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The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of

South Korea: The US military in South Korea wants the Pentagon to send more attack helicopters, reconnaissance aircraft and missile assets to the region to boost its capabilities, commander of U.S. Forces Korea Gen. James Thurman said on 12 June.


Comment: Today's statement represents US Forces Korea placing its claim to the increased resources that are to be allocated to the Pacific Theater. The North Korean conventional military threat continues to decline. The most likely threat remains a coup or other form of political implosion in Pyongyang.

Pakistan: A three-member judicial commission has concluded that Husain Haqqani, Pakistan's former Ambassador to the United States, was "behind" a memo indirectly sent to a senior US military official last year seeking Washington's help in averting a military coup. The report, submitted to the Supreme Court for review, found that Haqqani was 'not loyal' to the Pakistani state while serving as its ambassador and sought to undermine the country's nuclear assets, armed forces and intelligence agency.

Comment: The first and obvious inference is that this finding is a cover up to protect President Zardari, who is the purported instigator of the request for US assistance. Husain Haqqani, a distinguished diplomat, is the scapegoat who is taking the blame for the president. It is inconceivable in the Pakistani diplomatic service for an ambassador to write any memo of substance to a foreign government without direction from higher authorities. 

Pakistani authorities appear to be punishing any person who cooperated with or was close to Americans.


Afghanistan: Update. Daily reporting from Afghanistan indicates the Taliban have sustained at least 100 attacks and security incidents per day since the start of the spring offensive. That is a high number for a group supposedly on the ropes.

Yemen: Update. Yemeni troops backed by armed tribesmen routed al-Qaida on Tuesday from two southern towns which the terrorists held for more than a year. This is described by local media as the most significant victory to date in a month long offensive against a local al-Qaida franchise that is reputed to be responsible for multiple attempts to destroy U.S.-bound commercial aircraft.

Comment: US military advisers played a key role in this success. Saudi Arabia financed the operation as an extension of its decision to halt the spread of the Shiite heresy and al Qaida terrorism. This is tonight's good news.

Egypt: Update. Anecdotal reporting and polls indicate Egyptian Christians overwhelmingly will vote for retired General Ahmed Shafiq, rather than the Brotherhood's presidential candidate. While the Christians say they are disappointed by the two presidential candidates in this weekend's election, they say they consider a Mubarak-era authoritarian preferable to an Islamist authoritarian who promises to implement Sharia. Christians represent only 10% of the electorate.


The process of drafting a new constitution hit another snag on Tuesday when secular liberals boycotted a parliament session convened in order to select the 100 members of a panel to draft a new constitution. As they did a few months ago, the secularists complained that Islamists are trying to dominate the composition of the panel.

Comment: The military's deadline for parliament to appoint a new panel has passed. The political situation has become so confused and the time before presidential run-off elections is so short that the military ultimatum to parliament to select a constitutional drafting panel in the days before the presidential election looks ill-advised.

The Army has botched its stewardship of the political situation since Mubarak's ouster. Like armies in other countries, such as Pakistan, its leaders never know when it is time to get out of politics for the good of the army. There is too little time for the army to do more to rig the outcome of the presidential election in its favor this weekend. The ultimatum to the parliament about the formation of a constitutional panel is pointless.

Greece: Greece's bailout conditions are so catastrophic for the country they must be rejected, according to the radical left-wing party leader, Alexis Tsipras whose Syriza party came in second in the 6 May elections. He said he will keep his pledge to tear up Greece's bailout deal with international creditors, saying the austerity the country has been forced to impose in return for billions of euros in rescue loans was leading Greece toward collapse.


Comment: Tsipras is gambling that the eurozone states will continue to bail out Greece under the new rubric of promoting growth. They just might.

Italy: Italy will not need a bailout to survive the economic debt crisis, Prime Minister Mario Monti said in an interview on German radio on Tuesday. 'Italy even in the future will not need aid from the European Financial Stability Fund,' Monti said.

Comment: Monti sounds like the Prime Minister of Spain last week. Italy or Italian banks will require some form of bailout soon. Monti and others are trying to support public confidence in the banking system.

For the record. Austrian Finance Minister Maria Fekter said in a television interview that Italy may need a financial rescue because of the country's high borrowing costs. Eurozone rescue funds may not be able to cover the cost of helping Italy, Fekter added. She later said she had no indication Italy plans to ask for help.

Libya: Update. On 10 June Nuri al-Abbar, the chairman of Libyan Electoral Commission, announced that the country's Constituent Assembly elections would be postponed until 7 July owing to logistical and technical issues. The elections were originally scheduled for 19 June, but al-Abbar said the delay was needed to give voters more time to register and allow electoral authorities additional time to scrutinize prospective candidates.


Mali: Update. Niger President Mahamadou Issoufou announced on 11 June that the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) will ask the UN Security Council for a mandate for armed intervention in Mali. He added that ECOWAS would ask the US and France for military logistic support.

Issoufou made the announcement after meeting with French President Francois Hollande in Paris. Hollande warned of the potential for a terrorist threat in northern Mali and stated that France could provide military support for the potential ECOWAS mission. Meanwhile, National Liberation Movement of Azawad (MNLA) rebels have reportedly told Burkina Faso President Blaise Compaore that they are ready to begin negotiations with ECOWAS and the international community.

Comment: The northern Mali rebels crossed an important line, rooted in recent African history, when they announced secession. The Nigerian Civil War of 40 years ago was the benchmark event wherein African leaders decided that they would not tolerate any attempt to interfere with the post-colonial boundaries because of the enormous complications and costs. The ECOWAS announcement is consistent with that decision.

This does not mean that military action is inevitable, but it sends a message to the Malian rebels about the determination of the ECOWAS members to prevent fragmentation of states in West Africa and the lengths they are prepared to go to back up their threat. US and French assistance will be absolutely essential in any operation. The Africans can only provide manpower.


End of NightWatch.

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