For the Night of 29
North Korea-Iran: Agence France-Presse reported today
that missile experts from Iranian rocket and satellite maker Shahid Hemmat
Industrial Group (SHIG) are in North
Korea to help prepare for a rocket launch according
to the Japanese daily Sankei Shimbun. The Iranian experts
delivered a letter from Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadi-Nejad to North Korean
leader Kim Chong-Il that reportedly emphasizes the importance of cooperation in
exported rocket and missile technology to Iran. Without North Korean engines
and rocket technology, Iran
would have no functioning missiles. Thus, the purpose of Iranian experts in North Korea is to advise on the results of the
joint North Korean-Iranian rocket that Iran launched in this joint
research and development enterprise.
Note: Almost every day North Korean news services
report Kim Chong-il visiting some plant or enterprise to provide “on-the-spot” guidance,
mimicking the energetic schedule maintained by his late father, President Forever,
Kim Il-sung. Kim Chong-il has never maintained such a schedule. Seven months
after a stroke, no medical doctor or neurologist would advise him to maintain
such a schedule, assuming he were in physical condition to do so.
The daily sightings of Kim’s activities are those of body
doubles or they are outright lies, not to be taken seriously. Kim Chong-il always hated the visits with his
father, according to high-level defectors. He hated making them, disliked public
appearances and refused to challenge in any way the legendary exploits of his
father. NightWatch is confident Kim is making no visits.
The reports obviously are intended to depict leadership
activities as normal, except the North Korean propagandists have gone overboard
and proven precisely the opposite.
Whatever is occurring in North Korean leadership, it is far from normal.
Korea: South Korean long range weather forecasters predict the Taepo Dong 2
missile/space launch will have to be postponed from 4-8 to 6-8 April because of
a weather system.
"Windy and cloudy weather, let alone rain or snow, is
not suitable for a rocket launch."
Munk Centre for International Studies, University of Toronto,
has published a 53-page booklet that describes in detail the findings of a
10-month investigation of a Chinese government-backed, if not official, cyber
spy ring known as GhostNet.
The Canadian investigation, consisting of fieldwork,
technical scouting, and laboratory analysis, discovered a network of over 1,295
infected hosts in 103 countries. Up to 30% of the infected hosts are considered
high-value targets and include computers located at ministries of foreign
affairs, embassies, international organizations, news media, and NGOs.
Infected computers in ministries of foreign affairs included
those of Iran, Bangladesh, Latvia,
Indonesia, Philippines, Brunei,
Barbados and Bhutan.
Embassy targets included India, South Korea, Indonesia, Romania, Cyprus, Malta,
Thailand, Taiwan, Portugal, Germany and Pakistan; the ASEAN (Association of
Southeast Asian Nations) Secretariat; SAARC (South Asian Association for
Regional Cooperation), and the Asian Development Bank; news organizations; and
an unclassified computer located at NATO headquarters.
The investigation began with a manual investigation of Tibetan
computer systems. The investigators found that computers associated with the
Dalai Lama were compromised by multiple infections that gave attackers
unprecedented access to potentially sensitive information.
The GhostNet system
directs infected computers to download a Trojan known as gh0st RAT that allows attackers
to gain complete, real-time control. These instances of gh0st RAT are
consistently controlled from commercial Internet access accounts located on the
island of Hainan,
People’s Republic of China.
The key findings of the study are
evidence of a cyber espionage network—GhostNet—infecting at least
computers in 103 countries, of which close to 30% can be
considered as high-value
diplomatic, political, economic, and military targets.
evidence of GhostNet penetration of computer systems containing
and secret information at the private offices of the Dalai
Lama and other Tibetan
and reverse engineering of the modus operandi of the GhostNet
System -- including vectors, targeting, delivery mechanisms,
data retrieval and control
Systems -- reveals a covert, difficult-to-detect and
elaborate cyber-espionage system
capable of taking full control of affected systems.
