Tony Iltis

Three things stand out about the October 14 truck bomb attack in the Somali capital Mogadishu.

First is the huge number of casualties. The detonation of a large truck packed with explosives created an apocalyptic scene of carnage. It levelled nearby buildings, killing at least 327 people and injuring more than 400 others.

Many of the bodies were burned beyond recognition, 160 being buried without even an attempt at identification being made.

The flags of the Women’s Protection Units (YPJ) and Shengal Women's Units (YJS) were planted in the city centre of Raqqa, which had been the capital city of ISIS, on September 14.

ISIS still controls about 20% of the city, but the symbolic importance of this event reflects a very real change in the situation in Syria.

The threat of nuclear annihilation is closer than at any time since the end of the Cold War as two heads of state use nuclear weapons as props in what looks like a fight between two adolescent boys.

On one side is a narcissistic bully, born to inherit great power and with credible reports that his personal life includes indulging in acts of sadism, whose policies in government are driven by a combination of xenophobia, ego and whim and who is threatening nuclear Armageddon if he doesn't get his way.

On the other side is North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un.

Flanked by military commanders, Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi was in the nation’s second-largest city, Mosul, on July 10 to announce the city’s liberation from ISIS.

An end to the three-year-long rule by the extremely violent and authoritarian terrorist group is obviously good news for the city's residents. But it seems unlikely the group’s defeat will mean an end to their suffering, which began long before ISIS captured the city in June 2014.

Filipino President Rodrigo Duterte’s annual State of the Nation (SONA) address on July 24 reflected his government’s increasing trajectory towards dictatorship. Outside, protest marches converged on the parliamentary complex at Batasan, reflecting the growing grassroots opposition to the worsening dictatorial trend.

A hallmark of former Prime Minister Tony Abbott was responding to falling opinion polls by holding press conferences full of totalitarian imagery, announcing moves to weaken civil liberties or intensify persecution of refugees in the name of keeping Australians safe from the apparent existential threat of terrorism. His successor, Malcolm Turnbull, is trying to out-do him.

Australian special forces routinely commit war crimes in Afghanistan.

Such a conclusion is strongly suggested by hundreds of pages of secret Australian Defence Force documents leaked to the ABC, which were revealed on July 11. 

Raqqa, the de facto ISIS capital in Syria, is on the verge of falling. The rapid advance of the left-wing Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) since they entered the city on June 6 contrasts with the slower advance of forces of the Iraqi and Iraqi Kurdistan governments in Mosul, the ISIS capital in Iraq, which the pro-government forces entered in February.

However, the June 18 downing of a Syrian fighter jet by a US war plane, after the former attacked SDF positions near Raqqa, is just one indication that eliminating ISIS will not end the violent multi-sided war in Syria that spawned it.

Once again the mainstream media is using lurid headlines and racist hyperbole to convince us that Australia is under threat from the spectre of Islamist terrorism.

Right-wing columnists are whipping themselves into a frenzy calling for further curbs on the already minuscule opportunity for refugees to settle in Australia, further criminalisation of ideological views and imprisonment without conviction.  

Filipino police and military forces in the small city of Marawi on the island of Mindanao attempted to arrest Isnilon Hapilon, a leader of the Abu Sayyaf criminal gang, on May 23. By the end of the day, President Rodrigo Duterte’s government had declared martial law throughout the island for 60 days and launched a military assault.

By June 2, that ongoing assault, including air strikes, had killed at least 160 people and displaced hundreds of thousands.

This dramatic escalation represents the further slide of Duterte’s administration towards authoritarian rule and a betrayal of his election campaign promise to pursue a negotiated end to Mindanao’s multiple insurgencies.

Pages

Subscribe to Tony Iltis