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NightWatch 20141015

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NightWatch

For the night of 15 October 2014

China-India-Pakistan: At today's Foreign Ministry press briefing, spokesman Hong said, "As a neighbor and friend of both Pakistan and India we hope the two sides can exercise restraint and stop trading fire and stick to dialogue and consultation, keep the situation in check and properly deal with the issues. They should work together to jointly safeguard the peace, stability and development of South Asia."

He said China is watching the situation between the two countries.

Pakistan reported 12 people had been killed over the past 10 days as India shells along the Line of Control (LoC) in the disputed Kashmir region and the working boundary that separates the two countries. India also said Pakistani shelling had killed and injured dozens of its nationals.

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Comment: Compared to some past periods of increased cross-border shelling, the small number of casualties in a ten day period indicates much sound and fury signifying very little.

The Chinese policy of promoting stability in Asia underpins today's statement. Its content is similar to Chinese statements about stability on the Korean peninsula. It is ironic in that Chinese forces have increased tension with India by intruding into territory India has long occupied but China has claimed in the Himalayas. The message is that instability is acceptable if China causes it.

Pakistan-Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL): On 14 October, five commanders of the Tehrik e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP aka Pakistani Taliban) and the TTP's press spokesman announced their decision to join ISIL and their allegiance to ISIL's leader al-Baghdadi.

Comment: With this announcement, ISIL just gained a substantial presence in Pakistan and parts of eastern Afghanistan. Younger hotheads have bridled under Omar's leadership in the last few years because it is cautious and calculated to outwait the US and the International Assistance Force (ISAF).

ISIL's emergence has captured the imagination, fervor and energy of a younger generation of jihadists in ways that Omar's more patient strategy no longer does. ISIL also is more appealing than the newly declared al-Qaida in South Asia.

Omar's strategy suffered a significant setback when Afghan President Ghani signed the bilateral security agreement with the US. In prolonging the presence of coalition forces, the agreement also extends the time for Omar's strategy to work. Some leaders of fighting groups are no longer willing to wait that long.

The Taliban leadership is openly fractured. No advantage accrues to the Afghan or Pakistani governments, however, because both factions are barbarous, but the pro-ISIL faction is savage. The announcement suggests attacks in Pakistan and eastern Afghanistan will be more frequent and more brutal.

Yemen: Houthi and al Qaida in the Arab Peninsula (AQAP) fighters clashed on Tuesday at Radaa. At least ten people were killed.

Comment: AQAP has vowed to stop the advance of the Houthis. Their occupation of Sana'a led to the resignation of two prime ministers and the decision to restore fuel subsidies and form a national unity government of technocrats.

The Houthis also captured the Red Sea port of Hudaydah on the 14th, almost without a fight. That and the clash at Radaa have reinforced the Sunni jihadists in judging that the Houthis intend to restore the Zaidi Shiite Imamate, which ruled in the north from about 960 to 1962

On Wednesday, the separatists set a deadline of 30 November for the government to withdraw soldiers and civil servants from southern Yemen. Hiraak al-Janoubi (Southern Movement) also asked foreign firms to halt oil and gas exports immediately.

The southern Sunnis seek to break the state and restore an independent state in south Yemen.

Comment: Yemen is a failed state that is close to breaking apart, as it was prior to 1990 when North and South Yemen merged. There are no good guys in this fight. That means all outcomes lead to the end of democracy and the end of secular government.

Egypt-Libya: News services reported this week that the Egyptian air force flew air attack missions in support of retired General Hifter's forces near Benghazi.

A spokesman for the Libyan anti-Islamist movement Operation Dignity denied on Wednesday that Egyptian airplanes took part in fighting in Benghazi.

Egypt's Presidential spokesman Youssef told Al-Ahram that the news was "completely untrue". Foreign Ministry spokesman Badr Abdel-Aty also denied an AP report that Egyptian warplanes were attacking Islamists in Benghazi.

Ex-army general Hifter launched Operation Dignity against Islamists in Libya to regain control over Libyan cities that fell to Islamist militias. The Libyan and Egyptian governments have expressed their support to him.

Comment: The security situation near Benghazi is in stalemate. Only an infusion of outside military power on one or the other side can end the stalemate. If Hifter's forces resume their campaign to take Benghazi and actually achieve some success, then the Egyptian and other denials are part of a deception operation to cover that infusion of military power.

End of NightWatch for 15 October.

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