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NightWatch 20100503

NightWatch

For the Night of 3 May 2010

North Korea-China: Update. Japanese journalists took photos of Kim Chong-il in Dalian, China, today. Yonhap reported Kim inspected port facilities at Dalian. He is bound for Beijing and a meeting with Chinese President Hu.

Thailand: Prime Minister Abhisit said on television during the evening of 3 May that the next parliamentary election will be held on 14 November as part of his roadmap for a political settlement and assuming it is not be interrupted, The Nation reported. The roadmap includes support of the monarchy by all parties; national political and economic reform; excellent social welfare; media as a constructive tool; and investigations into recent clashes between troops and protesters. He said he cannot meet the opposition's demand for a 15-day dissolution of the government.

The Red Shirts responded they will consider seriously Abhisit's proposal, Reuters reported, citing Jatuporn Prompan, a protest leader. Jatuporn said the proposal must first be discussed among protesters.

Comment: Over the weekend, one of the factors driving the Prime Minister's willingness to offer a compromise was the spread of unrest in the countryside.

Two prior elections have resulted in victories for the opposition. Abhisit's government is elected but came to power through parliamentary procedures and court rulings. Thus, the offer of elections appears to be part of a stratagem to restore a modicum of normality now and to buy time for political maneuvering through the summer. Note the reference to the monarchy, for the second time in less than a week.

It is a significant concession. If the Red Shirts reject it, as seems likely, another attempt at crackdown is likely after a pause. Other news sources today reported preparations for use of more armored vehicles in a crackdown on the Red Shirts.

Pakistan: Pakistani Taliban leader Hakimullah Mehsud, whose death was reported prematurely earlier this year, threatened to retaliate against the United States within a month for the killing of Islamist militant leaders, according to a transcript of the video allegedly made on 4 April.

Pakistani intelligence assured the world he died in a drone attack in January, but the same source now assures the world he is still alive. So much for Pakistani intelligence as a source. The issue is not the quality of Pakistani intelligence, but the propensity to tell the truth.

Pakistan-US: Fox News reported on 3 May that a person of interest in the Times Square bombing attempt is a naturalized US citizen originally from Pakistan who recently returned from Pakistan.

This failed bombing increasingly resembles one of the attempts in London, in which medical professionals tried to explode propane tanks in a vehicle outside a well patronized club. US officials and others may have been too quick to dismiss the Pakistani Taliban's claim of responsibility.

Whether the action is in Madrid, London or New York, the Pakistani diaspora continues to serve as the subculture that supports international terrorism. If the London attempt is prologue, the naturalized American of Pakistani origin will prove to be a practitioner in the health care industry.

The evidence is overwhelming that Pakistan is the center of international terrorism and overseas Pakistanis are among its principle agents. The government has a cabinet-level ministry for overseas Pakistani affairs that manages remittances and communications. This system is overdue for investigation.

Iraq: Update. A security barrier will be built around Baghdad to prevent militants from entering the city from neighboring provinces, according to a statement released by Baghdad Operations Command, Al Sumaria reported 3 May.

The fence will consist of concrete walls and ditches and there will be eight checkpoints through which people can enter the city. Baghdad Operations Command said the wall will eliminate the need for concrete barriers and checkpoints within the city. The wall will also have monitoring devices at each checkpoint. Construction will begin in mid-2011.

Comment: Intelligent national leaders are adopting biometrics to identify friend from foe. In dealing with threats from non-state actors, there are few other choices that serve as an effective first line defense.

Somalia: Fighters of the Islamist militant group Hizbul Islam, who took over the pirate haven of Harardhere on 2 May, said they plan to eliminate piracy off East Africa's coast and liberate any foreign hostages and ships held by pirates that they find, The Associated Press reported 3 May.

Sheik Mohamed Abdi Aros, the head of Hizbul Islam, said his fighters have not yet found any hostages. Aros said Hizbul Islam will not move to other pirate dens until Haradhere is stabilized and free of pirates.

Feedback from one well informed and brilliant Reader noted that the price for ending piracy might be the conversion of Somalia into a haven for international terrorism, in lieu of piracy.

End of NightWatch for 3 May.

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