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 9, 2008

News of the Day for Sunday, November 9, 2008

Residents inspect the site where a roadside bomb went off, in Sulaikh neighborhood, northeastern Baghdad, Iraq, Saturday, Nov. 8, 2008, killing a civilian and injuring seven others included a police officer, police said. (AP Photo/Hadi Mizban) I post this photo mostly to demonstrate the power of these IEDs. These are not little pipe bombs.

Reported Security Incidents

One U.S. soldier killed, 2 injured in IED attack in northern Baghdad on Saturday. (MNF web site was not responding as of time of this posting.)

Explosion on al-Rubaie street, Zayouna area, eastern Baghdad, injures 6 people including 2 policemen.

Two killed by explosion in central al-Madaen district, southern Baghdad.

In breaking news, KUNA has reported an attack on a U.S. Army patrol in Al-Shaab, no word on casualties, if any.

near Fallujah

A female suicide bomber sets off explosion at the entrance to al-Ameria hospital, killing 3 people and injuring at least 10. (Other reports have a lower casualty toll but I believe this is the most credible.) Injured include hospital staff and patients.


One killed, 5 injured by a bomb placed in a trash can.

Khalis (north of Baquba)

One man is killed by gunmen; police arrest 8 suspects.

Touz Khormato

Gunmen attack a police checkpoint in al-Askari neighborhood, injuring 3 police officers.


IED attack on U.S. army patrol injures 2 U.S., 2 Iraqi soldiers. (I think -- this VoI dispatch is ambiguously written, could mean a total of 2 soldiers, 1 U.S. and 1 Iraqi.)

Sultan Abdullah, near Mosul

A truck driver is kidnapped. This is the second kidnapping of a truck driver in the area recently. Not clear whether this is a politically motivated crime, but the VoI dispatch implies it may have to do with the Arab/Kurdish territorial dispute.

Rashad, south of Kirkuk

Iraqi army liberates 3 kidnap victims, arrests their captors. No further details are given.


Kidnapped teenage girl manages to free herself.


Policeman killed by gunfire in al-Ghizlani, southern Mosul, on Saturday evening.

Roadside bomb kills 1 Iraqi soldier, injures another. I have to take time out to note that the Reuters factbox has been nearly worthless recently. Today's installment lists exactly 3 incidents out of the more than one dozen I have found, excluding some of the most serious. Unfortunately, some people continue to rely on it as a comprehensive roundup of daily violence in Iraq. I only link it here because I didn't find this particular incident reported elsewhere. -- C)

Other News of the Day

Syrian president Bashar Assad criticizes the proposed U.S.-Iraq Status of Forces agreement, says the presence of U.S. troops contributes to instability in the region. Excerpt:

"The latest American aggression on Syrian territory shows that the presence of American occupation forces constitutes a source of continuous threat to the security of Iraq's neighboring states and a factor of instability for the region," he told group of Arab parliamentarians meeting in Damascus.

U.S. officials have said last month's raid targeted a top al-Qaida in Iraq figure. Syria has asked for proof and said eight civilians were killed in the attack.

Iraq has asked the U.S. for an explicit ban in the proposed pact on the use of Iraqi soil for attacks against the country's neighbors. The U.S. has replied to the request, but the details are not known.

Interestingly, Aswat al Iraq gives a very different spin to Assad's remarks, emphasizing his call for national reconciliation among Iraqis and Syrian support for Iraq unity.

Britain's military chief of staff warns against transferring troops to Afghanistan as Britain withdraws from Iraq. I recommend you read this story, if only to learn the name of the head of the British armed forces, which you will not soon forget. -- C

Iraq's presidential council approves legislation providing guaranteed seats to religious minorities in provincial councils. However, the number of seats is far fewer than Christians had demanded and outside observers had recommended. Indeed, it seems like meaningless tokenism -- C Excerpt:

The council, which includes President Jalal Talabani and the two vice presidents, said in a statement that it wished parliament had approved the U.N. proposal, which would have given the minorities a total of a dozen of the 440 seats on ruling councils in Iraq's 18 provinces. Instead, parliament last Monday gave minorities a total of six seats distributed among three provinces.

Christians will receive one seat each on the councils in Baghdad, Ninevah and Basra. Yazidis and Shabaks will get one each in Ninevah, while Sabeans will receive one in Baghdad. The U.N. had recommended the Christians receive three seats in Baghdad and Ninevah and one in Basra. The proposal also called for the Yazidis to get three seats in Ninevah.

Christian parliament member Younadem Kana called Monday's decision an "insult to the communities rather than being fair to them."

Afghanistan/Pakistan update

At least 5 killed, 3 critically injured in NATO airstrike in the Tirah valley, Khyber Tribal Agency, Pakistan. Local sources give the death toll as 8.

Two Spanish soldiers killed, 4 other NATO soldiers injured in suicide car bomb attack on a NATO convoy in Herat province. Some confusion about the nationality of the injured, some may have been Italian.

A joint U.S.-Afghan investigation has concluded that a U.S. air strike on the village of Wech Baghtu last week killed 37 civilians and injured 35. The investigation concludes that Taliban fighters were present in the village and were using it as a base to attack a joint U.S.-Afghan patrol.

Quote of the Day

We don't know how to pray. Hebrew books we have everywhere in the synagogue, but we don't know how to read it. Some words I know. The important one is Adonai. Adonai is God. We believe in God.

One of the 8 remaining Jews in Baghdad, speaking to a reporter