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, August 8, 2016

Update for Monday, August 8, 2016

Sorry I haven't posted lately -- the situation in both Iraq and Afghanistan has been fairly static. Here's a digest of recent events.

There are reports of a schism in IS in the Kirkuk region, with local leadership apparently wanting to defect to al Qaeda. I'm not sure what to make of this but IS is steadily losing ground in Iraq and dissension and disaffection are not surprising. Fars news agency is not reliable and I try to avoid linking to it but here they pass on a report from KDP sources of the IS treasurer in Mosul absconding with stolen funds.

Government forces capture a village near Mosul as they continue to advance from Quyyarah.

Civilians attempting to flee Hawija are captured by IS, the UN confirmed on Friday. Reports say that IS executed 12 of them as an example. The reported number of people captured ranges from 1,900 to 3,000. Other reports give the number executed as 61. Hawija is now encircled by government forces.

Suicide bombing in a village south of Mosul kills 11, including 6 Iraqi soldiers.

Security trench being dug around Fallujah, and restrictions on travel, leave locals feeling trapped and isolated from the rest of Iraq. Note that this serves to exacerbate sectarian animosity.

U.S.-led coalition conducts air strikes near Ramadi, said to kill 20 IS fighters. (How they get the body counts from the air is unclear.)

After so-called Khalidiya Island (not really an island but land in a bend of the Euphrates) is recaptured, Shiite militias find a mass grave containing 200 bodies, believed to be IS fighters. Apparently IS is disposing of its own dead in this way.

Iraqi government in continued turmoil  as the Minister of Defense accuses the Speaker of Parliament of corruption. Digital Journal has more on paralysis and infighting in the government.

Camps for displaced people near Mosul are overwhelmed, with many people lacking shelter entirely. The situation will only get worse as Iraqi forces continue to advance.

In Afghanistan, gunmen wearing Afghan army uniforms kidnap an American and an Australian from their vehicle. The men are lecturers at the American University of Afghanistan. It is unknown if this was politically motivated, or a kidnapping for ransom.

One Afghan soldier is killed and 3 injured by IED attack in Kabul.

Two soldiers are killed and 3 injured by an explosion in Ghazni.

Suicide attack on NATO convoy in Nangarhar fails. UPDATE: Report is now that two U.S. soldiers were injured in this attack, contrary to earlier report of no casualties. Injuries are apparently minor.

Operation in Farah said to kill 19 Taliban. As is often the case, no mention of government casualties.