Six In The Morning Saturday 3 January 2024

 Iraq warns of disastrous consequences for region after US strikes

Iran expert says Tehran to ‘cool’ Iraqi militia

As we continue to analyse the US airstrikes against Iran-backed groups in Iraq and Syria, a professor of government at Georgetown University in Qatar, tells the BBC that we are now likely to see a “reduction” of Iran’s rhetoric in the coming days.

Even thought “we’ve already seen in the Red Sea that US-UK strikes have not really resulted in a cessation of attacks by the Houthis,” Mehran Kamrava says that “Iraqi proxies are a different story”.

Kamrava suggests that Tehran will now attempt “to cool the Iraqi militia so they don’t engage in these tit-for-tat attacks with the Americans”.

Summary

  1. The US has launched strikes on 85 targets in Syria and Iraq in response to last Sunday’s drone attack on a US military base
  2. The White House had blamed an Iran-backed militia umbrella group for the attack that killed three US soldiers
  3. Iraq says that the US retaliatory strikes will bring disastrous consequences for the region and that civilians were among 16 people killed
  4. The US says its forces conducted airstrikes against Iran-backed militia groups based in Iraq and Syria
  5. “Our response began today. It will continue at times and places of our choosing,” President Biden said in a statement on Friday
  6. Iran has denied involvement in the attack on the US base, calling the accusations “baseless” and saying it was “not involved in the decision-making of resistance groups”

‘A free-for-all’: Japan divided as return of tourists brings Instagrammers and litter

A year after travel restrictions were lifted, authorities are straining to cope with millions of visitors, especially those who don’t respect the environment and local customs

At the height of the Covid pandemic, the restaurateurs and shopkeepers of Tsukiji market in Tokyo must have dreamed of days like these.

Columns of smartphone-wielding visitors shuffle along the narrow streets, pausing to inspect hand-forged kitchen knives and tsukemono pickles, and to sip gratis samples of green tea. Restaurants tempt the lunchtime crowd with sticks of grilled wagyu, boiled crab legs and, for dessert, plump strawberries encased in chewy mochi rice.

But there are indications that Tsukiji’s multinational clientele are not always on their best behaviour. Signs in English implore them not to eat outside storefronts or leave their litter behind. Staff hold aloft signs reminding diners where to queue for their 12-piece, ¥2,700 (£14.40) sushi lunch. Here, as in many other popular destinations around the world, booming tourism is a double-edged sword.

Germany: Tens of thousands in Berlin protest far right

A spate of protests against the far right has continued this weekend. The marches have been sparked by reports on an alleged plan by extremists, including AfD politicians, to force millions of immigrants to “remigrate.”

Around 150,000 people have attended a protest rally in the German capital, Berlin, against the far right and its ideology, the latest in a series of such demonstrations across Germany in recent weeks.

The wave of protests follows a recent report by the investigative network Correctiv on a secret meeting, attended by neo-Nazis, businesspeople and members of the political parties AfD and CDU, among others, where a secret plan for the mass deportation of millions of immigrants was discussed.

In Azerbaijan, UK-based gold mine accused of pollution

Six journalists from the independent Azerbaijani investigative website Abzas Media have been under arrest since November 2023. They had previously transmitted elements of their investigations to the Paris-based Forbidden Stories collective, which took over their work in collaboration with 14 European news organisations in the “The Baku Connection” project, including FRANCE 24 and RFI. This article focuses on the tensions surrounding a mine in the west of the country, whose gold ends up in the products of major high-tech brands.

The anger was visible on their faces as they faced off against squadrons of riot police sent to silence them. On June 20, 2023, residents of the village of Söyüdlü, in western Azerbaijan, demonstrated to reject the construction of a new reservoir to store toxic waste from a gold mine that has been operating in the area since 2012. An initial reservoir had been installed by Anglo Asian Mining, the British company that operates the mine, but it was close to capacity. The villagers believe it had led to soil and river water pollution, and that the fumes escaping from it were causing an increase in respiratory illnesses.

The first reservoir, with a capacity of 6 million cubic metres, is located a few hundred meters from Söyüdlü. To separate the gold from the rock, Anglo Asian Mining uses cyanide, and dumps the sludge generated by the process, which contains toxic products including cyanide and arsenic, into the reservoir, known as a tailings pond.  The company says that the quantities of waste do not threaten the environment or the health of local residents.

How Israel’s flooding of Gaza’s tunnels will impact freshwater supply

Pumping of seawater will contaminate underground freshwater and ruin the conditions of life in Gaza, experts say.

Israel confirmed this week that its troops are pumping seawater into a network of tunnels in Gaza, a method environmentalists say could violate international law and cause dire, long-term consequences in the besieged Palestinian enclave.

Media reports have for weeks speculated that the pumping was under way, though Israeli and US officials, including President Joe Biden, did not confirm them when questioned.

In El Salvador, self-styled ‘world’s coolest dictator’ Nayib Bukele heads for re-election amid human rights concerns

When Jocelyn Zelaya was caught in a hail of gunfire on the streets of San Salvador in 2017, the young mother was simply “in the wrong place, at the wrong time,” says her aunt Jackelyne.

A group of gunmen armed with automatic weapons had opened fire to assassinate a member of a rival gang on the other side of the road. Zelaya, then 20, was caught in the line of fire. She was hit by eight bullets, her aunt told CNN.

“But she didn’t die then, they took her to hospital,” Jackelyne Zelaya recalls, struggling to contain her tears. “The attack was at about six in the afternoon, and when I got to the hospital at ten, she had just died. Her body was still warm.”

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