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North Korea missile assessments: Photographs from area launched

North Korean state media publishes pictures its says have been taken from its greatest missile launch since 2017.

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Myanmar’s navy turns to Buddhism in bid for legitimacy

A plan is below manner for Min Aung Hlaing, head of Myanmar’s navy and chief of final 12 months’s coup, to construct the most important sculpture of a sitting Buddha on this planet – a part of his try and forge a legacy as a protector of Buddhism.

However, within the final 12 months, troopers instantly below his command have killed almost 1,500 folks in a crackdown on the navy’s opponents that violates Buddhism’s first and most vital precept: to abstain from killing.

”Their Buddhism is a pretend present, they don’t need to be referred to as Buddhists. We don’t kill different folks. What they’re doing proper now could be all reverse of Buddhism,” stated Agga Wantha, a 30-year-old monk from Mandalay who has been main protests towards the coup.

“They’re simply saying that they’re Buddhist however they’re doing this simply to come up with the nation.”

Min Aung Hlaing has turned to strategies used previously to try to declare some type of legitimacy on this 90-percent Buddhist nation that has been below navy management for many of the previous 60 years.

That has meant alliances with high-profile monks and common reminders of the high-ranking officers’ devotion to the Buddha, regardless of a seamless marketing campaign of violence.

Obeisance, alms and scorched earth

In late October, the navy initiated a scorched-earth campaign in Thantlang, in northwestern Chin State, destroying a whole bunch of buildings and forcing 1000’s to flee their houses.

Days later, Min Aung Hlaing visited a number of monasteries in Mandalay, Myanmar’s second-biggest metropolis, making obeisance and giving alms. Among the many monks he met was Bhamo Sayadaw, chairperson of the State Sangha Maha Nayaka Committee, a government-appointed physique of high-level monks that oversees Buddhism and the clergy in Myanmar.

A man prays outside Yangon's landmark Sule Pagoda in the early hours of February 1 when the military seized powerMost individuals in Myanmar are Buddhist. Coup chief Min Aung Hlaing is planning to construct the world’s greatest sitting Buddha as a manner of displaying his devotion and successful help from the monks [File: EPA]

Navy management visits to high-profile monks are printed nearly day by day within the state-run media as a part of the general public relations effort. A report from the US Institute of Peace final month confirmed that public shows of navy help for Buddhism elevated nearly four-fold after the coup.

“The military has been very intelligent about utilizing faith as their promoting level. In case you’re a monk within the society you might have absolutely the respect of the inhabitants. Because of this the navy needs to make use of them as a result of it’s a very efficient software for them to control society,” stated Sai Thet Naing Oo, Myanmar nation consultant on the Pyidaungsu Institute for Peace and Dialogue, which works to deliver collectively totally different political voices in Myanmar.

“So despite the fact that there are various different issues he may very well be doing, Min Aung Hlaing at all times takes time to go to the favored monks.”

‘Nearly everyone hates them’

The navy has confronted appreciable opposition because it deposed civilian chief Aung San Suu Kyi and her get together, the Nationwide League for Democracy (NLD), in a coup it claimed was needed due to fraud within the November 2020 elections.

A powerful resistance motion emerged nearly instantly, with demonstrations and a mass motion of civil disobedience resulting in the event of a decentralised community of armed teams, often called the Individuals’s Defence Power (PDF), that’s now in common battle with navy troops throughout the nation.

The worldwide neighborhood has additionally condemned the regime with the US and the European Union imposing sanctions towards a number of navy leaders and military-owned companies. On the United Nations, the nation continues to be represented by the ambassador appointed by the NLD authorities.

With overwhelming resistance at dwelling and an absence of help internationally, the navy is determined for any help it may possibly get, in line with Richard Horsey, Myanmar adviser on the Worldwide Disaster Group.

In early September, navy authorities introduced that that they had launched Ashin Wirathu, a monk identified for his Buddhist nationalist views, particularly his bigoted stance against Muslims.

Horsey says that whereas the navy has maintained a long way from Wirathu and has not but totally “thrown itself one hundred pc behind the Buddhist nationalist agenda”, they wish to maintain the hardline factions readily available.

“They don’t have many associates. They’re seeking to maintain or acquire no matter associates they’ll in a context the place nearly everyone hates them,” Horsey advised Al Jazeera.

“Clearly Buddhist nationalism is without doubt one of the playing cards they’ll play, one of many constituents they’ll attain out to, and it’s actually one thing they’ve been sending alerts about, despite the fact that they haven’t totally adopted by means of on that but.”

