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 8, 2009

News of the Day for Sunday, February 8, 2009

Hospital staff treat Ahmed Muhammad, 15, for his wounds after a bombing that killed two pilgrims in Baghdad, Iraq, Sunday, Feb. 8, 2009. An Iraqi police official said the two were killed and 11 wounded as they were walking to the holy city of Karbala with other pilgrims. Shiite pilgrims walk to Karbala to mark the end of 40 days of mourning following the anniversary of the 7th century death of Imam Hussein, a grandson of the Prophet Muhammad.
(AP Photo/Karim Kadim)

Reported Security Incidents

Note: I have had to rely unusually heavily on VoI for today's security news. It seems that the corporate media have decided that Iraq is now peaceful, so they aren't going to bother to report on violence. Literally none of today's violence has been reported so far in western media, as far as I can tell, with the exception of the single Reuters story from Baghdad. Today was, in fact, quite a violent day in Iraq. -- C


Roadside bomb in northern Baghdad kills 2, injures 11. The victims were pilgrims on their way to Karbala for Arbain. The location, casualty toll and other details in this report leads me to conclude that it is not the same as any of the incidents reported by VoI below. but sometimes these details differ and are later reconciled. -- C

Sticky bomb in Mansour injure 4 civilians.

Bomb in al-Qahira, eastern Baghdad, kills 1 civilian and injures 14.

IED attack in central Baghdad injures 2.

Afak, Diwayniya Province

An Iraqi woman dies after being shot by U.S. troops on Saturday. The U.S. is describing the shooting as "unitentional," and questioning whether the victims injuries in fact are connected with their being shot. From VoI:

“The woman who was shot in random fire by a U.S. patrol in the district of Afak died today (Feb. 8) of her wounds,” Col. Asaad Malek, the director of the Diwaniya Operations Room’s Joint Coordination Center, told Aswat al-Iraq news agency. Earlier today, the U.S. army in Iraq admitted wounding two civilians when a U.S. patrol opened fire “unintentionally” east of Diwaniya province.

“A U.S. vehicle patrol traveling southeast near Afak was conducting a logistics convoy when a weapon was unintentionally discharged,” according to a U.S. army release received by Aswat al-Iraq news agency. “Two local nationals were reported to have suffered injuries in the area and were transported for medical treatment. It’s unclear whether the weapons discharge and injuries are directly connected,” it added."

DPA reports that the victims were Shiite pilgrims.


IED attack on a police patrol damages the vehicle but causes no casualties.

Sinjar, west of Mosul

Men in military uniform attack the village of Nawfali, kill one policemen, kidnap another and his father.

Kanaan, east of Baquba

Lawyer Ali al-Karkhi, who had been an election monitor, is assassinated on the street in a "hail of bullets."

Other News of the Day

Guantanmo prisoner Hassan Abdul Hadi, who the U.S. says it repatriated to Iraq weeks ago, has disappeared. And clearly, he was nothing more than an ordinary Iraqi soldier who was selected more or less at random to be labeled a terrorist -- C Excerpt:

A U.S. defence official said Hadi and three other Iraqis being held at Guantanamo, deplored by rights groups and foreign governments as a violation of international legal standards, were handed over to Iraq's Justice Ministry on Jan. 17. Yet Bushu Ibrahim, Iraq's deputy justice minister, told Reuters the ministry had no knowledge of the detainees. Extensive efforts to find someone in the defence and interior ministries who knew of their fate also proved fruitless.

Hadi's path to Guantanamo began in August 1998, when he left his family's home near Basra to join an Iraqi army unit up north. His family became worried when they didn't hear from him. "We asked about him extensively, but in vain. The last thing we heard was that he had gone into a mine field in Kurdish territory," his father told Reuters in a visit to his home. "We are a poor family. Even putting a meal on the table is a battle. I certainly did not have the money to travel to find my missing son," he said, surrounded by threadbare furniture.

After Saddam Hussein was toppled in the U.S.-led invasion of 2003, Hadi's parents anxiously waited for news, hoping he had been held by autonomous Kurds and would be released. No news emerged until April 2004, when a message arrived from Red Cross officials in Basra: Hadi was in Guantanamo Bay, established by the Bush administration to hold Taliban and al Qaeda suspects after the Sept. 11 attacks.

