The Taliban has captured three more provincial capitals, as they take their fight to the cities after seizing much of the countryside in recent months. The group has seized five provincial capitals in Afghanistan since Friday in a lightning offensive that appears to have overwhelmed government forces.
Rwandan forces deployed last month to help Mozambique’s army battle rebels said on Sunday they have recaptured control of the key northern port of Mocimboa da Praia from the armed group. “The port city of Mocimboa da Praia, a major stronghold of the insurgency for more than two years has been captured by Rwandan and Mozambican security forces,” the Rwanda Defence Forces said in a tweet.
Sudan has recalled its ambassador to neighbouring Ethiopia, frustrated by the stance of Ethiopian officials whom it said were refusing Khartoum’s offer to mediate in the ongoing conflict in Tigray. “Ethiopia will improve its position if it considered what Sudan could do … instead of completely rejecting all of its efforts,” a statement from the foreign ministry read on Sunday.
Saudi Arabia’s first wind farm has been connected to the grid and began producing carbon-free electricity, local media reported. Dumat al-Jandal is the region’s largest wind farm, and is made up of 99 wind turbines, each with the capacity to generate electricity for up to 70,000 homes in the kingdom, Saudi Arabia-based Al Arabiya reported.
Editorial Board, ANU
The European Union (EU) recently announced its ‘Fit for 55’ plan to reduce carbon emissions by 55 per cent from 1990 levels by the end of this decade and to reach net zero carbon emissions by 2050.
Given the Taliban’s behavior lately, US President Joe Biden’s decision to rapidly withdraw US forces from Afghanistan appears increasingly questionable. While it’s not certain the Afghan resistance to the Taliban will crumble, a catastrophic outcome is still possible. Abandoning a courageous people as they attempt to fight back could leave millions of Afghans vulnerable to Taliban repression.
Raz Zimmt writes: In recent weeks, the growing shortages of water and electricity have sparked a series of demonstrations in Iran. In early July 2021, hundreds of people took to the streets in a number of cities in protest against the many prolonged power outages that afflicted large areas throughout the country. Inter alia, the power outages caused interruptions of water supplies and disruptions of cellular networks and the internet. Deaths among hospital patients caused by sudden power failures and the lack of backup generators were also reported. The authorities blamed the repeated power outages on a severe electricity deficit estimated at 11,000 megawatts. The shortage of electricity is attributable to the severe heatwave, which led people to increase their consumption of electricity; an ongoing lack of resources for producing energy, due to the drought; a halt in production by a number of power stations because of technical malfunctions; excessive electricity consumption, partly illegal, by the bitcoin mining industry; and the economic sanctions, which have forced the government to cut back its investments in the development of the power industry. Some of the demonstrations also included criticism of the regime, Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, and the government.
On July 27, 2021, an agreement was reached on the defense budget for 2022, including the postponement until 2025 of the measure to shorten men’s compulsory military service to 30 months. This recent decision, which overrides the decision of July 2020 to shorten the compulsory service period, reflects the position of the IDF Chief of Staff, who since assuming his post in January 2019 has opposed shortening the period of compulsory service, given the framework of his proposed Tnufa (“Momentum”) multi-year plan, which the government has yet to approve.
Emil Avdaliani writes: The American exit from Afghanistan has created a power vacuum. The quartet of China, Russia, Pakistan, and Iran stands to benefit the most from the US withdrawal. The area to accrue the least benefit is Central Asia, whose five states (Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan), together with Afghanistan, represent one continuous geographical space. Separation would be geopolitically harmful to the Central Asian states, as security spillover from Afghanistan has a direct impact on Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan because of their long border.