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

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Update for Thursday, June 16, 2016

UN commision of inquiry says that IS is continuing its genocide of the Yazidis. This is not exactly news but the report is more conclusive than previous UN statements. AFP writes:

Based partly on interviews with survivors, the report found that IS “sought to erase the Yazidis through killings, sexual slavery, enslavement, torture and inhuman and degrading treatment.” The group was holding Yazidis in conditions “that bring about a slow death,” and was transferring Yazidi children from their families to live with IS fighters, “cutting them off from beliefs and practices of their own religious community,” the report said.

Al Jazeera reports that civilian men fleeing Fallujah say they have been tortured by Shiite militias.

Norwegian Refugee Council says it is running out of supplies at camps for people displaced from Fallujah and warns of catastrophe both in Fallujah and in the camps.

"Make no mistake: There is absolutely nothing safe for civilians fleeing Fallujah. No safe exits, no safe passage, no safe haven without risking their lives," [NRC's Jan] Egeland said. "They risk being shot at, killed by explosive devices on the roads, or drowning while crossing the river.". . .
"Those who flee IS-controlled areas and manage to make it to safety will soon find out there is very little we can offer them: we are running out of food, drinking water and medical services," the NRC said.

Masrour Barzani, son of the Kurdistan president and himself a high-ranking official, says that Iraq should devolve into 3 states. He calls for some unspecified form of federation but three co-equal capitals. [Among the difficulties with this proposal would be the viability of the Sunni Arab state, which would be an impoverished landlocked state with no petroleum. Also, the population of Baghdad is mixed.]

In Afghanistan, there appears to be a cease fire that is holding so far in the border skirmish with Pakistan, although the proximal cause of the dispute, the location of a border fence being erected by Pakistan, has not been resolved. Note that Afghanistan does not officially accept the Durand line, the border drawn by a British official in 1893, when Britain controlled Afghanistan.

The widely accepted practice of men having sex with boys in Afghanistan is exploited by the Taliban to infiltrate police facilities and kill hundreds of police.

"The Taliban are sending boys -- beautiful boys, handsome boys -- to penetrate checkpoints and kill, drug and poison policemen," said Ghulam Sakhi Rogh Lewanai, who was Uruzgan's police chief until he was removed in a security reshuffle in April amid worsening violence, AFP says. "They have figured out the biggest weakness of police forces -- bacha bazi [pedophelia]," he told AFP.

Militants assassinate a district governor in Bamyan.

Head of a district development council is assassinated in Logar.

For some reason, the U.S. is considering cancelling planned troop withdrawals  and keeping troops in Afghanistan at the current level of 9,800 through 2017.


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