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Quest Means Business

Qatari Team In Kabul To Discuss Reopening Airport; Afghan Economy Spirals In Vacuum Left By Taliban Control; Major Averages Finish August Up, Start September Higher. E.U. Countries Divided On How To Handle Afghan Migration; Thousands Waiting To Leave Ramstein Air Base; U.S. Markets Muted On Weak Private Sector Job Numbers. Aired 3-4p ET

Aired September 01, 2021 - 15:00   ET



ISA SOARES, CNN HOST: Now, the Dow is pushing for its first positive session of the week. We could see still records elsewhere on Wall Street

this session. Those are the markets, can see pretty flat, and these are the main events.

Reopen the airport and rescue the Afghan economy. Help arrives in Kabul to try and reopen Hamid Karzai International.

OPEC sticks to its plan to produce more oil despite Joe Biden's calls to do more.

And China's tech sector tries to stage a comeback after a sweeping crackdown from the government.

Live from London, it is Wednesday, the first of September. I'm Isa Soares, and I too, mean business.

Now tonight, as the Taliban hold military parades, the pressure is on to rebuild an Afghan economy that relies on foreign aid.

This video was posted to social media. It hasn't been independently verified by CNN. It appears to show as you can see the Taliban in Kandahar

flaunting military vehicles recently plundered from Afghan Forces.

And here we see a Blackhawk helicopter, a symbol of course of American military power, flown over the crowd right to the white flag of the


A new video from The Pentagon shows just one of the final American flights out of Afghanistan. These are members of the U.S. Army boarding a C-17 from

Kabul to Kuwait on Monday night.

In Washington, the country's top military leaders are reflecting on 20 years of war. Here is what General Mark Milley, the Joint Chiefs Chairman

said just about an hour ago. So, take a listen.


GEN. MARK MILLEY, CHAIRMAN OF THE JOINT CHIEFS OF STAFF: This is tough stuff. War is hard. It is vicious. It's brutal. It's unforgiving.

And yes, we all have pain and anger, and when we see what has unfolded over the last 20 years, and over the last 20 days, that creates pain and anger,

and mine comes from 242 of my soldiers killed in action over 20 years in Iraq and Afghanistan.

So yes, I have that. But I'm a professional soldier. I'm going to contain my pain and anger and continue to execute my mission.


SOARES: Now for the Taliban, the celebrations can't last forever. They have seized control of an impoverished country with an economy now

paralyzed by regime change. The Taliban seem to know this, of course. A source tells us they have invited technical experts from Qatar to Kabul,

with Qatar's goal here is to get the airport back open so humanitarian flights can actually resume.

And in this landlocked mountainous country and terrain, Hamid Karzai International is an essential lifeline to the outside world. Angela Merkel

says resuming air travel is of existential importance.

I spoke to Qatar's Assistant Foreign Minister and she says the Taliban knows they'll need international help. Take a listen.


LOLWAH AL-KHATER, QATARI ASSISTANT FOREIGN MINISTER: So it will be a trust building process. It's very important, Isa, that all of us collectively

build and capitalize on the pragmatism the Taliban has shown so far.

Taliban needs the international community. They realize this. They say this. And that's why we need to capitalize on this moment. Shutting them

down completely is not going to be very helpful in this situation. That's why we need to think of other ways to engage with them without undermining

human rights, without undermining women's rights, without undermining all the international standards that we all collectively embrace.


SOARES: Sam Kiley is in Doha with more. And Sam, I'm not sure if you heard part of my interview with the Minister there, but it seems to me from, you

know, what the Qataris are saying what we've been hearing internationally as well. There seems to be a carrot approach right now. Let's see what they

come up with. Let's see what that government looks like, but let's keep the conversation, the constructive engagement open there.

SAM KILEY, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, absolutely. That very important interview, what the Deputy Foreign Minister was saying in

public. The Foreign Minister had said a week ago to me, and they have been reiterating in private.

The Qataris are absolutely sincere about their role as interlocutors, mediators, people who can reach into the Taliban and know who to talk to

within the Taliban. I think that's very important. They know the players. They know the different personalities.

