Simon Tisdall

The persecution, ethnic cleansing, and attempted genocide of Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar’s Rakhine state is an affront to the rule of law, a well-documented atrocity and, according to a top international lawyer, a moral stain on “our collective conscience and humanity”. So why are the killings and other horrors continuing while known perpetrators go unpunished?

It’s a question with several possible answers. Maybe poor, isolated Myanmar, formerly Burma, is not important enough a state to warrant sustained international attention. Perhaps, in the western subconscious, the lives of a largely unseen, unknown, brown-skinned Muslim minority do not matter so much at a time of multiple racial, ethnic and refugee crises.

Or perhaps the absence of sustained outrage stems from an age-old problem: the inability to prevent great powers subjugating, manipulating and exploiting more vulnerable peoples and countries for selfish ends. In Myanmar, for more than a century, it was imperial Britain. Now it’s imperial China, which cares naught for human rights at home or abroad.

At the heart of the Myanmar conundrum lies the unchecked, repressive power of the Tatmadaw, the armed forces organisation that dominates national life despite the notional restoration of democracy in 2011. Its attacks on the Rohingya in 2016-17, which killed thousands of people and forced three-quarters of a million to flee to Bangladesh, shocked the world. Yet no one has been called to account.

Last week, Michelle Bachelet, UN high commissioner for human rights, warned that far from halting atrocities, the Tatmadaw was again killing and abducting civilians with impunity in Rakhine and neighbouring Chin state. “In some cases, they appear to have been attacked indiscriminately, which may constitute further war crimes or even crimes against humanity,” she said. Again, no one has been called to account.

Myanmar’s leader Aung San Suu Kyi leaves the International Court of Justice in The Hague, December 2019. Photograph: Eva Plevier/Reuters

Hopes of a judicial reckoning rose when Aung San Suu Kyi, Myanmar’s foremost civilian leader, appeared before the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in The Hague in December. But Suu Kyi blithely dismissed allegations of genocidal intent and defended the Tatmadaw, saying Rakhine was “an internal conflict” between the army, Rohingya “militants”, and armed separatists. If individual soldiers were guilty of wrongdoing, they would be punished, she said. Few if any have been.

Delivering its interim verdict in January, the ICJ ordered Myanmar’s leadership to honour its legal obligation to prevent genocide and “take all measures within its power” to stop the killing or harming of Rohingya. It ordered the Tatmadaw not to destroy evidence of crimes and submit progress reports to the court. The court referred its findings to the UN security council.

None of this has had any real effect. According to Bachelet, the killings may be increasing in scale. Satellite images show the military has bulldozed the ruins of Kan Kya, a Rohingya village burned to the ground three years ago, and erased its name and those of other destroyed villages from official maps – part of a wider cover-up. The regime has not reported back to the court, nor has it pursued credible investigations into wrongdoing.

Meanwhile, new eyewitness testimony from two soldiers who participated in the Rakhine campaign has confirmed worst fears. They detailed how the military conducted mass executions, dug mass graves, razed villages and raped women and girls. Zaw Naing Tun said his superior officer told him: “Kill all you see, whether children or adults.”

Belatedly responding to the latest upsurge in violence and the desperate plight of still-displaced Rohingya refugees, eight UN security council members, marshalled by Britain, called on Myanmar last week to comply with the ICJ’s demands, implement an immediate ceasefire, allow humanitarian access and include Rohingya voters in November’s national elections. This was progress of sorts, in that the joint statement circumvented a Chinese veto.

But as the pressure group Burma Campaign UK noted, there was a problem: “The statement won’t make a blind bit of difference. It will be like water off a duck’s back, just one more statement which won’t be followed by action,” it said.

The failure to implement last year’s recommendations of the UN’s independent fact-finding mission is particularly dismaying – but no surprise. The world’s most powerful countries were asked to take actions contrary to their political and commercial interests, including a comprehensive arms embargo, financial sanctions and asset freezes, a block on lucrative business and investment deals, and referral of Myanmar to the International Criminal Court. They have largely declined to do so.

Myanmar has come full circle. Just as British India subjugated the Burmese and exploited their country’s resources, now China, principal backer of the Tatmadaw regime, seeks a strategic buffer and economic vassal. When Xi Jinping, China’s president, visited in January, his aim was clear: to draw his impoverished neighbour ever more closely to Beijing while driving away rival American, Indian and European suitors.

