Saudi Arabia is critical because of its unique position in the Afghan conflict: It is on both sides. A longtime ally of Pakistan, Saudi Arabia has backed Islamabad’s promotion of the Taliban. Over the years, wealthy Saudi sheikhs and rich philanthropists have also stoked the war by privately financing the insurgents ... the Saudis — through private or covert channels — have tacitly supported the Taliban in ways that make the kingdom an indispensable power broker.

The end of NATO’s combat mission in Afghanistan and the departure of most foreign troops at the end of 2014 saw the passing of most security responsibilities to local forces. But they have struggled to contain a resurgent Taliban, which has continued to regain Afghan territory even as it has faced internal upheavals... territorial expansion has been accompanied by a deteriorating security situation... more than 5,100 civilians had been either killed or maimed in the first six months of this year

Congress has appropriated almost eight hundred billion dollars for military operations in Afghanistan; a hundred and thirteen billion has gone to reconstruction, more than was spent on the Marshall Plan, in postwar Europe ... Unlike the Iraq war, in which international companies brought in supplies, in Afghanistan the military outsourced its overland-logistics chain to local contractors ... an ad-hoc system grew into a countrywide network that handled billions of dollars in freight.

Ten prisoners from Yemen who were held at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, have been released and sent to ... Oman for resettlement ... There are now 93 still held ... the U.S. expects to transfer the remaining prisoners who are cleared to leave, about a third of the total, by summer ... Defense Secretary Ash Carter ... said the administration would submit a plan to Congress, where many want to keep the prison open, to move those who can't be freed to a facility within the United States

over the past year, Pakistan has quietly made some important, costly, and under-appreciated strides in its counter-militancy efforts. Individually, none are groundbreaking, but together they point in a more promising direction for Pakistani society, regional stability, and the U.S.-Pakistan relationship ... Pakistan’s decision to tackle militant and extremist organizations once considered too valuable or too dangerous is encouraging, but ... it has a long way to go.

nearly 70,000 clerics came together and passed a fatwa against terrorist organizations, including IS, Taliban and al-Qaida ... On Eid this year, clerics here announced that if a man involved in terrorism is killed, "namaz-e-janaza" would not be read during his funeral services. This prayer is an important part of the last rites in Islam.

Afghan counterterrorism forces ... resulted in the deaths of at least six innocent civilians ... over the course of three raids ... reviving an issue that has been a chronic source of tension between Afghanistan and the United States ... The C.I.A. has trained thousands of Afghan forces ... to fight the Taliban, the Haqqani network and Al Qaeda ... But from the start, some senior Afghan officials have considered them a problem, accused of human rights abuses and seen as largely unaccountable

Frustrated by Pakistan’s efforts to bring the Taliban to the negotiating table, Afghan President Ashraf Ghani has decided to ... cozy up to India. One potential consequence? Weakening ties with Pakistan, ties that are likely necessary for peace in the region ... Ghani’s National Security Adviser ... provided his Indian counterpart with a military equipment “wish list” ... In addition ... Afghanistan submitted a proposal for Afghan Special Forces to receive training in India

President Ashraf Ghani ... urged ... young people ... not to join a huge exodus from Afghanistan, despite rising insecurity and economic hardship ... To many Afghans, though, that rang hollow ... It has ... created a dilemma for international donors, particularly the European countries where a majority of Afghan migrants are headed, despite those nations’ pouring of billions of dollars in aid over the past decade to stabilize Afghanistan. About 146,000 Afghans have arrived in Europe this year

analysis of the data available to the public ... indicates that even when operators target specific individuals – the most focused effort of what Barack Obama calls “targeted killing” – they kill vastly more people than their targets, often needing to strike multiple times. Attempts to kill 41 men resulted in the deaths of ... 1,147 people ... drones will inevitably miss their targets given enough chances. But the secrecy surrounding them obscures how often misses occur and the reasons for them