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

Saturday, December 26, 2015

Update for Saturday, December 26, 2015

Fighting continues in Sangin where, according to troops in the field, the situation continues to be perilous. Elsewhere in Helmand -- Musa Qala and Nawzad -- the Taliban control substantial territory and  possess heavy weapons. Afghan troops are unable to advance. A TOLO correspondent embedded with troops in Sangin says fierce fighting is going on with Taliban ensconced in residential areas.

Government forces have launched an offensive in Gormach, Faryab, and claim substantial gains. As usual, a spokesman does not provide information about Afghan government casualties.

NYT's Alissa J. Rubin reports that the people responsible for the mob murder of Farkhunda in Kabul have for the most escaped justice.

Indian PM Narendra Modi meets with president Ghani to discuss security cooperation among other issues. The PM's statement is implicitly,  critical of Pakistan. "Afghanistan will succeed only when terrorism no longer flows across the border when nurseries and sanctuaries of terrorism are shut and, their patrons are no longer in business."

In Iraq,  government and allied Sunni tribal forces continue to make slow, difficult advances in the center of Ramadi. According to a U.S. military spokesman, they have advanced several hundred meters toward the government complex. The attackers have had to change their plan of advance due to mines.

The UN reports more than 11,000 Iraqis killed, and more than 18,000 injured in 2015 by violence including IEDs and car bombs. 

Turkey has apparently acceded to Iraq complaints and has withdrawn most of its forces from Bashiqa,
but says that trainers will remain.

Shafaq reports fighting between PKK and Turkish forces in Turkey, further dimming hopes for a renewed truce. However, the relationship between the KRG and Turkey continues to develop positively as Kurdistan prime minister Nechirvan Barzani will visit Ankara.