The navy’s efforts to make use of Buddhism and Buddhist nationalism as a legitimising tactic have additionally prolonged internationally.

Prominent monk Sitagu Sayadaw in traditional saffron robes sits in a carved wooden seat at a lavish ceremony in NaypyidawMin Aung Hlaing is courting Sitagu Sayadaw, left, seen at a ceremony in Naypyidaw in 2017, who beforehand defended the navy over its brutal crackdown on the Rohingya [File: Hein Htet/EPA]

When Min Aung Hlaing’s second-in-command, Common Soe Win, visited Russia in September to supervise an arms deal, he was accompanied by Sitagu Sayadaw, one other controversial monk identified for holding hardline views. Horsey explains that a part of this resolution was in all probability a “credibility problem” and that travelling with a monk “exhibits that you’ve got some kind of non secular backing”.

Sitagu, who’s a regime favorite, was one of many main monastic voices in the course of the 2017 “clearance operations” wherein 1000’s of mostly Muslim Rohingya were killed and a whole bunch of 1000’s fled into neighbouring Bangladesh. Sitagu defended the navy’s actions, saying that “non-Buddhists aren’t human so killing them is justified.” The Rohingya crackdown is now the topic of a genocide investigation.

Whereas the navy will not be embracing Buddhist nationalism in its entirety, it does appear to have resumed its old strategy of focusing its assaults on the elements of the nation with massive non-Buddhist populations.

“You see extra of the armed battle today occurring in majority non-Buddhist areas. They [the military] don’t say that they’re attacking a gaggle of individuals from a unique faith, however you possibly can see who they’re concentrating on. They let their actions converse for them,” Sai Oo advised Al Jazeera, referring to current assaults in Chin, which is 85 p.c Christian and Kayah, dwelling to the nation’s largest neighborhood of Roman Catholics.

Non secular discrimination

The navy has additionally used Buddhism in its makes an attempt to tarnish the legitimacy of its opposition, launching smear campaigns towards the quickly rising resistance motion and its detained leaders.

Articles printed in state-run media accuse PDF fighters of murdering monks, claiming that “terrorist teams deliberately kill the monks of Buddhism as the religion professed by the nice majority of the residents.”

Earlier than the coup, the navy additionally portrayed Aung San Suu Kyi and the NLD as “insufficiently supportive of Buddhism” to discourage help from the clergy by sparking concern that the civilian authorities was overly liberal and secular, in line with Horsey.

This line of assault has continued because the coup. In a speech in August, Min Aung Hlaing stated that “Buddha devotees had been disheartened of their religion in Buddhism in the course of the earlier 5 years”, referring to the interval wherein the NLD authorities was in workplace.

However this propaganda, whereas embraced by some inside the monastic neighborhood, particularly its extra hardline members, presents a really totally different image to the expertise of non secular minorities in Myanmar.

Salai Za Uk Ling, who serves because the deputy govt director of the Chin Human Rights Group, a rights-based group representing the Christian-majority Chin inhabitants, says that even when Aung San Suu Kyi was in workplace, Buddhism was a dominating drive in politics.

“Christianity is considered a international faith in [Myanmar] and Christians have been handled like second-class residents. Underneath the civilian authorities we noticed just about nothing change when it comes to insurance policies – the coverage manifested in a extra delicate manner, however there was no actual, severe efforts to deal with the foundation causes of discrimination towards non secular minorities,” stated Za Uk.

“And what we’re seeing now below the present navy junta is simply the continuation of this lengthy coverage.”

Nonetheless, regardless of the NLD’s comparable stance on Buddhism, the navy’s marketing campaign towards Aung San Suu Kyi and now the resistance motion does seem to have had some impression.

Air attacks on Thantlang in northwestern Chin state in October sent columns of smoke rising into the air after parts of the town were destroyedSome monks say the navy breaches the precepts of Buddhism with indiscriminate crackdowns and bombings just like the October assault in town of Thantlang, Chin [File: Chin Human Rights Organization via AP Photo]

Throughout earlier intervals of political unrest, monks had been usually on the forefront of the protests. In 2007, the “Saffron Revolution“, named for the color of the monks’ robes, erupted in response to a rise in gas costs and for greater than a month 1000’s of monks flooded the streets all throughout the nation.

However monk and protest chief Agga Wantha says that monks’ lack of visibility within the anti-coup motion will not be as a result of the clergy helps the navy. Fairly, he says, many monks haven’t been capable of take part overtly due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and the involvement of those that have is being overshadowed by the high-profile monks who’ve aligned themselves with the navy.

