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, May 26, 2013

News of the Day for Sunday, May 26, 2013

Defense ministry issues a monthly summary of operations, saying that 441 militants and over 100 Afghan soldiers have died in more than 2,000 military operations. (Afghanistan uses the solar Hijiri calendar, which if I'm not mistaken means they are talking about the just-concluded month of Ǧwayay (in Pashto), which corresponds to the Zodiacal sign of Taurus.)

Twelve people -- 4 Taliban and 8 bystanders-- die when explosives detonate accidentally  in a mosque in Ghazni province. Apparently the Taliban were transporting the explosives and had stopped at the mosque to pray.

In a conceptual art project to promote peace and women's rights, volunteers distribute 10,000 pink balloons in Kabul. ""It is all about staying together and making sense by going beyond language, politics and religion. We all are humans, and this is what brings us closer. Saturday's attack made me quite worried. I called all my volunteers and asked- should we cancel the event? And, every single person who believed in bringing peace back into this country, said no, we must do this, nothing can stop us," said artist Yazmany Arboleda. (The project will now move on to other cities.)

Further details on the attack on the offices of the International Organization for Migration  on Friday, to which Arboleda refers.
ISAF says 11 insurgents killed in joint operations on Saturday.

A tractor filled with explosives is seized in Kandahar province, its driver shot dead. Apparently he planned a suicide attack in Kandahar city.

Here's one where I think you need to read between the lines. U.S. Air Force Secretary Michael Donley, in a D.C. press conference, discusses the Afghan Air Force. (To put this in context, although the Afghan army is showing improved competence in ground combat, it still depends on the U.S. for logistical support, including air operations. For the U.S. to truly leave Afghan forces on their own in 2012, this major problem will need to be solved.) While Afghan pilots have been trained, the country has yet to receive transport aircraft. "US Air Force Chief of Staff Gen Mark Welsh, who visited Afghanistan recently, said he was quite impressed by the progress being made by the Afghan air force. . . . Afghan pilots have no problem flying airplanes and helicopters. “Their expertise in actually executing the mission is not insignificant.” He added there is, nonetheless, lack of expertise in running and managing an Air Force including larger logistical support and the infrastructure management."

In Iraq, the violence continueswith three separate attacks on security forces killing 5 in MosulArab Deputy Prime Minister Saleh Muhammed Al Mutlaq says Kurdistan should separate from IraqSeven Iranian pilgrims are killed in a car bomb attack near Samarra. AFP discusses the recent spike in violence as provoked by Sunni greivances. The Foreign Minister of Syria visits Baghdad to meet with PM Maliki, whose government has been quietly supportive of the Assad regime.