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NightWatch 20110812


For the Night of 11 August 2011

North Korea-US: North Korea said Thursday, 11 August, it is considering holding a reunion of Korean-Americans with family members left behind in the North decades ago.

"The North Korean Red Cross Society is positively examining the issue from a humanitarian viewpoint" in response to recent US proposals for talks to discuss the reunion of separated families, a spokesman for North Korea's Ministry of Foreign Affairs said.

"If both sides promote cooperation, beginning with such humanitarian issues, it will help build mutual confidence required for solving complicated problems in the future," he said in a comment carried by the country's official Korean Central News Agency.

Comment: Heretofore, the North's overtures of this kind have been directed  to South Korea. This positive response to a US proposal indicates the North's leaders understand the significance and value of appealing directly to the large Korean-American community, many of whose members have family  in the North.

Afghanistan: President Hamid Karzai will not seek a third term as president, according to a statement from Karzai's palace on 11 August. Karzai said the Afghan constitution does not allow a president to serve more than two terms in office, and he made the announcement in response to rumors, according to the statement.

Comment: Some experts predicted that Karzai would attempt to alter the constitution to permit him to be elected to a third term. Today's announcement does not exclude the possibility that Karzai might be asked to run again.

Yemen: President Saleh objected to the basic mechanisms of a US-backed power transfer deal at a meeting with Yemeni party officials in Riyadh on 11 August, a Yemeni official who attended the meeting said. The deal calls for Saleh to cede power to opposition leaders in exchange for immunity from prosecution.

Comment: As noted previously, Saleh's agreement to convalesce in Riyadh does not mean that he has resigned the Presidency. Apparently, some diplomats misunderstand Saleh's clearly and often-stated position. He said that he will not resign but will transfer power to a duly elected president, selected in new elections.

Egypt: For the record. The government initiated a process to end the state of emergency that has been in place for three decades, a Cabinet spokesman said. The spokesman said the government is coordinating the procedures with the military council.

Comment: The only significance of this announcement is that it reinforces the assessment that the political system has not changed, except that Mubarak and his family are no longer in charge.

Egyptian Islamist movements and parties said they will demonstrate if the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) imposes guidelines for drafting a new constitution, Al-Masry Al-Youm reported.

A Gamaah al-Islamiyah spokesman said his party will object to the guidelines and that any attempt to impose them will have a serious negative impact.

A Freedom and Justice Party leader said the party also is against supra-constitutional principles and will confront any attempt to draft them with million-strong protests, adding that neither the SCAF nor any Cabinet head has the right to oppose popular will.

Salafi Asala Party chairman Adel Afifi said Islamist forces will protest in Cairo and other governorates, while a Salafi Front spokesman said the Islamist groups will protest in governorates during Ramadan and return to Tahrir Square when the holy month ends.

Comment: The Egyptian political situation incrementally is empowering the Islamists. The military leadership continues to direct measures that will appease the Islamists in order to restore civil order. The moves continue to encourage the Islamists to ask for more concessions.

End of NightWatch for 11 August.

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