Xi’s trip produced dozens of deals, mostly on infrastructure investment. Top of his list was completion of the China-Myanmar economic corridor, which will give China direct access to a deep water port on the Bay of Bengal. This opens up a new, west-facing gateway for Chinese trade by providing an alternative route to the disputed South China Sea and Malacca Strait.

Myanmar’s rulers are not oblivious to the dangers of China’s burly embrace, debt traps and covert attempts to leverage ethnic conflicts. But Beijing’s political support, and its veto-wielding defence of Tatmadaw generals at the UN, ensures their continuing impunity. Meanwhile, the US and Europe dare not push too hard on human rights for fear of forfeiting profitable business opportunities and losing a pawn in Asia’s new cold war.

And so the killing goes on, the unconscionable stain spreads, and an old lesson is relearned: great power trumps law and humanity every time.

The Guardian

Egypt's antiquities ministry announced Sunday the discovery of 14 sarcophagi in the Saqqara necropolis south of Cairo that had lain buried for 2,500 years.

The coffins were found two days ago during an archaeological dig at the burial spot where another 13 wooden sarcophagi had been discovered last week, the ministry said in a statement.

The vast Saqqara necropolis is located around 16 kilometres (10 miles) south of the famed Giza pyramids. It is part of the ancient city of Memphis, a UNESCO World Heritage site, and hosts the colossal step Pyramid of Djoser.

Photographs of the well-preserved wooden coffins show ornate and intricate paintings, with maroon and blue lines, as well as hieroglyphic pictorials.


The ministry said more excavations had been planned, with the expectation that another trove of wooden coffins would be found at the site.

In a video distributed this month announcing the discoveries, Tourism and Antiquities Minister Khaled al-Anani said the recent finds at Saqqara were "just the beginning".

Egypt has sought to promote archaeological discoveries across the country in a bid to revive tourism, which took a hit from restrictions on travel due to the novel coronavirus pandemic.

In July, authorities reopened the Giza pyramids and other archaeological sites to the public after a three-month closure and waived tourist visa fees to lure holidaymakers. 

Egypt is also planning to unveil its centrepiece project of the Grand Egyptian Museum in the coming months.

The tourism sector, battered by years of political turmoil and terror attacks, had recovered to draw record visitors, around 13.6 million last year, when the Covid-19 crisis struck.

UNITED NATIONS (AP) — With COVID-19 still careening across the planet, the annual gathering of its leaders in New York will be replaced this year by a global patchwork of prerecorded speeches, another piece of upheaval in a deeply divided world turned topsy-turvy by a pandemic with no endpoint in sight.

As U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres put it: “The COVID-19 pandemic is a crisis unlike any in our lifetimes, and so this year’s General Assembly session will be unlike any other, too.”

This is the first time in the 75-year history of the United Nations that there will be no in-person meeting. Gone will be the accompanying traffic jams, street closures for VIP motorcades, stepped-up security to protect leaders and noisy crowds in the halls of the sprawling United Nations complex overlooking New York’s East River.

Only one diplomat from each of the U.N.’s 193 member nations will be allowed into the vast General Assembly hall. All will be socially distanced and masked.

Guterres said the virtual meeting will see speeches from “the largest number of heads of state and government ever" — 171, according to the latest speakers list.

World leaders are not barred from coming to speak in person. But presidents, prime ministers, monarchs and ministers travel with large entourages and at a time of pandemic and quarantine requirements, including in New York City, the General Assembly members agreed that crowds needed to be avoided.

They recommended that leaders each deliver a 15-minute pre-recorded speech, to be shown in the assembly hall and introduced by the ambassador or a diplomat from the country.

Turkish diplomat and politician Volkan Bozkir, who took over the one-year presidency of the General Assembly on Tuesday, said 10 leaders wanted to come to the U.N. to speak including Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. He lamented that they aren't able to because of US quarantine requirements.

This leaves U.S. President Donald Trump as the one leader who could travel to New York. Even though reports say he will not be appearing in person, the metal barricades police always put in place for a presidential visit went up Friday along First Avenue outside the United Nations.

The high-level meetings begin Monday with a commemoration of the U.N.’s 75th anniversary, including statements from world leaders and formal adoption of a declaration approved by all 193 member nations. It recalls the U.N.’s successes and failures and calls for “greater action” to build a post-pandemic world that is more equal, works together and protects the planet.

The United Nations was born out of the horrors of World War II with a mission to save succeeding generations from the scourge of conflict. The declaration says the U.N. has helped mitigate dozens of conflicts and saved hundreds of thousands of lives through humanitarian action. But it points to a world “plagued by growing inequality, poverty, hunger, armed conflicts, terrorism, insecurity, climate change, and pandemics.”

