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NightWatch 20111226


For the night of 26 December 2011

North Korea: The Korean Workers' Party official newspaper, Rodong Sinmun, reported several new positions now held by Kim Jong-un. "All party organizations across the country are upholding great comrade Kim Jong-un's ideology and leadership with one mind," the paper reported in one article.

"Let's stake our lives to safeguard the party's Central Committee led by dear comrade Kim Jong-un."  Rodong Sinmum on 24 December also termed the young Kim "supreme commander" of the armed forces.

Rodong Sinmun  announced the leadership of Kim Jong-un and used the term "songun" or "military-first" doctrine 21 times. An unidentified source said, "The royal family consisting of Kim Jong-un, Jang (Chang Song-taek, Kim' Uncle) and his wife Kim Kyong-hui (Kim's aunt and sister of the late Kim Chong-il) all became generals demonstrating their will to continue Kim Chong-il's songun doctrine."

On 25 December, Korean Central Television [KCTV] carried a program entitled, "Comrade Kim Jong Un, vice chairman of the Workers Party of Korea (WPK) Central Military Commission (CMC), visited the bier of Comrade [Kim Cho'ng-il and expressed deep condolences, along with members of the KWP Central Military Commission and Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) National Defense Commission (NDC); major commanding officers of the Korean People's Army (KPA); operational commanding officers of the KPA Supreme Command; commanding officers of the KPA large combined units.

The significance of the video, according to South Korean news services, is that it showed Kim Jong-un's uncle Chang Song-taek wearing the uniform and shoulder-boards of a four-star general for the first time, Chang stood next to Vice Marshal Ri, the Chief of the General Staff, who stood next to Kim Yong-un. Chang Song-taek has never served in the armed forces. He has always been a party hack, usually involved in illicit overseas commerce to benefit the Kim family.

Comment:  the images of the new regime consistently are military.  This is a regime that is motivated by fear. of attack at this time and the compulsion to show military strength. That suggests regime leaders feel the need to prove themselves to outsiders. The regime will be pricklish and dangerous on a tactical level for most of the coming year, based on Kim Chong-il's first year in power, while primarily focused on consolidating its internal strength.

Apparently Chang and his wife Kim both have the rank of full general, to afford them institutional respect in the military-backed regime. The images over the weekend confirm that Kim Jon-un has been steered to follow the leadership consolidation path his father took, which was to court the KPA Corps Commanders and senior staff, identify with them, visit their bases, buy them material goods and stay safe.

For the next year, the public and semi-official adoption of "songun" means the Army leadership has persuaded the young Kim and his regents to reverse his father's priorities that agriculture (food) and daily necessities (things the people need to survive) should come ahead of support for the Army. This is a strong sign of a weak leader who is under the control of the Korean People's Army for now.

North Korea-South Korea: On 26 December, Kim Jong -un received a private delegation from South Korea, led by the widow of former South Korean President Kim Dae Jung, visiting Pyongyang to pay respects to Kim Chong-il.

Lee Hee Ho, the 90-year-old widow of Kim Dae Jung, the Nobel Peace Prize winner who in 2000 held the first-ever Inter-Korean summit with Kim Chong-Il, was met by Kim Jong Un at Kumsusan Memorial Palace in Pyongyang, where Kim Chong-il's body lies in state.

The South Korean delegation also included Hyundai Group Chairwoman Hyun Jeong Eun, whose late husband pushed joint venture economic projects with North Korea. These were Kim Jong-un's first meetings with South Koreans in his new positions of authority.

Pakistan: For the record. Chief of Army Staff General Kayani has held a series of meetings with senior Pakistan Army commanders to discuss the current tension with the government, and possible options to deal with the situation if things go from bad to worse, a source in the military told The Express Tribune.

The Army leaders agreed that no direct intervention in the political sector will take place as it had in October 1999 - General Musharraf's coup -- in the event the government decides to dismiss and replace the Army and intelligence chiefs. Instead, they decided to challenge such a move before the Supreme Court of Pakistan.

Army Chief General Kayani and intelligence chief Lieutenant General Pasha both are serving under extensions to their tenure. Under the constitution the prime minister - Prime Minister Gilani -- has have the authority to remove them anytime. The General Pasha's extension expires in March 2012, while General Kayani can serve until November 2013.

Comment: Pakistani news services report overwhelming support for the Army against the elected government, branded as corrupt. Retired cricket team leader Imran Khan spoke at a rally in Karachi of over 100,000 people, the press reported, and called for early elections to oust the Pakistan People's Party coalition because of its corruption.

Informed by the misdeeds of Musharraf, Kayani has declined to overthrow the government outright. His promise and that of the Army corps commanders to work within the constitution to effect political change makes him a natural ally of rising political stars, such as Imran Khan. In such a scenario, the civilian leader would act as the front man for the Army's interests.

Iran-Iraq: Iranian Armed Forces chief of staff Lieutenant General Hassan Firouzabadi hailed the "forced departure" of the US and allied forces which he claimed "was due to the resistance and determination of the Iraqi people and government," the state Islamic Republic News Agency (IRNA) reported.

The statements were made in messages Firouzabadi sent to his Iraqi counterpart, Lieutenant General Babaker Zebari, and to Iraq's acting defense minister, Saadun al-Dulaimi, IRNA reported. "I hope the humiliating failure of the United States after nine years of occupying Iraq will serve as a lesson for them to never think of attacking another country," he said.Firouzabadi added that Iran was now "ready to expand its military and security ties with Iraq."

Comment: Iran is wasting no time in attempting to strengthen military and security ties. What is missing from the IRNA report is the Iraqi, Arab response to the Iranian overtures. Firuouzabadi appears to have come on too strong and gloated prematurely. Nevertheless, security ties may be expected to strengthen between the two.

End of NightWatch for 26 December.

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