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

Friday, August 10, 2018

Update for Friday, August 10, 2018

Recount is finally completed in Iraq, election results are not substantially altered. Muqtada al-Sadr's party retains the lead with 54 seats. Negotiations over formation of a government continue, with the outgoing president having 15 days after official announcement of the results to convene parliament.

Arab news discusses the negotiations in more detail. Sadr has been unable to form a coalition, in part because of sabotage by former PM Nouri al-Maliki, whose party only won 25 seats but who is close to Iran. The sub-text of the negotiations, at least as Sadr presents his goals, is non-sectarian government, rooting our of corruption, and independence from Iran. More on Sadr's "40 conditions" for joining the government here.

Following protests, PM Abadi has fired officials at the electricity ministry.

Renewed U.S. sanctions against Iran will harm Iraq's economy, as it struggles to rebuild from war.

In Afghanistan, Taliban assault on Ghazni is repelled with U.S. air support but Taliban briefly hold parts of the city and it is not clear that they have been fully expelled.

Bodies of dozens of Afghan soldiers are found in a military base in Uruzgan that the Taliban overran last week.

U.S. air strike in Logar reported to kill Afghan security forces, but U.S. now says that no Afghan forces were killed.

Pakistan moves to reinforce the border with Afghanistan with U.S. financing. (Presumably they want to keep militants who oppose the Pakistani government from launching attacks from havens in Afghanistan. Will they also crack down on Afghan Taliban harboring in Pakistan?)