Europe
Smyrna

Erdogan invokes burning of Smyrna

Amid rising tensions between NATO allies Turkey and Greece, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan explicitly invoked the burning of Smyrna at the end of the Greco-Turkish War. “We have only one word to tell Greece: Do not forget Izmir,” Erdogan warned, using the Turkish name for the coastal city that was the scene of atrocities targeting the substantial Greek populace after it was taken by Turkish forces in September 1922. “We may come suddenly one night,” Erdogan added. The current dispute stems from a treaty signed the year after the attack on Smyrna/Izmir, which gave offshore islands to Greece on condition that they remain unarmed. Ankara charges that Greece is militarizing the islands, in violation of the 1923 Treaty of Lausanne. (Photo via HALC)

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)

Europe
Crimea

Nuclear flashpoint Crimea?

A series of explosions tore through a Russian airbase on the Crimean Peninsula, leaving one dead. Saki airfield is some 200 kilometers from the Ukrainian lines, and President Volodymyr Zelensky’s office denied responsibility for the blasts. However, an unnamed Kyiv official anonymously told the New York Times that Ukrainian forces carried out an attack on the base. Zelensky later stated: “Crimea is Ukrainian, and we will never give it up. This Russian war against Ukraine and against all of free Europe began with Crimea and must end with Crimea—with its liberation.” But last month, in response to the arrival of US High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems (HIMARS) in Ukraine, former Russian president Dmitry Medvedevimplied that Ukrainian strikes on targets in Crimea would meet Russia’s stated criteria for use of nuclear weapons. Saying that the refusal of Ukraine and Western powers to recognize Moscow’s control of Crimea poses a “systemic threat” to Russia, he added: “Doomsday will come very fast and hard. There will be no hiding from it.” (Map via Wikimedia Commons)

Europe
Kharkiv

Russia using cluster bombs in Kharkiv: Amnesty

Hundreds of civilians have been killed in the Ukrainian city of Kharkiv by indiscriminate Russian shelling using widely banned cluster munitions and inherently inaccurate rockets, Amnesty International finds. A new report, entitled ‘Anyone Can Die at Any Time’, documents how Russian forces have shelled residential neighborhoods almost daily since the start of the invasion, causing “wholesale destruction.” Amnesty found evidence of repeated Russian use of 9N210 and 9N235 cluster munitions as well as scatterable mines, both of which are subject to international treaty bans because of their indiscriminate effects. “The repeated use of widely banned cluster munitions is shocking, and a further indication of utter disregard for civilian lives,” said Donatella Rovera, Amnesty’s senior crisis response adviser. “The Russian forces responsible for these horrific attacks must be held accountable for their actions, and victims and their families must receive full reparations.” (Photo: Wikimedia Commons)

The Andes
Partnership of the Americas 2009

Colombia joins ‘new partnership’ with NATO

President Joe Biden issued an executive order designating Colombia a Major Non-NATO Ally (MNNA) of the United States. The designation facilitates further weapons transfers from the US to Colombia, and increased military cooperation between the two countries. Colombia is the third MNNA in Latin America, after Brazil and Argentina. Weeks earlier, a delegation of NATO staff visited Colombia to discuss the South American country’s participation in the alliance’s Defense Education Enhancement Program (DEEP). Colombia became NATO’s newest “global partner” in 2018, but this relationship was reinforced last December, when it became a member of the NATO Individually Tailored Partnership Program (ITPP). (Photo: Wikimedia Commons)

Greater Middle East
Yemen

Weapons manufacturers sued over Yemen war

Three human rights organizations filed a lawsuit in France against three arms manufacturers for aiding and abetting war crimes and crimes against humanity in Yemen. The European Center for Constitutional & Human Rights, Mwatana for Human Rights and Sherpa allege that Dassault Aviation, Thales and MBDA France, through their military sales to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE), have enabled the killing of Yemeni civilians. Humanitarian organizations and rights groups have charged that air-strikes from the Saudi-UAE military coalition have targeted civilians and civilian infrastructure since 2015. (Photo via Jurist)

