N. Korea Leadership to Be Spread

December 22, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

By Benjamin Kang Lim

2011-12-21T135653Z_4_BTRE7BK0JRG00_RTROPTP_3_NEWS-US-KOREA-NORTH-EXCLUSIVE

File: N. Korean soldiers parade in Kyodo, 9/9/11.

REUTERS/Kyodo

BEIJING (Reuters) – North Korea will shift to collective rule from a strongman dictatorship after last week’s death of Kim Jong-il, although his untested young son will be at the head of the ruling coterie, a source with close ties to Pyongyang and Beijing said.

The source added that the military, which is trying to develop a nuclear arsenal, has pledged allegiance to the untested Kim Jong-un, who takes over the family dynasty that has ruled North Korea since it was founded after World War Two.

The source declined to be identified but has correctly predicted events in the past, telling Reuters about the North’s first nuclear test in 2006 before it took place.
The comments are the first signal that North Korea is following a course that many analysts have anticipated — it will be governed by a group of people for the first time since it was founded in 1948.
Both Kim Jong-il and his father Kim Il-sung were all-powerful, authoritarian rulers of the isolated state.

The situation in North Korea appeared stable after the military gave its backing to Kim Jong-un, the source said.

“It’s very unlikely,” the source said when asked about the possibility of a military coup. “The military has pledged allegiance to Kim Jong-un.”

North Korea’s collective leadership will include Kim Jong-un, his uncle and the military, the source said.

Jang Song-thaek, 65, brother-in-law of Kim Jong-il and the younger Kim’s uncle, is seen as the power behind the throne along with his wife Kim Kyong-hui, Kim Jong-il’s sister. So too is Ri Yong-ho, the rising star of the North’s military and currently its most senior general.

The younger Kim, who is in his late 20s, has his own supporters but is not strong enough to consolidate power, analysts said.

“I know that he’s been able to build a group of supporters around himself who are of his generation,” said Koh Yu-hwan, president of the Korean Association of North Korean Studies in Seoul.
“So it is not entirely elders in their 70s, plus some like Jang in their 60s, who are backing him. These young backers will be emerging fairly soon.”

Koh said the coterie was put in place by Kim Jong-il before he died. “The relative calm seen these few days shows it’s been effective. If things were not running smoothly, then we’d have seen a longer period of ‘rule by mummy’, with Kim Jong-il being faked as still being alive.”

He said the younger Kim would accept the set-up, for now. “Considering the tradition of strongarm rule by his father and grandfather, things can’t be easy for him,” he said.

“REGIME SURVIVAL”

Ralph Cossa, an authority on North Korea and president of the U.S. think tank Pacific Forum CSIS, said it made sense that the ruling group would stick together.

“All have a vested interest in regime survival,” he said. “Their own personal safety and survival is inextricably tied to regime survival and Kim Jong-un is the manifestation of this. I think the regime will remain stable, at least in the near-term.”

He added in a commentary that the new group may be inclined to reform, but stressed this was far from confirmed.

“Over the long term, there appears to be some hope, primarily emanating from Beijing, that Kim Jong-un will take North Korea down the path of Chinese-style reform, apparently based on the belief that Jang is or will be a ‘reformer’.”

“Who knows, this may be true. While this could relieve the suffering of the North Korean people over time, it will do little to promote the cause of denuclearization, however.”

The high-level source also said North Korea test-fired a missile on Monday to warn the United States not to make any moves against it. Pyongyang however had no immediate plans for further tests, barring an escalation of tensions.

“With the missile test, (North) Korea wanted to deliver the message that they have the ability to protect themselves,” the source said.

“But (North) Korea is unlikely to conduct a nuclear test in the near future unless provoked” by the United States and South Korea, the source said.

The unpredictable North’s nuclear program has been a nagging source of tension for the international community.

Pyongyang carried out nuclear tests in 2006 and 2009, and has quit six-party talks with South Korea, the United States, China, Japan and Russia on abandoning its nuclear program and returning to the Non-Proliferation Treaty.

The high-level source also said Beijing was only notified of Kim’s death earlier on Monday, the same day North Korean state television broadcast the news. Kim died on Saturday.

A leading South Korean newspaper reported on Wednesday China learned of Kim’s death soon after it occurred.

China has given no official comment or even hints suggesting it was told of Kim’s death before the public announcement.

Beijing, the North’s closest ally and biggest provider of aid, has pulled out the stops to support the younger Kim.

The government has invited him to visit and, in an unusual gesture, President Hu Jintao and Vice-President Xi Jinping also visited the hermit state’s embassy in Beijing to express their condolences. Roads leading to the embassy were blocked.

