A suicide bomber rammed his vehicle into a NATO convoy in eastern Afghanistan on Wednesday morning. There are reportedly casualties but early reports did not specify them.
Roadside bombs set by anti-government guerrillas in Afghanistan killed 36 civilians in a 24-hour period ending Tuesday, with a single bombing of a bus near Qandahar accounting for 30 of the dead (and 39 of the wounded). Another bomb in Qandahar killed 5 civilians. Yet another bomb killed a woman in Spingar, Nangarhar.
In addition, 22 Taliban are alleged to have been killed in fighting with Afghan Army and NATO forces in Farah Province. Tuesday’s death toll is thus likely around 60 if all deaths from political violence were tabulated.
Some key statistics:
ABC News reports that many high Afghan officials are opposed to the idea of the US sending more foreign troops to Afghanistan. They say they want to see the Afghan army better equipped and trained instead.
Meanwhile, in Pakistan US drones killed 12 persons in Waziristan. The dead included local commanders of the Pakistan Taliban Movement, along with some unidentified foreigners (typically foreigners associated with the Pakistani Taliban are either Arabs or regional Muslim radicals– from Tajikistan, Uzbekistan or Xianjian). One of the strikes was on Dandey Darpakhel village, the site of a seminary linked to Siraj Haqqani, the son of old-time warlord Jalaluddin Haqqani, whose network in neighboring Afghanistan targets NATO and Afghan troops.
The US is also concerned about the Taliban Council (Shura) in the northern city of Quetta, capital of Baluchistan, which allegedly includes Mulla Omar, the leader of the ‘Old Taliban’, according to Pamela Constable of the Washington Post. High Pakistani officers deny that Quetta is an insurgent capital, though anyone who knows Pakistan and Quetta will be astonished at the denial. Constable’s article hints that the Pakistan high command is little interested in the Quetta Taliban because the latter carry out no operations inside Pakistan, being mainly concerned with the corridor up to Qandahar on the Afghanistan side, within which they attack NATO (especially Canadian) and Afghan Army targets.
The Pakistani Inter-Services Intelligence is pressuring the US to recognize Hamid Karzai as president. Karzai’s chief rival, Abdullah Abdullah, is viewed by Islamabad as a Tajik whose primary foreign ties are to India, so he is the last person Pakistan would like to see made president. Islamabad does not much care for Karzai, either, but at least he is a Pashtun and his constituents, at least, are closer to Pakistan than are Abdullah’s. (During the late 1990s when Pakistan was supporting the Taliban, Abdullah Abdullah was part of the Northern Alliance bottled up in the northeast, and the NA took military and intelligence help from India, Iran and (ironically) Russia. Islamabad suspects that a strong link still exists between the major Tajik politicians of the Northern Alliance and the Research and Analysis Wing (RAW), India’s CIA.
And, indeed, the fix increasingly seems to be in for Karzai. The BBC alleges that UN secretary-general, Ban ki-Moon, has dismissed Peter Galbraith from his position as deputy to UN envoy to Afghanistan Kai Eide. Mr. Galbraith denies the report. The BBC says that Galbraith’s conviction that Karzai stole the election and that there should be a complete recount of ballots angered President Karzai. Mr. Eide is also alleged to believe that Afghanistan is too politically fragile to survive substantial questioning of the vote outcome or even a runoff election between Karzai and Abdullah Abdullah (which it is feared would exercerbate tensions between Pashtuns and Tajiks). Others in the UN mission are said to agree with Galbraith that the elections were deeply flawed, and they allegedly blame Mr. Eide for ex post facto rewarding Karzai’s bad behavior by attempting to bestow legitimacy on him.
Riz Khan at Aljazeera English asks if the detention facility at Bagram Base near Kabul is the new Guantanamo Bay? He points out that the Obama administration is opposing the right of habeas corpus for prisoners there.
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