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NightWatch 20100614

NightWatch

For the Night of 14 June 2010

UN-South Korea-North Korea: Update. Diplomats from South Korea and North Korea met separately with the U.N. Security Council on 14 June to discuss the sinking of the South Korean patrol ship Cheonan in March that killed 46 sailors, DPA reported. The council first held a closed-door meeting with South Korean Ambassador Park In Kook to discuss the complaint he lodged against North Korea on 4 June and then met with North Korean Ambassador Sin Son Ho. The Council made no statement for the press.

Kyrgyzstan Crisis

Kyrgyzstan: Government forces have been unable to suppress Kyrgyz pogroms against the large ethnic Uzbek minority population of Osh and Jalalabad. News services reported that more than 80,000 Uzbek refugees have fled to the Andijon region of eastern Uzbekistan.

The official tally from the rioting and ethnic violence is 124 dead, but bloggers report more than 700 people killed. Officially, 1,685 people have been injured. Pakistan, Uzbekistan, China and other states have sent special aircraft to evacuate their nationals.

The interim government repeated its request for Russian peacekeepers.

CSTO: The Russian-led counterpart to NATO, the Collective Security Treaty Organization, today began discussing options for sending military and law-enforcement assistance to Kyrgyzstan, said CSTO Secretary General Nikolai Bordyuzha in a brief to Russian President Medvedev, state television channel Rossiya 1 reported 14 June.

Bordyuzha said Kyrgyzstan has sufficient forces but needs special equipment, helicopters and road transport to move rapid- response groups. In addition to assistance, there will be a joint effort to identify and prosecute the instigators of the disturbances and an "information campaign" to promote peace among the population.

Comment: The Russians apparently would prefer to provide resources without committing manpower. Security conditions in Kyrgyzstan bear superficial similarities to those in Afghanistan in 1978, the year before the Soviet invasion. A coup had occurred. It produced violent opposition. The new government requested Soviet assistance.

Documents in the collection of the George Washington University National Security Archive (on line at nsaarchive.org) show that the Soviet military leadership opposed insertion of Russian troops because the situation was hopeless.

The political leadership also was against it. Intelligence in local conditions was poor. Cultural insight was worse. Ideologists, Suslov and Ponomarev, carried the argument that the Soviet Union was obliged to do something to rescue a fellow Socialist government in Kabul.

The lessons of the Afghanistan mis-adventure in 1979 must weigh heavily on a new generation of Russian leaders. Kyrgyzstan is bordering on north-south fragmentation. In the past two decades there are no examples of national forces, even with international assistance, preventing fragmentation. The Nigerian Civil War in 1970 is one of the few examples of military operations to prevent fragmentation.

Russia is not likely to act unilaterally because of the lessons of Afghanistan. CSTO would be unwise to send ground forces and most likely will not. CSTO members might agree to provide more airlift and ground equipment.

Iran vs UN: For the record. A media official for the Iranian General Command of the Armed Forces warned against the inspection of Iranian ships in the Persian Gulf following the passage of the latest U.N. Security Council sanctions, Al-Alam TV reported 14 June. Tehran will "respond accordingly" to any hostile measure that targets Iranian ships or aircraft, the spokesman said.

Israel-Gaza: Israel agreed in principle to ease the Gaza blockade, switching from having a list of allowable items to one of prohibited items, Tony Blair said 14 June, Agence France-Presse and The Associated Press reported. Blair, the Mideast Quartet envoy, said he had reached an agreement with Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu to allow goods into Gaza.

European diplomats said the Karni land crossing, the Kerem Shalom land crossing, or both would be opened to deliveries. The U.N. would vet incoming goods and the EU is ready to help fund the new system, the diplomats said, adding that implementation could take weeks or months.

Comment: HAMAS is likely to reject in principle Blair's diplomatic breakthrough, which is only slightly more liberal in substance than prior Israeli offers. HAMAS' objection is that Israel retains control of the list of goods. In practice, goods will move after HAMAS leaders make their statement for the international media.

The significance of the announcement is that it once again shifts the burden of choice to the HAMAS administration: the welfare of the Palestinians in Gaza over compromising their rejection of Israel. HAMAS will not compromise, but goods will get through.

Palestinian National Authority-Hamas: Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said in an interview with al-Ayyam newspaper that any system for supplying the Gaza Strip must involve his West Bank-based government, as it is the "legitimate representative" of the Palestinian people, Reuters reported 14 June.

Hamas rejected Abbas' position. According to a Hamas spokesman, a 2005 agreement allowing for Palestinian National Authority (PNA) assistance has expired; therefore, any international intervention, especially by Europe, must go through the government in Gaza.

End of NightWatch for 14 June.

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