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, November 20, 2011

News of the Day for Sunday, November 20, 2011

Reported Security Incidents


Three women and 1 man are killed in an attack by unknown gunmen.


Gun battle at a checkpoint leaves 5 police and 3 insurgent dead. (The story doesn't specify but I believe this occurred late Saturday. A separate attack on a police station leaves 1 officer dead and 3 injured.

Baghdad, Yusifayah Township

Iraqi security forces say U.S. forces killed 2 Iraqis after an explosion struck their vehicle. According to the report, the Americans opened fire at random, killing 2 civilians and injuring either 3 or 5. According to AFP, a U.S. military spokesman denies that U.S. forces fired any shots at all. According to Aswat al-Iraq, no Americans were injured in the explosion, but they fired on passing cars, causing the casualties. The Iraqi state news service is also reporting this incident.

Other News of the Day

VP Hashemi notes that the Iraqi budget is based on an assumption of continued high oil prices. Should prices fall, the country will face a fiscal crisis.

Stringent security measures are preventing Iraqi refugees from resettling in the U.S. This story is for a Christian publication and emphasizes that many of the people are affected are Christians but that's not really the point. -- C

This analysis by Sammy Ketz notes that Iraq's support for the Assad regime in Syria has secular overtones, and could deepen divisions in Iraq. Iraqi Sunni Arabs sympathize with the Sunni majority in Syria and in the border region, often share family and clan ties. -- C

Afghanistan Update

Loya Jirga approves long-term security pact with the U.S. as proposed by president Karzai. The agreement would have several thousand international troops remain after 2014 as "trainers and advisers."

Students in Jalalabad protest against the long-term U.S.-Afghanistan security pact recently approved by the Loya Jirga.

Meanwhile, no surprise, the Taliban denounce the Jirga as illegitimate.

Four children are killed by an explosion near a playground in Nangarhar. It appears this may have been a mortar shell left over from previous combat, perhaps a long time ago. It is a reminder that Afghanistan has known almost continuous war for decades.