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, July 29, 2012

News of the Day for Sunday, July 29, 2012

Ismael Wafa, Governor of Chak District, Wardak Province, is assassinated when attackers fire on his car. His son also died in the attack. Taliban have claimed responsibility.

A soldier from the Republic of Georgia, injured in Afghanistan in January, has died of his injuries. Corporal Givi Pantsulaia was the 16th Georgian soldier to have died in the Afghanistan conflict. (Bet you didn't even know they were there. --C)

More than 100 shops burn at a market in Ghazni. As of now, authorities are blaming the fire on an electrical problem, no mention of sabotage.

Afghan Interior Ministry claims 17 militants killed, 18 detained in various operations around the country in the past 24 hours.

Reuters discusses the perilous existence of truckers who move goods for NATO. Excerpt:

It is a thankless and increasingly deadly job, and one so mired in graft that the drivers see a fraction of the cash paid by US military paymasters, with the rest skimmed by middlemen or even going into the hands of insurgents for "protection".

Only this week, three of Habibullah's [owner of a small company] trucks were attacked and burned by Taliban amid the rugged mountains of Nuristan, a virtual no-go zone for Nato soldiers after heavy past losses and now garrisoned by a handful of Afghan troops and police.. . .One of our drivers was killed. We brought his body back to Jalalabad," Habibullah said. "His wife came and grabbed me by my collar, tearing my shirt and shouting 'you killed my husband'. I had to give her some money. The Americans don't help with that."

NPR's Sean Carberry describes training of Afghan security forces to disarm IEDs. At the current rate, it will take several years to produce a sufficient number of specialists.

Afghan MoD confirms report of an 11% increase in insurgent activity in the past 3 months. "The Wall Street Journal article cited a Nato official as saying that June had seen the highest number of monthly attacks in almost two years, with more than 3,000 incidents, including firefights and bomb blasts."

Azizullah Lodin, head of the High Office of Oversight and Anti-Corruption, says Karzai's pledges of reform will be hollow if corrupt officials are not fired.

Pressure from the international community has forced Mr Karzai to look as if he is serious about tackling the corruption that has infested every layer of his administration. On Friday, he issued a degree ordering government officials to be transparent in their activities. "The decree should be implemented in an honest, responsible manner by government bodies otherwise it will be a piece of old paper," Mr Lodin told TOLOnews.
Members of Parliament agree with him. "Afghan lawmakers on Saturday called President Hamid Karzai's plan for sweeping reforms "ridiculous" and "deceiving." . . . Parliamentarians derided the decree saying it will not benefit Afghanistan unless he sacks corrupt minister and officials."

Four army officials including Kunar's Army Brigade Facility Chief were arrested in connection with supplying insurgents with weapons, a spokesman for Afghan Ministry of Defense said on Saturday.