North America
Kent State

Podcast: Four dead in Ohio. And two in Mississippi.

As the police crackdown on the Gaza protests continues coast-to-coast‚ÄĒdrawing concern from Amnesty International‚ÄĒBill Weinberg notes that this repression comes in the month marking the 54th anniversary of slayings of student protesters at Kent State University in Ohio and Jackson State University in Mississippi. With police now unleashing violence on student protesters in Paris, Amsterdam and elsewhere in Europe, as well as in¬†Jordan and Lebanon,¬†there is an unsettling sense of deja vu. In Episode 225 of the CounterVortex podcast, Weinberg warns that¬†the world could be headed toward an historical moment that rhymes with May 1970. Listen on SoundCloud or via Patreon. (Photo:¬†Kent State University Libraries via Britannica)

Palestine
almawasi

Hamas accepts ceasefire; Israel strikes Rafah

Hamas has¬†announced¬†that its leaders have told Egyptian and Qatari mediators that they accepted the most recent Gaza ceasefire proposal. Israel’s war cabinet responded by voting to continue the planned military operation in Rafah, and the IDF announced air-strikes on targets in the southern Gaza city. The strikes came as Palestinians in Gaza were celebrating Hamas’ announcement, and Israeli protestors joined families of the hostages to demand that Israel accept the deal. (Image:¬†Workers set up tents donated by the Qatari Red Crescent in al-Mawasi, an Israeli-designated “safe zone”¬†in Gaza. Credit:¬†Mohamed Soulaimane/TNH)

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‚ÄĒnear 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‚ÄĒover 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)

Greater Middle East
syria

Jordanian air-strikes on Syria narco-networks

At least 10 people, including children, were reported killed in Jordanian air-strikes in southwestern Syria. Several homes were destroyed in Arman, Suweida province, near the border with Jordan, according to the Syrian Observatory For Human Rights. The monitoring group has noted several Jordanian strikes and border raids in recent weeks targeting Iran-backed militias believed to be behind a surge in smuggling into the kingdom, particularly of the amphetamine Captagon. Last week, SOHR reported that five presumed smugglers were killed and 15 others arrested by Jordanian forces after clashes on the border. During the operation, large amounts of Captagon and hashish were confiscated. (Image: Pixabay)

Syria
syria

Syria: regime ‘normalization’ ‚ÄĒamid war and hunger

At a closed meeting in Cairo, Arab League foreign ministers approved a measure to readmit Syria after more than a decade of suspension‚ÄĒa critical victory for the normalization of Bashar Assad’s genocidal regime.¬†This diplomatic coup, however, cannot mask the reality that Syria’s war is not over. Assad may have retaken most of the country, but various rebel and Kurdish forces still control much of the north. Civilians are still being killed in shelling and other violence. Even before earthquakes devastated large parts of northern Syria three months ago, continuing conflict and a debilitating economic crisis meant deepening hunger. Humanitarian needs in Syria were already at a record high. But amid mounting global crises, the UN-coordinated appeal for Syria in 2023 is only eight percent funded. And food prices are still rising, making it harder still for aid groups to meet the urgent¬†and growing needs of millions of Syrians.¬†(Photo: Giovanni Diffidenti/UNICEF via UN News)

Palestine
Jerusalem

Israel’s paramilitary plan advances

The Israeli cabinet¬†authorized plans for a paramilitary “National Guard” sought by far-right National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir to target violence and unrest in Palestinian communities within Israel. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office said that a committee comprised of Israel’s existing security forces is to determine the Guard’s responsibilities, and whether it will be subordinate to the Israel Police or take orders directly from Ben-Gvir, as he demands. Opposition leader Yair Lapid responded by calling the plan an “extremist fantasy of delusional people,” and slammed a decision to cut budgets from other ministries “to fund Ben-Gvir’s private militia.” (Photo: RJA1988 via Jurist)

Palestine
Tel Aviv protest

Israel protests score a win ‚ÄĒfor now

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu¬†announced that he will delay his proposed reforms of the judicial system in the face of ongoing mass protests. Calling it a move to “avoid civil war,” Netanyahu declared in a televised address “a timeout for dialogue.” However, he added: “We insist on the need to bring about the necessary corrections in the legal system.”¬†Opponents of the reform remain wary that the current respite is only¬†temporary, a tactic to buy time while tensions cool.¬†The protest campaign has also seen a wave of civil disobedience, with military reservists refusing to report for duty.¬†Despite the general single-issue focus on the judicial reform, the demonstrations have included an “anti-apartheid bloc” calling for a secular state and decolonization of Palestinian lands.¬†(Photo: Or Adar/The Umbrella Movement via Twitter)

