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NightWatch 20100107

NightWatch

For the Night of 7 January 2010

India-Jammu and Kashmir State: Two suspected Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) Pakistan-based militants, who were killed by security forces in a hotel in Srinagar, had been in contact with their handlers in Pakistan while they were bottled up in the hotel, according to Indian Home Ministry sources who spoke with The Times of India. The Home Ministry sources said more attacks are expected.

India media outlets have been incrementally negative about Pakistan since mid-December when the Pakistan Supreme Court struck down Musharraf-era decrees. The negative Indian coverage seems to be a warning to Pakistan that it is under close scrutiny and to beware of using India as a scapegoat to divert public attention from internal stress in Pakistan.

President Zardari, Prime Minister Gilani and Chief of Army Staff Kiyani all have bashed India, especially after India announced its adoption of a two-front defense strategy, for fighting Pakistan and China.


It is noteworthy and extraordinary that overnight Pakistan would almost automatically become more hostile to India after India named China as a future enemy.

Pakistan-US: The US Embassy in Islamabad released a statement on 7 January that US diplomats and employees in vehicles traveling in Pakistan are being detained and harassed by Pakistani police and authorities. The US Embassy has asked Pakistani officials to "cease these contrived incidents involving U.S. mission vehicles and personnel," the Associated Press reported.

Two Pakistani employees of a U.S. consulate on 6 January were detained in Baluchistan Province, the embassy statement said. A US Embassy spokesman said there is an agreement allowing US diplomatic vehicles to carry Pakistani license plates outside (and diplomatic plates inside) in an effort to avoid being easily targeted by militants. The spokesman said, "We're waiting for the agreement to be implemented." The spokesman also said U.S. Embassy employees are experiencing delays in having their visas approved by Pakistani authorities.

This is a low level registry of Pakistani hostility against Americans, in a passive aggressive behavioral style.

Iran-US: Admiral Mullen, Chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff, told a Washington think tank today that if Iran develops nuclear weapons -- a path he believes the country is on -- it could have a destabilizing effect on the Middle East, Reuters reported. He also told the Washington Institute for Near East Policy that an attack against Iran could have unintended consequences that may weaken the region.

The report of Admiral Mullen's remarks is confusing. The theme of news leaks to the New York Times and other outlets, plus official statements since early December, has been to assure Iran that no attack against its nuclear facilities is imminent. The Admiral's remarks threaten and reassure in the same statement.

Note to analysts: Long experience in strategic warning teaches that reassurance and vigilance cannot exist in the same space. Reassurance always negates vigilance. Thus a threat warning with a reassuring pat on the back is as useful as trying to teach a pig to sing: it sounds bad and annoys the pig.

After Secretary Clinton's comments to reassure Iran this week, Admiral Mullen's fence straddling statements probably were best left unsaid because they make the US appear indecisive and weak. Iran will understand them as another American bluff.

Iraq-Iran: Update. Iraqi President Talabani said today that his country remains close allies with Iran despite the recent border conflict, Earth Times reported. Talabani met with Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki, with Mottaki agreeing to tour the territory around a disputed oil well to facilitate a clearer demarcation of the countries' shared border.

When did Iraq become an ally of Iran?

France: Egyptian imam Ali Ibrahim el-Soudany was arrested in France and deported to back to Egypt on 7 January, French Interior Minister Brice Hortefeux said, as the Associated Press reported.. El-Soudany, who had been preaching in a Paris mosque, was accused of encouraging violence against the West during his sermons.

Every country has sedition laws, but the French apply them without resort to extraordinary tribunals or other suspensions of rights that are inconsistent with their constitution. The French have an admirable trait of taking their constitution seriously and enforcing it. That is tonight's good news.

The American constitutional guarantee of free speech does not cover sedition, treason, incitement to rioting and falsely crying "fire" in a theater.

Honduras-US: Some people in the State Department cannot leave Honduras alone, despite a successful and peaceful presidential electon on 29 November. A US diplomat has arrived in Tegucigalpa to dictate terms for normalization of Honduran democracy?

Mr. Kelly talked with citizen Zelaya, with interim President Micheletti and president elect Lobo.

"Kelly assured me that his government does not support Micheletti and is seeking the possibility of the international community recognizing the new government", Zelaya said, referring to Lobo.

"Washington recognizes that I am president of Honduras," Zelaya said. Zelaya was speaking from self-imposed exile in the Embassy of Brazil.

Kelly said Honduras still had work to do before the US would accept the results of its election.!!

Micheletti's interim government has said Zelaya faces arrest on various charges if he leaves the Brazilian Embassy under any terms other than an asylum arrangement in another country. Zelaya's term ends 27 January. Zelaya is an embarrassment for the US and those who supported him.

The idea that a US bureaucrat is delivering terms to a sovereign state that has just had a peaceful election without US meddling is worth noting. Fortunately, President Obama had more important measures to consider.

Special note: Thanks to all who provided feedback on the past two NightWatch editions.

As for the various directives on intelligence today, more of the same with gusto is the certain prescription for more intelligence failures. NightWatch Readers know that doing the same things over and over and expecting a different result is the definition of insanity. No one reinforces failure…. Hmmmm.

End of NightWatch for 7 January.

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