The relentless terror attacks and massacres are now a near-daily occurrence—even if we limit ourselves here to industrialized countries supposedly at "peace." But they are ot as random as many commentators assume. Just over the past week... On July 26, two men armed with knives took over a church in the French town of St.-Étienne-Du-Rouvray during mass, taking hostages and killing the elderly priest. The attackers were killed by the police. ISIS released a statement saying its "soldiers" carried out the attack. (NYT) That same day, a former employee of a care center for the disabled in the Tokyo suburb of Sagamihara stabbed 19 to death as they slept in their beds, injuring 26 more. Upon turning himself in to the police, he boasted: "I did it. It is better that disabled people disappear,." (The Guardian)
We know we're going to be accused of alarmism, but please follow the logic. First, however self-serving it may be, the accusation of a Russian intelligence hand in the WikiLeaks dump of hacked e-mails from the Democratic National Committee is plausible. Famously, the e-mails reveal DNC staffers pulling for Hillary Clinton and against Bernie Sanders, prompting the resignation of the supposedly neutral body's chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz. The DNC had apparently been hit by Russian hackers, and Clinton campaign manager Robbie Mook is now openly charging that Moscow is trying to boost Donald Trump.
US-led coalition air-strikes near the northern Syrian town of Manbij July 19 "accidentally" killed between 56 and 160 civilians—including many women and children. The strike was conducted in support of the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) in their ground offensive against ISIS. The civilians in the ISIS-controlled village if Tokhar were apparently assumed to be militants. (The Telegraph) Russia, meanwhile, continues to be a senior partner in the Assad regime's ongoing aerial terror, taking a similar toll in civilians casualties on a near-daily basis. On the same day as the disastrous US strike on Tokhar, Russian and regime aerial bombardment of besieged Aleppo killed 21. (AFP) The following day, Russian and regime on Aleppa and Douma killed at least 51 civilians, including 15 children. (Reuters) But this ongoing carnage fails to win the same kind of headlines.
The man who apparently shot dead three police officers before being brought down himself in Baton Rouge on July 17, Gavin Eugene Long, was a former Marine sergeant who went by the online name Cosmo Setepenra. His blog seems to be still online, as well as his YouTube rants in which he made clear that he did not want to be associated with any organized groups, apparently in anticipation of his attack. "I'm affiliated with the spirit of justice: nothing else, nothing more, nothing less," he said in one clip. But the Kansas City Star notes that he filed documents last year with county authorities at his Missouri home declaring himself a "sovereign" affiliated with the "United Washitaw de Dugdahmoundyah Mu'ur Nation, Mid-West Washita Tribes." It is a little strange to suddenly see the Washitaw Nation making headlines on NBC, and being mentioned in CNN, the New York Times and the like.
In the wake of the July 15 attempted coup in Turkey, 265 are dead, 1,440 wounded and 2,839 soldiers detained, by official figures. Members of military brass are among the arrested. Also taken into custody are 2,745 judges and prosecutors—including two members of the Constitutional Court. (Jurist, BIANet, NYT, BIANet) A security lockdown is in place at Incirlik air base, shutting down US sorties against ISIS that routinely fly from the base. (World Bulletin, NYT) Tensions with Washington may also be enflamed by President Erdogan call for the US to extradite "terrorist leader and coup plotter" Fethullah Gülen (who is almost certainly a scapegoat). (Daily Sabah)
Well, this is pretty hilarious. Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who crushed the 2013 Gezi Park protest movement in Istanbul and this year instated draconian curfews across the country's southeast in response to a Kurdish intifada, is now calling for his supporters to take the streets in response to an attempted coup d'etat by the military. BBC reports that he said: "I urge the Turkish people to convene at public squares and airports. I never believed in a power higher than the power of the people." Gezi Park itself is said to be now occupied by militants of Erdogan's Justice and Development Party (AKP), who are facing down armed troops there—certainly a perverse irony. Erdogan is at this moment boasting that the coup has been crushed, but this seems far from certain. A bomb blast has reportedly hit the parliament building in Ankara. Several police are reported killed at Ankara's Special Forces headquarters, indicating the security forces are themselves divided.
The Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) at The Hague ruled (PDF) in favor of the Philippines on July 12 in its dispute with China over most of the South China Sea. Manila brought the case in 2013 disputing Beijing's territorial claims, a move China decried as "unilateral." The PCA concluded that China does not have the right to resources within its "nine-dash line," an area covering nearly the entire 3.5 million square-kilometer Sea—believed to be rich in oil and minerals. The tribunal found that none of the disputed Spratly Islands are "capable of generating extended maritime zones." Therefore, the tribunal wrote that it could "declare that certain sea areas are within the exclusive economic zone of the Philippines, because those areas are not overlapped by any possible entitlement of China." China entirely denies the PCA's jurisdiction in the matter, and rejected the ruling.
The Obama administration has reportedly proposed a new agreement to Russia's government for military cooperation in Syria, sharing target information and coordinating air-strikes. In exchange, Moscow would agree to pressure the Assad regime to stop bombing certain Syrian rebel groups. The US would not give Russia the exact locations of these groups, but specify geographic zones that would be safe from aerial assaults. (WP, June 30)