The long end of the wars of September 11

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THE LAST KILOMETER PROBLEM IN AFGHANISTAN Today was the first time that the Pentagon gave a figure on the progress of the American withdrawal from Afghanistan, after the announcement by President Joe Biden in May of the decision to withdraw the troops.

The US military has officially completed 90 percent of its withdrawal from Afghanistan, the US Central Command announced today. The White House has said the final withdrawal will be complete by the end of August.

The political ramifications of the end of the First American War after September 11 are difficult to predict. The Taliban regain a foothold in Afghanistan, reinforced by the exit of the American army. And Russian President Vladimir Putin could interfere with the Biden administration’s post-withdrawal agenda, Defense reporter Lara Seligman reported today.

I chatted with Lara every night on Slack about what today’s progress report means and what to watch out for in the coming weeks as the Biden administration completes the withdrawal.

You had an interesting tweet, noting that the 90 percent figure begs the question of why the last 10 percent will take until the end of August. Why the long timeline?

Some reasons: 1) They do not want to announce that the withdrawal is already effectively completed lest the Taliban use this news as an excuse to launch an even stronger offensive.

2) They want to keep some contractors as long as possible to help the Afghans, for example those who are currently helping in the maintenance of the Afghan Air Force. Experts fear the security forces will collapse without the support of these contractors.

3) It also gives the administration more time to finalize the plans to relocate thousands of Afghans who have assisted the US military as interpreters etc. and are waiting for their special immigrant visas. These Afghans risk being killed by the Taliban after the official departure of the United States.

4) Keeping the commander around and at least the illusion of an American military presence is, at the very least, a moral boost for the Afghan security forces.

5) It also gives them more time to work out the details of how to ensure security at Kabul International Airport, which is now the main gateway for diplomats and aid workers to Afghanistan. The Biden administration is currently trying to strike a deal with the Turks to keep up to 1,000 troops there for security.

What do we know about what is happening on the ground with the Taliban as US forces continue to leave the region? How are the Afghan security forces doing?

Not good. According to the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies, which closely follows the conflict, in the past six days alone, the Taliban have taken control of 10 percent of the country, most in critical areas in the north. This means that overall, the Taliban now controls 188 of the country’s 407 districts and contests 135 more. We see the Afghan security forces abandoning many of their bases without a fight.

What do experts think are the scenarios for how this will play out over the summer, once the US completes its withdrawal? I saw one of your sources warn that Afghanistan “is in danger of collapsing completely.”

Yes, some intelligence reports indicate that the government in Kabul could fall into Taliban hands in as little as six months to two years after the US pulls out. One of my sources says Kabul is safe as long as the morale of the Afghan national security forces is maintained, but if that breaks, the country could collapse quickly. And reports that the Afghans surrendered without a fight, and reports that some soldiers fled to Tajikistan, are not encouraging.

As you pointed out, the United States is still trying to keep an eye on Afghanistan – potentially from a country in Central Asia. Why is Russia an obstacle to this?

In short, Russia has significant economic and military influence in all of the neighboring countries that the United States is considering potentially hosting American troops, namely “stan” countries like Uzbekistan, Tajikistan and Kazakhstan. Twenty years ago, these countries were concerned about the terrorist threat emanating from Afghanistan and were happy to help – the United States had bases in Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan. But now the threat has diminished and relations between Washington and Moscow are at an all-time low. Moscow will not welcome American boots on the ground in the Central Asian states, which it sees as its own area of ​​operations. And these countries basically require at least the tacit approval of Russia as they are heavily dependent on Moscow for economic support and military aid.

So if Putin refuses to give that approval, what is left for Biden’s administrator to make sure Kabul doesn’t fall?

The military insists that we can still maintain surveillance in Afghanistan to control the Taliban and hunt down any terrorist cells that are springing up from distant bases in the Middle East and from ships in the Persian Gulf. But experts say this plan is unrealistic – it’s a nine-hour flight from Qatar to Afghanistan, and it’s not at all clear that this is feasible for the unmanned aircraft. that the Pentagon plans to rely on for surveillance.

