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NightWatch 20120119

NightWatch

For the night of 19 January 2012

Japan-US-Iran: Japan asked a US delegation that Japanese financial institutions be exempt from US sanctions on Iran. During the delegation's two-day visit, the sides did not reach a decision on how or whether to reduce Japanese reliance on Iranian oil, an unnamed Japanese Foreign Ministry official said.

Bangladesh: The Bangladeshi army foiled a coup attempt planned by some mid-ranking army officials as well as retired officers, Bangladeshi army Brigadier General Muhammad Masud Razzaq said on 19 January, according to the Daily Star. The plot was instigated by several non-resident Bangladeshis, he said.

Comment: The actual threat against the government appears to have been minimal. The cabal that was plotting sought to impose more fundamentalist Islamic government under an authoritarian government.

The current Prime Minister is Sheikh Hasina, who is the daughter of the father of Bangladesh, the late President Sheikh Mujibur Rahman. She was elected in 2008 and has stabilized the political situation, following two years of military-backed government. The plotters would not allow a woman to serve as prime minister.

Pakistan: Update. Prime Minister Gilani appeared in person before the Supreme Court, but through his attorney was granted an extension to study allegations and documents. The Court "continued" the case against the government until 1 February.

Comment: Gilani's appearance and the skills of his attorney, who is a friend of the Supreme Court, has eased the constitutional crisis during which members of Parliament claimed superior authority over the Supreme Court and the executive branch of government. Intense political maneuvering and repositioning will have begun after the Court's decision and will continue in the next two weeks.

The Gilani government probably will be required to make a good faith effort to investigate thousands of cases of corruption that were excused or suspended by Musharraf. President Zardari has immunity from prosecution during his term of office, but the government almost certainly will be required to promise to prosecute the charges against him with the help of Swiss courts after Zardari leaves office. His current term as president ends in 2013.

Syria: Update. In Zabadani, Syrian forces withdrew Wednesday night to two military barracks on the outskirts, but maintained a cordon around the town. People in the town expect a government attack at any time.

End of NightWatch for 19 January.

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