The Guardian – Emma Graham-Harrison and Julian Borger / Trump’s Afghanistan withdrawal announcement takes US officials by surprise
- Donald Trump has announced on Twitter that he wants to bring all US troops home from Afghanistan by Christmas – a plan that came as a surprise to administration officials and which puts complicated peace negotiations in jeopardy.
- Multiple officials told the Associated Press they had not been informed of any such deadline and military experts said it would be impossible to withdraw all 5,000 US troops in Afghanistan and dismantle the US military headquarters by the end of the year.
- They suggested the president’s claim was aimed at shifting the news cycle away from coronavirus coverage and that the Pentagon would not act on the order before the 3 November US election.
- The announcement was, however, greeted enthusiastically by the Taliban on Thursday. If Trump follows through, the militant group would almost certainly claim it as a victory, after decades of couching their fight as a war against foreign aggression.
- The Washington Post – Missy Ryan, Karen DeYoung and Susannah George / After Trump promises a swift troop exit from Afghanistan, confusion grows about U.S. stance
The New York Times – The Editorial Board / The trouble in the South Caucasus extends far beyond one small enclave
- Once again, the bitterly contested claims to the mountainous region of Nagorno-Karabakh in the South Caucasus have erupted into violence. What exactly is going on is difficult to glean from the exaggerated statements and propaganda of the feuding Armenians and Azerbaijanis.
- Hundreds have been killed, rockets have struck both the capital of the enclave and also Azerbaijan’s second-largest city, and the fighting threatens to escalate into a regional debacle with ramifications far beyond.
- President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey, whose authoritarian ambitions at home have been matched by his growing aggressiveness in the region, has taken sides with Azerbaijan, whose Muslim majority is of the same Turkic ethnic group as the Turks.
- Russia has a mutual-defense pact with Armenia and a military base there, but while that would seem to tilt Russia toward Armenia, politics pulls the other way: Azerbaijan is ruled by President Ilham Aliyev, the autocratic son of the last Soviet boss of Azerbaijan. Armenia threw out its Soviet-style ruling clique in 2018 and elected a more liberal government.
- Foreign Policy – Allison Meakem / Is Turkey’s military overstretched?
Politico – Cristina Gallardo / EU citizens will need passports to enter post-Brexit UK from October 2021
- European Union, European Economic Area and Swiss identity cards will not be accepted as a valid travel document for entry to the U.K. from October 2021, the British government announced Thursday.
- “Identity cards are among the least secure documents seen at the border and ending their use will strengthen our security as the UK takes back control of its borders at the end of the transition period,” the government said in a statement. Irish and Gibraltarian citizens will be exempted from this requirement.
- The plan also confirms plans to make it mandatory — “after extensive engagement with industry” — for all truck drivers to obtain an access permit to drive into Kent and on to the Channel crossing at Dover after the Brexit transition period ends on December 31.
- Ministers will release further details on how this permit will work as part of its response to the Department for Transport’s consultation on Operation Brock — the government’s plan to prevent border disruption in Kent.
- Euractiv – Benjamin Fox / EU identity cards will not be enough to enter UK from October 2021
Project Syndicate – Hélène Rey / The core of the ECB’s new strategy
- Following in the footsteps of the US Federal Reserve, the European Central Bank has launched an in-depth review of its monetary-policy strategy. But as central banks contemplate fundamental changes in their approach, they should be mindful of possible disruptions in their operational environment.
- Nowhere is this truer than in strategies to address climate change, one of the most important issues of our time. Since European countries have pledged to make their economies carbon-neutral by 2050, the ECB now must reflect on how its monetary-policy framework could help with that transition.
- The only way to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050 is to transform how we produce, transport, and consume. One of the most efficient ways to do this – and perhaps the only way – is to increase the price of carbon while accelerating the pace of technological innovation. But this approach inevitably would trigger significant supply shocks.
- Whatever monetary framework central banks settle upon, it will have to be able to accommodate the large structural shifts and relative-price effects ushered in by decarbonization. Because it is not possible to maintain a constant rate of increase across all prices, the question for monetary policymakers will be which price index to stabilize.
- Bloomberg – Elaine Chen / Goldman expands sustainability efforts with new investing team
Further reading for the long weekend:
- The New Yorker – Peter Hessler / Nine days in Wuhan, the ground zero of the coronavirus pandemic
- Financial Times – Tim Harford / Lockdown sceptics v zero-Covid: who’s got it right?
- Foreign Affairs – Evelyn L. Forget / The basic income has its moment
- The Atlantic – Anne Applebaum / How China outsmarted the Trump administration