A look ahead at the key events leading the news agenda next week, from the team at Foresight News. Delivered to your inbox on Fridays.
Leading the week
Tuesday (August 16) sees primary elections take place in Wyoming and Alaska, where there’s also a special election to fill the seat of former longtime Congressman Don Young, who died in March at the age of 88.
There’s intense interest in the Republican primary for Wyoming’s at-large House seat, currently held by Liz Cheney. One of a handful of House Republicans who voted in favor of impeaching Donald Trump, the daughter of former Vice President Dick Cheney has been withering in her criticism of the former president, notably in her role as vice chair of the special committee investigating the events of January 6th. Once viewed as a rising star in the Republican Party, Cheney is all but certain to lose her primary to her Trump-endorsed challenger Harriet Hageman. But Cheney is unlikely to go quietly; a recent campaign ad featuring her father calling Trump a ‘coward’ has racked up millions of views online, prompting speculation she could still be positioning herself for a 2024 presidential run.
In Alaska, keep an eye out for the special election, where former governor and John McCain running mate Sarah Palin is among the three candidates battling it out following an open primary in June. Palin faces Republican businessman Nick Begich and Democratic former state lawmaker Mary Peltola. The outcome remains far from clear, especially since the state is employing its new ranked choice voting system for the first time. Proponents of the system argue it encourages more positive campaigns and rewards the candidate with the most support across the entire electorate; critics – including Palin – argue it’s overly complicated and that an outcome where the ultimate winner did not have the most first-rank votes lacks legitimacy. Whatever the outcome on Tuesday, all three are also currently candidates for a full term in November’s midterms.
Monday (August 15) marks one year since Taliban fighters entered Kabul and then-President Ashraf Ghani fled the country, signaling the fall of the western-backed government that had been in place after 20 years of war. The anniversary, and a series that will follow in the next two weeks marking the Kabul airport attack (August 26) and withdrawal of US troops (August 30), was always going to prompt a deluge of reflections, but these were even more pointed in the wake of the news that Al Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri was killed in a drone strike in Kabul last week. Taliban claims that they were unaware of al-Zawahiri’s presence in the Afghan capital have been met with incredulity.
A year on under Taliban rule, Afghans are suffering total economic collapse and what Human Rights Watch has called ‘a human rights nightmare’, with girls and women denied education and participation in public life and millions of people experiencing food insecurity bordering on famine. The security situation is similar: the resurgence of ISIS-K has led to terrorist attacks on civilians, with the group said to be responsible for almost all of the 700 civilian deaths recorded up to mid-June and an uptick in recent attacks on the Shiite community. The Taliban government largely remains an international pariah, though Russia has made noises about a path to recognition independent from the international community that it is already at odds with over Ukraine.
Speaking of which, on Tuesday (August 16) Russia’s Ministry of Defense is hosting its annual Moscow Conference on International Security, typically featuring closely-watched speeches from Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu and Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov. As the conflict in Ukraine nears its six-month anniversary (August 24), Western nations met earlier this week in the Danish capital for a donor conference to emphasize their continued financial and military support for Ukraine. Russian authorities, meanwhile, have been struggling to provide a credible explanation regarding a series of explosions at the Saki Air Base in Russia-annexed Crimea. Satellite imagery of the base before and after the blasts suggest a significant number of Russian fighter planes were destroyed in the incident, which many suspect may have been a Ukrainian operation.