Afghanistan on the Brink
The Afghanistan government could potentially collapse as soon as six months after US and international forces complete their withdrawal, according to sources familiar with a new US intelligence assessment. The reports come ahead of a Friday meeting between President Joe Biden and Afghan President Ashraf Ghani.
Biden pledged in April that US troops—minus diplomatic security and potentially some special forces units—would be fully withdrawn by Sept. 11. To date, roughly half of the 3,500 troops and their equipment have been pulled out. Amid the winddown, numerous reports have surfaced of Afghan troops surrendering to Taliban fighters. Monday, the Taliban took control of a key district in the northern Kunduz province and are said to be on the verge of capturing the provincial capital.
See a map of who controls which areas in the country here.
Apple Daily Closes
Hong Kong’s last remaining pro-democracy newspaper will publish its final edition today, the latest casualty in a broad crackdown on dissent by pro-Beijing officials in the city. The closure of Apple Daily comes one week after five of the paper’s top staff were arrested during morning police raids at their homes. More than $2M in funds from the paper and its parent company were also frozen.
City officials allege the paper colluded with foreign powers to undermine the Chinese government. Reportedly at issue were a series of articles dating back to 2019 which referenced the imposition of sanctions against Beijing for its stifling of pro-democracy protests over the past two years.
The paper’s closure is the biggest attempt by China to silence government criticism in the press since the passage of a controversial national security bill last year. Critics of the bill said broadly defined laws against subversion and sedition gave the government carte blanche to silence opposing views.