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, February 22, 2008

Update for Friday, February 22, 2008

Note: Whisker is indisposed this morning, so I'm going to provide a brief update. A lot of news today. Susan should do her regular daily magazine later. -- C

Major Security News

Turkish forces enter Kurdistan in pursuit of PKK fighters. Aswat al Iraq quotes PKK spokesperson: ""Two Turkish soldiers were killed and eight others wounded in the combat that broke out on Thursday after 10,000 Turkish soldiers advanced under air cover to strike PKK positions," Ahmed Deniz, the PKK's foreign relations official, told Aswat al-Iraq – Voices of Iraq – (VOI). "Fighting is going on in the border areas of al-Zab, Khwakark and Khenira and the Turkish bombardment is also continuing," Deniz added." AP has a bit of info from the Turkish side, although they have said little. It is unclear whether 10,000 troops actually entered Kurdistan, or whether that is the number deployed in the operation but some remain on the Turkish side of the border.

In an interesting twist, VoI is reporting that Kurdish President Massoud al-Barazani has gone to the border region to "inspect" the Peshmerga forces. This suggests a subtle threat to the Turks from the Kurdistan government. Readers can draw their own conclusions as to what this says about the relationship between the supposedly illegal PKK and the Kurdistan government. -- C

A Multi-National Force - West Marine was killed in action against enemy forces in Al Anbar Province Feb. 21.

A Multi-National Division – Baghdad Soldier died as the result of a non-combat related illness Feb. 21. The incident is under investigation.

Muqtada al-Sadr has preachers announce a six-month extension of the Mahdi Army ceasefire at Friday prayers. I have yet to see any informed commentary or analysis about this declaration. It seems rather odd because Iraqi army forces fought for several hours with illegal militant groups in different areas in the city of Basra, some 550 kilometres south of Baghdad, security sources and media reports said Thursday. "The news agency Voices of Iraq (VOI) said the clashes took place in the Hussein and Jameiyat districts during the late hours of Wednesday and lasted till the dawn of Thursday. Helicopters were seen supporting the Iraqi soldiers during the clashes, while militants used rocket-propelled grenades. There were a number of dead and wounded on boths sides, but no firm casualty figures yet available, the reports said." According to Juan Cole, these "illegal militant groups" are in fact elements of the Mahdi Army. Exactly what their current relationship is with al-Sadr is unclear. Also, A key commander of Shiite leader Muqtada al-Sadr's Mahdi Army militias was killed in a quarrel with Iraqi army soldiers in the district of al-Amel, western Baghdad, a security source said on Friday. ""Saad Rashid was killed during a late hour of Thursday night after a quarrel with Iraqi army soldiers patrolling the area," the source, who requested anonymity, told Aswat al-Iraq – Voices of Iraq – (VOI). "One of the soldiers opened fire at Rashid, killing him instantly," the source said, not revealing any details on the incidents or the reasons behind the quarrel. That's not what I usually think of as a cease fire.


Anbar, Feb 22, (VOI) – Four people were killed and eight others wounded when a suicide bomber blew himself up amidst worshippers performing the Friday prayers at a mosque in southern Falluja, police said. "Among the killed was Maj. Saadon al-Ubaidi, an officer at the Amiriyat al-Falluja police station," the source added.

U.S. soldiers were wounded when an improvised explosive device went off near their patrol in the district of Balad, Salah al-Din province, during the early hours of Friday, a police source said.

Deaths from Friday's earlier car bomb explosion rose to two policemen and the injured to six, including two civilians, a security source in Tikrit said on Friday. "Police patrols found a civilian car in the Tikrit cemetery. The vehicle turned out to be rigged with explosives," a source from the Tikrit coordination center told Aswat al-Iraq – Voices of Iraq – (VOI) on condition of anonymity.

Police forces on Friday found two bodies in al-Askandariya district, north of Hilla, a police source said.
The two bullets-riddled corpses show signs of torture. "The dead men are from the Sunni anti-Qaeda al-Janabiyeen tribe," the source highlighted.

Three people, including a policeman, were wounded in a house bomb in western Mosul on Friday, the official spokesman for the Ninewa operations command said.

At least one man was killed and four others wounded when an improvised explosive device (IED) went off in the central Baghdad district of al-Karrada on Friday, police said.

A donkey and cart abandoned in a market place behind the National Theater, near Hamurabi Hotel, central Baghdad were used to carry an IED which was detonated early this morning, killing one civilian, injuring four, and causing a lot of material damage to the surrounding stores.

Hopefully we'll have more information on some of these major developments by this evening.

Oh yeah: McCain tells Hoosiers Iraq surge succeeding: "Presidential hopeful John McCain, on a campaign stop in Indianapolis this morning, said the U.S. is succeeded in its war in Iraq, though there's "long, hard work to do" in the war-torn country. The American military surge is working, McCain said, and our troops will be withdrawn when they can do so with honor and victory, not in defeat."

And I'll just blogwhore my commentary on the measles outbreak in Anbar.