"I couldn't believe them. What the hell was he doing there?" Hadi's father asked himself. According to a Pentagon list released in 2006, Hassan Abdul Said, born in Basra in 1976, was detainee No. 435 at Guantanamo. U.S. Defence Department documents allege he was part of the anti-Saddam resistance in Iraq and was later associated with the hardline Islamist Taliban in Afghanistan. The allegations could not be confirmed, and Hadi was never charged with a crime. It is unusual for Iraqis of the Shi'ite Muslim sect to join up with Sunni Islamist extremists like al Qaeda or the Taliban.

Mehdi al-Tamimi, head of Iraq's human rights office in Basra, who has been following Hadi's case, said he had no knowledge of him being returned to Iraq.

Outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease threatens livestock in Basra province. It is difficult for local authorities to take measures to control the disease in remote areas.

Trial date for Muntadhar Al-Zeidi, who threw his shoes at a high U.S. official, is set for Feb. 19.

AP's Sebastian Abbot discusses simmering ethnic tensions over Kirkuk. This may be even more worrisome than the continuing multi-factorial guerrilla warfare in Iraq, because it threatens a clash of well-equipped national armies. -- C Excerpt:

The prime minister of Iraq's Kurdish region accused the Arab-dominated national government yesterday of trying to use troops to seize control of the disputed city of Kirkuk, escalating tensions. U.S. officials consider the growing rift between Iraqi Kurds and the Arab leadership in Baghdad as one of the major threats to Iraq's stability as President Barack Obama maps a plan to withdraw U.S. troops from Iraq.

Kurdish officials are close U.S. allies who have jealously guarded their self-governing territory in the north since the U.S. helped set it up in 1991. In recent months, they have stepped up their criticism of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, accusing him of trying to re-establish a strong centralized state similar to Saddam Hussein's regime.

Tempers flared again about two weeks ago when troops of the Iraqi army's 12th Division moved from their base north of Kirkuk to towns around the city close to where Kurdish fighters loyal to the Kurdish regional government were deployed, according to senior Kurdish official Jabbar Yawar.

Kirkuk is not part of the Kurdish self-governing region and is under the political control of the central government, but the Kurds have long demanded that the city 180 miles north of Baghdad be incorporated into their self-governing region.

Yawar said the Kurds appealed to the U.S. military to stop the movements of the largely Arab troop contingent. Although the troop movements were halted, Kurdish officials remain suspicious about al-Maliki's intentions. "We in the (Kurdish government) consider this to be a provocative act," Kurdish regional Prime Minister Nechirvan Barzani said of the troop movements in an e-mail.

Sadrist candidates dispute results of provincial elections, among other complainants. AP's Hamid Ahmed reports. Excerpt:

Candidates endorsed by anti-American cleric Moqtada al-Sadr will appeal the results of last weekend's election results in Baghdad and other Iraqi provinces because of alleged voting irregularities, a spokesman said yesterday.

The allegations are among a chorus of questions raised by Shi'ite religious parties and Sunnis about the outcome of provincial elections, in which allies of Shi'ite Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki won a sweeping victory.

"There are huge differences between results announced by the electoral commission and the figures we have from our observers in some provinces," said Tahir al-Kinani, spokesman for one of two candidate lists backed by Sadr. Kinani told reporters at a news conference that the candidates were appealing the results in the provinces of Baghdad, Najaf, Maysan, and Qadisiyah.

Afghanistan Update

Two U.S. soldiers killed attempting to defuse a bomb in Helmand Province. An Afghan translator and police officer are also killed.

President Karzai calls for reconciliation with Taliban elements who are not connected with al Qaeda.

Taliban assassinate three high-ranking provincial officials on Saturday, two in Nangarhar and one in Laghman.

Quote of the Day

Note: This is from a radical libertarian, with whom I disagree about many issues, but I respect his consistency and integrity. -- C

After the WMDs failed to materialize, American Christians had an option: They could have called for the immediate withdrawal of all U.S. troops. Instead, they did the exact opposite. They supported the continued occupation of Iraq, with full knowledge that U.S. troops would have to continue killing Iraqis in order to solidify the occupation.

That’s when Christians began supporting a new rationale for killing Iraqis: that any Iraqi who resisted the U.S. invasion or occupation was a terrorist and, therefore, okay to kill. Since terrorists were bad people, the argument went, it was okay to support the killing of Iraqis who were resisting the invasion and occupation of their country.

Yet, rarely would any Christian ask himself the important, soul-searching questions: Why didn’t Iraqis have the moral right to resist the invasion and occupation of their country, especially if that invasion and occupation had been based on a bogus principle (i.e., the WMD threat)? Why did their resistance convert them into terrorists? Why did U.S. troops have the moral and religious right to kill people who were defending their country from invasion and occupation?

Jacob Hornberger