5th June, 2015

  • The May peace accord in Mali between the government and rebel groups failed in its goal of stabilization. Expert Pierre Boilley says armed groups are reorganizing.
  • Two attacks on UN forces in Mali last week have beenclaimed by Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb.
  • The Democratic Republic of Congo may divide its current 11 provinces into 26.
  • Gunmen attacked an airport in Goma, the largest city in eastern Congo, leaving seven dead.
  • MINUSCA – the UN peacekeeping force in the Central African Republic – has opened an investigation into allegations that a peacekeeper abused a young girl.
  • A market bomb in the northeastern Nigerian town of Jimeta killed more than thirty people.
  • Amnesty International has said that the Nigerian army, in its campaign against Boko Haram, is responsible for the deaths of 8000 prisoners who were varyingly executed, starved, tortured and denied medical attention. President Buhari on Wednesday announced that Nigeria will be taking on an expanded role in the fight against the militants.
  • Violence has caused Burundi to postpone planned parliamentary and presidential elections.
  • A profile of Egyptian revolutionary singer Ramy Essam, now living in exile in Sweden four years on from the uprising that made him a famous target.
  • A court has ordered a retrial for former President Hosni Mubarak, previously acquitted in the deaths of protesters.
  • Charles Lister explains Syrian Al Qaeda affiliate Jabhat al-Nusra’s ongoing internal struggle for identity.
  • Syrian rebels waiting to be trained distrust the US and are convinced that the delays betray a lack of seriousness.
  • The Islamic State is advancing on the Syrian city of Hasaskeh.
  • Gaza and Israel have exchanged some limited rocket fire, with no casualties but some threat to the ceasefire.
  • Tensions over Muslim control of Al-Aqsa are steadily growing.
  • As the US shifts from containment to engagement on Iran, Saudi Arabia dramatically re-evaluates its foreign policy.
  • 20 million Yemenis – virtually 80% of the population – are facing a humanitarian crisis over lack of food, water and medicine.
  • The State Department says several Americans are beingheld in Yemen and French authorities have confirmedthe authenticity of a video showing a French hostage.
  • Peace talks are planned for June 14 in Geneva.
  • Militants from the North Caucasus fighting alongside the Islamic State write  romantic poetry and love letters. They aren’t alone – as The New Yorker notes, groups like IS and Al Qaeda produce huge quantities of poetry.
  • The Islamic State has not only captured US Humvees, they have made extensive and successful use of them as car bombs in their campaigns.
  • A recent coalition airstrike reportedly took out one of the group’s car bomb factories in Kirkuk.
  • Photojournalist Ayman Oghanna talks to NPR about the fall of Ramadi and rejects the claim that it fell because Iraqi forces have no will to fight.
  • On Wednesday, the deputy Secretary of State said that the US had killed 10,000 Islamic State fighters – but there are serious caveats to that figure, not the least of which should be caution about body counts as metrics for success.
  • In Afghanistan, the Taliban’s newest enemy is the Islamic State, who threatened them in a recent video.
  • The International Crisis Group says the Afghan government remains worryingly reliant on the militia called the Afghan Local Police – a force known to have abused local populations through killings, kidnappings, drug trafficking, extortion, and more.
  • Pakistan has executed at least 135 (possibly 150) so far in 2015.
  • Eight of the ten men jailed for the attempted assassination of Malala Yousafzai were “secretly acquitted.”
  • An analysis by citizen investigative journalism outlet Bellingcat revealed that Russia’s Interior Ministry fakedsatellite imagery in their report on the downing of MH17.
  • Ukrainian bloggers are trawling social media for evidence of Russian soldiers active in Ukraine.
  • The ceasefire in Ukraine is ever more meaningless as separatists and government forces engaged in a bloody battle this Wednesday outside of Donetsk.
  • Ukrainian president Poroshenko’s team of reformers aimto dismantle the old, corrupt system.
  • Adrian Chen details the extraordinary story of the Russian government’s paid internet trolls and propagandists, and the hoaxes and harassment they perpetrate.
  • Vietnam aims to boost its air defenses, seeking to buydrones, jets and patrol planes from American and European contractors. The purchase would likely complicate the ongoing dispute with Beijing over islands in the South China Sea.
  • A massive data breach by Chinese hackers has targeted US government computer networks, compromising workforce data.
  • It has been 26 years this week since the Tiananmen crackdown – a occasion of solemnity andcommemoration everywhere but China.
  • Myanmar discharged 51 more child soldiers from its ranks.
  • Phase one of the inquest into the fatal hostage-taking at the Lindt Café in Sydney in December 2014 has begun – focusing on the perpetrator, Man Haron Monis, and hisbiography.
  • Interview notes made by the legal team for Guantánamo Bay detainee Majid Khan have been cleared for release. They detail his experiences of torture – with much more sexual abuse than documented by last year’s Senate report.
  • Hollywood has optioned Guantánamo Diary, detainee Mohamedou Ould Slahi’s horrifying memoir of abduction and torture.
  • Leaked Snowden documents show that in mid-2012 the Dept of Justice expanded the NSA’s warrantless surveillance of Americans’ international Internet activity. The expansion of power was enacted to allow the agency to hunt for evidence of hackers tied to foreign governments.
  • The USA Freedom Act passed the Senate this week – a reform measure that ended NSA authority to collect bulk phone records.
  • The AP reports that the FBI has an air force of small surveillance planes that fly low over American cities and are obscured by fake corporate ties.
  • The US Air Force took significant steps toward ending the ban on transgender service.

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