For the night of 18 June 2012
Russia-Syria: Two Russian navy amphibious assault ships are completing preparations to sail to Syria with a unit of marines on a mission to protect Russian citizens. An unidentified Russian navy official said that the two amphibious landing ships, Nikolai Filchenkov and Caesar Kunikov, will be heading shortly to the Syrian port of Tartus, but didn't give a precise date.
The official said the ships will carry an unspecified number of marines to protect Russians in Syria and evacuate some equipment from Tartus, if necessary. Interfax said each of the ships is capable of carrying 150 marines and a dozen tanks.
Comment: Tartus is Russia's only naval base outside the former Soviet Union, serving Russian navy ships on missions to the Mediterranean and hosting an unspecified number of military personnel. Russia also has an unspecified number of military advisers teaching Syrians how to use Russian weapons, which make up the bulk of Syrian arsenals.
Deployments of this nature always have an announced security objective and policy objectives. The Russian ships make a statement of support for the al-Asad government. They also discourage NATO or other outside physical support.
Egypt: The Muslim Brotherhood (MB) candidate, Mohammed Mursi, won 51.13 % of the vote to win Egypt's presidential runoff, Al-Masry Al-Youm reported on 18 June. Former prime minister al-Shafiq won 48.87%. About 49.7 % of eligible voters turned out.
Egypt's ruling military council announced it will hand over power to the newly elected president in a ceremony at the end of June, according to a spokesman, Major General Mohammed El Assar. He said Egypt is a modern democratic country and upholds all democratic values.
Comment: Of course nothing could be farther from the truth. Egypt is not modern; its pattern of property ownership is feudal and it has never been democratic. A hand over of power is meaningless.
The Brotherhood gambled on winning the presidency and appears to have won, based on informal tallies. Sampling, polling and demographic factors favor a conservative Islamic parliament and head of state.
However, the final vote count has not been announced. Moreover, the armed forces leadership demonstrated this past weekend that vote counts or other considerations are determinative in decisions about retaining political power.
If the army leadership permits a Brotherhood leader to be president of Egypt, which is not yet clear, it means the army has decided to not outlaw the Brotherhood again and is prepared to afford it an opportunity to contest new parliamentary elections, whenever they may be scheduled. All of this is a gift of the generals and an invitation to make a deal.
End of NightWatch for 18 June.
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