Night Watch

Pakistan: May 11 was election day in Pakistan.

In Peshawar, the provincial High Court ruled that US drone attacks are illegal and a war crime. "In view of the established facts, undeniable in nature, under the UN Charter & Conventions, the people of Pakistan have every right to ask the security forces either to prevent such strikes by force or to shoot down intruding drones," the court said.

"The government of Pakistan must ensure that no drone strike takes place in the future," it added and also asked the ministry of foreign affairs to table a resolution in the UN against the US attacks.

In a detailed judgment, the court ordered the government to forthwith assert its sovereignty and convey forcefully to the US that no further drone strikes will be tolerated. It directed the government "to protect the 'right to life' of its citizen and use force if need be to stop extrajudicial killings with drones." It also suggested that Pakistan consider breaking diplomatic relations with the US, if the US vetoes a Pakistan resolution in the UN.

Comment: The timing of the ruling seems likely to favor the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz, headed by former prime minister Nawaz Sharif in the elections. Nawaz said this week that one of his objectives, if he becomes prime minister, is to take back control of defense policy from the Pakistan Army. Presumably that includes drone issues.

Russia-Syria: Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov said in an interview in Warsaw that Russia has no plans for new arms contracts with Syria. He said that Russia is filling already existing contracts and has the right to sell to the Asad government, still the only legitimate government in Syria.

Comment: There are multiple versions of what Lavrov said and few reliable direct quotes. One statement attributed to him is that Russia already has a contract with Syria for advanced air defense systems and is completing deliveries.

While Lavrov was evasive on the facts, his message was clear that Syria soon will take delivery of more advanced air defense systems. The Russian statements this week suggest that Russia's objectives in agreeing to support Syrian peace talks are not the same as those the US might have.

Libya: For the record. Bomb attacks targeted two police stations in Benghazi on Friday, causing extensive material damage but no casualties, a security official said. 'Unknown individuals threw explosive devices at the police stations in Ras Obeida and Al-Madina,' the official said.


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