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 17, 2010

News of the Day for Sunday, October 17, 2010

Sahwa or 'Awakening' militiamen patrol the northern Iraqi city of Samarra in August. The New York Times says hundreds of members of pro-US Awakening Councils may have swutched their loyalty to Al-Qaeda. (AFP/File/Mahmud Saleh) Note that their faces are covered. -- C

Reported Security Incidents


Two Sadrist politicians, members of the al-Ahrar bloc, are injured by a sticky bomb.

A sticky bomb injures an employee of the industry ministry and two others. reported by AhlulBayt, which says 3 civilians were injured in twin explosions in Dora. Reuters reports that three employees of the Ministry of Housing and Construction were injured by a bomb in Dora. They're probably all talking about the same incident but who knows for sure?

Sticky bomb kills a civilian in al-Bayyaa area, southwestern Baghdad. Reuters reports that two passers-by were also injured in this incident.

Sticky bomb injures a driver and two pedestrians in Karrada.


A man and his son are injured by a mortar attack.

Bomb attached to the door of a house injures a teenager.

Near Samawa, Muthanna province

A U.S. patrol is attacked on the highway between Samawa and Nassiriya, leaving one vehicle ablaze. No further information at this time.


Attack on an Iraqi army patrol kills a soldier.


Four civilians, including two children, injured by bomb attack on a pickup truck.

Other News of the Day

Timothy Williams and Duraid Adnan of the NYT report that hundreds of Awakening Council members have been rejoining the al-Qaeda led insurgency. They report that government forces have arrested hundreds of them; while the insurgents offer them greater safety and even better pay. Remember that the U.S. occupation originally promised them that the government would incorporate them into the security services. However, this never happened and the police and army remain Shiite-dominated. Without political reconciliation, this is the inevitable result. -- C. Excerpt:

During the past four months, the atmosphere has become particularly charged as the Awakening members find themselves squeezed between Iraqi security forces, who have arrested hundreds of current and former members accused of acts of recent terrorism, and Al Qaeda’s brutal recruitment techniques. As part of the militants’ unusual, though often convincing strategy, Awakening members that Al Qaeda fails to kill are then sought out to rejoin the insurgency. They are offered larger paychecks than their $300 a month government pay and told that they would be far safer.

The government, which says it is trying to integrate the Awakening into broader Iraqi society, has further angered the group recently by confiscating its weapons, saying Awakening fighters lack proper permits, and stripping some fighters of their ranks, which the government says were not properly earned. The pay of some Awakening leaders has also been reduced.

Iraqi officials in Baghdad say they are aware of only a handful of Awakening members who have quit recently, and they are unapologetic about the government’s treatment of the fighters. “Fighting the Al Qaeda organization does not mean you are giving service to the government or to the people, and that you deserve gifts, rank, presents or benefits,” said Zuhair al-Chalabi, head of the National Reconciliation Committee, set up to heal the country’s sectarian divides. “It is a national duty.”

The Awakening has long complained about Iraq’s reluctance to hire more of its members into the army and the police, and about receiving salaries late. Those problems persist, members say.

Maliki plans a trip to Jordan and Iran to beg support for his candidacy for PM. He will meet with King Abudullah, then on to meet with Mahmoud Ahmadenijad and Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. We don't have a parliamentary system so there's no real parallel, but imagine the reaction if a U.S. politician campaigned for support from foreign leaders.

Iraqi forces arrest seven men they say are responsible for an assault on the Iraqi Rusafa army base in September. Major General Mohammed al-Askari, the Defense Ministry spokesman says that (as usual) the men immediately confessed.

Afghanistan Update

U.S. and Afghan forces launch assault into Panjwai, a Taliban-controlled region near Kandahar. NYT's Carlotta Gall reports on this action, even as attacks continue in Kandahar proper: insurgents attack an oil tanker, causing it to explode; rockets are fired into a prison compound; and a motorized rickshaw explodes behind police headquarters, killing one person and injuring three.

