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NightWatch 20110902

NightWatch

For the Night of 2 September 2011

Tajikistan-Russia: An agreement for a Russian military base in Tajikistan will be extended for 49 years, Russian President Medvedev said on 2 September. Medvedev and Tajik President Rakhmon reached the agreement during a meeting in Dushanbe.

Medvedev said the leaders told the departments and agencies concerned with the agreement that it would be extended for 49 years. The agreement is scheduled to be signed in the first quarter of 2012. Russia will train, re-equip and modernize the Tajik army in exchange for the extension the military base lease.

Comment: After a brief US interlude, Central Asia is returning to normality. Normality means that the Russians are the closest and most powerful protectors of Central Asians from domination by the Han Chinese. The Russians are reasserting their strategic interests.

The Americans are just too far away to be timely and reliable. In any event, the Americans are going home from Central Asia soon, as Asians measure time.

United Nations-Iran: The UN nuclear agency, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), said on 31 August that it is "increasingly concerned" about a stream of intelligence suggesting that Iran continues to work secretly on developing a nuclear payload for a missile and other components of a nuclear weapons program.

In its report, the International Atomic Energy Agency said "many member states" are providing evidence for that assessment. The Agency described the information it is receiving as credible, "extensive and comprehensive."

The restricted 9-page report was made available on 2 September to selected news services, shortly after having been shared with the 35 IAEA member nations and the UN Security Council.

Comment: The IAEA allegations do not seem new no more precise than those that surfaced five years ago. The inferences about nuclear weapons derive from the intelligence data about possessing or making missiles capable of delivering nuclear warheads. The IAEA analysts appear to have caught up finally to information in the public domain five years ago, namely that Iran continues to seek a nuclear deterrent against a US attack.

A key point the UN IAEA finally seems to get is the idea that nations build nuclear capable missile forces to deliver nuclear warheads, which is what Iran has been doing since before 2003.

As is its custom, the IAEA also reported areas in which Iran has complied with IAEA obligations.

Iraq-Bahrain: Iraqi Shiite leader Muqtada al-Sadr said that Saudi Arabia should withdraw its forces from Bahrain and let Bahraini people decide their future. Al-Sadr also criticized actions against Bahraini Shiite cleric Sheikh Isa Qassim, saying that prejudice against Qassim is a prejudice against himself.

Sadr denied, however, earlier reports that he threatened to invade Saudi Arabia because authorities mistreated Qassim.

Comment: Sadr's suggestion that the Bahraini people are sovereign contradicts the Quranic basis for the Iranian state, or any Islamic state. Islam rejects democracy and the notion that the people are sovereign. Sadr is a hypocrite, but hypocrisy is not an impediment to meddling.

Libya: A senior Gadhafi general, Lieutenant General Mas'ud Abd-al-Hafiz, and Qadhafi's cousin Sayid Qadhaf-al-Dam announced in a statement that they set up a transitional military council for the al-Jafrah military zone and Sirte area, according to Al-Sharq al-Aswat. The military council is based on consultations between Abd-al-Hafiz and his colleagues, according to the statement.

The statement also said the council announced an immediate cease-fire of all units and is ready for a peaceful dialogue led by the UN Security Council and African Union.

Comment: The announcement appears to be an offer to cease firing in Qadhafi's tribal homeland. If that is genuine, it confirms a significant shrinkage of the perimeter pro-Qadhafi forces are defending and are now failing to defend. Otherwise, it looks phony.

Other terms, such as the involvement of the African Union and the UN, appear to be reruns of terms already rejected by the rebels. The failure to mention NATO in the ceasefire offer indicates it is not genuine or not realistic.

End of NightWatch for 2 September.

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