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

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Update for Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Details emerge about IS detainee captured by U.S. special forces last month. He is identified as Sleiman Daoud al-Afari, an unconventional weapons expert who once worked for Saddam Hussein. He is said to have revealed that IS is able to fabricate weapons using mustard gas (which they have reportedly used against Kurdish villages and forces), but the weapons are not very sophisticated nor highly effective.

The Kirkuk-Ceyhan pipeline is still not back in operation but Turkish officials say it will be soon now that they have cleared PKK forces from the area of the damage. Inability to move oil to market through the pipeline has contributed to the financial crisis facing the Kurdish Regional Government. (Again, the motive for the PKK to do this is unclear but it seems to have been an incredibly stupid and counterproductive move. Obviously, it hurts the KRG a lot, the Turks very little.)

Its oil revenues sharply curtailed, IS is said to be more dependent on donations from the Gulf Arab states. Let us never forget the ridiculous situation in which U.S. "allies" are the principal funders of IS and al Qaeda. Yes, these donations are supposedly from individuals, not the governments, but the monarchies could put a stop to it if they wanted to.

Department of What Else is New? CentCom head Gen. Lloyd Austin wants more U.S. troops in Iraq and Syria. To fight Saudi Arabia's proxies, in alliance with Iran. Whatever.

In Afghanistan, Taliban attack a police station in Helmand, killing at least 3 police and suffering 7 dead of their own.

Video shows Afghan police torturing a prisoner.

Taliban abduct 11 civilians in Sar-i-Pul.

Men convicted of killing Farkhunda have sentences sharply reduced.

Three civilians killed by IED in Herat.

Attempted suicide attack on Kabul fire department apparently kills only the attacker.




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