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NightWatch 20110126


For the Night of 26 January 2011

South Korea-North Korea: Update. On 26 January South Korea proposed 11 February as the date for resuming official, military contacts. The meeting at Panmunjom would be devoted to making preparations for high level talks at a time to be determined. North Korea has not responded as yet.

Iraq: The Council of Ministers has approved the purchase of 18 F-16 Falcon military aircraft as part of a weapons deal signed with the United States, an Iraqi government spokesman said on the 26th. The United States will deliver the aircraft within two to three years, according to the spokesman.

Comment: Almost every international news observer knows that the al Maliki government is a proxy for Iran. While that judgment might be an exaggeration, it is no stretch to predict that any advanced weapons technology provided to Iraq is also provided to Iran.

Kuwait: The National Assembly on 26 January approved a law to distribute the Amiri grant to Kuwaiti citizens, including a one-time disbursement of 1,000 Kuwaiti dinars ($3,500), KUNA reported. The grant also stipulates that from February 2011 to March 2012, subsidized staple goods will be given free of charge to anyone in possession of a valid ration card.

Comment: The Amir is bribing the populace to remain quiet.

Jordan:  During a meeting with Senate President Tahir al-Masri, members of the permanent office and leaders of Senate committees, King Abdullah II said that the country's officials need to work together through dialogue, openness and transparency in order to press ahead with political, economic and administrative reforms, Petra-JNA reported.

Reforms will enable Jordan to cope with economic challenges, secure the Jordanian people with a decent living and allow for better achievement among the people, King Abdullah II said. In a statement on Jordan television following the meeting, al-Masri said that King Abdullah II is aware of all issues and challenges and is optimistic for the future.

Comment: A well-informed, astute and Brilliant Reader warned that there is not enough food in Jordan. Rioting is only a matter of when it starts.

Lebanon: The pro-Hariri March 14 coalition called on its supporters to hold daily sit-ins in downtown Beirut to protest Hezbollah. According to March 14 coalition member Fares Soeid, the entire country is becoming beholden to Hezbollah. He has therefore urged the Lebanese people to gather peacefully every evening at Martyrs' Square in Beirut.

Comment: Actions by Hariri's faction ensure continuing internal instability in Lebanon with the threat of violent clashes. Persistent discord will prevent a pro-Hezbollah government from consolidating its control of political power and shorten its political life.

Egypt: The Ministry of Interior announced that no protests of any kind will be allowed and threatened legal procedures against all who participate. Between 700 and 900 protestors have been arrested in the police crackdown, according to various news services.

Meanwhile, protestors in Suez set a government building on fire and tried to burn down an office of the National Democratic Party, Reuters reported. Police used tear gas to push back protesters, preventing arson at the party's office. Shops were ordered closed by city officials after incidents of looting, and clashes with police left about 55 people injured, witnesses said. Six people have died in the past two days, but authorities said two deaths were the result of an automobile accident.

For the record. The government denied news reports that Gamal Mubarak, the son of the President, and his family were identified at the airport in Cairo prior to leaving. It also denied that other cabinet ministers and their families were recognized at the same airport, preparing to depart. Hmm…

Tunisia: The Tunisian External Communications Agency that acted as a censor of foreign media during the rule of ousted President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali was dissolved, according to Regional Development Minister Nejib Chebbi. The agency will be replaced by an independent body that will coordinate with foreign media and not interfere in their output, the Cabinet minister stated on Tunisian state television.

The interim government plans to replace the interior, defense, and foreign affairs ministers as part of a Cabinet reorganization, according to an unnamed political source. It also issued a warrant for the arrest of former President Ben Ali and his family for corruption and abuse of office.

Comment: The holdovers from the Ben Ali regime are trying desperately to lead the new political situation. The dissolution of the censorship organization is pro forma. Two weeks ago, the government lost control of information. The cabinet shuffle, which will remove Ben Ali appointees, bespeaks a triage program to sacrifice some Ben Ali holdovers in order to save the rest while satisfying the protestors for a while.

Another political spasm is inevitable because the old timers will not leave and the opposition seems to have no leader.

End of NightWatch for26 January.

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