Category: International

From Ferguson to Fallujah and from Kenya to Kiev, the Fifth Column presents the international news stories you won’t find anywhere else.

Ex-CIA Spy Faces Prison in Italy for Role in US Ordered Abductions, Torture

A 60-year-old former CIA officer who was on vacation at the time the US spy agency abducted an innocent man in Italy may be the only person to face prison time for the American torture regime.

On Wednesday, former CIA spy Sabrina De Sousa will be handed over to Italian authorities to serve a prison sentence for her role in helping to seize a terror suspect 13 years ago.

In February 2003, Egyptian cleric and terror suspect Abu Omar was abducted from the streets of Milan as part of the CIA’s extraordinary rendition program. On the day in question, De Sousa was on vacation with her son on the ski slopes of Northern Italy over 185 miles (300 kilometers) away.

U.S.-Mexico border enforcement: Has it been effective?


Illegal immigration to the United States has long been a subject of heated debate. Some argue that immigrants take jobs away from Americans, commit crimes, traffic drugs and unduly strain social welfare programs but pay no taxes. Others counter that immigrants contribute valuable labor and should have a path to citizenship. The rhetoric reached new heights during the 2016 presidential campaign, notably with Republican frontrunner Donald Trump’s proposal to build a wall along the nearly 2,000-mile long border Mexico shares with the U.S. and deport 11 million undocumented immigrants.

The debate has largely focused on immigrants from Mexico because, according to the Pew Research Center, they constitute the largest single group of immigrants in the United States.

The Golan Heights. The Problem Reemerges

In all of Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu’s recent discussions with American leaders – particularly with Secretary of State Kerry – as well as during his visit to Moscow, the new/old topic of the Golan Heights has topped the agenda.

Tel Aviv has discovered that the first section of the unfolding US- and Russian-sponsored Syrian peace plan includes a provision to restore Syria’s sovereignty throughout all its territory, including in the Golan Heights that was annexed by Israel.

Thousands of Protesters Break into Baghdad Green Zone (Photos)

Thousands of protesters broke into Baghdad’s heavily fortified “Green Zone” Saturday and rampaged to parliament after lawmakers again failed to approve new cabinet ministers.

An AFP reporter said thousands of angry protesters moved into the restricted area, which houses the country’s key government institutions, and some began ransacking the parliament building.

Maduro Cracks Down

Olga Meza sat down at the table in the office of a local human rights organization in Venezuela [1] and said she wanted justice for her 16-year-old son. She broke down in tears as she spoke of the night that members of Venezuela’s investigative police force broke into her home, beat her and other members of her family, and forced her to watch as a security agent stormed into her son’s bedroom and shot him dead.

Washington [2], along with a handful of Latin American capitals and several former heads of state, has criticized the administration of Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro [3] for using excessive force against antigovernment protesters, prosecuting its critics, and jailing political opposition leaders.

When is a fact a fact in China?

If you are a journalist in China, “the spirit” moves you. And the spirit refers, of course, to the priorities and precepts of the Chinese Communist Party.

Back in February, in a speech to media bosses and propaganda leaders, President Xi Jinping reprised the Party’s dominance over media and information in terms more explicit than those used by any leader in recent memory. Media must, said Xi, “be surnamed Party.”

Iraqi Forces Liberate More Terrorist-Held Districts

Following the Iraqi Army’s shelling of positions of Daesh terrorists in al-Kartan area north of the city of Ramadi in Anbar province, Mohammed al-Maslawi, a leader of the terrorist group, was killed, according to the Arabic-language Al-Ahed news website.

In another operation, the Iraqi volunteer forces, known as Popular Mobilization Forces, managed to thwart an attack by Daesh terrorists in Baiji-al-Siniyah Road in Salahuddin Province, killing and injuring dozens of militants.

Fighting Fear and Hopelessness from House Arrest in Macedonia

Facing street protests with crowds in the thousands, Macedonian officials are intensifying the police response to the so-called “I Protest” movement (#протестирам| #protestoj). Half a dozen prominent demonstrators have already been detained and placed under house arrest on charges of participating in riots.

Among those arrested is a 19-year-old law student named Borjan Eftimov, whom police summoned for questioning in mid-April. After he voluntarily reported to the police station, he was charged with ransacking a presidential public outreach office on April 13 and placed under house arrest for eight days. Eftimov admits to throwing stones at the building’s window and removing a chair from inside, but law enforcement officers have refused to let him plead guilty formally.

Tackling Child Marriage in India, One Wedding Tent at a Time

Tent vendors in the western Indian state of Rajasthan are taking a stand against child marriage. More than 47,000 of them have declared that they will not supply tents for ceremonies where children figure as the bride or groom and will ask for birth certificates to ensure ages. If they find out that a child marriage is taking place, they say they will inform local police.

As in other parts of the world, child marriage is a grave problem in India. The Child Marriage Act of 2006 bans the practice, fixing the legal age of marriage to 18 for girls and 21 for boys. Despite this, India ranks 13 in the Child Marriage Hot Spots report by the International Centre For Research On Women. The 2011 census revealed that nearly 17 million Indian children between the ages of 10 and 19 — representing 6% of that age group — are married.

It’s That Bad: Pentagon To Test F-35 Against Decades-Old A-10 in Combat

he infamous F-35 has had its share of problems. After over $1 trillion in development costs, the state-of-the-art aircraft has struggled to achieve even the most basic functions of fighter jet, including shooting, maneuvering, and flying.

As the Pentagon insists that the fighter can hold its own in combat, it has prepared one final, crucial test: a one-on-one simulated showdown between the F-35 and the 40-year-old A-10 Thunderbolt II.

Contentious politics in the Baltics: the ‘new’ wave of right-wing populism in Estonia

Controversies over the refugee crisis have provided the populist and more extremist right-wing parties across the ‘new’ Europe with a new impetus. This piece focuses on the case of the, relatively new and increasingly popular, party of EKRE (Estonian Conservative National Party).

The politicization of the refugee question and its sociocultural implications currently forms key-component of this party’s rhetoric. This gains a greater significance considering that, so far, only 7 war refugees have been transferred from Greece to Estonia.

Georgia: the exiles’ election

Less than six months are left before Georgia’s parliamentary election, and a heated contest is expected. The parties of the ruling Georgian Dream coalition have decided to run independently, while several opposition parties are driving hard for public support.

Yet across the country, pessimism reigns. Nowhere is it felt more strongly than among Georgia’s 265,000 internally displaced people (IDPs), who largely hail from the now de-facto states of Abkhazia and South Ossetia. Ethnic cleansing during the wars of the 1990s and later led to Georgian inhabitants of these territories fleeing for their lives. Poorly-integrated into wider society, many IDPs’ hopes for a brighter future have been dashed by successive governments and their failed promises to improve living standards — or to return home.

“To demand peace is not a crime”: Turkish academics on trial

Last Friday, April 21st, four Turkish academics, Meral Camci, Kivanc Ersoy, Muzeffer Kaya and Esra Mungan, after five weeks remanded in prison, were brought to the Heavy Penal Court in Istanbul to face charges of making “propaganda for terrorism” and of association with the PKK (Kurdistan Workers’ Party), labelled as a terrorist organisation by the EU and the US. The indictment accused them under Article 7(2) of Turkey’s anti-terror law and if convicted they could face sentences of up to 7 ½ years in detention.

Although at the end of the day, the prisoners were released, and the Judge adjourned the case to September 27th, confusion reigns among the academics and the lawyers.