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)

Europe
ReichsbĂĽrger

Podcast: Russia, Ukraine & the ReichsbĂĽrger cult

In Episode 155 of the CounterVortex podcast, Bill Weinberg takes stock of the accusations that the coup conspiracy by the ultra-right ReichsbĂĽrger cult in Germany was Russian “hybrid warfare.” The plausibility of this claim reveals the degree to which far-right forces around the world today look to Moscow for tutelage and sponsorship. Volodymyr Zelensky’s historic Congressional speech was dissed in the most vulgar terms by Tucker Carlson—whose comments were avidly promoted by RT, the official Russian state propaganda outlet, as per explicit instructions from the Kremlin. This same RT similarly promotes Putin-shilling voices of the “tankie” pseudo-left. Our rightist enemies are enthused by the genocidal regimes of both Syria’s Bashar Assad (backed by Russia) and the Argentine generals of the 1970s (backed by the US). They’ve rallied around Serbia’s Slobodan Milosevic, as well as the neo-Ustashe in Croatia. It is only confused “leftists,” indoctrinated by campism and accustomed to seeing everything in terms of geopolitics, who fail to recognize the fascism on both sides—and get taken in by fascist pseudo-anti-fascism. Despite the left’s obsessive fixation on the Azov Battalion, reactionary forces around the world are looking to Putin as their great leader—not Zelensky. Listen on SoundCloud or via Patreon. (Photo via EU Political Report)

Europe
Lampedusa

EU doubles down on asylum double standards

More than 1.1 million refugees and asylum seekers have entered Germany this year—outpacing the 890,000 that arrived during the Mediterranean migration crisis in 2015. Back then, the vast majority were Syrians. This year, around one million of those who have entered are Ukrainians, although Syrians, Afghans, and others continue to arrive. For Ukrainians, the EU Commission has extended the Temporary Protection Directive—first activated in March, and allowing them to live, work, and access services throughout the EU. Some 4.2 million Ukrainians have registered under the directive, which is now valid until March 2024. Meanwhile, the EU is pursuing much less welcoming policies for asylum seekers and migrants from other parts of the world. These include the the Dublin Regulation, that since 2003 has required asylum seekers to apply for protection in the member state they first entered—often prolonging perilous journeys to reach sanctuary beyond countries with harsh immigration policies, such as Poland and Hungary. (Photo: Sara Creta/TNH)

Europe
druzbha

Transnistria blasts signal spread of Ukraine war

A series of blasts tore through the building of the de facto “Ministry of State Security” in Tiraspol, capital of Moldova’s Russian-backed separatist enclave of Transnistria. Officials said the building was fired on by unknown assailants with grenade launchers. Ominously, the attack came one day after a Russian military commander openly broached extending Moscow’s war in Ukraine to neighboring Moldova, to “give the Russian army access to Transnistria.” The blasts also came on the same day as large explosions in Bryansk, a Russian town near the Ukrainian border which is serving as a key staging area for the invasion. Bryansk is a hub on the Druzhba oil pipeline, and the flames engulfed a petroleum depot. Russian officials are speculating that Kyiv’s forces were behind the blasts, while Ukrainian officials speculate they were Russian “false flag” operations. (Photo of Druzhba blasts: Anonymous Operations)

Planet Watch
Tengiz

Ukraine war portends new oil shock

Long-depressed oil prices are suddenly soaring in response to the Russian invasion of Ukraine, with impacts already being felt globally. Exports from Kazakhstan and the Caspian Basin are virtually paralyzed, as the Black Sea pipeline terminal delivering the crude to Western markets is incurring a prohibitive “war risk insurance premium.” Berlin has suspended the Nord Stream 2 pipeline, which is to carry Russian gas under the Baltic Sea to Germany—and Russia has retaliated by threatening to cut gas supplies to Europe via the Nord Stream 1 line. In his executive order barring Russian oil and gas imports to the US, President Biden issued a warning to the oil companies, urging that the war should not serve as an excuse for price-gouging. But it is actually the oil futures market that plays a determinant role in fixing the international price. There’s a big psychological element involved, which is why every escalation in the Middle East (without fail) jacks up oil prices. A war in Europe will almost certainly mean another oil shock, with grim implications for the world economy and Biden’s political chances. (Photo of Kazakh oil-field via Wikimedia Commons)

Europe
bosnia

Bosnia re-balkanizing?

