Factions in Egypt Turning Against America

Posted: Jul 09, 2013 12:01 AM

South Korea-North Korea: After 16 hours of negotiation on Saturday and Sunday morning, South and North Korea agreed in principle to normalize operations at the inter-Korean industrial complex, which has been idle for nearly three months.

Suh Ho, director of South Korea's Unification Ministry's exchange and cooperation bureau, told reporters, "I received the impression that they were committed to tackling the issue."

The two negotiating teams signed the agreement at 4:05 a.m. (19:05 GMT). Inspections of manufacturing facilities will be carried out at the Kaesong Industrial Complex starting on Wednesday, 10 July. South Korean businessmen will carry out the inspections with the help of engineers.

The two sides concurred on allowing South Korean businessmen to collect finished goods and raw materials from Kaesong. The North agreed to extend safe passage across the demilitarized zone for South Korean personnel.

The South Korea said Pyongyang agreed to discuss ways to implement safeguards to prevent another shutdown of the industrial park in the future. This meeting is scheduled to take place in Kaesong on the same day the facility inspections kickoff.

North Korean radio broadcast the terms of the agreement to its domestic audience without background or explanation. The terms are identical to those announced by the South, including the agreement on 10 July to discuss early normalization of operations and the prevention of future suspensions.

Comment: The North needs the cash flow and probably needs to do something useful with the 53,000 workers it tried to disperse and absorb back into North Korean society. Almost every North Korean initiative announced since early March has backfired. The result is that the North is no closer to gaining acceptance as a nuclear armed state and is more beholden to China than at any time in recent memory.

Turkey: Update. Police used water cannons and tear gas to disperse protestors at Gezi Park in Taksim Square in Istanbul. These are the hard core anti-Erdogan secularists.

Syria: Update. Government forces claim to have destroyed two-thirds of the remaining rebel-held enclave in Homs. Those claims match claims by the rebels that they are losing in Homs. One news report said Hizballah units are assisting the Syrians at Homs. Offensive operations continue at Aleppo.

In reaction to the developments in Egypt, jihadists and pro-al Qaida rebels in Syria announced that they now oppose democracy. "We always knew that our rights can only be regained by force and that is why we have chosen the ammunition box instead of the ballot box," said a statement on Friday by the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, the local franchise of al-Qaida's international network.

"If you want to shake off injustice and create change it can only be done by the sword. We choose to negotiate in the trenches, not in hotels. The conference lights should be turned off," it said.

Even pro-democracy rebels complained that armies in democracies can overthrow presidents elected by a majority.

Comment: One of the latest ripple effects from Egypt is that the actual fighters now say that they are not fighting to establish an elected government in Syria.

Egypt: Competing demonstrations recurred on Sunday. In two Nile Delta towns, pro- and anti-Mursi demonstrators clashed. In Mansoura, police intervened to separate the groups. Twelve people were reported injured. The anti-Mursi demonstrators also chanted against the US for continuing to support Mursi and the Muslim Brotherhood.

The most lethal resistance thus far has occurred in Sinai. Anti-military gunmen have conducted six attacks against border policemen in the past two days, killing six in al Arish, on the coast about 50 km from Israel. Some Sinai groups have declared war against the Cairo government. A military suppression operation against them is under preparation, according to al Ahram.

One clash occurred in a neighborhood of Cairo, resulting in up to 10 killed when residents resisted a Muslim Brotherhood march. Large anti-Mursi demonstrations were held in Tahrir Square and continued through the night.

Interim President Mansour has had marathon meetings to try to find a prime minister/head of government who is acceptable to the many anti-Mursi factions. They include ultra-conservative Muslims who judged that Mansour's first choice, Mohammed el-Baradei, was too secular and liberal.

After announcing el Baradei's appointment, the government withdrew his name, though he might become a vice president. The search for a prime minister continues.

Comment: The international press is highly polarized over Mursi's replacement. It is very difficult to obtain factual reporting about the intensity, size and breadth of civil disturbances. Most appear to have occurred in the Nile Delta cities between Alexandria and Cairo, but that could be a sampling error.

The most deadly clashes occurred on Saturday, also mainly in the Delta. Some 37 people have been killed and over 1,000 injured since Mursi's ouster.

Both sides continue to call for demonstrations. The risk of clashes and casualties continues.

Special comment: The replacement of Mursi exposed the narrow understanding of democracy that he and the Brotherhood practiced. One commentator called it majoritarianism. This is the exercise of absolute control based on the electoral majority. It includes no requirement to compromise with the opposition even in a close election, as Mursi's was.

The Arab Spring showed jihadists that they could achieve their goals of installing an authoritarian Islamist government through elections. Their idea of democracy was that it was a means of achieving a religious end state that did not include compromise, checks and balances and cooperation with those who lost the election.

Elected government was never meant to be permanent in this political theory. Muslim Brotherhood members in Syria and Egypt have now confirmed this strategy in their denunciations of the Egyptian army. Their understanding of democracy is not remotely congruent with that of western elites, a point that gets lost in the press coverage.

Mali: Over the weekend 200 Malian army and police entered the Touareg-controlled town of Kidal in northern Mali. Under the agreement reached in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso, last month, African peacekeeping forces entered first to take over responsibility for civil order from Touareg rebel fighters.

Comment: The Malian forces entered without incident. The next significant objective on the path to political normality is national elections set for 28 July.

End of NightWatch


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