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, September 21, 2017

Update for Thursday, September 21, 2017

Iraqi forces launch offensive to retake Hawija. Once again, civilians are in danger, including some 30,000 children. Food, water and medicine are already in short supply in the city, and many children are malnourished.

The town is mostly Arab, but it lies near territory which is disputed by Kurdistan. The operation occurs amidst ongoing conflict over the planned Kurdistan independence referendum. The prospect of allies in the war against IS turning on each other is very concerning. Peshmerga are not taking part in the Hawija offensive.

Russia has not called upon Kurdistan to cancel the vote and has become a major investor in the Kurdistan oil industry.

In a weird twist, former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort has been hired by Iraqi Kurdish leaders to promote the referendum. As readers presumably know, Manafort is under investigation by the FBI and special prosecutor Robert Mueller for possible collusion with Russia during the presidential campaign, and perhaps other violations concerning his representation of the pro-Russian Ukranian government.

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