World update: November 6 2017

Just a short one tonight. I am genuinely exhausted.



An American investigation has found that US airstrikes thankfully killed no civilians in Kunduz last week. Whew, I was a little worried that it might. I guess those civilians who reported dozens of people killed in those airstrikes were, uh, hallucinating? On an Ambien bender? Taliban agents? Yes, let’s go with the last one, they were working for the Taliban. Anyway the important thing to remember is that America never kills civilians and in fact our bombs are specially designed to turn into luxurious massaging recliners when they detect any civilians in the potential blast radius.

A Pakistani consulate worker was gunned down on Sunday in Nangarhar province. No clarity as to the identity of the attackers.


The Diplomat’s Kunwar Khuldune Shahid argues that ISIS’s best bet for a safe haven after its Syria-Iraq territory is lost for good might be…Pakistan:

The greatest lifeline for ISIS might come from the jihadists that form the large chunk of ISIS Khorasan: the leaderless factions of the Pakistani Taliban.


On October 19, a statement attributed to the Jamaat-ul-Ahrar (JA), a Taliban faction that has pledged allegiance to ISIS, said that the group’s Umar Khalid Khorasani has succumbed to injuries following a U.S. drone strike. A day later the group’s Telegram account denied the claims. Since there weren’t any images, audio or video footage in the denial, this appears to be a classic Taliban tactic of denying a leader’s demise long after they’ve been killed.


This is how Mullah Omar was “kept alive” for over two years and how Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) chief Fazlullah might still be posthumously leading his group – another Taliban faction only confirmed their leader’s death from last year after news broke of Khorasani being killed.


Therefore, there’s more than a fair chance that both the TTP and JA might be leaderless – and aimless – as things stand, and perhaps as desperate for some breathing space as their fellow jihadists in the Levant.

Relocating to Pakistan wouldn’t just give ISIS support among allied groups like Jamaat-ul-Ahrar and Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, it might also be a ticket into political life. Pakistan is encouraging leaders of militant outfits to form political parties–without demanding that they give up the violent stuff. That could make for a very welcoming environment for ISIS.


Philippine soldiers continue to find stray ISIS-aligned fighters still holed up amid the ruins of Marawi two weeks after the heaviest fighting there ended. One of the militants’ leaders, a Malaysian man named Amin Baco, was believed killed in the earlier fighting but now appears to have survived and become ISIS’s new Southeast Asian emir.



Australia closed its Manus Island migrant detention center last week but some 600 refugees have refused to leave the facility. They’re now living there without electricity, food, water, or any other basic services, and Papua New Guinea’s government says it will not turn the facility’s utilities back on to meet their needs. The refugees at the facility say they fear being attacked by local residents if they should venture out of the compound to find other accommodations. The responsibility for caring for these people would seem to lie squarely with Australia, but the Australian government would apparently rather let them die than relocate them.



Oklahoma City University political scientist Mohamed Daadaoui argues that King Mohammed VI’s frequent political interventions have discredited his claim that he is above politics:

On October 24, Morocco’s King Mohammed VI sacked four ministers and barred five former ministers from ever taking official duties. The king’s “wrath” comes as a rebuke for the government’s poor performance and for “serious dysfunctions” in a five-year development plan launched by the king in 2015 to promote socio-economic development in the northern al-Hoceima region.


The unprecedented move by the Moroccan sovereign is presented as an attempt by the palace to introduce some government accountability. However, the sacking of government ministers is merely the latest example of the increasing royal emasculation of the political class, and an astute deflection from the palace’s own responsibility in the current socio-political malaise in Morocco.


More importantly, the latest royal move points to a growing king’s dilemma. The regime has failed at its dual strategy of appearing above the political fray, while at the same time managing the political system and opposition forces. The monarchy’s constant manipulation of the political party scene and civil society has removed the buffer between the royal institution and the people, and has exposed the palace to direct scrutiny.

Mohammed has tried to duck responsibility for the problems in Morocco’s Rif region with this “above politics” dodge, but these openly political moves have put the lie to that claim.


Harun Mwau, a former member of Kenya’s parliament, filed a petition with the country’s Supreme Court on Monday challenging President Uhuru Kenyatta’s dubious victory in the October 26 presidential election. Kenyatta’s government had been trying to discourage the filing of any such petitions, but Mwau’s decision to file anyway will give the court an opportunity to consider whether the vote was actually legitimate.


Robert Mugabe left no doubt as to his preferred successor on Monday when he canned Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa. Mnangagwa was once actually considered the likely pick to become Zimbabwe’s next president, but it’s a virtual lock at this point that Mugabe will appoint his wife, Grace, to take over the VP slot at a party congress next month, and that she will now be positioned as his chosen heir. Mnangagwa is very wealthy and still has connections to the Zimbabwean security state, so it’s not clear that he’ll go quietly. But he might be well advised at this point to lay low until Robert Mugabe is no longer in the picture.



Another day, another unexploded World War II bomb discovery, this time in the Kreuzberg district of Berlin. And no, this time the bomb wasn’t actually a vegetable. The neighborhood was evacuated so that bomb crews could work on the device.

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