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Thursday Briefing


The military takeover in Niger has upended years of Western counterterrorism efforts in West Africa. The coup also poses challenges for the Biden administration’s fight against Islamist militants on the continent, especially in the Sahel, the semiarid region south of the Sahara where groups linked to Al Qaeda and Islamic State are quickly gaining ground.

Niger, an impoverished nation of 25 million people that is nearly twice the size of Texas, has recently been the exception to that trend. Terrorist attacks against civilians there decreased by 49 percent this year, largely because of French and U.S. troops’ training and assisting of Nigerien forces there, as well as efforts from the deposed president, analysts say.

Those gains could be in jeopardy if a regional conflict breaks out or if the junta orders the Western forces, including 1,100 American troops, to leave and three U.S. drone bases to be shuttered. It could also open the door to Russian influence in Niger in the form of the Kremlin-backed Wagner private military company.

Consequences: A security vacuum in Niger could embolden the militants to ramp up propaganda, increase recruitment, establish ministates in remote areas and plot attacks against Western countries. Removing the relatively small U.S. presence would make it harder to manage threats as they emerge, officials said.

Ukraine’s forces have driven further into the Mokri Yaly River Valley in the south of the country, retaking the tiny village of Urozhaine, with a population of under 1,000. The recapture of the village, the first by Kyiv’s forces since late July, follows the retreat by Russian forces after more than a week of fighting.

Ukraine now holds positions on both banks of the Mokri Yaly River. But the fact that progress in Kyiv’s counteroffensive is measured by the recapture of small villages reinforces how difficult the fighting has become.

In other news: As Russia threatens ships in the Black Sea, the 40-mile Sulina Channel has kept grain flowing, becoming a vital and safe lifeline for Ukraine.


Spain and England will face off in the final of the Women’s World Cup on Sunday, after England beat Australia, 3-1, yesterday, in a game that broke hearts across the host nation.

For three weeks, the Matildas have held Australia in the palms of their hands, across exhilarating highs and moments of exquisite tension. Sam Kerr, the team’s captain and superstar, has had to miss most of the tournament because of a calf injury. Against England on Wednesday, she scored one extraordinary goal — but she could not follow it with others.

Effects: Alex Chidiac, a midfielder for the Matildas, said that the country’s run in this tournament will leave a “lasting legacy.” Read more about the long rise of women’s sports in Australia.

France’s vast but aging system of public pools is feeling the strains of rising energy costs, increasing water scarcity and mounting budgetary pressure.

As heat waves become more frequent, conflicts over spending priorities could become more common. A new stadium stands opposite a closed pool in Montlhéry, south of Paris. “They found money for soccer, but not for swimming,” one local swimmer said.

How England won: Read analysis of the victory against the Matildas.

Carli Lloyd responds: The reaction to her headline-grabbing comments.

Four ’90s supermodels, all in their 50s — Linda Evangelista, Cindy Crawford, Christy Turlington and Naomi Campbell — grace the front of the September issue of Vogue.

The cover has generated enthusiasm among some and consternation among others, who question the promotion of these women as paragons of mature beauty when the years have seemingly been smoothed from their faces. The models look “so retouched that they seem more like A.I.-generated bots than actual people,” Vanessa Friedman, The Times’s chief fashion critic, writes.



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