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, June 20, 2016

Update for Monday, June 20, 2016

In Kabul, a suicide bomber targets a bus carrying Nepalese security guards to their work at the Canadian embassy, killing 14. There are conflicting claims of responsibility from the Taliban and IS.

Ten civilians are killed and 40 injured in a bombing in Badakhshan. The Taliban deny involvement; there is as yet no claim of responsibility.

Talks between Afghanistan and Pakistan on border issues continue after last week's deadly skirmish.

Nine militants are said to have been killed in gun battles in Kunduz. There is no mention of government casualties. (Often they occur but are not reported, as can be deduced from weekly casualty totals.)

Air strike said to kill 11 IS affiliates in Nangarhar. The report does not state whether the operation was carried out by U.S. or Afghan forces.

A reporter for Xinhua covers opium farming in Kandahar. He says farmers dislike being involved, but the financial benefits are irresistible.

In Iraq, there are reports that more than 350 Yezidi women were rescused in Fallujah. However, a Yezidi official denies this, calling the claims by Shiite militias unreliable.

The Saudi newspaper Asharq al-Awsat describes the condition of 50,000 refugees from the Mosul region as "captivity" as they languish in a refugee camp in Syria near the border of Kurdistan, Turkey and Syria. Although the headline says they are "suspected of working with ISIS," in fact the problem seems to be that there is no safe place for them to go since Turkey and Kurdistan will not accept them. [The story of al-Hawl refugee camp is important and little-known. It was established by the UNHCR during the 1991 Gulf War to house Iraqi refugees. Since then it has accepted Palestinians who were ejected from Iraq during the 2003 U.S. invasion. That it now houses refugees from the Mosul are is confirmed by AFP. I will try to find out more. The area was briefly held by Islamic state but has been recaptured by Kurdish fighters.]

CNN's Ben Wedeman reports on the refugee crisis in all of Iraq, where there are nearly 5 million internally displaced persons.  He reports specifically on the miserable conditions in a camp housing refugees from Fallujah.


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