“The stakes could not be higher," Guterres told a news conference Wednesday.

He pointed to an “out-of-control” pandemic that has claimed nearly a million lives and stressed the need for a deeply divided world to unite not only to defeat the coronavirus and ensure that “a people’s vaccine” is available to all people but to make a collective push for peace.

Monday’s anniversary commemoration will be followed by Tuesday’s opening of the virtual high-level meeting, starting with Guterres’ in-person speech on the state of the world in which he said he will repeat his March 23 call for a global cease-fire, this time by the end of the year.

“Today, from Afghanistan to Sudan, we see hopeful new steps toward peace,” the U.N. chief said. “In Syria, Libya, Ukraine and elsewhere, cease-fires or standstills in the fighting can create space for diplomacy. In Yemen, we are pressing for a cease-fire, confidence building measures and resumption of the political process.”

Guterres will be followed by addresses Tuesday from Brazil’s President Jair Bolsonaro, Trump, leaders from Turkey, China, Cuba, Russia, Jordan, Iran, France and dozens of others through Sept. 26. The speeches conclude on the morning of Sept. 29 after a two-day break.

Usually, hundreds of side events take place during the gathering. This year there are only a few meetings, including ones on digital cooperation, climate action, biodiversity and accelerating the pandemic's end. Two meetings commemorate the 25th anniversary of the U.N. women’s conference in Beijing and promote the International Day for the Total Elimination of Nuclear Weapons.

Guterres, the General Assembly’s Bozkir and many U.N. diplomats say the key issue for world leaders today is how to build a post-pandemic world that is more peaceful and united and focuses on eradicating extreme poverty, preserving the environment and achieving gender equality by 2030.

Even before the pandemic, Guterres said, the world “was veering off course” and losing the battle against climate change. He cited the northern hemisphere's hottest summer ever, with ongoing wildfires.

“The world is burning, and recovery is our chance to get on track and tame the flames," he said.

As in recent years past, a major theme in speeches is expected to be multilateralism — the kind of cooperation that Guterres stressed is required for recovery from COVID-19.

“Multilateralism is the panacea to all the problems in the world,” Bozkir said. He warned that unilateralism will only strengthen the COVID-19 crisis, saying that “no state can combat this pandemic alone.”

France’s U.N. Ambassador Nicolas de Rivière said the high-level week “will be an opportunity to reflect on the current COVID-19 crisis, and to reaffirm the crucial role of the United Nations and of multilateral cooperation, which are badly needed in these times.”

While the high-level meeting of world leaders often faces criticism for its constant speechmaking and lack of visible results, much of its business takes place in one-on-one meetings and at lunches, dinners and small gatherings — and for U.N. officials and diplomats that will be the real missing ingredient this year.

“We will miss that contact, that personal contact, that I believe is very important for diplomacy to be effective,” Guterres said, pointing to several unnamed situations where problems had no solutions but he was able to sit with both sides and discuss a way forward.

But even without face-to-face interactions, Bozkir said that after six months of almost entirely virtual meetings, “I think with all the high-level meetings and summits, we’re going to show that the U.N. is back."

“Many people were thinking, `Where is the U.N.?,'" he said. “So now we will say, `Here is the U.N.'"

By: Tim Weiner

, Russian spies have undermined America for nearly a century. Their goals during and after the cold war were the same: Subvert the United States, sabotage its power, poison the body politic. They used the weapons of political warfare: deception, disinformation, espionage.

Their American agents held positions of power and authority. They infiltrated the Justice Department, the State Department, and all of America’s national-security agencies. Turncoats at the FBI and the CIA gave the Russians keys to the kingdom of American intelligence. Their treason went undetected for many years. A Nazi-hunting congressman, Samuel Dickstein of New York, became a Kremlin spy in 1937. His work stayed secret for six decades.

Four years ago, the KGB veteran Vladimir Putin pulled off the greatest coup of political warfare since the Trojan Horse: He helped put Donald Trump in the White House. Ever since, Trump has been a priceless asset for the Russians, a point man for their war on American democracy. It’s no secret that Trump echoes Russia’s political propaganda, stands with Putin against American spies and soldiers, and undermines the pillars of American national security. No secret that he tried to erase the evidence of Russia’s attacks on the last presidential election. Now he’s trying to drown out warnings that they’ll attack the next one.

The mystery is why.

