We are pausing our live coverage of Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan now. Our full report of the day’s events in Taipei is here:
China’s military escalation in response to Pelosi’s visit may be influenced by Xi Jinping’s want to distract his country from plunging property prices, as well as a want to “project himself as a protector” ahead of the CCP’s 20th National Congress, according to Jade Guan, an expert in China’s foreign policy at Deakin University.
At the same time, Guan said the National Congress may reduce the likelihood of any major conflict as Jinping will want a “smooth holding of the conference”.
According to Guan, China’s current military escalation in response to Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan is not unprecedented, but how far it escalates will depend on the outcome of the meetings.
“We need to wait and watch the readouts from the Taiwanese government and Pelosi’s office which will be important for China to then judge what the level of this meeting is,” she said.
Guan said China’s announcement they will conduct live-fire military exercises in response to the perceived threat from the US is not the first. During the 1995-1996 Strait of Taiwan Crisis, China fired missiles into the waters around Taiwan after then Taiwanese president Lee Teng-hui travelled to the US.
It’s nearly 2pm in Taipei after a busy morning of diplomacy in the Taiwan capital following US House speaker Nancy Pelosi’s controversial visit to the island. Pelosi’s visit has angered China which considers the island part of its territory. Here’s where things stand now:
- Pelosi met with Taiwan president Tsai Ing-wen and spoke to Taiwan parliament on Wednesday. Pelosi said the US wants Taiwan to always have freedom with security and will not back away from that. “While respecting the “One China” policy, our solidarity with Taiwan is more important than ever,” Pelosi said during a joint news conference Tsai. “The US supports the status quo and does not want anything to happen to Taiwan by force”, Pelosi said.
- Tsai struck a defiant tone as she hosted the US House speaker. “Facing deliberately heightened military threats, Taiwan will not back down. We will ... continue to hold the line of defence for democracy,” she said. She also thanked Pelosi for “taking concrete actions to show your staunch support for Taiwan at this critical moment”.
- Taiwan’s cabinet on Wednesday said the military has increased its alertness level and authorities will make plans to ensure safety and stability around the island.
- China said it will conduct military drills in areas near Taiwan from Thursday to Sunday, state media said.
- Japan’s government expressed concern over planned Chinese military activity around Taiwan in response to Pelosi’s visit to the self-governed island. Japan’s top spokesman, Hirokazu Matsuno, said Tokyo had conveyed its concerns to Beijing over the drills, which are due to start on Thursday.
- China summoned the US ambassador in Beijing on Tuesday to rebuke him over Pelosi’s “egregious” trip to Taiwan, state media reported. Vice foreign minister Xie Feng voiced “strong protests” over Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan during his talk with ambassador Nicholas Burns.
- China rolled out curbs on the import of fruit and fish from Taiwan while halting shipments of sand to the island in the wake of Pelosi’s visit
- In her speech to Taiwan parliament, Pelosi said she wants to increase parliamentary exchanges between the US and Taiwan. She called Taiwan“one of the freest societies in the world”
- Pelosi was awarded the Order of Propitious Cloud with Special Grand Cordon. Tsai draped a sash over the US House speaker as she bestowed the award and Tsai the honour “represented their gratitude to Pelosi and the wish to continue progressing US-Taiwan relations through more cooperation.”
- In 7-11 stores across Taiwan on Wednesday the words “War Warmonger Pelosi Get Out of Taiwan” flashed across in-store TV screens. According to local reports some customers thought the message was a news chyron, or a forthright expression of the franchise-owner’s views. But Uni-president, the parent company, told local media it suspected it had been hacked.
Some images of Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan. She is expected to leave the island later on Wednesday.
South Korea called for dialogue to maintain regional peace and stability as tensions between the US and China rose over Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan. Pelosi is expected to arrive in Seoul late Wednesday, the next stop in her Asian tour.
“Our government’s stance is to maintain close communication with relevant parties... on the basis that peace and stability in the region through dialogue and cooperation are important,” an official from the presidential office told reporters.
A recap of Pelosi and Tsai’s press conference held a short time ago in Taipei:
The Taiwan president told the US House speaker “we are grateful for the delegation’s visit under such challenging circumstances as demonstration of US unwavering support.”
Tsai said “military exercises are an unnecessary reaction” and Taiwan is “committed to maintaining status quo across the Taiwan Strait”.
Pelosi said “while respecting our one-China policy, our solidarity with Taiwan is more important than ever”. She said “we want Taiwan to always have freedom with security, we are not backing away from that”.
“We are supporters of the status quo, we don’t want anything to happen to Taiwan by force,” Pelosi said. When asked about the economic consequences Taiwan has to face as a result of her visit, she said the US Chips Act opens the door for better economic exchanges. She added Taiwan’s strengths “have been in its technological advancement and democratic development”.
In 7-11 stores across Taiwan today the words “War Warmonger Pelosi Get Out of Taiwan” flashed across in-store TV screens. According to local reports some customers thought the message was a news chyron, or a forthright expression of the franchise-owner’s views. But Uni-president, the parent company, told local media it suspected it had been hacked.
“The manufacturer was interrupted by an unknown source to broadcast the message, and the manufacturer was immediately asked to repair it,” a spokesperson said. The convenience stores are ubiquitous across Taiwan, stationed every few hundred metres in some city areas, and central to residents’ everyday lives. More than just snacks, you can also pay bills, accept deliveries and conduct other bits of life admin at the stores.
Pelosi also praised the “brainpower” of Taiwan and the success of the tech industry when asked a question from another reporter about the Chips and Science Act, and says “we want to increase our relationship.”
“It’s pretty exciting”.
Pelosi continues: “We’re not here to talk about mainland China we’re here to talk about Taiwan.”
A reporter from Japan asks about democracy and China:
“Your question comes amid a struggle between democracy and autocracy. We have to show the world.. to show the world the success of the people of Taiwan. Their courage to become more democratic... a model in this region in those respects... [it] offers a very strong contrast to what’s happening in mainland China.”
“Whatever China will do they will do in their own good time,” Pelosi said.
“Its really important for the message to be clear .. [the US] is committed to the security of Taiwan... but it’s about our shared values of democracy and freedom and how Taiwan has been an example to the world.
“Whether there are insecurities of the president of China relating to his own political situation I don’t know.”
One reporter from Taiwan asks if more US high-level visits to Taiwan will take place. He also asks how Pelosi foresees China responding.
She replies saying that she hopes that her visit will lead to other visits and notes five senators visited Taiwan earlier this year. “Not too much of a fuss was made,” she said.
“I hope it’s really clear that while China has stood in the way of Taiwan participating in going to certain meetings, they won’t stand in the way of people coming to Taiwan as a show of friendship and support.
