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 24, 2010

News of the Day for Sunday, October 24, 2010

Iraqi soldiers from the Ministry of Defence sit along side blindfolded detainees in the back of a pick-up truck as they drive along a road in Baghdad on October 24. Washington on Sunday came under increasing pressure to investigate the allegations in the leaked Iraq war documents published by WikiLeaks, which Britain's deputy premier called "shocking". (AFP/Salam Faraj)

Reported Security Incidents


Double bomb attack near a patrol of the 24th Brigade in the area of Abu Ghraib, western Baghdad, kills 2 soldiers and injures 14 late Saturday.


Car bomb in the parking lot of a medical center kills 4, injures 10. "The toll could rise as the area was busy during the rush hour of the day, the source said, citing police reports."

Tal Afar

Bomb near a policeman's house does not cause casualties. Note: This dispatch also gives a low death toll from the Mosul bombing but all other sources report at least 8 to 10 killed there.


IED explodes prematurely, killing the bomber and injuring 2 passersby on Saturday.

Other News of the Day

Iraq's Supreme Court orders Parliament to convene and elect a speaker. Excerpt:

The four-page court order termed as "illegal" a June decision by lawmakers to delay parliament's return and give leaders time to broker political alliances.

"The federal Supreme Court decided to cancel this decision, binding the parliament speaker to call on lawmakers to convene parliament and resume work," read the order that was issued Sunday. The delay, it said, "violated the constitution."


Sunday's court order settles a lawsuit brought by independent watchdog groups against [Fouad] Massoum in his role as acting speaker. In a brief interview Sunday, Massoum said he has not yet seen the order but has no choice but to abide by the court's demands.

And the WikiLeaks hits keep on coming.

The Guardian Reports: British troops came close to capturing al-Qaida's top commander and the occupation forces' most wanted target in Iraq – but the operation collapsed after the only surveillance helicopter ordered to monitor him ran out of fuel and had to return to base, secret military intelligence logs suggest. The astonishing blunder in March 2005 allowed Abu Musab al-Zarqawi – a Jordanian associate of Osama bin Laden with a $25m reward on his head – an extra 15 months to expand al-Qaida's operations throughout Iraq, bringing the country close to civil war." I think it's questionable whether this single individual was so essential to the strife of that period as such superficial analysis often has it, but still . . .

A leading member of the Iraqiya bloc calls for an investigation into any culpability by Nouri al-Maliki in the torture and abuse of prisoners reported in the leaked documents.

Maliki, meanwhile, claims the leaks are an attempt to smear him, with the truth, apparently. "In a statement, the prime minister's office accused WikiLeaks of creating a national uproar by releasing documents that it said were being used "against national parties and leaders, especially against the prime minister. The timing of these documents is designed to create a media turmoil aiming to hurt Iraq and the Iraqi prime minister," said Ali al-Moussawi, an adviser to the prime minister. "It is similar to other widespread campaigns for well-known political intentions, because of the honest work of the government."

British Deputy PM Nick Clegg says it is up to the U.S. to answer for the actions of its forces.

"We can bemoan how these leaks occurred, but I think the nature of the allegations made are extraordinarily serious. They are distressing to read about and they are very serious," he told BBC1's The Andrew Marr Show. "I am assuming the US administration will want to provide its own answer. It's not for us to tell them how to do that."

Asked if there should be an inquiry into the role of British troops, he said: I think anything that suggests that basic rules of war, conflict and engagement have been broken or that torture has been in any way condoned are extremely serious and need to be looked at." He added: "People will want to hear what the answer is to what are very, very serious allegations of a nature which I think everybody will find quite shocking."

The U.N.’s chief investigator on torture, Manfred Nowak, calls for the U.S. to probe the alleged involvement of its forces in human rights abuses.

A British soldier shot dead an eight-year-old Iraqi girl as she played with her friends in a street, it was claimed yesterday.

"The widows of insurgent fighters in Diyala province are demanding that the government acknowledge the hundreds of children whose fathers died leaving them without Iraqi citizenship. During the worst years of sectarian violence between 2006 and 2008, many men who joined militant groups such as al-Qaeda hid their true names and tribal links from the authorities - and even their future wives. As a result, these marriages are invalid under Iraqi law, meaning their children cannot be registered and are denied state education, healthcare, food allocations and voting rights."

Afghanistan Update

"NATO service member" killed by a bomb in southern Afghanistan. No further details at this time.

NYT photographer Joao Silva is seriously injured when he steps on a mine.

U.S. missile attack on a purported Taliban base in Logar Province kills 9, according to a provincial official. Local people claim 3 civilians also killed, which the sub-governor denies.

In parts of Badghis not under government control, pistachio forests are being destroyed by nomads. This may seem a rather arcane issue, but it serves to remind us that the collateral damage of war can be far broader than is immediately obvious. -- C

As Karzai prepares to negotiate with the Taliban, warlords of the so-called Northern Alliance are rearming, fearing a Taliban return to power.

Dexter Filkins reports that Tehran has a top aide to Karzai in the bag. Excerpt:

One evening last August, as President Hamid Karzai wrapped up an official visit to Iran, his personal plane sat on the airport tarmac, waiting for a late-running passenger: Iran’s ambassador to Afghanistan. The ambassador, Feda Hussein Maliki, finally appeared, taking a seat next to Umar Daudzai, Mr. Karzai’s chief of staff and his most trusted confidant. According to an Afghan official on the plane, Mr. Maliki handed Mr. Daudzai a large plastic bag bulging with packets of euro bills. A second Afghan official confirmed that Mr. Daudzai carried home a large bag of cash.

“This is the Iranian money,” said an Afghan official, who spoke on condition of anonymity. “Many of us noticed this.” The bag of money is part of a secret, steady stream of Iranian cash intended to buy the loyalty of Mr. Daudzai and promote Iran’s interests in the presidential palace, according to Afghan and Western officials here. Iran uses its influence to help drive a wedge between the Afghans and their American and NATO benefactors, they say.

Quote of the Day

WHAT: Reports possible detainee abuse
WHEN: 270900C AUG 09
WHERE: Iraqi CTU in Ramadi IVO (38S LB 413 998)

HOW: At 270900C AUG 09, the PGC TT reports possible detainee abuse IVO (38S LB 413 998). On 26 Aug 09, a PGC TT (which included a USN Corpsman) conducted a post mortem visual examination of JASIM MOHAMMED AHMED AL-SHIHAWI, an individual arrested in conjunction with a VBIED interdicted NE of Camp Taqaddum (SIGACT Entry DTG: 241130CAug09). The detainee was transferred from the IHP in Saqlawiah to the Iraqi CTU in Ramadi for questioning and while in custody, reportedly committed suicide. The PGC TT personnel conducting the post mortem examination found bruises and burns on the detainee`s body as well as visible injuries to the head, arm, torso, legs, and neck. The PGC TT report the injuries are consistent with abuse. The CTU/IP have reportedly begun an investigation into the detainees death. An update will be posted when more information becomes available. The SIR is attached.

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