I’m not saying Putin pays him. No one has a grainy photo of Trump pocketing Kremlin gold. But there are many kinds of secret agents in the annals of political warfare. Some were compromised by money troubles or blackmailed over sex. Some served their cause without comprehending Russia’s goals—they were poleznyye duraki, useful idiots. Some were in thrall to Russia’s authoritarian ideology. And most served Russia without ever being recruited. They volunteered.

Trump’s Fury at Intel Briefing Shows Putin’s Bet Keeps Paying Off

Trump serves Putin in a very specific way. He’s an agent of influence.

That’s someone in a position of authority who’s under the sway of a hostile government. Someone who can use their power to influence public opinion or make political decisions that benefit whoever manipulates them. That’s how American intelligence defines it. The Russians, who first perfected the concept, see it a little differently. To them, an agent of influence doesn’t have to be controlled, recruited, or paid. They just have to be useful.

Leon Panetta, who ran the CIA and the Pentagon under President Obama, has no doubt about it. He told me that, by any definition, “Trump, for all intents and purposes, acts as an agent of influence of Russia.”

I’ve interviewed veteran American spies, spymasters, and spy-catchers all summer for a podcast called Whirlwind, based on my new book, The Folly and the Glory: America, Russia, and Political Warfare: 1945-2020. Almost all concur with Panetta. But they have other theories as well. There’s the useful idiot scenario. Or maybe it’s money: the Russians might have kompromat—compromising information—about Trump’s finances. And some think it might be worse than that.

All agreed with Fiona Hill, who served under Trump as the National Security Council’s director for Russia, that Moscow sized him up as a mark long ago.

Putin’s KGB experience made him an expert at “manipulating people, blackmailing people, extorting people,” she told the impeachment inquiry last year. “That’s exactly what a case officer does. They get a weakness, and they blackmail their assets.” She concluded: “I firmly believe he was also targeting President Trump.”

Trump had almost all the traits Russian intelligence officers love to exploit: his transactional sex life, his greed, his corruption, his ego. He first visited Moscow in 1987, a vainglorious businessman seeking to build a luxury hotel across Red Square from the Kremlin in partnership with the Soviet government. Then he started dropping hints about running for president, and he took out full-page ads in The New York Times and the Washington Post arguing for dismantling America’s strategic alliances in Asia and the Middle East. Soon shady Russians were sidling up to him at his Taj Mahal casino in Atlantic City. And a generation later, he was still running for president—and still trying to build that hotel in Moscow, though he denied it.

“I have no doubt that Donald Trump was a target” from his days as a businessman, said Rolf Mowatt-Larssen, a former CIA station chief in Moscow. He sees Trump’s increasingly authoritarian ideology as a key factor in his adherence to Putin. “The most disturbing thing I've learned about Donald Trump is the level to which he identifies with Putin,” he told me. “I'm saying this as a CIA officer who's trained to look for this as the most important element of a sure-fire recruitment case—where you can get someone who's on your ideological side. And Donald Trump exhibits a shocking degree of ideological solidarity with Vladimir Putin, doesn't he?”

Is the president of the United States really a Russian asset—witting or unwitting? The CIA veteran John Sipher, who served in Moscow and ran spy operations against the Russians for more than 20 years, said that Trump “is certainly being used and manipulated, and is witting and willing to a certain extent. The question is whether the Russian success is because Trump is simply so easy to read and manipulate—or is he complicit over some fear of kompromat? Is he an asset, in the English language sense of the term, to the Russians? Yes, he is. He's essentially following their playbook. He is essentially mouthing their talking points. Somehow people are getting Russian talking points in front of him. And he's doing them.”

We don’t know how much Trump’s casinos and his real estate empire and his resurrection from bankruptcy depended on KGB capitalists or Kremlin-connected oligarchs—or whether his financial connections with Russians gave them kompromat to use against him. We won’t know until criminal investigators take a deep look at his finances. And one day soon, they likely will.

“I do believe that there is probably kompromat that the Russians were able to collect on Trump,” Steve Hall, who also served as a CIA station chief in Moscow, told me. “But really, in my mind, I think that probably the most important thing that Vladimir Putin has figured out, and he has over Trump, is that Trump so much values himself as a powerful self-made man.” He continued: “The ability of Vladimir Putin to call Trump up on the phone—in one of these many phone calls that we don't end up hearing much about—or perhaps private meetings where nobody else is there,” and saying, “‘Hey, Donald, let's not forget why it is that you're where you are.’”

“He had significant help and a lot of it came from the Kremlin,” Hall said. “That would really be a useful piece of compromising information over Donald Trump.”

