For the night of 5 July 2012
Turkey-Syria: Correction and update. Earlier NightWatch reported from Turkish news outlets that the two crew men in the Turkish F-4 Phantom reconnaissance aircraft had been recovered. That was Turkish propaganda. Search and rescue operations recovered the bodies of the two crew members on 5 July and published their names.
Syria: Comment: A number of English language news services have cited out of context remarks that Syrian President al Asad made to a Turkish press outlet, not in English, in which Asad suggested he was not committed to holding onto the presidency. The Western treatment missed the nuances of the interview and took the comments out of context to suggest Asad is so weakened that he is willing to step down.
That appears to be wishful thinking by a strongly biased western press. It is impossible to know the inner working of the Alawite leadership in Damascus. For example, Asad could be thinking about stepping down, but the interview with the Turkish press does not support such an inference.
In the context of everything else Asad said in the interview, his remarks about the presidency were self-effacing and hypothetically humble. Asad's meaning, as he said in the interview, is that if the Syrian people voted him out of office, he would leave. Every elected official mouths this language when he is not under stress or threat.
Some Readers might need to be reminded that Western and UN media reports have a pronounced anti-Asad point of view. The Russians, Iranians and others have a different point of view, based on different sources whose reports indicate that the Asad regime remains strong. So how to decide?
The NightWatch analysis is based on the phenomenology of internal instability threats and the behavior of living systems. Those analyses indicate that the regime has weakened but is not in danger of collapse. Reports that Asad is looking for asylum are premature, if not inaccurate.
A brigadier of the elite Republican Guard reportedly joined the rebel today. This brigadier is from the Tlass family, which is part of the inner circle of the al Asad family. The facts are not clear.
The press reports Brigadier Tlass, the son of Defence Minister Field Marshal Tlass, defected because he refused to fire on Sunni opposition fighters. That is almost certainly a dodge. There are other issues involved that have yet to be made pubic, assuming the reports are accurate. More later.
Libya: Libyans will vote in their first ever national election on 7 July. There is no institutional or social foundation for democracy and voting other than tribe and clan loyalties. Qadhafi permitted no political parties. Libya is in no way prepared for democracy, meaning elective government. The Muslim Brotherhood, which survived as an underground organization, or other Islamists apparently are likely to be the primary beneficiary of the voting.
The transitional government in Libya declared that all laws will be based on sharia, Islamic law. The elections in Libya will not produce a resounding triumph for secular, progressive democrats. The Islamists have taken over the so-called revolution.
Mali: In a statement calling for "restoration of territorial integrity," the Malian parliament "calls on the entire Malian people for implacable resistance to the occupation and boosting solidarity by all possible means."
Protesters from northern Mali demonstrated in Bamako on Wednesday against the Islamist takeover of the northern region. Some 2,000 people braved pouring rain to join the sit-in protest at Bamako's Independence Square monument, chanting: "We want weapons to liberate the north."
"If the army doesn't want to go to war, then give us the means to liberate our territory!" said Oumar Maiga, leader of a northern citizens' collective.
Comment: The international news coverage of the destruction of ancient shrines in Timbuktu appears to have stimulated the public outcry against the atrocities by the Islamists in Mali's northern regions.
France has declared that it will not allow northern Mali to become a base for international terrorists. The counter-reaction against the Islamists has been slow to coalesce, but it finally appears to be gathering momentum and strength.
End of NightWatch for 5 July.
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