High-profile arrests rock Jordan.
April 4, 2021
Jordanians follow the latest political developments in the capital, Amman, on Sunday.Khalil Mazraawi/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images
Turmoil in Jordan
The Jordanian government has arrested high-profile figures
, including Sharif Hassan bin Zaid, a member of the royal family, and Bassem Awadallah, a former chief of the royal court, an unusual development in the normally stable Arab kingdom. Officials cited “the security and stability of Jordan
” as reasons for the moves.
According to an Israeli official, Jordanian officials said there had not been a coup attempt, that the situation was under control, and that its gravity had been exaggerated by the news media, though they did confirm that arrests had been made.
But it remains unclear if Hamzah bin Hussein, the former crown prince, is detained. In a dramatic video, he said he had no security or phone access, that the satellite internet service he was using was about to be cut and that he was under house arrest. The Jordanian Army and security services denied reports that he had been arrested.
The deputy prime minister said Prince Hamzah had worked with “foreign entities” to destabilize the state, the BBC reported
. He accused Prince Hamzah of attempting to recruit “clan leaders” against the government after the prince had recent meetings with tribal leaders. Prince Hamzah also said the military leader had chastised him for being present at meetings where there had been criticism of the king or the government.
Quotable: “Even to criticize a small aspect of a policy leads to arrest and abuse by the security services,” Prince Hamzah said in the video. “It’s reached the point where no one is able to speak or express an opinion on anything without being bullied, arrested, harassed and threatened.”
Seniors wait in line to receive vaccinations in Belford Roxo, Brazil.Dado Galdieri for The New York Times
Variants may undo progress
The United States appears to be bending the pandemic curve. Cases, hospitalizations and deaths from the coronavirus have fallen steeply from their highs.
But concerning variants are spreading
, carrying mutations that make the virus both more contagious and in some cases more deadly. Variants first discovered in Britain
, South Africa and Brazil are gaining a foothold, and new U.S. variants have continued to pop up, threatening to postpone the pandemic’s end.
“We don’t have evolution on our side,” said Devi Sridhar, a professor of public health at the University of Edinburgh in Scotland.
Context: At the moment, most vaccines appear to be effective against the variants. But public health officials are deeply worried that future iterations of the virus may be more resistant, requiring Americans to line up for regular rounds of booster shots or even new vaccines.
In other developments:
Thanks to Israel’s world-leading vaccine rollout, more than 1,000 people were able to pack the streets of Jerusalem for a Good Friday procession. Britain reported 30 more cases of extremely rare blood clots in people who had received the AstraZeneca-Oxford vaccine, but it is not clear whether any are linked to the vaccine.
Afghan security forces at an outpost in Kandahar in January. The Taliban have overtaken much of the area.Jim Huylebroek for The New York Times
Tense Taliban negotiations
U.S. officials are negotiating with the Taliban
in the final weeks before the country is set to withdraw from Afghanistan. Diplomats are trying to build on classified parts of the 2020 peace deal with the group that outlined what military actions were supposed to be prohibited.
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June 18, 2021, 7:01 p.m. ET
If these discussions — and the separate talks between the Afghan government and Taliban — falter, thousands of U.S. troops may stay in Afghanistan beyond May 1, the deadline by which all American military forces are meant to withdraw from the country under last year’s agreement.
The deadline comes right as the insurgent group is likely to be engaged in its spring offensive against the beleaguered Afghan security forces. It may have already started, given the series of large attacks and assassinations by the Taliban in recent days. That, too, could set back any progress and send Afghanistan back into chaos.
Analysis: Experts say a deal is unlikely by May 1 unless the U.S. makes serious concessions.
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That’s it for today’s briefing. See you next time. — Amelia
The latest episode of “The Daily
” is about President Biden’s infrastructure plan.
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