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 26, 2008

News of the Day for Sunday, October 26, 2008

Iraqi Sunni Muslims demonstrate in Fallujah to protest against the killing of one of their members by the US troops. A leading Iraqi Sunni political bloc, said on Saturday it is breaking ties with US forces in the former rebel bastion of Fallujah after troops killed one of its members. (AFP)

Reported Security Incidents


IED attack on a police patrol in al-Baladiyyat area, eastern Baghdad, injures 3 police and 1 civilian.

Bomb attached to a health ministry car near the ministry's HQ in Bab al-Muazzam injures 4, according to VoI, injures 5 according to KUNA, which adds some highly uncharacteristic snark: "The blasts coincided with Iraqi official statements that claimed improved security conditions, which contradicts the Coalition forces' reading of the situation on the ground. The latter uses the adjective 'fragile'."

Near Kirkuk

Three gunmen killed in clashes with security forces southwest of the city. According to Reuters, the "security forces" were in fact U.S. forces.


Gunmen invade the home of Ahmed Dawoud Marzou, Anbar provincial representative of the Iraqi National Dialogue Front, and seriously injure him. (Note: the Iraqi National Dialogue Front is not to be confused with the somewhat better known Iraqi Accord Front, or its component Iraqi National Dialogue Council. The INDF opposed the Iraqi constitution and opposes the occupation. The BBC offers a handy-dandy guide to Iraqi political blocs here.)


Policeman killed in a drive-by shooting at a checkpoint.

Reuters also reports a roadside bomb injures two policemen in southern Mosul.

Other News of the Day

Uh-oh: Iraqi Islamic Party claims U.S. forces murdered an innocent party member, suspends all ties with the occupation. The U.S. claims the raid targeted a member of the insurgent group Hamas al Iraq. The fact is, there are certainly ties between Iraqi political parties and militants of various stripes, as everybody knows. This is just one more example of how completely untenable the U.S. position in Iraq really is. An excerpt from Leila Fadel's report:

The most powerful Sunni Muslim party in Iraq issued an angry statement Saturday accusing Americans of covering up the killing of an innocent member of the party.

The Iraqi Islamic Party of Vice President Tariq al Hashimi suspended all "official communication" with American military and civilian officials in Iraq Saturday until it receives an "explanation . . . official apology . . . and a vow to stop the campaign of harassment against the party."

The statement followed an incident Friday in which U.S. and Iraqi forces raided a home six miles west of Fallujah in predominantly Sunni Anbar province, detained one man and killed another. The Islamic Party accused the American military of detaining five innocent members of the party and killing Sajed Yasseen Hameed, 44, "in his bed in cold blood."

Marie Colvin of the Sunday Times reports that the SOFA is doomed. Now what? Excerpt:

Senior Iraqi politicians have warned that a crucial deal between Baghdad and Washington governing the presence of American troops in the country is doomed to failure after eight months of talks.

“The Sofa [Status of Forces Agreement] is dead in the water,” said one Iraqi politician close to the talks. He added that Nouri al-Maliki, the prime minister, believed that signing it would be “political suicide”.

The collapse of the deal would severely undermine American policy. An agreement is needed to put America’s presence on a legal basis after the United Nations mandate for its 154,000 troops in Iraq expires on December 31. Robert Gates, the US defence secretary, claimed last week that the deal was “mostly done”.

And indeed, the Iraqis have canceled an extraordinary meeting of the cabinet scheduled for today to discuss the pact. The cabinet will hold its regularly scheduled Tuesday meeting.

President Talibani invites Iranian leader Ayatollah Akbar Hashemi-Rafsanjani to visit Iraq. (As you may recall, Rafsanjani is the former president who lost to Ahmadinejad in the 2005 election.)

Casualty Reports

DoD says Air Force Staff Sergeant Brian Hause of Stoystown, PA died Thursday at Balad Air Base of non-combat causes.

Army Private Janelle F. King dies of unspecified causes in Baghdad, apparently at Camp Cropper.

Afghanistan Update

Canadian soldier injured by roadside bomb near Kandahar.

Three Turkish nationals kidnapped in Khost.

Quote of the Day

The collapse of the Bush administration's ambitious plan for a long-term U.S. presence in Iraq highlights the degree of unreality that has prevailed among top U.S. officials in both Washington and Baghdad on Iraqi politics. They continued to see the Maliki regime as a client which would cooperate with U.S. aims even after it was clear that Maliki's agenda was sharply at odds with that of the United States. They also refused to take seriously the opposition to such a presence even among the Shiite clerics who had tolerated it in order to obtain Shiite control over state power.

Gareth Porter