The latest quake, which lasted 65 seconds, is not the first to strike Turkey, which has been rocked by numerous earthquakes in the past. However, the latest earthquake is considered the deadliest in decades, and it brought back sad memories of the August 1999 Marmara earthquake, which had a magnitude of 7.6 and was centred in the Izmit region near Istanbul. It resulted in the deaths of thousands of people and significant devastation in various cities, including Istanbul.

And in an opinion article published by "Al-Mujtama" magazine, issue number: "1365": 20 Jamaad Awal 1420 AH - 31/8/1999 CE, entitled "The earthquake disaster puts Turkey at a crossroads. "A- Mujtama said that the catastrophe revealed the inability of the Turkish government at the time and revealed the spread of corruption, and moral and professional decline, especially in the construction sector.

At that time, the Turkish media talked about many contractors who were driven by the lust for profit to cheat building materials and underestimate the lives of citizens and expose them to the risk of death, and demanded that some of them be brought to trial, which confirms that the loss of consciences is more serious than the destruction of the facilities and buildings destroyed by the earthquake.

Only 45 seconds from the Marmara earthquake was enough for nearly 45,000 dead and injured, and half a million homeless people, in great pain amidst the wreckage, the smell of death, and the fear of the unknown.

Comparing the two earthquakes, the catastrophe that occurred in 1999 reveals the inability of the Turkish government, the Democratic Left Party headed by Bulent Ecevit at the time, which failed to deal with the consequences of the earthquake and to provide services, and government institutions were in a state of confusion and absent from the scene.

 Turkish writer Ismail Pasha said, "The government of Bulent Ecevit came out in front of the cameras, hours after the earthquake occurred, to admit that it did not have sufficient information because it was unable to communicate with some areas due to the interruption of phone lines." The writer added that the tents that the Turkish Red Crescent Society sent to the cities hit by the earthquake at the time were very worn out and unusable."

Pasha noted that at the time, the Turkish government "asked support from foreign organizations, such as the International Red Cross, but failed to coordinate those organizations' operations." He stated, "The situation spurred civil society organizations, charities, and Islamic groups of various orientations to organize in order to assist the victims and meet their immediate needs, such as tents, food, clothing, medicines, and blankets. This public movement filled the void left by the administration."

Turkish government's efforts in the recent earthquake

  No one can deny the success of the government of the Turkish Justice and Development Party in dealing with the recent disaster, and the mobilization of all its institutions to mitigate the effects of the earthquake and heal the wounds. In the recent earthquake that hit southern Turkey, the government was able to heal the wounds, so rescue teams moved to the area as soon as possible.

The Anadolu Agency stated that 31,254 Turkish search and rescue personnel and international teams are continuing their efforts in the earthquake zone, sheltering about one million and 50,000 affected citizens, in addition to 25,067 members of the armed forces working in the earthquake zone.

Also, the Turkish government was present on the ground from the first moments with all its institutions immediately after the disaster occurred to follow up the rescue operation and provide the required services to the population, led by the country's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his deputy Fuad Aktay.

The researcher on Turkish affairs, Saeed Al-Hajj, said in an article on the "Al-Jazeera Net" website: "We are facing two different scenes in time. The first, the rapid one, that is, immediately after the earthquake, in which the current government presented a completely different performance than the Marmara earthquake.

The concerned ministers were in the earthquake zone in the first hours, led by Vice President Fuad Oktay, who led the rescue operations himself.

He adds that the institutions worked in two simultaneous and complementary tracks. The Disaster and Emergency Control Authority (AFAD) led relief operations, including evacuation, shelter, rescue, guidance, etc., while the Ministry of Health took care of medical matters such as first aid, treatment, and health follow-ups, as well as blood donation and other requirements. Ministries and other institutions worked in coordination with them and under their command.

Al-Hajj suggested that the earthquake would have political repercussions no less important and dangerous than aftershocks, pointing out that the government's performance on the one hand and the opposition's claims, on the other hand, will be in a state of feverish competition to convince the Turkish people of the validity of this or that proposition.

And he continued, "With time, the current earthquake will impose itself as one of the important files in the context of the upcoming elections - along with the economy, foreigners, and others - for the ruling coalitions and the opposition, as well as other parties and the street alike, and in everyone's imagination the 1999 earthquake in terms of results and consequences, specifically the evaluation of the government's performance by citizens/voters.

