For the night of 8 October 2014
China- Korea: During the daily Foreign Ministry briefing, a reporter said, "The DPRK (i.e., North Korea) recently dispatched a high-level delegation to hold talks with the South Korean side and they agreed to hold second high-level talks between the DPRK and South Korea. What is the Chinese side's comment on it?"
The spokesman replied, "We have taken note of the relevant situation. We welcome the DPRK's dispatch of a high-level delegation to attend the closing ceremony of the Asian Games in Incheon and the progress in the peninsula's north-south relations. The Chinese side always supports the DPRK and South Korea to improve relations and promote reconciliation and cooperation through dialogue. It is hoped the DPRK and South Korea will go in the same direction, continue to do more things that help increase mutual trust and improve relations."
Comment: North Korea's overture to South Korea plus an extended period of relative quiet probably have helped improve China's attitude towards the North. Lately, the Korean peninsula has been more stable than Hong Kong. The Chinese most certainly are grateful that no provocations occurred in Korea. Nevertheless, the Foreign Ministry spokesman's remarks treated the two Koreas as equals. He betrayed no special sentiment for either, which is probably how the Chinese feel about Koreans.
India-Pakistan: Indian press has reported an increase in ceasefire violations and exchanges of heavy weapons fire across the International Border and the Line of Control in Jammu and Kashmir State. Indian authorities claim Pakistani firing killed at least 18 Indian villagers in the past four days..
On Tuesday, Indian forces executed "massive retaliation" attacks along the 200-kilometer International Border (IB) in Jammu against what they termed unprovoked firing by Pakistan Rangers this month. They targeted 37 Pakistani border outposts, reportedly killing 15 and injuring 30 Pakistani Rangers, according to the Hindustan Times. India sustained six people killed and 13 injured.
According to Indian media, on 1 October Pakistani Rangers - a paramilitary border and law and order force -- began attacking Indian Army outposts along the Line of Control every second day. On 6 October, the Rangers fired mortars at outposts along the International border.
Comment: The International Border is in the southern part of the state, known as Jammu. The Line of Control is a truce line that extends northward from the International Border. Kashmiri militants seasonally begin infiltration from their camps in Pakistan into Indian Kashmir during October. They continue to try to push men and mostly ammunition to militant groups in Indian Kashmir until winter weather prevents movement. Pakistani border forces and sometimes Pakistan Army units provide mortar and artillery fire to cover infiltrating groups.
This is an annual ritual. Indian forces usually retaliate symmetrically. Yesterday, India responded asymmetrically. Consequently, the Indian retaliation on 7 October appears intended to be deterrent as well as punitive probably because of the civilian casualties.
Indian analysts are unclear about Pakistan's motives for the surge in attacks, but are concerned that it portends a busy infiltration season.
One hypothesis is that the Nawaz Sharif government made an agreement with the Pakistan Army and the paramilitary forces. In this scenario, the government rewarded the security forces for their counter-terrorism operations against the Pakistani Taliban and for their restraint in refusing to overthrow the government in late summer during the political disturbances in Islamabad. The reward was authorization to increase provocations against arch-enemy India. The narrative is that Pakistani security forces are defending the country against external as well as domestic enemies.
US drone attacks that killed 23 terrorists since October tends to weaken the narrative.
Another hypothesis is that Pakistani intelligence is diverting Islamic fervor in Pakistani into Indian Kashmir, possibly to relieve political pressure by fundamentalist Islamic groups that have called for Sharif to resign.
The danger of an escalation to general war is negligible at this time. Despite commitments by both governments to improve relations, powerful forces continue to limit progress towards a permanent peace between the two states.
Syria: A Kurdish leader in Kobani told the press today that fighters from the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) entered parts of Kobani from the east and that heavy fighting ensued.
Asya Abdullah, a senior Syrian Kurdish politician said: "Tonight the Islamic State (IS) has entered two districts with heavy weapons, including tanks. Civilians may have died because there are very intense clashes."
On Wednesday, a statement from the US Central Command said eight coalition air strikes had hit targets in Kobani. It said five IS armed vehicles, an IS supply depot and other buildings had been destroyed. It also said, "Indications are that Kurdish militia there continue to control most of the city and are holding out" against IS.
In a briefing in the Pentagon, the press spokesman said air strikes alone were "not going to save the town of Kobani." The US administration said that stopping the takeover of Kobani is not a priority.
Comment: ISIL forces are exerting pressure on Kobani from every direction except north. The fighting reports suggest ISIL's local leaders discovered that the town is most vulnerable on its east side and that is where the heaviest recent fighting has occurred. The new information is that Syrian Kurds acknowledge that ISIL fighters already are inside Kobani in force. It is too late for a rescue ground force to make a difference.
End of NightWatch for 8 October.
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