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, February 16, 2017

Update for Thursday, February 16, 2017

Car bomb attack on a used car market in Baghdad kills dozens. The linked report gives the death toll as 48, but reported casualty totals, as usual, have tended to rise over time. IS claims credit. This is the third car bomb attack in Baghdad in as many days, but by far the most deadly.

More than 46,000 people have returned to eastern Mosul, despite continuing attacks from IS by mortars and drones launched from areas still under IS control. (Apparently mostly meaning across the river.) However, due to the security situation the UN has temporarily suspended aid to government-held parts of the city. Rations for displaced people still in camps have also been cut due to a lack of international donations.

Iraqi government claims to have killed several IS leaders near Mosul in an air strike. However, other accounts attribute the action to the U.S.-led coalition.

Human Rights Watch accuses government-allied militias of destroying homes  and looting in villages bear Mosul.

In other news (sigh) the U.S. may enter ground combat in Syria, although the Pentagon has not presented as formal proposal as yet.