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, November 27, 2015

Update for Friday, November 27, 2015


Jonathan Steele, in NYRB, has an in-dept piece on the Syrian Kurds which adds detail to my analysis of a couple of days ago. Like me, Steele believes that ultimately there will have to be a devolutionary solution in Syria which will de facto give the Syrian Kurds a state. He seems to find it less likely than I do that it would end up merging with Iraqi Kurdistan and erasing the existing Syria-Iraq border, because the political parties in the two enclaves are different and the Syrian Kurds are generally more left-leaning. Syrian federalism and Kurdish autonomy would, as I said, also require detente with the Turks. Steele seems to think the peace negotiations with the PKK can be revived. However, the Syrian Kurdish state -- called Rojava -- would further unnerve the Turks because it would probably unite territory which is currently divided by the Euphrates and a zone to its west, which would give the Kurds control of 90% or more of Turkey's southern border.

Refugees from Mosul and elsewhere in Iraq remain in desperate circumstances in camps in Kurdistan as winter sets in.

Progress toward the long-delayed assault in Ramadi  as Iraqi forces take the Palestine bridge across the Euphrates and now surround the city. The Kurdish capture of Sinjar has also cut the IS supply route from Raqqa to Mosul. If Iraqi forces can retake Ramadi, the plan is to move on to Mosul which would essentially eliminate IS as a functioning state in Iraqi territory. However, as I have said many times, military success will not lead to stability without a political solution in Iraq, of which so far there is little sign. IS in Syria will also be a much harder nut to crack, because the only military force capable of real progress is that of the Assad regime, which NATO opposes.


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