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 8, 2011

News of the Day for Sunday, May 8, 2011

Reported Security Incidents

18 people are killed, including 6 guards and Interior Ministry officers, and presumably 12 prisoners, in a high security prison in Baghdad when prisoners seize guards' weapons and attempt a mutiny. Among the slain detainees was Huthaifa al-Batawi, said to be responsible for the October 31 attack on Our Lady of Salvation church that killed 60 people.

Aswat al-Iraq reports on other incidents.

1. Attackers using silenced pistols kill an Interior Ministry officer in Maysaloun Square, and injure a female relative who is with him in his car.

2. A sticky bomb kills Director of south Baghdad’s Madaen Nationality Certificates Office, Major Ali Hadi Hassan.

3. A roadside bomb in Daura District kills one person and injures 3.

(This dispatch also states that "A detainee in one of the Interior Ministry’s directorates in Baghdad had attacked a policeman on Saturday night, captured his weapon, killing him and attacking 3 officers, one a lt.
Brigadier, another a major and the third a lieutenant, killing them all, before the police managed to kill him as well." However, I believe this is probably an early and incomplete report of the far more serious incident which eventually emerged.

Hawija township, near Kirkuk

This dispatch is rather confusingly written, but I think what it's saying is that police entered a house in pursuit of a man wanted for a car bombing in April, and that the fugitive and a police officer were killed in the ensuing shootout.


Roadside bomb injures 2 police officers.

Other News of the Day

The prison mutiny seems to have displaced all other events from most news coverage today. However, VoI does have two interesting reports. -- C

A U.S. Congressional delegation led by Nancy Pelosi meets with Nouri al-Maliki, who affirms continuing cooperation with the U.S. following withdrawal of U.S. forces. This is kind of cute. There is no consistent system for transliteration between the Arabic and Latin alphabets, which is why you will see all sorts of different spelling for people and places here. It's not our fault! Here's what the VoI dispatch actually says: "Maliki, who received a U.S. Congress delegation, led by former House Speaker and Leader of the Parliament Minority in the Congress, Nancy Pilocy, has confirmed necessity for the activation of cooperation between the United States and Iraq, in different fields, . . ." Turnabout is fair play. -- C

Muqtada al-Sadr has gone to Doha, at the invitation of Emir of the State of Qatar, Sheikh Hamad Bin-Khalifa, to discuss regional developments.

One suspects the Emir is concerned about sectarian conflicts arising in the context of the Arab spring and hopes al-Sadr can help defuse such problems. In this context, I am going to break tradition here and provide the following dispatch from Syria, which seems quite ominous. -- C

The Syrian army attacks Sunni districts in the city of Banias, bypassing Alawite areas. "State authorities said Banias was a "centre of Salafist terrorism" and that armed groups had killed soldiers near the city. Salafism is an ultra-conservative brand of Sunni Islam. Civic leaders in Banias denied the accusation and said the government was trying to spread fear among Alawites, who occupy most senior positions in the army and security apparatus."

Afghanistan Update

Fighting between Afghan security forces and Taliban in Kandahar continues for a second day. The reported death toll from fighting on Saturday has risen to 25, with the government claiming all but 2 dead were Taliban and the Taliban denying the lopsided death toll. In fact, the Taliban claim to have killed more than 100 Afghan soldiers and police. This article from a leading Pakistani newspaper quotes the Taliban: "As many as 113 puppets including soldiers of NANA police force and other government employees and officials along with 3 NATO invaders were killed in different parts of Kandahar in Saturday’s operation conducted amid -Operation Badar’ as part of spring offensives launched on May 01, 2011." The renewed fighting apparently results from an attempt by security forces to clear a hotel the insurgents had used as a staging ground.

Taliban kill 4 policemen in Ghazni.