Africa
maasai

Tanzania: troops fire on Maasai herders

Tanzanian security forces fired on Maasai herders in a dispute over seizure of traditional grazing lands for a new game reserve. The trouble started when hundreds of troops of the Field Force Unit arrived at the village of Wasso, to demarcate a 1,500 square-kilometer area for the new reserve. Maasai gathered to protest, and were met with bullets. Some 30 were reportedly shot, and two killed. Afterwards, troops went house-to-house in Maasai villages, beating and arresting those they believed took part in the protests or distributed images of the violence on social media. Thousands of Maasai fled their homes into the bush following the raids. UAE-based Otterlo Business Company, which runs hunting excursions for the Emirates’ royal family, is reportedly to operate trophy-hunting concessions in the new reserve. (Photo: Survival International)

Greater Middle East
Yemen

Weapons manufacturers sued over Yemen war

Three human rights organizations filed a lawsuit in France against three arms manufacturers for aiding and abetting war crimes and crimes against humanity in Yemen. The European Center for Constitutional & Human Rights, Mwatana for Human Rights and Sherpa allege that Dassault Aviation, Thales and MBDA France, through their military sales to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE), have enabled the killing of Yemeni civilians. Humanitarian organizations and rights groups have charged that air-strikes from the Saudi-UAE military coalition have targeted civilians and civilian infrastructure since 2015. (Photo via Jurist)

Palestine
Israeli police

Israel: detention of ‘terror suspects’ without charge

Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett instructed security services to hold “terror suspects” in “administrative detention,” even without charge. The order extends to Palestinians in Israel a policy long applied to Palestinians on the West Bank. Bennett cited “a new situation that requires suitable preparations and adjustment by the security services to the circumstances within which extremist elements of Arab society, directed by extremist Islamic ideology, are carrying out terror attacks and taking lives.” The order follows deadly attacks by Israeli citizens who were said to be supporters of the so-called “Islamic State.” (Photo: Wikimedia)

Greater Middle East
yemen

‘Disappointing’ aid for hunger-stricken Yemen

As the country heads into an eighth year of war, Yemen is considered one of the world’s largest and most complex humanitarian crises: debilitated basic services, a collapsed economy, an estimated 20.7 million people (more than two thirds of the population) in need—all amid escalating conflict involving numerous different actors. Yet in the UN’s emergency appeal for $4.3 billion in aid for Yemen, donor states coughed up less than a third of that request, with pledges amounting to $1.3 billion. The United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia—top donors to Yemen in previous years—pledged nothing, while Kuwait pledged a surprisingly low $10 million. The UN humanitarian chief, Martin Griffiths, called the result “a disappointment.” The outcome is in stark contrast to Ukraine’s pledging conference just two weeks prior, considered the “fastest and most generous” response ever to a flash appeal. As the world’s attention is fixated on Ukraine, aid workers worry that it could draw resources away from other crises, such as Yemen. (Photo: OCHA)

Greater Middle East

UN warns of ‘catastrophic’ crisis in Yemen

UN agency chiefs stated that war-torn Yemen’s hunger crisis is “teetering on the edge of outright catastrophe,” with more than 17.4 million Yemenis facing food insecurity and an additional 1.6 million expected to fall into emergency levels of hunger in the coming months. The number experiencing “catastrophic” levels of hunger is projected to increase five times from the current 31,000 to a staggering 161,000, taking the number of those with emergency needs to 7.3 million by the end of 2022. “These harrowing figures confirm that we are on a countdown to catastrophe in Yemen and we are almost out of time to avoid it. Unless we receive substantial new funding immediately, mass starvation and famine will follow. But if we act now, there is still a chance to avert imminent disaster and save millions,” World Food Programme executive director David Beasley said. (Photo: Fahd Sadi/WikiMedia)

Planet Watch
Tengiz

Ukraine war portends new oil shock

Long-depressed oil prices are suddenly soaring in response to the Russian invasion of Ukraine, with impacts already being felt globally. Exports from Kazakhstan and the Caspian Basin are virtually paralyzed, as the Black Sea pipeline terminal delivering the crude to Western markets is incurring a prohibitive “war risk insurance premium.” Berlin has suspended the Nord Stream 2 pipeline, which is to carry Russian gas under the Baltic Sea to Germany—and Russia has retaliated by threatening to cut gas supplies to Europe via the Nord Stream 1 line. In his executive order barring Russian oil and gas imports to the US, President Biden issued a warning to the oil companies, urging that the war should not serve as an excuse for price-gouging. But it is actually the oil futures market that plays a determinant role in fixing the international price. There’s a big psychological element involved, which is why every escalation in the Middle East (without fail) jacks up oil prices. A war in Europe will almost certainly mean another oil shock, with grim implications for the world economy and Biden’s political chances. (Photo of Kazakh oil-field via Wikimedia Commons)

