Syria
Daraya

Remembering the Daraya massacre

In Episode 139 of the CounterVortex podcast, Bill Weinberg marks the 10th anniversary of the 2012 Daraya massacre, in which the regime of Syrian dictator Bashar Assad killed some 700 civilians while taking back the city from the secular pro-democratic revolutionary forces that had seized power there. These early Syrian revolutionaries were inspired by the grassroots-democratic vision of the anarchist thinker Omar Aziz, and the ethic of nonviolent resistance propounded by Jawdat Said, the “Syrian Gandhi.” Daraya was re-taken by rebels later that year, but fell a second time in August 2016, putting an end to the experiment in parallel power and direct democracy. Most of the remaining inhabitants were evacuated to Idlib province in the north, which remained in rebel hands, and the model of parallel power survived there for another two years—before extremist factions linked to the Nusra Front began to take over. The November 2018 assassination of civil resistance leader Raed Fares was another turning point. The following year saw a popular uprising in idlib by the pro-democratic resistance against jihadist rule. But the legacy of Daraya, once the frontline of a peaceful revolution, is largely forgotten history, its true heroism betrayed by the world. Listen on SoundCloud or via Patreon. (Photo: Daraya, 2011 via Leila’s Blog)

Syria
Masayaf

Russia conniving in Israeli strikes on Syria?

Satellite images show significant damage from an Israeli air-strike on the Assad regime’s main center for conventional and chemical weapons development. Nine buildings of the Scientific Studies & Research Center (SSRC) were destroyed or damaged, and a military captain was reportedly killed. The attack came as Russia removed the S-300 air defense system that it had positioned near the complex. The site, near Masyaf in northwest Syria, is also reportedly a base for Iranian forces and Iran-supported militias. (Photo via EA Worldview)

Europe
Nordstream

Russia ‘weaponizes’ gas supplies to Europe

Russian energy giant Gazprom cut off the flow of natural gas to Germany and other European markets via the Nord Stream pipeline, calling it a three-day shut-down for maintenance. But Western governments charge that Russia is “weaponizing” gas supplies amid the Ukraine war. Days earlier, Germany’s government broached allowing the blocked Nord Stream 2 pipeline to begin pumping Russian gas. Wolfgang Kubicki, vice president of the Bundestag, said the move is necessary so “people do not have to freeze in winter and that our industry does not suffer serious damage.” His comment prompted a harsh response from Kyiv, where Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said that “addiction to Russian gas kills.” (Map: Wikipedia)

North Africa
libya

Libya: new fighting between rival governments

Heavy fighting broke out in Libya’s capital city of Tripoli, killing at least 32 people and raising concerns of a return to all-out war. Civilians were reportedly among those killed and injured in the clashes between forces loyal to Libya’s two rival governments: a Tripoli-based Government of National Unity headed by Prime Minister Abdulhamid al-Dbeibah, and a House of Representatives based in the eastern city of Tobruk that chose its own prime minister for the country, Fathi Bashagha, in February. (Map: Perry-Castañeda Library)

Europe
cluster bomb

Russia slammed for use of cluster munitions

This year alone, Russian forces are believed to have launched hundreds of cluster munition attacks in contravention of various principles of international humanitarian law, according to a scathing report by the Cluster Munition Coalition (CMC), an international advocacy group. Cluster munitions are weapons that contain dozens to hundreds of explosive submunitions. They open mid-air, flooding massive areas with explosions, making it effectively impossible to limit destruction to an intended target. “Russia’s extensive use of internationally banned cluster munitions in Ukraine demonstrates a blatant disregard for human life, humanitarian principles, and legal norms,” Human Rights Watch arms advocacy director Mary Wareham said in a statement accompanying the release of the report. (Photo: Ole Solvang/HRW)

Syria
Daraya

Syria: 2012 Daraya massacre documented

Human rights organization the Syrian British Consortium published the findings of its investigation into the massacre of civilians by the Syrian government and allied forces in the town of Daraya a decade ago. The investigation found that in August 2012, government forces killed at least 700 people, including women and children, through indiscriminate shelling and mass executions. Daraya, southwest of Damascus, was one of the most prominent centers of the uprising against Bashar Assad in 2011, and was widely recognized as the frontline of nonviolent resistance in the country. (Photo: Daraya, 2011 via Leila’s Blog)

