Taliban capture Afghan capital Kabul: The Taliban captured the Afghan capital Kabul on Sunday. Heavily armed Taliban fighters fanned out across the capital, and several entered Kabul’s abandoned presidential palace. As the insurgents closed in, President Ashraf Ghani flew out of the country. Ghani later posted on Facebook that he left to avert bloodshed in the capital, without saying where he had gone. There were desperate scenes at Kabul airport as thousands attempted to flee following the Taliban takeover. US President Joe Biden on Monday said he did not regret his decision to withdraw American forces from Afghanistan, while acknowledging that the country’s collapse to the Taliban came much sooner than US officials had anticipated. On Tuesday evening, German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said around 180 people were waiting to fly out of Kabul airport but that the Taliban were only allowing foreign nationals to reach the airport, raising questions about how Afghans would be able to get out of the country. The Taliban vowed Tuesday to respect women’s rights, forgive those who fought them and ensure Afghanistan does not become a haven for terrorists as part of a publicity blitz aimed at reassuring world powers and a fearful population.
apnews.com, theguardian.com, politico.com, dpa-international.com, apnews.com
Sexual violence used as weapon of war in Ethiopia’s Tigray, Amnesty finds: Ethiopian and Eritrean troops have raped hundreds of women and girls during the Tigray war, subjecting some to sexual slavery and mutilation, Amnesty International said in a report Wednesday. The report, „I Don’t Know If They Realized I Was A Person: Rape and Other Sexual Violence in the Conflict in Tigray, Ethiopia,“ reveals how women and girls were subjected to sexual violence by members of the Ethiopian National Defense Force (ENDF), the Eritrean Defense Force (EDF), the Amhara Regional Police Special Force (ASF), and Fano, an Amhara militia group. Soldiers and militias subjected Tigrayan women and girls to rape, gang rape, sexual slavery, sexual mutilation and other forms of torture, often using ethnic slurs and death threats.
South Korea and US begin joint military drills: South Korea and the United States started their annual joint military drills on Monday, amid North Korea’s warnings of a diplomatic and security crisis. South Korea and the United States regularly stage military exercises, mainly in the spring and summer, but North Korea has for decades reacted angrily, calling them a rehearsal for war. The exercises will continue for nine days, mostly consisting of defensive, computer-simulated command post training with minimum personnel but no live field training,the Joint Chiefs of Staff said.
Four Palestinians killed during Israeli police raid in Jenin: Israeli troops have clashed with Palestinian gunmen during a late-night arrest raid in the occupied West Bank, killing four Palestinians in one of the deadliest battles in the area in years, Palestinian health officials said. The incident occurred in Jenin, a city in the northern West Bank where tensions have been high since a man was killed in fighting with Israel earlier this month. Israel’s paramilitary border police said its forces were attempting to arrest a suspect when they came under heavy fire from close range from a number of gunmen. It said Israeli forces returned fire and none of its officers were injured. The official Palestinian news agency, WAFA, said four men were killed by Israeli fire and a fifth was seriously wounded.
Explosion in Lebanon kills at least 20 people: At least 20 people were killed and 79 injured in a fuel tank explosion in the Akkar region in northern Lebanon, the Lebanese Red Cross said on its Twitter account early on Sunday. Lebanon is suffering from a severe fuel shortage, leading to long lines at gas stations and extended blackouts. Military and security sources said that the Lebanese army had seized a hidden fuel storage tank in the town of Altalil and was in the midst of handing out gasoline to residents when the explosion took place. There were differing accounts as to the cause of the explosion. “The Akkar massacre is no different from the (Beirut) port massacre,” said former Prime Minister Saad al-Hariri on Twitter, calling on Lebanese officials including the president to take responsibility and resign.
Sudan to hand over Omar al-Bashir to ICC for Darfur trial dw.com
Rwandan troops help Mozambique recapture key port held by jihadists france24.com
South Africa court postpones Zuma corruption trial to next month reuters.com
Taliban risk military strikes if they host terrorists again, NATO warns reuters.com
German Bundeswehr recruits staff in pop-up lounge in Erfurt city center mdr.de
NUMBER OF THE WEEK
About one in four recruits drop out of the training for Germany’s volunteer homeland security force early. 298 volunteers began their training on April 6th, 71 of whom have already left the force.
Protests in Cuba: In mid-July, Cuba saw its largest protests in decades. Thousands of people took to the streets in many cities across the country to protest against political repression, the economy of scarcity and the course taken by the socialist government and the Communist Party during the Covid pandemic. The protests first flared up on July 11 and continued for several days. The socialist regime responded to them with violence and prison sentences of up to one year, imposed in summary trials. However, this procedure has been condemned by human rights activists as not being in accordance with the rule of law. US President Joe Biden announced economic sanctions against Cuban government officials. In the meantime, the Cuban government has met some of the protesters‘ demands – including, for example, the opening of the economic system to private companies. In addition, travelers are allowed to import medicines, food and hygiene products duty-free, and previous quantitative restrictions have been lifted. This was introduced at the beginning of August. For the centrally organized island state, nationwide protests are unusual. In the past, gatherings of opposition members were largely suppressed.
Tigray conflict continues to spread: In Tigray, a region in northern Ethiopia, government troops are fighting Tigrayan armed forces. Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed is considered a fierce opponent of the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF), which governs there and dominated Ethiopian politics until he took office in 2018. When Abiy came to power, he excluded the TPLF from the coalition and promised democratic reforms. Fighting began when Abiy ordered an offensive against the Tigrayan forces in November 2020. He accused them of attacking an Ethiopian army military base in the region. Initially, it appeared that the Ethiopian army would succeed in defeating the TPLF. However, the latter recaptured the regional capital of Mekele in June 2021, and Abiy declared a cease-fire on June 28. Fighting nevertheless spilled over into the neighboring Afar and Amhara regions. The conflict has triggered a severe humanitarian crisis that has killed thousands of people and left more than five million in need of humanitarian assistance, according to UN figures. At the moment, the conflict threatens to escalate further. The Oromo Liberation Front, a rebel group from the south of the country, has announced an alliance with the TPLF. Together, the two groups want to fight against the central government. At the same time, Prime Minister Abiy called on all Ethiopians to join the fight against the TPLF.
The West’s influence on Afghanistan: German diplomats and Germany’s Federal Intelligence Service (BND) maintain good contacts with the Taliban. They have closely followed the negotiations in Doha between the Taliban and civilian representatives on power sharing. Just a few weeks ago, German diplomats had high hopes. At the time, they said that three goals were important to the Taliban: The lifting of United Nations (UN) sanctions and removal from the UN terror list, international recognition and the billions in aid payments from abroad that make up a large part of government spending. Diplomats said the Taliban’s primary goal was to establish an emirate in Afghanistan in which Shariah law is implemented as strictly as possible.
„There is nothing to gloss over. We all, the Federal Government, the intelligence services, the international community, have misjudged the situation.“
The German federal government and its intelligence services “misjudged the situation” in Afghanistan, Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said in a statement Monday.
Metallica donates to German flood victims: Heavy metal band Metallica is releasing a new version of its classic „Enter Sandman“ and has announced that all proceeds will be donated to victims of the flood disaster in Germany. The new edition is scheduled for release on CD and vinyl on August 20. Metallica has been donating to charity since 2017 with their „All Within My Hands“ foundation.