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Does the Taliban even need US recognition?

Back in August, when the Taliban took over, we asked whether anyone in the international community would recognize them. Now it looks like things are heading that way.

This week, the Kremlin hosted a summit with the Taliban that was attended by China, India and Pakistan, as well as all five Central Asian Republics.

The domestically-focused US, however, wasn't there. The US continues to maintain that the Taliban can't be trusted. But does it matter? In 2021 does a Taliban-led government even need American recognition to function and thrive?

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What We’re Watching: African vaccine hub, Russia woos Taliban

Moderna plans African vaccine hub: Vaccine maker Moderna will spend $500 million to build a new facility in Africa that can produce 500 million annual doses of the company's COVID jab, which along with Pfizer, uses complex mRNA technology that can't be easily transferred. (Pfizer is already constructing a similar vaccine hub for local production in South Africa). Indeed, this is great news for the continent, where barely 4 percent of the population has been fully vaccinated, due to lack of supplies coming in from wealthy donor countries and the COVAX facility. What's more, Moderna plans to use its hub to develop other vaccines against other infectious diseases rife across Africa like Zika or regular influenza. Still, the facility won't be ready for at least two more years, so in the near term African countries will continue relying on foreign suppliers to inoculate their populations against COVID, prolonging the pandemic.

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How the lessons of Vietnam and Afghanistan can help the US face China

When Kabul fell in August — as Taliban fighters swarmed Kabul and Afghan civilians tried to escape by clinging to the last departing planes — many Americans recalled a similar scene from half a century earlier: the 1975 Fall of Saigon, which marked the Vietnam War's end.

The coincidence is more than just a matter of spectacle. In clear, disturbing ways, the United States's failed campaign in Afghanistan mirrors the Vietnam effort some 50 years ago.

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Qatar learns international spotlight can be uncomfortable

These are exciting times for Qatar. The tiny but fabulously wealthy Gulf state has been providing the US and other Western powers with invaluable assistance in dealing with a newly ascendant Taliban in Afghanistan. It is preparing to hold its first elections next month, and next year it will host the FIFA World Cup, international soccer's biggest stage and the second most-watched global sporting event after the Olympics.

Qatar has been very successful in raising its international profile in recent years, but it is now finding that this success brings challenges of its own. We talked with Eurasia Group Middle East analyst Sofia Meranto to find more about what's happening in the country.

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Rory Stewart explains why Afghanistan could become a new hotbed for global terrorism

Former UK diplomat Rory Stewart says the world is safer today than it was 20 years ago, but that terrorists still pose a threat to international security. Victories for jihadists in Iraq, Syria and now Afghanistan could ultimately lead the world towards more global terrorism. As if the Taliban retaking Afghanistan wasn't enough of a blow, the ISIS-K attack on the Kabul airport may be a sign that the country is on its way to become a safe haven for terrorist groups yet again.

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What We’re Watching: Korea vs Korea, Taliban vs Taliban, Haitian PM vs top prosecutor

North and South Korea trade barbs and missile tests: Just hours after North Korea fired two ballistic missiles into the sea on Wednesday, the South responded by conducting its own first successful test of a submarine-launched ballistic projectile, with South Korea's President Moon Jae-in boasting that it would deter the North's "provocations." Then Kim Yo Jong, the fiery sister of North Korea's Supreme Leader Kim Jong Un, responded to the South's response by threatening to cut all bilateral ties. Although bombastic statements by the Kims are nothing new, things are heating up. With US-led denuclearization talks stalled, Pyongyang carried out its first weapons test in six months a few days ago. Kim may be upping the ante deliberately right now, betting that after the chaotic US withdrawal from Afghanistan, Joe Biden is keen to avoid another foreign policy embarrassment on his watch. Maybe this time Joe will pick up the phone?

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US now at most isolationist stage since WW2, says former UK diplomat

How has America's withdrawal from Afghanistan affected the US-UK "special relationship"? For former UK diplomat Rory Stewart, the hasty pullout without consulting close allies is only the latest example of the US — under first Trump and now Biden — being at the most isolationist stage on foreign military interventions since World War II. "It's a very, very awkward, odd moment. I mean, we, can we rebuild from it, but it's been a very shattering, disappointing moment." Watch his interview with Ian Bremmer on the latest episode of GZERO World.

Watch the episode: Is America Safer Since 9/11?

China and US economic interdependence hasn't lessened

Ian Bremmer shares his insights on global politics this week with a look at the China-US economic relationship, North Korea's missiles tests, and the New York Times' investigation of the US drone strike in Afghanistan.

China owns more than $1 trillion US debt, but how much leverage do they actually have?

I mean, the leverage is mutual and it comes from the enormous interdependence in the economic relationship of the United States and China. And it's about debt. And it's about trade. It's about tourism. It's about sort of mutual investment. Now. There is some decoupling happening in terms of labor, increasingly moving domestic in terms of the China five-year plan, dual circulation focusing more on domestic economy, and in terms of data systems breaking up, the internet of things, being Chinese or American, but not both. And indebtedness is part of that. But I don't see that unwinding anytime soon. And certainly, the Chinese knows if they're going to get rid of a whole bunch of American debt, they wouldn't be as diversified in global portfolio. Not as great, it's much riskier. And also, the price of those holdings, as they start selling them down would go down. So, I don't think there's a lot of leverage there, frankly. I think the leverage is interdependent.

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