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 5, 2014

News of the Day for Sunday, January 5, 2014

Taliban attack a police checkpoint in Ghazni province, according to local officials 15 Taliban are killed in the ensuing battle with no police casualties. Taliban claim six police killed. Five of the Taliban dead are said to be Pakistani. Khaama has a more detailed but consistent account.

Afghan intelligence says it foiled a plot in Helmand province, seizes weapons and vehicles.

An Italian helicopter takes fire while landing in Herat province while carrying Afghan troops. No casualties. (The linked article says "Shindad," apparently a typo. There is a NATO airbase at Shindand, in Herat.)

An explosion in Kabul, apparently targeting a NATO convoy, causes no casualties.

Wakht reports widespread malnutrition in Helmand, but notes that hunger is commonplace elsewhere in the country as well. Excerpt:

Afghan hospitals like Bost, in the capital of war-torn Helmand Province, have been registering significant increases in severe malnutrition among children. Countrywide, such cases have increased by 50 percent or more compared with 2012, according to United Nations figures.Doctors report similar situations in Kandahar, Farah, Kunar, Paktia and Paktika Provinces — all places where warfare has disrupted people’s lives and pushed many vulnerable poor over the nutritional edge. .. .

Reasons for the increase remain uncertain, or in dispute. Most doctors and aid workers agree that continuing war and refugee displacement are contributing. Some believe that the growing number of child patients may be at least partly a good sign, as more poor Afghans are hearing about treatment available to them. What is clear is that, despite years of Western involvement and billions of dollars in humanitarian aid to Afghanistan, children’s health is not only still a problem, but also worsening, and the doctors bearing the brunt of the crisis are worried.

Sima Samar, chair of the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission, says that violent crime against women in Afghanistan hit record levels and became increasingly brutal in 2013.

"Killing women in Afghanistan is an easy thing. There's no punishment," Suraya Pakzad, who runs women's shelters in several provinces, told Reuters in her office in the western city of Herat. She cited recent cases in which women been publicly stoned as Afghan troops looked on. "Laws are improved, but implementation of those laws are in the hand of warlords... I think we are going backwards." 

Meanwhile, back in Iraq: Remember Fallujah, where U.S. forces massacred unarmed protestors in 2003, and later, in 2004, U.S. marines fought a horrific battle?

  • On 9 November, CNN Correspondent Karl Penhaul reported the use of cluster bombs in the offensive: "The sky over Falluja seems to explode as U.S. Marines launch their much-trumpeted ground assault. War planes drop cluster bombs on insurgent positions and artillery batteries fire smoke rounds to conceal a Marine advance."[30]
  • November 10, 2004 reports by the Washington Post suggest that U.S. armed forces used white phosphorus grenades and/or artillery shells, creating walls of fire in the city. Doctors working inside Fallujah report seeing melted corpses of suspected insurgents.[31] The use of WP ammunition was confirmed from various independent sources, including U.S. troops who had suffered WP burns due to friendly fire.
  • On November 16, 2004, a Red Cross official told Inter Press Service that "at least 800 civilians" had been killed in Fallujah and indicated that "they had received several reports from refugees that the military had dropped cluster bombs in Fallujah, and used a phosphorus weapon that caused severe burns."
  • On 17 May 2011, AFP reported that 21 bodies, in black body-bags marked with letters and numbers in Roman script had been recovered from a mass grave in al-Maadhidi cemetery in the centre of the city. Fallujah police chief Brigadier General Mahmud al-Essawi said that they had been blindfolded, their legs had been tied and they had suffered gunshot wounds. The Mayor, Adnan Husseini said that the manner of their killing, as well as the body bags, indicated that US forces had been responsible. Both al-Essawi and Husseini agreed that the dead had been killed in 2004. The US Military declined to comment.
 But I'm sure it was all worth it. Today, Fallujah is controlled by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, but the government is readying a major assault to retake the city. "Secretary of State John Kerry said on Sunday that the United States would provide assistance to Iraqi forces in their battle against the militants but that it was "their fight".

Also, bombs kill 14 people in Baghdad.


Anonymous said...

And here I was watching BBC World News and there it was Paul Bremer invited to talk about the current chaotic situation in Iraq and he was asked many questions (which by the way he evaded carefully) but the one that really caught my attention was this:
Do you think that the US has a moral obligation to help Iraqis to combat all those elements of Al Qaeda? (which we all fully know that they entered that county high tailing the Americans during the very Bremer's administration, and for which they would have never dare do that had Saddam was still in power)
And here is what his answer was: "No, the US has no moral obligation to help them but if there is an interest for us to do so, then we should help them".
Now tell me shouldn't this ungodly person who God knows how much money he pocketed during his illegal occupation 'administration' in that country be dragged to Hague along with Bush and Bush's administration cronies and found guilty for their crimes against humanity in Iraq and for squandering our tax money on the two wars we waged during the last decade.

Dancewater said...

A recent movie about Fallujah

Dancewater said...

yeap, Bremer, Bush, Cheney, Blair and a huge bunch of other people should be tried in the Hague... at the very least.

But these days, the ICC only tries war criminals who are African.