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NightWatch 20091113


For the Night of 13 November 2009

North Korea-South Korea: Update. North Korea will take military measures to protect its Yellow Sea border with South Korea following a recent naval clash, Pyongyang's official news agency KCNA reported 13 November. A North Korean officer was quoted telling his South Korean counterpart "that there exists only a sea demarcation line in the Yellow Sea set by the North, and from this moment on the North will take merciless military measures to protect it."

The North's rust bucket navy will have to make a far better showing than it did this week. The South completely outclasses the North in naval capabilities. The main threat to South Korean ships on patrol off the west coast is from North Korean shore-based anti-ship missile batteries just north of the Northern Limit Line.

Thailand: For the record. A widely respected poll, conducted by Assumption University, found that Prime Minister Abhisit's popularity has increased "nearly threefold" from 21% to 60% since late October. The poll attributed this increase to the antics of former Prime Minister Thaksin in stirring up political passions. Eighty per cent of those polled thought Thaksin's "political moves in relation to Thailand and Cambodia" had hurt Thailand. Just under 70% thought Thaksin should not have taken the position as advisor to Cambodia's Hun Sen

Iran-Saudi Arabia: Guardian Council Secretary Ayatollah Ahmad Jannati condemned Saudi Arabia for its involvement in the recent conflict in Yemen, Mehr News Agency reported 13 November. Jannati said certain countries, with Saudi Arabia in the lead, are committing acts that make it appear that they are determined to exterminate all Shias.

Jannati exaggerated a bit, but he has captured the essence of the Saudi message.

Iran-Russia: Iranian armed forces Chief of Staff General Hassan Firouzabad stated that Russia has delayed by six months a contract to transfer S300 missiles to Iran, Mehr news agency reported 13 November. Firouzabad said Tehran is dissatisfied with the actions of the Russians who are considered Iran's friend. He questioned Russia's knowledge of the significance of Iran's geopolitical strategy to ensure the security of Russia, and asked why Russia has not fulfilled the contract on the transfer of S300 missiles or complied with the terms of the contract for the past six months.

This is the latest Iranian retort to the Russian reply to the Iranian complaints about the Russian delays in honoring the S-300 air defense missile contract. The Iranian statement clarifies that a contract exists and is overdue for the start of performance. It also explains the press reports about imminent deliveries at various times earlier this year.

Syria-Saudi Arabia: In reviewing recent statements by Syrian President Assad, last month the summit with Saudi King Abdallah, Assad strongly supported Saudi Arabia's right to defend its territorial integrity … a reference to the al Huthi rebel incursions from Yemen. Syria is the fourth Arab state to align with Saudi Arabia against Iran's proxy in Yemen.

Israel-Hamas/Gaza: This is tonight's good news. Hamas has all but halted rocket launches into Israel and has succeeded in curbing other groups from conducting launches, Reuters reported 13 November, citing Israeli military chief Lieutenant General Gabi Ashkenazi. Ashkenazi said Israel will be ready if the launches resume. A rocket was fired from northern Gaza into Israel on 13 November; there was no damage and no one claimed responsibility, said an Israeli military spokeswoman.

More on this story later.

Saudi Arabia-Yemen: About 240 villages in Saudi Arabia near the Yemen border have been evacuated because of the fighting in Yemen, Reuters reported today, citing the United Nations Children's Fund. Other sources reported more than 175,000 people have been displaced by the Saudi buffer zone project.

End of NightWatch for 13 November.

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