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 21, 2014

News of the Day for Sunday, December 21, 2014

Roadside bomb kills 7 civilians in Kunar, including 2 little girls. The UN reported Friday that 3,188 civilians have been killed and 6,429 injured by the end of November, a record high since they started keeping a tally in 2009. [Why nobody was counting before that I can't say -- C]

Seven police officers are killed and 5 injured in an attack on a checkpoint in Jawzjan province. [This is in northern Afghanistan; there has been little reported violence from the area previously. -- C]

An Afghan soldier is killed by a sticky bomb in Jalalabad. A separate incident in the same city injures a civilian.

Afghan journalist Zubair Hatami, who was injured in the Dec. 11 attack on the French Institute in Kabul, dies of his injuries.

Taliban dispute UN's assertion that they are responsible for 75% of civilian casualties.

Four prisoners released from Guantanamo and sent to Afghanistan include Taliban leader Mohammad Zahir, who was a top intelligence official with the organization. More detail here. It is not stated what their status will be in Afghanistan; presumably they will be under some form of observation or restriction. The Afghan government has agreed to their repatriation. More on this from the Afghan perspective here. There is hope this will contribute to peace negotiations.

A group of 20 insurgents in Badkhshan province surrender their weapons and pledge to live peacefully.

Police in Sar-e-Pul say they are looking for a group of 10 women  who are engaged in bomb making and trying to recruit other women to insurgency. Purportedly they were trained in Pakistan. [No teling how credible this is -- C]

In Iraq,  Kurdish forces have entered the town of Sinjar after opening an evacuation corridor for Yazidi refugees trapped on the nearby mountain. Kurdish president Masoud Bazani has toured positions on Mt. Sinjar, indicating that the area is secure. However, fighting continues in the town.

Shafaq News is a Kurdish media operation which has recently gone on-line in English. I can't yet assess their credibility, but they are claiming additional successes in Tel Afar, including the capture of 20 villages in collaboration with Iraqi national government forces. However, a separate somewhat confusing report from Shafaq says that many of the Turkmen inhabitants of the area are fleeing the fighting to the IS stronghold of Mosul.

The U.S. will sell $3 billion worth of tanks and armored vehicles to Iraq. War is still good business.