Turkish warplanes carried out air-strikes on several towns within the Kurdish autonomous zone in northern Syria, known as Rojava, on Nov. 19. The strikes killed several Kurdish fighters as well as soldiers of the Syrian regime, with which they now jointly occupy the area. Among the towns hit was Kobane, from where Ankara says the order was given for the Nov. 13 suicide attack in Istanbul, that left six dead and several injured. "Kobane, the city that defeated ISIS, is subjected to bombardment by the aircraft of the Turkish occupation," tweeted Farhad Shami, a spokesperson for the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF). Both the SDF and affiliated Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), named by Ankara as behind the Istanbul attack, have denied any involvement. Turkish authorities have arrested 17 in the attack, including a Syrian woman said to be the main perpetrator. (Al Jazeera, ANF, MEE, Rudaw, Rudaw, The Guardian)
An air raid in eastern Syria along the Iraqi border made brief headlines Nov. 9. The UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported at least 14 people were killed in the strikes, mostly fighters. The attacks hit a convoy of "fuel tankers and trucks loaded with weapons" in Deir az-Zor province, the Observatory said. (Al Jazeera) This set off immediate speculation that the raid was the latest in the small but growing handful of times over the course of the 10-year Syrian war that the US has bombed forces allied with the Assad regime, generally targeting the Iran-backed paramilitary network in the country. The Deir az-Zor strikes did immediately follow the slaying of a US aid worker in Iraq. (The National) However, Israel has for years also carried out sporadic air-strikes on similar targets in Syria, and has likewise come under suspicion in this attack. (ToI, Haaretz)
Faced with a growing insurgency from regional guerilla cells integrated into the resistance network known as the People's Defense Force (PDF), Burma's junta has been training its own paramilitary corps made up of conservative Buddhists, Burman ethno-nationalists, and other regime supporters—named the Pyu Saw Htee, after a legendary king (also rendered Pyusawhti) of the ancient Bagan Dynasty (also rendered Pagan). Its strongest base of support is in the Ma Ba Tha (Patriotic Association of Myanmar), which has long been accused of fomenting attacks on Muslims and ethnic minorities. (Irrawady, Progressive Voice Myanmar, Mizzima)
The Nigerian Court of Appeal on Oct. 13 dismissed all terrorism charges against Nnamdi Kanu, the leader of separatist group the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB). Nigerian authorities have identified IPOB as a "terrorist organization," but international organizations including the Council on Foreign Relations disagree with the designation, and are urging the US not to adopt it.
The jihadist group al-Shabab is facing a local clan-based rebellion in central Somalia—one the embattled Mogadishu government hopes might spread throughout its zones of control. As resistance to the insurgent group has grown, lawmakers and clan elders have been backing the self-organized militia in pitched battles against al-Shabab. The militia—known as Ma'awisley, a reference to the traditional sarong worn in Somalia's rural areas—is strongest in Middle Shabelle, Hiran and Galmudug regions of Hirshabelle and Central states. (TNH, VOA)
New clashes broke out on the border of Armenia and Azerbaijan Sept. 13, with each side accusing the other of violating the ceasefire. Fighting was first reported near the Lachin Corrdior, which connects Armenia to the autonomous ethnic Armenian enclave within Azerbaijan, Nagorno-Karabakh. But attacks on the Armenian border have also been launched from the Azerbaijani exclave of Nakhchivan (also rendered Nakhichevan or Naxçıvan), which is cut off from the rest of Azerbaijan by Armenian territory. A land corridor through Armenia to Nakhchivan is one of Azerbaijan's key outstanding demands in the conflict. (See map)
In Episode 139 of the CounterVortex podcast, Bill Weinberg marks the 10th anniversary of the 2012 Daraya massacre, in which the regime of Syrian dictator Bashar Assad killed some 700 civilians while taking back the city from the secular pro-democratic revolutionary forces that had seized power there. These early Syrian revolutionaries were inspired by the grassroots-democratic vision of the anarchist thinker Omar Aziz, and the ethic of nonviolent resistance propounded by Jawdat Said, the "Syrian Gandhi." Daraya was re-taken by rebels later that year, but fell a second time in August 2016, putting an end to the experiment in parallel power and direct democracy. Most of the remaining inhabitants were evacuated to Idlib province in the north, which remained in rebel hands, and the model of parallel power survived there for another two years—before extremist factions linked to the Nusra Front began to take over. The November 2018 assassination of civil resistance leader Raed Fares was another turning point. The following year saw a popular uprising in idlib by the pro-democratic resistance against jihadist rule. But the legacy of Daraya, once the frontline of a peaceful revolution, is largely forgotten history, its true heroism betrayed by the world.
In Episode 137 of the CounterVortex podcast, Bill Weinberg explores two of the many under-reported internal conflicts in India, which are rooted in unresolved issues left over from the colonial era in spite of 75 years of Indian independence. In the east-central interior, the Naxalite insurgency has been met with harsh repression from the security forces—especially against the Adivasis, or indigenous peoples who make up the movement's support base. In the remote Northeast, the long struggle of the Naga people is still met with massacres at the hands of the military today. For three generations the Naga have been fighting for their independence, keeping alive their indigenous culture, and protesting the genocide of their people—to the silence of the international community. Listen on SoundCloud or via Patreon.