CLAIRE BERLINSKI, PARIS
🇮🇱🚀Israel bombs Damascus Airport, targeting Hezbollah warehouses. ☢️Iran fires up new centrifuges, switches off IAEA cameras. 🇺🇦Ukraine suffers massive losses, pleads for more arms. And much more.
Let’s focus first on the Middle East today, for a change.
🌎 MIDDLE EAST
🇮🇱🇸🇾🚀 Israel bombed the Damascus International Airport.
- 🇮🇱🇸🇾✈︎ Apparently, it was the second time they did it this week:
A Twitter account tracking Israeli military activity in Syria claimed the strikes targeted sites in the suburb of al-Kiswah, south of Damascus, and near the Damascus International Airport, southeast of the city. The London-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights also reported similar information.
- 🇸🇾✈︎🧳💣 The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights published images of the airport. “Photo from inside Damascus international airport captures damage to the old arrival halls due to the recent Israeli attacks. These halls have been used for welcoming senior commanders of IRGC and Lebanese Hezbollah secretly and temporarily storing Iranian weapons.”
- 🇸🇾✈︎⛔️ Airport lounges are completely out of service:
[T]he northern runway at Damascus international airport was out of service, having sustained damage due to the Israeli strikes which targeted three warehouses of Iranian-backed militias in the perimeter of the airport this dawn. Moreover, the control tower inside the airport sustained damage.
- 🇷🇺 Moscow condemns “vicious, provocative” attacks:
Russia’s Foreign Ministry on Friday evening condemned the “vicious practice” of Israeli strikes on civilian infrastructure, which it said were “provocative” and “in violation of the basic norms of international law.”
- 🇮🇷📵 Iran has no comment:
Iranian military officials and hardliner media have largely stayed silent over an Israeli attack on Damascus airport targeting Tehran’s assets on the ground. … Hardliner media in Tehran Saturday morning barely mentioned the attack, except carrying the condemnation of the Iranian foreign minister. As the news about the Israeli raid spread, Mohsen Rezaei, a former chief commander of the Revolutionary Guard and a vice president in the government, said at a ceremony in Tehran Friday morning that “I wish Israel would dare to take a wrong step and give us an excuse, so we could eradicate it from this earth.” But Rezaei, known for his boisterous comments, was not referring to the attack on the Damascus airport.
🇦🇪🇮🇱🛫 Israel makes dramatic upgrades to military plans to attack Iran:
[T]he Israeli Air Force has developed a new capability to be able to fly its F-35 stealth fighter jets from Israel to the Islamic Republic without requiring mid-air refueling. The development is a boost to IAF capabilities and comes as the Israeli military has upped its preparations for a future strike against Iran’s nuclear capabilities.
🇮🇱🇦🇪🇸🇦🇺🇸🚀🛫 Bipartisan legislation introduced in Congress would require the Pentagon to present a strategy for integrating Israeli and Arab air defense capabilities to counter ballistic missile threats from Iran and its proxies, now possible thanks to the Abraham Accords.
🇮🇱🇦🇪🕵️♂️ Prime Minister Naftali Bennett made a quick visit to the Emirates, where he met privately with Mohammed bin Zayed. No one knows what it was about, but the day before the IAEA condemned Iran for failing to explain why uranium traces could be found at three undeclared sites.
🇦🇪🇺🇳🇮🇱☢️ Iran says it’s firing up new centrifuges, says IAEA “hostage to Zionist regime.” Iran’s atomic agency chief announced that it has begun injecting gas into newly installed advanced uranium enrichment centrifuges.
🇦🇪☢️📸📵 Iran turns off two IAEA surveillance cameras used by inspectors to monitor uranium enrichment.
🇦🇪🇮🇱⛔️ Commander of the IRGC Navy Force Rear Admiral Ali Reza Tangsiri warned that bringing Israel to the Persian Gulf would result in instability:
“Today, there is desirable security in the geographical area of the Persian Gulf thanks to cooperation and synergy among the neighboring countries. [But] if someone for any kind of reason brings the wretched, child-murdering, number-one-enemy Zionist regime to this region, he will destabilize, disturb and create insecurity for both himself and this region,” General Tangsiri said in a Saturday visit to the Greater Tunb Island. (This newspaper is an Iranian regime mouthpiece.)
🏗🏚 A high-ranking Iranian official has admitted “corruption” was the underlying reason for the collapse of a building that led to days of protests.
👉🏻🔪 Iranian convicts face amputations. Eight Iranian men convicted of theft are in imminent risk of having their fingers cut off. Authorities have informed them they will be transferred to another prison in the coming days for the sentence to be implemented with a guillotine.
🇮🇷🛢 Iran says oil sales strong despite Ukraine war:
State-run news outlets claimed Iran has sold 40 percent more crude, oil derivatives, natural gas and gas condensate in the first two months of the current Iranian calendar year than in the corresponding period last year:
🇮🇷🛒 Iranian trade benefitting from Ukraine war:
The Ukraine conflict has resulted in unexpected increases in trade flows east, with one of the beneficiaries being Iran. This is because the International North-South Transportation Corridor, originally intended as a link to boost India-Iran trade, has now become a key part of the far wider Southern Route between Europe and Asia as the EU’s Northern border with Russia remains closed. This ongoing trend saw Iranian goods transit increase 52 percent in March.
