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, May 10, 2009

News of the Day for Sunday, May 10, 2009

A girl observes a U.S. army soldier from the 82nd Airborne Brigade as his unit secures a street in Baghdad, Iraq, Saturday, May 9, 2009. The U.S.-Iraq security agreement that took effect this year calls for American combat troops to leave urban areas by the end of June, with all U.S. forces out of the country by the end of 2011. (AP Photo/Karim Kadim) She might want to back away slowly -- see below. C

Reported Security Incidents


This incident occurred on Thursday but is just being reported today.U.S. troops shoot dead a 12 year old boy, claim he threw a grenade at their convoy.

The boy was found with ten thousand Iraqi dinars in his hand worth less than $9. U.S. officials said the money is evidence of a disturbing new trend.

"We have every reason to believe insurgents are paying children to conduct these attacks or assist the attackers in some capacity, undoubtedly placing the children in harm's way," a U.S. military spokesman wrote in an e-mail on Saturday. But eyewitnesses said the boy, identified as Omar Musa Salih, was standing by the side of the road selling fruit juice and had nothing to do with the attack.

A friend, Ahmed Jassim, 15, said he was selling cans of Pepsi nearby when he heard the grenade explode. He dove behind a parked car, then heard the roar of machine gun fire. "When the shooting was over and the patrol went away, I stood and I saw Omar on the ground covered with blood," Jassim said.

Another witness, Ahmed IzAldeen, 56, said he saw the person who threw the grenade. It wasn't the boy, but a man in his 20s, he said. IzAldeen said he saw the man standing behind a truck holding the grenade as the patrol approached.


Gen. Jaafar Taama al-Khafaji, an official of the Interior Ministry, is injured by a bomb attack in what is described as an assassination attempt, but he is expected to survive.

Security forces raid the home of Sadrist cleric Jawad al-Khalisi in Khademiya. He was not home at the time.


Sahwa leader Sheikh Abed Mohammed Hussein al-Dulami and a bodyguard are killed in a bomb attack.

Makhmour, near Arbil

Farmer injured by land mine. This is in the territory which is disputed between Kurdistan and Arab-led Iraq. The story says the farmer was 500 years old but I'm inclined to think that's a typo. -- C

Zubair, west of Basra

Retired Brig. Hakeem Jassem al-Sarayfi, now a social services bureaucrat, is assassinated in his office.

Other News of the Day

U.S. Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi visits Bahdad, discusses economic issues with Nouri al-Maliki. Excerpt:

Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki asked Ms. Pelosi, a California Democrat, to shield Iraq from the demands for reparations from neighboring countries dating back to the actions by the previous ruler Saddam Hussein, spokesman Ali al-Dabbagh said.

"Al-Maliki requested the United States protect Iraqi funds and put an end to the demands of other countries which feel they were harmed during the two Gulf wars of the former regime," he added.

Kuwait still claims billions of dollars in war reparations from Iraq dating from the 1990 invasion and has refused appeals by Baghdad to reduce their demands and forgive about $15 billion in Iraqi debt.

Sabah Mohammed al-Sudany, a brother of Iraq's Trade Minister and a fugitive on corruption charges, is arrested at a checkpoint in southern Iraq. He fled after a well-publicized gun battle between ministry security forces and army troops in late April.

No surprise, Iraq is the biggest importer of fruit from Iran, buying among other goods more than 20,000 tons of fresh and dried tangerines. I link to this because it is certainly good news that the end of enmity between the countries has restored a healthy trade relationship. We can only hope that this will eventually help alleviate the significant hunger and unemployment that still haunts Iraq. -- C

Afghanistan Update

Eight workers building outposts for border guards in Nangarhar Province, on the Pakistan border, are killed by a bombing. Also, 3 road construction workers are killed by a roadside bomb in Zabul province.

McClatchy's Tom Lasseter, investigating drug trafficking and corruption in Afghanistan, is threated by Hamid Karzai's brother. Excerpt:

I was in my third week of tracking down former Afghan officials and asking them about drugs and corruption. Several had mentioned Karzai, President Hamid Karzai's brother and the head of Kandahar's provincial council. After talking with poppy farmers, a drug dealer and former officials in Kandahar, it was time to see Ahmed Wali Karzai.


I stuck my hand out to shake his; if I learned anything from three years of reporting in Iraq and then trips to Afghanistan during the past couple of years, it's that when things turn bad, you should cling to any remaining shred of hospitality. Karzai grabbed my hand and used it to give me a bit of a push into the next room. He followed me, and his voice rose until it was a scream of curse words and threats.

I managed to record just one full sentence: "Get the (expletive) out before I kick your (expletive)." I won't describe the rest, because it involves the Afghans I was working with, none of whom wants to risk revenge in a country where feuds often end in blood.

Hundreds of Kabul University students protest civilian deaths from U.S. airstrikes. Excerpt:

Chanting "Death to America!" and weeping as they prayed, hundreds of Kabul university students marched on Sunday in protest against US air strikes last week that Afghan officials say killed more than 100 civilians. Washington has acknowledged that some civilians were killed during a battle in which its aircraft bombed Afghan villages. US forces have not said how many people they believe were killed and have blamed Taliban insurgents for firing from the rooftops of homes where civilians sheltered.

Afghan President Hamid Karzai says more than 100 and perhaps as many as 130 civilians were killed in air strikes in western Farah province during the battle. Provincial officials say villagers have drawn up lists with names of 147 dead.


Students at the university issued a statement calling for troops responsible for civilian casualties to be prosecuted. "From one side our people are fed up with the beheadings and suicide attacks by the Taliban. From other side, the massacre of people by US forces is a crime they can never forget," it said. At the demonstration, attended mainly by male students, marchers held aloft banners that read in English: "USA is biggest terrorist around the world!"

"We gathered here to share our sadness with the innocent people who were martyred. We call on the international community, Afghan government to stop the killing of innocents, stop the killing of an Afghan generation," said student Ahmad Fahim.

Quote of the Day

Imagine if a police officer were stationed in front of the hospital room of a key witness in a criminal trial, in order to protect the witness from attack, but instead, the officer fell asleep or wondered off to watch TV and, as a result, the defendant's associates were able to enter the room and murder the witness. Asking establishment journalists if they favor investigations and prosecutions of Bush crimes is like asking that police officer whether he favors an investigation and consequences for what happened or whether he instead prefers that the whole thing just be forgotten and everyone look instead to the future. People who bear culpability in the commission of destructive and criminal acts always oppose investigations and accountability -- i.e., what they'll call "looking backwards" or "retribution." They're the last people whose opinions we ought to be seeking on that question.

Glenn Greenwald