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

Tuesday, November 27, 2018

Update for Tuesday, November 27, 2018

Three U.S. service members are killed and four injured in an explosion near Ghazni. A U.S. contractor was also injured. No further details have been released as of yet.

A U.S. army ranger was killed on Saturday in Nimroz province during an assault on Al Qaeda positions. It is believed he was shot accidentally by an Afghan soldier. Sgt. Sgt. Leandro Jasso, 25, of the 75th Ranger Regiment was on his third deployment to Afghanistan.

Taliban abduct 25 travelers in Balkh, later release the women. The motive for the action is not reported.

A severe drought has led to food shortages affecting half of Afghanistan's rural population. The UN Food and Agricultural Organization is working to assist the most severely affected farmers.

The drought and fighting have led to displacement of a quarter million people in the western provinces of Herat, Badghis and Ghor. The UN is flying in 15,100 family size tents to shelter the population as winter approaches.

The United Kingdom has pledged 35 million pounds for drought relief. This story from The Guardian has further information on the crisis.

Following criticism of the recent parliamentary elections, the Afghan government is considering postponing the presidential election scheduled for April.

Taliban ambush a police convoy on Sunday in Farah, killing 22 police.

The number of bombs dropped on Afghanistan by the U.S.-led coalition is approaching the record set in 2011. The number through September of this year was 5,213. 5,411 was the total in 2011.





Wednesday, November 21, 2018

Update for Wednesday, November 21, 2018

Suicide bomb attack on a gathering of religious scholars in Kabul kills 55, injures 95. The Taliban have denied responsibility and IS has not issued any statement. The meeting was hosted by the Afghan Ulema council on the occasion of the Prophet's birthday.

Protesters close the Kabul-Gardiz highway in Logar, accusing government forces of killing 8 civilians.

Three police killed in a roadside bombing in Kandahar.

As U.S. commander Gen. Scott Miller visits Ghazni, two missiles strike the city damaging a medical facility. Miller is not believed to have been the target.

Pentagon inspector general finds little progress in U.S. led peace initiative.


Thursday, November 15, 2018

Update for Thursday, November 15, 2018

New Taliiban assault in Farah province kills 45 government forces, including the district police chief. The attackers seized arms and ammunition and are said to have captured a military base.

According to this account, the attack originated as an insider attack at a joint army and police base.

According to TOLO, the Taliban captured 60 prisoners as well. Retaliatory helicopter strikes are said to have killed many Taliban. The security situation in Farah is becoming desperate.

Taliban attack police outposts in Zabul. The government says the attack was repelled, with 8 Taliban and two police killed.

The U.S. State Department says special envoy Zalmay Khalilzad is making progress in peace negotiations but provides no specifics. Khalilzad has postponed a previously scheduled visit to Pakistan.

Fighting in Maidan Wardak said to kill 9 Afghan soldiers and 5 insurgents.

In a mysterious incident, the body of a senior Pakistani police officer has been found in Nangarhar province. He was kidnapped in Islamabad. A letter found with the body claimed responsibility on behalf of the IS Khurasan faction, but their motive for doing this is not clear.


Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Update for Tuesday, November 12, 2018

Taliban attack Jaghori district in Ghazni, destroy a company of elite Afghan special forces, killing more than 30 along with about 50 police and local militia members. The area is inhabited by ethnic Hazaras. Some of them protested in Kabul on Monday and six of them were killed by a suicide bomber. The entire district is in danger of falling to the Taliban.

Some 1,800 families have fled the district to Bamyan.

Ministry of the Interior says that reinforcements have been sent and that a large-scale military operation is planned.

U.S. airstrike is said to kill 8 Taliban in Ghazni.

Government claims to have killed more than 100 insurgents overnight in Ghazni while losing only two Afghan National Police. (They commonly report such extremely lopsided casualty claims, which I do not consider credible.)

Wall St. Journal reports U.S. is considering asking Afghanistan to delay presidential elections  as efforts are underway to negotiate a settlement with the Taliban.

President Ghani says the Taliban are not winning. (But it's never a good sign when you have to say that. -- C)




Tuesday, November 6, 2018

Update for Tuesday, November 6, 2018

This is a long read but it's important information. Antibiotic resistant pathogens are a huge problem in Afghanistan. This was a huge problem for the military, with troops frequently acquiring drug resistant infections in blast wounds. The military has largely overcome it, but the civilian population is severely affected. This article also notes that Afghanistan has among the worst health care and public health systems in the world:

One woman dies every two hours from pregnancy-related causes, according to conservative estimates by Medecins Sans Frontieres (Doctors Without Borders), and one in 25 newborn babies dies, the third highest neonatal death rate in the world, UNICEF figures show.
Life expectancy at birth is 64, compared with 79 in the US and a global average of 72. There is a shortage of doctors, especially in rural areas, and infection control is poor.
Drug resistance has become one of the world's greatest public health crises, estimated to cause 700,000 deaths worldwide and expected to kill 10 million by 2050 if no action is taken.
Fueling the superbug problem in Afghanistan is the unregulated sale of antibiotics in human medicine and in agriculture. Drugs are advertised on television and available to buy over the counter from pharmacies without a prescription or diagnosis from a doctor.
Fighting between Taliban and a local militia kills 40 civilians in Uruzgan and Ghazni.

I don't normally link to PressTV but this story has corroboration and the PressTV version is the most accessible I could find. Taliban attack a border post in Farah and kill at least 20 border police, capturing the post. This is on the border with Iran.

UN says 56 civilians killed and 379 injured in violence associated with the recent elections.

In Iraqtalks are underway between the PUK and KDP to form a new Kurdish regional government.

UN reports more than 200 mass graves found in areas formerly controlled by IS. The process of exhumation is just beginning.

Multiple bombings in Baghdad kill 6 civilians. These targeted predominantly Shiite districts.

Newly elected Prime Minister Adel Abdul-Mahdi says that the Shiite militias known as Popular Mobilization Forces will not be disbanded. Most of these are linked to Iran.

Abdul-Mahdi is apparently ready to announce his slate of ministers.  Minor posts have been filled but the major appointments have been held up in political disputes.

Hundreds of tons of farmed carp have died in the Euphrates, as water pollution grows worse.

Monday, November 5, 2018

Update for Monday, November 5, 2018

Army Major Brent Taylor, 39, of the Utah National Guard was fatally shot on November 3 by a Afghan National Defense and Security Force. Major Taylor was on leave from his office as mayor of North Ogden, Utah.

Taliban attack on two checkpoints in Ghazni results in deaths of 13 members of the Afghan security forces. The checkpoints were set up recently to cut off Taliban supply routes. They were completely destroyed.

U.S. drone strike in Laghman said to kill 3 militants. These appear to have been Taliban, which suggests the U.S. is not limiting its direct combat operations to IS targets as has sometimes been asserted.

Afghan government's territorial control reaches a record low.

It is unclear whether the Taliban will attend peace talks scheduled for November 9 in Moscow.