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NightWatch 20100118


For the Night of 18 January 2010

North Korea-South Korea: The government in Pyongyang yesterday authorized a visit by a 16-member South Korean team to discuss ways to revitalize their joint industrial estate at Kaesong just north of the Demilitarized Zone. The two-day talks will begin Tuesday, 19 January, according to the South's Unification Ministry.

Comment: South Korean officials and media were concerned earlier on the 18th that the talks would be canceled because of the strong threats made by the North Korean National Defense Commission on 15 January.

National Defense Commission Statement. Last Friday, the National Defense Commission, acting in its own name, issued a strong threatening statement in reaction to South Korean reports about Allied Operation Plan 5029 for stabilizing North Korea in the event of severe internal instability.

"In its 13 January edition, the South Korean paper "Munhwa Ilbo" openly made public to the public opinion this plan which was drawn up with utmost secrecy during the period of fall to late last year by the conspirators of South Korea's "Ministry of Unification" and the "National Intelligence Service" that deal with North-South relations. "

"This provocative plan has concrete vicious anti-Republic contents of overthrowing the system in which it classifies the types of "rapid change situation" that cannot exist nor occur in our Republic as "accident type," "coup d'etat type," and "civilian riot type," and by intentionally "promoting and maximizing" this plan, its plan is to collapse our highly dignified socialist system and then even carry out their "administrative measure" to deal with it."

"If the "Operation Plan 5029
," which has already been known to the world is a concerted anti-Republic scenario to overthrow the system fabricated by the cat's paw and master aimed at "collapsing" us, the "emergency rule plan" is the South Korean authorities' unilateral anti-Republic plan to overthrow our socialist system.

"1. The South Korean authorities will have to immediately dissolve South Korea's existing "Ministry of Unification" and "NIS" that are the head place that fabricated the anti-national, anti-reunification, and anti-peace "emergency rule plan" and immediately take the appropriate measure of putting the ringleaders who have worked out the imprudent confrontation plan before the judge of the nation and imposing severe punishment [on them]. The firm stand of our army and people is that neither the reconciliation and cooperation of the nation nor the improvement of North-South relations can be achieved any time if such scheming agencies as South Korea's existing "Ministry of Unification" and "NIS" are kept intact."

"2. In a condition where the South Korean authorities' reckless provocation plan -- which is aimed at doing something against our revolution's supreme nerve center and highly dignified socialist system -- has been completed first and is translated into action, a nationwide, holy war of retaliation will be commenced to completely blow up the stronghold of the South Kor
ean authorities, including the "Blue House (South Korea's presidential palace)," which took the lead in working out this plan and has backed it up. This holy war will become a pan-national and full-scale struggle of justice in which all the compatriots in the North and the South and overseas, including our revolutionary armed forces, are totally mobilized. "

"3. The So
uth Korean authorities will have to remember that unless they truly apologize before the entire nation for the anti-Republic crime they have committed, they will be thoroughly excluded from all dialogues and negotiations to be held in the future to improve North-South relations and guarantee peace and stability on the Korean peninsula. It must be clearly noted that whoever they may be, those who incite distrust and confrontation, instead of reconciliation and cooperation of the nation, and pursue war and division, instead of peace and reunification, will not escape the merciless punishment of the Mt Paektu revolutionary powerful army."

Comment: The key word that introduces the threatening language is "If." The threats would follow, if the plan is, as feared, a plot to overthrow the Democratic Peoples Republic.

OPLAN 5029 has existed as a Contingency Plan since before 2003. It is aimed at containing the effects of a North Korean upheaval within North Korea under various scenarios; providing for the people of North Korea in the absence of a functioning central government; and safeguarding weapons of mass destruction and their delivery systems, according to press descriptions.

The plan has been controversial in South Korea too. It calls for Combined Forces Command units and South Korean civil affairs units to move into North Korea to stabilize conditions. Points of tension include which Ally would command such a charge; who would possess North Korea's weapons of mass destruction; and what would be done with the North's Army.

Last year an updated version was converted into an Operation Plan, which has sparked the recent tension over this issue. North Korea declared it an act of war on 8 November 2009 because it discusses invading North Korea. Friday's comments are similar to those published last November.

The North's willingness to honor its agreement to hold economic talks with the South indicates the leaders in Pyongyang understand the reason for the plan and do not see it as an invasion plan, at least not yet. One internet site claims that China has a similar plan of its own.

North Korea-US: Yesterday North Korea declared it will not return to the Six Party talks unless United Nations sanctions are lifted, raising a new condition and the ante for denuclearization.

The Korean Central News Agency published an official statement in English that, "If the six-party talks are to take place again, it is necessary to seek whatever way of removing the factor of torpedoing them."

