In Iraq, an ending and a beginning
The United States pulls out troops as a border crossing with Saudi Arabia reopens
IRAQ: Foreign Minister Fouad Hussein announced in Baghdad an agreement reached with the United States for the withdrawal of 500 U.S. soldiers. The move leaves approximately 2,500 noncombat military personnel (presumably advisers and support) on the ground 16 years after the United States went to war to oust Saddam Hussein over his support for terrorism. The Trump administration also reportedly plans to cut U.S. military presence in Afghanistan by almost half—from 4,500 to 2,500 troops—before January.
Iraq and Saudi Arabia have opened their joint Arar border crossing for trade for the first time in 30 years. Saudi Arabia cut ties after Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait, and the move represents a shift from Saudi suspicion over Iraq’s linkage with Iran and renewed engagement under Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi.
UNITED STATES: Pfizer will ask health regulators to authorize its experimental COVID-19 vaccine within days after reporting a 95 percent effectiveness rate in a further study that also showed signs the vaccine is safe. The good news comes as the United States reported more than 161,000 new cases with states and localities set to impose new restrictions as hospitalizations also climb.
EGYPT: The U.S. Army has identified five Americans killed in a helicopter crash over Sinai, with one American in critical condition. Likely due to mechanical malfunction, the crash leaves more Americans dead than killed in combat this year in Afghanistan.
GLOBAL: The latest Pew research shows government restrictions on religion have reached their highest level in a decade.
MOZAMBIQUE: An Islamic insurgency is gaining ground in Mozambique and threatening its Christian population, forcing 400,000 civilians to flee the Cabo Delgado region.
INDIA: Making personal protective equipment locally and using remote technology for routine surgery and diagnosis are just some of the ways Protestant and Catholic mission hospitals surveyed in India are innovating their way through the pandemic. This and other articles are part of the second special issue on global responses to COVID-19 published this year by the Christian Journal for Global Health.
RUSSIA: Officials turned an international championship ice-skating rink into a COVID-19 hospital as cases continued to outpace hospital capacity across the country.
BRITAIN: Plans are moving ahead to build a road tunnel under Stonehenge despite the concerns of archaeologists.
DENMARK: The government uproar has intensified after officials pulled back from an order to slaughter the country’s entire mink population. On Wednesday, Denmark’s agriculture minister resigned over the controversy surrounding how to cull an estimated 17 million farmed mink amid an outbreak of what appears to be a new strain of the coronavirus in the animals. Idaho mink farmers are watching this.
SPAIN: Mountaineer Carlos Soria at age 81 will tackle Nepal’s Dhaulagiri, one of the world’s highest peaks, and dedicate the climb to elderly victims of COVID-19.
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