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, June 7, 2009

News of the Day for Sunday, June 7, 2009

Iraqi soldiers rest in a cafe while watching a televised broadcast of U.S. President Barack Obama's speech, in Baghdad June 4, 2009. Obama sought a "new beginning" between the United States and the Muslim world on Thursday but offered no new initiative to end the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, an omission likely to disappoint many. REUTERS/Saad Shalash Note: My review of Juan Cole's Engaging the Muslim World is coming soon. -- C

Reported Security Incidents


Mortar attack on the Green Zone near the U.S. embassy injures 2. One, a Peruvian security guard, is said to be in critical condition. And Iraqi woman was also injured.

IED attack in Doura causes no reported casualties.


Attack on U.S. patrol causes no casualties. The headline of this VoI story calls the weapon a "hand grenade," the body refers to an "armor penetrating bomb." We report, you decide. Actually I think the most likely explanation is that this was a rocket propelled grenade - C

Other News of the Day

Iraqi authorities detain 5 U.S. citizens in connection with the murder of construction contractor Jim Kitterman in the Green Zone in May. Details as of now are scanty. According to this AP story, the suspects worked for Kitterman's company. These could turn out to be the first U.S. citizens prosecuted by the Iraqi government under the new security agreement.

Iraq president Jalal Talabani visits Shiite Iraqi political leader Abdul Aziz al-Hakim in a Tehran hospital, where Hakim is being treated for lung cancer.

Iraqi Interior Ministry opens an inquiry into the treatment of prisoners in Diwaniya and Amara. We shall see if the new Iraqi government is more capable of enforcing accountability for its own failures in this regard than the U.S. government has so far proven to be. --C Excerpt:

'Interior Minister Jawad Bolani dispatched a delegation of top professional interrogators to Diwaniyah and Amara to investigate allegations of violations' of human rights, a senior ministry official told AFP.

The delegation included General Ahmad Abu Reghif, the ministry's director-general of home affairs, and General Abdel Karim Khalaf, spokesman for the interior ministry. They visited Diwaniyah, 180 kilometres south of Baghdad, and Amara, 365 kilometres from the capital, on Saturday.

Iraq's prison system is the joint responsibility of the ministries of justice, interior and defence.

'There have been cases of torture against 10 prisoners accused of terrorism,' the interior ministry official said. 'They were not innocent, but that does not mean interrogators can torture them. We have established a commission to review the cases of the accused because they insist their confessions were extracted through torture.'

U.S. military claims that Sunni insurgents are increasingly employing teenage boys to attack U.S. forces.

Casualty reports: DoD identifies Marine Lance Corporal Robert Ulmer, 22, of Lancaster County Pennsylvania, as the decedent in a non-hostile incident in Anbar Province on Friday.

Also, Army Specialist Christopher Kurth, 23, died Thursday after a grenade attack in Kirkuk.

As the U.S. closes urban bases, many troop have been moved to temporary tent housing in Iraq's blazing heat. New, air conditioned housing is under construction but isn't ready yet for many.

Afghanistan Update

Taliban missile attack on ISAF military base in Bala Morghab in Badghis goes awry, kills a civilian girl and injures a civilian man.

Taliban attack a police outpost in Faryab province, kill 4 policemen. Note: This is not in the area where the Taliban are normally active. KUNA also reports:

  • The Interior Ministry said a roadside bomb killed a mother and son in Kandahar

  • A military vehicle was destroyed in a roadside bomb blast in Logar province. Government says no casualties, Taliban claim all aboard were killed.

Taliban ambush a convoy in Paktika, kill a senior police officer and injure a district chief.

Fighting in Ghazni leaves one Afghan soldier, two Taliban dead.

Several police injured in gun battles in Kabul with men wearing military uniforms. Interior Ministry says the men may have been common criminals.

Paktika authorities claim that Pakistani forces are supporting Taliban attacks in Afghanistan, and the commander of border police in Paktika, General Mohammad Naim Abdul Rahimzai, claims that Pakistani forces have directly attacked his soldiers.

Former Indian government official and current think tank director B. Raman says that the Pakistani offensive in Swat is widely seen as an attack on the Pashtun population. Based on other analyses I have read, there is something to this. The Taliban is essentially a Pashtun movement, and they have considerable cross-border appeal based on ethnic identity, apart from Islamist ideology. -- C