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NightWatch 20121227

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NightWatch

For the night of 27 December 2012

Syria: The situation in Syria is becoming more complicated, and it is necessary to be ready for any scenario, a Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman said today.

Comment: The language of the Foreign Ministry is almost a direct lift from the style that Soviet propagandists used to describe a problem for which the government could find no favorable solution and which was getting worse.

The discussion of solutions to the fighting in Syria has begun to evolve rapidly. For most of the past year, the Asad government has made overtures of various kinds, mostly to co-opt the opposition in one way or another. The opposition rejected all.

Lately, the tone and subject matter has changed. The government is making no offers. The UN and the Russians are dominating the discussion of the future of the government, suggesting asylum options for Asad. The words are less important than the sub-text that the Asad government and its backers know the situation is steadily declining. The frequency of and shortened interval between Russian statements is a reliable indicator that the decline has quickened. 

Egypt: For the record. The Egyptian public prosecutor ordered a probe into three senior leaders of the opposition National Salvation Front on suspicion of inciting their followers to overthrow Egyptian President Mohammed Mursi, a legal source said today.

Comment: Less than a day after Mursi's national appeal for dialogue and understanding, he authorized a criminal prosecution of his chief detractors. The National Salvation Front opposition will never trust him because these are Mubarak's tactics. The Front renewed its call for protests against what it considers a fraudulent constitution in its content and in the process of ratification. There will be no political stability in Egypt in the short run.

Central African Republic: The UN and the US have pulled their diplomatic staffs from Bangui because the rebel forces are slowly approaching it. The French have reinforced their embassy protection but President Hollande said they will not intervene without a mandate, whatever that means to France.

Comment: The fall of the government looks likely soon.

End of NightWatch for 27 December.

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