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Generational Dynamics Web Log for 25-Aug-2016
25-Aug-16 World View -- North Korea lays land mines to prevent soldiers from defecting

Web Log - August, 2016

25-Aug-16 World View -- North Korea lays land mines to prevent soldiers from defecting

US VP Biden snubbed by Turkey's angry president Erdogan

This morning's key headlines from

US VP Biden snubbed by Turkey's angry president Erdogan

US VP Biden meets with Turkey's angry president Erdogan
US VP Biden meets with Turkey's angry president Erdogan

US Vice President Joseph Biden met on Wednesday in Ankara with Turkey's president Recep Tayyip Erdogan, in an attempt to reverse the rapidly growing anti-American sentiments that have been surging in Turkey following the July 15 coup.

Sitting next to what some reports describe as a "stony faced Erdogan," Biden said:

"I want to make it unmistakably clear that the United States stands with our ally, Turkey. Our support is absolute and it is unwavering. ...

The people of Turkey have no greater friend than the United States of America. As I said earlier, I want to offer my personal condolences and those of the president to the people of Turkey, for not only what they went through in the coup attempt, but shortly after that over 50 people murdered apparently from what we're told by ISIS a suicide bombing where 28 or 29 young people under the age of 18 were killed. The suffering of your people at the hands of ISIS at the hands of the PKK in the southeastern part of your country is beyond what any people should have to sustain."

Biden's entire visit was met with hostility, and was referred to by some Turkish media as a "waste of time." There was particular hostility between Erdogan and Biden over Turkey's desire to extradite Fethullah Gulen, living in exile in a resort in Saylorsburg Pennsylvania, whom Erdogan blames for the coup.

Biden explained that under the US system, Gulen cannot be extradited until Turkey produces evidence to an American court of Gulen's culpability. Erdogan responded that the US could at least arrest Gulen, so that he can't be interviewed by news media:

"According to the [1981] extradition treaty with US, we'd expect Gülen to be detained, however he still manages his terrorist organization freely."

Erdogan also criticized Biden's use of the phrase "Islamic State" to describe what I call "the so-called Islamic State (IS or ISIS or ISIL or Daesh)", or just ISIS. Erdogan said that Biden should use the name "Daesh" and added:

"Islam is a religion of peace; it does not send children to blow themselves up as suicide bombers in the middle of crowds."

This is a criticism that a number of Muslim authorities have raised, saying that referring to this terror group as "Islamic State" makes as much sense as referring to a Christian terror group like the IRA as "Christian State." The BBC dealt with this debate about a year ago, and refers to it as "the so-called Islamic State." I use the name ISIS for the same reason. Bloomberg and Daily Sabah (Ankara)

North Korea lays land mines to prevent soldiers from defecting

When Thae Yong Ho, North Korea's deputy UK ambassador defected last week to the UK with his family, North Korea's media labeled Thae to be "human scum," and took the usual apoplectic turn:

"[Thae] should have received legal punishment for the crimes he committed, but he discarded the fatherland that raised him and even his own parents and brothers by fleeing, thinking nothing but just saving himself, showing himself to be human scum who lacks even an elementary level of loyalty and even tiny bits of conscience and morality that are required for human beings."

North Korea is following up by laying more land mines on the border between North and South Korea, in order to prevent defections of its own soldiers. Land mines and barbed wire already cover almost all of the border between North and South, but one location has been previously left untouched -- Panmunjom, the so-called "truce village," where North and Korea agreed to a ceasefire on July 27, 1953. And indeed, under the agreement reached in 1953, it's illegal for the North Koreans to lay land mines around Panmunjom.

But now that's changed according to South Korean officials:

"The South Korean and U.S. intelligence authorities detected last week that the North Korean soldiers were planting multiple mines north of the Bridge of No Return near Panmunjom. It is the first time that they witnessed the North’s land mine placement in that area since the Armistice Agreement was signed in July 1953. ...

Under the regulations governing the truce, planting land mines is forbidden in the areas near the Panmunjom. The guards are banned from carrying heavy weapons. The United Nations Command strongly protested to the North about the move."

The Bridge of No Return was used for prisoner exchanges. Once the prisoner crossed the bridge, he could never cross back.

It's believed that the land mines were laid to prevent North Korean soldiers from defecting to the South. Independent (London) and Yonhap News (Seoul) and Joongang Daily (Seoul)

UN Security Council has emergency meeting on North Korea missile tests

The United Nations Security Council scheduled an emergency meeting on Wednesday and held closed consultations on the latest North Korean missile launch.

The ballistic missile that North Korea fired from a submarine on Wednesday traveled 500 km (310 miles), the longest distance achieved so far. With that capability, the missile could reach all of South Korea, parts of Japan, and some American military bases, though not North America. And because it can be launched from a submarine, it would not be possible to detect a planned attack before liftoff.

Pretty much everyone -- Japan, South Korea, the US -- issued the obligatory statement condemning the test, which was in violation of international law. China also criticized the North Korean test, but blamed it on the planned deployment by the US and South Korea of the THAAD anti-missile system. ( "10-Aug-16 World View -- China's fury grows over South Korea's plan to deploy THAAD anti-missile system") Business Insider and AP and Global Times (Beijing)

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 25-Aug-16 World View -- North Korea lays land mines to prevent soldiers from defecting thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (25-Aug-2016) Permanent Link
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