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, July 20, 2008

News of the Day for Sunday, July 20, 2008

A woman walks past the wreckage of a destroyed vehicle on a road after a bomb attack in Baghdad's Adhamiya district July 20, 2008. A bomb attached to the car killed the driver of the vehicle in northern Baghdad, police said. REUTERS/Omar Obeidi (IRAQ) Yes, this the same old type of photo we usually use here, but I wanted to remind people that contrary to the impression you get from the corporate media here in the U.S., violence in Iraq continues at an unacceptable level, as today's round-up shows. -- C

Reported Security Incidents


Roadside bomb attack in al-Waziriya district injures 3 police officers and one civilian.

One civilian killed, 3 injured in bomb explosion in Karada, central Baghdad.

IED explosion in Adhamiya kills 1 civilian and injures 2 on Saturday night.

Bomb attached to a car kills the driver. The wording is ambiguous but this seems to refer to an assassination rather than a failed suicide bombing. The victim is not identified.


Police officer wounded by IED attack.


U.S. forces kill the son and nephew of the governor of Salah ad-Din province, Hamad Hammoud, apparently while raiding a house in search of a wanted man. According to one source, an al-Qaeda operative was killed in the same raid, but another source seems to suggest that the raid was conducted in error. U.S. military claims the men were armed and showing "hostile intent." Either way, this is a strange tale. We'll see if we eventually get clarification.


Body of a young woman found with four gunshot wounds. Not clear whether this was a politically motivated incident.


IED attack on police patrol injures 3 civilians.

Gunmen kill 1 person in a drive-by shooting.

Anbar province (location unspecified)

Police thwart suicide attack on their patrol by shooting the bomber.

Other News of the Day

Efforts to "walk back" al-Maliki's statement to Der Spiegel appearing to back Barack Obama's 16 month timeline for withdrawal of U.S. forces lead to more confusion. As readers undoubtedly know by now, the German magazine reported "Nouri al-Maliki says U.S. troops should leave Iraq "as soon as possible," according to a magazine report, and he called presidential candidate Barack Obama's suggestion of 16 months "the right timeframe for a withdrawal." Der Spiegel's English translation of the entire interview is here. Here is the key portion:

SPIEGEL: Would you hazard a prediction as to when most of the US troops will finally leave Iraq?

Maliki: As soon as possible, as far as we're concerned. U.S. presidential candidate Barack Obama talks about 16 months. That, we think, would be the right timeframe for a withdrawal, with the possibility of slight changes.

SPIEGEL: Is this an endorsement for the US presidential election in November? Does Obama, who has no military background, ultimately have a better understanding of Iraq than war hero John McCain?

Maliki: Those who operate on the premise of short time periods in Iraq today are being more realistic. Artificially prolonging the tenure of US troops in Iraq would cause problems. Of course, this is by no means an election endorsement. Who they choose as their president is the Americans' business. But it's the business of Iraqis to say what they want. And that's where the people and the government are in general agreement: The tenure of the coalition troops in Iraq should be limited.

Al-Maliki presides at the opening of a new airport in Najaf. The airport is expected to serve Shiite pilgrims, an important potential source of revenue for Iraq.

Tawafiq, the largest Sunni Arab bloc in parliament, has finally rejoined the government. Sadrists, however, continue their boycott. Tensions between the Shiite-led government and the Sunni Arab bloc continue over security issues:

In April, members of Tawafiq announced that they were working out a deal to return to Parliament. At the time, leaders said they were pleased that the government was addressing some of their concerns by passing an amnesty law that led to the release of Sunni prisoners and by leading operations against Shiite militias.

Sunni leaders had also been pressing for a voice in security decisions and for the appointment of a Tawafiq member to head the powerful Planning Ministry. That ministry is led by Ali Baban, who left Tawafiq after the Sunni boycott began in order to keep his post.

The struggle over the Planning Ministry remains unresolved, said Khalaf al-Iliyan, the leader of the National Dialogue Council, a party within Tawafiq.

As for Tawafiq's demand for a greater say in security matters, Sami al-Askari, a member of the United Iraqi Alliance, said that Maliki considered their demands unconstitutional.

"He assured them that the Iraqi Constitution treated this issue clearly," Askari said. "Security is overseen by the general commander of the security forces, and the prime minister is the general commander of the security forces."

British PM Gordon Brown, in Jerusalem after departing Iraq, calls on Shiite kidnappers to release British hostages. This hostage situation has gone largely unreported but is now in the news following the kidnappers' release of a video claiming one of the hostages killed himself in May.

Quote of the Day

There is anger inside our people. There is a volcano that wants to erupt. But we are obedient to Sayed Muqtada.

Sadrist woman leader Nadhil al Sudani, describing how the anger of Sadr City residents at the Iraqi army is contained only by Muqtada al-Sadr's orders to refrain from violence.