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

Monday, March 13, 2017

Update for Monday, March 13, 2017

Today I want to offer some analysis and perspective. First, in a lengthy essay that I hope you'll take the time to read, Nafeez Ahmed discusses the Iraqi catastrophe as the intersection of oppression of the Sunni majority by the U.S. supported government following the 2003 invasion; U.S. counterinsurgency strategy that effectively fueled the Sunni-Shiite conflict and fomented Sunni extremism; climate change which is destroying the agricultural potential of Syria and Iraq and creating social and political instability in the process; and the depletion of the region's fossil fuel reserves. Eliminating IS control of territory will just mean moving on to the next stage of chaos.

At the International Center for the Study of Radicalization and Political Violence, Charlie Winter has been tracking the evolution of IS propaganda as it suffers defeat.

Middle East Eye provides a detailed update no the battle for Mosul, where Iraqi forces continue to make slow progress against determined resistance.

The city is now fully besieged and there is no escape route for IS fighters.

Civilians continue to flee the city but hundreds of thousands remain trapped.

Shia militia uncovers a mass grave of some 600 civilians who were massacred in 2014 when IS seized control of a prison and took all of the Shiite inmates into the desert to murder them. A total of 1,500 are believed to have been killed in the incident.