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, June 26, 2011

News of the Day for Sunday, June 26, 2011

Reported Security Incidents

Update: U.S. military announces two U.S. service members killed today "conducting operations in northern Iraq." Now further information at this time.

Tarmiyah (north of Baghdad)

Two police officers killed and 18 people injured in suicide bomb attack on a police station. Note: This article says 18 injured at one point, and 10 injured at another. It says 3 killed but then specifies only the two officers, perhaps including the attacker in the 3 deaths. AFP says two civilians (not police) killed and 17 people injured, but at another point in the same story says 9 people killed. Go figure.

Mosul

Parked car explodes as a police patrol passes, killing 1 policeman and 5 civilians, and injuring 4 police on Saturday.

Riyadh Township, suburban Kirkuk

Two civilians are killed and 5 injured in a bomb attack on the Mayor's convoy.

Kirkuk

The nine year old son of a dentist is kidnapped by armed men, the latest in a series of kidnappings targeting the families of doctors and other well-off people. (It appears unclear whether there is a political motive for these crimes, but they occur in the context of ongoing ethnic tensions and violence.

Also (an afterthought in the VoI report), three rockets land in the U.S. air base near Kirkuk. No information so far on damage or casualties.

Tuz-Khurmatu

An Iraqi "intelligence element" [sic] is killed by an explosion "in his car."

Suleiman Pek

Sticky bomb kills a police lieutenant colonel.

Other News of the Day

Iraqi court announces that Hasna Ali Yahya, the Yemeni wife of Abu Ayyub Al Masri, has been sentenced to 20 years in prison for assisting Al Masri. Al Masri, described as a top leader of al Qaeda in Iraq, was killed in April 2010 by what was described as a joint U.S.-Iraqi task force.

NYT's Michael S. Schmidt and Tim Arango discuss the government paralysis as Nuri al-Maliki and Ayad Allawi fail to cooperate. Allawi has yet to show up in Parliament, and the Defense and Interior Ministries are still vacant. Excerpt:

Fifteen months after an election that was supposed to lay the groundwork for Iraq's future, the government remains virtually paralyzed by a clash between the country's two most powerful politicians, who refuse to speak to each other.

The paralysis is contributing to a rise in violence, and it is severely complicating negotiations on the most difficult and divisive question hanging over the country: Whether to ask the U.S. to keep a contingency force here after the scheduled withdrawal of American troops at the end of the year.

WaPo's Aaron C. Davis says Iraq has been straining its rickety oil production infrastructure to the limit in order to maximize output. He fears a major pipeline rupture and also doubts whether future production forecasts will be realized.

Afghanistan Update

NATO announces the deaths of four soldiers in three separate incidents. Two killed Sunday in the west and one in the south, one killed Saturday in the south. No further information at this time. (Apologies, the Monsters and Critics site is turning into pop-up hell. I may stop linking to them.)

An 8 year old girl is killed attempting to place a bomb near security forces in Charchino district, southern Afghanistan.

AP's Bradley Klapper discusses the pervasive corruption in Afghan daily life, based on an early look at a forthcoming report by the International Crisis Group. Excerpt:

The farmer picking apples in the outskirts of Kabul must pay the Taliban $33 to ship out each truckload of fruit. The governor sends in armed men to chase workers off job sites if the official bribes aren't paid. Poor neighborhoods never get their U.N.-provided wheat, long since sold on the black market.

These are some of the elements, large and small, that together form the elaborate organized crime environment Afghans contend with daily. And despite the hoped-for success of the U.S. military surge and President Barack Obama's claims of significant progress, Afghanistan's resemblance to a mafia state that cannot serve its citizens may only be getting worse, according to an upcoming report by the International Crisis Group, a Brussels-based think tank.

The official death toll now stands at 38 following yesterday's attack on a hospital in Azra, Logar Province. The Taliban continue to deny any involvement. Afghan officials are blaming the Haqqani network. Some say the hospital may not have been the intended target, as the bomb detonated when police tried to stop the bomber's car.

Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad hosts a regional summit on terrorism, attended by representatives of Pakistan and Afghanistan. He says the U.S. used the 9/11/2001 attack as a pretext to occupy Afghanistan, and accuses the U.S. of supporting terrorist networks. In a statement preceding the six-nation summit, the three nations pledge to fight terrorism. Excerpt:

"All sides stressed their commitment to efforts aimed at eliminating extremism, militancy, terrorism, as well as rejecting foreign interference, which is in blatant opposition to the spirit of Islam, the peaceful cultural traditions of the region and its peoples' interests," the statement said.

"All sides agreed to continue meeting at foreign, interior, security and economy ministers' level to prepare a roadmap for the next summit due to be held in Islamabad before the end of 2011," the statement obtained by IRNA news agency said.

In the beginning of the summit Afghan President Hamid Karzai said despite gains insurgency is on the rise in Afghanistan and in the region. "Unfortunately, despite all the achievements in the fields of education, infrastructure and reconstruction, not only Afghanistan has not yet achieved peace and security, but terrorism is expanding and threatening more than ever Afghanistan and the region," President Karzai said.

Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari said: "Terrorists violate both human and divine values by inflicting death and destruction on fellow human beings. They have no religion."

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