Palestine
Siloam

Political archaeology amid Jerusalem tensions

Israel’s new National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir made a visit to al-Aqsa Mosque compound in Jerusalem, flanked by by a heavy security detail‚ÄĒeliciting outrage from the Palestinian leadership. The Palestinian Authority called the move “an unprecedented provocation,” with Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh accusing Ben-Gvir of staging the visit as part of an agenda to turn the site “into a Jewish temple.” The fracas comes as Israeli authorities have launched another supposed archaeological project in East Jerusalem which critics say masks an ongoing program of “Judaization” of the Old City. This concerns the Pool of Siloam, a small reservoir believed to have served Jerusalem in biblical times. In making the announcement, officials visited the site, accompanied by a large detachment of police‚ÄĒsparking a spontaneous protest from local Palestinian residents. Three members of a Palestinian family that claims rights to the land in question were detained. (Photo: –ö—É–Ņ–į–Ľ—Ć–Ĺ—Ź –°–ł–Ľ–ĺ–į–ľ, –ė–Ķ—Ä—É—Ā–į–Ľ–ł–ľ via Wikimedia Commons)

The Andes
Partnership of the Americas 2009

Colombia joins ‘new partnership’ with NATO

President Joe Biden issued an executive order designating Colombia a Major Non-NATO Ally (MNNA) of the United States. The designation facilitates further weapons transfers from the US to Colombia, and increased military cooperation between the two countries. Colombia is the third MNNA in Latin America, after Brazil and Argentina. Weeks earlier, a delegation of NATO staff visited Colombia to discuss the South American country’s participation in the alliance’s Defense Education Enhancement Program (DEEP). Colombia became NATO’s newest “global partner” in 2018, but this relationship was reinforced last December, when it became a member of the NATO Individually Tailored Partnership Program (ITPP). (Photo: Wikimedia Commons)

Palestine
Jerusalem

Electoral impasse exposes Jerusalem apartheid

For weeks, East Jerusalem has seen nightly protests over the impending eviction of hundreds of Palestinian families in the Sheikh Jarrah district‚ÄĒculminating in violent clashes with riot police at al-Aqsa Mosque. Compounding the anger is another grievance‚ÄĒIsrael’s denial of East Jerusalem Palestinians’ right to participate in elections for the Palestinian Authority’s Legislative Council. With the overwhelming majority of East Jerusalem Palestinians denied Israeli citizenship by an array of bureaucratic artifices, this means they are effectively disenfranchised of the vote in either sovereignty. (Photo: RJA1988 via Jurist)

Syria
Rukban

Jordan forcibly deports Syrian refugees

Over the past months, dozens of Syrian refugees have been deported by the Jordanian government to Rukban, a desolate camp across the Syria-Jordan border. Authorities say those targeted for deportation have “security” issues, but returnees to the camp deny having had any problems with law enforcement in Jordan. Amnesty International said ¬†that at least 16 refugees have been “forcibly transferred” to Rukban over the past month alone. Watchdog groups say the deportations are a violation of asylum-seekers’ rights, and that sending a refugee back to likely harm‚ÄĒknown as refoulement‚ÄĒis prohibited under international law. While Jordan has been quietly deporting asylum-seekers for several years, this is the first time it has been accused of forcible transfers to the desert no-man’s-land, which experiences scalding temperatures and is largely cut off from food and medicine supplies. “It’s still a human rights violation regardless of what [the refugees] are accused of,” said Sara Kayyali,¬†Syria researcher at Human Rights Watch. “These deportations have happened with no fair trial or due process.” (Photo:¬†Omar al-Homsi/TNH)

Watching the Shadows
PNP_Checkpoints

Global COVID-19 police state escalates

Mounting police-state measures in response to the COVID-19 pandemic are now resulting in stand-offs between executive and judicial authorities. In El Salvador, President Nayib Bukele is openly defying¬†Supreme Court rulings to respect fundamental rights while enforcing the lockdown. His¬†security forces have arbitrarily detained hundreds in containment centers, where rights observers charge they face an increased risk of spreading COVID-19.¬†Israel’s High Court of Justice ruled that the government may not continue using tracking capabilities developed by the internal security service Shin Bet in efforts to contain COVID-19, imposing a deadline for¬†Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu¬†to seek legislative approval for the practice.¬†In the Philippines, President Rodrigo Duterte, already threatening to shoot lockdown violators, has escalated to warning of an imminent declaration of martial law. (Photo: Philippine National Police via Wikipedia)