Trump, of course, has insisted that his business empire has “nothing to do with Russia.” He’s said a thousand times that the idea that he has a nefarious connection with Russians is “a hoax.” We might know more about his ties to Russia if the FBI had ever conducted a serious counterintelligence investigation of the matter. But Trump’s Justice Department seems to have killed the case, fearing the repercussions of a mole hunt at the White House.

The CIA veteran Mowatt-Larssen spent years tracking down the CIA and FBI traitors who served the KGB in the ’80s and ‘90s. He put on counterintelligence hat when I asked him, “Given the flattery, the praise, the political support that Putin has lavished on Donald Trump—and given Trump's desire to be an autocrat in the style of Putin—when it comes to the president of the United States serving the interests of the Kremlin, Putin doesn't have to recruit Trump. Trump recruited himself. Right?”

He thought long and hard about this. “That’s true,” he said. “But then I have to ask the obvious question: Is that all it is? Is it only that Putin is such a master manipulator and that Trump is so vain that he loves it? Or is there a deeper explanation for this inexplicable behavior? Because I cannot, I could never have imagined that an American president could essentially, whether it's witting or unwitting, betray American interests so thoroughly to the Russians as has occurred in the last four years.”

Trump hammers away at America’s alliances. He smiles upon dictators and autocrats. When great throngs of people in Hong Kong and Prague and Minsk take to the streets demanding their right to liberty, the silence of the White House is deafening.

No less than Putin, Trump conducts political warfare against the American government. He attacks the rule of law, the freedom of the press, and the legitimacy of elections. He spews propaganda and hatred into political discourse. He denounces his political foes as criminals and threatens them with prison.

In Trump’s vision of America, all power resides in the president: Congress can’t control him, courts can’t judge him, and laws can’t constrain him. His insistence that his official acts are infallible requires Americans to reject the evidence of their eyes and ears. He works to erase the criminal record of the Kremlin’s political warfare, and to promote conspiracy theories absolving Russia of its attacks on the last election and the next, thus “abetting a Russian covert operation to keep him in office for Moscow’s interests, not America’s,” in the words of the former CIA chief John Brennan.

He undermines the architecture of American national security. He shuts his eyes to the CIA’s reporting when it clashes with his invincible ignorance, and he scorns his Pentagon chiefs on matters of life and death. He defames distinguished American ambassadors as “human scum,” trashes FBI agents as subversive traitors, and vilifies CIA officers as Nazis. He has now purged the national intelligence directorate, installed dishonest partisans, and cut off the flow of intelligence reporting to Congress and the American people, a smoke screen obscuring the threat of Russian attacks intended to help him win re-election.

The president, no less than Putin’s political warriors, infects the American body politic with falsehoods, inflaming anger, poisoning discourse. Trump’s billion-dollar reelection operation uses digital disinformation strategies adopted from the Russians. His response to the coronavirus is a torrent of lying and denying, evoking the Soviet reaction to Chernobyl. With the Kremlin backing Trump as the chaos candidate, there is no foretelling the lengths he will go to stay in power, how he will react if and when the people put an end to his presidency, whether he will surrender the White House peacefully if defeated, or rule as a despot if he prevails.

Almost 40 years ago, as the cold war raged, Ronald Reagan held his first news conference as president. He said that the Russians played by different rules than Americans: “They reserve unto themselves the right to commit any crime, to lie, to cheat,” he said. “We operate on a different set of standards.” But if those standards ever held true, they don’t anymore.

The tragedy is that Trump will lie, and he will cheat, to stay in power.

And in that way, he has made America more like Russia.

The terrible question at the heart of the matter remains: What is the influence that Putin has on Trump? And that mystery never has been fully investigated. Not by the FBI. Not by the CIA. Not by Robert Mueller. Not by Congress. I asked Mowatt-Larssen what he would do if he were in charge of American intelligence and the FBI came to him and said, "We have a national security nightmare on our hands. We are afraid that the president of the United States is, in some unknowable way, in the sway of Vladimir Putin."

He said he would tell the CIA and the FBI to create a small team of mole-hunters to see “if there is any merit to the possibility that the president is a Russian spy.” He continued: “I’d give them carte blanche to look at anything they need to do, over as long as they needed to do it, in total secrecy. So no one would be even aware of the existence of the unit.”

I asked, “And you do this knowing that that investigation could last for years and for decades?”

“You have to,” he said. “And the reason you have to is that's what history suggests we may have to be prepared for.”

The Prince of Wales will on Monday warn of the looming environmental crisis which will “dwarf” the damage wrought by coronavirus, as he says the world risks missing the opportunity to “reset”.

