Night Watch

Afghanistan: The voter fraud election audit did not resume as planned on the 24thbecause the presidential candidates and the election commission have no common definition of what is a fraudulent ballot. The commission said the audit will resume in a few days.

Comment: This audit might never resume. If it does, it will not be completed because neither candidate will accept the other's electoral victory. For example, the audit workers for candidate Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzai walked out last week because workers for candidate Dr. Abdullah were disqualifying too many ballots. A political settlement between the two candidates and their supporters will come, if it comes at all, from some channel other than the audit.

Iraq: Three persons were injured by a bomb explosion in Mahmoudiya district, about 20 kms south of Baghdad on Thursday evening. In Baghdad, a double car bombing ripped through the busy commercial district of Karradah as people gathered at dusk to break their daily fast for Ramadan, killing 21 people and wounding 33.

Comment: The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) militants have established Mosul as an alternative power center to Baghdad. In announcing an Islamic state they fragmented Iraq. In most fragmentation scenarios, the secessionists seek to defend their secession, as in eastern Ukraine. That is not what is happening in Iraq.

ISIL still seeks to capture Baghdad, but not to replace the current government and rule Iraq. It seeks to conquer modern Iraq and make it disappear by absorption into the Islamic State. Thus, it is important to monitor attacks in Baghdad and its suburbs. There have been three in two days. These are early indications of a growing ISIL capability plus continuing Iraqi complacency and lax Iraqi security.

Islamic State: Web postings indicate ISIL created a new province, Euphrates Province, which straddles the border of Syria and Iraq. It includes districts and cities in both countries. The stated purpose of the move is "to break the idol of the border instilled in the hearts of the people." The cities are Albu Kamal and Hajin in Syria and al-Qaim in Iraq.

Politics. On 24 July, veteran liberal politician and senior member of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) Fu'ad Ma'sum was elected president of the Iraqi Republic. . Ma'sum received 211 of 269 votes from parliament members in the second round.

Under a de facto power-sharing agreement, the president is a Kurd, the parliament Speaker a Sunni, and the prime minister a Shi'ite.

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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