For the night of 6 August 2014
Afghanistan: Update. Observers from Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzai's and Abdullah Abdullah's presidential electoral teams quarreled with each-other in the Independent Election Commission office in Kabul.
A news correspondent reported that a number of observers from the two candidates' teams beat each other. The vote audit process was delayed for 15 minutes as a result of the brawl. The vote audit process has been resumed now.
Comment: The surprise is that there have been so few fist fights.
Iraq: Multiple bombings occurred in the Baghdad area. The most deadly attack was in Sadr City, a Shiite neighborhood. Two car bombs killed 21 people. A roadside bomb detonated in the al-Zafraniya area of southern Baghdad on Wednesday, killing two and injuring three people. In the Ur district of eastern Baghdad, two car bombs killed 4 people and injured 12.
Comment: Security in Baghdad remains lax. The multiple bombings suggest an attempt to divert pressure on Islamist forces fighting in northern Iraq.
In Mosul, the Iraqi air force attacked a suspected Islamic court and prison building. The government claimed that 300 prisoners held in the basement escaped because of the air strikes. A government statement said the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) was holding the 300 people for ransom.
A spokesman for Jabbar Yawar, the Secretary-General of the Peshmerga forces of Kurdistan, said today that "the Iraqi Peshmerga forces seized control of Wanah and deployed additional forces around the vicinity of Zumar, west of Mosul.
ISIL and the Kurdish militias clashed at a location east of Erbil, the capital of the Kurdish autonomous region. ISIL forces beat back Kurdish attacks and shelled villages in the area. Kurdish TV reported 2 villages within 20 miles of Erbil are now under ISIL control. ISIL and Kurdish forces also clashed at a village 25 miles southwest of Erbil.
Airlines have begun canceling flights to Erbil. Governments, including the US, have issued flight warnings to avoid flying over Kurdistan.
Comment: In the north ISIL is proving that it can stand up to the Kurds. Today's clashes are the closest ISIL forces have come to Erbil. The fighting thus far strongly indicates that ISIL intends to attack Erbil and has the capability to enter if, even if it cannot hold it.
Once an area falls to ISIL forces, it either remains under ISIL control or it is depopulated and destroyed. The Kurds are not fighting as well as they boast. The Kurdish offensive appears to be sputtering and is getting outflanked by ISIL's forces.
As yet there is no sign of Iraqi air support for the Kurds. The Kurds are showing that they need significant military assistance. Thus, far Iraqi and Kurdish forces have shown that they do not have an effective defense against ISIL's highly mobile tactics. If ISIL forces reach Erbil, they will massacre civilians.
Around Baghdad, the bombings suggest a pattern of harassing Shiite neighborhoods and probing to find weaknesses in Baghdad's security. Shiites neighborhoods appear more vulnerable than expected.
ISIL-Kuwait: Kuwaiti security sources confirmed that the leader of ISIL, Abu Bakar al-Baghdadi, threatened to occupy Kuwait in order to "take revenge and fight" against America.
Comment: The irony of the ISIL threat is that a decade ago rich Kuwaitis were significant supporters of the Sunni insurgency against the US forces. ISIL appears determined to antagonize and threaten every Arab state. That is implied in the creation of the Islamic State. Al-Baghdadi is making the threats explicit.
Israel-Gaza Strip: Israel agreed to extend the ceasefire under its current terms, according to an Israeli official. The official did not specify for how long the extension might last.
Hamas officials Ismail Radwan and Moussa Abu Marzouk say no agreement has been reached on extending the cease-fire. A senior Hamas commander, meanwhile, said: "Unless the conditions of the resistance are met, the negotiating team will withdraw from Cairo and then it will be up to the resistance in the field." Hamas also said that it will consider resuming fire on Israel from Friday morning, since its demands are not being addressed.
Comment: It seems like it is time for Arab states to exert pressure on Hamas and its allies to extend the ceasefire, if only for the sake of the Palestinian children.
Nigeria: A Boko Haram force captured the town of Gwoza in Borno State in northeastern Nigeria and killed 100 people. Nigerian Army soldiers guarding the town ran away.
A special Nigerian Army unit - 25 Task Battalion -- recaptured the town of Damboa, also in Borno State, which had been under the control of Boko Haram since 18 July. A Nigerian security officer said the ground forces received artillery support and air support from the Nigerian Air Force.
Comment: The capture of Gwoza is the second major town overrun by Boko Haram in less than a month. Damboa was the first captured and the first to be recovered by the Nigerian Army. The unit involved was specially formed and trained to fight Boko Haram. Recovery of Damboa, most of which Boko Haram burned, appears to be one of the most successful combat operations by the army reported in the media this year. This action might be the formula for future successes.
Cameroon: Boko Haram raided a village in northern Cameroon. When Cameroonian soldiers confronted them, they killed nine passengers on a bus and one soldier. They also kidnapped the son of a local chief.
Comment: The Cameroonian soldiers do not always win their clashes with Boko Haram, but the press never contains reports that they ran away from a fight with Boko Haram.
End of NightWatch for 6 August.
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