FirstFT: ‘Real danger’ of terror attack at Kabul airport, Nato chief warns


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The risk of a terrorist attack at Kabul airport is increasing every day, the head of Nato has warned, as he described the “dilemma” countries faced in deciding when to terminate efforts by foreign troops to airlift people out of Afghanistan. 

Speaking a day after US president Joe Biden opted to stick to his plan to withdraw US troops by the end of the month despite European opposition, Jens Stoltenberg, Nato secretary-general, said the terrorist threat faced at the airport was not “theoretical” but “a real danger”.

“On the one hand we would like to have as much time as possible to get as many people out as possible,” Stoltenberg said in an interview. “At the same time . . . if we stay beyond [the] 31 August [deadline], especially if we don’t have at least a kind of tacit consent of the Taliban, the danger increases [of] attacks.”

On Wednesday evening, the UK government updated its travel advice for UK nationals still in Afghanistan, advising them against travelling to Kabul airport because of the “high threat of a terrorist attack”.

Turkey has begun evacuating its troops from Kabul airport in an about-face that shows how swiftly security in Afghanistan is deteriorating. Russia, which has also expressed increased concern at the security situation in Afghanistan, started evacuating its citizens yesterday. Follow the latest coverage of Afghanistan on (FT, NYT)

More on Afghanistan:

  • How exile changed the Taliban: Decades in exile have made the militant group’s leaders more worldly, but they may struggle to control their foot soldiers.

  • Escape from Kabul: Shaqaiq Birashk, an adviser on a US-funded Afghan government project, reveals how a special forces operation led to her escape from the Afghan capital.

Bubble chart showing the estimated number of evacuees relocated from Afghanistan as of 24 August 2021 by country of relocation

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Coronavirus digest

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Thanks for voting in our poll. Seventy-six per cent of respondents said they support employer-issued Covid-19 vaccine mandates.

The day ahead

Earnings Hays, the UK recruitment company, reports full-year earnings today. The rebound in employment in the UK has been a source of hope amid the Covid-19 gloom not just for this group but the economy in general. Air New Zealand, Dell Technologies and TCS Group are also among the companies reporting today. See our full list here.

Joe Biden hosts Naftali Bennett During the Israeli prime minister’s first visit to the White House today, he is expected to push the US president to toughen his stance on Iran. (Reuters)

US revised growth figures Second-quarter growth figures are likely to be revised higher when they are released today, after a spate of stronger than expected data reflecting the economy’s reopening. The increase in Covid-19 infections caused by the Delta variant, however, could pose a risk. (Reuters)

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Spotlight on ESG in Asia ESG equity funds in developed Asian nations recorded $3.6bn in inflows through June, up 187 per cent from the prior year period, Bank of America reports. Meanwhile, the Hong Kong Stock Exchange’s board diversity push has come under fire and China’s carbon market got off to a shaky start. More in our Asia-focused edition of Moral Money. Sign up to the newsletter here.

Banking on cannabis US federal law still classifies marijuana as an illegal substance. That’s why America’s biggest banks have opted out of serving cannabis companies. But relief has largely come thanks to a small group of financial services companies that has sprouted up to cater to the weed industry.


India, the world’s largest democracy, is changing in fundamental ways, raising questions about whether it should even be called a democracy at all. These two new books underline the speed of that shift, giving subtly different but equally pessimistic accounts of the country’s trajectory.

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