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22 August 2017


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"If your intelligence and infiltration of groups is good, you can stop the plot, find the village and bomb the crap out of it." Have you ever done anything like that or are you just fantasizing? pl


FB Ali

IMO it is impossible to "work with" the IS even if you wanted to do so. For a US commander at any level to try to do that would be suicidal in career terms. pl

dilbert dogbert

One of the late night hosts presented a side by side of trump and Obama saying the same things about Afghanistan. Interesting.


FB Ali -

The attack on the Hazara village and the massacre there was reportedly done by a joint operation of Daesh (ISIS-in-Khorasan) and elements of the Taliban.

Looks to me like they are cooperating, NOT fighting each other.

dilbert dogbert

Down thread I commented on one of the late night TV hosts running a side by side of trump and Obama saying those. I read from the bottom up rather than top down.

FB Ali

These reports are suspicious. Their source is the Afghan command and the NATO command. They have been denied by the official spokesman of the Taliban. However, if any Taliban did participate in the attack, they were from a 'renegade' group. Some extracts from the news reports:

The Taliban denies it was a joint operation......

Zabihullah Amani, a spokesman for the provincial governor, told AFP that the local Taliban commander has pledged allegiance to ISIS.

U.S. and Afghan officials have repeatedly alleged that ISIS and the Taliban have collaborated on terrorist attacks, a claim that both groups have denied.

The two groups are NOT cooperating.



B Ali -

Perhaps not a joint op with the main Taliban IEA, but elements. The link you provided states: "The Taliban denies it was a joint operation, saying a group under one of its commanders carried out the attack."

I concur with Colonel Lang's opinion. No way any rogue subordinate US commander could carry that out. Seems to me the insinuations Daesh is US supported seeping out of Afghanistan are either agitprop by the Taliban to cover up their own sub-units complicity, or to be charitable it could be paranoia. The same propaganda was tried in Syria.

dilbert dogbert

The topic is generals. Here is my question about Kelly and McMaster: Have they pledged personal loyalty to the president? Like Comey reportedly was asked to do. Col. Lang and others may have contacts that could enlighten me.

Peter AU

Erdogans oil convoys with ISIS? Putin brought these to the worlds attention apparently after US had been fighting ISIS for a year or more and much noise about cutting ISIS sources of finance. US with it surveilance and intel capabilities did not notice nor track these tankers?
The US attack on Deir Ezzor when no Russia could not contact anyone on the deconfliction line, A10 pilots that could not see the red of the Syrian flags standing out like dogs balls in the desert nor which way their targets were facing, the surveillance aircraft overhead was not listening in to the coms on the ground?

Now after the US has been in Afghanistan 16 years, ISIS have set up shop there.
The US ignoring the oil convoys which supplied finance to ISIS in Syria gives grounds to suspect the US may be turning a blind eye to some state support of ISIS in Afghanistan.
The Russian ambassador bringing up the subject of helicopters landing in ISIS territory at the UN, probably means Russia thinks there is some validity to the claims from Afghanistan.


Did he give any indication of what our goal is? Trump's speech was utterly incoherent/contradictory on the subject. In fact, the last "goal" I heard expressed (I think by W) was, "To prevent terrorists from using the country as a base to launch terrorist attacks on the homeland." This, of course, is not a measurable "goal." Exactly what is it that our troops are accomplishing there now, and why will more of it be better? Oh, and has anyone noticed that opium production has sky-rocketed since 2002?


I like your thinking about a possible China/Pakistan/Afghanistan alliance of some kind, but there's a historical fact most people either choose to ignore of forget about (or never knew about). The Taliban are Pashtun. Back in 1920 or whenever it was done, some British Foreign Office clerk drew a line between India (under the Raj) and Afghanistan approximately through the middle of the territory occupied by the Pashtuns. Thus, now half of them live in Afghanistan, and half live in Pakistan. In Afghanistan they are the largest and most powerful tribe. In Pakistan they have a province of their own. I don't know much about Pakistan, unfortunately, but people I trust have written that the Pakistanis are "terrified" that if a strong, unified government arises in Afghanistan, their Pashtuns will begin agitating to leave Pakistan and join with their fellow tribesmen in Afghanistan. Therefore ISS, the Pakistani intelligence service, works very hard to make sure that does not happen. Sounds plausible to me, but, as I said, I don't know nearly as much about Pakistan as I should and would like to.



I closely watch how things develop in Syria. What I see following closely stuff on the ground there is a R6+1 US Win Win.

Syrians can credibly claim that they successfully fought and managed to get their country back from terror and US president Trump can credibly claim that he managed to destroy ISIS. And Trump seems to keep this successful line, even when pressured by someone as powerful as Netanyahu.

Trump's strategy in Afghanistan looks to me very similar to what I see in Syria and Iraq. And it looks to me like a win-win to end this dumb war, too.



I do not see an opportunity for the US to apply the methods applied in Iraq and northern Syria to Afghanistan. IS chose to fight what has been essentially a conventionsl war against superior forces. The Taliban and other jihadis in Afghanistan are altogether a guerrilla force. pl


Castellio, Poland seems to have built a big harbor more recently to welcome US fracking oil to become a central cog in the European energy market, it seems. How did US media cover his first* (am I wrong?) European "touch down" after the ME or the SA and Israel, Poland?



You mean a personal loyalty oath like Hitler's? That's the slander the left has been throwing around anytime the Russia story, the racist story or the misogynist stories loses traction. Perhaps you should go to the source and ask the White House: (202) 456-1111 Don't ask about Debbie Wasserman-Schutlz's IT guy though, we wouldn't want that to get into the news.