The US administration imposed sanctions on several Bosnian officials and a TV station for alleged corruption and for trying to destabilize the state of Bosnia & Herzegovina. Last month lawmakers in the Serb Republic National Assembly voted to begin pulling their republic out of Bosnia’s armed forces, judiciary and tax system. Largely at issue is legislation in the unified Bosnian parliament banning the denial of genocide. Bosnian Serb political leaders refuse to acknowledge that the 1995 massacre of some 8,000 Bosnian Muslims at the town of Srebrenica constituted genocide. (Map: University of Texas Libraries)

Planet Watch
countervortex

Podcast: the countervortex of global resistance II

In Episode 100 of the CounterVortex podcast, Bill Weinberg discusses recent uprisings in two disparate parts of the world—the South Pacific archipelago nation of the Solomon Islands and two of the states that have emerged from the former Yugoslavia. In both cases, people who were pissed off for damn good reason took to the streets to oppose foreign capital, and corrupt authoritarian leaders who do its bidding. But in the Solomon Islands, popular rage was deflected into campism and ethnic scapegoating, while in Serbia and Kosova the people on the ground actually overcame entrenched and bitter ethnic divisions to make common cause against common oppressors. The contrast holds lessons for global protest movements from Hong Kong to New York City. Listen on SoundCloud or via Patreon.

Europe
Belgrade protest

‘Environmental uprising’ in Serbia —and Kosova

In what local media are calling an “environmental uprising,” protesters blocked roads and occupied public squares in Belgrade and other towns across Serbia to oppose plans for a lithium mine at Loznica, on the Drina River. Transnational Rio Tinto has been buying up land in the area, in anticipation of final approval of the project. But concerns over a toxic threat to local waters have sparked widespread outrage over the plan. Meanwhile, across the border in Kosova, environmentalists claimed a victory as the country’s high court suspended the permit for the proposed Brezovica hydro-power plant on the Lepenc River. Local Albanians and Serbs alike came together to oppose the project, which would flood agricultural lands while depriving water to downstream communities (Photo: Masina)

Europe
srebrenica

Podcast: against Bosnia revisionism

In Episode 79 of the CounterVortex podcast, Bill Weinberg marks the 26th anniversary of the Srebrenica massacre in Bosnia, and reads selections from Surviving the Peace: The Struggle for Postwar Recovery in Bosnia-Herzegovina by Peter Lippman. In his final chapter, “Atrocity Revisionism,” Lippman deftly deconstructs the rank genocide denial we have seen from paradoxical icons of the “left” such as Noam Chomsky and Edward Herman. Presaging the similar denialism now seen concerning Syria, these “left” pundits created an impression among their gullible admirers that there was no genocide at Srebrenica—despite the fact that the remains of over 7,000 of the presumed 8,000 victims of the massacre have now been exhumed from mass graves and identified by the International Commission on Missing Persons (ICMP). Listen on SoundCloud or via Patreon. (Photo of Srebrenica surviviors with images of the slain and missing: The Advocacy Project via OpenDemocracy)

Europe
Srebrenica

Bosnia genocide conviction: Russia cries foul

Former Bosnian Serb commander Ratko Mladic lost his appeal of a 2017 conviction for genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity. The Appeals Chamber of the International Residual Mechanism for Criminal Tribunals (IRMCT) upheld the life sentence for his role in the killing of some 8,000 Bosnian Muslims at Srebrenica in 1995. The Chamber also upheld his convictions for persecution of Bosnian Muslims and Croats, and terrorizing the population of Sarajevo with a campaign of shelling and sniping during the siege of the city. The Chamber also reaffirmed his acquittal on charges of carrying out genocide in five other Bosnian municipalities in 1992—a disappointment for surviving residents. However, Russia’s Foreign Ministry protested the upholding of the convictions, accusing the The Hague court of “hypocrisy.” (Photo of Srebrenica Genocide Memorial via Wikipedia)

Europe
Dardanelles

Strategic strait at issue in Turkish naval purge

Turkish prosecutors issued arrest warrants for 10 senior navy officers a day after 104 officers released a letter defending the Montreux Doctrine—a 1936 agreement protecting passage of international shipping through the straits of the Bosphorus and Dardanelles. The letter was critical of Turkish President Recep Tayyip ErdoÄźan’s Istanbul Canal project, a plan to construct a waterway between the Black Sea and the Sea of Marmara, running parallel to the Bosphorus. ErdoÄźan insists that the new canal would not be subject to the Montreux Doctrine. The officers were arrested on charges of conspiring to commit “a crime against the security of the state.” (Map: French Navy via PopulationData.net)