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Iraq & Afghanistan Update/ Mar 8
Posted by The Agonist on March 9th, 2010

From our partners at The Agonist

Mar 8

Fiction of Marja as City Was U.S. Information War

For weeks, the U.S. public followed the biggest offensive of the Afghanistan War against what it was told was a “city of 80,000 people” as well as the logistical hub of the Taliban in that part of Helmand. That idea was a central element in the overall impression built up in February that Marja was a major strategic objective, more important than other district centres in Helmand.

It turns out, however, that the picture of Marja presented by military officials and obediently reported by major news media is one of the clearest and most dramatic pieces of misinformation of the entire war, apparently aimed at hyping the offensive as a historic turning point in the conflict. ~ Gareth Porter

See Marjah ~ Google Earth/Maplandia

US keeps secret anti-Taliban militia on a bright leash

They are a secret tribal militia, the controversial creation of US commanders in Afghanistan eager to buttress local opposition to the Taliban. So clandestine are the units formed to protect villages in a critical valley in southern Afghanistan that US officials and special forces commanders in Kabul refuse to discuss them.

But the Guardian has learned that in one important regard, the Local Defence Initiative forces are not so secretive after all. As they patrol villages close to the key southern city of Kandahar, the fighters are being forced to wear bright yellow reflector belts so that their special forces mentors do not mistake them for Taliban.

** Iraq election turnout 62%, officials say
** Years before US can judge Iraq success: Odierno
** Britain won respect in Middle East over Iraq: Miliband
** Rethink Afghanistan

please check comments for updates and related articles

In Baghdad, mortar rounds mark Iraq election day

Dozens of mortar rounds thudded across Baghdad on Sunday morning and at least 12 people were killed as Iraqis went to the polls in an election testing the stability of the country’s still-fragile democracy.

Insurgents had vowed to disrupt the elections — which they see as validating the Shiite-led government and the U.S. presence — with violence in order to increase uncertainty over a looming U.S. troop drawdown and widen still jagged sectarian divisions.

As the polls opened at 7 a.m., bombs began exploding and mortar rounds landing across the city.

** Live-Blogging the Iraqi Elections
** U.S. adopts hands-off approach to Iraqi vote
** Iraq parliamentary election hit by insurgent attacks(pic-BBC)
** A look at the major coalitions in Iraq’s election
** Sadr urges Iraqis to vote to help end U.S. “occupation”
** Sunday Iraq vote culminates seven years of sacrifice
** Could US troops remain in Iraq?

Iran’s Ahmadinejad to visit Afghanistan on Monday

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad travels to neighboring Afghanistan on Monday for talks with his counterpart Hamid Karzai, an Iranian news agency reported on Sunday.

The semi-official Mehr news agency said the one-day trip to Kabul would be Ahmadinejad’s first visit to Afghanistan since both he and Karzai were re-elected last year.

Karzai had invited Ahmadinejad and the visit was aimed at expanding bilateral ties, Mehr added. They would also discuss “solutions for settling the problems” in Afghanistan.

** Female Marines set to win over rural women’s hearts, minds in Afghanistan
** Rethink Afghanistan
** US military deaths in Afghan region at 930

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