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, June 29, 2017

Update for Thursday, June 29, 2017

Iraqi forces enter the ruins of al-Nuri mosque in Mosul. However, resistance continues.
“Counter-Terrorism Service forces control the Nuri mosque and Al-Hadba (minaret),” the Joint Operations Command said in a statement. After a senior special forces commander said the mosque had not in fact been retaken, the operations command clarified that it meant Iraqi forces had isolated the area and were “advancing toward the completion of the goals.”

IS continues to hold civilians in its remaining territory to slow the Iraqi advance.

An analysis finds IS revenue has plunged by 80%  in large part due to territorial losses. However, it will be some time before its territory is completely eliminated:

“The Islamic State’s remaining caliphate is likely to break up before the end of the year, reducing its governance project to a string of isolated urban areas that will eventually be retaken over the course of 2018,” said Columb Strack, senior Middle East analyst at IHS Markit.
Canada extends its military mission in Iraq through at least March 2019.

No surprise, the exciting new Pentagon strategy to fight IS is essentially the same strategy they already had

U.S. House Armed Services Committee drafts bill that would cut off funds for Kurdistan if it secedes from Iraq. However, as some U.S. politicians have advocated for devolution, it is not clear whether the full congress will support this.

The KRG representation office in Washington made it clear it took issue with the language, calling it “inartful” and pointing out that the language is nonbinding and may not survive reconciliation with the Senate version of the bill. “It is the democratic right of the people of Kurdistan to hold a referendum on their future,” an official with the KRG office told Al-Monitor, “and no one that we have met in Congress has denied this fact.”