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NightWatch 20110417


For the Night of 17 April 2011

Iran: The Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei on 17 April rejected the resignation of Intelligence Minister Heydar Moslehi, according to ISNA. The official IRNA had reported that President Ahmadi-Nejad had accepted Moslehi's resignation. The semi-official Fars News Agency also cited an unnamed source as saying Moslehi had been sacked.

Comment: The significant point is that despite a decision by the President of Iran, the Supreme Leader of Iran overruled it. For key cabinet ministries - foreign affairs, intelligence, defense and interior, which also are known as the power ministries - Ahmad-Nejad's authority is limited.

American news reports often forget that Iran is a theocracy. Statements by the President have limited authority and are subject overrule by his boss, the Supreme Leader. It is important to remember that the Iranian president works for the Supreme Leader.

Iranian media sources have not disclosed the reasons for Moslehi's resignation.

Syria: President Asad said Saturday he expects the government to lift a state of emergency that has been in effect for nearly 50 years. This is a key demand of the anti-government reformers. The President warned there will no longer be "an excuse" for organizing protests after Syria lifts the emergency laws and implements reforms.

"After that we will not tolerate any attempt at sabotage," he told the newly formed Cabinet in a televised address.

Comment: The Asad regime is missing the point of the calls for reform, if it thinks that a literal response to the demonstrations will stop them. Asad's action and statements are almost cartoonish in their reflection of a rigidly literal mindset. The government in Damascus still thinks the protests are instigated by external agents. That is a delusion.

The repeal of the emergency law will encourage the opposition. There will be more violence.

During this Watch, news services reported continuing protests that resulted in the death of one police man, and 11 other people injured in clashes with authorities.

Libya: Update. Forces loyal to Libyan leader Qadhafi attacked the city of Misrata, CNN reported on 16 April. News services provided no details about the intensity or duration of the attack.

A sandstorm near Ajdabiyah grounded NATO air support. Pro-Qadhafi forces launched rocket fire at the town, prompting some people to leave towards Benghazi. As noted before, the Benghazi government has no ground defenders.

Comment: The survival of the Benghazi regime will be nothing short of miraculous, if events continue as they have this weekend.

End of NightWatch for 17 April.

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