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NightWatch 20110120

NightWatch

For the Night of 19 January 2011

China-US: Comment: US media are gushing about China, but long time students of China and Chinese will remind Readers that Chinese are not like Americans. China has middle and upper classes about as large as the population of the US. However, the condition of the other billion Chinese is never discussed by Chinese authorities, but does not include a vehicle in every house, but might include a television in every village.

The point is that US leaders have made the mistake in the past of investing with equal stature a country that was vastly inferior to the US. Kissinger made this mistake with respect to the Soviet Union in the first STAR Treaty during the Nixon administration.

The US might be repeating that precedent with China. The leadership structures are dominated by authoritarian communists who have encouraged capitalist entrepreneurial success. Wealth and communist orthodoxy vie for dominance as the sources of and paths to leadership. To date, orthodoxy has prevailed over entrepreneurial talent, but that is no longer a given.

The wealth of the cities is resented by the masses of people in the countryside, creating tension between metropoles and the countryside. The prosperous modern sector overlays a vast underworld of unprofitable state-supported enterprises that must continue because the workers have a right to work.

The Chinese accomplishments in raising living standards for more than a billion people are prodigious and astonishing, but they might not be permanent. They feature multiple internal contradictions that can lead to secession or serious internal unrest. Chinese authorities are careful to suppress news of peasant and worker riots. Success also rests on an economic foundation of large state subsidies to state enterprises that is not sustainable. The Chinese communists keep more than one set of books, as they always have.

India-China: Indian paramilitary police arrested three suspected Chinese spies who were spotted taking photographs of their camps on the Rupaidiha check post of the India-Nepal border, the Times of India reported on 19 January. Superintendent of Police Sanjay Kakkar said the soldiers held the three Chinese nationals overnight and during interrogation the suspects claimed they were engineers working in Nepal on a Chinese project. The suspects did not possess passports or visas and entered Indian territory illegally, Kakkar said.

Indian intelligence agencies remain on high alert after receiving information that six Chinese intelligence agents infiltrated India illegally via the India-Nepal border. According to Indian intelligence agencies, the Chinese agents are disguised as monks and have taken refuge in different Tibetan monasteries of Shravasti. The agents are reported to be between 18-35 years old and one is a woman carrying out her mission independent to the rest who are tasked with spying on the Dali Lama and his aides, Indian intelligence sources said.

Comment: In the six years of NightWatch based on open sources, this is the first report NightWatch has found about Indian intelligence and police arresting Chinese spies. Every student of international security affairs, no doubt, understands that nations spy on each other all the time. Chinese spies probably have a large list of information requirements because the Indians are making major changes to Army and Air Force capabilities along the border with China, especially in Arunachal Pradesh State, which China claims.

States seldom, however, release information about this activity to the public. Thus, the key point for analysis is why would the Indians release this information at this time. The most immediate answer is they want to add balance to the nice words about China emerging from Washington. In the group of great Asian democracies, China is not a friend and not cooperative. Some Washington leaders need to keep in mind that our allies have important opinions about and valid experiences in dealing with China, some predating the US as a nation.

Pakistan-Afghanistan: Pakistani authorities have ordered Afghans without papers to depart Bajaur Agency in northwestern Pakistan as a security matter.

Iran-Afghanistan: Over 3 million Afghan nationals have taken jobs in Iran and sent over $4 billion out of the country, according to Iran's Interior Minister Mostafa Mohammad Najjar, ISNA reported. Speaking on the sidelines of a meeting with Afghanistan representative of the U.N. Office on Drugs and Crime Jean-Luc Lemahieu, Najjar said Iran has paid a "heavy price" to protect its "Afghan brothers and sisters." Iran's anti-drug chief called for Afghan nationals to return home and for the United Nations and the international community to resolve housing and job problems in Afghanistan.

Comment: Nobody wants Afghans; they always bring trouble.

Lebanon: Hezbollah and its allies organized an exercise early 18 January at 12 "strategic" points in Beirut. Hezbollah and Amal members participated for two hours, and were reportedly unarmed and wearing black shirts. The drill was designed to test Hezbollah's ability to take Beirut's entries, port, waters and the airport, according to unnamed sources close to Hezbollah. The exercise was originally supposed to last for four hours, but finished early and was declared successful, according to the sources.

Comment: In earlier political crises, this activity occurred, but was not reported in the public media. This report looks like a deliberate leak to warn Beirut residents of the scope of Hezbollah capabilities and what to expect should Hezbollah chose to use them.

Lebanon-Saudi Arabia: Update. Saudi Foreign Minister Saud al-Faisal said Saudi Arabia has abandoned mediation efforts in Lebanon, calling the situation "dangerous" and expressing fears of division within the state. Faisal said efforts between Saudi King Abdullah and Syrian President Bashar al Asad "to end the whole Lebanon problem" have not been successful and Abdullah said he was "pulling his hand out" from the situation. Faisal said if the situation continues to escalate towards full separation and regional partition, the state of Lebanon as a model of peaceful cohabitation between different religions and ethnicities will end.

Comment: The Saudi withdrawal suggests the Saudis anticipate a descent into violent discord with which they do not want to be associated. The public statements also are designed to shape the situation. The Saudi vision of what might be is being countered by their actions which serve as a warning.

Egypt: A spokesman for Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood announced that the group is making five urgent demands which the Egyptian government should comply with in order to avert several crises, according to a 19 January posting on the Muslim Brotherhood website.

Muhammad Mursi said the group wants Cairo to revoke the state of emergency, dissolve the People's Assembly and hold free and fair elections, amend the constitutional articles that led to vote rigging in Egypt's last elections, hold presidential elections according to those amendments, and fire the current government and form a national unity government responsive to the Egyptian people's demands.

Comment: The Brothers are belatedly trying to take advantage of the Tunisian uprising. Mubarak could die at any time, but as long as he possesses his faculties he will not fall for lies by his personal security chief, as did Tunisia's Ben Ali, and will not be intimidated by the Brotherhood.

Tunisia: Acting President Fouad Mebazaa said on state television that he wants a 'break with the past,' Reuters reported. Mebazaa said there has been improvement in security and that the revolution was one of "freedom and dignity." Mebazaa said that he will do everything in his power to get the country over the difficult situation.

The government freed all of its remaining political prisoners on 19 January, including members of a banned Islamist movement, government minister Najib Chebbi said.

Comment: Today's statement is the first that the acting President has made about the situation. The holdovers from the Ben Ali regime continue to present arguments to try to justify their continuation in power. Every one has failed to respond to the grievances that gave rise to the demonstrations.

Ivory Coast (Cote d'Ivoire): Update. The U.N. Security Council (UNSC) voted unanimously to deploy an additional 2,000 peacekeepers to Cote d'Ivoire to bolster the 9,800 troops already there until 30 June. UN Secretary-General Ban Ki Moon said the peacekeepers face an "openly hostile" security environment.

The UNSC said three infantry companies and two utility helicopters from Liberia will remain in Cote d'Ivoire for four more weeks, and it authorized the transfer of three armed helicopters from Liberia to Cote d'Ivoire for four weeks. The UNSC also extended the temporary deployment of 400 troops and 100 police officers from 31 March to 30 June.

Comment: The UN force will not coerce Gbagbo to leave, but might improve security of foreigners in Abidjan. Otherwise the situation has not changed.

Feedback from a very astute, well-informed and brilliant Reader provided a reminder that the primary basis for the north-south division in Ivory Coast is tribal. The coastal tribes historically have been hostile to and preyed on the inland tribes, long before religion or cult became factors.

End of NightWatch for 19 January.

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