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, November 3, 2013

News of the Day for Sunday, November 3, 2013

NATO says a "foreign soldier" has been killed in Afghanistan but gives no other information. This AP story also reports two Afghan police officers shot dead in separate incidents, one in Uruzgan, the other in Kandahar city.

Three Afghan police are killed and one injured in an explosion in a mosque in Paktika province.

Afghan security forces seize a truck carrying 50 tons of TNT in Paktia, according to the National Directorate of Security. (That's a lot! BTW, no typo. Paktika and Paktia both exist, and are neighbors. We hear about Paktika more often because it's larger, and has a troublesome border with Pakistan.)

Azam Ahmed reports for the NYT on Afghanistan's horrific epidemic of opioid addiction. "The number of drug users in Afghanistan is estimated to be as high as 1.6 million, or about 5.3 percent of the population, among the highest rates in the world. Nationwide, one in 10 urban households has at least one drug user, according to a recent report from the Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs. In the city of Herat, it is one in five."

Pakistan Interior Minister says assassination of Hakimullah Mehsud by U.S. drone has scuttled ongoing peace talks.

Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar condemned the US strike as a "drone attack on the peace process", saying a team of religious clerics was about to meet the TTP with a view to starting peace talks when Mehsud was killed. "Brick by brick in the last seven weeks we tried to evolve a process by which we could bring peace to Pakistan and what have you (the US) done?" he said. "You have scuttled it on the eve, 18 hours before a formal delegation of respected ulema (religious scholars) was to fly to Miranshah and hand over this formal invitation."

A Pakistani woman is injured by a shell fired from Afghanistan. Bajaur Agency, where this occurred, is a stronghold of the Pakistani Taliban, and has been the site of numerous drone strikes by the U.S., including one targeting Ayman al-Zawahiri, who it turned out was not present. Fighting between militants and Pakistani government forces in the region has displaced thousands of civilians, although many are now returning home.