Winners Emerging in Syria

Posted: Jul 20, 2013 12:01 AM

India-Jammu and Kashmir State: Troopers from a Border Security Force battalion fired on demonstrators in the Ramban District of Kashmir. They killed four locals and injured up to 40.

Comment: Ramban District lies in the west central region of the state. It does not border Pakistani Kashmir and is not a usual location for security incidents. It is not a hotbed of Kashmiri militants.

That makes this an unusual incident and worth review. There are conflicting explanations about the reason for the clash. They agree that a local Muslim preacher incited an attack on the camp of the Border Security Forces by accusing the security forces of having committed a sacrilege.

The most significant development in Ramban in many years is the construction of a railroad line through the district as part of the national transportation project to link by rail Srinagar in northern Kashmir to Jammu in southern Kashmir and Indian national railways. The Border Security Force battalion is in Ramban to provide security for the rail construction.

The protest appears to have arisen from an excess of zeal during Ramadan. The shooting appears to have arisen from rules of engagement that authorize the Border Security Forces to use overwhelming force to ensure the safety of workers and the security of the railroad project. Indian authorities have little tolerance for Hindu or Muslim preachers who incite violence.

Syria: For the record. Two senior US military officers testified to the US Congress that they judge that Syrian government forces are winning the so-called civil war in Syria. A US press spokesman, however, said the Damascus government will never govern all of Syria again. Unfortunately, that person knows little about the Middle East and less about Syria.

EgyptUpdate. Egyptian Army forces killed 10 jihadi fighters in northern Sinai in the past 48 hours, according to state news agency Mena.

The million-man march in support of Mursi apparently did not materialize. Nevertheless, anti-government elements have threatened a large demonstration after prayers on 19 July. The government has promised to protect Egyptians. Expect violent clashes.

Nigeria-Mali: Update. Ivory Coast President Alassane Ouattara said Nigeria is withdrawing some of its 1,200 troops in Mali to fight the Boko Haram Islamic uprising back home.

Comment: As expected, the Nigerian Army has failed to contain, much less, suppress the Boko Haram terrorists in northern Nigeria. They have made little contribution in Mali.

The key concern is the success of national elections in Mali on 28 July. Election preparations are not complete and security is not assured. Nevertheless, political leaders insist in adhering to the election schedule. The withdrawal of the Nigerian contingent may actually improve election security conditions.

Panama-North Korea: Panama rejected North Korean demands that it release an impounded North Korean freighter and its 35-member crew. Instead, Panama charged the crew with endangering public security by attempting to transport a concealed cargo of Cuban weapons through the Panama Canal.

Comment: Institution of criminal proceedings ensures that Panama will get paid for taking care of the ship and its crew.

End of NightWatch


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