Night Watch

Pakistan: Update. A local court ordered Musharraf remanded in custody for 14 days, pending further proceedings in the murder case connected with the Red Mosque.

Comment: At the time the remand order was made, the Islamabad High Court rejected a petition for Musharraf's name to be added to the Exit Control List, which would prevent him from leaving the country. That is a strong indicator that the murder charges will be dropped because the government wants Musharraf to return to self-imposed exile. He will not stand trial, but he must leave Pakistan. He remains under house arrest in his villa which the courts designated a temporary sub-jail.

Syria: Press reported that the so-called Emir of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) declared the opening of a new Sharia court and police station on Thursday in 'the new Islamic Emirate', Azaz, according to his twitter account. The announcement followed the capture of Azaz, which is border crossing town into Turkey, from the Free Syrian Army (FSA) rebel group known as the Northern Storm. ISIS is an al-Qaida affiliate.

The border crossing at Azaz is reported to be closed now, but had been used to send supplies from Turkey to the Free Syrian Army fighting groups in the Azaz area, prior to the ISIS seizure. The FSA fighters have retreated, but no longer intend to try to retake Azaz. They hope to defend another border crossing a few miles from that town.

The FSA rebels sought the ouster of President Bashar al-Assad and ISIS is among the groups who also want to erase Syria's borders and establish a transnational Islamic state.

Comment: This report contains two points. First, the FSA fighters in the border towns appear to be no match for the ISIS fighters. On the other hand, the Kurdish fighters have had success in repelling attempts by ISIS to seize control of border crossings in the Kurdish region of eastern Syria.

Second, the report is a reminder that ISIS and other extreme Islamist groups almost immediately establish Islamic courts and police forces to enforce Sharia when they capture a town.

Egypt: Update. On a Friday called "100 days after coup", anti-government activists engaged in protest marches in Cairo, Giza and Alexandria, as well as in the Egyptian governorate of Qalyubia, north of Cairo, and Upper Egypt's Minya governorate, which is south of Cairo.

Press reported that police fired teargas to break up clashes between opponents and supporters of Mursi in Alexandria. No injuries were reported. In Delta's town of Demitta, however, five people were injured in similar clashes, according to Al-Ahram, the government-controlled news service.

Late on Thursday, the National Alliance to Support Legitimacy, an anti-military coalition of Islamist forces supporting Mursi, dropped its calls for protests in Cairo's Tahrir Square to "avoid bloodshed." This was to avert clashes with security forces that reinforce the Square every Friday. "Egyptians still have the right to protest at these places in the coming weeks," the coalition said in a statement.

Comment: The protests were less violent than early indications suggested. They also were small. A major portion of the task to control the pro-Mursi activists is being performed by citizen militias that either support the government or oppose the Brotherhood. In either case, the result is that the security forces often seem to acting as referee to separate the opposing groups, rather than as cracking heads themselves.

The outcome is the same, but the optics are better for the government.

End of NightWatch for ###

NightWatch is brought to you by Kforce Government Solutions, Inc. (KGS), a leader in government problem-solving, Data Confidence® and intelligence. Views and opinions expressed in NightWatch are solely those of the author, and do not necessarily represent those of KGS, its management, or affiliates.


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.