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American troops at risk across Middle East, US warns

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The US has warned that American troops and other personnel in the Middle East face the risk of a “significant escalation” of attacks against them as the Israel-Hamas war threatens to broaden into a regional conflict.

Lloyd Austin, the US secretary of defence, said on Sunday he was “concerned about potential escalation” of fighting in the region. The US is worried the war between Israel and Hamas, which began on October 7 when the Palestinian militant group launched attacks that killed more than 1,400 people in southern Israel, will draw in Iran-backed militants across the Middle East.

Militants attacked two military bases housing American troops in Iraq last week. The US has about 2,500 troops in Iraq, where Iranian-backed militants have evolved into the dominant military and political force, and about 900 in Syria, which is also home to Shia militias supported by Iran.

Washington has ordered all non-emergency US government personnel and family members to leave Iraq. The state department cited “increased security threats against US government personnel and interests” for the order.

Austin said the US had a “right to defend ourselves” and was sending more air defences to the Middle East, including a Terminal High Altitude Area Defence system, which can shoot down ballistic missiles.

The US has also redirected one of two carrier strike groups which had been ordered to head to the eastern Mediterranean. It will instead move to the Gulf. Here’s the latest updates on the Israel-Hamas war.

Here’s what else I’m keeping tabs on today:

  • Economic data: Germany’s Bundesbank publishes its monthly report, the EU has its flash consumer confidence report for October and Israel announces interest rate data.

  • Global security: EU foreign ministers will discuss the Israel-Hamas war, Russian aggression against Ukraine and the Armenia-Azerbaijan conflict.

  • Executive appointment: Tim Wentworth becomes chief executive of Walgreens Boots Alliance.

  • Results: Philips and Logitech report.

Five more top stories

1. Exclusive: Brussels is stepping up efforts to conclude a broad economic support agreement with Egypt, as the EU is growing increasingly nervous about the Israel-Hamas war potentially escalating into a regional conflict and a new refugee crisis erupting. Here’s more on the proposed aid package for Cairo.

2. European banks will reveal a boost to profits from higher interest rates when they report third-quarter results this week, but the tailwind will not last. With central banks’ efforts to tighten monetary policy near an end, the region’s biggest lenders must find new engines of growth.

3. The UK’s increasingly tough regulatory regime for cryptocurrencies has sparked a nascent market in advice and compliance for the handful of companies that have successfully navigated the system. In the first week of the new regime, the Financial Conduct Authority issued more than 150 alerts on unauthorised crypto groups’ promotions. Here’s how the agency’s approach could shape London’s image as a global crypto hub.

4. Interview: Chevron chief executive Mike Wirth says his company is “not selling a product that is evil”. Wirth, whose tenure comes at a time when scientific consensus is pointing to the role fossil fuels play in global warming, admits that energy security, energy affordability and lower emissions “are in tension with one another”. Read more on his interview.

5. The cost of renting the newest aircraft has surpassed pre-pandemic levels as airlines struggle to balance demand for travel with persistent shortages and manufacturing delays. Monthly lease rates for the Airbus A321neo have risen from lows of around $340,000 in 2020 to as much as $420,000, while rates for Boeing’s 737 Max 8 have also risen above pre-pandemic levels up to $370,000 a month. Here’s how leasing companies were able to increase their rates.

The Big Read

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© FT montage/Getty Images

Fried rice is normally a popular choice among diners in Lagos. Yet lately many people have stopped ordering it. The price of the imported grain in Nigeria rose 46.34 per cent in August compared with the same period last year. Here’s how export restrictions and extreme weather are threatening the global supply of a staple commodity relied on by millions.

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Graphic of the day

A map of Armenia and Azerbaijani that highlights Nagorno-Karabakh region

Azerbaijan is emboldened by its crushing takeover of a breakaway ethnic Armenian statelet in the region of Nagorno-Karabakh, seizing the enclave’s weapons and leading to an exodus of almost its entire population. Now residents of southern Armenia fear their homelands could be next.

Take a break from the news

JJ Martin with her dog, Pepper
JJ Martin with her dog, Pepper © Martina Giammaria

From deep morning meditation practice to catching an evening train to Lake Como, spend a perfect Saturday in Milan with La DoubleJ founder JJ Martin.

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Additional contributions from Benjamin Wilhelm

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