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NightWatch 20110626

NightWatch

For the Night of 26 June 2011

China-Vietnam: Diplomats from both countries pledged to resolve their maritime dispute over the South China Sea through peaceful negotiations without foreign intervention. The agreement was reached following talks between China's foreign affairs chief Dai Bingguo and Vietnam's vice foreign minister Ho Xuan Son on Sunday.

The two sides agreed to "peacefully resolve their maritime disputes through negotiations and friendly consultations" and to "strengthen public opinion guidance to prevent words and actions that would be detrimental to the friendship and mutual trust between the peoples of the two countries."

Comment: This is the third time in a month that Chinese diplomats have provided assurances about China's peaceful intentions for solving disputes in the South China Sea. However, Chinese security and law enforcement agencies do not consider the South China Sea a disputed region. They consider it Chinese. The diplomatic assurances must be considered suspect and part of a deliberate disinformation campaign by the party leadership.

Pakistan-Iran: Pakistani President Zardari and Iranian President Ahmadi-Nejad agreed on 25 June to strengthen bilateral cooperation. The two men met in Tehran on the margins of the Iranian-hosted summit on dealing with terrorism.

Comment: The agreement to increase cooperation with Iran is the second manifestation of Pakistan's decision to diversify its allies following the US attack into Pakistan on 2 May. The first outreach initiative was to China. The second is to Iran; China's other partner in the Muslim world.

Israel- Gaza: The Israeli government ordered the Israel Defense Forces to block another Gaza-bound flotilla, official sources said on 26 June. The Freedom Flotilla 2 will set sail for the Gaza Strip on 28 June, carrying 500 people on 10 ships, according to Israeli news services.

Foreign journalists have been urged not to participate in the flotilla, which the Israeli Government Press Office said aims to undermine Israel's right to self-defense and to intentionally violate Israel's laws.

Comment: Expect a confrontation at sea. This flotilla will not be allowed to land if Israel determines the ships are carrying contraband, which is highly likely. The prior flotilla of six ships was stopped by Israel Defense Forces on 31 May 2010.

Libya: Over the weekend the Qadhafi regime renewed an offer to hold an "election" on whether Qadhafi should remain in power. A government spokesman said the vote would be overseen by the United Nations and African Union. If the people voted for Qadhafi to step down he would, but he would not go into exile, the spokesman added.

Comment: Arguably more than half of the Libyans already have voted by joining the opposition. Qadhafi's desperation is measured by this overture because he has never been elected to any position and holds no government office or title.

Mauritania-Mali: Soldiers form Mauritania's army completely destroyed an al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb camp in Mali on 24 June, according to international news services. The army used an air strike on the camp in the western Mali region of Wagadou Forest, a source said. Militants returned fire with heavy arms. The camp tent and three vehicles were destroyed; strong explosions were reported across a 20-kilometer radius, probably heavy weapons stocked in the camp.

Comment: Several Mauritanian soldiers and terrorists died in the attack. The key point is that the cooperative arrangement among Sahelian states, France and the US continues to succeed. The African soldiers with Western help are taking the fight to the terrorists in their base camps. That is tonight's good news.

End of NightWatch for 26 June.

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