Founding of "AFAD"

The Turkish government took into account the risks related to earthquakes, which prompted it, after the 1999 earthquake, to create the “Disaster and Emergency Authority” known as (AFAD), which was established in 2009 to prepare for dealing with natural disasters in the country, including earthquakes, and to coordinate with governmental and private institutions to supply areas affected by all the services it needs, in addition to participating in search and rescue operations.

AFAD's activities in providing relief to the afflicted extend outside the country. There are also other search and rescue teams affiliated with the Turkish Red Crescent Society, the Gendarmerie Forces, and some civil organizations such as the Turkish Relief Organization (IHH), working in coordination and cooperation with the "AFAD" teams.

In November 2022, the Turkish authorities conducted a test in all states and Northern Cyprus, for training in readiness to deal safely with earthquakes.

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said, in a video speech: Turkey has tested its readiness for earthquakes by conducting 94,207 tests since the beginning of this year (2022).

A pioneering seismic station

Turkey is in a race against time to get ready for earthquakes and learn how to live securely in an earthquake-prone area in order to prevent significant losses in lives or properties. As a result, in the "Büyükçekmece" neighbourhood on Istanbul's European side, it inaugurated the first station to track earthquakes and tsunamis in June 2021.

This station is equipped with a number of measurement instruments that can read seismic data, estimate how far an earthquake would travel, determine if a tsunami will occur or not, and send an early warning before tsunami waves manifest, with a window of between 5-7 minutes.


Almost 26 million people have been affected by the deadly earthquake that ravaged Turkey and Syria this week, the WHO said Saturday, warning that dozens of hospitals had been damaged.

As the death toll from the quake rose above 25,000, the UN health agency launched a flash appeal Saturday asking for $42.8 million to help it address the immediate, towering health needs.

The World Health Organization, which has already released $16 million from its emergency fund, had previously said up to 23 million people could be impacted.

But on Saturday, that rose to nearly 26 million, with 15 million affected in Turkey and nearly 11 million in war-torn Syria.

Among them, more than five million people were considered to be particularly vulnerable, including close to 350,000 elderly people and over 1.4 million children.

WHO estimated that in Turkey, where more than 4,000 buildings collapsed in the quake, 15 hospitals had suffered partial or heavy damage.

In Syria, where the health care system had already been ravaged by 12 years of civil war, at least 20 health facilities across the hard-hit northwest, including four hospitals, had sustained damage.

This is making it all the more difficult to help the tens of thousands of people who have been injured in the disaster.

And while emergency medical services have been overwhelmed with trauma patients, essential health services have been severely disrupted, WHO warned.

The UN agency said there was a dire need for immediate trauma care, post-trauma rehabilitative care, essential medicines, prevention and control to prevent disease outbreaks and access to mental health support.

'WHO's goal is to save lives in the immediate aftermath of the disaster, to minimise its downstream health consequences, including mental health, and to rapidly restore essential health services across all earthquake-affected populations.'

The agency added that it had flown 37 metric tonnes of trauma and emergency surgery supplies to Turkey on Thursday, while 35 metric tonnes had arrived in Syria on Friday.

'These life-saving supplies will be used to treat and care for 100,000 people as well as for 120,000 urgent surgical interventions in both countries,' it said.

A third flight carrying a similar load was scheduled to reach Syria on Monday.

WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, who arrived in Aleppo on Saturday, tweeted that he was 'heartbroken to see the conditions survivors are facing ... freezing weather and extremely limited access to shelter, food, water, heat and medical care'.


  The magnitude-7.8 earthquake that struck Turkey and Syria on Monday is likely to be one of the deadliest this decade, seismologists said, with a more than 100km rupture between the Anatolian and Arabian plates.

A combination of factors, including the earthquake’s timing, location, relatively quiet fault line and the weak construction of the collapsed buildings, made it particularly devastating, scientists said.

Here is a look at what happened beneath the earth’s surface and what to expect in the aftermath.

Where did the earthquake originate?

The epicentre was about 26km east of the Turkish city of Nurdagi at a depth of about 18km on the East Anatolian Fault. The quake radiated towards the north-east, bringing devastation to central Turkey and Syria.

During the 20th century, the East Anatolian Fault yielded little major seismic activity.

