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

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Update for Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Sorry for the absence folks. The news was feeling kind of repetitive and I've been a bit down in the dumps, but I will pick up the pace again. -- C

As Iraq launches an offensive to retake ground in Anbar province, the U.S.-led coalition ramps up the pace of air strikes, with 39 in the past 24 hours.

Iraqi forces attack IS positions around Ramadi with rockets and mortar fire. The move on Ramadi is in part intended to isolate Fallujah. An Anbar provincial official claims the IS leaders are fleeing Fallujah and that the city is effectively besieged. [I cannot assess the credibility of this claim, I can't find corroboration for it.] An unnamed military official claims gains in the Fallujah area.

Residents of Mosul are steadily fleeing for Kurdistan as an offensive against that city is also promised.

Nevertheless IS claims responsibility for a series of bombings in Shiite neighborhoods of Baghdad that have killed 39 people.

Iraq takes delivery of F-16s from the U.S.

WaPo has a relatively lengthy story on the offensive. The main push on Fallujah will  not happen until after Eid-al-Fitr, that is to say this weekend.

[I must say it is far too early to tell what success the Anbar offensive will have, but it does appear to have started in earnest. I will keep up with it in the next few days. It is also unclear how much participation there is by Sunni Arab fighters. It is a very important question whether the population will welcome the restoration of Iraqi government control if they perceive it as the re-establishment of Shiite dominance. -- C]

Old friend Muqtad al-Sadr goes all puritan on young people who hold open air parties in defiance of IS bombings. The parties are alcohol free but apparently music offends him.

Kurdistan president Barzani meets with U.S. ambassador Stuart Jones. Little detail on what they discussed but it likely concerns the relationship between Kurdistan and Baghdad. Kurdistan has been slowly but surely asserting more autonomy and strengthening its independent diplomatic ties.