China-Japan: On 23 November,Xinhua published announcements establishing the East China Sea Air Defense Identification Zone (ADIZ), which covers the Diaoyou/Senkaku Islands, and the rules for flights in the new zone.
Comment: The new ADIZ overlaps the Japanese ADIZ which Tokyo declared in 1965. It ends 131kms from non-disputed Japanese territory, just as Japan's ends 131kms from non-disputed Chinese territory.
Multiple US commentators have described the announcement as an intensification of the war of words, but they confuse words with actions of the state. This is one of the most destabilizing developments in East Asia in more than ten years. The Chinese asserted theirsovereignty and exercised it with action, flying the first maritime patrol on the 23rd, escorted by fighters and an air warning and control aircraft. This converted the war of words potentially into a war. An ADIZ defines a battle space.
Some commentators have said this increases the chances for accidental clashes. Actually, this is a deliberate action to control and manage planned or expected confrontations in the air. There is nothing accidental about it.
Japan could construe this as an act of war. At a minimum the declaration is a direct military challenge to Japan and a provocation. Unchallenged, this sets the precedent for China to make a parallel declaration of an ADIZ for all of the South China Sea. That would be consistent with President Xi's vision of the Chinese Dream.
Xinhua also published the flight rules for the ADIZ.
"The Ministry of National Defense of the People's Republic of China, in accordance with the Statement by the Government of the People's Republic of China on Establishing the East China Sea Air Defense Identification Zone, now announces the Aircraft Identification Rules for the East China Sea Air Defense Identification Zone as follows:
First, aircraft flying in the East China Sea Air Defense Identification Zone must abide by these rules.
Second, aircraft flying in the East China Sea Air Defense Identification Zone must provide the following means of identification:
1. Flight plan identification. Aircraft flying in the East China Sea Air Defense Identification Zone should report the flight plans to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the People's Republic of China or the Civil Aviation Administration of China.
2. Radio identification. Aircraft flying in the East China Sea Air Defense Identification Zone must maintain the two-way radio communications, and respond in a timely and accurate manner to the identification inquiries from the administrative organ of the East China Sea Air Defense Identification Zone or the unit authorized by the organ.
3. Transponder identification. Aircraft flying in the East China Sea Air Defense Identification Zone, if equipped with the secondary radar transponder, should keep the transponder working throughout the entire course.
4. Logo identification. Aircraft flying in the East China Sea Air Defense Identification Zone must clearly mark their nationalities and the logo of their registration identification in accordance with related international treaties.
Third, aircraft flying in the East China Sea Air Defense Identification Zone should follow the instructions of the administrative organ of the East China Sea Air Defense Identification Zone or the unit authorized by the organ. China's armed forces will adopt defensive emergency measures to respond to aircraft that do not cooperate in the identification or refuse to follow the instructions.
Fourth, the Ministry of National Defense of the People's Republic of China is the administrative organ of the East China Sea Air Defense Identification Zone.
Fifth, the Ministry of National Defense of the People's Republic of China is responsible for the explanation of these rules.
Sixth, these rules will come into force at 10 a.m. November 23, 2013.
Comment: A Brilliant and extremely well-informed Reader reported that the rules are consistent with the International Civil Aviation Organization as they apply to civil aircraft, except that the administrative organization is the Chinese Ministry of National Defense. The Ministry's explanation, listed at item "Fifth", should provide clarification as to what extent China is prepared to militarize its disputes with Japan and its other neighbors.
Finally, this declaration helps clarify the intent of Foreign Minister Wang Yi's posted statement on foreign policy issues in which he wrote that China would never again accept disturbances to its development process and threatened violence if Japan opposes China's claims of national sovereignty.
Pakistan-NATO: Pakistani police prevented activists who were protesting US drone strikes from blocking trucks carrying NATO troop supplies to and from Afghanistan on Monday.
Comment: The police intervention ended the blockade that began on Saturday, when thousands of protesters led by Pakistani provincial governor and cricket star Imran Khan blocked a main supply route in northwestern Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, which is used to ship goods to and from Afghanistan.
Governor Khan promised the blockade to protest US drone attacks in his province.
Afghanistan-US: The Loya Jirga - the gather of thousands of tribal leaders -- approved the bilateral security agreement on Saturday, but President Karzai said he wanted to delay its signature until after presidential elections next year. He also said he wanted to renegotiate for a better deal.
Comment: Assuming Karzai is stillcompos mentis, this is a bluff. He and his advisors know that without US soldiers his government cannot survive against the Taliban. Even with them, it might not survive.
Iran: On Sunday the US, Iran and the EU announced an agreement that freezes Iran's nuclear programs in return for a limited lifting of sanctions.
In summary, Iran will not install any new centrifuges; start any that aren't already operating, or build new enrichment facilities for six months, though it can continue enriching uranium to 3.5 percent. In exchange, the U.S. will provide up to $7 billion in sanction relief. Negotiations for a more permanent agreement will follow.
Comment: In its quarterly report the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) published on 14 November that Iran significantly had slowed its nuclear program since August. One description said the program had suspended most operations. Thus the agreement essentially rewards Iran for doing what it already had done on its own for its own reasons. The most burdensome provisions seem to be acceptance of more IAEA supervision for six months.
The most important point is that is that this is only for six months.
As stated in NightWatch last week, the Iranian people are the real beneficiaries because they have been the primary victims of sanctions. Iran is on a roll. The situation in Syria has stabilized. Iran's stature in the world has risen. Its people will get some relief. Iran's right to enrich implicitly is recognized in the second voluntary Iranian measure listed on page 1 of the agreement… at the bottom.
It does several other things. It undermines the international consensus on opposition to nuclear proliferation. Apparently a little proliferation is okay. The momentum in favor of sanctions against Iran is broken. The economic advantages of commerce with Iran will overwhelm future diplomacy. The economic considerations listed on page 3 of the agreement appear to have been strong drivers on both sides of the negotiations. President Ruhani looks like a tactical genius again, successfully applying the tactics he used in 2003-2005 to build Western confidence.
Syria: The Syrian government and the opposition will hold their first negotiations in Geneva on 22 January 2014, a United Nations official said Monday after a meeting of American, Russian and United Nations officials. 'We will go to Geneva with a mission of hope,' a spokesman for Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, said in a statement."
Comment: Hope is a tricky basis for foreign policy. The press coverage of just who would attend the meeting, in what capacity and whom they represent that is fighting inside Syria apparently is deliberately sketchy.
The US Secretary of State and the UN spokesman talked of making progress towards establishing a transitional government, meaning one without President Asad.Asad, however, claims he is still considering whether to run for re-election next year. Syrian government and allied forces have had notable battlefield successes in November which have weakened, if not removed, any incentive for the government to compromise much.
Most importantly, there is no ceasefire and none is likely. That makes a peace conference in Geneva an exercise in holding talks for the purpose of holding talks.
End of NightWatch
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