It’s been a while since we’ve heard a lot about the so-called Islamic State. Since the "defeat" of ISIS in Iraq and the majority of Syria, much of the focus in the war-torn regions of the Middle East has been on: the ongoing pissing match between the United States, Russia and Turkey in Syria, what will become of the civilians whose lives were shattered during the Syrian Civil War, hostilities between Iran and damn near everyone, Palestinian rights, and what the Israelis have cooking in regards to Gaza and the protection of their populace from a variety of aggressors.
Would you be surprised to learn that ISIS is still kind of a big deal? Because it sort of sounds like the United Nations was. According to the CBC, a report from U.N. Terrorism experts says that ISIS is still doing fine, thank you very much, boasting as many as 30,000 members stationed in Syria and Iraq. However, after multiple ass-kickings at the hands of professional and volunteer military forces across the Middle East, they’ve decided to tone things down a bit. That overt, "we're gonna build a freaking caliphate" look of theirs? SO last year. Currently, ISIS is playing it cool by conducting covert operations in its bases of operation while the terrorist group regroups and rebuilds.
From The CBC:
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While many ISIS fighters, planners and commanders have been killed in fighting, and many other fighters and supporters have left the immediate conflict zone, the experts said many still remain in the two countries — some engaged militarily, "and others hiding out in sympathetic communities and urban areas."
Josh Quiggin argues persuasively that the easiest way to seem "presidential" is to drop bombs on someone else, and reminds us that Americans only recognize bombing people as "cowardly and evil" when the people being bombed are Americans.
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It's not uncommon for legal opinions from the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel to be classified; whenever the President wants to do something nefarious -- like authorizing the CIA's program of torture -- he'll get a memo out of the OLC, and then classify the whole thing: the action and its justification.
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President Donald Trump appeared on television tonight to announce that the United States military is now striking 'chemical weapons sites' in Syria by air, with coordination from the military forces of France and Britain. Read the rest
Meshpoint is a Croatian open source hardware company that turns out rugged, meshing, battery-powered wifi hotspots that get their backhaul from cellular networks; they're based on the widely used Open WRT free/open wifi routing software, and use open source hardware designs that are intended to stand up to punishing field conditions like those found in refugee camps.
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Anna Campbell, from Lewes, England, has died fighting in the Kurdish Women's Protection Units ("YPJ") in Syria; she was likely killed by a Turkish airstrike. She was 26.
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Sara Elizabeth Williams' long, beautifully written profile of the merchants who established illegal storefronts on the Champs-Élysées, a stretch of road in Jordan's Za’atari refugee camp -- home to 93,000 Syrian refugees -- is a lens on the crisis created by decades of western complicity in the brutal Assad regime, followed by a global proxy war fought on Syrian soil, with no compassion or regard by any of the belligerents for the civilian costs.
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We don't hear as much about ISIS as we used to, but the fight against their particular brand on evil is still being waged.
In Syria, for example, a Kurdish militia group called YPG is still waging war on the terrorist group. The YPG is composed of volunteers, drawn largely from areas around and in Syria, but also from countries as far away as the United States. As the militia is currently backed by the United States, it's not a crime for American citizens to find their way to groups like the YPG, get trained up and then deploy to the front lines. Caleb Stevens, a 23 year old from Illinois, felt that he wanted to make a direct impact in the world by standing against those who would do harm to unarmed civilians. After talking to YPG representatives online, he made his way overseas and boned up on the use of Soviet-era small arms before heading to the front lines with his unit in Syria. Caleb took the fight to ISIS, fending them off from civilians for months before he was shot in the calf, bringing his war, at least for the time being, to an end.
In the wake of being wounded, he sought out treatment, first at hospitals in Syria, Baghdad and Jordan, before walking into a hospital emergency room in Chicago to be properly patched up.
It's one hell of a story, it's covered, in detail, over at the Chicago Tribune.
Image: Nûçe Ciwan - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U5jA7EiXQsc, CC BY 3.0, Link Read the rest
Syrian Creative Commons lead Bassel Khartabil disappeared in 2012, snatched off the Damascus streets by Syrian authorities; in 2015, he was secretly executed by the Assad regime, a fact that has only just come to light. Read the rest
In April, Donald Trump ordered a massive strike against Syria to retaliate for an alleged chemical weapons attack against civilians, despite widely circulated US intelligence that said that no chemical weapons had been used. Read the rest
God Bless America, God Bless Sassy Trump, and God Bless Peter Serafinowicz. Read the rest
Though, of course, an international conflict is too complex to fully explain in just a seven-minute video, this one from Vox at least serves as a starting point to learn more about the war in Syria. Vox also published a companion article with more detail too. Read the rest
Veteran American journalist Dan Rather says he is “concerned” by how many in the U.S. press are praising Donald Trump's whimsical missile assault last night on Syria as “presidential.”
Dan Rather is not the only one alarmed by this attitude. Read the rest
You knew it was coming. Trump's first war. It ended up being Syria. Read the rest
How does the President of the United States respond to news that the Syrian government of Bashar-el-Assad has just gassed its own people, leaving untold scores of innocent people dead?
That's right. Donald Trump blames The Black Guy. Again. Read the rest
Amir Taaki is a well-known anarchist bitcoin hacker whose project, Dark Wallet, is meant to create strong anonymity for cryptocurrency transactions; when he discovered that anarchists around the world had gone to Rojava, a district in Kurdish Syria on the Turkish border, to found an anarchist collective with 4,000,000 members "based on principles of local direct democracy, collectivist anarchy, and equality for women," he left his home in the UK to defend it. Read the rest