From our Daily Report:

Europe
Minsk protest

Net silence as Belarus explodes into protest

Long-ruling strongman Alexander Lukashenko cut off internet across most of Belarus as the country explodes into angry protests in the wake of contested presidential elections. Riot police are unleashing harsh repression, using rubber bullets, flash-bang grenades and water hoses against demonstrators. One person has been reported killed and many more wounded, including several police officers. According to preliminary results, Lukashenko won an unlikely 80% of the vote, with the main opposition candidate Svetlana Tikhanovskaya taking only 10%. Tikhanovskaya was a surprise replacement for her husband Sergei, a popular blogger who was arrested after he attempted to launch his candidacy. She held large rallies in Minsk and other cities, riding a groundswell of discontent with Lukashenko. (Photo: Meduza)

The Andes
Mamani

US court rules against Bolivian ex-prez in rights case

The US Court of Appeals of the Eleventh Circuit in Miami vacated a lower court judgment that had exonerated former Bolivian president Gonzalo Sánchez de Lozada and his defense minister Carlos Sánchez Berzaín of responsibility for the killing of protesters during the 2003 “Gas War.” The pair fled to exile in the United States after repression failed to put down the protests. In 2018, surviving relatives of eight killed in the repression brought suit against the two exiled leaders in a US district court under the Torture Victims Protection Act. The case, Mamani et. al v. Sánchez de Lozada, marked the first time a former head of state was brought to trial for human rights violations in a US court. The jury found the two liable under the TVPA and awarded plaintiffs $10 million in damages. But in an unusual move, Judge James I. Cohn set aside the jury verdict and entered its own judgment, holding the defendants not liable based on insufficient evidence. The Eleventh Circuit has now reversed Cohn’s ruling, and remanded the case to the district court. The lower court is instructed to weigh whether the jury verdict should be reinstated or if a new trial should be held. (Photo of plaintiffs Eloy and Etelvina Mamani, center, and legal team via Harvard Law Today)

The Andes
Bolivia protest

Mass protests paralyze Bolivia

Protesters have launched blockades across main roads through Bolivia over the past days, effectively cutting of La Paz and other cities, to oppose the government’s postponement of new presidential elections. The blockades have raised fears of food and gasoline shortages, with throngs of La Paz residents lining up outside markets and petrol stations. Chancellor Karen Longaric portrayed the protests as being masterminded from exile by ousted president Evo Morales, saying “Ex-president Morales and groups aligned with the Movement Toward Socialism have initiated violent and inhuman acts.” (Photo: Página Siete)

Southern Cone
curacautin

Chile: Mapuche mobilize after racist mob attacks

Chile’s Mapuche indigenous people are holding emergency community meetings in their territory to discuss how to respond to a wave of racist attacks. The most serious incident occurred in Curacautín, Araucanía region, where a group of Mapuche protesters were holding an occupation of the municipal building. The protest had been called in solidarity with Celestino Córdova, a Mapuche leader imprisoned in relation to a conflict over land rights, and now on hunger strike to demand his freedom. The protesters were set upon by a mob, who ejected them from the municipal building before beating them in the street and setting several of their vehicles on fire. The attackers used racist slurs and slogans such as “¡Querían terrorismo, acá tienen terrorismo!” (You wanted terrorism, now you have terrorism!). The Carabineros looked on but did not interfere, only acting afterwards to remove remnant protesters from the building. (Photo: Resumen, Concepción)

Syria
Syria oil map

Rojava Kurds cut deal with US oil company

In the imperial carve-up of northern Syria, US troops have since late last year been controlling the oil-fields of Deir ez-Zor province, in collaboration with the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces. Now reports are emerging that the Kurdish autonomous administration in the region has signed a 25-year contract with a little-known US company for exploitation of the oil. The company, Delta Crescent Energy, received a waiver from US sanctions on Syria from the Treasury Department. The deal was confirmed by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in testimony before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. (Map: Energy Consulting Group)

North Africa
JNIM

Mali: now a three-way war —or four?