“For the reason that navy coup, Min Aung Hlaing has bribed and gained favours for monks to be on his facet however we don’t want civilians to suppose that we aren’t supporting the [protest movement]. We, as monks, additionally don’t agree with the navy taking up the nation,” stated Agga Wantha.

But, because the navy leans on faith and its alliances with the clergy to bolster its grip on energy, the navy is popping on others inside Myanmar’s Buddhist neighborhood who’re making it more and more clear that they won’t help the exploitation of their faith by a regime that kills its personal folks.

“We’re affected by their ruling too. If we encounter them on the road, they shoot at us and, if we’re unlucky, we get arrested too,” stated Agga Wantha. “This isn’t what we do as Buddhists so we are going to proceed to protest.”

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Your Monday Briefing: U.S. Floats Russian Sanctions

Good morning. We’re masking the potential fallout of U.S. sanctions on Russia, the defeat of ISIS fighters in Syria and China’s pandemic surveillance state.

Essentially the most punishing sanctions that President Biden has threatened in an effort to discourage an invasion of Ukraine might devastate the Russian economy. Analysts predict a inventory market crash and different types of monetary panic that will inflict ache on Russia’s individuals.

The “swift and extreme” response promised by the U.S. might additionally roil different main economies, and even threaten the worldwide monetary system. British lawmakers may even take into account broadening the range of sanctions accessible.

Sanctions might foment anger in opposition to President Vladimir Putin. However resilience is a part of Russia’s nationwide id, and three reactionary safety officers dedicated to restoring former Soviet glory have Putin’s ear. On Sunday, Russia’s international minister, Sergey Lavrov, stated the nation despatched an “pressing demand” to NATO to make clear its stance, an indication of hope for additional diplomacy.

Evaluation: Some analysts warn that Russia may retaliate by reducing off pure gasoline shipments to Europe or with cyberattacks in opposition to American and European infrastructure. Ukrainian officers criticized the Biden administration for its warnings of an imminent Russian assault, saying that they had needlessly unfold alarm.

Kurdish-led forces regained full control of a prison in northeastern Syria on Sunday, after a tough struggle to subdue the final Islamic State gunmen barricaded in a jail in a weeklong siege.

The preventing was essentially the most intense city fight involving American troopers in Iraq or Syria for the reason that self-declared ISIS caliphate fell in 2019. Occasions journalists noticed no less than 80 our bodies within the metropolis of Hasaka, some wearing orange jail jumpsuits, being transported in a small truck from the route of the jail.

Background: The preventing started eight days in the past after an attack by ISIS on the prison, which housed greater than 3,000 males accused of getting fought for the militant group and nearly 700 detained minors.

Area: The U.S. maintains about 700 troops within the Kurdish-led Rojava area, which has change into a haven for the remnants of the self-declared caliphate. Specialists say the Islamic State could possibly be biding its time till circumstances within the unstable international locations the place it thrives permit it to increase.


The coronavirus pandemic has given China’s chief, Xi Jinping, a strong case for deepening the Communist Party’s reach into the lives of the nation’s 1.4 billion residents.

Within the two years for the reason that Wuhan lockdown, China’s authorities has honed its already-expansive powers to trace and corral its individuals in an effort to cease the unfold of the virus.

Now, officers are turning their sharpened surveillance in opposition to different dangers, together with crime, air pollution and “hostile” political forces. Broad public assist bolsters Xi’s imaginative and prescient of order in distinction to what he calls “the chaos of the West.”

Particulars: People are assigned a well being code — inexperienced, yellow or pink — decided by location, journey historical past, check outcomes and different well being knowledge. The code can be utilized to limit motion, and it has been key to China’s zero-Covid goal. It’s additionally the muse for elevated surveillance.

Outcomes: One human rights lawyer stated the authorities meddled together with his well being code to bar him from touring. Officers have additionally used pandemic health-monitoring methods to flush out fugitives.

Listed below are the latest updates and maps of the pandemic.

In different developments:

  • A South Korean naval unit is quarantining in Oman after an outbreak on its ship.

  • The world has administered 10 billion vaccine doses, greater than the worldwide inhabitants, however gaps persist amongst international locations.

  • A mutated model of the Omicron variant might slow the steep decline in cases, however it isn’t prone to change the pandemic’s course, scientists stated.

  • England will prolong coronavirus vaccines to at-risk children ages 5 to 11 on Monday.

