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, January 19, 2014

News of the Day for Sunday, January 19, 2014

Three civilians killed, 4 injured, by IED explosion in southern Helmand province.

Three police killed, 4 injured by explosion in Sar-e-Pul province. Khamaa also reports here on the deaths of two Afghan soldiers in separate explosions in Kandahar and Uruzgan provinces.

Three people killed and four injured by a rocket attack on a soccer field in Maiwan, Kandahar. This occurred on Saturday but was reported too late for yesterday's post.

Naimat Sadat, in Khamaa, says the Friday attack on Taverna du Liban is evidence of infiltration of the National Directorate of Security by agents of Pakistani intelligence. It's a complicated argument, and I can't evaluate it on the merits, but it does show the profound distrust that many Afghans have for Pakistan. In any event, the restaurant is within the heavily secured "ring of steel" and some form of corruption is clearly indicated. Sadat notes that Afghan police have not been paid for months, and obviously they are highly susceptible to bribery. His claim is that in the past, they would pass on a portion of payments from businesses such as Taverna du Liban to the Taliban for protection.

The Pakistani foreign ministry strongly condemns the attack. Meanwhile, "Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said the attack was carried out to avenge civilian deaths by foreign troops in Seyah Gard district of central Parwan province."

In the wake of the incident, fears grow that aid organizations will withdraw personnel from the country.

The Interior Ministry suspends 3 senior police officers as it investigates the attack.

A woman is appointed chief of police for Kabul's first district, a historic first. (The link is to a somewhat flowery editorial in Bhaktar lauding the event.)

In Pakistan, an attack on a military convoy in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province kills 22 security personnel, injures 30. Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan claim responsibility. The death toll is expected to rise.

In Iraq, amid growing violence in Baghdad which killed dozens of people on Saturday, the military launches a major operation to try to regain control of Ramadi. We shall see.