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What is Putin so worried about?

There is little intrigue about the outcome of Russia's elections to the Duma (the lower house of parliament) on 17-19 September. The pro-Kremlin United Russia party has won every national election in Russia under President Vladimir Putin, dating back to 2003, and this time will be no exception.

Still, in recent months, the Kremlin has dialled up various forms of political repression against opposition figures, those connected to them and independent media.

We asked Eurasia Group Russia analyst Jason Bush what this escalating repression tells us about Putin's hold over public opinion, and what questions it raises about Russia's long-term future.

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When a giant sneezes: How the US response to 9/11 reshaped the world

In the narrowest sense, the 9/11 attacks were something that happened only in New York, Washington, and a field in Pennsylvania. But how the US responded — unleashing an open-ended Global War on Terror, launching wars and nation-building occupations in Afghanistan and Iraq, and dramatically reshaping the government's powers of surveillance at home — sent shockwaves around the world.

In many places, the effects are still felt: in the shattering of the MIddle East, in the rise of China, in the upheavals of South Asia, or in the newly complicated relationships between Washington and old allies in Europe and Turkey. And remember when the US and Russia were — for a few weeks there — seemingly the closest of friends?

We asked analysts at Eurasia Group, our parent company, to give us a quick recap of how 9/11 and its aftermath have affected the regions they cover. Enjoy.

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Who'll keep the peace in Afghanistan?

Just hours before the August 31 deadline, US forces have fully withdrawn from Afghanistan after almost 20 years. But the country, now controlled by the same militant group that the American military ousted two decades ago, is nowhere near stable.

Last week's deadly suicide bombings outside Kabul's airport by ISIS-K — the local affiliate of the Islamic State and ideological enemy of the Taliban — have sown fresh doubts about the Taliban's capacity to maintain even basic security once the US is gone.

Major outside players are at odds about how to deal with the Taliban. But they all share a common interest: doing whatever's necessary to prevent further terrorist attacks and a refugee crisis. Let's take a look at a few of them.

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“Crimea river”: Russia & Ukraine’s water conflict

Russia and Ukraine have been at odds over lots of things in recent years, but the latest spat is over something particularly fluid and intractable: water.

While much of the attention on Ukraine's conflict with Russia tends to focus on eastern Ukraine, where Russian-backed separatists control two Ukrainian provinces amid an ongoing civil war that's already killed 14,000 people, there's also Crimea, which Russia annexed in 2014 and continues to govern directly.

Since that time, Crimea has been running out of drinking water, and Moscow isn't happy about it.

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The US couldn’t have won in Afghanistan - but Biden’s mistakes lost US credibility

In a Wall Street Journal op-ed, former National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster and Bradley Bowman of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies argue that maintaining US military, financial, and political support in Afghanistan could have staved off a Taliban takeover. Ian Bremmer and Eurasia Group analyst Charles Dunst take out the Red Pen to break down why staying in Afghanistan is not a reasonable option.

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Would you recognize the Taliban?

The Taliban have returned to power in Afghanistan after two decades. Over the next few weeks and months, a host of foreign nations with a stake in the country's future will have to make a very tough choice: grant legitimacy to a regime that has committed atrocities against its own people, or risk the potential fallout of turning Afghanistan into the isolated, drug-running state sponsor of terror it was prior to US occupation. For some, the decision will depend on how the Taliban behave, while others seem to have already made up their mind.

Here are a few arguments on both sides of the international recognition debate.

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What We’re Watching: Draghi’s gamble, new hotspot for US-bound migrants, Russia-Ukraine water wars

"Super Mario" takes his chances: Less than five months after becoming Italy's consensus prime minister, Mario Draghi's coalition government is on shaky ground over Draghi's proposed judicial reforms. "Super Mario" — as he's known for saving the Eurozone as European Central Bank chief during the financial crisis — wants to dramatically speed up Italy's famously slow courts. But his push to reduce judicial backlogs is opposed both by the populist 5-Star Movement, the coalition government's biggest party, and by prosecutors because many cases could be scrapped before reaching a verdict. Draghi, upset that this resistance is stalling his other initiatives to cut Italian red tape, has decided to roll the dice anyway: he'll put his plan to overhaul the courts to a no-confidence vote in parliament. If Draghi wins, he gets the reforms passed without debate; if he loses, the PM technically has to resign, but he'll keep his job because he has enough votes even if the 5-Star Movement bows out of the coalition.

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Putin has a solution for US democracy

Are you tired of elections that are confusing, meddled with, or disputed? Renowned US democracy expert Vladimir Putin knows there is a better way!

Watch more PUPPET REGIME!

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