For the night of 20 October 2014
China: Chinese media reported on 18 October a terrorist incident in Xinjiang that occurred on the 12th. On that date, four Uighur militants attacked a farmer's market in Kashgar prefecture, Bachu County, using knives and explosives. They killed at least 22 Han Chinese. Police killed all four Uighurs. The police said the Uighurs deliberately executed their attack at a time when no Uighurs were in the market.
Comment: The last significant attack was about a month ago, when Uighur militants detonated three explosions that killed at least 50 people. China delayed reporting the incident then, as now, apparently to minimize loss of confidence in law enforcement and loss of face for the government.
The attack occurred one day before a Chinese court in Kashgar sentenced 12 Uighurs to death for attacks that killed 37 people in July. The timing suggests an act of solidarity with those about to be sentenced as well as defiance of Chinese law.
The periodicity of Uighur attacks indicates that they mainly are a threat to local law and order. Nevertheless, repeated government crackdowns have not suppressed them.
US- Syrian Kurds: USAF C-130 transport aircraft airdropped supplies from Iraqi Kurdistan for the fighters at Kobani for the first time.
Comment: The siege of Kobani is forcing actors to cooperate who would otherwise be enemies. It also is forcing the enemies of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) to ignore established state boundaries in the interest of blocking ISIL.
In this instance the US aircraft delivered supplies and small arms supposedly provided by the Iraqi Kurds to the Syrian Kurds who support the Kurdish communists. The supplies came from Iraq, but were not provided by the Baghdad government.
It would seem to be a small step to announce that the US is supplying the Syrian Kurds, rather than engage in a transparent subterfuge about transporting Iraqi Kurdish supplies, at least some of which originated in the US in the first place.
Turkey-Syrian Kurds: The Turkish government announced that it would facilitate the movement of Kurdish fighters from Turkey to Kobani. The announcement contained no details as to timing and scope.
Comment: This is the third Turkish promise of support for the Syrian Kurds at Kobani. None have been kept thus far. President Erdogan is in Kabul, where Afghan President Ghani urged him to fight extremism. Erdogan's reply was not reported.
Russia-US: Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov commented today on the future of US relations at an open lecture that he gave to activists of the United Russia Party in Moscow. The state-owned news channel, Russiya 24, broadcast his remarks live. Excerpts follow.
Lavrov said, "The current decline in Russian-US relations is not a cold war, but it might last a long time until the USA realizes there are other centers of power in the world.
Asked how he would describe Russian-US relations and whether he had talked about sanctions at his last meeting with US Secretary of State Kerry, Lavrov said that some had described the current state of Russian-US ties as a second cold war.
"Of course this is not a cold war," he said, saying that historians would later describe what to call the period. "More correct is to ask where these relations are going. You know they have already declined quite a long way and deeply. I very much hope that this fall in the level of cooperation has reached some bottom. At least for now things are moving without further declines but without any apparent attempts to raise these relations."
Concerning what he described as the US' tendency to take unilateral action in the world, Lavrov said: "This will pass. I have already talked about this. It will take time. The Americans already understand that they can do little on their own. When they even gather a coalition and work not on their own, but exclusively according to their own plan, you get Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, and so on."
"This period that has begun in our relations will be long, and not only because the Ukrainian crisis will take some time and everyone will have to think about uniting efforts in a constructive vein, not through unilateral sanctions. But also because of the Americans' general overestimation of their place in the world, the problem of them realizing what has happened over the last decades, and the realization that there is no alternative to further strengthening the trend towards polycentricity, towards strengthening new centers of economic and financial power, political influence - this will take time."
He said these processes were already under way and could be seen in organizations like the G20 and the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), and the BRICS states.
Comment: These are familiar themes in Russian foreign policy. Some of what Lavrov said resembled old communist cant. Some of it is wishful thinking that the weaker states will humble the lone super-power.
Lavrov exposed a hard core and long term view that global stability is better served by a multi-polar international order. That has never been demonstrated. Nevertheless, with that as the polestar of Russian policy, cooperation with the US will be limited, on a case-by-case basis and always calculated to advance Russia's leadership role in a multi-polar world. In this Russian world view, the US must diminish for Russia to rise again.
End of NightWatch for 20 October.
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