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, May 2, 2010

News of the Day for Sunday, May 2, 2010

Iraqi people inspect the scene of a car bomb attack Baghdad, Iraq, Saturday, May 1, 2010. Gunmen have robbed a jewelry store in northern Baghdad and killed its owner. As they were making their escape, a car bomb exploded nearby, killing three policemen who were responding to the robbery, police said. (AP Photo/Khalid Mohammed)

Reported Security Incidents


Two bombs explode near buses carrying Christian university students, killing a nearby shop owner and injuring about 100 people. "The buses were transporting the students from the mainly Christian town of Hamdaniya, 40 km (25 miles) east of Mosul. 'All of them were Christian students. They go in buses like that to Mosul's university after the troubled times when Christians were targeted in the past,' Nissan Karoumi, mayor of Hamdaniya said." KUNA gives the death toll as 2.


A police captain is injured in a drive-by shooting, has been admitted to a hospital.

Salah al-Din Province, near Tikrit

Police officer injured by a sticky bomb attached to his car.

Other News of the Day

Civilian death toll in violence in Iraq rises sharply in April from preceding months. Reuters reports:

A total of 274 civilians were killed by bomb blasts or other attacks last month, compared with 216 in March and 211 in February, government figures showed on Saturday. . . The monthly casualty statistics, issued by the interior, defence and health ministries, showed that 39 police officers, 15 soldiers and 48 insurgents were killed in April. The number of police killed was sharply lower than in previous months. . . . Three U.S. soldiers died from hostile fire in April, according to, the same number as the month before but up from one in February.

Iraq Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari accuses the U.S. of insufficient interference in Iraqi politics. Really! When I first saw this I thought it must be April 1, but he's a month late. -- C Excerpt:

Iraq’s foreign minister chided the United States and Britain for not taking an active role in resolving his country’s bitter election dispute and accused Washington of being more concerned with sending home US soldiers. In an interview published yesterday in a London-based Arabic language newspaper, Hoshyar Zebari also warned of a political vacuum in the country still struggling to seat a government almost two months after the March 7 election as American troops leave prepare to leave.

Zebari complained that the United States and Britain have stood on the sidelines of the current dispute and appeared to urge them to be more aggressive in pushing Iraq’s rival political blocs toward a compromise. “Their role is absent in this election, and this has made matters more difficult,’’ Zebari said of the United States and Britain in comments in the Saudi-owned Asharq Al-Awsat newspaper. He noted that after Iraq’s 2005 elections, both nations played a key role in cajoling Iraqi politicians into forming a government.

The foreign minister’s stance appeared to put him at odds with Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, who has slammed a proposal put forward by his chief rival that sought international intervention in setting up a new government. Maliki said such a role would undermine Iraq’s efforts to become fully independent.

Meanwhile, VP Tariq al-Hashimi says the presidency council will meet next week to discuss the deteriorating political situation. He is rather vague about what they will discuss. While a manual recount is to begin tomorrow, al-Iraqiya has called for new elections.

Afghanistan Update

ISAF soldier killed in southern Afghanistan. As usual, no details are immediately forthcoming.

Afghan Interior Ministry says civilian deaths are on the rise. AP's Rahim Faiez reports:

Civilian casualties are rising in Afghanistan as U.S. and NATO reinforcements stream into the country as part of a military buildup to combat the resurgent Taliban, the Interior Ministry said Sunday. There have been 173 civilian deaths in violence in Afghanistan from March 21 to April 21, marking a 33 percent increase over the same time period last year, the ministry said. A recent quarterly report by the U.S. office overseeing Afghanistan's rebuilding confirmed an increase in civilian deaths.

The ministry did not provide a breakdown of who was responsible for the fatalities. Civilian deaths at the hands of U.S. and other international forces are highly sensitive in Afghanistan, although the U.N. says the Taliban are responsible for most civilian casualties. Still, the backlash could undermine U.S. strategy ahead of a summer military operation in Kandahar, a key southern city that is the spiritual home of the Taliban.

Mullah Omar is reported to have organized negotiations for the release of a Pakistani security agent held by insurgents in North Waziristan. (I've done a little cultural translation here. This story suggests that Omar continues to be allied with Pakistani intelligence. -- C Or, as the Quqnoos story puts it: "the pro-Mullah Omar Haqqani network is very influential in North Waziristan and if the pro-Haqqani local Taliban pressurise the "Asian Tigers", they would have to release Col Imam [the Pakistani intelligence officer] – described as "very close" to Mullah Omar."

Three Polish soldiers are injured by a roadside bomb in Ghazni province.

NATO is investigating an Afghan official's accusation that a military convoy killed two women and a child in a car in a southeastern province.

