Night Watch

North Korea: Another effort to attract tourists. The Korean Central News Agency published a decision by the Presidium of the Supreme People's Assembly on international tourism.

The Presidium decided:

"The Democratic Peoples' Republic of Korea Wo'nsan-Mount Ku'mgang International Tourist Zone will be established in Wo'nsan-Mount Ku'mgang area of Kangwo'n Province."

Comment: Promotion of international tourism by creating tourist zones was one of the late Chang Song-taek's ideas that Kim Jong Un has stolen in a downsized form. Kim thinks North Korea can become a winter sports haven, like Switzerland, but in Northeast Asia. To that end he built a ski resort near Wonsan.

The purpose is to finance his other questionable moneymaking schemes and the nuclear weapons program. Kim Chong-il tried to promote tourism too, but all his plans failed, mostly because North Korea lacks a stable-minded leadership; is unpredictable in its international relations; and its amenities for tourists are substandard.

Afghanistan: Voter fraud. Presidential candidate Abdullah Abdullah called for a halt to the vote count from the 14 June run-off election and announced he is boycotting the Independent Election Commission.

Abdullah charged that boxes of ballots are being counted from districts in which no voting was held because of security concerns. "Organized fraud has taken place in some areas, which is in contempt of the people of Afghanistan's rights," he said

Comment: The protest implies that Abdullah suspects he will lose the run-off election through voter fraud. He won the first round, but did not obtain a majority, thus requiring the run-off.

A recent poll taken after the first round election and before the run-off showed that the voters favored Ashraf Ghani, the other contender, by a substantial margin. Ghani is an educated economist and former Finance Minister. He is the favorite of the Pashtuns. Abdullah is the favorite of the Tajiks and Uzbeks.

Some Afghan analysts predict that a government under Ashraf Ghani would perpetuate President Karzai's systematic corruption.

Special thanks to feedback from an astute and Brilliant Reader for forwarding the information about the new poll. It appears to be accurate.

Iran: President Rouhani said today that Iran will defend Shi'ite Muslim holy sites in neighboring Iraq against "killers and terrorists."


Night Watch

NightWatch is an internationally acclaimed nightly newsletter that tracks and assesses threats to US national security. It has an edgy, executive style unlike any other summary of its kind.
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