In short, the Chinese government is waging cyber warfare
against the rest of the world, taking good advantage of the Internet users’
naive cultural axiom that information on the net should be free of charge.
full bench of the Supreme Court of Afghanistan Sunday (29 March)] in its
decision extended the term of President Karzai until the taking over of charge
by new president after the 20 August presidential elections.
This was always the obvious answer, which raises a question
why there was so much US
angst and energy wasted over such a trivial issue. The Taliban are knocking at the door, but
somehow advisors to Karzai are worried about the legal niceties of a duly
elected president remaining in office until the next election. Outside advisors
need to remember this is Afghanistan: it is a war zone. The rules under wartime conditions are not
the same as under peacetime conditions. That raises the issue why US taxpayers
are paying for an election in a war zone. Afghanistan
today is not like the US
during the Civil War.
President has outlined a new strategy, but absurd, old attitudes apparently
will threaten its execution. Afghanistan
needs more warriors than lawyers. If Kabul
falls to the Taliban, modern ideas of rule of law will be irrelevant;
Iraq: Update. Iraqi police sources said that, on the
second day in a row, clashes renewed in Al-Fadl area in central Baghdad between Iraqi and
US troops and members of the Sunni Awakening Council forces in the city. The
clashes renewed after the Iraqi Army yesterday arrested Adil al-Mashhadani,
commander of the Awakening Council forces in the area.
The arrangement under which the US
paid Sunni fighters to stop fighting US forces is breaking down because the
Iran-backed al Maliki government has only hired 5,000 Sunni fighters from the
100,000 on the US
payroll at 300 per fighter per month. This
is a pre-cursor of the second round of the Sunni-Shia civil war to follow.
Prime Minister Erdogan's ruling Justice and Development (AK) Party won the 29
March local elections, but failed to win Diyarbakir
in the Kurdish southeast, Izmir
and several other key cities, Reuters reported. Turkey's secularist opposition also made gains
in Istanbul. According to unofficial results with half of
the votes counted, the AK Party has won 39 percent of the vote in provincial
assemblies and is ahead of the secularist opposition.
Supporters of rival candidates attacked each other with
firearms at local elections in Turkey
on 29 March, leaving four people dead and more than 60 injured, RIA
Novosti reported, citing local media. The largest gunfight broke out in
Sanliurfa Province in the southeast, where one
person was shot and killed and 34 were wounded.
Successive elections prove beyond doubt that Turks outside
the cities are conservative-bordering-on-fundamentalist Islamists. The gap
between secular urban Turks and rural fundamentalists is widening. This is a classic urban-rural split with an
Islamic veneer. Turkey
bears close scrutiny because the countryside consistently has shown it has
sufficient votes to elect the AK Party over the voting power and secular
interests of the cities.
Somalia piracy patrol: Update. Russia's Admiral Panteleyev (548) guided
missile destroyer, a salvage tugboat and a tanker left Vladivostok on 29 March to
take part in anti-piracy operations in the Gulf of Aden, RIA Novosti reported. The
ships are from Russia's
Pacific Fleet and will replace a task group led by the destroyer Admiral Vinogradov
that had participated in the anti-piracy patrol since January.
Sudan: President Omar al Bashir on 29 March arrived
for an Arab League summit that begins 30 March, The Associated Press
reported. Qatar's emir
greeted al Bashir at Doha's
airport. The Arab League has said it would not enforce the International
Criminal Court's arrest warrant for al Bashir.
Bashir is demonstrating his defiance of the ICC warrant. He
protests too much.
President’s term limits are about to expire, meaning that President Mamadou
Tandja has served the limit of consecutive terms allowed under the
constitution. He is reluctant to leave
office and told the press that he would remain in office another term if the
people desired, but would not amend the constitution to do so.
Presidential elections are due
in December 2009. Stay tuned; this is a
study in democracy.
End of NightWatch
for 29 March.