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NightWatch 20111004

NightWatch

For the night of 4 October 2011

India-Afghanistan: India and Afghanistan will sign a strategic partnership after Afghan President Hamid Karzai meets with Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on 4 October, according to Indian Foreign Minister S.M. Krishna. Krishna said the recent assassinations of Karzai's half-brother, Ahmed Wali Karzai, and Afghan High Peace Council chief Burhanuddin Rabbani demonstrated the need for strengthened regional anti-terrorism efforts.

Comment: Karzai evidently has concluded that he needs the help of a nation that can actually handle Pakistan - India -in order to improve his security situation. This move is consistent with Karzai's statement that he will not negotiate peace with the Taliban. Instead he will negotiate with Pakistan to rein in its proxies.

Pakistan: For the record. The government in Islamabad will not cooperate with the investigation into the assassination of Afghan High Peace Council chief Burhanuddin Rabbani, an Afghan National Directorate of Security spokesman said. The Pakistan Embassy in Kabul told Afghan intelligence officials it considers the case important and Rabbani a great personality, but that it cannot help due to information Afghanistan shared with the media, the spokesman said. Pakistan denied the accusation

Syria: President Bashar al Asad in a meeting with Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu warned Turkey's Western allies of a coordinated retaliatory attack if NATO forces attack Syria, Fars News Agency reported on 4 October. Al Asad said he would not need more than six hours to transport hundreds of missiles and rockets within striking distance of Tel Aviv, adding that he would call on Hezbollah to launch similar attacks against Israel. Al Asad also said that within the first six hours of the Syrian response, Iran will target U.S. warships in the Persian Gulf and U.S. and European interests.

Comment: The source of this report is an Iranian news agency, which makes it suspect. No other news outlet has reported that al Asad made such bizarre remarks.

Syria-Lebanon: Syrian tanks fired several rounds in Lebanese territory after crossing the Lebanese border near the Bekaa Valley town of Aarsal on 4 October. The Lebanese armed forces command told the Syrian army to withdrawal immediately from Lebanon. Tanks withdrew after firing in the direction of a battery factory in which the Syrian army believed gunmen had taken refuge, Lebanon's National News Agency reported.

Comment: The larger implications of this incident are not clear, but Syrian forces did not hesitate to move into southern Lebanon to suppress armed gunmen. The pro-Syrian Lebanese government has not protested. This seems to contradict those diplomats who claim Syria is isolated. Russia also announced it would not support UN sanctions against Syria.

Greece: Austerity measures beyond those already in place are unnecessary, Greek Finance Minister Evangelos Venizelos said on 4 October.In a news conference held after Venizelos returned from talks with eurozone finance ministers in Luxembourg, he said the austerity measures already taken were sufficient as long as they are applied.

Comment: Several highly reputable international financial assessment firms have issued warnings that a Greek government default is unavoidable. The only unknown is the timing.

End of NightWatch for 4 October.

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