The Prince, who will deliver the opening speech at Climate Week 2020, is to say the global pandemic is a “wake-up call we cannot ignore”.

In a message recorded at his Scottish home of Birkhall and delivered online, he warns "swift and immediate action" must now take place, with the Covid-19 pandemic providing a “window of opportunity” to change the world for the better.

He will join leaders and environmental campaigners for Climate Week, which takes place annually alongside the United Nations General Assembly.

The Prince recently launched a “Great Reset” project at a virtual meeting of the World Economic Forum, calling on business and political leaders to ensure that global economies are rebuilt with the balance of nature at their centre.

In a key note speech to be delivered virtually at 3pm on Monday, the Prince will say: "Without swift and immediate action, at an unprecedented pace and scale, we will miss the window of opportunity to 'reset' for ... a more sustainable and inclusive future.

"In other words, the global pandemic is a wake-up call we cannot ignore.

"[The environmental] crisis has been with us for far too many years - decried, denigrated and denied.

"It is now rapidly becoming a comprehensive catastrophe that will dwarf the impact of the coronavirus pandemic."

The Prince, 71, who tested positive for coronavirus in March, has previously urged members of the Commonwealth to come together to tackle climate change.

In June, he spoke at a virtual meeting of the 54 UN Commonwealth Ambassadors about The Great Reset, telling them: “In the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, we have an unparalleled opportunity to reimagine our future.

“This opportunity is an historic and precious one. As we begin to move from crisis to recovery, we have the chance to determine and shape the world we want, not just for ourselves but for the generations which follow.”

The Prince’s concern for the environment has been echoed by other members of the Royal Family.

Next month, the Duke of Cambridge will join 50 “leading thinkers and doers” to speak in a session at TEDx Countdown, to discuss climate change, regeneration and protecting nature.

Before the Covid-19 pandemic, the Duke launched the Earthshot Prize, a multimillion-pound award to find positive solutions to the “world’s greatest problems by 2030”.

Last month, a study led by the University of Leeds suggested the global lockdown will have a "negligible" impact on rising temperatures but a green recovery could avert dangerous climate change.

While lockdowns caused a fall in transport use and greenhouse gases and pollutants caused by vehicles and industrial activities, it found, the impact is only short-lived.

Analysis showed that even if some measures last until the end of 2021, global temperatures will only be 0.01C lower than expected by 2030 without further action.

SINGAPORE (Reuters) - Oil prices edged higher on Monday as a tropical storm took aim for the U.S. Gulf of Mexico region halting some production, though price gains were capped by the potential return of oil output in Libya and a continued rise in coronavirus cases.

Brent crude was up 9 cents, or 0.2%, at $43.24 a barrel by 0230 GMT, while U.S. crude was up 10 cents, or 0.2%, to $42.21 a barrel.

Royal Dutch Shell Plc halted some oil production and began evacuating workers from a U.S. Gulf of Mexico platform, the company said on Saturday.

Tropical Storm Beta was predicted to bring 1 foot (30 centimetres) of rain to parts of coastal Texas and Louisiana as the 23rd named storm of this year’s Atlantic hurricane season moves ashore on Monday night, the National Hurricane Center said.

Oil and gas producers had been restarting their offshore operations over the weekend after being disrupted by Sally. Some 17% of U.S. Gulf of Mexico offshore oil production and nearly 13% of natural gas output went offline on Saturday in the face of Hurricane Sally’s waves and winds.

Elsewhere, Libya’s National Oil Corp lifted force majeure on what it deemed secure oil ports and facilities on Saturday, but said the measure would remain in place for facilities where fighters remain.

“The market can ill afford more crude hitting the market,” ANZ analysts said in a note on Monday.

A resurgence of virus cases globally is also acting as a brake on crude demand. More than 30.78 million people have been reported to be infected by the novel coronavirus globally and 954,843 have died, according to a Reuters tally.

“It is hard to get excited about a pickup in crude demand as the virus is surging in France, Spain, and the UK, along with concerns the U.S. appears poised for at least one more cycle in the fall and winter,” said Edward Moya, senior market analyst at OANDA.

“Even if energy markets don’t see Libyan production return or if Hurricane season eases, oil prices can’t shake off the dwindling demand outlook.”


An Indian journalist held for spying for China is innocent, his lawyer said Sunday, claiming that evidence against him was manufactured after the arrest.

Advocate Adish Aggarwal, the lawyer for Rajeev Sharma, said the latter was taken away from his home on Sept. 14 but the police disclosed his arrest four days later.

