North Africa
kabylie

Algeria: mass death sentence targets Kabylia activists

Amnesty International condemned the death sentences of 54 individuals linked by Algerian prosecutors to the lynching of activist Djamel Ben Ismail amid wildfires in the Kabylie region in August 2021. Amnesty alleged that numerous fair-trial violations occurred during the mass proceedings in November 2022, noting claims of torture, and prosecution of individuals due to their political affiliations. Amnesty found that at least six of the accused were targeted due to their involvement with the Kabylia Self-Determination Movement (MAK). The MAK, a civil movement seeking independence for the Kabylie region, was labelled a “terrorist” organization by Algerian authorities in June 2021. A mob lynched Ben Ismail, who had been in the region as a volunteer fire-fighter, over false accusations that he had started the fires, which came amid an extreme heat wave. (Map: Kabyle.com)

North America
MSTA

Podcast: paradoxes of Moorish American identity

In Episode 157 of the CounterVortex podcast, Bill Weinberg discusses the seemingly obscure subculture of Moorish Science, which has had a greater influence than is generally recognized, as an important precursor to the Black Muslim movement. The doctrine, first propagated over a century ago by the Prophet Noble Drew Ali, holds that there was in ancient times a great Moorish civilization that prospered on both sides of the Atlantic, in North Africa but also in North America, and that Black Americans are in fact Moors and the inheritors of this legacy. Contrary to official histories, Moorish Science holds that not all Black folk in the Americas are descendants of those brought over in the Middle Passage, but also of Moors who were already in America in pre-Columbian times. The book The Aliites: Race & Law in the Religions of Noble Drew Ali by Spencer Dew sheds new light on surviving exponents of this movement, including the Moorish Science Temple of America, the Washitaw Empire, and the Murakush Caliphate of Amexem. Listen on SoundCloud or via Patreon. Photo of Noble Drew and his followers via Wikipedia)

Europe
kosova

De-escalation on Kosovo-Serbia border —for now

Kosovo reopened its main border crossing with Serbia following calls from the international community to de-escalate rapidly rising tensions between the two countries. Serb protesters removed barricades along the crossing following a meeting with Serbian President Aleksandar VuÄŤić. An order issued by VuÄŤić days earlier to increase the Serbian army’s combat readiness was also revoked. However, VuÄŤić insisted that Kosovo, which declared independence in 2008, is still a part of Serbia. Tensions have risen in Kosovo’s north between minority Serbs and majority Kosovar Albanians over recent political developments, most notably Kosovo’s plan to phase out Serbian-issued license plates. NATO maintains around 4,000 “peacekeepers” and support staff in Kosovo. (Photo: Marco Fieber via e-International Relations)

Iraq
Sinjar

The Yezidis, ‘esotericism’ and the global struggle

In Episode 156 of the CounterVortex podcast, Bill Weinberg discusses Peter Lamborn Wilson‘s last book, Peacock Angel: The Esoteric Tradition of the Yezidis. One of the persecuted minorities of Iraq, the Yezidis are related to the indigenous Gnostics of the Middle East such as the Mandeans. But Wilson interprets the “esoteric” tradition of the Yezidis as an antinomian form of Adawiyya sufism with roots in pre-Islamic “paganism.” Melek Taus, the Peacock Angel, the divine being revered by the Yezidis as Lord of This World, is foremost among a pantheon that ultimately traces back to the Indo-European gods. Wilson conceives this as a conscious resistance to authoritarianism, orthodoxy and monotheism—which has won the Yezidis harsh persecution over the centuries. They were targeted for genocide along with the Armenians by Ottoman authorities in World War I—and more recently at the hands of ISIS. They are still fighting for cultural survival and facing the threat of extinction today. Weinberg elaborates on the paradox of militant mysticism and what it means for the contemporary world, with examples of “heretical” Gnostic sects from the Balkan labyrinth. Listen on SoundCloud or via Patreon. (Photo via Kurdistan Source)

South Asia
North East India

India: peace accord with Naga rebels in Manipur

The government of India announced that it has signed a peace agreement with the Zeliangrong United Front (ZUF), an insurgent group in the northeastern state of Manipur. The ZUF was established in 2011 to advance the interests of the Zeliangrong tribe, a sub-group within the Naga ethnicity. Its main goal was to establish a separate administrative unit consisting of all the areas inhabited by the tribe. The ZUF carried out numerous attacks against security forces to pressure the government to accept its demands. Insurgency continues to plague the volatile northeastern region of India, where various separatist and left-wing groups raise demands for autonomy or independence. (Map via TFI Post)

Syria
syria

Turkey seeks Moscow ‘green light’ for assault on Rojava

Turkey is now openly seeking cooperation from Russia, foremost foreign backer of the Bashar Assad dictatorship, in a long-planned cross-border operation into northern Syria against the Kurdish autonomous zone in the region, known as Rojava. Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar said: “We are in talks and discussing with Russia about all issues including opening the airspace.” Meanwhile, ISIS sleeper cells are coming to life in the extremist group’s former de facto capital of Raqqa, which is jointly occupied by the US-backed Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) and Assad regime forces. Several have been killed on both sides as presumed ISIS militants launch armed attacks on SDF positions in the city. (Image: Pixabay)