“They made a big fuss because I’m speaker. I don’t know if that’s a reason or an excuse.”
Pelosi and Tsai hold a press conference
Pelosi and Tsai are now taking part in a press conference. Pelosi says she came here to send an unequivocal message that America stands with Taiwan. They will now answer questions.
More details from the Taiwan ministry of defence’s press conference: the ministry has accused China of planning to breach Taiwan’s air and sea space, in violation of international law, with its plans for military operations in the seas surrounding Taiwan. China’s government has reacted to Pelosi’s visit with outrage. After her arrival its military announced joint air and sea drills near Taiwan, beginning on Tuesday night and including test launches of conventional missiles in the sea east of Taiwan.
A short time ago a spokesperson for the ministry said Taiwan’s military “has the ability to protect our land and against any activity that violates national sovereignty”.The ministry of foreign affairs said the “deliberate escalation” of military actions against Taiwan would impact international economic and trade exchanges, and undermine peace and stability in the region.
Japan’s government has expressed concern over planned Chinese military activity around Taiwan in response to Pelosi’s visit to the self-governed island. Japan’s top spokesman, Hirokazu Matsuno, said Tokyo had conveyed its concerns to Beijing over the military drills, which are due to start on Thursday. Matsuno said the area hosting the exercises overlaps with Japan’s exclusive economic zone. Japan has not, however, commented on Pelosi’s visit and reiterated its stance that tensions in the Taiwan Strait should be resolved through dialogue.
Taiwan will 'firmly defend national security': defence ministry
Taiwan’s defence ministry is giving a press conference, and says China “continues to launch psychological warfare on Taiwan and citizens”. It said Taiwan will “firmly defend national security” and “Chinese drills invaded Taiwan’s territorial space” and also that drills “have violated UN rules.”
The ministry said Chinese drills “amount to a blockade of Taiwan’s air and sea space” and “seriously violated” the island’s sovereignty.
It said Taiwan will enhance its alertness level “with the principle of not asking for a war”.
Taiwan’s cabinet on Wednesday said the military has increased its alertness level and authorities will make plans to ensure safety and stability around the island, after China announced a series of military exercises in response Pelosi’s visit.
During the event, Pelosi was awarded the Order of Propitious Cloud with Special Grand Cordon. Tsai draped a sash over the US House speaker as she bestowed the award.
Both citizens and foreigners can be awarded the order, and it is a token of auspiciousness that future success is likely.
Tsai said the award “represented their gratitude to Pelosi and the wish to continue progressing US-Taiwan relations through more cooperation.”
Pelosi posted to Twitter that the award was a “symbol of America’s strong and enduring friendship”.
Speeches from Pelosi and Tsai have wrapped up, they are now assembling for photos. We are expecting a press conference with the pair to begin shortly.
Pelosi and Tsai speak in Taiwan
Speaking at Taiwan presidential office, Pelosi told Tsai and other lawmakers “Our delegation came to Taiwan to make unequivocally clear we will not abandon Taiwan.”
Pelosi also said now more than ever, US solidarity with Taiwan is “crucial” and said “there is bilateral support for Taiwan in the US.”
“America’s determination to preserve democracy in Taiwan and the rest of the world remains iron-clad,” Pelosi said.
“Out of a crucible of challenge, you have created a flourishing democracy, led by a woman president.”
Pelosi praises Taiwan for its management of the Covid pandemic, you’re a “model to the world”.
Pelosi says now more than ever, US solidarity with Taiwan is “crucial.”
Pelosi says we are proud to be here and “thank you for your leadership”.
Pelosi says the US delegation came to Taiwan to make unequivocally clear “we will not abandon our commitment to Taiwan”.
Pelosi says 43 years ago, the US made a promise to “always stand with Taiwan”.
Pelosi begins her remarks, says to Tsai “we are so proud of your leadership”
Tsai again welcomes Pelosi as she wraps up her speech, and thanks her for her support. “Thank you for showing staunch support for Taiwan.”
Tsai says “we wish to cooperate and work in unity with all democracises around the world to safeguard democratic values”.
Tsai says Taiwan will “do whatever it takes to maintain Taiwan’s peace and stability”.
Tsai says “Taiwan will not back down”.
Tsai says Pelosi is one of Taiwan’s most longstanding friends. She extends “heartfelt gratitude” to the US House speaker, says she has “great admiration” for her.
Tsai says “we are truly grateful to you for making this visit to Taiwan”.
President Tsai is now delivering her remarks, she welcomed Pelosi and the US delegation. She says she is “delighted to meet her face to face”.
Pelosi and and Taiwan president Tsai Ing-wen have arrived at the presidential office in Taipei, they are greeting people and we expect to hear them speak soon.
Pelosi arrives at Taiwan president's office
Pelosi has arrived at Taiwan’s presidential office, we’re expecting to hear from her shortly.
Pelosi has a full day scheduled today in Taipei, before she departs later this afternoon. After speaking with Taiwanese legislators this morning, Pelosi will go straight to a meeting with president Tsai Ing-wen. An hour later, at about 11am local time, there will be a press conference - live-streamed and with no questions - before a lunch.
According to a tentative schedule Pelosi is also expected to visit the Jingmei Human Rights Cultural Park, in Taipei. The Cultural Park is a former prison and court complex used during the decades long period of martial law, when Taiwan was ruled by Chiang Kai-shek. The Guardian visited the park late last year and met one of its guides and former political prisoner, Fred Chin.
Taiwan’s defence ministry said on Wednesday that Chinese live-fire drills around the democratic island this week demonstrated Beijing’s intention to destroy regional peace and stability. Taiwan has enhanced alertness levels and will react timely and appropriately to the drills, a defence ministry spokesman told reporters via a voice message.
How has China reacted to Pelosi’s visit so far?
Here are some actions China has taken since the US House speaker arrived in Taiwan on Tuesday:
- China’s military announced joint air and sea drills near Taiwan starting on Tuesday night and test launches of conventional missiles in the sea east of Taiwan, with Chinese state news agency Xinhua describing live-fire drills and other exercises around Taiwan from Thursday to Sunday.
- China summoned the US ambassador in Beijing on Tuesday to rebuke him over Pelosi’s “egregious” trip to Taiwan, state media reported. Vice foreign minister Xie Feng voiced “strong protests” over Pelosi’s visit to the democratic self-governing island during his talk with ambassador Nicholas Burns.
- On the economic front, China suspended the imports of a series of products from Taiwan including citrus fruits and frozen horse mackerel from 3 August. China’s commerce ministry suspended the nation’s export of sand to Taiwan from 3 August.
China will suspend the imports of citrus fruits, chilled white striped hairtail and frozen horse mackerel from Taiwan starting 3 August, China customs said on Wednesday. It follows China’s commerce ministry saying it will suspend exports of natural sand to Taiwan from Wednesday.
