Yet more grim evidence emerged this week that Mexico's warring cartels are becoming a real military force and underground parallel state in the country's lawless northeast. Small Wars Journal on Feb.
Bibi Netanyahu's polarizing speech before Congress today was basically a repeat of his 2012 performance at the UN, but with the level of doublethink considerably jacked up. It is pretty damn terrifying that his relentless barrage of lies and distortions won virtually incessant applause throughout—although it is a glimmer of hope that some dozen Democrats declined to attend. But most of the outrage has been over Bibi's perceived meddling in the US political process (thanks for playing right into the anti-Semitic stereotype, Bibi, very helpful)—not the outrageous dishonesty of his speech. Here's a few choice chuckles from the transcript...
A federal judge in Argentina on Feb. 26 dismissed charges against President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner and her foreign minister, Héctor Timerman, who had been accused of covering up Iranian involvement in the deadly 1994 bombing of the Argentine Jewish Mutual Association (AMIA). Judge Daniel Rafecas concluded that there was "no legal basis" to pursue the charges, which had been prepared by special prosecutor Alberto Nisman, just before he was found dead in his apartment last month. Rafecas also dismissed related charges against lawmaker Eduardo "Wado" de Pedro and two leftist leaders close the the government, Luis D'Elía and Fernando Estreche. (BBC News, InfoBAE, Feb. 26)
Two young men living in Brooklyn were arrested Feb. 25 and charged with plotting to travel to Syria to fight under the banner of ISIS. A third Brooklyn man was charged with helping organize and fund their activities. All three are immigrants from Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan, and were living in the Midwood neighborhood. One of the men who reportedly sought to fight for ISIS, Abdurasul Hasanovich Juraboev, 24, worked in a gyro shop. The other, Akhror Saidakhmetov, 19, worked at cellphone repair kiosks owned by the third man charged, Abror Habibov, 30. (NYT, DNAInfo, Feb. 25)
Hundreds of Palestinians were evacuated from their homes Feb. 22 amid flooding in the Gaza Valley, or Wadi Gaza, with water rising up to three meters. Evacuated families were sent to shelters set up by UNRWA. The flooding comes in the wake of a severe winter storm, which displaced dozens and caused hardship for many more—including the some 110,000 left homeless by Israel's assault over summer. But the Hamas administration in Gaza charged that Israeli authorities unleashed the flooding by releasing storm water backed up behind dams into the coastal enclave. The Wadi Gaza is a wetland located in the central Gaza Strip between al-Nuseirat refugee camp and al-Moghraqa. It is called HaBesor in Hebrew, and it if fed by two streams—one that flows from near Beersheba, the other from near Hebron.
Hundreds of Turkish troops in armored vehicles crossed into northern Syria Feb. 22—apparently to evacuate forces guarding an historic tomb, demolishing it, and moving the remains to a different site. The remains of Suleyman Shah were moved to a location in Syria closer to the border, and a Turkish flag raised at the new burial site near Esmesi (Aleppo governorate). Turkey considers the site sovereign territory, so it is unclear if it has now abandoned claims to the previous site and transfered them to the new one. The Damascus regime (which has long since lost control over the north) condemned the incursion as "flagrant aggression," saying Turkey had informed its Istanbul consulate of the operation but not waited for Syria's consent. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said his armed forces had carried out a "successful operation which is beyond all kinds of appreciation." Ominously, the column of Turkish armor swept through the border city of Kobani on its way to the site—an unsubtle message to the autonomist Kurdish fighters there. (BBC News)
Daniel Neep of Georgetown University in Discover Society last month provided a refreshingly skeptical overview of the various plans for redrawing the boundaries of the Middle East, in a piece entitled "The Middle East, Hallucination, and the Cartographic Imagination." We call it the balkanization agenda of the most hubristic neo-conservatives, although Neep doesn't use those terms ("DC policymakers," he says). He discusses how these ideas have been broached by imperial officialdom, e.g. in Lt. Col. Ralph Peters' writings in the Armed Forces Journal, and Wilson Center wonk Robin Wright in the New York Times. Neep's piece is most interesting for its comparative maps of all the schemes that have been floated. They all pretty much amount to the same thing: Iraq and Syria divided into Sunni and Shi'ite zones, an independent Kurdistan, Hijaz breaking off from Saudi Arabia, and so on. The irony is that all these theorists blabber on about how the 1916 Sykes-Picot Agreement created "articial states," while the drawing of new maps by Beltway wonks merely replicates the hubris of Sykes-Picot!
Last month's US-India nuclear deal obviously signaled a rise in Sino-Indian tensions, seen by Beijing (accurately) as part of an encirclement strategy. The deal called for inclusion of India in the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG), which drew immediate criticism from China. The NSG is comprised of 46 nuclear supplier states, including China, Russia and the US, that have agreed to coordinate export controls on civilian nuclear material to non-nuclear-weapon states. The group has up to now been made up of signatories to the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT)—which, as China was quck to note, does not include India (or Pakistan, or the "secret" nuclear nation Israel). More to the point, India is not a "non-nuclear-weapon state." (The Diplomat, Feb. 14; Arms Control Association)