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NightWatch 20110815

NightWatch

For the Night of 15 August 2011

North Korea: For the record. The Japanese news daily Mainichi Shimbun published an article on 13 August that reported North Korean authorities are scaling back expectations of national progress towards prosperity in 2012, the 100th birthday of Kim Il-song, the father and eternal president of North Korea.

According to the article, "It was learned recently that the slogan 'Open the grand gates to becoming a strong and prosperous nation,' which North Korea has espoused for the year 2012, the 100th anniversary of the birth of the now deceased President Kim Il-song has been downgraded from "strong and prosperous nation" to "strong nation" signifying a change in policy."

"This was clarified by a number of sources close to the Korean Workers Party of Korea. The North Korean regime is steadily moving toward substituting "strong nation" in its official announcements. The aim seems to be to lower the expectations of the North Korean people in light of the regime's lack of progress at improving relations with the international community and inability to find a way of overcoming the country's economic difficulties."

Comment: North Korea always has relied on the energy reserves of the people to accomplish seemingly impossible development tasks, despite inadequate supplies and physical resources. The doctrine of the inexhaustible, salutary reserves of the masses is central to the fantasy world of North Korean propagandists … and of other impoverished states.

The significance of the change in language is that some elements of the leadership recognize that the human resources are spent and the internal economic problems exceed the remedial capacity of human energy through enthusiastic exertions. North Koreans are jaded by too many cheer-leading campaigns in the past 60 years that have not slowed the steady deterioration of their living conditions. Enthusiasm requires food.

Thus, the North Korean propagandists apparently are declaring that conditions as they exist today are tomorrow's success. Rather than admit failure, they have redefined the goal. In so doing, the leadership is acknowledging that prosperity is unattainable in 2012, if ever.

Readers should understand that references to "a strong nation" mean "a nation possessing nuclear weapons."

Special NightWatch Comment: The mismanagement of North Korea and North Koreans by the Kim family should subject the Kims to an investigation by the International Criminal Court for crimes against humanity for the deaths of millions since 1996 and the systematic mistreatment of millions more since then. The atrocities in Libya and Syria are minor in comparison to Kim family's industrial scale death toll.

China: Update. The Chinese aircraft carrier completed four days of sea trials and has now returned to port at Dalian.

Pakistan-US-China: Comment: Over the weekend, anonymous US officials charged Pakistan with granting China unauthorized access to top secret US military equipment. According to the allegation, the ISID chief Lieutenant General Shuja Pasha allowed Chinese intelligence agents to photograph the wreckage of the US special operations forces helicopter that crashed at Abbottabad during the raid that killed bin Laden.

The ISID denied the charge today, but ISID continues to prove that it is untrustworthy or out of control. For example, in 1998 six Tomahawk cruise missiles aimed at Afghanistan crashed in Pakistan. ISID is believed to have sent at least one of these, complete and intact, to China. Moreover, the Pakistani Babur cruise missile appears to be a duplicate of the Tomahawk.

If the Chinese wanted access to the crashed US helicopter, Readers may be confident Pakistani intelligence gave it to them and lied about it. If a US official leaked that such access was given, the leak is deliberate and it means the US has confirmed its charges in intelligence channels and wants Pakistan to know that the US knows about its double dealing…. Again.

Turkey-Syria: Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu told Syrian President Bashar al-Asad on 15 August that all military operations must end "immediately and unconditionally." Davutoglu warned al-Asad that these were his final words to Syrian authorities.

Comment: Davutoglu's language constitutes an ultimatum, but Turkey is in no position to use military pressure on Syria, even with Saudi backing. In that connection, Turkey's President Gul met Saudi King Abdullah on 15 August, indicating some form of collusion i staking place.

NATO is spent. The Saudis could lend financial aid, but Turkish forces are not capable of defeating Syrian forces. A Turkish military intervention would unite most Syrians against the Turks and end the activism, for historic reasons if nothing else. Syria was an Ottoman governate before 1918. Thus, Davutoglu's meaning and intentions are unclear.

One consequence of the Turkish warning is predictable. The warming trend in Iranian-Turkish relations is likely to be suspended. Iran has been steadfast in supporting Syria.

Egypt: Update. Army armored forces moved into North Sinai Governate to restore central government control in three cities in northern Sinai. Although the Sinai Peninsula is demilitarized, Israel consented to the Egyptian operation and has moved some Israeli forces to support the Egyptians.

Libya: A U.S. military official said on 15 August that Libyan government forces fired a SCUD short range ballistic missile for the first time in this year's conflict with rebels.

The official said the early Sunday missile launch was detected by US forces shortly after midnight and it landed in the desert about 50 miles outside Brega. Rebel and regime forces have battled over the strategic port city, and control has gone back and forth between the two sides.

Comment: Prior to the rebellion, the US engaged Libya in a program to destroy its ballistic missile inventory. Libya had 240 SCUD-B missiles for 80 launchers and 120 Free Rocket Over Ground (FROG) unguided rockets for its 40 FROG launchers. NATO air forces have destroyed some of this pre-conflict inventory, but the numbers are unconfirmed.

No open sources indicate Libyan forces have ever fired a SCUD under combat conditions. The earlier model SCUDs are notoriously inaccurate, meaning they are fit for area targets but not for precision work. The target at Brega would have been oil refineries. Libya missed. A SCUD firing under these conditions might kill some Libyans. But it is mostly a curiosity, is not a game changing weapon and evidences the ineffectiveness of NATO intelligence to locate the SCUDs and of its air campaign to destroy them.

News sources reported rebel and Berber forces have made progress in western Libya, reportedly contesting the town of Zawiya, about 30 miles west of Tripoli. This is a truck stop on the supply route from Tripoli to the border with Tunisia. Its capture by the rebels would decrease overland supplies and increase the discomfort level in Tripoli.

News services reported that Qadhafi"s Interior Minister, his top cop, arrived with his family in Cairo on 15 August. If confirmed as a defection, this would be the most senior official to abandon Qadhafi.

End of NightWatch for 15 August.

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