🇮🇷💱📉 The Iranian rial dropped to an all-time low against the US dollar.
Food prices have soared since early May when the government lifted import subsidies for essential goods to save foreign currency. Economists in Tehran have warned of triple-digit inflation in the coming months.
🇮🇷🇻🇪💞 Iran-Venezuela deal
- Iran and Venezuela sign 20-year cooperation deal: The inking of the agreement “shows the determination of the high-level officials of the two countries for development of relations in different fields,” Iran’s President Ebrahim Raisi said.
- Maduro: “‘It is a century of the decline of hegemonic power (US) and Iran and Venezuela are on the forefront of this process.’ Caracas has commended Tehran for all of its assistance in helping Venezuela survive unilateral US sanctions that nearly ruined the Latin American country’s oil industry. … Maduro explicitly thanked Iran for sending oil tankers carrying fuel, additives, and thinners, as well as giving Venezuela with critical equipment and technical support to repair their oil refineries.”
- More Maduro: “‘Caracas and Tehran both have revolutionary histories and have always backed each other in difficult times.’” The president of Venezuela hailed Palestine as humanity’s most important cause. Maduro praised Palestine’s heritage for allowing members of all religions to coexist together. President Maduro chastised the international community for keeping mute in the face of the Israeli regime’s atrocities against Palestinians, adding that Venezuela and Iran will continue to back Palestinian resistance against Israeli oppression.” (This newspaper is an Iranian regime mouthpiece.)
- 🛬 A Venezuelan Boeing 747 with ties to Iran has been detained in Argentina.
🇶🇦🇦🇫 The National Security Advisor to the Emir of Qatar made his first official visit to Afghanistan since the Taliban took over. He said said Doha has “strong ideological bonds” with the Taliban during a meeting with Afghanistan’s acting interior minister.
🇺🇸🇸🇦 Senior US officials have conveyed to Saudi Arabia that the US would like to reset their relationship and move on from the murder of Jamal Khashoggi:
[O]fficials say Biden, who is under immense pressure to crack down on Russia and lower domestic gas prices amid inflation that’s rising at the fastest pace since 1981, has set aside his moral outrage to pursue warmer relations with the Kingdom amid the dramatic global upheaval spurred by the Kremlin’s invasion of Ukraine.
🪚⁈ Thirteen human rights organizations signed an open letter to Biden expressing “deep concern” about his plans to visit Saudia Arabia and urging him not meet with the Saudi government without first extracting commitment to reform.
🛢 Parenthetically, Peter Zeihan remarked a few months ago that even if the US sucked it up and made up with the Saudis, the Iranians, and the Venezuelans simultaneously, it wouldn’t make up for the shortfall. I don’t know enough about oil production to know whether this is so. Do you? The video below should start at the right place. If it doesn’t, skip to 1:56.
🇮🇷🇹🇷🇸🇾 Turkey and Iran look to be headed for a showdown in Syria. Tehran explicitly opposes Ankara’s plan for a new military operation against Kurdish-held areas and is bolstering its military positions in the region.
🇸🇾🏴☠️ Unidentified woman found dead in Al-Hawl camp. It’s the 17th murder the lawless mini-state has seen since 2022.
🇹🇷🇸🇾🚀 Turkish forces carried out a rocket attack north of Manbij in the eastern countryside of Aleppo, causing fires to break out.
🇸🇾💣 The death toll from the explosion of a landmine by a car carrying wheat-harvesting workers in the northern countryside of Daraa has risen to nine, including five women.
🇹🇷🦃⛔️ The Turkish government has finally done it—they’ve banned anything that might be fun:
[I]n recent weeks, a string of events have been canceled by cities and districts run by the ruling Justice and Development Party, leading critics and analysts to accuse the government of attempting to wage a “culture war” in the run-up to next year’s general elections. …
“Cancelling concerts by Kurdish singers plays into the recent surge in nationalist, anti-Kurd and xenophobic bent of a lot of the AKP’s rhetoric and policy—an outgrowth of their partnership with the [far-right] MHP—but the general idea of taking the fight to pop music is striking in a country that generally has viewed pop music as an apolitical venue.” … “It seems to me it is a way for the forces in the government to show they can do whatever they want. Especially when it comes to answering the needs and requests of the conservative population. And they need to consolidate their voters, especially in this current disastrous economic downturn.”
🚨🆘 Ukrainian troops are suffering massive losses as they are outgunned 20 to one in artillery and 40 to one in ammunition by Russian forces:
A report by Ukrainian and Western intelligence officials also reveals that the Ukrainians are facing huge difficulties responding to Russians shelling with their artillery restricted to a range of 25 kilometers, while the enemy can strike from 12 times that distance.
🆘 Ukraine is on the brink of losing Luhansk and warning it desperately needs faster arms deliveries.
Give them the artillery to hit back, ferchrissakes.https://t.co/WhxOri1hIP
— toomas hendrik ilves (@IlvesToomas) June 10, 2022
Russian troops have secured positions in two communities near Severodonetsk. The Luhansk governor said Russians were in control of “most” of the city. Heavy street fighting continues.
