Syria
rojava

Turkey bombs Rojava, pressures Sweden

Turkish warplanes carried out air-strikes on several towns within the Kurdish autonomous zone in northern Syria, known as Rojava. Among the towns hit was Kobane, from where Ankara says the order was given for the suicide attack in Istanbul¬†that left six dead. ”Kobane, the city that defeated ISIS, is subjected to bombardment by the aircraft of the Turkish occupation,” tweeted¬†a spokesperson for the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF). Both the SDF and affiliated Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), named by Turkish authorities as behind the Istanbul attack, deny any involvement. Three days after the blast, Sweden acceded to Turkish demands that it stiffen “anti-terrorist” measures as a precondition for joining NATO. The Swedish Riksdag adopted a constitutional amendment facilitating passage of laws to limit freedom of association for those who engage in or support “terrorism.” Turkey has long accused Sweden of giving harbor to exiled PKK sympathizers. (Photo via ANF)

Africa
Lundin

Swiss oil CEO faces trial for Sudan war crimes

The Supreme Court of Sweden¬†ruled that the trial of Alex Schneiter, a Swiss citizen and former CEO of Lundin Oil charged in connection with war crimes in Sudan between 1999 and¬†2003, may proceed in the Swedish courts. While Lundin Oil is a Swedish-based company, Schneiter claims that he cannot be tried in Sweden because he is neither a citizen nor a resident. The high court held that Schneiter’s alleged crimes are subject to “universal jurisdiction,” which allows anyone to be prosecuted anywhere in the world for serious international crimes. The case concerns an area called Block 5A in southern Sudan, which was then wracked by a pro-independence insurgency.¬†The¬†indictment holds that Lundin demanded that government forces and allied militias provide security for its operations, knowing that this would¬†entail deadly force and enflame the conflict.¬†(Map via Rixstep)

North America
russian alaska

Russia: irredentist claims on Alaska

The speaker of Russia’s lower house of parliament threatened to “claim back” Alaska if the United States freezes or seizes Russian assets in retaliation for its invasion of Ukraine. “Let America always remember: there’s a piece of territory, Alaska,” Vyacheslav Volodin said at the last session of the State Duma before summer break. “When they try to manage our resources abroad, let them think before they act that we, too, have something to take back,” Volodin said. He¬†noted¬†that deputy speaker Pyotr Tolstoy had recently proposed holding a referendum in Alaska¬†on joining Russia. The day after Volodin’s comments, billboards proclaiming “Alaska Is Ours!” appeared in the Siberian city of Krasnoyarsk, apparently placed by a local “patriot.” (Map via Wikipedia)

Iraq
Rojava

Podcast: Rojava and Ezidikhan in the Great Game

In Episode 127 of the CounterVortex podcast, Bill Weinberg notes that the Kurdish-controlled Syrian city of Kobani, which became a global icon of resistance to ISIS in 2014, is now under threat of Turkish aggression. The Syrian Kurds were betrayed in 2019, when their autonomous zone of Rojava was greatly reduced by Turkey’s first thrust into their territory. Erdogan is now threatening to extinguish it altogether, and incorporate all of Rojava into his “security zone.” There is growing speculation that the US could “green light” this aggression in exchange for Turkey dropping its objections to Sweden and Finland joining NATO. Meanwhile, the Yazidis of northern Iraq, who were subjected to genocide at the hands of ISIS in 2014, now¬†face¬†extermination of their hard-won autonomous zone of Ezidikhan at the hands of Baghdad’s military‚ÄĒacting under pressure from Turkey. Great Power meddling in Syrian and Iraqi Kurdistan alike is pitting the peoples of the region against each other, portending a disastrous Arab-Kurdish ethnic war. How can activists in the West help break this trajectory? Listen on SoundCloud or via Patreon.¬†(Photo: Rojava Solidarity NYC)

Syria
Syria oil map

Erdogan preparing new Syria incursion?

