Permissible Arms

I will never catch up.

Posted in afghanistan, iraq, pakistan, us politics by Karaka on 15 September 2009

Brief, brief commentary on some news stories from the last five days or so.


The LA Times reports (and boy have I been impressed with their Middle East coverage, more than I expected to be) that Radio Khyber has hired three female reporters for its news team. This, wow. This is a story that makes all the dire shit I read every day worth it all. Granted, there will probably be threats on their life by the Taliban soon enough, but I have to say, this is flipping awesome.

What isn’t awesome is 18 women and girls dying in a stampeded over free flour (AP).

“Hundreds of women were pushing to enter into the small hall, and guards started beating us to get the place cleared,” said 30-year-old Kulsoom, who gave only one name and ended up among the many wounded. “I fell down and was being crushed. My heart was missing beats, and I thought I was dying.”

It’s particularly disheartening as the charity was being given during Ramadan.


Joe Biden was greeted with mortar fire on his surprise visit to Baghdad (AP via Stars and Stripes).

The three-day trip is Biden’s third this year and is a chance for him to meet with the full range of Iraqi leaders both in Baghdad’s central government and those of Iraq’s self-governing Kurdish region, whose boundaries with the rest of the country have become a volatile fault line.

It certainly says something about Iraq’s relative security. Especially since NATO is committed to leaving by 2010. The NY Times picked a good file on this too, as well as copy on unrest in Anbar amogst citizens wary of their governement representatives; a worrisome picture is emerging, and it begs the question: is Iraq actually stable enough to leave? Regardless, that question will get answered next year.


So much stuff to read through. WP reports that the Taliban is working overtime to reclaim Khandahar province.

It is the corruption of the police — and that alleged of senior government officials — that many Kandaharis say has been the principal reason for the Taliban’s resurgence. Just as they did in the 1990s, residents say the Taliban is appealing not to a popular desire for religious fanaticism but to a demand for good governance. Part of the problem is that the police are ill-trained and ill-paid, driving them to graft. Another contributor: local leaders who have created a culture of impunity.

And this is in the south. Afghanistan is like a whack-a-mole…

The LA Tiems covers the recent US troops deaths and Afghani deaths from this past weekend, putting them in the context of a larger series of attacks, linking the attacks to the election. Juan Cole over at Informed Comment breaks it down further.

The NY Times picks up Zbigniew Brzezinski weekend address where he likened NATO’s presence in Afghanistan to that of the Soviet Union’s presence there thirty years ago, with the indication that the same negative results are likely to occur should the Western powers withdraw its occupation. This was followed by Admiral Mullen’s assertion that “more troops and more time” were a certain necessity in Afghanistan (though the Joint Chiefs of Staff have received no request yet from General McChrystal; undoubtedly it is forthcoming) [also NYT]. Spencer Ackerman picks up that thread in the Washington Independent today, indicating that McChrystal will likely offer the White House several options for accomplishing the necessary resource bump, both in troops and funding. But the White House is not making any decisions as of yet. And now there is some (expected) pressure from the hawkish right to keep calm and carry on in Afghanistan–Graham, Lieberman, and McCain put out a joint opinion piece in the Wall Street Journal today urging the administration to keep our position there strong.

On a less America-focused stage, the Times of London reports that UN Chief Peter Galbraith has been removed from his post:

Mr Galbraith, a close friend of the US special envoy Richard Holbrooke, left for Boston on Sunday after a heated meeting with Afghan election officials. His “pointed” questions to the Independent Election Commission (IEC) were evidence of a much tougher line towards the Afghan authorities than the “softly-softly” approach of Mr Eide, who heads the UN mission to Kabul.

And it’s only Wednesday.


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