From our Daily Report:

Southeast Asia
Burma

Burma: Karen rebels seize strategic border town

The Karen National Union (KNU) said that it will establish its own administrative mechanism in territory recently captured from Burma’s military in and around the critical trade hub of Myawaddy, on the border with Thailand. The KNU has several departments in its governance structure, including those for health, education, foreign affairs and defense, in territories it controls in seven districts across southeastern Burma, including in Karen (Kayin) and Mon states and Bago and Tanintharyi regions. The junta has lost control of several towns on the border with China to other rebel armies in recent months, but the loss of Myawaddy is a special blow, as it is the transfer point for most of Burma’s overland trade with Thailand. (Map: PCL)

Planet Watch
toad

Podcast: further thoughts on the common toad

In Episode 221 of the CounterVortex podcast, Bill Weinberg continues the Spring ritual from his old WBAI program, the Moorish Orthodox Radio Crusade (which he lost due to his political dissent), of reading the George Orwell essay “Some Thoughts on the Common Toad“—which brilliantly predicted ecological politics when it was published way back in April 1946. The Social Ecology of Murray Bookchin today informs a radical response to the global climate crisis, emphasizing self-organized action at the local and municipal levels as world leaders dither, proffer techno-fix solutions, or consciously obstruct progress. Listen on SoundCloud or via Patreon. (Photo: National Wildlife Federation)

Europe
Transnistria_

Mysterious drone strikes on Transnistria

he Russian Foreign Ministry has called for an investigation into a new drone strike on Moldova’s breakaway Transnistria region, condemning the attack as a a “yet another provocation” in the enclave. The “kamikaze” strike targeted a Transnistrian defense ministry unit, resulting in damage to a radar station. The targeted facility is six kilometers from the border of Ukraine. This attack is the second to occur in Transnistria in less than a month. The region was similarly hit with a drone strike in March, causing a fire and resulting in damage to military property. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs for the Pridnestrovian Moldovian Republic, as the breakaway government is called, condemned the strikes as “terrorist” attacks. Moldova’s Bureau of Reintegration Policy denies that Ukraine was involved in the incidents. The largely Russian-speaking breakaway region has been supported by Russia since the 1990s. The enclave hosts approximately 1,500 Russian troops. (Image: Wikipedia)

Mexico
Embajada de MĂ©xico en Ecuador

Mexico cuts ties with Ecuador after embassy raid

Mexico’s President AndrĂ©s Manuel LĂłpez Obrador announced the suspension of diplomatic ties with Ecuador following a raid by Ecuadoran police on the Mexican embassy in Quito and the subsequent arrest of the country’s former vice president Jorge Glas—who was wanted on corruption charges and seeking asylum. Ecuador’s Foreign Ministry stated that the decision was taken to forcibly enter the embassy because of the imminent risk of Glas fleeing the country. The General Secretariat of the Organization of American States (OAS) issued a statement expressing its rejection of any action that endangers the inviolability of the premises of diplomatic missions. The General Secretariat called for dialogue between Ecuador and Mexico and convened a meeting of the Permanent Council of the OAS to address the issue. (Photo: Embajada de MĂ©xico en Ecuador via WikimediaCommons)

Central Asia
tajikistan

Tajikistan denies Moscow claim of mercenary recruitment

Tajikistan’s Foreign Ministry denied claims by Secretary of the Russian Security Council Nikolai Patrushev that Ukraine has been recruiting mercenaries for its military the country’s territory. Patrushev charged that Kyiv’s embassy in Dushanbe, the Tajik capital, has been recruiting Tajikistan nationals to join the International Legion of the Ukrainian army, with a pathway to Ukrainian citizenship for those who choose to stay in the country. The allegations come as relations between Tajikistan and Russia are under strain following the deadly attack on the Crocus Music Hall outside Moscow, which was claimed by ISIS. The four suspected gunmen arrested in Russia are said to be Tajikistan nationals, and nine others were detained in connection with the attack in Tajikistan. Some Russian officials have alleged that several of those involved in the attack were recruited through the Ukrainian embassy in Dushanbe. Ukraine has denied any involvement in the attack. (Map: CIA via PCL Map Collection)

