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NightWatch 20140314

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NightWatch

For the night of 14 March 2014

Pakistan: Musharraf failed to show up at court today for his indictment. The court ruled that if he does not show up on 31 March he will be arrested.

Comment: Musharraf's refusal to comply with the court is setting a bad example and makes a mockery of the judicial and legal systems.

Peace talks. The Taliban break-away group Ahrarul Hind claimed responsibility for attacks in Peshawar and in Quetta that killed 19 people on 14 March.

Comment: This group broke from the Pakistani Taliban over peace talks on 10 February 2014. It is the same group that attacked an Islamabad court on 3 March, killing a judge and 10 other people. It is demonstrating a significant ability to attack in major cities without warning.

The significance of the attacks is they emphasize that peace with the big tribal fighting groups of the Pakistani Taliban will not mean an end to attacks. The Pakistani Taliban is not a single, unified group, but an umbrella structure for many devout Islamist armed groups that want Pakistan to become an Islamist state.

Peace talks probably will continue because the Pakistani Taliban admit they cannot and do not control all groups that are hostile to the Islamabad government. Any results that reduce violence in the tribal agencies will ease the strain on security resources, but the violence will persist and evolve.

Russia-Ukraine: Feedback reports suggest that Russian military forces, possibly nationwide, have increased combat readiness. This information is not yet fully confirmed.

The Russians have not announced and probably would not announce a readiness increase. Nevertheless, an increase in combat readiness would be a normal procedure before a major military operation or during a major political event. Russian forces increased combat readiness before every Soviet military invasion during the Cold War, after the death of every Soviet General Secretary and during the ouster of Gorbachev, plus during the India-Pakistan War of 1971 and during the 1973 Yom Kippur War, to cite just a few examples.

If the reports suggesting increased combat readiness are accurate, as NightWatch judges, it would mean that all forces have increased combat readiness, including strategic rocket and air forces and ballistic missile submarines, as a precaution against a NATO or US attack.

The Russian Foreign Ministry posted a statement on 14 March.

"Tragic events occurred in Donetsk on 13 March 2014, and blood was shed…. Many people were injured and one person died as a result of the clashes…"We have repeatedly stated that those who came to power in Kiev must disarm militants, ensure public safety and the legitimate right of people to hold rallies."

"Unfortunately, judging from the latest events in Ukraine, none of these happened, and the Kiev authorities cannot control the situation in the country. Russia is aware of its responsibility for the lives of fellow countrymen in Ukraine, and reserves the right to take people under protection."

Comment: This is at least the second time this month that Russia has asserted its right to protect ethnic Russians in Ukraine. Foreign Minister Lavrov Tweeted that Crimea is a special case, just like Kosovo.

End of NightWatch for 14 March.

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