Night Watch

Pakistan: Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif convened an emergency session of the National Assembly to discuss the continuing clashes and protests in Islamabad.

Comment: Pakistani political commenters wrote that even the parliamentary opposition supports Nawaz Sharif in standing up to a small, but loud minority that is calling for his resignation.

Afghanistan: Dr. Abdullah's team renewed its threat to withdraw from the voter fraud audit unless its demands were met in 24 hours. His most powerful backer, the Governor of Balkh Province in northern Afghanistan, Atta Mohammed Nur, has warned Abdullah's supporters to prepare for mass protests.

The Independent Election Commission announced that it had invalidated 48,000 votes and was half way finished with the process. Results should be announced by the 10th..

The government announced that Defense Minister Bismillah Mohammadi will represent Afghanistan at the NATO summit on 4 and 5 September, when NATO is expected to declare "mission accomplished."

Comment: Presidential candidate Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzai received at least a million more votes than did candidate Dr. Abdullah. The election commission is barely scratching the surface of the voter fraud that took place. As a result, Afghanistan has no president to send to the NATO summit.

Abdullah's Reform and Partnership Team clearly expects to lose the audit. Large protests demonstrations appear unavoidable.

Iraq: Prime Minister-designate Haydar al-Abadi has nine more days to form a cabinet/council of ministers within the constitutionally prescribed period. One press service has reported a political breakthrough is near in that Al-Abadi is close to filling a cabinet of 30 ministers -- down from 41 under al-Maliki-- including a Sunni Arab as Interior Minister.

Comment: President Fuad Masum asked him to form a government on 11 August. Nuri al-Maliki resisted delaying al-Abadi's appointment until 14 August. The Constitution allows a prime minister-designate 30 days in which to form a new council of ministers and to have parliament approve it.

The overriding theme in the new council of ministers will be balance, according to the news analysis. Balance means more ethnic and sectarian inclusiveness and a public tilt towards the US and away from Iran.


Night Watch

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