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North Korea: Update. North Korea severed the hotline that runs through the truce village of Panmunjom, South Korea's unification ministry said Monday. The ministry said attempts to contact the North by telephone at 9 a.m. failed.

Comment: This is the start of dismantling the Armistice arrangements. An important next step will be to make a show of withdrawing the military mission at Panmunjom.

The North Korean media will continue to claim that the North is acting in reaction to the South Korean and US exercises that began in full on 11 March. A reconstruction of North Korean behavior in the past two months shows that the steps the North is taking are not reactive, but are manifestations of a deliberate plan to change the rules on the Peninsula.

China-Japan: Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi on 9 March asked Japan to take real steps to correct its mistakes regarding the Diaoyu (Senkaku) Islands and to work with China to prevent tensions from getting "out of control.".

China has reorganized its maritime law enforcement agencies under the supervision of the State Oceanic Administration.

Comment: Even when appealing for cooperation, the Chinese have a way of insulting down to a would-be partner that ensures the Chinese offer will not be accepted. The Chinese do not want to work with Japan. They want subservience and surrender of the Japanese claim.

Reorganization after the start of a confrontation often signifies commencement of a new phase of operations to follow, usually an escalation.

Afghanistan: The Afghan Taliban and the United States have been holding secret talks in Qatar on a daily basis, Afghan President Hamid Karzai said on 10 March. He accused the US and Taliban of colluding to maintain foreign troops in Afghanistan.

A suicide bomber detonated his device outside the Afghan Defense Ministry on 9 March, killing nine people, during US Defense Secretary Hagel's visit to Afghanistan.

Comment: Karzai has steadily become more troubled about US intentions, tactics and his future. The very last thing the Taliban want is for US forces to remain. Karzai should know that.  His behavior is erratic and inconsistent, according to reports from Afghanistan.

Over the weekend an al Qaida spokesman in Pakistan stated in a video obituary for a fallen Kashmiri militant that after Afghanistan is retaken, Indian Kashmir is the next target.

It is a good bet that the suicide bombing was a greeting from the Haqqanis for the new Secretary of Defense.

Spain: For the record. Tens of thousands of people marched in dozens of cities on 20 March to protest high unemployment. They blamed the government's corruption and inefficient handling of the economy. There were no reports of violence. this was another Sunday event, rather than a threat to the government.

End of NightWatch ###

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