This Week in War. A Friday round-up of what happened and what’s been written in the world of war and military/security affairs this week. It’s a mix of news reports, policy briefs, blog posts and longform journalism. Subscribe here to receive this round-up by email.
- Separatist rebels in Ukraine agreed to a ceasefire — and then broke it by shooting down an Mi-8 helicopter over Slovyansk.
- Separatists are also distributing pro-Putin rap songs.
- The UN estimates that 423 people have been killed in eastern Ukraine between April 15 and June 23.
- More than 14,000 refugees have crossed the border into Russia.
- Mali is urging a more aggressive UN mission.
- Egypt convicted three Al Jazeera journalists of conspiring with the Muslim Brotherhood to produce false broadcasts. Each was sentenced to at least seven years.
- Four bombs exploded in Cairo metro stations, causing only a few injuries.
- Gaza’s unemployed graduates.
- Human Rights Watch says that ISIS has been recruiting Syrian children to their fight with the promise of a free education, and has found evidence that more moderate rebel groups like the Free Syrian Army have used children as well.
- The Organization for the Prevention of Chemical Weapons has announced that Syria finally shipped the last of its known chemical weapons out of the country — although the OPCW says it has not completed the verification work necessary to declare Syria free of the weapons.
- Israel launched rocket attacks against Syria in retaliation for the death of an Israeli teen in Golan Heights.
- The three Israeli teens have been missing for two weeks now, and the resulting crackdown and tensions have been the most serious in a decade.
- Al Qaeda militants attacked Yemeni army base, airport and nearby agricultural plant, killing six soldiers and a civilian.
- Syrian warplanes launched airstrikes inside Iraq.
- Iraqi PM Nouri Al-Maliki rejected calls for the formation of some sort of emergency government.
- Iran is supplying Iraq with military equipment and more in the fight against ISIS as well as directing surveillance drones from an airfield in Baghdad.
- Rania Abouzeid on the Syrian roots of Iraq’s current crisis.
- More than four dozen Iraqis will travel to Washington in the coming months to testify against Blackwater in the killing of 17 Iraqis in September 2007.
- A week of fighting between Afghan forces and militants in the south has left more than 100 dead.
- Afghan presidential candidate Abdullah Abdullah has released tapes he says provide evidence of election fraud. The White House has called for an impartial review of all fraud claims.
- Why Pakistan’s offensive against militants will fall short of its purpose.
- Internal Pakistani refugees who have fled a government offensive in Waziristan protested food shortages.
- Canada-based cleric Tahirul Qadri is returning to Pakistan with the promise to lead a nonviolent revolution.
- Sgt. Ryan Pitts will receive the Medal of Honor for his actions in the costly battle of Wanat, which killed nine US soldiers and sparked investigations.
- A bipartisan panel of former military and intelligence officials concluded that the targeted killing and armed drone program sets a dangerous precedent for endless war.
- More than 400 large US military drones have crashed since 2001.
- The FISA court has renewed the government’s application to continue collecting bulk telephone metadata — an approval which expires again in September.
- Guantánamo Bay prisoner Abd al Hadi al Iraqi has requested a civilian lawyer.
- On Tuesday a federal judge in Oregon declared the no-fly list unconstitutional because the Americans placed on it have no way to contest the inclusion.
- A New York Times interactive on the 100-year legacy of the First World War.
Photo: Tuz Kurmatu, Iraq. Iraqi forces patrol a checkpoint near ISIS forces. Karim Sahib/AFP/Getty/
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What do you do when you find your country amidst a crisis, leaving many of its residents without basic products like flour, milk, or toilet paper?
If you’re José Augusto Montiel, a young engineering student from the city of Maracaibo in Venezuela, you create an app called Abastéceme, meaning “Supply Me”.
United Nations officials are pushing for many of the Central Americans fleeing to the U.S. to be treated as refugees displaced by armed conflict, a designation meant to increase pressure on the United States and Mexico to accept tens of thousands of people currently ineligible for asylum.
Most of the people widely considered to be refugees by the international community are fleeing more traditional political or ethnic conflicts like those in Syria or the Sudan. Central Americans would be among the first modern migrants considered refugees because they are fleeing violence and extortion at the hands of criminal gangs.
