Showing posts from December 31, 2017

Old Dogs, New Tricks: Urban Warfare in Turkey’s War with the PKK

Since the beginning of its armed struggle for Kurdish self-determination in 1984,  the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK)  has predominantly relied on  rural guerrilla warfare tactics . Many observers were therefore taken aback when  unprecedented violence engulfed cities and towns in the majority-Kurdish southeast after the ceasefire between the Turkish government and PKK  collapsed in July 2015 . Although a marked departure from its traditional rural-style insurgency, PKK’s move to the cities reflects a  broader trend in modern conflicts : the resurgence of urban warfare. Within the last five years, cities like  Mosul  in Iraq and  Kobane  in Syria were largely destroyed in the war against ISIL, while the president of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) has described the fight for the Syrian city of Aleppo as “ one the most devastating urban conflicts in modern times .” In eastern Ukraine, even though much of the fighting takes place in the rural areas,  state forc

Military resumes offensive against Red rebels MANILA

MANILA: A senior military commander on Wednesday announced the resumption of their offensive operations against the communist New People’s Army (NPA) with the expiration of the unilateral ceasefire declared by the government and the rebels for the Christmas season and the New Year. “This is the best time to end this problem and let our country develop and improve the lives of our people,” said Major Noel Clement, the head of the Army’s 10h Infantry Division based in Mindanao. In a separate statement, Arsenio Andolong, the defense department spokesman, echoed Clement’s statement, pointing out that communist insurgency remained a priority concern of the military to bring peace and help hasten the country’s economic development. “Some local economies,” Andolong noted, “are not prospering because of the activities of terrorists, especially those engaged in kidnapping, arson and extortion.” Andolong was apparently referring to the NPA, the armed component of the Communist Party of the Phil

Tackling the Maoists: Why 2018 may be a deciding year

Few paid attention to Ginugu Narsimha Reddy alias Jampanna (55) when he began working as a technician in Hyderabad. But in the last week of December 2017, when he returned to the city with his 37-year-old wife Hinge Anitha, taking note of his presence was a posse of beaming Telangana policemen and excited journalists. Reddy, after all, had lived his life as a celebrated operative of the outlawed Communist Party of India (CPI) (Maoist). Joining the group in 1984, he started as a dalam commander and grew to the coveted position of a member of the Central Committee (CC) — the outfit's apex decision-making body. Ginugu Narsimha Reddy alias Jampanna (left) after his surrender. Photo: YouTube Screengrab 2017, according to the ministry of home affairs (MHA), saw a decline in the instances and intensity of Maoist violence. Recently,  home minister Rajnath Singh  stated there is an "overall reduction of 21 per cent in violent incidents over the corresponding period of last year&q

Six held in far-right group National Action investigation

What is National Action? Six people have been arrested on suspicion of being members of the banned far-right group National Action. Five men from Cambridge, Banbury, Wolverhampton, Leicester and Stockport, and a woman from Banbury were detained by police earlier. All six are being held at a police station in the West Midlands. Police said the suspects, aged between 21 and 37, were detained under Section 41 of the Terrorism Act as part of a planned operation. They were arrested on suspicion of being concerned in the commission, preparation and instigation of acts of terrorism, namely on suspicion of being a member of a proscribed organisation, National Action. The six arrested people are:  A 26-year-old man from Cambridge A 21-year-old man and a 37-year-old woman both from Banbury, Oxfordshire A 28-year-old man from Wolverhampton A 26-year-old man from Leicester  A 24-year-old man from Stockport  West Midlands Police said the arrests were intelligence-l

How former Maoist child soldiers became engineers of Nepal's democracy

Between 1996 and 2006, a bloody civil war between Maoist revolutionaries and the state tore Nepal apart. A decade later, FRANCE 24 Reporters head to Nepal for the first legislative elections under the new constitution adopted in 2015. In this report, they meet three former Maoists who spent their childhoods fighting for the revolutionary cause, but today they are hoping to make a change not by staring down the barrel of the gun, but through the ballot box.  FRANCE 24 reporters have selected three key moments that stood out during the filming of their meetings with the former Maoist fighters: The rocky road.  Jeevan used to be a Maoist child soldier, but now he’s in charge of his former commander’s election campaign. We had been filming with Jeevan at  an election rally,  in the upper reaches of the Karnali valley, in western  Nepal . As night fell, we descended from the mountain in single file, torches in hand. It took us less than an hour to go down the slopes that had tak

Austrian far-right condemns international call for boycott of its cabinet members

