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NightWatch 20110803


For the Night of 3 August 2011

South Korea-North Korea: Update. South Korea offered aid worth 5 billion won ($4.7 million) as flood relief to North Korea on 3 August. This is the Lee government's first such offer since Pyongyang's deadly island attack last November sent relations into deep freeze.

The North has reported dozens of casualties, thousands homeless and large areas of farmland flooded following a storm and torrential rain this summer.

Comment: Despite its reputation for maintaining hardline policies against the North, South Korea's Lee government is willing to provide humanitarian relief. It also seeks to avoid appearing as an obstacle to progress towards Six Part y nuclear talks.

North Korea-Mount Kumgang Resort: About a dozen officials of the South Korean Hyundai Asan conglomerate arrived at the mountain resort in North Korea to hold a memorial service for their former chairman, an official said Thursday, 4 August.

Hyundai Asan, the main operator of the suspended tour program to Mount Kumgang, has held a memorial service for former Hyundai Group chairman Chung Mong-hun every year since 2003, when he jumped to his death in Seoul.

Comment: The timing of the visit relative to the North's announcement about its intention to dispose of the resort assets indicates Hyundai Asan officials are determined to defend their title to assets which the North intends to sell to the highest bidder.

South Korea has vowed to explore every legal and diplomatic means to protect its property rights and warned the North will be held accountable for all consequences resulting from its disposal of the assets, estimated to be worth about 300 billion won (US$284 million).

Last week, North Korea signed a deal with a New York-based company for tours to the resort. Steve Park, the president of Korea Pyongyang Trading U.S.A., said he plans to visit North Korea this weekend or next week to discuss concrete business plans.

Comment: The North Koreans are not capitalists, but they know how to manipulate capitalists for their short-term interests. Sadly, the leadership does not know how to lead a country or manage its resources to produce wealth.

Pakistan: Update. Hundreds of extra paramilitary troops have been deployed to Karachi where 58 people have been killed in political violence in the past five days. More than 200 people were killed last month.

Comment: The Islamabad government has exhausted its options and ideas for halting politically-motivated violence in Karachi.

Pakistan is heading for a military takeover of government, based on precedent and barring a surprise improvement in economic, law and order and social conditions. In other words, the economic and social conditions that are necessary but not sufficient conditions for a military takeover are present. The instrumental and sufficient conditions -- security force dissatisfaction with the civilian leadership and refusal to carry out lawful orders - do not yet seem present, but can appear in a short time without additional warning.

Pakistan-US: Update. Diplomatic sources said Pakistan gave the US Embassy in Islamabad blanket "no-objection certificates" for US diplomats, lifting the previous restrictions on travel for embassy staff, according to The Dawn newspaper. A US State Department official said the statements were true.

Afghanistan: A senor security director was killed in a mine explosion in Konduz City, the capital of Konduz Province in northern Afghanistan on Thursday, 4 August. This is the fourth senior official to be assassinated in the past month and the first in a northern province.

End of NightWatch for 3 August.

NightWatch is brought to you by Kforce Government Solutions, Inc. (KGS), a leader in government problem-solving, Data Confidence® and intelligence. Views and opinions expressed in NightWatch are solely those of the author, and do not necessarily represent those of KGS, its management, or affiliates.

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