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
Gaza

Podcast: Gaza, Guernica and the Great Game

In Episode 209 of the CounterVortex podcast, Bill Weinberg takes stock of the frightening international escalation set off by the Gaza cataclysm, with Yemen, Syria, Iraq, Iran and Pakistan all coming under aerial bombardment over the past week, in a cascading regional crisis. The 1937 aerial bombardment of the Spanish town of Guernica by Nazi warplanes shocked the world. Today, what happened there is a near-daily occurrence in countries around the world. And the media (“mainstream,” “alternative” and “social”) are more concerned with how the various actors line up in the Great Power game than the horrific realities on the ground. Listen on SoundCloud or via Patreon. (Photo: WAFA via WikimediaCommons)

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
Yemen

Yemen: Houthis ‘weaponize water’ in siege of Taizz

In a new report, Human Rights Watch (HRW) charges that both the Houthis and government forces have violated residents’ right to water in the ongoing siege of Taizz, Yemen. For the past eight years, the besieging Houthi forces have cut off the flow from watersheds under their control to the Taizz Local Water & Sanitation Corporation, which manages the city’s water supply and sewage treatment system. These watersheds previously provided 77% of the city’s supply. The government troops that control the city have meanwhile sold the public water from wells within the urban area for their own profit. HRW called upon both parties to “allow Taizz’s local water agency to access, repair, and operate water infrastructure on the front lines and in Houthi-controlled territory.” (Map via PCL)

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
Yarmouk

Gaza & Yarmouk: forbidden symmetry

As Israel crosses the genocidal threshold in Gaza, a regional summit in Riyadh protests, issuing an urgent call for a ceasefire. Yet the regional powers at that summit are guilty of equivalent crimes—Saudi Arabia in Yemen, and Iran and the Basar Assad regime in Syria. Assad’s propaganda chief Bouthaina Shaaban especially decried Israel’s targeting of hospitals in Gaza. Yet just last month, the Assad regime bombed hospitals in Syria’s rebel-held north. Indeed, the Assad regime also savagely bombed and besieged Palestinians for months, at Yarmouk refugee camp outside Damascus. In Episode 200 of the CounterVortex podcast, Bill Weinberg notes with chagrin that key organizers of this month’s National March on Washington for Palestine included pseudo-left “tankie” formations that actively support the genocidal Assad regime. They also now abet Russia’s genocidal campaign in Ukraine, in which hospitals have been repeatedly targeted. This moral contradiction undercuts our effectiveness in advancing the demand for a Gaza ceasefire. Listen on SoundCloud or via Patreon. (Photo: Palestinians await aid distribution at Yarmouk, 2014. Credit: UNWRA)

Palestine
Gaza

Israeli official broaches nuclear strike on Gaza

A member of the Israeli cabinet broached a nuclear strike on the Gaza Strip, making outraged headlines in the Arab world. Jerusalem Affairs & Heritage Minister Amichai Eliyahu of the ultra-nationalist Otzma Yehudit (Jewish Power) party said in a radio interview that there are “no non-combatants in Gaza,” and using a nuclear weapon on the Palestinian enclave is “one of the possibilities.” The comment was immediately repudiated by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who issued a statement saying that Eliyahu has been suspended from cabinet meetings “until further notice.” Nonetheless, this comes as the death toll in nearly a month of Gaza bombardment approaches 10,000, with increasingly genocidal rhetoric voiced by Israeli officials up to and including Netanyahu. And despite a supposed relaxation of international tensions after Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah’s highly anticipated speech was less bellicose than expected, the nuclear-powered (and presumably nuclear-armed) submarine USS Florida has arrived in the Middle East. The Ohio-class submarine is now operating under the command of the US Navy’s Fifth Fleet, which polices the Persian Gulf, Red Sea and Arabian Sea—a clear signal to Iran and its regional allies. (Photo: Maan News Agency)

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)

Greater Middle East
Yemen

Houthis repress North Yemen nationalist rallies

Houthi de facto authorities carried out a wave of arrests, rounding up scores of largely peaceful demonstrators who gathered to commemorate the 61st anniversary of North Yemen’s 26th of September Revolution, reports Amnesty International. The organization is calling on Houthi authorities to “immediately and unconditionally release all demonstrators held solely for peacefully exercising their right to freedom of assembly.” On the date marking establishment of the Yemen Arab Republic in 1962, people took to the streets in cities across North Yemen, including Sana’a, Ibb, and Houdeidah, carrying flags of the republic that was formally disbanded with Yemen’s unification in 1990. (Map via Wikipedia)

Greater Middle East
Yemen

Saudi border guards massacre Ethiopian refugees

Saudi Arabian border guards have killed hundreds of Ethiopian migrants and asylum-seekers attempting to cross the border from Yemen, according to a report from Human Rights Watch. The report documented incidents between March 2022 and June 2023, based on interviews with migrants, satellite imagery, and social media posts. According to the report, Saudi border guards used explosive weapons such as mortars against migrants, and shot them at close range with live ammunition. Border guards reportedly fired on people even when they complied with orders. HRW called the recent pattern of killings a change from “an apparent practice of occasional shootings” to “widespread and systematic killings.” (Map via PCL)

Greater Middle East
Yemen

Yemen: civil society groups call for just peace

More than 40 Yemeni civil society organizations released a declaration on laying out a vision for how to achieve justice and reconciliation post-conflict. They highlight the importance of addressing past human rights violations to prevent future violence and call for accountability and reparations through a gender-equal and victim-centered process. The war, which started in 2014, has led to one of the world’s most acute crises, with more than 20 million people requiring humanitarian assistance and 80% of the population facing hunger. (Map via PCL)

Watching the Shadows
guantanamo

UN documents torture of Gitmo detainee

The UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention released a report finding that Afghanistan, Lithuania, Morocco, Poland, Romania, Thailand, United Arab Emirates and the US all participated in human rights violations against Abd al-Rahim Hussein al-Nashiri, the man accused of involvement in the bombing of the USS Cole in 2000. Al-Nashiri is currently held at Guantanamo Bay, though he is said to have been previously detained in the territories of each of these countries. The report contains graphic descriptions of “enhanced interrogation techniques” used by the US Central Intelligence Agency, including prolonged forced nudity, sleep deprivation, physical beatings, waterboarding, prolonged forced standing while chained, restrictive confinement in a small box, exposure to cold temperatures, and forced rectal feeding after prolonged food deprivation. (Photo: Pixabay via Jurist)