Asia

Pegasus, the world’s most potent adware, is able to cracking encrypted smartphone communications. A Times investigation discovered that Israel, which controls its export, had made the software program a key element of its nationwide safety technique. (Here are the highlights.)

The Saturday Profile: After 600 years, Cassandre Berdoz is the primary girl to keep a night watch above the cathedral in Lausanne, Switzerland.

Final summer season, a apartment collapse in Surfside, Fla., killed 98 individuals. It additionally uncovered a startling reality: Thousands of aging condo buildings could be next.

Florida has roughly 1.5 million residential apartment items, a lot of which stand simply toes from the shore. In response to a current examine, 918,000 of these items are greater than 30 years outdated, like those in Champlain Towers South.

However a strong, profitable apartment and co-op business has lengthy pushed again in opposition to any coverage it views as constrictive or unduly costly. Meaning much less regulation, fewer safety scans and extra residents cautious of buildings slapped collectively throughout the growth years.

“It’s a ticking-clock situation,” a veteran condo-law specialist instructed The Occasions. “A bomb obtained set off, again within the day, and it’s about to go off.”

What to Cook dinner

These palak ki tikki, or spinach and potato patties, are extremely straightforward to place collectively.

What to Hearken to

On this week’s playlist, our pop critics suggest new tracks from Raveena, the Climate Station, Immanuel Wilkins and others.

What to Learn

Our editors suggest these 12 new books, which embrace a therapist’s take a look at Zen Buddhism and a romp on a Greek island.

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In Footage: US cities clear-up after big-freeze

Some areas noticed over two toes (61cm) of snow because the area was hit by the most important storm in years.

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Manchester United suspends Greenwood following assault allegation

The soccer membership says Mason Greenwood, 20, ‘won’t return to coaching or play matches till additional discover’.

Manchester United has suspended footballer Mason Greenwood, a transfer that adopted accusations on-line that the 20-year-old participant had assaulted a lady.

In an preliminary assertion on Sunday, the membership mentioned it was “conscious of photos and allegations circulating on social media”, saying it could not remark additional till the details had been established, and including: “Manchester United doesn’t condone violence of any sort.”

In a later assertion, United mentioned: “Mason Greenwood won’t return to coaching or play matches till additional discover.”

The allegations towards Greenwood, together with video, pictures and a voice notice, have been posted on Instagram on Sunday morning and later deleted.

Higher Manchester Police mentioned a person was arrested on suspicion of rape and assault and was being held in custody for questioning after social media photos and movies have been posted by a lady reporting incidents of bodily violence.

Consistent with police observe they didn’t identify the suspect.

“Higher Manchester Police was made conscious earlier as we speak of on-line social media photos and movies posted by a lady reporting incidents of bodily violence,” mentioned a press release.

“An investigation was launched and following enquiries we will verify a person in his 20s has since been arrested on suspicion of rape and assault,” the assertion mentioned.

Greenwood has six objectives and two assists in 24 matches in all competitions for United this season.

He started his profession at United’s academy and has performed as soon as for the England nationwide group.

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The Laborious-Line Russian Advisers Who Have Putin’s Ear

MOSCOW — The West is legalizing marriage between individuals and animals. Ukraine’s leaders are as unhealthy as Hitler, and the nation’s nationalists are “nonhumans.”

These are the views present in President Vladimir V. Putin’s internal circle, among the many high Russian safety officers who’re prone to be on the desk as their chief decides whether or not to launch an open battle in opposition to Ukraine.

In remarks revealed by the Russian information media within the final 12 months, these highly effective males — largely born within the Nineteen Fifties Soviet Union, as Mr. Putin was — have staked out much more reactionary positions than their president has, an indication of the harder-line flip that the Kremlin is taking because it escalates its battle with perceived enemies at house and overseas.

The rise of the safety officers within the president’s orbit traces Mr. Putin’s evolution from a younger chief who confirmed a pleasant face to the West within the early 2000s — whereas surrounding himself with advisers who included distinguished liberals — to the person now implicitly threatening to start out a serious battle in Europe.

It’s also a narrative of the Kremlin’s yearslong battle to craft an ideology to underpin Mr. Putin’s rule: one which more and more depends on an image of the West as an enemy, of Ukraine as a risk and of Russia as a bulwark of “conventional values.”

“That is an try collectively to kind a counter-ideology, since Putin doesn’t have an ideology,” Konstantin Remchukov, a Moscow newspaper editor with Kremlin ties, stated of what he known as the “conservative-reactionary” worldview of Russia’s safety elite. “The important thing postulate is that everybody is in opposition to Russia.”

