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, October 30, 2011

News of the Day for Sunday, October 30, 2011

Reported Security Incidents


Five police killed in roadside bomb attack, several shops are damaged.

A woman is killed by unknown gunmen.


A rocket falls in Jadiriya district, injuring two civilians.


Three U.S. helicopters land near an Iraqi checkpoint, and the occupants arrest an Iraqi and transport him to an unknown destination. Yeah, that's weird. No explanation as of yet.

Other News of the Day

PM Al-Maliki says that security forces have arrested 615 people associated with the former Baathist regime. (We have yet to hear reaction to this but earlier announcement of smaller numbers of arrests led to accusations of sectarian motives. -- C)

Although U.S. forces are leaving Iraq, they are staying nearby. U.S. officials say the U.S. plans to increase the number of troops deployed elsewhere in the Gulf region, including Kuwait. "[T]he administration and the military are trying to foster a new "security architecture" for the Arabian Gulf that would integrate air and naval patrols and missile defence."

Muqtada al-Sadr calls on Maliki not to visit Washington as he has recently indicated he will do. Al-Sadr criticizes what he calls U.S. "control and domination over the Iraqi territories and people, both politically and ideologically and so on, outside the military aspects."

U.S. Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstructions singles out sewage treatment plant in Fallujah as a case study in the failure of the reconstruction effort. Excerpt:

"It is clear that US officials did not fully appreciate Fallujah's security environment and the impact it would have on (the main contractor) FluorAMEC's ability to design and construct the wastewater treatment system," SIGIR said.

The watchdog added that, at the time the contract was awarded, US officials had little knowledge of the infrastructure and environment of the city and were unable to visit to conduct site surveys, leading to unrealistic cost estimates and projected timeframes.

As time went on and costs increased, meanwhile, promised funding often did not materialise, causing contractors to stop work, SIGIR said. It added that US officials did not adequately consult with the Iraqi government, leading to major re-designs years into the project schedule.

"In the end, it would be dubious to conclude that this project helped stabilise the city, enhanced the local citizenry's faith in government, built local service capacity, won hearts or minds, or stimulated the economy," the report said.

And while they're at it, Iraq will not be fully able to defend its borders and airspace until at least 2020, a watchdog quoted Iraq's top general as saying in a report on Sunday, months before US troops are to leave. "The Iraqi military's chief of staff, Lieutenant General Babaker Zebari, "estimated that it will take several more years before Iraq can provide for its external defence without assistance from international partners," said the report from the US Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction (SIGIR)."

Afghanistan Update

Reports on the suicide attack on a U.S. military bus in Kabul yesterday are still sketchy and contradictory as to the casualty totals and the nationalities of the dead. CNN is now reporting that ISAF says there were 17 dead, of whom 5 were ISAF troops and 8 foreign civilians, plus 4 Afghans. However, other reports say thirteen U.S. troops were killed. We will have to await clarification.

Afghan military claims to have killed 8 insurgents in an operation in Helmand Province. Says nothing about government casualties.

Roadside bombing in Kandahar injures a provincial official who had formerly been aligned with the Taliban.

I've had a power outage, so I'm racing the computer battery, I'm afraid. Will have to leave it at that for now. -- C


dancewater said...

good luck with that snowstorm!

Cervantes said...

Didn't have good luck, alas. Don't know when I'll get the power back.