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, July 19, 2015

Update for Sunday, July 19, 2015

It's early, but the offensive to retake Ramadi is off to a slow start as an estimated fewer than 350 IS defenders hold out against 10,000 government and allied militia forces. The U.S.-led coalition has slowed the pace of air strikes due to a lack of targets. U.S. Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, who made an unusual unannounced visit to Baghdad on Saturday, said that he asked commanders if it was time for U.S. troops to become involved in ground combat and they said "No, not at this point." [This is obviously political theater aimed at John McCain and other Republicans who are calling for an increased U.S. combat role. -- C]

Reported death toll from the Friday truck bomb attack at a market in the Shiite town Khan Bani Saad varies somewhat -- later stories tend to have it at 90 vs the 115 reported here by AP. In any event, the attack was explicitly aimed at civilians and intended to kill and injure as many as possible. This is a reminder that Sunni extremists' view of Shiite Muslims as heretics really is a primal motive for violence.

British PM David Cameron says he wants Britain to take an expanded role in the war with IS. It was recently revealed that although Parliament has authorized British action only in Iraq, Cameron has gotten around this restriction by allowing British pilots to attack targets in Syria under U.S. command. And, ex-U.K. army chief Lord Richards says the UK will have to send armored forces into combat to defeat IS.

It has gone virtually unreported in the U.S., but the Iraqi government continues to imprison members of an Iranian opposition force in a location called "Camp Liberty" where they are deprived of food and fuel and many have apparently died. According to an agreement, the 2,500 or so members of the Mujahedin-el-Kalqh were to have been processed and sent abroad as refugees, but four years later, this has not occurred.






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