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The Daily Brief: Taliban seize control of Cities in northern Afghanistan

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Provincial Capitals in Northern Afghanistan Come Under Taliban Rule as U.S. Forces Continue to Exit

Summary:

  • The Taliban have seized control of four major provincial cities in Northern Afghanistan, including Taleqan, the capital of the northeastern province of Takhar, and Kunduz, a city of high military strategic value.
  • The recent city takeovers have demonstrated a defeat of the Afghan security forces and government to counter the Taliban military offense.
  • Although the Taliban have released photos, videos, and other materials that claim military takeover of the cities, the Afghan government denies the Taliban claims of sovereignty over the provinces.
  • At least 14 civilians, including women and children, were killed and 40 were wounded on Saturday in Kunduz as heavy military fighting occurred between Afghan security forces and the Taliban.
  • President Biden has been briefed, and U.S. officials are monitoring the situation; however, Mr. Biden has not reevaluated his decision to withdraw U.S. troops and end the U.S. combat mission by the end of the month, in light of the recent Taliban victories, according to senior administration officials.
  • The violence and turmoil caused by the recent withdrawal of U.S. and NATO troops have shocked many, with some fearing that the capital city Kabul could fall.
  • The U.S. launched airstrikes against Taliban positions in an attempt to combat the insurgents – the Taliban have accused the U.S. of bombing civilian places including a high school and hospital.
  • In a speech defending U.S. withdrawal, President Biden stated the U.S. took sufficient measures to empower the Afghan government and army and they should be able to face the military struggles themselves.
  • A top NATO general under President Bill Clinton has called the recent events “a tragedy for the people of Afghanistan, and a consequence of American misjudgements and failures.”

Sources:

https://www.cnn.com/2021/08/08/asia/afghanistan-taliban-kunduz-intl/index.html

https://www.nytimes.com/2021/08/08/us/politics/taliban-afghanistan-united-states.html

https://www.npr.org/2021/08/08/1025909600/taliban-seizes-2-more-provincial-capitals-in-afghanistan

https://www.reuters.com/world/asia-pacific/taliban-capture-government-buildings-afghan-city-kunduz-2021-08-08/

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Students in Gaza Celebrate Passing Final Exams Despite War

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  • Approximately 80,000 students took academic final exams in the occupied Palestinan territories, with a pass percentage of 71 according to data from the education ministry.
  • Students in the Gaza strip have faced insurmountable challenges this year due to the coronavirus pandemic and 11-day offense of Israeli military attacks on civilian residences and structures.
  • The pandemic made remote teaching almost impossible due to the lack of resources and internet access many Palestinians face living in poor conditions.
  • Students describe the 11-day offense as a living “nightmare,” with frequent airstrikes and violence making it difficult to study – several students have also recounted stories of trauma from the war, including enduring loss of loved ones and family members.
  • Families celebrated student academic achievements with sweets, flowers, and fireworks.

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U.S. Senate Moves Ahead to Pass Infrastructure Bill

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  • The U.S. Senate has taken more steps to move towards passing the $1 trillion dollar infrastructure bill that will serve as an investment to improve roads and bridges.
  • Republicans and Democrats worked together to form painstaking negotiations and compromises that ultimately earned a 69-28 vote.
  • The legislation is a top priority for President Biden and passage of the bill would entail a major victory for him and bipartisan lawmakers who drafted the bill.
  • A total of 18 Senate Republicans joined all 50 Senate Democrats to advance the bill -Republican senators opposing the bill cite concerns over the national debt.

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Olympics Update: Highlights and Closing Ceremony

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  • Team USA finished the Olympics with the highest number of gold and total medals, with 39 and 113 medals, respectively.
  • China had 38 gold medals, and only lost its lead on the last day of competition. The US has had the highest medal count since 1966.
  • Japan hosted the closing ceremony on Sunday in Paris, with an audience filled with empty seats. Athletes from each country marched with their flags to begin the ceremony.
  • US President Joe Biden thanked the athletes from Team USA “for showing what we can do together as one America and as one team.”
  • These Olympics will be remembered with Simone Biles pulling out of events to prioritize her mental health and Belarusian sprinter refusing to return to her home country and finding safety in Poland, among many other historic moments.
  • In terms of competition highlights, India won its first medal after 41 years, age-defying skateboarders set new records, athletes used their platform to take a stand on social justice issues, high jumpers from Italy and Qatar shared a gold medal, and countless more historic events.
  • Covid-19 made an unfortunate backdrop to this delayed Olympic games, and that competition has not finished yet.

