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Kazakhstan's new PM

Kazakhstan has been in the headlines for the past week over protests against fuel price hikes that led to the resignation of the cabinet. Now the country has a new prime minister. Just a short while ago, the parliament voted to appoint Alikhan Smailov as the new premier. President Kassym Tokayev has appointed Smailov to form a new cabinet. He served as deputy prime minister in the previous government that resigned last week when the unrest erupted. The protests were peaceful in the beginning, but they later turned violent. Nearly 10,000 people are now in detention. The Interior Ministry says rioters attacked government buildings in several major cities. The president blames foreign militants, mainly from Central Asia, Afghanistan and West Asia for the chaos, calling it a coup attempt. Russia deployed its troops to help restore peace, but Tokayev says foreign troops will be leaving in two days.

US' Iraq presence 

US military convoys in Iraq have been targeted again amid a recent surge in similar attacks. According to Iraqi media reports, a convoy was struck with an improvised explosive device in al-Muthanna governorate early Tuesday. The blast did not cause any damage. Separately, a US convoy was targeted in Baghdad. So far, no details are available about that attack. The anti-US sentiment has been growing in Iraq over its military and political interventions in the region. Last week, several drone and rocket strikes were carried out against different US bases. 

US COVID-19 crisis

In the United States, the pandemic is entering uncharted territory. The country is witnessing a dramatic surge of COVID-19, reporting more than 1.3 million new cases. That’s the highest daily case count for any country in the world. The extremely contagious Omicron variant is largely to blame for the steep rise of infections. The strain has already pushed medical centers to the brink. The number of hospitalizations has also hit a new peak. Over 140,000 COVID-19 patients have been admitted to hospitals nationwide. Vaccine maker Pfizer says a redesigned vaccine is needed to specifically target Omicron. 


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