15th May, 2015

  • Nine Malian soldiers were killed on Monday by Tuareg rebels. On Thursday, the rebels initialed a preliminarypeace agreement in “good faith.” Some discussion hereabout the actual prospects of this agreement and the rebels’ commitment.
  • An attempted coup has created confusion and further violence in Burundi – a top army official claimed an overthrow of President Nkurunziza, while radio announcements say that forces loyal to the president remain in control. Here’s some background on the coup leader: General Godefroid Niyombare.
  • Armed groups in the Central African Republic havesigned a disarmament agreement. As a result, over 350 enslaved children were freed by the militias.
  • The UN says credible reports from the Unity State in north South Sudan indicate burning of villages, rape and kidnapping of children and civilian displacement.
  • Former Ivory Coast president Laurent Gbagbo will go ontrial in November for his role in 2010′s election violence.
  • Former Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak and his two sons were sentenced to three years without parole in a retrial of their corruption case.
  • Egypt appears to be buying the Russian S-300 air defense system.
  • Abu Alaa al-Afari, the Islamic State’s second-in-command, was killed in a coalition airstrike. Initial reports said he was targeted in a mosque, although the US disputes that claim.
  • The group released a recording from their leader, not seen for months amid reports of serious injury, urging mass mobilization.
  • Inside Syria, female journalists are risking everything to put out the civil war’s most significant underground paper.
  • The Islamic State is at the gates of the ancient Syrian city of Palmyra, a world heritage site that once stood at a crossroads among a number of civilizations.
  • Afghan refugees in Iran are “recruited” by the Revolutionary Guard and sent to boost Bashar al-Assad’s flagging numbers.
  • The Vatican officially recognized the state of Palestine.
  • Netanyahu’s right wing coalition government has beensworn in, with difficulty predicted ahead.
  • A large explosion at a Hamas training camp in northern Gaza on Thursday night injured dozens.
  • Spiegel interviewed Saudi Prince Turki bin Faisal al Saud, the former director general of the country’s intelligence agency and someone with no small role in developments in the Middle East and South Asia in the years before 9/11.
  • A variety of barriers have impeded on-the-ground reporting from inside Yemen, limiting the available knowledge and coverage of the war.
  • A humanitarian ceasefire in Yemen is under serious strain.
  • Sharif Mobley, an American imprisoned in Yemen, made another call home on a smuggled cell phone, fearful for his life.
  • The story of the exposure of soldiers from the 811th Ordnance Company to abandoned chemical weapons in Iraq in 2003 has one more piece filled in.
  • A Bahraini appeals court upheld the verdict against activist Nabeel Rajab for insulting the government on Twitter.
  • Esquire republished online a December 1980 dispatch Philip Caputo wrote from inside Afghanistan at the outset of the Soviet invasion.
  • The Taliban claimed responsibility for a gunman’s attack on Park Palace Hotel in Kabul – killing 14 civilians, 9 of them foreigners. The American killed in the attack has been identified as Paula Kantor, a development expert.
  • The Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction says that poor military intelligence is a serious threat to the country’s future.
  • Friday Pakistan is launching a major air and ground offensive against the Taliban in North Waziristan.
  • The wreckage of the Marine helicopter missing in Nepal has been discovered, along with three bodies.
  • There is increasing tension between China and the US over manmade islands in the South China Sea.
  • Vulnerabilities are starting to show in Kim Jong-un’s rule.
  • The report Boris Nemtsov was working on about Russian soldiers in the Ukraine just before his murder has beencompleted and released by other opposition activists and journalists, led by his friend Ilya Yashin. A PayPal account set up by the activists to sell the print copies of the report, titled “Putin. War.”, has been blocked.
  • Russia is regularly buzzing Western planes over the North Sea and even further afield, aggressions that ramp up fears in Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania.
  • “Over the fifteen years that Putin has ruled Russia, the story of the Great Patriotic War has acquired new meanings and symbols.”
  • Russia’s Interior Ministry removed a wanted poster from its website after it was discovered the suspect was the deputy defense minister for the Donetsk People’s Republic.
  • Some Russian soldiers are leaving the military because of the war in Ukraine.
  • The UK election outcome may have consequences for Northern Ireland’s 1998 peace agreement, specifically the possibility of the repeal of the Human Rights Act.
  • The House of Representatives passed the USA Freedom Act, a bill to end the NSA’s bulk phone data collection, by 338 to 88.
  • Seymour Hersh provided us with probably the most talked about piece of war news – his 10,000-wordLondon Review of Books piece on the Abbottabad raid that killed Osama bin Laden, which alleges that Pakistan knew about the raid and even assisted in it, that the initial intelligence came from a former Pakistani intelligence official and that bin Laden’s body, shredded by rifle fire, was tossed out of a Black Hawk over the Hindu Kush.
  • There is… skepticism about this story, and much of that skepticism originates with Hersh’s sourcing methods. Hersh doesn’t care about your skepticism, though, as he made clear in this doozy of an interview.
  • Former State Dept official Stephen Kim, jailed for leaking classified information to Fox News reporter James Rosen, has been released after ten months in prison.
  • Former CIA officer Jeffrey Sterling, found guilty of espionage charges after leaking classified information toNew York Times reporter James Risen, was sentenced to three and a half years in prison.
  • The Pentagon has decided against punishing a Navy nurse who refused orders to force-feed hunger striking Guantánamo prisoners.

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