Russia Annexes Ukrainian Regions

By S. Kinskey, The Chicago Times

September 30, 2022

MOSCOW – Russian President Vladimir Putin signed treaties Friday to annex areas of occupied Ukraine.

At a treaty-signing ceremony, Putin demanded Ukraine officials come to the table to end the seven months of fighting and warned that Russia would never give up the annexed regions of Ukraine even if it meant nuclear retaliation.

The Russian absorption of the Donetsk, Luhansk, Kherson and Zaporizhzhia regions comes three days after Kremlin backed referendums in which the local population voted to join the Russian Federation.  Western powers allege the referendums were fixed.  Putin demanded Ukrainian authorities will respect the results of the Kremlin backed election.

In response, Ukrainian officials waved off Putin’s remarks and retorted that the fate of Ukraine will be decided on the battlefield.

“We continue to work and liberate Ukrainian territories.  And we don’t pay attention to those whose time to take pills has come.  The army is working, Ukraine is united. Only moving forward.” Andrii Yermak, spokesman for the Ukrainian president.

Putin has warned Ukraine and NATO that attacks on annexed regions would be considered an attack on sovereign Russian soil and would use all means available in retaliation.

Russian Government Announces Conscription Exemptions

By S. Kinskey, The Chicago Times

September 24, 2022

MOSCOW – The Russian government has announced certain exemptions to the recent mobilization of its reserve forces.

Russia’s defense ministry announced that bankers, IT workers, journalists and other employees in critical industries would be exempt from conscription.  This is in response to Wednesday’s announcement that Russia would activate 300,000 additional soldiers to strengthen its depleted army in Ukraine.

Putin’s mobilization order follows weeks of meat grinding defeat for the Russians as Ukrainian forces battle east to liberate portions of Russian held territories in Ukraine.  In a war that has now entered its eight-month, Russian casualties have mounted to over 10,000 soldiers with no end in sight.

The mobilization announcement has led to protests within Russia, which has prompted the Federal Assembly to pass a bill that would punish draft dodgers and deserters with a prison sentence of up to 15 years.  President Putin is expected to sign the bill into law.

There have been reports that thousands of Russian men are fleeing to Finland and other parts of Europe in order to avoid conscription and the meat grinder of Ukraine.  Many bordering countries have pledged to restrict the influx of Russians since it presents a border security threat.

Mexico: Military To Control National Guard

By R. M. Vargas, The Chicago Times

September 09, 2022

MEXICO CITY – The Mexican Senate passed the final piece of legislation that will transfer control of the nation’s National Guard to the military.  Many in the opposition party claim it will lead to further abuses by the military that is plagued with accusations of abuse of power and even murder.

The 71-51 vote in favor of the legislation follows the approval by the lower house, also known as the Chamber of Deputies.  It has been reported that President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador will sign the bill into law.

In 2019, the National Guard was placed under civilian control, yet Lopez Obrador claims that the National Guard needs to be managed by the military in order to root out corruption.  Opposition leaders plan to challenge the bill in court since they claim it violates the constitution.

The Mexican military has a blemished record filled with countless claims of abuse of power and even murder, including the 2014 “disappearance” of 43 students.  Lopez Obrador recently promised to reduce the number of military forces patrolling the streets; however, since 2018, he has only increased the military presence.  This is leaving many to wonder if the consolidation of the National Guard is the first step to a full military dictatorship.

Lopez Obrador justified his shifting view on military patrols in the streets by citing the ever-increasing amount of violent crime in Mexico.  Lopez Obrador declined to explain why crime levels have not declined as increased military patrols roam the streets.  Some sources within the Chamber of Deputies believe the military views the continued rise in crime as a key to increasing the military’s power and influence in the government, while other believe the military has been corrupted by the drug cartels.

Baghdad Riots End With 30 Killed And Over 500 Wounded

By Peter Lawrence, The Chicago Times

August 30, 2022

BAGHDAD – After a bloody and hot day the riots and killings on Monday have ended in Baghdad’s Green Zone after Shia leader Muqtada al-Sadr called for his supporters to stand down.

