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, July 14, 2016

Update for Thursday, July 14, 2016

U.S. signs a deal to give $415 million directly to peshmerga for weapons, supplies and pay. Apparently the Baghdad government approves of this deal. That represents a significant change because they have complained in the past that aid should go through the central government. This does represent a step toward de facto recognition of Kurdish autonomy, in my view.

The U.S. claimed to have killed Omar al-Shishani, IS "Minister of War," a few weeks ago. Apparently they have managed to kill him again, this time for real, according to IS-linked sources. His death occurred in Sharqat which as we noted earlier was besieged. It now appears that IS control of Sharqat is collapsing amid infighting as the group tries to prevent fighters from fleeing. IS leadership may be resigned to losing control of any territory and going underground.

The Iraqi government held a military parade in Baghdad to celebrate recent victories, even as terror bombings against civilian targets and attacks on police in the city continue.

Muqtada al-Sadr continues to sponsor demonstrations against corruption, even as the government calls for them to stop for security reasons.

U.S. is bombing IS targets near Mosul.