Night Watch

Afghanistan: The secretary-general of the election commission, Zia ul-Haq Amarkhai, said he resigned today for the good of the nation. He denied he committed a crime by ordering ballot boxes to be stuffed with votes for presidential candidate Ashraf Ghani. He called the tapes fakes and accused the national security services of interfering in the election.

The government has made no statement about the way ahead.

Comment: Regardless of the denials, resignation is a form of adoptive admission that the recordings are genuine. The government seems to be at a loss for what to do. Any outcome will be challenged. A credible election result looks impossible, but a backroom deal between the two candidates, Abdullah Abdullah and Ghani, could make the vote count largely irrelevant. Without a deal, there will be protests and probably violence.

Iraq: Today, the Ministry of Defense said Iraqi forces have regained control of the al-Walid border crossing with Syria and the Turaibil border crossing with Jordan. The government's claim is not confirmed and appears doubtful.

After ten days of fighting, fighters of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) now control the oil refinery at Baiji. They are reported to have told Sunni tribal leaders in the area to keep it operating and supplying gasoline to ISIL fighters.

Comment: Nearly every major town in the Sunni areas of Iraq is no longer responsive to the central government. The window for political reform to have an effect on the security situation has closed for now, in less than two weeks. By the end of the week, ISIL and its Sunni allies should be in a position to begin attacking Baghdad from multiple directions, should they so decide.

Jordan: Yesterday, Jordan placed its armed forces on increased alert several days ago as instability in Iraq spread toward the border of Jordan. They also reinforced the border over the weekend, including with tanks.

Yesterday, Iraqi forces abandoned the Turaibil border crossing following reports of a clash with fighters who had been reported as ISIL. Today's reports indicate Sunni tribal fighters took control of the area, though not of the border post itself. Iraqi border officers are operating the border crossing, which is open to traffic, but under tribal supervision.


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