Syria: The war continues, but the rebels seem to have blunted weeks of government momentum and may have returned things to a stalemate. The rebels seized a weapons cache north of Damascus, which could substantially improve their firepower. Fighting continued in Homs, neither side gaining ground, but it does seem that the rebels were able to blow up the city’s arms depot, and additional fighting in the mountains near the Mediterranean coast killed 30. On the Kurdish front, fighting continued between the extremist rebels in Jabhat al-Nusrah and Kurds near the Turkish border, as Kurdish leaders continue to exploit the civil war to establish autonomy for the Kurdish community within Syria. The upshot is what analysts are calling a 3-way partition of the country, with Assad controlling the west from the Jordanian border to the Mediterranean, Kurds controlling the northeast, and Sunni Arab rebels in control of the rest, from Aleppo in the north through the sparsely populated east to the Iraqi border. Homs continues to be the focal point in the conflict, with its centrality key to both the cohesion and viability of the rebel-controlled areas and to the defense of the western territory controlled by Assad and the Alawites. The UN is probing new reports of atrocities in the conflict, this time on the part of rebel fighters who are accused of slaughtering prisoners after capturing Khan al-Assal, a village outside Aleppo. The main Free Syrian Army leadership has condemned the killings, and since Jabhat al-Nusrah acknowledged that its fighters participated in the capture of Khan al-Assal it’s likely that the executions were carried out by extremists. Also, a government airstrike against rebel positions hit uncomfortably close to the Lebanese border on Saturday, illustrating the potential for spillover.
Egypt, Turkey, and Zimbabwe up next.
Egypt: No real violence to report since last weekend’s brutal massacre of pro-Morsi demonstrators by government security forces, but the government is warning that they will soon forcibly disperse the crowds of protesters if they do not disperse of their own accord. The protesters seem to be unmoved by the government’s concern that they have been “mentally kidnapped” by the Muslim Brotherhood and are not inclined to stop protesting, so this situation is still incredibly volatile.
Turkey: Stop me if you’ve heard this one:
Turkish police fired teargas and water cannon to disperse small groups of anti-government protesters in central Istanbul on Saturday evening, television footage showed.
I’m sure they had it coming to them. I mean, how is a true democracy, committed to freedom of speech and the right of the people to freely assemble, supposed to survive small groups of citizens assembling to protest their grievances against the government?
Zimbabwe: Supporters of the opposition MDC party allege that they were attacked by supporters of President Robert Mugabe in the immediate aftermath of Wednesday’s election that shockingly re-elected Mugabe to a seventh term in office and gave his party 3/4 of the seats in parliament. The MDC and international observers allege that the voting was rigged in President Mugabe’s favor, but a man who respects democratic governance and human rights like Mugabe would never stoop to such a thing. The alleged attacks were perpetrated by Mugabe supporters, so not necessarily state sanctioned, but you know what? Fuck Robert Mugabe. If he didn’t order these attacks then he certainly created the apparatus that carried them out.
Russia: I don’t know how I forgot this, but apparently it’s now illegal to be openly gay in Russia, mostly because Vladimir Putin needs somebody to beat up on so people won’t pay attention to his ongoing transformation into Tsar Vladimir I, and bombing the Chechens again would be SO 90s.