Wad Al-Noora

Sudan: RSF accused in village massacre

The local Resistance Committees in Madani, capital of Sudan’s al-Jazira state, reported that the Rapid Support Forces (RSF) carried out a massacre at the nearby village of Wad al-Noora, killing nearly 100 people. The Resistance Committees released a video showing the burial of dozens of bodies in a public square amid a large gathering of village residents. Other videos circulating online show RSF fighters firing with automatic rifles and from “technicals,” pick-up trucks mounted with machine-guns. The RSF acknowledged operations in the area, but said it only targeted army positions on the village outskirts. Since taking control of Madani late last year, the RSF has been raiding villages in al-Jazira, with widespread atrocities reported, including killings of unarmed residents, abductions, forced displacements, and looting of properties, including crops and homes. (Photo: Sudan Tribune)


Mexican elections see record number of assassinations

The results are in from Mexico’s presidential election and Claudia Sheinbaum of the ruling left-populist National Regeneration Movement (MORENA) has won by some 60%, handily defeating a rival backed by an alliance of the country’s more traditional political parties. But the ongoing human rights crisis in Mexico that will obviously pose a grave challenge for Sheinbaum was dramatically exemplified by the record number of political assassinations that marred the elections. (Map: PCL)

South Asia

Uprising in Pakistan-controlled Kashmir

Three protesters were killed and six injured as Pakistani security forces fired on crowds during angry street demonstrations in Muzaffarabad, capital of Azad Jammu & Kashmir (AJK). The paramilitary Rangers were mobilized to Muzaffarabad after a police officer was killed amid protests over high food, fuel and electricity prices. A “wheel-jam and shutter-down” strike had been called by the Jammu Kashmir Joint Awami Action Committee (JAAC), but was called off as Islamabad agreed to a Rs 23 billion ($86 million) subsidy for the region. The new deadly violence erupted just as the Rangers were starting to withdraw from Muzaffarabad. A curfew remains in place in the city. (Photo of vigil for slain protesters via Twitter)


War crimes seen in Mali conflict

An Islamist armed group linked to al-Qaeda killed at least 32 civilians, including three children, and set fire to over 350 homes in central Mali in January, forcing about 2,000 villagers to flee, Human Rights Watch reports. Earlier in January, a Bambara ethnic militia formed to oppose the jihadists killed at least 13 civilians, including two children, abducted 24 other civilians, and looted property and livestock in central Mali. These attacks, which HRW said are apparent war crimes, occurred amid a cycle of reprisal killings and communal violence in central Mali, pitting the Dogon and Bambara against the Fulani. (Map: PCL)

Central Asia

Tajikistan denies Moscow claim of mercenary recruitment

Tajikistan’s Foreign Ministry denied claims by Secretary of the Russian Security Council Nikolai Patrushev that Ukraine has been recruiting mercenaries for its military in the country’s territory. Patrushev charged that Kyiv’s embassy in Dushanbe, the Tajik capital, has been recruiting Tajikistan nationals to join the International Legion of the Ukrainian army, in return for a pathway to Ukrainian citizenship. The allegations come as relations between Tajikistan and Russia are under strain following the deadly attack on the Crocus Music Hall outside Moscow, which was claimed by ISIS. The four suspected gunmen arrested in Russia are said to be Tajikistan nationals, and nine others were detained in connection with the attack in Tajikistan. Some Russian officials have alleged that several of those involved in the attack were recruited through the Ukrainian embassy in Dushanbe. Ukraine has denied any involvement in the attack. (Map: CIA via PCL Map Collection)

Greater Middle East

Gaza: flashpoint for regional war? (redux redux)

At least 42 people were reported killed in Israeli air-strikes near the Syrian city of Aleppo, allegedly targeting an arms depot belonging to militant group Hezbollah. Those killed included Hezbollah members and Syrian soldiers—as well as civilians, by some reports. Israeli air-strikes in southern Lebanon meanwhile killed 16 people, and one in Israel was killed by a barrage of rockets fired by Hezbollah from south Lebanon. Earlier, a series of air-strikes on Syria’s eastern province of Deir el-Zor killed 15 people, including a World Health Organization staff member as well as an Iranian military adviser. It was not immediately clear who was responsible for those strikes. But Israel’s intermittent air-strikes on Iran-backed militia forces in Syria have been escalating since the Gaza bombardment began. (Image: Pixabay)

Africa mining

Appeals court dismisses child labor case against Big Tech

The US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia dismissed a child labor case against technology companies and refused to hold them accountable for complicity in the use of children in cobalt mining in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). Former cobalt miners and their representatives filed a lawsuit against Alphabet (Google), Apple, Dell Technologies, Tesla and Microsoft under the Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act of 2008 (TVPRA). The TVPRA penalizes anyone who “knowingly benefits financially from participating in a venture that engaged in trafficking crimes.” They claimed that the companies were involved in a “venture” with their suppliers that engaged in forced labor of children to obtain the metal. The court rejected these claims and dismissed the lawsuit, upholding a lower court’s decision. (Photo via Africa Up Close)


Political violence erupts in Chad

Violence erupted in Chad shortly after the country’s elections agency confirmed dates for a May presidential poll, which is supposed to restore democracy after three years of junta rule. The outbreak began with an armed attack on the headquarters of the National Security Agency, which the government blamed on followers of the Socialist Party Without Borders (PSF), the main opposition party in Chad. The PSF denied the charge. But the following day party leader Yaya Dillo—a vocal critic of ruler Gen. Mahamat Idriss DĂ©by—was killed alongside dozens of the others in a shoot-out with security forces at the PSF headquarters in the capital, N’Djamena. (Photo: Chadian gendarmerie in N’Djamena. Credit: Bagassi Koura/VOA via Wikimedia Commons)


Russia creates new Africa Corps

Following the death of Wagner Group leader Yevgeny Prigozhin, the Russian ministries of defense and foreign affairs quickly moved to reassure African client states that business as usual would continue—meaning that Moscow’s unofficial boots on the ground would keep operating in these countries. Now reports indicate a transformation, with Wagner’s estimated force of 5,000 troops—deployed from the Sahel to Libya to Sudan—to be brought under Defense Ministry command as a new Africa Corps. (Photo: Russian mercenaries in the Central African Republic. Credit: Corbeau News Centrafrique via Wikipedia)


DRC: M23 advancing on Goma —again

The M23 insurgency in eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo is intensifying once again. Some 150,000 people have been displaced over the past days, adding to the 1.5 million already uprooted by the fighting, which began in late 2021. The latest clashes are taking place close to Goma, a city of 2 million people and a hub for humanitarian aid operations in the east. The M23 says it is not planning on seizing the city (as it last did in 2012), but its forces have fired rockets into the city. Soldiers from a recently deployed Southern African Development Community (SADC) intervention force have entered the battlefield on the side of the Congolese army, which is also supported by local militia. (Map: CIA)

Greater Middle East

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)


US sanctions Sudan companies accused of funding war

The US Department of Treasury imposed sanctions on a Sudanese financial institution and two private companies accused of funding belligerents in the ongoing civil war in the African country. The sanctions name Alkhaleej Bank and metal ore company Al-Fakher Advanced Works, said to be controlled by the Rapid Support Forces (RSF), as well as development company Zadna International, controlled by the Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF). The Treasury Department accused the companies of fueling the conflict, laundering money, and engaging in “actions or policies that threaten the peace, security and stability of Sudan.” (Map: PCL)