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, November 2, 2008

News of the Day for Sunday, November 2, 2008

Protesters hold placards as they chant anti-U.S. slogans during a rally against the U.S. strikes in Pakistan's tribal areas along the Afghanistan border in Karachi November 1, 2008. U.S. missile strikes in northwest Pakistan killed up to 20 people on Friday, including a mid-level al Qaeda leader said to be an Iraqi, Pakistani officials said.
REUTERS/Athar Hussain (PAKISTAN) Just thought I'd remind our readers of the larger context -- C

Reported Security Incidents


Police Captain killed, 3 police officers injured, in IED attack in al-Kamaliya neighborhood, eastern Baghdad. The explosion also damaged nearby stores.

IED attack on a police patrol near a popular restaurant causes no caualties.

IED attack on a police patrol on Salman Faeq street in Karda injures 1 police officer, 1 civilian.

VoI also reports an explosion in al-Mashtal, eastern Baghad, that injures 2 civilians. KUNA reports an explosion in Mashtal that kills two people, probably the same incident with an updated casualty toll.


Explosion in Tammuz neighborhood, western Mosul, injures a child.

Reuters reports 3 additional attacks in Mosul on Saturday:

  1. A suicide car bomb targeting a police patrol wounded one policeman

  2. A roadside bomb wounded two Iraqi soldiers on patrol in eastern Mosul

  3. Gunmen wounded one Iraqi soldier and one woman in an attack on military checkpoint in eastern Mosul


Police find the body of a man bearing stab wounds.


Roadside bomb injures 3 people, apparently all civilians.

Mansouriyat Al-Jabal region, Muqdadiyah (near Baquba)

Men wearing uniforms of Iraqi security forces invade the home of one Adnan Al-Azawi, kill 3 women and injure 3 others.

Other News of the Day

Iraq dispatches forces to the Syrian border region following the U.S. incursion into Syria. Excerpt from the AP report. (Note: Just to put this in perspective, Qaim is a town on the Euphrates about 15 miles from the Syrian border. The Syrian border with Iraq is more than 200 miles long.):

Police Col. Jubair Rashid Naief said a quick-reaction force moved to the border town of Qaim, about 200 miles from Baghdad, to keep al-Qaida fighters from coming from Syria.

Al-Arabiya television quoted witnesses as saying scores of armored vehicles were seen moving from Ramadi, the capital of Iraq's Anbar province, to Qaim, which had been a major al-Qaida stronghold until Anbar's Sunni tribes turned against al-Qaida.

Iraq now expects U.S. reply to its latest proposal on the SOFA after the election. Will the Bush administration go along with Obama's position and agree to a timetable for withdrawal? We shall see.

Kurdistan President Massud Barzani tells a U.S. audience that Kurdistan will welcome U.S. bases if Iraq rejects them. Hmmm. Excerpt:

ARBIL, Iraq (AFP) – A top Iraqi Kurdish leader has said the US military could have bases in northern Iraq if Washington and Baghdad fail to sign the controversial security deal, a local newspaper reported on Sunday.

Massud Barzani, the president of northern Iraq's regional Kurdish administration, said that his government would "welcome" such a move, the Khabat, the newspaper run by Barzani's Kurdistan Democratic Party, quoted him as saying.

"All the attempts are going right now to sign the pact, but if the pact is not signed and if US asked to keep their troops in Kurdistan, I think the parliament, the people and government of Kurdistan will welcome this warmly," he said at the Centre of Strategy and International Study in Washington.

Iraqi refugees in Sweden go underground after a court ruling that the situation in Iraq does not constitute a "civil war" under the relevant statute, and all asylum seekers must demonstrate an individual risk of persecution.

The National, and English-language newspaper based in the UAE, reports on the economic situation in Kurdistan. According to this reporter, somewhat in contrast to the highly optimistic reports we hear about that region, Kurdistan is struggling to build a modern economy. The editors asked us for a plug so they won't mind the extensive quote.) Excerpt:

Twice in the past three years Bayar Mohammed, a 21-year-old university student from the northern region of Iraq known as Kurdistan, has hiked over the Mateen Mountains with a smuggler into Turkey in the hopes of sneaking into Europe and finding a better life. And twice he has been arrested by Turkish police in Istanbul and sent home.

“People all want to find a job in Europe,” he says, drinking tea in front of New City Mall, one of the few places for young people to get together in the capital city of Erbil. “There is no life in Kurdistan. There are no jobs, there isn’t anywhere to go, even to waste time.”


His desire to leave his homeland is a testament to the challenges that the area faces in the aftermath of Saddam Hussein’s oppressive regime. For decades, the region was subjugated by Baathist forces and prevented from building even basic infrastructure. Now, the region has the trappings of autonomy: an army, a flag and the ability to run its own affairs while remaining a part of the Iraqi federal system. But despite oil revenues beginning to flow into the coffers, investments into its infrastructure and construction projects sprouting across the three governorates of Kurdistan, it is becoming clear that an economic struggle will be long and arduous. Dealing with corruption, a nearly non-existent banking system and underemployment have become the signature issues in Kurdistan.

When stability eventually spreads to the rest of Iraq, the region’s plight will serve as a forewarning of the economic difficulties the nation will face in the years to come.

Afghanistan Update

NATO forces open fire on an Afghan army patrol in Kunar, injuring 5. The defense ministry said the soldiers had been fetching water.

Brother of the Afghan Finance Minister is kidnapped in Peshawar, Pakistan. The victim, Zia ul-Haq Ahadi, was in Pakistan to visit his mother.

U.S. forces claim to have killed 19 militants in a series of operations in Nangarhar and Khost Provinces.

Police academy trainer assassinated in Kandahar.

Quote of the Day

I can't buy milk for them, so how can I buy schoolbooks? I want to give them more, but tell me how? It's more important for my children to beg so we can eat. What good will education do?

Iraqi widow Abeer Abdulrahman. McClatchy's Corinne Reilly reports that one fifth of Iraq's school age children are not in school.