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

Sunday, April 6, 2008

News of the Day for Sunday, April 6, 2008

Shiite children in a school that their families occupied after leaving their homes due to the ongoing raids by US and Iraqi forces into Baghdad's Shiite enclave of Sadr City. Fierce clashes between Shiite gunmen and US forces in the Iraqi capital's Sadr City district have killed at least 20 people amid calls from Iraqi leaders for all militias to be disbanded. (AFP/File/Ahmad al-Rubaye) Based on past experience, I expect to get e-mails telling me that this photo is fake. Don't write to me, write to AFP

Reported Security Incidents

Update: Rocket attack on the Green Zone kills two U.S. "service personnel," wounds at least 17. Separate attack on FOB in Rustamiya kills one, injures 14. Note: Rustamiyah is in southeast Baghdad, where the Army Canal joins the Tigris. It is far from both the Green Zone and Sadr City.

MNF also reports a "Coalition forces Soldier" killed by IED in Diyala, nationality unstated.

MND-Baghdad soldier dies of non-combat related injuries.


Iraqi hospital officials report receiving 20 bodies of people killed in fighting between U.S. forces and local fighters in Sadr City. According to Xinhua, an Iraqi Interior Ministry source gives the death toll as 22. Xinhua reports the clashes started around midnight when U.S. forces entered the district. According to one source, the fighting began when an Iraqi humvee was destroyed by a bomb. Xinhua also reports that Abdul-Latif Raiyan, a U.S. spokesman, says an American helicopter attacked a "militia position" in Sadr City, killing nine; and that a mortar attack on an Iraqi police station wounded two people and damaged several vehicles. AFP says that the casualty total includes 52 wounded, and that women and children are among the casualties. (Not clear whether that includes deaths.) According to hospital officials, most of the dead and injured had gunshot wounds. AFP also reports a second U.S. missile strike on Sadr City, but the U.S. has not confirmed it. According to Aswat al-Iraq, Raiyan said that, apart from the helicopter strike, "We have no reports of clashes with members of the Madhi Army in Sadr City at this time." (Maybe he should read the papers. -- C)

McClatchy provides more precise information about some of these incidents. Bomb attack on Iraqi army patrol that destroyed the Humvee occurred at approx. 6:00 am at "55 intersection." Armed clashes that produced majority of casualties occurred at 55 intersection and Falah street. Mortar attack was on special tasks directorate of the Ministry of the Interior at 9:00 am.

Roadside bomb attack on Iraqi army patrol in Zayouna, east Baghdad, injures three soldiers.

Mortar attack near Air Force Club on Palestine Street kills one civilian, injures three.

Police find seven bodies dumped on Saturday. Note: This number has generally been up a bit lately. -- C


Seven electrical workers who were repairing damaged powerlines are kidnapped. Reports that some have been released, the fate of others is unknown.


Gunmen ambush buses carrying college students, kidnap 42 of them, then release them. According to Brig. Gen. Khalif Abdul-Sattar, they released the students "after making sure they were not members of the security forces." It appears that the attack was done in error. They evidently attacked the wrong buses. -- C


Sadrist cultural center set ablaze by unknown attackers.


Police and Sahwa ("Awakening Council" patrols) find 9 bodies in Al-Zour village.

Near Baquba

Roadside bomb targets a police patrol. No information on casualties.


Seven Sahwa members killed in clashes with "al Qaeda" militants.

Bomb attack on house of Sahwa member causes damage, but no casualties.


Body of a woman with gunshot wounds is found.

Unspecified locations

Iraqi army claims to have killed 17 people, captured 52 others in various places in the past 24 hours. Here's a thought experiment: suppose the U.S. army made a similar boast about operations within the United States every day. How would that make you feel? -- C

Other News of the Day

U.S. Institute of Peace, which earlier convened the Iraq Study Group, issues new report on "progress" in Iraq. For those with short memories, the ISG was the so-called Baker-Hamilton Commission which attempted to give the administration cover to start a partial withdraw from Iraq, but got us The Surge™ instead. This report will undoubtedly be largely ignored by the U.S. media, since it doesn't conform to the prevailing narrative. I present it here without further comment. -- C. Excerpt:

A NEW assessment of US policy in Iraq by the experts who advised the original Iraq Study Group concludes that political progress is "so slow, halting and superficial" and political fragmentation so pronounced that the US is no closer to being able to leave Iraq than it was a year ago.

