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China: Leadership developments. Chinese media reported that the Seventh Plenary Session of the 17th Central Committee of the Communist Party of China (CPC) opened in Beijing on Thursday morning. This is the final plenum of the 17th Central Committee.

According to Chinese press, the session will discuss a draft report to be submitted to the upcoming 18th Party congress by the 17th CPC Central Committee, a draft amendment to the CPC Constitution and a draft work report of the CPC Central Commission for Discipline Inspection to be submitted to the congress, according to earlier meetings of the Political Bureau of the CPC Central Committee….

The Political Bureau of the CPC Central Committee discussed at a meeting on 22 October the draft report to be submitted by the 17th CPC Central Committee to the 18th national congress and the draft amendment to the CPC Constitution, and decided to table the two improved drafts to the Seventh Plenum of the 17th CPC Central Committee for further discussion….

The 18th CPC National Congress is a very important meeting to be held at a key time when China is working to build a moderately prosperous society in all respects, and at a crucial time when the country is deepening reform and opening up and accelerating the transformation of its economic development pattern.

The congress will systematically review the work in the past five years since the 17th CPC National Congress and the practice since the 16th CPC National Congress, and is expected to make strategic arrangements for the overall advancement of China's reform and opening up and socialist modernization drive, as well as for the overall advancement of the new grand project of the Party building.

A new CPC Central Committee and a new Central Commission for Discipline Inspection will be elected at the national congress.

Comment: The final plenum of the 17th Central Committee is expected to last a week. It will be followed next week by the convening of the 18th National Congress which will install the new political leadership team and set the course for China in the coming five years.

The key point at this time is that the Communists leave nothing to chance. Everything that will be decided at this week's plenum has already been arranged by meetings since mid-year. The new Congress will proceed along the same lines. The Chinese have elections and voting, but they are not like elections and voting in the West and especially the US. Same words; entirely different meanings.

Syria-US: US can no longer support the Syrian National Council (SNC) as the "visible leader" of opposition forces. US Secretary of State Clinton and other U.S. officials reportedly are fed up with infighting among the SNC leaders and have become convinced that the group does not represent the interests of all ethnic and religious groups in Syria. Ms. Clinton said there is a need for an official opposition umbrella which rejects "efforts by extremists to hijack the Syrian revolution.

Comment: More than 18 months into a rebellion of sorts, this is an astonishing admission of poor judgment and faulty political intelligence on multiple levels. It seems to have taken a year and a half for the US government to appreciate that the Syrian expatriates have no influence over the fighting in Syria. No fighting groups respond to their direction. No fighting groups depend on their dispensation of American funds.

Spokesmen for various Syrian fighting groups have been denouncing the expatriate politicians and the SNC as venal and out of touch for 18 months, openly and sometimes bitterly. The SNC has experienced repeated desertions by its most capable leaders, who also denounced its feckless venality.

The fighting will not stop in Syria because the SNC gets cut off. Even were the Free Syrian Army, which operates in Syria as one of many fighting groups, to lose its funding and supplies, fighting would continue because the rebellion appears to have been hijacked by the jihadists. They do not rely on the West or the US for support, though they will purloin it if given the opportunity.

Libya: Update. On 1 November, about 100 Libyan fighters have circled and occupied the Libyan national assembly to protest the new cabinet lineup.

Comment: Judging from the large number of documents about security in Benghazi that have been leaked or found in Benghazi, the cabinet in Tripoli does not govern Libya beyond parts of Tripoli. The fragmentation of the state actually worsened with the killing of Qadhafi.

If the news and leaked reports may be trusted, Libya has become a political fiction, like Somalia. Cyrenaica, eastern Libya, is an al Qaida base, training location and arms depot for jihadists in Syria and Mali. The rest of Libya is a mélange of competing tribal territories. Libya seems to have devolved as a nation-state - gone backwards.

Greece: Update. Several European news services reported that the new Greek budget shows Greek debt rising far beyond the worst case scenario imagined by European banking officials earlier this year. Projections presented to the Greek parliament estimate that Greek debt will grow from 167% of Gross Domestic Product to 189% in 2013 and to 192% in 2014.

Comment: Greece has not stopped spending; not curbed corruption and not controlled the practice of hiding Greek government handouts in foreign bank accounts. The economic crisis in the eurozone has not even been contained, much less controlled.

End of NightWatch for 1 November.

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