“If we were going simply by (major) earthquakes that were recorded by seismometers, it would look more or less blank,” said Dr Roger Musson, an honorary research associate at the British Geological Survey.

Only three earthquakes have registered above 6.0 on the Richter scale since 1970 in the area, according to the US Geological Survey. But in 1822, a magnitude-7 quake hit the region, killing an estimated 20,000 people.

How bad was this earthquake?

On average, there are fewer than 20 quakes over magnitude-7 in any year, making Monday’s event severe.

Compared with the 6.2 quake that hit central Italy in 2016 and killed around 300 people, the Turkey-Syria earthquake released 250 times as much energy, according to Dr Joanna Faure Walker, head of the University College London Institute for Risk and Disaster Reduction.

Only two of the deadliest earthquakes from 2013 to 2022 were of the same magnitude as Monday’s quake.

Why was it so severe?

The East Anatolian Fault is a strike-slip fault. In those, solid rock plates are pushing up against each other across a vertical fault line, building stress until one finally slips in a horizontal motion, releasing a tremendous amount of strain that can trigger an earthquake.

The San Andreas Fault in California is perhaps the world’s most famous strike-slip fault, with scientists warning that a catastrophic quake is long overdue.

The initial rupture for the Turkey-Syria earthquake kicked off at a relatively shallow depth.

“The shaking at the ground surface will have been more severe than for a deeper earthquake of the same magnitude at source,” said Dr David Rothery, a planetary geoscientist at the Open University in Britain.

The earthquake caused such devastation partly because of its power – it is the strongest earthquake to hit Turkey since 1939 – and because it hit a populated region.

Turkey is in one of the world’s most active earthquake zones. A quake along the North Anatolian fault line in the northern Turkish region of Duzce killed more than 17,000 people in 1999.

But Monday’s earthquake occurred on the other side of the country. The East Anatolian fault has not had a magnitude-7 quake for more than two centuries, which could mean people were “neglecting how dangerous” it is, Dr Musson said.

Because it had been so long since the last big quake, “quite a lot of energy” may have built up, he theorized.

The strength of the aftershocks on Monday, including a huge 7.5-magnitude tremor, supported this theory, he added.

Another reason for the devastation was because it hit a populated region.

The quake occurred at 4.17am local time, which meant that sleeping people were “trapped when their houses collapsed”, Dr Musson said. 

The construction of buildings was also not “really adequate for an area that’s susceptible to large earthquakes”, he added. 

What kind of aftershocks can be expected?

Eleven minutes after the initial quake, the region was hit by a 6.7-magnitude aftershock. A 7.5-magnitude quake came hours later, followed by another 6-magnitude spasm in the afternoon.

“What we are seeing now is the activity is spreading to neighbouring faults,” said Dr Musson. “We expect seismicity to continue for a while.”

This earthquake was “almost a re-run” of a 7.4-magnitude one in the same area on Aug 13, 1822, Dr Musson said.

It caused “an enormous amount of damage, whole towns in ruins, and casualties in the tens of thousands”, he noted.

Aftershocks from that quake continued to rumble until June the following year.

What might the final death toll be?

Earthquakes of similar magnitudes in populated areas have killed thousands of people. Nepal’s 7.8-magnitude earthquake in 2015 claimed nearly 9,000 lives.

“It’s not going to be good,” said Dr Musson. “It will be in the thousands, and could be in the tens of thousands.”

Cold winter weather, he added, means that people trapped under rubble have less chance at survival.

Volcanologist Carmen Solana of Britain’s Portsmouth University said that because earthquakes cannot be predicted, tremor-resistant buildings are crucial in affected areas.

“The resistant infrastructure is unfortunately patchy in South Turkey and especially Syria, so saving lives now mostly relies” on efforts to rescue survivors, she added.


Source: straitstimes

Islamophobia needs to be recognized as a crime, a senior Malaysian official said on Friday, calling for "firmer" response by Muslim countries towards incidents of burning of the Muslims' holy book, the Quran.

"Anything that is Islamophobic can actually be regarded as something which is criminal in nature. So, much like anti-Semitism is a criminal offense in many other countries," Abdul Razak Ahmad, a special representative of Malaysia's foreign minister, told Anadolu in an interview.

