For the night of 16 August 2013
China-North Korea/South Korea: Update. Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi expressed China's support for the agreement reached by the Democratic People Republic Korea (DPRK) and South Korea on the Kaesong Industrial Zone (KIZ).
According to the Xinhua report, China was glad to see the two sides strike the deal to reopen the KIZ, Wang said during talks with his South Korean counterpart Yun Byung-se over the phone.
Wang Yi also urged all parties to create conditions for the resumption of six-party talks.
Comment: The Xinhua report mentions the phone conversation between the Chinese and South Korean foreign ministers. As for North Korea, an unidentified Chinese foreign ministry official congratulated the North Korean ambassador in Beijing on the agreement.
What the disparity in contacts means is that the Chinese have tilted openly towards South Korea. Xinhua's article presents South Korea as the key driver in peninsular stability and progress. North Korea has to prove itself. Kim Jong Un has had no official visit to China, but South Korean President Park continues to build on the good will engendered during her state visit.
Jordan: Authorities in Amman appealed to the United States on Wednesday for surveillance airplanes and intelligence help to secure a border that is favored by arms smugglers.
According to various press sources, about 550,000 Syrians are officially registered as refugees in Jordan. About 130,000 live in the Zaatari camp, which makes it the fourth-largest city in Jordan. Most of the refugees are women and children.
Politics. In a decree on 13 August, King Abdullah II called on the National Assembly, or parliament, to hold an extraordinary session on 1 September. The parliament members will be approving bills on the house's statute, illegal profiteering and the restructuring of government institutions. They also will approve the interim social security bill, investment draft law and retirement bill, a statement by the royal court said.
Comment: The refugees from Syria pose a potentially significant security problem for Jordan which lacks the resources to control its borders and is under stress to accommodate a refugee population approaching ten percent of Jordan's total population.
About 1,000 US military personnel work with Jordanian forces to build their capabilities and assists in border security and relief for the refugees. The United States Air Force also has deployed a contingent of F-16 fighter planes and the US has positioned Patriot air defense missiles, both as precautions against spillover from Syria.
Another source of stress is the King's experiment in political reform to move Jordan away from an absolute monarchy. The extraordinary parliament session should be understood as a manifestation of the King's dissatisfaction with the performance and bickering in the National Assembly.
The confluence of developments means that the Kingdom is under stress. As Islamist militants from Syria use the refugee camps as safe haven, stability is increasingly threatened.
Egypt: Update. Friday was the "Day of Anger" announced by the Muslim Brotherhood and other supporters of Mursi. Clashes occurred in at least 11 cities including Cairo. The death toll in Cairo reached 82, according to press reports. An additional 72 deaths from clashes were reported in nine other cities.
As occurred on 15 August, more churches were attacked and a museum was ransacked. The Pope of the Coptic Christian Church announced his support for the Army and the police and sought greater protection of the Christian minority.
Comment: Most of the casualties on the 15th occurred during the government's clearance of the Brotherhood camps in Cairo. Today, clashes occurred in more cities, but government forces were ready for them. As a result, the death toll was a fraction of yesterday's.
Although the Brotherhood has announced more protests, the government justifiably could interpret the security situation as improving. The Brotherhood has revealed its leaders and members to the authorities in at least eleven cities and in multiple Cairo neighborhoods. In some neighborhoods, the residents have formed militias who are shooting at and otherwise harassing the Brotherhood protestors.
Saudi Arabia: King Abdallah said in a message read on Saudi television today, "The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, its people and government, stood and stands today with its brothers in Egypt against terrorism….I call on the honest men of Egypt and the Arab and Muslim nations ... to stand as one man and with one heart in the face of attempts to destabilize a country that is at the forefront of Arab and Muslim history…All those who meddle in Egypt's internal affairs are inflaming strife,."
The King also said that Egypt faces "a conspiracy of plotters" trying to strike at its unity and stability.
Comment: The Kingdom has already voted for the new government with its commitment of financial support. The new theme is that the Brotherhood has become a terrorist organization again. Egyptian officials also have so labeled the Brotherhood. The groundwork is being laid for outlawing the Brotherhood again, as under Mubarak.
Pro-Muslim Brotherhood demonstrations took place in the following countries:
Hamas in Jerusalem
The Afghan Taliban also denounced the military crackdown in Egypt.
End of NightWatch for 16 August.
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