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

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Update for Thursday, November 10, 2016

Editor's Note: During the campaign, Donald Trump made vague claims about his likely policy in Iraq and Syria. He claimed repeatedly that the battle for Mosul was a "disaster," and that he has a secret plan to destroy IS. He did talk about "bombing the shit" out of them and propose torturing captives and murdering the families of suspected terrorists. He did condemn U.S. support for opposition forces in Syria and apparently wants to ally with Russia and Russian objectives in the fight against IS in Russia, which would mean restoring the Assad government's rule over the relevant territory. He also at times disparaged the U.S. alliance with the Iraqi government, which he claims is a stooge of Iran. There is no telling what the Trump administration will actually do once he takes office, since he clearly has no idea what he is talking about. In any event, the battle for Mosul is likely to be over or nearly over by then.

U.S. Central Command admits to 119 civilian deaths from air strikes in Iraq and Syria since 2014, including 64 in the past year. This is far fewer than independent monitoring groups have claimed.

Amnesty International accuses Iraqi police of the torture and murder of people fleeing Mosul  who they suspect of having ties to IS.

Iraqi forces continue slow advance into Mosul from the east, claiming control of the Zahra district.

The fighting is extremely difficult  as the urban environment deprives conventional forces, including armor, of their advantage.

Iraqi forces claim additional territory south of the city  and plan to advance on the city from the south shortly.

Peshmerga forces intend to remain in Bashiqa and nearby territory they have seized, but do not plan further advances.

New York Times reports that many people exiled from Mosul do not plan to return, as they fear the social fabric of the once diverse city has been shattered.

Refugees face problems with legal documents issued by IS, such as identity papers and birth certificates, which the Iraqi government does not recognize.