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, May 4, 2016

Update for Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Navy SEAL killed in action near Irbil is identified as Charles Keating IV of Phoenix, Arizona. The linked article has a substantial biography. This from CNN has additional biographical details and also describes the attack:

ISIS used multiple vehicles, suicide car bombs and bulldozers to break through a checkpoint at the front line and drive 3 to 5 km (1.9 to 3.1 miles) to the Peshmerga base where SEALs are temporarily visiting and were located as advisers, a U.S. defense official told CNN. The gun battle was around the town of Telskof in northern Iraq, the official added. The U.S. responded with F-15s and drones that dropped more than 20 bombs, according to a U.S. official.

Three oil wells near Kirkuk are detonated by unknown attackers.

British government now says the Chilcott inquiry into that nation's role in the 2003 invasion will finally be published after the referendum on leaving the European Union in June. We shall see.

Meanwhile, Britain will send an unspecified number of additional troops to Iraq.

Attack on a federal police car in Baghdad kills 1, injures 2.

IS imposes a news blackout in Mosul as Iraqi forces continue their slow advance toward the city. Apparently they fear uprisings.

Iraqi forces also continue their slow advance toward the besieged city of Fallujah.

Muqtada al-Sadr has visited Iran, apparently to apologize after some of his supporters called for Iran to withdraw its troops from Iraq. (There is an obvious tension between al-Sadr's Iraqi nationalist pose and his ties to Iran.)

Afghanistan:  The New York Times reports on a bountiful opium harvest in Helmand. The Taliban have largely suspended their offensive in the province in order to supervise the harvest, which provides them with their main source of funding.

President Ghani vows to suppress drug trafficking. Okay, sure.

And, just a quick roundup of some of the latest violence. Four police killed, 2 injured in attack on security posts in Paktia.  Tribal elder killed in FaryabThree buses torched in BamyanSixty students at a girls' school poisoned in TakharAfghan intelligence foils a planned attack in Kabul by Haqqani networkFive militants killed in gun battle with ANA in Maidan Wardak. Nothing is said about government casualties. 




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