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

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Update for Thursday, July 16, 2015


Iraq

As the Iraqi army and allied Shiite militias prepare the assault on Anbar province, tens of thousands of civilians are trapped in Fallujah and Ramadi. When those forces entered Tikrit in April, the city was largely deserted, but this time, IS is making sure the population cannot leave. As the cities are now besieged, food is in short supply. The U.S.-led coalition is not bombing the Fallujah area because most of the attacking forces there are Shiite militias, which the U.S. does not want to appear to be supporting. However, air strikes happening in the vicinity of Ramadi.


But even those who safely make it out of Iraq's Sunni heartland, where Islamic State has in part been able to tap into long-standing resentment of the Shi'ite-led authorities in Baghdad, complain that they are met with suspicion in the capital. "All roads were closed off, as if we are enemies of the government," said Saad Jaber, a 41-year-old who said he had been forced to stay with his brother in a town south of Falluja because he could not get to Baghdad. "The government was supposed to reward us and help us because we managed to escape from Daesh (Islamic State)," he said. "It's not our fault that the government is weak and unable to defend us."
Afghanistan

 The U.S. has intensified its air campaign in Afghanistan, launching twice as many strikes in June as in recent months. The targets include former Taliban who have adopted the IS brand name, but most are focused on the Taliban.

And, the violence in general continues. Four children are killed by a bomb in Maidan Wardak. Five Afghan police are killed in an ambush in Laghman, while 6 Taliban are killed by a drone strike in Nangarhar. Another drone strike kills 10 Haqqani network fighters, also in Maidan Wardak, while a senior police officer, along with two others, is killed in Kandahar. Six police are killed by a suicide attack in Lashkargah.

Faryab province is under sustained assault, with militants controlling 40 villages and resident fleeing to Balkh. 

Afghanistan remained the world's most dangerous country for aid workers in 2014.

Mullah Omar is heard from for the first time in quite a while, endorsing peace talks with the Afghan government. However, with the Taliban increasingly fragmented, it is unclear whether he can deliver on any agreement.

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