Greater Middle East

Ecological disaster looms after Houthi ship attack

The internationally recognized Yemeni government issued an urgent plea to the international community following a Houthi attack on the Rubymar, a British-owned cargo ship carrying hazardous materials through the Red Sea. The attack has raised fears of an imminent environmental disaster due to the potential leakage of fertilizer and oil from the abandoned and damaged vessel. Yemen has formed an emergency committee tasked with crafting a plan to mitigate the threat. But the Houthis, who control much of Yemen’s territory, say they will only allow salvage or mitigation efforts in exchange for entry of relief aid into the Gaza Strip. US Central Command reports that a a 30-kilometer oil slick is already spreading from the stricken vessel, foreboding a significant ecological crisis in the area. (Map via PCL)

Central America

Honduras transition in the New Cold War

Hondurans elected self-proclaimed “democratic socialist” Xiomara Castro to be the country’s first woman president. The wife of Manuel Zelaya, the populist president who was removed in a coup in 2009, Castro pledges to revive his program—and take it much further, instating far-reaching reforms. Castro also announced that she will “open diplomatic and commercial relations with continental China,” which was widely taken as meaning a switch of diplomatic recognition. Honduras is currently one of only 14 countries that recognize Taipei rather than Beijing.  It is tragic to see the Central American republics, in their struggle to break free of Washington’s orbit, acquiesce in Beijing’s design to incorporate Taiwan into its own orbit—or, more ambitiously, its national territory.  (Map: Perry-Castañeda Library)

Central America

Guatemala threatens Belize?

A change of government in Guatemala and Belize is reviving long-simmering fears of war between the Central American neighbors.

Central America

Criminal gangs threaten Maya Biosphere Reserve

Mexican drug cartels that use cattle ranching to launder narco-profits as well as Chinese-backed illegal timber gangs are eating into Guatemala's vast Maya Biosphere Reserve.