Morning Report: August 24, 2004

Iraqi forces surround shrine. Urging militia members to surrender, Iraqi National Guard forces surrounded the shrine at Najaf. Iraqi Defense Minister Hazem Shaalan told reporters that "the decisive hours are near" for Muqtada al-Sadr's fighters.

Armed clash erupts in Tehran. 'According to witnesses and other reliable sources, on Sunday night [August 22], around 11:45, several members of security forces clashed with unidentified armed persons on Piruzi Avenue--Coca cola intersection—in the eastern part of the capital. Shortly after this confrontation a witness present on the scene told IRNA by telephone: “The unknown armed individuals, probably three or four in number, got away with a car.” This witness added: “Fierce gunfire between the security forces and these individuals lasted for some minutes,” adding that “according to the locals two members of the security forces were injured.” He added, “A couple riding a motorcycle were injured in the crossfire.”… IRNA news item (translation on Free Iran)

Chrenkoff: more good news from Afghanistan. 'But optimism is back, and since the overthrow of Mullah Omar's regime almost three years ago it has been making a slow but steady comeback. For all the continuing security problems and sporadic fighting with the Taliban and al Qaeda remnants, Afghanistan's resurrection has been an unheralded success story of the recent times. Huge challenges remain, to be sure, but for the first time in a generation there is real hope that the country is finally breaking out of the cycle of violence and succeeding in its first steps on the road to normalcy. The Afghans know it's happening, but we in the West, looking at Afghanistan through the prism of mainstream media coverage, are far less aware of all the positive developments taking place over there. Here is some good news from the last four weeks that you might have missed while the media, true to their form, continued to focus on the negatives. ... ' Read the rest here: Arthur Chrenkoff - Good News from Afghanistan (Hat tip: Omar at ITM.)