Mainly, the prospect of instability on its northeastern border worries China and it sees the younger Kim and his coterie as the best prospect for keeping North Korea on an even keel.

North Korea has been pressed by China to denuclearize and is willing to do so on condition that North and South Korea, the United States and China sign an armistice replacing a 1953 ceasefire agreement, the source said.

The two Koreas have been divided for decades and remain technically at war since their 1950-53 conflict ended with an armistice but no peace agreement. The United States backed the South, while China supported the North in that conflict.

Pyongyang is also convinced there are U.S. nuclear weapons in South Korea and demands Washington pull them out, the source said.

(Additional reporting by Jack Kim in Seoul; Editing by Raju Gopalakrishnan and Jonathan Thatcher)

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China Accuses US of Online Warfare in Iran

March 4, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

Iran election unrest an example of US ‘naked political scheming’ behind free speech facade, says Communist party editorial

A protest over the Iranian election in Washington last June. Photograph: Molly Riley/Reuters

The United States used “online warfare” to stir up unrest in Iran after last year’s elections, the Chinese Communist party newspaper claimed today, hitting back at Hillary Clinton’s speech last week about internet freedom.

An editorial in the People’s Daily accused the US of launching a “hacker brigade” and said it had used social media such as Twitter to spread rumours and create trouble.

“Behind what America calls free speech is naked political scheming. How did the unrest after the Iranian election come about?” said the editorial, signed by Wang Xiaoyang. “It was because online warfare launched by America, via YouTube video and Twitter microblogging, spread rumours, created splits, stirred up and sowed discord between the followers of conservative reformist factions.”

Washington said at the time of the unrest that it had asked Twitter, which was embraced by Iranian anti-government protesters, to remain open. Several social media sites, including YouTube, Facebook and Twitter, have been blocked in China in the last year.

The editorial asked rhetorically whether obscenity or activities promoting terrorism would be allowed on the net in the US. “We’re afraid that in the eyes of American politicians, only information controlled by America is free information, only news acknowledged by America is free news, only speech approved by America is free speech, and only information flow that suits American interests is free information flow,” it added.

It attacked the decision to cut off of Microsoft’s instant messaging services to nations covered by US sanctions, including Cuba, Iran, Syria, Sudan and North Korea, as violating America’s stated desire for free information flow. Washington later said that such services fostered democracy and encouraged their restoration.

China initially gave a low-key response to Google’s announcement that it was no longer willing to censor google.cn. The internet giant said it had reached its decision following a Chinese-originated cyber attack targeting the email accounts of human rights activists, and in light of increasing online censorship.

Clinton’s direct challenge to China, in a speech that had echoes of the cold war with its references to the Berlin wall and an “information curtain”, led Beijing to warn that US criticism could damage bilateral relations. Clinton called on China to hold a full and open investigation into the December attack on Google.

In an interview carried by several Chinese newspapers today, Zhou Yonglin, deputy operations director of the national computer network emergency response technical team, said: “Everyone with technical knowledge of computers knows that just because a hacker used an IP address in China, the attack was not necessarily launched by a Chinese hacker.”

US diplomats sought to reach out to the Chinese public by briefing bloggers in China on Friday. They held a similar meeting during Barack Obama’s visit in November.

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Wiesenthal Center Attacks Presbyterians

February 28, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

By Dr. Aslam Abdullah, TMO Editor in Chief

misuse_of_anti_semitism_2_by_latuff2 In a letter addressed to Presbyterian Church, the Simon Wiesenthal Center is urging the leadership Church (USA) (PCUSA) to prevent the adoption of new policies that will put the important Protestant denomination on a collision course with Israel and its supporters. This is the first time in recent decades that a Jewish organization has openly attacked one of the most popular Christian denominations in America. Short of accusing Presbyterians anti-Semitic, the Jewish organization has targeted the seven members of the Presbyterian Middle East Committee for their views that challenge the Israel’s official policies in the Middle East.

Rarely, the Simon Wiesenthal Center has spoken for human dignity of Palestinians or Arabs, yet it is in the forefront to defend the policies of Israel regardless of their brutalities.

Rabbi Abraham Cooper, Associate Dean of the Center, recently said, “We are deeply troubled that current moves underway in the Church radically depart from its 2008 commitment that its review of Middle East policies would be balanced and fair. Instead, PCUSA leadership appointed a committee of nine, seven of whom were on record as holding anti-Israel positions. The sole member sympathetic to Israel soon quit in protest over the extremist ant-Israel political agenda reflected in its recommendations, which include a:

·     a call for the US to withhold financial and military aid to Israel

·     an apology to Palestinians for even conceding that Israel has a right to exist.

