Night Watch

Pakistan: Today, the Supreme Court gave Prime Minister Ashraf three more weeks in which to decide to comply with the court's order or refuse with the risk of being ousted from office like his predecessor, Prime Minister Gilani. The decision followed an appearance by Prime Minister Ashraf before the judges. The prime minister asked for more time which the court gave him, apparently in the interest of stable government.

The case was adjourned to 18 September.

Comment: Readers will recall that the Supreme Court ordered the government to write a letter to Swiss authorities to resume judicial procedures against President Zardari that pre-date his selection as president of Pakistan.

NightWatch reports on this issue have generated significant feedback, universally in support of Zardari and in support of the principle that a serving head of state or government cannot be sued.

NightWatch did extra research into the Zardari case. While he and his late wife Benazir Bhutto were in exile from Pakistan, Swiss courts convicted him of corruption. Zardari appealed the conviction in Switzerland. According to the NightWatch research, the Swiss proceeding that was interrupted by President Musharraf was the appeal of a criminal conviction against Zardari.

As far as Switzerland is concerned, Zardari is a convicted felon. That conviction should have disqualified him from holding office in Pakistan. The Supreme Court of Pakistan wants the appellate process to resume, which Zardari initiated in the first place.  Interesting.....

Prime Minister Ashraf promised to make things right without stating he would write a letter to Swiss authorities to resume the Zardari appeal of his conviction. Pakistani analysts speculate that Ashraf might be dismissed as was his predecessor.

The Supreme Court is aware of the implications of its actions, according to statements by the Chief Judge today,  and appears content to log-roll execution of its order until parliamentary elections next year.

Afghanistan: Insurgents beheaded 17 people at a party in a village in Musa Qala District, Helmand Province. The victims included two women. This is an area that supposedly was liberated

Comment: Afghanistan remains one of the worst places on Earth to be a woman. Nevertheless, this atrocity in the name of Sharia, crossed the line for most Muslims, even Pashtuns.

The beheadings risk reminding Pashtuns why they supported US forces in chasing the Taliban leadership and their acolytes out of Kabul and into Quetta, Pakistan, more than a decade ago. The Taliban will rue this act of brutality. Eleven years ago even the Pashtuns thought Americans were better than Taliban and Saudi Arabian thugs. This atrocity might help them remember.

Iran: On 26 August, the meeting of the Non-Aligned Movement members convened in Tehran. More than 110,000 police and security forces have been deployed to maintain security.

Comment: Those US diplomats who argued Iran is isolated have egg on their faces. Rather, Iran is emerging as the avatar of all anti-US aspirations. Even Pakistani President Zardari plans to attend the summit.

Syria: After his offices in Aleppo were pillaged by unidentified groups during fighting between government troops and rebel forces, the Melchite Greek Catholic Archbishop of Aleppo, Jean-Clement Jeanbart, and a group of priests retreated to Lebanon last week. A report by the Catholic news agency Fides said Byzantine Christian and Maronite Christian buildings also suffered damage during the fighting.

Comment: The Syrian Christians are leaving for Lebanon. Other minorities also are seeking safety in home territories. Syria is Balkanizing in the sense that people are returning to safer home grounds. Nevertheless the Alawite-led government is not beaten yet.

US: Special comment: US arms transfers to other countries nearly tripled last year to $66.3 billion, giving America a market share of nearly 80 percent, government researchers said Monday. The Congressional Research Service said the US figure for 2011 was the largest for a single year in the history of the arms export program.

In 2011 the only places where forces were in combat were in Libya, Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan. Forces in combat buy ammunition, not modern weapons. That raises a question about who is preparing to fight whom, based on the arms sales and transfers. At first glance, it looks like Iran is the target against which states are buying weapons.

Feedback is invited.

End of NightWatch ###

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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.
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