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, February 24, 2013

News of the Day for Sunday, February 24, 2013

Suicide car bombing at a facility of the National Directorate of Security in Jalalabad kills 2, injures 3. Taliban spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid claims responsibility.

Elsewhere, suicide attack on a police outpost in Logar province results in the death of one officer,  while a separate, apparently coordinated attack nearby results in the death of another officer and a civilian.

Attempted sucide bombing near NDS HQ in Kabul is thwarted. (This story says the Logar attacks resulted in woundings, not deaths, but deaths are often confirmed after initial accounts emerge.)

Interior ministry says 17 Taliban killed in operations in past 24 hours. (As I have noted before, that number of approximately 17 seems to pertain just about every day. -- C) "[T]he Taliban issued a rebuttal statement in which they "strongly rejected" the Ministry of Interior's updates on Taliban casualties."

NATO considering plan to sustain Afghan national army at 352,000 through 2018. The United States would pay for the bulk of the country's military budget, at $5.7 billion a year, while Afghanistan would contribute $500 million and other NATO allies $300 million. (But we can't afford the National Institutes of Health or heating assistance for the elderly poor. -- C)

Iran is reported to have executed approximately 80 Afghan civilians by hanging in the past six months, over opium smuggling charges, and to have many more in custody, hundred under sentence of death.

Update: The Afghan government says a group of armed people who may be U.S. special forces is carrying out acts of torture and murder.

NATO's International Security Assistance Force must stop all special force operations out of Wardak province, where such horrors have been taking place, and all U.S. special forces must be gone from the province within two weeks, Afghanistan's National Security Council demanded.
At a meeting of the council, chaired by President Hamid Karzai, "it became clear that armed individuals named as U.S. special force stationed in Wardak province engage in harassing, annoying, torturing and even murdering innocent people," Karzai's office said in a statement. It did not indicate who "named" the group a U.S. special force.
Nine people "disappeared in an operation by this suspicious force," the statement said. And in another incident, a student was taken from his home at night, and his "tortured body with throat cut was found two days later under a bridge," the statement said.