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NightWatch 20110522

NightWatch

For the Night of 22 May 2011

North Korea-China: Update. A special train carrying North Korean leader Kim Chong-il is headed toward Yangzhou, near Shanghai, for a visit aimed at helping Pyongyang learn about China's economic development, a Chinese official said on 22 May, according to Yonhap.

Pakistan: The Pakistan Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack on 21 and 22 May on Pakistan Naval Station Mehran in Karachi, as vengeance for the killing of bin Laden. More than ten attackers penetrated the base and detonated seven explosions. Four naval personnel were killed and nine injured, plus two US-provided P-3C Orion maritime patrol aircraft were destroyed.

Chinese engineers reportedly were working at the air base when the attack occurred at approximately 10:40 p.m. local time, sources said. Us personnel at the naval air station were reported unharmed.

Comment: On 13 May a Pakistani Taliban attack on a paramilitary police academy killed 80 people, also to avenge the death of bin Laden. This is the second attack against the navy in Karachi in a month. In late April two naval buses were bombed killing four naval personnel and injuring 50.

Pakistan naval security appears incompetent. Like the Rawalpindi garrison attack in 2009, this attack almost certainly had inside help.

The Pakistani Taliban is targeting the Pakistani government for cooperating with the US and for not preventing the death of bin Laden, which it sees as the same thing. These appear to be the opening attacks in a campaign to discredit the elected government, assuming the Pakistani Taliban are following Ayman Zawahiri's guidance.  A few more attacks will clarify the attack plan.

During this Watch, news services reported continuing gunfire at the base on the morning of 23 May.

Yemen: Update. President Ali Abdullah Saleh on 22 May sent a letter to Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) Secretary-General Abdullatif bin Rashid al-Zayani informing him of his refusal to sign a GCC-brokered agreement that would have had him transfer power within a month.

Comment: The GCC is likely to withdraw from its Yemen initiative. The price of counter-terrorism cooperation with the US also has probably increased significantly

Sudan-Southern Sudan: Southern Sudan has denounced northern Sudan's takeover of the contested border town of Abyei as an act of war. A southern military spokesman said the north attacked the city with 5,000 soldiers, supported by tanks, killing civilians and southern soldiers. Most of Abyei's population has fled the city for areas further south, according to a Doctors Without Borders spokesman.

Comment: This is unfinished and deferred business from the referendum approving independence for southern Sudan. Abyei is in an oil-rich border region between the north and south. Its status has yet to be determined. This action risks a renewal of the civil war, which ended in 2005 after 22 years.

End of NightWatch for 22 May.

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