Night Watch

South Korea -North Korea: On Monday, South Korea proposed high-level talks with North Korea next week about resuming reunions of Korean War-divided families. The South Korean Unification Ministry said in a statement that it suggested meeting 19 August at Panmunjom. The South also announced it donated $13.3 million to the World Health Organization and the World Food Program to assist infants and nursing mothers in North Korea.

North Korea has not responded.

Comment: Family reunions are important to Koreans, especially at the harvest festival, Chusok, which will be celebrated on 8 September. In making this proposal, the South preempts the North in acting as the champion of reunification.

Afghanistan: US intervened again in Afghan politics to try to break the political deadlock over the presidential election and the voter fraud audit, which appears to be going nowhere. Both presidential candidates, Ashraf Ghani and Abdullah Abdullah agreed to the US-brokered deal for forming a national unity government.

Comment: A BBC report over the weekend pointed out that the candidates still do not agree on the formula for sharing power in a national unity government. They also do not agree on the meaning of a national unity government as that translates into decisions about ministerial appointments and the power of the presidency vs the parliament.

At stake are the fundamental nature of the system of government and its legitimacy. On Friday, the US Secretary of State said the issue is not about who won the election, but whether the outcome is credible to the people. However, by definition, a credible outcome of an election is a winner.

The power-sharing arrangement has no basis in the Afghan constitution, any legislation or any manifestation of public will. It has no legitimacy. The Taliban have more legitimacy as the standard-bearers of Sharia in an Islamic emirate.

The solution that breaks the political deadlock is conveying the message that the elections and the Afghan constitution don't matter in choosing a national leader. The Taliban share those beliefs.

Iraq: Iraq has a constitutional crisis inside its existential military crisis. With lots of outside encouragement, Iraqi President Fouad Massoum nominated deputy parliament speaker Haider al-Ibadi to be the next prime minister of Iraq.


Night Watch

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