Night Watch

Peace talks. A spokesman said the Pakistani Taliban would not extend the ceasefire that has been in place for the past month. However, the Taliban remain open to peace talks with the government. Some Taliban leaders said the government's inaction on their requests would lead to renewed attacks.

Comment: The government's limited prisoner relief is enough to keep the parties talking, but apparently not enough to prevent attacks from resuming.

Saudi Arabia: The interior ministry is enforcing the new anti-terrorism law and new regulations on what constitutes "terrorism" in the Kingdom. The sweeping provisions criminalize virtually any expression or association critical of the Kingdom and its understanding of Islam. These "terrorism" provisions include the following:

Article 1: "Calling for atheist thought in any form, or calling into question the fundamentals of the Islamic religion on which this country is based."

Article 2: "Anyone who throws away their loyalty to the country's rulers, or who swears allegiance to any party, organization, current of thought, group, or individual inside or outside the kingdom."

Article 4: "Anyone who aids "terrorist" organizations, groups, currents of thought, associations, or parties, or demonstrates affiliation with them, or sympathy with them, or promotes them, or holds meetings under their umbrella, either inside or outside the kingdom; this includes participation in audio, written, or visual media; social media in its audio, written, or visual forms; internet websites; or circulating their contents in any form, or using slogans of these groups and currents of thought, or any symbols which point to support or sympathy with them."

Article 6: "Contact or correspondence with any groups, currents of thought, or individuals hostile to the kingdom."

Article 8: "Seeking to shake the social fabric or national cohesion, or calling, participating, promoting, or inciting sit-ins, protests, meetings, or group statements in any form, or anyone who harms the unity or stability of the kingdom by any means."

Article 9: "Attending conferences, seminars, or meetings inside or outside the kingdom targeting the security of society, or sowing discord in society."

Article 11: "Inciting or making countries, committees, or international organizations antagonistic to the kingdom."

Comment: The laws and supporting decrees were enacted in March. They gave jihadis in Syria 15 days to return or be considered terrorists. They also labeled the Muslim Brotherhood a terrorist organization and criminalized atheism as "terrorism."

The new regulations are the most far reaching and restrictive of any enacted to date. They criminalize any form of protest or advocacy of reform. They are as severe and as authoritarian as any in North Korea. Cumulatively, they are an indicator that the monarchy is concerned seriously about internal stability.

End of NightWatch

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Night Watch

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