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NightWatch 20100225

NightWatch

For the Night of 25 February 2010

Japan-US: The Japanese government officially will admit that it signed two secret pacts with the United States in 1960 and 1972, allowing U.S. Forces, Japan, to intervene in a war on the Korean Peninsula without consulting Tokyo and allowing Washington to store nuclear weapons in Okinawa in a regional emergency, Chosun reported 25 February.

The Nihon Keizai Shimbun reported that an expert committee at the Japanese Foreign Ministry recently investigated the question and recommended admitting the existence of the two secret pacts. They will be made public in March.

Comment: The Democratic Party coalition government is engaging in political chicanery in handling this old news. NightWatch wrote about the documents which were published by the National Security Archive last October pursuant to a Freedom of Information Act request. They have been available at the National Security Archive web site for months. That means the Tokyo government has had months in which to refine its strategy for handling them so as to benefit the government.

Evidently, the document release in Japan will be manipulated so as to build popular support behind the government's plans for handling the base relocation issues on Okinawa. The nuclear basing document permits nuclear weapons storage in locations other than Okinawa, in a second Korean War.

India-Pakistan: India described today's foreign secretary level talks as a first step. The talks lasted an hour; reinforced existing hostile attitudes and produced an agreement for lower level officials to talk sometime in the future. India described them as a first step.

Pakistan: Update. The Pakistani government will comply with the Supreme Court directive on disqualifications and will ask Swiss authorities to reopen a corruption case against President Asif Ali Zardari, presidential spokesman Farhatullah Babar said 25 February, Dawn News reported. Babar added that legal experts are looking into the matter.

This gesture means Zardari can't travel to Pakistan. The larger issue is his vulnerability to prosecution in Pakistan and the status of hundreds of similarly situated officials whom Musharraf exempted from prosecution under the National Reconciliation Ordinance. The Supreme Court has found it to be unconstitutional, which automatically disqualifies hundreds of officials including Zardari. Thus far the executive branch has not executed the Supreme Court's order. A political crisis is unavoidable, but not yet.

Pakistan-Afghanistan: Pakistani Taliban leader Qazi Zafar was killed in North Waziristan in a 24 February attack by a remotely piloted aircraft, Dawn News reported 25 February. The attack targeted a militant hideout in the village of Dandi Darpakhel. Zafar is thought to have been involved in the U.S. consulate bombing in Karachi in 2002.

Note: Some press outlets speculated that captured Afghan Taliban luminary Mullah Berader provided the information that led to this killing and several others. Berader is Afghan. Zafar was Pakistani There is no likelihood that Berader knew the location of Zafar with the precision required for drone targeting. Be wary of TV and Radio analysis.

Afghanistan: Update. Mohammad Gulab Mangal, governor of Helmand Province, raised the green, red and black Afghan flag in Marjah, watched by 300 residents and Brigadier Gen. Larry Nicholson, commander of the U.S. Marines in southern Afghanistan, Agence France-Presse reported today. US sources said today, the 12th day of the operation, was the first without a firefight in Marjah. That makes this tonight's good news.

Iran: Security. Sunni opposition and Jundallah leader Abdolmalek Rigi, whose capture was announced by Iranian authorities on 23 February, reportedly said in a televised press conference he met with agents from the CIA in Dubai and that the United States offered his group unlimited support, including a military base near the Iranian border equipped with weapons and training facilities, Iranian state-run Press TV reported.

Rigi said he was scheduled to meet with a top U.S intelligence official at the Manas air base in Kyrgyzstan to discuss details of the U.S. offer of support, and said that the CIA agents said Iran is the primary focus of the United States, more than al Qaida or the Taliban. Rigi also said that the agents told him the United States intends to support all anti-Iranian groups capable of destabilizing the country, as a U.S. military attack on Iran would be difficult.

Note: Most of the statements ascribed to Rigi are common knowledge in the blogosphere. If the Pakistanis cooperated with Iran in Rigi's capture, his revelations provide justification for Pakistan to investigate alleged US-abetted subversion of Iran from western Baluchistan. If Rigi's claims can be established or if Pakistan decides to accept them at face value, Pakistan can use them to accuse the US of illegally using Pakistan as a base to subvert its neighbor, Iran, and thereby blunt US pressure for more counter-terrorist and counter-military operations.

The entire capture and the disclosures appear crafted to be used against the US. It is almost an article of faith that Rigi could not have been captured without Pakistani intelligence support. That means Pakistan sacrificed another pawn to try to reclaim control of the board.

Iraq: Prime Minister al-Maliki has approved the reinstatement of 20,400 army officers who served under deposed Iraqi President Saddam Hussein, Agence France-Presse, citing a Defense Ministry spokesman. The officers now have "one month and 45 days" to report for duty, he said.

This is an extraordinary concession by the Shiites that seems calculated to build Sunni support in the Army. It is a jobs program. Had it been implemented in 2003, when some analysts report it was promised, a lot of bloodshed might have been averted.

Some accounts state that the US promised to retain most army officers below the rank of Colonel on active duty if the army remained neutral during the US invasion of Iraq, which it did. The Bremer regime in Baghdad reneged on that promise, leading to three years of Sunni insurgency.

