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, October 3, 2016

Update for Monday, October 3, 2016

Taliban launch a coordinated assault on Kunduz, from several directions. They are said to have captured several checkpoints but have been repelled from the city proper. Reuters has a more detailed report, noting that fighters are entrenched in civilian homes. "witnesses saw Taliban fighters armed with AK-47 assault rifles, machine guns and rocket-propelled grenades walking around the deserted streets of the city, entering homes and taking up position on rooftops."

Simultaneously, Taliban attack police headquarters in Naway, Helmand, killing the local police chief and perhaps 10 more police. (The linked story leads with Kunduz --  scroll down for the Helmand story.)

An explosion in a marketplace in Darjan, Jawzjan, kills 6 and injures 35. Another source places the number injured at 80.

In Iraq, attacks in Shiite areas of Baghdad kill 16.

I'm not entirely sure how reliable these reports are -- a lot of the coverage is coming from Russian and Iranian media -- but it is reported that the Pentagon paid a PR firm hundreds of millions of dollars to produce fake videos purporting to be from al Qaeda. It isn't entirely clear what the purpose was.

There is a claim --again mostly showing up in Russian and Iranian media -- that IS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi and three of his associates were poisoned  and are gravely ill. The incident purportedly took place in Nineveh near the Syrian border.

I may provide an update later in the day.