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, September 7, 2008

News of the Day for Sunday, September 7, 2008

Four-year-old Muntazer Ahmed, who was wounded in a suicide bomb attack, is treated at a hospital in Dahuk, 430 kilometers (260 miles) northwest of Baghdad, Iraq on Saturday, Sept. 6, 2008. At least six people were killed and about 50 were injured Saturday — including 19 in critical condition — when a suicide bomber attacked a market in Tal Afar, about 260 miles (420 kilometers) northwest of Baghdad, police and medical officials said.
(AP Photo)

Reported Security Incidents


Roadside bomb attack on police patrol on Palestine St. injures 3 police, 2 civilians.

AP also reports a second blast an hour later on Mohammed al-Qassim Highway wound 3 police.

VoI reports three attacks on police, injuring a total of 10 people. One of the locations is identified as Beirut square, which is on Palestine St., so that probably corresponds to the first incident identified by AP. I can't match the other two locations to the other incident reported by AP, however. One is identified as al-Zafaraniya, and one as near al-Shaab playground. Reuters reports two bombs on Palestine St., one in Zaafaraniya, and one in Zayouna. Al-Shaab stadium is two blocks from Palestine St., so that could be the second bomb Reuters reports on Palestine St. My best guess is that there were in fact 4 bomb attacks altogether. And indeed, Xinhua also reports a total of 4 attacks, with a total of 13 wounded. They also add the detail that the Palestine St. bombing was near the Turkmen social club, and was not in fact an attack on police. I went through this exercise to demonstrate how incomplete and inaccurate the information we get from Iraq really is. Americans who depend on the Associated Press would believe there were only two attacks in Baghdad today; but Chinese and British audiences will know that there were at least four.


Now this is odd. Today, joint forces from the army and police conducted raid-and-search campaigns in eastern and northern Basra, during which they found an unmanned reconnaissance plane in a good a condition in an uninhabited area in al-Salihiya, northeast of Shatt al-Arab. Did insurgents capture a U.S. craft, or somehow obtain a surveillance drone in another way? No explanation is given. Perhaps it merely crashed and the security forces recovered it.


An unidentified man is assassinated at a taxi terminal. This dispatch is confusing. At one point it says the taxi terminal was in central Kut; then it says the man was "about to take a cab home in the district of Sheikh Saad, 55 km south of Kut." Perhaps it means that was his destination.

Other News of the Day

An industrial accident in Karbala sends 52 workers to the hospital as chlorine leaks at a bottling plant.

Southern Arab Tribal Council, meeting in Basra, calls for firing of the Ministers of Trade and Electricity. It is of note that the government can't even satisfy its own base in the south with regard to basic services; while the situation in the Sunni Arab areas is even worse. Yet the government is sitting on almost a hundred billion dollars in surplus oil revenues. -- C Excerpt:

BASRA, Sept. 7 (VOI) – The Southern Arab Tribal Council, in a conference held on Sunday in Basra province, called for sacking the ministers of trade and electricity for their "slackness to do their jobs" in a way corresponding with the citizens' needs.

"The trade ministry has caused several harms to Iraqi citizens by trimming the items on the ration cards, let alone the bad quality of the all imported items," Sheikh Muhammad al-Zidawi, the council secretary-general, told Aswat al-Iraq – Voices of Iraq – (VOI). "As for the electricity ministry, its failure to handle the power crisis was more than clear. Despite the ministry's promises to tackle the problem, matters have grown even worse," he said.

Zidawi called for channeling Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki's grant for the reconstruction of Basra, which coincided with the Saulat al-Forsan (Knights' Assault) security plan, into the electricity sector.

A committee on reconstruction of Basra province was formed under Minister of State for Parliament Affairs, Safaa al-Din al-Safi, coinciding with the beginning of Operation Saulat al-Forsan, and was assigned to spend $100 million for enhancing services and reconstruction efforts in the oil-rich port city.

Zidawi noted that the conferees also rejected the Iraqi-U.S. long-term security agreement and called for referring it to parliament before signing it to consider it thoroughly.

Iraq Finance Minister Bayan Jabr Solagh is in Kuwait to discuss Iraq paying compensation for the 1990 invasion. Iraq is already required to pay into a compensation fund; this article makes it appear that Solagh is going to Kuwait to ask it to forgo part of what is owed. Given the surplus alluded to above, I'm not sure what grounds he would have for such a request.

Iraqi government newspaper Al-Sabah reports that U.S. troops will withdraw from Baghdad in June 2009. I'm linking to Xinhua's English-language report on this. However, it is of course conditional. This actually appears to represent the Iraqi government's position in the still contentious negotiations over the Status of Forces Agreement. I cannot imagine that Bush would sign an agreement as described below, since it would undercut much of the rationale for the McCain campaign. Excerpt:

BAGHDAD, Sept. 7 (Xinhua) -- U.S. troops will withdraw from Baghdad streets to bases out of the city by the end of June 2009, leaving the capital security file under the control of Iraqi security forces, Iraqi official newspaper reported on Sunday. "Some of U.S. military units would start pull out from Baghdad by February next year, and it is hoped that the troops would fulfill withdrawal from the capital before July," the state-run al-Sabah newspaper quoted well-informed source as saying.

The troops pull out will depend on security circumstances on the ground, the newspaper said, adding that those troops would be ready to support Iraqi security forces in Baghdad if the government of Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki request.

The newspaper also said its source revealed that there is an article within the long-awaited security agreement between Baghdad and Washington saying the U.S. combat troops would withdraw to bases outside cities and villages in all over Iraq no later than June 30, 2009, unless being asked otherwise by the Iraqi government. The whole U.S. combat troops would withdraw from the Iraqi soil at the end of 2011, the source said.

Al-Sabah also quoted Hameed Ma'lla, a lawmaker in the Shiite leading bloc, as saying that Baghdad is waiting for the answer of the U.S. government during the coming 48 hours about the Iraqi version of the draft security agreement.

Afghanistan Update

Two suicide bombers attack Kandahar police HQ, reports differ on total casualties, either 2 or 6 police officers killed, between 15 and 30 people injured. DPA also provides a roundup of other violence around the country.

Quote of the Day

We've already spent $600 billion on the Iraq war. We're running now at a rate of $3 billion a week. The members of our volunteer military are on their third or fourth year-long tours. Our military is broken and our budget deficits are astronomical. The loss of American lives is over 4,000 with an uncountable number wounded physically and psychologically.

Any American who feels that we should "stay the course" must realize that there is no way to sustain military operations in Iraq without them putting their own blood and money in the game. This would require our young people to join the Army and Marines. We'd have to buy war bonds and substantially increase taxes to stop spending money that we don't have. I'm convinced that this would result in a full loss of will by the American people before we achieve any so-called victory.

If Americans who support this war aren't willing to put their own bodies where their rhetoric is, there can be no sustainability. If you're not using your own product, why should I buy what you're selling?

John Bruhns