apartheid wall

Free Syria solidarity statement with Palestine

The Intersectional Syria website has issued a “Statement of Free Syrians in Solidarity with the Palestinian People,” opening: “We, Syrians united in the revolutionary struggle against the Assad regime and its imperialist sponsors, stand firmly and unequivocally with the Palestinian people in Gaza, the West Bank and across historic Palestine, in their fight for liberation from Israeli colonisation, occupation and apartheid.” In addition to drawing parallels between bombardment and repression by Israel and the Bashar Assad dictatorship, the statement emphasizes the historical and cultural links between the Syrian and Palestinian peoples—and accuses the Assad regime of hypocritically exploiting the Palestinian cause in rhetoric while betraying it in actual deeds. (Photo of man painting Palestinian and Syrian flags on the West Bank separation wall, via Intersectional Syria)

Sudan for Ukraine

Ukrainian special ops against RSF in Sudan: report

Ukrainian special forces were likely behind a series of drone strikes and a ground operation directed against the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF) near Sudan’s capital Khartoum, a CNN investigation has found. An unnamed military source in Kyiv told CNN: “Ukrainian special services were likely responsible.” The RSF, which took up arms against the ruling junta in an evident effort to derail Sudan’s planned democratic transition in April, is believed to be backed by Russia’s mercenary Wagner Group. (Photo: Sudan Tribune)

Greater Middle East

Israel and Bahrain: partners in repression

Israeli Foreign Minister Eli Cohen met with the crown prince of Bahrain, Salman bin Hamad Al Khalifa, at Gudaibiya Palace in the capital Manama, to discuss boosting trade and diplomatic ties, which were first established in 2020 as part of the so-called Abraham Accords. Cohen said he hoped this would be a precedent for “normalization” of Israel’s relations with other Arab states. Tellingly, the meeting came as Israel and Bahrain are each facing hunger strikes in their prisons, with political detainees protesting harsh conditions and restrictions on their basic rights. (Map: PCL)


Syria: revolution reborn

The Free Syria flag again flew high in villages, towns and cities across the country, as thousands filled the streets, reviving the chants of the revolution. Protests first erupted in the regime-held south of the country, especially the Druze-majority city of Suwayda. They were triggered by a recent increase in fuel prices as the regime has yet again cut subsidies. But the protests soon escalated to renewed calls for the downfall of the Bashar Assad dictatorship, and spread to other regime-held cities—including Aleppo, the country’s largest, which was savagely bombarded by regime and Russian warplanes in 2015-6. Demonstrations in support of the new uprising were also mobilized in the opposition-held northern pocket of the country. (Photo of Idlib demonstration by Omar Albam, via Leila’s blog)

Greater Middle East
Ahmed Douma

Egypt: iconic activist’s decade-long detention ends

An attorney representing imprisoned Egyptian political activist Ahmed Douma took to social media to announce the activist’s release, thanks to a presidential pardon. Douma had endured a decade of incarceration within Egyptian penitentiaries, and had five more years of his sentence to serve. President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi apparently responded to repeated calls for his release by human rights organizations. A leading figure in the January 25 Revolution of 2011, Douma was convicted of violating a ban on protests in December 2013, following Sisi’s military coup. (Photo: Wikimedia Commons)


Seek World Court ruling on Syria torture claims

The Netherlands and Canada jointly submitted a case against Syria to the International Court of Justice (ICJ), accusing the Damascus regime of committing numerous violations of international law, including torture, since the start of the country’s civil conflict in 2011. The primary objective of the application is ICJ action compelling Syria to desist from any future use of torture. If the ICJ finds that it holds authority to rule on the matter, it will mark the first instance of an international court judging Syrian torture allegations. (Photo: ICJ)

Greater Middle East
Tunisian Jews

MENA Jews: Zionism or indigeneity?

Amid deadly Israeli air-raids on Gaza, a terror attack targets the ancient Ghriba Synagogue in Djerba, Tunisia. The attack came as Jews from throughout the Mediterranean world gathered at Ghriba in the annual pilgrimage for the Lag B’Omer festival. In Episode 173 of the CounterVortex podcast, Bill Weinberg recalls how the Jews of Djerba have been repeatedly targeted over the past generation, with this latest attack coming in the context of a reconsolidating dictatorship in Tunisia and a harsh crackdown on the opposition. Yet the Tunisian Jews continue to resist Zionist pressure to emigrate to Israel, instead embracing their North African indigeneity. This embrace is overwhelmingly returned by the country’s Arab and Muslim majority, in repudiation of extremists who would target Tunisian Jews to avenge Israeli crimes. Prominent Tunisians were among the Muslims who sheltered Jews during the World War II Axis occupation of North Africa. Listen on SoundCloud or via Patreon. (Photo: Rabbis at Djerba synagogue, 1940, via Beit Hatfutsot)