— Illia Ponomarenko 🇺🇦 (@IAPonomarenko) June 11, 2022
🚀🆘 We’re almost out of ammunition and relying on western arms:
Ukraine’s deputy head of military intelligence has said Ukraine is losing against Russia on the frontlines and is now almost solely reliant on weapons from the west to keep Russia at bay. “Everything now depends on what [the west] gives us,” said Skibitsky. “Ukraine has one artillery piece to 10 to 15 Russian artillery pieces. Our western partners have given us about 10 percent of what they have.”
Ukrainians are cornered. Either they sacrifice themselves on the battlefield or they will be massacred while under Russian occupation. Most prefer to fight until the end rather than suffer under occupation. This is the reason Ukraine will win, because it has no other choice.
— Anders Östlund (@andersostlund) June 11, 2022
🏭🧪🔥 Russian shelling causes chemical plant fire in Severodonetsk. The Luhansk governor says that the fire at the plant, where hundreds of civilians are sheltering, has not been extinguished.
🏭 Hundreds are trapped in Severodonetsk plant. Some 800 people are trapped underneath the Azot industrial zone. Russia is refusing to negotiate safe passage of fighters.
“Evacuation of civilians is impossible because once the place of gathering people for evacuation becomes known to Russians, they immediately start to shell it.” #Lysychansk #WarCrime https://t.co/YOmXZpV19F
— Sergey Kofanov (@SergeyKofanov) June 12, 2022
Nedial family tried to escape #Mariupol in March. They were shot. 6 year old Lisa died on the spot. Her mom lost both her legs but survived.
Lisa’s body remained in the car for 10 days. Her mom couldn’t even attend her daughter’s funeral – doctors were fighting for her life. pic.twitter.com/VoGDF7aY9k
— Anton Gerashchenko (@Gerashchenko_en) June 12, 2022
🇬🇧 UK Defense Ministry update:
- As of 10 June, Russian forces around Severodonetsk have not made advances into the south of the city. Intense street to street fighting is ongoing and both sides are likely suffering high numbers of casualties.
- Russia is massing fires with its artillery and air capabilities, in an attempt to overwhelm Ukrainian defenses. Since April, Russian medium bombers have likely launched dozens of 1960s era Kh-22 (NATO designation, AS-4 KITCHEN) air-launched, heavy anti-ship missiles against land targets. These 5.5 ton missiles were primarily designed to destroy aircraft carriers using a nuclear warhead. When employed in a ground attack role with a conventional warhead they are highly inaccurate and can therefore cause significant collateral damage and civilian casualties.
- Russia is likely resorting to such inefficient weapon systems because it is running short of more precise modern missiles, while Ukrainian air defenses still deter its tactical aircraft from conducting strikes across much of the country.
🛡 ISW Campaign Assessment highlights:
- Ukrainian intelligence assesses that the Russian military is extending its planning to fight a longer war, though Russian force generation and reserves likely remain poor.
- Russian forces likely resumed efforts to cut the T1303 Hirske-Lysyschansk highway and launched failed assaults on settlements along the T1302 Bakhmut-Lysychank highway.
- Russian forces continued assaults on settlements southwest and southeast of Izyum in an effort to resume drives on Slovyansk.
- Ukrainian forces likely resumed counteroffensives northwest of Kherson City on June 11, south of their previous operations.
- Russian occupation officials distributed the first batch of Russian passports in Kherson City and Melitopol.
Medusa reports that the Kremlin plans to unite the occupied territories of Ukraine into a new federal district within the Russian Federation:
The self-proclaimed DPR and LPR, as well as the occupied territories of Kherson and Zaporozhye regions, are planned to be combined into one federal district within Russia. Three sources close to the administration of the President of the Russian Federation conveyed the upcoming creation of a new Medusa district. (In Russian.)
Ukraine’s Chief Intelligence Directorate published an intercepted call between a Russian soldier and his mother in which he tells her Russia can’t withdraw its troops because the whole world will see what they did there:
“20 people are being sent to a battle … We will go there to die. There is a battalion [of the Armed Forces of Ukraine], and we have only 20 people. We have all accepted the fact that if we go there, we will not get out. It just doesn’t make sense for them to take our lieutenant colonel out of there. Because everything will come out: what they did here, how they did it, where they shot, what they … Everyone was sold down [the river] a long time ago.”
🇪🇺 The EU is finalizing an assessment on admitting Ukraine. Ukraine will learn by the end of next week whether it can start the process.
🏥 Russia has set up another field hospital, owing to heavy casualties, in the village of Shebekino in Russia’s Belgorod Oblast.
⚰️ A military advisor to Zelensky said that some 10,000 Ukrainian soldiers have been killed since February; daily, “200 to 300 die, no less.”
“Do you remember how Russia hoped to capture the entire Donbas in early May? It is already the 108th day of the war, it is already June. Donbas is holding on. The losses suffered by the occupiers, including in this area, are extremely significant. In total, the Russian army today has about 32,000 dead souls. For what? What did it give you, Russia? No one can say now how long this burning of souls by Russia will last. But we must do everything to make the occupiers regret that they have done all this, and to hold them accountable for every murder and every strike at our beautiful state.”
Putin met with young Russians and made it plain as day what this war is about. (It’s not about NATO expansion.)
