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NightWatch 20110718

NightWatch

For the Night of 18 July 2011

Pakistan: The Taliban released a video on 18 July that shows the execution by gunfire of 16 Pakistani tribal policemen. The video's contents were confirmed by a Pakistan Army spokesman.

Comment:  That is why Pakistan needs to keep fighting the Pakistani Taliban.

Afghanistan: NATO has transferred to Afghan security forces control of Bamiyan Province, in central Afghanistan. Bamiyan is most famously known as the country of the Hazara tribe, most of whom are Shiite and often Mongoloid in appearance.

Senior Afghan ministers and foreign ambassadors flew from Kabul to take part in a transfer ceremony that for security reasons was not announced in advance and was not broadcast live. The ceremony was held at Bamiyan's police headquarters. The police will take responsibility for security in the province as there are no Afghan Army units stationed there. International forces from New Zealand will remain in the area for the time being, but they will be under Afghan control

Comment: The absence of Afghan Army units should give Readers pause. Bamiyan has averaged two incidents attributed to Taliban meddling per month during 2011 to date. It is among the first seven areas to be passed to local forces this year.

Bamiyan is one of Afghanistan's most secure provinces because Hazaras are viscerally hostile to Pashtuns, who are Sunnis. The Taliban brutalized and persecuted the Hazaras, defacing and destroying ancient Buddhist shrines with artillery fire. Bamiyan is a poor province, but also neglected, even by the Karzai government and the International coalition.

No ethnic group or province suffered more under the Taliban than the Hazaras of Bamiyan, but they also have enjoyed few fruits of the liberation from the Taliban, under US and Karzai administration, except the security that they provide themselves.

The only other province as secure as Bamiyan is Panjshir because the Panjshiris, also ethically different from the Pashtuns, also despise the Taliban and the Karzai administration in equal measure. Thus the two most secure of the 34 provinces of Afghanistan are secure because of local conditions. In Bamiyan, the Hazaras almost adored the handful of New Zealanders whom they protected as much as the reverse.

Murder. The Taliban claimed responsibility for the death of Jan Mohammad Khan, the former Afghan provincial governor and ally of Afghan President Hamid Karzai. According to Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid, the Taliban made Khan pay for his deeds.

Comment: More on this later, but the Taliban claim is not to be taken at face value. According to Feedback, the consistent theme in recent murders is that Karzai aides who were profiteering from the insurgency, and who, thus, opposed reconciliation with the Taliban and peace, are being assassinated. Two do not make a trend, but do make a warning. If these assassinations continue, all the obstacles to reconciiation talks will soon be gone.

Iraq-China: Iraq has asked China to set up a fund to aid in the country's reconstruction, an Iraqi government spokesman said when he visited Beijing with Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki. Baghdad seeks to persuade Chinese companies to invest in Iraq and the Chinese fund would guarantee and assure investment in Iraq. The spokesman said it is up to the Chinese to discover how to manage the creation of the fund, but there is a good chance China will participate in petrochemical, steel and refinery construction.

Comment: If the Chinese accept the Iraqi invitation, they stand to profit handsomely from the American investment in lives and treasure to restore security, just as the Chinese have done in northern Afghanistan. News reports have not related China's response.

Libya-Russia: Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov said on 18 July that Moscow does not agree that Libya's National Transitional Council (NTC) is the sole legitimate representative of the Libyan people, a position discussed during the recent meeting of the Contact Group on Libya in Istanbul.

Lavrov said such recognition should only come if the NTC encompasses all the other opposition parties in Libya and understands that they also play a role in the negotiations.

Comment: The recognition issue is primarily about the distribution of Libyan assets and monies held in foreign accounts. When the US recognized the transition government, that meant the Benghazi rebels can now spend Gadhafi's money and NATO needs to spend less. This is a shell game.

On the other hand, Qadhafi came to power by overthrowing the king, who also had dubious legitimacy, based on British and French rights of conquest after World War II. Still the lineage of a king is more legitimate than that of a thug with a gun, which is what Qadhafi was.

NightWatch comment: What is curious is how time in power -- backed by guns, bribery and an insignificant tribe -- has persuaded the Qadhafi family to feel it is entitled to lead Libya and steal its wealth for decades. This pattern of deranged behavior pervades the Arab world plus Pakistan and Burma.

End of NightWatch for 18 July.

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