Here are some images of Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan so far:
Pelosi speaks to Taiwan parliament
To recap, in her speech to Taiwan parliament, Pelosi said she wants to increase parliamentary exchanges between the US and Taiwan. She called Taiwan “one of the freest societies in the world”. She also said the US chip bill would offer a good opportunity for US-Taiwan cooperation in the chip industry.
“We come in friendship to Taiwan, we come in peace to the region,” she said during a meeting with Tsai Chi-chang, the deputy speaker of Taiwan’s parliament.
Pelosi told Taiwan’s parliament “We want to increase parliamentary exchanges with Taiwan” and “We come in friendship to Taiwan, peace to the region”.
Some early comments from Pelosi, she has told Taiwan’s parliament’s deputy head “Taiwan is one of the freest societies” and that the “US chip bill is a good opportunity”.
Pelosi has arrived at parliament in Taipei, we are expecting to hear from her shortly.
It’s just after 9am on Wednesday in Taipei and we are expecting to hear from US House speaker Nancy Pelosi in the coming hours. Here’s where things stand:
- Pelosi arrived in Taiwan late on Tuesday on a trip she said shows an unwavering American commitment to the Chinese-claimed self-ruled island. “Our congressional delegation’s visit to Taiwan honors America’s unwavering commitment to supporting Taiwan’s vibrant democracy,” Pelosi said in a statement shortly after landing.
- China condemned the highest-level US visit in 25 years as a threat to peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait. China considers Taiwan part of its territory and has never renounced using force to bring it under its control. Taiwan rejects China’s sovereignty claims, saying only the Taiwanese people can decide the island’s future.
- Chinese foreign minister Wang Yi said Washington’s betrayal “on the Taiwan issue is bankrupting its national credibility.” “Some American politicians are playing with fire on the issue of Taiwan,” Wang said in a statement that referred to the US as “the world’s biggest saboteur of peace.”
- China summoned the US ambassador in Beijing on Tuesday to rebuke him over Pelosi’s “egregious” trip to Taiwan, state media reported. Vice foreign minister Xie Feng voiced “strong protests” over Pelosi’s visit to the democratic self-governing island, which China considers part of its territory, during his talk with ambassador Nicholas Burns.
- China’s military announced joint air and sea drills near Taiwan starting on Tuesday night and test launches of conventional missiles in the sea east of Taiwan, with Chinese state news agency Xinhua describing live-fire drills and other exercises around Taiwan from Thursday to Sunday.
- Taiwan’s defence ministry said 21 Chinese aircraft entered its air defence identification zone on Tuesday, and that China was attempting to threaten key ports and cities with drills around the island. Taiwan’s armed forces have “reinforced” their alertness level, it added.
- White House national security spokesperson John Kirby said Pelosi was within her rights to visit Taiwan but also stressed that the trip did not constitute a violation of Chinese sovereignty or America’s longstanding “one-China” policy.
- Kirby also said that the US will continue to operate in the seas and skies of the western Pacific.
- Twenty six Republican lawmakers issued a statement of rare bipartisan support for the Democratic speaker. The statement called trips by members of Congress to Taiwan routine.
- Pelosi will meet with Taiwan’s president Tsai Ing-wen on Wednesday morning and then have lunch together, the presidential office said.
- Four sources said Pelosi is also scheduled on Wednesday to meet activists outspoken about China’s human rights record, according to Reuters. The Washington Post reported Pelosi will also meet the chairman of Taiwanese semiconductor giant TSMC.
China’s commerce ministry has suspended the nation’s export of sand to Taiwan, according to a notice issued on Wednesday. We will bring you more details as they come in.
China summons US ambassador
China summoned the US ambassador in Beijing on Tuesday to rebuke him over House speaker Pelosi’s “egregious” trip to Taiwan, state media reported.
Vice foreign minister Xie Feng voiced “strong protests” over Pelosi’s visit to the democratic self-governing island, which China considers part of its territory, during his talk with ambassador Nicholas Burns.
“The move is extremely egregious in nature and the consequences are extremely serious,” Xie was quoted as saying by China’s state news agency Xinhua. “China will not sit idly by.”
“Taiwan is China’s Taiwan, and Taiwan will eventually return to the embrace of the motherland. Chinese people are not afraid of ghosts, pressure and the evil,” Xie told Burns, according to Xinhua.
Pelosi will meet with Mark Liu, chairman of Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing (TSMC), during her visit to the island, the Washington Post reported.
Pelosi and Liu will discuss implementation of the recently passed Chips and Science Act, which provides $52bn of US federal subsidies for domestic chip factories, the report said, citing people familiar with the matter. The meeting is planned for Wednesday Taiwan time, it said.
If you’re just catching up, our China affairs correspondent Vincent Ni has analysed the possible outcomes of Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan. He writes that the arrival of the US House speaker is likely to inflame relations between the US and China, without making Taiwan safer. Read his full analysis below:
Russia has reacted to Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan: AFP reports Moscow said that ally China had every right to take measures to protect its sovereignty and called the US House speaker’s visit a “clear provocation”.
“The Chinese side has the right to take necessary measures to protect its sovereignty and territorial integrity over the Taiwan issue,” the Russian foreign ministry said. Moscow called Pelosi’s visit “a clear provocation” aimed at containing China.
“We urge Washington to refrain from actions that undermine regional stability and international security and recognize the new geopolitical reality, in which there is no longer room for American hegemony,” the Russian foreign ministry said.
In case you missed it, here’s a quick guide to the tensions between China and Taiwan:
China’s UK ambassador has urged British politicians not to “dance to the tune of the United States” and vowed “severe consequences” should MPs set foot in Taiwan.
Speaking at a press conference in London, the Chinese ambassador, Zheng Zeguang, who has been on parliament’s sanctions list since last summer, also reminded the British government of the joint communique the two countries signed in 1972, when they began to exchange ambassadors.
Zheng said: “It is … interference in China’s internal affairs that will inevitably lead to severe consequences in China-UK relations ... We call on the UK side to abide by its own commitment … and not to underestimate the extreme sensitivity of the Taiwan issue, and not to follow the US’s footsteps.”
Read the full story here.
In Taiwan, our correspondent Helen Davidson and Chi Hui Lin report from Taipei that the population has not been overly interested in the talk of a visit by Pelosi ahead of her arrival. But then her visit was confirmed and the mood changed. News sites ran polls, with almost two-thirds of respondents in one survey saying the visit was destabilizing. Talk radio discussed preparation and escape plans. Hundreds of civilians gathered across multiple city sites to welcome or protest against her arrival.
Read the full story here on how Taiwan has reacted to Pelosi’s visit.
