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, July 3, 2011

News of the Day for Sunday, July 3, 2011

Reported Security Incidents

Rutbah, Anbar Province

Gunmen using automatic weapons kill five policemen at a checkpoint on the main highway from Baghdad toward Amman and Damascus, firing from an automobile. This is the AFP account. The AP account is slightly different, it says the attackers were wearing police uniforms and kidnapped the officers before killing them. (We see such discrepancies all the time. It's definitely annoying.)

In a separate incident, gunmen kidnap two people, including an Imam. (Conceivably confusion between the two incidents resulted in the report of kidnapping at the checkpoint.)


Gunman using a silenced weapon kills a police officer in West Baghdad.

Gayara, south of Mosul

Gunmen attack two police officers "on holiday," killing one and injuring the other.

Riyadh, southwest of Kirkuk

Explosion kills one civilian, injures another. This dispatch also reports that two men were killed while trying to plant an explosive device in nearby Daqouq. (One wonders if they might have been the perpetrators of the first incident.)


Police find the body of a man dead of bullet wounds to the chest and head.


An armed confrontation at a checkpoint results in the death of two "al Qaeda elements" and injury of a police officer.

Haswa, Babil Province

Two police are killed using silenced weapons in separate incidents.

Jurf al-Sakhar

Sticky bomb kills a Sahwa member.

Other News of the Day

A U.S. Army spokesman says that attacks on U.S. forces in southern Iraq are by militias that receive weapons from Iran. Specifically, these weapons are called Improvised Rocket-Assisted Munitions, IRAMS, "metal canisters packed with explosives and propelled by rockets." The unnamed official 'acknowledged the weapons could have been assembled and manufactured elsewhere, but said IRAMS are a signature weapon of the militant group Kataib Hezbollah, which is 'funded by Iran and receives training there.'" That all turns out to be pretty vague, and I'm not sure I would have made a headline story out of anonymous charges based on no particular evidence, but that's how journalism works these days.

Iranian Defence Minister Ahmad Vahidi dismissed as ‘ridiculous lies’ US claims that Tehran smuggled weapons to Iraq and Afghanistan, the semi-official Fars news agency reported Saturday. ‘The ridiculous and repeated lies of the Americans are aimed at justifying their own errors,’ General Vahidi was quoted as saying.

Kurdistan president Massoud Barzani blasts Iran over shelling of the border region. Iran regularly uses artillery to attack the Kurdish irredentist group PJAK, or the Party of Free Life of Kurdistan, across the border.

NYT's Tim Arango reports that U.S. special forces continue to be active in collaboration with Iraqi special forces. According to his story, the Iraqi special forces are more capable than the regular army, but want U.S. forces to remain by their side. Sigh.

Afghanistan Update

Hand grenade attack on a school in Maimana, the main city of Faryab province, injures 17 children. (Feh.)

Bomb attack on a police post near the Parliament building in Kabul injures 3 officers.

Two Australian soldiers are injured, apparently in a training exercise, at the ISAF at the Tarin Kot heavy weapons range.

Militants have kidnapped a district governor in Kunar province, near the Pakistan border.

Coalition of the less and less willing department: Belgium will reduce its troop deployment to Afghanistan by half by next year. Belgians guard the Kabul airport, and operate F-16s in the south.

Britain reported to plan withdrawal of 800 troops by next year.

The U.S. military is working to expand its supply lines from central Asia into Afghanistan, fearing that Pakistan might shut down access. "While reducing the shipment of cargo through Pakistan would address a strategic weakness that U.S. military officials have long considered an Achilles’ heel, shifting supply lines elsewhere would substantially increase the cost of the war and make the United States more dependent on authoritarian countries in Central Asia," the Washington Post reported.

TOLO reports that 8 people have been detained in connection with the Kabul bank scandal, three of them Indian nationals who worked for the bank. Afghanistan has requested that the U.S. extradite the former governor of the bank. (The TOLO story does not explain, but Abdul Qadir Fitrat fled Afghanistan and is now in Washington, D.C., where he has apparently already been given a green card. Hmmm.)