The Taliban had a political office here for several years. It was the center of the diplomatic efforts to try to secure a peace deal with United

States and the Afghan government. And it was from here that the Taliban leadership returned first to Kandahar and many of them have now gone to


So, Doha is absolutely integral on a technical level. They are inspecting the airport now. In your interview there, Isa, she was also talking about

how it's very difficult actually to stand up an international airport, more or less from scratch. You need all of the security protocols and the

biometric scanning equipment and so on that has now been destroyed or moved, or taken away or whatever. It is no longer functioning, so that is

an issue.


KILEY: Angela Merkel saying getting the airport up is a sort of existential issue. It's also deeply important symbolically, not just

because it will be a means by which humanitarian aid can come in, that those who want to leave, according to the Taliban will be allowed to leave,

but also from the Taliban perspective, it joins them into the rest of the world.

If they're going to remain isolated, the concern is, here in Doha, but across the allied world, if you like, across the G7, at any rate, if they

remain isolated, then they will see no reward for moderation and they could easily backslide into a very medieval interpretation of Islam.

The Taliban itself is under internal tensions, very severe internal tensions over exactly which direction to take ideologically. Many members,

senior members of the Taliban are very, very hardline, indeed, even if they recognize the necessity for moderation.

So these are critical steps in the early stages of forming a government which the Taliban says they are going to be able to do by Friday -- Isa.

SOARES: And so, on that point then, the necessity for moderation. Of course, they've done their victory parade in Kandahar, the hard work now

begins, Sam, in earnest. They need to run the country.

The whole world and the country itself will be looking to see how inclusive the government is. Any signs you're getting as to what that government will

look like, any names being thrown around right now.

KILEY: No. No names being mentioned by the Taliban. Right at the beginning, actually, in interviews with Nic Robertson and Christiane, the

Taliban spokesman saying, we are talking to people. We will have an inclusive government. We're not going to mention any names.

There are two names at the top of that list, I suppose in terms of name recognition internationally, Hamid Karzai, the former Prime Minister, Dr.

Abdullah Abdullah, former chief executive, they have been in negotiations for the last couple of weeks with the Taliban. It would be very interesting

to see if they do have a role in the government, not least, because in both cases, particularly in the case of Dr. Abdullah Abdullah, there is

technical background and expertise.

He was a Foreign Minister. He was a Chief Executive. He has experience in trying to run a country -- Isa.

SOARES: Yes, and with all the -- you know, the brain drain that we're seeing at the moment, they need all the help they can get.

Sam Kiley, thanks very much, Sam.

Well, the United Nations is calling for a new round of international funding for Afghanistan. Uncertainty over how the Taliban will govern has

contributed to a run on the banks. There is now a cash shortage in addition to rising inflation.

In cities, many shops remain closed, the ones that are open are raising their prices. And in the countryside, a severe drought has left farmers in

urgent need of help.

Of course, we haven't even got to winter, that's with exceptionally cold. That's another problem and a concern, as well as COVID.

Anwar ul-Haq Ahady is Afghanistan's former Finance Minister. Before that, he was a governor of its Central Bank. Sir, thank you very much for joining

us here on QUEST MEANS BUSINESS. I'm not sure if you heard our correspondent, but the picture that we are getting from the ground in

Afghanistan is that the country desperately needs funds.

We've heard the I.M.F. halting payment. How soon -- how close is Afghanistan, in your opinion, you know, collapsing economically?

ANWAR UL-HAQ AHADY, AFGHANISTAN'S FORMER FINANCE MINISTER: Well, I think probably in terms of supplies, there should be enough for another two or

three weeks. Normally, traders have enough supplies for a month to a month and a half.

But I think if additional supplies are not to come, then we will have problem, and that really depends on payment. The system of payment has been

disrupted. The Central Bank is involved in payment of international trade. Some of that payment is done directly through correspondent banking. A lot

of it is done through the Central Bank, and the Central Bank assets have been frozen.

So, unless that problem is resolved, then I think we will have a very serious problem very soon.

SOARES: And obviously, Anwar, you know, a month and a month and a half is not that much. And our viewers might know this, Afghanistan part depends on

imports, and if you are having less imports and you have an inflationary environment, already we've seen people queuing to get money out so that you

worry about -- of a run on the banks.

If the I.M.F. does release these funds. You know, how restrictive do you think it will be? Can they be trusted? Can the Taliban be trusted with

these funds?