North Korea has criticised what it called US “imprudent interference” in China’s internal affairs over Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan, Reuters reports citing the official KCNA.
A North Korean foreign ministry spokesperson said they “vehemently denounce” any external force’s interference in the issue of Taiwan and “fully support” China, its major ally and economic lifeline.
“It is the due right of a sovereign state to take counter measures against the moves of the outside forces openly interfering in its internal affairs and destroying its territorial integrity,” the unidentified official was quoted by KCNA as saying.
Having landed in Taiwan amid soaring tensions with China’s military, the US House speaker, Nancy Pelosi, defended her controversial trip to the self-ruling island, saying she was making clear that American leaders “never give in to autocrats” in an opinion piece published in the Washington Post.
“We cannot stand by as [China] proceeds to threaten Taiwan – and democracy itself,” said Pelosi’s piece, published just as the veteran California congresswoman’s plane touched down on Tuesday. “Indeed, we take this trip at a time when the world faces a choice between autocracy and democracy.”
Given that Pelosi’s trip presents a serious diplomatic headache for the Biden White House, there had been much speculation about the motivations behind the controversial visit. In her op-ed Pelosi struck a hard line against China’s position that her trip was a provocation and placed it in the context of a broader global struggle over political freedom.
In the article Pelosi said: “We take this trip at a time when the world faces a choice between autocracy and democracy. As Russia wages its premeditated, illegal war against Ukraine, killing thousands of innocents – even children – it is essential that America and our allies make clear that we never give in to autocrats.”
Republican senators back Pelosi visit
If Joe Biden is less than delighted that Nancy Pelosi is in Taiwan, quite a lot of Republican senators feel quite the opposite. Twenty-five of them – half the caucus in the evenly divided chamber – released a statement earlier, in support of the House speaker, otherwise a much-demonised figure throughout the GOP:
We support Speaker of the House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi’s trip to Taiwan. For decades, members of the United States Congress, including a previous Speaker of the House, have travelled to Taiwan. This travel is consistent with the United States’ One China policy to which we are committed. We are also committed now, more than ever, to all elements of the Taiwan Relations Act.
The supportive senators are: Susan Collins (Maine), Dan Sullivan (Alaska), Mitch McConnell (Kentucky), John Thune (South Dakota), Jim Inhofe (Oklahoma), Jim Risch (Idaho), Roy Blunt (Missouri), John Cornyn (Texas), John Barrasso (Wyoming), Kevin Cramer (North Dakota), Ben Sasse (Nebraska), Marsha Blackburn (Tennessee), Thom Tillis (North Carolina), Tommy Tuberville (Alabama), Steve Daines (Montana), Deb Fischer (Nebraska), Todd Young (Indiana), Joni Ernst (Iowa), Rob Portman (Ohio), Shelley Moore Capito (West Virginia), Mike Crapo (Idaho), Richard Burr (North Carolina), John Boozman (Arkansas), Tim Scott (South Carolina), Chuck Grassley (Iowa) and Pat Toomey (Pennsylvania).
There weren’t many Trumpian fire-eaters among the 25 but one senator who has been known to blow hot in such a fashion, Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee, had harsher words for Biden, tweeting: “The world overlooked Wuhan’s role in the Covid pandemic. The world overlooked Beijing’s human rights record during the genocide games. Now, Biden is pressuring the world to forget all about Taiwan’s freedom.”
At the White House, spokesperson John Kirby said: “We will continue to support Taiwan, defend a free and open Indo-Pacific and seek to maintain communication with Beijing.” He also said the United States “will not engage in sabre-rattling”.
China’s opposition to Nancy Pelosi’s trip has been well known and very well signaled by its government.
The visit has plunged the Asia-Pacific region into a diplomatic crisis – though how much is just sabre-rattling is hard to tell. One person who will be told for sure is the US ambassador to China.
This story is moving on the Chinese news wire Xinhua: Chinese vice foreign minister Xie Feng urgently summoned US Ambassador to China Nicholas Burns late Tuesday night.
- Washington to China and everywhere in between reacted to House speaker Nancy Pelosi arriving in Taiwan as the first speaker of the house to do so in a quarter of a century.
- The justice department filed a lawsuit against the restrictive abortion law in Idaho, arguing that by prohibiting individuals from receiving abortions even if it may save their lives violated the federal emergency medical treatment and labor act, which requires every hospital that receives Medicare funds to provide necessary stabilizing treatment.
- The senate is purportedly gearing up for a vote on the Honoring our Pact Act, the bipartisan legislation that would make it easier for veterans to access military care related to exposure to Agent Orange in Vietnam and toxins from burn pits used to get rid of military waste in Iraq and Afghanistan. Senate majority leader Chuck Schumer believes will pass after senators reached an agreement on amendments. There was widespread anger last week after Senate Republicans abruptly halted a procedural vote to advance the legislation. Veterans have been protesting outside the US Capitol since last week, camping outside the building and refusing to leave until lawmakers pass the legislation.
- Joe Biden is on his fourth day of his rebound case of Covid-19 and is still testing positive, and is suffering from a return of a loose cough.
- Senate Democrats remained optimistic on the $740bn reconciliation bill, officially known as Inflation Reduction Act of 2022. Senator Joe Manchin was seen speaking to his fellow moderate Democrat, senator Kyrsten Sinema, whose position on the package is still unknown.
Nancy Pelosi’s trip to Taiwan has caused a headache for Joe Biden who most likely would prefer not to be dealing with a foreign policy crisis when he has some - rare - successes to boast about at home and abroad.
Here is some Reuters copy on the White House’s mixed feelings about the trip with what sounds like pleading to not “amp this up”. Its a delicate tightrope between not wanting to be seen to be critical of Pelosi, but also kind of wishing this was not happening.
The Biden administration wants to keep tensions between Washington and Beijing inflamed by a high level visit to Taiwan from boiling over into a conflict, White House national security spokesman John Kirby said on Tuesday.
In a briefing with reporters, Kirby noted that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi was within her rights to visit Taiwan on Tuesday but also stressed that the trip did not constitute a violation of Chinese sovereignty or America’s longstanding “one-China” policy.
“What we don’t want to see is this spiral into any kind of a crisis or conflict,” Kirby said. “There’s just no reason to amp this up.”
Pelosi arrived in Taiwan late on Tuesday on a trip she said shows an unwavering American commitment to the Chinese-claimed self-ruled island, but China condemned the highest-level US visit in 25 years as a threat to peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait.
White House national security spokesman John Kirby spoke vaguely about the efforts to negotiate the release of WNBA star Brittney Griner and former marine Paul Whelan, two high-profile Americans currently detained in Russia. “We are working hard, government to government, to get Paul and Brittney home,” he said.
