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The slow US retreat from Afghanistan

Following the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, US President George W. Bush demanded that Afghanistan's Taliban government surrender Osama bin Laden and end support for al-Qaeda. The Taliban refused.

On October 7, US bombs began falling on Taliban forces. NATO allies quickly pledged support for the US, and US boots hit the ground in Afghanistan two weeks later.

Thus began a war, now the longest in US history, that has killed more than 3,500 coalition soldiers and 110,000 Afghans. It has cost the American taxpayer nearly $3 trillion. US allies have also made human and material sacrifices.

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Armenia-Azerbaijan ceasefire may not hold but direct war is unlikely

Ian Bremmer shares his insights on this week's World In (More Than) 60 Seconds:

Let's go. Number one. What are the chances the Armenia-Azerbaijan ceasefire holds?

Well, I mean, in this environment, a hold is virtually zero. There's very little restraint on the ground. Local, military leaders, especially in the autonomous region of Karabakh, aren't necessarily listening to everything that the Armenian government has to say. One shot, one drone leads to more. And, there is no process by which the Armenians and the Azeri leadership can say that, "They're winning, yet." And so, that makes it hard. But the fact that the Russians are engaging, we had trilateral talks with the Armenians and the Azeris, the Russians matter the most here. They're the ones that have ensured, some level of frozen instability between the two. There's been significant behind the scene's engagement in Moscow with diplomats, from both sides. And, I think the Russians have made very clear to the Turks at this point, that the Turks are not going to get a leadership seat in the Minsk group, broader negotiations. And, that the Russians would not tolerate a broader expansion of the war that threatened Armenian territorial integrity itself, as opposed to Nagorno-Karabakh. If they were to do that, the Russians would come in and defend Armenia. So, a lot of people are dying, certainly in the high hundreds, at this point. We've got nearly a hundred thousand additional people displaced. This is a horrible thing to see happen, but it's not the tipping point of war between Armenia and Azerbaijan.

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Putin backs Lukashenko; Taliban peace talks; UNGA75 goes virtual

Ian Bremmer shares his perspective on global politics on this week's World In (More Than) 60 Seconds:

Number one, your questions. Can Putin rescue Belarus' President from his own people?

Well, not really. In the sense that Belarus has shown that their special services and their military are still very much loyal to Lukashenko. And while there have been significant and very courageous demonstrations of the Belarusian people across the country, and particularly in Minsk, among all of the major enterprises, state industry, the demonstrations happened briefly and then they stopped, because people didn't want to lose their jobs and their livelihood. And the fact that this is now gone on for well over a month. I mean, President Putin has basically said that he was going to act as the backstop for Lukashenko. He'd provide military support if needed. He's now provided some additional cash, a loan of over a billion dollars, they're saying, and it was a deeply embarrassing trip by the Belarusian President to Sochi, to bend on knee, and prostrate himself in front of his boss and ruler, the Russian President.

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A tenuous deal in Afghanistan

It's the decision that could kickstart intra-Afghan dialogue, and pave the way to ending the US occupation in Afghanistan after 20 bloody years.

On Sunday, after days of deliberations that involved thousands of Afghan delegates packing into one tent (what's COVID again), President Ashraf Ghani agreed to release hundreds of Taliban prisoners from government jails. The move opens the way to intra-Afghan dialogue under a deal that the US brokered directly with the Taliban earlier this year.

The Trump administration has touted this development as a major step towards peace, but after nearly two decades of war, the relevant players are still miles apart when it comes to laying out a common vision for the conflict-ridden country. What do they all want?

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What We're Watching: Lebanon without a government, Belarus after the "election," Taliban prisoner release

Lebanon's government resigns: Lebanon's government resigned on Monday over last week's twin explosions at Beirut's port, which killed at least 160 people and shattered much of the city's downtown areas. After promising a thorough investigation into why dangerous explosives were stored at the port so close to civilian areas, Prime Minister Hassan Diab said he would step down in solidarity with the people." The people in question are furious. Thousands of Lebanese have taken to the streets in recent days demanding "revolution" and the resignation of a political class whose corruption and mismanagement had plunged the country into economic ruin even before last week's blasts. The international community, meanwhile, held a conference on Sunday and pledged $300 million in humanitarian aid to rebuild battered Beirut, with aid distribution to be coordinated by the UN. But the attendees, which included US President Donald Trump, the European Union, and the Gulf Arab states, said that the funds would not be released until the Lebanese government reforms its bloated, inefficient, and corrupt public sector. So far, Beirut's power brokers have resisted change. As rage on the streets intensifies — with angry protesters swarming the city center and setting public property and government buildings ablaze even after cabinet members resigned — it remains unclear who will run Lebanon going forward and guide the country's rebuilding process.

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