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Ukraine. Ukraine’s Zelenskyy vows to fight for judicial reform (Halyna Chyzhyk, Atlantic Council)

Ukraine’s Zelenskyy vows to fight for judicial reform

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has this week vowed to prevent judicial reform from being derailed. (Stefanie Loos/Pool via REUTERS)

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has announced an extraordinary meeting on September 16 in a bid to prevent his flagship judicial reform drive from being sabotaged. Zelenskyy himself will host Thursday’s meeting, which will be attended by the heads of Ukraine’s judicial bodies including the chairman of the Council of Judges along with representatives of the country’s Supreme Court, members of parliament, and G7 ambassadors.

“I will keep from derailing the main reform of the country, which I promised Ukrainians and which I initiated,” Zelenskyy commented in a strongly worded statement released on Monday to announce the forthcoming meeting. “Every illegal action aimed at blocking judicial reform will be immediately evaluated and rebuffed. I will not allow judges who hamper the reform and cleanup of the judicial system to deprive Ukrainians of the right to justice. And judges who want to work in a transparent system should have our full support.”

Ukraine’s Zelenskyy vows to fight for judicial reform – Atlantic Council

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Afghanistan. Sanctions alone won’t tame the Taliban (Brian O’Toole, Atlantic Council)

After two decades of conflict in Afghanistan, it’s difficult to imagine Western powers resorting to military intervention against the Taliban, even if the group lives up to the worst of everyone’s fears. That leaves economic and financial sanctions—a favored policy option to impose costs and contain adversaries without using force—as the primary tool with which to pressure the country’s new rulers.

Sanctions alone won’t tame the Taliban – Atlantic Council

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Afghanistan/Central Asia/Eurasia. Central Asia and Eurasia after the Fall of Kabul (Glenn Diesen, Valdai Discussion Club)

The fall of Kabul will have profound implications for Central Asia and wider Eurasia — presenting both risks and opportunities. The risks associated with the Taliban in control of Afghanistan can be construed as an opportunity to test and advance the Greater Eurasian Partnership, writes Valdai Club expert Glenn Diesen.

Central Asia and Eurasia after the Fall of Kabul — Valdai Club

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ASEAN. ASEAN’s COVID spike (Niels Graham, Josh Lipsky, Atlantic Council)

One year ago, it was the Asian economies like China, Japan, and Indonesia that had seemingly controlled COVID and were leading the global growth rebound. The perception then was the East would help restart the system and eventually the West would come back online.

Through the second half of 2020, this was largely how the global recovery played out. However, starting in April 2021 in India, a second wave of COVID swept through Southeast Asia. As this resurgent wave moved from country to country, it initiated a second series of lockdowns for businesses and caused a steep drop in private consumption and investment. This has led the IMF to downgrade GDP growth forecasts across the region.

ASEAN’s COVID spike – Atlantic Council

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Europe. Germany’s defense minister: Only political will can protect Europe (Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer, Atlantic Council)

Following the Taliban’s takeover of Afghanistan, it is absolutely crucial that we Europeans accept an important truth about the end of our mission in the Hindu Kush: We were unable to resist the US decision to withdraw from the country because we did not have the military capabilities that would have enabled us to stay on there without the American military presence. As a consequence, our political leverage was limited.

It is true that the West has suffered a significant blow in Afghanistan. But whether this will translate into permanent defeat depends entirely on the conclusions we now draw from this experience. If those lessons lead to a divide between the European Union (EU) and the United States, or between Europeans and Americans, that would be a real defeat. And if, as a result, we withdraw from international engagement and our global responsibilities, the West will have truly lost.

Germany’s defense minister: Only political will can protect Europe – Atlantic Council

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Afghanistan/USA. How to avoid another state-building failure after Afghanistan (Frank Ruggiero, Atlantic Council)

In 2009, I served as the US senior civilian representative in Kandahar, where I oversaw US civilian efforts to stabilize southern Afghanistan. These civilians, embedded in provincial and district governments throughout the region, provided insight into the effectiveness of the counterinsurgency-inspired state-building strategy. Their observations were prescient on the stunning collapse of the Afghan state and security forces we all have witnessed in recent weeks.

How to avoid another state-building failure after Afghanistan – Atlantic Council

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Ukraine/USA. Ukraine’s president finally gets a White House visit (John E. Herbst, Melinda Haring, Oleh Shamshur, Atlantic Council)

A friend in need is a friend indeed. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy made his long-awaited first visit to the White House on Wednesday to meet with US President Joe Biden, and both leaders can say they walked away with victories. Zelenskyy—whose country is in its eighth year of war following Russia’s invasion of eastern Ukraine—received a renewed US commitment to help boost Ukrainian security. For Biden, the meeting was a chance to prove the United States is a good partner amid sharp criticism of the way the US withdrew from Afghanistan. What message does the get-together send to Moscow? What further hurdles must these allies overcome? Our expert breakdown is below.

FAST THINKING: Ukraine’s president finally gets a White House visit – Atlantic Council

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Afghanistan/USA. US intel is now flying blind in Afghanistan (Jennifer Counter, Atlantic Council)

US intel is now flying blind in Afghanistan

President Joe Biden speaks at the Office of the Director of National Intelligence in McLean, VA, on July 27, 2021. Photo via REUTERS/Evelyn Hockstein.

Reacting to the fall of Kabul earlier this month, President Joe Biden reassured Americans that US forces would continue neutralizing any threats from terrorist groups such as al-Qaeda and ISIS-K in Afghanistan. The key? Long-range intelligence collection, dubbed “over-the-horizon” intelligence, which the administration believes will be effective enough to keep tabs on terror groups and prevent attacks against the United States and its allies.

US intel is now flying blind in Afghanistan – Atlantic Council

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Afghanistan/USA/Asia. Why the tragic Afghanistan withdrawal should reassure US allies in Asia (Peter J. Dean, Atlantic Council)

For many US allies, the end of the conflict in Afghanistan will come as a relief, reassuring them that some clear, rational strategic thinking has taken hold in Washington.

Few had predicted how quickly Kabul would fall and how rapidly the Afghan military forces would collapse. Thursday’s suicide bombings outside Kabul airport, killing thirteen American troops and dozens of Afghans, underscored the tragedy. In some corners of the world, the fall has led to a chorus of commentators lamenting both the Taliban’s success and an apparent undermining of US credibility with allies. Others have called out and argued against what they consider to be “myths,” including that the US presence in Afghanistan was unsustainable, that the rapid collapse was evidence that success in Afghanistan was never possible, and that Afghanistan distracted the United States from its great-power competition—instead drawing attention to a peripheral region.

Why the tragic Afghanistan withdrawal should reassure US allies in Asia – Atlantic Council

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