The death toll from catastrophic flooding in northeast Libya continues to climb, with reported numbers now ranging as high as 11,300—and thousands still unaccounted for. People across Libya have stepped up to help, sending convoys of aid across the politically divided country and opening their homes to strangers. Meanwhile, anger is spreading about why two dams in the port city of Derna—which collapsed under the weight of flooding, leading to the destruction of entire neighborhoods—were allowed to decay. There have also been accusations that authorities ignored warnings about the severity of the storm, contributing to the massive death toll.
A group of Afghan women on April 29 marched in the capital Kabul to urge the United Nations not to formally recognize the Taliban government. Approximately two dozen women took to the streets despite the Taliban government's increasingly strict crackdowns on women. During the march, protesters chanted that they would fight and die for their dignity and condemned the UN, stating that the pending recognition of the Taliban would be a violation of women's rights.
In Episode 151 of the CounterVortex podcast, Bill Weinberg notes a tellingly ironic juxtaposition of simultaneous news stories: the COP27 global climate summit in Egypt and the World Cup games in Qatar—where mega-scale stadium air-conditioning betrays the fundamental unseriousness of our civilization in addressing the impending climate apocalypse. The COP27 agreement for a "loss and damage" fund stops short of demands for climate reparations—a critical question for island nations that stand to disappear beneath the waves, flood-devastated Pakistan, and indigenous peoples of the fire-ravaged Bolivian Amazon. Petro powers like Russia and Saudi Arabia formed a bloc to bar any progress on limiting further expansion of oil and gas exploitation, while the Ukrainian delegation called for a boycott of Moscow's hydrocarbons, and pointed to the massive ecological toll of Russia's war of aggression. Meanwhile, the world population reached 8 billion, providing an excuse for groups like PopulationMatters to proffer the Malthusian fallacy even as the rate of population growth is actually slowing. Worldwide indigenous and peasant resistance to hydrocarbon exploitation points to a revolutionary response to the crisis.
The US Department of Defense on June 24 announced the release of Asadullah Haroon Gul, an Afghan national, who had been held for 15 years without charge at the Guantánamo Bay detention camp. Gul was incarcerated at Guantánamo in 2007 on accusations of being a member of al-Qaeda and Hezb-e-Islami (HIA), an insurgent group that fought against the US in Afghanistan. HIA signed a peace agreement with the US-backed Afghan government in 2016.
Chad's junta on March 13 opened delayed peace talks with rebel and opposition groups in Qatar. But things got off to a bad start when one of the main rebel outfits–the Front for Change & Concord in Chad (FACT)–walked out amid confusion over Doha's role as a mediator. Chad was plunged into uncertainty last April when long-time ruler Idriss Déby was killed while commanding troops combating a FACT offensive. Power was then seized by Déby's 38-year-old son, Mahamat Idriss Déby, who outlined an 18-month transition. The Doha talks are considered a precursor to a national dialogue that the younger Déby is organizing before planned elections. But in a country that has experienced decades of rebellion and state repression, things are unlikely to proceed smoothly. Just last month a phone conversation surfaced in which Timan Erdimi—head of the Union of Resistance Forces (UFR), one of the rebel groups present in Doha—discussed plans to oust Déby using the Kremlin-linked mercenary Wagner Group. (The New Humanitarian)
At least 14 protesters were killed in Chad's Ouaddai province Jan. 28, climaxing several days of mounting violence and unrest. Protests broke out in provincial capital Abéché after the central government suspended the powers of Ouaddai's traditional sultan, Cherif Abdelhadi Mahdi. The appointed prefect of the province is to assume his traditional powers over the ethnic Ouaddai community. The traditional Ouaddai chieftain of the locality of Bani Halba has also had his powers dissolved by decree. The appointed replacements are apparently to be Arabs, exacerbating tensions between the Arab and ethnic Ouaddai communities. Local rights groups say some were killed by security forces in the preceding days' protests as well, and are demanding an investigation. The heretofore autonomous sultanate of Dar Ouaddai is a survival of the Wadai Empire, which ruled much of the region from the 15th century through the consolidation of French colonial rule in 1914. (TchadInfos, AlWihdaInfo, AFP)
The Shi'ite Hazara people of Afghanistan were targeted for genocide by the Taliban when the fundamentalist militant group was last in power, and Amnesty International now reports that new massacres targeting the ethnicity have already started. Taliban forces unlawfully killed 13 ethnic Hazaras, including a 17-year-old girl, in Daykundi province after members of the security forces of the former government surrendered, the Amnesty investigation revealed. The killings happened in Kahor village of Khidir district on Aug. 30. Eleven of the victims were former members of the Afghan National Defense Security Forces (ANDSF), and two were civilians. According to eyewitness testimony, the Taliban extrajudicially executed nine of the ANDSF members at a nearby river basin after they had surrendered, killings that "appear to be war crimes." The two civilians were killed as they attempted to flee, including a 17-year-old girl shot when the Taliban opened fire on a crowd of people.
The Taliban on Sept. 6 announced that they have taken the Panjshir Valley from the incipient National Resistance Front of Afghanistan (NRFA). In an audio statement from an undisclosed location, NRFA leader Ahamd Masoud pledged to carry on the fight, and called upon Afghans to launch a national uprising against the Taliban. Another NRFA leader, Fahmi Dashti, was reported killed in the battle for the Valley. News sources in India claimed he met his death in a targeted drone strike launched by Pakistan. (Khaama, NDTV, WION, WaPo)