Roundup 263

New Events

Northern Africa (266m)

Tunisia power grab risks IMF deal, fears of Lebanon-style default. Bloomberg
Now in charge, Tunisian president faces looming fiscal crisis. Reuters

East Africa (520m)

Ethiopia’s civil war has no end in sight:

Teenagers rounded up in Mekelle, forced to fight for TPLF. BBC
— murky war, lots of allegations being traded back and forth
Ethnic Tigrayans have been forcibly disappeared. HRW
— numerous arrests, detentions, store closures since June
Despite cease-fire in Tigray, no end in sight for the conflict. LawfareBlog
— “complex emergency is poised to escalate… little will to broker political settlement…”
Why Ethiopia’s crisis is deepening by the day. AP
— US envoy being sent, but little likelihood that the parties will come to the table.
Nine months later, Ethiopia remains embroiled in civil war. NPR
— scope is widening, no political options seem on the table.

West + Middle Africa (600m)

Continuing violence in the Sahel:

Dozens die in Burkina Faso as Islamist militants raid convoy. Reuters
Niger declares two days of national mourning after 37 killed. Al Jazeera
In Mali, fears of sharing Afghanistan’s fate when France withdraws. AFP

Nigeria’s secret program to buy off top Boko Haram leaders. New Humanitarian
— former jihadists, many who committed atrocities, given new lives
— not granted amnesty, nor held accountable–just taken off battlefield

Western Asia (303m)

The shattering of Yemen: ending war is more difficult than ever. Foreign Affairs

South + Central Asia (2b)

The fall of Afghanistan:

Not in 30 or 90 days, but in less than 6. We wept and prayed last weekend as the Taliban took control. In Kabul, where all eyes are watching, they are portraying themselves as “softer, gentler, fairer”–just as they did in the 90s. Reports from the countryside give a different image: house-to-house searches for journalists, government workers, Western collaborators (and Christians), threats to believers, and numerous reports already of people required to swear allegiance to the Taliban’s version of Islam or die (and martyrs as a result). The days ahead for Afghanis seem likely to be severe. We pray for a harvest.

Prayer guides

Shane Bennett & Muslim ConnectPrayercastOW AfghanistanNovo (PDF). Open Doors. Pioneers.

In Kabul, where all eyes watch, the Taliban say “peace, peace”:

Seeking global recognition, Talib. take a new approach: making nice. NYT
Af. women to have rights “within Islamic Law,” Taliban say. BBC
Vow ‘amnesty’ for govt workers, respect for women, despite history. AP
News conference: pledges “no reprisals… and no violence against women.” NYT
White House told Taliban will allow ‘safe passage’ Kabul airlift. AP

But is it true?

“This is not the Taliban 2.0”: made same promises before. Atlantic
Two Talibans are competing for Afghanistan. FP
— “clearly intend on presenting themselves as benign, reformed rulers”
— Scenario: resurrect authoritarian regime with infamous cruelty somewhat moderated.

Many disbelieve Taliban promises, and there is widespread fear:

Afghans fear a return to brutal rule despite Taliban vows. AP
A woman’s story of life under the Taliban in 1999. BBC
“I cannot believe them”: Afghan women skeptical of Taliban’s promises. Guardian
Women plead: “Don’t want to go back to that horrible era.” Indian Express
Afghan journalists are “absolutely petrified” amid the Taliban takeover. CNN
Afghanis race to erase online lives: photos used against them. Wired

Some signs:

DW journalist hunted, relative killed in house search by Taliban. DW
Searching for people who worked with US, British, says UN. NYT
Taliban quash protests, seize enemies, tighten grip. NYT

Something brewing in Panjshir? Maybe. Maybe not.

Spreading protests and flag rallies make Taliban rule difficult. NYT
VP Saleh forces “recapture” Charikhar. @Twitter
10k soldiers under Dostum being sent to the region? @Twitter
Dostum forces link up with Saleh in Panjshir province? @Twitter
Saleh defiant postings. @Twitter
“Panjshir stands strong”: Af’s last holdout against the T. Guardian 
OpEd by Ahmad Massoud on mujahideen resistance to the Taliban. WPost
Saleh works with A. Masood to unite Northern Alliance warlords. OpIndia
“000s of soldiers, special forces, 47 pilots, supplies” under Massoud. @Twitter

Long-term analysis:

Risks and opportunities for China in Taliban’s return to power. SCMP
Aid groups wrestle with the new reality of Taliban control. Link
Taliban have claimed Afghanistan’s real economic prize: its trade routes. NYT
Af. has $1trillion worth of rare earth minerals in demand. CNN

Border country responses:

Iran carefully weighing options amid the Taliban takeover of Afghanistan. RFE
Despite Taliban assurances, world frets again about militant havens. Reuters
Taliban takeover brings unwelcome new uncertainty for Moscow. RFE
Taliban’s capture of Afghanistan triggers migrant flow fears in EU. RFE

International funds frozen:

US freezes Afghan holdings in US banks, incl. tons of gold. Quartz
IMF suspends Afghanistan’s access to over $400 million. BBC
Taliban face financial crisis without access to foreign reserves. Guardian
Looming cash crisis threatens to worsen humanitarian disaster. MIT
— banking system in state of collapse, people running out of money

