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 23, 2017

Update for Thursday, February 23, 2017

Iraqi forces have captured the Mosul airport, although some sources are suggesting that parts of the complex are not yet under government control. KUNA says that half the airport has been captured, along with portions of a nearby military base. (Note that the government commonly makes premature claims of complete control of territory. Many reports are saying the government has control of the entire airport but as of now I am skeptical. -- C)

U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Dunford says the military is preparing to present the president with a plan to defeat IS of "global scope". No specifics are available as of now.

The Pentagon acknowledges that U.S. troops have come under fire in the battle for Mosul and that some have been wounded and evacuated, but declines to say how many. (This has gotten so little publicity in the U.S. that I had to track it down from RT, which I normally stay away from. -- C)

UNHCR reports on progress toward accommodating civilians displaced from the Mosul battle. They are still well short of anticipated need, even as conditions in IS held territory grow increasingly desperate.

There are shortages of food, water, fuel and medicine. Half of all food shops have closed and most people can only access untreated water. Food prices are rocketing and there are reports of families burning furniture, clothing and plastic to stay warm. Conditions will deteriorate if civilians are not able to flee the fighting.

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