Europe
babiyar

Fascist pseudo-anti-fascism: Moscow’s propaganda offensive

Russia announced plans to host an international “Anti-Fascist Conference“—with hideous irony, on the same day its forces bombarded a Holocaust memorial site in Kyiv. The surreal announcement came from Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu, who said Moscow will hold the conference in August, in conjunction with an arms expo sponsored by his ministry. Among the invited countries are China (accused of genocide in Xinjiang), India (now emulating China’s mass detention policies), Pakistan (a fast-consolidating police state), Saudi Arabia (similarly moving toward a mass detention state), the UAE (a burgeoning police state), Azerbaijan (accused of war crimes in last year’s war with Armenia), Uzbekistan (an entrenched dictatorship), and Ethiopia (accused of crimes against humanity in the Tigray war). (Photo of Babi Yar memorial in Kyiv via Kharkiv Human Rights Protection Group)

Greater Middle East
Marib

Yemen: Biden warned against Houthi ‘terrorist’ tag

President Joe Biden is said to be considering re-designating Yemen’s Houthi rebels as a terrorist organization following the group’s missile attacks on the United Arab Emirates, which leads the anti-Houthi military coalition with Saudi Arabia. Aid groups—part of a successful lobbying campaign that saw Biden remove the label shortly after he took office last January—warn that a redesignation would have “catastrophic consequences for Yemeni civilians.” Not only would it hit the economy hard, making it even more difficult to import food, fuel, and medicine, but it would also decrease the flow of much-needed aid to Houthi-controlled territory. Violence is meanwhile escalating, and not just around the battlefields of the contested province and city of Marib. Between early October and early February, 1,535 civilians were reportedly killed or injured, more than double the figure for the previous four months. (Photo of displaced persons camp in Marib by Mohamed Ghazi/TNH)

Greater Middle East
UAE

UAE ‘cybercrime’ law restricts free speech: civil society

A coalition of human rights and civil society organizations published a joint statement protesting the United Arab Emirates’ new cybercrime law, saying it “severely threatens and unduly restricts the right to freedom of expression (both online and offline) and the rights to freedom of association and of peaceful assembly.” The letter says that the language of the statute creates ambiguity prone to misuse, especially regarding issues related to “national security,” which provide the authorities with “excessive discretion to impose lengthy prison sentences” for political dissent. The wording of these provisions is so broad that they can be used to target journalists, whistle-blowers, activists, and peaceful critics of the government. The letter notes that the law stipulates no maximum prison sentence for acts that “harm the State’s interests,” which violates Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. (Photo: Pixabay)

Planet Watch
Mars probe

Podcast: US robo-imperialism hands off Mars!

In Episode 64 of the CounterVortex podcast, Bill Weinberg notes the maddening and telling irony that while we’re all supposed to be ga-ga with triumphalism over NASA’s latest Mars probe, it has received practicailly no attention that Afro-Brazilian peasant communities are being forcibly removed from their traditional lands to make way for a US-backed expansion of the Alcântara Satellite Launch Center in impoverished MaranhĂŁo state. This juxtaposition of news stories is paradigmatic of the whole global struggle—sustainable, Earth-rooted cultures against a hypertrophing technosphere that is now colonizing the very heavens. Meanwhile, there are already so many satellites in orbit that near-Earth space is experiencing a fast-growing “space junk” problem. And economic austerity down here on terra firma is compounding the agonizing impacts of the pandemic. Whatever useful knowledge may be gleaned from the Mars probe, accounts don’t note that Halliburton is drawing up plans for mining operations on Mars. We recall Gil Scott Heron’s wry reaction to the 1969 Moon landing (“Whitey on the Moon“), and say with Marvin Gaye: “Spend it on the have-nots!” Listen on SoundCloud or via Patreon. (Image adapted from NASA photo)

Greater Middle East
yemen

Biden pledges end to US support for Yemen war —almost

President Joe Biden announced the United States will end support for the Saudi-led military campaign in Yemen that has deepened suffering in the Arabian Peninsula’s poorest country. “This war has to end,” Biden told diplomats in his first visit to the State Department as president, saying the conflict has created a “humanitarian and strategic catastrophe.” Biden pledged an end to “relevant” US arms sales, while giving no immediate details on what that would mean. However, National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan was quick to add that an end to US support for the Saudi war against the Houthi rebels will not affect US operations against al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP). (Photo: OCHA)

Greater Middle East
Yemen

US slaps ‘terror’ label on Yemen’s Houthi rebels

The United States has announced it will designate Yemen’s Houthi rebels as a terrorist organization, a move aid groups and diplomats have long warned will make getting assistance to people trapped in the “world’s worst humanitarian crisis” even harder. In a statement, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said he was officially notifying the US Congress of his intent to designate Ansar Allah, the official name of the Houthis, a “Foreign Terrorist Organization.” The change is go into force on Jan. 19, and three Houthi leaders will also be blacklisted. NGOs have lobbied heavily against the designation, saying it will seriously hamper efforts to bring aid to the estimated 80% of Yemen’s 30 million people who live in parts of the country controlled by the Houthis. It’s already hard to deliver aid in Yemen, in part because of obstacles put up by the Houthis themselves. (Map: Perry-Castañeda Library)