The United States has seen a dramatic increase in the number of Central American migrants crossing into its territory, particularly children traveling without any adult guardian. More than 52,000 unaccompanied children have been apprehended since October. Three-fourths of them are from Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador and most say they are fleeing pervasive gang violence and crushing poverty.
Immigration experts in the U.S. and Central America say the flow of migrants from Honduras and El Salvador is likely to rise as the two countries experience gang-related violence. Honduras, a primary transit point for U.S.-bound cocaine, has the world’s highest homicide rate for a nation that is not at war. In El Salvador, the end of a truce between street gangs has led to a steep rise in homicides this year.
Violence by criminal organizations spread in recent decades after members of California street gangs were deported to Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador, where they overwhelmed weak and corrupt police forces and seized control of large sections of the countries.
The United States officially ended one of the most ineffective and widely criticized programs of the last decade aimed at undermining the Cuban government, the State Department revealed Monday.
Foggy Bottom’s inspector general released a report showing that AeroMarti, a multimillion-dollar boondoggle that involved flying an airplane around Cuba and beaming American-sponsored content to the island’s inhabitants, quietly ended in April. Since launching in 2006, the program was plagued by a simple problem: Every day the plane flew, Havana jammed its broadcast signal, meaning fewer than 1 percent of Cubans could listen to its TV and radio shows.
So this happened yesterday:
After recording 16 saves against Belgium in a 2-1 loss at the World Cup on Tuesday, United States goalkeeper was named U.S. Secretary of Defense — on Wikipedia at least.
Howard’s 16 saves were the most in a World Cup game in the last 50 years and he almost single-handedly kept the U.S. in the game.
Despite his awesome effort, diligent Wikipedia editors didn’t let him remain on the U.S. Secretary of Defense page for long, and the entry has been changed back to Chuck Hagel.
A geopolitics infographic for your summer travels!
A glance into geopolitics via soccer/futbol. As the NYT explains:
Politics, geography and good old schadenfreude seem to play a strong role in rooting. A plurality of Mexican respondents named the United States as their least-favorite team. Brazilians chose Argentines, and vice versa. Greeks named their bankers: both Germany and the United States. Elsewhere in Europe, the wounds of an old war seem long forgotten; few fans named Germany as their most disliked team. In Asia, by contrast, Japan and South Korea do not like each other. The United States, Argentina and Iran each have more than their share of haters around the world.
A small but noticeable minority of people are ready for the World Cup to end before it has begun. Asked to name their least-favorite team, a plurality of Brazilian respondents (34 percent) named Argentina. But second on the list? Brazil itself. Almost 7 percent of respondents in Brazil will be rooting hard against the home team. That unusual level of home-team dissatisfaction may relate to the recent political turmoil in Brazil. Similarly, 7 percent of French and 5 percent of Americans report rooting against the home team.
Also a good article for anyone interested in Latin American futbol politics:
Simon Romero (The Times’s Brazil bureau chief, who has reported widely in Latin America) and Jonathan Gilbert (a reporter based in Buenos Aires) look at why so many fans in other countries seem to be rooting against Argentina — and how Argentines feel about it.
BANGKOK, Thailand — They materialize suddenly, by the dozens, raising a three-finger salute toward the sky. Then they vanish as quickly as they appear, melting into crowds to evade scores of armed troops and police.
They are Bangkok’s anti-coup flash mobs. Under Thailand’s new military junta, which seized power from an elected government in late May, protesting the armed takeover is a crime.
Those daring enough to defy the coup have been reduced to cat-and-mouse games — swift public demonstrations designed to evaporate before police or soldiers can haul off offenders.
The flash mobs’ three-finger salute is inspired by The Hunger Games, the popular science-fiction series depicting a futuristic totalitarian regime. In The Hunger Games series, dissent toward a cruel dictatorship is signaled by raising three fingers; in Bangkok, the salute draws an unflattering comparison to the real-life junta that just seized power.
Photos by AFP/Getty Images
It’s always fascinating when pop culture meets reality.