For the night of 13 October 2014
North Korea: On 14 October, Kim Jung Un appeared in public during his inspection of a housing project for North Korea's satellite engineers. He walked with a cane, but posed for pictures, which the Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) published.
Comment: Kim has put on a lot of weight or else he is retaining fluids. At least the rumors of leadership incapacity can be banked for now.
Hong Kong: On Sunday, Hong Kong's Chief Executive C Y Leung said the chances of China changing its mind over the elections were "almost zero.' He also threatened to use force against lingering protestors because of clashes that occurred on Sunday.
Leung was referring to scuffles between anti- and pro-democracy protestors in which at least one person got hurt. The authorities also used heavy equipment to shrink the protest campsite.
Comment: The point of government action is to demonstrate that the protestors speak for no one but themselves. The territorial executive is slowly and steadily dismantling the protest site and destroying the movement. Hong Kong residents do not object.
India-Pakistan: The Home Ministry reported the latest orders from Prime Minister Modi are "to ensure that Pakistan suffers deep and heavy losses" in the cross-border exchanges of fire in Kashmir. Earlier Modi bragged about firing 1,000 mortars into Pakistani territory.
Comment: The most significant part of the statement is that the Home Affairs Ministry issued it. This is primarily a law and order ministry. Despite the tough language from Modi, the Defense Ministry is not handling the problem. That means it is not likely to escalate, but also not soon to end.
Iran-Turkey-Syria: On 11 October, Iran warned Turkey against military intervention in Syria.
Comment: The Iranian leaders take the Turks at their word that the primary mission of any Turkish forces would be the overthrow of the Baathist government in Damascus. A Turkish expeditionary force in Syria would justify more overt Iranian military support. That would help end the proxy fight and bring at least two of the many antagonists to the field in the open.
Syria: Update. Fighters from the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) are fighting for control of central Kobani. Press reports state that ISIL forces now control half of the city and that it is abandoned.
Comment: The Syrian Kurds are still hoping for a miracle, courtesy of US forces. That simply will not take place. For one thing, Turkey will not allow the US to save Kobani, even if the US wanted to. There is no agreement on US use of Turkish air bases for combat missions, according to a statement by the Turkish government.
Secondly, it is too late. Kobani's fall to ISIL is now unavoidable and only a matter of time.
In other fighting, the Syrian air force more than doubled the normal number of air strikes against opposition elements in western Syria.
Comment: The Baathists are cleaning house in western Syria, taking advantage of US air strikes in the east. They are not combating ISIL in support of the US effort. This is another example of the kind of parochial thinking all the major leaders are doing.
It also shows the impact of foreign intervention in enabling a system under stress to find and defend lines it can hold.
Saudi Arabia -Iran: Today the Saudi Foreign Minister warned Iran to withdraw its forces from Syria. "Our reservations are about Iran's policy in the region, not about Iran as a country or people," Prince Saud said. "In many conflicts, Iran is part of the problem, not the solution. In this case, we can say that Iranian forces in Syria are occupying forces." He also described President al-Asad as an "illegitimate" leader.
Comment: Prince Saud's remarks and Turkish behavior are additional illustrations of the contradictory and self-defeating maneuvering that most of the parties indulge. The sole beneficiary thus far is ISIL which aims to overthrow them all.
Ukraine: President Poroshenko accepted Defense Minister Valeriy Heletey's resignation request. The president announced that it was time to replace the leadership of the Defense Ministry. Later on the 13th, he nominated the head of the National Guard, Stepan Poltorak, as the new Minister of Defense.
According to Ukrainian press analysis, the president is convinced that the decision to replace the head of the Defense Ministry and several other personnel decisions, in particular those to dismiss the leadership of the State Border Service and to set up the Intelligence Committee, to be headed by Ihor Smeshko, will strengthen the security agencies and increase Ukraine's defensive capability.
Comment: Heletey is the scapegoat for the multiple military setbacks during the summer that led to Ukraine's agreement to a ceasefire and to greater autonomy for the two pro-Russian regions in the southeast. Heletey took office as Defense Minister on 3 July.
Ukrainian sources claim that the National Guard is a reserve force that is subordinate to the Ministry of Internal Affairs. The Kyiv regime revived the forces as internal troops because of the failings of the army. Its conscript-filled units were built around right-wing paramilitary groups, such as Right Sector and Svoboda. On its face, Poltorak's appointment is likely to send a message of right-wing intolerance to the pro-Russian Ukrainians.
End of NightWatch for 13 October.
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