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

Sunday, June 12, 2016

Update for Sunday, June 12, 2016

Saudi Interior Ministry spokesman Mansour al-Turki admits that fundraising for IS takes place in Saudi Arabia. This is obviously not a revelation, but it does seem to be the first time the kingdom has acknowledged it.

Iraqi forces continue their slow advance into Fallujah in the face of extensive booby traps and tunnel networks. U.S. air support is essential to progress.

The Iraqi army claims to have secured a safe exit route from Fallujah but of course people have to get to it in the first place.

Iraqi forces are also gaining ground south of Mosul. The commander of the operation says he lacks tanks and enough forces to hold ground once it is gained. However, Iraq has now deployed an armored division with bridges to cross the Tigris at Qayara. Control of that town would sever communication between Mosul and Hawija, from which IS has harassed oil facilities in the Kirkuk area. (See this analysis from Reuters in March.)

More on the battle south of Mosul here.

The town of Baiji, recaptured from IS in October, is completely destroyed and will probably never be rebuilt. The oil refinery is also destroyed and the government lacks the means to rebuild it also.

In Afghanistan, president Obama has approved a more active role for U.S. forces in combat situations. We will have to see exactly what this means.


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