The DPRK released a series of photo sets today to various foreign media outlets to demonstrate the robustness of Kim Jong Il’s health, Fuji Television reports. Government and private image analysts are saying the photos are definitely not from October, as the DPRK maintains, and may not even be from this year. Several problems are obvious in the photos including the condition of the foliage relative to the North Korean winter and the presence of a festival-related structure in one picture which should be standing in May, not October.
This leads to the presumption that not only is Kim Jong Il not well enough to publicly display, but that North Korea is worried enough about the standing public perception that he is now absent from power that they feel the need to lie in a way which is sloppy, ill-considered and somewhat unusual for them. This, in combination with a few other mysteriously desperate-looking measures such as reinvogorating their nuclear program, give the appearance of a very worried, very directionless power structure.
How will this affect the region? Will it hasten a reconcilliation with South Korea? Questions such as this lead to a lot more questions which will require a lot of time and thought I just don’t have right now. Interesting points to ponder are what will a united Korea’s foreign policy be? (Prediction: Neutral towards the U.S. and very anti-Japan) Can South Korea digest and metabolize the entirety of North Korean desolation without greater problems than West Germany had? (Prediction: No.)
Turkey is interested in buying used air defence systems from Ukraine. Specifically, Turkey wants to have a chance to train against the last-generation Russian S-300V (NATO designation SA-10D) in live exercises at home. This would fill in a lot of the unknown variables involved in current air projection doctrine for Turkey and by extension the rest of NATO. Turkey has made pitches to Ukraine, Belarus and perhaps a few other countries (Greece obviously not among them). This all happened before the Georgian conflict and Russia could now easily block all but the Ukrainian offers. Whether Turkey makes a security deal with Russia outside of NATO or not, they would definitely pursue the acquisition of an S-300 system all the harder now that Russia is flexing its new muscles while the Americans are distracted and Eastern Europe in general is heating up. Of course, now that Russia is flexing its muscles Ukraine is either less or more likely to sell one to spite Russia depending on which Ukrainian you are asking, a Timoshchenkite or Yushchenkite.
Syria and Tehran are also interested in buying S-300-series air defence systems from Russia. With Israel recently having totally blown past Syrian air defence to bomb a nuclear site north of Damascus only a few months ago (this made the collective Syrian cock shrink quite a bit) and having blown another reactor site in Baghdad in the 1980’s by skilfully overflying most of the country, Syria and Iran both want to up their air defence game as much as possible.
This is where collective training exercises come into play. Turkey may be a largely Muslim nation, but their country is run by secular thinkers and they have a separation between religion and state… at least to a far greater degree than other nations which collectively subscribe to the backward death-cult. Turkey sees an inherent interest in dealing with Israel in a civil manner despite it being inhabited largely by Jews. They have deep and binding security agreements. Turkey also recently joined NATO and narrowly failed to become an EU member state. They are looking to normalize and have a demonstrated desire to stay on the progressive side of things. This culminates in Turkey and Israel regularly conducting naval and air exercises among other very real cooperation.
It is highly probable that if Turkey can acquire a working S-300V air defense system, the Israelis (and NATO, of course) will be all over any training opportunities this presents, and that will undermine efforts by Iran and Syria to strengthen their air defense networks by purchasing the same system.
Turkey + Ukranian S-300V purchase = higher chance of Israel maintaining air superiority over Iran.
The reason I did not discuss the similar NATO-related issue is because I find it highly probable that the Americans have already found opportunities to study the S-300V in-depth. If they have, they would quickly share such information with their allies should the need arise — namely France and England come to mind. The Bush administration has pursued a very broad foreign policy over the last eight years and holds a number of trump cards over Russia at the moment and most of them do not involve direct military conflict. Israel, on the other hand, has a very real and present need for in-depth knowledge of the S-300V and how to operate against it — so I found that the more interesting aspect of the Turkish missile proposal.