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, April 13, 2016

Update for Wednesday, April 13, 2016

I have previously noted the U.S. State Dept. survey that found widespread belief in Iraq that the U.S. actually support IS. This is actually a line pushed heavily by Iranian media, to which I generally do not link because Iran's media is entirely under state control and is unreliable. Ayatollah Kahmenei now says publicly that the U.S. backs IS. This is also the line of Syrian state controlled media, so it's a joint campaign.

If you think it's true, it appears the U.S. isn't doing a very good job of it, as Iraqi forces continue to advance, capturing more of Hit and proclaiming they will shortly control the city. The U.S. also continues to claim it is conducting regular air strikes against IS, and posting video to prove itThe U.S. State Dept. says IS has lost 40% of the territory it once controlled in Iraq and that IS forces are at their lowest since 2014.

However, it may be too late for Iraq, according to a report by international monitoring groups.

"The division of Iraq on sectarian lines continues apace," Mark Lattimer, the executive director of the Minority Rights Group International, told Al Jazeera. "Both forces loyal to the Shia-led government and the KRG are using the liberation of territories from ISIS to engineer demographic changes.

"The vast majority of Iraq's ... IDPs are being denied the possibility of returning to their homes, despite the fact that many of them have been liberated," he added. "Unless a coherent strategy for return and reconciliation is put in place, the possibility of a democratic, multicultural Iraq will be gone within the next few years."
IS continues the destruction of Iraq's cultural heritage, in this case destroying the Mashqi Gate near Mosul which dates back to the rule of Sennacherib in the 7th Century BC.

Iraq's parliament is in emergency session as the struggle continues over PM Abadi's attempted political reforms. The Atlantic Council has a discussion of the political crisis.

Just a reminder that the humanitarian disaster in Fallujah continues.