Indigenous leaders in Ecuador are calling for the release of Waorani (Huaroani) tribesmen arresed in a raid on a jungle oil-field that left six soldiers injured. In the Jan. 6 raid, tribesmen armed with spears, bows and arrows, blowguns and firearms seized a facility run by Petrobell, a subsidiary of Brazil-based Synergy Group, in Arajuno canton, Pastaza province. The action shut down production at the field, which normally produces 3,200 barrels a day. Six Waorani were arrested in the raid, and denied bail. The Defense Ministry said the detentions were necessary to stop "looting" and disruption of oil production. Franco Viteri of indigenous organization CONAIE is calling for the men to be released, arguing that they were defending their traditional territory from incursions by oil companies. "For 40 years, oil companies, with the consent of the state, have been smashing, looting and sabotaging the good life of indigenous peoples," he said in a statement. (Mongabay, Jan. 15)
A Philippine National Police Special Action Force (SAF) operation on Jan. 25 turned into a "dusk to dawn" gun-battle with Moro rebels in restive Mindanao Island. At least 30 police troops were killed in the clash at the village of Tukanalipao, Mamasapano municipality, Maguindanao province. Mohagher Iqbal, chief negotiator for the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) later said the clash was triggered by lack of coordination on the SAF operation. SAF forces were hunting Malaysian national Zulkifli Bin Hir AKA "Marwan"—named by the US FBI as a bomb-maker for the Abu Sayyaf extremist faction. The SAF incursion was resisted by local militia of the MILF and breakaway Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF).
A demonstrator identified as Shaimaa El Sabbagh was killed in clashes with Egyptian police during a protest near Cairo's Tahrir Square on Jan. 24. She was reportedly hit with birdshot fired by police. The protest, on the eve of the fourth anniversary of the uprising against Hosni Mubarak, was called by the Socialist Popular Alliance, which has now opposed the regimes of Mubarak, Morsi and al-Sisi alike. The clash ironcially took place hours before state television aired a speech by President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi to mark the fourth anniversary of the uprising, pre-recorded as al-Sisi had left for Saudi Arabia to offer his condolences over the death of King Abdullah (a patron of his regime). "I salute all our martyrs, from the beginning of January 25  until now," Sisi said in his speech, broadcast just before his own cops created yet another martyr. Islamist supporters of Mohamed Morsi, ousted in Sisi's July 2013 coup, are expected t dominate protests around the uprising commemoration. (Daily News Egypt, AFP, Jan. 24) ) It is often forgotten that Egypt also has a secular left opposition, which during the 2013 unrest launched a "Third Square" movement, rejecting both the Morsi and Sisi supporters then both occupying Cairo squares.
Mexican authorities on Jan. 8 detained 13 members of a local police force in the state of Veracruz in connection with the Jan. 2 abduction of journalist Moisés Sánchez. The detained constitute a third of the police force in the town of Medellín. State prosecutor Luis Ángel Bravo said the men could be held for 30 days while an investigation is underway. Sánchez was taken from his home by unknown gunmen in civvies. Tests are underway on a body found in the town, to determine if it is the remains of the missing journalist. Sánchez edited a local weekly in Medellín, La Unión (it appears not to have a website), with a reputation for fearless coverage of drug-related violence. The arrests came in the case hours after a group of journalists interrupted a session of the Veracruz legislature in state capital Xalapa with placards reading "7 DAYS WITHOUT MOISES."
World War 4 Report has been keeping a dispassionate record of Barack Obama's moves in dismantling, continuing and escalating (he has done all three) the oppressive apparatus of the Global War on Terrorism (GWOT) established by the Bush White House. On the day of his 2015 State of the Union address, we offer the following annotated assessment of which moves over the past year have been on balance positive, neutral and negative, and arrive at an overall score:
Reporting from Lebanon's hashish heartland of the Bekaa Valley on Jan. 5 Public Radio International spoke to cannabis farmers who say they are ready to resist any ISIS incursion into their fastness. Ali Nasri Shamas, who runs a mechanized hashish factory in Bouday village, took up arms in 2007 to resist Lebanese government eradication forces. This paid off; the army hasn't been back since 2012. But now the Lebanese army and hash producers are confronting the same enemy. Although officially a wanted man for 35 years now, Shamas happily talks on-camera, alongside a three-ton yield of hash, flanked by masked employees, amid the clatter of processing machines.
Human Rights Watch (HRW) urged Jan. 20 that the Chinese government should radically revise its proposed legislation on counter-terrorism to make it consistent with international law and the protection of human rights. The draft law was made public for consultation in November and is expected to be adopted in 2015 after minimal revisions. HRW charges that the draft law's definition of what constitutes "terrorism" is "dangerously vague and open-ended," constituting a "recipe for abuses."
Fighting broke out between Kurdish forces and Syrian government troops in the northeastern city of Hassakeh, the UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said Jan. 18. The clashes reportedly began after Kurdish fighters of the People's Protection Units (YPG) detained around 10 regime loyalists they accused of seizing part of a demilitarized zone. Under a deal made last year, YPG forces control around 30% of the city, with regime forces controlling most of the city's Arab-majority neighborhoods, and a buffer zone off-limits to both sides. The deal was arranged as both sides fought to keep ISIS out of Hassakeh, a provincial capital of some 200,000 people. The new fighting is being portrayed as opening a Kurdish front against the regime. (Daily Star, Lebanon, Today's Zaman, Turkey, Jan. 18)