“We made a serious proposal. We made a serious offer,” Kirby said. “We urge the Russians to take that offer because it was done with sincerity and we know we can back it up.”
Read more here:
White House national security spokesman John Kirby acknowledged that the killing of top al-Qaida leader Ayman al-Zawahiri signifies a violation of the Doha agreement – the landmark peace agreement in which the Taliban agreed to sever ties with al-Qaida and other international terror groups.
Secretary of state Antony Blinken had previously said the Taliban “grossly violated the Doha Agreement and repeated assurances to the world that they would not allow Afghan territory to be used by terrorists to threaten the security of other countries”.
While Kirby said he could not speak to what steps the US was going to take to hold the Taliban accountable for violating the agreement, “we made it very clear that that was a violation of the Doha agreement”.
“We made it clear to the Taliban that we know what they did,” he said. “We know who they harbored. We know some of the steps they tried to take after the strike to cover up the evidence of it. We’re mindful of it. But I’m not going to get ahead - policy decisions haven’t been made. We’re not going to take the Taliban at their word. They claim they want a relationship with the United States and the West. They claim they want to open up and be part of the international community. They claim they want financing. If that’s true and if that’s what they really want, it would behoove them to pay close attention to what we just did over the weekend and meet their agreements under the Doha agreement.”
He said he felt that with or without the Taliban’s cooperation, this weekend’s drone strike proved that Afghanistan would not be a safe haven for terrorists.
“The strike itself shows how serious we are about accountability,” Kirby said. “It shows how serious we are about defending our interests. We’re going to maintain this over-horizon capability. We’re going to continue to improve that capability going forward.”
Later, Kirby said, “Mr Zawahiri’s death is good for everyone in the world. He was a killer. It’s a good thing that he’s no longer walking the face of the earth.”
As to House speaker Nancy Pelosi and her trip to Taiwan, White House national security spokesman John Kirby reiterated much of what he said at yesterday’s briefing. He put some distance between her and Joe Biden, saying that Congress was its own separate branch of government that could make its own travel decisions, but that her trip was in line with US policy and China was out of line for reacting with threats.
“Let me be clear: the speaker’s visit is totally consistent with our long-standing One China policy. We have been very clear that nothing has changed with our One China policy,” Kirby said. “We have said that we do not support Taiwan independence and we said that we expect cross-strait differences to be resolved by peaceful means.”
He said China’s reaction - China put its military on high alert and announced a series of targeted military operations - was “right in line with what we anticipated”.
“There’s no reason for Beijing to turn this visit, which is consistent with long-standing US policy, into some sort of crisis, or use it as some kind of pretext to increase aggressiveness and military activity in or around now or beyond her travel,” Kirby said.
Kirby continued: “The United States will not seek and does not want a crisis. We are prepared to manage what Beijing chooses to do. At the same time, we will not engage in sabre rattling. We will continue to operate in the seas and the skies of the western Pacific as we have for decades. We will continue to support Taiwan, defend a free and open Indo-Pacific and seek to maintain communication with Beijing.”
White House national security spokesman John Kirby kicked off today’s press briefing by addressing the US drone strike in Afghanistan that killed the top al-Qaida leader Ayman al-Zawahiri.
Joe Biden has described Zawahiri as one of the world’s most wanted men who was the deputy and successor to Osama bin Laden.
“President Biden has consistently said that we will not allow Afghanistan to become a safe haven for terrorists who might bring harm to Americans and the homeland,” Kirby said. “We have met that commitment. This action demonstrates that without American forces on the ground in Afghanistan and in harm’s way, we still remain able to identify and locate even the world’s most wanted terrorists and take actions to remove them from the battlefield.”
An update on the reconciliation bill, officially known as the Inflation Reduction Act of 2022, the $740bn legislative package that seeks to enact deficit reduction to fight inflation, lower energy costs, reduce carbon emissions by roughly 40% by 2030 and allow Medicare to negotiate drug prices, among other things.
This week, Senate Democrats must meet with the Senate parliamentarian, who will parse through the text of the bill to make sure it meets all the rules of what’s allowed within the scope of reconciliation. That’s not the only challenge they face though: Senate Republicans have vowed to thwart the bill, and it’s still unclear whether moderate Democratic senator Kyrsten Sinema is on board or not.
But two days into the week, Democrats remain optimistic.
Schumer: Vote on burn pits legislation expected to pass today
Senate majority leader Chuck Schumer said senators have reached an agreement on the Honoring our Pact Act, the bipartisan legislation that would make it easier for veterans to access military care related to exposure to Agent Orange in Vietnam and toxins from burn pits used to get rid of military waste in Iraq and Afghanistan.
He said he’s planning to call a vote at 5pm local time.
Several Senate Democrats have introduced a bill seeking to impose term limits on supreme court justices.
“Speaker Pelosi was right.”
Justice Department files challenging lawsuit Idaho's abortion law
The justice department has filed a lawsuit challenging Idaho’s restrictive abortion law, arguing that it violates federal law, the Associated Press is reporting.
Idaho currently prohibits women suffering medical emergencies from receiving abortions.
“Under a federal law known as the emergency medical treatment and labor act, every hospital that receives Medicare funds must provide necessary stabilizing treatment to a patient who arrives at an emergency room suffering from a medical condition that could place their life or health in serious jeopardy,” said attorney general Merrick Garland. “In some circumstances, the medical treatment necessary to stablize the patient’s condition is abortion.”
Joe Biden and vice-president Kamala Harris made a rare joint endorsement today, putting forth congresswoman Karen Bass in her bid for mayor for Los Angeles.
In the senate, majority leader Chuck Schumer is hoping to reach a deal on the Honoring our Pact Act “as soon as today”.
To recap: the Pact act is bipartisan legislation that would make it easier for veterans to access military care related to exposure to Agent Orange in Vietnam and toxins from burn pits used to get rid of military waste in Iraq and Afghanistan.
There was widespread anger last week after Senate Republicans abruptly halted a procedural vote to advance the legislation. Veterans have been protesting outside the US Capitol since last week, camping outside the building and refusing to leave until lawmakers pass the legislation.
John Cornyn, a Texas Republican, told CNN Republicans did not back the measure because Schumer was blocking votes on amendments Republicans wanted.
There has also been some misinformation being spread that Democrats added a “$400bn slush fund” to the bill. That has been disproven.
Joe Biden is on his fourth day of his rebound case of Covid-19, and according to his physician, he is still testing positive.
“The president continues to feel well, though he is experiencing a bit of a return of a loose cough,” writes Dr Kevin O’Connor. “He remains fever-free and is in good spirits. His temperature, pulse, blood pressure, respiratory rate and oxygen saturation remain entirely normal. His lungs are clear.”
