Greater Middle East
syria

Podcast: Iraq, Palestine, escalation and errata

In Episode 212 of the CounterVortex podcast, Bill Weinberg takes stock of the latest escalation in the Middle East—and continues to note discrepancies in the reportage. US air-strikes on Iraq are said to have targeted the self-declared Islamic Resistance in Iraq, and its constituent militias such as Kataib Hezbollah. But some reports indicate the actual target has often been the Popular Mobilization Forces, a paramilitary network integrated into Iraq’s official security services. Meanwhile, insufficiently noted media accounts report “no evidence” to back up Israeli claims of Hamas co-optation of UNWRA, which has led to a devastating cut-off of funds to the UN agency by the Western powers. Listen on SoundCloud or via Patreon. (Image: Pixabay)

Greater Middle East
women life freedom

Neither US imperialism nor Islamic Republic

In Episode 211 of the CounterVortex podcast, Bill Weinberg takes stock of the potential for escalation to world war as Joe Biden retaliates for a deadly drone strike on US forces by an Iran-backed militia with air raids on 85 targets in Iraq and Syria. The same militias that have been attacking US forces in Iraq and Syria have also brutally repressed protesters in Iraq, and fought for the genocidal Bashar Assad regime in Syria. Tehran’s paramilitary network has also carried out deadly repression of protests within Iran itself. The Iran-backed Houthis in Yemen, now also coming under US bombardment, are responsible for war crimes against the Yemeni people and repression of their popular movements. It is necessary to oppose Biden’s widening of air-strikes against Iran’s paramilitaries, but also to oppose the Islamic Republic, equally a force of regional reaction. Listen on SoundCloud or via Patreon. (Photo: London rally in solidarity with Iranian protesters, October 2022. Credit: Sinai Noor via Wikimedia Commons)

Greater Middle East
syria

Was drone strike on US forces in Jordan or Syria?

President Biden is pledging undefined retaliation after three US troops were killed and dozens injured in a drone strike being blamed on one of the Iran-backed militias that have been harassing US-led coalition forces in Iraq and Syria. It is widely reported that the target was a site in Jordan known as Tower 22, which provides logistical support for the US outpost across the border at al-Tanf, Syria—near where the borders of Jordan, Syria and Iraq intersect. However, a communique from the umbrella group for Iran-backed factions known as the Islamic Resistance in Iraq did not mention Tower 22, but claimed responsibility for drone strikes on three sites within Syria. These are al-Tanf, the nearby border outpost of Rukban, and Shaddadi—over 200 kilometers away in Hasakah governorate, in Syria’s northeast corner, near oil fields that are under the control of US-backed Kurdish forces. (Image: Pixabay)

Africa
Burkina Faso

Burkina Faso: drone strikes on civilian targets

Human Rights Watch released a report bringing attention to three military drone strikes conducted by Burkina Faso’s government, supposedly targeting Islamist fighters. The strikes took place between August and November 2023 and resulted in significant civilian casualties at crowded markets and a funeral, according to the report. A minimum of 60 civilians are found to have lost their lives, with numerous others injured. (Map: Perry-Castañeda Library)

Iran
Bauchi

Iran and Pakistan trade air-strikes across border

Iran carried out missile and drone strikes against targets of the Jaish al-Adl militant group in Pakistan’s Balochistan province. Pakistan called the assault, which resulted in the death of two children, an “unprovoked violation” of its airspace. The unprecedented strikes, attributed to the Revolutionary Guards, are seen as a response to the recent deadly suicide bombing by the Islamic State in Iran. Pakistan retaliated the next day with strikes on villages in Iran’s Sistan & Baluchistan province, reportedly killing seven, including four children. (Map via Wikipedia)

Greater Middle East
Iraq

More US troops to Iraq?

