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, November 15, 2017

Update for Wednesday, November 15, 2017


The Kurdistan movement for independence appears to be over, at least for now, as the Kurdistan Regional Government issues a statement affirming the unity of Iraq.

An earthquake centered near Halabja causes severe damage and hundreds of deaths in Iranian Kurdish region. The damage is relatively little in Iraqi Kurdistan, due to higher quality construction, but not insignificant. There are 10 known dead in Iraq and fears for the integrity of a dam on the Diyala river, as well as damaged and destroyed buildings. The death toll in Iran is, as usual, largely attributable to unreinforced masonry construction. (Halabja was the site of the notorious chemical attack by the Saddam Hussein regime in 1988.)

Jan Egeland of the Norwegian refugee council warns that new humanitarian challenges loom in Iraq following the defeat of IS. Three million people remain displaced and the cleavages in Iraqi society are creating new refugees and the prospect of new conflicts. Meanwhile international attention may be fading in the face of enormous rebuilding needs.

Two bombings in Baghdad kill 9 people. These occurrences remain common, and are now so routine as to receive little attention.

A law proposed in parliament would allow girls as young as nine to be married. It is based on a school of Shia jurisprudence and would apply only to Shiite citizens. While the law is unlikely to pass, this is an indication that the secular nature of the Iraq regime is under challenge.

Iraqi forces continue to take remaining IS territory near the Syrian border, apparently with little resistance.

Analysis by John Jenkins finds that the failure of the Kurdish bid for independence has enhanced Iranian influence in the region.

And indeed, Iran will already receive oil from the Kirkuk fields



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