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NightWatch 20100510

NightWatch

For the Night of 10 May 2010

North Korea-China: A Japanese new commentary from the 7th assessed that the main purpose of Kim Chong-il's unofficial visit to China was to show "the North Korean people and the world at large" that his regime has China's backing. It described Kim as "relying on China when things get tough."

There are other useful assessments, but one overriding image is that China stands by the Kim regime, with its blemishes. This should be a powerful lesson to Asian analysts because of the timing of the visit coincident with the investigation of the sinking of the South Korean patrol ship Cheonan. The Chinese behavior showed the leadership in Beijing did not let that simmering crisis tarnish the pictures of support.

Many years have passed since China stood so publicly with North Korea during a provocation against South Korea. South Korean officials said they officially informed China about their suspicions of North Korean instrumentality, apparently to no avail. Whatever China learned during Kim's visit, it is more important and higher priority than relations with South Korea at this time.

Philippines: For the record. Senator Benigno Aquino III is on track to win the Philippine presidential election, The Philippine Star reported 10 May. Commission on Elections data indicated that with 57 percent of the votes counted, Aquino has received more than 40 percent. Former President Joseph Estrada is in second with nearly 26 percent.

Aquino is the son of the late Senator Benigno Aquino who was assassinated in 1983 for his opposition to the Marcos regime and former Philippine President Cory Aquino, who led the "People Power Revolution" that replaced the Marcos regime. The old elite political families still have strong influence in Philippine politics.

Pakistan: In a television interview with CBS today, Secretary of State Clinton repeated a charge she made during one of her visits to Pakistan, that some Pakistani officials know more about al Qaida and Taliban than they actually claim.

"Some Pakistani officials are more informed about al Qaeda and Taliban than they let on," Secretary Clinton said. "I'm not saying they're at the highest levels, but I believe somewhere in this government are people who know where Bin Laden, al Qaida, Mullah Omar and the Afghan Taliban leadership are."

Comment: The logic of Secretary Clinton's statement is compelling. If Pakistani intelligence does not know the location of these people then it cannot be a reliable partner in counter-terror.

It already has proven that it has the capability to round up the Afghan Taliban leadership. Moreover, the extent of support Pakistan provided the Taliban when Omar and bin Laden were both working together in Kabul and when bin Laden escaped from Tora Bora into Parachinar, Pakistan, places the burden of proof on Pakistani intelligence to try to disprove the Secretary's statement.

The Times Square bomber's connections to Pakistan justify more pressure on and more candor from Pakistan. The inability or unwillingness of a succession of governments in Islamabad to suppress terrorism is converting Pakistan into a threat to the continental US, as well as to India and Afghanistan.

Iraq: Al Jazeera reported on 11 May Al-Qaida in Iraq have been blamed for a wave of deadly attacks across the country that left at least 85 people dead and more than 300 injured.

Officials said that the more than two dozen bombings and shootings on Monday were a response the killings and arrests of some of the group's senior figures, and were an attempt to disrupt efforts to form a new government.

Comment: A security spokesman for Baghdad said al Qaida was trying to show that it retains vitality and influence. It seems to have succeeded.

Mexico-US: An article in today's Houston Chronicle explains how drug cartel leaders subverted and converted city authorities in Monterrey, Mexico, into cooperating because the drugs were heading north to the United States and the drug lords kept the peace in their own areas. Now Monterrey itself is becoming a battle ground for competing gangs, according to the article, excerpted below.

"There is an enormous complicity of the authorities and a great negligence on the part of the economic leaders of the city. What was the harm, many wondered. The drugs were heading north of the Rio Grande. And the smugglers weren't robbing local stores, burglarizing houses, raping or killing innocents. The mayor of San Pedro Garza Garcia, the wealthiest community in Monterrey, and Mexico, raised eyebrows and hackles during his election campaign last year when he told supporters their town remained safe largely because gang chiefs who lived there wanted it so. The mayor, Mauricio Fernandez, was only acknowledging reality, perhaps. But now a rattled public has begun to realize the barbarians have breached the walls…."

"During a visit to Monterrey in April, President Calderon told scores of civic and business leaders that "there was a belief among politicians that explicit deals could be made with the criminals. Now that they plan to dominate society," the President said, "such ... arrangements don't work. "Monterrey hardly has been unique in cutting such deals. But neither is it exempt from their consequences. "It's not just Monterrey, it's the whole country…" according to a Mexico City security expert."

End of NightWatch for 10 May.

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