·     embracing a document prepared by Palestinians that declares that Israel, if defined as a Jewish State, must be inherently racist. This document also denies any connection between biblical covenants and the Jewish people, and begins Israel’s history only with the Holocaust, describing Israel as a nation mistakenly created by Western powers at the expense of the Palestinian people to solve the ‘Jewish problem.’

·     It calls for a boycott against Israel, and full right of Palestinian return, which would destroy the Jewish State. These recommendations effectively open up a theological front against Israel, to add to the diplomatic and academic ones pursued by other haters of Israel.”

“If such a one-sided draconian approach is adopted by the PCUSA, there will be permanent damage to the positive Interfaith relations,” Cooper added.

In an e-blast to 300,000 online activists (at http://tinyurl.com/PCUSAe-petition), the  Jewish  NGO is urged them to join its protest to PCUSA leaders and to also speak with their Presbyterian friends. “PCUSA has some of the staunchest supporters of Israel in its ranks,” added Rabbi Yitzchok Adlerstein, the Center’s Director of Interfaith Affairs. “They are as frustrated as we are that their church leadership team spends so much energy on the Arab/Israeli conflict where there are relatively few Presbyterians who live in either Israel or the disputed territories, and spend too little energy on major human rights issues impacting Christians and Presbyterians who live in Muslim countries, China, and North Korea. We hope that our appeal to them will help them prevent a hostile takeover of an important American church group by an agendized minority.”

Several American Christian groups see the latest attack by the Jewish organization on a Christian denomination as an attack on free speech. They say that for years the Jewish organizations have played the card of anti-semitism to intimidate Christians from adopting a balanced and neutral perspective on the conflict between Jews and Palestinians.  “We feel intimidated by many Jewish organizations in the US. They hound us and ensure that our career is destroyed if we are in public, said Christopher, who does not want his last name to be published for fear of retaliation. Researchers have pointed out that during the last 50 years at least 11 Congressmen have been targeted by several Jewish organizations for speaking up against the policies of the state of Israel.

Several Christian groups have questioned the Biblical defense of Israeli policies. They say that over the last several decades Zionist scholars have played with the sentiments of the people by justifying everything done by the state of Israel. It is estimated that several pro-Israeli churches receive unaccounted favors from Jewish organizations in Israel and in the US.

The Simon Wiesenthal Center is one of the largest international Jewish  organizations with over 400,000 member families in the United States. 

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Why the U.S. Kneels

December 3, 2009 by · Leave a Comment 

By Philip Weiss

Gideon Levy in Haaretz tells America to stop sucking up to Israel. He leaves out the root cause. You can’t just tell the Americans to make better policy without dealing with the Israel lobby and, barring wider outrage among Americans, issues of Jewish identity.

Levy: Before no other country on the planet does the United States kneel and plead like this. In other trouble spots, America takes a different tone. It bombs in Afghanistan, invades Iraq and threatens sanctions against Iran and North Korea. Did anyone in Washington consider begging Saddam Hussein to withdraw from occupied territory in Kuwait?

But Israel the occupier, the stubborn contrarian that continues to mock America and the world by building settlements and abusing the Palestinians, receives different treatment. Another massage to the national ego in one video, more embarrassing praise in another.

Now is the time to say to the United States: Enough flattery. If you don’t change the tone, nothing will change. As long as Israel feels the United States is in its pocket, and that America’s automatic veto will save it from condemnations and sanctions, that it will receive massive aid unconditionally, and that it can continue waging punitive, lethal campaigns without a word from Washington, killing, destroying and imprisoning without the world’s policeman making a sound, it will continue in its ways.

Illegal acts like the occupation and settlement expansion, and offensives that may have involved war crimes, as in Gaza, deserve a different approach. If America and the world had issued condemnations after Operation Summer Rains in 2006 – which left 400 Palestinians dead and severe infrastructure damage in the first major operation in Gaza since the disengagement – then Operation Cast Lead never would have been launched.

It is true that unlike all the world’s other troublemakers, Israel is viewed as a Western democracy, but Israel of 2009 is a country whose language is force. Anwar Sadat may have been the last leader to win our hearts with optimistic, hope-igniting speeches. If he were to visit Israel today, he would be jeered off the stage. The Syrian president pleads for peace and Israel callously dismisses him, the United States begs for a settlement freeze and Israel turns up its nose. This is what happens when there are no consequences for Israel’s inaction.

When Clinton returns to Washington, she should advocate a sharp policy change toward Israel. Israeli hearts can no longer be won with hope, promises of a better future or sweet talk, for this is no longer Israel’s language. For something to change, Israel must understand that perpetuating the status quo will exact a painful price.

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