Welcome to Axios World, where two evenings a week we break down the big stories from around the globe.
AMLO at the closing rally of his campaign. Photo: Alfredo Estrella/AFP/Getty Images
When Andrés Manuel López Obrador triumphed one year ago, it was unclear whether Mexico had elected the revolutionary populist from the campaign trail, or the more pragmatic figure from his tenure as mayor of Mexico City. We may now have the answer.
The latest: Finance Minister Carlos Urzúa excoriated the leftist president on Tuesday, penning a resignation letter that accused him of failing to base policy on evidence and empowering ideologues over experts.
Between the lines: “Hope for pragmatism is fading,” says Shannon O’Neil of the Council on Foreign Relations. “These resignations show there's little hope for those who want change within the boundaries of checks and balances and democratic institutions.”
"He did advertise this,” says Roberta Jacobson, who served as U.S. ambassador to Mexico from 2016-2018. “He's doing what he said he was going to do. He is the decider, he's not an institutionalist."
Yes, but: While investors and experts are increasingly wary, López Obrador boasts approval ratings above 60% nationwide.
Everything is driven by the force of his personality, which is on display daily in early morning press conferences. Aides rarely speak, and he often contradicts them when they do.
The big picture: Jacobson says López Obrador told her he’d do everything possible to maintain a positive relationship with the U.S., “and he has continued to abide by that, almost beyond reason.”
Where things stand: Trump tweeted today that Mexico “is doing great at the Border.” But appeasing a president who regularly attacks your country, and could still reverse course with an election looming, is politically risky.
What to watch: Jacobson agrees that “a train-wreck may be coming." She says we might find out then whether López Obrador has retained his pragmatic streak.
Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios
1. China is developing 500 smart cities — almost half the worldwide total, and more than 10 times North America's figure, Graham Allison of Harvard writes for Axios Expert Voices.
2. Boats belonging to Iran's Revolutionary Guard attempted to impede a U.K. tanker today in an apparent attempt to seize the ship, per the BBC.
3. The resignation of Kim Darroch, the U.K. ambassador to Washington whose leaked memos back to London outraged President Trump, has amplified debates in the U.K. over the country's relationship with the U.S., and place in the world after Brexit.
The intra-Afghan dialogue talks in Doha, Qatar, on July 7, 2019. Photo: Karim Jaafar/AFP/Getty Images
A weekend dialogue in Qatar between rival factions of Afghanistan’s volatile politics and the Taliban has yielded a joint statement calling for an end to war, Michael Kugelman of the Wilson Center writes for Axios Expert Voices.
Why it matters: The fledgling Afghanistan peace process is gaining critical momentum. Although the conference statement represents only a vague roadmap, the consensus reached arguably marks the biggest step yet toward a long-elusive peace.
Where it stands: The seventh round of U.S.–Taliban talks, which took a 2-day pause during the intra-Afghan dialogue, is likely to resume in the coming days. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo says he wants a deal before September 1.
Yes, but: Afghanistan’s September 28 presidential election threatens to pull away the attention of political leaders. The campaign season may also exacerbate the country's sharp political rivalries and undercut efforts to forge a political consensus on peace.
The bottom line: An end to the protracted conflict in Afghanistan has never appeared closer. But tough negotiations lie ahead, and reaching a quick deal to end America’s longest war remains a tall order.
Israeli Education Minister Rafi Peretz. Photo: Menahem Kahana/AFP/Getty Images
Israel's newly appointed Minister of Education Rafi Peretz said at a Cabinet meeting on July 1 that the rate of intermarriage among U.S. Jews is "like a second Holocaust," 3 people who were in the room told Axios contributor Barak Ravid.
Why it matters: Peretz, a former chief rabbi of the Israeli army, is the leader of a bloc of ultra right-wing religious parties. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was personally involved in forming this political bloc, which also includes the Jewish supremacist "Jewish Power" party. If Netanyahu wins the upcoming elections, Peretz will likely stay on as education minister.
How it happened: The July 1 Cabinet meeting included a briefing by former U.S. official Dennis Ross on trends in Jewish communities around the world.
As young Americans stream to coastal cities, immigrants are seizing opportunities in the midwest and south where mid-sized cities are struggling to maintain a younger, working-age population, Axios' Kim Hart reports in the inaugural edition of her Axios Cities newsletter.
By the numbers: Foreign-born migration helped reverse population decline in several metros, such as Detroit, Memphis, Dayton and St. Louis.
If you're looking for a summer binge... Axios' Shane Savitsky recommends HBO's "Years and Years," which originally aired on the BBC in the U.K.
And if you're looking for a beach read... I've been transporting myself back to 1930s/40s Germany through the eyes of Bernie Gunther, the late Philip Kerr's fictional detective.
A leap into the Mediterranean, in Nice. Photo: Valey Hache/AFP/Getty Images.
"We are the United States and we do not coddle dictators."— Joe Biden in a foreign policy speech today. He'll likely return to that line of attack on Trump throughout the campaign.
Thanks for reading — have a wonderful weekend!