Welcome to Axios World, where two evenings a week we break down what you need to know about the big stories from around the globe.
The Saudi consulate in Istanbul. Photo: Chris McGrath/Getty Images
Two men with large international profiles and powerful enemies vanished. Two repressive regimes were reportedly responsible.
Jamal Khashoggi, a Saudi journalist and insider-turned-critic who wrote a Washington Post column from exile, vanished after entering a Saudi consulate in Istanbul last Tuesday. Two days later, Interpol President Meng Hongwei was reported missing while traveling in China.
Did the Saudis kill Khashoggi?
Where things stand: Prince Mohammed denied Khashoggi was even detained, and Saudi Arabia invited Reuters journalists to tour the consulate. Turkey hasn't presented any evidence to back the anonymous claims and publicly says it's still investigating. President Trump weighed in this evening:
"I am concerned about that. I don't like hearing about it and hopefully that will sort itself out. Right now nobody knows anything about it. There's some pretty bad stories about it. I do not like it."
Disappearance #2: Why did the Chinese arrest Meng?
That seems unlikely. A foreign ministry spokesman has indicated that China — after detaining the leader of an international law enforcement organization and keeping it secret for days — doesn’t expect significant pushback:
“As a permanent member of the United Nations Security Council and as a responsible great power, China will continue playing the role that it should in international affairs, especially multilateral bodies.”
What to watch: If the reports prove accurate, both countries have sent a brazen message that no one who runs afoul of the government is safe. And two regimes with no tolerance for internal criticism seem to be risking censure from the world.
Axios' Haley Britzky has been reporting this week on an anniversary few would have anticipated back in 2001: the war in Afghanistan has turned 17.
Erica, who asked that we only use her first name, told Haley she accompanied her son to a recruiting station in El Paso, Texas last year when he enlisted at the age of 17, knowing he could be deployed to fight a war that began when he was just one year old.
"My son and many other young men and women took an oath to protect our country from all terroristic threats foreign or domestic. So as long as there are people out there trying to or causing harm to the United States then our men and women will be there to defend it."
The bottom line: No one wants to stay in Afghanistan, but no one seems to know how to leave, either.
Almost half of Americans (49%) think the U.S. has "mostly failed" in Afghanistan, a Pew Research survey has found.
Why it matters: Three presidents and billions of dollars later, only about one-third of Americans think the war has been a success. The country is also divided over whether it was a good idea to use military force at all: 45% say it was — down from 69% in 2005 — while 39% say it was the wrong choice.
People watch election night coverage from a bar in Rio. Photo: Fernando Souza/AFP/Getty Images
Far-right firebrand Jair Bolsonaro nearly pulled off a stunning first-round victory in Brazil yesterday. He needed a majority to win the presidency outright and —despite polling in the low-30s — he soared to 46%, 17 points ahead of his opponent in the Oct. 28 runoff, Fernando Haddad.
American University's Michael McCarthy breaks it down for Axios Expert Voices:
Why it matters: Whoever wins, Brazil will remain bitterly divided and too weak to fulfill its dream of becoming a global power. A Bolsonaro government would also be on a collision course with Nicolas Maduro, setting up a tense situation in which Venezuela’s neighbors to the West and South take tougher lines toward Caracas.
Voters watch the counting of votes in the outskirts of Yaoundé, the capital of Cameroon. Photo: Alexis Huguet/AFP/Getty Images
Cameroon's opposition leader today declared himself the winner of yesterday's presidential election. That's highly unlikely to hold up in a country that has been ruled by the same man, 85-year-old Paul Biya, for 36 years.
A member of the LGBT community gets emotional before results of referendum to stipulate that marriage is between a man and a woman. Photo: Daniel Mihailescu/ AFP/Getty Images
1. A referendum seeking to amend Romania's constitution to define marriage as between a man and a woman failed yesterday.
Go deeper: Where gay marriage is legal around the world.
2. Viktoria Marinova, a Bulgarian journalist whose last broadcast was a report into potential fraud by companies involved in EU-funded infrastructure projects, was found dead on Saturday, reports Politico.
3. Bellingcat, an investigative website, has identified the second suspect in the poisoning of Russian double agent Sergei Skripal as Alexander Mishkin, a military doctor working for Russian intelligence.
The wreckage of Sulawesi island after Indonesia's deadly earthquake and tsunami. Photo: Carl Court/Getty Images
"Did not mean to offend by quoting Churchill. My apologies. I will go and educate myself further on his atrocities, racist views which I do not support."— Astronaut Scott Kelly