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

Sunday, December 27, 2015

Update for Sunday, December 27, 2015

In a disturbing case of mimicry, members of the militia of warlord Haji Zahir, who is also deputy speaker of parliament, decapitate 4 captured fighters who claim loyalty to the Islamic State in Nangarhar. (Again, these are a former Taliban faction who have adopted the brand name. Whether they have any real operational relationship with the entity in Syria and Iraq is unclear.) This was apparently in retaliation for a similar action by the IS militants. It is also a reminder that Afghanistan is not really a unified nation state as normally understood in modern terms, but more of a feudal society with the Kabul government replacing the role of the king.

Despite being expelIed from Kunduz city, Taliban remain active nearby and resident remain frightened among continued food shortages.

Militants kill 6 members of a family in eastern Kunar in a home invasion. The motive is not explained.

Bomb targeting a police patrol in Lashkar Gah kills 2 police and a bystander.

A meeting of elders in Nangarhar decries insecurity and warns of protests if the government does not respond. Schools and hospitals in some districts are closed.

Al Jazeera reports that 21 government soldiers have been killed in Helmand in the past 48 hours as fighting remains intense near Sangin.

In Iraq government forces and allied militias finally claim victory in Ramadi,  seizing control of the government complex, although apparently some IS fighters remain in the city. The Iraqi army also claims advances near Fallujah, while peshmerga raid an IS base in Hawija and claim to have killed several fighters, although it is unclear whether their mission to free prisoners was successful. There are reports, that the U.S. denies, that U.S special forces were involved.