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, May 29, 2011

News of the Day for Sunday, May 29, 2011

Reported Security Incidents

Baghdad

As security forces converge at the site of a bomb blast outside a liquor store in Abu Ghraib, a second blast kills one soldier and one firefighter. Five soldiers and five firefighters are injured.

Hilla

Two bombs outside the headquarters of the Supreme Iraqi Islamic Council in al-Nila township severely damage the building and injure two people. (SIIC is the largest Shiite-based political party.)

Baquba

Aswat al-Iraq reports two attacks late Saturday. What appears to have been a sticky bomb kills a civilian; and a grenade attack on a checkpoint injures three police.

Rabi'a, Ninevah Province

Bodies are found of two men, dead of gunshots to the head and chest.

Other News of the Day

NBC's Azriel James Relph reports on the VA's failure to serve veterans with mental health problems. On May 10, "Judge Stephen Reinhardt of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco said the agency was violating veterans’ constitutional rights by denying them guaranteed health care and benefits, citing the Constitution’s Fifth Amendment and its guarantee of freedom from unjustified governmental deprivation of property." Relph details individual stories of veterans who were denied help, and talks with Paul Sullivan, executive director of Veterans for Common Sense, which filed the lawsuit against the VA along with Veterans United for Truth.

Reuters' Rania el Gamal tells of conflict between the "Marsh Arabs" and oil companies over exploitation of their land. Most readers of this blog should know about the tragedy of the marshes in southern Iraq, where an ancient way of life was nearly destroyed when Saddam Hussein drained the marshes. The thirst for water upstream means they still have not been fully restored. -- C Excerpt:

The Imara tribe dwells in what is now the outskirts of the marshes. Miles of wasteland scattered with palm trees, baked mud huts, stagnant water canals and rusty pipelines are all that remain of the ancient wetlands.

"The area here is backward, it needs schools, hospitals, roads, water and electricity," said sheikh Rashash, waving a palm leaf hand fan to cool off the sweltering summer heat. . . .

Many tribesmen are illiterate and have little chance of finding work outside the farms. They want compensation for land used by foreign oil companies, or for companies to employ them.

Brian MacQuarrie of the Boston Globe describes dangers that still face U.S. troops in Iraq even though their participation in combat is officially over and Americans have large forgotten the war. Writes MacQuarrie, "The mission now has transformed into one of keeping peace long enough to orchestrate the massive drawdown of troops and machines accumulated over eight years of fighting, and to prepare an Iraqi security force capable of curbing the sectarian fighting that some fear could plunge the country into civil war. It is a mission that does not result in many casualties — 36 Americans have died since Sept. 1 — but the threat is continuous and real."

Afghanistan Update

An investigation was underway Sunday into allegations that a coalition airstrike in southern Afghanistan killed a dozen children and two women, Afghan and NATO officials said. The incident occurred Saturday in Nawzad district, Helmand province, apparently as an attack was underway against an ISAF convoy. It seems this is a regular feature of our Sunday posts. It wouldn't be complete without one. -- C

Separately the governor of Nuristan on Sunday said that 18 civilians and 20 police were killed by "friendly fire" during US-led air strikes against insurgents in his troubled northeastern province. This incident allegedly occurred on Wednesday.

Suicide bomb attack on a high level meeting in Takhar province kills Gen. Daoud Daoud, police chief of north Afghanistan, a former deputy interior minister. Also killed in the attack were a provincial police chief, two more police, and two German soldiers. The death of Daoud is seen as a significant blow to efforts to develop the Afghan police.

Quote of the Day

No more. Nobody else. I think about my brother every day of my life. Every day is his Memorial Day.

Ryan Tinsley, brother of army medic Logan Tinsley, KIA Dec. 26, 2006, near Baghdad.

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