Night Watch

North Korea: South Korean defense authorities are expecting more North Korean short- or medium-range ballistic missile firings. North Korean authorities declared a no-sail zone in the East Sea/Sea of Japan near Wonsan. The North said the drills are justifiable self-defense behavior to preserve peace and to “protect the safety of our people and our country”.

Comment: The South Koreans are treating this as a dangerous provocation. This time the North provided a warning. The North Korean leader is upset at being treated as a second-class citizen and appears to be showing his pique by wasting a lot of ordnance. A Swiss education seems to have made little impact on Kim's leadership skills, except the notorious Kim family penchant for luxuries.

South Korea-North Korea: South Korea says it has recovered an unidentified drone that crashed on one of its border islands the same day that North and South Korea exchanged artillery fire across their disputed maritime boundary. The wreckage was discovered on Baengnyeong island, which lies just south of the maritime border.

Comment: This is a reminder that countries hostile to the US have learned from US military practices in the past several wars. The presence of the drone also signifies that the North Korean gunners probably knew exactly where their coastal artillery was placing its shells in the recent live-firing exercises and how the South Koreans were reacting.

Pakistan: Pakistani authorities released more than a dozen Taliban members from internment centers in Wana in northwestern Pakistan.

According to details provided by the government, the release of the Taliban members at this time shows the interest of the government in avoiding any possible deadlock in the talks.

Comment: The limited release is a half measure because the Pakistani Taliban negotiators required the release of 300 women, children and elderly as well as fighters. It probably will be sufficient to keep the sides talking.

Syria: Syrian army soldiers with the help of militias are slowly taking back the villages in northwestern Syria that Islamist fighters captured between 21 and 24 March.

"Syrian army units have full control of Observatory 45 in the north of Latakia province and are continuing to pursue terrorist groups," the government said. A rebel spokesman denied the government claim and insisted fighting continues.

Night Watch

NightWatch is an internationally acclaimed nightly newsletter that tracks and assesses threats to US national security. It has an edgy, executive style unlike any other summary of its kind.