Night Watch

North Korea: Update. On 5 April the Workers' Party newspaper Rodong Sinmun carried an editorial that suggested Kim Jong-un will be named Party General Secretary at the special party meeting on 11 April.

The editorial said the party should do all it can to carry out the instructions of late leader Kim Chong-il, including the military-first policy. The editorial also said having comrade Kim Jong -un at the top will further strengthen the party and bring about the triumph of a military-led revolution.

Comment: Whether or not Kim gets all of his father's titles and positions, what is clear is that a powerful cabal of party and  senior military officers is making the key decisions in North Korea. They are stern and disciplined about issues of national security, but appear less strict about economic cooperation with China. They will never give up the nuclear weapons program or the ballistic missile program and they have made that abundantly clear.

Egypt: Update. The Egyptian election commission is threatening to disqualify the highly popular, but ultra-conservative and viciously anti-American candidate for president, Hazem Abu Ismail, because his mother was an American citizen. California public and voting records prove she became a US citizen.

Egyptian law prohibits citizens from running for the presidency if their parents held dual citizenship. This is tonight's good news because Abu Ismail and his Salafists make the Brotherhood look like choir boys.  Readers may be certain the US had a lot to do with the suprise revelations about the parents of Abu Ismail, which explains why the Brothers will be welcomed and instructed at the White House next week.

Malawi: Doctors said that they failed to resuscitate President Bingu Wa Mutharika after a cardiac arrest on Thursday morning. Mutharika, one of the more corrupt and highly dictatorial heads of state in Africa, is dead, but  Vice President Joyce Banda, thus far, has declined to assume her constitutional role as the interim successor. That is because Mutharika and his followers want her replaced by Bingu's brother Peter.

Malawi is facing a constitutional crisis, as a result, though Peter Mutharika has no legal standing to succeed his brother, unless Malawi becomes more like North Korea with hereditary succession.

Tunisia: Tunisia's next parliamentary elections should be held before June 2013, according to Prime Minister Hamadi Jebali, leader of the Islamist al-Nahda Movement that heads the governing collation, during a press interview published on Wednesday.

The head of the Constitutional Assembly, Mustafa bin Jaafar, promised that the new Tunisian constitution will be ready before the end of the year and elections should be held by 20 March 2013.

Last week the ConstitutionalAssembly rejected a bid by ultra-conservatives to convert Tunisia into an Islamic state governed by Sharia. The Constitutional Assembly decided to retain Article 1 of the 1959 constitution which establishes Tunisia as a secular state.

The article states that Tunisia's language is Arabic and its religion is Islam, but it does not state that Muslim law-Sharia -- is the source of the country's legal code.

According to Tunisian press, both announcements -- elections timing and reinstating Article I of the constitution as it is -- have been positively received by Tunisians, who have become increasingly skeptical about the current government and constituent assembly.

Comment: Tunisia is moving towards a more open government, but there is no revolution, meaning a fundamental change of government system. For one thing, the ability of the al-Nahda-led coalition government to enforce its writ depends heavily on the support of the armed forces, just as did Ben Ali's government.

The governing coalition and mainly the army have been concerned about the activism and appeal of the Islamic fundamentalists who have taken over some 400 mosques and held demonstrations in favor of converting Tunisia into an Islamic theocracy. The government and security forces must now confront the fundamentalists to take back the mosques. The fundamentalists have vowed demonstrations.

Prime Minister Jebali told the media the revolution had two goals: freedom and development. He said freedom has been achieved: the Tunisians have never felt as free in all their history as they do now. Our prisons are no longer full of political prisoners, though there are a handful of people accused of committing acts of violence in the name of Salafism. The media is even working overtime, to the extent that the government itself is beginning to feel persecuted. But no newspaper has been confiscated, and no party or company has been closed down.

Comment: Jebali told half the truth. He left out the part that in the beginning the uprising was about bread and jobs that have still not been delivered. He also left out that the political freedom is for those who agree with the governing coalition.

The so-called Arab spring began in Tunisia as a protest against food shortages, high prices and lack of jobs, not voting rights.Anti-government protestors in the streets of Tunis waved French baguettes in their hands.  The so-called revolution was hijacked by well-established, suppressed, mainly Islamist, political groups to serve their ends.

Jebali could not cite economic progress as an accomplishment of the so-called revolution because there has been none. Tunisia managed zero economic growth in 2011, owing to the one-time sale of Tunisie Telecom. Otherwise the economy would have shrunk under the weight of high unemployment, low productivity, high and rising fuel prices, increased taxes, increased entitlements and general shortages.

Increased poverty, capital flight and political license for fundamentalists have characterized all the nations that experienced government change because of the Arab spring. 

What is likely in Tunisia are violent clashes between the government/army and the Salafists who will resist losing control of their 400 mosques and suppression of their freedoms of speech and assembly.

Mali: Today, 6 April, the Tuaregs declared independence for their territory known as Azawad, in northern Mali. They declared Gao as their capital. Ultra-fundamentalists in league with the Tuaregs already have imposed and are enforcing Sharia in Timbuktu and Kidal.

In Bamako, army captain Sanogo said that the National Assembly president will become the head of state in two weeks. In the event that the president is unable to serve out his term, the constitution prescribes that the position then falls to the head of the National Assembly, he said.

While that person will head a 21-day transitional government, Sanogo said the process could be lengthened because of the ongoing political crisis in Mali. Finally, Sanogo said that amnesty was being granted to coup participants, and that constitutional order was being restored in Mali.

France and the African Union rejected and denounced the Tuareg declaration of independence and asked the international community to do the same. France announced it would provide logistics support for an African intervention force.

Comment: The situation continues to move from bad to worse.  Farce has become national tragedy.

Feedback from an extremely knowledgeable, brilliant and well informed Reader pointed out that Tuaregs do not recognize national boundaries, being nomads. They range across parts of Mauritania and Niger as well as Mali. This uprising threatens to spread across Sahelian Africa, unless it can be contained and suppressed.

Once African states start to fragment, there is no stopping the process because all the national boundaries are artificial and senseless, relative to demographics and market areas. 

End of NightWatch

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Night Watch

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