"We should also make Islamophobia a criminal offense, especially in Muslim countries," said Ahmad, who praised the role of Türkiye for its strong reaction to a recent spate of Quran burnings in Europe that drew the anger of Muslims worldwide.

Referring to one such attempt in Norway in which authorities withdrew a permit previously given for a Quran burning following a warning from Ankara, Ahmad said the episode demonstrated the effectiveness of Turkish diplomacy.

"It shows that, you know, Turkish soft power works. And I think this is what we should do to actually be confronting these people and to engage with them and to tell them that, 'look we are offended and this is not the right way to do things and this is not a manifestation of an egalitarian society. And they should stop'," said that special representative on peacebuilding and countering Islamophobia.

Ahmad said that Türkiye, Saudi Arabia, and very few other countries had shown leadership against Islamophobia.

"I think our concern about Islamophobia is really about the globalization of Islamophobia, how Islam has been misinterpreted, how Islam has been subject to hatred by people who has minimum understanding of the religion. It's a very narrow understanding of the religion itself."

He stressed that it was important for Malaysia and Türkiye to work together in addressing Islamophobia, which he described as a global issue affecting the Muslim community.

The West has to be realistic, he underlined. "Freedom of expression, freedom of thought, freedom of speech can never be at the expense of undermining other people's religion, undermining faith, and undermining coexistence."

He also stressed that Islamic countries need to be more "responsive" towards the issue.

"They can burn another 1,000 or 1 million Qurans but you can never eliminate the teaching of Islam from the hearts and mind of the Muslims."

 A wave of deep sorrow, regret, and anger swept across the Muslim world after extremist Danish-Swedish politician Rasmus Paludan last week burned copies of the Quran outside mosques and the Turkish Embassy in Stockholm.

Under police protection, the far-right provocateur, infamous for his Islamophobic views, torched the holy book and announced that he will keep repeating this act until Sweden is admitted into the NATO alliance, something it has sought amid Russia’s war on Ukraine.

“This mosque has no place in Denmark,” said Paludan in a live stream on his Facebook page, while being protected by riot police personnel.

The Muslim world protested, and Türkiye condemned the action, asking pointedly why the “Islam-hating charlatan” Paludan was permitted to burn copies of the holy book.

“Showing tolerance towards such heinous acts that offend the sensitivities of millions of people living in Europe threatens the practice of peaceful coexistence and provokes racist, xenophobic, and anti-Muslim attacks,” said a Turkish Foreign Ministry statement.

Denmark, meanwhile, maintained their hands tied over the hate crime due to the revocation of the nation’s blasphemy laws in 2017. The Nordic country’s now-defunct blasphemy law called for up to four months in prison upon conviction, although most people were fined instead. It appears that Paludan’s action remains short of conviction, as there is no law in the country to challenge him.

This entire situation prompts questions over a country where Muslim immigration remains a contentious political issue, where Syrian refugees often have their temporary residence status revoked overnight, and where mainstream political parties entertain the idea of shifting their asylum facility to Rwanda in order to stop accommodating refugees in Denmark, and where no law enforcement action is taken on a far-right politician who continues to wound the sentiments of millions of people: Does Denmark present the case of Islamophobia in action?

‘Our society should decide on limits of freedom of speech’

Dr. Urfan Zahoor Ahmed, a Muslim community leader associated with the Danish Muslim Union – founded in 2008, now the largest umbrella organization for Muslim associations and mosques in Denmark – said there cannot be a denial on the existence of Islamophobia within the Danish borders through structural power institutions and individual choices based on predispositions.

Commenting on the alternate view rooted in freedom of expression to justify anti-Islamic comments and actions, he said: “It actually hurts even more when the people are saying that it is just freedom of speech. And you should just live with it because it should never be a case that as a minority you have to live with the defamation of your holy prophet and holy scriptures.”

The Muslim activist, who is also a physician and teaches at Copenhagen University, added: “If we as a society declare that Holocaust denial, child pornography, blasphemy laws, and opposition to the queen are not accepted, so then that is the choice of the society. (Danish) politicians have chosen that Paludan has the right to burn the Quran. We, as a society, should decide where the limit is to this freedom of speech. Because it is not limitless.”

Lene Kuhle of Aarhus University’s School of Culture and Society, who focuses on the Muslim community in Denmark, believes that the phenomena of Islamophobia is indeed a reality within the country but Paludan’s actions prevent a difficult situation as despite no major support from Danish society for his action, his actions are within the law.

