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NightWatch 20111222

NightWatch

For the night of 22 December 2011

Pakistan: Civil-military crisis evolving. In a written reply to the Supreme Court of Pakistan, the Pakistani Defense Ministry said it has no control over any operation conducted by the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) Directorate or the Pakistan Army, according to unnamed supposedly knowledgeable sources. The ministry said it only handles administrative affairs for the ISI and the Army and, therefore, it was not in a position to answer or explain anything on behalf of the Pakistan Army.

Prime Minister Gilani reminded the Army that it, like all state institutions, answers to the parliament and the prime minister. He added that the Army is under the Defense Ministry and could not consider itself its own state within Pakistan without accepting lawmakers' sovereignty. Gilani said there are conspirators plotting against the elected government and that he would fight for Pakistani rights whether he remains in the government or not.

Pakistan's Army wants President Zardari to leave office through legal means rather than a coup, unidentified military sources said on 22 December. They added that no military coup is being planned because it would be opposed by the people. It also would have national and international consequences and the government's mistakes already create discontent. Any action taken must come from the Supreme Court rather than the military.

Comment: Cumulatively, the reports indicate that the civilian government is now in an open struggle with the Army, which apparently declines to recognize civilian control. The government apparently fears the Army has become a sovereign entity within the state of Pakistan.  

Gilani's comment implies that he expects to be removed from office. The reference to the Supreme Court is that the Court found several years ago that Zardari's presidency is illegal, but was dissuaded from taking futher action.  Today's statements, assuming they are accurate, indicate the Army leadership now supports the court's pursuit of its earlier finding.

Iraq:  Prime Minister al-Maliki's government will investigate Rafi al-Issawi, the Finance Minister and senior member of the Sunni al-Iraqiya List party, for allegedly supporting militant groups in Fallujah, a political adviser to al-Maliki said on 22 December. No political figure is exempt from investigation and any Iraqi violence will not be concealed, the political adviser added.

Iraqi Vice President Tariq al-Hashemi said he will not return to Baghdad to face trial because Iraq's justice system has lost its credibility and is only a tool for a few politicians, Al Jazeera reported. Al-Hashemi said a trial in Baghdad is not realistic, but he added that he would be willing to face charges in Iraq's semi-autonomous Kurdish region because he believes that he will be treated fairly there.

Comment: The purge of senior Sunni Arab politicians is continuing. The multiple bombings in Baghdad show that the Sunni Arabs understand the threat and have begun to fight back. Turkish officials said that Vice President al Hashimi is free to travel to Turkey at any time. Eventually al-Maliki's purge will be directed against the Kurds.

Mexico:  For the record. Police in the Gulf port city of Veracruz were heavily infiltrated by criminal elements, mainly the deadly Zetas drug cartel, an armed forces official said Thursday, leaving authorities no choice but to disband the force - Mexico's most dramatic step to date in battling corrupt cops. It could take months to replace the 800 officers and 300 administrative employees who were dismissed Wednesday, said the official, who could not be named for security reasons.

End of NightWatch for 22 December.

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