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NightWatch 20120425

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NightWatch

For the night of 25 April 2012

China-Russia: Correction. The Russian Navy ship Varyag participating in exercises with Chinese ships is a Slava-class guided missile cruiser, not an aircraft carrier. Regret any inconvenience - senior moment. Special thanks to all the US Navy experts who provided feedback.

Pakistan: The Supreme Court of Pakistan found Prime Minister Gilani guilty of contempt of court for his government's refusal to re-open a longstanding corruption case against President Zardari. His sentence was to stay a few minutes in the court room.

Comment: Outsiders might scoff at this ritual but it has substantive and enduring consequences. Gilani now has a contempt conviction on his official record. That might bar him from serving in public office again, as it has barred former prime minister Nawaz Sharif. Gilani took one for the team.

Syria: Special comment. Syria is not like Libya and that is unfortunate for the opposition. France today raised the possibility of military action against the Syrian government. The problem is that the only secure bases for providing support to the opposition are in countries that border Syria because the opposition has been completely ineffective in seizing and holding ground. Moreover, the strategic interests of the countries bordering Syria are better served by the survival of the Alawite government, than by the ascendancy of an unknown Islamist leadership in Damascus.

The language of the western nations seems to advocate nation-building even though recent experiments have not resulted in outcomes favorable to the interests of the West. None have been successful by that measure.

Egypt: A panel of fundamentalist Islamic clerics has endorsed the candidate of the Muslim Brotherhood for president of Egypt, an attempt to prevent a split among conservative Muslim voters, according to the press. The panel, which represents ultra-conservative Salafi Muslims and other Islamists, put its weight behind Mohammed Mursi, a senior Brotherhood official.

Comment: The results of the parliamentary elections between November 2011 and January 2012 indicate that 18 million Egyptians, of the 27million who actually voted, voted for the Brotherhood or the Salafist candidates for parliament. That suggests that 66% of those likely to vote in the presidential election in May will vote for an Islamist presidential candidate.

United Kingdom: For the record. The British economy slid into recession, Reuters reported 25 April.  The British Office for National Statistics said gross domestic product fell 0.2 percent in the first quarter of 2012 after falling 0.3 percent in the final quarter of 2011.

Comment: Prepare for turbulence in financial markets.

End of NightWatch for 25 April.

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