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, August 16, 2009

News of the Day for Sunday, August 16, 2009

Firemen put out a fire in a burning vehicle after a bomb attack in Karrada District, central Baghdad August 16, 2009. A string of bombings is stirring growing unease among Iraqis as the government, confident it can secure the country against violence while U.S. troops pull back, insists on removing rows of blast walls from Baghdad's streets.
REUTERS/Mohammed Ameen

Reported Security Incidents


IED attack near Kahramana square injures 2 civilians.


Unidentified gunmen attacked a house in the village of al-Bu Yousuf in al-Aamiriya, southern Falluja, killing four persons, including two sahwa (awakening) fighters, and blowing up the house, a source told Aswat al-Iraq. According to the source the victims were overrun when they ran out of ammunition.

Two Iraqi soldiers injured by IED attack in the village of al-Fuhaylat, Aamiriyat al-Falluja district, southern Falluja.


The representative of the ethnic Iraqi Shabaks in the Ninewa local council survived an assassination attempt with an improvised explosive device (IED) in eastern Mosul on Sunday, a security source in the Ninewa police said. Xinhua reports that two of his bodyguards were also injured. (The Shabaks have been victims of large scale atrocities recently. For some reason, U.S. media have commonly misidentified them as Shiites. They follow a distinct religion. Follow the link to the Aswat al-Iraq story for further information. -- C)

Grenade attack on a police patrol injures 6, including 2 policemen.

A taxi driver is killed by unidentified gunmen on Saturday.


Three Iraqi cattle herders accidentally killed by mortar fire in a U.S.-Iraqi training exercise. An 11 year old boy is injured.

Other News of the Day

U.S. plans to get around to changing the name of the "Multi-National Force -- Iraq" next year. Since the only nation in the force is now the United States, they'll start calling it "United States Forces-Iraq (USF-I)," but for some reason they aren't going to do this for a while.

Jamal al-Badrani reviews the escalating Arab-Kurdish conflict for Reuters. Accusations between Arab and Kurdish politicians of official support for terrorist violence are signaling a breakdown of government legitimacy. Excerpt:

Khisro Goran, a senior Kurdish politician in Mosul, said the mainly Sunni Arab al-Hadba group that won control of the local council this year had to take the blame for "inciting" Arab nationalists and armed groups like al Qaeda to attack Kurds. "They facilitate access for the suicide bombers," he added. Al-Hadba won seats with an anti-Kurdish election campaign earlier this year. Its leaders reject Kurdish accusations.

The Kurdistan Regional Government, which governs a largely autonomous enclave nearby in northern Iraq, accused Arab officials in Mosul of trying to "ethnically cleanse" the region of Kurds. The Sunni Arab governor of Nineveh province, of which Mosul is the capital, in turn blames Kurdish Peshmerga soldiers for security breaches. Peshmerga are deployed near Kurdistan's borders, including areas around Mosul.

"There have been Peshmerga forces in these areas for a long time, and (the bombings) have given them legitimacy to remain to protect Kurdistan only. They are not concerned with what happens in Nineveh," governor Atheel al-Nujaifi said.

NYT's Sam Dagher discusses the fate of minorities in the region disputed between Kurds and Arabs. Note: For some reason he also describes the Shabaks as "Shiites," as do nearly all western reporters. I have no idea where this idea comes from. According to Wikipedia, "A large part of the Shabaks follow an independent religion, related to but distinct from Islam. It contains elements of Islam, as well as Christianity and other religions. There is a close affinity between the Shabak and the Yazidis; for example, Shabaks perform pilgrimage to Yazidi shrines.[2] The Shabaks have a sacred book called the Buyruk written in Iraqi Turkmen colloquial. The Shabaks consist of three different ta'ifs or sects: the Bajalan, the Zengana, and the Shabak proper.[4]"

NYT's Lizette Alvarez describes how women have increasingly entered combat roles in Iraq. "Their success, widely known in the military, remains largely hidden from public view. In part, this is because their most challenging work is often the result of a quiet circumvention of military policy. Women are barred from joining combat branches like the infantry, armor, Special Forces and most field artillery units, and from doing support jobs while living with those smaller units. Women can lead some male troops into combat as officers, but they cannot serve with them in battle." But, commanders have found ways to circumvent these policies.

6 years after invasion, electricity still scarce in Baghdad, reports McClatchy's Laith Hammoudi. Not quite news, but worth a reminder.

Baghdadis fret as Iraqi government removes blast walls.

As "Green Zone" comes under Iraqi control, Americans lose their privileges. “The Green Zone used to be fun,’’ a veteran US diplomat lamented. “Now we can’t walk across the street." Ha ha -- C

Afghanistan Update

Rocket attack in Kandahar injures 2 children.

A British soldier injured Saturday in Helmand Province has died. UK death toll in Afghanistan now at 201.

More details on Saturday's suicide bomb attack on NATO HQ in Kabul. Toll of injured in said to be 100 in addition to the 7 deaths.

Quote of the Day

I don't blame Sunnis for these cruel attacks that Shiites are suffering from now. There are political reasons behind them. What do these government promises and assurances that security is under control mean? I strongly demand that the Americans return to the streets and with even more presence than before.

Ali Jassim, a 45-year-old Shiite store owner in Baghdad. Note: I don't necessarily endorse 'em, I just quote 'em. As I said last week, the security situation is not good and Iraqis are going to blame the U.S. for leaving matters in this state. -- C