The South Asia Channel

Daily brief: July deadliest month of Afghan war for U.S.

Wonk Watch: The Pakistani Army’s changing officer corps, by Shuja Nawaz and C. Christine Fair (Journal of Strategic Studies). Bloods on the hands Investigators have reportedly found concrete evidence linking Bradley Manning, the Army intelligence analyst already charged with leaking classified information about Iraq to Wikileaks, to the Wikileaks Afghanistan disclosures (WSJ). U.S. Defense Secretary ...

Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images
Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Wonk Watch: The Pakistani Army’s changing officer corps, by Shuja Nawaz and C. Christine Fair (Journal of Strategic Studies).

Bloods on the hands

Investigators have reportedly found concrete evidence linking Bradley Manning, the Army intelligence analyst already charged with leaking classified information about Iraq to Wikileaks, to the Wikileaks Afghanistan disclosures (WSJ). U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates said the FBI has been called in to help with the investigation, and criticized the disclosures, saying, "The battlefield consequences of the release of these documents are potentially severe and dangerous for our troops, our allies and Afghan partners, and may well damage our relationships and reputation in that key part of the world" (BBC, AP, Reuters, NYT, Tel, Times).

A Taliban spokesman has said the group is examining the Wikileaks documents, commenting of the names of Afghan informants in the disclosures, "If they are U.S. spies, then we know how to punish them," as chairman of the Joint Chiefs Adm. Mike Mullen asserted that Wikileaks founder Julian Assange "can say whatever he likes about the greater good he thinks he and his source are doing, but the truth is they might already have on their hands the blood of some young soldier or that of an Afghan family" (Tel, Wash Post, Channel 4).

Some of the Wikileaks documents reportedly suggest al-Qaeda may have planned 9/11-style attacks in 2009 on Hamid Karzai’s presidential palace, NATO headquarters in Kabul, British and U.S. embassies, and the Ariana hotel (Guardian, Times, FT). The reports, however, are imprecise and categorized as "C3," meaning the information was "possibly true" and the source was regarded as "fairly reliable" (Guardian).

Yesterday, the Obama administration’s Afghanistan-Pakistan team met for the seventh time and reportedly focused little on the Wikileaks disclosures, instead focusing on the recent Kabul conference, U.S.-Pakistan dialogue, and a briefing from top commander in Afghanistan Gen. David Petraeus (USAT, VOA). Gen. Petraeus reportedly made his first visit to the southern province of Helmand earlier this week, where British, U.S., and Afghan forces have just launched the biggest operation of the summer, Operation Tor Shezada ("Black Prince") (Pajhwok, Tel, BBC). The 6,000-person town of Saidabad is the last population center fully under Taliban control in central Helmand (Channel 4). In neighboring Kandahar, continued insecurity and threats of Taliban assassination have made it difficult to fill local government positions (AP).

South and north

July is now the deadliest month ever for U.S. troops in Afghanistan, as 63 soldiers have been killed so far, surpassing last month’s record of 60 fatalities (AP, BBC). Coalition commanders had warned that casualties would rise as forces make moves against Taliban strongholds in southern Afghanistan.

In the northern Afghan province of Baghlan, the Taliban continue to make inroads: in June, a group of 80 Taliban fighters briefly gained control of a bazaar in one of the troubled districts; have since blocked many roads in the district; and have ordered the closure of local cell phone towers at night (NYT). The area’s corrupt judiciary, lack of government services, and ethnic differences have all been exploited by the Taliban.

And Karen DeYoung reports that the "Afghan First" program designed to give Afghans contracting jobs to support U.S. efforts in Afghanistan, rather than promoting small and medium business and spreading the wealth, may be enriching traditional power brokers and creating new ones instead (Wash Post).

The crashing waves

As many as 320 people have been killed in the last three days of severe flooding triggered by monsoons across Pakistan, with Khyber-Pukhtunkhwa the hardest hit province (AP, AFP, Geo, Dawn, ET, Daily Times, BBC). Pakistani officials say the floods are the worst in 80 years; hundreds of thousands of people have been affected.

A poll released yesterday at the New America Foundation by the Pew Global Attitudes Project surveyed 2,000 Pakistanis about concerns about the extremist threat in the country, views of foreign powers, aid from the United States, Pakistani domestic politics, drone strikes, and other topics (Pew, AJE, AP, BBC). The headline finding is that Pakistanis are less concerned about a potential Taliban takeover of Pakistan than they were last year. Bonus watch: discussion of the poll with Steve Coll and Andrew Kohut (NAF).

Pakistan’s Daily Times reports that 10 people were killed yesterday in Kurram in northwest Pakistan after Shia men attacked a Sunni village, and Dawn writes that 12 militants were killed by security forces in central Kurram (Daily Times, Dawn).

Flashpoint

Indian forces opened fire on a crowd of rock-throwing anti-India protesters in the summer capital of Indian Kashmir earlier today, wounding two (AP, PTI). A police officer said the separatist protesters had marched on the main road in the Chanapora neighborhood of Srinagar; security forces also used tear gas to quell the protests.

A big deal

The department of education in Afghanistan’s northern Kunduz province has started a program to offer free health care to 6,500 teachers (Pajhwok). The program could be extended to include the families of teachers in the future.

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