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NightWatch 20100114

NightWatch

For the Night of 14 January 2010

North Korea-South Korea: North Korea proposed talks with South Korea on resuming tours to tourist spots in the North, according to Reuters today. The Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) report on the proposal stated that it is regrettable that tours of Mount Kumgang and the area of Kaesong have been suspended for one and a half years. KCNA added that North Korea proposed the dates of 26 and 27 January for the talks at the Mount Kumgang resort.

The North suspended the tours for various phony reasons and ill-conceived stratagems. What Readers are seeing this month is a spate of daily, urgent initiatives to engage any nation that can help the North earn hard currency. It is a full court diplomatic and economic press.

India-Pakistan: Indian media reported the Border Security Force (BSF) captured a Pakistani youth performing reconnaissance reportedly for a suicide bombing near Attari in Indian Punjab State.

Officials said the youth told them he had gone to the border to do reconnaissance and that he had been trained in the use of weapons and explosives at the Okaya training camp, where the only surviving attacker involved in the 2008 Mumbai attacks was trained.

BSF officers on Thursday paraded the 18-year-old schoolboy from Pakistan, who they said was linked to the LeT and Tehrik-e-Taliban. BSF identified the man as Nauman Arshad who was caught studying patrolling patterns of BSF jawans in order to find a time and place for seven suicide bombers, three of them women, to slip into India.

This report contains two noteworthy points. First is that Pakistani terror groups persist in their efforts to execute suicide bombings in India. Second is that they are most vulnerable to capture when they emerge from hiding to perform reconnaissance. They always perform reconnaissance and rehearsals.

India-Pakistan-Afghanistan: Addressing the media in New Delhi on the eve of India's Army Day, Chief of Army Staff General Kapoor noted that the infrastructure of terror outfits operating from Azad Jammu and Kashmir (Pakistani Kashmir) remains intact and 700 terrorists were waiting to cross the Line of Control. "The infrastructure across the LoC (Line of Control) … on the other side is very much intact and there are all out efforts being made from the other side to push in as many infiltrators as possible," he said. He also confirmed that attacks in Indian Kashmir are down.

Only Pakistani media picked up General Kapoor's remarks on Afghanistan. Kapoor was quoted as saying that although India was "not involved in active operations" in Afghanistan, it was willing to train Afghan officers to build a strong army, if the US and other forces choose the exit policy.

Actually, India's Border Roads Organization, which is staffed by Indian Army officers, has a substantial contingent building roads in Afghanistan. It is an armed paramilitary organization, when it needs to be, as when it needs to defend itself. The Taliban tend to leave it alone, though IEDs cause a few casualties each year.

Indian officer training would be significantly different from American or NATO officer training, with respect to treating insurgent enemies, what.

Pakistan: On 14 January, the Constitutional Reform Committee approved an amendment to the Constitution that would transfer the authority to appoint military chiefs from the president back to the prime minister, Dawn reported. The amendment, which reportedly was unanimously agreed upon by all major political parties, specifies that the president must consult the prime minister before appointing any military chiefs.

The wording of the proposed amendment reported by Dawn does not appear to be a complete restoration of the power the Prime Minister had before Musharraf staged his coup in 1999 and usurped the constitution. Still it is a step closer to compelling president Zardari to honor the promises he made to restore the parliamentary system two years ago in exchange for his presidency, but on which he has reneged.

With the backing of Chief of Army Staff General Kayani, Prime Minister Gilani has become the political power house of the Pakistani government, over President Zardari, whose time is now past.

Turkey-Israel: Turkey accepted Israel's apology for the disrespectful treatment of Turkish Ambassador Celikkol by Israeli Deputy Foreign Minister Daniel Ayalon. Supposedly, Israeli President Shimon Peres played a large part in the settlement, Ynet reported. One Turkish source called Peres the wisest man in the Middle East, a reference to his appeal to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman to secure an apology.

The atmosphere has calmed but the underlying substrate of distrust has deepened. Turkey is moving slowly into the domain of Islamist countries, leaving behind the secular impulses that underpinned ties to Israel. It has drawn closer to Lebanon, Syria and Iran in the past two years, based on its Islamic credentials, and to China to diversify some of its military weapons.

End of NightWatch for 14 January.

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