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, March 19, 2016

Upate for Saturday, March 19, 2016

U.S. service member killed by rocket attack on a base at Makhmour, a town near Mosul on the edge of Kurdistan. The base is controlled by peshmerga and has been hosting U.S. military advisers for some time. As the assault on Mosul gradually builds up, indirect fire attacks from IS are said to have increased. There were apparently additional injuries but little information is available as of yet. Some sources say the dead service member was a marine, others a soldier.

British hostage John Cantlie appears in a new IS propaganda video. The video is undated but raises hopes he is still alive.

Here's a blast from the past. Mullah krekar is released from a Norwegian prison sentence after his conviction was overturned. He had been imprisoned for threatening a fellow Kurd. Who is Mullah Krekar, you may well ask? I will tell you.

His real name is Najmuddin Faraj Ahmad. He was the leader of a militant organization called Ansar al Islam which operated in Kurdistan prior to the U.S. invasion in 2003. George W. Bush claimed that the presence of Ansar al Islam within the putative territory of Iraq proved that Saddam Hussein harbored terrorists. The truth, as is usually the case when George W. Bush's lips move, was the precise opposite. Mullah Krekar was an enemy of Saddam Hussein, who tried to have him killed. Since Krekar operated in the Kurdish region outside of Saddam's control, Saddam provided weapons to Kurdish militants in exchange for their promise to try to track him down. Accordingly, Krekar fled to Norway, where he was given asylum, and where he was living in 2003. Weird story.