Austria's far-right on Friday said an open letter calling for the boycott of its new cabinet members was a "transparent manouevre" and a "last-ditch attempt of the united left". The anti-immigration Freedom Party (FPOe) has six cabinet members -- including the heads of the interior, foreign and defence ministries -- in  Austria's new conservative coalition government  after October elections that saw voters move to the right. "Do not turn a blind eye: The heirs of Nazism have come into a position of power in the new Austrian government," said the open letter, published on Thursday on French newspaper Le Monde's website. Led by European Grassroots Antiracist Movement president Benjamin Abtan, the statement was signed by international figures including former French and Spanish foreign ministers. FPOe secretary-general Harald Vilimsky said in a statement Friday that the "so-called" boycott came from "retired leftist politicia

PM: Neo-Nazis can't be allowed to ‘get a foothold in Norway'

Her remarks came after the group the Nordic Resistance Movement (Den nordiske motstandsbevegelsen- DNM) held a demonstration in Kristiansand on Saturday.  “We must ensure that the organization, which primarily comes from a Swedish background, does not get a foothold in Norway and that they do not recruit Norwegian youth," the PM told TV2. Solberg ended an election campaign in southern and western Norway on Tuesday with a visit to Kristiansand, where up to 70 right-wing extremists marched through the city's streets without seeking the proper permits from local officials.  Police were on hand in large numbers during the march but, apart from kicking a few people out, officers did not intervene to stop the unsanctioned demonstration.  The police have come under criticism for failing to act, but have defended their response and said that they handled the demonstration properly.  Solberg declined to join in on the criticism, saying that it was up to the police to d

Germany's CSU returns to far-right political battleground

The CSU, sister-party to Angela Merkel's CDU, is holding its annual Bavarian retreat to meditate on the conditions for upcoming coalition talks. The conservative party is likely to make a few tough immigration demands. The parliamentarians of Angela Merkel's Bavarian allies, the Christian Social Union (CSU), started their traditional conclave by making their customary tough noises about immigration policy. To drive their message home, they've invited Hungary's populist Prime Minister Viktor Orban to speak at their gathering on Friday. The CSU Bundestag members will be talking until Saturday in Kloster Seeon, a tiny lakeside idyll not far from the Austrian border, with a whole series of matters to settle ahead of next week's grand coalition talks,  due to begin in Berlin on Sunday. The CSU bigwigs went into their retreat warning the center-left Social Democratic Party (SPD) that it would have to make some concessions. After all, the SPD, with its historical

Cyber Security: Update your software today. Seriously.

Chances are you own a smartphone or computer that contains a chip hackers could potentially exploit to get access to sensitive information. That's because  billions of devices  are affected by two major security flaws revealed by cybersecurity researchers on Wednesday.  The flaws -- dubbed Meltdown and Spectre -- affect processing chips made by  Intel ( INTC ) ,  AMD   ( AMD )  and ARM Holdings. That means if you use a desktop, laptop, smartphone or cloud service from  Apple   ( AAPL ) ,  Google   ( GOOGL ) ,  Amazon ( AMZN )  or  Microsoft   ( MSFT )  you might be vulnerable.  Related: Apple says all Macs and iOS devices affected by chip flaws Don't panic. Here's what you should do.  1. Update your software! Spectre is the main threat because it is present in billions of devices. Meltdown appears to affect only Intel chips.  The U.S. government-funded Software Engineering Institute   initially   said vulnerable chips may eventually have to be replaced altog

Nigeria finds missing Chibok girl after almost four years

The Nigerian army rescued one of the 276 girls who was captured by Boko Haram terrorists at her school in 2014. Although dozens have been released, some 100 are still held captive by the Islamists. Authorities in Nigeria announced on Thursday that they had rescued one more of the Chibok schoolgirls who were abducted by  Boko Haram  nearly four years ago. While the community expressed joy at the girl's return, leader Madu Usman called on the government to make all efforts to free those who remain in captivity. The abduction of the 276 girls by Nigeria's terrorist insurgency in April 2014 sparked a global outcry and highlighted the plight faced by Nigerians who live in territories where the Islamists operate. The girls, who mostly ranged in age from 16-18, were sleeping at their school, awaiting exams, when they were taken. Amnesty International has alleged that the Nigerian government had warning of the attack, but did not move to reinforce the guards at the school.

Frenchwoman on US terror blacklist detained in Syria

Emilie Koenig, a Frenchwoman suspected of recruiting fighters for the Islamic State (IS) group who figured on US and UN blacklists, has been arrested by Kurdish forces in Syria, her mother said Tuesday. The 33-year-old daughter of a gendarme is "being held in a Kurdish camp and has been interrogated and tortured," her mother told  Ouest-France  newspaper. Koenig went to  Syria  in 2014 and three of her children were born in that country. She was put on the UN list of the most dangerous fighters and a year later figured on a US terror list. Koenig converted to Islam after marrying her first husband, a man of Algerian origin, who was arrested for drug trafficking. She learnt Arabic, changed her name to Samra and started wearing a veil. She left for Syria to join her new partner, who was eventually killed. She appeared in several propaganda videos in which she appealed for jihad "as long as the enemy is around". French intelligence also intercepted