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, October 11, 2009

News of the Day for Sunday, October 11, 2009

Iraqi women chant slogans during a demonstration organized by the Iraqi constitutional party in Baghdad, Iraq, Saturday, Oct. 10, 2009. Hundreds of Iraqis demonstrated throughout Iraq in response of the call by Iraq's top Shiite cleric, Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani to adopt the open list in the next parliamentary elections, and for improved public services, revealing growing discontent among Iraqis with the pace of reconstruction more than six years after the U.S.-led invasion..
(AP Photo/Khalid Mohammed)

Reported Security Incidents


Fourteen people reported killed in an apparently coordinated series of bombings. A car bomb exploded near the provincial government building, and a second exploded shortly thereafter as emergency workers arrived. A police official now reports 12 killed in these explosions. A third explosion occurred at the hospital where the wounded were being treated is said to have killed 2 more and injured 4. However, reported casualty totals vary considerably at this time. Sky News is also reporting that all 3 explosions took place near the hospital, which I suspect is erroneous. (I will post an update if clearer information emerges. -- C

And here is the update, from an AFP journalist on the scene:

The two car bombs exploded in quick succession in Ramadi, the capital of Anbar province, near the offices of the provincial governor while a meeting was in progress, a police official said. "The attacks killed 19 people, including nine police," an interior ministry official told AFP. "Eighty-one other people are wounded and 30 cars are completely burned." The official said 80 percent of the wounded were police, and 10 percent of the injured were in critical condition.

An AFP journalist in the building said the first bomb went off at around 12.30 pm (0930 GMT) about 20 metres (yards) from the building in a civilian parking lot, speeding the arrival of firemen and police. A second car bomb then exploded, the journalist said, leading the police to seal off the area, which was littered with body parts.


Two men arrested by joint U.S.-Iraqi force while trying to plant a bomb. Brig, Sarhad Qader "said that initial interrogations revealed that the two gunmen are affiliated with the armed al-Naqshbandiya group. Formed after 2003, Naqshabandiya is loyal to the former Iraqi Vice President Izzat al-Dori during the former regime of President Saddam Hussein."


A roadside bomb wounded six policemen and five civilians when it struck a police patrol.


Reuters reports three incidents:

  1. A roadside bomb injured a policeman when it struck a patrol in northern Mosul

  2. A roadside bomb killed a civilian and wounded another in central Mosul on Saturday

  3. Gunmen shot dead a university student in eastern Mosul on Saturday, police said.

Other News of the Day

City Councilors vote to ban alcohol entirely in Najaf, including the city and the province. Excerpt:

Najaf, located 150 kilometres (90 miles) south of Baghdad, is home to the mausoleum of Imam Ali, the son-in-law and cousin of the Prophet Mohammed, and which attracts Shiites from around the world, particularly neighbouring Iran. However, there is a known culture of secret late-night drinking in the city, which its political leaders want to clamp down on. Although alcohol is considered contrary to strict Islam, it is sold openly from shops in Baghdad and other Iraqi cities.

The Najaf provincial council's decision follows an alcohol ban in the Shiite port city of Basra in August, which triggered concerns about the role of religion in people's private lives. Basra deputy governor Ahmad al-Sulaiti said the law was implemented because Iraq's constitution "bans anything that violates the principles of Islam," the state religion and "fundamental source of legislation."

However the move raised concerns among alcohol vendors in Basra's shrinking Christian community that they would be targeted if they refused to close their shops.

Demonstrators in Baghdad protest the failure of the government to deliver basic services. Demonstrators in the south of Iraq protest the election law. Excerpt:

About 200 demonstrators in central Baghdad chanted: "No water, no electricity in the country of oil and the two rivers," a reference to Iraq's ancient name. Protester Najim Abid said he and others were calling on the Iraqi government and international aid organizations to take immediate action to improve conditions for Iraqis. "They must step in and save the Iraqi people, who are suffering because of poverty and deprivation," said Abid, 52, a retired government worker. . . .

Meanwhile, about 800 people in the southern provinces of Wasit and Basra took to the streets in support of a call by the country's most senior Shiite cleric to hold more-open elections. Iraq's parliament has been considering having the Jan. 16 ballots list only the party blocs and not the individual candidates.

Afghanistan Update

U.S. soldier killed in western Afghanistan by a remotely controlled bomb, according to an ISAF statement. No further details given.

U.S. and Afghan forces attack a compound in Kunar Province, reportedly killing 12 militants.

Roadside bomb kills the district police chief and the governor in Shah Khil district of Paktika Province.

Afghan forces say they have captured Bashir Qinaat, a prominent Taliban commander accused of having ties with al Qaeda.

UN Afghan mission head Kai Eide finally responds to allegations of widespread voter fraud by Peter Galbraith, his former deputy who was fired due to his outspokenness over the issue. Eide acknowledges that there was fraud but "refused to give specifics or lay blame to avoid influencing the ongoing recount."

UK Foreign Minister David Miliband and U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton meet to discuss Afghanistan. "On Afghanistan, Mrs Clinton reaffirmed the US commitment to the country and said she was very clear that al Qaida posed a "direct threat" to the US and Britain."

Quote of the Day

As the fighting drags on from one year to the next, the engagement of US forces in armed nation-building projects in distant lands will become the new normalcy. Americans of all ages will come to accept war as a perpetual condition, as young Americans already do. That “keeping Americans safe’’ obliges the United States to seek, maintain, and exploit unambiguous military supremacy will become utterly uncontroversial. . . . At home and abroad, the president who advertised himself as an agent of change will instead have inadvertently erected barriers to change. As for the American people, they will be left to foot the bill.

Andrew Bacevich