politics of cyberspace

Tatar militants pledge to Syria's Nusra Front?

We don't know if this is true, but the claim sheds some light on Russia's motivation (or at least justification) for its intervention in Syria. The Long War Journal reports Oct. 3, citing social media postings, that a small group of Crimean Tatars and other militants from the Russian-annexed peninsula, calling themselves the Crimean Jamaat, has pledged bayah (allegiance) to the Nusra Front, al-Qaeda's Syrian franchise. The pledge was apparently announced by Nusra sympathizers on Twitter, and on the official social media site of Nusra's Sayfullah Shishani Brigade, which is largely comprised of Chechens. "Kataib Crimean Tartars under the leadership of Emir Ramadan al Krim [Crimean] pledged allegiance to al Qaeda in Sham and joined the Al Nusrah Front," read a statement on White Minaret, the Sayfullah Shishani site. The page is said to also include pictures of the group, reportedly based in Hama governorate.

Crimean Tartars in alliance with Ukrainian fascists?

Crimean Tartars earlier this month launched an ongoing blockade of food deliveries to Crimea from Ukraine in protest of Russia's annexation of the peninsula. Refat Chubarov, a Crimean Tatar leader who was banned from the peninsula by Russia after its March 2014 take-over, told the New York Times no trucks would be allowed through border crossings after barricades went up on Sept. 20. Sergei Aksyonov, the Russian-appointed prime minister of Crimea, said the blockade would have little effect, as only about 5% of the goods consumed in the region come through Ukraine. "The trade blockade of Crimea begun by Ukrainian activists with the support of a number of Kiev politicians will not affect food supplies in the region," he told Russia's state-run Rossiya 24 satellite TV. "Crimea will not notice this."

Ecuador: gov retreats on closure of press watchdog

Ecuador's Communications Secretariat (Secom) on Sept. 25 officially halted proceedings to shut down the free-speech advocacy organization Fundamedios. Secretary Fernando Alvarado said he was complying with a recommendation from Ecudaor's official rights ombudsman, the Defensoría del Pueblo, whose chief Ramiro Rivadeneira had four days earlier called on the government to drop the proceedings. But the move follows revelations that Ecuador's National Intelliegnce Secretariat (SENAIN) spent $47 million in public funds to contract the firm Emerging MC to purge YouTube and other social media of material critical of President Rafael Correa. (APThe Verge, Sept. 25; BuzzFeed, ElSalvador.com, Sept. 24;  EFE, Sept. 21; )

Turkey: Kurdish left resists 'political genocide'

Street clashes continue in the Sur district of the largely Kurdish city of Diyarbakır, which has for days been under siege by Turkish security forces. On Sept. 13, Diyarbakır's governor declared a 24-hour indefinite curfew in the district, but it was widely defied as angry protesters continued to fill the streets. Police threatened to shoot curfew violators, and have opened fire on protests—thus far resulting in no casualties, apparently. "Everywhere is Sur, everywhere resistance," crowds chant. Protests have spread to the nearby Koşuyolu Park, were demonstrators are rallying around the local offices of Democratic Society Congress (DTK). Police are trying to round up leaders of the PKK-affiliated Patriotic Revolutionary Youth Movement (YDG-H), who they say are behind the uprising. The Democratic Regions Party (DBP) has called on all residents of Diyarbakır to join the protests and converge on Sur district. Apparently fearing escalation, the city's government lifted the curfew after one day. (JINHA, Today's Zaman, Sept. 14)

ISIS complains about jihadist rivals in Libya

The latest edition of the English-language ISIS magazine Dabiq, released online Sept. 9, contains the predictable parade of perversions. Two men, Norwegian and Chinese nationals, are offered for sale as slaves. The destruction of ancient temples at the Palmyra archaeological site is trumpeted. Child soldiers are glorified as "lion cubs" of the "caliphate." The 9-11 attacks are hailed as the "blessed operations." But it also features an interview with Abul Mughirah al-Qahtani, identified as the "delegated leader" of the Islamic State's Libyan "province," in which he harshly criticizes several rival jihadist outfits, including Ansar al-Sharia, the Abu Salim Martyrs Brigade (ASMB), the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group (LIFG), and the Libyan Dawn coalition.

Ecuador shuts down free-speech organization

Ecuador's Secretary of Communications (Secom) on Sept. 8 officially informed the free-speech advocacy organization Fundamedios that it is being dissolved for promoting "indisputably political" material, in violation of the country's Unified Information Regulatory System for Social Organizations (RUOS). The case rests on Fundamedios linking on its Twitter feed to material critical of President Rafael Correa and his government—especially from the blogs Estadodepropaganda.com and SentidoComunEcuador.com. The organization has 10 days to appeal, but Fundamedios director César Ricaurte said he has little faith in the process, calling the announcement "A chronicle of a death foretold."

Syrian rebels pledge to defeat Russian 'occupation'

Amid signs of an escalating Russian intervention in Syria, the opposition government-in-exile issued a statement entitled: "Our People's Will and Determination Will Defeat Any Foreign Occupation." Ahmed Ramadan, a member of the opposition General Assembly, invoked the 1979 Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, and said: "Any repeat of that mistake will have disastrous consequences on Russia." He added: "It is unacceptable that a permanent member of the UN Security Council send weapons and mercenaries for a regime responsible for the death of over 300,000 Syrian citizens, including 81,000 children and a woman, the displacement of 14 million people and the reduction of most Syrian cities and towns to rubble. Syrians have the will and determination to defeat any possible foreign occupation of their homeland, just like what they have done throughout history, and have been doing for nearly five years against the Iranian occupation and its tool represented in the Assad regime." (Syrian Coalition, Sept. 9)

Tiananmen spectacle, historical revisionism

In a massive display of military might, Beijing held its official "Commemoration of the Seventieth Anniversary of Victory of the Chinese People's Resistance Against Japanese Aggression and World Anti-Fascist War" Sept. 3. Thousands of troops and weaponry including four ballistic missiles filed past the reviewing stand overlooking Tiananmen Square, as warplanes flew in formation overhead. The most prominent foreign leader joining Xi Jinping on the reviewing stand was of course Vladimir Putin. Also in attendance was wanted war criminal Omar al-Bashir. The spectacle came with an announcement that China will be cutting the troop-strength of the 2.3-million-strong People's Liberation Army by 300,000, but this will be concomitant with a big push in modernization of weaponry. (Sinosphere, Global Times, Thinking Taiwan) But perhaps the most unseemly thing about the affair was the politicization of history, and efforts to assure that only the official version was heard...

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