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, April 26, 2009

News of the Day for Sunday, April 26, 2009

Iran's supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, seen here in March 2009, blamed Israel and the United States on Saturday for persistent violence in Iraq after two suicide attacks left scores of Iranian pilgrims dead. (AFP/Fars News/File) I chose this photo because of recent developments which point to U.S. activities in Iraq increasingly representing a proxy war with Iran. See the incident in Kut. -- C

Reported Security Incidents


A Multi-National Division – North Soldier died from injuries sustained following an attack on a patrol in the Kirkuk Province of northern Iraq, April 25. Note: The MNF release, by-lined Tikrit, refers only to Kirkuk Province. However, Aswat al-Iraq identifies the location as Kirkuk city.


U.S. forces raid a house, shoot dead a woman and a policeman, arrest five others, "including a police captain and a tribal leader," according to an Iraqi security spokesman. U.S. claims the target was a Shiite militant group supported by Iran. The Iraqi Defense Ministry says that the raid was not approved by the Iraqi government, in contravention of the November security pact, and has detained two provincial commanders for having allowed the raid to proceed without required authorization. Aswat al-Iraq reports a protest demonstration by "hundreds of residents" against the U.S. action.

The protesters marched through the city and gathered in front of the province’s administration building and ended in front of the house of the assaulted family,” the source told Aswat al-Iraq news agency. Earlier on Sunday (April 26), a local security source said a man and a woman were killed by U.S. soldiers’ fire during a raid on their house in central al-Kut city. “U.S. forces raided a house in 14 Tammuz neighborhood, central Kut, during the early hours of Sunday, killing a man and his sister-in-law and arresting four other family members,” the source told Aswat al-Iraq. “The two bodies were carried to al-Zahraa hospital morgue in Kut. The four arrested people were all men, including a local police officer in the rank of captain,” he added.

AP confirms the demonstration by "hundreds," says the dead woman was the wife of a local clan leader. This is very not good. - C


Two Sahwa fighters injured by IED.


Two Iraqi soldiers killed in assault on a checkpoint. Soldiers say they have captured two of the attackers.

Dalouiya, Salah ad-Din Province

U.S. forces battle with gunmen said to belong to al Qaeda in Iraq, U.S. tells local authorities they have killed 7 and captured 9. Note: As we only have second-hand information from the U.S. military about these events, we should not draw any conclusions about what is really going on. -- C

Makhmour, Ninevah Province

Shepherd is wounded by a "land mine" on the highway. Note: Although this story uses the term land mine, I presume this is no different from what are usually called IEDs, which essentially means land mines that are not mass produced for national military forces.-- C


Police defuse a car bomb.


A huge blast caused widespread damage to a wholesale market in Saddam Hussein's hometown, about 80 miles north of Baghdad. Several warehouses holding food, appliances and clothes were lost in the fire, said a policeman, speaking on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to media. The cause was not immediately known. This story is weird because it is mentioned only in passing at the end of a long story about other issues. I haven't found any other mention of it.

Other News of the Day

Government tightens security around Shiite shrines and holy areas following recent attacks.

Hillary Clinton goes to Beirut after spending a day in Baghdad. This story by AP's Matthew Lee does a good job of describing the complexities of the U.S. position in Lebanon, albeit from a U.S.-centered perspective. -- C

Ahmed Rasheed and Aseel Kami of Reuters gaze into the crystal ball, find it cloudy. Excerpt:

Attacks on Thursday and Friday, killing 150 people and targeting in large part Shi'ite pilgrims from Iran, and other bouts of violence have created an air of dread in Baghdad, where in recent months a degree of normality had started to be felt. The government of Shi'ite Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki, whose influence has grown in the last year as Iraqis credit him for improving security, says the bombings will not unravel what has been accomplished since the dark days of 2006-2007. But the bloodshed, shortly before U.S. combat troops are due to withdraw from Iraqi cities, is an ominous reminder of the damage that even weakened militant groups can inflict.

"Even in the best of scenarios there is likely to be an increase in violence in the near term," said Michael Wahid Hanna, an analyst at the New York-based Century Foundation. "The question is whether this will catalyze a broader spiral of violence or whether the security forces will be able to keep violence at manageable levels," he said.

Iranian Parliament speaker blames U.S. for recent deaths of Iranian pilgrims in bombings in Iraq, echoing remarks by Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Kahmenei. "Dirty hands and evil brains that founded this blind and uncontrolled terrorism in Iraq should know that the fire will burn them, too," Khamenei said in a statement broadcast on state television. . . . "The American and Israeli intelligence services are the prime suspects," state television quoted Khamenei as saying."

Afghanistan Update

Local transportation official assassinated in Kandahar.

In fighting in Helmand Province, Coalition claims to have killed "dozens" of Taliban.

Roadside bomb kills 3 police in Khost. Kuna also reports that a girls' school is torched in Ghor, a region where Taliban are not considered strong.

Pakistan Interior Ministry confirms reports of Taliban militants loyal to Baitullah Mehsud heading toward Islamabad and other major cities. We'll see. Meanwhile, in Northwest Frontier Province, militants ambush a convoy and kill a soldier, and shave the heads and moustaches of four men as punishment for listening to music. I probably shouldn't say this, but these guys are wacked. -- C And, Pakistani forces are said to launch yet another offensive in NWFP, but there are no details.

Quote of the Day

Unlike the Beltway chatterboxes who fill our airwaves, most Americans appreciate the importance of the torture question. It is not a matter of partisan intrigue. It is a fundamental question of national identity and principle. . . .So the big open question is whether we have an attorney general who enforces the law, or a Democratic version of Alberto Gonzales. That will become apparent soon enough.

Scott Horton