Night Watch

Pakistan-Iran: Pakistani Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar said in Islamabad on 1 March that Pakistan's economic development projects with Iran, which include the Iran-Pakistan natural gas pipeline, transmission of electricity and increased trade between the countries will be completed regardless of any external pressures.

Comment: The power-related projects with Iran are especially critical to Pakistan's economic health, even though they ignore US sanctions. The divergence of national security and economic interests between the US and Pakistan commends a review of US policy that is based on the premise that Pakistan is a more-or-less friendly country but not an ally.

Afghanistan: Update. An Afghan soldier and a civilian on Thursday morning killed two US troops from the US-led NATO force in Afghanistan, opening fire on them at an outpost, the military said. The civilian was a literacy teacher who grabbed a weapon from a soldier and opened fire at the military outpost in Zhari District of Kandahar Province. The US soldiers were training the Afghans, according to press reports.

Comment: The apparent randomness and unpredictability of the murders of the six US soldiers creates the terror effect that destroys trust. All joint patrols with Afghans carry an increased probability of murder that overrides can-do attitudes and positive thinking. There is no sure way to be safe.

NightWatch learned from a Pakistani taxi driver in northern Virginia that Allah's call to kill non-believers can come to a true believer at any time, without warning and it must be obeyed by the true believer. Killing Christians and Jews ends their existence which is itself a sin against Allah, the man said. Muslim deaths hasten their journey to be with Allah.

The man, a devout Muslim and educated engineer, said he would have to kill his passenger if he heard Allah's call. Fortunately, the phone was not ringing during that taxi ride, but the driver was deadly serious.

Syria: The Free Syrian Army (FSA) left the Baba Amr district of Homs in a tactical withdrawal, FSA head Colonel Riyad al Asaad said on 1 March. The FSA was pulling out of the district to spare the lives of the 4,000 civilians who were refusing to leave their homes, al Asaad said.

Comment: This is one of the few times when opposition statements match government actions. News media reported the Syrian government sent ground forces into the Baba Amr neighborhood yesterday, after a prolonged siege. The government forces have taken back the neighborhood. The opposition fighters were routed.

No news outlets reported any clashes today in the rest of the neighborhoods that make up Homs. This is the first time the conflicting and contradictory reports from both sides produced some clarity in the security situation. The so-called siege of Homs has been in fact a fight for a fringe district in southern Homs, called Baba Amr, which is now in government control.

End of NightWatch for 1 March.

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Night Watch

NightWatch is an internationally acclaimed nightly newsletter that tracks and assesses threats to US national security. It has an edgy, executive style unlike any other summary of its kind.