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

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Update for Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Iraqi PM Haider al-Abadi says the U.S. has agreed to send more troops to Iraq in addition to the 4,400 who are already officially deployed there. However he does not specify a number.

Pentagon walks back claim that a rocket fired at Qayyara air base last week contained mustard gas. Laboratory tests failed to confirm a positive field test.

IS sets fire to 3 more oil wells in the vicinity of Qayyara. While Iraqi workers succeeded in extinguishing oil well fires IS ignited as it abandoned the town, others continue to burn in areas not yet secured. (Note that the decision by IS to ignite wells in areas it still controls suggests they lack a means to transport and sell the oil. -- C)

Iraqi forces launch offensive al-Doulab near Ramadi after capturing additional nearby territory last week.

U.S. helicopters are said to have transported IS captives from remote areas in Anbar to undisclosed destinations. (It is of considerable interest if Iraqi authorities are indeed allowing the U.S. to hold, and presumably interrogate, these captives. -- C)

Muqtada al-Sadr opposes the participation of Iranian-backed militias in the assault on Anbar but allows that his Saraya al-Salam (the reconstituted Mahdi Army we remember from the U.S. occupation) could participate under certain conditions, including granting control of Anbar to him. (Which is not going to happen and seems a bizarre demand, frankly. -- C)

IS bombings in Shiite areas of Baghdad kill at least 17.