Welcome to POLITICO Nightly. The White House has alerted tonight that First Lady Jill Biden will attend the Scripps National Spelling Bee on Thursday in Orlando. I’m not sure if his native spelling of Water Philly (wooder) would pass with the judges. Contact us with news, tips and ideas on [email protected], or on Twitter at @MyahWard.

– Adams beats Garcia to win the New York mayor’s primary: Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams held onto his lead in an initial mail-in ballot count in the Democratic New York mayor’s primary, edging runner-up Kathryn Garcia by around 8,400 votes , according to results released by the city’s election council today.

– Pentagon cancels huge JEDI cloud contract: The Pentagon canceled its JEDI cloud contract today, ending a chapter in the department’s multi-year quest to assemble classified networks that saw a public battle between the tech giants and accusations that the former President Donald Trump has tainted the process. The decision to cancel the contract and take a new direction comes a year after a federal court ruled that the Pentagon halt work on the contract, which went to Microsoft in 2019. The court ruled on it. last year on the side of former bidder Amazon, who argued in a 2019 lawsuit that it lost the Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure, or JEDI, contract with Microsoft because Trump mocked the company and its founder, Jeff Bezos.

– Germany arrests an alleged double agent accused of spying on behalf of China: German authorities have arrested a former German secret service spy on suspicion of carrying out “intelligence agent activities” for China, the federal prosecutor’s office announced today. According to a press release from the prosecutor’s office, the man – named only Klaus L. – reportedly provided information to the Chinese secret service for nearly a decade, starting in 2010.

– The key player in the Gaetz investigation is asking for a period of sentencing in order to continue to cooperate with the federal government: A key figure in the ongoing federal sex crimes investigation against Representative Matt Gaetz seeks to delay his conviction as he continues to cooperate with prosecutors. Joel Greenberg, a former Seminole County tax collector who pleaded guilty in May to sex trafficking and bribery charges, has asked in a motion filed today for a postponement of his conviction, which is slated for Aug. 19. Prosecutors did not oppose the petition, court records show. He faces at least 12 years in prison.

– Biden faces a ‘judgmental moment’ regarding the sprawling Russian cyberattack: The cyberattack on IT management software maker Kaseya, which may have affected up to 1,500 companies whose vendors were using Kaseya’s product, sparked emergency meetings over the weekend between the FBI, the DHS’s cybersecurity and infrastructure security agency and other agencies, as officials rushed to assess the extent of the damage.

FRANCE READY TO OBTAIN A TAX LAX – France is ready to make a binding promise to the United States to abolish a national tax on digital giants as soon as a new global tax agreement comes into force, said Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire today, Giorgio Leali written.

But he hinted that the international deal would have no impact on the EU’s plans for a separate digital tax, due to be released on July 20 but under heavy fire from Washington.

“I am ready to make a formal, legally binding commitment in the finance bill to indicate to our American friends that the day the OECD tax is implemented, the national tax (…) will disappear. “Le Maire told reporters.

His pledge comes ahead of a meeting of G-20 finance ministers in Venice later this week, at which the club of rich countries is expected to agree on new international rules to tax large corporations. Last week, 130 countries signed a first technical agreement within the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development. The United States has made it clear that in return for the global deal, it expects European countries to withdraw any individual digital tax initiatives.

CHAMPAGNE WISHES, CAVIAR DIAGRAMS – As the geopolitical fights for food unfold, Putin’s assault on French champagne could well be described as Extra Brut.

The Russian president on Friday signed a law prohibiting foreign producers of sparkling wines from using the term “Champagne”, even those produced in the famous French wine region where the name comes from, Sarah Anne Aarup written. Only Russian made shampanskoe wines may use the term.

The move was seen as a major affront to France, which has strict rules to protect the name and reputation of its beloved champagne, and the country’s leading champagne industry group on Monday called on all producers to suspend their exports to Russia “until further notice”.

“The Champenois ask French and European diplomacy to try to change this unacceptable law”, we read in the press release of the co-chairs of the Champagne Committee, Maxime Toubart and Jean-Marie Barillère. “To prevent the Champenois from using the name of Champagne (in Cyrillic) is scandalous; it is our common heritage and the apple of our eye.

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