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, December 21, 2015

Update for Monday, December 21, 2015


A suicide attack on a patrol near Bagram air base has killed 6 NATO troops and injured 3. NATO, in accordance with policy, has not stated the nationality of the casualties but a spokesman for the governor of Parwan province has suggested that they were Americans. There was apparently also an unstated number of Afghan troops injured or killed. We will provide more information as it becomes available.

Update: Reuters is reporting that all 6 killed were American, although there is as yet no official announcement as of 12:45 ET.

An Afghan-American woman is killed in Kabul. Lisa Akbari, who had worked for the U.S. army and was apparently currently working for an NGO, was attacked by someone who is said to have "ties to terrorism."

Update: The killer is identified as a cleric, Sayed Ahmad, who was later shot and injured by police, under unclear circumstances. He is said to have lived in the same apartment building as the victim. She was apparently an army veteran, not a civilian contractor, but currently working for a Japanese NGO.

Taliban overrun Sangin district in Helmand. Deputy governor Mohammad Jan Rasulyar has posted on social media that "Helmand stands on the brink [of falling to the Taliban] … Ninety men have been killed in Gereshk and Sangin districts in the last two days," claiming that president Ghani's office has not communicated with local leadership and appears unaware of the gravity of the situation. About 170 people are trapped in the police compound and will not be able to hold out much longer.

In Iraq, Turkey is withdrawing troops from the Mosul area in an effort appease the Baghdad government, although some apparently remain and it is not clear that the dispute is entirely over.

IS is said to be preventing civilians from leaving the area of Ramadi it still controls as Iraqi forces prepare an assault.

In what may be a big deal, Kurdistan president Massoud Barzani has called on the two major parties in the region to organize a referendum on independence. (It would certainly pass.) As I have noted before, the rapprochement of the KRG with Ankara and its repudiation of the PKK are best seen as steps toward this goal.








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