Classic “Country Said, Country Said” Situation: Pakistan’s ambassador to the US is saying India has rushed to judgment and is unfairly blaming his country for a suicide bombing February 14 that killed more than 40 Indian security force members in the disputed region of Kashmir. “India pointed the finger at Pakistan within minutes. The Indian government and media went into overdrive, whipping up war hysteria against Pakistan,” the ambassador said recently in Washington. The bombing was carried out by a young Muslim man who grew up in Indian-administered Kashmir, and Pakistan says it had nothing to do with it. However, Pakistan has long hosted Jaish-e-Mohammed, the radical group that claimed responsibility for the attack, even though the government has officially outlawed the group. Both the UN and the US have designated Jaish-e-Mohammed a terrorist organization. (NPR)
A Literal Power Struggle: On Thursday one of the most extensive power outages in Venezuelan history began. President Nicolas Maduro, without citing any evidence, called the blackout an “electricity war” and blamed it on the US. It appears, however, to have stemmed from a failure at the main hydroelectric plant, which has suffered from years of underinvestment. By Saturday morning power began to restore in the capital of Caracas, but remained off for large portions of the rest of the country. Opposition leader Juan Guaidó urged his supporters to mobilize against Maduro’s government, and protesters showed up despite a ban on political rallies in the capital. Maduro held his own rally inside the presidential palace for supporters, who believe they are victims of a coup attempt by the White House. State utility workers estimate it will be days before the national grid is completely restored. (NPR)
Burning The Bridges He Wouldn’t Cross Anyway: Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu is walking a fine line, insisting all the country’s citizens have equal rights, including Israeli Arabs who make up about 17 percent of the population, while simultaneously referencing a controversial law passed in 2018 declaring Israel the nation state of the Jewish people. Speaking at a cabinet meeting he again called Israel “a Jewish, democratic state” with equal rights, but “the nation state not of all its citizens but only of the Jewish people.” Netanyahu has continually warned that his opponents will receive the support of Arab parties and that they will make significant concessions to the Palestinians, leading critics to accuse him of demonizing Israeli Arabs in order to boost rightwing turnout in the April 9 elections. (Guardian)
Cut Off One Head…: After years of American-led bombing and ground combat by Kurdish and Shiite militia fighters, the Islamic State’s territory in Iraq and Syria has shriveled down to a tiny village in southeast Syria. Meanwhile, ISIS has attracted a range of militant jihadists and sprouted anew in the Mindanao island group of the southern Philippines. In 2017 militants who had pledged allegiance to ISIS took over the largest Muslim-majority city in Mindanao, Marawi, but after five months of fierce offense from the military, President Rodrigo Duterte claimed victory. Then on a sunny Sunday morning in January, ISIS suicide bombers attacked a Catholic Church on the island of Jolo, killing 23 people. (NYT)
ISIS Smuggler: Sleeper Cells and ‘Undead’ Suicide Bombers Have Infiltrated Europe
Jailed jihadis are being released, others are returning to Europe to face prison time, and still others have never been known to police and wait to be mobilized.