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What We're Watching: Taliban government, Bolsonaro’s insurrection sputters, Myanmar uprising

What We're Watching: Taliban government, Bolsonaro’s insurrection sputters, Myanmar uprising

Taliban forces stand guard in front of Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul, Afghanistan, September 2, 2021


Taliban name interim government: Three weeks after taking over Afghanistan, the Taliban on Tueaday appointed an interim government made up largely by veterans of the 20-year war against the US. The most high-profile names are PM Mullah Mohammad Hasan Akhund, foreign minister under the first Taliban regime (1996-2001); interior minister Sirajuddin Haqqani, with a $5 million US bounty because he's the leader of the Taliban-affiliated Haqqani network, a group responsible for some of the deadliest attacks on US and Afghan forces; and deputy PM Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, the Taliban's top negotiator with the US in Qatar. The Taliban had promised an inclusive government that would represent all Afghans, but the interim one is dominated by ethnic Pashtuns. It also has exactly the number of women most predicted: zero. The Taliban hope that an interim cabinet will make it easier for them to gain international recognition and to get on with the complicated business of governing Afghanistan — and find the money to do so.

Bolsonaro's insurrection fails (for now): On Tuesday, Brazil's independence day, about 100,000 supporters of rightwing President Jair Bolsonaro marched in the capital Brasilia to protest against the Supreme Court for investigating him for spreading fake news and corruption. Hundreds broke through police barriers, but ultimately failed in their bid to reach Congress and the Supreme Court, which some of Bolsonaro's diehards wanted to occupy to emulate the January 6 US Capitol insurrection. They were also kept away from thousands of counter-protesters and supporters of leftwing former president Lula da Silva, who will probably run for his old job against Bolsonaro a year from now and is currently leading the polls by a big margin. Bolsonaro, meanwhile, had been firing up his base for days, declaring war on the courts and — taking a page from his pal Donald Trump's screenplay — insisting that he won't accept the result of the election if he doesn't win. Although Bolsonaro fell short of the 2-million strong turnout he was hoping for and his approval ratings continue to decline, don't expect him to give up anytime soon.

Myanmar's shadow government declares war on the junta: Eight months after the generals toppled Myanmar's democratically elected leaders, the government in exile has urged all citizens to join forces in a "people's defensive war" against the junta. That'll probably entail a combination of peaceful resistance by civilians, mass defections by bureaucrats and military/police personnel, and attacks by ethnic minority militias. The junta, for its part, says this is all just an attention-grabbing ploy ahead of next week's UN General Assembly, which still recognizes the previous government. Regardless, the call for a national uprising comes as Myanmar is currently suffering its worst violence since the coup, mostly in long-restive ethnic minority states. If the fighting extends to the rest of the country, especially cities, it could usher in a civil war in all but name where no outsider wants to intervene.


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