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, February 9, 2014

News of the Day for Sunday, February 10, 2014

Seven Afghan soldiers are killed by a roadside bomb in Farah province.

Kabul police claim to have arrested 22 criminals, an unspecified number of whom are "terrorists."

U.S. to announce a $300 million aid package to Afghanistan on Monday. The aid is intended to boost the Afghan economy as spending by foreign military forces and other international aid declines.

U.N. Assistance Mission in Afghanistan reports civilian casualties up 14% in 2013 from 2012. Although insurgents are said responsible for the majority of deaths, mostly from IEDs, civilian casualties resulting from military action increased 43% since Afghan forces took over most security responsibility. (Note that the reports from the Interior Ministry that we often link to here generally omit any mention of civilian casualties. However, the UN is apparently collecting information.) From Wakht:

"Civilian harm caused by Afghan forces needs to be addressed. They are supposed to be the protectors of the Afghan people,” said Sahr Muhammedally, Senior Legal Advisor for the Center for Civilians in Conflict. “Over the past decade, international forces have found ways to reduce civilian harm and respond to casualties when they do occur. Afghan forces need to work with them to learn ways to better save lives and dignify losses.”

In a 2013 report, the Center identified problems with the government’s response to civilian harm, including how it conducts investigations and assists civilians caught in the conflict. Subsequent interviews show that political interference and corruption both at the local and national level influence investigations.
 Wakht's report on the UNAMA report is here. Since ISAF became much less active in 2013, civilian casualties caused by coalition forces are of course way down. But that just reminds us that they were substantial when ISAF was aggressively fighting. Note that ISAF claims 90% of civilian casualties are caused by insurgents. Actually, the UNAMA report says it's 74%. Wakht does not make note of the discrepancy.