North Korea-South Korea: On Friday, negotiators at Panmunjom reached agreement on family reunions. The two Koreas agreed to hold a new round of separated family reunions from 25 to 30 September at the resort at Mount Kumgang in southeastern North Korea. They also agreed to video-teleconference reunions in October and, in principle, to more direct reunions at Mount Kumgang in November.
Comment:The charm offensive continues. That means the North will honor its commitments to restart operations at Kaesong and resumption of tours to Mount Kumgang, separate from family reunions.
A darker side of North Korea was reported by theDaily NK. Kim Jong Un held a meeting of the expanded Central Military Commission, apparently on 26 August. "The meeting discussed and decided upon practical issues of further bolstering the combat ability of the revolutionary armed forces and increasing the defense capability of the country in every way, as required by the situation and present state of the People's Army."
Comment:The purpose of this meeting appears to have been to reassure the army leadership that the charm offensive does not signal weakness. For the Allies, it also provides reassurance that the charm offensive is a tactical maneuver.
Syria:Update. International news outlets predict US missile attacks against Syria. The overwhelming consensus is that Syria used chemical weapons of some sort, but the evidence in the public domain that supports this judgment is weak.
The government in Damascus has agreed to allow the UN inspection team to visit the site. The mandate of the 20-person team is to determine whether chemical weapons were used in the latest incident as well as in three others. The mandate does not include an assignment of blame.
Comment:Doctors without Borders reported 3,500 patients were treated for symptoms of chemical exposure at their three hospitals, of whom 350 or so died. The humanitarian organization did not say whom they thought was responsible.
Egypt:Pro-Mursi and pro-government groups held competing demonstrations in Cairo on Friday, but neither were large or significant. Egyptian press reported one death in a protest in a Nile Delta town.
On Sunday, interim President al Mansour announced that Egypt had successfully overcome a conspiracy against the state. No protests were reported. The government relaxes the night curfew.
Comment:Some press analysts attributed Friday's light turnout to a government lockdown. A more accurate explanation is that the government crackdown poisoned the atmosphere for anti-government activists. For example, some protest marchers in Cairo encountered harassment from the local residents of the neighborhoods through which they marched.
The Brotherhood does not appear to be as widely supported as its leaders liked to boast. It has lost several thousand top leaders to death or detention. It has been effectively decapitated. Egypt's intelligence service always has been capable of handling internal threats.
The significance of Mansour's statement is that it signals that the government judges it has won the breakout struggle. The side with the most guns has won and the political struggle has reset itself for a new cycle.
TheNightWatchhypothesis has been that no revolution occurred in Egypt in 2011, but that the Muslim Brotherhood was trying to achieve a top-down revolution after manipulating the results of an election. A modified version of the old regime has returned.
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