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

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Update for Tuesday, August 29, 2016

Stephen Kalin for Reuters describes conditions in the recently recaptured town of Qayyara, where IS fighters set oil wells on fire before fleeing.



Abdel Aziz Saleh, a 25-year-old Qayyara resident, said he wants Baghdad to put out the fires as soon as possible. "They are suffocating us," he said. "The birds, the animals are black, the people are black. Gas rains down on us at night. Now the gas has reached the residential areas."
There is no electricity, and daytime temperatures reach 120 degrees Fahrenheit. Unlike in other recently recaptured cities, IS fighters did not dig in, most buildings are intact, and there is little problem with booby traps. However, there is no telling when the oil well fires will be extinguished or the electricity restored.

The impasse between Baghdad and Irbil over oil revenues continues. The dispute in principle is over whether all oil produced within the borders of Sykes-Picot Iraq belongs to the Iraqi state, with revenue to be shared; or whether Kurdistan owns and can sell it's own oil. Kurdistan controls the pipeline from northern Iraq to Turkey, which means that it has prevented Baghdad from selling petroleum from wells it controls near Kirkuk. While negotiations are ongoing, Baghdad is now proposing to export oil from the area through Iran. More on the dispute at the link.

Human Rights Watch says tribal militias are recruiting child soldiers from refugee camps to join the offensive on Mosul, and that they are being paid by the Iraqi government. (This is not as extreme as other cases such as in Africa. Here we seem to be talking about 16-year-olds. It is not surprising that many would volunteer as they have no other means of livelihood.)

AP has documented 72 mass graves in territory recaptured from IS, most in Iraq although there are no doubt many more in Syria, which is not as accessible. The total number of dead is impossible to estimate accurately.


2 comments:

Dr Purva Pius said...
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Cervantes said...

The war against spam is unending . .. sigh.