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NightWatch 20111118

NightWatch

For the night of 18 November 2011

Pakistan-US: Special comment. This week, the Pakistani ambassador to the US submitted his resignation for his involvement as a conduit for conveying a politically explosive memorandum from Pakistani President Zardari to Admiral Mullen, when he was US Chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff. The Washington Post published the text of the memo whose authenticity, on a prima facie basis, is established by the ambassador's request to resign.

The memo describes a "significant deterioration in Pakistan's political atmosphere, after the US raid that killed Usama bin Laden in Abbottabad last May. The elected civilian government feared a military overthrow, led by Chief of Army Staff, General Kayani and the Inter-Services Intelligence Directorate.

The memo text says that Zardari asked for Mullen's intervention with Kayani to prevent a military takeover of government. In return, Zardari promised to "revamp" his government with a new national security team of pro-American officials in return for Mullen's intervention and made six additional representations.

The six additional promises include an independent investigation of bin Laden's presence in Pakistan; identification by name of those officers who harbored bin Laden followed by their dismissal and arrest; a commitment to hand over to US authorities bin Laden's deputy Zawahiri, plus Mullah Omar and Pakistani Taliban leader Sirajuddin Haqqani or permission for independent US operations to kill them; an offer to enlarge US oversight of the security of Pakistani nuclear weapons; the elimination of Section S of Inter-Services Intelligence which is the section that maintains contact with the Taliban and the Haqqani network; and to cooperate fully with India to bring to justice the perpetrators, inside or outside the government, responsible for the 2008 Mumbai massacre.

Several points are worth noting. Most important is that Zardari and Prime Minister Gilani's government are afraid of the Pakistan armed forces to such an extent that they would ask for American assistance to prevent a coup, however misdirected.

The Chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff, is legally a military advisor and chairman of the board of senior service staff officers. He also has a dual responsibility to report as a Congressional watchdog of the state of the armed services and has no authority independently to commit the US to anything. Zardari evidently did not appreciate the subtleties of the Chairman's task. Mullen could not and would not do such a thing without presidential authority.

Secondly, Zardari and Gilan appear to know or have a good idea about the identity of military personnel who harbored bin Laden.

Thirdly, Zardari and Gilani were prepared to hand over to the US or permit the US to kill other hostile leaders, including Zawahiri and Mullah Omar. This suggests they know or at least knew where these men were hiding at the time the memo was written.

Finally, the civilians distrusted the Pakistan Army and security forces to such an extent that they were willing to grant to the US exceptional oversight of Pakistani nuclear weapons. This condition of distrust has not changed and is likely to worsen.

What is missing from this unusual story is any account of the US reaction to and handling of the Memo. Mullen has flown to Pakistan frequently and no coup occurred, but the five other items are open. Civilian government in Pakistan remains both incompetent and fragile, plus under constant threat of military overthrow.

Egypt: Discussions about Deputy Prime Minister Ali al-Selmi's document that would declare the military the guardian of constitutional legitimacy will continue for another week, according to a 18 November statement by Egypt's Cabinet. The statement was issued after hundreds of thousands of demonstrators in Tahrir Square demanded that the document be revoked.

Comment: No revolution has occurred and the military do not intend to relinquish power.

The Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood will not stage a sit-in at Tahrir Square after the 18 November protests against military rule, Muslim Brotherhood leader Mahmoud Ghozlan said.

Comment: The Brothers despise the military as much as the other protestors, but they have the wisdom, experience and discipline to not become targets of a military crackdown. That is why they are the most likely political group to lead a pseudo-democratic Egypt, if the military ever allows free elections.

European Union: Reuters and other news services reported on 18 November that the European Commission will present a study that proposes three options for debt issuance for the Eurozone. The study indicates the European Union intends to exploit the debt crisis to undermine sovereignty in debtor countries, such as the PIIGS - Portugal, Italy, Ireland, Greece and Spain.

The first law would link the acquisition of emergency loans from current and future bailout funds to the acceptance of economic monitoring by the Commission, which would be more extensive than that for Portugal, Ireland or Greece. If a eurozone member accepts this enhanced surveillance, it could mean the Commission would have an almost permanent presence in the nation.

The second law would allow the Commission to evaluate draft budgets, suggest changes or draft a new budget. The Commission could also debate the budgets in a national parliament. These changes would not require a change to the EU treaty, which already states that economic policy is a common concern.

The third law stipulates that budgets must be drafted based on forecasts from independent institutions, such as the Commission or the European Central Bank, rather than government agencies. The Commission will also propose that fiscal rules be written into national laws, preferably a country's constitution.

Comment: If the PIIGS accept these terms, they surrender national sovereignty. It is unlikely that the laws will be approved, but they make clear the intentions of the unelected Eurocrats to govern. Budgetary authority is government authority. The Eurocrats think they know better than the people of the PIIGS.

End of NightWatch for 18 November.

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