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

Sunday, January 1, 2017

Update for Sunday, January 1, 2017

The new year brings no better news for Iraq, where the death toll in a double bombing in central Baghdad yesterday now stands at 30.

In Najaf, a suicide bombing at a checkpoint killed 6 police and injured 25 people.

In Mosul, the battle grinds on with Iraqi forces continuing to claim territorial gains amid major destruction of houses and infrastructure. Fleeing civilians are forced to wait for days to go through the screening process.

U.S. Brigadier General Rick Uribe agrees with PM Abadi's forecast that the battle for Mosul will require another three months. He praises the Iraqi forces involved, but expects the battle for west Mosul to be even more difficult due to narrow streets that won't accommodate armored  vehicles.

AFP provides an eyewitness account of the fighting and the situation of civilians in they city, and those who choose to flee. Iraqi forces are making strenuous efforts to protect civilians.