Palestine
Isratine

Podcast: against Zionism, toward pro-Semitism

In Episode 220 of the CounterVortex podcast, Bill Weinberg discusses two new books on the related themes of the Jewish Question and the Question of Palestine. One, The New American Anti-Semitism: The Left, the Right, and the Jews by Benjamin Ginsberg, is dangerously deluded. The other, The No-State Solution: A Jewish Manifesto by Daniel Boyarin, begins to move the discussion in the right direction. Weinberg goes further, calling for pan-Semitic unity between Jews and Arabs in repudiation of racism, imperialism and colonialism in all forms—including both Zionism and anti-Semitism. Listen on SoundCloud or via Patreon. (Image: proposed symbol for “Isratine,” a binational state in historic Palestine. Credit: AnonMoos via Wikipedia)

Africa
Goma

DRC: Goma swells with displaced as M23 advance

Renewed fighting between the M23 armed group and pro-government forces in eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo has pushed thousands more people into Goma, the largest city in the east and a humanitarian aid hub that is now encircled by the Rwanda-backed rebels. Goma’s previous population was around 1.5 million, but an additional 700,000 people have arrived during the past two years of conflict, including more than 200,000 that have come in recent weeks as the M23 expands its control over an unprecedented amount of territory. The city is buckling under a huge strain, with overwhelmed displacement camps, food prices soaring, and fear of an M23 takeover looming large. (Photo: Arlette Bashizi/TNH)

Iran
Baluch

Iran: insurgents strike in Baluchistan region

The insurgent Sunni Baluch group Jaish al-Adl carried out simultaneous attacks on bases of the security forces in Iran’s southeastern Sistan & Baluchestan province, leaving five troops dead. The attacks targeted a Border Guard post in Chabahar, and a Revolutionary Guards base in Rask. Troops gave pursuit, and skirmishes in the areas continue, with several more reported dead on both sides. Jaish al-Adl, or Army of Justice, is largely made up of followers of the banned militant organization Jundullah (Soldiers of God), and claims to “defend the rights of the Sunni Baluch people.” (Map: PCL)

Greater Middle East
Egypt

Egypt: hold on presidency consolidated amid repression

President Abdel-Fattah el-Sisi of Egypt was sworn in for a third term after being re-elected in a December vote in which he faced no serious challengers. El-Sissi won 89.6% of the vote, running against three virtually unknown opponents. First elected in 2014 (after coming to power in the previous year’s coup d’etat), then re-elected in 2018, el-Sisi was allowed a third term under constitutional amendments passed in a 2019 referendum. In addition to allowing a third run, the reform also extended his terms from four to six years. Another such reform allowing him to stay in office beyond 2030 has been broached. The election took place in an atmosphere of repression, with opposition candidates barred from running and even prosecuted. Hundreds of protesters and regime critics were arrested in the lead-up to the vote. (Photo: Abdelrhman 1990 via Wikimedia Commons)

Africa
Sahel

Sahel juntas accused of mounting atrocities

Security forces in junta-led Burkina Faso and Mali are carrying out increased abuses against civilians as they expand their operations against jihadist groups. In Mali, Human Rights Watch has reported accounts of soldiers arresting and shooting dead dozens of people in January. The killings took place following door-to-door searches in the village of Ouro Fero. The report also accuses the army of carrying out drone strikes in February on a wedding celebration and on a burial in the same village, killing at least 14 people, including four children. Meanwhile, in Burkina Faso, a report from AP documented the killing of dozens of civilians by security forces in the central village of Zaongo back in November. Abuses like these have increased significantly under the juntas currently governing both countries. (Map: Wikivoyage)

South Asia
Pakistan

Chinese interests targeted in Pakistan terror

At least five Chinese nationals and one Pakistani were killed in a car bombing in Pakistan’s northwest Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province. The victims, employees of Wuhan-based engineering firm Gezhouba Group, were en route to the Dasu hydropower project on the Indus River. It was the third attack on Chinese interests in Pakistan in a week. No group has claimed responsibility for the car bombing, but the two previous attacks were claimed by the separatist Baloch Liberation Army (BLA)—including an assault on the Chinese-funded strategic port of Gwadar. (Map: PCL)

