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 24, 2016

Update for Friday, June 24, 2016

As Iraqi forces close in on the last remaining pocket of IS resistance in Fallujah, tens of thousands of civilian refugees continue to suffer in the blazing desert heat without adequate food, water, shelter or medical care. The Iraqi government bars them from approaching Baghdad. Most men remain in detention. Excerpt:

“The police told us that if you are from Habbaniyah, from Saqlawiyah or Fallujah they won’t let you cross. They twisted my arm and said: ‘Next time we will do worse’," says an old woman from Fallujah who declined to give her name. Habbaniyah and Saqlawiyah are townships near Fallujah.

A hotbed of Sunni militancy since the US invasion in 2003, Fallujah and its inhabitants are viewed with deep distrust by Iraq’s Shia-dominated government. Those seeking medical treatment in Baghdad are turned back even if they have a referral from a local hospital.

“If it says Saqlawiyah in your ID they won’t let you cross the bridge. All I want is to cross so I can take him to the hospital," says Nadia, a desperate young mother with a sick six-month-old son.
Iraq veteran and now U.S. congressman Seth Moulton says the U.S. is not doing enough to bring about political reconciliation in Iraq, without which there can be no military solution.

And sure enough, the U.S. may be sending in more troops.

UN humanitarian coordinator for Iraq says assault on Mosul could displace an additional 2.3 million people.

Denise Natali discusses the profound obstacles to partitioning Iraq. (I agree that it would be a very hard road to stability and prosperity, especially for a Sunni Arab state, but it's going to happen one way or another. -- C)

Iraqi forces continue to advance toward Tikrit, and also toward Mosul, according to Salahuddin Operations Command.

The so-called "Vicar of Baghdad," actually a British clergyman, has been suspended by a charity he runs after accusations that he paid to ransom Yazidi sex slaves. Under British law, ransoming terrorist hostages is illegal.

Update regarding Afghanistan: Without providing any specifics,  U.S. officials tell the AP that U.S. air strikes against the Taliban have resumed under the new presidential authorization. You may recall that when Operation Enduring Freedom ended in 2014, the U.S. policy was changed to permit direct engagement only with al Qaeda and later IS, not the Taliban.