Japan-China: On Sunday, China's Ministry of National Defense claimed that Japanese Self-Defense Forces (SDF) aircraft obstructed exercises in the East China Sea.
A ministry statement said that SDF aircraft entered China's air defense identification zone and reconnoitered and obstructed joint drills between the Chinese and Russian navies. China scrambled fighter interceptors which took necessary identification and security steps.
The Chinese ministry said the action by the Japanese aircraft constituted a serious violation of international law and practice because the aircraft ignored China's no fly zone. The ministry requested the Japanese side stop every surveillance and obstruction activity.
On Saturday, Japan's Defense Ministry said that Chinese Su-27 fighter jets flew abnormally close to aircraft of the Japanese Maritime and Air Self-Defense Forces over the East China Sea. The SDF planes were flying over the high seas, the ministry said.
The Japanese ministry said the Chinese fighters flew 30 to 50 meters from the Japanese aircraft.
Comment: The Japanese ministry published video images of a Chinese fighter as it approached a Japanese aircraft. Without commenting on the various sovereignty claims, the Chinese fighter flew too close for safety. China really cannot afford to lose any of its advanced fighter aircraft.
China-South Korea: Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi will visit Seoul on Monday for talks on North Korea's nuclear issue and the timing of the Chinese president's visit to South Korea, a Chinese foreign ministry spokesman said.
Comment: The diplomatic firmament is starting to move in the direction of North Korean denuclearization talks. Last week a US delegation met North Korean counterparts in Mongolia. Now, this visit. Apparently, the meetings are still mainly exploratory. The prospect of talks has no effect in restraining provocative North Korean behavior, especially since Kim Jong Un became the North Korean leader.
Thailand: King Bhumibol Adulyadej will address the nation on 26 May to endorse General Prayuth Chan-ocha as head of a ruling military council. Afterwards the General will then give his first address to the nation since seizing power last week.
Comment: As old hands know, no coup succeeds without the approval of the monarchy. The King wants stability and an end to street demonstrations and violent protests. The Shinawatra's failed to respect his will and have now paid for it.
The military government released former prime minister Yingluck Shinawatra from custody today, but she remains under close military guard at her home.
India-South Asia: Narendra Modi will be sworn in as India's 15thPrime Minister on 26 May.
India's External Affairs ministry said Wednesday that the government invited all the heads of government of all eight countries in the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC), including Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif.
"This is the first time that India has invited all SAARC members to attend a swearing-in ceremony of a prime minister," ministry spokesman Syed Akbaruddin said.
Comment: The SAARC members are Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka. India invited 90 heads of government to attend, including leaders from more than 36 Islamic states. Delegations from seventy-five nations have accepted the invitation.
Mr. Modi said during the election campaign that it is time for India to take its rightful place as a world leader and stressed the need to strengthen regional ties. The unprecedented invitations are a step in that process.
Pakistan. Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has accepted Indian Prime Minister-elect Narendra Modi's invitation to attend his swearing-in ceremony.
On Saturday, the Islamabad government published a schedule of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif's visit to India. The Prime Minister and his delegation will arrive on 26 May and depart on the 27thafter meetings with Mr. Modi and Indian President Shri Pranab Mukherjee.
Sharif's delegation will include the Adviser to the Prime Minister on National Security and Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz; Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Foreign Affairs Tariq Fatemi; and Foreign Secretary Aizaz Chaudhry.
Comment: This will be the first time a Pakistani Prime Minister will have attended the investiture ceremony of an Indian Prime Minister. It is a positive start to Modi's term of office.
Iran: During a meeting with Majles (parliament) members on Sunday, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamene'i shared his ideas about Iran's goals, jihad and negotiations with Satan.
Khamenei said that the "elevated goals" of the Islamic system cannot be achieved without continuing "the combat against the world hegemony."
"The reason for the emphasis placed on the continuation of combat, is not because of the war-mongering of the Islamic establishment. It is only rational that for crossing a region filled with pirates, one should fully equip themselves and be motivated and capable of defending themselves."
"Under such circumstances, we have no option but to continue combat and allow the idea of combat to rule all domestic and foreign affairs of the country."
"Those who seek to promote concession-making and surrendering to bullies and accuse the Islamic establishment of warmongering are indeed committing treason."
"All the officials in the country in the field of economy, science, culture, policy-making, lawmaking and foreign negotiations should be aware that they are fighting and are continuing the combat for the establishment and survival of the Islamic system."
