Night Watch

North Korea - South Korea: A North Korean patrol ship crossed the Northern Limit Line (NLL), the de-facto maritime border late Monday night and sailed to a location about 23.4 kilometers west of South Korea's Baengnyeong (Paengnyo'ng) Island. The ship returned to northern waters about four hours later.

Comment: The minor provocation somehow seems to be the North's response to the onset of annual Allied training, both occurring during family reunions. The symmetry lies in that neither side could prevent the other's action.

Thailand: Army chief General Prayuth Chan-ocha on Monday strongly urged all conflicting parties to end the political crisis through talks. ''I strongly hope to see the problem resolved by peaceful means and to see no more conflict,'' General Prayuth said in a statement he read on the army television station.

''What will be urgently undertaken is to see that all sides hold talks to prevent further violence that would severely damage the country," he added.

Following the General's statement, caretaker prime minister Yingluck Shinawatra asked for negotiations with the opposition.

Comment: General Prayuth's statement appears to be in response to a surge in politically motivated bombings in the past four days against anti-government rallies. He said that the army, police and civil servants are not taking sides, but promised the attackers would not go free.

Analyses in two prominent Thai newspapers interpreted the General as providing assurance that there would be no military takeover of government. Events in the Ukraine, however, have shown that army refusal to take action in defense of a duly elected government can be a trigger for its overthrow, but not by the army.

In past political crises, the Royal Thai Army Commander-in-chief has been widely understood to have channeled the preferences of the monarchy. Assuming that to be the case this time, the message behind Prayuth's statement is that the monarchy has decided that unless a peaceful settlement is arranged, the Yingluck Shinawatra government can expect no help from the army, the police or civil servants in controlling the anti-government opposition.

Prayuth's inclusion of the police in his statement would seem to be beyond the scope of his authority unless he spoke on behalf of the royal palace. Prayuth posted a similar warning in early January on his Facebook page.

Night Watch

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