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, July 18, 2010

News of the Day for Sunday, July 18, 2010

A policeman inspects a damaged vehicle after a bomb attack in Baghdad July 18, 2010. A bomb attached to a car killed one man and wounding three others in Ur district, northeastern Baghdad, police said. REUTERS/Saad Shalash I post this photo, although far more dramatic ones are available, because it is another example of an incident which, as far as I can tell, is only reported in a photo caption. The large-scale attack in Radwaniya has driven everything else out of the news service reports. -- C

Reported Security Incidents


A suicide bomber attacked Sahwa members as they lined up to be paid outside an Iraqi military base, killing 39 and injuring 41, in Radwaniya in the Baghdad suburbs. All of the dead are reported to be Sahwa, but 2 soldiers are among the injured according to an Interior Ministry source, who also gives the death toll as 43. AP's account differs somewhat, saying 6 Iraqi soldiers are among the dead.

Another Sahwa fighter is killed by an IED in Abu Ghraib.

The Iraqi army raids the headquarters of the Iraqi Central Federation for Soccer, leaves without finding wanted men. No, I don't know exactly what this is all about, but disputes between the government and the football federation go back a couple of years. At one point the government disbanded the federation, but was ordered by FIFA to restore it. The federation operates the national team.

Qaim, Anbar Province

Four Sahwa killed, 7 injured by a suicide bomber inside a house. Again, the AP account is slightly different, saying the attacker first opened fire on the house, then blew himself up as the Sahwa gathered around him. AP also gives the death toll of Sahwa as 3.

Tal Afar

Four Katyusha rockets strike 2 different neighborhoods, injuring 2 people and damaging numerous houses.


A former Iraqi army intelligence officer is shot dead on Saturday, and another civilian is killed in front of his house. (These incidents were reported too late for yesterday's post.)

Other News of the Day

Former Deputy Prime Minister Tariq Aziz is on trial yet again for "wasting public funds." He has been held by the United States, and was recently handed over to Iraqi custody. If that was a crime in the United States we wouldn't be in Iraq, for one thing. -- C

Shwan Mohammed reports on smuggling of petroleum products from Kurdistan into Iran. This is not a new story but it adds a bit of local color.

Kurdistan Islamic Scholars Union issues a fatwa that female genital mutilation is not prescribed by Islam. However, the fatwa does not prohibit it. Excerpt from Human Rights Watch:

The fatwa notes that the practice is not prescribed in Islam, but predates it. The fatwa does not absolutely prohibit "female circumcision." It says parents may choose to "circumcise" their daughters but that it is better to avoid the practice because of the negative health consequences. FGM has been internationally recognized as a violation of children's and women's rights, including their rights to life, health, and bodily integrity.

"This fatwa on female genital mutilation is an important effort by the Kurdish religious community to dissociate this practice from Islam, but it is not enough," said Nadya Khalife, Middle East women's rights researcher at Human Rights Watch. "FGM is a degrading and damaging practice, and letting parents choose this procedure for their daughters is simply unacceptable."

Iraqi government presses international oil companies to speed development of 11 oil fields for which they have concessions.

Afghanistan Update

Amid preparations for an international conference on Tuesday, a suicide bomber on a bicycle kills 3 and wounds dozens in Kabul. "The blast shattered windows, gutted nearby vehicles and left the street littered with body parts, said an AFP photographer." As for the conference:

Kabul is to host a major gathering of its international partners -- including US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and about 40 foreign ministers -- on Tuesday, when the government will lay out is plan for the future. Security forces have thrown a ring of steel around the city to head off any Taliban attacks, with police stationed every few metres (yards) along key streets and thousands of extra police officers on duty, authorities said.

Up to 70 international representatives are due to attend the conference, to be co-chaired by President Hamid Karzai and UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon. It has been presented as a bid by the Afghan government to start a process of transition from dependence on Western backers to running the country alone.

A U.S. combatant is killed by a roadside bomb southern Afghanistan. No further details at this time.

In Farah Province, attackers free 20 Taliban from prison. According to Alissa J. Rubin, Abdul Waheed Wafa and Taimoor Shah of the NYT:

the prison break was a sophisticated and highly coordinated operation that started at 11 Saturday night when a suicide bomber attacked a police patrol. He was killed by the police before he detonated himself but created confusion and a number of police rushed to site of the attack. An hour later the Taliban attacked four security checkpoints in two districts around the capital, said Gen. Faqir Askar, the provincial police chief.

Then at 3 a.m., the Taliban attacked the prison gate, blowing it up while Taliban prisoners used explosives that had been smuggled in to the prison to blow the locks off the gates of their cells. One policeman was killed and four inmates were injured, said General Askar.

He blamed the Taliban for smuggling in the explosives, but provincial council members and elders said the police had done a poor job and corruption had played a major role in the ability of the Taliban to smuggle explosives into the prison. In addition the prison is extremely overcrowded and hard to manage with almost four times as many inmates as the prison was built for.

