US Defence Secretary Ashton Carter has ended yet another global war-trot, having visited India, the Philippines, Iraq, and one of the two US nuclear-armed aircraft carriers in its enormous fleet in and around the South China Sea.
He missed out Afghanistan, site of one of America’s recent catastrophic wars, probably because it’s even more dangerous to visit than Iraq, but went to Saudi Arabia on 20 April (along with President Barack Obama), and told his opposite numbers of the Gulf nations that the US has «an enduring commitment» to all of these dictatorships. Then he gave a media conference at which he declared that «the US military remains committed and capable of responding to Iranian malign and destabilizing activities».
Another day, another protest in Armenia. And if we were to simply believe the Western media regarding this ‘other protest,’ we might get the impression that the Armenian people are upset with Russian policy and “Putinism.” In reality, the protests are led by the same verified US-proxies exposed at the height of the “Electric Yerevan” protests mid-2015 which sought to undermine and overthrow the current government of Armenia in favor of a pro-Western political front more to Wall Street, London, and Brussels’ liking.
«It is reckless. It is provocative. It is dangerous», said US State Secretary John Kerry describing the incident when the guided missile destroyer USS Donald Cook (DDG-75) was buzzed by a pair of Sukhoi Su-24 Fencer fighters in the Baltic Sea on April 11, 2016.
On April 14, Russian Defense Ministry said that the jets were on a training mission in the area and operated «in strict compliance with international laws».
Across Guatemala, both rural communities and urban centers have mobilized to protest the systematic theft and privatization of water by transnational companies and the Guatemalan oligarchy. On April 22, nearly 15,000 gathered in Guatemala City to demand an end to this control over water. Marchers had set out on April 11 from the city of Tecun Unam in the northwest department of San Marcos, and from Puruhá, Baja Verapaz. The various columns of demonstrators walked over 263 miles for 11 days to demand that the state address the right to water across the country.
A newly adopted law in China gives police unprecedented power to restrict the work of foreign groups in the country, Human Rights Watch said today. The law will also limit domestic groups’ ability to obtain foreign funding and work with foreign organizations.
The National People’s Congress passed the draconian Law on the Management of Foreign Non-Government Organizations Activities in China (the NGO Law) on April 28, 2016, and will come into force on January 1, 2017.
For many, Turkey advances towards a dark future at a fast pace. Having a rather noncommittal relationship with democracy, the Republic has muddled through with significant ups and downs. It still takes a lot of optimism to talk about political power becoming fully accountable to the public.
Politics, already a one-man-show, is becoming increasingly intolerant towards any form of criticism. It pushes dissidents off the stage. Turning the Parliament into a technical apparatus President Erdoğan is moving to lift the parliamentary immunity of deputies. Relying on a judicial apparatus that he formed when he was the prime minister, Erdoğan will target the deputies of the pro-Kurdish, left-leaning People’s Democracy Party (HDP). Following this pattern, he will further target HDP deputies and position them as public enemies in the fight against terrorism. The recent performance of the HDP gives little hope about their remaining fully inside the legitimate political sphere by distancing themselves completely from PKK terrorism. Since the last general election on November 1, Erdoğan seems to be succeeding with his political strategy of pushing the HDP further to the margins and the HDP seems to be taking the bait doubly pressed upon them by Erdoğan and the PKK.
Although Chernobyl is actually in northern Ukraine, neighbouring Belarus is the country that has suffered most from the disaster. After all, Svetlana Aleksievich’s Chernobyl Prayer was known around the world long before its author received the 2015 Nobel Prize for Literature.
Today, Belarus’s official attitude to the legacy of Chernobyl is rather ambiguous. On the one hand, it recognises its persistence and allocates funding to continuing clean-up operations, but on the other it withholds information from the public, encourages people to return to contaminated areas and is building a new nuclear power plant in the area.
Today, at Moscow’s eminent House of Cinematography, aggressive individuals among pro-Kremlin protestors attacked the award ceremony of an annual student competition, “Man in History. Russia – XX Century.” The attackers threw eggs and green antiseptic solution at the teenage winners of the competition, their teachers, and other participants at the gathering. Ludmilla Ulitskaya, a prominent Russian novelist and chair of the competition’s jury, was among those splashed with the bright green liquid.
Members of the small ethnic Armenian community in Turkey are feeling increasingly uneasy. Their wariness is an outgrowth of recent claims by senior officials in Ankara that Kurdish rebels collaborate with Turkish Armenians, as well as the government’s move to expropriate several Armenian churches.
The words and actions come amid heavy fighting between Turkish security forces and Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) rebels in towns and cities across southeastern Turkey. In these areas, graffiti with expletives calling ethnic Armenians traitors and accusing them of working with the rebels is commonplace.
Located over territories spread across Turkey, Iran, Iraq and Syria, Kurds are facing multiple challenges on the road to Kurdish statehood. A major problem is the absence of a united Kurdish national movement. The two major power blocks in Kurdish politics, Massoud Barzani’s Kurdistan Democratic Party KDP and Abdullah Ocalan’s Kurdistan Worker’s Party PKK ( designated a terrorist group by the US, EU and Turkey), have been vying for political dominance over Kurdish nationalism for many years, and are as divided as ever. The Syrian conflict has brought significant changes to the power dynamics between the two, expanding the power of the PKK at the expense of the KDP. This development itself is very critical for Kurdish politics and the direction it is taking.
Despair and violence is taking over Venezuela. The economic crisis sweeping the nation means people have to withstand widespread shortages of staple products, medicine, and food.
So when the Maduro administration began rationing electricity this week, leaving entire cities in the dark for up to 4 hours every day, discontent gave way to social unrest.
In a recent letter to the UN’s Human Rights Council, Egyptian diplomats responded to a series of concerns raised by the UN body in an urgent appeal on the case of Ibrahim Halawa. Ibrahim – a student from Dublin – was 17 when he was arrested in 2013 in the wake of protests in Cairo. He is being tried alongside 493 other people in mass proceedings, which have been repeatedly postponed in the last three years. Ibrahim is believed to be held in poor prison conditions, and has reported being tortured and threatened with execution throughout his detention. During visits to him, Irish consular officials have noted “serious marks and bruising” on his body.