Jihadist militants continue to wage a low-level insurgency in Mali, targetting government troops and their French allies. Last week, the Group for Support of Islam & Muslims (JNIM) claimed responsibility for a suicide attack on French forces. But internecine fighting between jihadist factions also takes an increasing toll. Since an apparent truce broke down this year, there have been repeated clashes between JINM, an al-Qaeda affiliate, and the self-declared Islamic State in the Greater Sahara. Amid all this, the National Movement for the Liberation of Azawad (MNLA), seeking self-rule for the Tuareg people in the desert north, maintains a precarious independence from both the jihadist and government forces. In a statement, the MNLA accused the government of fomenting conflict in the region as a strategy to avoid ceding autonomy to the Tuaregs, as mandated by a 2015 peace accord. The statement warned that the MNLA will not surrender its arms until terms of the accord are instated. (Photo of JNIM militants via Long War Journal)

Greater Middle East
Bierut blast

What Beirut blast could mean for battered Lebanon

As rescue workers continue to look for survivors amid the rubble of a massive explosion that killed a reported 130 people in Beirut’s port, the implications of the blast for Lebanon appear grim. Lebanon’s economy has been in freefall for months, unemployment is rising, and the foreign minister Nassif Hitti resigned one day before the blast, warning that the country risks becoming a “failed state.” Now hundreds of thousands more have been left homeless, critical port facilities are destroyed, and local hospitals are overwhelmed. Lebanon was already battling COVID-19 before the blast, and last week it instituted a new lockdown to try to control a spike in new infections. (Photo via Beirut.com)

Greater Middle East
al-bokari

Saudi Arabia imprisons Yemeni dissident blogger

A court in Saudi Arabia sentenced a Yemeni blogger to 10 months in prison, a fine of 10,000 riyals ($2,600) and deportation for a social media post supporting equal rights for people in same-sex relationships. Mohamad al-Bokari was arrested in Riyadh in April, after posting a video on social media, which authorities said contained “sexual references” and “violated public order and morals.” This was apparently a reference to the line: “Everyone has rights and should be able to practice them freely, including gay people.” Sources told Human Rights Watch that al-Bokari was subjected to a forced anal exam, an internationally discreditedpractice used to seek “proof” of homosexual conduct. HRW says the practice has no scientific basis, violates medical ethics, and constitutes cruel, degrading, and inhuman treatment that may rise to the level of torture. Al-Bokari was charged with “violating public morality” and “imitating women.” (Image: Amnesty International)

Afghanistan
Afghanistan

Is Russia really backing the Taliban?

The kneejerk squawking of “McCarthyism” any time new revelations of Moscow misdeeds emerge is tiresome and dangerous. But there is reason for skepticism about the claims that Russia is arming the Taliban in Afghanistan, and offering them a bounty to kill US troops. This makes little sense in terms of the regional alliances: US ally Pakistan has been the traditional patron of the Taliban, while Russia’s closest ally in the region is Iran, which opposes the Taliban on sectarian grounds. The notion that Moscow would do anything to strengthen the hand of Sunni extremism in a country where it faced its own counterinsurgency quagmire in the ’80s, and which still borders its “near abroad,” stretches credulity. (Photo of abandoned Soviet tank in Afghanistan via Wikimedia Commons)

East Asia
Tony Chung

Hong Kong elections postponed amid repression

Hong Kong authorities announced they will postpone Legislative Council elections originally scheduled for September by one year, citing a resurgence in COVID-19 cases. The postponement comes after several opposition candidates had been barred from running, and several democracy activists were detained under the new National Security Law. Tony Chung, 19, of the pro-independence group StudentLocalism, became the first political figure to be arrested under the controversial law. (Photo of Tony Chung: HKFP)

North America
federal police

Trump broaches postponement of election

In a tweet, President Trump suggested that the US postpone the November elections, claiming mail-in voting would cause widespread fraud and inaccuracy. States do have the power to delay election day, but federal elections are beholden to federal election law. Without consent of Congress, states may only postpone election day to the extent they can still meet the December deadline for submitting electoral votes to the Senate and US Archivist. The president has no authority to unilaterally postpone election day. Trump’s allegations of widespread voter fraud are unfounded. Oregon, which has held postal elections since 2000, has had only 14 reported cases of fraud. (Photo via MRonline)

Africa
Central African Republic

CAR: accused war criminal runs for president

Amid rising tensions and insecurity in the Central African Republic, deposed former president François Bozizé has announced his candidacy for the upcoming presidential elections, scheduled for December. Bozizé is currently under UN sanctions and subject to an arrest warrant issued by the government for “crimes against humanity and incitement to genocide.” He is accused of having backed a brutal rebel movement after his ouster in 2013, fueling a civil war that has left millions displaced. However, authorities show little sign of moving to execute the warrant, and Bozizé has been openly working for a political comeback since returning to the country last year. (Map via Perry-Castañeda Library Map Collection)

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