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, February 5, 2012

News of the Day for Sunday, February 5, 2012

Five police and 2 civilians killed, 19 people injured by car bomb attack in Kandahar. No claim of responsibility as yet.

Oh yeah, remember that withdrawal of U.S. combat forces by 2013 and end of the NATO mission in 2014? Not exactly. US Special Forces to Stay in Afghanistan Beyond 2014. "As the United States is planning to wind down it's combat troops a year later than scheduled, senior Pentagon military officials have said that, US Special Operation Forces will remain in Afghanistan after the Nato led mission ends in 2014. . . . While some US forces are preparing to withdraw, thousands of the US Special Operation Forces will remain on the ground and the number may increase." It's okay, see. These forces are "special" so they don't count.

Heavy snow isolates regions of Samangan Province.

U.S. soldier kills an Afghan guard at a base in northern Afghanistan. "Provincial governor Sayed Anwar Rahmati said the U.S. soldier opened a door and saw the barrel of the guard’s gun. Feeling threatened, he shot. “It was a mistaken act and happened due to the threat the soldier had felt from the guard,” Rahmati said by phone."

Taliban commander said to be killed by Afghan forces in Kunduz.

Three Afghan soldiers injured by a roadside bomb in Kandahar province.

Note that as with Iraq, many security incidents are only reported by local media. Relying on the Reuters factbox or wire services in general will give you only a partial picture of the actual level of violence in the country. -- C

Iraq Update

Iraqi Interior Ministry official, described as a "security officer," is killed in a drive-by shooting in central Baghdad.

Syria and Iraq execute a trade agreement. (The way I read this, the effect is to make Iraq into a route for breaking any economic sanctions against Syria. Basically it sets up border portals and allows goods bound to and from one country to transit the other. -- C)

Turkey bombs three targets in Iraqi Kurdistan, saying they were PKK "shelters." No word on casualties or damage.

Three successive explosions in Ishaqi, Salah al-Din Province, injure 4 people, including a police officer.