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Friday, October 11, 2013

U.S. Troops Arrest Senior TTP Member

Troops from the United States in Afghanistan captured senior deputy to Tehrik-e-Taliban (TTP) leader Hakimullah Mehsud, Latif Mehsud a week ago, in what may have been the first in a rash of U.S. attempts to arrest significant militant targets rather than using drones to eliminate them. According to Logar governor Arsallah Jamal, Mehsud was arrested by U.S. forces along a main highway in the district of Mohammad Agha as he was returning to Pakistan after discussing the exchange of Afghan prisoners for ransom. But TTP intelligence officers suggested that Mehsud was in an Afghan government convoy when the group was then intercepted by U.S. military forces.

Given this revelation, it seems outgoing Afghani president Hamid Karzai’s harsh words for NATO earlier this week may have been caused by the ‘forcible seizure‘ of Mehsud. Karzai has also been critical of rising civilian casualties in a war that the U.S. administration has put firmly in the past.

Kachin Remain Skeptical of Myanmar Agreement

Yesterday a seven point agreement was signed by ethnic Kachin rebels and the Myanmar government, establish new rules for monitoring fighting and the resettlement of citizens as a result of clashes, instead of establishing the hoped-for cease-fire. Today members of the Kachin have expressed doubts as to the worth of the agreement. “Kachin people want political dialogue,” said editor of the Thailand-based Kachin News Group Nawdin Lahpai. “The government wants to eliminate the armed groups and have a cease-fire, but it isn’t willing to have political dialogue. They just ignore it.”

Since 2011, Myanmar has appeared to have undergone a shift towards democratic reform. A number of other ethic independence movements have signed peace or cease-fire agreements with the government, including the Kachin. However scant days later the cease-fire was broken, and the 17-year war continued. Hundreds of thousands have been displaced from their homes near the Chinese border. Meanwhile, the country’s liberalization in the sociopolitical realm, has allowed Myanmar to take a lead role at the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, shedding its status as a pariah state

Banda Sacks Malawian Cabinet

Malawi President Joyce Banda, known for her advocacy of IMF-friendy austerity measures, has sacked her entire cabinet in a move to distance her administration from charges of embezzlement and fraud. According to the state-appointed Anti-Corruption Bureau, in perhaps the biggest fraud case ever recorded in the Malawi, the principal accountant in Banda’s office authorized payment of one billion kwacha ($3 million) to a nonexistent entity. A number of other lesser instances of graft and fraud have also come to light.

The European Union warned on yesterday that it will not release €29 million ($39 million) in scheduled financing to the aid-dependent nation until the government deals with the fraud.
Alexander Baum, the head of the EU mission in Malawi, chastised, “There is need for a clean-up before we make our disbursement.”
Billy Mayaya, a leading rights activist, agreed. He and roughly 300 consumer activists staged a peaceful march in the administrative capital Lilongwe demanding “immediate” action from the president following the record multi-million dollar fraud unearthed last week. Mayaya said, “We are demanding an independent forensic audit to check into the plunder and the resignation of the finance minister, the accountant general and several senior officials from affected government ministries.” Banda’s office said she will announce a new cabinet in “due course.”

Syrian Rebels Commit Crimes Against Humanity

According to a newly released report by Human Rights Watch, Syrian rebels loyal to Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIS), the Nusra Front, Ahrar al-Sham and two other Islamist groups, have commit a number of war crimes, including the purposeful targeting of civilians. Lama Fakih, the group’s deputy director in Beirut, Lebanon, reviewed records and interviewed witnesses, doctors, military officials, and rebels members for the 113-page report, and concluded her group now has “documented opposition forces actually systematically targeting civilians.”

While there have been reports of small-scale human rights abuses, like the execution of Syrian army soldiers last year, according to Fakih, no one had yet “documented anything approaching this scale of abuse” by opposition fighters. She added that the number and methodical nature of the killings documented in this latest report constituted a “crime against humanity.”

Weekend Read: The Tyrant as Editor

Joseph Djugashvili is often remembered as a tyrant akin to Adolf Hitler, but as the editor of Pradda, the soviet newspaper, the man most know as Joseph Stalin was altogether more fair and considered. Holly Case investigates in The Chronicle of Higher Education Review.

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