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, February 15, 2009

News of the Day for Sunday, February 15, 2009

A U.S. soldier stands guard near the footwear of a victim after a bomb attack in Baghdad's Sadr City February 15, 2009. The roadside bomb killed one person and wounded six others in Sadr City, the vast Shi'ite district of north-eastern Baghdad, police said.
REUTERS/Mohammed Ameen (IRAQ)


Reported Security Incidents

Baghdad

A Multi-National Division–Baghdad Soldier died from a non-combat related incident Feb. 14. The Soldier’s name is being withheld pending notification of next of kin. The incident is currently under investigation.

Sticky bomb attack near al-Awla market in Sadr City kills 1 civilian, injures 4. KUNA gives the total injured as 6.

Series of explosions late Saturday night shock Sadr City. Iraqi Army spokesman later says they were controlled detonations of IEDs.

Bomb planted in Djamila, near Sadr City, injures 2 people.

Mosul

Hand grenade attack on a police patrol injures 3 bystanders.

Reuters reports several additional incidents:

  • Gunmen shot and killed an off-duty Iraqi soldier in western Mosul.

  • Gunmen killed another man in western Mosul.

  • A member of al-Hadba, a mainly Sunni Arab party, was wounded in Mosul by a bomb planted in his car, police said. The politician ran in last month's provincial elections as part of the Hadba list in Nineveh, where the bloc received almost half votes cast.

  • One policeman was wounded by a roadside bomb in southern Mosul, police said.


Abu Rouba, near Amara, Missan province

Police, acting on a tip, free a hostage, but the kidnappers escape. No explanation is given as to whether this was a political or economic crime.

Near Tikrit

Police say they have captured a man suspected of killing two army officers and a police officer. They say he is of Iranian origin.

Mandilli, near Baquba

One killed, 3 injured by IED.

Basra

32 people arrested in a security sweep.

Other News of the Day

AP reports that Election Commission chief Faraj al-Haidari has nullified the results of the recent elections at 30 polling stations due to fraud. However, he is remaining close-mouthed about where this occurred an how the elections may be affected. Excerpt:

He told The Associated Press that the polling stations where ballots were nullified were scattered in all 14 provinces but he refused to say where the largest number was found. He didn't say how many ballots were affected.

One official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he wasn't supposed to talk about the vote to media, said the most widespread fraud appeared to have been in Diyala province, which has large Sunni, Shiite and Kurdish communities and an ongoing insurgency. . . .

U.S. officials have been closely watching the Diyala results for signs of friction between Arabs and Kurds, who are the biggest community in the far north of the province. The Kurds were hoping that a strong Kurdish showing in those areas would bolster their case for incorporating the territory into the Kurds self-ruled region.


Senior U.S. Army officers investigated for corruption during early phase of the occupation of Iraq. NYT's James Glanz reports. Excerpt:

Court records show that last month, investigators subpoenaed the personal bank records of Colonel Anthony B. Bell, who is now retired from the Army but who was in charge of reconstruction contracting in Iraq in 2003 and 2004 when the small operation grew into a frenzied attempt to remake the country's broken infrastructure.

In addition, investigators are examining the activities of Lieutenant Colonel Ronald W. Hirtle of the Air Force, who was a senior contracting officer in Baghdad in 2004, according to two federal officials involved in the inquiry. . . .

As part of the inquiry, the authorities are taking a fresh look at information given to them by Dale C. Stoffel, an American arms dealer and contractor who was killed in Iraq in late 2004.

Before he was shot on a road north of Baghdad, Stoffel drew a portrait worthy of a pulp crime novel: tens of thousands of dollars stuffed into pizza boxes and delivered surreptitiously to the American contracting offices in Baghdad, and payoffs made in paper sacks that were scattered around the Green Zone, the nerve center of the US government's presence in Iraq, two senior federal officials said.


Tens of thousands of pilgrims crowd Karbala to mark Arbain, in spite of recent attacks.

A UN report says that 43% of employed Iraqis are in public sector jobs, calls the situation untenable in light of falling oil prices. UN also notes that only 17% of Iraqi women are in the labor force. Hmmm. Whatever happened to the capitalist libertarian paradise Lawrence Paul Jerry Bremer, Dick Cheney, and the graduating class of Liberty University were creating in Iraq? -- C

Afghanistan Update

NATO says a second soldier was killed in action yesterday, in addition to a British Marine whose death was announced previously. No further details.

In Pakistan, the Taliban announce a 10-day cease fire in the province of Swat, to facilitate talks with the Pakistani government.

President Karzai says his government will join with the U.S. in a strategic review. However, details are lacking. The U.S. is currently engaged in various reviews of the operation in Afghanistan.

U.S. endorses Afghanistan's decision to delay elections scheduled for May until August, contrary to the Afghan constitution.

Quote of the Day

If there were jobs and factories in our country, why would we leave go to Iran? Afghans are punished, first by God, who has sent this drought, then by the warlords in Karzai’s government, who have built themselves luxury palaces. They never care about the poor people of Afghanistan.


Sayed Alauddin, a young Afghan man deported from Iran, discussing the mass exodus from Afghanistan's impoverished north.

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