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.”
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:
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.
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.
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.
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”.