Syria: regime ‘normalization’ —amid war and hunger

At a closed meeting in Cairo, Arab League foreign ministers approved a measure to readmit Syria after more than a decade of suspension—a critical victory for the normalization of Bashar Assad’s genocidal regime. This diplomatic coup, however, cannot mask the reality that Syria’s war is not over. Assad may have retaken most of the country, but various rebel and Kurdish forces still control much of the north. Civilians are still being killed in shelling and other violence. Even before earthquakes devastated large parts of northern Syria three months ago, continuing conflict and a debilitating economic crisis meant deepening hunger. Humanitarian needs in Syria were already at a record high. But amid mounting global crises, the UN-coordinated appeal for Syria in 2023 is only eight percent funded. And food prices are still rising, making it harder still for aid groups to meet the urgent and growing needs of millions of Syrians. (Photo: Giovanni Diffidenti/UNICEF via UN News)


Russian ‘fingerprints’ on Sudan coup attempt

As fighting continues in Sudan, derailing a transition to democratic rule that was slated for this month, commentators note Russia’s connection to the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF) that sparked the crisis by attempting a coup d’etat. The Kremlin’s notorious mercenary force, the Wagner Group, is said to be engaged in illegal gold mining operations in Darfur and Kordofan regions in collaboration with the RSF. Operations at a Wagner-protected mine owned by RSF warlord Mohammed Hamdan Dagolo AKA “Hemeti” in the Nuba Mountains of South Kordofan have sparked protests by locals over land-grabbing and pollution. The arrangement points to a Kremlin-backed design to make the RSF economically independent of the Sudanese state in preparation for a seizure of power. (Photo via Dabanga Radio)


‘Civil war’ fears as RSF attempts coup in Sudan

Fierce clashes broke out between the Sudan Armed Forces (SAF) and the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF), with at least 56 civilians and dozens of fighters reported dead across Sudan. The fighting began in the capital Khartoum, as the RSF attempted to seize control of the presidential palace and international airport. The RSF was driven back from the airport with air-strikes. Fighting quickly spread to other cities, as the two forces attacked each other’s installations and positions. Tensions had been building over plans to incorporate the RSF into the SAF as a condition of Sudan’s pending democratic transition. The Sudan Policy & Transparency Tracker (STPT) has called for an emergency session of the UN Security Council, warning of an imminent risk of “civil war.” (Map: PCL)


Military tensions threaten Sudan transition

Sudan’s military and civilian factions have agreed to form a new transitional government, ending the deadlock that followed an October 2021 coup. But consultations being held ahead of the transition are proving thorny, especially on the sensitive subject of security sector reform. Pro-democracy groups want the powerful paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF) to be integrated into the Sudanese army, and for all troops to be placed under civilian authority. But the army and RSF both have economic interests and fear accountability should they be forced to reform. The two forces are also increasingly at odds with each other, with talks breaking down over a proposed timeline for integration. The army reportedly wants to fuse with the RSF in two years, while the RSF (which has up to 100,000 fighters) wants a decade. Open fighting between the two sides has been long feared, and reports suggest both are embarking on a recruitment race in the long-suffering western Darfur region. (Map: PCL)


Syria: reject ‘normalization’ of Assad regime

Syrian dictator Bashar Assad arrived in the United Arab Emirates for an official visit—another advance in the attempt to normalize his genocidal regime. The trip was accompanied by more pomp than Assad’s visit to the UAE last year, his first to an Arab state since the Syrian revolution began in March 2011. The UAE trip follows a visit to Oman last month. Days before the UAE visit, Assad was in Moscow for a meeting with Vladimir Putin at the Kremlin. In addition to voicing support for Putin’s war in Ukraine, Assad told Russia state media that he welcomes any expansion of Moscow’s military bases in Syria. Meanwhile, opposition activists held a demonstration in Idlib, within Syria’s diminished pocket of rebel control, marking the 12th anniversary of the revolution. Thousands gathered under the Free Syria flag in the city’s center, to proclaim that the revolution survives and to oppose normalization of the regime. (Photo: Syrian Revolution commemoration in Times Square, NYC. Via Syria Solidarity NYC)