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NightWatch 20140930

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NightWatch

For the night of 30 September 2014

North Korea: South Korean press reported that Kim Jong Un "cracked" both of his ankles and had surgery on both.

Comment: While this is meant to reassure the public about Kim's absence in the past month, it raises as many questions as it answers.

Hong Kong: Central Hong Kong was quieter today. The Chief Executive of the territory called on the protestors to end immediately their demonstrations and clear the streets. He refused to resign and refused to meet with the demonstrators. He also cancelled a public fireworks display in honor of National Day on 1 October.

News services reported that the protestors plan to celebrate China's National Day with the largest demonstration yet. That will occur during this Watch.

Comment: Stability, both in the internal and in the external environment, is one of China's highest national policy priorities. It guides nearly every Chinese policy initiative, from managing Uighur militants to managing South China Sea claims.

The executives in Hong Kong must maintain stability, even if profits fall. They might have intended today's dispersal order as a warning to the protestors of a coming crackdown. The protestors perceived it as a challenge to redouble their activism. That portends another, probably larger, use of force to disperse the crowds, but probably not on National Day.

Afghanistan: The governor of Panjshir Province, Abdul Rahman Kabiri, said Panjshiris are worried that their presidential candidate, Abdullah Abdullah, would be pushed out of power. "Panjshiris are watching the situation." Kabiri warned that they will demonstrate if President Ghani reneges on his commitment to the power sharing agreement.

                  

Statements from locals indicate they do not expect the arrangement to last. They expect a power struggle to lead to a political crisis.

Comment: The Panjshiris are mountain people whom the Taliban failed to subdue. They are loyal to the old anti-Pashtun Northern Alliance. Their sentiments are close to those expressed by the governor of Balkh and his Tajiks, prior to the inauguration of President Ghani. The north is hostile to Ghani.

Their leaders resent Pashtun dominance in government because they think the Pashtuns are being rewarded for having supported the Taliban, while the northern tribes were responsible for overthrowing Mullah Omar's cabal.

The Panjshiri remarks expose several insights. First the Panjshiris acknowledge that they expect the Pashtuns to try to deceive other tribes. They fault Abdullah Abdullah for allowing himself to be deceived in this and the prior presidential election so that he made agreements that guaranteed he would lose.

They also expect the Pashtuns to renege on any agreement they enter. That makes the Panjshiris fatalistic about the likelihood of another political crisis in Kabul. The Tajiks feel the same way

Afghanistan-US: For the record. True to his word, President Ghani signed the bilateral security agreement with the US.

Nigeria: After a lull, Boko Haram fighters attacked villages near Michika on Monday morning. They burned 500 houses and killed indiscriminately, but no casualty figures have been reported.

Comment: Boko Haram has held Michika since 7 September. This operation expanded its area of control to surrounding villages. Nigerian press reported there are no government soldiers in the Michika area.

Nigerian government claims that Boko Haram's leadership was fraudulent seem to have caused confusion among the terrorists. Apparently they have worked through that and have resumed their attacks and operations to seize and hold land in Adamawa State..

End of NightWatch for 30 September.

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