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

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Update for Tuesday, December 8, 2015

The row between Turkey and Iraq continues over the presence of Turkish troops near Mosul, where they are supporting Kurdish fighters. Turkey has stopped deploying additional forces to the area but says the 100 or so troops there now will remain. It's hard to sort out what this is really all about but it seems to go back to the hostility between Russia and Turkey. (Russian news services are all over the story, taking the Iraqi side, as here.) Recall that Iran is a main supporter of the Assad regime. Under Shiite government, Iraq is also now allied with Assad, and Russia's intervention on Assad's behalf now draws the three powers closer. Nobody likes IS, but that is not enough to overcome the split over Assad. One more sign that any remaining U.S. influence in Iraq is pretty much done for. (And we still have the billion dollar embassy with the swimming pools.)

Iraq claims major gains in Ramadi and predicts expelling IS from the city "very soon," without giving any specific time frame. It is not clear to what extent this was accomplished by the Iraqi army vs. Shiite militias, or how many Sunni Arab forces are involved.

Amnesty International crashes through an open door to observe that IS has largely armed itself with weapons captured from Iraqi military stockpiles, which AI thinks were excessive, blaming Iraq's international suppliers including the U.S.

In AfghanistanTaliban attack Kandahar airport, apparently with little result.