Good Friday and welcome to Overnight Defense. I’m Ellen Mitchell, and here’s your evening guide to the latest developments at the Pentagon, Capitol Hill and beyond. CLICK HERE to subscribe to the newsletter.
THE TOP LINE: Secretary of State Antoine BlinkenAntony Blinken State Department should rethink policy in Turkey Military action may be needed to stop attacks on Iran, Israel defense chief says, Blinken urges Afghan president to speed up peace talks and condemns Taliban attacks MORE and the foreign ministers of the Group of Seven (G-7) countries and the European Union issued a joint statement on Friday condemning Iran for carrying out a “deliberate and targeted attack” on an Israeli transport vessel the last week that killed two of his internationals. crew.
Learn more about the answer: The statement serves as a demonstration of international unity against Iran’s actions in the region and blames the Islamic Republic for the attack on an oil tanker that took place off the coast of Oman, which, according to her, violated international law intended to guarantee freedom of navigation in global maritime waters.
The G-7 countries – the United States, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan and the United Kingdom – joined the statement by the High Representative of the European Union.
“We condemn the illegal attack on a merchant ship off the coast of Oman on July 29, which left a Briton and a Romanian. It was a deliberate and targeted attack and a flagrant violation of international law. All the available evidence clearly points to Iran. There is no justification for this attack ”, the statement read.
The G-7 countries and the EU further condemned Iran’s support for “indirect forces and armed non-state actors” as threatening international peace and security.
Earlier: The statement follows the US, UK and Romania accusing Iran of attacking the Israeli ship Mercer Street on July 29 with an explosive drone.
A report published Friday of the US Central Command identified the drones recovered in the attack as Iranian-made.
Blinken spoke to British Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab on Wednesday about “ongoing efforts to forge a coordinated response to the attack on Iran,” according to a reading of the call.
A possible counterattack: Israel, which has called a meeting in Jerusalem of representatives of United Nations Security Council countries, has raised the possibility of a retaliatory military strike against Iran for its attack on Mercer Street.
“Now is the time for action – words are not enough. It is time for diplomatic, economic and even military acts, otherwise the attacks will continue, ”said Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz.
Meanwhile, talks on the nuclear deal have stalled: The international condemnation comes as the United States, Europeans, China and Russia attempt to work with Iran to revive the 2015 nuclear deal, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).
Yet talks that have taken place since April have stalled amid Iran’s transition to a new presidential administration, with the inauguration Thursday of hard-core conservative President Ebrahim Raisi.
Read more here.
PENTAGON ATTACKER’S FAMILY HELLO Apologizes
The family of the slain man accused of killing a police officer Tuesday at the Pentagon Transit Center has apologized to the officer’s relatives.
In a statement provided to CNN Austin’s family William Lanz said on Friday they were “devastated by the loss of our son Austin and Officer George Gonzalez”.
“We want Officer Gonzalez’s family and friends to know that we are sorry and sorry for them. We will be forever grateful for his service and dedication to the safety and well-being of our country, ”the family said.
The attack: The FBI said Lanz got off a bus at the Pentagon Transit Center Tuesday morning and “immediately, without provocation” attacked Gonzalez, an officer with the Pentagon’s Force Protection Agency.
After Gonzalez was stabbed, “a fight ensued” in which he was fatally injured. Lanz then shot himself with the officer’s service weapon.
The Pentagon was locked out after a civilian passerby was injured in the incident. This person was taken to hospital with non-life threatening injuries and was subsequently released.
Learn more about Lanz: Jimmy Berry, who represents Lanz’s family, told CNN he was in the DC area this week with his father for “medical reasons.”
In the statement, Lanz’s family explained that the last months of his life were “overcome by a lot of mental health issues” but that he was never diagnosed with any mental health issues.
“As we sit in great disbelief at the events that have occurred and continue to mourn the lives lost, we hope this tragedy can contribute to greater awareness and change in the growing health crisis. mental health in our country, ”the statement said.
THE PROVINCIAL CAPITAL IN AFGHANISTAN FALLS IN THE TALIBAN
The Taliban claimed their first provincial capital after the withdrawal of foreign troops from Afghanistan.
Zaranj, the capital of the Afghan province of Nimruz, was captured by Taliban forces on Friday, The Washington Post reported, days after the insurgent group made forays into two major cities – Kandahar and Herat – for the first time in nearly 20 years.
Nimruz deputy governor Rohullah Gul Khairzad did not provide many details but confirmed that Zaranj “fell” into the hands of the group, the Post reported.
Growing violence and fear: The news follows a surprising report that the insurgent group killed the head of the Afghan government’s media department on Friday.
A spokesperson for the insurgent group, Zabihullah Mujahid, confirmed on Twitter that Dawa Khan Menapal, director of the Afghan government’s Information and Media Center, “was killed in a special attack” by the mujahedin “and was punished for his actions”.
Both reports are likely to heighten fears that Afghanistan will fall quickly into Taliban hands once all US forces leave the country. American troops have been in Afghanistan since the invasion after the September 11, 2001 attacks, making it the longest war in the United States.
The withdrawal of troops continues: President Biden, in deciding to withdraw troops, is taking a political risk if he is blamed for the fall of the country to the Taliban.
At the same time, Biden defended his decision, saying US troops and their families should not be asked to stay in Afghanistan in perpetuity.
As US and NATO troops finish withdrawing the last of their troops from Afghanistan, the Taliban have continued to creep into the big cities – instead of the rural areas and small towns for which they are concerned. once fought – while government officials continue to be targeted.
Read the rest here.
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– Reuters: Biden plans for change in armaments policy add weight to human rights concerns
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