Asia/Africa update: September 18 2017

I got a late start today because I was working on a piece for LobeLog and also because I am extraordinarily spacey today. So if this update is briefer than usual, or if it meanders off and doesn’t make any sense–either is possible–then that’s why.



Six civilians were killed in Kandahar province on Monday by a roadside bomb planted by the Taliban.


The Indian government is still trying to expel some 40,000 Rohingya refugees from the country, arguing that there are “extremists” among their number who pose a security risk. The deportation attempt has been challenged in court by two refugees.


In Myanmar, meanwhile, the government seems to have a friend at the New York Times, which is the only way I can figure that this pro-government propaganda could’ve found its way into print:

But in lashing out against the government, the militants have also made their own people a target. And they have handed Myanmar’s military an attempt at public justification by saying that it is fighting terrorism, even as it has burned down dozens of villages and killed fleeing women and children.

This radicalization of a new generation of Rohingya, a Muslim minority in a Buddhist-majority country, adds fuel to an already combustible situation in Rakhine, Myanmar’s poorest state.

The militants have “lashed out” against the government in response to ethnic cleansing, and that “radicalization,” such as it is, has come out of watching hundreds of people slaughtered and hundreds of thousands deliberately chased into Bangladesh by the Myanmar military and allied Buddhist mobs. I had some things to say about this piece on Twitter and as I’m not really keen on repeating myself at the moment, please feel free to check it out there:

The ethnic cleansing campaign has been good for one group of people, of course: human traffickers, the pond scum of humanity. They’re charging desperate Rohingya a fortune to ferry them into Bangladesh and out of harm’s way.


Philippine forces were able to clear out one of the remaining insurgent strongholds inside Marawi on Monday, in the process freeing a Catholic priest who had been held captive by the insurgents since May. Philippine military chief of staff General Eduardo Ano told reporters that an estimated 45 hostages remain in insurgent hands, but that three of the Maute brothers, the leaders of the Marawi operation, are believed to have been killed. A fourth brother, Omar, is still believed to be alive along with Abu Sayyaf head Isnilon Hapilon.


Chinese President Xi Jinping will be looking to amend China’s constitution at next month’s Communist Party congress, and while it’s not clear what exactly he’s looking to add to the text there’s speculation he will try to have it recorded under his name. Previously, Mao Zedong and Deng Xiaoping have had their thoughts added to the constitution under their names, but more recent Chinese leaders have simply opted to add their thoughts without their names. If Xi sees himself on par with Deng and Mao, and it certainly seems like he does, he’ll want to see his name in the constitution alongside theirs. Xi may also try to bring back the position of “Chairman of the Central Committee,” the title Mao held that was abandoned in favor of “General Secretary” in 1982. The “chairman” position is in theory far more powerful and prestigious.


In all the lunacy on Sunday I can’t believe I forgot to mention this amazing Donald Trump tweet:

“Rocket Man” is apparently Kim Jong-un, and again I marvel at how normal our current president is. But what really makes this tweet really snap is the fact that there’s no evidence of any “long gas lines” in North Korea. Most North Koreans don’t even own cars, so it’s not clear why the fuck they’d be out buying gas in the first place. For their lawnmowers?



The US Department of Homeland Security is ending temporary protected status for Sudanese nationals as of next year while extending it for South Sudanese nationals through 2019. Protected status allows nationals of countries undergoing conflict who are already in America to remain on a temporary basis. Those Sudanese nationals will have another year to remain in the US but will have to be out of the country by 2019. South Sudanese nationals may have their status renewed again depending on how the civil war there is going.


Boko Haram suicide bombers struck a village in northeastern Nigeria on Monday, killing at least 15 people though that figure is likely to rise.


Adding to tensions around the planned October 17 redo of the country’s presidential election, the French IT firm that handled the annulled August vote has now told the country’s electoral commission that it can’t be ready to go again next month. It’s not clear how the candidates, incumbent Uhuru Kenyatta and challenger Raila Odinga, are going to react to this–Odinga would presumably be happy not to use the same firm that apparently mangled the August election, while Kenyatta has been firm that the revote must be held on October 17.


Ten people were arrested in Kampala on Monday for staging an “illegal rally” opposing Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni. For some reason these ingrates seem to be unhappy that Museveni has been running the country for 31 years and is planning to amend the constitution so he can stand for yet another term in 2021, when he’ll finally be too old to run under the constitution’s current terms. It’s perfectly normal for leaders to serve 30, 40, even 50 or more years in a thriving free and democratic system–just as Robert Mugabe, who’s been leading Zimbabwe democratically since the early 1400s.

Very democratic guy

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