Reuters has started posting "fact boxes" on Afghanistan security incidents as it has done (somewhat erratically lately) for Iraq. As with Iraq, while these purport to be comprehensive, they generally overlap maybe 30-50% with other sources. Today Reuters reports:

  1. Several Afghans working for a U.S.-funded development project have gone missing after a Taliban attack overnight in western Farah province, the provincial police chief said.
  2. An ISAF soldier is killed in southern Afghanistan
  3. ISAF air strikes killed 5 insurgents in Paktia, according to ISAF

The wheels of Taliban justice grind neither slow nor small. According to this account, in Ghazni, two women killed their mother-in-law by pushing her into a bread oven. The family of the victim approached the Taliban, who gave her brother a rifle with which to kill one of the perpetrators. As the other is pregnant, she will be detained until she gives birth and then perhaps shot. For what it's worth, it is often reported that one source of support for the Taliban is that they offer justice, whereas the government court system is corrupt and indolent.

Joshua Partlow of the WaPo says the U.S. military and diplomatic mission are both feeling good about the way the war is going. "Upbeat assessments had become more common in Afghanistan since Gen. David Petraeus took over in July, but the refrain grew louder after Defense Secretary Robert Gates sounded a note of hope during a trip to the country early last month."

Oddly enough, however, an Australian general has a very different opinion. Gosh, I just don't know what to think. -- C Excerpt:

THE Taliban have ''overwhelmed'' foreign troops and cannot be defeated by military means, one of Australia's top combat soldiers has warned. Brigadier Mark Smethurst says securing Afghanistan could take decades, but success is uncertain without a fundamental change in strategy.

His critical assessment comes in a report that contrasts sharply with federal government claims of progress in Afghanistan. While the key role of Australian troops is mentoring local forces, he says the Afghan army cannot operate independently, despite seven years of training, and the police are even worse.

The Afghan government is ineffective and has failed to deal with corruption, human rights abuses and a non-existent justice system. Aid distribution, he says, has been ''wasteful, ineffective and insufficient''.

Karzai appoints a committee to investigate a secret U.S. prison at Bagram where prisoners are allegedly disappeared and tortured. Thank the FSM we got rid of that nasty George W. Bush, so that stuff like this can't happen any more. Except it does. Excerpt:

President Karzai has ordered an investigation about the reality of a secret jail in Bagram where prisoners are said to be illegally held while their human rights are not being respected by the US forces. The detainees in the prison were reportedly tortured, including exposure to excessive cold and light, not given sufficient food or blankets, and deprived of sleep.

The delegation is comprised of high-profile officials in the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission (AIHRC) and the Judicial Consultative Board of the Presidency headed by the Minister of Justice. The delegation is assigned to carry out extensive investigations within two weeks and report it to the president's office, a Press Release by the Afghan Presidency says. . . .

Head of the Afghan Human Rights Organisation (AHRO), Lal Gull has said his organisation has received reports claiming that inmates were tortured and abused in the prison.

Quote of the Day

The “war on terror” is now in its tenth year. What is it really all about? The bottom line answer is that the “war on terror” is about creating real terrorists. The US government desperately needs real terrorists in order to justify its expansion of its wars against Muslim countries and to keep the American people sufficiently fearful that they continue to accept the police state that provides “security from terrorists,” but not from the government that has discarded civil liberties.

Paul Craig Roberts. We just quote 'em -- make up your own mind.


The Wiz said...


detainees in the prison were reportedly tortured, including exposure to excessive cold and light, not given sufficient food or blankets, and deprived of sleep.

So.... they were treated like Navy Seals in training..... or Rangers in training....or Marines in training....or like CIA field personnel in training.....or....uhhh.....never mind.


The Wiz said...

And then there is this.... "The US government desperately needs real terrorists in order to justify its expansion of its wars against Muslim countries

You mean like how the US rescued Muslim Kuwait from secular Saddam? Or the war we fought to save the Bosnian Muslims from the Christian Serbs? Or maybe the war a couple of years later to save the Kosovo Muslims from the same Christian Serbs? Or maybe the time we sent troops to Somalia to try to stop the mass starvation caused by warring tribes?

Yeah, that damn imperial US just loves to kill Muslims, doesn't it?

Cervantes said...

Some statements are so profoundly, jaw droppingly, mind bogglingly idiotic that to dignify them with a response would itself be stupid.

The Wiz said...

Yeah, thats what I thought about the "Quote of the Day" and then I realized that some US haters just might believe it so I had to comment.

Glad I could help....

Anonymous said...

Freedom of choice makes all the difference...

Anonymous said...

yeah, Navy Seals get raped and killed in training ALL THE TIME.... in wizzo's world.