An Iraqi military official denied reports of a deployment of more US troops to the country, asserting that Baghdad does not need foreign forces. CBS News reported that 1,500 troops from the New Jersey National Guard are being deployed to Iraq and Syria to join the US-led coalition established to fight ISIS. This would constitute the largest reserve deployment out of New Jersey since 2008. CBS cited the state’s Gov. Phil Murphy as saying the troops were being mobilized for Operation Inherent Resolve. But the report was refuted by Maj. Gen. Tahsin al-Khafaji, the head of Iraq’s Security Media Cell—a body that officially cooperates with the US-led coalition to counter online disinformation. (Map: University of Texas Libraries)

Europe
arm ukraine

Propaganda game in fight over Ukraine military aid

With Republicans holding up new military aid for Ukraine on Capitol Hill, Russia launched one of the most massive aerial assaults of the war, killing 40 in Kyiv, Kharkiv, Odesa, Dnipro and Lviv. Ukraine retaliated the next day with a missile strike on the Russian city of Belgorod, killing at least 22. Russia counter-retaliated with a wave of drone strikes, damaging schools, hospitals and homes across Ukraine, killing at least 24. Russia accused Ukraine of using internationally prohibited cluster munitions in the strike on Belgorod, and called for an emergency meeting of the UN Security Council. Of course, Russia has itself used cluster munitions since the start of the war in February 2022, despite international criticism from bodies including the UN Human Rights Council. (Photo from Little Ukraine, NYC: CounterVortex)

Greater Middle East
syria

Gaza: flashpoint for regional war? (redux)

The Pentagon carried out air-strikes on Iran-backed militia forces in Iraq in retaliation for a drone attack on a US airbase in Erbil, while a senior commander of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps was killed in a presumed Israeli strike in Syria. Israel continues to trade cross-border fire with Lebanon’s Hezbollah, while Yemen’s Houthi armed movement claimed responsibility for drone attacks targeting the Israeli port city of Eilat. Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant said that Israel is now fighting on “seven fronts”—Gaza, the West Bank, Lebanon, Syria, Iraq, Iran and Yemen. (Image: Pixabay)

Greater Middle East
Bab al-Mandab

Houthis vow to continue attacks on Red Sea shipping

The leadership of Yemen’s Houthi armed movement issued a statement saying they would not halt their military operations in the Red Sea unless Israel stops its “genocide crimes” in Gaza and allows humanitarian aid to enter the Strip. The move comes despite the US announcement of a new naval coalition to counter the attacks. The Houthis, backed by Iran, have launched over a dozen attacks on commercial ships in the Red Sea since Israel’s bombardment of Gaza began in October. A range of drones and ballistic missiles have been deployed against vessels in the Bab al-Mandab Strait, or Gate of Tears, which separates the Horn of Africa from the Arabian Peninsula—a chokepoint for global trade. Shipping firms have already started to pull their vessels from the Red Sea route, opting for the much longer passage around Africa. The closing of the Red Sea to shipping has obvious implications for the price of oil and the ongoing worldwide food and energy crisis. (Image: NASA via Wikimedia Commons)

Palestine
West Bank

West Bank tips deeper into crisis

With international eyes on the catastrophe in the Gaza Strip, an economic and human rights crisis is rapidly unfolding in the Israeli-occupied West Bank. Violence by both the Israeli army and settlers is escalating, with entire Palestinian villages emptied, the residents forced to flee. Intensified restrictions on mobility are being imposed by the occupation forces, work permits are being cancelled by the tens of thousands, and tax revenues that Israel collects on West Bank exports are being withheld from the Palestinian Authority. At least 290 Palestinians, including 75 children, have been killed since Oct. 7—double the figure for all of last year. (Photo: B’Tselem)

Africa
Nigeria

Drone massacre in northwest Nigeria

The Nigerian military says it is investigating an army drone attack at a religious gathering on a village in northwest Kaduna state that killed 85 civilians and wounded more than 60 others. Residents of Tudun Biri village were holding festivities for the birthday of the Prophet Muhammad, Eid-e-Milad an-Nabi, when the drone struck. Since 2017, hundreds of civilians have been killed in air-strikes carried out by the Nigerian military, ostensibly targeting armed rebel and bandit groups, according to monitors. (Map: Perry-Castañeda Library)

Greater Middle East
syria

Gaza: flashpoint for regional war?

As Israel intensifies air-strikes in the Gaza Strip, a northern front appears to be opening in the war.  Civilians are fleeing both north Israel and south Lebanon as Israeli and Hezbollah forces exchange fire across the border. Following Israeli air-strikes on targets in Syria, drone attacks by presumed Iranian-backed forces hit US military bases and outposts in both Syria and Iraq. The US responded with air-strikes on Iranian Revolutionary Guards positions in eastern Syria. The Iranian military has announced that it will launch large-scale maneuvers, involving infantry, air and naval forces. (Image: Pixabay)