For the night of 31 July 2013
China: Xinhua reported today that at a study session with members of the Political Bureau of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee on Tuesday, President Xi Jinping called for efforts to learn more about and further manage maritime development.
Xi said China will adhere to the path of peaceful development, but "in no way will the country abandon its legitimate rights and interests, nor will it give up its core national interests."
The president said China will "use peaceful means and negotiations to settle disputes and strive to safeguard peace and stability."
Meanwhile, he stressed that China will prepare to cope with complexities, enhance its capacity in safeguarding maritime rights and interests, and resolutely safeguard its maritime rights and interests.
In the 21st century, oceans and seas have an increasingly important role to play in a country's economic development and opening up to the outside world, he said. Their status has become more prominent in regards to safeguarding state sovereignty, national security and development interests, as well as the advancement of a country's ecological civilization.
The oceans and seas have an increasingly important strategic status concerning global competition in the spheres of politics, economic development, military, and technology, he said.
The key report to the 18th National Congress of the CPC held last November outlined the "maritime power" strategy, calling for enhanced capacity for exploiting marine resources, protecting the marine environment and safeguarding China's maritime rights and interests.
At the study session, Xi underscored efforts to make marine industries a pillar of China's national economy.
Relevant parties should improve the capability and enlarge the fields for exploiting marine resources so as to "cultivate the marine economy into a new growth point of the country," he said.
Comment: The Chinese leadership appears to have embraced Alfred Thayer Mahan with a Chinese communist twist. The implications of Xi's comments are that Chinese maritime ambitions extend far beyond assertions and defense of sea claims in Asia.
Pakistan: For the record. The Anti-Terrorism Court has ordered ex-president Musharraf to appear in court on 6 August when he will be charged with complicity in the murder of former prime minister Benazir Bhutto in November 2007.
Egypt: The crackdown on the Muslim Brotherhood and other anti-government groups is imminent. Information Minister Dorreya Sharaf el-Din said in the televised statement, "The continuation of the dangerous situation in Rabaa al-Adawiya and Nahda squares, and consequent terrorism and road blockages are no longer acceptable given the threat to national security….The cabinet has decided to take all measures necessary to confront these risks and put an end to them."
Three top Muslim Brotherhood leaders also have been referred to court on charges of inciting violence.
Comment: The locations mentioned in the official statement are in northeast Cairo. Any effort to clear the two squares will result in deadly clashes.
Special comment: For those following developments in Egypt in press coverage, it is difficult to understand just what happened in July and what to expect. It looks like military nullification of an electoral outcome the military did not favor. That is partly accurate, but superficial and not very helpful.
A closer examination of the phenomenon of internal instability leads to a more nuanced set of insights and a basis for predicting the way ahead. What happened is that the stronger party in a power sharing arrangment broke out of the arrangment after providing multiple warnings.
The chart below is a template for instability that was derived from studying more than 60 cases in the past decade or so. It depicts the erosion of authority over time to an effective opposition. In Egypt's case, the time line begins in 2011 with the disorders that led to the overthrow of Mubarak.
As government authority weakened, mainly because of the withdrawal of military backing from the Mubarak cabal over succession issues, the opposition became empowered. The violence that preceded military government in Cairo was characteristic of a period of convergence.
The military transfer of power to an elected president - Mursi -- did not signify a revolution, but rather the creation of a power sharing arrangement by the mechanism of elections. The ancien regime and the elected Islamist government shared power under a different figurehead, Mursi.
The case studies show that power sharing arranged peaceably is relatively free from violence but always temporary, even though it can last for years. One of the characteristics of power sharing of this kind is that the parties use the relative calm to plan and equip themselves for a breakout. The time it takes to build the resources and support for a successful breakout attempt measures the duration of power sharing. In Egypt it took about 12 months.
The cases show that eventually one or other group in the arrangement will attempt a breakout to seize unshared national authority. The issues almost do not matter, except that they affect prospects for success. Breakouts happen.
On 3 July, a coalition of the Egyptian Army, secular and some religious political groups and old time economic interests broke out of the power sharing arrangement with the Islamists. In a phenomenological sense, there was no replacement of a government by the military because the military was part of the power sharing system. It had warned repeatedly of its concerns and intentions since last November. It is the same system of government under new leadership.
The chart below depicts the Egyptian situation as it now exists.
One key point is that in every breakout scenario, the period of divergence from power sharing is always violent. The clashes reported in the past four weeks are normal features of divergence. They promise to get worse because divergence continues.
What is unusual in Egypt is the tolerance the breakout party has exercised with regard to the opposition protestors. In other cases, the crackdown - most often in the form of a state of emergency or imposition of martial law -- occurs in the first two weeks.
Another feature of a divergence scenario is that success is never guaranteed. The breakout might fail and result in another power sharing arrangement or its destruction. However, the party with the most guns and reliable soldiers usually wins in a breakout, provided no outside party interferes on behalf of the weaker side. Such interference skews the normal process in dangerous ways that always lead to more killings.
The implication of this analysis is that the critical challenge for the military-backed regime will be its success in clearing out the anti-government sit-ins. The pivotal point in divergence is approaching and deadly violence is unavoidable.
Panama: Update. Panamanian investigators unloading the cargo of the North Korean ship carrying arms from Cuba under sacks of brown sugar on Tuesday found 12 engines for MiG-21 fighter jets and five military vehicles that officials said resembled missile control centers.
Comment: Panamanian authorities asked the UN weapons experts to delay their inspection visit because unloading the ship is taking longer than anticipated. More likely and credible is that Allied intelligence wants more time to inspect the weapons stashed under the sacks of sugar.
End of NightWatch for 31 July.
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