Slave to the Blog: Jamming African Dinosaurs



Slave to the blog posts were originally conceived as (if we were lucky) thematically coherent updates on ongoing issues. I’m not sure if the topics covered in today’s post are thematically coherent, but it is striking how durable these issues are.

Let’s begin with North Korean jamming of air and maritime navigation systems in the area around Incheon. If one searches “jamming” in this blog, the search yields God only knows how many previous posts. The practice has been going on intermittently for some time, and there was another spate of stories last month as it emerged that more than 1,000 aircraft from 14 countries had complained this spring about interference with their flight navigation systems. The Chosun Ilbo has reported that in 2011 a US military aircraft was forced to make an emergency landing due to disruption of its GPS navigation system, and indeed the jamming reportedly ramps up during military exercises. The International Civil Aviation Organization has filed a formal complaint about the practice, which itself is an escalation of sorts, but in reality the episode is a reminder of North Korea’s willingness and capacity to engage in reckless asymmetric provocations. If relations with the rest of the world continue to deteriorate, Pyongyang may be jamming more than the Wailers.

About a month ago, I did a couple of posts on the emerging ROK-DPRK diplomatic competition in sub-Saharan Africa (and Cuba, as well). Well, it appears the protagonists continue to battle it out. One bit of news comes from Namibia, where ties to SWAPO run back to the 1970s. Hamish McDonald, the man who never sleeps, reported in NK News that the Namibians sent a delegation to Pyongyang to inform the North Korean government that pursuant to UNSCR 2270, they were terminating certain projects, included were sanctioned entities like KOMID which had been involved in arms production.

But the bad news for Pyongyang was not limited to Southern Africa. In Uganda, where during South Korean President Park Geun-hye’s recent visit there had been some confusion as to just how completely the Museveni regime was distancing itself from Pyongyang, the DPRK ambassador announced that military and police cooperation would terminate at the end of the year and the trainers would be going home. A combination of South Korean diplomacy and UNSCR 2270 seem to be the driver.

Cuba’s not technically in Africa (though musically the cross-fertilization has been great) and here Pyongyang is pushing back hard on Seoul’s opportuning to a long-time ally. For the second time in a year, Kim Jong-un himself met with a visiting Cuban delegation. After the meeting the two sides affirmed that they are fighting in the same trench against imperialism. That, and a few hundred millions of dollars in infrastructural spending, will get you an industrial park.

Lastly, I am happy to report that the State of Kentucky is not the only jurisdiction looking to use dodgy dinosaurs to mine tourist dollars. Despite the UNSCR 2270 aviation fuel embargo, Juche Travel of London, last seen trying to explain away the arrest of client Merrill Newman, managed to scrape up enough jet fuel to give adventure (?) nostalgia (?) tourists a few minutes in genuine Soviet-era deathtraps. According to the owner of the tour agency, North Korea is a must-visit destination for jet lovers because it is considered the last place with a big collection of old planes from the Soviet era. Maybe they could work out some kind of deal with the Cubans—they have some really old cars, and hey, even the Kentuckians could get into the act: they have a really old boat.

More From

Related Topics