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

Saturday, October 22, 2016

Update for Saturday, October 22, 2016


IS assault on Kirkuk ends with 48 attackers dead. Fourteen civilians were also killed -- 13 workers at a power plant including 4 Iranians, and one reporter killed by a sniper. Twenty nine members of the Iraqi security forces were also killed. Some of the attackers may still be at large.

The attackers are said to have entered Kirkuk through a gap between Kurdish and Shiite militia lines.

U.S. Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter is in Iraq, to meet with Iraqi officials and his commanders. This Time story discusses the current military situation in some detail.

Iraqi forces capture the center of Hamdaniyah, 20 kilometers from Mosul, though resistance continues in the area. The town is said to be largely deserted.

After meeting with Ashton Carter, PM Abadi declines an offer of Turkish help in the battle for Mosul.

IS blows up a sulphur plant near Qayyara. The resulting fumes kill 2 civilians and force U.S. personnel at the base to wear respiratory protection.

For unexplained reasons, IS has destroyed Mosul's largest hotel.

Also for unexplained reasons, IS is said to have murdered 284 of the civilians captured to serve as human shields.

AP blog reports on death of a journalist by sniper fire; unsuccessful attack on a convoy near Bartella, other recent developments.

U.S. fatality from Thursday is identified as Chief Petty Officer Jason C. Finan, 34, of Anaheim, California, assigned to Explosive Ordnance Disposal Mobile Unit Three.

In Afghanistan, as low-level fighting continues around the country, a Taliban delegation is in Pakistan to discuss possible resumption of peace talks, following previously undisclosed talks with Afghan and U.S. diplomats in Qatar.


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