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

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Update for Tuesday, January 3, 2017

A British soldier, Lance Corporal Scott Hetherington, has died at a base in Taji Iraq under mysterious circumstances. While the MoD has ruled out foul play or suicide, and said the death was not the result of enemy activity, they have not described what occurred, other than to say that a gun was involved.

The UN reports that nearly 7,000 Iraqi civilians were killed and more than 12,000 injured in 2016 due to terrorism and armed conflict. [This is undoubtedly an underestimate as not all incidents can be ascertained -- certainly not within IS controlled territory. -- C]

Civilians are fleeing beseiged western Mosul by crossing the Tigris using various contrivances, including boats, and traversing bombed out bridges with the aid of ropes.

Meanwhile, Iraqi forces continue to make slow gains in east Mosul.