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, December 28, 2017

Update for Thursday, December 28, 2017

IS claims responsibility for a suicide bomb attack on a Shiite cultural center and news agency in Kabul that is reported to have killed 41 people and injured 48. The attack occurred during a panel discussion on the anniversary of the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. IS has previously attacked Shia targets in Afghanistan. Other reports put the toll of injured at 84.

Six children are killed by an IED in Balkh.

Two police are killed and weapons captured by Taliban in an attack on a police checkpoint in Farah.

Five civilians are killed by militants in Ghazni. This story does not explain the motive.

U.S. military presence in Afghanistan to increase "dramaticallly."

[Gen. Nicholson]  has praised Trump’s new strategy as a “game changer” and said it has already begun to pay dividends. Vice President Mike Pence spoke along the same lines last week, when he made a surprise visit to the troops in Afghanistan. “The results are really beginning to become evident around the country,” Pence said after meeting with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani. Wishing the US troops a merry Christmas, he assured them the Trump’s new “fight-to-win strategy” for Afghanistan was “bearing fruit.” “I believe victory is closer than ever before,” Pence said.
Sure, "victory." Whatever that is supposed to mean.

Meanwhile, remember the total defeat of IS in Iraq? Iraqi officials warn of impending fall of Hawija to IS, following an attack on Shiite militia in Nineveh province.

And the non-existent IS still holds thousands of Yezidi captives.

Journalists are attacked and arrested to prevent coverage of protests in Kurdistan.

Much of Iraq is in ruins, but the hundreds of billions of dollars needed for reconstruction are nowhere in sight.

Baghdad at first expected American money would flow in after the defeat of IS, said a senior U.S. official in Washington who regularly meets with Iraqi leadership. But Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has said the United States is no longer in the business of “nation-building.” “We just tell them, no, it’s not going to happen,” the U.S. official said. “We have to be up front with them.”