For the Night of 16 April 2014
Pakistan: The Pakistani Taliban (TTP) said Wednesday they will not renew a ceasefire they called over a month ago to facilitate peace negotiations.
TTP spokesman, Shahidullah Shaihid, said that the Taliban shura had decided not to extend the ceasefire because more than 50 of their activists were killed in custody during the past 40 days and added that the justifiable demands of the militant organization were not met.
Shahid however said that the Taliban would be willing to hold meaningful dialogue if the government was ready for serious talks.
Comment: The TTP announcement surprised the government which recently announced the imminent start of comprehensive peace talks. The TTP made clear over a month ago its demand for the release of prisoners. The Pakistan Army balked at this and the Interior Ministry tried to placate the TTP with a partial release. The mysterious disappearance and death of people in official custody are longstanding and very serious issues in Pakistan that have been the subject of multiple inconclusive investigations.
The TTP has internal strains and needs that act as disincentives to make compromises. Hard line, religiously intolerant fighting groups refuse to negotiate and refuse to stop attacks until they establish an Islamic emirate in Islamabad. The suspension of talks helps preserve the façade of unity among the fighters.
Looting accompanies some types of attacks. The fighting groups are not mainstream contributing members of their tribes. Sustainment is a continual challenge. Thus, they cannot stay idle for long, because of necessity and probably temperament. Expect attacks to increase.
NATO-Ukraine: NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said on 16 April that NATO will immediately strengthen its military presence on its eastern border, Kiev Post reported.
Comment: Rasmussen appeared to be reiterating or reframing moves already in progress to strengthen the NATO republics that border Russia. Of minor interest is that Ukraine's largest English language news paper would run the story. NATO has no intention or ability to rescue Ukraine. That is Rasmussen's message. Everything the NATO members have done to date may be interpreted as giving the Russian leadership a green light and a pass on Ukraine. That judgment is not intended as a criticism for not doing more.
Ukraine: Eastern Ukrainian villagers showed up today to halt the Kiev regime's security operation.
In Kramatorsk locals and press outlets reported that the soldiers of six Ukrainian armored personnel carriers switched sides to join pro-federalist activists, according to the RIA Novosti account.
In Slovyansk, more than 500 pro-Russian civilians surrounded a Ukrainian force of 16 armored personnel carriers and forced it to halt. The armored force was from an elite airborne unit whose soldiers apparently abandoned the vehicles and left their weapons behind.
Farther south in Mariupol, a confrontation turned violent. According to Ukrainian law enforcement sources, about 500 activists demanded the surrender of a Ukrainian internal troops unit. The activists threw gas bombs at police vans when the paramilitary police refused to hand over their weapons. Electricity has been cut to all buildings in the area of the police unit. Transportation routes are blocked, including "Lenin Avenue."
Comment: It is premature to generalize, but the success of villagers in halting an armored unit plus defections by Ukrainian military personnel mean the Ukrainian army has no will to fight Ukrainians. One commander said he told the locals that his unit would not fight fellow Ukrainians. He said he was told its mission was to fight terrorists.
Today's development are manifestation that a revolutionary mindset is taking hold in some parts of the east, provided the villagers and the defectors were not bribed.The defections speak for themselves about army morale. One report said the defectors were reservists who did not want to fight.
For the regime in Kyiv, today's military failures are likely to have the effect of accelerating popular disaffection with the central regime. People on the fence will start to choose the side that can provide protection, maintain essential public services and uphold law and order.
The situation appears to have crossed an important threshold of alienation from Kiev that will spread west to Odessa. The Russian-backed tactics work unless they are stopped quickly and decisively.That window of opportunity has passed.
Finally, RIA Novosti introduced a new label for the pro-Russia activists: pro-federalists. This is an important indicator that Russia's goal in helping create a federated Ukraine has not changed. That does not mean Russia will not send in troops in response to a request, but it does imply that what happens will not be a repeat of Crimea.
End of NightWatch for 16 April.
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