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NightWatch 20100222


For the Night of 22 February 2010

Philippines: Update. The Philippines has claimed a significant victory this weekend in killing Albader Parad. He was one of six militants that the Philippine military says it killed Sunday in a firefight on the island of Jolo. Parad led a faction of Abu Sayyaf, a banned terrorist group with historic ties to Al Qaida.

A Philippine army spokesman said security forces went on high alert in Manila, bracing for potential bomb attacks to avenge Albader Parad's death, Reuters reported 22 February.

Lieutenant Colonel Romeo Brawner stated that the army and police were monitoring the movements of militants in Manila, closely coordinating with police in the national capital region to thwart any potential Abu Sayyaf attacks. He added that there is a small militant cell operating in Manila.

Philippine commanders say Parad was a senior Abu Sayyaf leader and that his death, after troops got word from informants of his location, is a major blow to the organization. It is estimated to number less than 400 members, though its ranks have regenerated after past setbacks and it also survived the killing of previous leaders, including its founders, who were veterans of the anti-Soviet jihad in Afghanistan.

Iraq: Deputy Interior Minister Lt. Gen. Iden Khalid, who is in charge of security for the coming elections, said today that a curfew will be imposed between 10 p.m. and 5 a.m. from 6-8 March across Iraq, Reuters reported.

Khalid also said movement by air, sea and land between provinces will be restricted from 7 -8 March. Vehicles will be banned from traveling within city centers and districts. Banned vehicles will include trucks with a capacity of more than one ton, animal-drawn carts and motorcycles, Khalid said. He added that the Interior Ministry will have hundreds of thousands of troops and the army will have 14 divisions, which should be enough to provide security during the elections.

The first point worth noting is the Iraqis are in charge and are issuing the orders. A few years ago, that would have been unthinkable. The second point is that the Iraqis in charge are mainly Shiites. That means the power sharing arrangement is breaking down and violence is no longer avoidable.

Iran-Syria: For the record. Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadi-Nejad will make an official one-day visit this week to hold talks with Syrian President Bashar al Assad on the latest developments in the region and Iran's relations with the west, KUNA reported today.

After the multiple press releases about Syria's pending restoration of full diplomatic relations with US last week, Iran has responded with a diplomatic initiative of its own. Evidently, the Iranian regime wants to determine whether its Syrian ally is reliable, despite the American blandishments.

Eritrea-US: The United States said today that Eritrea is working to destabilize the Somali and Djibouti region and said Eritrean President Isaias Afwerki should stop what Washington called a threat to international peace and a contribution to "a dire humanitarian crisis," Reuters reported, citing the U.S. Embassy to Eritrea.

Eritrea has become the most important hub of arms support to anti-US interests in the Red Sea region around the Strait of Hormuz. Eritrean clients include the Somali rebels near Mogadishu; fighting groups in Yemen and rival large cargo ships from pacifist nations in the Middle East at this time.

Germany: Update. Lufthansa pilots ended their strike on 22 February after a labor court hearing, DPA reported. The union pledged to suspend the strike until at least 8 March while holding talks with the airline over pay and job guarantees. The union is attempting to stop a subsidiary of the airline, Lufthansa Italia, from taking over Lufthansa routes because it pays less to pilots

End of NightWatch for 22 February.

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