More Headlines

Featured Stories

EZLN

THE NEW ZAPATISTA AUTONOMY

Last week the Zapatista National Liberation Army (EZLN) released a declaration, setting out a new structure for the autonomous indigenous communities in Mexico’s southern state of Chiapas. Uri Gordon of the British anarchist journal Freedom spoke to Bill Weinberg, a longtime radical journalist in New York City, for insight into this change and its significance. Weinberg’s book about the Zapatistas, Homage to Chiapas: The New Indigenous Struggles in Mexico, was published by Verso in 2000. He spent much time in Chiapas and elsewhere in Mexico during the 1990s, covering the indigenous movements there, prominently including the Zapatistas. In recent decades he has reported widely from South America and is now completing a book about indigenous struggles in the Andes, particularly Peru. He continues to follow the Zapatistas and Chiapas closely, and covers world autonomy movements on his website CounterVortex. In this interview, he explores new pressures in the encroachment of narco-paramilitaries on their territories as a factor prompting the Zapatistas’ current re-organization, and how it actually represents a further localization and decentralization of the movement.

Continue ReadingTHE NEW ZAPATISTA AUTONOMY 
Siberia Pipeline

GAS INTRIGUES, ECOLOGY AND THE UKRAINE WAR

Over the past decades, Russia has sought to expand natural gas exports, necessitating construction of pipelines to Europe and China. In addition to profits for the Russian state, fossil fuel exports are a valuable tool for Moscow’s geopolitical ambitions. Since the start of the war in Ukraine in 2014 and the full-scale invasion in 2022, the economic and political stakes have skyrocketed. Russia”s green movements had previously been able to mobilize effective campaigns, winning concessions on pipeline routes through natural areas. Since 2014, however, they have come under increasingly harsh scrutiny from the Russian government, with organizations branded “undesirable” or declared “foreign agents.” Control of pipelines routes through Ukraine itself are also a goad of the Russian war effort. Eugene Simonov and Jennifer Castner of the Ukraine War Environmental Consequences Work Group demonstrate how war fever and militarization threaten resources and ecology across the Russian Federation as well as in Ukraine.

Continue ReadingGAS INTRIGUES, ECOLOGY AND THE UKRAINE WAR 
Ukraine tribunal

UKRAINE’S DIFFICULT PATH TO JUSTICE

This August, Ukraine’s capital of Kyiv hosted a large international conference entitled “Special Tribunal for the Crime of Aggression against Ukraine: Justice to be Served.” The conference was aimed at reinvigorating global efforts to prosecute the crime of aggression against Ukraine—a crime which cannot be prosecuted under the current jurisdictional regime of the International Criminal Court. Many in Ukraine believe that justice can be served only when a fully-fledged international special tribunal for the crime of aggression is created. However, some of Ukraine’s most powerful allies endorse a “hybrid” tribunal, such as those created for Sierra Leone and Cambodia—which would rely in large part on Ukrainian national law and raise questions about the reach of jurisdiction. Despite optimistic expectations at the beginning of the year, disagreements between Ukraine and its allies have left some wondering: in the end, will justice indeed be served? International law scholars Mariia Lazareva of Ukraine’s Taras Shevchenko National University and Erik Kucherenko of Oxford provide an analysis for Jurist.

Continue ReadingUKRAINE’S DIFFICULT PATH TO JUSTICE 
Gaza attack

GAZA’S SHOCK ATTACK: UNVEILING THE CONTEXT

The shock attack from the Gaza Strip has terrified Israelis, and the government appears to be preparing a massive retaliation. But writing for Israel’s independent +972 Magazine, Haggai Matar insists that the current horror must bring home the overwhelming context. Contrary to what many Israelis are saying, this is not a “unilateral” or “unprovoked” attack. The dread Israelis feel now is a sliver of what Palestinians have experienced daily under the decades-long military regime in the West Bank, the siege and repeated assaults on Gaza. In recent months, hundreds of thousands of Israelis have been marching for “democracy and equality” across the country, with many even saying they would refuse military service because of this government’s authoritarian turn. What those protestors and reserve soldiers need to understand—especially now, as many of them announce they will halt their protests to join the new war on Gaza—is that Palestinians have been struggling for those same demands for decades, facing an Israel that to them is already, and has always been, completely authoritarian.

