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

Monday, March 21, 2016

Update for Monday, March 21, 2016

Hoo boy. First, some context: Shiite militias, largely backed by Iran, are increasingly dominating Iraqi politics. The various militias are the armed wings of political parties, and are rivals of the Iraqi army and constitutional government for power. Excerpt:

The more than 50 Shiite militias in Iraq have between 60,000 and 140,000 fighters, according to estimates from the government and the Hashd itself. They are backed by tanks and weapons, and have their own intelligence agency, operations rooms and court of law.
The larger militias, like Asaib Ahl al-Haq, the Hezbollah Brigades, Badr and the Peace Brigades, have been in place since soon after the 2003 ouster of Saddam Hussein. They are linked to political parties, effectively forming armed branches for politicians.
So, now that we have learned a detachment of the 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit is deployed in northern Iraq, Asaib Ahl al-Haq, the League of the Righteous, has threatened to attack U.S. forces. The group was responsible for the kidnapping of British subject Peter Moore and also shot down a British helicopter in 2006. The league is commanded by an Iranian general. Hezbollah has also threatened U.S. troops in Iraq. Note that they subscribe to the widespread theory among Shiites that IS is in fact a U.S. creation, and the U.S. is only pretending to fight it. Even the largely reality-based Iranian news channel Al-Alam laces its report of the U.S. deployment with a dose of skepticism. That the U.S. secretly backs I.S. is also a commonplace of Syrian government-backed news sources.

The situation is highly combustible, to say the least.


anatta said...

wow. Iran owns the Iraqi parliament. I'd say Iraq was now a full colony of Iran.
My question: is there any formal Sunni power base left in the Iraqi government?

LC Clark said...

You have not posted since the Belgium airport bombing. i am worried about you.
Your data is very thorough, so i am thinking you are a big stakeholder in these affairs. I hope your family is safe.
Just from your data, the escalation was entirely foreseeable. I expect someone to blow up the Mosul Dam any minute.

Cervantes said...

I'm fine, thanks. Just waiting for a couple of developments to become clearer.