“We did not use to discuss Islamophobia a lot in Denmark but it has become more of a topic of discussion and that is a good development because people are now critically reviewing how people talk about Islam, Muslims, and immigrants,” she said.

‘Liberty at the cost of community’

While acknowledging the presence of Islamophobia, she said it is untrue that the entire Danish system is completely embedded in Islamophobia.

“It is necessary to be investigated to what extent Islamophobia influences Danish society. It is important to contextualize why it is happening. The media has quite a large role to try and explain this is the work of one man who is trying to get attention, he is a lawyer who knows the limitations of the legal system. As long as he stays within the limits of the law, it is very difficult to do something about it.”

The Muslim community of Denmark continues to protest the desecration of the holy book, while community leaders request people not take the laws into their hands and respond to hate with love and respect. Yet questions are being raised over the police protection and permissions being given by the authorities for the anti-Islamic act.

“The West needs to acknowledge the fact that permitting Islamophobic words and actions that have the potential to incite violence against Muslims is a liberty at the cost of a community,” said a protestor at the same site in Copenhagen a day after Paludan burned the Quran – but this time with no authorities around.


Liberal MP Sameer Zuberi called on Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's cabinet to support a motion to make room in its refugee intake for 10,000 Uyghur and other Turkic groups who fled China and are now living in third countries like Turkey.

"We support this motion. Uyghurs, along with other minorities in the region, have suffered grave human rights violations from the Chinese government," said Zuberi.

Zuberi's resolution takes its cue from Parliament's 2021 declaration that China is committing genocide against the Uyghurs and other minorities, and it calls on the Department of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship to expedite entry into Canada of "10,000 Uyghurs and other Turkic Muslims in need of protection over two years starting in 2024."

Rights groups and media reports say the Chinese government has committed grave human rights violations against Xinjiang's largely Muslim Uyghur population, as well as other minorities.

Forced labour and forced relocation to work in other provinces, China's critics say, is the latest stage in a government-directed effort to exert control in Xinjiang.

A vote on Motion M-62 is set for Wednesday in the House of Commons and Zuberi is urging cabinet ministers to support it.

"It's important that cabinet vote in favour of the motion to resettle the Uyghur," the MP said.

"What matters is that the former UN Human Rights High Commissioner, Michelle Bachelet, determined that what is happening to the Uyghur may constitute crimes against humanity. Once there is the possibility of crimes against humanity, the Responsibility to Protect doctrine is engaged. This means that countries like Canada, which promote the rules-based order, have to do their utmost to address the human rights concerns," he said.

Notably, Bachelet, until recently the UN high commissioner for human rights, visited Xinjiang last year, and her office's report from last August says China has committed "serious human rights violations" against Uyghur Muslims in the region, which may amount to crimes against humanity.

It's been nearly two years since Canada's House of Commons adopted a motion declaring that China's treatment of Uyghurs and other Turkic minorities constitutes genocide. The US government and legislative bodies in the United States, Britain, the Netherlands, Belgium, France, Lithuania, the Czech Republic and Ireland have made similar determinations.

Human rights groups estimate more than one million Uyghurs are currently kept in prison-like indoctrination camps, which Beijing calls "re-education camps." Most of the Uyghurs and other Turkic communities have fled to Muslim-majority countries like Turkey, Egypt, Pakistan and Saudi Arabia since 2016.

Currently, the president of the World Uyghur Congress is visiting Canada for Motion-62 which is supported by the Friends of Canada-India Foundation.

Source: Agencies

Two years after Myanmar’s coup on February 1 2021, the country’s large and growing resistance forces receive almost no attention outside the country.

The democratic opposition, fronted by the National Unity Government (NUG), but comprising many different groups, armies, militias and individuals, has also struggled to gain awareness, even for its substantial battlefield successes.

And perhaps most notably, the opposition’s pleas for weapons from the West to fight against an increasingly brutal crackdown by the military junta have gone unheeded.

The difference with the West’s response to Ukraine’s war against Russia could not be starker. While the two conflicts are not completely analogous, it is nonetheless striking how much Ukraine has galvanised the international community, while Myanmar has almost completely been ignored.

