Just a few items worth passing on today. First, do you see any irony here?
ISLAMABAD, Jan 3 (KUNA) -- At least eighteen rebels were killed in air strikes by foreign forces in southeastern Paktika province of Afghanistan on Saturday, said police. . . .
The air strikes came at a time when Taliban rebels have paced up their attacks on security forces following drew back of NATO/ISAF forces from Afghanistan handing over the security control to Afghan forces.
So, no U.S. combat role except for . . . oh, bombing.
Although local warlord Abdul Rashid Dostum recently announced that thousands of militants would soon be surrendering in his fiefdom of Jowzjan, the reality appears to be otherwise. "But now according to the local officials, the insurgents have rather boosted their activities and that in the Turkmenistan border, raising deep concerns for both the countries." A large-scale military operation is planned in the area.
Delays in filling cabinet posts and other government vacancies have left public agencies in disarray.
In one province, police officials have been fired and not replaced despite a rash of violent crime. In another, frustrated parents are calling their legislators to get copies of school records. In the capital, no phones were answered at one federal ministry last week — an unusual occurrence even by lax Afghan standards. In another ministry, idle office workers made a video of one another dancing in the halls, which was later shown to a reporter.Azam Ahmed in the NYT discusses the state of the Afghan Taliban. In a pistachio shell, the movement has become fragmented. The first generation of military leadership has largely been replaced, and factions differ in their ideology. In some areas, they are less severe in their rule; not so in others.
In Iraq, the turmoil continues. Islamic state abducts 170 civilians from two northern villages where people burned the IS flag. (This will not turn out well for them.) U.S. led coalition continues air strikes, but this report reminds us of the rather odd political context. The pentagon reports 12 strikes in Syria, while Combined Joint Task Force Operation Inherent Resolve reports separately on 11 stries in Iraq. In other words these are not technically the same operation. In an apparent sectarian attack, three Sunni clerics were murdered in Basra on Thursday.