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)
In Episode 149 of the CounterVortex podcast, Bill Weinberg notes that the UN Human Rights Office determination that China may be guilty of "crimes against humanity" in its mass detention of Uyghurs in Xinjiang province is dismissed by the tankie-left ANSWER Coalition as "propagandistic." Meanwhile, it falls to Radio Free Asia, media arm of the US State Department, to aggressively cover the very real conditions of forced labor faced by the Uyghurs and other Turkic peoples of Xinjiang—and how Western corporations benefit from it. While the Western pseudo-left betrays the Uyghurs, US imperialism exploits their suffering for propaganda against a rising China in the Great Game for the Asia-Pacific region. Figures such as Australia's Kevin Rudd incorrectly portray a "Return of Red China," blaming the PRC's increasingly totalitarian direction on a supposed neo-Marxism. Fortunately, the new anthology Xinjiang Year Zero offers a corrective perspective, placing the industrial-detention complex and techno-security state in the context of global capitalism and settler colonialism.
NATO on Oct. 17 opened an annual exercise to test nuclear deterrence capabilities in Europe, with the participation of 14 of the 30 member countries. The drill, this year dubbed "Steadfast Noon," will run two weeks and involve 60 aircraft. "As in previous years, US B-52 long-range bombers will take part; this year, they will fly from Minot Air Base in North Dakota," NATO said in a statement. "Training flights will take place over Belgium, which is hosting the exercise, as well as over the North Sea and the United Kingdom."
Army captain Ibrahim Traoré has been officially appointed president of Burkina Faso after ousting Paul-Henri Damiba, who had himself taken power in a January coup. A two-day standoff in Ouagadougou came to an end on Oct. 2 as religious and community leaders mediated Damiba's resignation. Damiba had promised to stem rising attacks by jihadist groups when he took charge, but violence only worsened under his watch and frustration mounted within the army. A militant attack in the north that left dozens dead last month—both soldiers and civilians—is thought to have exacerbated military schisms ahead of the coup. Tensions also built around Damiba's perceived closeness to France—the country's former colonial ruler—and reluctance to pivot towards Russia (as the junta in neighboring Mali has). Supporters of 34-year-old Traoré initially claimed Damiba was plotting a counter-coup to return to power from a French military base in the country. France denied the accusation, but the charge appeared to galvanize support for the new leader and led to protests outside the French embassy. Traoré has said he won't stay in power for long, but much remains uncertain—including whether there will be peace talks with the jihadists.
Amid rising tensions between NATO allies Turkey and Greece, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan explicitly invoked the burning of Smyrna at the end of the Greco-Turkish War. "We have only one word to tell Greece: Do not forget Izmir," Erdogan said in a speech early last month, using the Turkish name for the coastal city that was the scene of atrocities targeting the substantial Greek populace after it was taken by Turkish forces in September 1922. "We may come suddenly one night," Erdogan added, using his oft-repeated phrase when he warned of launching an operation into neighboring Syria.
Satellite images show significant damage from an Aug. 25 Israeli air-strike on the Assad regime's main center for conventional and chemical weapons development. Nine buildings of the Scientific Studies & Research Center (SSRC) were destroyed or heavily damaged, and a military captain was reportedly killed. The attack came as Russia removed the S-300 air defense system that it had positioned near the complex. The site, near Masyaf in northwest Syria, is also reportedly a base for Iranian forces and Iran-supported militias. (EA Worldview)
The US on Aug. 24 carried out air-strikes against Iran-backed militias in Deir ez-Zor province of eastern Syria. The militias have been firing rockets on US positions, including the base at al-Tanf, which came under fire last week. US Central Command said in a statement: "Today's strikes were necessary to protect and defend US personnel." According to unconfirmed reports, the air-strikes targeted the Ayash Camp of the Fatimiyoun group of Afghan fighters. Claims are circulating that at least six Syrians and foreigners were killed. (EA Worldview)
Thousands of local residents held protests across the Turkish occupation zone in northern Syria on Aug. 12, to oppose calls by Ankara for "reconciliation" with the Bashar Assad dictatorship. Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu, speaking to diplomats in Ankara the day before, said, "We have to somehow get the opposition and the regime to reconcile in Syria. Otherwise, there will be no lasting peace, we always say this." He also revealed that he met with the Syrian regime's Foreign Minister Faisal Mekdad in October 2021 at the Non-Aligned Movement meeting in the Serbian capital, Belgrade. Angry protests, under the slogan "We will not reconcile," were held in the towns of al-Bab, Afrin and Jarablus, as well as areas controlled by Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS) in neighboring Idlib governorate. In the town of Azaz, a Turkish flag was burned by protesters. (Syria Direct, AFP)