The Amazon
Loreto

‘Law of Genocide’ introduced in Peru

In the midst of the political crisis gripping Peru, reactionary elements in the country’s Congress have launched an initiative to repeal the 2006 law establishing reserves to protect isolated indigenous peoples in the Amazon rainforest. AIDESEP, Peru’s trans-Amazonian indigenous alliance, is calling Law Project 3518/2022 the “Law of PIACI Genocide”—a reference to the Spanish acronym for Indigenous Peoples in Isolation or Initial Contact. The AIDESEP statement also charges that the congressional Commission on Decentralization & Regionalization submitted the bill without first seeking clearance from the Commission on Andean & Amazonian Peoples, which holds authority in the matter. AIDESEP believes that the PIACI population in Peru is roughly 7,500 people—5,200 in isolation and 2,300 in a process of initial contact, mostly in the regions of Loreto and Madre de Dios. But a new alliance in support of oil, timber and other extractive industries, the Coordinator for the Development of Loreto, asserts that their existence is “not proven.” (Photo of Loreto rainforest via Pixabay)

The Caribbean
puerto rico

House passes bill to determine Puerto Rico status

The US House of Representatives passed the Puerto Rico Status Act, which would allow the island to hold its first binding vote on whether to become the 51st state, an independent country, or a sovereign government in “free association” with the United States. Although unlikely to pass the Senate before the current Congressional session ends, it is still precedent-setting. Puerto Rico has held six plebiscites on statehood, most recently in 2020, when 52% of voters endorsed the idea. But none of the plebiscites has been binding, and turn-out has often been low, amid boycotts by supporters of the status quo or independence. The proposed binding referendum would be the first time that Puerto Rico’s current status as a US commonwealth is not included as an option, a blow to the main opposition Popular Democratic Party, which upholds the status quo. (Image: Nicolas Raymond via Flickr)

East Asia
Sinitic language map

Podcast: the linguistic struggle in China

In Episode 154 of the CounterVortex podcast, Bill Weinberg conducts an in-depth interview with Gina Anne Tam, author of Dialect and Nationalism in China, 1860–1960 (Cambridge University Press) on how Mandarin (Putonghua) became the official language of China, and what has been the role in China’s national identity of the regional “dialects,” or fangyan. In a dilemma that has vexed China’s bureaucracy for 2,000 years, the persistence of fangyan raises questions about conventional notions of nationalism and state formation. What can the tenacious survival of Shanghaihua (Wu), Fujianese (Min), Cantonese (Yue), Toisan and Hakka tell us about the emergence of an “alternative Chinese-ness” in the 21st century? Listen on SoundCloud or via Patreon. (Map via Wikimedia Commons)

Africa
kordofan

Sudan: regime spurring Kordofan violence?

At least 30 people were killed and dozens injured in armed clashes between members of the Hamar and Misseriya pastoralist groups in Sudan’s West Kordofan state. ​​​​A Hamar militia that had been organized to protect against cattle rustlers was apparently ambushed by Misseriya gunmen in the locality of Abu Zabad, setting off the violence. Hamar leaders charge that state authorities and the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF) are protecting Misseriya bands that raid their lands with impunity. In Khartoum, the pro-democracy Resistance Committee is meanwhile calling for continued protests despite the new pact for a transition to civilian rule, saying that any deal must include provisions for transitional justice and reform of the security forces. (Photo: Tim Freccia/Enough Project via Dabanga)

Syria
SDF

Syria: SDF cooperation with Pentagon suspended

With Turkey preparing a new offensive against the reduced Kurdish autonomous zone in northern Syria’s Rojava region, the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) have announced a halt to military cooperation with the United States. In a statement, the SDF said that “all coordination and joint counterterrorism operations” with the US-led coalition battling ISIS remnants in Syria have been suspended. The move is evidently intended to place pressure on the US to do more to constrain Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who reportedly now has his sights on the remaining significant strongholds of the autonomous administration, Tal Rifaat, Manbij and Kobane. The US has some 600 troops embedded with the SDF in Syria. (Photo: SOHR)

Syria
rojava

Turkey bombs Rojava, pressures Sweden

Turkish warplanes carried out air-strikes on several towns within the Kurdish autonomous zone in northern Syria, known as Rojava. Among the towns hit was Kobane, from where Ankara says the order was given for the suicide attack in Istanbul that left six dead. ”Kobane, the city that defeated ISIS, is subjected to bombardment by the aircraft of the Turkish occupation,” tweeted a spokesperson for the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF). Both the SDF and affiliated Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), named by Turkish authorities as behind the Istanbul attack, deny any involvement. Three days after the blast, Sweden acceded to Turkish demands that it stiffen “anti-terrorist” measures as a precondition for joining NATO. The Swedish Riksdag adopted a constitutional amendment facilitating passage of laws to limit freedom of association for those who engage in or support “terrorism.” Turkey has long accused Sweden of giving harbor to exiled PKK sympathizers. (Photo via ANF)