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NightWatch 20130821


For the Night of 21 August 2013

Pakistan-India: An army statement said that a captain died and a soldier was seriously injured near Skardu in far northern Kashmir by "unprovoked shelling" by Indian forces. An Indian Army source did not comment on the death, but said Pakistan started an incident and India retaliated.

Comment: On Monday, Indian Defence Minister Antony said that India would take all possible steps to counter ceasefire violations. Prime Minister Singh said relations with Pakistan cannot improve until it "stops using its territory for anti-India activity."

Last week Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif stressed the importance of improving ties despite the spike in ceasefire violations. However, hard-line anti-India elements in Pakistan appear to have trumped the Prime Minister for now.

Syria: Syrian opposition elements claim that a Syrian government chemical weapons attack in the outskirts of Damascus killed hundreds up to 1,000 people. The Syrian government denied such an attack took place and claimed the opposition fabricated the allegations and the video to hide its recent losses.

Comment: As yet there is no independent, direct evidence of the attack. The videos posted to the web were done by amateurs. One shows rows of what appear to be wrapped corpses, but the upright people in the video are not wearing protective gear. No decontamination equipment or measures are evident. One man is shown walking through a makeshift morgue of wrapped bodies that supposedly are contaminated with chemical agents. His only protection is a light surgical mask. None of it can be confirmed.

A major concern is the timing. The UN chemical investigation team is in Damascus with the permission of the Asad government. The opposition has a strong interest in attracting the attention of the UN tea, or any potential outside source of assistance, any way it can.

On the other hand, it is hard to credit the opposition's allegations because it means that the Syrians used chemical weapons during the investigation by the UN team, when government forces are inflicting setbacks on the opposition. That contention is not credible.

Egypt: Egyptian stocks rose slightly owing to calmer streets and the detention of Brotherhood leaders, according to Egyptian financial analysts.

An Egyptian court has confined former president Mubarak to house arrest for 48 hours, pending his release. A spokesman for the Tamarrud (Rebel) movement accused the ousted Mursi government of having failed to bring Mubarak to trial during the last year. He called for a new trial.

Comment: No sources reported new clashes or demonstrations through this Watch. Politics, the Mubarak pending release and the stock market dominated open source reporting.

End of NightWatch for 21 August.

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