For the night of 13 March 2014
Pakistan: During this Watch, South Asian press reported that the special tribunal to try former president Musharraf for treason is expected to indict him on the morning of 14 March. On the 13th the court upheld its earlier order that Musharraf appear in court on the 14th for indictment.
Comment: The court's decision indicates the court will not allow Musharraf to travel outside the country, as he requested. The high treason charge is that as president he abrogated the Constitution while issuing a proclamation of an emergency on 3 November 2007. There is danger of street disorders, by both pro- and anti-Musharraf supporters. A strong security cordon is being established to ensure Musharraf arrives safely at court.
Russia-Ukraine: The Russian defense ministry confirmed that it had ordered new military exercises in the regions of Belgorod and Kursk, which are near the border of eastern Ukraine. The exercises are to continue until the end of March.
"The main aim... is a multi-faceted check of the units' cohesiveness followed by the performance of battle training assignments in unfamiliar terrain and untested firing ranges," the defense ministry said..
Belarus: The government in Minsk confirmed that it requested Russia to deploy extra fighter jets and military transport aircraft to Belarus. The request was in reaction to US/NATO reinforcement of Poland. Russia sent six Su-27 fighters and three transport aircraft.
Comment: The new exercises look like a cover for real preparations for an incursion. The Russian announcement stated that a limited number of men plus artillery and rocket launchers were involved in the exercises. However, local bloggers have posted to the web images of at least a battalion of Russian tanks unloading from rail cars, which the Russians neglected to mention.
Russia apparently has not made the final decision to occupy additional portions of eastern Ukraine, but President Putin soon will have that option readily available.
Ukraine: A Ukrainian news outlet posted a report on 13 March that three people were killed during clashes between pro-Russian and pro-Ukrainian groups on Thursday evening in Donetsk, in eastern Ukraine. The leader of the right-wing, anti-Russian Svoboda party in Donetsk called for an investigation into police inaction and called for local police chiefs to be fired.
Comment: Such clashes strenghten the Russian case for intervention.
Israel-Gaza Strip: Following Israeli airstrikes yesterday, the Palestinian militant group Islamic Jihad said it had agreed to halt rocket attacks against Israel. However additional rockets were fired from Gaza after the announcement. Islamic Jihad denied it launched the attack.
One press report said one rocket was intercepted by the Iron Dome missile defense system; four more were fired but did not make it out of Gaza. An army source claimed seven rockets were fired, two of which Iron Dome intercepted.
"Israel Air Force aircraft targeted four terror sites in the southern Gaza Strip and three additional terror sites in the northern Gaza Strip," according to a military statement released Thursday night.
Comment: Islamic Jihad contends the ceasefire has been restored. The Israelis claim no knowledge of a ceasefire. Israeli attacks will continue.
Venezuela: The state prosecutor said on Thursday the death toll from a month of violent protests had risen to 28. More than 300 people have been injured in the unrest. Protests continued in Caracas.
Meanwhile, the supreme court ordered opposition borough mayors to dismantle barricades set up by street protesters, but the majors refused.
Comment: Despite the continuing protests, the Maduro government is in no danger from the protestors at this time. Venezuelans have serious economic grievances and complaints about law and order. Nevertheless, not enough people have organized to translate them into political action that might threaten to bring down the government.
End of NightWatch for 13 March.
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