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

Friday, August 7, 2015

Update for Friday, August 7, 2015

Two bombings in Kabul overnight. A huge truck bomb near the army base in Shah Shaheed killed 15 people and injured more than 200, apparently all civilians. The blast left a crater 10 meters deep, according to AFP.

Later, a suicide bomber attacked the police academy, causing an as yet unstated number of deaths. No-one has claimed responsibility for either attack as of 12:50 ET.

This follows multiple attacks on police locations on Thursday which killed 9, and the death of 17 Afghan personnel in a helicopter crash, which officials are attributing to a mechanical failure.

U.S. general John Campbell says that Afghanistan is losing 4,000 security personnel per month, mostly to desertion. However, out of a total of more than 300,000 personnel, he does not think this is "unsustainable." [Well, it would be 48,000 in a year, that's got to hurt. -- C]

The Taliban leadership crisis continues, with dissenters contending that Mullah Mansour is a puppet of the Pakistani directorate of Inter-Services Intelligence. [It is not clear what factions may be behind the recent attacks, but clearly the turmoil in the Taliban does not bode well for prospects  for peace. -- C] As Salih Do─čan Writes in Zahman:

One would have thought that the death of Mullah Omar would weaken the Taliban insurgency and Kabul would have the upper hand in the peace talks; however, the group had accelerated attacks in Afghanistan after NATO concluded its combat mission by the end 2014 and they inflicted a record number of casualties on the Afghan national security forces. Taking the existence of current splinter groups and a possible power struggle within the Taliban administration into account, it will be really difficult for the Afghan government to find one-man leadership to negotiate with.