The popular Muslim cleric, al-Sadr, pleaded for his supporters to withdraw from the Green Zone and to end the senseless fighting between rival Shiite forces and the Iraqi Security Forces.  When the fighting had ended, sources within the government claimed that 30 lives have been lost along with over 500 people wounded and maimed for life.

“I apologize to the Iraqi people, the only ones affected by the events,” al-Sadr said in a statement.

As supporters of al-Sadr retreated, the Iraqi government cancelled the nationwide curfew put in place to quell the violence.  In furtherance of peace, President Barham Saleh will support the call for early elections in an effort to heal this national wound.

The bloody fighting began Monday when the influential cleric Muqtada al-Sadr stirred the emotions of hundreds of his followers who rushed a government palace in a rage, pulling down cement barriers surrounding the palace with ropes.  In response, the Iraqi military decreed a nationwide curfew after further clashes with protesters.

Throughout the night, fighting between the Saraya Salam, a militia aligned with al-Sadr, and the Popular Mobilization Forces security group spilled into the Green Zone which houses many government and diplomatic assets.

The ongoing struggle between Shiites and Sunnis Muslim sects, which make up the majority of Iraq’s population, has left the nation with uncertainly as to which sect will dominant the county.  In October, al-Sadr’s Shiite party won the largest share of seats in parliament, but not enough to form a majority government after he refused to parley with Iran-backed Shiite rivals. 

Iraq’s prime minister, Mustafa Al-Kadhimi, was outraged by the shootings and vowed to open an investigation since the use of live ammunition against protesters was forbidden.  On Tuesday, Al-Kadhimi threatened to resign if the crisis continued.

Photo: Reuters

Baghdad: 15 People Dead After Palace Stormed

By Peter Lawrence, The Chicago Times

August 30, 2022

BAGHDAD – Iraqi Security Forces shot and killed 15 protestors after hundreds stormed a government palace after a popular Shiite cleric abruptly resigned on Monday.

The resignation of the influential cleric Muqtada al-Sadr stirred the emotions of hundreds of his followers who rushed a government palace in a rage, pulling down cement barriers surrounding the palace with ropes. 

The Iraqi military decreed a nationwide curfew after further clashes with protesters.  It has been reported that dozens of protesters were wounded by gunfire, tear gas, and beatings from riot police.

Throughout the night, fighting between the Saraya Salam, a militia aligned with al-Sadr, and the Popular Mobilization Forces security group spilled into the Green Zone which houses many government and diplomatic assets.  Further reports indicate that innocent women and children have been wounded in the fighting.

The continuing struggle between Shiites and Sunnis Muslim sects, which make up the majority of Iraq’s population, has left the nation with uncertainly as to which sect will dominant the county.  In October, al-Sadr’s Shiite party won the largest share of seats in parliament, but not enough to form a majority government after he refused to parley with Iran-backed Shiite rivals.

Iraq’s prime minister, Mustafa Al-Kadhimi, was outraged by the shootings and vowed to open an investigation since the use of live ammunition against protesters was forbidden.

Photo: Reuters

Tripoli: At Least 32 Killed During Political Clash

By: W. Spencer, The Chicago Times

August 28, 2022

TRIPOLI – Violence erupted in the streets of Libya’s capital Saturday killing 32 people as two rival militias fight for political control.

Saturday’s bloodshed started as militias loyal to the Tripoli based government fought against militants supporting a rival government seeking to take power.  Civil war is now feared throughout the oil rich country once ruled by the brutal dictator Moammar Gadhafi.

Gadhafi’s removal in 2011 in favor a western backed government has split the country politically between factions supporting the previous dictatorship and factions supported by the West.

After the failure to hold elections, current prime minister Abdul Hamid Dbeibah has refused to relinquish power despite the appointment of Fathi Bashagha as the new prime minister by parliament.

According to the Health Ministry, 32 people were killed and 159 wounded during the bloody fighting which included heavy artillery shelling in a densely populated area of the capital.  Many innocent civilians were reportedly trapped during the carnage.

Photo: Vyacheslav Argenberg