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NightWatch 20100705


For the Night of 5 July 2010

North Korea: The official Party newspaper published a signed commentary in which the author analyzed recently declassified US State Department documents concerning the shoot down of the EC 121 intelligence collection aircraft in 1969. The commentator argued that US defense contingency planning to use nuclear weapons against North Korea to retaliate for that incident, as described in detail in the declassified documents, justifies North Korea's pursuit of nuclear weapons.

Comment: signed commentaries are low level treatments of an issue. This was picked up and repeated in part by the Korean Central News Agency, which indicates the party reviewers think it has merit. The logic is a bit strained in that North Korean had no nuclear weapons program in 1969. The author contends that the behavior of the US then is typical so as to justify the present nuclear weapons program.

Of passing interest, the commentary contains a detailed summary of US military plans, as follows.

"To date the US imperialists have worked out a number of plans of operations to provoke a new war in Korea and have run amok to translate them into reality. It has already been known that they [the US imperialists] mapped out a top secret plan of operations called "8-53" designed to provoke a new Korean war, in November 1953, shortly after they suffered a defeat in the Korean War. "Pink Route Operations Plan" for a northward aggression was mapped out in the 1960s. According to this, such things as an armed spy ship "Pueblo" sneaked into the territorial waters of our country. It is also revealed that similar operations plans were worked out in the 1970s and 1980s as well. In the 1990s, the US imperialists worked out "Operations Plan 5027" to "bring down" our Republic and have kept revising it. It includes "New Operations Plan 5026" that envisioned a preemptive strike on our nuclear facilities, the "Operations Plan 5030," which is said to have aimed at "guiding somebody to unrest and collapse," "Operations Plan 5029-05," and "Operations Plan 8022-02."

The commentary argues that the sinking of the patrol ship Cheonan lies within the context of US nuclear attack planning. Thus "the serious situation prevailing on the Korean peninsula stresses the need for us to further bolster our nuclear deterrent in a new developed method. Let us make it clear: Our Republic has the legitimate right to further reinforce our nuclear deterrent as needed in a new developed method to defend the country's supreme interests. We will exercise this right openly and squarely. (Emphasis added.)

It is not clear what the new developed method is, but it has dominated nuclear weapons articles since the North claimed to have achieved a fusion breakthrough in early May. The North at least believes it has some significant nuclear weapons innovation.

Pakistan: Pakistani newspapers reported three noteworthy developments. At a high level security meeting, Prime Minister Gilani said the military will mount no operations against terrorists in Punjab Province and renewed a call for talks.

The attacks in Lahore last week raised the issue of possible military operations because of the failure of the police to prevent the attacks despite timely intelligence warning. Gilani also agreed to convene a national conference on dealing with terrorism, which has nearly unanimous support in parliament.

The Punjab provincial government announced the arrest of a dozen suspected plotters and a crackdown on suspected terrorist organizations in the Province. The News reported that the Punjab Home Department has set up task forces comprising police officials at the district level to crack down against 17 banned organizations following the suicide attacks at the Data Darbar in Lahore. In Lahore citizens protested that the government was not doing enough to protect holy sites from sectarian militants.

The task forces will comprise officials from the CID, the Special Branch and the Anti-Terrorism Squad. They have also been advised to establish close contacts with intelligence officers in the districts to exchange information with regard to 17 banned organizations.

For Pakistan specialists, The News reported the names of the 17 organizations, which were banned by the Home Department, Punjab. They include Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, Sipah Sahaba Pakistan, Sipah-e-Muhammad Pakistan, Lashkar-e-Taiba, Jaish-e-Muhammad, Tehrik-e-Jafriya Pakistan, Tehrik Nifaz Shariat-e-Muhammadi, Millat-e-Islamiya Pakistan, Khudamul Islam, Islami Tehrik Pakistan, Hizb-ut-Tehrir, Jamiat-ul-Ansar, Jamiat-ul-Furqan, Khair-un-Naas International Trust, Islamic Students Movement (ISM), Balochistan Liberation Army (BLA) and Jamaat-ud-Daawa.

Besides, the Sunni Tehrik has been placed under observation. Among the banned outfits, nine belong to the Deobandi sect, three to Shia sect and three belong to the Ahle Hadith. The BLA is a nationalist organization, while the ISM is a students' organization.

The Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) is not included in the list issued by the Punjab government while according to Interior Minister Rehman Malik, the TTP and al-Qaeda, in collaboration with Lashkar-e-Jhangvi and Sipah

Comment: Punjab provincial leaders have been in denial about the possibility of terrorist cells operating in the Province, rather than outlaws parading as Islamic warriors. Apparently, they continue to refuse to acknowledge the existence of Pakistani Taliban sects in Punjab, despite Federal intelligence warning to the contrary. Thus the crackdown seems to be a small positive step.

Of note, the police are to establish "close contacts" with intelligence officers in the districts to exchange information. Pakistani provincial and federal law enforcement agencies share information, evidently, no better than agencies in other federal systems.

Politics. The Supreme Court stated its dissatisfaction with the government's performance in implementing its decisions in connection with unconstitutional laws enacted by former President General Musharraf. It gave the Gilani administration until 12 July to render a complete report. In issuing its decree today, it indicated there has been little to no compliance to date, and some backsliding. One officer who should be barred from public office in the Federal Investigation Agency has been promoted to the rank of assistant director.

Comment: The Court and the Government have sparred since last year, but avoided a showdown thus far, despite more than six months of temporary Court rulings followed by government foot dragging. The Court's patience appears to be wearing thin and that usually portends a political crisis between branches of government. Thus far the friction has been restrained, but the powerful lawyers guild is being disrespected again by the elected politicians. That quickly can lead to protests by the lawyers.

Afghanistan: Special note: At the risk of repetition, NightWatch would remind readers that there is no single geographic key to the Pashtun insurgency that is inside Afghanistan. Kandahar is no more critical to the fight than was Marjah, not even psychologically.

Capture of Mullah Omar, who is in Pakistan, would be devastating because his continued liberty to move and promulgate orders with impunity makes him look blessed and protected by Allah.

Short of capturing Omar, provision of security to Pashtun villages for a year and control of bordering smuggling from Pakistan are two goals that would make a difference. With those accomplished to some degree, then corruption might be tackled. But the inability to punish insurgents who shoot to kill makes a mockery of efforts to punish officials who steal. Honest officials get killed by the Taliban because they have no protection.

Iraq: Last week news reports established that Syria, Turkey and Iran were working simultaneously to control the Kurds. The Syrian efforts are mostly in the form of some arrests and a crackdown on support activities by Kurds in Syria.

On 4 July, Iraq added to the pressure on the Kurds. US forces reportedly separated Iraqi Army soldiers who clashed with Kurdish peshmerga militiamen, after an automobile accident. The specifics of the clash look trivial, but its escalation into an international incident is not. Expect more clashes and expect them to get worse.

Turkey-Israel: The Foreign Minister warned on 5 July that Turkey will sever diplomatic ties with Israel and close its airspace unless Israel apologizes for the commando raid on an aid convoy to Gaza in which nine Turks died. Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu was quoted as saying "Relations will be broken" unless Israel apologizes or accepts the conclusions of an international inquiry into the 31 May attack on the aid convoy bound for Gaza.

Turkey heretofore called for an international probe into the raid, but in a break with that position, Davutoglu did not reject Israel's own commission to investigate the raid. "If this commission concludes that the raid was unjust and if they apologize, that will be sufficient," he said, although he insisted that Turkey wanted compensation from the Jewish state.

He clarified that no Israeli aircraft, civilian or military, would be allowed to use Turkish airspace, according to Hurriyet. Turkey also has withdrawn from annual exercises with Israel and the US.

Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu said on Friday that Israel would not apologize.

Russia: Update. Russia will buy French MISTRAL-class helicopter carriers with French navigational equipment and technical documentation, but will equip the ships with Russian weaponry and helicopters, according to a defense industry source, RIA Novosti reported 5 July. Fire control systems will be included, the source said.

Russia plans to use the helicopter carrier in northern latitudes, in ice floe, the source stated, adding that the hull of the ship will need to be reinforced, but it will not seriously change its structure or technical equipment. The Russian military said it plans to use MISTRAL-class ships in its Northern and Pacific fleets.

Note: the major significance of the news item is that that Russians apparently intend to buy all the MISTRALS under construction, whereas the initial announcements suggested a more limited purchase. The French have not confirmed the contract modifications implied in the RIA Novosti story. In addition, the notion that the ships will be used in northern latitudes is not credible. These ships enable Russia to project force in the mid-term in ways that it cannot at present.

End of NightWatch for 5 July.

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