"Abdullah's re-engagement in the election process is fundamental to any hope of an outcome to this election which is acceptable to all parties. However, the presence of his observers is also, in a very practical way, crucial to getting an audit that actually scrutinises the ballots," writes Kate Clark for the Afghanistan Analysts Network.
"There is pressure on the Afghan government to get this election completed and install a new presidential administration in time to meet the political, economic, and military challenges of the transition period as foreign troops leave. There's a crucial NATO summit in September, a major meeting of donors in November, and other hurdles that will require a functioning new administration," International Crisis Group's Graeme Smith told DeutscheWelle.
"If this moment is decisive, as I suggested, it is because it will determine whether or not Afghan leaders have truly adopted the logic of democracy—as Afghan voters seem to have done—or whether the source of power is ultimately non-institutional, negotiable, the result of behind-the-curtain deals, and permanently dependent on international arbitration," writes Scott Smith for the Global Observatory.
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U.S. to Manage China Ties at Beijing Summit
The U.S.-China Strategic and Economic Dialogue is due to open Wednesday with cyberspying, maritime disputes, and North Korea's nuclear program topping the agenda. The U.S. delegation, led by Secretary of State John Kerry and Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew, will prioritize the stabilizing of rocky relations (WSJ).
India to Seek Foreign Investment in Rail Infrastructure
India's railways minister said the government would seek foreign direct investment to improve the nation's state-owned, cash-strapped transit infrastructure, averting further fare hikes, which marked the new administration (TOI).
The Backgrounder examines the causes and consequences of India's lagging infrastructure.
Israel-Hamas Showdown Escalates
Israel and Hamas moved toward broader confrontation Monday night (AFP) as the Israeli air force bombed targets in Gaza while Gazan militants stepped up rocket fire. The Israeli security cabinet reportedly agreed to refrain from a large-scale military operation, but reservists were called up in anticipation of a possible ground escalation (Haaretz).
BAHRAIN: Bahrain declared Tom Malinowski, a senior U.S. diplomat, persona non grata after he met with representatives of a Shia opposition party (WaPo).
UN Highlights Development Achievements
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon highlighted achievements toward meeting the Millennium Development Goals ahead of a 2015 deadline, but acknowledged that progress, which has largely come from India's and China's rapid growth, was uneven (CSM).
CFR's Gayle Tzemach Lemmon says more research is needed on the correlation between child marriage and state fragility.
NICARAGUA: The Nicaraguan government and a Hong Kong-based developer unveiled plans for a canal that would link the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. Nicaragua says it will break ground on the $40 billion project this year, over environmentalists' objections (BBC).