Your Wednesday Briefing: Putin Visits Iran

We’re covering Putin’s visit to Iran and a debate over a wind farm set to be built off Spain’s Mediterranean coast.

Vladimir Putin, Russia’s president, visited Iran on Tuesday, underscoring how the war in Ukraine has altered the world’s geopolitics by helping to align two regional powers that have been isolated from Europe and the U.S.

Putin met with President Ebrahim Raisi of Iran, as well as Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the country’s supreme leader, and said relations were “developing at a good pace.” Officials in both countries have said that sanctions are helping to unite them, solidifying a long-fraught relationship that is now playing an increasingly central role as a counterweight to American-led efforts to push back against Western adversaries.

A Kremlin spokesman told an Iranian broadcaster ahead of Putin’s visit that Iran and Russia could soon sign a treaty on strategic cooperation, expanding their collaboration and moving away from using the dollar to denominate their trade.

News from the war in Ukraine:

Thousands of people in China were ensnared in a banking scandal that wiped out their entire savings accounts earlier this year. The government’s seemingly indifferent response is testing the public’s confidence in the ruling Communist Party.

Following a revelation that several rural banks, which the police said might have been controlled by a criminal gang, had frozen savings accounts, officials have mostly refused to guarantee that the money will be returned. They have also suggested that some of the depositors were involved in fraud.

When victims of the scandal gathered this month for a protest in Henan Province, where most of the banks in question were located, they were attacked by a mob while police officers stood by. Many protesters have since reported being harassed by the police.

“The government takes our taxpayer money and then beats us,” Sun Song, a 26-year-old businessman who lost $600,000 in savings, said. “My worldview has been destroyed.”

Politics: Maintaining trust in the Communist Party is especially crucial this year, when China’s leader, Xi Jinping, is expected to further tighten his authority at a major political meeting in the fall.

Several decades ago, the Mediterranean coast of the small Spanish town of Port Lligat provided the backdrop for Salvador Dalí to compose some of his most famous Surrealist paintings.

Now, government officials are set to approve a huge floating wind farm on that same horizon, inciting an intense debate among fishermen, scientists, business leaders and activists that reflects a broader disagreement across the continent. While most Europeans support boosting renewable energy, there is less consensus over where to build wind, solar and hydroelectricity projects.

The dozens of proposed turbines — intended to harness the volatile northerly winds in the area known as la Tramontana — would power Catalonia, which is highly dependent on fossil fuels. But they would also fundamentally alter the character of a region that has changed little from the time when Dalí walked the hills.

Quotable: “As a local, I’m mostly concerned about the fishing, yes,” said one fisherman who opposed the project, “but also about the cultural spirit of Cadaqués, the landscape that inspired Dalí.”

Other climate news:

David Treuer’s father, an Austrian Jewish immigrant, loved the U.S. David’s Native mother, born on a reservation, could never forgive it.

“What to do about this country that saved my father’s life and tried to destroy my mother’s?” David writes in an essay for the Times Magazine. “What to do about myself?”

For nearly four decades, José Eduardo dos Santos dominated Angola’s political landscape. Yet when dos Santos died on July 8 at the age of 79, he was miles away from the country he tried to shape in his omnipresent image.

Alongside Yoweri Museveni of Uganda, Paul Biya of Cameroon and Denis Sassou-Nguesso of the Republic of Congo, he was part of the despised club of “leaders for life.”

Dos Santos voluntarily stepped down in 2017 after his own party turned against him. But in the final years of his presidency, he had tried to shore up his legacy by personalizing state-owned companies, putting his children in charge of them. It was an early sign of dos Santos’s shrinking circle of trust, said Ricardo Soares de Oliveira, a professor at Oxford University. Dos Santos’s son ran the country’s sovereign fund while his daughter, who became Africa’s richest woman, ran the state oil company. All the while, most Angolans lived off $2 a day.

It’s a familiar strategy among longstanding leaders. In Equatorial Guinea, President Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo, in power since 1979, appointed his scandal-plagued son as vice president. In Zimbabwe, former President Robert Mugabe’s wife, Grace, was seen as the power behind the throne. But the strategy has backfired. Dos Santos’s handpicked successor, the current president, Joao Lourenço, prosecuted dos Santos’s son, and his daughter fled amid corruption allegations.

Dos Santos, still a political symbol as Angola’s independence leader, escaped legal consequence but left for Spain, alienated and bitter. His burial has become a political battle. — Lynsey Chutel, Briefings writer

Take a hash brown, plump it up with more potatoes and a few eggs and bake it to create this potato kugel.

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