North Korea

North Korea
The always bombastic and unpredictable North Koreans go hysterical again. This time the country is prepared to "go to war" with South Korea because that country is playing loudspeakers directed at North Korean territory. A headline from a UK paper reads, "More than 50 North Korea submarines 'leave their bases' as war talks with South continue "

Monday, February 7, 2011

Beginnings ...

Egyptian change underway

Egyptian protesters remain defiant, in the streets, but not at fever pitch as seen by these individuals resting on tank wheels, and reading the newspaper.

It appears that Egypt's change in leadership and governance will not take the same path as that in Tunisia. While for the time being, President Mubarak seems to have a hold on his position (until September 2011's elections), change is already underway. Key members of the embattled ruling party, including President Hosni Mubarak's once heir-apparent son, resigned their party leadership posts and the newly appointed Vice President began talks with opposition leaders.

Egyptian Vice President Omar Suleiman, center, meets with representatives of protesters of 25th January movement in Cairo, Egypt, Sunday, Feb. 6, 2011. Monday, Suleiman said he would not run for President in September - further creating momentum for open and fair elections in 8 months.

As of Monday, February 7, some banks were reopening and some cleanup has begun. The government even announced a 15% pay raise for its employees! But demonstrators remained in Tahrir square and by their presence alone, continue to apply potent pressure.

A revolution's messy cleanup begins.

On the other hand, Egypt's government issued a warning of its own. Iran should keep out of the internal affairs of Arab countries in the Persian Gulf and not meddle in Iraq and Lebanon, Egypt’s foreign minister told a Qatari newspaper Friday. According to one report, the purpose appeared to be show support for the Arabs of the Persian Gulf who fear Iranian expansionism without actually committing Egypt to any course of action. “We say to our brothers in Iran,... Iraq must be left alone and Lebanon must be left alone. And Iran should not intrude in Bahrain in any way,” said Foreign Minister Ahmed Abul-Gheit, “The security of Gulf countries comes first, and Egypt gives it much of its attention,” said the minister, trying to convince Arabs around the Persian Gulf that Egypt stands with them.

Egyptian tangent

In continuing fallout around the Middle East from Egypt's unrest, the Iraqi Prime Minister, Nuri al-Maliki stated over the weekend he will not seek a third term. Maliki told Agence France-Presse: "The constitution does not prevent a third, fourth or fifth term, but I have personally decided not to seek another term after this one. "I support the insertion of a paragraph in the constitution that the prime minister gets only two turns, only eight years, and I think that's enough." Referring to Egypt, he said: "One of the characteristics of a lack of democracy is when a leader rules for 30 or 40 years. It is a difficult issue for people, it is intolerable and change is necessary."

Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki

The Sudanese begin a complicated separation process already punctuated with clashes.

South Sudanese soldiers in their red berets. Southern Sudan is set to become the world's newest nation on 9 July 2011.

The process for separation called for southerners within the former national army to first report to Khartoum in the north, hand in their weapons then leave for the South. In retrospect, that appears to be more wishful thinking than reality. Battles broke out last Thursday in the river town of Malakal between rival northern troops, some of whom want to stay in the south. The fighting began when ethnic southerners who joined the northern army did not want to move, said Upper Nile state spokesman Bartholomew Pakwan Abwo. "They think they will have no rights in the north."
The borders between North and South Sudan are only defined on paper.

Some majority southern units do not plan to turn in their heavy weapons in particular. At least 30 soldiers have been killed in southern Sudan during internal fighting among troops of the national army, state officials said. Clashes have spread to cities beyond Malakal.

The river town of Malakal where the fighting began. Over the weekend, it spread to Melut and the oil-rich settlement of Paloich.

US-Russia arms treaty begins implementation

The New Start nuclear arms treaty limiting the number of atomic warheads the US and Russia are allowed to possess, has come into effect. Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton exchanged ratification documents at a conference in Munich. Before the ceremony at the Munich Conference on Security Policy, Mrs Clinton said the treaty was "another example of the kind of clear-eyed co-operation that is in everyone's interests".

Smiles are indeed appropriate.

Mrs. Clinton said that Washington was also in talks with Russia about how the two countries can work together on other issues affecting their common security. Mr Lavrov called New Start "a product of the understanding that unilateral approaches to security are counterproductive". "The treaty that enters into force today will enhance international stability," he said.

The New Start treaty limits each side to no more than 800 deployed nuclear warhead delivery systems including bombers, missile launchers and nuclear submarines - a cut of about 50%. It limits each side to 1,550 deployed warheads. It will also allow each side to visually inspect the other's nuclear capability, with the aim of verifying how many warheads each missile carries.

The rise and fall of US and Russian nuclear weapons

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