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, September 23, 2012

News of the Day for Sunday, September 23, 2012

NATO air strike in Helmand province kills 7 people said to be Taliban leaders. In a subsequent ground operation, Mullah Ahmad Mubarak, said to be the Taliban "shadow governor" for the district, is arrested.

Zhou Yongkang, a member China's Standing Committee of the Politburo and that nation's top security official makes a surprise four hour visit to Kabul and meets with Hamid Karzai. He pledges China "will actively participate in Afghanistan’s reconstruction." As we noted here recently, China has invested in Afghan resources including oil and copper. Apart from economic interests, China's main interest in Afghanistan is to prevent the spread of Islamic militancy to its northwestern region.

Wakht News Agency, in broken English, discusses the visit, describing several agreements that were signed:

Both Afghan and China’s related officials signed a program on practicing the signed long-term strategic treaty and two documents on security and economy, after the end of the president and Ziankong meeting in which the second vice president, Mohammad Karim Khalili, presidential security advisor, Dr. Rangeen Dadfar Spanta, ministers of justice and finance, NDS chief and deputy interior minister had taken part.

Another agreement at the cost of $150 million had also been signed between the two sides delegation to be spent on technical and economic fields, as well another deal on national police equipments had been signed during the ceremony.

MoD identifies service member who died on Friday  as Sergeant Jonathan Eric Kups of the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers. Rather mysteriously, it has yet to be confirmed whether his death was the result of hostile action.

ISAF announces arrest of two alleged plotters and a weapons dealer.

It's just blather, but Pakistan's Railways Minister Ghulam Ahmad Bilour offers a $100,000 bounty for the death of Nakoula Basseley Nakoula, the filmmaker behind ridiculous "Innocence of Muslims" video. Oh yeah: "Bilour is considered by some in Pakistan to be partially responsible for the deteriorating situation of the country’s railways." But this will make up for that, I'm sure.

Police commander of western Badghis province is accused of raping three women under his command. The accusation is made in parliament by the MP for the district after no action has been taken by the Ministry of the Interior. The commander, Abdul Jabar Sabah, denies the charges although one of his accusers has testified on video.