In what one leading advocate called “a failure by the international community,” the number of journalists murdered in retaliation for their work more than doubled in 2020, according to a report published Tuesday by the Committee to Protect Journalists.
CPJ’s annual report contains a database of 30 journalists who were killed in 15 countries during the course of the year. Of these, six died while working “dangerous assignments,” three were caught in the crossfire during the ongoing Syrian civil war, and 21 were murdered. Continue reading →
Joint Chiefs of Staff Army General Mark Milley | Navy Petty Officer 1st Class Carlos M. Vazquez II, DOD, CC BY 2.0
The United States responded to the 9/11 attacks by terminating the Taliban regime in Afghanistan and quashing al-Qaida. At the time there was widespread domestic support for the action and most allied states were also in agreement, at least at first. A few analysts were more cautious and the openDemocracy view at the time was that al-Qaida wanted a war, to show how significant it was but also to trap Western forces in Afghanistan and drag the United States down in much the same way as Soviet Union had been in the 1980s.
Now, there are signs that precisely that is happening, with the Afghan government and the Taliban agreeing to an outline of how negotiations on a peace settlement might be achieved. This comes after two months of talks in Qatar that have really been between the United States and the Taliban. The main topic of the talks was the withdrawal of all uniformed US forces by next May in return for a Taliban ceasefire and a pledge from Taliban leadership that they would not allow al-Qaida or ISIS to maintain a presence in the country. Continue reading →
U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo at Ben Gurion airport in Israel, on November 18, 2020. The secretary was greeted by U.S. Ambassador to Israel, David Friedman and the Israeli Foreign Ministry’s Chief of Protocol Gil Haskel. Photo: Matty Stern/U.S. Embassy Jerusalem/flickr
The alarming possibility of a military attack on Iran—a nation that has long been in the sights of war hawks in the United States, Saudi Arabia, and Israel—was immediately invoked by foreign policy analysts Monday following reports that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met in secret late Sunday with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.
“The military industrial complex and the surveillance state have always had a cozy relationship with tech. Buying bulk data in order to profile Muslims is par for the course for them,” says Rep. Ilhan Omar.
Reporting by Motherboard on Monday sparked alarm over the U.S. military buying location data harvested from mobile phone applications. Photo: Massive News
“Holy hell… This is absolutely unacceptable.” “Quite wild.” “Grotesque.” “Absolutely sickening.” “This should be illegal.”
Those were just some of the alarmed reactions to reporting by Joseph Cox for Motherboard on Monday that “the U.S. military is buying the granular movement data of people around the world, harvested from innocuous-seeming apps.” Continue reading →
The United States on Monday faced criticism over its human rights record from allies and adversaries alike at the United Nations as the country submitted to its first Universal Periodic Review of the Trump administration.
All 193 U.N. member states must undergo UPRs, which are held at the United Nations Human Rights Council (HRC)—from which the U.S. withdrew in 2018 over alleged anti-Israel bias—in Geneva, Switzerland every five years. Continue reading →
More than half a million Oregonians have been forced to flee their homes, as wildfires continue to ravage the West Coast of the United States. Amid record-breaking temperatures, the wildfires, which have charred one million acres of land, have caused the sky to turn a terrifying shade of red, with many comparing it to Mars, hell, or the apocalypse. Air quality in Portland, the state’s largest city, is currently the lowest in the world, below even that of infamously polluted cities like Delhi and Beijing.
Raghed, 7, stands among rubbish at an informal refugee settlement in Qab Elias in Lebanon’s Bekaa Valley. Photo: Sam Tarling/CRS
The ongoing U.S. “war on terror” has forcibly displaced as many as 59 million people from just eight countries in the Middle East, Africa, and Asia since 2001, according to a new report published Tuesday by Brown University’s Costs of War Project.
In the run-up to November’s US election, a sub-plot of the Trump campaign will be his claimed success at “bringing our boys back”. And indeed there will have been substantial troop withdrawals from Afghanistan as well as a more modest drawdown in Iraq, although that will still involve a reduction from 5,200 to 3,500.
Some of the Iraqi changes are redeployments to neighbouring states but there has certainly been an overall decrease in Afghanistan, even if few figures are available about the thousands of private security personnel operating under various government contracts. Continue reading →
The Trump administration on Wednesday announced sanctions targeting International Criminal Court Chief Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda and Phakiso Mochochoko, the court’s prosecution jurisdiction division director. (Photo: ICC)
Human rights advocates the world over condemned the Trump administration on Wednesday for imposing sanctions on two top officials at the International Criminal Court—just the latest act of retaliation for the Hague-based ICC’s ongoing investigation into war crimes allegedly committed by U.S. forces and others in Afghanistan during the so-called War on Terror.
“The Trump administration’s perverse use of sanctions, devised for alleged terrorists and drug kingpins, against prosecutors seeking justice for grave international crimes, magnifies the failure of the U.S. to prosecute torture,” said Richard Dicker, international justice director at Human Rights Watch. “The administration’s conjuring up a ‘national emergency’ to punish war crimes prosecutors shows utter disregard for the victims.” Continue reading →
Goodbye Afghanistan | US Air Force photo by Clay Lancaster. Public domain.
One of Donald Trump’s main election pledges back in 2016 was to ‘bring our boys home’. Alongside this came criticism of Germany and other NATO states for not paying their way on military spending. He has followed up on both themes this week, by starting to reduce the US presence in Germany, albeit shifting some to Poland and leaving all the mechanisms of a rapid return in place, so that the extent of the ‘back home’ is far from what it appears.
Extricating US forces from Middle East is another matter. Many army units are consolidating in fewer bases in Iraq or moving to nearby Kuwait. The US Navy is holding on, too, mainly because of the confrontation with Iran. It currently has two carrier battle groups within reach of the region. Continue reading →