U.S. plan to organize local militias to combat the Taliban backfires as it encourages tribal feuds. Sorry Stanley, Afghanistan is not Iraq. McClatchy's Anand Gopal reports:

In July, two Shinwari leaders raised a militia to attack these insurgents. The tribal force killed a key Taliban commander and expelled a small band of insurgent fighters from its territory. The rare uprising sparked a series of meetings between some tribal leaders and U.S. troops, according to Shinwari elders, after which the leaders pledged early this year to bar the Taliban from Achin.

It was one of the clearest anti-Taliban stances that any Afghan tribe had taken in recent years. "If we catch anyone harboring Taliban, we will fine him and burn down his house," said Malek Osman, one of the elders who made the pledge. "The Shinwaris are a huge tribe. We can make a major difference." U.S. military officials rewarded the tribe with $200,000 and promised more development funds to come.

With the funds and newfound prestige, however, came infighting. Like most other Afghan tribes, the Shinwari are subdivided into a tangle of clans and sub-clans, each with its own leaders. Only one of the clans, the Shobli, had made the pledge against the Taliban.

"We haven't participated in that decision," said Muhammad Nabi, an Achin resident and member of another Shinwari clan, the Ali Sher Khel. "Those tribal elders don't represent us, and they don't speak for all Shinwaris." A number of others who were interviewed agreed with this sentiment.

Shortly after the decision to expel the Taliban was announced, the Ali Sher Khel claimed that the Shobli had occupied part of their land on the outskirts of the Achin bazaar, and launched an attack. Thirteen people were killed and 35 injured, and most of the houses there were reduced to rubble.

Many Shobli fled, leaving behind smoldering ruins and heightened tensions. Locals said life still hadn't returned to normal. "Look around," Achin resident Abdul Habib said, pointing to a gaunt, nearly deserted central bazaar. "There is fear everywhere. The (clans) don't trust each other and they think fighting will start again at any minute."

Quote of the Day

Chosen for its bizarreness quotient

An article by the Moroccan academic Mustafa Ikhlaif published on Al-Jazeera offers an interesting variant on this problematic. It calls on Obama to convert to Islam so that he can immediately become the leader (indeed caliph) of Muslims the world over. The writer argues that for Muslims the race or ethnicity of who rules them is of no importance as long as that person embodies Islam. After all, people of Persian, Turk, Seljuk and other origins have ruled Arab regions - why could not Barack Hussein Obama become one of them? Muslims have warmly received and hailed Obama; the only obstacle in the way of him reigning over Muslim lands is the mere one of becoming a Muslim.

Translated and reported by Khaled Hroub

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dancewater said...

05/02/10 Reuters: Gunmen kill man western Mosul
Gunmen shot dead a man inside his store in western Mosul, police said

05/02/10 Reuters: Grenade fire wounds wounds 10 civilains in central Mosul
Gunmen threw two hand grenades at a police patrol wounding 10 civilians in a crowded market in central Mosul, 390 km (240 miles) north of Baghdad, police said.

05/02/10 Reuters: Car bomb kills 3 policemen in northern Baghdad
A parked car bomb killed three policemen and wounded two civilians in Baghdad's northern Qahira district, police said.

dancewater said...

05/02/10 WaPo: Karzai to seek Obama's approval for peace deals with insurgents

The most meaningful part of Afghan President Hamid Karzai's visit to Washington next week may end up being talks about talks.

05/02/10 NYTimes: Afghans Die in Bombing, as Toll Rises for Civilians

Seven people were killed Sunday evening when a bus struck a roadside bomb in eastern Afghanistan near the border with Pakistan, the latest casualties in Afghanistan’s rising toll of civilian dead.

05/02/10 MoD: Soldier 1 MERCIAN killed in Afghanistan

the Ministry of Defence must confirm the death of a soldier from 1st Battalion The Mercian Regiment, serving with 40 Commando Royal Marines Battle Group on the morning of 2 May 2010. The soldier was killed in an explosion that happened near PB Waterloo, in Sangin, Helmand Province.

05/02/10 Xinhua: Explosion rocks Kunduz in N Afghanistan

A powerful blast shocked Kunduz city, the capital of Kunduz province, in north Afghanistan on Sunday, police said. "A roadside bomb apparently targeted a convoy of NATO-led troops in Kunduz city this morning but fortunately caused no loss of life," deputy to provincial police chief Abdul Rahman Haqtash told Xinhua.

05/02/10 AP: Afghanistan says civilian deaths are rising

Civilian casualties are rising in Afghanistan as U.S. and NATO reinforcements stream into the country as part of a military buildup to combat the resurgent Taliban, the Interior Ministry said Sunday.

dancewater said...

State Department Flies Mercenary Air Force Over Pakistan

Read More

The airspace along the Afghanistan/Pakistan border is pretty crowded these days: Along with U.S., Afghan and Pakistani military missions, the CIA is running its own covert drone ops. Less well known, but perhaps equally controversial, is the State Department’s counter-narcotics air force, staffed by mercenaries.

A recently released State Department Inspector General report, however, gave an unusually detailed look at the size and scope of these operations. The report fills in more details about America’s growing and undeclared war in Pakistan.

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