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.
In Episode 184 of the CounterVortex podcast, Bill Weinberg notes that Israeli President Isaac Herzog's address to Congress was happily boycotted by members of the "Squad," and comes as even establishment voices are calling for a cut-off of US aid in light of the deep political crisis in Israel. Unhappily, Rep. Pramila Jayapal was forced to issue an apology for having called Israel a "racist state"—which is a mere statement of political reality. In contrast, Ron DeSantis was not forced to issue any such apology for openly embracing Israel's illegal annexationist designs on the West Bank—even as they are protested by UN international law experts. All this comes as Israel has joined the US as the only countries on Earth to recognize Moroccan annexation of Western Sahara, a condition of the so-called Abraham Accords. Listen on SoundCloud or via Patreon.
Israel announced July 17 that it has formally recognized Moroccan sovereignty over the disputed territory of Western Sahara. The US in 2021 became the first nation to recognize Morocco's claim to the territory—an open quid pro quo for Moroccan recognition of Israel as a part of the so-called Abraham Accords. Israeli recognition of Morocco's claim was promised at that time. However, much of the territory is controlled by the Polisario Front, independence movement of the Sahrawi Arab people. Some 45 countries around the world recognize Polisario's declared Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic (SADR); the US and Israel are alone in recognizing Rabat's rule over the territory.
The UN migration agency reported June 13 that 2022 was the deadliest year yet for migrants crossing from the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) into Europe. According to the report from the International Organization for Migration's Missing Migrants Project, a record number of 3,800 people died along these migratory routes last year. The report underscored the urgent need for action to improve the safety and protection of migrants. The data, though recognized as undercounted due to the challenges in collecting information, sheds light on the magnitude of the problem. The recorded deaths in 2022 represent an 11% increase from the previous year.
Libyan politicians have wrapped up nearly three weeks of talks in Morocco meant to set a framework for the country's long-delayed elections. Back at home, the country's rival sides were cracking down hard on migrants and refugees. The Tripoli-based Government of National Unity has been using armed drones to target what it says are migrant traffickers bringing people in from Tunisia. In eastern Libya, authorities have reportedly rounded up between 4,000 and 6,000 Egyptian migrants, deporting some to Egypt and holding others in a customs hangar near the border. Some suspect that this has been driven by domestic and international political calculations by Gen. Khalifa Haftar, leader of the Libyan National Army that controls much of eastern Libya.
The UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention released a report May 30 finding that Afghanistan, Lithuania, Morocco, Poland, Romania, Thailand, United Arab Emirates (UAE) and the US all participated in human rights violations against Abd al-Rahim Hussein al-Nashiri, the man accused of involvement in the bombing of the USS Cole in 2000. Al-Nashiri is currently held in Guantanamo Bay prison, though he is said to have been previously detained in the territories of each of these countries.
In Episode 157 of the CounterVortex podcast, Bill Weinberg discusses the seemingly obscure subculture of Moorish Science, which has had a greater influence than is generally recognized today, as an important precursor to the Black Muslim movement. The doctrine, first propagated over a century ago by the Prophet Noble Drew Ali, holds that there was in ancient times a great Moorish civilization that prospered on both sides of the Atlantic, in North Africa but also in North America, and that Black Americans are in fact Moors and the inheritors of this legacy. Contrary to official histories, Moorish Science holds that not all Black folk in the Americas are descendants of those brought over in the Middle Passage, but also of Moors who were already in America in pre-Columbian times. The book The Aliites: Race & Law in the Religions of Noble Drew Ali by Spencer Dew sheds new light on surviving exponents of this movement, including the Moorish Science Temple of America, the Moorish American National Republic, the Washitaw Empire, and the Murakush Caliphate of Amexem.
A court in Nador, Morocco, on July 20 sentenced 33 migrants, mostly from Sudan and South Sudan, to 11 months behind bars for "illegal entry" into the country and "disobedience." The 33 are among the hundreds who on June 24 attempted to enter Spain's North African enclave of Melilla, sparking a violent response from authorities. Some 2,000 migrants stormed the heavily fortified border between the Moroccan region of Nador and the Spanish enclave, with many trying to scale the border wall. They were repelled by Moroccan and Spanish security forces, with up to 27 killed. The African Union is calling for an investigation into the repression. (InfoMigrants, RFI, AP, TNH)