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NightWatch 20121120

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For the night of 20 November 2012

North Korea: Update. Kim Jong-un has resumed routine inspection visits outside Pyongyang, indicating that alert conditions have returned to normal, also known as constant combat readiness. Loyalty checks of senior military officers also continue.

Jordan: Update. Anti-government protests occurred for four days last week and might still be taking place. However no mainstream news services have provided recent update reports on anti-government ferment in Jordan.

Comment: The Gaza story has more glamor than Jordan, but threats to the Hashemite monarchy are far more significant for the stability of the Middle East than the Gaza fighting.

Israel-Gaza Strip: No ceasefire yet. Despite prolonged negotiations and promising leaks, no ceasefire arrangement is in effect. Attacks by both sides continued on Tuesday. Israeli artillery and naval shelling were prominent additions to the air attacks.

Approximately 180 rockets have been fired at Israel on 20 November. Rockets were fired at Nativity, Ashqelon, Beersheba, Ashdod, and at the Shi'a Hanegev Regional Council during the evening.

Two Israelis were killed by rocket fire, including an 18-year-old IDF soldier. An employee working in the south for a Defense Ministry contractor also was killed by a rocket

Comment: The combatants came close to agreeing to a ceasefire. One is likely this week because the Palestinians are running out of rockets, which means the Israelis are running out of targets.

US official comments about working for a durable peace are naïve and simplistic. Hamas remains committed to the destruction of Israel. It also continues to receive supplies from Iran through Sudan and Egypt. Thus, any truce would be only a postponement of another fight.

Open sources provide no insight about Israel's tactical objectives in a ground campaign. Satellite images of the density of dwellings in Gaza indicate that a force of 75,000 Israeli soldiers can achieve no permanent changes. An Israeli ground operations primarily would be punitive.

Egypt is getting what appears to be unmerited praise for its mediation efforts, which are backed by the US. President Mursi is not acting as an honest broker, according to various press accounts, and appears to manipulating talks to improve the strategic position of Hamas.

Egypt is hardly neutral because all arms for Hamas come through Egypt. All long range rockets from Iran also come through Egypt. If a period of calm occurs, it will because Hamas, Palestinian Islamic Jihad and smaller extremist groups have run out of rockets, not because they have changed their political objectives of killing the Jews and destroying Israel.

End of NightWatch for 20 November.

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