For the night of 27 May 2014
Vietnam-China: Vietnamese authorities said a Chinese ship sank a Vietnamese fishing boat near the Paracel Islands in the South China Sea on 26 May. They said a Chinese vessel rammed the wooden Vietnamese boat on the 26th and fled. Casualties were not reported.
Chinese media reported the Vietnamese boat capsized after it tried to ram a Chinese ship. Chinese news coverage said the Vietnamese boat was trying to interfere with Chinese oil drilling in the area.
Comment: This is the first boat lost in the latest confrontation over disputed sea claims. It will not be the last. The Vietnamese version of the story seems the more plausible.
China: Police in Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region in western China seized 1.8 tons of material for explosive devices and caught five suspects in a raid that disrupted a terrorist group led by Abliz Dawut. The raid occurred in Hotan Prefecture in south Xinjiang. Police also retrieved videos, audios and printed materials on how to make bombs.
According to Chinese news accounts, the police suspect Abliz and his gang made the bombs that were used in the Urumqi attack on 22 May.
Police also executed raids in Aksu, Kashgar and Ili prefectures on Monday.
Comment: In targeting the bomb makers, the Chinese show some insight that elimination of the bomb makers is part of a permanent solution to terrorism. Nevertheless, the amount of materials seized is impressive because private ownership of almost any harmful device is a crime. This also suggests support from officials or companies in Xinjiang.
Ukraine: Ukrainian security forces regained control of the airport in the eastern city of Donetsk on 27 May after a day of airstrikes and fighting with separatists. At least 100 separatists died in the fighting. Late reports indicate unidentified reinforcements have arrived in Donetsk to help the separatists withstand what appears to be the strongest attack yet mounted by forces loyal to Kyiv.
Comment: President-elect Poroshenko is moving quickly to keep his promise to bring peace to Ukraine. The fight at Donetsk airport is now the deadliest of the Ukraine crisis. Casualties on this scale could challenge Russian President Putin to take action on his commitment to protect ethnic Russians in Ukraine.
Egypt: The presidential elections commission extended voting for a third day because of the low turnout. The turnout is so low that official channels contain no estimates of the percent of registered voters who participated. Election authorities have threatened to enforce the 500 Egyptian pound fine (about $70) for failing to vote, as a means of boosting the turnout.
Comment: Retired field marshal al-Sisi will be the next president, but his acolytes hoped a landslide turnout would legitimate the military takeover of government last year. Apparently Egyptians do not consider al Sisi the savior of Egypt that his supporters do. There is no enthusiasm in the electorate. The threat of a fine will not help generate it.
Egyptian media are split in their analysis of the causes of the low turnout. The Muslim Brotherhood claims its call for an election boycott is responsible for the low turnout. Al Sisi supporters blame it on the heat. One perceptive analyst observed that voter participation will be high when economic conditions improve.
Libya: On Tuesday, the US State Department warned against travel to Libya and advised Americans to leave.
"The Department of State warns U.S. citizens against all travel to Libya and recommends that U.S. citizens currently in Libya depart immediately. The security situation in Libya remains unpredictable and unstable. The Libyan government has not been able to adequately build its military and police forces and improve security following the 2011 revolution."
On 25 May, the Libyan parliament approved an Islamist-backed government led by Prime Minister Ahmed Maiteeq, over the objections of non-Islamists and General Hifter's followers.
On 27 May, four men attempted to assassinate the new prime minister by firing rocket-propelled grenades at his home. In the gunfight that ensured, one attacker was killed. A second was arrested.
Also, over the weekend, thousands of demonstrators gathered in cities across Libya to show support for Hifter, who claimed the protests gave him a mandate to fight terrorism.
Comment: The security situation in Tripoli appears to be out of control. On Monday, a spokesman for General Hifter gave a reasonably detailed description of the fighting in and near Benghazi. Although Hifter's forces have made progress in driving the Islamist militias from Benghazi, Ansar al Sharia remains firmly in control of several important sections of the city.
Nigeria: Boko Haram attacked a military base and a police barracks in Buni Yadi, town in northeastern Nigeria. They killed 54 Nigerian security personnel. This is the second attack on this town this year.
The attackers burned the home of a local government leader and several government buildings. Then they fired into an empty primary school building and set vehicles on fire.
Comment: The general incompetence of Nigerian forces makes suspect any claim that they have found the location of the kidnapped girls. That claim almost certainly is a hoax to try to make the government look less bumbling.
Cameroon-Chad: On Tuesday, Cameroon began deploying an additional 1,000 soldiers with armored vehicles to the border region opposite northeastern Nigeria. They will join 700 soldiers deployed in March.
A Defense Ministry spokesman said the reinforcements are from an "elite" rapid intervention unit. Their mission is to fight Boko Haram.
On Monday, Chadian President Idriss Deby of Chad and Cameroonian President Paul Biya met and announced they are waging war on Boko Haram.
Comment: Both countries have forces that have proven themselves in recent fighting, especially the Chadians. The cooperation of these two nations is essential for any progress in eliminating Boko Haram.
End of NightWatch for 27 May.
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