Wow, Putin basically just stopped pretending: “During the war with Sweden, Peter the Great didn’t conquer anything, he took back what had always belonged to us, even though all of Europe recognised it as Sweden’s. It seems now it’s our turn to get our lands back [smiling]”. pic.twitter.com/vgk60hT5ea
— Tadeusz Giczan 🇺🇦 (@TadeuszGiczan) June 9, 2022
🇫🇷🇦🇺🐟 France and Australia settled their submarine spat:
Australia has unveiled a substantial compensation deal with French submarine maker Naval Group, ending a contract dispute that soured relations between Canberra and Paris for almost a year. Prime Minister Anthony Albanese said on Saturday that the French firm had agreed to a “fair and an equitable settlement” of 555 million euros (US$584 million) for Australia ending a ten-year-old multibillion-dollar submarine contract.
🇪🇪 Estonian Prime Minister Kaja Kallas is poised to form a new coalition government, ending a political crisis:
Kallas, 44, who has seen her popularity soar in Estonia with her hardline against Russian President Vladimir Putin, is in a position to form a government after the conservative Pro Patria party decided on Saturday to seek an alliance with her ruling Reform Party and the Estonian Social Democrats. A new coalition ahead of elections scheduled for next year draws a line under political turmoil that dragged out for months amid squabbling over spending and domestic policy.
🇧🇬 Bulgaria is drowning in Russian propaganda:
The Kremlin’s talking points are echoed by politicians, mainstream media, and pundits alike. As a result, the invasion has split public opinion, fuelling fears that democratic values are under threat in the EU’s poorest country. “Bulgaria has been a target of systematic disinformation campaigns for years—and those efforts are paying off now,” said Goran Georgiev an analyst with the Sofia-based Center for Study of Democracy. “Some Bulgarians unequivocally believe conspiracy theories and have lost trust in traditional media.”
🇬🇧💀 Boris Johnson has urged ministers to do “everything in their power” to secure the release of two British citizens condemned to death by a Russian proxy court in eastern Ukraine.
🇬🇧👑 Boris’s cabinet tells Prince Charles to shut his pie hole. The prince (rightly) described the plan to send migrants to Rwanda “appalling.” This seems (rightly) to have ticked off the cabinet something fierce:
“Prince Charles is an adornment to our public life, but that will cease to be charming if he attempts to behave the same way when he is king. That will present serious constitutional issues … A lot of his views on architecture and horticulture are interesting, and I would always be willing to listen to them privately. But that’s very different from him making public interventions as monarch. The Queen’s genius is that most of us have no idea what she thinks.”
… “The trouble with Charles is that he thinks he needs to be interesting and he thinks people are interested in what he thinks. He seems to have misunderstood the role,” another said.
🇬🇧🖊Verdict due in Carole Cadwalladr libel trial:
The highly anticipated judgment in the libel action brought by multimillionaire Brexit backer Arron Banks against the Observer and Guardian journalist Carole Cadwalladr will be handed down this week. The landmark verdict will potentially have huge ramifications for press freedom and investigative reporting.
🇪🇺🚛 🚶🏾♂️🚶🏾♀️🚚🚶🏽The EU appears to be close to reforming its migration system:
Home affairs ministers achieved “major progress” in negotiations for a migration and asylum pact. Gérald Darmanin, France’s interior minister, said a meeting will be organized “in the coming days” to finalize the technical details of the “historic agreement,” a characterization also used by [European home affairs commissioner Ylva] Johansson.
🏰 Europe has to learn to defend itself, but how?
Europe can no longer rely solely on the United States as a protective force. It must learn how to defend itself in a way that brings everyone into one boat, including skeptics. How might that happen?
- 🕋🪧😾 Huge Muslim protests across Asia after Indian official’s remark about Prophet. Friday saw the biggest street rallies yet in response to the furor, with police estimating more than 100,000 people mobilized across Bangladesh after midday prayers.
- 🇮🇳🕋 India-Gulf row: Why Modi is in a double bind. Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Bharatiya Janata Party are scrambling to contain a diplomatic firestorm that has erupted throughout the Middle East over derogatory remarks made by two senior officials about Islam.
- 🇮🇳👮🏽♀️🚔 Prophet riot: Two people died and many were injured in India during protests against suspended BJP leader Nupur Sharma’s remarks about the Prophet Muhammad.
- 🇮🇳🔨🚜🏗 India demolishes homes of rioters. “The police will take strict action against all the people or groups who have “dared to disturb peace and harmony,” including charging them under the Gangster Act.”
🦁🧑🏾⚕️🥼🩺 This handsome gentleman is recovering nicely after physicians in Gujarat performed cataract surgery on him and saved his sight. They noticed he wasn’t tracking his prey properly, so they dart-gunned him and brought him to the rescue center, where they determined he had cataracts. They fixed him up after studying up on lion eyeball anatomy. He can see just fine, now. Soon they’ll release him back into the Gir forest, where he usually lives. It’s the last abode of the Asiatic lion.
🇦🇫🥷🏻🍛 Should we work with the Taliban or allow people to starve? “The Taliban are ruling ever more harshly, oppressing women and running moral police patrols in Kabul. Now they are appealing to the world to help the country in one of its worst-ever hunger crises. Should the West work with them?”
🇫🇯🏝♻️ Fiji implored delegates to the Shangri-La Dialogue, an Asian security summit meeting now in Singapore, to worry about climate change, not war:
“Machine guns, fighter jets … are not our primary security concern. The single greatest threat to our very existence is climate change,” Fiji Defence Minister Inia Seruiratu said. “It threatens our very hopes and dreams of prosperity. Human-induced, devastating climate change” …
“Waves are crashing at our doorsteps, winds are battering our homes, we are being assaulted by this enemy from many angles.”
