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NightWatch 20100402


For the Night of 2 April 2010

South Korea: Update. The Minister of National Defense today made another provocative statement about the sinking of the Republic of Korea Navy ship last. He said it is a "likely possibility" that a torpedo sank the ship, but did not rule out other causes nor blame North Korea.

North Korea: Update. A North Korean armored train normally used to carry North Korean leader Kim Chong-il arrived in the Chinese city of Dandong early 3 April, suggesting Kim has arrived in China, according to Reuters and Yonhap.

China-Spratly Islands: Feedback. A brilliant and careful Reader noted that China has regularly used multiple ship patrols in the Spratlys. NightWatch double checked the date of the China's new Anti-Secession Law. The Tenth National Peoples Congress ratified it in March 2005, vice 2006. Among the provisions of this law is the authorization to use "non-peaceful" means to prevent any loss of national territory claimed by China.

Pakistan: Another political casualty. Attorney General Anwar Mansoor resigned today because the Law Minister has been preventing him from executing Supreme Court orders to reopen old graft cases against President Asif Ali Zardari. A Constitutional crisis has begun.

Iraq: The Supreme Islamic Iraqi Council (SIIC), a member of the pro-Sadr Iraq National Alliance, announced its support for former interim prime minister Allawi's Iraqiya bloc today.

SIIC leader Ammar Al-Hakim's announced his party's support for Allawi hours before followers of anti-U.S. cleric Muqtada al-Sadr voted in an unofficial referendum about which candidate their movement should support for prime minister. Al-Hakim said his party, which has strong ties with Iran, said he was open to an alliance with Allawi's Iraqiya list, a cross-sectarian grouping that drew on heavy Sunni support to win a two-seat lead over al-Maliki's State of Law coalition.

Comment: This switch indicates the Shiites have fractured. SIIC is the successor to the anti-Saddam Shiite opposition movement known as SCIRI, which operated from Iran. The switch suggests that the Hakim political family will not accept the leadership of Muqtada al Sadr, whom they most likely consider an upstart. Iraqiya has new life.

Israel: Hamas leaders said today they are trying to restrain Palestinian hotheads who are responsible for recent attacks against Israel. This is in response to yesterday's attacks by the Israeli Air Force. Hamas evidently is not yet ready for an escalation of violence.

Somalia Anti-piracy Patrol: The USS Farragut responded to a distress call from the MS Evita, which was under fire from Somali pirates. MS Evita evaded capture by the Farragut sank the pirate mothership and took 11 pirates in custody. It later released them in two skiffs because it did not have enough evidence to hold them, a Pentagon spokesman said.

US-Mexico: The University of Texas today ordered all exchange students in Monterrey, Mexico, to return to Texas because the security conditions are too dangerous.

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End of NightWatch for 2 April.

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