Initially, no documents were recovered from him, and evidence was planted by Delhi Police later, the lawyer alleged.

The senior journalist based in the capital New Delhi was arrested for passing "sensitive information to Chinese intelligence."

He was allegedly found in possession of defence-related classified documents, and has been booked under India’s Official Secrets Act.

“It is not a crime for any person to work for China. Rajeev Sharma was working for the Chinese newspaper Global Times. It cannot be assumed he was sending any secret documents to China in any way,” Aggarwal told Anadolu Agency.

"Rajeev Sharma's wife has informed that no documents of any kind were found when the cops took him away. But later the police claimed they recovered some defence-related documents from his house so that a false case could be filed.”

He argued that police have made a mistake, thinking he is involved in illegal activities.

A bail application has also been filed, which is set for a hearing on Sept. 22.

Meanwhile, the Press Club of India has criticized the arrest, terming it "high-handed" and "mind-boggling."/aa

YANGON, Myanmar 

The arrest of three students by Myanmar's authorities for organizing protests has drawn the ire of activists across the globe.

The students are being charged under the Natural Disaster Management Law, which bans large gatherings to curb the spread of the coronavirus pandemic.

Toe Toe Aung, Kyaw Naing Htay and Oo Than Naing, all ethnic Rakhine Buddhists, held a demonstration earlier this month in the coastal city of Sittwe against the ban on 4G internet in the region and against the army's unlawful actions.

They can face up to three years in jail and are set to appear in court on Wednesday.

The treatment meted out to them is in stark contrast with the leniency shown to political parties as campaigning ahead of the general election in November reach fever-pitch.

In early September, hundreds of supporters of the ruling party National League for Democracy (NLD) campaigned in Bago, a town about 80 kilometers (49.7 miles) east of the commercial hub Yangon, ignoring the ban on gathering more than 50 people.

No one in Bago was arrested for violating the ban.

Armed conflicts between the Myanmar military and Arakan Army -- the rebel group with majority ethnic Rakhine Buddhists -- have been escalating over the past years, resulting in the surge of civilian casualties in Rakhine state.

Anadolu Agency could not reach the students or their family member but talked to lawyers representing them who said the state was using the law to silence dissent.

“In the point of the fair judicial system and human rights, they should only be sued under the law relating to their activities,” said Hla Hla Yee, a lawyer from the Legal Clinic Myanmar.

“Then they should be released on bail,” she told Anadolu Agency over the phone last week.
The All Burma Federation of Student Unions (ABFSU), an umbrella association of student groups across the country, issued a statement earlier this month, demanding the release of the Rakhine students.

ABFSU chair Than Nyi Nyi Win told Anadolu Agency last week that more than a dozen student leaders have been arrested for organizing the campaign in which they distribute pamphlets calling the military fascist.

“It reminds us of the experience of opposition when Myanmar was being ruled by the military junta,” he said.

Scores of Rohingya Muslims in a refugee camp in Bangladesh’s Cox’s Bazaar staged a protest demanding the immediate release of the three Rakhine students.

In a joint statement, Rohingya groups across the world condemned the arrests.

"Our fight for justice is a fight for everyone that has been killed, injured or abused by the Tatmadaw," the groups said in the statement, referring to Burmese term for the army./aa

SRINAGAR, Jammu and Kashmir

When my seven-year-old son’s Skype class started on Thursday, a disturbing message popped up in the chat box.

A parent of one of his classmates said his son could not attend the class because their neighborhood in Sringar, the capital of Indian-administered Kashmir, was tense.

Police had claimed killing three militants in Batamaloo, a warren of densely populated streets inhabited by pro-freedom people. A woman was also fatally shot while accompanying her baker son to his shop.

As a general practice, authorities shut internet services after such incidents to block news from spreading through social media and as a result quell protests for the slain militants.

The parent went on to say the Indian troops broke their window glass and were standing just outside their door. The teacher said a prayer for their safety.

The student lives about 2 kilometers (1.24 miles) away from my place. Scores of people protested on the streets that night against the woman’s killing.

In the class the next day, no one mentioned the incident or asked questions from the student. In fact, he had a jovial chat with another teacher.

This has been the story of Kashmir for the past 30 years. Exposure to prolonged violence and an uncertain future have damaged every aspect of Kashmiri life.

'Peace is alien'

For Irfan Ahmad, a researcher born a year after 1990, when the raging anti-India insurgency started, the “very idea of peace is alien”.

He said that as a child, seeing Indian forces raid his home was a routine because his uncle was a militant.

