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

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Update for Wednesday, September 30, 2015


Taliban appear to solidify control of Kunduz as they seize a hilltop fortress on the city's edge, seal roads, and conscript young men. However, government forces repelled an assault on the airport. U.S. troops are said to be in the area, although their role is unclear, and the U.S. has launched at least 3 air strikes.

Al Jazeera reports that the Taliban have captured enough weapons in Kunduz to "fight for months," even as the city is without electricity and food prices have doubled.

IRIN reports that the Doctors Without Borders facility is the only medical clinic operating in the city, and is overwhelmed by a continual influx of casualties. IRIN also reports that government-supported militias have been abusive to the civilian population, and president Ghani is criticized for relying on them instead of building up government forces with clear loyalty to the state.

Time magazine quotes analysts who are pessimistic about the future of the Afghan government, including Anthony Cordesman who says "Afghanistan is now caught up in a much broader series of crises: political, governance, economics, security, and Afghan force development. In each case, the transition since U.S. combat forces left at the end of 2014 is failing."

UPDATE: New York Times reports that reinforcements are unable to reach Kunduz from Kabul or Mazar-i-Sharif because the Taliban hold territory in Baghlan that they would have to pass through.

It was not clear on Wednesday whether the front line in the north was still in Kunduz or was rapidly shifting south into Baghlan. That, at least, was how residents of Baghlan’s provincial capital, Pul-i-Kumri, were feeling.

“It is true, people are evacuating the city today,” Zabihullah Rustami, a former member of the provincial council, said by telephone. He had done so himself, he said, relocating to his rural district to the east. “People who are enemies of the Taliban are leaving,” he said, and the city was rife with “rumors that the Taliban might attack and take over the city.”
Forces in Pul-i-Kumri say the city is in danger, as Taliban forces overrun nearby police positions.

Meanwhile, U.S. forces near Kunduz have come under fire, and are said to have "engaged in combat."


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