Reported Security Incidents
Kazan Valley, Turkey, near the Iraq border
Turkish television says Turkish troops have killed 49 PKK fighters as Turkey continues its offensive in response to a PKK attack last week. There has been no confirmation of the deaths by the PKK.
A teacher and his daughter are slain by unknown gunmen near their home.
Two police and two civilians are injured by an explosion in al-Nahda district, which also damages several cars.
An Oil Industry "media official" is injured and his driver killed by a roadside bomb in Saidiya, southwest Baghdad.
Various places in Kirkuk and Diala Provinces
Security forces arrest 47 people associated with the former Baathist regime, including army officers and officials. According to the government, these include members of the Naqshabandiya group, which is a religiously inspired Baathist revanchist organization. Note: While I have no way of knowing whether any or all of these individuals have been involved in violence, given that the security forces are controlled by the Shiite-dominated government, this action may contribute to political tensions. -- C
Other News of the Day
AFP discusses the issue of Iranian influence in Iraq as the U.S. prepares to withdraw the last of its military forces. This is pretty much conventional wisdom, but includes a succinct statement by Reidar Visser (who blogs at Iraq and Gulf Analysis): “Above all, Iran has succeeded in defining the parameters for Iraqi politics through a prime minister that relies on a sectarian Shiite alliance ... As long as Iraqi politics remains defined in sectarian terms, Iran will have the upper hand.”
Although we have sometimes heard equivocal or contrary reporting on this question, Raheem Salman and Patrick J. McDonnell of the LA times say that Iraqis overwhelmingly want the U.S. to go. They note that al-Iraqiya joins the Shiite bloc in wishing the U.S. a speedy departure. Excerpt:
More than 1 million Americans have served in Iraq, and almost 4,500 lost their lives there. Now the Iraqis have given the U.S. military an unequivocal message: Go home.
Eight years after U.S. troops overthrew Saddam Hussein, there is little enthusiasm among people on the street for a sustained U.S. presence. And although some Iraqis undoubtedly fear that the U.S. withdrawal could lead to greater instability, others — notably the lawmakers elected after the U.S.-enabled democratic transition — appear to think that a quick U.S. departure is about the best thing that could happen. . . . [M]any associate the U.S. presence with instability, violence and suspect motives in a conflict that is believed to have cost at least 100,000 Iraqi lives. These critics view U.S. troops as a lightning rod for militia attacks.
In a news conference, PM al-Maliki says that the U.S. withdrawal will not compromise security in Iraq:
The security situation has nothing to do with the withdrawal of US forces,” Maliki told reporters. “The withdrawal will remove all justification on which Al-Qaeda and armed groups base their attacks.” . . . Maliki added that US negotiators stopped giving “suggestions” about numbers of trainers and other details after Iraqi political leaders announced this month that while they backed a training mission, they would not grant US forces legal immunity. “The training issue will be added to contracts of purchasing weapons,” he said. “The issue will be easy.”
Not that this is something I care to contemplate in the first place, but Hamid Karzai says Afghanistan would side with Pakistan in the event of war between the U.S. and Pakistan. Hmm, now why would he even bring up such a question? -- C "If there is war between Pakistan and America, we will stand by Pakistan," Karzai said in a television interview. He put his hand on his heart and described Pakistan as a "brother" country.
Dept. of "So what else is new?" At least two Afghan cabinet ministers have embezzled millions of dollars of public money, the country's anti-graft chief said at the weekend, adding to Western pressure on President Hamid Karzai to clean up his government.
Missile hits a mosque in Wardak Province, injures 11 people.
NATO soldier KIA in eastern Afghanistan Saturday, no further information as of now.
Kabul street children struggle to survive, AFP reports.
The United Nations estimates there are 50,000 street children in the Afghan capital alone. Among them are those who cannot afford an education or those who are the only breadwinners for fatherless or unemployed families. Charity workers put the number at 60,000, saying the return of refugees’ insecurity and drought have pushed more children onto the streets in the 10 years since US-led troops drove the Taliban from power.
"The number of street children is increasing," said Mohammad Yousif, director of the charity Aschiana that works with street children in five of Afghanistan's 34 provinces.