AHADY: Well, the I.M.F. and the international institutions, usually, they have a monitoring system, and I think that they can establish a procedure

which will require additional checking as to whether these payments are proper.


AHADY: And I think they can do that. But you know, the I.M.F., there are two reasons as to why they have frozen assets or have made it difficult to

make these payments. One, we did not have a Central Bank Governor. Now, we do have a Central Bank Governor, but does he really know the process?

And second, we also didn't have a Finance Minister. Now we do have a caretaker, and the President is not known. So, you know, probably from a

technical point of view, you know, they had a point to stop some payments. But that cannot go for long, and I hope it does not and that decision is

not based on political considerations, because if it were based on political considerations, then those will not be resolved quickly.

SOARES: And so given what you just said, Anwar, you know, you've heard our correspondent there, Sam Kiley saying we're expecting the Taliban to

announce the formation of a government. The world is waiting to see how inclusive an Afghan -- Afghans are also waiting -- Afghans also waiting to

see how inclusive it will be.

Once they take control and take power, what should be their priority from an economic perspective here?

AHADY: I think from an economic, as well as from a political perspective, we should reach an understanding and agreement with the international

community. I think the international community should not be asking for very tough criteria, but at the same time, the minimum that's required so

that funds are not misallocated, they are not wasted. I think that's what the international community should ask for and I think that the government,

the new government, should satisfy those and I see the inclination on the part of the government to satisfy those requirements.

But sometimes, it's just they are too new to the job. And hopefully, that they learn quickly the job and I hope that there will be an understanding

between the international community and the Afghan government otherwise, we will have real serious crisis.

SOARES: Yes, I mean, there are new to the job, but if -- and that is a huge concern, hence, why the international community is asking really for a

more inclusive government from those who have ruled before, and who have the knowhow, and the expertise. If, however, Anwar, they can't govern, you

know, what does it mean for the country?

AHADY: Well, a very unfortunate situation, they cannot run the government. And you see the world has become a lot more complicated and international

transactions have become much more sophisticated than they were some 20 years ago.

So I think it's an absolute requirement that they do have professionals to run these institutions, otherwise, they will not have those international

transactions, and if they cannot have international transactions, you know, we will have a very bad situation.

I mean, a few years ago, even international trade did not require such sophistication. For instance, most of the places where we sent our exports

now, they require SPS, while a few years back, we didn't have that.

So even our traditional and less sophisticated customers such as India and Pakistan, they require those requirements. So, it's a very complicated

environment now, and we do need professionals, and I hope the Taliban realize that.

And they are willing, I mean, they say that they are willing to incorporate -- to involve or to include people, non-Taliban professionals, but we will

have to see if that will happen.

SOARES: That's right. The proof will be in the pudding. Anwar Ahady, thank you very much for joining us. Anwar Ahady with the very latest. Thank you,


Now, Australia's Victoria State is extending its lockdown as COVID cases surged. The Premier says vaccination is the key to easing restrictions.

That story next.



SOARES: Now, the major U.S. averages all rose during the month of August and they are mostly trading higher to start September. Let's take a look at

this. The NASDAQ rose four percent last month as you can see, the S&P nearly three percent. That makes seven straight months of gains for the

S&P. The Dow has risen six in the last seven months, and it is up slightly today.

Matt Egan is here for more. And Matt, this is all great news, but the question is, how long can these good times last? I mean, I was reading an

article by Paul La Monica today who said "Welcome to September, historically the worst month for stocks."

MATT EGAN, CNN BUSINESS LEAD WRITER: Right. That's right, Isa. September is definitely one of the worst times for investors. When you think back at

some of those drops over the years, obviously September of 2008 when Lehman Brothers collapsed. It stands out as one of the biggest memories there. But

even just last year, the S&P 500 dropped four percent in September.

So, the fact that the market is opening up this month about flat is pretty good. But to your point, you know, there are a lot of risks out there right

now that investors do need to pay attention to, especially given how expensive stocks have gotten.

I think the biggest risk is the delta variant. We've already seen that these COVID cases, it has actually slowed the economy. People aren't going

out to eat as much. Air travel has dropped to the lowest level in more than three months. And there are concerns about what happens as we go into the

cooler weather here in the United States this fall, this winter? What if there's more variants out there?

