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 25, 2009

News of the Day for Sunday, October 25, 2009

Rescuers search for bodies at the damaged building of the Ministry of Justice in Baghdad October 25, 2009. REUTERS/Mohammed Ameen I show this photo as an indication of the power of the bomb.

In this image from an amateur video a man runs from the blast as one of two huge car bombs explode in central Baghdad Sunday Oct 25 2009. The bombs killed at least 91 people in an apparent attempt to target the fragile city's government offices, Iraqi medical officials and authorities said. Sunday's explosions, which also injured at least 250 people, went off less than a minute apart near two prominent government institutions — the Ministry of Justice and the headquarters of the Baghdad provincial administration — in a neighborhood that houses a number of government institutions.
(AP Photo)

Reported Security Incidents


Reported death toll stands at 91 in twin car bombings near the Baghdad provincial administration and the Ministry of Justice building at approximately 10:30 am local time. Reported death tolls vary wildly, as always in the immediate aftermath of such events, but latest reports are all in the range of 90 and more. The Chinese embassy was also damaged in the explosion. Euronews reports that flooding from damaged water mains hampered rescue operations, and that firefighters were using ladders to reach upper floors of buildings where they feared victims might be trapped.

AP's Qassim Abdul-Zahra has the most detailed report I have been able to find so far. He reports:

  • 25 members of the provincial council staff were killed in the blasts;

  • At least 250 people injured;

  • Two U.S. "security contractors" injured, but no U.S. personnel reported killed;

  • Emergency services overwhelmed; civilian vehicles transported wounded to hospitals.

Prashan Rao for Middle East Online also offers a fairly detailed report, giving the toll of wounded as 600.


IED ttack on "MNF" (i.e. U.S.) patrol causes no casualties.

Owner of a real estate office is killed by unidentified gunmen.

An Iraqi Army officer and a soldier are killed in separate attacks on Saturday. (This was reported too late to make it into Whisker's post yesterday.)

Other News of the Day

A court in Diyala province issues an arrest warrant for Sunni MP Tayseer al-Mashhadani and her husband, on allegations of financing sectarian violence. Mashhadani is a member of the Iraqi Accordance Front, which denies the allegations and claims they are politically motivated.

U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice meets with Kurdish president Masaod Barazani, apparently to encourage progress on the January elections.

Faleh Hassan details questions over the integrity of the Independent High Electoral Commission, which are among the problems threatening to delay the January elections. (I highly recommend this account for its detailed look inside Iraqi politics and governance, which you won't get from western corporate media.) The allegations include accusations of bribery against Massoud Barzani, which may have some relationship to Susan Rice's meeting with him today; Parliament's debates over corruption and honest elections are inevitably caught up in sectarian wrangling, and it's very difficult to sort out legitimate good government activism from partisan opportunism. -- C

Afghanistan Update

Member of U.S. military killed in southern Afghanistan. No further details available.

Thousands demonstrate in Kabul in response to alleged desecration of a Quran by foreign troops in Maidan Wardak province. ISAF says this is a false allegation being promulgated by the Taliban.

And once again, ISAF is probing reports of civilian deaths, this time four people killed when troops fired on a vehicle in Kandahar. Two women and a child are said to be among the dead.

Quote of the Day

It is always the poor man who takes a bullet and gets no credit for it.

Retired Peshmerga Abdulla Mohammed, now reduced to selling candy on the streets.