Nobody actually is aware of how Mr. Putin makes his selections or whom he listens to most as he considers his next steps. The Russian president, the Kremlin says, is reviewing written responses the USA and NATO delivered this previous week to Moscow on its safety calls for — together with a assure that Ukraine by no means develop into a member of NATO.

On Friday, the Kremlin stated the West’s responses didn’t tackle Russia’s greatest safety considerations. However Mr. Putin himself has kept silent, avoiding public touch upon Ukraine since December, regardless of on-camera appearances almost daily.

That leaves the hawks round him to supply clues to his considering. A few of them first met Mr. Putin working with him within the Soviet Okay.G.B., and have been accused by Western officers of overseeing the assassinations, influence operations, cyber espionage and brutal warfare which have helped estrange the Kremlin from Europe and the USA.

Mr. Putin is understood for indulging deceptive, anti-Western tropes, however his important nationwide safety adviser, Nikolai Patrushev, espouses them with even better ardor. Mr. Putin paints an image of enemies bent on falsifying Russia’s superb previous, however his international intelligence chief, Sergei Naryshkin, has taken on the battle over historical past as a particular precedence.

Mr. Putin has embraced extra state involvement within the financial system, however his protection minister, Sergei Okay. Shoigu, has taken that pattern to an excessive by pitching an enormous state-led effort to construct new cities in Siberia.

“Some sort of time machine is taking us again into the worst years of Hitler’s occupation,” Mr. Naryshkin stated of Ukraine this month, describing its pro-Western authorities as a “true dictatorship.” He was opening an exhibit in Moscow titled “Human Rights Abuses in Ukraine.”

Mr. Shoigu final month called Ukrainian nationalists “nonhumans.” Mr. Patrushev has described the “Russophobia” in Ukraine because the outgrowth of a Western propaganda marketing campaign courting to jealous European scribes who besmirched Ivan the Horrible.

“They didn’t like that the Russian Czar didn’t acknowledge their political and ethical management,” Mr. Patrushev said of the Sixteenth-century tyrant recognized for his fearsome secret police.

Now, as Mr. Putin weighs how far to boost the stakes in Ukraine, the query is how a lot he adopts the conspiratorial mind-set of his hawks. In Moscow, some analysts nonetheless see a realistic streak in Mr. Putin. He weighs the grievances and paranoia promoted by confidants like Mr. Patrushev, they are saying, in opposition to the extra sober enter of individuals like Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin, a technocrat charged with preserving the financial system working.

“These persons are conservative radicals,” stated Mr. Remchukov, who ran the 2018 re-election marketing campaign of the mayor of Moscow, Mr. Putin’s former chief of workers. “It could be a conservative middle, however Putin is within the middle.”

Many indicators, nevertheless, level to the “radicals” gaining sway. The obvious change has been inside Russia, the place the poisoning of the opposition chief Aleksei A. Navalny in 2020 was adopted by a far-reaching crackdown final 12 months on activists, the information media and even lecturers. Western officers stated Mr. Navalny was poisoned by the Russian authorities, however Mr. Naryshkin, the international intelligence chief, has described the poisoning as engineered by Western brokers in search of a “sacrificial sufferer” to assist deliver down Mr. Putin.

As they work to crush dissent, the hard-line safety officers are additionally on the forefront of espousing “conventional values” as Russia’s superior different to a morally decaying West. A tv channel was just lately fined for displaying a person with lengthy hair and painted nails — “not similar to the picture of a person of a standard sexual orientation.” Two bloggers had been sentenced to 10 months in jail for a sexually suggestive picture in entrance of St. Basil’s Cathedral.

“Father and mom are being renamed father or mother primary and two,” Mr. Patrushev stated in a September interview, describing the West’s “international” values. “They need to give kids the proper to find out their very own intercourse, and in some locations they’ve gotten to the purpose of legalizing marriage with animals.”

Mr. Putin repeated the road about “father or mother primary and two” in an appearance a month later, however neglected the zoophilia.

As Russian troops mass close to Ukraine, one other component of the safety officers’ ideology looms massive: the glorification of the Soviet previous. Mr. Patrushev stated the collapse of the Soviet Union “completely untied the palms of the Western neoliberal elite,” permitting it to impose its nontraditional values upon the world. He and his colleagues solid Russia as a nation destined to regain that standing as a bulwark in opposition to the West, with Ukraine and different post-Soviet nations belonging to Moscow’s rightful sphere of affect.

