Night Watch

Afghanistan: Security. A suicide attack killed at least 89 people in Paktika Province, in southeastern Afghanistan, when a car packed with explosives detonated near a busy market and mosque.

Comment: The spokesman for the Taliban denied that the Taliban conducted the bombing. No group has claimed responsibility for the attack.

During this Watch, a dozen anti-government fighters attacked Kabul international airport. No serious damage has been done to the airport facilities. Two attackers are dead and the others are supposedly surrounded. All flights have been diverted.

Comment: A well-informed and brilliant Reader advised that this year's fighting season would feature fewer, but more sensational attacks. The two attacks above plus the temporary overrun of district offices in Helmand and Ghor Provinces bear out that prediction.

Politics: Both presidential candidates are adhering to the agreement to audit the votes from the 14 June run-off election, but unsettled details are a problem. The latest issue is a disagreement about whether international observers or Afghanistan's election commission lead the audit.

Comment: Some analysts have minimized this issue by citing the UN as the overall supervisor. That begs the question who is the UN's agent for performing the audit. The election commission included fraudulent ballots without questioning them in its preliminary results.

Another question not discussed by the media is the authority for a power-sharing agreement that would alter Afghanistan's constitution without a referendum. Multiple sources reported the agreement involves a power-sharing arrangement with a weaker president and a stronger prime minister. The national government would move away from the present presidential system towards a parliamentary system.

Neither the US nor the Afghan candidates have the authority to make constitutional changes, much less agree to a shift in the nature of the government. The two contenders for the presidency have not clarified their views on this issue and are not likely to do so.

The agreement avoids a civil war for now, but the problems are far from solved. The compromise might have made them more intractable and complex.

Al-Qaida leader Ayman al-Zawahiri rejected the Islamic State and its self-proclaimed caliph, as have the al Qaida franchises in Syria and the Maghreb.

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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