The North also said it has no reason to oppose or delay the Six Party talks, which have been stalled since December 2008, but stressed that if it participated in the talks with sanctions in place, it would violate the terms detailed in the 19 September 2005 joint statement reached after a Six Party talk session.

On 11 January the North said it would return to the Six Party talks if sanctions were lifted. But the United States and South Korea rejected the proposal.

Pakistan: security. Over the weekend a spokesman for the Tehrik-e-Taliban, Pakistan (TTP, aka Pakistani Taliban) released a second audio message purporting to refute Pakistani reports that Pakistani Taliban leader Hakimullah Mehsud was killed in a US drone attack in South Waziristan on the 14th.

"I have to issue another message through my spokesman Azam Tariq after hearing reports through the media that I am dead and that I had not mentioned date in my previous recorded statement,"

Senior government officials based in North Waziristan today insisted that Hakimullah was killed in the drone strike. "I am sure he is no more. He suffered injuries in the January 14 drone attack and was receiving treatment at a house in Shaktoi, which was struck by the drone on Saturday night," a senior government officer claimed. He argued if Hakimullah were alive he would have personally contacted media soon after the attack.

The Pakistani authorities deny the authenticity of the recording and have their own sources within the Pakistani Taliban. For Readers, the behavior of the Pakistani Taliban mimics that when Hakimullah's predecessor, Baitullah Mehsud, was killed. The Pakistani authorities have the right of the issue in asserting that it is easy to prove one is alive using a press conference.

Hakimullah is probably dead and that means another leadership dispute among the Waziris.

Afghanistan: Multiple news services reported today's bold Afghan Taliban attacks in Kabul. The coordinated multiple attacks killed at least 15 and injured 62, as reported in this Watch. Four militants also were killed, including two suicide bombers who detonated their explosives, and Afghan forces were searching several other areas in the city for more attackers, a government spokesman said.

It was the biggest attack in the capital since 28 October when gunmen with automatic weapons and suicide vests stormed a guest house used by U.N. staff, killing at least 11 people including three U.N. staff.

The attack coincided with the investiture of those Cabinet members in the Karzai government who had been confirmed by the Parliament. A majority of his choices have been rejected twice.

Taliban spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid told The Associated Press that 20 armed militants, including some with suicide vests, had entered Kabul to target the presidential palace and other government buildings in the center of the capital.

The Taleban spokesman, Zabihollah Mojahed, called today's ongoing attacks in Kabul a message for foreign forces and the Afghan government. He told the Afghan Islamic Press, "Today's attacks are a strong message from the Taliban to foreign forces and the government. We showed them that the Taliban cannot be purchased or crushed by increasing the number of foreign forces."

Comment: Today's action in the context of the statement represents the clearest Taliban response to the plans for a surge in US troops and for Afghan government outreach to Taliban commanders. The Haqqani syndicate has been responsible for the most effective attacks in Kabul during the past few years.

The Haqqani organization obviously has penetrated government and Coalition security and has inside help moving men and vehicles to targets. More importantly, the Haqqanis understand that the end game requires the capture of Kabul.

Internal instability is always centripetal, unless it leads to fragmentation. The direction of combat always must point to the centers of authority, in the district, the province and the nation, unless the aim of combat is to fragment the state. The Pashtun Taliban want to govern Afghanistan, not to form a secessionist Pashtun state.

Attacks of this kind discredit the government and its allies by showing they cannot protect themselves, much less the people of Afghanistan. It is a false thesis, but it resonates with shopkeepers, investors and residents because of the random nature of the violence. The government did not fall and the Haqqanis lost 20 suicide bombers who achieved little more than past less strenuous exertions.

In other words, the Haqqanis understand the end game. They are trying to collapse the non-military props of the regime. They cannot beat the NATO forces in combat, but they can erode home front support by embarrassing them. They may be expected to continue to try to assassinate Karzai or someone of comparable stature, such as the US ambassador or a NATO general.

Ukraine: Pro-Russian opposition leader and former Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovich won the first round of Ukraine's presidential election, according to the National Exit Poll Consortium, Ukraine's InterTV reported on 17 January. Yanukovich won 31.5 percent of the vote, according to the exit poll, and will face the runner-up, Prime Minister Yulia Timoshenko, who took 27.2 percent, in a run-off election in February.

As counting continued today, the two vote margin narrowed, indicating the Ukrainians are rather evenly divided between those who favor closer ties to Moscow and those who favor closer ties to the Europe. President Yushchenko's Orange Revolution with its unabashed sprint for NATO membership seems dead, but a new more balanced configuration of pro-Western sentiment apparently remains vibrant. Yanukovich did not win on the first ballot by a long shot.

End of NightWatch for 18 January.

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