Welcome back to Axios World. Tonight's global tour is 1,528 words ( ~ 5 minutes).
Afghan policemen arrive near a site of a car bomb in Kandahar. Photo: Javed Tanveer/AFP/Getty Images
The ongoing negotiations between the U.S. and the Taliban are a “charade” designed simply to provide the U.S. a “face-saving way out of Afghanistan,” former CIA deputy director Michael Morell tells Axios.
Why it matters: The Trump administration wants to move quickly toward a deal to end the war in Afghanistan. But Morell, who now hosts the Intelligence Matters podcast, is one of several experts and former officials warning that such a deal won’t secure peace.
The big picture: “This argument I’m making — that the Taliban is going to take over, al-Qaeda is going to have a safe haven — is exactly the argument the president made to stay in Afghanistan two years ago," Morell says. “But we all know… [then-Defense Secretary] Jim Mattis kind of dragged him kicking and screaming to that, and the president wants out.”
Where things stand: State Department spokeswoman Morgan Ortagus said today that the administration is “committed to” getting a peace deal, though she wouldn’t confirm reports of a September deadline.
Husain Haqqani, a former Pakistani ambassador to the U.S. now at the Hudson Institute, says the Afghan officials with whom he’s been speaking are deeply frustrated.
The bottom line: "I would bet that the U.S. intelligence community and policymakers have a pretty good understanding of what the Taliban’s intentions are," Morell says. "So we’re making a deal that we know isn’t going to be kept just to save face, just to maintain honor.”
After nearly 18 years, Americans tend to view the war in Afghanistan as a failure.
Trump is far from the only politician, or even the only presidential hopeful, to call for withdrawal. Many of his potential 2020 rivals also argue it's time to bring U.S. troops home.
What to watch: The administration has said the pace of withdrawal would be determined by conditions on the ground.
Guaidó this week in Caracas. Photo: Pedro Mattey/picture alliance via Getty
It has now been 6 months since Juan Guaidó declared himself Venezuela's legitimate president.
Flashback: The Trump administration demanded at the time that Nicolás Maduro leave office immediately, or else. He didn't. An attempt to topple him in April failed. Rumblings of potential U.S. military intervention haven't come to fruition.
Where things stand: Representatives of the Maduro regime and the opposition are holding talks in Barbados, mediated by Norway.
Zoom out: Abrams said that of the outside actors in Venezuela, Cuba is the most vital to Maduro's survival because of the security and intelligence it provides.
BoJo moves into Downing Street. Photo: Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images
1. Prime Minister Boris Johnson brought the Theresa May era to a screeching halt on Wednesday, dispatching 17 Cabinet ministers and installing a team of loyalists and enthusiastic Brexit backers.
2. “The death of Tunisian President Beji Caid Essebsi on Thursday will complicate the country's upcoming elections and may spell the end of his increasingly fractious political party,” Sarah Yerkes of the Carnegie Endowment writes for Axios Expert Voices.
3. “Turkish Defence Minister Hulusi Akar met military officials on Thursday to discuss a possible offensive east of the Euphrates River in Syria as Ankara ramped up warnings of a cross-border operation,” Reuters reports.
4. Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez failed for the second time to secure the parliamentary majority needed to form a government.
5. “North Korea fired a new type of short-range ballistic missile in two launches into the sea Thursday,” AP reports, citing South Korean officials.
A heat wave is roasting western Europe, where temperatures records are falling in quick succession, Axios' Ursula Perano notes.
Temperatures recorded today...
Why it matters: When heat waves hit Europe, they can kill. A 2003 heat wave killed 15,000 people in France.
A market in Lagos, Nigeria, one of the world's fastest-growing cities. Photo: Frédéric Soltan/Getty Images
Between now and 2050...
... according to the UN's latest World Population Prospects update.
Boulet de canon? Beating the heat in Brittany, France. Photo: Valery Hache/AFP/Getty Images
“We’ve got your ship, is it called Stella? And you’ve got our ship, which is called something else. Well, the best thing would be to say, ‘Look, we let your ship go, you let our ship go.’ Easy peasy.”— Boris Johnson's father, to Iranian TV.
Thank for stopping by — have a wonderful weekend.