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdońüan is ramping up threats to invade more areas of northern Syria, saying¬†that he plans to “clean up [the Kurdish towns of] Tal Rifat and Manbij of terrorists,” and establish a greater “security zone” in Syrian territory along Turkey’s border. Much of this region is controlled by the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), which Turkey considers to be a “terrorist organization” because of its ties to the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK)‚ÄĒa Turkey-based Kurdish separatist organization. It’s not clear if Erdońüan will go ahead with a new incursion now, but some wonder if the US, which has backed the SDF,¬†may be willing to turn a blind eye to such an offensive if Turkey backs off its objections to Sweden and Finland joining NATO. (Map: Energy Consulting Group)

South Asia
Karima Baloch

Pakistani rights activist found slain in Toronto

Pakistani human rights activist Karima Baloch, 37, was found dead in Toronto, Canada. Baloch went missing the previous day. The Toronto Police stated that “officers have determined this to be a non-criminal death and no foul play is suspected.”¬†But Baloch, from Pakistan’s restive Balochistan region, fled her country¬†in 2015 because of threats on her life. As a campaigner with the Baloch Students’ Organization, she harshly¬†criticized the Pakistani military and state over ongoing rights abuses in the region. She continued to campaign for the rights of people in Balochistan while in exile, and the threats against her did not stop after she left Pakistan. Baloch’s close friend, Lateef Johar Baloch, told reporters that she had recently received anonymous threats. (Photo via TimesNowNews, India)

Planet Watch
freeway

Humanity’s affluent 1% drive climate change

The richest one percent of the world’s population are responsible for more than twice as much carbon pollution as the 3.1 billion people who made up the poorest half of humanity during a critical 25-year period of unprecedented emissions growth, according to a new study by the aid group Oxfam. The report, “Confronting Carbon Inequality,” is based on research conducted with the Stockholm Environment Institute and has been released as world leaders prepare to meet at the UN General Assembly to discuss global challenges including the climate crisis. The report assesses the “consumption emissions” of different income groups between 1990 and 2015‚ÄĒthe 25 years when humanity doubled the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.¬†Tim Gore, head of climate policy at Oxfam and author of the report, said: “The over-consumption of a wealthy minority is fuelling the climate crisis, yet it is poor communities and young people who are paying the price. Such extreme carbon inequality is a direct consequence of our governments’ decades-long pursuit of grossly unequal and carbon-intensive economic growth.”¬†(Photo:¬†malingering via The Source Metro)

Iraq
yazidi protest

Protest Turkish bombardment of Yazidi territory

The Turkish air force again carried out raids targeting the Sinjar Resistance Units (YBS), a Yazidi militia, in the autonomous Sinjar area of Iraq’s Ninevah province. Reports said at least four people were killed, including militia commander Zardasht Shingali. The YBS, aligned with the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), played a key role in liberating the Sinjar area from ISIS after the Islamic State’s genocide against the Yazidis in 2014. After the new air-strikes, the Kurdish Freedom Movement umbrella group called for protests against the Turkish aggression in cities across Europe. Demonstrations were reported from Athens, Nuremberg, Frankfurt, Marseille, Stockholm and Utrecht. (Photo via¬†The Canary)

Planet Watch

Will world war be October surprise?

Will an "October surprise" in the prelude to the mid-term elections in the US be the outbreak of world war—that is, direct superpower conflict? Things are escalating fast on the frontlines with both of the United States' major imperial rivals. The US Navy's Pacific Fleet is preparing to carry out a "global show of force" as a warning to China, after a near-skirmish between a US warship and a Chinese destroyer in the disputed South China Sea. Meanwhile, NATO is planning to conduct its largest military exercises since the end of the Cold War, Trident Juncture 2018, along Norway's border wth Russia. This comes as Washington and Moscow are odds over missile deployments, accusing each other of violating the 1987 Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces Treaty. (Image: Lockheed Martin)

Syria

Conviction in Syrian regime war crime ‚ÄĒat last

For the first time, after six years of war and escalating atrocities, a member of the Syrian regime’s military has been convicted of a war crime‚ÄĒa low-level soldier now in Sweden as a refugee, and tried in that country’s courts. Yet there have been several convictions of Syrian rebel and ISIS fighters in European courts.¬†This gross imbalance in convictions persists despite the fact that Assad has killed far more Syrians than ISIS or any other “terrorist” outfit in the country.

Europe

Moscow stonewalls on fate of Holocaust hero

A Moscow district court rejected a lawsuit by relatives of Raoul Wallenberg, seeking to access uncensored documents concerning his death in Soviet captivity. Wallenberg was a Swedish diplomat who rescued thousands of Hungarian Jews during World War II. Soviet forces detained Wallenberg in 1945, supposedly for espionage. He was reported to have died two years later in Moscow's notorious Lubyanka Prison.