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, June 6, 2010

News of the Day for Sunday, June 6, 2010

A U.S. soldier patrols on foot in Kerbala, 80 km (50 miles) south of Baghdad June 6, 2010. REUTERS/Mushtaq Muhammed Just in case you thought this wasn't happening any more. -- C

















Reported Security Incidents

Baghdad

Suicide car bomber attacks a police post in al-Amil during a shift change, kills 4 police officers and one civilian, injures at least 15 people.

An electrical engineer is killed by a sticky bomb in Allawi, 2 other people injured.

Also, 2 people injured by a bomb attack on a police convoy in New Baghdad.

Seven police injured by bomb attack on their convoy in eastern Baghdad. Not clear if this is the same as the above incident with a more complete casualty total -- C

Roadside bomb attack on a judge injures 2 of his bodyguards.

Fire at an oil depot. No indication as to whether it is the result of sabotage.

Mawali, near Mosul

20 gunmen systematically hunt down and kill Faris Jassim al-Jabbouri, a retired colonel who ran for parliament as an Iraqiya candidate. According to this account, at least one attacker was wearing a "lieutenant's" uniform. According to this detailed account by AP's Adam Schreck, all of the attackers were wearing army uniforms. (The accounts differ in some other details.)

Mahmudiyah

Eight people injured in roadside bomb attack near the municipal offices.

Mosul

Iraqi soldier killed, a second injured, in small arms attack on a military checkpoint.

"Joint U.S. Iraqi force kills 3 "gunmen," "wanted for different crimes," late at night.

Kirkuk

Civilian injured in attack on a police patrol.

Qaim

A sticky bomb attached to a car carrying Shihab Ahmed Salah, the head of al-Ubaidi hospital, seriously wounded him on Saturday. (This is the Reuters fact box, which otherwise summarizes incidents reported elsewhere.)

Other News of the Day

Sahwa in Diyala are stripped of the right to bear arms, sparking anger and warnings of unrest. Excerpt:

"The ground forces commander, Lieutenant General Ali Ghaidan, ordered the withdrawal of weapons permits from Sahwa members in Diyala," said an official in the province's security command, speaking on condition of anonymity. "The decision was taken following the arrest of several militants implicated in assassinations."

snip

The decision to withdraw weapons permits has sparked anger among Sahwa members, whose decision to side with US and Iraqi forces to fight Al-Qaeda and its supporters led to a dramatic fall in violence across the country. "These weapons are necessary to protect ourselves and to protect the regions under our control," said Khalid al-Samarrai, a Sahwa leader east of Diyala's provincial capital Baquba.


Iraq's new ambassador to Kuwait, Mohammad Hussain Bahr Al Uloom, the first in 20 years, presents his credentials and calls for a new era in relations. However,

His statement however did not impress Kuwait's lawmakers who in September criticised the Kuwaiti Foreign Minister Shaikh Mohammad Al Sabah for saying that his country was considering a proposal by UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon to recover the unpaid compensation by investing in joint ventures in Iraq.

Last month, the Iraqi government resorted to dissolving its national airline in an attempt to avoid the payment of reparations of $1.2 billion to Kuwait Airways for the theft of 10 planes and spare parts by Iraqi Airways during the pillage that followed the August 1990 invasion. A central issue at the core of the rancourous relations is that Iraq has yet to make an official confirmation of its commitment to the UN resolution that demarcates the borders with Kuwait amid concerns in Kuwait that doubts about its sovereignty in Iraq were not confined to Saddam.


Serena Chaudhry for Reuters discusses Iraq's structural water shortage. The situation threatens public health, agriculture, and the oil industry. There are many issues so no excerpt can summarize, but here's a small piece:

Already damaged by decades of war and sanctions, Iraq has acute water shortages which are expected to worsen as its population of around 30 million grows. A country dominated by arid desert landscapes, it has one of the most extensive irrigation systems in the world but years of war, underinvestment and sanctions have prevented it from properly harnessing what little water it has left.

Iraq's main rivers, the Euphrates and the Tigris, provide little relief to the parched plains as hydroelectric dams in neighbouring Turkey, Iran and Syria have stemmed the water flow.

Investment in dilapidated infrastructure like water pumps is vital for key industries like agriculture and oil, as well as the broader reconstruction effort seven years after the U.S.-led invasion that ousted Saddam Hussein.

Parched Anbar province, a vast desert area, has been hit particularly hard. Large areas of formerly arable land by the Euphrates have become unusable because of insufficient methods to pump clean water through the soil. The United Nations says around 83 percent of sewage is being discharged untreated into waterways, while the government estimates 24 percent of Iraqis do not have access to safe water.


Afghanistan Update

Suicide bomber on a motorbike attacks a NATO convoy in Jalalabad. Twelve civilian bystanders and a police officer are injured; at this time the extent of NATO casualties, if any, is unknown, although one of the vehicles in the convoy is said to have been destroyed.

Roadside bomb in Kunduz kills a prominent government supporter and two of his associates. Also, in Kandahar, attack on a police convoy kills a police officer and 2 civilians.

Afghan Interior Minister and chief of intelligence are said to have resigned, no further information at this time.

Karzai orders a review of all the cases of suspected Taliban held in Afghan jails and says those held on insufficient evidence must be released. This appears to be a response to recommendations of the peace Jirga held last week.

Quote of the Day

We get our whole lives from the rivers. We don’t know any other profession. We used to catch fish in abundance, but now, every year, every season, there are less fish. Many people have moved away and others have taken new jobs. For the people here, working in a shop or a factory is an unnatural thing


Basra fisherman Mohammad Mishlat. (See Serena Chaudhry's article, above, on Iraq's water shortages. Mr. Mishlat's problem, specifically, relates to Iran diverting water from the Karun river, a tributary of the Tigris, depriving the Shatt al-Arab of 13 billion cubic meters of water every year; and Turkey and Syria damming the headwaters of the Tigris and the Euphrates.)