over their government vehicles. He also promised there would be no witch hunt against former officials and told mining companies to continue their work, exempting them from the nationwide curfew. Doumbouya, a former member of the French legionary, appeared on state television to announce that the former constitution had been dissolved and that he would form a new government soon, though he did not provide a timeline. He told viewers that he orchestrated the coup to end President Alpha Conde’s corrupt administration, which he said failed to bring economic prosperity to Guinea.

Belarusian opposition figures Maria Kolesnikova and Maxim Znak have been sentenced to 11 and 10 years in prison, respectively, by a Minsk court, according to Deutsche Welle. Kolesnikova became one of the most prominent members of the opposition after nationwide protests following elections that kept President Alexander Lukashenko in power. When authorities tried to expel her from the country, she tore up her passport and was then thrown in jail. Many European Union members have strongly condemned the results of the trials, which took place behind closed doors.

Texas Gov. Gregg Abbott signed a bill into law that creates strict voting restrictions, ending a months-long opposition campaign by the state’s Democrats, according to the Washington Post. The law already faces two challenges in federal court, as nearly two dozen organizations and individuals sue Texas GOP leaders and local election officials. The bill imposes new criminal penalties for violating voting laws, bans 24-hour and drive-through voting and allows more access for partisan poll watchers. The White House has reiterated its commitment to battle voting restrictions like these that have been passed in several states.

ICYMI: This Weekend on Lawfare

Paul Rosenzweig explained Apple’s decision to postpone its plans to deploy a system that scanned images on iPhones for child sexual abuse material.

Sara Bjerg Moller discussed five myths about NATO and Afghanistan.

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Christiana Wayne is a junior at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill studying history and English. She is an intern at Lawfare.

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