Welcome back to Axios World. Apologies for the late departure. Hope tonight's 1,494-word (6-minute) trip is worth the wait.
We begin this edition with a conversation with journalist James Verini, who covered the fall of the Islamic State, or ISIS, in Iraq.
Iraqi forces in the offensive on Mosul. Photo: Ahmad Al-Rubaye/AFP/Getty Images
James Verini arrived in Iraq just as “the climactic battle” of the war against the Islamic State was about to begin.
The big picture: Verini remained in Mosul for nearly a year and documented the fight to reclaim Iraq’s second city in his new book, “They Will Have to Die Now.” But while ISIS’ caliphate ended with the liberation of Mosul in July 2017, Verini tells me, “I fear that in the larger sense, what we’re seeing is not a liberation.”
Verini peppers the book with the tension, boredom and absurdity of war.
Most revealing are his conversations with ordinary Moslawis.
Verini attempts to place the battle into the histories of Iraq and of Mosul, from ancient conquerors through the U.S. occupation.
This was a thoroughly modern battle, though, as some of the most jarring passages of Verini’s book make clear.
An airstrike by the U.S.-led coalition in Mosul. Photo: Ahmad Al-Rubaye/AFP/Getty Images
Verini’s identity as an American surfaces continually in his narrative and in his conversations with Iraqis.
Verini says the U.S. will "almost certainly forget the lessons of this war."
Zelensky. Photo: STR/NurPhoto via Getty Images
Ukrainian President Volodomyr Zelensky, a former comedian with no political experience, entered office in May knowing he’d have to manage high expectations, a war with Russia and difficult anti-corruption reforms.
He probably didn’t expect to find himself in the middle of a U.S. political scandal involving the sitting president and the man polls suggest is most likely to replace him.
The latest: President Trump has confirmed he discussed Biden and his son Hunter in a call with Zelensky over the summer that prompted a whistleblower complaint.
Between the lines: With pressure from both directions, Zelensky may find it difficult to preserve “the bipartisan consensus that has firmly supported Ukraine against Russia since 2014,” per the Washington Post.
What to watch: Trump and Zelensky are slated to meet Wednesday at the UN General Assembly.
Trump leaves the climate summit after Angela Merkel's speech. Photo: Kay Nietfeld/picture alliance via Getty
1. Trump made a brief appearance today at the climate summit that kicked off high-level week at the UN General Assembly.
2. Trump also appeared Sunday before a 50,000-strong crowd that had gathered in Houston to welcome Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
3. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu won't be at the UNGA. He and his rival Benny Gantz met on Monday for the first time since this month's elections, Axios contributor Barak Ravid reports.
Protests in Cairo. Photo: STR/AFP/Getty Images
Chaotic protests across Egypt this weekend — prompted by videos exposing corruption in President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi's military-backed government — underscore the population's weariness with economic hardship due in part to government austerity measures, Carnegie’s Michele Dunne writes for Axios Expert Voices.
Why it matters: While Sisi markets Egypt as an island of stability in a turbulent region, popular dissatisfaction with his regime threatens that image. Whether the protests escalate or fizzle, the country remains a potential powder keg.
The bottom line: While there is no clear path to peaceful change, Sisi’s continued rule promises to drive Egyptians into increasingly desperate circumstances, as well as to increase security headaches for Europe and the U.S., which funds Egypt’s military to the tune of $1.3 billion annually.
A closed café in the village of Fourqueveaux. Photo: Eric Cabanis/AFP
I spent the weekend at my parents' house in Massachusetts and picked up the Boston Globe to find a front-page story about the decline in Irish pubs.
As it turns out, France is going through a similar phenomenon — a “mass die-off of … iconic cafes,” as AP described it today, “from 200,000 to fewer than 40,000 in a half-century.”
Oktoberfest opens on Saturday in Munich. Photo: Sean Gallup/Getty Images
“I would get a Nobel Prize for a lot of things, if they give it out fairly, which they don't.”— Donald Trump