Coming Up This Week
- South African security forces are on high alert expecting nationwide protests and a strike today. July’s riots killed at least 300 people and caused an estimated 50 billion ($3.3 billion) in damage, and none of the underlying grievances have been addressed.
- The G7 will meet virtually on Tuesday. France’s Pres. Macron wants the group to find ways to limit refugee flows out of Afghanistan, while the U.S., UK, and Germany have expressed more support for refugees.
- The U.S. Federal Reserve’s annual symposium will be held online Thursday through Saturday, with a keynote speech from Chairman Jerome Powell on Friday. Investors are looking for signals the Fed could slow its asset purchases, which would be the first step towards distant future interest rate hikes.
LME Commodity Spot Prices
- Aluminum: $2,569/ton
- Copper: $8,922/ton
- Cobalt: $51,200/ton
- Gold: $1,782/ton
- Pres. Biden delivered another emergency address on Afghanistan yesterday, saying that he may extend the Aug. 31 deadline for U.S. troops to withdraw. He also promised that all Afghans the U.S. evacuates will eventually get U.S. residency—after they’re screened and processed in other countries.
- The Pentagon activated emergency use of 18 commercial planes from six airlines to help transport evacuees. Airline executives had suggested they’d be happy to help with the effort (they do get paid for the flights, after all), so there wasn’t much arm twisting.
- Meanwhile, Islamic State has threatened to attack the Kabul airport, which is still the main exit point for foreign evacuees. German troops said their U.S. counterparts engaged unidentified gunmen in a firefight at the north gate of the airport on Monday. The Taliban says its Badri 313 special forces unit is providing “security” at the airport, but it doesn’t seem like that’s who the U.S. troops were exchanging fire with.
- The Taliban said it would announce a new Afghan government soon, following quiet talks with leaders like ex-Pres. Karzai and Abdullah Abdullah. The Taliban has dipped its toe into some aspects of governance, with varying levels of credibility. Today it formed a committee to investigate reports of violence against journalists in Kabul and Nangarhar, for example.
- There are reports that Taliban forces are heading towards Panjshir to confront Ahmad Massoud’s resistance forces. Massoud says he’d prefer negotiation over civil war, but he’s also not keen to surrender the last major province not under Taliban control already [the Taliban actually controls more of the country now than it did in 2001—before 20 years of war: the Northern Alliance controlled Badakhshan then, but the Taliban controls it now].
- There are also reports of minor skirmishes between self-organized militias and Taliban forces in Balkh and Baghlan, but they don’t look likely to turn the tide of Taliban victory.
- Russia’s media authority ordered Apple and Google to remove Alexey Navalny’s organization’s app from their app stores, on the basis of a court decision that declared the foundation to be a banned extremist organization.
- DRC opened a commission to review reserves and financing for the giant Tenke Fungurume copper-cobalt mine, following the announcement of a new $2.5 billion China Moly investment in the project.
- DRC wants to make sure the government is getting its fair share of proceeds: “The goal isn’t anything new, or to attack foreign investors. If we find nothing, the contract will stay as it was established with its initial inequalities. But if it’s changed disfavoring the DRC, we’re ready to go in another direction.”
- Local officials estimate that several thousand Ethiopians have answered PM Abiy’s call to arms and enlisted in the military. Analysts worry the recruitment drive will broaden the conflict by forcing ethnic groups to take sides.