No charismatic, wartime figure

Part of this has to do with the visibility of a central, iconic leader. With ousted leader Aung San Suu Kyi and other public figures locked up, Myanmar’s resistance forces have no recognisable public face.

The NUG has an acting president, Duwa Lashi La, who makes occasional YouTube and social media appearances. While he enjoys a strong reputation among ethnic Kachin in the country’s north, he is barely recognised on the global, or even national, stage.

NUG President Duwa Lashi La announcing a people’s defensive war against the military junta in September 2021.

By contrast, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky’s transformation into a wartime commander has resulted in a huge global profile. He has given carefully scripted speeches to foreign parliaments and rousing addresses to both the Ukrainian people and key international meetings.

His constant efforts to refocus attention on the next phase of fighting in Ukraine have inspired his own people, and have made the Ukrainian flag a potent symbol of defiance in the face of tyranny.

Volodymyr Zelensky addressing the Australian parliament.

A lack of a simple narrative

Ukraine has mastered the digital battlefield, too. Its leaders have simplified the narrative and calibrated it in a powerful way to emphasise a “good” versus “evil” struggle in which Western democracies are compelled to offer both symbolic and material support.

The complexities in Myanmar – ethnic, linguistic, geographic, ideological, historical and more – make such a narrative much harder to muster and sustain.

The genocide of the Rohingya in 2017, which took place under the Suu Kyi-led government, also muddied the waters of the previously simplistic tale of a Nobel Peace laureate facing off against a brutal Myanmar military.

Suu Kyi’s government did not have oversight or control over the military that carried out the bloody purge, but this hardly seemed to matter. Suu Kyi’s decision to offer a stubborn defence of the military’s actions at the International Court of Justice in 2019 dramatically shifted international opinion.

Now, with Myanmar’s treatment of the Rohingya still such a raw issue, it’s unclear whether Suu Kyi – or her democratically elected government – deserves the sympathy and support from the West they once received.

A fringe actor on the global stage

Geography matters, too. In a global strategic sense, Myanmar has almost always been an afterthought in the West.

In contrast, for a century or more, Ukraine has been a constant site for strategic competition, especially in the duels between Western powers and the government in Moscow. The attacks on Ukraine over the past decade by a nuclear-armed Russia are therefore seen by Western powers as a first-order geopolitical threat.

As such, the US alone committed about US$50 billion in total assistance to Ukraine in 2022, about half of which was military aid.

With Myanmar, a far less important site of conflict, most of the international community (including the regional body of Southeast Asian states, ASEAN) has been reluctant to provide military support for the resistance fighters.

Historically, weapons smuggled into Myanmar to support anti-government armies have used neighbouring countries, most notably Thailand and India, as the gateways. Today, however, the leaders in Bangkok and New Delhi are reluctant to get too entangled in Myanmar’s mess. They also have their own insurgencies to keep an eye on.

When weapons and materiel do flow into Myanmar today, they are moved quietly, with as much deniability as can be marshalled. With no Western government publicly supplying the resistance with weapons, the fighters are resorting to crowdfunding to buy weapons and using explosives pieced together with salvaged metal.

Meanwhile, the military junta has built up a huge arsenal of weapons purchased from Russia and China, or made domestically using supplies from companies in countries like the US, Japan and France.

Geopolitics may also matter when it comes to the international courts, as well.

There are two parallel genocide cases relating to Myanmar and Ukraine winding their way through the International Court of Justice in The Hague. The Ukraine case, still less than 12 months old, has received formal interventions by almost all Western states, 33 in total.

By contrast, the Myanmar case relating to the Rohingya was launched in 2019 and not a single country has formally intervened, despite several countries indicating they may do so.

An opportunity to support democracy

Another reason for the tentative international response to the Myanmar conflict is the expectation, particularly in ASEAN, that Myanmar’s coup-makers will, in the end, hold enough ground and continue to control the levers of power.

But we should ask if this assessment is correct. In early 2023, after two years of protest and violence, the junta looks especially vulnerable.

For example, influential voices within ASEAN, notably from Malaysia and Indonesia, have begun strongly rebuking the Myanmar military.

They seemingly no longer want the entire region’s reputation tarred by the junta’s brutal mismanagement of Myanmar. They are also aware that anti-regime forces are taking and holding significant ground.

