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, April 18, 2016

Update for Monday, April 18, 2016

Available details are scant, but a statement by the Kurdish regional government says U.S. and Kurdish special forces killed a senior IS official and two of his aides in a "helicopter raid." Reuters also reports that U.S. special forces captured an unidentified individual in a separate raid a day earlier.

Al Jazeera reports on serious ethnic conflict in Tuz Khurmatu, where Kurds and Turkmen live in separate ghettos amid constant threats of violence.

U.S. Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter is in Iraq to discuss escalating the U.S. role in the conflict.

PM Abadi calls for an emergency meeting of parliament to resolve the political crisis, as demonstrations led by Muqtada al-Sadr continue.

Update:  SecDef Carter now says specfically that the U.S. will send 217 additional troops to Iraq including special forces and Apache attack helicopters in what is still labeled a "train and advise" mission although in fact U.S. forces are already engaged in combat, and I don't think those helicopters are going to be advising anybody. "Carter said the Mosul effort will bring U.S. troops “closer to the action” by remaining close to Iraqi forces as they advance toward the city." The U.S. will also provide $415 million in financial assistance to the peshmerga. The publicly declared number of U.S. troops in Iraq will now be 4,100. (The true number is actually higher as the Pentagon does not count troops on short-term deployment.)