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 23, 2008

News of the Day for Sunday, November 23, 2008

Sharri Regalado touches the casket of her late husband, Jose Regalado, at funeral services at Holy Cross Cemetery in Pomona, Calif., Saturday, Nov. 22, 2008. The Department of Defense reported that Sgt. Jose Regalado, 23, of Los Angeles, was one of two soldiers killed in Mosul, Iraq, when an Iraqi Army soldier wearing a uniform approached the men and opened fire on Nov. 12.
(AP Photo/Reed Saxon)

Reported Security Incidents


Car bomb in al-Maghreb Street commercial district kills 1, injures 4.

IED in Uqba Bin Nafi’ Square, Karada, injures 7.

"Sticky bomb" attack injures 3 in Bab al-Muadham square near Palestine St.

Sticky bomb injures 2 in al-Yarmuk.

IED injures 2 in Adhamiya.

U.S. forces capture 11 people they claim are associated with Asa’ib Ahl al-Haq, a so-called "special group" the U.S. says has Iranian sponsorship.


Security forces arrest 11 in a series of raids.


Car bomb, apparently targeting an army patrol, injures 1 soldier and 6 civilians.


Gunmen attack a police checkpoint just south of the city, injure 2 officers.

Other News of the Day

Parliamentary vote on Status of Forces Agreement, originally scheduled for Monday, is delayed until Wednesday. Speaker Mahmoud al- Mashhadani now says chances of passage are "50/50".

Mashadani makes a quick visit to Jordan, discusses the proposed pact with King Abdullah. Subsequent statement from the palace does not specifically indicate support for the SOFA, only that Jordan "fully supports Iraq's security, stability and unity."

Meanwhile, Syria hosts a regional security conference in response to the U.S. raid into Syrian territory last month. World powers, including the U.S., Britain, France, Russia and China are present along with the neighboring countries. Excerpt:

"It is everyone's responsibility to step up cooperation to supervise borders" with Iraq, Syria's Interior Minister Bassam Abdul Majid said in an opening speech. He called on participants to ensure that "Iraq will not be the point of departure for acts of aggression against its neighbours in any circumstances whatsoever." The minister said Syria's sovereignty was "gravely violated" by the October 26 attack of helicopter-borne American soldiers on a village near the border with Iraq.

Damascus says the raid left eight civiliians dead, but an official in Washington said the raid targeted a "facilitator" of foreign fighters crossing the border from Syria to battle US and Iraqi forces.

"Syria has always taken the necessary steps to supervise its border with Iraq... stability in Iraq is reflected in all countries of the region," Abdul Majid said. "Sovereignty and independence for Iraq... will only be achieved through the departure of foreign forces from its territory," he said.

Washington Post's Ernesto LondoƱo (painless registration required) reports that Kurdistan has been importing weapons outside of the Iraqi military procurement process, raising fears of growing conflict between Kurdistan and the central government. Excerpt:

The large quantity of weapons and the timing of the shipment alarmed U.S. officials, who have grown concerned about the prospect of an armed confrontation between Iraqi Kurds and the government at a time when the Kurds are attempting to expand their control over parts of northern Iraq.

The weapons arrived in the northern city of Sulaymaniyah in September on three C-130 cargo planes, according to the three officials, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the information.

Kurdish officials declined to answer questions about the shipments but released the following statement: "The Kurdistan Regional Government continues to be on the forefront of the war on terrorism in Iraq. With that continued threat, nothing in the constitution prevents the KRG from obtaining defense materials for its regional defense."

Afghanistan Update

U.S. claims to have killed 17 "militants" in a helicopter borne assault in Kandahar.

Convoy carrying equipment for NATO forces in Afghanistan is attacked in Khyber region of Pakistan. Roadside bomb injures 2.

Al Jazeera reports that Taliban have announced the intention to escalate these attacks on NATO supply convoys, particularly within Afghanistan.

AFP reports on various additional incidents.

  1. Coalition forces admit to killing 1 civilian, injuring 4 in a battle in Zabul, while also killing 2 "militants."

  2. Afghan government says its forces repelled a Taliban attack in Ghazni, killing 8

  3. U.S. says it killed a senior Taliban commander in Helmand

Additionally, DPA reports 2 police killed, 3 injured by a roadside bomb in Ghazni.

Quote of the Day

Iraq's defense minister Abdul Qadir Muhammed Jassim threatened to declare a state of emergency if Iraq's parliament refused to sign an accord allowing US troops to stay in the country for three more years. His rhetoric was eerily in tune with Bush Administration officials' comments on domestic security and Iran, echoing language used by the Administration to bolster support for the Iraq war. . . .Jassim was a general in Saddam Hussein's army who was demoted after opposing a 1980 invasion of Kuwait and spent several years in jail. Serving under Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki. His recent comments have suggested an unusual sycophancy toward US policy and General David Petraeus in particular.

David Byrne