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

Friday, November 18, 2016

Update for Friday, November 18, 2016

After pausing on Thursday due to bad weather and to consolidate positions, Iraqi forces resume their expansion in Mosul as civilians flee and IS pledges continued suicide attacks. (I would have to think, however, that the number of potential suicide attackers is finite. Also, these attacks slow down Iraqi forces and are unnerving, but they are mostly ineffective.)

Tension continues between Erbil and Baghdad over Kurdish vow to retain territory they have captured in the Mosul area.

Shiite militias take Tal Afar airport with support from Iraqi air and ground forces. They also say they are cutting the road between Mosul and Raqqa, which would leave Mosul fully besieged.

Iraqi forces take additional villages southeast of Mosul advancing past Nimrud.

Iraqi Red Crescent gives number of displaced civilians in Mosul battle as about 80,000.

Thousands of Christian gather in Erbil for a day of prayer while Shiite pilgrims converge on Karbala for Arba'een.

Children return to school in Qayyara, resuming a normal curriculum after IS occupation. Teachers are concerned that the children have become more aggressive and violent due to their experiences.