And then you have inflation? You know, prices are still really, really hot, much hotter than really economists at the Federal Reserve had expected.

There's a big debate over how long that's going to last, when prices will cool off? But of course, the risk is that the Federal Reserve has to

reverse policy and you know, tap on the brakes on the economy and that would not be good news for the stock market, of course.

And Isa, we have to remember that the S&P 500 hasn't had a drop of 10 percent or more, what's known as a correction since March of 2020 when the

pandemic erupted. That's not going to last forever.

SOARES: Yes, and given that you've just outlined all those risks, it is staggering when you put it in perspective. Matt.

Let's talk OPEC because obviously lockdowns, travel restrictions because of COVID meant the demand for fuel obviously and prices were not so much in

demand, to crater really, but now we heard from OPEC and its allies basically saying, Matt, they agree to stick to the plan to increase oil

production, but the U.S. perhaps wants it faster.

EGAN: Yes, that's right. This OPEC meeting that wrapped up today, not nearly as dramatic as what we saw in July where they had this two-week

standoff where they couldn't decide what to do. This was pretty quick and easy.

They decided to stick to the script, which is to increase oil production beginning October 1 by 400,000 barrels per day. Now, that is going to

disappoint the White House which had really been urging OPEC+ to ramp up production because they're concerned about gas prices that have hit seven-

year highs. OPEC+ is deciding not to do that, and that's important because they are worried about the delta variant and what that's going to do to



EGAN: One last point on that, Isa, is that the White House managed to somehow unite both big oil and environmental groups in their opposition to

President Biden's request for OPEC+ to pump more oil; Big Oil, of course, they wanted the United States to rely on domestic oil production, not OPEC.

Environmentalists, they don't want any more oil to be produced because climate scientists say that is only going to make the climate crisis worse.

SOARES: Matt Egan, I'm pretty sure that was the first Matt Egan there for us. Thanks very much, Matt. Good to see you.

Now, China's tech sector has been left out of this year's market rallies. Alibaba, Baidu, and Pinduoduo, three Chinese companies trade in New York

are down over the last six months as analysts say Chinese tech shares have collectively lost $3 trillion in market value as Beijing cracks down.

Kristie Lu Stout reports for you.


KRISTIE LU STOUT, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): A sector under siege. China's leading tech players from major e-commerce platforms and ride

hailing companies to education tech groups, all have been targeted by Beijing's crackdown on private enterprise.

STOUT (on camera): Casualties include some of China's leading tech firms - - Alibaba, ByteDance, DiDi, Meituan, New Oriental Education, Pinduoduo, Tencent, and the list goes on.

STOUT (voice over): Companies have been slapped with fines, banned from app stores in order to overhaul their business, prompting sharp falls for

listed Chinese tech firms and stoking fear about the future.

But observers say the end goal of Beijing's bid for control is not about creating chaos, it is all part of a top down plan.

STOUT (on camera): Why is this happening?

DAN WANG, TECH ANALYST, GAVEKAL DRAGONOMICS: This isn't simply a power play by Beijing to crush these upstarts, these billionaires, these

entrepreneurs. A lot of this crackdown is driven by political campaigns like Common Prosperity.

STOUT (voice over): Common Prosperity is the prosperity of all the people says Chinese President Xi Jinping as he pledges to redistribute wealth in

China. Analysts say the crackdown is out to fix social ills like income inequality and hyper competition.

WANG: Big Government believes that these companies are mostly in the business of monetizing status anxiety, in which you have the sales people

from these online education firms really preying on the middle class dreams of sending the kids to the best universities.

STOUT (voice over): There's another force behind the takedown, redirecting the sector toward hard tech like semiconductors and AI.

KEYU JIN, ECONOMIST, LONDON SCHOOL OF ECONOMICS: The Chinese government wants to have technological supremacy. That means setting global standards,

shaping future technologies, especially in the critical and high tech areas, creating general purpose technologies that will influence economies

all around the world.

STOUT (voice over): That's one reason why influential investors still see opportunity. BlackRock, the world's largest asset manager is reported as

saying investors should as much as triple their allocations in Chinese assets.