Hillary Clinton is in Pakistan, the start of an Asian tour aimed in part at "refining the goals" of the war in Afghanistan. (Not specified exactly what that means.) She will announce a half-billion package of development assistance to Pakistan, and work to overcome anti-American sentiment in that country. She will then attend the Kabul conference, and go on to South Korea and Vietnam.

Bush Administration State Department official with the Afghanistan portfolio Richard Haass, writing in Newsweek, says it's time to get out. Just read it. However, he doesn't really have any attractive options to tout -- just what he considers the least bad ones. He concludes:

All this argues for reorienting U.S. Afghan policy toward decentralization—providing greater support for local leaders and establishing a new approach to the Taliban. The war the United States is now fighting in Afghanistan is not succeeding and is not worth waging in this way. The time has come to scale back U.S. objectives and sharply reduce U.S. involvement on the ground. Afghanistan is claiming too many American lives, requiring too much attention, and absorbing too many resources. The sooner we accept that Afghanistan is less a problem to be fixed than a situation to be managed, the better.

A man claiming to be the Afghan soldier who killed 3 British soldiers on Tuesday has contacted the BBC. "he man, introduced as 21-year-old Talib Hussain, said he had been angry at the conduct of British troops in Helmand province, accusing them of killing civilians, including children. He said the shooting of British soldiers had been his own idea, and before that he had no contact with the Taliban, Iran or Pakistan. He added during the ten-minute interview that he had joined the Taliban only after the shooting."

Media Update: will be moving to -- update your bookmarks.

Quote of the Day

The insurgents were holed up in a small building the size of a shack, with thick, mud brick walls, where farmers normally dry grapes. When they tried to escape, and commanders had no doubt the men were combatants, their war was over.

The grinding noise of a chopper’s motorized machine gun, capable of mincing a target with at least 2,000 bullets a minute, echoed across the desert plain. It sounded like a wood chipper dicing up tree limbs.

“Oh ya, baby!” one soldier shouted up at the sky as the airborne gatling gun spewed repeated bursts. Whoops and cheers rippled across the dust-blown camp.

From a non-bylined story in Military News (If anybody can track down the provenance of this story, I will be pleased to give proper credit.)

Update: Story reported by Paul Watson of the Toronto Star


Ensley said...

The Canadian helicopter story was written by Paul Watson of the Toronto Star.

Cervantes said...

Thanks Ensley, will fix it.

dancewater said...

The story about the helicopter shooting up the insurgents, and the sounds it makes, reminds me of the stories about Saddam putting people into chippers.

I don't know if the Saddam stories were really true - probably not. But it does show that westerns are just as vicious and blood thirsty as Saddam ever was.

I was trying to think of all the governments that the US has overthrown in the past decade only, and come up with:


Venezuela coup did not stand (thank goodness) and the Honduras coup has not definitely been pinned on the USA (yet).

Can anyone think of any more?

Then I got to thinking about all the governments/elections that the USA has violently interfered with in the past ten years, and came up with:


Probably a LOT more countries on the second list.

dancewater said...


DR Congo

maybe Turkey?? Uganda??

Hard to tell what all countries the Special Operations are going on in - reported to be over 75 countries now.

any others?

dancewater said...

whoa, you ain't kidding that there are more dramatic pictures out there today - bodies stacked like cord wood!

Reminds me of pictures from WW2.

I don't know how the Iraqi people will survive this blood-soaked hell that the American people visited on them. I don't know how they will ever forgive those blood sucking sociopaths who supported this massive, massive evil.

dancewater said...

There is also a picture of US troops on patrol in Karbala.

I thought they were supposed to stay on their base???

Anonymous said...

Thought For Today.

Dear Hillary,

God can reach others through us by power of His Spirit.

"But we have this treasure in earthern vessels so that the excellence of the power may be of God and not of us..."

2 Corinthians 4:7

Christians are earthern vessels referred to in this passage. The treasure of the Gospel and God's redeeming grace is His gift to us - a gift to share.

At times we tend to focus on the vessel itself - coveting the noble appearance of other vessels and devaluing our own; wishing we were a jewelled vase, instead of a leaking bucket. We may work hard to change the appearance of our vessel, whitewashing over our percieved cracks and imperfections. So often we focus on ourselves, but what ought our focus be? Are we setting the created vessel above the Creator himself and His treasure?

In reality, we are simple vessels through which God can reach others, by the power of His Spirit. When submitted to Him, the treasures God has given us can be shared with others for the glory of His name and kingdom. A God-focused and willing leaky bucket can do far more for the kingdom of God then a self-focused jewelled vase!

Michael Schmidt

Ingestre St Bible Church

Cervantes said...

Hillary is in fact an observant Christian, but I don't think that's going to be much help to her.

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