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China Losing North Korea

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of

United Nations-North Korea: Update. The UN Security Council voted unanimously on 22 January to condemn North Korea's December rocket launch and tighten existing UN sanctions against Pyongyang.


The resolution added six North Korean entities, including the North Korea space agency, the Korean Committee for Space Technology, and the director, Paek Chang-ho, to the existing UN blacklist.

The other entities blacklisted are the Bank of East Land, Korea Kumryong Trading Corp.; Tosong Technology Trading Corp.; Korea Ryonha Machinery Joint Venture Corp.; and Leader (Hong Kong) International. Other individuals added to the list are the manager of the space launch test center and two North Korean banking officials.

The firms and individuals in the blacklist face an international asset freeze. Paek and the others blacklisted by Tuesday's resolution will be subject to a worldwide travel ban.

North Korea reacted by announcing it would participate in no talks on denuclearization and would increase its military and missile capabilities.

Comment: China's vote for the resolution represents another sign that North Korean behavior - causing instability by launching missiles and rockets and continuing the nuclear weapons program - has reduced China's support for the new North Korean leadership group. China also is hedging on its investment in joint enterprises as well.

The Chinese want stability in Northeast Asia, but the new leader in North Korea is not cooperating. The relationship is strained and probably will get tense.


South Korea's examination of debris from the North Korean satellite launch vehicle found that its core components were manufactured in North Korea. It contained some components that came from China, but the North's ballistic missile program appears essentially self-sufficient.

Syria: For the record. A meeting in Turkey over the weekend of the 70 opposition group leaders that form the Syrian National Council failed to form a transitional government because of bickering among all the factions and groups. The effort to form an alternative government has been postponed for 10 days.

Algeria-US: Update. A senior Algerian official said that one of the terrorists captured at the In Amenas gas plant said under interrogation that some of the dead Egyptian terrorists also participated in the attack on the US Consulate in Benghazi last year. Three terrorists are in custody.

The official said the terrorists staged in southern Libya with arms purchased in Tripoli, Libya. He also said, "This is the result of the Arab Spring…. I hope the Americans are conscious of this."

Comment: There is no way to corroborate the detainee's statement. What is worth noting is that the Algerian official's statements help explain why the Algerians might have had few qualms about assaulting the terrorists, despite the risk to foreigners. The Algerian government expects more attacks and the outcome will probably not be much different for foreigners.


The government has opposed US policy in the Arab world, especially the overthrow of the Qadhafi government. Some officials are making it very clear they hold American policy ultimately responsible for the gas plant attack in Algeria, the invasion of northern Mali by Islamist fighters and future attacks to come.

Americans working in Algeria are at increased risk from terrorists. Moreover, their safety does not appear to be a major factor in government planning for rescue operations.

Chad-Niger-Mali: A task group of Chadian armor and infantry has traveled across Niger to the border with Mali, as part of the African intervention force. Plans call for Chadian and Nigerien troops to move against the city of Gao in eastern Mali, which is held by Islamist fighters.

Comment: Niamey, the capital of Niger, is about 350 miles from Gao. It is a much closer staging area to support fighting in eastern Mali than is Bamako.

The Chadian and Nigerien forces appear to be preparing to open a second front against the Islamist fighters, threatening their base in Gao.

One of the more interesting new items reported by French media is that the Qatar Red Crescent has been seen working with the Islamist rebels. Two French members of parliament accused Qatar of financing and supporting the rebellion in northern Mali.


Comment: Qatar has not responded to the charges, but is known to be a major backer of the Syrian uprising; of Hamas in the Palestine State and is providing extensive financial support to the Egyptian government. Qatar is a major financier of Sunni causes.

End of NightWatch ###.

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