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NightWatch 20110915


For the night of 15 September 2011

Pakistan: A bomb explosion during the funeral prayers for a local elder in Lower Dir District has claimed the lives of 30 and wounded more than 60 people. This incident took place in the mountainous village of Bero in Tehsil Samar Bagh of Lower Dir.

Comment: Another bombing attack in Pakistan is not especially newsworthy, except that the Pakistan Army supposedly cleared Dir of terrorists more than a year ago. As with US forces in Afghanistan, the Pakistan Army can clear an area and rout the terrorists, but unless it can station forces in the area for 20 years, the improvement is not permanent.

One recent analytical commentary pointed out that before 11 September 2001 there were almost no bombings in Pakistan. Since then, there have been more than 4,800 bombings, according to Pakistani statistics. That is one bombing every day and two every third day for a decade.

The odd thing is that for ten years Pakistani governments have not acted as if the country were under threat of daily bombing attacks. The Musharraf and Gilani governments have not taken the threat seriously; have not responded with a coherent plan to improve national security; have reacted with feckless piecemeal operations and, above all, have indulged in denial, blaming the US for Pakistan's internal security problems.

Prime Minister Gilani's government and Chief of Army Staff Kayani and his staff  plus the general population seem to believe that Pakistan would have no security problems but for US intervention in Afghanistan. That is a fatal point of view for modern democracy in Pakistan. 

Pakistan-US: The Foreign Ministry said on 15 September that Defense Secretary Panetta's 14 September comments that Washington would do whatever it takes to defend American forces in Afghanistan from Pakistani militants works against counterterrorism cooperation between the two countries. Panetta's remarks are not in line with bilateral relations between the two countries, a Pakistani Foreign Ministry spokeswoman said.

Comment: The background to the latest contretemps with Pakistan is the overwhelming evidence that the six insurgents, who attacked US and NATO headquarters in Kabul on the 13th, came from, were supplied from and communicated with persons in Pakistan.

The six insurgents used mobile phones during the siege to contact people outside Afghanistan, Afghan Interior Minister Bismillah Khan Mohammadi said. Mohammadi said six phones and weapons were in the building with the insurgents, and that evidence showed the insurgents were led from outside Afghanistan. He said people often get weapons and training outside Afghanistan before attacking within the country.

The US has blamed the Haqqani anti-government cartel for the attacks. The Haqqanis are loosely connected to Mullah Omar's Quetta-Karachi Shura, but have far better access to Kabul from Pakistan than any fighting groups under Mullah Omar's influence. They are the most likely group capable of staging a prolonged operation in Kabul with just six fighters and always have been protected and supported by Pakistani intelligence.

Jordan-Israel: Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman ordered the early evacuation of Israel's embassy in Jordan on Wednesday, because of fears of violent anti-Israel protests similar to those that occurred in Cairo last week.

Protocol stipulates that all employees return to Israel every weekend, with the exclusion of one diplomatic representative as well as a security team. On Wednesday, however, Israel had decided to vacate its Jordanian embassy a day earlier than scheduled because of the threat of protests through the weekend.

A senior Foreign Ministry official said that the planned protest was organized on Facebook, where more than 3,000 people signed up to participate.

Comment: Israeli officials said they had confidence in Jordan's ability to control disorders, but acted in the interest of prudent precautions.

During this Watch only a few hundred protestors showed up for the"million man march" that the Facebook postings summoned. The demonstration was not violent. If cell phone and internet activists destabilize Jordan by rousing anti-Israel sentiment as a pretext, then all the pro-US and pro-Israel governments in the Middle East will have succumbed to electronic mischief makers lacking a program or a vision.

Palestinian Authority-United Nations: Palestinian leaders announced on 15 September that they would seek full membership at the United Nations next week.

President, Mahmoud Abbas will address the United Nations General Assembly on 23 September to request the Security Council to recognize Palestine as an independent state - a necessary condition for full UN membership. The Obama administration has promised to veto the resolution.

In announcing the position, Palestinian Foreign Minister Riad al-Maliki said he was not closing the door to the possible resumption of peace talks. "We have decided to submit our application for full membership," said al-Maliki. "At the same time, we have said that, until then, we are open to any kind of suggestions, ideas that could really come from any side for the renewal of negotiations."

UN-Israel: Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Thursday that he will address the United Nations General Assembly on Friday, 23 September, the day on which the Palestinians say they will submit their bid for full UN membership. Netanyahu will argue against the statehood resolution.

Comment: Expect demonstrations in many Arab capitals every Friday, but especially the 23rd..

Egypt: Egypt's peace deal with Israel, the Camp David Accords, is open for discussion and could be changed if the changes benefit the region or enhance peace, Egyptian Prime Minster Essam Sharaf said in a 15 September television interview.

Comment: The civilian government leadership continues to get out in front of the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces on these issues. The Prime Minister speaks as if he has the authority that he claims. Re-opening the Camp David Accords constitutes deliberately breaking something that works and only would serve the interests of the anti-Israel Islamists.

Readers should be aware that the cell phone and Facebook activists have succeeded in unleashing a wave of Islamic fundamentalism that threatens to take power through democratic electoral processes in Egypt, Tunisia and Libya.

Revolution is finally coming to northern Africa, but it is Quranic, pre-modern and more brutish than the regimes it will have replaced. This is the opportunity for which the suppressed Islamist parties have been waiting for decades.

End of NightWatch for 15 September.

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