The experts were reassembled by the US Institute of Peace, which had also convened the congressionally mandated Iraq Study Group, a high-level panel that advised on US policy in Iraq in 2006.

The assessment predicts that lasting political development could take five to 10 years of "full, unconditional commitment" to Iraq, but also cautions that future progress may not be worth the "massive" human and financial costs to the US.

Some favourable developments in Iraq come from factors "that are outside US control" and are susceptible to rapid change, the report says, including the ceasefire by the Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr and the new Sunni "awakening" councils made up of former insurgents and tribal leaders opposed to the government of the Prime Minister, Nouri al-Maliki.

Kurdish president Massoud Barzani offers Kurdish troops to help Iraqi government fight the Mahdi Army, while Sunni Arab Vice President Tariq al-Hashemi signs off on a joint statement with Jalal Talabani backing the crackdown on the Sadrist forces. (Note: This is supposed to be good news. You can decide that for yourselves. -- C) Excerpt:

BAGHDAD (AP) - Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki’s faltering crackdown on Shiite militants has won the backing of Sunni Arab and Kurdish parties that fear both the powerful sectarian militias and the effects of failure on Iraq’s fragile government. The emergence of a common cause could help bridge Iraq’s political rifts.

The head of the Kurdish self-ruled region, Massoud Barzani, has offered Kurdish troops to help fight anti-American cleric Muqtada al-Sadr’s Mahdi Army militia.

More significantly, Sunni Arab Vice President Tariq al-Hashemi signed off on a statement by President Jalal Talabani, a Kurd, and the Shiite vice president, Adil Abdul-Mahdi, expressing support for the crackdown in the oil-rich southern city of Basra.

Al-Hashemi is one of al-Maliki’s most bitter critics and the two have been locked in an acrimonious public quarrel for a year. Al-Hashemi has accused the prime minister of sectarian favoritism and al-Maliki has complained that the Sunni vice president is blocking key legislation.

On Thursday, however, al-Maliki paid al-Hashemi a rare visit. A statement by al-Hashemi’s office said the vice president told al-Maliki that "we can bite the bullet and put aside our political differences."

Department of Res Ipsa Loquitur:

Baghdad, Apr 6, (VOI) – An official security spokesman said on Sunday that some armed organizations try to wield power over areas in Iraq, adding the Iraqi government is still continuing its military operations to impose law and order.

"Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki has reiterated the need to continue military operations by government forces to impose law and order, and that this security campaign did not target any certain political bloc," Sheikh Tahseen al-Shikhli, the civil spokesman for Operation Fardh al-Qanoon (law imposing), said in a press conference on Sunday.

"The government would fight all groups carrying arms and causing unrest and fomenting violence on the Iraqi streets," said Shikhli in his first press conference after he was freed from his kidnappers.

Asked on the government's performance to provide services to the citizens, Shikhli replied that the government "has failed to offer services, particularly in the impoverished areas inhabited by followers of Shiite leader Muqtada al-Sadr, which caused some terrorists to foment sedition amongst the Sadrists and tamper with security."

Quote of the Day

Now, ask yourself: Why has the U.S. government been occupying Iraq for the past 5 years? Didn’t they already “get” Saddam? Hasn’t he already been executed?

The answer is that U.S. officials, having “gotten” Saddam, must now “get” the “bad guys” in Iraq. And who are the “bad guys?” They’re the Iraqis who are angry over the killing of Iraqis, including women and children, who had to be killed in the process of “getting Saddam.”

As they continue to bomb all these “bad guys,” they continue to kill more innocents, including more Iraqi children and their families, which then incites more fury, which then causes more “bad guys” to join the insurgency. Those additional “bad guys” are then used as the excuse to continue the occupation of Iraq, an occupation that for obvious reasons will go on indefinitely.

Jacob G. Hornberger