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, April 6, 2017

Update for Thursday, April 6,2017

IS shoots down an Iraqi helicopter over Mosul, killing 2 crew members.

Currently 260,000 civilians are displaced from western Mosul, and the government expects another 150,000 refugees as the battle for the city continues. Accounts of the total number displaced from the city vary, but are as high as 430,000.

The town of Hamdaniya, between Mosul and Irbil, remains nearly deserted  after IS was driven out, pointing to the immense task of reconstruction. The fighting left the town without water or electricity, and much of it is rubble.

Kurdistan's two main political parties have agreed to hold a referendum on independence this year.

As Iraqi forces battle to retake Mosul, IS remains in control of Hawija, where it has executed civilians accused of collaboration.

Civilian death toll from U.S. airstrike on March 17 is now estimated at 300, as 278 bodies have been recovered but more remain buried beneath the rubble.

Reuters reporters describe the harrowing journey from Mosul to refugee camps. The particular camp from which they report has sufficient resources, but people are of course hoping to return home.

IS suicide attackers disguised as police kill 31 people in Tikrit on Wednesday.

Kurdish delegation to Baghdad meets with offiicals to discuss the independence referendum and their refusal to stop flying the Kurdish flag in Kirkuk.

Bomb attack in Baghdad kills 31.

Kurdistan hospitals are overwhelmed by refugees.

Son-in-law of U.S. president visits Irbil. The heir to a real estate fortune, with no foreign policy credentials or experience, is also charged with negotiating peace between Israel and Palestine, U.S. relations with China and Mexico, and reinventing U.S. government according to business principles. Good luck to him.

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