- Pres. Biden announced that U.S. troops will—after all—leave Afghanistan by the current deadline of Aug. 31, rather than extending their stay to facilitate the evacuation of Americans and Afghan allies.
- And there may be fewer Afghan allies to evacuate, since the Taliban just announced they would block Afghans from traveling to the airport and set up roadblocks that only allow foreigners to pass.
- The U.S. withdrawal concession appears to have come out of meetings between CIA Director Burns and the new government—including Taliban political leader Mullah Baradar—in Kabul. It’s not clear what the Taliban offered in return.
- The World Bank stopped its financial support to Afghanistan, saying: “We are deeply concerned about the situation in Afghanistan and the impact on the country's development prospects, especially for women.” On a thorny related note, it seems like nobody is going to stop the Taliban from assuming Afghanistan’s hard-won seat on the UN Commission on the Status of Women.
- The Ukraine celebrated its independence day yesterday with a military parade and a pledge to take back Donbass and Crimea from Russia…eventually.
- Israeli PM gave an interview with the NYT ahead of his visit to Washington this week, saying Israel opposes any U.S.-led efforts to revive the Iranian nuclear deal and would continue its covert attacks on Iran’s nuclear program.
- Reuters called Venezuela out for signing an oil-for-food deal with a little-known company called Supraquimic, and then charging two Supraquimic executives with embezzling proceeds. The case isn’t novel—Venezuela often uses small companies like Supraquimic to try to skirt U.S. sanctions—but court documents offered some useful insight into the practice.
- The deal Venezuela made to settle debt on its defaulted bonds in exchange for giving up its stake in a Dominican Republic refinery turned out to value the bonds at around 24 cents on the dollar. That gives other investors holding Venezuelan bonds a comparison point for their value.
- One of Haiti’s many gang leaders, Jimmy Cherizier aka “Barbeque,” said his G9 Revolutionary Forces would participate in earthquake relief instead of blocking it as other gangs reportedly have. The latest earthquake death toll stands at 2,189, with another 344 still missing. Almost 53,000 houses were destroyed.
- Armenian PM Pashinian gave the first official Armenian casualty count from last year’s 44-day war with Azerbaijan: Armenia lost 3,773 troops and another 243 are still missing. Azerbaijan previously said it lost 2,783 troops.
- Eccentric Philippine president Rodrigo Duterte “agreed to make the sacrifice and heed the clamour of the people” to run for vice president on a ticket with his close aide, Sen. Christopher “Bong” Go, in next year’s election. That’s a sneaky way to dodge term limits and keep Duterte in power (although it doesn’t seem like the vice presidency would give him immunity from ICC investigations into his brutal war on drugs). It’s also a blow to boxer-senator Manny Pacquiao, who had hoped to secure the ruling party’s nomination instead of Go.
- Algeria severed diplomatic relations with Morocco, accusing it of various “hostile actions,” including hosting the Israeli Foreign Minister for a friendly visit, using Pegasus spyware against Algeria, and fighting the Algeria-backed Polisario Front in Western Sahara.