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NightWatch 20150206

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NightWatch

For the night of 6 February 2015

South Korea-China: South Korean National Defense Minister Han Min Koo met Chinese Minister of Defense General Chang Wanquan on 4 February in Seoul. They discussed a wide range of issues, including military and nuclear threats posed by North Korea. They agreed to install a direct line between the two defense ministries.

Comment: Minister Chang expressed concern about US missile defense systems in South Korea, indicating that China and South Korea are far from allies. The Chinese and South Korean navies and air forces already have hotline links.

The most important aspect of the visit is that Chang was in Seoul. This was his third visit to Seoul, though is first as Minister. He has not visited Pyongyang since his appointment as Minister in 2013.

Ukraine: Government and rebel forces agreed to a ceasefire to evacuate civilians from the town of Debal'tseve . This time the ceasefire held for the duration of the evacuation. Ukrainian soldiers remain in the town. Shelling and fighting continued in other areas.

Yemen: International media reported that the Houthi rebels announced that they dissolved parliament and installed a five-member "presidential council" which will form a transitional government to govern for two years.

In a televised statement on Friday, the Houthi rebels said that they would set up a transitional national council of 551 members to replace the dissolved legislature.

The "constitutional declaration", attended by tribal and military representatives as well as by the outgoing interior and defence ministers, came after a Wednesday deadline set by the Shia militia for political parties to resolve the crisis passed with no agreement.

The United Nations said that it would not acknowledge the announcement made on Friday afternoon, calling it a unilateral decision.

Comment: The installation of a transitional government is not exactly a power grab, but the process also is not democratic. Still, no Houthi leader seized power. In addition, the lack of violence in Sana'a suggests that the constitutional declaration has support from major factions, for now. .

Niger: On 6 February, for the first time Islamist Boko Haram terrorists attacked Bosso, in Diffa Region. Nigerien and Chadian forces with Chadian air support drove off the terrorists after an hour long exchange of fire. State TV in Niger reported 109 terrorists killed. Four Niger soldiers were killed, 13 were wounded and two are missing. One of the wounded was Yaya Doud, the Chadian general who commands the forces north of Lake Chad.

Diffa is the name of the region as well as the name of the regional capital. Bosso is a village in southeast Diffa Region across the border from Malamfatori, Nigeria.

Niger's parliament is due to vote on Monday on a proposal to send troops to Nigeria to fight Boko Haram.

The Chiefs of Defense Staff of Nigeria and Chad today strengthened and signed their strategic Memorandum of Understanding on fighting Boko Haram. They did not disclose details, except to say that both states pledged to supply 2,500 soldiers for the fight as part of the multi-national task force. Thus far only the Chadians have shown up.

Comment: If Boko Haram intended to test the Nigerien and Chadian forces, they passed. Once again, news accounts report air attacks contributed to the defeat of Boko Haram. Diffa Region also is where the French military team deployed.

End of NightWatch for 6 February.

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