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, August 14, 2011

News of the Day for Sunday, August 14, 2011

Reported Security Incidents

Baghdad

Two explosions in quick succession target an Iraqi army patrol in Azamiyah, killing one soldier and injuring nine people. However, reported casualty tolls differ. KUNA says six civilians and three soldiers injured, but mentions no deaths. Reuters says five soldiers killed, three soldiers and eight civilians injured. Usually, reported casualty tolls go up over time and the highest one is most likely to be accurate.

Kut

Three Katyusha rockets land inside U.S. base Delta, the only remaining U.S. base in Wassit province. No information so far on damage or injuries.

Also, in the countryside south of Kut, a tribal feud leads to eight deaths and dozens of injuries. "“A tribal clash broke out between the ‘Dalfawiyeen’ and the ‘Fahdawiyeen’ tribes on a conflict about land ownership at Dujeila area south of Kut," according to a source. This reminds us that Iraq is not really a unified nation state. In addition to the well-known ethnic and sectarian divisions, tribes and clans retain a strong degree of loyalty among many people. -- C

al-Is’haqi township, south of Tikrit

Bomb attack on a police vehicle injures a police colonel, a policeman, and hi son. (It was Take-Your-Kid-to-Work day? -- C)

Mosul

Two men are seriously injured when a bomb they are trying to plant goes off prematurely. This VoI article also mentions a policeman injured in an attack on a checkpoint, in typically elliptical fashion.

Other News of the Day

Ahmed Alhurmezi muses on the situation of the Turkmen, who live mostly in the areas which are contested between Kurds and Arabs and find themselves in conflict with the local Kurdish population. This is just one more reminder of the complex fault lines in Iraqi society.

Leaders in Basra complain that the central government is neglecting the region, and even obstructing development of its untapped oil resources, in part because of excessive closeness to Iran. "As the Iraqi and Iranian economies grow closer, however, officials in Basra say Iraqi leaders are allowing Iran to take the lead in extracting oil from border reservoirs accessible to both countries." They also complain about failure to defend the interests of Iraqi fishers in the Shatt al-Arab (called the Haven River by Iran). They are starting to call for creation of a semi-autonomous region like Kurdistan. Hoo boy. Like, a quasi-independent Basra is going to have more abilty to stand up to Iran and Kuwait?.

A member of the Kurdish parliament wants to legalize prostitution. Good luck with that.

I would consider this an unconfirmed report which could represent dis-information, but secondhand from Iranian TV via YNET, Israel has entered into military cooperation with the Kurdish regional government and will deploy six drone aircraft to the region. A more detailed report is also provided by Ahlul Bayt, a Shiite sectarian agency based in Iran, which says that Kurdish president Barzani entered into the pact without the approval of the Iraqi government. (Again, this information may not be trustworthy. It would certainly upset many people in the region and could be an attempt to undermine the Kurdish government which is not getting along well with Iran. However, it is not implausible that the Kurds, in dire need of a friend, could turn to Israel. --C) Excerpt:

Israel plans to deploy new equipment, including six drones, in the region in cooperation with the Kurdistan Democratic Party. Four of the aircraft will be stationed at the Khalidiyah airbase in the northern oil city of Kirkuk and two others will go to the airport in the city of Mosul, the capital of Nineveh governorate.

Israeli intelligence agents and military advisers, equipped with special transmission devices, are also being sent to Mosul to train security forces in the Iraqi Kurdistan Region.

Afghanistan Update

Taliban attack a meeting at the governor's compound in Parwan, north of Kabul, causing mass casualties. "A Reuters witness and others nearby reported hearing at least five explosions as Afghan security forces inside the compound of Parwan governor Abdul Basir Salangi fought back. Afghanistan's Interior Ministry said 22 people were killed and 34 wounded. The dead included 16 government employees and six police, it said in a statement." CNN has additional details, including the tactics of the attackers, which began with a suicide bombing at the entrance checkpoint which allowed the remaining militants to enter the compound. As usual, reported casualty totals vary.

British soldier killed by a bomb while on foot patrol in Helmand Province.

Authorities have recovered the bodies of 5 police and 3 intelligence agents who had been kidnapped in Wardak.

Check out this al Jazeera video on the critical lack of potable water in Afghanistan. Three quarters of the population -- that's right, 3/4, 75% -- lack access to clean water. Wells built by aid agencies are no longer safe. But, we can easily afford a billion dollars a week to shoot people and blow stuff up.