For the Night of 5 June 2012
Japan-India: For the record. India and Japan will hold a two-day joint naval exercise off Tokyo's coast starting 9 June. Indian Navy ships INS Rana, INS Shakti and INS Shivalik are in Tokyo and will join exercises with the Japanese Self-Defense Forces, unnamed Indian navy officials said.
Comment: The Indian Navy's exercises in northeast Asia are part of India's Look East policy developed 20 years ago. The navies of India and the northeast Asian democracies are among the most capable in the world and they regularly exercise together.
Egypt: The Supreme Council of the Armed Forces has given Egyptian parliament 48 hours to finalize the formation of a 100-member panel that will write the new constitution. Field Marshal Tantawi warned that the Council would name a panel if parliament failed.
Muslim Brotherhood parliamentarians vowed they would not accept the military ultimatum or a military-appointed panel.
Comment: An attempt by the parliament to name a constitutional panel earlier this year was ruled unconstitutional because the Muslim Brotherhood, which dominates parliament, attempted to stack the panel with its cronies, while under-representing Christians, women and minorities.
This is the latest round in the power struggle between the Army and the Brotherhood. The army wants the process essentially completed before the presidential elections when it has promised to transfer power to the elected government. The Army wants to shape the constitution so that it recognizes and respects the Army's control of defense matters, including the budget and its economic holdings, which are extensive.
The Brotherhood members in parliament have slow rolled the appointment of a panel until after the presidential elections, when its domination of parliament ensures it will steer the drafting of the constitution, even if former prime minister Shafiq is elected.
Meanwhile in Cairo protests of the Mubarak case and related verdicts continue. A common theme is justice was not done to all Mubarak's appointees, which would include Shafiq.
Sudan-South Sudan: For the record. After two months of fighting along the border over oil revenues and ownership of oil fields, Sudan and South Sudan agreed unconditionally to withdraw their forces from disputed border regions so as to create a demilitarized zone that will stretch 10 kilometers (6.2 miles) north and south of the border, according to Sudanese Interior Minister Ibrahim Mahmoud Hamid on 5 June.
Comment: The United Nations and the African Union are mediating and exerting strong pressure for a peace agreement. Both Sudan and South Sudan risk humanitarian crises unless the fighting stops, South Sudan resumes pumping oil and the revenues flow again.
Spain: In a radio statement on 5 June, Finance Minister Cristobal Montoro said it is not technically possible to bail out Spain's economy. Spain needs more mechanisms for European integration, not a rescue, Montoro said.
Comment: Montoro's intent apparently was to reassure credit markets which one report said are no longer open to Spain. Still, he is correct, literally. Spanish debt is out of control, compounded by Spain's persistent understatement of the extent of its financial problems. Montoro has no remedy that will not spread the Greek disease. "Closer integration" is a buzz term for European (read German) emergency funds that Spain can draw on to bail out Spanish banks. Montoro's comment backfired in the foreign exchange markets.
Organization of American States (OAS): For the record. At the end of the 42d General Assembly of OAS members in Bolivia, the foreign ministers of Bolivia, Ecuador, Venezuela and Nicaragua announced that their countries had decided to withdraw from the Inter-American of Reciprocal Assistance, better known as the Rio Pact.
In making the announcement, Ecuadorian Foreign Minister Patino said, "Our countries have made the decision to bury what deserves to be buried, to throw into the trash what is no longer useful."
Article Three states, in pertinent part,"The High Contracting Parties agree that an armed attack by any State against an American State shall be considered as an attack against all the American States and, consequently, each one of the said Contracting Parties undertakes to assist in meeting the attack in the exercise of the inherent right of individual or collective self-defense recognized by Article 51 of the Charter of the United Nations"
Twenty-two American countries variously have ratified the Treaty since 1947, but Cuba withdrew after the revolution and Mexico withdrew in 2004.
Comment: This is primarily a symbolic snub because the Pact is a relic of the Cold War and no surprise because the US Secretary of State did not attend the meeting.
All four withdrawing states have leftist governments and are the members of Venezuelan President Chavez' initiative known as the Bolivarian Alliance for the People of our Americas (ALBA), which is supposed to be a counterweight to the OAS. They appear determined to assert their distance from the US.
Argentina invoked the Rio Pact when it fought the British in the Falklands, but no American state rallied. The US invoked the Pact after the 9/11 attacks in 2001 to enlist the aid of the other American states in the War on Terror. Only four Central American states agreed to participate actively.
End of NightWatch for 5 June.
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