Continue ReadingGAZA’S SHOCK ATTACK: UNVEILING THE CONTEXT 
Crimean Tatars

CRIMEA: UKRAINE’S OTHER NATIONAL LIBERATION STRUGGLE

Many would-be “peacemakers” on the political right as well as on the political left have “very helpfully” suggested that Ukraine should give up some territories, which they describe as “Russian-speaking,” in order to appease the aggressor. When these self-styled “peacemakers” lay out exactly how Ukraine should be unmade piece by piece, Crimea is always the first territory mentioned. Crimea is, we are told, the most “Russian speaking” region in Ukraine, and voted for union with Russia in 2014. In an analysis for CounterVortex, Kyiv-born writer and activist Yevgeny Lerner debunks both these claims. Not only was the 2014 referendum illegitimate, but the “Russian speaking” majority in the region was effected through generations of ethnic cleansing of its indigenous inhabitants: the Crimean Tatars. The struggle of the Crimean Tatar people for land recovery and territorial autonomy is now unified with the general struggle of Ukraine for national survival against Russian aggression.

Continue ReadingCRIMEA: UKRAINE’S OTHER NATIONAL LIBERATION STRUGGLE 
kharkiv

UKRAINE: DEBUNKING RUSSIA’S WAR PROPAGANDA

In a special analysis for CounterVortex, Bill Weinberg debunks Vladimir Putin’s “de-Nazification” propaganda for his invasion of Ukraine, a paramount example of the ultra-cynical phenomenon of paradoxical fascist pseudo-anti-fascism. The Ukrainian state that he demonizes as “Nazi” has been experiencing a democratic renewal since the Maidan Revolution, as Russia has descended into autocratic dictatorship. Putin’s stated justifications for the Ukraine war are either paranoid delusions or outright lies. His real objectives are to rebuild the Russian Empire, re-establish the Russian dictatorship, and exterminate Ukraine as a cultural and political entity. These are the open aims of Alexander Dugin, the intellectual mastermind of Putin’s revanchist imperial project, and the political heir of Ivan Ilyin, the 20th century theorist of “Russian Fascism.”

Continue ReadingUKRAINE: DEBUNKING RUSSIA’S WAR PROPAGANDA 
Kosovo-Serbs

RUSSIA’S STRATEGY TO DESTABILIZE THE BALKANS: IT’S WORKING

Putin’s aggression in Ukraine is emboldening Russia’s ally Serbia to press its claims on Kosovo, which declared its independence in 2008. As ethnic Serbs launch violent protests in Kosovo, Serbian officials are threatening to launch a campaign to “de-nazify” the Balkans. Meanwhile, leaders of the autonomous Bosnian Serb Republic have announced their intention to secede from Bosnia & Herzegovina. The wars in the states to emerge from the break-up of Yugoslavia in the 1990s were an early harbinger of the current conflagration in Ukraine. Now, in a grim historical cycle, the war in Ukraine could re-ignite the wars in the Balkans. Nicholas Velazquez, in an analysis for Geopolitical Monitor, sees an intentional Moscow design to destabilize the region.

Continue ReadingRUSSIA’S STRATEGY TO DESTABILIZE THE BALKANS: IT’S WORKING 
mariupol ruins

RUSSIAN GENOCIDE OF THE UKRAINIAN NATION

Russia’s unprovoked aggression against Ukraine has sparked a strong international reaction, with most states referring to the actions of the Russian army as war crimes. A number of parliaments and heads of state have recognized that yet another international crime—genocide—is being committed by the occupation’s troops. Poland’s parliament, the Sejm, was the first to pass a resolution in March, strongly condemning “acts of genocide…committed on the territory of sovereign Ukraine by the Russian Federation armed forces, together with its allies, at the behest of military commanders being under the direct authority of President Vladimir Putin.” Since then, especially after the infamous Bucha massacre, other parliaments have joined Poland in condemning Russia’s actions as genocide, including those of Lithuania, Estonia, Latvia, Canada, Czechia and Ireland. However, the International Criminal Court investigation has been slow to examine charges of genocide, and any binding action by the UN against Russia is effectively blocked by its veto on the Security Council. The dilemma is explored by Ukrainian law student Nastya Moyseyenko in a commentary for Jurist.