“I grew up witnessing violence or hearing about it almost every day. I become irritated when my parents talk about the halcyon period of pre-insurgency Kashmir having cinemas, late-night weddings. I blame them for our plight as they had waited for long to resist,” he said.

One of his cousins, Ahmad added, gave up studies after being detained by police twice during the mass protests of 2016.

“He was only 12 when they detained him. Something snapped in him after his release. A police officer threatened him with sexual violence on his mother if he were to protest again. To me he appears like someone itching to explode,” he said.

Sociologist Farrukh Faheem said Kashmir has witnessed political strife since 1947 itself but the three decades of armed insurgency have been the most intense. In a small and close-knit place like Kashmir, he said: “Every death or injury resonates and traumatizes the entire population.”

And there appears to be no escape from the violence even when one is removed from the place, says Zahid Rafiq, a Kashmiri who is studying creative writing at Cornell University in the US.

“There are days when I really want to forget that people are being killed, tortured, subjugated while I walk into a bookstore of a café for a good meal. But the violence in Kashmir lingers stubbornly at the back of my mind. At times, I hope, like a child to see Kashmir free where we could finally live in peace, without fear, shame and subjugation,” he said.

He said every fresh eruption in Kashmir creates anxieties among hundreds of thousands of their kin working or living outside. During the communications blackout in August last year, Zahid said he could not speak to his family for several days. His son had been born only a month ago.

Scrapping autonomy

Last year, prospects of peace were jolted when India scrapped the region’s autonomy and divided it into two federally ruled territories. Since then, several laws introduced by the Indian government have triggered fears that Indian Hindus would overwhelm the native Kashmiri Muslims, who are in majority, and they would lose control over their own resources besides losing jobs to outsiders. Almost all key positions in the administration have currently been taken over by non-Kashmiris.

While abrogating the special laws, the Indian government said Jammu and Kashmir would develop economically and help Kashmir integrate psychologically with India besides curbing insurgency.

But, Suhail Bukhari, spokesman of People’s Democratic Party that shared power with the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) until 2018, said last year’s changes dealt a blow to prospects of peace and “added one more layer of complexity to an already complex issue.”

“Nobody can deny that peace in Kashmir goes beyond Kashmir. Peace in Kashmir is necessary for peace in entire South Asia. We believe there is no alternative to reconciliation and dialogue,” he said.

According to Ashok Kaul, a member of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party, however, peace is “only a few months away”.

He said the government has taken steps to ensure a lasting peace but the disturbances caused by the COVID-19 pandemic created hurdles.

“Peace will prevail, especially in Kashmir,” he told Anadolu Agency.

More than 180 militants, 45 civilians and 49 Indian forces personnel were killed in insurgency related incidents while 26 civilians and 25 troops were killed in cross-border firing between Indian and Pakistani armies since Aug. 5 last year.

The apparently hopeless situation has not killed people’s craving for peace, says Faheem, who teaches at Kashmir University.

“But not the peace of the graveyard enforced at gunpoint. It is the just peace that recognizes people’s civil and political rights. We have seen how so-called peaceful periods quickly evaporated in air,” he said.

Prospects of a negotiated settlement are becoming bleaker by the day. Kashmiri academic Abir Bazaz told Anadolu Agency that condemning an entire people to a “life of uncertainty and perpetual war is simply inhuman”.

“Even those who must pay the price for the strategic calculus of nation-states, as Kashmiris do, reach a threshold beyond which the status-quo is impossible to endure. For Kashmiris, there is no end in sight to the war,” said Bazaz, an assistant professor at India’s prestigious Ashoka University.

He said “the most that one can hope in such a hopeless situation” is that the Kashmiris will continue to rely on their cultural and political resources to keep demanding their right to a life of peace and justice “without succumbing to the temptation of counter-violence”.

Kashmir, a Himalayan region, is held by India and Pakistan in parts and claimed by both in full. A small sliver is also held by China.


A fire on Sunday engulfed the campus of one of Africa's top universities in Uganda's capital Kampala.

"The fire brigade is on ground. Everyone is trying their best. The fire is heavy and sprouting from the right side of the Building. The fire flames are heavy coming through right side of the roof which has sunk in. We all need to pray for the Ivory Tower," said the Makerere University in a Facebook post.

The cause of the fire is yet to be confirmed.

“It is a very dark morning for Makerere University. Our iconic Main Administration Building caught fire and the destruction is unbelievable. But we are determined to restore the building to its historic state in the shortest time," Vice Chancellor Barnabas Nawangwe said in a tweet.