For the night of 4 November 2013
Pakistan: A Pakistani court has granted bail to former president Pervez Musharraf in connection with the 2007 security operation to remove militants from Islamabad's Red Mosque. The court approved bail on condition that Musharraf pay a bond of $2,000.
With this ruling Musharraf now has been granted bail in all the cases against him, which means he can be released from house arrest and move freely in Pakistan. He cannot leave the country because his name has been placed on a government exit control list.
Speaking outside the court, Musharraf's attorney said Musharraf had no intention of leaving Pakistan. He also will keep armed guards in place because he has received many death threats.
Comment: The Supreme Court of Pakistan and the Sharif government still would like to try him for constitutional crimes but no cases are being processed. The NightWatch hypothesis for the past two years has been that Musharraf would never go to trial, mainly because of Army influence. He may yet jump bail. The amounts are so small they almost invite it.
Iran: President Hassan Ruhani is not "optimistic" about ongoing nuclear negotiations with the P5+1 countries, the official IRNA news agency reported Monday. (Note: P5 refers to the five permanent members of the UN Security Council - US, Russia, China, UK, France. Plus 1 refers to Germany.)
"The government is not optimistic about the Westerners and the current negotiations," Ruhani said. "But it does not mean that we should not have hope for removing the problems," referring to international sanctions and disagreements about the nature of Iran's nuclear program.
A new round of talks between Iranian negotiators and representatives from the P5+1 countries is scheduled to occur in Geneva on 7 and 8 November.
On Sunday, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei stated his support for Iran's nuclear talks, but also said he was not optimistic. "No one should see our negotiating team as compromisers….I am not optimistic about the negotiations but, with the grace of God, we will not suffer losses either."
Comment: The tone of the latest statements is less optimistic than before. Moreover, the apparent gap in public positions between President Ruhani and Supreme Leader Khamenei is gone. A quick review of Ruhani's public service and substantive positions reinforces the judgment that there never were any differences in the Iranian leadership over the nuclear program.
Any differences concerned how best to handle the US in achieving Iran's goals of having a nuclear program without the sanctions. The parallelism in the themes of the two statements conveys to the Iranian people that the government is united.
The effect of the statements is to lower expectations about the likely outcome of negotiations. The earlier optimistic tone nurtured unrealistic public expectations of sanctions relief. The leadership has acted to temper them.
Syria: Update. Kurdish fighters have driven jihadists from 19 towns and villages in northeastern Syria in the week since they maintained control of a key Iraqi border crossing that the jihadists sought to seize.
The Committees for the Protection of the Kurdish People (YPJ), the main Kurdish militia in Syria, has for months prevented the jihadists from making gains in northeastern Syria.
Comment: The government in Damascus made a strategic decision to let the Kurds protect their homeland region and to not use government forces to blunt opposition expansion into the northeast. That gamble appears to be paying off.
The government decision does not mean that it consents to secession by the Syrian Kurds or formation of a pan-Kurdish state that includes Kurds in Syria, Turkey, Iraq and Iran. It does mean that the government will have to make concessions to Kurdish autonomy, as has Iraq, when the fighting ends. Damascus owes the Syrian Kurds.
Syria-Turkey: For the record. Turkish authorities have seized a large quantity of chemicals from a convoy trying to illegally enter Turkey from Syria, which "could be transformed into weapons", the army said Sunday.
The convoy of three vehicles refused to stop as it attempted to illegally cross the border on Saturday near the Turkish town of Reyhanli, the army said in a statement. Reyhanli is a border town across from northwestern Syria near the Mediterranean coast.
Comment: Turkish authorities did not disclose the owners of the chemicals or of the convoy. The significance of the incident is that it shows that groups other than the Syrian government are trading in dangerous chemicals for other than industrial uses.
Egypt: The Egyptian court convened the criminal trial against former president Mursi and 14 Muslim Brotherhood members; suspended it twice and then adjourned until 8 January 2014. The court adjourned because of disorder in the courtroom and Mursi's refusal to wear the white outfit required for defendants.
Mursi declared, "I see the judiciary as a cover for the treacherous coup." He told the court, "You have no right to try me because I am your president." according to Egyptian TV.
Mursi was taken to Burj al-Arab prison in Alexandria. Clashes occurred on university campuses in the Nile Delta region of upper Egypt over the trial. Protests occurred in Cairo
Comment: Mursi and his cohorts are being tried on charges of incitement to murder and violence which resulted in the killing of at least ten protesters in clashes outside the presidential palace in December 2012, after his assumption of near dictatorial powers.
Although security was tight in Cairo, the court was not prepared to handle the predictably turbulent and defiant opening of the trial.
End of NightWatch for 4 November.
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