Morning Report: 2008-11-06

Diplomats prepare for a changing of the guard, while West Asia remains volatile.

Rice to Middle East in probable swan song. Arutz Sheva: 'U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice returns to the region on Thursday for her 19th, and perhaps final, visit – part of the American push to extract an agreement for the establishment of a new Arab state within Israel's borders. Rice is expected to meet with Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Palestinian Authority Chairman and Fatah leader Mahmoud Abbas Thursday afternoon in Jerusalem. Rice will also meet with Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni and Likud party chairman and Opposition Leader Binyamin (Bibi) Netanyahu, who are both strong candidates to become the next prime minister, also on Thursday afternoon in Jerusalem. ...' Also from A7, Condi's opposite number in Israel warned Obama against talking to Iran: 'Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni expressed her opposition to United States President-elect Barack Obama's stated willingness to dialogue with Iran in an interview on Voice of Israel government radio Thursday morning. She explained, "We live in a neighborhood in which sometimes dialogue – in a situation where you have brought sanctions, and you then shift to dialogue – is liable to be interpreted as weakness."'

Suicide bomber strikes at tribal meeting in Bajaur, northwest Pakistan. Long War Journal:

A suicide bomber struck at a tribal meeting in the insurgency-wracked agency of Bajaur in Pakistan's northwest. Eight members of the Salarzai tribe were killed and more than 45 were wounded after a suicide bomber detonated in the middle of a tribal meeting.

The Salarzai tribe has organized a militia to oppose the presence of the Taliban in their tribal areas in Bajaur. Tribal leaders claim to have raised more than 10,000 fighters to form a lashkar, or tribal militia. The Salarzai have been burning the homes of Taliban members and providing security for the region.

The Pakistani military has been battling the Taliban in Bajaur since August. The tribal area is a known command and control hub for al Qaeda's operations in northeastern Afghanistan. The military has relied on airstrikes and artillery barrages to dislodge the Taliban from fortified positions.

Pakistani officials claim to have struck a crippling blow to the Taliban. General Tariq Khan, the Inspector General of the paramilitary Frontier Corps claimed more than 1,500 Taliban and foreign fighters have been killed in Bajaur since the operation began. Another 950 "militants," including more than 300 are Uzbek, Tajik, Nuristani, Afghani and Hazara, have been captured. Only 42 paramilitary troops have been killed and 174 wounded, according to the general.

The government has courted the tribes in an effort to gain local support. But the groups that have joined the effort to fight the Taliban are marginal players in the tribal areas and the Northwest Frontier Province. ...

Read the rest of Bill Roggio's post at the link.

Learning from experience in Afghanistan. Small Wars Journal:

This Slate article is an excellent example of learning from the past about the part of counterinsurgency most of us understand least well: the economic and governance lines of operation.

Both candidates for the U.S. presidency pledged to make Afghanistan a top priority. The war there now tops the news on a daily basis with tales of the devastating hardships of the Afghan people and the deaths of Afghans and NATO soldiers. The untold story is that Afghanistan was well on its way to stability in 2004. It is essential that President Obama understands why the nation slipped into chaos. The challenge now is to win the peace...

Follow the link for the rest of Clare Lockhart's article.

Briefly noted. Byron York comments on the true meaning of "losers".

Commentary. No brilliant insights on this morning's items; I'll just offer my thoughts on the election, and I'll keep 'em brief.

As you know from reading this journal, I was rooting for McCain, and I've had very serious misgivings about Obama for a number of reasons. But the American people have chosen Barack Obama to be their next President, so out of respect for my nation, its people, and the democratic process I will give President Obama a fair chance.

You probably also know that I'm a social liberal. I vote Republican because al-Qaeda and the Taliban and the Iranian regime aren't social liberals, and those SOBs are trying to kill us. One hope that I hold for the incoming Democratic government is that the Democrats, once fully in charge of the reins of power, will appreciate the seriousness of the threat outside our borders, and understand that the threat is at its core a threat to America's finest liberal traditions. I won't bore you here with another long essay on power and responsibility, but I think you get the idea.

I've no plans to quit blogging here at DiL any time soon. Come next January, it'll be my first time blogging under a Democratic administration. Should be interesting.