More from Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell, in rare support of House speaker Nancy Pelosi. McConnell is one of 26 Senate Republicans who signed their names in support of Pelosi’s trip to Taiwan.
More shocking reaction to House speaker Nancy Pelosi and her trip to Taiwan: the conservative Fox News, which has long made a sport of hating Pelosi and her ilk, took to praising the speaker for her trip to Taiwan on air today.
House speaker Nancy Pelosi sends her first tweet from Taiwan:
Howdy all - Vivian Ho here, taking over the blog for Chris Stein.
House speaker Nancy Pelosi sent out a statement from 26 Senate Republicans in support of her trip to Taiwan. In there are some names you would never dream of seeing alongside the name “Nancy Pelosi” and the word “support” at the same time: Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell, avid Trump defenders Chuck Grassley and Marsha Blackburn, among others.
The day so far
US House speaker Nancy Pelosi has arrived in Taiwan, enraging China, which has vowed unspecified retaliation. Meanwhile, the Biden administration is celebrating its killing of al-Qaida leader Ayman al-Zawahiri in Afghanistan, though it’s not expected to weaken the group significantly.
Here’s a recap of what has happened today so far:
- Pelosi said her visit to Taiwan was “more important today than ever” and cast it as a sign that the United States stood with Taipei against China’s threats.
- A foreign cyber attack took out the website of Taiwan’s presidency ahead of Pelosi’s visit.
- The White House published a picture of president Joe Biden being briefed on the operation against al-Zawahiri. That box in front of him contains a model of where the al-Qaida leader was found to be hiding.
- A Kremlin spokesperson said “megaphone diplomacy” would not work in talks to free US basketball star Brittney Griner from jail in Russia.
The US politics live blog is now in the hands of Vivian Ho, who will take you through the rest of the day’s news.
The Guardian’s Lauren Gambino reports on the domestic factors driving Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan, and the House speaker’s long history of standing up for democratic rights abroad:
Thirty-one years ago, a relatively new congresswoman from California surprised Chinese authorities when she unfurled a banner in Beijing’s Tiananmen Square dedicated to the pro-democracy student activists massacred there.
Now the House speaker, Nancy Pelosi, is poised to travel to Taiwan during a tour of Asian nations this week, once again defying Beijing at a moment of extraordinary tension between the US and China – but also creating a host of problems for Joe Biden.
The highly anticipated diplomatic mission caps a foreign policy career defined by what she views as an unwavering defense of human rights and democratic values abroad. It is a posture, sharpened over decades in Congress, that has made her a target of criticism in Beijing and, at times, put her at odds with leaders of both parties in Washington.
A visit by the House speaker, second in the presidential line of succession, would make Pelosi the highest-ranking US official to visit the self-governing island in a quarter-century. China, which claims Taiwan as its own province, has threatened unspecified consequences for the US should Pelosi make the trip.
Pelosi has elaborated on her reasons for visiting Taiwan in an opinion column published in The Washington Post as she arrived on the island.
While saying her visit marks no change in US policy towards Taiwan and China, she linked it to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and said it was meant as a show of support for democracies under threat.
“In the face of the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) accelerating aggression, our congressional delegation’s visit should be seen as an unequivocal statement that America stands with Taiwan, our democratic partner, as it defends itself and its freedom,” Pelosi wrote.
She also referenced China’s crackdown on rights in Hong Kong, as well as Beijing’s repeated threats to seize Taiwan by force:
Indeed, we take this trip at a time when the world faces a choice between autocracy and democracy. As Russia wages its premeditated, illegal war against Ukraine, killing thousands of innocents — even children — it is essential that America and our allies make clear that we never give in to autocrats.
When I led a congressional delegation to Kyiv in April — the highest-level U.S. visit to the besieged nation — I conveyed to President Volodymyr Zelensky that we admired his people’s defense of democracy for Ukraine and for democracy worldwide.
By traveling to Taiwan, we honor our commitment to democracy: reaffirming that the freedoms of Taiwan — and all democracies — must be respected.
China’s foreign affairs ministry has issued a lengthy statement of protest against Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan, asking Washington to “not go further down the wrong and dangerous path.”
Here’s the meat of it:
This is a serious violation of the one-China principle and the provisions of the three China-U.S. joint communiqués. It has a severe impact on the political foundation of China-U.S. relations, and seriously infringes upon China’s sovereignty and territorial integrity. It gravely undermines peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait, and sends a seriously wrong signal to the separatist forces for ‘Taiwan independence’. China firmly opposes and sternly condemns this, and has made serious démarche and strong protest to the United States.
It goes on to warn that “these moves, like playing with fire, are extremely dangerous. Those who play with fire will perish by it,” and that “all the consequences arising” from Pelosi’s visit “must be borne by the U.S. side and the ‘Taiwan independence’ separatist forces.”
Hu Xijin, the former editor of Global Times, which is linked to China’s ruling party, warned of further retaliation from Beijing:
Visiting Taiwan 'more important today than ever': Pelosi
US House speaker Nancy Pelosi has put out a statement explaining her trip to Taiwan, saying “America’s solidarity” with the island “is more important today than ever, as the world faces a choice between autocracy and democracy.”
Here’s the full text of the statement:
Our Congressional delegation’s visit to Taiwan honors America’s unwavering commitment to supporting Taiwan’s vibrant Democracy.
Our visit is part of our broader trip to the Indo-Pacific - including Singapore, Malaysia, South Korea and Japan - focused on mutual security, economic partnership and democratic governance. Our discussions with Taiwan leadership will focus on reaffirming our support for our partner and on promoting our shared interests, including advancing a free and open Indo-Pacific region. America’s solidarity with the 23 million people of Taiwan is more important today than ever, as the world faces a choice between autocracy and democracy.
Our visit is one of several Congressional delegations to Taiwan – and it in no way contradicts longstanding United States policy, guided by the Taiwan Relations Act of 1979, U.S.-China Joint Communiques and the Six Assurances. The United States continues to oppose unilateral efforts to change the status quo.
It’s awfully dark, but here are the first images of Pelosi in Taiwan, which show her disembarking in a pink suit to be received by what looks like a group of local officials:
According to Bloomberg, Chinese state media is reporting that a Su-35 fighter jet is flying across the Taiwan Strait:
Pelosi lands in Taiwan: AP
Speaker of the US House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi has landed in Taiwan, the Associated Press reports, defying threats from China, which warned of “serious consequences” if the lawmaker visited the island it considers a breakaway province.
A US air force plane that could be carrying House speaker Nancy Pelosi is in the final minutes of its flight towards Taipei, Reuters reports.
If Pelosi is on the jet, the city’s skyscrapers are ready for her, Taiwan’s TVBS News reports.
Reuters is broadcasting a live feed of the Taipei Songshan Airport, where the plane could presumably land.
