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NightWatch 20121126

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For the night of 26 November 2012

Afghanistan: A credible news outlet reported that Afghan government forces have abandoned almost all of Logar Province, south of Kabul on the road ring road between Kabul and Kandahar. Government forces maintain a presence in the provincial center and in district centers during daylight hours.

Comment: Logar is a gateway province to Kabul. If government and allied forces cannot hold Logar, they cannot hold Kabul for long. That is the historical and symbolic precedent from the Taliban campaign to capture Kabul in 1996.

Iran-Sudan: Iranian naval combatants are expected to return to Sudan on Friday, one month after a similar port call that followed the Israeli air attack against a military factory on 23 October.

Comment: The Iranian naval ships apparently will arrive in Sudan about the same time as an Iranian cargo ship that reportedly is carrying rockets for Hamas in the Gaza Strip.

Egypt: Security. Fifty people were injured in clashes between protesters and members of the Muslim Brotherhood's Freedom and Justice Party on 26 November as the protesters attempted to break in to the FJP headquarters in Tanta. Protestors also attacked FJP headquarters in Cairo.

Politics. President Mursi agreed on 26 November that only his decisions related to "sovereign" matters will be protected from judicial review, Mursi's spokesman said. Meanwhile demonstrations continued on 26 November and a court challenge to Mursi's presidential decree was filed.

Comment: Popular outcry has forced Mursi to back down somewhat and to limit his claim of supreme authority to decisions only related to sovereignty. No authority knows what he is talking about. Mursi has committed a colossal blunder.

Mursi looks incompetent and irresponsible. His attempts at clarification worsen his political standing and respect. His attempt to protect from judicial oversight the assembly that is drafting the new constitution looks like an attempt to pre-empt democracy by enshrining a strict interpretation of Islamic law in the new Egyptian constitution.  

Mursi is doing just what Mubarak did. He has made a farce of democracy in Egypt because he has asserted powers that exceed those granted by the electorate. His actions mimic those of General Pervez Musarraf in Pakistan in 1999.  There is no point in holding elections when the president or a general can negate them with impunity. Egypt is still not a state governed by the rule of law, but rather by presidential whimsy. 

For the record. The Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood decided to postpone a mass protest it had scheduled for 27 November in Cairo, an official from the group's Freedom and Justice Party said, in order to avoid more popular violence. The Brothers had intended to demonstrate in support of the president.

End of NightWatch for 26 November.

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