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

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Update for Thursday, December 10, 2015

Omar Al Saleh, in al Jazeera, discusses the row over the Turkish troop presence in Iraq .in the context of Iraq's overall sovereignty. He notes that the complaint by Abadi is somewhat disingenuous given the presence of Iranian and U.S. troops, which do not answer to Iraqi command, and Turkeys long campaign within Iraq against the PKK. The weakness of the Iraqi state is the real story here.

More clarity about the campaign in Ramadi as Iraqi force display a huge haul of weapons captured from IS in the city. There now appear to be only about 300 IS fighters trapped in one part of the city and cut off from reinforcement or resupply. An  additional, and important piece of information, is that some 8,500 Sunni Arab fighters from Anbar participated in the campaign.

[Muhannad Haimour, the spokesman for the Anbar governor's office] said the decision to arm Sunni tribal fighters from Ramadi against ISIS - which claims to be a Sunni group - was a key factor that changed the sluggish pace of the battle. He said: 'They didn't feel like they had enough support from the coalition and the central government, but all of that changed a few months ago.' There are now 8,500 members from Anbar organised, trained, armed and receiving salaries.

KRG president Barzani returns from Turkey and urges Turkey to continue negotiations with its own Kurdish parties to reach an accord.