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NightWatch 20101025


For the Night of 25 October 2010

Japan-China: The Japanese government formally protested to the Chinese government on 25 October the presence of Chinese patrol boats near the Senkaku Islands. Japanese authorities detected two Chinese patrol boats late Sunday in Japan's "contiguous zone" but did not cross into Japanese territorial waters, Kyodo reported, citing Japan's coast guard.

Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshito Sengoku said in the protest message that seeing Chinese patrol boats made his government feel "uncomfortable. He also said that Japan will step up its monitoring activities around the Islands, according to Kyodo.

China's foreign ministry claimed that its boats' patrols are both legal and based on need.

Comment: Mainstream international press did not report the Chinese patrol boat activity nor at least three more anti-Japanese protests and demonstrations over the weekend. The confrontation over the Senkakus continues.

South Korea-US: For the record. A Pentagon spokesman today rejected claims by South Korean media that a planned U.S.-South Korea naval exercise had been postponed due to Chinese protests, Reuters reported. The spokesman told reporters that authorities in Washington and in Seoul were unable to reach a scheduling agreement, adding the exercises were intended to send a message to North Korea and should not be China's concern.

Comment: The comment by the spokesman misses the point that the North has moved closer to China during the succession period than at any time since the government of Deng Xiaoping in the early 1980s. The US is much less significant than it was a year ago in North Korea's strategic calculations. Since China agreed to assume over watch responsibility for the Kim regime this year, the Allies have succeeded in sending no significant "messages" to North Korea.

Afghanistan-Iran: President Karzai confirmed on 25 October that his office has received "bags of money" from Iran, but said the payments have been transparent and a form of aid from a "friendly" country. He also said the U.S. has known about the Iranian assistance for years and that Washington also gives the palace cash payments.

"The government of Iran has been assisting us with five or six or seven hundred thousand euros ($700,000 to $975,000) once or twice every year, that is an official aid," said Karzai. "He (Karzai's chief of staff) is receiving the money on my instructions."

Comment: Afghanistan is a poor country in a rough neighborhood. All donations are welcome. Karzai proved today he is no fool by outsmarting the New York Times.

Algeria: Terrorists detonated a bomb against a parked military vehicle on Monday, 25 October, killing two soldiers and wounding three others. The attack occurred about 80 kms east of Algiers.

Comment: Al Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb claimed responsibility. The last attack in Algeria was on 12 October. The interval between attacks plus the low risk nature of the latest attack reinforce the NightWatch hypothesis that this branch of al Qaida is weak and declining.

A group that can only muster enough strength to attack once in a fortnight and then only detonate a small bomb against a parked vehicle is scraping by, using criminal behavior to show it is still around … barely.

Mexico: For the record. Suspected members of the Sinaloa drug trafficking cartel warned that they would kill 135 people after security forces seized 134 tons of marijuana last week in Tijuana, Baja California state, Milenio reported today, 25 October. The warning was made over a police radio frequency late on 24 October reportedly minutes after gunmen killed 13 patients at a drug rehabilitation center in Tijuana.

End of NightWatch for 25 October.

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