Iran
syria

Biden’s air-strikes bode poorly for Iran nuke deal

US warplanes carried out strikes on Iran-backed militias in Syria and Iraq. The Pentagon said the targets were arms depots in the border area used by the militias Kataib Hezbollah and Kataib Sayyid al-Shuhada, which have carried out attacks against US personnel in Iraq for years. The militias have vowed to avenge the air-strikes. The strikes followed talks in Vienna on the Iran nuclear deal, including US re-entry, lifting of sanctions, and an Iranian return to compliance with limits on uranium enrichment. The discussions adjourned over a week ago, with Iranian officials saying a deal could be reached in the next round. However, since then, both Tehran and Washington have taken tougher public positions. (Image: Pixabay)

Europe
NCRI

Belgium: Iranian diplomat on trial over bomb plot

Iranian diplomat Assadollah Assadi and three Iranian-Belgians went on trial in Antwerp, Belgium, marking the first time an EU country has put an Iranian official on trial for terrorism. The four are charged with planning an attack on a rally of the Paris-based National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI) in 2018. The NCRI is political wing of the exiled Iranian opposition group, Mujahedin-e Khalq, which is seeking to overthrow the Islamic Republic. Assadi served at Tehran’s embassy in Vienna and is believed to have been working for Iran’s Intelligence Ministry. (Photo of 2018 rally in Paris via NCRI)

Planet Watch
#QuedeteEnCasa

Worldwide police-state measures in face of COVID-19

With whole nations under lockdown, sweeping powers are being assumed by governments across the world in the name of containing the COVID-19 pandemic. Hungary’s parliament voted to allow Prime Minister Viktor Orbán to rule by decree. The Russian parliament has approved an “anti-virus” package that includes up to seven years imprisonment for serious violations of quarantine rules. Israel has joined South Korea in authorizing use of personal cellphone data to track the virus. Chilean President Sebastian Piñera has declared a “state of catastrophe,” sending the military to public squares recently occupied by protesters. Military patrols are also enforcing the lockdown in Peru, Italy, Romania and South Africa. “We could have a parallel epidemic of authoritarian and repressive measures following close on the heels of a health epidemic,” said Fionnuala Ni Aolain, UN Special Rapporteur on counterterrorism and human rights. (Photo: Peruvian army demonstration video, via YouTube)

North Africa

Environmental protester shuts Libyan oil-field

The company operating Libya's biggest oilfield, Sharara, announced that it had been shut down after a citizen closed the pipeline that pumps the field's oil. The field is run by a joint venture between Libya's National Oil Corporation and several multinationals. The individual claimed the pipeline caused environmental damage to his lands, and had also closed the pipeline last year to press his demands for a clean-up. With this latest closure, Libya's oil output dropped to a six-month low of 750,000 barrels per day. National Oil Corporation chairman Mustafa Sanallah described those who shut down oil-fields as "terrorists." (Photo: Libya Observer)

Syria

Syrian refugees return —to face genocide?

The UN reports a “notable trend of spontaneous returns” of displaced Syrians as regime gains bring a modicum of peace to some areas—but mass killings  by regime forces continue.

Planet Watch

UN moves to outlaw nuclear weapons in 2017

The UN adopted a resolution—hailed by disarmament campaigners as an important landmark—to launch negotiations in 2017 on a treaty outlawing nuclear weapons.

Europe

Hungary to Syrian refugees: Stay out!

Hungary's Prime Minister Viktor Orban, building a wall along the Serbian border and herding migrants into detainment camps, warned Syrian refugees to stay in Turkey.

Central America

Guatemala: Swiss arrest ex-police commander

Swiss prosecutors announced that Erwin Sperisen, former commander of Guatemala's National Police, was arrested in Geneva and will stand trial for extrajudicial killings.