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, September 25, 2017

Update for Monday, September 25, 2017

While the Kurdish independence referendum will almost certainly pass, Kurdistan is in political dissaray, with control divided regionally between the KDP and PUK parties, and parliament largely dysfunctional. The referendum is a KDP project. Matthew Vickery explains the complicated situation for Al Jazeera.

Turkish PM Erdogan appears to threaten the Kurdish Regional Government with military action.

Iraq's parliament votes to send troops to Kirkuk, where territory is disputed between Erbil and Baghdad.

Iran closes the border with Kurdistan and stops all air traffic between the countries.

The referendum is not binding and will not immediately result in a declaration of independence. It will authorize the government to work toward independence. Baghdad will never agree to it, however, so the way ahead is unclear.