For the night of 3 March 2014
China: The 3.01 Incident. On Saturday night, a group of knife-wielding attackers slashed frantically at crowds at the Kunming railway station, killing 29 people and injuring 143.
Police shot dead four of them and captured an injured female attacker at the scene. Police said Monday that the remaining three suspects involved in the attack had been captured.
Authorities said evidence at the crime scene showed that the attackers were associated with the Uighur separatist in Xinjiang, in western China.
At the daily Foreign Ministry press conference on 3 March, the spokesman said the Chinese police are stepping up efforts to investigate and solve the serious incident of violent terrorism that occurred in Kunming, Yunnan, on the weekend. We have also noted that evidence such as some flags of the "East Turkistan" terrorist forces were indeed found on the scene according to related preliminary information released by the Chinese police. The relevant investigation is still ongoing. We believe that the relevant authorities will release the findings in a timely manner.
Comment: The Uighur separatists refer to Xinjiang as "East Turkestan." The Chinese have not confirmed that the attackers were ethnic Uighurs. Nor have they commented on the magnitude of the security lapse
The Chinese are calling the attack their "9/11" attack. Several aspects of it suggest the Uighurs are innovating and learning. First is the location. Kunming is a tourist site, known for its ethnic diversity and an important rail center in southeast China. When Uighur separatists have attacked outside Xinjiang, they have tended to attack in the north, in Urumqi or Beijing.
Kunming signifies a different targeting strategy and direction of threat. Police suggested the terrorists came from the Golden Triangle region of Burma, Thailand and Laos and moved northward into southern China. Authorities are not prepared for a terrorist attack from this direction.
Other grisly features are the number of people killed or injured by eight attackers using only edged weapons. One Chinese security expert said he thought the timing and manner of the attack indicated careful planning and preparation. He also said it is warning of what to expect in the future.
Pakistan: At least 11 people, including additional sessions judge Rafaqat Awan, were killed and 29 others wounded on Monday during a gun and bomb attack in a court in Islamabad.
Asad Mansoor, a spokesperson for the Ahrarul Hind which is a lesser-known splinter group of the Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), claimed that his group was responsible for today's court attack. He claimed that the court was targeted because the government system is un-Islamic, including the courts. He said his group would continue to struggle until Sharia law is implemented in Pakistan.
Comment: According to Pakistani analysts, this group recently broke with the TTP over holding talks with the government. This attack will not disrupt negotiations, though that was its apparent goal.
This attack highlights the limits of the TTP or any insurgent group in negotiating with the government. The anti-government groups in Pakistan do not recognize a single leadership, except when convenient, profitable or advantageous.
Groups based on tribes, such as the Wazirs and Mohmands, might be able to speak for most of their followers, but even then leadership is fragile and subject to challenge from within. In addition, there are other tribes and other splinter groups who remain dedicated to overthrowing the Pakistani government and replacing it with an emirate. This attack highlights the complexity of Pakistan's internal security problems.
Russia-Ukraine: Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov suggested the crisis can be defused if Ukraine's parliament returned to the 21 February agreement to let president Viktor Yanukovych stay in office until elections in December. Other news services reported Russian officials are telling Ukrainian officials the same message.
Comment: Although Russian forces control Crimea, Russia has made no claim to sovereignty and made no legal move to annex it. Lavrov's suggestion indicates the Russians might have conditions under which they would withdraw their reinforcements. His suggestion also is a probe for flexibility among the leaders of Ukraine and the Western parties to the agreement. In any event, Lavrov ought to be put to his proof.
Ukrainian officials now say the Russians have deployed 16,000 soldiers in Crimea, in addition to the 25,000 authorized at Sevastopol base. When the construction engineers arrive and start constructing permanent buildings and tear down the tents, they are not leaving soon.
Crimea. A Ukrainian colonel and his men at a base in the town of Bakhchisaray, Crimea, rejected a Russian demand that they pledge allegiance to the Russian armed forces or stow their weapons and return home.
Black Sea Fleet authorities also ordered crews of two Ukrainian navy ships to surrender or swear allegiance. Ukrainian navy officers at their base, which is also at Sevastopol, refused to surrender or swear allegiance.
Comment: Bakhchisaray is a principal city of the anti-Russian Crimean Tatars who form about 10 percent of the population of the peninsula. The town is at the southern tip of Crimea.
The Ukrainian colonel is the first man with the fortitude to defy the Russians face-to-face. This development is a snag in consolidating control. The Russians act as if it is unexpected.
A Russian assault on a Ukrainian base could transform what has been a smoothly executed, well planned, bloodless operation into a bloody mess. Dead Ukrainian soldiers in Bakhchisaray risk inciting a national backlash against Russia.
Dead Russian soldiers would risk undermining domestic enthusiasm for this adventure because, in this case, the Russians clearly would be the attackers. It would put the lie to the Russian claim that their soldiers are only protecting Russians.
Thus, this act of defiance is significant. It exposes a weakness in the Russian military-political calculation by complicating and prolonging consolidation of Russian control. The Russian military position is weaker than it appears.
The standoff at Bakhchisaray might create an interval and an opportunity for an outside military show of force on behalf of the Kyiv regime, such as for NATO maneuvers in Poland, for example. NATO can stage ground maneuvers in Poland without consulting anyone outside the Alliance. The Poles would be pleased to annoy the Russians because they have strong ties to western Ukraine and have a real army. The Russians will notice because the Alliance was set up for such a purpose.
Finally, it raises the prospect of a hostile occupation of Crimea and other Ukrainian territory, extending the timetable and straining soldier morale and the Russian logistics system. Logistics remains a critical Russian vulnerability. Time works against the Russians. They have soldiers in Crimea, but they apparently need the Ukrainian bases and facilities.
The speed and apparent efficiency of the operation are strong indicators that the Russians planned and prepared for a Crimean incursion for years. The success of the plan appears to depend on speed and an overwhelming show of force plus Ukrainian, US and European inaction. The defiance of a few Ukrainian army and navy base commanders and their soldiers and sailors could turn all those slick plans into confusion and result in tactical blunders, like storming a Ukrainian army or navy base.
Ukraine-Eastern Ukraine: 2,000 pro-Russian protestors stormed the government building in Donetsk, which is a rich mining region in southeastern Crimea. Ethnic Russians populate the region.
End of NightWatch for 3 March.
NightWatch is brought to you by Kforce Government Solutions, Inc. (KGS), a leader in government problem-solving, Data Confidence® and intelligence. Views and opinions expressed in NightWatch are solely those of the author, and do not necessarily represent those of KGS, its management, or affiliates.
A Member of AFCEA International
Back to NightWatch List