Taliban Resurgence in Iraq, Libya, and Pakistan

Posted: Jul 31, 2013 12:01 AM

China-Japan: Feedback: A Brilliant and well informed Reader noted that the US Coast Guard was established by Congress as a fully military organization, although not under the Department of Defense. Under US law it is not a paramilitary organization, uses US naval ranks and its members are subject to the US Uniform Code of Military Justice.

On the other hand, it is a lightly armed military organization that is similar to lightly armed organizations in many other countries that describe themselves as paramilitary and have law enforcement authority over civilians. The Chinese describe their coast guard as a "paramilitary force."

The Chinese participate in coast guard forums with the US and the Asian states so their coast guard leaders are very well informed about practices and tactics in non-communist states.

Pakistan: During this Watch, Presidential elections will begin in Pakistan. Mamnoon Hussain, a textile businessman and a close ally of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, is expected to become the next president. The opposition Pakistan People's Party (PPP) members of parliament intend to boycott the election because the original date of the elections was moved forward in respect of Ramadan observances.

Comment: As noted in a prior edition, the president of Pakistan is elected by an electoral college comprised of the members of the national parliament and the members of the provincial parliaments.

Pakistan no longer has a presidential system of government. That ended after the ouster of Musharraf when Pakistan reverted to a modified Westminster-style parliament. The president only performs the ceremonial functions of the head of state. The head of government does all the rest.

The PPP boycott is symbolic. The party is discredited because of its poor record of government plus it has no candidate for the presidency who has a chance of election. The boycott avoids a humiliating trouncing.

Internal Security. About 150 Pakistani Taliban gunmen and bombers attacked the central jail in Dera Ismail Khan, in northwestern Pakistan, on Monday. The government claims only 40 Taliban escaped, from the 5,000 prisoner population at the jail. The Taliban claim they freed 300 Pakistani Taliban. They killed five policemen and prompted the Pakistan Army to send reinforcements.

Comment: This is the fourth major prison break in an Islamic country in less than a week. The significance is that the militant groups in three countries risked a great deal in coordinated attacks to free veterans. All almost certainly had inside help.

That suggests the groups highly valued the skills and knowledge of the men in jail. It raises the prospect that insurgent groups in Iraq, Pakistan and Libya will manifest signs of improved attack planning and leadership in coming weeks. The timing suggests significant learning is occurring across continents among distant and disparate militant groups.

Iraq: Update. A wave of at least 12 car bombs killed at least 60 people and wounded 200 in mostly Shia areas of Baghdad and in other southern towns. The low level insurgency continues.

Egypt: In the Nile River Delta city of Mansoura and the Canal city of Ismailia, pro-Mursi marches resulted in clashes with police. The marches were protests of excessive use of force by security forces last Saturday. No casualties have been reported yet.

The most portentous new development is a statement by the interim prime minister that the government has no intention to declare a state of emergency.

Comment: The Muslim Brotherhood and its Islamist supporters once again are showing their fundamental strength: acting in opposition. Their strategy is to present themselves as the victims of government abuses so as to re-generate broad popular support. Acting as the victim in opposition is a much more familiar role than acting as a steward of good government.

On the other hand, the interim government appears prepared to oblige the pro-Mursi supporters by making them the victims, or targets, of a state of emergency.

In north Sinai, two policemen and one soldiers were killed on Sunday and Monday.

Tunisia: In a defiant speech on Monday, Prime Minister Larayedh rejected opposition demands that his government and the constitutional assembly step down and promised on Monday to complete the country's democratic transition with a new constitution by August and elections in December. This followed an emergency meeting of the Islamist-led government.

A powerful trade union also held a meeting to plot its next steps to "decide the fate of the country."

The secular opposition, emboldened by events in Egypt, is now rejecting all concessions and reconciliation efforts by the government. It has called for the 217-member Constituent Assembly to be dissolved. In the last few days, 70 lawmakers have left the body. Small symbolic demonstrations continued for a fourth day outside the hall of the Constituent Assembly.

In Tunis, security forces sealed Bardo square, located outside the building where the transitional Constituent Assembly meets, with barbed wire and fencing. In the southern city of Sidi Bouzid, angry protesters tried to storm municipal offices to stop employees from going to work, residents said, sparking clashes with Ennahda supporters. Ennahda is the leading party in the governing coalition.

Meanwhile, on the Algerian border, Islamic militants ambushed a Tunisian Army patrol, killing 8 soldiers, five of whom had been mutilated.

Comment: The most significant security measure was the closure of Bardo Square. This is significant because it disrupts civil normality and the exercise of the rights of assembly and speech to protect property and maintain civil order. That behavior is known as an incongruity and it always signifies a weak government that has no response to the protestors except curtailment of their rights. The government is feeling pressed.

Nigeria: Boko Haram killed 20 civilians fishing village on Lake Chad in northeastern Nigeria. The large army operations had limited impact. The Boko Haram terrorists evaded the Army and continued attacks as usual.

End of NightWatch


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