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Top US officials visit Arab Gulf states

Top US officials visit Arab Gulf states

US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin and Secretary of State Antony Blinken are visiting Arab Gulf states where they will meet several leaders. The two US officials are travelling on a separate itinerary which also includes Europe, hoping to build some support after the aftermath of the US withdrawal from Afghanistan. The trip will also serve to reassure allies of US support and the rejection of extremism. 
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Biden: The time of nation-building is over, we must focus on Russia and China

Biden: The time of nation-building is over, we must focus on Russia and China

"We’re engaged in a serious competition with China. We’re dealing with the challenges on multiple fronts with Russia. We’re confronted with cyberattacks, and nuclear proliferation. We have to shore up America’s competitiveness to meet these new challenges in the competition for the 21st century."
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International community divided on Afghanistan after last US soldier leaves

International community divided on Afghanistan after last US soldier leaves

The last US soldier has now left Afghanistan ending a costly and controversial two-decade presence in the country. But for the people of Afghanistan the future is very uncertain. It is also now clear that there are deep divisions in the international community with regard to how to engage further with the situation that has resulted from the swift Taliban take-over of the country.
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Friends and rivals meet in Baghdad amidst a changing regional dynamic

Friends and rivals meet in Baghdad amidst a changing regional dynamic

The Baghdad Conference for Cooperation and Partnership, held in the Iraqi capital on Saturday (28 August) brought many regional countries together including those who are usually at odds with each other. The conference was co-hosted by Iraq and France and was the first large gathering of Arab leaders in Baghdad since 2012. 
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Friends in need: praise for Georgia and Azerbaijan for their role in the evacuation of Kabul

Friends in need: praise for Georgia and Azerbaijan for their role in the evacuation of Kabul

Both Georgia and Azerbaijan have been providing essential transit support for the evacuation from Kabul airport. 120 Azerbaijani soldiers returned back from Afghanistan on Friday (27 August) having been part of the defence of Kabul airport until the end. A larger Georgian contingent returned from the north of the country recently.
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Opinion
Opinion: China may end up being the biggest beneficiary of the Taliban power-grab in Afghanistan

Opinion: China may end up being the biggest beneficiary of the Taliban power-grab in Afghanistan

Beijing can turn the situation in Afghanistan to its own advantage, argues Benyamin Poghosyan in this op-ed. Afghanistan has significant minerals, including rare earth metals, which China will be glad to import. Beijing  could also include Afghanistan in the “Belt and Road initiative” and use it as another land route towards Iran and the Central Asian republics via Pakistan, and through Iran via Turkey or via Armenia-Georgia-Black Sea route to Europe.
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Commentary
Commentary:  State-building cannot be imposed from outside; the EU and others must learn lessons from Afghanistan

Commentary: State-building cannot be imposed from outside; the EU and others must learn lessons from Afghanistan

A state cannot be built from outside, with a foreign army standing on top of it to supervise the process, argues Dennis Sammut in this commentary. As the EU expands its global ambitions, it must be aware of the risks of "mission creep" and make sure the mistakes in Afghanistan are not repeated.
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Uncertainty around the negotiations with Iran on nuclear deal as new president prepares to take over in Tehran

Uncertainty around the negotiations with Iran on nuclear deal as new president prepares to take over in Tehran

Several challenges sour the path of nuclear negotiations between Iran and the JCPOA countries. The last round of talks in Vienna concluded on 20 June with all draft deals rejected. Chief US negotiator Robert Maley said that "there is a real risk that they [Iran] are making unrealistic demands about what they can achieve in these talks."