Syria-Iran: Following his meeting with President Ahmadi-Nejad in Damascus, Syrian President Bashar al Asad called on the United States to not give advice to Syria regarding its regional ties, the BBC reported. Asad said that he wonders how Washington can talk about stability in the Middle East, peace and "all other beautiful principles," and call on two countries, any two countries, to move away. He said others should not give Syria lessons about its region and history, adding that Syria will decide how things will go.

Asad was responding to an ill advised and poorly timed statement by the US Secretary of State in which she called on Asad to put distance between his country and Iran. Relative to Syria, the Secretary's statement forces Asad to denounce the US in public, even though other facts make clear that he has, in fact, put considerable distance between Syria and Iran and moved closer to the US to the extent that he approved a new US ambassador.

As a wise French colonel once asked, "What more do you Americans want?" Subtlety might be an appropriate answer.

Russia-Central Asia: Russia is ready to protect other participants of the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO), including with nuclear weapons, Kazakhstan Today reported 25 February. CSTO Secretary General Nikolay Bordyuzha said the new Russian Federation military doctrine is very timely and states that the Russian Federation "opens its nuclear umbrella" over its allies, ready to protect them.

Bordyuzha referred to the new first strike on the frontier doctrine the Russians adopted late last year. In this doctrine, nuclear weapons will be used to stabilize incursions on the frontier. That frontier now includes all the former member states of the Soviet Union in Central Asia, who make up the membership of Putin's challenge to NATO, the CSTO. The enemy is China, not the US.

Ukraine: As of 25 February, the new President is Viktor Yanukovych.

Germany-NATO-Russia: On the same day that Bordyuzha spoke, Spiegel reported that German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle and his counterparts from the Benelux countries and Norway sent a letter to NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen calling for NATO to talk about how to approach its goal of a nuclear weapons-free world at an April NATO conference in Tallin, Estonia.

While China is the main Russian enemy of the future across land borders for tactical nuclear strike purposes, Estonia and the other Baltic states also could be in the cross hairs. This German letter could hardly be more ill timed and inappropriate, even though nothing significant is likely to come of it in the foreseeable future. The message to the eastern European members of NATO is appalling and a disincentive to perceive NATO membership as having long term value for their national security.

A nuclear free NATO, however unlikely that is, would mean that Russia would be the only continental European power with nukes. One might wonder what Westerwelle is thinking, why he sent a letter at this time and why is he not paying closer attention to what Russia is saying and doing with respect to its nuclear doctrine.

Russia-Iran: Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said there is no hard proof that Iran is working on nuclear weapons, but Tehran has to clarify several key issues on its nuclear program to avoid fresh international action, RIA Novosti reported 25 February. He added that Iran failed to properly cooperate with international organizations over concerns about its nuclear program and said that if the situation persists, he cannot rule out that the U.N. Security Council will have to consider the situation once again.

While Russia also urged Iran to cooperate with the IAEA, the statement is important for two reasons. It takes away technical objections for delaying the delivery of the S-300. It also conveys that the US should not expect Russian support for harsher sanctions against Iran based on what Russia considers to be the myth of Iran's nuclear weapons program. In other words, the message is that Russia might support a milder sanctions program based on Iran's persistent failure to cooperate properly with the IAEA.

Azerbaijan-Armenia: For the record. Azerbaijani Defense Minister Safar Abiyev said 25 February there is a serious threat of war between Azerbaijan and Armenia over the disputed Nagorno-Karabkh region. He also said "Azerbaijan cannot wait another 15 years for a Karabakh conflict settlement. Now it is the army's turn, and this threat is impending."

Abiyev said that "a great war in the South Caucasus is inevitable" if a settlement with Armenia has not been reached soon. Neither Azerbaijan nor Armenia has the national power to wage a great war. However, with Russian support on this issue, Azerbaijan could be another former Soviet Union member to return to the Russian security system.

Libya-Switzerland: Libyan leader Qadhafi said today that any Muslim working with Switzerland is "an apostate" working for an "infidel nation" that is destroying mosques. He also said, "The masses of Muslims must go to all airports in the Islamic world and prevent any Swiss plane landing, to all harbors and prevent any Swiss ships docking, inspect all shops and markets to stop any Swiss goods being sold," Reuters reported.

Gadhafi said he was calling for a jihad against Switzerland. He said, "Let us fight against Switzerland, Zionism and foreign aggression," adding that he was not calling for terrorism. He also added, "There is a big difference between terrorism and jihad, which is a right to armed struggle."

First, yes, there is a Swiss maritime fleet. Swiss merchant ships use Italian harbors. Their national security purpose is to ensure Switzerland has access to supplies during a crisis or wartime without having to rely on foreign national sources. Swiss Air has the same wartime purpose.

Without cheap labor from Muslim countries, the Swiss tourist industry would collapse. While few will heed Qadhafi's call, Swiss security authorities have been concerned for almost two decades about the vulnerability of the tourist and hotel industry to Islamic subversion under the work permit program. Qadhafi's action is a response to a tightening of controls on Muslims. The Swiss are tolerant, but less so than the French.

Niger: The junta announced it is reviewing the integrity of existing uranium mining contracts let by the ousted government. The junta seems greedy. This is grounds for a counter-coup.

End of NightWatch for 25 February.

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