While billionaire hedge fund founder Ray Dalio says investors should keep their faith in China, writing: "I urge you to not misinterpret these sorts

of moves as reversals of the trends that have existed for the last several decades and let that scare you away."

But as China's sweeping tech crackdown continues --

STOUT (on camera): Could this crackdown kill China's entrepreneurial spirit?

WANG: That's something of considerable debate. A lot of the regulatory crackdown has focused on 10 to 20 of China's best and brightest

entrepreneurs. So, these includes the founders of Meituan, Alibaba, Pinduoduo, but I think for the broader masses of entrepreneurs, this is not

so much bothering them.

JIN: Especially in the new generation. These eager young minds are very motivated by China's large markets, they see lots of opportunities.

STOUT (voice over): A sector under siege is also being remade to serve the people and their master planners.

Kristie Lu Stout, CNN, Hong Kong.


SOARES: Now, the Australian State of Victoria is extending its COVID lockdown after recording 120 new cases on Wednesday, another 1,100 cases

were recorded in neighboring New South Wales.

Fewer than 30 percent of Australians have been fully vaccinated. The Premier of Victoria says restrictions will only be lifted when 70 percent

of eligible residents get their first dose of a COVID vaccine. He expects that to happen in roughly three weeks.

Now, the Chief Executive of Qantas airways says Australians are getting frustrated with constant lockdowns. Alan Joyce told Richard last week that

he hopes international travel for Australians will start up again this year, and Richard asked him with so many restrictions in place, how much of

the pre-COVID schedule could they even fly right now?



ALAN JOYCE, CEO, QANTAS AIRWAYS: We're at round 30 -- in the 30 percent of the pre-COVID schedule domestically and we do have freight and we do have

on top of that this loyalty program, which generates a billion dollars in cash a year.

So, we're actually doing relatively well compared to a lot of airlines and the similar positions. The other thing, Richard, that really does help us

that when it did open up for those few months, we generated a massive amount of cash in the last quarter of the last financial year. We generate

$500 million in cash, which helped us pay down some of the debt we have incurred.

So, it gives us hope and it gives us optimism that when the borders do open up again, we're going to generate a lot of cash and be profitable coming

out of this.

RICHARD QUEST, CNN BUSINESS ANCHOR, QUEST MEANS BUSINESS: You're hoping to start flight, Qantas International, to those highly vaccinated low risk

countries, the U.K., the U.S., arguably, Singapore and places like that. How realistic is this plan?

JOYCE: Well, we've bounced off the government and they think it's a sensible plan. There is still a lot of things to be decided between now and

down while we have to get to the 80 percent vaccination rate, and the uptake here has just been amazing.

I think Sydney and New South Wales has seen the biggest uptake of vaccines of any country in the world per population in the last few weeks. So, we

think we'll get there. And we need to resolve this hotel quarantine issue.

The plan is that hopefully vaccinated people could isolate at home until they get a negative test, and it can only be to countries that the same

level of vaccination at least at the start. We think the West Coast of the United States is definitely there, London, Canada, and Singapore, and


It's a big operation that we could put on, and the government, the Prime Minister, and the rest of the government have said that that looks like a

viable plan. But still, we have to see how this develops over the next few months.

QUEST: Are you annoyed or frustrated at the Australian vaccination policy that has been so late and long that has put you in this position? Australia

is in the position that the rest of the world, the U.K. and the U.S. was in last year.

JOYCE: That's a great thing. I don't think anybody knew that the delta variant was going to be so transmissible. New South Wales here has been

managing the virus unbelievably well in the previous versions of it. But delta really took everybody by surprise, the track and trace didn't work

here, like it did for other variants. And as a consequence, we are in the situation where we are now.

But what's great about Australia is that there is a huge acceptance of vaccines. It's not like the United States. I think the hesitancy here is a

lot less. The uptake has been unbelievable.

You know, we've done a survey of our staff and 96 percent of the staff either have got the vaccine or thinking about getting the vaccine. Only

four percent that don't want to get the vaccine in our employees. I don't think you get stats like that anywhere around the globe.

So, we are confident we will get to those levels that will allow us to open up safely, and Australia has had less stats than all of these major

countries around the world. It's managed the health imperative of the bar, it is better than most countries, and you can't blame them.