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Sudan Recalls Ambassador to Ethiopia

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  • Sudan has recalled Ethiopian Ambassador Gamal al-Sheikh. Sudan’s foreign ministry announced in a statement, “Ethiopia will improve its position if it considered what Sudan could do … instead of completely rejecting all of its efforts.”
  • A spokeswoman for Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed called relations between Sudan and Ethiopia “a little bit tricky” especially after the “Sudanese army incursion into Ethiopian territory.”
  • Last year, Sudan deployed troops to Ethiopia’s border, increasing tensions between the two countries. The decades-long dispute is over fertile agricultural land that both countries believe to be within their own borders.

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Food Crisis in North Korea as Floods Worsen

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  • Floods in North Korea have destroyed at least 1,000 homes and evacuated thousands. Many miles of roads and bridges have been damaged.
  • North Korea faced typhoons last year, creating a food situation dependent on this year’s crop harvest. North Korean leader Kim Jong-un has confirmed that North Korea faces a food shortage and that agricultural land has been destroyed.
  • Heavy rains are expected in the next few days as well, worsening the floods. The country cut itself off from international imports, increasing the food crisis and economy. 
  • US secretary of state Antony Blinken and South Korean foreign minister Chung Eui-yong discussed potential aid to North Korea.

California Battles Second Largest Wildfire in States’ History

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  • California is battling the second largest wildfire in its state history in the town of Greenville, called the Dixie Fire. Firefighters are working to contain eleven major fires in the state.
  • Thousands of people have been evacuated, and only around 20% of the fires have been contained. More than 5,000 firefighters are working against the Dixie Fire. This fire started on July 13th, and winds have carried the problem to Montana and Oregon.
  • Governor Gavin Newsom of California stated, “we need to acknowledge just straight up these are climate-induced wildfires”.

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All views expressed in this editorial are solely that of the author, and are not expressed on behalf of The Analyst, its affiliates, or staff.

Daily Brief

Salman Rushdie Severely Stabbed due to his Publication of the Book “The Satanic Verses”

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Salman Rushdie 2014
  • Salman Rushdie, an author, was severely stabbed in his neck and abdomen on stage by a suspect named Hadi Matar, causing him to be on a ventilator and potentially losing an eye.
  • An Iranian leader back in the 20th century wanted Rushdie killed because of his novel, Satanic Verses, that many Muslims found disrespectful. This led Salman to go into hiding for almost a decade.
  • Translators from different countries reading this book were harshly stabbed to death when the book came out and Iranian leader, Ayatollah Khomeini called for Salman’s execution for three million dollars.
  • The Iranian government has not yet responded to this issue, but many Iranians in the media claim him to be an apostate who later became an atheist.

All views expressed in this editorial are solely that of the author, and are not expressed on behalf of The Analyst, its affiliates, or staff.

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Daily Brief

China Threatens Consequences if Pelosi Visits Taiwan

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  • US House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi has landed inTaiwan. Prior to the visit, China’s Foreign Ministry has voiced their disapproval, stating that “China will take resolute responses and strong countermeasures to defend its sovereignty and territorial integrity.”
  • US Secretary of State Antony Blinken emphasized in response  that “The speaker will make her own decisions about whether or not to visit Taiwan,” and that the US is looking to Beijing to “act responsibly and not to engage in any escalation going forward.”
  • The US has made it clear that members of Congress routinely visit Taiwan and that this trip is non-threatening and has precedent. Even so, some officials have expressed concern that China may invade Taiwan’s air defense zone or send missiles near Taiwan in retaliation.
  • Pelosi has criticized China’s leadership and vocalized support for Taiwan in the past. She is currently on her tour of Asia, with scheduled visits to Singapore, Malaysia, South Korea and Japan.

