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NightWatch 20110706

NightWatch

For the Night of 6 July 2011

Pakistan-Afghanistan: Pakistani Prime Minister Gilani called Afghan President Karzai to express concern about militant raids from Afghanistan into Pakistan. Gilani asked for an immediate meeting between regional commanders on both sides, saying the situation needs to be defused quickly and that the Pakistani army is exercising restraint despite militants' repeated provocations.

An official statement said raids occurred along the border in Afghanistan's Konar Province and in Pakistan's Dir, Bajaur and Mohmand districts.

Comment: What sparked today's statements of concern is an operation by up to 600 militants from Afghanistan who attacked two Pakistani villages on the border on 6 July, according to Pakistani officials. Militants fought soldiers and pro-government tribal militia for several hours, a police official said. Another official said four pro-government tribesmen were injured.

The 6 July attacks were the second recent large scale operation into Pakistan by militants  from Afghanistan. That is a reversal of the usual pattern in which Afghan fighters based in Pakistan attack into Afghanistan.

No sources have reported details that enable significant insight about the fighting in the border area. However, the fact of the attacks indicates no one -- Pakistani, Afghan or American -- controls the border. That seems to be one message.

The other message is implied by the size of the raiding parties. Recent incidents reported in public media have involved raiding parties with hundreds of fighters. Even at half the reported strength, the size of the raiding parties - the locations suggest Hekmatyar's thugs - conveys the message that the raiders can attack with impunity.

Egypt: Three reports.

Hundreds of protesters gathered outside police headquarters in Suez after a Cairo court upheld a decision to release police officers accused of killing protesters on 25 and 28 January. Some protesters tried to climb the walls of the Suez court building while others threw stones at the police headquarters, which police personnel threw back at the protesters. Military police surrounded the area but have not interfered in the clashes.

The Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood plans to participate on 8 July in the "Persistence Friday" demonstration at Cairo's Tahrir Square. The group said it is protesting in support of a new constitution; is denouncing the poor treatment of families of dead protestors whom it called martyrs; and is exposing "lax" prosecution of those formerly in power, including the release of officers accused of killing martyrs.

Hundreds of high-ranking Egyptian police officers will be fired on 14 July for their role in the crackdown on anti-government protests in January 2011, Interior Minister Mansour el-Essawy said on 6 July. El-Essawy said the shakeup would be the largest in the history of his Ministry. El-Essawy also ordered an investigation into the deaths of nearly 850 protesters caused by police during the uprising.

Comment: The three reports show the continuing tension in Egyptian politics. The protestors finally are coming to appreciate how little has changed, as demonstrated by the release of Mubarak-era ministers and police officers.

The Brotherhood is taking advantage of every opportunity to shape public opinion in favor of a return to an elected government, which the Brothers intend to lead.

Finally, the military-backed government is timid and insecure, and apparently willing to go to great lengths to appease the crowds in order try to avoid more street protests. In the1980s, some of Egypt's worst civil disorders resulted from the government's mishandling the police.

The general rule for analysts is that the police follow orders and enforce the law, which makes them useful to every government. A program to prosecute the police is a prescription for a breakdown of civil order.

End of NightWatch for 6 July.

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