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NightWatch 20091210


For the Night of 10 December 2009

North Korea: Update. US envoy Bosworth said it remains unclear when the North Koreans will return to international disarmament negotiations, according to The Associated Press on 10 December. Bosworth said that he and his North Korean counterparts reached a "common understanding" on the importance of the denuclearization process and that he hopes, based on his discussions in Pyongyang, that the Six Party Talks can resume expeditiously. Bosworth said he did not request and did not have a meeting with Kim Chong-il.

Secretary Clinton described the talks as positive. However, Bosworth left with no assurances, commitment or date for a subsequent meeting.

Iraq-Ukraine: Ukraine's largest arms deal to date has been secured in a $2.5 billion project with Iraq that will impact more than 80 Ukrainian firms, AP and DPA reported 9 December, citing Ukrainian lawmakers. The orders include 420 BTR-4 armored personnel carriers, six AN-32B military transport planes and other military hardware, said a senior parliamentary member. UkrSpetsExport is handling the contracts.

Jobs for Ukrainian defense workers; a big contract and jobs that American firms did not get. Curious that in Iraq and Afghanistan American troops created conditions that are benefiting other countries commercially.

Syria-Iran: Syrian Defense Minister Ali Mohammad Habib Mahmoud, during a meeting in Damascus with Iranian Defense Minister Ahmad Vahidi on 9 December, said Syria and Iran will "jointly confront any attack on Damascus or Tehran," Fars News Agency reported. Vahidi said, "Strengthening the defense ties between Iran and Syria is an element of deterrence in the confrontation against the Zionist regime's threats to the regional countries."

The language implies the two have a mutual defense pact, but the report relates the Iranian interpretation of the defense relationship and probably some wishful thinking.

Syria-Yemen-Iran: For the record. Hamas chief Khaled Meshaal led a Hamas delegation to Sanaa, Yemen, on 8 December to mediate between Yemen and Iran, at Iran's invitation, Al-Quds Al-Arabi reported 9 December.

Yemen President Ali Abdullah Saleh met with Meshaal on the 9th at the compound that contains the Ministry of Defense and armed forces high command. Saleh reportedly presented Meshaal with evidence of Iranian support for the al-Huthi rebels in Yemen, including the discovery of Iranians trying to smuggle weapons to al-Huthis at the port of Midi. Saleh dismissed Meshaal's offer to mediate.

This is the only report of the mediation effort. If accurate, it indicates the al-Huthi rebellion has Iran's backing. That was known but not quite so explicitly.

Honduras: The transitional government rejected a request by ousted Manuel Zelaya to leave the country with his family for Mexico while claiming to be President, DPA reported 10 December.

Honduran Foreign Minister Carlos Lopez said his government regarded Zelaya's request for a travel permit as inappropriate. A plane sent from Mexico to pick up Zelaya was redirected to El Salvador after the Honduran government rejected his travel plans.

Zelaya wanted to leave as President of Honduras. Honduras authorities announced he could leave as a common citizen for any country that would grant him asylum.

End of NightWatch for 10 December.

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