All views expressed in this editorial are solely that of the author, and are not expressed on behalf of The Analyst, its affiliates, or staff.

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Daily Brief

First Grain Ship Departs Ukraine After Six Months of Russian Blockade

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  • The first shipment of grain departed the port of Odesa on Monday after Russia’s blockade of Ukrainian ports for the last six months trapped around 20 million metric tons of wheat and corn.
  • Russia recently made a deal with Ukraine, brokered by the UN and Turkey, allowing grain exports to resume, appeasing fears of a global food supply crisis and rising prices.
  • Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba celebrated the shipment, calling it a “day of relief for the world, especially for our friends in the Middle East, Asia, and Africa.”
  • Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky was more hesitant to celebrate the shipment, stating “it is too early to draw any conclusions and make any forecasts” and he wants to “see how the agreement works and whether security will be really guaranteed.”

All views expressed in this editorial are solely that of the author, and are not expressed on behalf of The Analyst, its affiliates, or staff.

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Daily Brief

Concerns Rise As US Teeters on the Brink of Recession

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  • The US economy declines for the second quarter in a row, causing, what other countries would consider, an economic recession. 
  • The prices for groceries, gas, and other basics are rising at the fastest pace since 1981. The US Central Bank is quickly trying to raise borrowing costs in order to cool the economy and ease the prices on goods, but with the contraction, at the annual rate of 0.9% in the 3 months to July, many are still getting concerned. 
  • President Biden struggles to convince the public that the economy is sound, with the unemployment rate at a low 3.6%. But with inflation in the US hitting 9.1% in June, the fastest price appreciation in 4 months, consumer spending has slowed at an annual rate of 1%. 
  • Many other countries, such as China and the UK, have been hit harder by the surge in energy prices and the War in Ukraine, causing risks from abroad. Other countries are facing much more serious problems and once they’re hit, their problems can spill over and affect the US. 

All views expressed in this editorial are solely that of the author, and are not expressed on behalf of The Analyst, its affiliates, or staff.

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Daily Brief

North Korea Could Possibly Be Preparing another Nuclear Test

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  • North Korea could be preparing a seventh nuclear test, especially after Mr. Kim announced that the country is fully ready for any military confrontation with the US at a Korean War Anniversary event. 
  • A US special representative in North Korea states that Jong-Un has tested an unprecedented number of missiles this year—31 to 25. Jong-Un also stated that threats from the US required North Korea to achieve the urgent historical task of strengthening its self-defense. 
  • Jong-un also stated that South Korea is reviving a plan to counter North Korea’s threat by mounting precautionary strikes; in June alone, South Korea launched 8 missiles of its own.
  • The North Korean regime is especially angry with South Korea’s new president Yoon Suk-yeol and his so-called Kill Chain strategy. This strategy allows South Korea to launch ballistic missiles and air strikes on North Korean targets if it ever feels threatened. 
  • North Korea has also not been getting as much engagement with Washington ever since Biden replaced Trump, and could be hinting at some sort of deliberate escalation by the North, and preparations have been underway at the Punggye Ri test site since March.

All views expressed in this editorial are solely that of the author, and are not expressed on behalf of The Analyst, its affiliates, or staff.

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Daily Brief

Russia Limits Gas Supply to Germany

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  • Gazprom, a major Russian energy provider, has stated it will reduce the supply of gas to Germany by half via the Nord Stream 1 pipeline due to repair work. 
  • Germany has said that they see no technical reason for the decrease in gas supply. The European Union continues to accuse Russia of weaponizing energy, with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky stating, “This is an open gas war that Russia is waging against a united Europe.”
  • Ukraine and Russia signed an agreement to allow the export of grain via the Black Sea after Russia continued to block millions of tonnes from being exported. The next day, Russia struck missiles at the port, some of which hit the infrastructure of the port.
  • The US and Ukraine are optimistic that the agreement will still be implemented, with the US State Department stating, “Despite these attacks, we do understand that the parties are continuing preparations to open Ukraine’s Black Sea ports for food and fertilizer exports…we also continue to expect that the Black Sea agreement will be implemented.”

All views expressed in this editorial are solely that of the author, and are not expressed on behalf of The Analyst, its affiliates, or staff.

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