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 4, 2012

News of the Day for Sunday, November 4, 2012

Roadside bomb kills a district police chief in Kandahar province. Rahmatullah Khan died while trying to reach a police outpost under Taliban attack.

Kandahar police say 3 Talban killed while trying to plant a bomb

Taliban attack a police outpost in Daikondy province, no reported casualties.

Two police officers defect to Taliban in Bagdhis province. Although the province is relatively peaceful it seems there has been a spate of such defections recently.

While in Herat province, 12 Taliban are said to have laid down arms and "joined the peace process." "Governor Saba also noted that the government will cover these people economically for the next three months and provide them economic package each months."

The Afghan government is reviewing whether the International Crisis Group  will continue to be allowed to operate in the country following its publication of a pessimistic report on the future of the country. The report in question may be read here. A few excerpts from the Executive Summary:

Plagued by factionalism and corruption, Afghanistan is far from ready to assume responsibility for security when U.S. and NATO forces withdraw in 2014. . . . Institutional rivalries, conflicts over local authority and clashes over the role of Islam in governance have caused the country to lurch from one constitutional crisis to the next for nearly a decade. As foreign aid and investment decline with the approach of the 2014 drawdown, so, too, will political cohesion in the capital. . . .

It is a near certainty that under current conditions the 2014 elections will be plagued by massive fraud. Vote rigging in the south and east, where security continues to deteriorate, is all but guaranteed. High levels of violence across the country before and on the day of the polls are likely to disenfranchise hundreds of thousands more would-be voters. . . .
Although Karzai has signalled his intent to exit gracefully, fears remain that he may, directly or indirectly, act to ensure his family’s continued majority ownership stake in the political status quo. This must be avoided. It is critical to keep discord over election results to a minimum; any move to declare a state of emergency in the event of a prolonged electoral dispute would be catastrophic.
According to the Department of Defense, Petty Officer 2nd Class Matthew Kantor, 22, of Gillette, New Jersey died while supporting stability operations in Zabul, Afghanistan. The date of this event, and the circumstances, are not given. 

Iran has restricted export of many basic commodities to Afghanistan, including fuel and staple foods. This story does not give the reason for the move. (I presume it's because Iran is eperiencing shortages.)

As the price of saffron drops dramatically due to the economic crisis in Iran, some Afghan farmers may return to cultivating opium.

The first public hearing will be held tomorrow in the case of Staff Sgt. Robert Bales, accused in the murder of 16 Afghan villagers. The military has said nothing about the case since shortly after the incident on March 11.