What’s next for al-Qaida now that its leader has (again) been killed by the United States? Charles Lister, the Middle East Institute’s Director of the Syria and Countering Terrorism & Extremism programs, has a few ideas.
In an analysis, Lister says Ayman al-Zawahiri’s logical successor, Saif al-Adel, would be a problematic choice, because he lives in Iran. “Over the past decade, at least three al-Qaeda affiliates are known to have questioned the credibility of instructions coming from Saif al-Adel given his location in Iran, so were he to become al-Qaeda’s general commander, affiliates would almost certainly begin asserting their own organizational independence even more than they already do. For al-Qaeda’s continued desire to operate as a global organization, that could spell its death knell,” Lister writes.
Even before al-Zawahiri’s death, al-Qaida was becoming less the type of global network Osama bin Laden presided over and more a group of regional affiliates, Lister says. “Since at least 2009, the nature and proliferation of conflicts across much of Africa, the Middle East, and South Asia has created conditions in which locally oriented jihadist efforts are far more likely to bear fruit than globally-oriented ones. The Arab Spring accelerated that trend, as did jihadists’ lessons learned from ISIS’s territorial defeat in Iraq and Syria between 2014 and 2019. This local model of jihad has not been favored by Zawahiri in recent years, as it has fueled increasingly self-confident affiliates that have been more willing to push back against a central leadership perceived as detached from the realities of conflicts thousands of miles away,” he wrote.
The result is that al-Qaida is “facing an existential succession crisis”, Lister concludes, and there’s no telling how it will be resolved.
Earlier in the day, the White House put out a photo of president Joe Biden during a meeting where he discussed killing Ayman al-Zawahiri. In front of him was a mysterious, closed box. What was in it?
According to CNN, it was a model of the house that al-Zawahiri had been tracked to:
Here’s a video recap of what we know about the killing al-Qaida leader Ayman al-Zawahiri in Afghanistan:
The US drone strike that killed al-Zawahiri was cheered by someone who knows a bit about hunting al-Qaida leaders: Barack Obama.
The former American president who approved the 2011 special forces raid into Pakistan that killed Osama bin Laden tweeted in approval of the bombing that killed al-Zawahiri, which was carried out on the orders of Joe Biden, who served as his vice president:
In an appearance on CNN, the White House’s national security spokesman John Kirby said the United States has confirmed al-Zawahiri’s death visually, but doesn’t have access to his DNA.
“We have visual confirmation, but we also have confirmation through other sources,” Kirby said in the interview, according to Reuters. “We do not have DNA confirmation. We’re not going to get that confirmation. Quite frankly, based on based on multiple sources and methods that we’ve gathered information from, we don’t need it”.
Congressional lawmakers go on lots of trips, but few attract the attention of Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan.
A sign of that: the US air force jet thought to be carrying her to Taipei is the most popular plane being watched on flight tracking website Flightradar 24. Follow along here.
Foreign cyber attack takes out Taiwan government website
With US House speaker Nancy Pelosi said to be on her way to the island, Reuters reports a cyber attack from abroad hit the website of the Taiwanese presidency on Tuesday, leading to it briefly “malfunctioning”.
Though a source said the website has since been brought back online, as of the time of this post, its English-language page still appears to be down.
Reuters also reports that a US air force plane which could be carrying Pelosi to Taipei left Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia earlier in the day and headed east before turning north towards the Philippines - a route that avoids South China Sea, where China has sought to press a number of contentious territorial claims.
Nearly a year after the US military’s chaotic exit from Afghanistan, al-Zawahiri’s killing raises questions about the involvement of Taliban leaders in sheltering a mastermind of the 9/11 terror attacks and one of America’s most-wanted fugitives, Rahim Faiez and Munir Ahmed write for the Associated Press.
The Taliban initially sought to describe the strike as America violating the Doha deal, which also includes a Taliban pledge not to shelter those seeking to attack the United States — something al-Zawahiri had done for years in internet videos and online screeds. The Taliban have yet to say who was killed in the strike.
“The killing of Ayman al-Zawahiri has raised many questions,” said one Pakistani intelligence official, who spoke to AP on condition of anonymity. “The Taliban were aware of his presence in Kabul, and if they were not aware of it, they need to explain their position.”
The house where Zawahiri stayed was the home of a top aide to senior Taliban leader Sirajuddin Haqqani, according to a senior US intelligence official. The AP says that Taliban officials blocked their journalists in Kabul from reaching the damaged house on Tuesday.
White House issues image of Biden being briefed ahead of strike on Zawahiri
The White House has issued an image of President Joe Biden being briefed about the drone strike that killed al-Qaida leader Ayman al-Zawahiri.
In a tweet describing the image, the White House said:
On 1 July, President Biden meets with his national security team to discuss the counterterrorism operation to take out Zawahiri. At this meeting, the President was briefed on the proposed operation and shown a model of the safe house where Zawahiri was hiding.
Israel's prime minister says 'world a safer place' after al-Zawahiri death
The official social media accounts of the prime minister of Israel, Yair Lapid, are carrying the following statement:
The world is a safer place today. I congratulate President Joe Biden and all who took part in the successful American operation targeting Ayman al-Zawahiri. Terrorist groups and their sponsors must know: You’re living on borrowed time. The forces of freedom will bring you to justice.
Salamn Masood, Pakistan correspondent for the New York Times, has tweeted that it is his understanding the US did not ask for cooperation from Pakistan on the attack on Ayman al-Zawahiri, nor did the US use Pakistan’s airspace to launch the strike.
Amy Cheng of the Washington Post has gathered some of the bipartisan support that has followed the announcement of the death of Ayman al-Zawahiri. She writes:
Senate majority leader, Charles Schumer, called the mission “a major accomplishment” for Biden that brought justice to one of the people “who helped orchestrate the cold-blooded murder of thousands of my fellow New Yorkers on 9/11”.
Senator minority leader, Mitch McConnell, similarly credited Biden for approving the drone operation, saying “the world is a better, safer place” without Zawahiri. But McConnell urged the administration to come up with a comprehensive security plan in Afghanistan in light of the fact that Zawahiri appeared to have been living in central Kabul.
Rep Ilhan Omar, one of first two Muslim women elected to Congress, wrote on social media that Zawahiri was “a monster responsible for the deaths of thousands around the world”.
Away from the death of al-Zawahiri, US president, Joe Biden, will name top officials from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (Fema) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to serve as White House coordinators to combat the monkeypox outbreak.
Associated Press reports that, later today, Biden will announce Robert Fenton, who helped lead Fema’s mass Covid-19 vaccination effort, as the White House coordinator. Dr Demetre Daskalakis of the CDC will be named his deputy. Daskalakis, director of the agency’s HIV prevention division and a national expert on issues affecting the LGBTQ+ community, previously helped lead New York City’s Covid-19 response.
