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 5, 2008

News of the Day for Sunday, October 5, 2008

Turkish soldiers patrol near the Turkey-Iraq border. Turkey has begun burying 15 soldiers slain in a bloody attack by Kurdish rebels as the country's civilian and military leaders vowed that crushing them would be a top priority.(AFP/File/Mustafa Ozer)

Reported Security Incidents


Two U.S. UH-60 Blackhawk helicopters collide, killing 1 Iraqi soldier and injuring 2 Iraqis and 2 U.S. troops. The circumstances are disputed. Iraqi officials say the crash occurred during a gun battle, and a witness reports hearing gunfire. However, U.S. officials deny any hostile action was taking place. U.S. military raises the total of U.S. wounded to 3.

Kurdistan, Turkish border region

Fifteen Turkish soldiers and 23 PKK guerrillas reported killed in heavy fighting. Turkish military says that PKK attacked a Turkish post 6 miles inside Turkey, and that Turkish forces counterattacked. Further details, including the location of the fighting, whether in Turkey or Kurdistan, are scant.


Attack on a convoy of British construction contractors injures 1 Iraqi.


U.S. forces kill 11 members of one family in a raid on a house. Morgue spokesman says the dead include three women, three children of 12 years old and five men. Iraqi army and police are currently caring for a three-year-old and an infant who survived. The U.S. denies any knowledge of the incident. Update: U.S. now acknowledges that the incident occurred, says its forces came under attack by gunfire and a suicide bomber during a raid. U.S. does not say how the three children were killed.

Four killed, 6 injured in attack on a funeral. No information about the identity of the deceased or a possible motive.

Policeman injured by sniper fire. Also, 3 IED attacks on Iraqi army patrols, but no casualties reported.

Hussein al-Hammadi village, Diyala province

An attack blamed on AQI kills one, destroys 3 houses. Al Qaeda operatives are said to still hold the village.

Other News of the Day

About 6,000 of 15,000 artifacts looted from the Iraq national museum have been returned. However, the museum remains closed due to security fears. Reuters' Aseel Kami and Mohammed Abbas give details.

A high-level Egyptian delegation including Foreign Minister Ahmed Aboul Gheit and the Energy Minister is in Baghdad, a further sign of the gradual restoration of diplomatic ties between Iraq and other countries in the region.

McClatchy's Leila Fadel reports that as the Iraqi government closes refugee camps, people fear to return to the areas from which they were chased by sectarian violence. Excerpt:

According to the International Organization of Migration, a non-profit organization affiliated with the United Nations, more than 2.8 million Iraqis have been displaced internally, and another 2 million have fled to other countries.

The Ministry of Displacement and Migration makes no apologies for trying to close down the camps for the displaced, of which Najaf is by far the largest. In Iraqi culture it is considered shameful to live in tents and trailers, and only the most desperate of Iraqi society reside in the camp. Many had been squatters living in makeshift homes made from reeds before their homes were bulldozed. About a month later this camp was opened.

The government promised 1 million Iraqi Dinars, or about $847, to the displaced who return to homes where they were previously registered and six months of rent for those who are now squatting.

"We don't want the people to stay there and (for it to) become a place for criminals and dirty practices," said Ali Shalan Mohan, a department director in the Ministry of Displacement and Migration. "We don't want camps. This is not Darfur. ... We want to help them to restore their lives."

Currently the provincial government has blocked efforts by the ministry to shut down the camp. "It is not right to force these people to return," said Asaad Abu Galal, the governor of Najaf, as he waited in a tent outside the camp while the Iraqi army passed out aid from an American charity through the local Provincial Reconstruction Team. "They must return through their own will."

I missed this one a few weeks ago, but I thought it was worth posting now because it gives a different perspective on the situation in Iraq than we normally get here. The report is from Kurdish Media, which I definitely recommend as a resource. -- C

01 September 2008: The Iraqi president Nuri al-Maliki decided to close down the night clubs of Baghdad under the pretext of morality that supported by Article 38 of the Iraqi conditions, reported local media on Thursday. Observers believe that al-Maliki has started to create a Shiia Islamic state similar to that of the Islamic Republic of Iran. Al-Maliki, who is the prime minister and the commander of the armed forces, has being unilaterally making decisions in the absence of sick Iraqi President, Jalal Talabani, while the Iraqi parliament does not function due to conflicting interests of different ethnic and religious groups.

Quote of the Day

Although the "surge" has failed as policy, it appears to be succeeding as propaganda. It seems to be the only thing that supporters of the war have to point to, and so they point, and they point, and they point. Allow me to point out that while there has been a reduction in violence in Iraq -- now down to a level that virtually any other society in the world would find horrible and intolerable, including Iraqi society before the US invasion and occupation -- we must keep in mind that thanks to this lovely little war more than half the population of Iraq is either dead, crippled, traumatized, confined in overflowing American and Iraqi prisons, internally displaced, or in foreign exile. Thus, the number of people available for being killers or victims is markedly reduced.

William Blum