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NightWatch 20100615

NightWatch

For the Night of 15 June 2010

The Korea Confrontation

North Korea-UN: The Stick. North Korea's permanent representative to the United Nations said the military will respond to any measures taken by the U.N. Security Council against Pyongyang over the sinking of the Cheonan, international media reported on 15 June. Ambassador Son said the U.N. Security Council should not make a pronouncement on the sinking without letting North Korea verify the results of South Korea's investigation, by sending its own team of investigators to examine the evidence.

North Korea: Military readiness. North Korea raised its military readiness though no signs of fresh provocation are visible, South Korean National Defense Minister Kim Tae Young said, according to The Associated Press.

North Korea is maintaining a considerably strengthened vigilance posture and has been issuing many threats and statements through various channels, Minister Kim told the National Assembly. There were no serious military activities at the border and in rear areas, he said, adding that South Korea is closely watching North Korea's military.

North Korea: The Carrot. North Korea's political parties and organizations put forward three principles to ease the tension on the Korean Peninsula, Xinhua reported June 15. According to the Korean Central News Agency, the principles are:

- North Korea will respect and implement the north-south joint declaration, the supreme program for reunification;

- Political parties and organizations will join with whomever upholds and supports the north-south joint declaration; and,

- The United States should not obstruct the implementation of the joint declaration nor interfere in the issue and the inter-Korean relations.

The statement appealed to the international community to support positively and encourage efforts to uphold and implement the joint declaration.

Comment: The absence of conditional language in the recent threats means the North is not bluffing. The words do not disclose the nature of the military action that retaliates for UN action. A symmetrical response would suggest a naval action.

On the other hand, the North is explicit that it will destroy the loudspeakers on the South's side of the Military Demarcation Line and most likely their power supplies and broadcasting buildings.

The curious development is the proposal for easing the tension, by upholding the 2000 joint declaration by South Korean President Kim Dae Jung and North Korean Chairman Kim Chong-il. This is apparently an attempt to take advantage of South Korean observances in commemoration of the 10th anniversary of the 15 June 2000 declaration made when Kim Dae Jung visited Pyongyang.

That declaration followed the first summit between the two Koreas. It contained provisions to advance north-south reconciliation and even create some form of political entity to solve problems between the separate systems

The proposal, thus, contains no new substance and imposes no additional burden on the US that it has not already accepted. However, it seems to imply that the North is willing to resume the joint activities with South Korea that it dismantled or terminated in the past year, such as family reunions, tourism to Mount Kumgang and joint manufacturing at Kaesong. Those would seem to follow from the commitment to implement the joint declaration. The US has never stood in the way of those activities.

In sum, the leadership in Pyongyang apparently does not know who sank the Cheonan and the military does not want to be punished before it gets a chance to examine the evidence. A military faction clearly wants to shoot guns at South Korea, for reasons that are hardly plausible, but deadly nevertheless. The motivation for this has less to do with UN action than with a sense - conveyed in multiple discordant public statements - that the South and the US do not fear the North's military capabilities. They seem to think they have something to prove and so will stage a military demonstration.

At least one leadership faction strongly wants to avoid further escalation, despite the military bluster. That group has offered the US an exit strategy that apparently requires reassurances of US good intentions that were given ten years ago!

China-Pakistan: The US decided to object to a deal in which state-owned Chinese companies would supply Pakistan with two nuclear reactors, The Washington Post reported 15 June. The deal will be discussed next week at a meeting in New Zealand of the 46-nation Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG).

Additional nuclear cooperation with Pakistan beyond those specific projects that were grandfathered in 2004 would require consensus approval by the NSG, a U.S. official said. State Department spokesman Gordon DuGuid said the US told the Chinese government that the United States expects China to cooperate with Pakistan in ways consistent with Chinese nonproliferation obligations.

Comment: NightWatch has been tracking a trend of widespread disregard for US views or interests in nearly every continent. This is typical. News services reported three similar incidents last week that showed the Russians, Chinese and Iranians poaching on various US interests with insouciance as well as impunity.

Lesson for analysts: In the past 65 years, when the US is not perceived as leading, the world becomes more dangerous. Warning officers need to stay alert.

Pakistan: Security. The Daily Times reported today that after a two-year long successful military operation in Bajaur Agency and the return of internally displaced persons (IDPs), Taliban have reappeared in the Agency, warning local officials through letters to stop the security operations or be ready to face the consequences.

"Sources" told Daily Times that the threats written on Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) (i.e., Pakistani Taliban) letterhead papers were distributed in various areas of the agency's Mamoond and Khar tehsils on Monday. The letters threatened that the TTP would continue its fight in Bajaur against the US and its allies. Residents said they feared for their safety again after the distribution of the threatening letters.

The battle for Bajaur or Operation Sherdil was launched by the Pakistan Army in August 2008 to clear the area of the Pakistani Taliban, who controlled the agency since early 2007. On 19 April 2010, Federally Administered Tribal Agencies (FATA) Law and Order Secretariat Secretary Tariq Hayat told a press briefing, "Security forces had claimed security clearance in most of Bajaur after military operations." He, however, feared that the Taliban could recapture the cleared areas of the agency if IDPs were not repatriated to these areas.