🇦🇫🧕🏽 Standing up to the Taliban’s burqa decree:
[F]emale activists continue to gather in secrecy to organize protests … It is a huge risk for the women, to be sure, with the Taliban frequently resorting to brutality, in addition to efforts aimed at ensuring that such protests don’t find their way into the media, including demanding that journalists delete their photos and videos.
🇨🇳🦠 166 new Covid infections have been linked to a bar in Beijing. A government spokesman described the outbreak as “ferocious.”
Two buildings housing hundreds of people in Chaoyang were put under strict lockdown … Some people in Beijing said they were sent texts telling them to report to authorities if they had recently visited Sanlitun’s bars. … Chinese officials have reversed the relaxation of some Covid rules in Beijing because of the outbreak. Most children in the capital will not return to school next week as originally planned.
🇨🇳🇺🇸🥢 China’s defense minister accused the US of “smearing” Beijing and said Washington is trying to “hijack” countries in the Indo-Pacific region:
“We request the US side to stop smearing and containing China. Stop interfering in China’s internal affairs. The bilateral relationship cannot improve unless the US side can do that,” he told delegates at the [Shangri-La] dialogue, Asia’s top defense conference. “However, if you want confrontation, we will fight to the end. The two militaries should make positive efforts for a positive relationship.”
🇩🇿⛓ Algerian activist convicted for “regime change” post:
An Algerian court has sentenced a journalist and political activist to one year in prison over an anti-government Facebook post. … Zeghileche, who is a member of the opposition Union for Change and Progress party, said his conviction was in relation to a post that read: “This regime must fall, not only because we disagree with it or dislike it, but because it has proven for 60 years that it is incompetent in running the country.”
… Zeghileche added that since the beginning of the Hirak—a popular anti-government protest movement —in Algeria in 2019, he has been detained five times, noting that he now “feels more comfortable behind bars because he no longer has to live worried about being pursued.”
🇱🇾🔫 Tripoli rocked by fighting between rival militias:
Heavy exchanges of gunfire and explosions ricocheted across several districts of Tripoli on Friday night, while images broadcast by local press and circulated on social media showed civilians fleeing heavily trafficked areas. The intense fighting involved two influential militias from western Libya, according to local media, which identified armed groups as the Nawasi Brigade—a militia loyal to politician Fathi Bashagha—and the Stability Support Force, which backs interim premier Abdul Hamid Dbeibah.
🇱🇾🇺🇳 UN “concerned” by Libya violence, urges calm:
[Libya] is divided between rival governments, one in the east, backed by putschist Gen. Khalifa Haftar, and a United Nations-supported administration in the capital, Tripoli. Each side is supported by different militias and foreign powers. … An October 2020 ceasefire led to an agreement on a transitional government in early February 2021, and elections were scheduled for last Dec. 24 aimed at unifying the country. But they were canceled and the country now has rival governments with two Libyans claiming to be prime minister.
🇱🇾📜🗳🇺🇳 Libyan officials returned to Cairo for a third round of constitutional negotiations:
Lawmakers from Libya’s east-based parliament and the High Council of State, an advisory body from western Libya, began the UN-brokered negotiations amid concerted international pressure on the two chambers to put their disputes aside and agree on the election’s legal basis.
🇸🇴 The Senate Foreign Relations Committee passed the Somaliland Partnership Act on June 9 after months of lobbying by Somaliland and its detractors.
🇸🇴⁈ No sooner did they pass it when something unfortunate happened in Somaliland. Owing to the complete lack of news coverage from Africa, I don’t know the precise nature of the “violent incidents.” But they led the UK to issue this statement:
International partners following Somaliland’s democratization process are very concerned by the violent incidents that occurred during the political protests in Hargeisa today. We urge restraint from all sides in order to deescalate the situation and prevent harm and injury. (Perhaps I can find someone on Twitter who can explain this to me. There’s obviously more to this—Claire.)
🇲🇿 Mozambique prepares to join UN Security Council:
The United Nations’ Security Council report says that with Mozambique joining Gabon and Ghana on the Security Council, the three African members are likely to work closely in coordinating their positions and advancing the common African position on regional and thematic items on the agenda.
🇱🇸🇸🇿🇿🇦 What Lesotho can teach Eswatini and South Africa:
The kingdom of Lesotho returned to electoral politics in 1993, after a long haul of dictatorship capped by a military junta. Since then, it has experienced mutinies, coups and electoral violence. … The country is now effectively under the trusteeship of [the Southern African Development Community] as it sails through a turbulent reform program. Nevertheless, there are certain aspects that Lesotho has handled quite well. Its successes offer lessons for other states that are undergoing reforms in similar areas. … First, it has made its electoral system more inclusive. Second, it has curbed the powers of the monarch in a constitutional democracy. …
🇺🇳🇨🇩 UN urges “immediate” halt to clashes in eastern DR Congo.
🇪🇹 Ethiopia denies Tigrayan detentions, mass graves during tightly controlled visit by VOA.
