As the Taliban, now in full control of Kabul, pledge an "inclusive" Afghan government in prepared press statements, deadly repression against anti-Taliban protesters is reported from the eastern city of Jalalabad. On Aug. 18, the day before Afghanistan's independence day, protesters took to the streets of Jalalabad waving the black, red and green national flag—and tearing down the white and black Tawhid flag of the Taliban. Witnesses said Taliban fighters fired on protesters indiscriminately, and at least three were killed. (Khaama, Khaama, Sky News, UNILAD, TOLO News) On Aug. 19, the day Afghanistan won full independence from Britain in 1919, a similar protest was held in Khost, where social media videos again show Taliban fighters firing on demonstrators. No casualties were reported, but the city has been placed under a 24-hour curfew. (AP, CNN, Latestly)
Nigerian authorities imposed a curfew in Jos, capital of north-central Plateau state, after at least 20 Muslim travelers passing through the city were massacred by a presumed Christian militia Aug. 14. The Muslims, mostly of the Fulani ethnicity, were in a convoy of vehicles, returning to their homes in Ondo and Ekiti states from a celebration in neighboring Bauchi state marking the start of Muharram, the Islamic new year. In Jos, the convoy was caught in a traffic jam, and the vehicles set upon by militiamen—the occupants slain with machetes, daggers and other weapons. The assailants were apparently Christians of the Irigwe ethnicity. Northern and central Nigeria have for years seen growing violence between Muslim semi-nomadic herders and Christian farmers over control of land and water.
Taliban forces dramatically stepped up their rapid advance across Afghanistan over the past days, seizing 11 capitals of the country's 34 provinces. First, on Aug. 6, Zaranj, capital of Nimruz province in the southern Taliban heartland, fell to the insurgents. But then they switched the offensive to the north, taking Sheberghan, Jawzjan province; Sar-e-Pul and Kunduz, of their respective eponymous provinces; Taluqan, Takhar province; Aybak, Samangan province; Farah, Farah province; Pul-e-Khumri, Baghlan province; and Faizabad, Badakhshan province. Herat and Ghazni, a strategic southern gateway to the national capital Kabul, were the most recent to fall, on Aug. 12. The northern city of Mazar-e-Sharif is besieged, and India's military is mobilizing an airlift to evacuate the country's nationals there. Kandahar, back in the Taliban's southern heartland, is also the scene of heavy fighting, as is Lashkar Gah, capital of adjoining province of that name.
The Articulation of Indigenous People of Brazil (APIB) filed a statement before the International Criminal Court (ICC) Aug. 9 requesting an investigation into genocide and crimes against humanity committed by President Jair Bolsonaro. The complaint centers on "systematic anti-indigenous" policies enacted by Bolsonaro since his term began in January 2019, and deepened during the COVID-19 pandemic. APIB claims that Bolsonaro's government has dismantled protections for indigenous communities and their territories, resulting in increased invasion of indigenous lands and consequential deforestation, fires, and illegal mining. The complaint further charges that Bolsonaro has directly encouraged attacks against indigenous peoples, and refused to demarcate new indigenous territories.
The Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) of the US Treasury Department on July 28 imposed sanctions on eight prisons run by Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's intelligence unit, for human rights abuses against political prisoners and other detainees. Additionally, OFAC added five senior security officials of al-Assad's regime who control the detention facilities to the Treasury’s Specially Designated Nationals & Blocked Persons List. According to OFAC, the regime has imprisoned hundreds of thousands of Syrians during the war, of whom at least 14,000 have been tortured to death, with a further 130,000 missing and believed to be under arbitrary detention. OFAC also placed sanctions on Syrian armed rebel group Ahrar al-Sharqiya and two of its leaders for abuses against civilians.
In Episode 82 of the CounterVortex podcast, Bill Weinberg calls out the Orwellian pronouncements from media and politicians that Biden is "ending the war" in Afghanistan—as the war is actually escalating. This is the same imperial narcissism we heard with the much-hyped US "withdrawal" from Afghanistan in 2014, and the "withdrawal" from Iraq in 2011. In both cases, the war went on—and actually got worse, with the emergence of ISIS and the genocide of the Yazidis. Weinberg recalls with grim vindication that he similarly called out the glib optimism about a US withdrawal from Iraq in CounterVortex commentaries during the occupation 15 years ago. Meanwhile, Hazara women—who face the threat of genocide if the Taliban re-take power—are arming to resist the Taliban advance. The critical task now is to loan what solidarity and visibility we can to such efforts—not to engage in hubristic crowing about the "end of the war." Listen on SoundCloud or via Patreon.
Pre-Trial Chamber II of the International Criminal Court (ICC) issued a decision on July 9, unanimously confirming charges against Sudanese militia leader Ali Muhammad Ali Abd-Al-Rahman. Consequently, Abd-Al-Rahman, who is also known as Ali Kushayb, was committed to trial before an ICC trial chamber. Abd-Al-Rahman was a top commander of the Janjaweed militia, and one of the most senior leaders in the tribal hierarchy in Wadi Salih locality, Central Darfur state. He is also a leader of the Popular Defense Forces, the more regularized successor to the Janjaweed. He is alleged to have led pro-government campaigns against Darfur rebel groups, ultimately displacing 40,000 and murdering 300 civilians.
In Episode 79 of the CounterVortex podcast, Bill Weinberg marks the 26th anniversary of the Srebrenica massacre in Bosnia, and reads selections from Surviving the Peace: The Struggle for Postwar Recovery in Bosnia-Herzegovina by Peter Lippman. In his final chapter, "Atrocity Revisionism," Lippman deftly deconstructs the rank genocide denial we have seen from paradoxical icons of the "left" such as Noam Chomsky and Edward Herman. Presaging the similar denialism now seen concerning Syria, these "left" pundits created an impression among their gullible admirers that there was no genocide at Srebrenica—despite the fact that the remains of over 7,000 of the presumed 8,000 victims of the massacre have now been exhumed from mass graves and identified by the International Commission on Missing Persons (ICMP). Listen on SoundCloud or via Patreon.