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NightWatch 20110415

NightWatch

For the Night of 15 April 2011

China-North Korea: The government in Beijing apparently has asked North Korean heir-apparent Kim Jong-un to fly on his next visit to China instead of using a train like his father. Diplomatic sources on Wednesday, 13 Apr, said Chinese leaders think a rail trip would make it very difficult to protect him. China has suffered headaches closing off roads and railways trying to provide safety for Kim Chong-il who refuses to travel by aircraft and always travels outside North Korea in a special armored train.

Comment: Actually Chinese security for the Korean leadership's armored train has been better than North Korean security. On the return leg of Kim's last trip to China, unidentified activists attempted to blow up the leadership train as it crossed from China into North Korea. Their timing was bad: the armored train had passed before their explosive charge destroyed the track.

Chinese insistence that the new leader-designate take an aircraft could save both countries a lot of security costs. North Korea often runs at least three armored trains whenever Kim travels, two of which are decoys.

Indonesia: At least 25 people were wounded in a suicide bombing at a mosque located in an Indonesian police compound, the first suicide attack on a mosque in Indonesia, police said. The explosion occurred at a prayer room at the police headquarters in the city of Cirebon in West Java Province. The bomber joined other worshippers for Friday prayers, and then detonated his explosives at about 12:15 p.m. local time. Several police officers, including the Cirebon police chief, who were praying near the bomber were injured in the blast.

Comment: Suicide bombing is rare in Indonesia and an imported tactic. As practiced in Indonesia, Islam generally is not extreme or militant, except against Christians in the outer islands. This incident is a serious breach of security by a reasonably competent security force. It indicates a local militant group has imported new tactics and explosives know-how from outside Indonesia.

Pakistan-US: Comment: The Director of the Central Intelligence Agency was quoted today by an unidentified official as having told Pakistani intelligence that the US will continue drone attacks. According to the source, CIA Director Leon Panetta told his Pakistani counterparts that his fundamental duty is to protect the American people and to prevent attacks on the United States and he will not halt operations that support those objectives.

Actually, the fundamental duty of the CIA Director and the agency is to do what the President tells him and the agency to do. The mission of the CIA is defined by law - starting with the National Security Act of 1947 -- not by its latest director.

The CIA mission, according to the national security act, is to provide intelligence to help keep the US safe. This has been expanded to include "intelligence" operations, but the fundamental mission of protecting the American people, according to the same national security act, falls to a cabinet department, the Defense Department, not to an intelligence agency. Certainly no agency of the executive branch has the authority to declare war on Pakistan, which the paraphrase comes close to doing. Something is wrong here; maybe the source got it wrong.

Yemen: News sources reported that more than 3 million Yemenis demonstrated after Friday prayers to demand the resignation of President Saleh. The opposition leaders gave Saleh an ultimatum that he must resign in one week.

Unnamed sources said an agreement has been reached for Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh to transfer power by 23 April and step down within 30 days, Al Jazeera reported on 15 April. The sources said Saleh, defected military officer Major General Ali Mohsen al-Ahmar, the opposition, the Gulf Cooperation Council states and U.S. and European donors had reached the agreement, with the timetable organized by the United States.

The deal will be presented to the opposition Joint Meeting Parties. Three other top officials are expected to resign: General Ahmed Ali Abdullah Saleh, the president's son and head of the Republican Guard; General Yahya Mohamed Abdullah Saleh, the president's nephew and head of the Central Security Forces; and Ammar Mohammed Abdullah Saleh; a nephew and head of the National Security Bureau. It was also proposed that al-Ahmar leave the country at the same time as the president.

Comment: No other news services have reported such an agreement. However, the size of the demonstrations is extraordinary and a testament to the failure of Saleh's tactics for staying in office.

Syria: Thousands of people demonstrated after Friday prayers in the southern Syrian city of Daraa and in other towns on 15 April. The activist said there had not been an army presence in Daraa since the night of 14 April after a meeting between Syrian President Bashar al Asad and city leaders.

Comment: Multiple protests in several cities occurred after prayers, but they appear to be going no where.

Egypt: Comment: The news spin today was that the Mubaraks - father and two sons -- are under arrest. Egyptian official sources stated they are in detention and the sons are held in prison and Mubarak will as well after his heart condition improves.

This action continues to look phony in order to quiet the opposition, more than bring the Mubaraks to justice.

Various US news organizations have extolled the symbolism of "Mubarak before the bar," implying that the Egyptian protestors are so simple minded that they can be placated by charades. Curious that American news reporters would report that symbolic justice would satisfy the opposition, although substantive justice failed in Egypt. That is racism.

Mubarak can implicate the entire armed forces governing council in corruption and illegal activity. No prosecutor in any justice system would want him to testify. However, every defense attorney would want him to testify because he could implicate the prosecutors and probably the judges. Mubarak's agreement to detention might be his last gift to Egypt to help maintain a stable country.

Algeria: President Abdel Aziz Bouteflika said in a speech broadcast on Algerian state TV on 15 April that he would give parliament the power to revise the country's laws relating to the exercise of democracy, adding that a committee will be formed to examine the constitution and then present its results to parliament for discussion.

Bouteflika said that he supports the introduction of legislative and constitutional amendments to strengthen representative democracy. Bouteflika said that he has instructed the government to develop a national program of investment for companies operating in all economic sectors, adding that consultations will be held in 2011 at the local level with citizens, elected officials and associations to define the objectives of local development.

Comment: According to the announcement, the president is empowering the parliament to revise laws. This is a study in democracy in Arab countries.

End of NightWatch for 15 April.

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