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A U.S. Marine (L) and Afghan interpreter (R) in the Korengal Valley in 2008. Photo: John Moore/Getty Images

The Biden administration plans to move thousands of Afghans who worked with the U.S. military out of the country before completing a troop withdrawal by Sep. 11.

Why it matters: With the Taliban rapidly gaining ground as America's exit approaches, Afghans known to have worked with the U.S. — including interpreters, embassy aides and drivers — could be in danger. Pressure has been growing on the White House to get them out.

The state of play: More than 18,000 Afghans are in various stages of the visa application process. It has moved slowly, due in part to a suspension of in-person interviews at the U.S. embassy in Kabul during the pandemic.

  • Including their family members, there are 71,000 Afghans currently in limbo, per the New York Times.
  • The administration plans to get at least some of them out of harm's way until their applications can be processed. But it's not clear how many will be evacuated or where they will be taken. One option is Guam, per CNN.
  • It's also not clear what will happen to those who are evacuated but not granted visas.

What to watch: U.S. officials want to handle this issue carefully so as not to spark a "panicked brain drain" from Afghanistan, CNN reports.

  • But they've been under pressure from former members of Congress and former military leaders, who say the priority should be to move quickly to ensure that those who aided the U.S. over 20 years of war aren't abandoned amid a Taliban onslaught.
  • The White House says it's working to streamline the visa application process.

Go deeper

State Department partners with aid group welcoming Afghan refugees to U.S.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken speaking in Washington, D.C., on Sept. 14. Photo: Mandel Ngan-Pool/AFP via Getty Images

Secretary of State Antony Blinken announced Thursday that the State Department is partnering with Welcome.US, an aid group helping to welcome and support Afghan refugees who fled their country for the U.S.

Why it matters: The partnership is part of the Biden administration's Operation Allies Welcome, which involves the processing and resettlement of the more than 65,000 Afghans evacuated during the U.S. military withdrawal from Afghanistan.

Sep 17, 2021 - World

Taliban replaces women's ministry with ministry of virtue and vice

Protesters march through the Dashti-E-Barchi neighborhood in Kabul, a day after the Taliban announced its new all-men interim government with no representation for women and ethnic minority groups. Photo: Marcus Yam/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

The Taliban on Friday rebranded Afghanistan's women's ministry with the "Ministries of Prayer and Guidance and the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice," Reuters reports.

Why it matters: When the Taliban was last in power, it maintained severe rules limiting girls' and women's autonomy, and barred them from education and work.

Stock buybacks boom as corporate cash piles grow

The Delta variant is keeping more companies cautious about how to invest the mountains of cash they have at their disposal. That hesitancy has led, in part, to corporate spending on stock buybacks outpacing capital expenditures this year. 

Why it matters: Companies hoarded cash and raised prices over the past year — leaving them with a lot of money and decisions about what to do with it.

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