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 5, 2011

News of the Day for Sunday, June 5, 2011

Reported Security Incidents

Zubair oil field, near Basra

Bomb attack on an oil storage depot sets one tank on fire. "An Iraqi police source said bombs targeted four tanks at the facility, but only one of the tanks hit contained crude and ignited. Another bomb hit an empty tank and bombs at two other tanks were made safe, the police source said." Attacks on the southern oil infrastructure have been rare, though there have been several attacks on pipelines in the north.


A civil defense colonel is assassinated by gunmen using silenced weapons. Says VoI (as usual, not great English) "Doubts are spreading about the relationship between the armed men with security forces, involved in such incidents . . ."


The death toll in the Friday twin bomb attack has now been raised to 34. Further details of the incident are also available.

Other News of the Day

Iraq signs a deal with Kuwaiti, Turkish and South Korean companies to develop two gas fields, one in Diyala and one in Basra province. The plan is to use the gas for domestic electricity generation.

NYT's Jack Healey and Omar al-Jawoshy report on revenge killings of family members of former militants in the wake of the sectarian civil war cum insurgency following the U.S. invasion.

The Scotsman publishes a large selection of Wikileaks cables concerning Iraq. You can start with this one, and others are listed in the right-hand sidebar. (Scroll down to get past links to other news.) I haven't had time to start digesting them.

Afghanistan Update

A NATO helicopter crashes in Khost, killing 2 on board, of undisclosed nationality. (Most NATO forces operating in the area are American.) As usual, NATO denies any evidence of hostile action. However, according to Reuters, a Taliban spokesman says the helicopter was shot down, and witnesses reported seeing it catch fire in the air and belch black smoke before it crashed.

A NATO soldier is killed in a separate attack in southern Afghanistan. No further details at this time.

Bomb attack on Kabul Bank branch in Maidan Wardak kills a security guard.

U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates says the U.S. troop drawdown, set to begin in July, "will be done responsibly and will not expose other coalition and Afghan forces to undue risks." He says he wants to "leave the shooters for last." (Well, so much for nation building.)

You may recall report a couple of days ago that al Qaeda leader Ilyas Kashmiri was killed by a U.S. drone strike in South Waziristan, but it turns out, in spite of media reports, that U.S. officials are skeptical. However, Pakistan's Interior Minister says he is 98% sure of it. (The border regions of Pakistan are, of course, essentially part of the same conflict as the NATO war in Afghanistan.)

Bomb kills 6 at a bus stop in Peshwar, Pakistan.

Pakistani forces claim to have killed 26 "militants" who crossed into Upper Dir (near the Swat valley) from Afghanistan.

Quote of the Day

At the entrance to the National Museum of Afghanistan in Kabul, which lost 70 percent its collection to looting and destruction during the wars, a placard reads “A nation stays alive when its culture stays alive.” But even a quick look at the 30 percent of the collection that is exhibited there gives an idea of what cultural genocide means and shows that no matter how painstaking they are, efforts to revive a cultural heritage that has lost so much are bound to be limited.

Ayse Karabat