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NightWatch 20110719


For the Night of 19 July 2011

South Korea: For the record. The Unification Ministry has received approval to prepare for the introduction of a tax to finance the costs of eventual unification with North Korea. According to unofficial estimates, unification would cost more than $1 trillion, mainly because every North Korean infrastructure urgently requires reconstruction, especially the power grid and the railroads; the North cannot feed itself; and the North cannot provide basic individual and public health care.

In a scenario in which the government collapsed and fled, North Korea would become the world's largest refugee camp, totaling 24 million people, minus the elite that would flee to China in a real crisis. South Korea wants to avoid burdening the working class with the tax, so plans to set aside $11 billion for starters.

North Korea on Saturday denounced the planned tax as a war tax to support a South Korean invasion of the North.

Israel: Navy commandos escorted the French-registered yacht Dignite al Karama, bound for Gaza, to Ashdod Port of Israel on 18 July. This craft was the only member of the latest Gaza flotilla that managed to sail from Greece to Israel.

Navy senior official Brig. Gen. Rani Ben-Yehuda said there were no weapons or humanitarian equipment found on the ship. The takeover was restrained, Ben-Yehuda said, adding that he believed the flotilla was not over but was dying down. Ships are still aiming to arrive, he said.

Earlier, four Israeli navy boats surrounded the yacht, which sailed under a French flag with 10 activists plus crew members, and informed the ship's crew that it would not be allowed to dock in Gaza and would have to divert to Ashdod or to Egypt.

Libya- France: A French Foreign Ministry spokesman told the press on 19 July that Libyan rebels have retaken the eastern oil hub of Marsa el Brega. The spokesman could not confirm exactly what is happening on the ground but said the Libyan rebels are in the process of controlling the entire city.

Comment: Libyan official and rebel news releases have been contradictory about the status of Brega. The French statement is the first from a source with credible intelligence assets to describe the satus of Brega, which has a functioning oil refinery but has changed hands at least four times.

End of NightWatch for 19 July.

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