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Saudis Stiffening Military in Egypt

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

Pakistan: Pakistan People's Party (PPP) and its allied parties elected Raja Pervez Ashraf as Pakistani prime minister on 22 June. Ashraf received 211 votes whereas Pakistan Muslim League-N candidate Sardar Mehtab Abbasi received 89 votes.

Comment: Although the US congratulated Pakistan on settling its leadership controversy, Ashraf also is suspected of corruption for his management of power projects when he served as minister for water and power. His election does nothing to dismiss the image of a corrupt government.

The Chief Justice may be expected to insist, as a first order of business, that the new prime minister revive the corruption investigation against President Zardari or also face contempt of court finding.

Syria-Turkey: Syrian air defense forces downed a Turkish F-4 fighter aircraft that reportedly strayed into Syrian airspace. The aircraft crashed off the Syrian coas off Latakia. A joint operation rescued the pilot and copilot, who are "in good health," according to Turkish press.

Comment: The Syrians apparently downed the aircraft with ground-based air defense, near Latakia, a considerable distance inside Syria. Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan promised decisive action after all the facts are known.

The incident could lead to an escalation of tension and more pressure on the Asad regime, but it also shows that Syrian forces are sufficiently effective that they remain capable of defending their air space. In a serious internal instability scenario, border defenses are among the first to weaken. The significance of this incident is that it suggests that the internal situation in Syria remains less clear that the mainstream press depiction of it.

Egypt: Update. In response to continuing anti-military government demonstrations the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) warned the Muslim Brotherhood that it would deal firmly with attempts to harm public and private interests.

The Brotherhood's presidential candidate continues to insist he won the election. He is asserting his role of leader of a new revolution and vowed that protests would continue until the military rescinds last Sunday's constitutional declaration.

One unconfirmed news outlet attributed to government insiders a report that former prime minister and military favorite Ahmed Shafiq will be named the winner of the presidential election by a narrow margin. However, there is still no date for announcing the result of the election.

Comment: The continued delay could indicate the military is taking time to make plans and preparations for the violent demonstrations that would certainly follow a Shafiq victory announcement. What is increasingly certain is that the Brotherhood will not be allowed to govern Egypt by the current military leadership. The Saudis appear to be responsible for stiffening the spine of the SCAF.

Spain: For the record. Spain will officially ask for an EU bailout loan on 25 June to recapitalize its banks, Spanish Economy Minister Luis de Guindos said on 22 June.

End of NightWatch

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