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

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Update for Wednesday, September 27, 2017


The Kurdistan independence referendum has engendered fierce push back in the region, but it may be mostly bluster.

Iraq's civil aviation authority demanded that Erbil cede control of Kurdistan's airports to Iraq. The KRG refused and Baghdad has now officially closed Iraqi air space to traffic bound for Kurdistan. Lebanon, Egypt and Iran have suspended all air traffic to Kurdistan. However, this does not effectively ban travel to Kurdistan as passengers could go to Baghdad and then take a domestic flight.

Turkey has threatened to close the border and to shut off oil exports through the pipeline through Turkey. However, Gonul Tol of the Middle East Institute doubts this would happen. The movement toward reconciliation between Ankara and Turkey was well advanced before the referendum became a major irritant, and it is not in Turkey's interest to come into direct conflict with the KRG. For one thing, the KRG could again provide sanctuary to the PKK, and encourage irredentism in Turkey. In fact the border remains open.

The Iraqi parliament calls for the government to send troops to Kirkuk and seize the oil fields.

In other news, Iraq carried out a mass execution of 42 men on Sunday, an action condemned by U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, who doubts they received due process. Iraq holds some 1,200 prisoners who have been condemned to death at the Nassiriya prison. Iraq has released no specific information about the individuals who were executed.




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