For the night of 27 November 2011
North Korea-South Korea: For at least the fourth time in the past few years, North Korean state media on 25 November threatened to turn Seoul into a "sea of fire," because of Allied live fire exercises.
Comment: The threats ring hollow and the North's lexicon needs updating.
Pakistan-US: Comment: The news accounts are reasonably consistent that a NATO helicopter attack killed two dozen or more Pakistani paramilitary forces. The NATO account insists that Pakistani officers cooperated in the attack. Another story says that Afghan officers called in the air attack, which occurred inside Pakistan's Mohmand Agency. Another account says US forces were far into Pakistani national territory.
The Torkham border crossing, near Peshawar in northwestern Pakistan, has been closed to truck traffic to Afghanistan. The border crossing point at Spin Buldak in the south, evidently, remains open. The Islamabad government has ordered the CIA to vacate a remote air base that is used for drone attacks but supposedly had been ordered to vacate six months ago.
None of that matters much. All of it is for public consumption because the Pakistani civilian government and military leadership are involved in some fashion. This incident will be covered up. None of the stake holders perceive any benefit from making this incident a cause celebre, an international sensation. The logistics supply line for Afghanistan is much less dependent on Pakistani roads than on central Asian railroads.
On the other hand, Pakistani public hostility for the US will spike.
Syria-Arab League: The Arab League overwhelmingly approved sanctions Sunday, 27 November, against Syria to pressure Damascus to end its deadly eight-month crackdown on dissent, an unprecedented move by the League against an Arab state, except Libya.
Comment: This story is mostly about Arab timidity. The leaders agreed to try to do the least harmful things they could to put pressure on a fellow Arab leader who is not a Sunni. Syria is linked to Lebanon, Iraq and Iran. Sunni Arab sanctions primarily are symbolic.
Morocco: Election update. The Interior Ministry announced that the Justice and Development Party, (PJD) won 107 out of 395 seats, giving it the right to lead a government. Its likely coalition partner, the nationalist Istiqlal party which is the party of the monarchy, came in second, with 60 seats, according to the BBC.
The voter turnout was stronger than expected, despite a call for a boycott by the leaders of the pro-democracy protest movement. The Interior Ministry said 45.4 % of eligible voters cast ballots, up from 37 percent from the last parliamentary election in 2007.
Comment: The analysts who predicted that Morocco is not like Tunisia or Egypt have been proven wrong. Theirs was an anchoring bias that favored educated people living in the cities. The Muslim farmers and rural dwellers in the countryside are true believers and their vote carried the election.
An interesting political development has emerged. The Justice and Development Party, which is patterned after Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan's Justice and Development Party, confronts Morocco's King Mohammed VI with a quandary. The Party is loyal to the King but insists that Morocco must become "Islamicized."
A Muslim king who might favor more secular interests cannot object to his people becoming more devout Muslims, although the long term implications are that the King must be replaced with an emirate.
The Justice and Development Party leader, Abdelillah Benkirane, claimed victory and promised the party would focus on democracy and governance. "Today what I can promise Moroccans is that I am going to try, I and the team which will work with me, to be more serious and more rational," he told the French television station France 24 on Saturday.
The new government, he said, would be a "political electroshock" for the country. "We have a progressive approach to Islam," Mustafa Ramid, a party leader, said in an interview. "The Islamicization of Morocco will be achieved only by re-establishing justice, and religious freedom."
"Like Ennahda in Tunisia, they are new, haven't cheated people, and have expressed a real need for change," said one political analyst. The party's victory, he said, was a rejection of widespread corruption and reflected voters' deep disenchantment with the governing Istiqlal party.
Comment: The so-called moderate Islamists of Morocco already have announced their platform for "Islamicization." Election day in Egypt is 28 November. A win for the Muslim Brotherhood will mean three data points in favor of elected Islamist governments - Tunisia, Morocco and Egypt. That is a trend for Yemen and Syria, in the near term, and the Arab monarchies eventually.
End of NightWatch for 27 November .
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