But certainly, you know, we want to see light at the end of the tunnel. People want to get out of continuous lockdowns. People are frustrated with

continuous lockdowns. They want to see their families for Christmas. They want to go overseas.

Half of Australians were either born overseas or have a parent overseas. They want to get out of the country, and we have hoped that that will

happen this year, and I think that's going to be great for the country.

QUEST: What will you do with the four percent of staff that don't want to be vaccinated?

JOYCE: Well, we're working through medical exemptions, yes, we will have a small amount of -- probably less than one percent that will have valid

medical exemptions, and we'll find other ways of managing that or the work that people can do and alike and testing to help. For the rest, we have

said obviously then, aviation isn't the industry for you.

QUEST: You're fine.

JOYCE: We are saying, you've made the decision, but you need to consider that aviation isn't the industry for you because it's a requirement for the



SOARES: Richard Quest there speaking to the CEO of Qantas Airways.

Now a stunning admission from a senior U.S. State Department official. Most Afghans who helped Americans during the war have been left behind.

Coming up, a look at what's being done for refugees and those still seeking asylum from the Taliban. That is next.




SOARES: Now the E.U. Is considering some new options to get more people out of Afghanistan. One would be land corridors with neighboring countries.

A senior official says the E.U. must engage with the Taliban but also said the E.U. won't rush into recognizing a government led by the group. Here is

that official speaking a short time ago. Take a listen.


GUNNAR WIEGAND, MANAGING DIRECTOR, EUROPEAN COMMISSION: We have to find ways to mitigate and avoid a major humanitarian disaster or, as

Commissioner Johansson put it yesterday after the day trade council, we need to address the humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan to avoid a migration



SOARES: CNN's Melissa Bell is in Paris.

Melissa, we talked about the humanitarian crisis, the migration crisis but we also have heard, they don't want a repeat of Europe's 2015 immigration


How exactly will this resettlement, will this land corridor idea that is setting up, would actually work?

MELISSA BELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, as we just heard, the idea of the European Union at this stage is trying to help with the immediate

humanitarian crisis. And bear in mind, even before the tragedy and the chaos, the last couple weeks that we've seen, Afghanistan was already

according to the U.N. the third greatest humanitarian crisis in the world.

So there are already a lot of people in need. What Europe wants to focus on is how to help in Afghanistan but also how it can help them eventually to

relocate to neighboring countries.

This is what the European parliament listened to today, the idea that the land corridors might be created, also, that the European Union is working

with Qatar and Turkey, to get the civilian part of Kabul airport open.

The idea is that it should be able to reopen for humanitarian aid to get in and for those eligible to get out to get out. But the idea that across

land, Afghans might be able to go. One hiccup in the European plan is there are already some 5 million Afghans living displaced from the country; 90

percent are already in Iran or Pakistan.

It is difficult to see how much more room could be made to accommodate them. What we've seen from European leaders at the member state level, the

last couple weeks, has been a very clear and firm reaction to what has been unfolding in Afghanistan.


BELL: What they want to avoid above all else is a repeat of 2015. Six years on, the European Union has yet to fix its broken migration policy.

And already the camps on the external borders of the European Union, in places like Lesbos and the Greek islands, for instance, are already overrun

with Afghan refugees with often legitimate claims to asylum in Europe.

Simply the processes have been too slow to deal with what has been a steady trickle of Afghans for many years, heading toward the European Union. So

great fears expressed. What we saw in 2015 were the very quick political repercussions in so many member states of those images, of migrants,

refugees, trying get to Europe, desperately trying to get across the European continent and at all costs for many Europeans, very much focused

on any way of preventing that.

SOARES: And politically, Melissa, you touched on this.

And domestically, how would this play out?

Because we've got elections in Germany just around the corner.

BELL: Absolutely. Emmanuel Macron facing re-election next year. Angela Merkel, under the leadership, facing re-election in September. And just

take that example. Take the German example, for instance.

Angela Merkel's gesture in 2015, considered generous and the right thing to do, cost her party politically a great deal. It forced it further to the

Right. She didn't get her chosen candidate in charge of the party. Someone for the Right got that place.