The White House said the pair would coordinate “strategy and operations to combat the current monkeypox outbreak, including equitably increasing the availability of tests, vaccinations and treatments”.
Another area of tension lies between the US and Russia, which Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov has ratcheted up again this morning.
On his daily call with the media, Peskov said any talks on a possible prisoner exchange involving US basketball star Brittney Griner needed to be discreet, and that “megaphone diplomacy” would not achieve results, Reuters reports.
It is thought to be a reference to the fact that US secretary of state, Antony Blinken, said Washington has made a “substantial offer” to Moscow to release American citizens held in Russia.
Analysis: Zawahiri’s killing unlikely to weaken al-Qaida significantly
Here is an excerpt from Jason Burke’s analysis for the Guardian of whether the death of Ayman al-Zawahiri will weaken al-Qaida:
Whoever takes over, his strategic decisions will be important. Though al-Qaida was known for its innovative empowerment of local cells, the man at the top of the hierarchy has real authority. An oath of loyalty is sworn not to the group, but to the individual.
When Zawahiri became leader after Bin Laden’s death in a US special forces raid in Pakistan in 2011, he turned al-Qaida away from spectacular long-range attacks, believing they were counterproductive.
Instead, links with groups around the world were reinforced and efforts made to expand through gradually winning support from communities on the ground. This did not always bring success, and al-Qaida suffered significant setbacks in Iraq and Syria during the 11 years Zawahiri was in charge.
The rise of a rival, Islamic State, which swept through these two countries and set up a new “caliphate”, led to a loss of profile and influence in a key region as well as competition elsewhere. The limited achievements of its affiliate in Yemen, once seen as a major potential threat to the region and the west, must have been a disappointment.
What will be the strategy of the new leader? Whoever takes over has multiple options – but no easy ones. He has to stay alive, communicate despite considerable logistic challenges, deal with regimes such as the Taliban and formulate a clear idea of what his subordinates should be doing.
You can read more of Jason Burke’s analysis here: Zawahiri’s killing unlikely to weaken al-Qaida significantly
The other major foreign policy development today concerns relations between the US and China, which are being strained by the expected visit of Nancy Pelosi to Taiwan. My colleague Nicola Slawson sets the scene:
Taiwan’s defence ministry has warned it would appropriately dispatch forces in reaction to “enemy threats”, as China stepped up its military rhetoric on the day of a highly controversial expected visit to Taipei by the US House speaker, Nancy Pelosi.
In a statement on Tuesday, the defence ministry said it had a full grasp of military activity near Taiwan and the “determination, ability and confidence” to ensure Taiwan’s national security. It added that it had made various unspecified plans for an emergency.
Meanwhile, Taiwan’s premier reiterated that it “warmly welcomes” foreign guests, before the potential visit by Pelosi. Taiwan “would make the most appropriate arrangements” for such guests and respect their plans, Premier Su Tseng-chang told reporters on Tuesday when asked about a visit.
The statements came after Reuters reported several Chinese warships and planes had travelled near the median line – an unofficial border between China and Taiwan in the Taiwan strait.
Stephen Collinson at CNN has offered this overnight analysis of what the death of Ayman al-Zawahiri means in the context of current US foreign policy.
For a few hours, America’s first war of the 21st century – the war on terror – returned to supersede the stirrings of a geopolitical showdown set to dominate the coming decades: a super power face-off with China.
The killing was seized upon by President Joe Biden as validation of his vow to prevent the war-torn South Asian country from again becoming a safe haven for terrorists, despite ending America’s longest war there last year.
More broadly, the attack, which hearkens back to the war on terror but coincides with a moment of soaring US tensions with Beijing, underscores a profound pivot in US national security policy.
At one time, finding terrorists who attacked America wherever they were hiding was the organizing principle of Washington’s approach to the world. While Monday’s news was a “mission accomplished” moment, simmering tensions over Taiwan show how the US government is now building a new national security machine to challenge China’s rising power.
The CIA strike that killed Ayman al-Zawahiri will be seen as a proof of the US’s ability to conduct “over-the-horizon” operations despite last year’s military’s withdrawal from Afghanistan. But it also raised questions over al-Qaida’s continued presence in the country since the Taliban regained power.
- When did Biden order the strike? After much consideration and detailed questions, the president eventually ordered a strike on the safe house at a meeting of key cabinet members and national security officials on 25 July.
- When was it carried out? At 9.48pm ET on Saturday by an unmanned aerial vehicle, while Zawahiri was on his balcony.
Lyse Doucet, of the BBC, is posting images from Kabul of what could be the apartment where al-Zawahiri was hit:
She says workers nearby thought the building was empty:
Australian prime minister Anthony Albanese says he hopes the loved ones of al-Qaida’s victims find some “small solace” in the death of Zawahiri.
Speaking to parliament on Tuesday, Albanese said:
So many lives have been lost and so much blood has been spilled since, including all those Australians who served, sacrificed and gave their lives in Afghanistan. For two decades, this man fled the consequences of his crimes. Our thoughts today are with the loved ones of all of his victims.
May they find some small solace in the knowledge that he cannot cause more grief through his acts of terror and let terrorists see that Afghanistan will never, ever be a safe haven for their hatred, their terrorism and their attacks on our humanity.
This photo from the weekend, taken in Kabul on the day of the attack, may show the smoke from the drone strike that hit Zawahiri as he stood on a balcony.
A young doctor in a Cairo slum to the public face of al-Qaida – the life of Zawahiri.
If you’re waking up to the news and need a backgrounder on Zawahiri, we have published one here:
Our correspondent Jason Burke, who has penned books both on al-Qaida and Afghanistan, has written an article on how the killing will cause the militant organisation some short-term turbulence but is unlikely to cause it any major long-term problems.
US kills al-Qaida leader Ayman al-Zawahiri in drone strike
A US drone strike in Afghanistan has killed the top al-Qaida leader Ayman al-Zawahiri, Joe Biden announced late on Monday.
The US president described the death of Zawahiri, one of the world’s most wanted men who was Osama bin Laden’s deputy and successor, as a major blow to the terrorist network behind the September 11 2001 attacks.
“Justice has been delivered and this terrorist leader is no more,” Biden said in a live televised address from the White House. “People around the world no longer need to fear the vicious and determined killer.”
Zawahiri and his family had moved into a safe house in downtown Kabul, the capital, according to White House officials. He was spotted on a balcony on numerous occasions over several months and continued to produce al-Qaida propaganda videos, some of which may yet appear posthumously.
Good morning live blog readers. Oliver Holmes here, updating you on the fallout after the announcement.