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, May 20, 2012

News of the Day for Sunday, May 20, 2012

Suicide bomb attack on a NATO convoy in Tirin Kot, Uruzgan Province, kills 2 NATO soldiers and 2 children, other bystanders are injured. Another account says the attack was actually aimed at a police checkpoint but the NATO convoy happened to be nearby, and that 3 NATO troops were also injured. ISAF has announced only that 2 troops are dead, without providing any further information.

Afghanistan leads the agenda for the NATO summit in Chicago starting today. Amid unusual spring heat, the 28 NATO heads of government, plus representatives of 60 other countries, will decide on the future of the Afghanistan mission as newly elected French PM Francois Hollande has said all French troops will leave this year. The linked story by Christina Bergmann of German broadcast network Deutsche Welle discusses the situation in depth.

As NATO leaders debate the future of Afghanistan, The Sunday Times reports that Afghan commanders are taking matters into their own hands by forging their own agreements with local TalibanBecause TST has a paywall, I've linked to a summary from MSNBC.

In Ghazni province an hour from capital Kabul, Afghan army lieutenant Mohammad Wali admitted to the newspaper that he and a local Taliban commander were working together. . . . "We lost seven men in an ambush when I first arrived at the base," Wali, who commands 18 men, told The Times. "So I thought, why risk my life when there's another way?" The two share intelligence about military operations and plan to loot Nato supply convoys and divide-up the proceeds, the newspaper reported. . . .

"In almost every combat outpost I visited, troopers reported to me they had intercepted radio or other traffic between (Afghan forces) and local Taliban making mini non-aggression deals," Lt. Col. Daniel Davis told the newspaper.

Flash floods kill 19, leave thousands homeless in Sari Pul province. An unusually snowy winter has left much of the country vulnerable in the spring melt.

Hundreds of demonstrators call for the resignation of Mohammed Gul, district chief of Nharin, Bahglan province, who they claim failed to properly spend funds allocated for flood prevention and relief.

Afghan Defense Ministry reports 11 Afghan soldiers killed, 20 injured in various incidents in the past 24 hours.