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NightWatch 20100513


For the Night of 13 May 2010

Northeast Asia: The foreign ministers of Japan, China and South Korea will meet in South Korea on Saturday for talks about regional issues. The agenda is likely to focus on North Korea, both to restart Six Party nuclear talks and to examine its role in the sinking of a South Korean patrol ship in March, Japanese government officials said Thursday.

The meeting is aimed at laying the groundwork for a three-way summit that is to be held later in the month. The Chinese have a lot to explain because a South Korean team of scientists concluded the patrol ship Cheonan was sunk by a Chinese torpedo fired from a North Korean submarine.

If the Chinese are abetting North Korean provocations, the clock as been turned back 50 years. It will be critical to learn through these talks just what the Chinese are up to. They do not look or act like the mature partner the US State and Defense Departments were hoping to nurture, but they are advancing Chinese interests usually at American expense.

Thailand: The Cabinet Thursday evening approved enforcement of the Emergency Decree in 15 provinces where Red Shirt protesters are active to prevent possible protests, as proposed by the Centre for the Resolution of Emergency Situation (CRES).

The 15 provinces are Chon Buri, Nonthaburi, Samut Prakan, Pathum Thani, Phra Nakhon Si Ayutthaya, Khon Kaen, Udon Thani, Chaiyaphum, Chiang Mai, Chiang Rai, Lampang, Nakhon Ratchasima, Nakhon Sawan, Nan, and Si Sa Ket. All are near Krongthep (Bangkok).

CRES spokesman Colonel Sansern said the security law enforcement is aimed at preventing moves of Red Shirts which might obstruct security operations in the capital. The government is concerned about sympathizers from outlying provinces reinforcing the rally in central Bangkok. As of 13 May, protestors may leave the rally site, but no one is allowed to enter.

Colonel Sansern said that CRES will appoint the army commanders in Region1 and 2 to supervise troops to maintain order in those regions and governors will be in command of provincial security forces, under the supervision of each regional army commander. This implies that a light form of martial law is in effect with respect to the use of provincial law enforcement resources.

The CRES spokesman said the Royal Thai Air Force also announced no fly-zone over Ratchaprasong intersection and the surrounding area, in Bangkok.

Colonel Sansern, said free buses have been prepared for the public at National Stadium and at Ratchathevi Road as private cars are not allowed to enter the area. Col Sansern said all public transport services including buses and passenger boats along the Saensaeb Canal will be suspended, while the BTS Skytrain, the MRT underground train will not stop at stations in the sealed area.

CRES announced earlier the cutting off of water and power supplies to seal off the Ratchaprasong rally site from 6pm to pressure the Red Shirts to end their more than a month-long protest.

All roads leading to the rally site have been blockaded by security forces.

Comment: Fox News showed tracer and other live rounds fired in the night sky in Bangkok on 13 May. This is the crackdown that will determine whether the government survives. The elimination of the rogue army major general who was leading the armed resistance appears to have demoralized the protestors. Thai government snipers are suspected in the attack on the rogue general. He is said to be brain dead in Chulalonghorn Hospital near the demonstration camp site.

Friday's action will likely determine the future of the government more than the opposition. If security forces succeed in dispersing the demonstration, the government still faces enormous political problems. If the security forces fail, the government must resign.

Pakistan: Update. The government announced it has arrested an accomplice to the Times Square bomb attack.

Comment: Applying 'living systems analysis" as pioneered by Dr. James G. Miller, there are no lone wolves. Every one relies on a biological system, however inchoate it might appear at first.

Afghanistan: According to the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNDOC), a serious disease is affecting opium poppies in Afghanistan. An UNDOC official said that this year's opium production could be reduced by a quarter, compared with last year.

He said the disease - a fungus - is thought to have infected about half of the country's poppy crop and has raised opium prices by 50% in the region. The fungus attacks the root of the plant, climbs up the stem and makes the opium capsule wither away. It has been reported affecting poppies in the provinces of Helmand and Kandahar, the heartland of opium cultivation.

Comment: This is good news but its effects will likely be delayed and mixed, until stockpiles have been sold. Somebody is going to make a lot of cash for a time, but then the lean times begin.

Kyrgyzstan: The fledgling interim government withstood a rebellion today by southerners who supported ousted President Bakiyev. Press accounts were mixed but most indicated pro-Bakiyev supporters took control of a regional government building in Osh, in southern Kyrgyzstan.

Late on 13 May, the government announced it had retaken control of the situation. Nobody seemed interested in shedding blood for Bakiyev.

Chile-US: Update. Chilean officials assess their criminal case against a Pakistani man arrested at the U.S. Embassy is solid, Reuters reported 13 May. The chief state prosecutor, Sabas Chahuan, said he saw a solid case against the man, who was arrested when traces of explosives were discovered on him.

End of NightWatch for 13 May.

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