The bottom line is clear: Our vital interests in Afghanistan are limited and military victory is not the key to achieving them. On the contrary, waging a lengthy counterinsurgency war in Afghanistan may well do more to aid Taliban recruiting than to dismantle the group, help spread conflict further into Pakistan, unify radical groups that might otherwise be quarreling amongst themselves, threaten the long-term health of the U.S. economy, and prevent the U.S. government from turning its full attention to other pressing problems. -- Afghanistan Study Group

Sunday, December 14, 2014

News of the Day for Sunday, December 14, 2014

Note: Whisker has announced that he will cease posting here at the end of this month. I hope he will continue to post from time to time. I will keep the blog going. U.S. troops will remain in Afghanistan; there are at least 3,000 U.S. troops (that we know of) in Iraq, as well as agents of our militarized CIA. U.S. aircraft, with both live and remote pilots, continue to blow people up in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq, Syria, and Yemen. As long as the U.S. is lethally active in those places, we bear responsibility for the fate of people there, and it is a duty of citizenship to know what is going on. I won't be able to post here every day, but I'll do my best to stay on top of major events, and give thorough weekend updates. -- C

Local security forces say Pakistani Taliban have launched an offensive in Afghanistan's Kunar province. Not a lot of details so far. As is often the case, there are claims of Taliban casualties but no word on Afghan casualties.

Fighting between two armed groups in Kunduz leads to 1 civilian death and 1 injury when a mortar lands on a house. TOLO gives no explanation of the nature of the groups or their dispute.

Six students are injured by a bomb placed near a school in eastern Nangarhar province.

A local official says Taliban commander Mullah Momen is killed in Helmand province, along with 8 of his men and two Afghan police.

President Ghani makes a defiant speech amid a wave of insurgent violence.

In IraqIslamic State fighters capture the town of Wafa in Anbar, killing 19 police and trapping others in their headquarters. IS now controls three towns west of Ramadi. The mayor says the police ran out of ammunition. "We are trapped inside the police 18th brigade. Islamic State managed to surround us today. If no government forces were sent to help us then we will be exterminated," the mayor, who was with the police forces that withdrew from al-Wafa, said by telephone.

Britain will send hundreds more troops to Iraq.

Human Rights Watch says Iraq's courts are handing down politicized sentences, calls for two political opponents of former PM Nuri al-Maliki, whose confessions HRW says were obtained under torture.

Scott Peterson of CSM says Sunni tribes pay a heavy price for opposing IS:

As Sunni tribes have been forced to choose sides – pro-IS or anti-IS, with many shades of gray in between – new divisions have brought accumulating blood feuds and a scale of slaughter in Anbar Province that is tearing at Iraq’s Sunni social fabric like never before.
Local leaders say IS intimidation is undermining the ability of any tribe to fight back, by using sleeper cells and systematic cleansing of anti-IS figures within the tribe.

Iraq asks for delay in final reparations payment to Kuwait  as falling oil prices and conflict have drained its treasury.

IS shoots down an Iraqi helicopter in Samarra, killing two pilots. (IS has MANPADs, (shoulder-fired anti-aircraft missiles) probably looted from Libyan stockpiles, making operating helicopters near their forces very hazardous.)

The International Criminal Court will consider hundreds of cases of torture by British troops in Iraq.