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

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Update for Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Political turmoil continues as parliament rejects 7 cabinet nominees over dual citizenship. These include the nominees for Interior and Foreign Minister. Of course, given the decades of war and the period of Taliban rule, many educated Afghans have been expatriates. The nominees can be considered if they drop their second citizenship.

Human Rights Watch reports attacks and threats against journalists in Afghanistan are on the rise, with 2014 being the most violent year on record. "An already fragile media freedom has been jeopardised still further by intimidation and violence from both state and non-state figures, combined with a lack of government protection and waning international support."

NYT reports that internal divisions in the Taliban have created an opening for IS. This has been noted before, but the NYT goes into more depth. It is not entirely clear whether IS just provides a new brand for some Taliban factions in Helmand, or if there really are strong ties with the organization in Syria and Iraq and an influx of foreigners.

India offers a workaround to the Pakistani blockade of Afghan exports.

And of course, the low-level war continues with 8 civilians dead in Ghazni, and 4 ANA soldiers killed in Kunduz along with a claimed 23 militants. (As always, no way to confirm these typically lopsided casualty reports.)