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Afghan security personnel gather next to the vehicle that was used in a suicide bombing in Kabul on November 16, 2017, killing at least nine people. Photo: Shah Marai / AFP / Getty Images

Since recent attacks in Kabul have come amid a low point in U.S.–Pakistan relations, they have been viewed as a possible signal of displeasure from Pakistan’s military establishment—known for close links with militant groups—over the Trump administration’s cuts in security assistance.

Yet what they most reveal is the resilience of the Taliban, which still has the power to inflict mass civilian casualties, and the inability of the U.S and allied forces, despite greater conventional military strength, to do anything to prevent these attacks. Meanwhile, Pakistan maintains it has lost leverage after launching its own domestic counterinsurgency campaigns geared toward eliminating Taliban safe havens.

Why it matters: The only way to bring peace and stability to Afghanistan is to prioritize a political solution that includes the Taliban. While the United States has been open to holding talks with the Taliban in the past, President Trump declared after the latest attacks that the U.S. will not talk to the Taliban. Such a stance will not only prolong U.S. engagement in Afghanistan but jeopardize any chances for achieving a stable peace.

Sahar Khan is a visiting research fellow in the Cato Institute's Defense and Foreign Policy Department. 

Go deeper

21 mins ago - World

U.S. strikes Iran-backed militia structures in Syria

President Biden at the Pentagon on Feb. 10. Photo: Alex Brandon - Pool/Getty Images

The United States on Thursday carried out an airstrike against facilities in Syria linked to an Iran-backed militia group, the Pentagon announced.

The state of play: The strike, approved by President Biden, comes "in response to recent attacks against American and Coalition personnel in Iraq, and to ongoing threats to those personnel," Pentagon press secretary John Kirby said in a statement.

Senate parliamentarian rules $15 minimum wage cannot be included in relief package

Photo: Al Drago/Getty Images

The Senate parliamentarian ruled Thursday that the provision to increase the minimum wage to $15/hour cannot be included in the broader $1.9 trillion COVID relief package.

Why it matters: It's now very likely that any increase in the minimum wage will need bipartisan support, as the provision cannot be passed with the simple Senate majority that Democrats are aiming to use for President Biden's rescue bill.

Dave Lawler, author of World
41 mins ago - World

Biden's big Saudi reset

Mohammed bin Salman. Photo: Ryad Kramdi/AFP via Getty

President Biden spoke with Saudi Arabia's King Salman this evening ahead of the release of a CIA report expected to implicate the king's son, and the kingdom's de facto ruler, in the murder of a U.S.-based journalist, Jamal Khashoggi.

Why it matters: In one month, Biden has ended support for the Saudi war effort in Yemen, frozen a large arms deal and snubbed Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MBS) by declining to speak with him directly.

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