♻️🔋🔌 Energy Transition: A historic opportunity for Africa:
The European U-turn on gas holds great promise for Africa but also serves as a greater reminder of the potential the continent holds in the process of energy transition and the fight against climate change.
🇺🇸 🚛 🚶🏾♂️🚶🏾♀️🚚🚶🏽Biden and Latin American leaders announce migration deal:
President Biden is trying to confront repeated surges of migrants at the US border by casting the issue as a problem for the entire region, not just the United States.
“The Los Angeles declaration is possibly the best outcome of a convening of heads of state that seemed destined to be inconsequential at best,” said Tamara Taraciuk Broner, the acting director of the Americas division of Human Rights Watch.
🚛 🚶🏾♂️🚶🏾♀️🚚🚶🏽The declaration is non-binding and will likely only be effective if it is the first of further initiatives, said the president of the Migration Policy Institute:
“It is, of course, hard to know how the Los Angeles agreement will be implemented in practice,” he adds. “Like many other international declarations, it creates a set of shared proposals that governments agree they would like to pursue but leaves the actual details to later negotiations … The Los Angeles Declaration will be successful if it is the first, not the final, word on migration cooperation in the Americas.”
🇺🇸🇪🇸 The Biden administration is expecting a commitment from Spain to resettle refugees from the Western Hemisphere for the first time ever. Spain is suffering from a labor shortage.
🇺🇸🧑🏼⚖️👩🏼⚖️ The Select Committee to investigate the January 6 attack on the US Capitol held its first public hearing, arguing that Trump was responsible for an attempted coup:
“Not only did President Trump refuse to tell the mob to leave the Capitol, he placed no call to any element of the US government to instruct that the Capitol be defended. He did not call his Secretary of Defense on January 6th. He did not talk to his Attorney General. He did not talk to the Department of Homeland Security.
“President Trump gave no order to deploy the National Guard that day, and he made no effort to work with the Department of Justice to coordinate and deploy law enforcement assets. But Vice President Pence did each of those things.”
🇺🇳🇺🇦🌾⛽️🌪 The UN released its second report on the global impact of the Ukraine war. It’s terrifying. They say:
- 1.6 billion people are “severely exposed,” said the UN Secretary General, who warned that the consequences for the world are “speeding up” and “threatening to unleash an unprecedented wave of hunger and destitution, leaving social and economic chaos in its wake.”
- Of these 1.6 billion, 1.2 billion live in perfect-storm countries, meaning they’re severely exposed and vulnerable to all three dimensions of the crisis—finance, food, and energy—simultaneously.
- In 2022, between 179 million and 181 million people are forecasted to be facing food crisis or worse conditions in 41 out of 53 countries where data are available. In addition 19 million more people are expected to face chronic undernourishment globally in 2023.
- Higher energy costs, trade restrictions and a loss of fertilizer supply from the Russian Federation and Belarus have led to fertilizer prices rising even faster than food prices. Many farmers, and especially smallholders, are thus squeezed to reduce production, as the fertilizers they need become more expensive than the grains they sell. Critically, new fertilizer plants take at least two years to become operational, meaning that most of the current supply of fertilizers is limited.
- Export restrictions on food and fertilizers have surged since the start of the war. … Trade restrictions today affect almost one fifth of total calories traded globally, which further aggravates the crisis.
- If high fertilizer prices persist into the next planting season, the crisis in wheat and vegetable oils could extend to a crisis in rice, affecting billions more people in the Americas and Asia.
- The largest cost-of-living crisis of the twenty-first century comes on the heels of the cascading crises of the Covid19 and climate change. “A shock of this magnitude would have been a significant challenge no matter the timing; now, it is of historic, century-defining proportions.”
- Sub-Saharan Africa is the region with the most countries significantly vulnerable to a perfect storm. One out of every two Africans in the region lives in a country exposed to all three dimensions.
🧵🌾💀A thread by Timothy Snyder:
Russia has a hunger plan. Vladimir Putin is preparing to starve much of the developing world as the next stage in his war in Europe. … If the Russian blockade continues, tens of millions of tons of food will rot in silos, and tens of millions of people in Africa and Asia will starve.
The horror of Putin’s hunger plan is so great that we have a hard time apprehending it. We also tend to forget how central food is to politics. Some historical examples can help. The idea that controlling Ukrainian grain can change the world is not new. Both Stalin and Hitler wished to do so. For Stalin, Ukraine’s black earth was to be exploited to build an industrial economy for the USSR. In fact, collectivized agriculture killed about four million Ukrainians. …
Putin’s hunger plan is, I believe, meant to work on three levels. First, it is part of a larger attempt to destroy the Ukrainian state, by cutting off its exports. Putin’s hunger plan is also meant to generate refugees from North Africa and the Middle East, areas usually fed by Ukraine. This would generate instability in the EU.
Finally, and most horribly, a world famine is a necessary backdrop for a Russian propaganda campaign against Ukraine. Actual mass death is needed as the backdrop for a propaganda contest. When the food riots begin, and as starvation spreads, Russian propaganda will blame Ukraine, and call for Russia’s territorial gains in Ukraine to be recognized, and for all sanctions to be lifted.
Russia is planning to starve Asians and Africans in order to win its war in Europe. (Claire—if you find it hard to imagine that Putin would deliberately starve tens of millions of people, I think I speak for everyone in the CG Book Club in saying Bloodlands is a keenly relevant work and essential reading. I am persuaded that Putin seeks to starve—that is, to murder—tens of millions of people. I suspect everyone in the Book Club would agree.)
