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, September 8, 2013

News of the Day for Sunday, September 8, 2013

According to local sources, drone  attack in Kunar Province kills 10 civilians, along with 6 Taliban. ISAF issues a statement denying that civilians were killed (as they always do). AFP has more detailed accounts from local officials, which sound compelling. (The reported casualty totals vary.)

Kunar police chief Abdul Habib Sayedkhil told AFP the airstrike hit a pickup truck carrying the women and children, as well as four armed insurgents. "At least four women, four children and two civilian drivers were killed in a NATO airstrike in Wattapur district of Kunar province," he said. Kunar Provincial governor Shujaul Mulk Jalala told AFP that 12 civilians - four women, four children and four men - were killed, along with four insurgents.

Suicide car bombing in Maidan Shahr, capital of Wardak, is said to have killed several people. Other sources say that only the bomber was killed but many people were injured. The target was apparently a military base.

Authorities claim 24 militants killed in an Afghan special forces operation  in Badakhshan province, near the Tajikistan border. As usual, they report no Afghan government or civilian casualties.

Member of Parliament Fariba Ahmadi Kakar, who was abducted last month with her children, is freed in a prisoner exchange in which 5 Taliban fighters and 6 of their family members were also released. Her children and driver had been freed earlier.

Fighting in Kunduz province leaves casualties on both sides. As usual, Afghan government and Taliban accounts differ. Government says 9 insurgents killed, along with 1 police officer and 1 soldier. Taliban say 15 security personnel "killed or wounded." (Both could be true, of course.)

Insurgents attack a security checkpoint in Nangarhar, with conflicting reports on casualties. A government spokesman says one attacker was killed and another injured. Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid says two police vehicles were destroyed, 3 soldiers killed and 5 injured, while confirming 1 insurgent death.

A protest outside the Iranian consulate in Herat turns violent;  security forces kill one protester and injure 3 others, while the building is damaged. The protesters were angry at corruption in the process of obtaining visas to enter Iran. (Regular readers will remember that there has long been anger among Afghans over Iranian immigration policy and treatment of migrants. Economic desperation has led many Afghans to seek employment in Iran.)