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

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Update for Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Reuters reports that the original plan for the assault on Mosul was to leave an escape route open to the west, so that IS fighters and civilians could flee to Syria. That would allow Iraq to retake the city with fewer casualties. However, Iran persuaded the Iraqis to allow Shiite militia to close the escape route, forcing IS to fight to the death. (Assuming surrender is not in their range of options.) The result is the very hard fight we see now.

Iraqi forces capture additional territory in Mosul, but an overnight counterattack by IS in the southeast of the city is said to have inflicted heavy casualties.

Civilians flee Tal Abta west of Mosul as miiltias launch an assault on the town.

Desperate residents of Mosul brawl over newly delivered aid.

Canadian officials ponder their future role in Iraq and Syria once IS is driven from control of territory and presumably becomes a guerilla organization.


NYT reports that despite official Saudi support for the Afghan government, Saudi Arabia is a  major source of funding for the Taliban.