Watching the Shadows
Aleppo ruins

Podcast: against pseudo-left disinformation on Ukraine and Syria

In Episode 138 of the CounterVortex podcast, Bill Weinberg is outraged that The Nation magazine marks the ninth anniversary of the Ghouta chemical massacre by engaging in glib “false flag” theorizing—the predictable response of the post-truth pseudo-left. This sinister spewing from writer David Bromwich is but the latest entry in a long and shameful litany of pro-Assad and pro-Putin propaganda to appear in The Nation. Similar chemical denialism has been dished out by James Cardenn, and loaned credence by Phyllis Bennis—despite the findings of bona fide human rights groups. The Nation’s Bob Dreyfuss has expressed open support for the genocidal dictatorship of Bashar Assad. The Nation’s late Ă©minence griseStephen F. Cohen has spread dishonest Russian propaganda both on Syria and on Ukraine, his spewings eagerly lapped up by Tucker Carlson. Weinberg asserts that The Nation has become a vehicle of Kremlin foreign policy aims, and calls for a complete boycott. Listen on SoundCloud or via Patreon. (Photo of Aleppo ruins from UNHCR)

The Andes
adepcoca

Bolivia: La Paz marches for and against government

The pro-government Pact of Unity and Bolivian Workers’ Central (COB), the Andean country’s largest trade union federation, held a “March for Democracy” in La Paz to oppose what they called “destabilization” attempts and demonstrate their support for President Luis Arce. Thousands marched from the outlying working-class city of El Alto to Plaza Mayor de San Francisco in La Paz, where a mass rally was held. But days earlier, cocaleros of the Departmental Association of Coca Producers (ADEPCOCA) marched in La Paz, accusing the government of attempting to undermine the organization’s legal monopoly on sale of coca leaf by establishing a “parallel market” in the city, run by loyalists of the ruling party. ADEPCOCA announced formation of a “Self-defense Committee” to forcibly shut down the “parallel market” in the city’s Villa El Carmen district if the government does not act. (Photo: ADEPCOCA via La RazĂłn)

Greater Middle East
syria

US strikes Iran-backed militias in eastern Syria

The US carried out a new round of air-strikes against Iran-backed militias in Deir ez-Zor province of eastern Syria. The militias had been firing rockets on US positions, including the base at al-Tanf, which came under fire last week. The US strikes apparently targeted the Ayash Camp of the Fatimiyoun group of Afghan fighters. According to local reports, at least six Syrians and foreigners were killed. The situation escalated the following day, as two other US bases, Conoco and Green Village, came under rocket fire. The US struck back with attack helicopters, killing “two or three suspected Iran-backed militants conducting one of the attacks” and destroying vehicles, according to Pentagon Central Command. (Image: Pixabay)

Europe
mariupol ruins

UN protests illegal Russian trial of Ukrainian POWs

The UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) denounced apparent plans by Russian-backed authorities to try Ukrainian prisoners of war in the port city of Mariupol. The OHCHR believes that the trials may begin imminently, and could themselves amount to a war crime. The OHCHR warned Russia that “international humanitarian law prohibits the establishment of courts solely to judge prisoners of war and that willfully depriving a prisoner of war of the rights of fair and regular trial amounts to a war crime.” Officials added that they are “concerned that prisoners of war have generally been held without access to independent monitors, exposing them to the risk of being tortured to extract a confession.” (Photo via Twitter)

Planet Watch
doomsday

Nuclear war would cause global starvation: study

More than 5 billion people would die of hunger following a full-scale nuclear war between the US and Russia, according to a study led by Rutgers climate scientists, published in the journal Nature Food. The team estimated how much sun-blocking soot would enter the atmosphere from firestorms that would be ignited by the detonation of nuclear weapons. Researchers calculated soot dispersal from six scenarios—from a regional India-Pakistan exchange to a large US-Russia war. Under even the smallest nuclear scenario, global average caloric production decreased 7% within five years of the conflict. In the largest scenario—a full-scale US-Russia nuclear conflict—global average caloric production decreased by about 90% three to four years after the exchange. “The data tell us one thing: We must prevent a nuclear war from ever happening,” said Alan Robock, professor of climate science with the Department of Environmental Sciences at Rutgers University and co-author of the study. (Image: MoreSky)

East Asia
HK47

Demand release of Hong Kong 47

Human Rights Watch published a call for Hong Kong to end its unfair trial practices against 47 lawmakers and activists charged under the National Security Law imposed in 2020. After the media ban on coverage of the cases was lifted, the prosecution named five of them as “major organizers”—Benny Tai, a legal scholar; Au Nok-hin, ex-lawmaker; Chiu Ka-yin and Chung Kam-lun, ex-district council members; and Gordon Ng Ching-hang, an activist. In these cases, the prosecution is calling for harsh sentences including life imprisonment, saying that they sought to “paralyze the operations of the Hong Kong government.” Calling for the dropping of charges against the 47 and for their immediately release, HRW said the crimes established by the law are “overly broad and arbitrarily applied.” (Image: Lam Chun-tung/Initium via HRW)