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NightWatch 20150324

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For the night of 24 March 2015

India-Pakistan: Today, India's Minister of State for External Affairs, retired General V.K. Singh, offered to resign over his tweet on Pakistan's National Day.

Correction: Singh did not attend the Pakistani National Day parade yesterday. He attended the reception in New Delhi at the Chancery of the Pakistani High Commissioner whence he sent his tweet and left early.

Yemen: Houthi fighting groups continued their push towards Aden. Houthi fighters pushed into the southern provinces of al-Dali and Lahij on 24 March.

Comment: The movements by the Houthi and allied fighting groups show that they are determined to seize Aden before any international intervention force might be assembled and deployed.

Saudi Arabia: On 24 March, international news services reported a buildup of Saudi military forces on the border with Yemen. The news reports provided no details about the location of the buildup or the numbers of soldiers and equipment. Unidentified US officials reportedly said the buildup is "significant."

Comment: The news reports remain unconfirmed. The Saudis can reinforce border security and make a show of force, but they lack the capabilities to execute and sustain the size and complexity of an intervention force that could reach Sana'a and hold it. At this time, the Saudis also would have no reliable support from southern Yemen.

Nigeria-Chad-Niger: A joint Chadian and Nigerien force, supported by Chadian helicopters, engaged Boko Haram fighters in a village in northeastern Nigeria that is opposite the town of Diffa in southeastern Niger. The helicopters destroyed several vehicles and motorcycles carrying fighters.

"Niger and Chad had received intelligence that a group of Boko Haram fighters had gathered in the border village," a Nigerien military officer said. He said that Nigerian Army operations drove the Boko Haram fighters towards the Chadian and Nigerien forces.

The officer also said that militants were gathering in other border towns from where they routinely launched mortar rounds into Niger. "We know they are massing in Malam Fatori, waiting for us to come," he said.

Comment: The major news of the day is the discovery that in retreat Boko Haram fighters pillage the villages from which they are being driven and kidnap women and children. After Chadian and Nigerien forces liberated Damasak village, residents discovered that up to 500 women and children were missing.

Boko Haram continues to devolve into criminal behavior, but it remains deadly. It has not launched a major attack in more than a week. Fighting is likely in Malam Fatori, which is in one of the three regions still said to be under Boko Haram control.

Situation reports indicate the forces of order are receiving more and better intelligence than before, as the result of combat successes and growing popular confidence in them. Better intelligence is making a significant difference in the effectiveness of the operations against Boko Haram.

Special Administrative Announcement

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To our valued Readers, we are extending the enrollment date for current subscribers to 13 April 2015 during which time you will continue to receive NightWatch free of charge. In addition to a complimentary two week sign-up period, you will also receive a 40% discount on the introductory monthly cost of $3.49 (plus applicable tax) if you sign up for an introductory annual subscription at a cost of $24.99 (plus applicable tax).

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End of NightWatch for 24 March.

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