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

Saturday, July 6, 2013

News of the Day for Saturday, July 6, 2013

An operation in Baghlan province results in deaths of 2 police and 4 insurgents, according to provincial police chief Ghulaam Sakhi Restaqi.

Human rights and good government activist Mohammad Saeed Niazi dies when his car plunges off the Kabul-Jalalabad highway into a ravine. The TOLO report contains no indication of foul play. (Still, one can't help but wonder. -- C) He was director of the Civil Society Development Center.

A TOLO special report find that the Taliban have orchestrated suicide bombings from 2001 to 2012."According to experts, the Taliban primarily relies on young boys to carry out such attacks. The boys are often illiterate and from rural areas of Afghanistan, being recruited into Madrasas and trained to become suicide bombers."

Wakht reports on two incidents in Paktika: Two would-be suicide bombers are shot by police; the story, as is often the case with Wakht, is written confusingly but it appears two police officers were injured in the same incident, apparently because one or more of the suicide vests exploded. Also, three mine planters die elsewhere in the province but the story does not say how.

An Afghan soldier is killed by a roadside bomb in Nangarhar.

At a sort of "town meeting" featuring senior government officials, Karzai administration figures point to disparate interests between Afghanistan and the ISAF partners, particularly the U.S.

"Suspending talks with America on the security agreement was right, because if the international community wants to be allies with us then we should have joint strategic goals; the Taliban, who are our enemies, are not their (international community) enemies, but rather Al Qaeda is their enemy. So if our goals are not shared and coordinated, then it means that our defense and security agreements with them (the U.S.) have no meaning," said Dr. Rangin Dadfar Spanta, National Security Advisor to President Hamid Karzai.

Afghanistan has so-far recorded 1,367 HIV+ cases, mostly in Kabul and attributed to injection drug use. (Since Afghanistan lacks a viable health care or public health infrastructure, I suspect that few people are tested. The true extent of the epidemic is unknown but is likely much higher. I also note that despite the conservative sexual culture, prostitution is commonplace, while homosexuality is underground while there is a rural tradition of the sexual exploitation of boys. Injection drug users may be disproportionately likely to be tested, but there may well be additional, so far invisible, epidemics. -- C)

Pakistan claims 50 mortar shells were fired from Afghanistan into South Waziristan, causing extensive damage and injuries.

Khaama describes heavy fighting yesterday in Nuristan, with 8 Afghan police killed. It appears the Taliban are preparing for a major offensive in the province.