FirstFT: US scrambles to fix botched Afghanistan evacuation

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World updates

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The Biden administration scrambled to put a botched evacuation of Afghanistan back on track yesterday following chaos and violence at Kabul international airport.

In an attempt to project competence after the Taliban seized control of the country from the Afghan military, the White House said it had secured the airport and would speed up the pace of evacuations this week.

The Islamist group yesterday held its first official press conference since it took Kabul. Zabihullah Mujahid, a spokesperson, pledged that the group would protect the rights of women within the limits of Islamic law and grant amnesty to its opponents as it sought to strike a moderate tone.

WhatsApp, meanwhile, has shut down a complaints helpline set up by the Taliban for civilians to report violence, looting or other problems.

European defence and security officials have criticised the US withdrawal, saying it has weakened Nato and raised questions about allies’ security dependence on Washington.

The return of the Taliban has given rise to fears that Afghanistan could again become a magnet for foreign fighters as al-Qaeda begins to regroup. It has also handed China and Russia — two of America’s staunchest strategic rivals — an opportunity to project their power, analysts said. Read the rest of our Afghanistan coverage on FT.com.

“I am inclined to suspect more callous indifference of the White House, rather than a complete miscalculation on its part” — Guido Franzinetti, FirstFT Europe/Africa reader

  • Opinion: As a young female journalist in Afghanistan, Maryam Nabavi has hidden documents and buried a medal she received for her work. “Here I sit, feeling like a prisoner,” she writes. Biden’s decision to withdraw, as with many over the past two decades, was shaped by domestic concerns, writes Edward Luce.

Do you have questions for our reporters about the US withdrawal from Afghanistan and the Taliban takeover? Please send them to jennifer.creery@ft.com. Thanks for reading FirstFT Europe/Africa — Jennifer

Five more stories in the news

1. Fed official: Huge bond purchases wrong for US economy Eric Rosengren, president of the Boston Federal Reserve, warned that the emergency bond-buying programme was ill-suited for an economy held back by supply constraints, urging a tapering of the stimulus this autumn to avoid burdensome debts and inflationary pressures.

2. BHP to shift main listing from London to Sydney The UK’s blue-chip FTSE 100 index is set to lose one of its biggest companies after miner BHP said it would unify its dual-corporate structure and shift its primary stock market listing to Australia.

3. TransDigm readies for Meggitt takeover The US engineer has given the strongest indication yet that it intends to make a formal bid for UK aerospace and defence group Meggitt, which has already agreed a deal with rival group Parker Hannifin.

4. China to tighten internet antitrust rules The country’s antitrust watchdog released draft rules that would ban internet platforms from a wide array of behaviour deemed to harm market competition, such as exploiting user data to limit traffic to competitors, as Beijing’s tech crackdown intensified.

5. Peru’s ex-guerrilla foreign minister quits after 19 days Peru’s foreign minister, a former leftwing guerrilla who has defended the regimes in Cuba and Venezuela, has quit less than three weeks into Pedro Castillo’s controversy-plagued presidency. Héctor Béjar had claimed the Maoist group Shining Path was “largely a product of the services of the CIA”.

Coronavirus digest

  • Job vacancies in the UK have reached a record as the labour market rebounded from the effects of the pandemic.

  • The Biden administration recommended most Americans get a Covid-19 vaccine booster shot eight months after their second dose. (FT, NYT)

Follow our live blog for the latest coronavirus news and sign up for our Coronavirus Business Update newsletter.

The day ahead

Parliament recalled over Afghanistan Boris Johnson is braced for MPs’ criticism of the UK’s role in the crisis as he prepares to address the House of Commons in a rare August sitting today.

Fed minutes Investors will be watching the release of minutes from the Federal Reserve’s July policy meeting for insight into plans to scale back stimulus. Housing starts are also forecast to have cooled in July. (FT, WSJ)

R Kelly trial The R&B singer will appear in a Brooklyn courthouse today for the opening arguments in a federal sex trafficking trial. (NBC)

Tech earnings Network equipment maker Cisco and chipmaker Nvidia report after the close, as does trading app Robinhood and Chinese internet giant Tencent. Sign up here to get #techFT sent to your inbox every weekday.

What else we’re reading

Preparing for the next pandemic When coronavirus emerged, governments scrambled to address shortages of basic medical supplies. This year, countries have deployed export controls to prioritise vaccinating their own citizens. Rattled by these experiences, many are seeking to bring drug manufacturing home — but it is proving challenging to plan for the next crisis.

Class conflict is at the core of economics If evidence builds up that workers are systematically making more demands of their employers, that bargaining power could help boost the profits of business. The fact that nobody predicted it is itself significant, writes Martin Sandbu.

Moral outrage over Philip Morris’s Vectura bid The shock that greeted the Marlboro-maker’s £1bn bid for the UK respiratory drug developer was something to behold. Public health and anti-smoking charities called it an “ethical conflict”. But we must allow companies to reinvent themselves and address the problems they helped create, writes Brooke Masters.

A 50-year quest for monetary stability This week marks half a century since Richard Nixon announced to the world that Washington would no longer redeem US dollars for gold. The “Nixon shock” ushered in a chaotic period of unstable exchange rates and high inflation. But the FT View is that nostalgia for the gold standard is misguided and misplaced.

How extreme weather affects airlines The potential impacts of the climate crisis on the sector are far-reaching. Forced flight diversions and cancellations add costs for an industry that haemorrhaged billions of dollars during the pandemic.

Travel

Ultra-running heads upmarket With butler service, banquets, speedboat transfers — and a £15,000 entry fee — the 120-mile Highland Kings race bills itself as the first “luxury wilderness ultra-marathon”.

Participation in ultra-running — classified as any foot race longer than a traditional marathon — has exploded in the past decade
Participation in ultra-running — classified as any foot race longer than a traditional marathon — has exploded in the past decade

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