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, October 27, 2013

News of the Day for Sunday, October 27, 2013

More information on yesterday's confrontation at the Afghan National Army Officer Academy. A gunfight erupted between an Afghan soldier and two foreign officers. The foreign soldiers were injured and the Afghan killed. The Afghan involved was apparently not a trainee; the foreign soldiers were Australian and New Zealander, according to sources, but this has not been officially confirmed. The Academy is operated by the U.K.

The defense spokesperson for New Zealand's opposition Labor Party comments:

The war in Afghanistan today is predominantly a fight between the majority Pashtun Taleban and the Karzai regime, rather than a war against al Qaeda-led international terrorism. When the Afghan National Army recruits, it has no idea where the real sympathies of a recruit lie.  Increasingly with the withdrawal of US-led forces from Afghanistan planned for next year, there will be more and more people who swing their allegiance to the side that seems most likely to win.

Insider fire has become an increasing problem for allied forces training the ANA with recruits turning their weapons on those who are training them.  It may be the result of a personal slight in some instances.  More often it will be Taleban sympathisers infiltrated into the ANA. Thankfully the New Zealand and Australian soldiers in this instance were only lightly wounded and we wish them a speedy recovery. However, the incident could have been much worse and it raises real questions as to the wisdom and the usefulness of keeping New Zealand soldiers in Afghanistan in this role.

A Labour-led Government would look to withdraw them.

Bomb in a Kabul market, apparently targeting soldiers, kills a ten year old girl, injures four civilians and five soldiers.

Air strike is said to have killed a Tabliban commander in Nimroz.

Afghan Interior Ministry claims 12 Taliban killed and various munitions confiscated in past 24 hours. As always, these are said to have been immaculate operations: zero casualties among government forces or civilians. (And, as always, Cervantes says "mierda de los toros.")

Local officials in Badghis province say 46 polling places out of 160 are not secure. "We are worried that we cannot launch election campaigns in the insecure districts of the province," said Zial Gul Ahmad, a member of the Badghis Provincial Council. "We cannot send supervisors to insecure districts, so in these places there could be more fraud."

Residents of Kabul complain to the members of parliament of polluted drinking water.

Explosion in Jalalabad targets police vehicle; no reported injuries.

An interesting, non-judgmental article in Khaama about a university professor coming out as gay. A brief excerpt won't really do this justice so follow the link; but here's one anyway.

A professor in Afghan American University, Nemat Sadat is among the several homosexuals in Afghanistan who has public admitted is homosexuality. The professor in a message posted on his Facebook wall said, “I’m so happy to have finished the process of “coming out” to the entire world. Burden lifted forever.” . . . “So get over it! Now, I can live life without all the kala jaan’s & kaaka jaan’s (aunties & uncles) harassing and pressuring with questions like, Nematee, tu chura zan nakardee?” Now, no grown-up shall dare ask me why I haven’t married a woman,” Sadat said through wall message.

[but .. . ]

Another Afghan gay, Hamid Zaher who is currently living in Toronto, Canada has written a memoir about what it was like to be a gay man in Afghanistan. Hamid Zaher’s memo (book) which has never been published in Afghanistan reflects the misery of his personal life after he escaped Afghanistan in 2011, not because of the oppressive Taliban. His book details his anguished years as a closeted gay Afghan man. He was disowned by his entire family after he disclosed he was a gay man, and he will be killed if he returns back to Afghanistan.

Iraq Update: Bomb attacks on Shiite neighborhoods in Baghdad kill 42 people; while a suicide car bomb attack  on a group of soldiers in Mosul kills 9 soldiers and 5 civilians, and injures 30. But this is normal in Iraq nowadays.