Violence erupted in Chad this week shortly after the country's elections agency confirmed dates for a May presidential poll, which is supposed to restore democracy after three years of junta rule. Feb. 28 saw an armed attack on the headquarters of the National Security Agency (ANSE), which the government blamed on followers of the Socialist Party Without Borders (PSF), the main opposition party in Chad. The PSF denied the charge. But the following day party leader Yaya Dillo—a vocal critic of ruler Gen. Mahamat Idriss Déby—was killed alongside dozens of the others in a shoot-out with security forces at the PSF headquarters in the capital, N'Djamena.
Amid the mounting horror in Gaza, Israel held municipal elections—which saw gains for the ultra-Zionist right, including in Jerusalem. But the city for the first time saw a Palestinian council candidate—Sondos Alhot, a pro-coexistence activist who ran with a new list called Kol Toshaveha (All Its Residents). Her candidacy, which came in defiance of a boycott called by the Palestinian leadership, nonetheless posed a challenge to the system of apartheid Israel has imposed in the Holy City. In Episode 215 of the CounterVortex podcast, Bill Weinberg explores what this electoral question may tell us about the prospects for an eventual just peace in historic Palestine.
The internationally recognized Yemeni government on Feb. 24 issued an urgent plea to the international community following a Houthi attack on the Rubymar, a British-owned, Belize-flagged cargo ship carrying hazardous materials through the Red Sea six days earlier. The attack has raised fears of an imminent environmental disaster due to the potential leakage of ammonia fertilizer and oil from the abandoned and damaged vessel.
In Burma, the mutilated body of independent journalist Myat Thu Tan was found at the military base where he had been detained, after the camp was overrun by rebels of the pro-democratic resistance. In Kazakhstan, detained activist Aqylbek Muratbai is fighting extradition to Uzbekistan, where he had been speaking out against bloody repression faced by his Karakalpak ethnic minority. And in Burkina Faso, human rights defender Daouda Diallo remains missing months after was "disappeared," presumably at the hands of the ruling military junta. Yet neither the mainstream media nor "progressives" in the West pay heed to these cases—while the reactionary and Kremlin-coopted Julian Assange is a cause célèbre. In Episode 214 of the CounterVortex podcast, Bill Weinberg asks: Why is that?
Police in Almaty, Kazakhstan, on Feb. 15 detained Aqylbek Muratbai, an activist who has been working to raise international awareness about the bloody crackdown on a mass protest in his native Karakalpakstan, an autonomous region of western Uzbekistan, in July 2022. It is feared that Kazakh authorities intend to deport him to Uzbekistan, where he could face a severe prison sentence.
In Episode 213 of the CounterVortex podcast, Bill Weinberg notes how divergent responses to the ethnic cleansing of the Palestinians and mass internment of the Uyghurs reveal the West's shifting definition of genocide. Tragically, elements of the Palestinian leadership merely reverse the double standard, causing elements of the exiled Uyghur leadership to balk at supporting the Palestinians. Yet another example of how a global divide-and-rule racket is the essence of the state system. Illustrating the irony, the same corporate nexus is involved in putting in place the surveillance state that monitors the Uyghurs for China and the Palestinians for Israel. Fortunately, principled voices of dissent among both the Palestinians and the Uyghurs are calling for Palestinian-Uyghur solidarity.
Following the death of Wagner Group leader Yevgeny Prigozhin, the Russian ministries of defense and foreign affairs quickly moved to reassure African client states that business as usual would continue—meaning that Moscow's unofficial boots on the ground would keep operating in these countries. Now reports indicate a transformation, with Wagner's estimated force of 5,000 troops—deployed from the Sahel to Libya to Sudan—to be brought under Defense Ministry command as a new Africa Corps. (The Conversation)
Chinese President Xi Jinping on Jan. 29 officially accepted the credentials of the envoy to Beijing from Taliban-ruled Afghanistan—a clear step toward recognition of the regime. A month before that, Wang Yi, the Chinese foreign minister, visited Kabul to meet with Taliban foreign minister Amir Khan Muttaqi—the highest-level meeting between China and the Taliban regime since its return to power in 2021. China has already struck hydrocarbon deals with the Taliban, and has been eyeing Afghanistan's lithium, copper and rare-earth metal mines. This is in line with Beijing's perceived design to establish control over the planet's rare earth minerals. (Eurasian Times, CNBC)