“Ukraine fatigue” is dangerous—and Putin is banking on it. The international community is tired of Russia’s war against Ukraine. But unless Russia is defeated, a return to peace will be temporary.
By the Cosmopolitan Globalists
Vladislav Davidzon called upon the West to run the blockade of the Russian fleet in order to get Ukrainian grain out of the besieged and blocked Ukrainian ports. “It is time for a European-American-UN-NATO armada to run the blockade and open up our ports and prevent a famine.”
I took part in the France 24 debate tonight with @FrancoisF24 on the negotiations with the Turks and Moscow over the food crisis @F24Debate https://t.co/M29MiuIGd2
— Vladislav Davidzon (@VladDavidzon) June 8, 2022
🇫🇷🗳 Did you miss the French Election Twitter Summit? Not to worry. Arun Kapil summarizes our discussion—and more—here: The French legislative elections.
Nicolas Tenzer writes (in French), In Europe, there can be no French exceptionalism:
Faced with the Russian war against Ukraine, the strategic ambiguities of France and Germany are worrying. The repetition of Emmanuel Macron’s misguided remarks about a “humiliation” that should be avoided for Russia has the effect of leading more and more European countries to imagine a path other than that of the EU and NATO on security issues.
🎧 Monique Camarra talks to Alexander Khara and Edward Lucas on the Eurofile. She also talks to Irene Kenyon and Sergej Sumlenny—I haven’t listened to this one, but it’s on my list for later.
🇦🇩🛍🛒 Have you ever wanted to know more about Andorra? Cristina Maza’s got you covered. Every week she’ll be taking you on a mini-tour of every country in the world. (The most salient point about Andorra, I’d add, is that it sounds like it must be so charming—an Iberian micro state, nestled in the mountains!—but when you visit, you discover that in fact it’s just Europe’s biggest duty-free zone. The whole country looks exactly like Heathrow Airport, only bigger. It’s not charming at all.) She also wrote:
- 🇵🇱 Poland’s support for Ukraine is overshadowing its rule-of-law problem. European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen set the wheels in motion for the EU to release roughly US$38 billion in coronavirus recovery funding it withheld from Poland due to concerns over the rule of law. But advocates for the rule of law and a high-profile group of European Commissioners raised serious concerns about the Commission’s plan, arguing that Poland’s efforts to reform its controversial disciplinary chamber for judges are merely cosmetic. This article is locked, but here’s a Twitter thread with a summary.
- 🇰🇵🚀 North Korea has already launched more ballistic missiles in 2022 than in any single year previously, according to the US special representative to the DPRK. On June 5, North Korea launched eight separate ballistic missiles from various parts of the country, the largest number of ballistic missiles launched in a single day. US officials assess North Korea is preparing to conduct a seventh nuclear test soon. This article is locked, but here’s another Twitter thread with some takeaways.
- 🎧 On National Journal’s Quorum call podcast, she discusses the latest debate in Washington over weapons sales to Ukraine and why Turkey objects to Finland and Sweden joining NATO.
🦇 The Daily Bat
🧵 A thread: How the Russian book market prepared Russians for a full-scale war against Ukraine, NATO, and the West; and promoted Stalinism and Nazism; and how this was ignored by the West. Click through and read the whole thing, but here are some highlights:
One of the first indicators of Russia preparing for a full-scale turn to dictatorship and a global war was the mass production of books about cool sides of Stalin and Stalinism and about upcoming war against the West. These books appeared on Russian bookshelves in early 2010s /2
— Sergej Sumlenny (@sumlenny) June 11, 2022
The appearance was so massive that it could not be a coincidence on a book market which was under a strict control of secret police FSB. “Be proud, not sorry! Truth about Stalin Age” “Stalinist’s Handbook”, “Stalin’s Repressions: A Great Lie” and “Beria: Best XX Cent Manager” /3 pic.twitter.com/qtce0VrdBi
— Sergej Sumlenny (@sumlenny) June 11, 2022
The idea to create authoritarian and militarist mood through bookstores was brilliant. In 2015, I visited Moscow’s central bookstore “Biblio-Globus”, and that what were the goods welcoming you just after the doors: military uniforms, accessories, and books about Stalin and war /5 pic.twitter.com/LJCvMwAEH1
— Sergej Sumlenny (@sumlenny) June 11, 2022
This was the prelude. Soon after, Kremlin has started to publish what they called “battle fantastic”. Mass-produced low-quality books about Russian military superiority in all possible conflicts. The whole book series appeared. Here: “Battlefield Ukraine series” “Ukraine on Fire” pic.twitter.com/hT2nahtGYr
— Sergej Sumlenny (@sumlenny) June 11, 2022
While digging into this genre, we see one interesting pattern. The biggest enemy is the UK (and a lesser one the US) Compare:
“The Guard of Popadantsy: Sink the Britanny!”