Diaspora Afghans mourn the change:

Young Afghans studying in India anxious about violence back home. Link

Efforts to help people evacuate:

Over 18,000 have been evacuated so far. Indian Express
As of 8/17, US resumed Kabul air flights. CNN
Dutch military plans multiple evacuation flights for Afghanistan. Reuters
Canada will accept 20,000 vulnerable Afghans. Reuters
Erdogan says Turkey will not be “Europe’s migrant storage unit.” Reuters
Uzbekistan not keen to admit Afghan refugees fleeing Taliban. AP
US authorizes an additional $0.5bln for Afghan refugees. Religion News

Evacuation already showing Taliban dark side
Taliban crack down on protests, hamper evacuations. WSJ
Taliban keep some evacuees from airport, US vows to finish airlift. Reuters
The Dangerous Road to the Kabul Airport. NYT
Af family’s harrowing account of getting to Kabul’s airport. ABC
Checkpoints in Kabul, searching phones for evidence communicated in English. AFP

Lots of armchair general hindsight on why it happened:
Why Afghan forces so quickly laid down their arms. Politico
The shocking speed of the Taliban’s advance: a visual timeline. WPost
How did the Afghan military collapse so quickly? NYT
How did things go so bad so far in Afghanistan? FP
The Taliban’s swift victory was years in the making. WSJ
Why the Afghan army folded. Atlantic

Plenty of additional reading on ‘microsites’:
NYTRFEForeign Policy

India:

Evangelical Flshp of India discusses Pew report on religion, persecution. CT
— generally agree report unsurprising but does not adequately reflect ground reality,
— esp. narrative of hate and polarization

Eastern Asia (1.6b)

What happens to US colleges after China? Link
Documentary: On the road with the nomads of Inner Mongolia. SCMP

Southeast Asia (700m)

Myanmar: Death toll since coup has topped 1,000. CNN

Overwhelmed Philippines hospitals hit by staff resignations. Reuters
— 1000s of medical workers resigned, complaining of low pay, poor work conditions

N America / W Europe / Pacific

Haiti death toll tops 2,000, tensions grow. AP
— quake destroyed many churches, shredding a mainstay of support. NYT
— Social media posts show scope of damage. NYT

New Data

Covid global case data data

At current pace, 300m cases by Jan. 28.

… 8/20: 210.2m (+4.6m) cases, 4.40m deaths
… 8/13: 205.6m (+5.1m) cases, 4.33m (2%) deaths
… 8/06: 200.5m (+4.4m) cases, 4.26m deaths
… 7/30: 196.1m (+3.5m) cases, 4.18m deaths
… 7/23: 192.6m (+4.1m) cases, 4.13m deaths
Trackers: Johns HopkinsNYT *

Pfizer study shows vaccine effectiveness wanes over 6 months. Link
— from 96.2% 7 days after dose-2 to 83.7% 6-months after
CDC warns of significant decline in effectiveness against infection. CBS
— still highly effective against hospitalization, death, however
Some countries are setting a vaccine ‘expiry date’ for travelers. Forbes 
We may be entering the most dangerous moment in the pandemic for children. WPost

Soaring cases and little vaccination: a Covid-19 Middle East snapshot. New Humanitarian
China: drastic measures (city lockdowns, canceling flights) against latest outbreak. CNN
Israel, once the model for beating Covid, faces new surge of infections. NYT
Poverty, disease, customs: why so many Indonesian children die of Covid. NYT
Iran’s health system “beyond disastrous” from Covid surge. NYT
How the pandemic [in the US] ends. Atlantic
— “the pandemic will be over one day–but the way there is different now.”

Other new data

2021 IPCC report is out. Link
… each decade has been warmer than the previous since 1850 …
… the 1982 Exxon Internal Report got the projection (very nearly) right – Link

New Longreads

Longer Articles

The coming Afghan refugee crisis is only a preview [of future refugee crises]. FP

Book Notes

See my notes on The Talent Code, focused on how to coach.

Tech & Futures

Turkish government increasing Internet, social media censorship. Link
— more than 467k websites banned since 2006, with 58k banned in 2020.
— also, 100s of 1000s of specific URLs, videos, FB posts, etc. banned
— 15k news articles ordered removed from media web pages, mostly critical of Erdogan

Big Tech is bending to the Indian government’s will. Link
— will it lead to censorship on the Chinese model?

Major surveillance firms are ‘gifting’ tools to find a foothold in Latin America. RestOfWorld 

Quotable

“They tried to bury us. They didn’t know we were seeds.” ~Mexican proverb

“An easy-going, non-self-denying life will never be one of power. Fruit-bearing involves cross-bearing.” ~Hudson Taylor

“The oak tree grows in the grave of an acorn.” ~Unknown

“The biggest threat to Christianity is cultural Christianity – a version of Christianity that sprinkles Jesus on our own agenda.” ~Eugene Cho

“The gospel does not grow by media. It grows by relationship.” ~Bob Roberts Jr.

“The Church who feels no compassion for perishing souls has already become worldly.” ~Adolph Saphir

“Trials teach us what we are; they dig up the soil, and let us see what we are made of.”  ~C. Spurgeon

“Persecution is good for people who love Jesus deeply. But it is not good for the people who love Jesus just a little bit.” ~A persecuted pastor in China