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, August 21, 2016

Update for Sunday, August 21, 2016

Beginning in Afghanistan today, 13 ANA soldiers killed in past 24 hours as Khaama considers the security situation nationwide to be "deteriorating."

Taliban briefly capture Khanabad in Kunduz, security forces then retake the district. The defenders say the area was overrun because of lack of coordination of the defense, and lack of logistical support. Soldiers fought for days without food.

Two civilians killed, 3 injured in 2 separate explosions in Nangarhar.

Pakistan has closed the border crossing at Spinboldak for unspecified reasons, resulting in substantial losses to commerce.

Deputy chief of staff Murad Murad arrives in Kunduz vowing to gain control over the security situation.

Thousands of displaced families have returned from Pakistan to Nangarhar (apparently they have been expelled) but they are not receiving any aid. "It is heart-breaking to see the situation some of the families are living under. Children appear visibly malnourished and families are lacking clean drinking water, shelter and sanitation facilities," said NRC´s Protection and Advocacy Adviser in Afghanistan Will Carter, after visiting the area.

Bakhtar reports on fighting in various districts including eastern NangarharNuristan, and Sar-e-Pul. As usual, substantial Taliban casualties are reported but government casualties are either given as very low, or unmentioned. But, those 13 ANA soldiers reported dead in the past 24 hours must have died somewhere.

Iraq executes 36 men convicted of massacring Iraqi troops after the takeover of Tikrit in 2014. 
While they are apparently IS  fighters captured when Tikrit was retaken, there are substantial doubts about evidence linking them specifically to the massacre.

The head of the provincial council in Salahuddin province, of which Tikrit is the capital, criticized the judicial process, saying some of the men executed Sunday had been tortured to extract confessions. Some of them “were not even present at the scene of the crime,” Ahmed al-Karim told The Associated Press. “We support the death penalty for those who committed crimes,” but “the use of violence and torture (in Iraqi prisons) should be investigated.”

Stephen Biddle and Jacob Shapiro in The Atlantic discuss the long-term prospects for combatting IS. This is too much to summarize but they criticize the "smash-and-leave"approach now favored by many analysts, arguing that the U.S. must make a long-term commitment to "stabilization" in Syria and Iraq. [I'm not sure there's a whole lot the U.S. can really do about that by leaving a bunch of troops sitting in bases. Other than that I don't know what exactly they would do. -- C]

IS reported to execute 4 men accused on homosexuality in Mosul  by throwing them from a tall building.

Eight men are arrested, accused of the arson fire at Yarmouk hospital that killed 12 babies. Their motive is said to have been robbery.

Kurdish Regional Government responds to a call by the U.S. state department to put peshmerga forces under central government command by telling the state department to go pound sand.

In a statement released late Friday, the Ministry of Peshmerga Affairs said the Kurdish forces only receive orders from the General Command in Erbil in northern Iraq. “The central government has neither born the responsibility of training the peshmerga forces nor provided them with weapons,” the statement said.


And, according to the KRG, more than 84% of Kurds favor independence. They also claim that a similar majority in disputed areas want to join Kurdistan. In case you are wondering about the back story behind all this, Baghdad recently called for the peshmerga to stop seizing territory in Salah-U-Din province fearing that they want to keep it. Actually Kurdistan is interested in the Kirkuk region and parts of Ninevah province.




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