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Protests turn deadly in Burundi over the coming presidential elections, Shots are fired at a Mohammad Cartoon contest in Texas, Netanyahu manages to create a coalition government, Houthis in Yemen expand control of port city of Aden, and a xenophobic right wing organization is uncovered in Germany.
War News Radio
Central and Sub-Saharan Africa
Tensions in Burundi Escalate as Nkurunziza Announces Third Bid for Presidency
At least twelve people have died in Burundi during protests sparked by President Pierre Nkurunziza’s announcement that he will run for a third term. Nkurunziza, a former Hutu rebel leader, began his first term in 2005 just two years after the end of the country’s decade long civil war. While the Burundian constitution only allows for two-term presidencies, the country’s constitutional court ruled that Nkurunziza’s first term does not count because he was chosen by parliament. The Vice-President of the constitutional court, Sylvere Nimpagaritse, said that the court’s decision was made under pressure from the government, a claim that Nkurunziza’s camp strongly denies. On Wednesday, opposition leader Audifax Ndabitoreye was arrested under a warrant for insurrection after attending a meeting with foreign leaders from the East African Community who were looking to solve the unrest. The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees reports that almost 40,000 Burundians have left the country in the past month.
Middle East and North Africa
Netanyahu Forges Fragile Coalition in the Nick of Time
With just hours to spare before the deadline expired, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu formed a new coalition government to command a majority in the Knesset, Israel’s parliament. Netanyahu had struggled to form a government after Yisrael Beitenu, a nationalist party headed by former Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman, refused to join the coalition. After lengthy negotiations, the far-right The Jewish Home party agreed to join, supplying Netanyahu with the necessary eight seats to form a government. Netanyahu’s new coalition, however, is far from stable, commanding a mere 61 seats in the 120-seat Knesset. In addition to Netanyahu’s Likud Party and The Jewish Home political party, this coalition consists of two Ultra-Orthodox parties, United Torah Judaism and Shas, as well as the new centrist party, Kulanu. Balancing the ideologies of so many parties will prove to be a challenge, both domestically and in foreign policy. The Jewish Home, whose support has been rewarded with Education and Justice ministry positions, as well as Deputy Defense Minister, has opposed a Palestinian State and has supported Israeli settlement expansion and annexation of parts of the West Bank.
Houthi Fighters in Yemen Advance Control over Aden
Houthi fighters took the Tawahi district of the southern city of Aden on Wednesday, according to Reuters. The Houthi’s advance comes despite the Saudi-led coalition’s continuing airstrikes across the country. With this victory, the Houthis have gained near-full control over Aden, one of the last outposts of the Saudi-backed president, Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi. Aden has been a center of the conflict between the Houthis, supporters of Hadi, and Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula.
During Wednesday’s fighting 32 civilians were killed when shell-fire hit and sunk a barge carrying those fleeing the conflict off the shore of Aden. Witnesses identified the shell-fire as belonging to Houthi forces, claimed the BBC. Meanwhile, Houthi sources reported that at least 43 civilians were killed and more than a hundred wounded under the Saudi-led coalition’s airstrikes on Yemen’s northwestern provinces Tuesday and Wednesday.
Saudi Arabia’s foreign minister Adel al-Jubeir announced plans to offer a five-day humanitarian ceasefire in Yemen. The cease fire would depend on whether the Houthis agree to halting all operations in the country. On Wednesday, 22 aid organizations working in Yemen released a statement saying that a temporary ceasefire would not ameliorate the humanitarian crisis on the ground. They instead asked for a permanent end to the fighting and the opening of land, air and sea routes to allow for humanitarian intervention. The conflict has taken at least 1,400 lives and injured more than 6,000 since Saudi airstrikes began six weeks ago.
Shots Fired at Texas Mohammad Cartoon Contest
Earlier this week, two gunmen fired shots at a Prophet Mohammed cartoon contest in Garland, Texas. The shooters, Elton Simpson and Nadir Soofi, opened fire on two security guards at the event using legally purchased firearms. The shooters were then killed by a police officer. Although the ISIS radio news bulletin states that “two soldiers of the caliphate” carried out the attack, U.S. officials are skeptical as to whether ISIS actually organized the shooting. One former FBI agent quoted by CNN believes that the gunmen were trying to join ISIS by committing an act of terror, citing Simpson’s contact with a known British ISIS recruiter. Officials are now investigating other contacts the shooters may have had within the U.S. Meanwhile, the State Department’s Rewards for Justice Program has offered a new $20 million reward for information about the location of four ISIS leaders. The four men, named Abdul Rahman Mustafa al-Qaduli, Abu Mohammed al-Adnani, Tarkhan Tayumurazovich Batirashvili and Tariq bin al-Tahar bin al-Falih al-Awni al-Harzi, are now featured on a poster along with ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdad that is being circulated online and in Iraq and Syria.
Four Arrested in Germany for Anti-Muslim Plot
German police forces have arrested four people on terrorism charges. The four are suspected of plotting to bomb German Muslims and refugees. Authorities report that those arrested are founding members of an underground right-wing group called the “Old School Society”. These arrests occur as anti-immigrant sentiment has grown more prevalent in Germany and other European countries. In 2011, German authorities uncovered another previously unknown right-wing group called the National Socialist Underground. The NSU has since been tied to the murders of nine immigrants and a police officer, two bombings, and fourteen bank robberies. Last year, anti-Muslim group PEGIDA began demonstrations in Dresden protesting immigration and “Islamization”. Meanwhile, asylum applicants in Germany rose around 60% to 200,000 in 2014. As conflict continues in Libya, Nigeria, and Syria, German officials expect that number to climb to 400,000 this year.
This week on War News Radio, Saudi-led airstrikes in Yemen have entered a new stage, President Obama announced the deaths of two aid workers in Pakistan by US drone, new information on the strength of North Korean ballistic missiles, and more.
Last week, we brought you an interview on the unexpected intersections of the NFL, the U.S. military, brain injuries, and psychological trauma.
Here’s something else the NFL and the U.S. armed services have in common: a history of problems handling domestic abuse and sexual assault in their ranks.
The NFL has faced a lot of fall-out surrounding its lackluster handling of the Ray Rice scandal. Even now, after airing a well-received anti-domestic violence PSA during the Super Bowl, some folks in the know are questioning if the league actually even has a program against domestic violence.
Likewise, domestic abuse is an issue in the military. One author found that combat veterans commit 21 percent of domestic violence nationwide.
Of all kinds of abuse, it’s sexual assault that has been in the spotlight recently. “It’s widespread in our society. It’s particularly offensive in the military community because the military ethos is one of honor and trust,” President Barack Obama’s nominee for U.S. defense secretary, Ashton Carter, told the Senate Armed Services Committee this week. The sheer number of sexual assaults in the military and the personal stories behind them are staggering.
Here are some more stats and comparisons.
“The Rate of Domestic Violence Arrests Among NFL Players” – FiveThirtyEight.com
Crime in the United States 2013, Violent Crime, Table 7 – FBI
Crime in the United States 2013, Arrests, Table 42 – FBI
“The Facts on the Military and Violence Against Women” – Futures Without Violence
Statistics – RAINN (Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network)
This week on War News Radio: the Yemeni government resigns, DRC protests against election delays, the Islamic State threatens new hostages and more.
From the November show, Leo Elliot’s piece on the disparities between U.S. narratives and policy regarding the struggle between ISIS and the Kurds.