Under these conditions, the international community needs to move more quickly to consider a future for Myanmar after this war ends. That means dramatically limiting the military’s ability to gain international legitimacy, ramping up efforts to starve the generals of weapons and financial resources, and supporting war crimes prosecutions in international courts.

At the same time, Myanmar’s revolutionary forces need support – both on the battlefield and in civilian efforts to rebuild a traumatised society.

The invasion of Ukraine has clearly demonstrated, for the first time in many years, that Western military force can be successfully used to support a democracy under siege. If only a small fraction of the support to Ukraine was provided to Myanmar’s resistance fighters, they could be given the chance to one day build a thriving democratic state in the heart of Asia.

A far-right Israeli lawmaker tweeted "keep killing them" in response to Israel's deadly raid on Jenin that killed nine Palestinians on Thursday, in a post that has since been removed by the platform. 

Almog Cohen, a Knesset member belonging to the Jewish Power party, tweeted: "Nice and professional work by the fighters in Jenin, keep killing them." 

After widespread condemnation online, the post was removed because it "violated Twitter rules". 

On Thursday, Israeli forces raided the Jenin refugee camp and killed nine Palestinians, wounding 20 others, in one of the deadliest assaults on the occupied West Bank in recent years.

Several heavily armed soldiers entered the camp on Thursday morning, targeting a building used as a meeting place for residents. 

The latest fatalities bring the number of Palestinians killed this month to 30, including at least six children.

Cohen wiped social accounts 

Cohen, who has been a parliamentarian since the 1 November elections, served for 11 years in the Israeli police as part of a SWAT team. 

In October, Cohen published a photo taken of himself nine years ago kneeling over three Palestinians from the town of Rahat, Taleb al-Touri and his two sons Rauf and Nidal, who lay bound on the ground. 

Cohen captioned the picture "Those down there remember what I did in the army" with a winking emoji. 

In 2013, the three Palestinians testified that the officers bound them, assaulted them in the groin area, urinated on their faces and threatened them with "a bullet to the head". No disciplinary action was ever taken against any of the police officers. 

The image enabled the three men to identify Cohen as one of the officers who attacked them and call on the justice ministry to reopen the case, which the investigation unit had closed because, as it claimed, those officers could not be identified.

In May, Cohen founded an armed vigilante group to patrol southern Israel to "fight crime among Bedouins". He wiped his social media accounts in August. 

He is not the first far-right Israeli official to celebrate the killing of Palestinians. 

Itamar Ben-Gvir, Israel's new national security minister, in December, described a soldier who fatally shot a Palestinian man as a "hero", and hailed the killing as "precise, swift and rigorous". 

According to data compiled by Middle East Eye, Israeli forces killed more Palestinians in the occupied West Bank in 2022 than in any single calendar year since the Second Intifada.

At least 220 people died in Israeli attacks across the occupied territories in 2022, including 48 children. Of the total death toll, 167 were from the West Bank and East Jerusalem, and 53 were from the Gaza Strip. 

Of those killed in the West Bank last year, 55 were in Jenin, the highest of any region in occupied Palestine.

Witnesses allege that several dozen civilians and fighters have been killed in the latest clashes between Oromo and Amhara ethnic groups in central Ethiopia.
The fighting erupted Saturday in Jewuha town in the Amhara region. One witness, like others speaking on condition of anonymity for fear of retaliation, told The Associated Press that fighters thought to be with the rebel Oromo Liberation Army attacked a camp used by Amhara special forces and killed more than 20 of them. The witness said they helped to bury three civilians as well.
Fighting has spread to other towns, the witness said. Another witness in Jewuha involved in burials said “several dozen” bodies had been collected.
A witness in Ataye town in the Amhara region alleged that clashes between OLA and Amhara special forces were ongoing and thousands of civilians were fleeing. A doctor at Shewa Robit hospital told the AP it had received the bodies of “several people” since Monday as well as some victims with serious injuries.
The Amhara regional government on Wednesday confirmed the clashes and said members of the federal army, federal police and Amhara regional forces were working to bring the situation under control.
A federal police spokesman didn’t respond to calls. An Ethiopian government spokesman, Legesse Tulu, hung up.
Some Amharas and Oromos, two of Ethiopia’s largest ethnic groups, are in a bitter rivalry over new and old grievances. Amharas have been targeted in several locations across the neighbouring Oromia region, prompting Amhara militias to deploy.
Oromos also have alleged being targeted in deadly attacks by Amharas. The Oromo Legacy Leadership and Advocacy Association in a statement this week said that “under international law, the Ethiopian federal government has a duty to protect its citizens.”