“This is likely one of the darkest currents of Russian nationalism, multiplied by imperialism,” stated Andrei Kolesnikov, a senior fellow on the Carnegie Moscow Heart suppose tank. The aim for Russia’s safety elite, he stated, is “the restoration of empire.”

Mr. Putin has himself described the collapse of the Soviet Union as a “geopolitical disaster.” However he additionally used to hunt out the recommendation of a variety of officers, together with these with liberal factors of view. Now, these officers have largely been pushed out of presidency, whereas the technocrats like Mr. Mishustin virtually by no means communicate out on issues past their speedy space of accountability.

That leaves the category of elite safety officers recognized collectively because the “siloviki,” a lot of whom — like Mr. Patrushev, Mr. Naryshkin and Aleksandr Bortnikov, Russia’s home spy chief — labored within the Okay.G.B. together with Mr. Putin.

Their sway extends nicely past safety issues: Mr. Patrushev, an avid volleyball participant, heads Russia’s Volleyball Federation, and his son is the minister of agriculture. Mr. Naryshkin oversees the Russian Historic Society, serving to to steer the cost in glorifying — and, critics say, whitewashing — Russia’s previous. Mr. Shoigu, the protection minister, indulges Mr. Putin’s curiosity within the open air as president of the Russian Geographical Society and takes Mr. Putin on common vacations into the Siberian woods.

For these officers, analysts say, rising tensions with the West are a superb factor, growing their affect inside the ruling elite.

“The spiraling confrontation and sanctions don’t scare the siloviki however, quite the opposite, open up extra alternatives for them,” Tatiana Stanovaya, the founding father of a political evaluation agency, R. Politik, wrote recently.

Russian analysts at the moment are left questioning whether or not Mr. Putin has sufficient of a realistic streak remaining to keep away from an open battle with Ukraine. Russia’s closure last month of Memorial International, the Moscow human-rights group that lengthy angered Russia’s safety institution for uncovering the crimes of the Soviet secret police, represented an extra swing by Mr. Putin towards the views of the siloviki.

However Western sanctions over a Ukraine incursion may have wide-ranging penalties, as proven by the plunge within the Russian inventory market amid battle fears in current weeks. And army casualties may deliver unpredictable aftereffects in home politics and stain Mr. Putin’s legacy.

“If we now have battle with Ukraine and fratricidal loss of life, then that will probably be all that he will probably be remembered for,” Mr. Remchukov, the newspaper editor, stated. “He can’t not perceive what a sin that will be.”

Alina Lobzina, Khava Khasmagomadova and Oleg Matsnev contributed reporting.

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Freedom Convoy: Truckers trigger chaos in Ottawa after second day of protests

Truckers blocked streets round parliament in a second day of protests in opposition to a vaccine mandate.

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Egypt court docket sentences 10 to dying on prices of planning assaults

The identities of the defendants weren’t revealed and it was not identified how they pleaded to the fees.

An Egyptian court docket has sentenced to dying 10 members of the banned Muslim Brotherhood group for coordinating and planning assaults on the police, the state-news company MENA has reported.

The identities of the defendants weren’t revealed and it was not attainable to find out how they’d pleaded to the fees.

9 have been in custody whereas one was sentenced in absentia, a judicial supply was cited as saying on Sunday by the AFP information company.

The decision will now be referred to the Grand Mufti, Egypt’s high theological authority – a formality in dying penalty instances – earlier than the court docket meets on June 19 to verify the sentences.

Tora prisonEgypt carried out the third highest variety of identified executions on this planet final yr, after China and Iran, in line with rights teams [File: Khaled Desouki/AFP]

The ten who have been sentenced to dying had shaped a gaggle referred to as “Helwan Brigades”, MENA mentioned, in reference to a metropolis south of Cairo. They have been a part of a broader plot to assault police targets within the Cairo space with the intention to topple the federal government, it added.

Capital punishment for civilian convicts in Egypt, the Arab world’s most populous nation, is carried out by hanging.

In response to Amnesty Worldwide, Egypt carried out the third highest variety of identified executions on this planet final yr, after China and Iran.

Cairo’s handing down of dying sentences, or lengthy jail phrases after mass trials, have drawn condemnation from the United Nations and rights teams together with Amnesty.

On Friday, the Biden administration introduced that it might cancel $130m in army help to Egypt over human rights issues, simply days after the US authorised an enormous $2.5bn arms sale to the nation.

The State Division mentioned on Friday that Egypt had not met the circumstances to obtain the $130m in international army financing that has been on maintain since September.

