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, July 26, 2009

News of the Day for Sunday, July 26, 2009

Ken Drevnick, the father of Spc. Daniel P. Drevnick, and his wife Julie, right, attend the burial service Saturday, July 25, 2009 at Fort Snelling National Cemetery in Minneapolis for 22-year-old Daniel of Woodbury, Minn., who was among three Minnesota National Guard soldiers who were killed last week in Basra, Iraq. (AP Photo/Jim Mone) I figured I'd put up this photo just so we don't forget that the U.S. war in Iraq is not actually over. -- C

Reported Security Incidents


Five killed, 3 injured in armed robbery at a money exchange office in Karrada. Dead are 3 employees and 2 customers. Not clear whether the attackers were merely common criminals or were intent on financing insurgent activities. But it is probably fair to say at a minimum that Iraq's recent history has left it with a large class of well-armed, experienced fighters who can easily turn to such crimes. C

Attack on a police checkpoint in Abu Ghraib kills 3 police, 1 other person.

Djerf al-Sakhr, near Hilla

Child standing in front of his house is killed in a drive-by shooting. Presumably a message to the father.


Two policemen wounded by IED on Saturday. Reported too late for yesterday's post.


Man killed by gunshot from passing vehicle, police attribute the attack to a tribal feud. Again, incident occurred on Saturday, reported too late for yesterday's post.

Other News of the Day

Turnout in Kurdistan elections is reported as averaging 80%, with turnout in Dohuk reported at 86%. Results are not expected for a few days. President Barzani (yep, the president of Iraq is a Kurd, but Kurdistan also has its own president) says that a) He hopes the election will help settle problems and differences with Baghdad and b) His priorities for his second term [should he be so lucky] include "bringing disputed areas claimed by Kurdish and Arab Iraqis under Kurdish control." Okaaaaaaay.

An opposition alliance is challenging the two Kurdish parties who have shared power until now. AP's Yahya Barzanji gives a backgrounder. Excerpt:

The two dominant political coalitions, the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan and the Kurdistan Democratic Party, face a challenge from new opposition alliances seeking to capitalize on alleged misconduct and corruption.

The leaders of the two main coalitions, Iraqi President Jalal Talabani and Kurdish regional President Massoud Barzani, hope their parties can withstand the burgeoning challenge. The opposition is expected to make some inroads in the parliament. Iraq's election commission said it could take a week to count the results.

The "Change" Party claims to have won in Sulaimaniyah. According to this report, a KDP source confirms this. "Change" is the party's only platform, as well as its name. Not clear actually what they will do if they gain power. -- C

Nuri al-Maliki tells the WaPo that the arrest of U.S. troops on Tuesday by Iraqi forces was "out of line." Three Iraqis were killed and 4, including 2 children were injured when U.S. soldiers raided nearby houses after their convoy came under attack in Abu Ghraib. Maliki says the new agreement gives them the right to do that.

Internally displaced Iraqis still fear to return to their original homes. This report describes a refugee camp with no sewage system or regular trash collection, and substandard shelters. People aren't going home because their neighborhoods have been ethnically cleansed, and they have heard of returnees who have been killed.

Afghanistan Update

A U.S. service member has been killed in action in southern Afghanistan. No further details are given at this time.

Afghan defense ministry says Afghan troops killed 16 insurgents in Bargi Matal district of Nuristan province, lost two Afghan soldiers after militants attacked a base.

Four Italian soldiers injured by a bomb planted in a motorbike in Herat.

Quote of the Day

The current leaders KDP AND PUK are intimidating and threatening people. In today’s news we can see supervisors, who come from security force apparatus, sitting outside polling stations observing and basically intimidating people. All kinds of tools are being used to try and stop people voting democratically. The Change Group are the dominant group in Sulaimaniyah and the surrounding area. . . . The confidence of people to win this election is extraordinary. The anger of the mass of the people is something which can no longer be ignored and hidden. You only have to look at the faces of people to see this which I witnessed myself at the political rally on the 22nd July organised by The Change List.

Mufid Abdulla