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, November 25, 2012

News of the Day for Sunday, November 25, 2012

After deadly sectarian fights, Afghanistan closes 3 university campuses. Fights between Sunni and Shiite students erupt on the occasion of Ashura, and result in the closure of 3 public universities in Kabul for at least 10 days. One student is confirmed dead and 30 injured. The linked story includes an additional claim of 2 dead by a witness. Reports suggest that Sunni students somehow interrupted Ashura ceremonies, although the precise manner in which violence was instigated is unclear.

A reminder that Ashura violence is not new in Afghanistan. Tarana Akbari, the "girl in green" whose photograph following the death of her brother and other relatives in a bombing last year, has revisited the site to demonstrate defiance. More than 80 people were killed or injured in the attack.

We should also note that there has been a campaign of violence against Ashura observances in Pakistan.

Suicide bomb attack in Maidan Shahr, Wardak, kills 2 and injures 80. The Taliban claim the attack as retaliation for the recent execution of 4 Taliban convicted of murder and rape.

Afghanistan ministry of women's affairs announces an increase in reports of violence against women, with 3,500 in the first six months of the year, including 70 beheadings. (I should point out that in these situations, you can't be sure whether this represents an increase in incidence, or more complete reporting. In a sense, it could be good news if at least more of the reality is coming to the surface. -- C)

Nine rockets fired from Afghanistan land in South Waziristan. The area from which the rockets were launched was recently abandoned by NATO forces and turned over to Afghan forces.

Khushnood Nabizada for Khaama discusses the appalling lack of consumer protection in Afghanistan. The country has become a dumping ground for shoddy and counterfeit goods, including fake medicines and adulterated food and fuel; while cartels conspire to maintain high prices. The country cannot develop a thriving economy without effective economic regulation. (Hear that, Ayn Rand fans?)