In almost every European country you care to look at, 2015 had political repercussions. Then there are those countries -- and I'm thinking of

Hungary -- that have been even firmer on the question of migration and asylum seekers.

And so far, it has been impossible for Brussels to coordinate a system where asylum seekers would not be stuck at the borders of Europe but rather

able to claim the asylum to which they are entitled, under things like the Geneva Convention.

And clearly with so many Afghans we're talking about, not just those that had the good fortune to be on the planes out of Kabul but simply those that

are not able to get processed fast enough.

SOARES: It is just not happening fast enough. That's what we keep hearing time and again. Melissa Bell, thank you.

Meanwhile, thousands of Afghans who helped American forces during the 20- year conflict are eligible for asylum in the U.S. and may still need it. A senior State Department official said most Afghans entitled to a special

immigrant visa or SIV were likely left behind with their families.

The official party blame the Taliban for running checkpoints with inconsistent rules. The official also mentioned security operational

problems, pressure from advocacy groups and Afghans carrying inappropriate credentials.

Some of those who got out are now facing another challenge. Thousands of evacuees are waiting now at an American air base in Germany. The goal was

to get them out within 48 hours. But it is all taking a lot longer than actually planned.


ATIKA SHUBERT, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: The vast majority will be taken in by the U.S. but it's still a long process. What we've seen

at the Ramstein Air Base is that more than 20,000 have been evacuated to that air base.

Now the good news is that, in the last few days, we've seen almost 12,000 evacuees being transferred to the U.S. There have been more than 51 flights

that have taken off in total and that means the number of flights bringing to the U.S. has definitely picked up speed.

But the bad news is that there's still more than 10,000 evacuees living in very basic conditions in that sprawling tent city at Ramstein Air Base.

It was supposed to be a very quick, in-and-out transfer of less than 48 hours for evacuees. The reality is much longer. I've been in touch with one

evacuee, who has been there now for 10 days going through various screening processes, processing of visas, et cetera. He's still waiting for a flight

to the U.S.

And for many of these evacuees, even when they get on a flight to the U.S., once they land, it doesn't mean that they are just free to go, start their

new lives or rejoin their family members there.

They go through an extra screening and processing, not only at the airport but one evacuee I spoke to, he, his wife and two young children were then

taken to another tent camp for more screening.

So it is a very long, a very painstaking process. Even though many are relieved to be out and the last military evacuation flight is out, they

still have a ways to go before they are able to start their new lives in the U.S. -- Atika Shubert for CNN, near the Ramstein Air Base in Germany.


SOARES: And that is it for QUEST MEANS BUSINESS. We make a dash for the closing bell at the top of the hour. Up next, "MARKETPLACE ASIA."



SOARES: Hello. I'm Isa Soares. It is the dash to the closing bell. We're just two minutes away. And the story of the day, a new payroll report shows

weaker than expected U.S. job growth for a second straight month. The government's August jobs report comes out on Friday. That has helped keep

it quiet today.

The Dow is down slightly after hovering about zero for most of the session. The Nasdaq is on pace for its second record close in three days. The S&P is

fighting to close in the green short of Monday's record close.

Let's take a look at the Dow 30. You can see there, Salesforce and Disney in the lead. Salesforce is up more than 7 percent in the last few weeks

since it started integrating its new acquisition. And Caterpillar is at the bottom.

Now Afghanistan's former finance minister warns the country has as little as two weeks before it runs out of essential supplies. Anwar Ahady told me

the Afghan central bank's access to funds have been frozen by the United States. Take a listen.


ANWAR UL-HAQ AHADY, FORMER AFGHAN FINANCE MINISTER: I think probably, in terms of supplies, there should be enough for another two or three weeks.

Normally, traders have enough supplies for a month, 1.5 months.

But I think if additional supplies were not to come, then we will have a problem. And that really depends on payment. The system of payment has been

disrupted. The central bank is involved in payment of the international trade. Some of that payment is done directly through correspondent banking.

A lot of it is done through the central bank and the central bank assets have been frozen. So unless that problem is resolved, then I think we will

have a very serious problem very soon.


SOARES: And that is your dash to the bell. I'm Isa Soares in London. The closing bell is about to ring on Wall Street, as you can see. And "THE LEAD

WITH JAKE TAPPER" starts right now.