Lord Curzon


My understanding is the troops to be sent are there to keep the lid on the situation (the phrase I've heard several times is stalemate), it changes the dynamic for the Taliban.

The generals appear to be going back to a strategy that was originally envisaged of supporting the Afghan government through until 2020, when they will have built their security capability and been professionalised.

So, if we can maintain a stalemate, it will get the Talibs to the table and talks about a political settlement can begin. The notion that we were simply going to pull out completely was a non-starter - this was the only way it was going to end and a conditions-based approach makes it much more likely it will.

The singling out of Pakistan is interesting, as their duplicity has been an open secret for years, but if tied together with the unequivocal demand by China earlier in the year for "security" to allow CPEC to prosper, the message to GHQ is clear: Pak's time of supporting jihadi proxy terrorist networks is over.


lord curzon

IMO this is nation building with a different face. The afghan security forces have not been "professioanalized" in 16 years of effort. I see no reason why a few more years will make a difference. These forces are far larger than Afghanistan can support financially until China or someone else fully develops the country's mineral potential. In a year ot teo the generals will e=want more troops in what is actually a new COIN effort rather than a minimalist CT approach. pl


Peter -

Call it like it is: The attack on Deir ez-Zor was carried out by US, British, Danish, Australian and US warplanes. The Royal Danish Air Force released a statement saying that two of its F-16's were involved in the airstrikes and the British released a statement saying that their armed Reaper drones also took part in the operation. The Australian Defence Force released a statement that two Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) F/A-18A were involved in the strike together with a RAAF E-7A Wedgetail AEW&C aircraft. Denmark pulled their F16s out of the coalition just three days after that attack, although they still provide support and training functions within Syria and Iraq.




And the Russians were informed prior to the attack. Unfortunately the Russian hotline was informed that the attack was going be be done 9km south of the Deir Ezzor airfield when they were actually planned to occur 9 km south of Deir Ezzor city, which is approximately 3 to 6 km south of the airfield. That was a massive cock-up on the part of the coalition. On the other hand, the Russians delayed for half an hour in notifying the coalition of the blunder. During that half hour fifteen additional airstrikes took place. Once they did notify the coalition the attacks stopped immediately.


Why do the generals want this? Careerism? Bellicosity? A combat lab?



Not careerism, they are already "there." stubbornness, rigidity, unwillingness to lose. pl


First an observation: Afghanistan is America's longest war, which actually began in June 1979, not after 911. Brzezinski got President Carter to sign a Presidential Finding authorizing covert support for what became the Afghan muhajideen, later morphed into Al Qaeda and Taliban. We solicited help from Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Israel and European allies to build the mujahideen force. I recall a late 1980s Senate reception where Michael Ledeen and Richard Perle were escorting around that great freedom fighter Gulbudeen Hekmatyar. Pre-911 we were negotiating with Taliban for the oil transit between CAR and Pakistan ports. We've been in a Thirty Years War. So it's even longer and a worse failure. Russia Insider comments on Afghan heroin explosion is another part of the sordid story.

Therefore, GTFO but with some thought behind it. SCO is tricky--neither fully functional nor irrelevant. Russia-China relationship is complex, BUT SCO surrounds Afghanistan, and when Iran gets full membership next year, SCO encompasses all the parties who have genuine interests in Afghan stability and peace. If the Trump plan to genuinely develop "major state" diplomacy with Russia and China (and with a US South Asia tilt to better cooperation with India) can proceed, despite the Borg hysterics, then a deal is there to be struck. Easier than JCPOA. No need to spell out the outcome--just get the talks going and make it clear that this is what's happening. Taliban will look to be part of the deal--the big loser if done the right way--is ISIS and Al Qaeda. Pakistan is part of SCO and the US shift to more pressure on Pakistan is not just welcome. I expected it. Just read Lisa Curtis writings on how to bring Pakistan under control from Heritage and other writings. She is NSC South Asia, ex CIA and State Department. JCPOA is the model, and SCO is a convenient, if imperfect vehicle to use to move more rapidly than the JCPOA process.


Harper, are you saying, with Bandolero, that the US government believes it can use the SCO to bring stability to Afghanistan?

Or are you saying it could think like that, if it wanted to.

Or something else.

Just trying to get clarity.


Trump is moving from so called nation building to straight out colonialism as part of a larger strategy to slow down or block the economic rise of China. Trump is moving from so called nation building to straight out colonialism as part of a larger strategy to slow down or block the economic rise of China.

China's strategy is based on a promise of infrastructure investment seeking mutual economic growth and prosperity (win win ). Meanwhile the hegemon's strategy is to be a spoiler of the BRI causing chaos and in its path (lose lose). The hegemon can't compete with China and thus is imposing its will by shear force or bribes (by hook or crook). Who wins hearts and minds in the long run?


I don't claim to have any local insight. But I can put two and two together. For example, it is known that the Northern Alliance is aligned with the US government. The Taliban is or was torching the poppy fields but now after more than a decade of US Military intervention the Poppy production has reportedly skyrocked. It follows that the Northern Alliance is a catch all name for drug lords. The Taliban must be seen as a moralizing force despite the rumoured Pashtun boy sex deviant preferences. [This could be true or anti Pashtun propaganda.]. In this scenario, what are the chances that the US presence would ever be acceptable to those not involved in the most profitable poppy trade?



All comments here are moderated by an actual human. Your two earlier comments had not been posted because I had not gotten around to them, but if you want to leave, adios. pl

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