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

Monday, September 14, 2015

Update for Monday, Sept. 14, 2015


Accounts vary somewhat on the total number of prisoners freed, but at least 350 escape prison in Ghazni in a Taliban action. The attack began with a suicide bombing to gain access to the facility, which was followed by insurgents wearing military uniforms entering and freeing the prisoners. Of the escapees, the Interior Ministry says that 148 are "national security threats," the remainder presumably being common criminals. KUNA says there were 436 escapees.

In Badakhshan, gunmen set fire to 5 UN World Food Program trucks, though they do not harm the drivers. According to a recent report by aid agencies, 5.9% of the Afghan population was "severely food insecure" at the time before harvest when food stocks dwindle. The households of war widows are particularly at risk.

The deteriorating security situation spurred 23 photojournalists to leave the country en masse.

Mullah Omar's son issus a statement saying Omar died of natural causes and calling for Taliban unity.

Meanwhile, in Iraq, 160 U.S. troops arrived from Kuwait to the Habbaniyah air base near Ramadi, purportedly to participate in the planned operation to retake the city. It is not clear what their role will be, but apparently local leaders expect them to be closely involved.

The U.S.-led coalition continues air strikes in Iraq and Syria at the rate of about 25 per day. The most recent report says strikes destroyed car bomb factories in Fallujah, as well as other targets near Fallujah ad Ramadi. Although there appears to be no concrete information on when the long-awaited Anbar offensive will begin, it does appear that preparations are underway. (Yes, it's officially happening already but the situation on the ground is basically static.)

The Saudi embassy in Baghdad will reopen after Eid-Al-Adha, representing resumption of full diplomatic relations after 25 years. The Saudis broke diplomatic relations after Iraq invaded Kuwait in 1990, and they refrained from restoring full relations during the rule of Shiite partisan prime minister Nuri al-Maliki. So this is a small but possibly meaningful step toward greater stability in the region.


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