“London must be destroyed! Russian landing in England” (Note Russian SpecOps storming the Nelson’s ship) /17 pic.twitter.com/bdraXWJ64t
— Sergej Sumlenny (@sumlenny) June 11, 2022
“Ukraine in Blood: Banderite Genocide” (the cover pictures Maidan in Kyiv, note the “Azov” connection of the “Nazi”)
“Ukrainian Hell: It is our War!” (A Russian soldiers captures a US pilot)
“Ukrainian Front: Red Stars over Maidan” (US planes got destroyed)
“Broken Trident” /6 pic.twitter.com/SDd7TYTqoe
— Sergej Sumlenny (@sumlenny) June 11, 2022
Enjoy Russian dream. “Comrade Hitler. Execute Churchill!” Description: “Popadanets gets into Adolf Hitler’ body. Will he manage to execute Churchill for war crimes, create an alliance with the USSR? Will comrades Hitler and Stalin defeat the US and get a nuke before the US?” /20 pic.twitter.com/QzYfuPfaCD
— Sergej Sumlenny (@sumlenny) June 11, 2022
I promised you nasty staff? “The Son of the Reich”. Info: “The USSR must again defeat a treacherous attack by The Entente. Red Army and Wehrmacht fight together against the New World Order. British pilots bomb cities and refugees”. Well, this is not quite Popadantsy but tasty /23 pic.twitter.com/AcdYWapK5P
— Sergej Sumlenny (@sumlenny) June 11, 2022
Already in 2010, a mocking song about nuclear + chemical attack on the US (“the earth is still scorching where Washington used to be”) was performed on Russian TV. Look at the happy audience reaction. The song (with other words) comes from a child cartoon https://t.co/qBSKkVJs1N
— Sergej Sumlenny (@sumlenny) June 11, 2022
“ICBMs are slowly flying away, don’t expect to see them again. We are sorry about (your fate) the US, and Europe is the next” – is the start of this song. You may see the full text under the link (there are different versions, longer and shorter): /32 https://t.co/n3PhbiSUG9
— Sergej Sumlenny (@sumlenny) June 11, 2022
The whole idea of destroying the US and the West, with symbols of Western political power humiliated, is the basis of Russian revanchism. Compare these book covers (the second one is a “non-fiction” and “analysis”, the first one is about a Popadanets) /34 pic.twitter.com/vRSIX6vovB
— Sergej Sumlenny (@sumlenny) June 11, 2022
… Well, after all these examples of Russian state-run preparation for a global war, militarization of people, spreading all possible weird violence fantasies, one may ask a question: How the hell did Western embassies ignore this? …
A good question. Do read the whole thread—Claire.
🥢 The CCP cannot fathom the sorrow of you who lack Xi’s guidance
Xi calls for creating a new chapter in Sichuan’s development:
On the morning of June 8, Xi paid a visit to Yongfeng Village of Taihe Town in Dongpo District, Meishan City, for an inspection tour. Relying on its paddy and rice industry and technological advantages, the village established the largest experimental base featuring new rice varieties and new technologies in the province. At a high standard paddy field base, Xi learned about the general development of the village and affirmed the village’s continuous efforts in helping safeguard national food security by planting grains. Xi stressed that the Chengdu Plain has been lauded as a land of abundance since ancient times, that the area of farmland must be ensured and such a precious land for food production must be well protected. He also called for even greater efforts to bolster up grain production and build a higher-level “granary of heaven” in the new era.
Xi walked into the experimental field to take a closer look at the growth of the rice. Agricultural and technical staff members briefed the general secretary on the experimental paddy seed breeding and the promotion of planting. Xi pointed out that it was time consuming for cultivating improved varieties of rice as it required repeated experiments and selection, and all the country’s scientific and technical workers in the agricultural sector have made arduous efforts. They have made invaluable contributions to safeguarding national food security and ensuring that the people enjoy ample supply of food and clothing. Xi added that advancing agricultural modernization requires efforts not only of experts but also those of all farmers, that the promotion and application of modern agricultural science and technologies and training of farmers must be strengthened, all big grain growers must be organized to actively develop green, ecological, and efficient agriculture. We have the confidence and determination to ensure the food supply for the Chinese people through our own efforts, Xi said.
Xi is very concerned about rural revitalization. He walked along the roads to take a look at the sewage treatment tanks in Yongfeng Village as well as its overall appearance. He also inspected a medical service center in the village to further learn about the improvement of villagers’ living environment and the Covid19 prevention and control work. Xi stressed that the villagers are concerned about health care the most after they have enough to eat and wear. The building of a rural health care system must be advanced to ensure that all the people in rural areas have access to basic medical services. He also called for efforts to build primary-level Party organizations well so that villagers can be united to further promote rural revitalization after bidding farewell to poverty.
Before waving goodbye to the villagers, Xi told them that as the country’s ruling party, the CPC will further advance the building of socialism with Chinese characteristics step by step and spare no efforts to complete all the tasks related to people’s well-being, so as to lead the people to a better life.Have I ever shared with you the story of my very brief career as a Communist Party propagandist?
Today’s animal: This riflebird
A juvenile Victoria’s Riflebird performs his elaborate courtship dance to an unimpressed female.
— Wonder of Science (@wonderofscience) June 5, 2022
Bengali poets and musicians hanging out with a Flamenco dancer in London tonight pic.twitter.com/xdTKjscdGC
— Vladislav Davidzon (@VladDavidzon) June 11, 2022
Claire Berlinski is the editor of the Cosmopolitan Globalist.
|↑1||Have I ever shared with you the story of my very brief career as a Communist Party propagandist?|
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