Podcast: Libya and Syria, 12 years later
In Episode 165 of the CounterVortex podcast, Bill Weinberg notes the simultaneous 12th anniversary of the start of both the NATO intervention in Libya and the Syrian revolution. The NATO intervention was at root a bid to control the political trajectory of the Arab Revolution, and bring about a Thermidor in which Western-backed technocrats would be ascendant. The Syrian people seized back the initiative with their popular uprising against the Bashar Assad dictatorship. But, following the precedent set in Libya, the Great Powers have intervened, seeking to impose their own order—over the heads of the Syrian people. This time, however, the principal interventionist power has not been the West seeking to coopt the revolution, but Russia seeking to prop up the genocidal ancien régime. Listen on SoundCloud or via Patreon.
US to designate Wagner Group 'transnational criminal organization'
The US Treasury Department announced Jan. 20 that it will designate the Russian mercenary organization Wagner Group as a "transnational criminal organization," imposing further sanctions on the group's financial activities. White House national security representative John Kirby accused the Wagner Group of "committing atrocities and human rights abuses in Ukraine and elsewhere," especially citing Syria, Libya and the Central African Republic. He also presented satellite photo evidence purporting to show missile deliveries to the Wagner Group from North Korea, via rail across Russia. He added that there are now some 50,000 Wagner mercenaries fighting in Ukraine. (CNN, BBC News)
Libya: 'rampant crimes' by Hafar-aligned militia
Amnesty International on Dec. 19 accused armed group Tariq Ben Zeyad (TBZ) of committing "rampant" war crimes and human rights abuses to enforce the rule of the so-called Libyan Arab Armed Forces (LAAF) and its leader Khalifa Haftar. The report details incidences of forced disappearances, unlawful killings, torture, and mistreatment of detained migrants and refugees. The LAAF, previously known as the Libyan National Army, controls the eastern portion of Libya and several cities, including Benghazi, Derna, Sirte, Tobruk, and areas outside Tripoli. The TBZ is headed by Haftar's son Saddam, and Amnesty states that it exists primarily to enforce his rule through a campaign of terror. (Amnesty International, Jurist)
Mass grave unearthed in Libya
Authorities in Libya announced Oct. 2 that they had discovered a mass grave containing 42 bodies in Sirte, a city that was once the so-called Islamic State's capital in the country. Libya's Missing Persons Authority said the bodies were found in a school, and samples were taken at a local hospital so that the victims could be identified.
Libya: new fighting between rival governments
Heavy fighting broke out in Libya's capital city of Tripoli on Aug. 27, killing at least 32 people and raising concerns of a return to all-out war. Civilians were reportedly among those killed and injured in the clashes between forces loyal to Libya's two rival governments: a Tripoli-based Government of National Unity headed by Prime Minister Abdulhamid al-Dbeibah, and a House of Representatives based in the eastern city of Tobruk that chose its own prime minister for the country, Fathi Bashagha, in February.
UN releases evidence of mass graves in Libya
The United Nations Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL) on July 4 released a report containing evidence of mass graves in the Libyan city of Tarhuna, southeast of Tripoli. The report estimates there could be as many as 100 undiscovered mass graves in the city. It claims that the al-Kaniyat militia, in power in Tarhuna from 2016 to 2020, is responsible for mass killings there. The militia is alleged to have used brutal torture methods on residents including women, children, the infirm, and the disabled.
Russian mercenaries accused in Libya atrocities
A report to the Security Council by a panel of UN human rights experts finds that foreign fighters and private military companies are responsible for grave abuses in Libya—especially naming Russia's Wagner Group. The report was classified "confidential," but a copy was leaked to the Associated Press. It finds that both Turkish-backed militias loyal to the Tripoli-based Government of National Accord (GNA) and the Wagner Group, apparently contracted by eastern warlord Khalifa Haftar, have employed mercenaries who were veterans of the internal war in Syria. The GNA-aligned militias are implicated in abuses of migrants, who have been "regularly subjected to acts of slavery, rape and torture." The Wager Group is accused of planting unmarked anti-personnel mines on the southern periphery of Tripoli, when the city was besieged by Haftar's forces from April 2019 to an October 2020 ceasefire.
Sahel: deadly violence in mining sector
At least two were killed May 24 as security forces clashed with protesting gold miners at Burkina Faso's western Houndé commune, Tuy province. The protesters were demanding the release of 12 of their comrades who had been arrested a week earlier, when informal miners angered by government moves to expel their camps overran and ransacked the facilities of Houndé Gold Operation, a subsidiary of the UK-based multinational Endeavour Mining. (AfricaNews, AFP) Rescue workers meanwhile recovered the bodies of four miners who had gone missing after floodwaters submerged a zinc mine operated by Canada's Trevali Mining at Perkoa, in nearby Sanguié province. (CNN, BBC News Gahuza)
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