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NightWatch 20141120

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NightWatch

For the night of 20 November 2014

North Korea-Russia: Update. Choe Ryong Hae, Secretary of the Korean Workers' Party, met with Russian President Putin in Moscow, as a special envoy for Kim Jong Un on the 18th. The delegation arrived a day later than expected after the plane transporting it from Pyongyang experienced mechanical difficulties.

The Kremlin Press Office announced the visit on the same day, stating that Choe carried with him a personal letter from Kim Jong Un to President Putin.

On 20 November, Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov said that North Korea indicated it is ready to resume nuclear talks. Lavrov told a news conference on Thursday, "We received assurances from the high representative of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea that Pyongyang is ready for the restart of six-party talks, without pre-conditions."

He said a special envoy of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un met President Vladimir Putin this week to deliver a letter promising "cooperation in solving problems that are now lingering on the Korean peninsula."

Comment: The Russians appear to have bought into the North Korean line that "without preconditions" absolves a multitude of misdeeds. The North has failed to live up to multiple agreements that it freely entered and that are related to limiting its nuclear and missile programs. The preconditions that the North seeks to avoid are the obligations it already accepted … in writing.

Thus the North apparently has swindled Lavrov into believing that the North Koreans are open and honest in their willingness to talk. In fact, they are deceptive and dishonest because they want a new set of negotiations in order to avoid keeping their past commitments. As is the North' custom, North Korea wants to renegotiate to determine whether it can get a better deal.

Russia has almost no stake in the outcome of North Korean nuclear negotiations. It is meddling in order to be consequential without taking any risks.

Iraq-Turkey: Today Iraq and Turkey announced new agreements on closer security and intelligence collaboration against the threat posed by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL). Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi said, "We have a key agreement to exchange information and have full security cooperation." Abadi made the statement at a news conference after a meeting with Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu in Baghdad.

Using the Arabic acronym for the ISIL, Abadi said, "The Turkish prime minister also wants us to have military cooperation in the face of terrorism and Daish and we welcome that."

Prime Minister Davutoglu affirmed that the two sides had agreed on closer security cooperation. "I can say that Daish threatens both Iraq and Turkey, but we will cooperate and do everything we can to stand up to terrorism," Davutoglu said.

At a joint press conference with parliament speaker Selim el-Cuburi, Davutoglu said, "we cooperate with the Iraqi government against all kinds of terrorist action, whether it be from ISIL or the outlawed PKK, which took up arms against Turkey to carve out a separate state in the southeast of the country."

"We must drain the swamp in Syria, and for this we need a more comprehensive strategy … ISIL did not start the problem in Syria, and so the problem may not end with ISIL's eradication," remarked Davutoglu.

Comment: Beyond the pleasantries, the story behind the story is Turkey's dissatisfaction with the Iraqi Kurds and with Shiites in general. Turkey will oppose any further extension of ties between the Iraqi and the Syrian Kurds. Prime Minister Davutoglu also made clear that Turkey considers the fight against ISIL a sideshow to the real fight to overthrow the pro-Iranian government in Damascus, Syria.

Turkey apparently is willing to cooperate with a Shiite-dominated government in Baghdad, provided it does not work to advance Iran's interests in Syria and stays focused on a common threat.

For Turkey, the worst consequence of ISIL, thus far, is that it has rallied Kurds in four countries. ISIL has created a threat from the potential formation of a pan-Kurdish state. The Turks would work with Shiites in Baghdad rather than accept an independent Kurdish state that might overlap Syria, Turkey, Iraq and Iran.

Almost any security discussions between Turkey and Iraq involve the fate and future of the Kurds. Apparently an Islamic Caliphate is preferable to an independent Kurdish nation.

Nigeria: Boko Haram fighters killed at least 45 persons in a recent attack on Azaya Kura village in the Mafa administrative area of Borno State in northeastern Nigeria on Wednesday.

The insurgents, who stormed the village in trucks, attacked the residents; destroyed their houses; and stole motorcycles, foodstuffs and livestock.

Comment: This attacked occurred in an area north of the battle line that Nigerian forces appear to have established this week.

End of NightWatch for 20 November.

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