North Africa
libya

Russian mercenaries accused in Libya atrocities

A report to the Security Council by a panel of UN human rights experts finds that foreign fighters and private military companies are responsible for grave abuses in Libya—especially naming Russia’s Wagner Group. The report was classified “confidential,” but a copy was leaked to the Associated Press. It finds that both Turkish-backed militias loyal to the Tripoli-based Government of National Unity (GNA) and the Wagner Group, apparently contracted by eastern warlord Khalifa Haftar, have employed mercenaries who were veterans of the war in Syria. GNA-aligned militias are implicated in abuses of migrants, who have been “regularly subjected to acts of slavery, rape and torture.” The Wager Group is accused of planting unmarked anti-personnel mines on the southern periphery of Tripoli, when the city was besieged by Haftar’s forces from April 2019 to October 2020. (Map: Perry-Castañeda Library)

Europe
babiyar

Fascist pseudo-anti-fascism: Moscow’s propaganda offensive

Russia announced plans to host an international “Anti-Fascist Conference“—with hideous irony, on the same day its forces bombarded a Holocaust memorial site in Kyiv. The surreal announcement came from Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu, who said Moscow will hold the conference in August, in conjunction with an arms expo sponsored by his ministry. Among the invited countries are China (accused of genocide in Xinjiang), India (now emulating China’s mass detention policies), Pakistan (a fast-consolidating police state), Saudi Arabia (similarly moving toward a mass detention state), the UAE (a burgeoning police state), Azerbaijan (accused of war crimes in last year’s war with Armenia), Uzbekistan (an entrenched dictatorship), and Ethiopia (accused of crimes against humanity in the Tigray war). (Photo of Babi Yar memorial in Kyiv via Kharkiv Human Rights Protection Group)

Europe
kyiv

ICC to investigate alleged war crimes in Ukraine

International Criminal Court (ICC) chief prosecutor Karim AA Khan announced that he will open an investigation into the situation in Ukraine. In light of Ukraine’s acceptance of the ICC’s jurisdiction on an open-ended basis to address crimes committed on its territory since 2014, Khan said the ICC may proceed despite Ukraine not being a state party to the Rome Statute. Ukraine’s Ambassador to the UN Yevheniia Filipenko is demanding an inquiry into possible war crimes perpetrated by Russia as its invasion of the country unfolds. Filipenko said: “Russian forces attempt to sow panic among the population by specifically targeting kindergartens and orphanages, hospitals and mobile medical aid brigades, thus committing acts that may amount to war crimes.” (Photo of March 1 air-strike on Kyiv TV tower: Kyiv Independent via Twitter)

Watching the Shadows
killer robot

UN chief calls for action against autonomous weapons

UN Secretary General AntĂłnio Guterres called upon member states to devise “an ambitious plan…to establish restrictions on the use of certain types of autonomous weapons” ahead of the Sixth Review Conference of the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons (CCW). A coalition of over 65 CCW states has endorsed a proposed ban on lethal autonomous weapons (LAWS). But some member states, including the US and Russia, oppose the ban. States such as the US, Israel, India and France are believed to oppose the ban owing to their heavy investments into the development of AI for military use. (Photo: Future of Life Institute)

Greater Middle East
drone

Turkish drones decisive in regional wars

The Turkish military is unveiling a new upgraded “unmanned combat aerial vehicle,” the Bayraktar Akıncı, developed by private drone manufacturer Baykar Defense, which is owned by President Recep Tayyip ErdoÄźan’s son-in-law Selçuk Bayraktar. The Akıncı is a more advanced version of Turkey’s iconic Bayraktar TB2, able to fly higher and carry more missiles. The TB2 has been used by Ankara against Kurdish guerillas in northern Iraq, and against Syrian regime forces. Turkey has also provided the TB2 to various foreign militaries; it is held to have been decisive in Azerbaijan’s victory over Armenian forces in last year’s Nagorno-Karabakh war, as well as the Libyan government’s victory over the warlord Khalifa Haftar. Ukraine, having already tested an initial dispatchment of the drone, is now ordering 24 more for use in its war against Russian-backed separatists. (Photo: Wikipedia)

Southeast Asia
mandalay

Burma: urban warfare erupts in Mandalay

Gunfire erupted in the streets of Mandalay, Burma’s second largest city, as regime troops raided a building where a cell of the incipient armed resistance movement was sheltering. The raid sparked hours of running street battles. Resistance fighters erected barricades of flaming tires to slow the advance of troops. Both the military, known as the Tatmadaw, and the rebel People’s Defense Force (PDF) claimed casualties on the opposing side and denied deaths among their own forces. “We’ve declared war,” the Mandalay PDF said in a statement. “The day we’ve been waiting for is finally here.” (Photo: Myanmar Now)