North Korea: Update. A South Korean press service reported over the weekend that the North Korean purge continues of all North Koreans associated with the late Chang Sung-taek. The investigation and purge does not reach Chang's wife who is the aunt of Kim Jong Un, Kim Kyo'ng-hu'i. Ms. Kim Kyo'ng-hu'i remains abroad for medical treatment.
The North Korean investigators have divided those associated with Chang into four classes. This is a so-called operation to "liquidate the remaining effect of poison" and uproot the Chang Sung-taek line.
Class A includes the immediate family members and select senior officials under Chang's direct supervision. According to the North Korean Ministry of State Security, Chang is reported to have some 100 immediate family members, including families of his siblings and in-laws. The rumor is that some have been executed and some were sent to political prisons.
People who are distant relatives or were friends of those who were executed were also respectively divided into Class B and Class C and are being investigated. Class D is reported to apply to relatives of relatives.
One South Korean government official said "it appears the number of people being investigated for liquidation of the remaining effect of poison will reach some 10,000 people."
Comment: A regime that engages in the extermination of a family, its friends and associates is a despotism. It is atavistic and parades in the trappings of civilization. Swiss education was wasted on Kim Jong Un.
Negotiations with such a regime are foolhardy because a despotism recognizes no obligations arising from modern contract law or modern diplomacy. This throw-back regime is best left to the Chinese and the South Koreans. The South Koreans, more than Chinese, know how to humble other Koreans. The US needs to support President Park in handling the mess in North Korea.
Pakistan: Former President Musharraf sent his lawyers to court on 7 February, instead of himself. He simply refused to make a personal appearance despite a court order.
Heavy security arrangements were made for the appearance of Musharraf in the court. Some 1,100 security personnel were deployed along the route from the Armed Forces Institute of Cardiology (AFIC) to the special court venue. As usual Musharraf was a no-show.
Musharraf's counsel, Anwar Mansoor, pleaded a diversion, alleging personal conflicts of interests for the judges and the prosecutors, and demanding a hearing on his petition that they should be dismissed.
The court accepted the petition seeking Musharraf's exemption from appearing in court during today's proceedings. In his arguments before the court, Musharraf's counsel Anwar Mansoor assured the court that his client would appear on 18 February. "Pervez Musharraf will appear before the court after being discharged from the hospital," Anwar said.
The chief judge accepted Mansoor's assurance and ruled the court would review the petition on conflicts of interest on the 10th. Justice Faisal Arab remarked that a non-bailable warrant for Musharraf would be issued if he failed to appear before the court on the 18th.
Comment: The court action and rulings mean that the judges are fully aware of Musharraf's stratagems. They also mean that they have reached the end of their tolerance. Musharraf will go to jail if he fails to appear before the special court on 18 February.
To its credit, the special court has been exceptionally tolerant of the legal antics of Musharraf's lawyers to prevent him from appearing in a trial for treason.
The impact of the court's approval of postponements and delays has been to bore the public and prepare it for the appearance for trial of a former president and, more importantly, a former Chief of Army Staff. As a result, the court has helped minimize the risk of protests and internal disorder when Musharraf makes the required personal appearance.
Musharraf might never face a trial for treason, but he must appear in person to answer the charge of treason. The appearances are as important as what happens to Musharraf. They communicate to all Pakistanis that no one is above the law, including the armed forces.
Afghanistan-Pakistan: Speaking Sunday in Islamabad, Pakistani National Security and Foreign Policy Advisor Sartaj Aziz indicated a peace deal in Afghanistan is still within reach.
"The Taliban has already established its rule in some Afghan districts, but it is Pakistan's assessment the group will not be able to regain control of the whole country" after the foreign troops stage their planned withdrawal, Aziz said.
Aziz said there are about 350,000 Afghan security forces and the anti-Taliban Northern Alliance (note: Tajiks and Uzbeks who dominate northern Afghanistan have remained resolutely anti-Taliban and anti-Pashtun) also have grown stronger.
Aziz also said the Taliban would be looking for a way to end the conflict through the process of political reconciliation. He urged the Afghan government to show flexibility to come up with an offer that would encourage the Taliban to join the peace process.
Comment: There is no way to discern from open source materials the truth of anything Aziz actually said. He implied a great deal and his scenario is most favorable to Pakistani interests in Afghanistan. Thus it is not a most likely outcome, but a most benign outcome, for Pakistan.
For the record, he purported to convey Pakistan's judgment about the future of Afghanistan after NATO and US forces depart. The message he wants the US to believe is that the Afghan government in Kabul will survive.
What he did not say, but implied, is that Pakistan expects that the Pashtun Taliban will fragment Afghanistan. They will not seize Kabul, but they will control the 12 Pashtun provinces in the south.
The second message is that Pakistan is content to have a Pashtun ally who controls only southern Afghanistan. Pakistan's requirement for strategic depth in its endless confrontation with India only requires control of Afghanistan south of the Hindu Kush.
Aziz' third message is that the fighting will not stop between Pashtuns and the northern tribes, but the Taliban will make gestures for national unity and reconciliation in order to gain control of Kabul.
Tunisia-Iran: On 7 February, the Tunisian National Constituent Assembly threw a party to celebrate Tunisia's approval of a more or less democratic constitution, after three years. It was a gala event, until the head of Iran's parliament, Ali Larijani, spoke.
Not content to honor the Tunisian achievement, Larijani used his bully pulpit occasion to denounce the US and Israel for opposing the Arab spring uprisings and to describe Israel as a "cancerous tumor."
The US delegation walked out of the meeting, appropriately.
Comment: Former President Ahmadi-Nejad was almost fond of presenting honestly Iran's deeply considered views about Israel, peace in the Middle East and the US. President Rouhani has been more circumspect in discussing these issues, but his government's official views do not differ from those of Ahmadi-Nejad.
What is important to note is the consistency in policy statements by Ahmadi-Nejad and Rouhani. Muslim zealots remain in control in Tehran.
Their political theology relative to the destruction of Israel matches that of the Sunni jihadists. Rouhani is no more tolerant of Israel and the US than is Zawahiri. At some point Western leaders must confront the fact that Islamic extremists, both Sunni and Shia, what the destruction of Israel.
End of NightWatch
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