Secretary Hayat was completely wrong. Pakistan has no more insight into maintaining long term control of restive areas within its national territory than does any modern power. Pakistan has been trying for decades and, obviously failing. Only India and Sri Lanka know how to suppress an insurgency and maybe the leaders of the Iraqi Awakening Movement.

As for India, it might have to use against the Naxalites in east-central and east India the brutal tactics that it used in Jammu and Kashmir State which reduced insurgency to a criminal problem.

Karachi: "Foreign elements are behind the ongoing sectarian violence in Karachi," Federal Interior Minister Rehman Malik told the Senate on Tuesday. Malik hinted there is an international conspiracy against Pakistan.

"Investigations have revealed that it (the violence) is not a Shia-Sunni problem, rather it is a conspiracy to destabilize Pakistan. … Terrorists are trying to trigger ethnic violence in Karachi" he said. More than a dozen people have been murdered in Karachi on Monday and Tuesday. Despite Malik's comments, it does look like another round of Shiite vs Sunni gangs.

Kyrgyzstan Crisis

Kyrgyzstan: Officers, warrant officers and sergeants who have served in the Kyrgyz internal troops, the Defense Ministry, the national guard and other security bodies, as well as soldiers who were dismissed for valid reasons, have been invited to serve again, the internal troops' press service said, 24.kg reported 15 June. Applicants can go to the recruitment departments of internal troops' units in the cities of Bishkek, Osh, Jalal-Abad, Batken, Kara-Kul and Shamaldy-Say.

Note: Apparently mobilization of reservists is working, but leadership ranks are deficient. This appeal implies the security situation is not under control by any means.

A Kyrgyz official said the interim government would send a request for Maxim Bakiyev's extradition from the United Kingdom, 24.kg reported. A senior government official said that the son of ousted President Kurmanbek Bakiyev is closely connected and provided financial assistance to the unrest in the south regions of Kyrgyzstan.

Note: This has overtones of the Bangkok crisis in that ousted officials in exile continue to finance and stoke unrest back home.

UN: The unrest in Kyrgyzstan appears to have started with five simultaneous attacks and then spiraled into an inter-ethnic conflict, a spokesman at the U.N. human rights office said 15 June, Reuters reported. The spokesman said the violence began with coordinated attacks in the southern city of Osh "involving men wearing balaclavas and carrying guns," adding that the men appeared to be "seeking to provoke a reaction. …the situation was to some degree orchestrated, targeted and well-planned," the spokesman said.

Reinforcing the UN statement, First Deputy Head of the Interim Government Almazbek Atambayev said the events in Kyrgyzstan's south were aimed at disrupting the 27June referendum on adopting the new constitution, Interfax reported 15 June. Atambayev said ousted President Kurmanbek Bakiyev's people funded the unrest.

Russia: Russia's permanent representative to the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) said Russia has no intention of sending peacekeeping forces to southern Kyrgyzstan, RIA Novosti reported 15 June. Azimov said such measures would be unjustified because the civil unrest in Kyrgyzstan is an internal conflict.

Note: Russian leaders recalled Afghanistan, looked into the bottomless pit that is counterinsurgency, and had the wisdom to step back from the edge.

The Gaza Situation

UN-Israel: The United Nations said it is ready to assume control of the humanitarian aid cargo that was confiscated by Israel Defense Forces from the Turkish aid flotilla, DPA reported 15 June. Robert Serry, U.N. special envoy for the Middle East peace process, said Turkish and Israeli authorities have both agreed to entrust the distribution of the supplies in Gaza to the United Nations. Serry added that there is reason to believe the authorities in Gaza will respect the independence of the United Nations.

Comment: The statement means that the HAMAS has continued to refuse to accept the relief for its apparently suffering people. Either the suffering has been exaggerated or the HAMAS leadership is barbaric.

Palestinian Authority-Egypt: Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, in a meeting with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, said Israel should open all seven crossings to Gaza, Reuters reported 15 June. Israeli Welfare Minister Isaac Herzog said Israel is considering ending the crossings' closures because the current policy is "counterproductive," confirming remarks made by Middle East Quartet envoy Tony Blair.

Israel-HAMAS: Yuval Diskin, head of the Israeli security service Shin Bet, said Hamas and Islamic Jihad have more than 5,000 rockets (with Hamas alone holding more than 4,000) with ranges of up to 40 kilometers (25 miles) in the Gaza Strip, AFP reported 15 June.

Diskin told the Israeli parliament's Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee that some of the rockets' ranges were long enough to hit central Israel. Diskin also discussed security aspects of lifting the Israeli naval blockade on the Gaza Strip, warning that allowing Gaza to operate a port if the Israeli naval blockade was eased or lifted would be a "huge security breach and a dangerous development for Israel," even if ships were inspected by international forces.

Comment: HAMAS appears on the verge of reaping a windfall for having done nothing but kvetch. Israel might want to demand that HAMAS surrender a thousand rockets for each border post that is opened. HAMAS is trying to get a lot without having to do anything … a tactic of the perpetual victim.

End of NightWatch for 15 June.

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