Crackdown on the Brotherhood

Egypt has mounted one of many greatest crackdowns in its fashionable historical past on the Brotherhood following the army’s overthrow of President Mohamed Morsi, the nation’s first freely-elected president, in 2013 after mass protests towards his rule.

Morsi died in custody in June 2019 after falling ailing throughout a court docket listening to.

The federal government considers the Brotherhood a “terrorist” organisation. The group has lengthy mentioned it’s dedicated to peaceable change.

Based in 1928 in Egypt, the Muslim Brotherhood has established itself as the principle opposition motion in Egypt regardless of a long time of repression, and has impressed spinoff actions and political events throughout the Muslim world.

However it stays banned in a number of nations together with Egypt for its alleged hyperlinks to armed exercise.

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Obscure however Essential Commodity Fuels Geopolitical Tussle in Jap Europe

KLAIPEDA, Lithuania — For almost 20 years, lengthy freight trains laden with reddish-brown grit have rumbled into Lithuania’s essential port on the Baltic Sea, offering an financial lifeline for Aleksandr G. Lukashenko, the autocratic president of neighboring Belarus.

That lifeline is to be reduce on Feb. 1 after a choice by the Lithuanian authorities to halt the wagons carrying Mr. Lukashenko’s largest supply of money — potash fertilizer for export to Europe and past by the port of Klaipeda.

Mr. Lukashenko’s opponents applaud the transfer, however others fear about an unintended consequence: It advantages Russia, which is predicted to take over the transport of Belarusian potash and will achieve a stranglehold over a considerable portion of the world’s provide of the obscure however indispensable commodity.

Potash, which Russia additionally produces, may not appear to be a lot, however, prized as a crop nutrient important for international meals safety, it has greater than doubled in worth over the previous 12 months, producing billions of {dollars} in further earnings for Mr. Lukashenko and different producers. The closing of what had been Belarus’s solely export route for the commodity by the Baltics will drive costs even increased.

The nation’s state-owned railway and the Klaipeda port earn a big chunk of their income from potash. Arguments amongst Lithuania’s political and financial elite about what to do in regards to the commerce restrictions have been so heated that the federal government in December provided to resign over the problem. The ruckus erupted after the chairman of Parliament’s overseas affairs committee, Zygimantas Pavilionis, accused the federal government of betraying the USA, a key ally that final 12 months imposed sanctions on Belarus’s state-owned potash producer, and of enabling a dictator.

Mr. Pavilionis, a hawkish former Lithuanian ambassador to Washington, mentioned in an interview that the problem had turn into so tense as a result of “it’s about very large cash.”

In a December letter to Lithuania’s state-owned railway, the U.S. Treasury defined that American sanctions on a giant Belarusian potash producer didn’t apply to overseas entities, nevertheless it urged what it referred to as a “risk-based strategy” to compliance, suggesting there may very well be issues in future.

The Belarusian opposition chief Svetlana Tikhanovskaya, who lives in exile in Lithuania and who has lengthy lobbied to cease the potash shipments, mentioned she was delighted to see the tip of what, in an interview, she referred to as an “immoral” enterprise whose termination will assist empty “the dictator’s deepest pocket.”

That pocket is Belaruskali, an enormous state-owned potash producer that serves as a money cow for Mr. Lukashenko’s authorities. Belarus’s largest taxpayer and largest exporter, the corporate accounts for round 20 p.c world potash provides.

However the American-led drive to bankrupt Mr. Lukashenko has stirred alarm in regards to the ensuing windfall for Russia. Canada, the world’s largest potash producer, will even achieve from an anticipated surge in costs, however Russian beneficial properties go far past simply worth.

“Russia is applauding,” Algis Latakas, the director of Klaipeda port, mentioned in an interview. Belaruskali, he mentioned, will more than likely merely swap to utilizing Russian trains and transport the commodity to Ust-Luga, a Russian port close to St. Petersburg whose improvement has lengthy been a pet undertaking of President Vladimir V. Putin’s.

Mr. Latakas mentioned he understood his authorities’s want to “struggle nondemocratic forces” however cautioned that the tip outcome on this occasion might properly be that “Russia will get a giant financial benefit” and the “energy to manage meals costs.”

Whether or not sanctions work has lengthy been a subject of educational and political debate, however within the case of these imposed on Belarus, the outcomes have thus far been significantly meager.

