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 24, 2016

Update for Thursday, November 24, 2016

Tim Arango of the NYT reports that the decision by the Iraqi military to urge civilians in Mosul to remain in their homes has not turned out well. Civilian casualties are mounting, mostly from IS fire, while due to the presence of civilians the Iraqi military cannot use heavy weapons.

Truck bomb in Hilla kills as many as 80 Arbaeen pilgrims, including some Iranians.

Security forces carry out mass arrests in Anbar.

Asharq al-Awsat publishes a false story accusing Iranian Arbaeen pilgrims of impregnating hundreds of Iraqi women. Arrest warrants have been issued for two Iraqi journalists in the case. The publication is based in London and Saudi owned. (I sometimes link to it as it is generally reliable. However this incident highlights the intense sectarian hostility in the region and it is quite disturbing.)

Xinhua reports on the grim conditions in Mosul. Now that the city is besieged the only source of food will be the Iraqi army. It is not clear what will happen in IS held areas.