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, October 12, 2008

News of the Day for Sunday, October 12, 2008

A U.S. soldier inspects the wreckage of a vehicle used in a bomb attack in Baghdad October 12, 2008. A car bomb killed nine people and wounded 13 in the Bayaa district of southern Baghdad on Sunday, police said. REUTERS/Bassim Shati (IRAQ)

Reported Security Incidents

Amara, Maysan Province

A Multi-National Division – Center Soldier died Oct. 11 when an improvised explosive device detonated near his vehicle south of Amara in Maysan province. Note: This is a Shiite province. On April 18, 2007, the occupation formally handed over responsibility for security in Maysan from British to Iraqi forces. The death of a U.S. soldier on patrol in Maysan suggests that the situation there is not as it has been officially depicted. -- C


Nine killed, 13 injured in car bombing in marketplace in Bayaa, southwest Baghdad, a predominantly Shiite area. (Earlier reports gave lower casualty counts but this is the most current as of posting time.) Note: This AFP report, like all wire service reports on violence in Iraq, includes what has apparently become an obligatory disclaimer to the effect that "violence is down sharply in Iraq," which you will see if you follow nearly all of these links. There appears to be a law against reporting on incidents without this statement. In fact, as our readers are well aware, dozens of Iraqis die in terrorist attacks, assassinations, and gun battles every day. To whatever extent this may be happening at a lesser rate than at some time in the past, why do the corporate media feel compelled to continually spin it as good news? The situation is completely unacceptable and would inspire horror if it were happening in any other country in the world. -- C

Two Iraqi soldiers killed by sniper fire at a checkpoint in Mansour.

Xinhua also reports two Awakening Council fighters killed by gunfire in Doura.

Roadside bomb attack on Palestine St. injures 5 police and 2 bystanders.

Xinhua also reports roadside bomb attack in Waziriya, northern Baghdad injures 3 police and 1 civilian.


Thousands of Christians flee the city as a campaign of violence against them escalates. More on this in the general news section, below.

Kurdistan, Turkish border region

Turkey announces air raids on 31 PKK targets inside Iraqi Kurdistan. Link is to text and video.

Near Marivan, Iran

Four PJAK militants said killed in clashes with Iranian forces. Although this incident occurred in the Kurdistan province of Iran, I note it here because, like the PKK which focuses on winning territory from Turkey, the PJAK has bases inside Iraqi Kurdistan and Iran has on occasion shelled PJAK targets within Iraq. The potential for escalating violence between Iran and the PJAK is just one of the worrisome situations in the region. -- C

Other News of the Day

AFP provides more extensive reporting on the sectarian cleansing campaign against Christians in Mosul. Excerpt:

Nearly 1 000 Christian families have fled their homes in the northern Iraqi city of Mosul following the worst wave of violence against them in five years, provincial Governor Duraid Kashmula said on Saturday. The Christians had taken shelter over the past 24 hours in schools and churches in the northern and eastern fringes of Nineveh province after attacks that have killed at least 11 Christians since September 28, Kashmula said.

At least three homes of Christians were blown up by unidentified attackers in the Sukkar district of Mosul, regarded by United States and Iraqi security forces of one of the last urban bastions of the al-Qaeda in Iraq. "The [violence] is the fiercest campaign against the Christians since 2003," Kashmula said. "Among those killed over the past 11 days were a doctor, an engineer and a handicapped person."


It was now time for al-Maliki's Shi'ite Muslim-led government to deliver on repeated promises to do more to protect Iraq's minorities, [Chaldean Archbishop Louis] Sako said. "We have heard many words from Prime Minister al-Maliki, but unfortunately this has not translated into reality," he said. "We continue to be targeted. We want solutions, not promises."

McClatchy's Leila Fadel also reports on the situation, with additional background and commentary. She refers to the omission of minority protections from the provincial elections law, a very significant development which was largely ignored in the celebratory reporting in the U.S. -- C

Iraqi blogger Laith, a McClatchy employee, reports on the cost of the oppressive security in Baghdad. Excerpt:

My long trips of coming to the office and going back home which sometimes take more than three hours give me a great chance to see different scenes. one of the repeated scenes is the armored convoys and the misuse of power.

About 5:40 on Saturday afternoon; the Iraqi security forces blocked the main street of Jadiriyah neighborhood was blocked because one of the Iraqi officials was passing through. The drivers were waiting for the convoy to pass. While they were waiting, a US military convoy came from behind. The driver of the first humvee saw the real long of the stooped cars and I'm sure he knows for sure they stooped because the street was blocked. Yet; he didn't stop. He used the horn and he kept hitting a sedan Mercedes in front of his humvee. The driver of the Mercedes took his hand out of the car and waved to the humvee driver as if he was telling him to stop hitting the car because the man doesn't have any choices but the American soldier kept hitting the car. He kept doing that for more than three minutes. I was on the other side of the street trying to get a taxi to go home. I left the street while the American soldier was enjoying hitting and bothering the poor Iraqi man who could do nothing because he knows for sure that he might be killed if he thought about going out of his car and tried to ask the soldier to stop. No one would even blame the US soldier if he killed him and simply the poor man would be considered a TERRORIST who tried to kill the innocent poor American liberator. The principle of the US soldier is (Im the one who has the gun. SO; I'm above law.)

Outbreak of cutaneous anthrax in Kurdistan, apparently among herders and perhaps slaughterhouse workers or others involved in meat and hide processing. This is not a terribly unusual occurrence although it is rare nowadays in the livestock industries of developed countries.

Afghanistan Update

British forces claim to have preempted a planned Taliban assault on the capital of Helmand province, killing up to 100 Taliban fighters. Interviews with local residents by Tom Coghlan of the London Sunday Times suggest that they distrust the British forces and tend to blame them for the fighting.

President Karzai, under pressure from the U.S. to reform his government, names a former official of the secret police from the era of Soviet domination as Interior Minister. You can't make this stuff up. -- C

Efforts by British intelligence to hold peace talks with the Taliban infuriate U.S. officials. Yeah, this is a somewhat dodgy tabloid but it's been reported elsewhere. Excerpt:

MOVES by British spies to end the war in Afghanistan have caused a major rift with the United States. Real-life James Bonds have helped set up talks with Taliban-linked politicians in a bid to end the conflict which has claimed 120 Brit lives. But the Saudi meeting has infuriated US intelligence experts who say the UK is too keen to get into bed with the enemy. American spooks believe chatting to the Taliban will be a disaster.

They claim that is what happened when UK military leaders agreed a truce in Musa Qala in Helmand province, which allowed the Taliban to take control of the town. They are also critical of the British softly-softly approach in Basra, Iraq, which left the city controlled by hardline Shia militias. One US source declared: “We had to clean up their mess twice. At this point it would be better if they left Afghanistan.”

Quote of the Day

I don't know how else the creeping rot of the commissions and the politics that fostered and continued to surround them could be exposed to the curative powers of the sunlight. I care not for myself; our enemies deserve nothing less than what we would expect from them were the situations reversed. More than anything, I hope we can rediscover some of our American values.

Former Guantanamo prosecutor Lt. Col. Darrel J. Vandeveld, on his decision to speak out against the rigged military tribunals in which he was once a participant.