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 23, 2014

News of the Day for Sunday, February 23, 2014

Hoo boy. In an apparent cross-border attack from Pakistan, hundreds of insurgents attack Afghan soldiers in Ghazi Abad, Kunar province, killing at least 21. Additional soldiers are missing. (Reports of the death toll vary somewhat at this writing.) "Gen. Abdul Habib Sayedkhaili - chief of police for Kunar Province - said that there were around 30 Afghan soldiers manning the outpost when insurgents attacked from three sides with rocket-propelled grenades, mortars and light weapons." Sporadic fighting continues as Afghan forces are said to be chasing the attackers. In a statement, the Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack and said two of their own had been killed. A suicide attack on reinforcements approaching the area was said to be unsuccessful.

Afghan Taliban suspend talks over U.S. POW Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl. The indirect talks, mediated by Qatar, contemplated exchanging Bergdahl for prisoners at Guantanamo Bay. The Taliban cite the "complex political situation" in Afghanistan in the announcement, without elaboration. Bergdahl has been held since 2009. (Interestingly, we have to read about this via CBC. U.S. media seem completely uninterested.)

Afghan Interior Ministry categorically denies claim by Pakistan made on Thursday that 23 Pakistan Frontier Corps personnel had been summarily executed inside Pakistan. The ministry says simply that no such incident occurred, adding:

Foreign Affairs Ministry in its statement, said, “While we will investigate the matter thoroughly, it is our belief that any terrorist act in our region is the outcome of the short-sighted policy of using extremism and terrorism as a means of strategic influence and pursuing misperceived national interest. It is impossible to nurture venomous snakes on one’s soil and wishfully think that they will only bite others.”

Afghan forces said to destroy 1,300 kilograms of hashish and cannabis seeds near Kandahar. Announcement states that the drug trade funds the insurgency. (That was actually 900 Kg of hash, which is about a ton.)