While the corrupt, lying, smug, sly, elite media is criticizing President Trump, I thought that you might like some actual news today. You’re welcome.
Pulling in the Horns in the Koreas
South Korea and North Korea are taking small steps to reduce tension.
Marine radio communications. On 1 July, the South Korean National Defense Ministry announced that the two states have resumed direct marine radio communications at sea.
Yonhap wrote that during the 9 o’clock test communication earlier in the day, a South Korean Navy ship off Yeonpyeong Island contacted a North Korean patrol boat, which responded immediately to the call, the ministry said.
Ship-to-ship radio communications had been suspended for 10 years.
The announcement said the resumption of radio contact at sea will help prevent incidents between the two navies. It also will facilitate coordination of search and rescue operations and policing of sea borders. For example, they can now work together to keep Chinese fishing ships out of Korean waters or to arrest them and hold them for ransom for trespassing.
Halt in some military construction. The South Korean National Defense Ministry said that it has postponed construction of new military facilities between 5 and 10 kms from the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ).
Artillery withdrawal. News accounts contained no information about a reciprocal action by North Korea. In the past two weeks, however, South Korean sources claimed that South and North Korea have discussed North Korea pulling long range artillery back from the DMZ, which would reciprocate the South Korean action.
Basketball. North Korea hosted a welcoming dinner for 100 South Korean basketball players, coaches and journalists. They will participate in friendly inter-Korean basketball matches.
The leaders of South and North Korea agreed to more cultural and sports exchanges on 27 April. The games, on 4 and 5 July, will be the first inter-Korean basketball games in 15 years.
Forestry. On 4 July, the two Koreas are holding working-level talks to discuss cooperation in the forestry sector expected to focus on addressing deforestation-related problems in the North.
North Korea’s shortage of cooking and heating fuels is chronic. In rural areas and even around Pyongyang, North Korean hillsides have been deforested for fuel, sometimes to support one or another misguided development scheme. Over the years the effects of mismanagement have resulted in increased flooding and landslides without relieving the shortage of fuel.
In the long list of natural resources that the Kim family has mismanaged, none comes close to forestry for repeated blunders by all three Kims.
Back to Kaesong. A group of 26 South Korean officials and workers will visit Kaesong this week to repair an office that is to be used as a liaison office between the two Koreas. The South Koreans will commute between the two Koreas until their living quarters are set up in the North Korean border town of Kaesong, a unification ministry official said.
This will be the first liaison office ever set up between the two Koreas. It also will be the first South Korean use of facilities at the Kaesong Joint Industrial Complex since 2016. South Korea withdrew from the Complex to punish North Korea for its missile and nuclear tests.
Korean unification is the principle that links these separate actions. My sense of the South Korean descriptions is that the interactions do not involve contact with the general population of North Korea. The two governments are testing each other in limited interactions.
The Strategic Forces Command is preparing to induct Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles (ICBMs). The first batch of Agni-V ICBMs is undergoing a series of user trials before transfer to the Strategic Forces Command (SFC).
The Agni-V is a road mobile, solid fuel, nuclear-warhead capable system developed by the Defense Research and Development Organization. It can deliver a 1.5-ton nuclear warhead to targets within 5,000 kms (3,100 miles). It is India’s first true ICBM that can range any target in China from launch sites in central and southern India.
It is not designed or intended for use against Pakistani targets. India has Prithvi and other Agni-series ballistic missiles for those missions.
It has been under development since about 2011. The first test of Agni-V was conducted from Dr. Abdul Kalam Island (Wheeler Island) on 19 April 2012; the second on 15 September 2013; the third on 31January 2015 and the fourth on 26 December 2016.
The fifth test on 18 January 2018 was the first test of the system’s fully road mobile, operational configuration, according to the Times of India. The sixth test was a precision strike test on 3 June 2018.
All tests have been successful. These two tests were described as pre-induction tests. More are expected during the summer.
The SFC already has raised the Agni-V regiment. The SFC also has regiments of the Prithvi-II (350-km), Agni-I (700-km), Agni-II (2,000-km) & Agni-III (3,000-km) ballistic missiles, which are mainly meant to deter Pakistan.
The Agni-IV (4,000-km) and Agni-V (over 5,000-km) have been developed to deter China.
China’s ability to strike India with near impunity since the 1962 war has been a driving consideration in India’s development and acquisition of strategic weapons and capabilities. Amid the smiles and warm words of the diplomats, China’s nuclear capability to attack India remained unchallenged in the backdrop of Sino-Indian diplomacy. That condition has changed.
India has lagged China in fielding strategic weapons, but the gap is closing. Agni-V’s contribution to the Asian strategic equation is that it represents a new nuclear threat to China. The Indian leaders are open about targeting China.
China is surrounded by former and would-be enemies. That fact often gets lost in discussions of security in Asia. Thus, a friendly nuclear-armed North Korea with ICBM delivery systems is a potentially valuable ally on China’s Northeast Asian flank. Pakistan performs a similar function on China’s southern flank.
The Turks control Manbij. The Turkish military completed its eighth round of patrols on 2 July as part of a deal with the United States. The Turks announced this week that they were withdrawing troops from Manbij and leaving management to the people who belonged there.
Western journalists reported that evidence of Turkish control is everywhere. Turkish goods are for sale in shops, and Turkish soldiers are visible.
Several US Senators will visit Manbij this week.
The Syrian government reached out to the Syrian Kurds. A military source in northern Syria said that the government offered the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) and the Syrian Kurdish Peoples Protection/Defense Units (YPG) the same deal they gave their allies in al-Hasakah Governorate.
The offer consisted of the following: joint checkpoints around Raqqa Governorate; Syrian military police to take over security duties in Raqqa city; time served by YPG/SDF personnel counted as time served in the Syrian Arab Army; Syrian Arab Army would reopen recruitment offices in Raqqa Governorate; Syrian Arab Army and SDF/YPG troops would join forces.
As reported, this offer is a good deal for the US and its proxy forces. It would facilitate US disengagement while leaving proxy forces intact and in good standing. It also would annoy the Turks endlessly and undermine their justification for seizing and occupying Syrian towns.
The US no longer supports the overthrow of the Assad government, and the proxies must make the best deals they can. That is the significance of the surrender of Manbij to the Turks and the US refusal to provide air support to the Free Syrian Army proxy forces in southwestern Syria.
An air ceasefire is in effect in southwestern Syria. Syrian government and Russian airstrikes on southwestern Syria near the border with Jordan ceased 48 hours ago. Sources on the ground report a “tense calm” has taken hold after two weeks of intense airstrikes. The sources said that after the first phase of Syrian government ground advances, with air and artillery cover, forces stopped a few kilometers from the border with Jordan.