By CARLOTTA GALL
A hilltop overlooking Kabul, where a $100 million Saudi-funded mosque and education complex was to be built. Construction was scheduled for completion this year, but the hilltop site remains a dusty lot where boys fly kites and drug addicts crouch beside a cemetery wall.CreditSergey Ponomarev for The New York Times
KABUL, Afghanistan — Fifteen years, half a trillion dollars and 150,000 lives since going to war, the United States is trying to extricate itself from Afghanistan. Afghans are being left to fight their own fight. A surging Taliban insurgency, meanwhile, is flush with a new inflow of money.
With their nation’s future at stake, Afghan leaders have renewed a plea to one power that may hold the key to whether their country can cling to democracy or succumbs to the Taliban. But that power is not the United States.
It is Saudi Arabia.
Saudi Arabia is critical because of its unique position in the Afghan conflict: It is on both sides.