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NightWatch 20110308

NightWatch

For the Night of 8 March 2011

North Korea-South Korea: For the record. The North pleaded for rice aid in today's contact. South Korea refused until the North apologizes for last year's attacks.

Sudan: Opposition groups confirmed they will demonstrate on 9 March despite police warnings that such demonstrations are illegal and will be dealt with accordingly, Sudan Tribune reported.

The groups said they are protesting the Libyan government's "massacres" against its people and voicing their support for the uprisings in Egypt and Tunisia. The Popular Congress Party opposition group's legal affairs official, Kamal Omer, said his group notified the authorities of its intentions, saying it does not need governmental permission to exercise its constitutional right.

The demonstration will take place at 1 p.m. local time at Khartoum's Abu-Janzeer Square and will be addressed by Umma Party leader Al-Sadiq Al-Mahdi. Khartoum state police chief General Mohammad Hafiz Hassan Attiya said he does not recognize the opposition's reasoning, noting that the law requires permission to organize a protest.

Comment: The protest movement finally has reached Khartoum. The 9 March demonstration will be the first indication of its strength.

Libya: Update. Concerning Qadhafi's offer to resign, "There was no direct offer by Mu'ammar al-Qadhafi's regime. Rather a number of human rights activists made such an appeal," according to Abd-al-Jalil of the Benghazi national council.

The council "is agreed to ending bloodshed on two basic conditions (sic). First, Mu'ammar al-Qadhafi should stop launching air strikes and shelling the cities of Al-Zawiyah, Misratah, and Ras Lanuf. Second, he should leave immediately. Third, we guarantee that Al-Qadhafi will not be prosecuted if he only stops killing our brothers in western Libya."

Abd-al-Jalil continued to say that if "Al-Qadhafi steps down immediately, leaves Libya immediately, and stops bombardment, we as Libyans will not take legal action against him. However, this offer will remain effective for 72 hours only."

Comment: It is close to, but not quite, an ultimatum because the Benghazi council and the rebels are not in a position to back up their threats.

The Rebellion. There was significant fighting in Zawiyah, west of Tripoli, and in several towns east of Tripoli. The rebels appear to have lost control of most of Zawiyah, from armor, air and artillery attacks by pro-Qadhafi forces.

Comment: The ground and air attacks reinforce the assessment that Qadhafi's resignation offer was either a trap or a lie or both.

Politics. According to a variety of unidentified Libyan sources, a quarrel erupted among Al-Qadhafi's sons and daughter who were divided among themselves about national strategy. Some supported the hardline policy of suppressing the rebellion by force. Others suggested it is time to depart.

The sources said that sons Al-Sa'idi, Sayf al-Islam, Al-Mu'tasim, and Khamis supported their father's strategy to suppress the popular revolution with all available military means. Al-Qadhafi's other children, A'ishah, Hanibal, and Muhammad, opposed the plan.

Sources reported the debate was so heated that shots were fired and heard from outside the leader's compound.

Comment: When al Qadhafi family members book flights for Zurich, then Readers may trust a serious leadership rift exists.

Special comment on no-fly zones: The basic principle is that if the enemy has no flyable aircraft, a no-fly zone is self-enforcing. There is no need to bother or awaken the anti-aircraft, radar and air defense missile crews.

Why would anyone attack air defenses when he can destroy the entire Libyan air force on the ground and its fuel storage tanks and ammunition depots in a single well-planned stealth attack at night? Does any one in government remember Israel's Six Day War; or the Japanese attacks at Army Air Corps bases at Pearl Harbor and at Clark Air Base in the Philippines. These are examples of highly effective enforcement of no-fly zones.

The first thing that has to happen is the destruction of anything that flies, not the destruction of the air defense system. The Libyan rebels might lose the fight on the ground, but the battlefield will have been leveled.

This comment is not a policy recommendation. It is a blinding flash of the obvious. If international law is to be violated, it seems pointless to not do it at lowest cost and the right target: destruction on the ground of attack helicopters and ground attack aircraft.

End of NightWatch for 8 March.

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