North Korea-South Korea: The Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) published an open letter to South Korean from the National Defence Commission, the highest policymaking group in North Korea. Excerpts follow.
"The National Defence Commission (NDC) of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK= North Korea) on Thursday sent an open letter to the authorities, various political parties, social organizations and people of various circles of South Korea by a special order of the first secretary of the Workers' Party of Korea, first chairman of the NDC of the DPRK and supreme commander of the Korean People's Army. (NightWatch note: i.e., Kim Jong Un)
"The letter says: The history of the territorial partition which has lasted for several decades has brought untold misfortune and pain to the Korean nation. Foreign forces are wholly to blame for this tragic and disgraceful history of the Korean nation which started following the liberation of the country."
"Firmly determined to put an end to the history of the territorial partition and national split in view of the hard reality to which the Korean nation can no longer remain a passive on-looker, the supreme leadership of the DPRK in the New Year Address clarified internally and externally realistic ways of opening a fresh phase of national reunification…."
"…Regretfully, however, the south Korean authorities still remain unchanged in its improper attitude and negative stand towards the proposal. What is most important for mending the inter-Korean ties is to have a proper attitude and stance towards this issue."
"The issue of improving the inter-Korean ties is a prerequisite for achieving the national reconciliation and unity and the starting point to provide a shortcut to reunification. The DPRK has already unilaterally opted for halting all acts of getting on the nerves ofSouthKorea and slandering it."
"What is also important for paving a wide avenue for mending the north-south relations is to make a bold decision to stop all hostile military acts, the biggest hurdle stoking distrust and confrontation. The creation of atmosphere is required for repairing the inter-Korean relations but what is more important is to definitely terminate hostile military acts, the main obstacle to it."
"The DPRK did not urge the south Korean authorities to stop ordinary military drills. It urged them to halt drills for a war of aggression to be staged against their compatriots in collusion with outside forces…."
"The denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula is a goal common to the nation as it should be realized by concerted efforts of all Koreans. The south Korean authorities should have no doubt about the DPRK's will for denuclearization."
"Before finding fault with the nation's precious nuclear force for self-defence to which the DPRK had access, they should make a bold decision to stop their dangerous acts of introducing outsiders' nukes to do harm to their compatriots."
"It is our determination to create an atmosphere of reconciliation and unity, completely halt hostile military acts, realize the reunion of separated families and relatives, resume the tour of Mt. Kumgang and reenergize multi-faceted north-south cooperation and exchanges…."
"Improved inter-Korean relations precisely mean the independent reunification, peace and prosperity desired by all Koreans."
Comment: This is the fourth significant message this year from North Korea about improving bilateral ties. NightWatch highlighted several unprecedented statements. The first is the statement that the North has decided to stop provoking the South. This is the first time that the North has made such an assertion.
This assertion responds to the charge that the burden of creating an atmosphere for peace talks always falls on South Korea. The problem is the word "provocation" has different meanings in Pyongyang and Seoul. Nevertheless, this is an extraordinary statement.
The second highlighted text concerns the North's interpretation of South Korean military activity. This statement represents the first time the North has distinguished between Allied training and training by South Korea for its own defense.
The North's gripe apparently is with outside augmentation for exercises. That is another way of saying the North does not want the South to be a partner in an Alliance that is opposed to North Korean communism and utterly incompetent governance.
The final bold and italic statement asserts that North Korea's nuclear arsenal is the property of all Koreans - "the nation's precious nuclear force." The North presents itself as the custodian of a precious Korean asset.
The argument is that the Korean nation does not need the US nuclear umbrella because it has its own, meaning that of North Korea. Slick logic. However, no serious analyst doubts that the Kim family would use nuclear weapons against any and all Alliance targets in order to preserve itself.
The closing paragraphs are an invitation for South Korea to make North Korea prosperous. South Korea has been pursuing that goal for more than 20 years in the belief that prosperity would mature the North.
North Korea has blocked or rejected South Korean initiatives, including all mentioned above. North Korean poverty and socio-economic backwardness is the result of North Korean leadership decisions, alone.
The open letter is an invitation to renegotiate old issues with more incentives and higher prices for North Korean cooperation. The proof is that the open letter lists the same tired and failed old projects of the past without offering a single innovative or constructive idea.
The North's leaders are replaying the old Kim tapes of the past. They need a new line.
Ukraine: Comment: Mainstream press coverage of the disturbances and protests in Kiev tend to gloss over the composition of the protestors. A few news outlets have exposed that a significant and violent-prone component of the protestors is a small group of dedicated arch-conservatives and neo-Nazis.
There is little mainstream press coverage of the right-wing resurgence in Europe. All of such groups in the Ukraine and in Western Europe are anti-European Union and strongly nationalist. Such groups are prominent in the violent demonstrations in Kiev.
The Yanukovich government was duly elected and does represent, in the NightWatch view, the majority of Ukrainian voters. The pro-EU and pro-Western protestors are mostly urban activists in western Ukrainian towns. The occurrence of protests in towns outside Kiev means that the protest movement has no grass roots support and has diluted its influence.
Power resides in Kiev. That is where protestors must concentrate in order to change the government. Thus far they have failed. The videos are sensational and misleading because the protestors pose no serious threat to the government. The Yanukovich government is not in danger of overthrow, based on what has occurred to date.
Iraq: Update. On 22 January, at least 88 people, mostly gunmen, were killed, and 29 more were wounded in violence across Iraq. Sunni Arab rebels apparently retain control of parts of Ramadi and Fallujah. Today there were indications that Samarra also is in rebellion.
South Sudan: South Sudan's government and rebels have signed a ceasefire agreement after talks in Ethiopia. Under the deal, the fighting is due to end within 24 hours.
The South Sudanese government has expressed skepticism about whether the opposition will be able to control all the militias involved in fighting.
Comment: When an educated leader appeals to tribal loyalties for support, wittingly or not, he embraces the probability that he has unleashed forces that he cannot control. That is what is occurring now in South Sudan.
That means that a ceasefire signed in Ethiopia might have little impact in stopping tribal fighting in South Sudan. Nevertheless, the South Sudan government deserves support for signing a ceasefire when it is in a position to destroy the rebels, with Ugandan troop support.
The Nuer tribe has complaints against the Dinka, but none are enough to risk genocide. This rebellion was misguided. Nothing has been settled, except the dead and the fact that the main tribes of South Sudan really hate each other.
The talks have been adjourned until7 February.
End of NightWatch
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