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, January 24, 2010

News of the Day for Sunday, January 14, 2010

A blindfolded suspected member of the Al Qaeda walks with a policeman after his arrest during a search and raid operation by the Iraqi investigation and criminal office in Kirkuk, 250 km (155 miles) north of Baghdad January 23, 2010. REUTERS/Ako Rasheed (I posted this photo because it is noteworthy that Iraqi police continue to conceal their faces. -- C)

Reported Security Incidents


One policeman killed, 3 injured by IED attack.


Brig. Sahban Ali al-Waeli, an adviser to the Interior Ministry, died late Saturday of injuries suffered in a bomb attack on his house Friday night.


Cab driver killed by a sticky bomb.

Other News of the Day

As British arrest Jim McCormick, managing director of ATSC, for selling fraudulent bomb detection advices to Iraq, Iraqi politicians begin to react. The New York Times reported as long ago as November that these devices, called the "ADE 651" which are hand-held devices purported to be able to detect explosives, are completely useless. Astonishingly, the company claims that they use principles similar to "dowsing" for water, which is of course equally nonsensical. Yet Iraqi security forces rely on them extensively at checkpoints. In spite of the British action, Iraq has yet to halt use of the devices. It is disturbing to think that this British psychopath may have contributed to the success of the massive attacks on Iraqi government infrastructure in order to enrich himself. Riyadh Mohammed reports from Baghdad:

''This company not only caused grave and massive losses of funds, but it has caused grave and massive losses of the lives of innocent Iraqi civilians, by the hundreds and thousands, from attacks that we thought we were immune to because we have this device,'' said Ammar Tuma, a member of the Iraqi parliament's security and defence committee.

But the Ministry of the Interior has not withdrawn the devices from service, and police continue to use them at checkpoints throughout Baghdad.

Iraqi officials said they would begin an investigation into why their Government paid around $US85 million ($A94 million) to the British company, ATSC Ltd, for at least 800 of the bomb detectors.

Eleven bodies, apparently dating to 2007, found in a mass grave near Falluja.

U.S. Marines hand over responsibility for Anbar Province to the U.S. Army, prepare to withdraw from Iraq. The Marines are constituted as a rapid deployment force with a mission of quickly seizing territory, but the shortage of forces after the U.S. invasion of Iraq forced them into an occupation role in Anbar.

Meanwhile, however, many analysts fear that gains in security may be lost if political reconciliation between sects fails, as may well be happening. IRIN reports:

A government move to exclude a number of prominent Sunni candidates from national parliamentary elections on 7 March could re-ignite sectarian violence and create a new humanitarian crisis in the war-torn country, according to some analysts.

"Iraq is on the verge of another humanitarian crisis if the current political situation continues to worsen between the political parties or between Sunnis and Shia over participation in the coming elections," Mohammed Abdul-Aziz Jassim, a political sciences lecturer at the University of Anbar, told IRIN. "Almost all Iraq's humanitarian challenges since 2003 [when the US-led invasion began], such as displacement, poor public services and social problems, are the result of the political and sectarian strife that led to a deteriorated security situation," he said.

In mid-January, a committee tasked by the government to prohibit former members of Saddam Hussein's disbanded Baath Party from government jobs decided to exclude 511 Sunni and Shia candidates from the polls. Although the majority of those on the list are reportedly Shia, they do not have the political clout or tribal standing that the barred Sunnis have, analysts say.

Sunnis are particularly angered that prominent Sunni lawmaker Salih Al-Mutlak is among those excluded. Al-Mutlak's involvement in the political process was instrumental in turning the tide against the insurgency, say analysts.

U.S. VP Joe Biden says Iraq elections must be "fair, credible and transparent" but says the U.S. will not intervene in the issue of banned candidates, according to Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari. "President Barack Obama and I strongly support the implementation of Article 7 (of Iraq's constitution) that prohibits the Baath party," the vice president said, according to the statement.

DoD identifies a soldier who died in a motor vehicle crash in Mosul on January 20 as Pfc. Gifford E. Hurt, 19, of Yonkers, N.Y.

Ammar al Hakim, head of the Supreme Iraqi Islamic Council (the largest Shiite faction) is in Lebanon, where he met with Hezbollah leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah. (I'm sure the Neocons are loving that. -- C)

Afghanistan Update

NATO reports the deaths of 3 U.S. military personnel in two separate bomb attacks in southern Afghanistan. No further details at this time.

Afghanistan postpones elections for four months, from May to September, citing budgetary, security and logistical problems. I'm sure everything will be just peachy by September. -- C

Pakistan Foreign Office says it is "reaching out to Afghan Taliban. "We don't want to discuss the specifics. There are efforts being made and we are trying to win over those Taliban are reconcilable," Spokesman Abdul Basit said in a press briefing Saturday.

Hamid Karzai is in Turkey to attend a three-way summit of Turkey, Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Quote of the Day

The fact that the administration's disinformation campaign was entirely successful is evidenced by an October 2004, Harris Poll, taken three weeks before the last presidential election, which reported that 62% of all voters, and 84% of those planning to vote for Bush, still believed that Saddam had ''strong links" to Al Qaeda, and that 41% of all voters, and 52% of Bush backers, believed that Saddam had ''helped plan and support the hijackers" who had attacked the country on 9/11. As we now know, the basis for these allegations were false but the saddest part of the situation is that many Americans are just now beginning to realize that Bush knew the stories were false for more than a year when he cited them as justification for taking the country to war.

Evelyn Pringle