Iran demolishes houses, farms of Baha'i community
Security forces laid siege to a village in northern Iran on Aug. 2, demolishing houses and farms belonging to members of the persecuted Baha'i faith. Over 200 troops were deployed to Roshankouh, in Mazandaran province, blocking the road into the village and confiscating residents' cell phones before commencing demolition of several properties. However, video footage of heavy machinery demolishing buildings was posted to social media by the Baha'i International Community. The organization reports that six homes were destroyed and over 20 hectares of land were confiscated. Troops used tear-gas and fired shots in the air to disperse residents who gathered to protest the demolitions.
Catalan parliament recognizes Israeli 'apartheid'
The Parliament of Catalonia passed a resolution June 16 recognizing Israel's actions in the Palestinian Occupied Territory as "against international law and...equivalent to apartheid as defined in the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court." The resolution was approved with support from all the left parties in the regional body: Esquerra Republicana (ERC), Candidatura d'Unitat Popular (CUP), En Comú Podem (ECP), and the Socialists (PSC). The pro-independence Junts per Catalunya (JxCat) voted against it, while the center-right Ciudadanos and far-right VOX abstained. In a tweet celebrating the resolution, the ECP said that the regional parliament is "the first European institution to recognize that Israel is committing the crime of apartheid against the Palestinian people, as noted by Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch." (Middle East Eye, Catalan News, BDS Movement, AhlulBayt News Agency)
Colombia joins 'new partnership' with NATO
US President Joe Biden issued an executive order May 23 that designates Colombia as a Major Non-NATO Ally (MNNA) of the United States, under terms of the Foreign Assistance Act and the Arms Export Control Act. The designation will facilitate further weapons transfers from the US to Colombia, and increased military cooperation between the two countries. Colombia is now the third MNNA in Latin America, after Brazil and Argentina. Other MNNAs include Egypt, Morocco, Israel, Jordan, Pakistan, Japan, South Korea, Thailand, the Philippines, Australia and New Zealand. On May 2-6, a delegation of NATO staff visited Colombia to discuss the South American country's participation in the alliance's Defense Education Enhancement Program (DEEP). Colombia became NATO's newest "global partner" in 2018, but this relationship was reinforced last December, when it became a member of the NATO Individually Tailored Partnership Program (ITPP). (More at El Espectador)
Israel high court approves Temple Mount development
The Israeli Supreme Court on May 15 ruled in favor of the government's planned cable car over the Temple Mount in Jerusalem. The ruling was met with approval by proponents such as Jerusalem's mayor, Moshe Lion, who claimed the project will "reduce air pollution in the area, solve the transport and parking distress and allow comfortable and efficient access to the Western Wall and the Old City." However, the decision has been met with condemnation by many, including city planners and architects, environmental groups, and Karaite Jews, a minority sect with a cemetery located along the proposed cable car's path. Palestinian groups have especially criticized the proposed path, as it would travel over East Jerusalem, an area ceded to Arab control in the 1949 armistice but occupied by Israel in 1967. Ir-Amim advocacy group tweeted: "Folks will hop in in WJ [West Jerusalem] and have no idea they're cabling over the heads of occupied Palestinians."
Russian 'denazification' goes full Nazi
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, just days after issuing blatant nuclear threats, now engages in the classic anti-Semitic trope of blaming Nazism on the Jews. Speaking to Italian TV, Lavrov responded to a reminder that Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelensky is Jewish thusly: "When they say 'What sort of nazification is this if we are Jews,' well I think that Hitler also had Jewish origins, so it means nothing. For a long time now we've been hearing the wise Jewish people say that the biggest anti-Semites are the Jews themselves."
Israel: detention of 'terror suspects' without charge
Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett instructed security services March 28 to hold any "terror suspects" in "administrative detention," even without charge. The order extends to Palestinians within Israeli a policy long applied to Palestinians on the West Bank. Bennett cited "a new situation that requires suitable preparations and adjustment by the security services to the circumstances within which extremist elements of Arab society, directed by extremist Islamic ideology, are carrying out terror attacks and taking lives." The order came a day after two Border Police officers were killed in a shooting attack at the coastal city of Hadera by two Israeli citizens who were said to be supporters of the so-called "Islamic State." The assailants were both shot dead by security forces.
Iran claims missile strikes on Iraqi Kurdistan
Iran's Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) claimed responsibility for ballistic missile attacks on northern Iraq's Kurdish regional capital of Erbil on March 13, saying that the strikes targeted an Israeli "strategic center" in the city. Iranian state media reported that the missiles were aimed at "Mossad bases" in Erbil. The IRGC had days earlier vowed to seek revenge against Israel, saying the Zionist state will "pay the price" for killing two of its guards in recent Israeli air-strikes on targets in the Syrian capital Damascus. Erbil's governor Omed Khoshnaw denied any Israeli military or intelligence presence in the city, calling the accusation "baseless." The estimated 12 rocket strikes took no casualties, but caused damage to civilian properties and triggered panic among the populace in neighborhoods of Erbil. (Rudaw, Rudaw, Al Jazeera)
UN: Syria must come clean on chemical weapons
Syria's declaration to the United Nations of its chemical weapons program cannot be considered accurate due to gaps, inconsistencies and discrepancies, the High Representative for Disarmament Affairs told the Security Council on Jan. 4. Izumi Nakamitsu urged the country to cooperate with the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), adding that "full cooperation" is "essential to closing these outstanding issues." The UN disarmament chief was presenting an update on the implementation of Security Council Resolution 2118 (2013) regarding the elimination of Syria's chemical weapons program.
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