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

Saturday, May 10, 2008

War News for Saturday, May 10, 2008

MNF-Iraq is reporting the death of a Multi-National Division - Center soldier from non-combat related injuries in Iraq on Friday, May 9th. No other details were released.

The AFP is reporting the death of a U.S. CJTF - 101 coalition soldier in Kapisa province, Afghanistan in a roadside bombing on Friday, May 9th. No other details were released.

Reported Security incidents:

#1: Iraq's government has agreed a truce with the movement of Shi'ite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr to end weeks of fighting in eastern Baghdad between Shi'ite militia and security forces, a Sadr spokesman said on Saturday. He said he expected the agreement to take effect either on Saturday night or Sunday. "The government has accepted this deal." The U.S. military said it was not aware of any agreement.

He said "the agreement stipulates that Mahdi Army will stop fighting in Sadr City and will stop displaying arms in public. In return, the government will stop random raids against al-Sadr followers and open all closed roads that lead to Sadr City." "This document does not call for disbanding al-Mahdi Army or laying down their arms," al-Obeidi said, rejecting a previous call by al-Maliki.

#2: At least 13 people were killed in fighting between US forces and Shiite militiamen in Baghdad's Sadr City, officials said on Saturday. The US military launched air strikes against suspected militia targets in the vast slum district of some two million people throughout the night, Iraqi medics and security officials said. "Every 10 minutes or so we heard explosions," said Sadr City resident Hussein Kadhim, 35. "Last night must have been one of the worst nights of fighting in the past month."

A medical source at the Al-Sadr hospital said 77 people were also wounded in the fighting. All of the dead were men but the wounded included women and children. There was no immediate word from the US military.

Nineteen people have been killed and 116 wounded in clashes between security forces and militants in eastern Baghdad's Sadr City district in the past 24 hours, the two hospitals in the Shi'ite slum said on Saturday.

#3: Shiite militants launched rockets toward the fortified Green Zone on Friday, taking advantage of a sandstorm that gave cover from attacks by U.S. aircraft. Some rockets fell short, including one that damaged the British Broadcasting Corp. bureau. At least seven other rocket explosions were heard. But U.S. authorities did not confirm any strikes inside the Green Zone, which includes the U.S. Embassy and much of the Iraqi government.

#4: A rocket landed in eastern Baghdad, killing two people and wounding eight others, police said.

#5: Five people were wounded in a rocket attack in Baghdad's western Mansour district, police said.

#6: A mortar round wounded three people in eastern Baghdad's Palestine street, police said.

#1: Meanwhile, Maj. Gen. Riyadh Jalal Tawfiq, the commander of military operations in the northern city of Mosul, issued a statement on Saturday announcing Operation Lion‘s Roar and Righteousness Battle against al-Qaida in Iraq. Provincial forces are "undertaking a new phase of operations in Mosul to counter the terrorist threat there," said Maj. John C. Hall, a military spokesman in Baghdad. "These operations build on operations that have been under way for the past several weeks, targeting al-Qaida in Iraq cells."

#1: Dozens of protesters blocked a road Saturday in eastern Afghanistan, claiming U.S.-led coalition forces killed three civilians, and a local official said police fatally shot one of the protesters and injured three of them. The coalition said its troops were attacked Friday while searching compounds in the Shinwar district of Nangarhar province. The coalition said the operation was targeting a "foreign fighter network" and that militants in the area had recently attacked coalition forces. The troops destroyed several automatic rifles, grenades and ammunition discovered in the compounds. "The coalition claimed they were fired upon from a house and the enemy were gathered there, but the villagers claim those people who were killed were innocent civilians," said Mohammad Hashem Ghamsharik, spokesman for the Nangarhar governor.

#2: Separately, in central Kapisa province, a coalition vehicle hit a roadside bomb on Friday in Tag Ab valley, killing one service member, the coalition said. It did not give details.

#3: A 31-year-old Defense Department contractor from Medway was killed by a roadside bomb in Afghanistan on Wednesday. Michael Vinay Bhatia, originally from Medway and a 1999 Brown University graduate, was killed along with two soldiers when their Humvee was struck by a bomb just north of the Afghani city of Khost, near the Pakistan border. Two other soldiers were badly wounded in the blast, according to Reuters. Bhatia was hired by defense contractor BEA Systems of Rockville, Md., in September as a social scientist assigned to the U.S. Army's human terrain system program, said the company's director of communications, Scott Fazekas. The program is designed to help Army personnel better understand the socio-economic characteristics of the areas in which troops are deployed.