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 6, 2008

News of the Day for Sunday, June 6, 2008

esidents living in an abandoned military camp make dough for bread in Baghdad July 6, 2008. Iraqi security forces will announce a deadline next month for squatters to get out or be evicted from homes of people forced to flee sectarian violence in Baghdad, a military spokesman said.
REUTERS/Mahmoud Raouf Mahmoud (IRAQ)

Reported Security Incidents


A Multi-National Corps – Iraq Soldier died of non-battle related causes in Baghdad July 5. An investigation into the cause of death is under way.

A car bomb killed six civilians and wounded 14 other people in the Shaab district of northern Baghdad on Sunday, police said. One woman was among the dead and three policemen were wounded in the attack, which targeted a police patrol.

Three Iraqi security personnel wounded during various operations, in which either four or six wanted persons were captured. (The VoI story contradicts itself on the latter point.)

Five civilians injured by a car bomb near Shurta Tunnel in western Baghdad.

VoI reports that nine sections of Sadr City have been cordoned off following overnight clashes. No details on the fighting are available. "VOI has made every effort to contact the official spokesman for Baghdad's operations, but to no avail."

Qara Tabbah, Diyala Province

A roadside bomb went off near the convoy of a Kurdish party member in Diyala province on Sunday, killing eight people and wounding two others, a provincial police source said. The target was Muhammad Ramadhan Issa, local leader of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK), who was killed along with five of his family members and two bodyguards. The PUK is the party of Iraqi President Jalal Talibani. Note: Reuters and other sources have reported only that Issa was wounded, not killed. We'll have to await clarification.


An Iraqi serviceman was killed and four others were wounded when an explosive charge targeted their patrol vehicle in Baaquba city, security sources said on Sunday.

A civilian was injured when clashes broke out between the Iraqi army and Sahwa members in Baquba market around 12:30 p.m. I have noted before that fighting between Sahwa and the Iraqi Army is commonplace -- a fact which is completely ignored by most news media in the U.S., but which is absolutely key to understanding the true nature of the "progress" in Iraq. -- C


Gunmne kidnap two female students on their way to school. The students are from a predominantly Christian area.


"At the early hours of Sunday morning, unknown gunmen opened fire on Samir Muhammad Jaafar Khalati after breaking into his house in al-Houra area, central Kut, killing him on the spot," the source, who requested anonymity, told Aswat al-Iraq-Voices of Iraq- (VOI). The dead had a U.S. nationality and was a major importer of Chinese clothes in Iraq. He arrived in Iraq 10 days ago," the source noted.


Police find the body of an unidentified woman who had apparently been thrown from a high place. Not clear if this is an incident of politically motivated violence.

Other News of the Day

United Arab Emirates cancels Iraq's debt, said to total about $7 billion including interest and arrears. (Elsewhere, the total has been reported as $4 billion, but I believe this represents the original principal amount. -- C) Meanwhile, PM Nuri al-Maliki flew to the UAE today to reestablish diplomatic relations.

AP reports that Iraq has sold its stock of yellowcake uranium ore to a Canadian company, for enrichment and use in civilian power reactors. The U.S. transported the material. Note: I'm sure the uneducated wingnuts will be hollering about this, but this stockpile dates to before the 1991 Gulf War and had been documented and sealed by UN inspectors shortly afterwards. There is no evidence whatsoever of any attempt by Saddam Hussein to obtain nuclear materials after the 1980s. BTW, my friend Doug Brugge is quoted in this story explaining the hazard posed by yellowcake. It has very low radioactivity and is dangerous only if it is inhaled. -- C)

Gossip Column: I should have ignored this, I know, but how often do we get to post a racy and spicy story here? This story was first reported by the National Enquirer. In a divorce filing, the wife of a U.S. contractor in Baghdad accuses CBS reporter Lara Logan of having an affair with her husband. Apparently, Logan was cheating on her boyfriend, Australian CNN reporter Michael Ware, in the process. The contractor found her with Ware in a Baghdad safehouse and a "lengthy and sometimes physical altercation ensued." And you thought war is hell.

NPR is reporting that completion of the Status of Forces Agreement appears increasingly unlikely. Excerpt:

"SOFA is far away, very far away," says Sheik Jalal al-Din al-Saghir, a senior Iraqi lawmaker with the Supreme Iraqi Islamic Council. "It will take a very long time to negotiate, probably one or two or three years or even more."

He says the Iraqis are now looking at hammering out a short-term, lesser deal that will determine the legal status of U.S. forces in Iraq. Since the 2003 invasion, American and other foreign forces have operated in Iraq under a United Nations mandate that expires at the end of the year. "We are now discussing a protocol or even less than this, possibly some kind of memorandum of understanding," he says.

That protocol or memorandum would be attached to the "strategic framework agreement" — a broad pact that determines everything from cultural to commercial ties between two countries — that is also currently being negotiated. Haider al-Abadi, an adviser to Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, says the move was made because of public and political opposition in Iraq to a status of forces agreement.

Afghanistan Update

Afghan provincial official says U.S. airstrike hit a wedding party in Nangarhar province, killing 23 civilians, 20 of whom were women or children. Karzai ordered an investigation into the incident, while the U.S. led coalition claims it killed "militants" who had previously attacked a NATO base with mortars.

Quote of the Day

Shortages at Kirkuk hospital’s neurosurgery unit are such that surgeons ask the families of patients to go out and buy the basic equipment required for operations. This, in a country where medical care is supposed to be free and in a city which is pumping hundreds of thousands of barrels of oil a day. Even the most essential items – such as Gelfoam sponges to stop bleeding – are unavailable. . . .A local family brought their eight-year-old daughter who had a brain tumour to the hospital. She was having severe headaches – and surgeons needed a shunt to save her life. Because they didn’t have one in stock, they used a syringe. The improvisation didn’t work and the girl died. Families of patients search high and low for shunts – but can’t even find them on the black market. . . .The Kurds call Kirkuk the heart of Kurdistan and the Arabs call it an inseparable part of Iraq. Politicians shed crocodile tears for this city while its youngest residents die on operating tables for lack of a sponge.

Ayub Nuri