For the night of 7 April 2014
Syria: The leader of Hizballah, Hassan Nasrallah, said in a press interview that the danger of the Syrian regime's fall has ended. The rebels "can opt for a war of attrition as long as there are countries funding it … But on the horizon, the opposition doesn't seem to be able to wage a big war….What is happening in Latakia and Kassab, we can't call it a big war."
"We have passed the danger of dividing Syria," Nasrallah said. He also said that there were diplomatic offers given to President Assad from Arab states if he cuts ties with Iran. Concerning Russian support, Nasrallah said that Russia, after annexing Ukraine's Crimea peninsula, will increase its "support and protection to Syria."
This is the second article published today predicting victory by Syria and its allies. A Russian former prime minister published comments by Syrian President Asad during a recent visit to Damascus. Asad supposedly said that that the conventional phase of fighting will end this year. Then Syrian forces will return to fighting terrorism, as before.
Comment: Syria and its allies appear to be implementing a propaganda campaign to counter the Saudis and their friends in trying to build a more effective rebel movement. The message is why bother because the fight is essentially over and the Saudis can do nothing soon enough to reverse the fortunes of the rebels.
Nasrallah also appears to be informing Hizballah in Lebanon that the Hizballah expeditionary force in Syria will be returning to Lebanon this year
The murder of an aged Dutch Jesuit priest in Homs today and the assertions yesterday by Hersh in the London Review of Books that last August the rebels used sarin against their own people with Turkish assistance to entrap the US into attacking Syria are not helping the opposition cause.
Propaganda or hubris, the assertions by Nasrallah and Asad appear to be reasonably true to battlefield conditions reported in the public domain. The test of stability will be Syrian presidential elections.
Ukraine: Pro-Russian protestors who seized the regional government building in the Ukrainian city of Donetsk are reported to have declared a "people's republic". They have called for a referendum on secession from Ukraine by 11 May.
The Donetsk activists requested Russian peacekeeping troops to protect them from the government in Kiev/Kyiv. They also said they were coordinating with pro-Russian activists in Luhansk and in Kharkiv.
Pro-Russian activists also declared the eastern Ukrainian city of Kharkiv an independent republic.
Ukrainian security officials are being sent to the eastern cities of Donetsk, Luhansk and Kharkiv to investigate and, perhaps, to try to salvage the situation. Interim President Oleksandr Turchynov called the unrest an attempt by Russia to "dismember" Ukraine.
Meanwhile in Kiev, ultra-nationalist activists affiliated with the Right Sector group staged a demonstration outside Kiev's Supreme Court. They blocked the Supreme Court building and led out the judges one by one shouting "Lustration". Some of the judges were shoved, punched and spat upon.
The ultra-nationalists demanded early adoption of lustration legislation that would ban former allies of ousted President Viktor Yanukovych from holding government jobs
Comment: The practice of seizing government by street gangs, which installed the regime in Kiev, appears to be contagious. Events appear to be moving quickly. As yet there appears to be no pro-Ukraine activists to counter the street gangs that have claimed power in Kharkiv, Luhansk and Donetsk.
It is not clear that the regime in Kiev can control the ultra-nationalists, especially if more oblasts in eastern Ukraine secede. Lustration almost always portends a witch-hunt against holdover officials and informants from the prior regime and their families. In some former communist countries, lustration has been brutal.
End of NightWatch for 7 April.
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