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NightWatch 20101108


For the Night of 8 November 2010

North Korea: For the record. The second most powerful official in North Korea Chon Myong-nok died at 82. Vice Marshal Cho Myong nok was the First Vice Chairman of the National Defense Commission and deputy to Kim Chong-il and a vice marshal of the Korean Peoples Army and the only member of the Commission who visited the US in an official capacity. He also was a graduate of the first class of the party school with Kim Chong-il, a pilot and former air force commander.

Comment: Kim's classmates from the first graduating class of the Mangyongdae Party School formed the majority of the members of the National Defense Commission, which is the top policy-making body in North Korea. All were part of the inner circle of advisors or drinking buddies of Kim Chong-il.

The first graduating class from Mangyongdae were all the orphan children of officers who died fighting the Japanese and the Americans, except for Kim Chong-il who was ten to 15 years younger than his classmates. The older classmates became the protectors of Kim and the foster children of his father, Kim Il sung, and Chong0il's advisers in older life.

Like Kim, that generation of leadership is dying, but has established no process or structure for succession. Their successors have been advanced based on acts of loyalty to Kim Chong-il. When Kim dies, the generation of leaders alive during the Korean War dies with him, as does the criterion for leadership based on participation in a revolutionary struggle.

North Korea is adrift as a Stalinist state because the only widely accepted basis for leadership has been participation in revolutionary wars. The generation of fighters in such wars is dying out. What's left is the Kim dynasty, which has no claim to the loyalty of North Koreans outside the context of national revolutionary struggle.

Neither Kim Chong-il nor his third son ever went to boot camp. Plus, everyone knows they are not paragons of communist austerity.

Burma: For the record. Polls closed 7 November in Burma/Myanmar's first general elections in more than 20 years. Early results indicate low levels of participation and widespread irregularities in sham elections. Government-supported candidates and parties won a sweeping victory with a very low voter turnout.

Pakistan: A Pakistani court issued notice to former President Musharraf on a petition seeking his presence in court linked to a case in which the former military dictator has been accused of committing high treason by imposing emergency in 2007.

A single-judge bench of the Lahore High Court issued the notice on Friday after a petitioner moved the application seeking directions to ensure the former President's presence in court for the hearing of a case in which Musharraf has been accused of committing high treason by imposing emergency in 2007.

Comment: The petition is only a service of notice of judicial action. It has limited legal significance beyond notice. Politically the timing of the petition indicates it is aimed at preventing Musharraf's announced return to Pakistan to save the political system.

The petitioners want Musharraf arrested for treason the moment he steps foot in Pakistan, which he stated is his intention. Musharraf announced his intention to return to Pakistan in order to create a new political party with him as its leader.

Afghanistan: Update. Government forces have found the bodies of five of the 16 police officers in a district of Ghazni Province that the Taliban overran briefly last week. The reported defection apparently did not include the entire police detachment.

Somalia Anti-piracy Patrol: For the record. Somali pirates attacked the Spanish warship ESPA Infanta Cristina during an African Union Military Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) escort off the Somali coast 6 November Xinhua reported on 8 November.

The pirates staged the attack from the M/V Izumi, a ship they seized on 10 October. The Spanish ship was escorting the M/V Petra 1, which was chartered by AMISOM.

A European Union (EU) Naval Forces Somalia spokesman said the attack was disrupted with no injuries or damages and the pirates fled. Because the pirates' ship had hostages aboard, the EU warship had to use minimal force to repel it, he said, adding that it is the first reported attack by pirates against an EU ship conducting an AMISOM escort

End of NightWatch for 8 November.

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