Talks Between US and Russia Stall Out

Night Watch
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Posted: Jun 27, 2013 12:01 AM

South Korea-North Korea: The South Korean Unification Ministry announced on Tuesday that the total losses to companies involved in the Kaesong joint industrial complex in North Korea total nearly $1 billion since authorities in Pyongyang closed the complex in early April.

Comment: The Kaesong complex contains factories and facilities for 123 South Korean companies, but they are linked to a total of 234 companies. The losses are those registered by all 234.

The complex employed 53,000 North Korean workers who will never recover their losses. North Korea is making its workers pay a high price for the leadership's hubris.

Pakistan: The Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) on Tuesday named former president Pervez Musharraf as the prime suspect in the December 2007 assassination of ex-prime minister Benazir Bhutto.

The head of the FIA's Joint Investigation Team, Deputy Director Khalid Rasool, told the Rawalpindi Anti-Terrorism Court that Musharraf "hatched" a criminal conspiracy to cause a breach in Bhutto's security detail that directly led to her murder. His motive was to secure his rule, Rasool's filing said.

The Anti-Terrorism Court Special Judge summoned Musharraf to appear for a hearing on 2 July.

Comment: Just before her assassination Bhutto expressed to friends her concern about an assassination plot involving Musharraf and three other senior officials at the time. They include former head of Pakistani intelligence, Hamid Gul. Eventually all those involved in the conspiracy are likely to be brought to trial.

This is the third active case against Musharraf that could lead to his execution. A fourth potential capital case is the treason accusation that Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif mentioned yesterday. That case has not yet begun.

Iraq: Update. Bombings and attacks on Tuesday killed 53 people and injured at least 142. Attacks and bombings were reported in at least eight cities, including Baghdad. Most of them targeted Shiites honoring the Shabaniyah commemoration.

The deadliest attack was a suicide bombing against Shiite Turkmen tribal protestors who had set up tents in the city of Tuz Khurmatu in Salahuddin Governate. Twenty-seven were killed and at least 80 injured. The protestors were demanding tighter government security for the community after a car bombing on Sunday.

Syria: For the record. Talks between the United States and Russia to set up a Syrian peace conference next month in Geneva produced no deal on Tuesday. Negotiators failed to agree on the timing and the participants.

Comment: The Syrian government has agreed in principle to attend the talks. Russia and Syria want Iran to participate. The Saudis and the US refuse. The now weakened Syrian opposition refuses to attend talks until President Asad steps down.

Syria- Saudi Arabia: Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Saud al Faisal went into a near rant today in Dubai over the negative turn of developments for the Syrian opposition. He accused the Asad regime of genocide and Iran and Hizballah of having invaded and occupied Syria. He promised to provide more aid to the opposition.

"The Kingdom demands a clear, unequivocal international resolution that bans any sort of weapons support for the Syrian regime and declares null and void the legitimacy of that regime," Prince Saud said at a joint news conference with the US Secretary of State.

Comment: Any improvement in the condition of Iran and its allies seems to drive the Saudis to rhetorical extremes. Saudi hostility to Iran is so extreme and its description of the Syrian situation is so distorted and angry that the Saudis may be prone to make poor decisions.

Lebanon: Update. Today, Lebanese soldiers in Sidon secured the mosque complex of Sunni cleric Ahmad al Assir, whose supporters fought gun battles with the army for two days. Al Assir had ordered the small Shiite community in Sidon to depart or be killed and fought gun battles with them last week.

African Union (AU)-Libya: While attending a regional security meeting in Oran, Algeria, the AU's special representative in charge of counter-terrorism, Francisco Caetano Jose Madeira, said, "I have many reports which say Libya has become a major transit hub for the main terrorist groups travelling from one country to another."

"We have information according to which some terrorists active in Mali consider Libya as a refuge and a place to reorganize." Madeira described the situation as something "extremely dangerous."

Comment: The poor security situation in Libya, its uncontrolled borders and the significant presence of jihadists and weapons in the Benghazi area have made Libya a base for spreading violent jihad from Mali to Syria.

UN-Mali: The UN Security Council approved the deployment of a new peacekeeping force in Mali starting 1 July. After closed consultations Tuesday the council unanimously agreed that the 12,600-man force should go ahead on schedule, despite serious logistics problems and the extreme heat in Mali.

Comment: The UN force officially will replace the 6,000 African soldiers in Mali. In fact, the Africans will merge into the UN force. France will maintain 1,000 soldiers in Mali under a separate command.

This resembles the UN mission in Somalia which was approved by the Security Council despite shortfalls in troop commitments and chronic, critical logistics shortages. US military airlift forces appear to be the main logistics and transportation resource for forces in Mali, providing critical assistance to the French and the Africans. The French want to transfer and distribute security responsibilities and costs as quickly as possible.

US military commitments seem to be expanding again-Mali, Egypt and Jordan are additions this year.

End of NightWatch

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