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, September 18, 2011

News of the Day for Sunday, September 18, 2011

Reported Security Incidents

Baghdad

Sticky bomb kills a driver and injures his brother late Saturday. No identification of the victims is given.

Mosul

Three brothers, ages 3 through 12, are killed by a bomb they found while playing. Although the report describes it only as a "strange" object, one suspects this may be a left-over U.S. cluster bomb or other munition. Perhaps more information will emerge. C

Kirkuk

One police officer killed, 2 injured by assailants in the central city.

Other News of the Day

In case you never thought you'd see the day, U.S. forces are busy shutting down Camp Victory. WaPo's Annie Gowen reports that the population is down from 46,000 to 24,000 (yep, it was a decent sized city) and the fast food franchises that made is seem like an American town are shutting down. "Brig. Gen. Bradley Becker is a deputy commanding general for support for the Army's 25th Infantry Division, which will be the last division headquarters left in Iraq by October. He is overseeing the closure from his office on the base, tracking the details on a dry-erase board on which the rapidly waning days are ticked off. The military has gone from 505 bases at the height of its troop strength in Iraq, in 2008, to 47, and Camp Victory is slated to close even if the Obama administration wins backing for a plan to keep a few thousand U.S. troops in the country beyond the end of the year."

Four suspects in the massacre of 22 Shiite pilgrims in Anbar are freed for lack of evidence. Meanwhile PM al-Maliki tries to argue that this was not a sectarian crime. (Ahlul Bayt is an avowedly sectarian Shiite agency, but this story seems pretty straight up. C)

In case you had forgotten the Iran-Iraq war (you remember, the one in which the U.S. supported Saddam Hussein, and Donald Rumsfeld presented him with a gold-handled cane?) Skeletons of 3 Iraqi commercial seamen are found in a vessel sunk by the Iranian air force in 1988.

Circus opens in Baghdad for first time since the war, but without the big cats which so far haven't made it through customs. Says one customer, "Car bombs and weapons find their way easily to Iraq, but bringing circus animals is a more difficult task here." The $12 ticket is steep for largely impoverished Iraqis, but the show is taken as a sign of better days.

Sadrists rally in Baghdad and numerous other cities to protest corruption and lack of basic services.

Afghanistan Update

Two NATO troops die, one in an explosion in southern Afghanistan today, the other in a non-combat incident Saturday. No further information at this time.

According to a TOLO news story based on anonymous sources, The U.S. is investigating the possibility of involvement by Pakistan's Directorate for Interservices Intelligence (ISI) in the attack in downtown Kabul that targeted U.S. interests on Tuesday. The attack has been blamed on the Haqqani Network which is based in Pakistan.

Taliban attack checkpoints in Pakistan on the Afghan border in the Khyber agency, resulting in 15 deaths on either side. The targets were members of tribal militias.

AFP discusses the public relations savvy shown by the Haqqani attack in Kabul on Tuesday. "Scott Stewart of intelligence analysts Stratfor said that the assault's planners would have known the type of weapons used - assault rifles and rocket-propelled grenades - would not seriously damage the US embassy. Because of that, we believe that this attack was intended really to send a message, to be more symbolic in nature," he said.

A British soldier who lost his right arm in Afghanistan is being fitted with an advanced mechanical arm which he will control directly with his brain. Not science fiction.

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