Over the previous 12 months, throughout which the European Union and the USA imposed a number of rounds of financial restrictions on Belarus, the worth of commerce between Europe and the East European nation has almost doubled. That’s largely due to sharp will increase within the worth of the commodities that Mr. Lukashenko exports, primarily potash and oil merchandise, whose worth has soared thanks partly to rising, sanctions-induced uncertainty over provides.

“Lukashenko is simply making extra money,” lamented Laurynas Kasciunas, the chairman of the Lithuanian Parliament’s nationwide safety and protection committee.

As an alternative of being persuaded to free political prisoners as had been hoped, Mr. Lukashenko has arrested solely extra individuals, with round 980 now behind bars for his or her political actions, according to Viasna, a group that monitors human rights in Belarus. That’s greater than double the quantity reported final June when the present spherical of sanctions started after the forced landing in Minsk, the Belarusian capital, of a Ryanair passenger jet carrying a young dissident, who was promptly arrested.

Ms. Tikhanovskaya acknowledged “the paradox that sanctions have been imposed however Belarus’s earnings has elevated” and mentioned the squeeze on Mr. Lukashenko wanted to be tightened in order to use “insufferable strain” to shake the loyalty of officers and businesspeople Mr. Lukashenko is determined by to remain in energy.

Essential for his financial survival is potash, of which Russia and Belarus collectively produce round 40 p.c of the world’s provide.

The 2 nations’ producers have for years competed fiercely for export markets, however, with Belaruskali now prone to turn into depending on Russian railways and ports to promote its merchandise overseas, Moscow will achieve highly effective leverage over the Belarusian firm. That will put it ready to make use of potash a lot in the identical manner it makes use of its management of giant reserves of pure gasoline to skew the market and put strain on European nations.

“Everybody throws round fairly slogans about democracy however the outcome can be precisely the other of what they need,” predicted Igor Udovickij, the bulk proprietor of a bulk cargo terminal at Klaipeda port half owned by Belaruskali.

“Whoever controls potash controls the provision of meals world wide,” he mentioned. “We’re simply giving Putin a nuclear weapon, however, not like the weapons he already has, that is one which he can truly use.”

Mr. Udovickij has a transparent curiosity in conserving freight trains from Belarus working to Klaipeda. However others with no cash at stake additionally fear that Russia would be the essential beneficiary of efforts to halt the potash visitors by Lithuania, previously a part of the Soviet Union — towards its will — however now a member of the European Union and NATO.

“We have to be very cautious in imposing sanctions to not simply create alternatives for others,” mentioned Mr. Kasciunas, the nationwide safety and protection committee chairman. As a stalwart American ally, he mentioned, Lithuania has an obligation to assist sanctions imposed on Belarus by the U.S. Treasury, however the nation additionally has different issues, specifically Russia.

“No person right here is pro-Lukashenko, however everybody worries most about Russia,” he mentioned. “There are very difficult geopolitics at play with potash.”

Russia has been pushing for years, thus far in useless, to get management of Belaruskali, the crown jewel of Mr. Lukashenko’s in any other case principally decrepit industrial base. Not like Belarus’s different essential income, petroleum merchandise that depend on provides of crude oil from Russia, the potash firm doesn’t rely on Russia to do enterprise. At the very least not till this month.

Mr. Lukashenko, having referred to as for assist from the Kremlin to place down enormous road protests set off by a presidential election extensively seen as rigged in August 2020, has steadily misplaced his capability to withstand Russian calls for. And Belaruskali is now trying more and more susceptible.

In latest weeks, the corporate has not solely misplaced its export route by Lithuania but in addition its largest European buyer, Yara, a partly state-owned Norwegian firm.

Yara introduced on Jan. 10 that it was phasing out all purchases from Belaruskali and would cease shopping for by April 1.

Ms. Tikhanovskaya dismissed issues that sanctions would push her nation solely nearer to Russia as an argument promoted by Mr. Lukashenko and his supporters “to attempt to cease principled motion — it’s all a bluff.”

Nonetheless, Lithuania will lose lots of of tens of millions of {dollars} from halting Belarus exports by Klaipeda, and, in keeping with an inside authorities report assessing potential harm, it might face authorized claims of as much as $15 billion over damaged contracts. Mr. Udovickij, for one, says he plans to sue the federal government for hefty damages.

However for a small nation depending on the USA for safety towards an more and more assertive Russia, much more is at stake than simply cash, the minister of transport, Marius Skuodis, mentioned in an interview. Potash, he added, “is a really tough geopolitical query.”

Tomas Dapkus contributed reporting from Vilnius, Lithuania.

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