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

Friday, June 17, 2016

Update for Friday, June 17, 2016

The battle for Fallujah is certainly not over, but government forces have seized the city hall and IS forces have fled from some areas freeing civilians to leave. However, refugee camps cannot cope with the influx.

A 69-year-old Fallujah resident, who escaped al-Joulan quarter said they noticed militants evacuating early in the morning, taking vehicles loaded with food and fuel. “The news started spreading quickly and we prepared to leave from as early as 5am,” he added. “The Iraqi army was some 3 kilometres away from my home. We were thousands leaving the city…when we reached the armed forces we were given food and water but the army trucks transporting families to the camps were full.”

Marc Lynch at the Carnegie Endowment discusses the sectarian nature of the conflict in Iraq.

A narrative of Sunni victimization at the hands of Shias and Iran has dominated much of the Arab media and social media. Al-Jazeera has taken the lead in crafting this highly sectarian narrative about the Fallujah operation as an Iranian and Shia-militia campaign to exterminate Sunnis. Kasim has inflamed his significant public with a barrage of these incendiary Twitter polls. Those polls, for all their lack of scientific validity, tell a frightening story: 72 percent of respondents said they supported the Islamic State over the Shia militias in the battle of Fallujah; 84 percent said that the Iranian occupation posed a greater threat than the Islamic State; and 86 percent said the goal of the Fallujah campaign was to consolidate Iranian occupation of Iraq rather than to fight terrorism.
The UN is concerned about a resurgence of polio among the Fallujah population, which has had no vaccination program since the IS takeover in 2014. Approximately 40,000 people have already fled Fallujah and there are believed to be about the same number left. At this point, there appear to be no resources to meet their needs.