Khamenei said, "… jihad is never-ending because the Satan and the satanic front will exist eternally."
Comment: Khamenei's comments appear to be a reaction to the failure of the Geneva talks to reach an agreement on Iran's nuclear program last week. Satan and the Satanic front are the US and the other five negotiating parties.
Khamenei's remarks indicate that Iran will make no more substantive concessions. The three sticking points are: Iran insists that the UN Permanent Security Council members and Germany recognize Iran's right to enrich uranium; that Iran's missile program is not a topic for negotiations and that Iran will continue its nuclear research and development. Khamenei's remarks above cover all three points in veiled language.
A point seldom mentioned in press coverage is Khamenei's understanding of negotiations as a form of jihad. He calls it combat, not struggle. He does not consider talks to be acts of statesmanship or a mechanism for achieving compromise, much less peace. They are a form of combat to secure the goals of the "Islamic system."
Ukraine: Chocolate candy billionaire Petro Poroshenko will be the new president of Ukraine, according to exit polls from Sunday's elections. He won almost 56 percent of the vote against almost 13 percent for former prime minister Yulia Tymoshenko.
Press reports indicate a 60 per cent voter turnout generally, but almost no voting in the two eastern regions in secession. Final results are due by Monday, but preliminary returns indicate no need for a run-off election.
Comment: Press reports about Poroshenko suggest he might be a fit Ukrainian president because he appears to be comfortable in capitalist circles and in statist systems. His comments while casting his ballot indicate he will pursue aggressively integration with Europe and he also will support aggressive combat operations against the eastern separatists. He said he wants peace; suppressing thesecession is how he intends to obtain it.
Security. On Sunday evening, Ukrainian First Deputy Prime Minister Vitaliy Yarema said that Ukrainian security sources would shortly resume the active phase of the military operation in the eastern regions of the country.
"For a more peaceful solution to the issue of elections, today Ukrainian troops and law-enforcement bodies suspended active steps so that residents of the eastern regions could make it to the polling stations and cast their votes. Meanwhile, the readiness of the Armed Forces was at a high level, we fully blocked the parts of the regions harboring terrorist organizations and the active phase of the antiterrorist operation will resume shortly."
Donetsk. Authorities announced that martial law is imposed in the Donetsk people's republic from 0000 on 26 May (2100 GMT 25 May). The main task is to purge DPR territory from the Ukrainian enemy troops," the press service said.
Comment: The Donetsk and Luhansk authorities said after the 11 May referenda on self-determination that the Ukrainian presidential election would not be conducted in their regions. Generally, they were not, but there were confrontations with people who attempted to vote. Expect more clashes this week.
Western press coverage covered what it described as separatist action to disrupt the Ukrainian presidential elections, without mentioning the 11 May referenda on independence.
Novorossiya, not yet. The separatist prime minister of the Luhansk people's republic, Vasyl Nikitin, admitted that the leaders of Luhansk and Donetsk agreed to create a cooperative union yesterday in Donetsk. However he denied rumors that the discussions addressed the creation of Novorossiya, i.e., New Russia.
"No agreements about any Novorossiya were concluded in Donetsk yesterday," Nikitin said. "An agreement was concluded to create a union of people's republics. Two independent republics," he explained. He said that the two republics had not merged, but had created a union of two independent states that a special council will oversee. Each republic will have three representatives on the council.
Comment: Russian President Putin has referred to Ukraine as Novorossiya on multiple occasions.
Russia: Comment: President Putin said last week that he would respect the outcome of the Ukrainian presidential election. He did not clarify what he meant in referring to Ukraine. Presumably Russia will not recognize Poroshenko's presidency as extending to Luhansk and Donetsk.
Egypt: Update. Presidential elections will be held on 26 and 27 May.
Mali: On Friday, the Touareg separatists and the government reached an agreement brokered by the African Union and the United Nations. The terms are a cease fire; an exchange prisoners; a resumption of peace talks; and an international investigation into Wednesday's fighting.
Concerning the fighting, Malian authorities now admit that the Touaregs killed 50 and wounded 40 Malian soldiers in that fighting.
Comment: The agreement seems to have calmed the situation for a time, but the ceasefire is probably temporary and the talks will be more difficult than before last Wednesday's clashes. One reason is that the Touaregs have the military advantage for now. Another is that they apparently dominate much more of the north than before.
End of NightWatch
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