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NightWatch 20110725

NightWatch

For the Night of 25 July 2011

North Korea-US: Update. South Korean media sources reported that First Vice Foreign Minister Kim Kye Gwan left Pyongyang for the US on 26 July for talks with US officials about resuming Six Party talks for ending North Korea's nuclear weapons program.

Pakistan: Update. In Karachi, 24 people were killed on 24 July and more than 24 wounded in shootings and cases of arson throughout the city, The Nation reported.

Some 45 have died in political violence in Karachi in the last three days. Rival sectarian and ethnic groups exchanged fire, threw grenades and used rockets.

Comment: The killings are not the work of terrorists, but of rival political factions. This is politics in Karachi with little change in six decades. The only surprise is the extent of the violence despite large scale police reinforcements in the past month.

Syria: The cabinet adopted a law on 24 July that will allow the formation of political parties in addition to the ruling Baath Party. The new draft law does not allow a party to be based on a religious, tribal, regional, denominational, or profession-related basis, or on gender, ethnicity or race. The draft law stipulates that a party may not be affiliated with a non-Syrian party or political organization. It also specifies a party's resources, funding, rights, duties and licensing.

Comment: The law is a draft, but has been submitted for approval by the Baath Party-dominated parliament. It is an element of the political reforms that President Asad has promised. It is a concession with little meaning in the near term because there exists no foundation for political challenges to the Baath Party, except the Muslim Brotherhood.

Norway: Update. A senior Oslo police official revised the number of people killed in the weekend attacks. The number killed by a downtown bomb went up one to eight, and the count from a subsequent mass shooting on a nearby island fell from 86 to 68.

End of NightWatch for 25 July.

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