Continue ReadingRUSSIAN GENOCIDE OF THE UKRAINIAN NATION 
Crimea protest

CRIMEA: LEGACY OF THE DEPORTATION

May 18 is commemorated as a memorial day for the victims of the genocide of the Crimean Tatar people. On that day in 1944, Joseph Stalin began a mass deportation of the entire population of Crimean Tatars who survived the German occupation of the peninsula. Over 200,000 Tatars, baselessly accused of collaborating with the Nazis, were packed in railroad cattle-cars and sent to remote locations in Central Asia and Siberia. Over 46 percent of the Crimean Tatar people perished during the first two years of the exile due to harsh conditions. Only in 1989 did the USSR condemn the deportation, after which the indigenous people of Crimea started returning to their homeland. The deportation was recognized as a genocide by Ukraine in 2015, and later by Latvia, Lithuania and Canada. In a commentary for Ukraine’s Euromaidan Press, Olena Makarenko notes that today, thousands of Crimean Tatars have been forced once again to leave the Crimean Peninsula due to the Russian occupation of 2014; hundreds of those who stayed are persecuted.

Continue ReadingCRIMEA: LEGACY OF THE DEPORTATION 
witches

APOLOGY TO THE ‘WITCHES’: WHY NOW?

Scotland and Catalonia have issued formal apologies for the burning of thousands of women as “witches” between the 15th and 18th centuries. An apology for a crime committed hundreds of years ago, with the victims and perpetrators alike both long dead, may seem like an empty exercise. However, the contemporary world still sees periodic frenzies of “witchcraft” hysteria, with women and the least powerful in society “tried” and lynched—especially in rural areas of Africa and Asia. Last year, the UN Human Rights Council adopted a resolution sponsored by Cameroon calling for “Elimination of harmful practices related to accusations of witchcraft and ritual attacks.” New York area neo-pagan practitioner and commentator Carole Linda Gonzalez argues that, in this light, the new apologies are all too relevant.

Continue ReadingAPOLOGY TO THE ‘WITCHES’: WHY NOW? 
Kryuchki

ENVIRONMENTAL WAR CRIMES IN UKRAINE

The International Criminal Court has opened an investigation into the Russian invasion of Ukraine, finding that there are “reasonable grounds” to believe war crimes have been committed. Media attention has, quite rightly, focused on the plight of individuals caught up in the carnage—many of whom have died in terrible circumstances. However, in the background, there is another victim of the invasion: the environment. Bombardment of oil depots, the release of radiation at the Chernobyl nuclear site, the forest fires engulfing the Black Sea Biosphere Reserve—these may constitute environmental war crimes under the Rome Statute. However, the criteria are rigorous, and the perpetrators ever standing trial seems contingent on a political upheaval in Russia. In a commentary for Jurist, international law scholar Elliot Winter of Newcastle University in the UK examines the odds for prosecution of such crimes in the Ukraine conflict.

Continue ReadingENVIRONMENTAL WAR CRIMES IN UKRAINE 
mariupol

ECHOES OF SYRIA, AS PUTIN BOMBS HOSPITALS IN UKRAINE

Many Syrians are experiencing heart-wrenching flashbacks as they watch the mounting devastation in Ukraine, the millions of refugees fleeing—and the targeting of hospitals by Russian bombs, as so recently and repeatedly happened in their own country. Physicians for Human Rights have documented hundreds of attacks on healthcare facilities in Syria over 11 years of war, and no perpetrator has been held accountable for these crimes. Just a month into the Russian invasion of Ukraine, the figure already stands at over 100. But with timely action by the UN and International Criminal Court, things can be different in Ukraine. In a commentary for The New Humanitarian, Dr Houssam al-Nahhas, a Syrian physician and a researcher at Physicians for Human Rights, urges: “Whether a hospital is bombed in Mariupol or Aleppo, in Sana’a or in Kunduz, those responsible must be held to account.”

Continue ReadingECHOES OF SYRIA, AS PUTIN BOMBS HOSPITALS IN UKRAINE