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, January 9, 2011

News of the Day for Sunday, January 9, 2011

Reported Security Incidents


IED attack on a police convoy injures 3 policemen, including a captain, disrupting a celebration of the anniversary of the Iraqi police force.


Police free three abducted children, arrest their captors. No indication as to whether this incident was politically motivated.

Other News of the Day

Iraqi Parliament convenes, to hear address by Secretary of the Arab League Amr Moussa, in anticipation of an Arab summit to be held in Baghdad in March. This is seen as an important step toward reintegration of Iraq into the community of Arab nations.

If you didn't catch it yesterday, this AP account of Muqtada al-Sadr's address in Najaf on Saturday is worth reading. It puts al-Sadr in both contemporary and historical context. As always, he presents himself as a non-sectarian Iraqi nationalist, and a fierce opponent of the U.S. presence and influence.The truth about Sadrist involvement in sectarian violence, however, should not be forgotten. The extent of control he had personally over Sadrist associated militias, and the extent to which they acted reactively vs. pro-actively, is disputed, but his commitment to peaceful political action is clearly a conversion. -- C

Iran and Iraq are said to reach an agreement on joint exploitation of shared oil fields along their border. This has been a source of contention, including minor military posturing.

Iraq will purchase $26 billion worth of armaments from the U.S., $13 billion by 2013. So the U.S. doesn't get control of the oil fields, but does get a customer for its most important industry.

Afghanistan Update

Danish soldier killed by an IED in Helmand Province.

Three civilians, including a child, are killed during a firefight between ISAF and Taliban forces in Helmand. It is not clear which side's fire was responsible. Separately, two civilians were killed and three injured by a rocket said to be fired by insurgents.

Indian Foreign Minister S.M. Krishna issues a statement following talks with Afghan FM Zalmay Rasool during a two-day diplomatic visit to Kabul. He is scheduled to meet with Hamid Karzai later. In a more detailed summary of his remarks, it appears he is warning against excessive Pakistani influence in a possible resolution of the conflict. “Any external interference in the reintegration process would be detrimental to its success and for the future of democratic, stable, pluralistic and prosperous Afghanistan,” Mr. Krishna said.

A French soldier is killed in Afghanistan on Saturday, the French government confirms.

Quote of the Day

after 9/11, when General Musharraf chose to ally with the Americans in the "war on terror", it was a fundamental blunder. Overnight he turned the jihadi groups created to fight foreign occupation from supporters into enemies, people prepared to fight the Pakistani army because of its support for the US invasion. . . .

There is no military solution in Afghanistan, only dialogue, so the supreme irony is that in siding with the Americans all we have done is send the levels of violence up in Pakistan. The "war on terror" has weakened the state and then, thanks to the George Bush-sponsored National Reconciliation Ordinance in 2007, which allowed an amnesty for all the biggest political crooks, we now have the most corrupt government in our history. The "war on terror" is destroying Pakistan.

Imran Khan


Anonymous said...

I don't know about the Jews but should the captain stay with the sinking vessel.

Anonymous said...

Former Prime Minister Helen Clark has angrily denied a claim in a United States diplomatic cable that the previous Labour-led Government sent New Zealand non-combat engineers to Iraq so that dairy company Fonterra could secure a United Nations contract.

She described the claim as preposterous.

In one of the cables released by Wikileaks a senior staff member at the Defence Ministry reportedly told the US Embassy that Miss Clark had decided to send soldiers to Iraq to stop Fonterra losing lucrative United Nations Oil for Food contracts.

The embassy did not name the defence staffer who provided the information on the Cabinet meeting in which the Labour Government discussed sending personnel to Iraq.

"Senior MOD officials (strictly protect) tell us it was not until Finance Minister Michael Cullen pointed out in a subsequent Cabinet meeting that New Zealand's absence from Iraq might cost NZ dairy conglomerate Fonterra the lucrative dairy supply contract it enjoyed under the United Nations Oil for Food program," the cable said.

It said the prime minister "found a face-saving compromise" by sending non-combat engineers to be embedded with British forces.

Two rotations of 61 engineers spent a year in Basra from September 2003, performing engineering and humanitarian tasks.

Miss Clark, now head of the United Nations Development Programme, told Radio New Zealand the allegation was wrong.

"I am absolutely incensed at the suggestion that some Defence Ministry personnel seem to have made to various diplomats that there was any connection between my support for sending engineers to do humanitarian work in Iraq with the interests of Fonterra, I mean this is simply preposterous."

Cabinet responded to a call from the UN for states to help in Iraq and she has no recollection of Dr Cullen making such a comment.

"Absolutely nothing. I read this stuff on the website last night with incredulity. I can't even remember any suggestion of Michael Cullen even raising it. What I know is that after the UN Security Council resolution that said `would you come and help member states in Iraq' we looked at what we could do."

Mr Goff yesterday said the allegation was ridiculous.

"No such trade-off was ever suggested and if it ever had been, it would have been rejected out-of-hand. We do not trade putting the lives of our military personnel at risk for commercial deals. It is a completely false claim."

Miss Clark said the cables were not to be read as fact.

"So much of it is just plain gossip. And I just have to say to that one that I am shocked and appalled to have my name dragged into that rubbish."

Mr Goff said the engineers were sent when the UN Security Council provided a mandate for countries that were not part of the invasion to assist.

Mr Goff said Labour opposed the invasion of Iraq.

"The decision to later send engineers was made after an invitation from the UN Security Council. The US embassy official who wrote this cable was clearly completely out of touch...

"The idea that we would send army engineers to Basra after Michael Cullen purportedly stated at the Cabinet that our stand on Iraq would cost Fonterra is totally false. No such statement was ever made nor was there ever a discussion to that effect."