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NightWatch 20130107

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For the night of 7 January 2013

Central African Republic: Delegations representing Central African Republic's (CAR) government and the rebels, who control much of the country's north, flew to Gabon for negotiations to end the rebellion. Talks are to begin this week.

Meanwhile, CAR President Francois Bozize flew to Brazzaville for talks with his Congolese counterpart President Denis Sassou-Nguesso, who is attempting to mediate a peace arrangement between the Bangui government and the rebel alliance.   Bozize is expected to return to Bangui and plans to join the talks in Gabon after they have begun.

News sources reported that the rebels in the Central African Republic have repeated their demands that any peace deal must include President François Bozizé's resignation. This is because he has reneged on promises he made to the rebels.

The rebels insist, however, they will participate in the talks, which have the support of the UN Security Council and the United States. "We are ready. We want to leave for the negotiations," rebel Colonel Djouma Narkoyo told Agence France-Presse.

Comment: This rebellion poses no threat to US national security interests. For international security affairs analysts it presents an opportunity to practice analysis and make predictions in an environment without the distortions that come from overt US involvement.

One lesson for analysts is that it is hard for rebels to attack a national capital unless its guardian forces disband and run. It is also very hard for a small African army to recapture territory lost to the rebels, unless that army has extensive modern world support. For government forces, it always is easier to defend the capital than it is to retake lost territory.

Most African leaders are weary of the seemingly endless and pointless cycle of military overthrows of governments since 1960. The soldiers never seem to tire of the sport. Bozize came to power in a coup. His overthrow by a coup would be condign punishment.

The extra troops from central African states have helped stabilize the internal security situation for the area near Bangui, but cannot prevent de facto fragmentation of the Central African Republic without French military backing.

Mali:  Malian Army forces fired "artillery" at Islamists and conducted a patrol in the area that is under the control of the Touaregs or the Ansar Dine fighters, who are affiliated with al Qaida. The Islamists captured 12 government soldiers plus their vehicles and weapons.

Comment: This is the first reported action by the Malian Army since it overthrew the government last March and surrendered the northern half of the country to Touaregs and Islamic terrorists. The outcome of Monday's clash is no surprise.

The security situation in Mali poses a potential threat to US interests because of Ansar Dine's association with al Qaida. Since the military overthrow of the government in March 2011, Mali has become a text book example of ineptitude in responding to an increased terrorist threat.

Correction: Concerning Pakistan's tribal agencies, Mullah Nazir who was killed in a drone strike was a Wazir leader from South Waziristan, not a Mehsud. Wazirs have tended to cooperate with the Pakistan government much more than the Mehsuds. Other judgments remain unchanged. Thanks to a Brilliant and Highly Knowledgeable Reader for Feedback and insights about this issue.

End of NightWatch for 7 January.

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