The leader of an Islamophobic far-right group in the Netherlands has desecrated Islam’s holy book, the Quran, in the second such instance that took place in Western Europe this week, threatening to deepen the strain with the broader Muslim world even further.

Dutch politician Edwin Wagensveld, the head of the far-right PEGIDA, tore pages out of the holy book before setting them on fire, a video posted Monday on his Twitter account showed.

Wagensveld claimed in the video that he received permission from the local authorities for “the destruction of the Quran” in front of the parliamentary building The Hague.

He was arrested on two previous occasions because of anti-Muslim sentiments, as recently as last October, during another rally with a small group of PEGIDA supporters in Rotterdam where he once again attempted to torch the Quran.

As Wagensveld tore a page out of the holy book and scrunched it up, he said: "Soon, there will be registrations for similar actions in several cities, time to answer disrespect from Islam with disrespect."

Wagensveld’s provocation follows a similar Islamophobic protest on Saturday in Sweden, where a Danish extremist burned a copy of the holy book in a police-approved demonstration.

The Muslim community worldwide has been outraged since the weekend at anti-Islam activist Rasmus Paludan, who staged his provocative demonstration in front of the Turkish Embassy in Stockholm while delivering a hatred-filled speech and the Swedish authorities who allowed him under the guise of “freedom of expression.”

The scandalous incident has sparked backlash not only in Türkiye, the apparent target of the hate crime, but also around the world, with countries like Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Iran, Pakistan and many others “strongly condemning and rejecting” it.

On Monday, the U.S. State Department described the incident as “repugnant and vile,” saying, “Burning books that are holy to many is a deeply disrespectful act” but stopped short of condemning it.

Paludan’s demonstration has been particularly offensive for Türkiye as it has been locked in negotiations with Sweden over its impending application to join NATO.

Since launching an official bid last year alongside Finland, Stockholm has been courting Ankara to secure a green light. Still, Türkiye has been resolute in its demands that its security concerns about the terrorists Sweden is harboring and tolerating be addressed.

Per a tripartite memorandum the sides inked in June last year, Stockholm has vowed to meet the said demands, including extraditing and increasing its crackdown on terrorist groups like the PKK and the Gülenist Terror Group (FETÖ). For the previous month, however, public support in Sweden for the terrorist groups from their sympathizers has been raising the tensions between the two countries, which Ankara has repeatedly warned would jeopardize Stockholm’s NATO membership process.

Turkish officials this week criticized Stockholm for its continued inaction about the widespread demonstrations by terrorist sympathizers, as well as racist, Islamophobic politicians in the country.

Paludan’s provocation was the salt on the already bleeding wound from another scandalous incident earlier this month in Stockholm, where an effigy of President Erdoğan was hanged from its feet in front of the city hall by a group of PKK supporters. Ankara condemned it as “racist propaganda” and argued it was a “concrete display” of Sweden’s failure to adhere to its NATO deal.

The PKK is listed as a terrorist organization by Türkiye, the European Union and the United States and is responsible for the deaths of 40,000 people, including women, children and infants.

Also on Monday, in a press briefing following the Cabinet meeting, Erdoğan slammed Sweden for authorizing such scandals and declared that the country “should not expect support from Türkiye on its NATO bid.”

"If you don't respect the religion of Türkiye or Muslims, you won't get any support from us on NATO," he said. “If Sweden prefers terrorist sympathizers and Islamophobes, then Türkiye suggests they should let them defend their country too.”

Stockholm’s defense has been that “freedom of expression is crucial to democracy but what is legal is not necessarily appropriate."

"Burning books that are holy to many is a deeply disrespectful act. I want to express my sympathy for all Muslims offended by what has happened in Stockholm today,” Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson said on Twitter.

Foreign Minister Tobias Billström too argued his government does not support the burning of holy scriptures but also claimed freedom of expression “makes it legal from a Swedish point of view.”

Türkiye remains incensed about the incident, and Sweden’s bid to ascend to NATO seems more in peril than ever as the country has proven repeatedly that it will not be joining NATO any time soon.


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