Night Watch

North Korea-South Korea: The South Korean government confirmed today that no plans have been made for another round of separated family reunions during the Chusok (harvest) holiday in early September. An official from the Ministry of Unification reported at a press conference today, "Reports of a forthcoming agreement with the North about the Chusok separated family reunions are false… At the current stage the government has made no detailed plans."

The official said that the South remains open to a last minute proposal, but it has received none at this time.

Comment: The latest round of reunions took place at the Mount Kumgang tourist resort in eastern North Korea in February 2014. The North professed to want more frequent bilateral exchanges at that time. In retrospect, those initiatives appear to have been part of a political propaganda campaign to divide South Korea from its allies and to undermine public support for the South Korean government.

The South Korean official also commented on the status of negotiations about North Korean participation in the Asian Games that will be held in Inchon from 19 September to 14 October. "In accordance with international practices and regulations, we will proceed with talks about North Korea participating in the games," but South Korea has no plans to begin new discussions on the matter.

Comment: Working-level talks at Panmunjom broke down in July over the size of the North Korean delegation and the amount the North was willing to reimburse the South for hosting the North's delegation. For a time, North Korean media bragged about the quality of the North Korean cheerleading team it was forming for the Games. Those articles have stopped.

North Korea appears to have turned inward again for a while. News about Kim Jong Un is mainly about his visits to various industrial and agricultural enterprises. North Korea has been relatively quiet.

Iraq: Fighters from the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) have seized control of the Mosul Dam and its water resources. Kurdish militia fighters withdrew. They also stopped defending the town of Qaraqosh, which is the largest Christian town in Iraq.

Comment: Events of the past four days indicate the Kurdish militia will not be able to defend Erbil or any other location ISIL chooses to attack. The fighters are too lightly armed and supplied, now that ISIL is using captured Iraqi army equipment and stocks. Turkey and Iran need to be prepared for large numbers of Kurdish refugees.


Night Watch

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