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, August 5, 2012

News of the Day for Sunday, August 5, 2012

Two New Zealand soldiers, 4 Afghan intellgence officers killed in fighting in Bamiyan province on Saturday. Officers of the National Directorate of Security were ambushed during a search operation in Baghak village, and the New Zealand forces came to their aid. Sixteen intelligence officers are also said to have been injured in the hours of fighting that ensued.

Parliament votes no confidence in Defence Minister Abdul Rahim Wardak and Interior Minister Bismillah Mohammadi on Saturday amid ongoing violence, including cross-border shelling from Pakistan. President Karzai accepts the dismissals but asks the men to stay on temporarily until replacements can be appointed. "After similar moves against other ministers by parliament in the past, Karzai has at times kept them serving in an acting capacity for several months." Karzai also praises the men and says they will continue to serve in public office.

Three children are killed in Gulran district, Herat, when they apparently accidentally set off an IED.

Six civilians killed in Parwan province in ambush of a bus. This story from TOLO also describes other incidents around the country on Saturday.

Afghan national museum recovers artifacts looted during the civil war in the early 1990s. The British Museum assisted in identifying and seizing many of the 843 objects.

Pakistan Interior Minister Rehman Malik accuses Afghan government of supporting a Taliban leader seeking to overthrow the Pakistani regime. Taliban commander Fazlullah fled to Afghanistan several years ago from Swat, and has been organizing raids into Pakistan. U.S. and Afghan officials say Fazlullah is of minor importance compared to Pakistani support for Afghan Taliban.

TOLO reports $500,000 in unexplained deposits to the bank account of Finance Minster Hazrat Omar Zakhilwal. He claims to have earned the funds through private business ventures, but Azizullah Lodin, Head of Afghanistan's High Office of Oversight and Anti-Corruption, heaps scorn on this claim.

Afghan government claims to have killed 21 Taliban in various operations since Saturday. (That seems to be about the number they claim every day. Maybe they just photocopy these announcements.)

ISAF claims to have killed Taliban leader Mufti Assad, also known as Mufti Punjabi, Abdul Qudus and Sufyan, in an airstrike in Kunar Province. They also claim to have killed his deputy in the strike, and to have killed al-Qaida facilitator Fatah Gul in a separate air strike on Friday.