Sunday, October 1, 2017
Trump's Afghanistan Strategy is Problematic. Sahar Khan, a visiting research fellow in the Cato Institute's Defense and Foreign Policy Department, believes that President Trump's new Afghan strategy has three fundamental faults that will worsen the conflict. Read "Three Problems with Trump's Afghanistan Strategy", CATO at Liberty, September 13, 2017.
Civil War or Counterinsurgency? One writer, Kevin Laiveling of The Stimson Center's South Asia program, advances the notion that Afghanistan is not conducting a counterinsurgency; that it is instead engaged in a civil war. An interesting way of looking at the 16-year long conflict that could have an impact on the strategic approach to take by the government of Afghanistan (and its international supporters) on how to resolve the conflict. Read "Afghanistan: A Civil War State of Mind", The Diplomat, September 20, 2017.
Iranian Interests in Afghanistan. Iran has played the U.S. well in Afghanistan. The U.S. support of the Afghan government provides an acceptable level of security along the Iranian - Afghan border. The U.S. has not done much to negate Iranian influence and interaction with the Hazara Shiite minority inside Afghanistan. The western area of Afghanistan - in particular the large city of Herat - sees very little interference in Iranian activities by the U.S., Germans, and Italians. However, Iran is concerned with the amount of Afghan refugees that cross the border and the drug trade poses difficulties as well. In addition, it is worried about the future security situation in Afghanistan - one reason why it is hedging its bets by supporting Taliban groups in western Afghanistan. Read more in an interview of Anthony Cordesman of the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) in "Afghan Opium Trade Sticks a Thorn in Iran's Side", The Cipher Brief, September 27, 2017.
Water Wars. John Nixon, a former senior leadership analyst for the Central Intelligence Agency provides his thoughts on where the Iranian Afghanistan relationship will turn sour. Iran's water crisis and partial dependency on Afghan rivers flowing across the border is the source of tension between the two nations. Read his column in The Cipher Brief, September 2017.