Increasing number of traumatized soldiers in treatment: Data from Germany’s defense ministry shows that the missions of recent years have left their mark. More and more Bundeswehr soldiers are receiving treatment for deployment-related psychological problems. In 2013, 602 traumatized soldiers were receiving psychiatric treatment. In 2019, that number increased to 1,006 and in 2020 to 1,116 soldiers. In addition, the ministry says there were 762 soldiers in treatment in the first five months of this year. In view of these figures, Matthias Höhn, Left party defense expert, called on the federal government and on parliament to weigh the long-term consequences of dangerous missions such as of those in Afghanistan or Mali. He told German media that a broad debate is needed in politics and in society on how to deal with the rising number of soldiers who are falling ill. Those affected also need to be heard, be visible and receive help.
Israel attacks targets in Gaza in response to arson balloons: Israel has targeted Palestinian military sites in the Gaza Strip in response to the Sunday launches of incendiary balloons. Israeli Air Force launched attacks in the Khan Yunis area in the southern Gaza Strip. Several incendiary balloons were launched into southern Israel from the Gaza Strip on Sunday, The Times of Israel reported. According to the reports, the incendiary balloons launched from Gaza on Sunday caused several brushfires in the Eshkol region of southern Israel. In response to the arson attacks, Israel announced it was cutting the Gaza Strip’s fishing zone in half until further notice on Sunday night.
North and South Korea agree to talk again: North and South Korea restored a key communications hotline Tuesday and agreed to improve ties, more than a year after Pyongyang cut the link during a period of increased tensions. The move followed the exchange of letters between leaders of the two Koreas to reestablish cross-border engagement, Seoul’s presidential office said Tuesday. Ties between both countries improved in 2018, when South Korean President Moon Jae-in and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un met three times. But this quickly broke down following the collapse of a second summit between Kim and then US President Donald Trump. Tensions later worsened, prompted by defector groups in the South sending propaganda across the border. This eventually led North Korea to cut off all military and political communication links, including a hotline between their leaders. South Korea’s president had called for the hotline to be restored and talks aimed at dismantling North Korea’s nuclear and missile programmes.
Hybrid warfare – Lithuania accuses Belarus of smuggling migrants into the EU: An increasing number of migrants, many originally from Middle Eastern or African countries, have been crossing the border from Belarus to Lithuania in recent weeks. Lithuanian Minister of Foreign Affairs Gabrielius Landsbergis says there are more than 2,400 people that entered Lithuania from Belarus illegally during the last two months. He accuses the regime in Belarus of using these people as a sort of a weapon against Lithuania as well as the European Union. Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko has previously threatened the EU with masses of migrants during defiant remarks to Belarusian government ministers. „We will not stop anyone,“ Lukashenko said, referring to the migrants. He said the migrants are on their way to „warm and comfortable Europe.“ Lukashenko also blamed the influx on Lithuania, as the Baltic country cut the asylum request process to 10 days.
Crisis in Tunisia – President Saied defends measures: A political crisis in Tunisia moved into its second day Monday after President Kais Saied fired the prime minister and suspended parliament. Saied’s opponents have decried the move, which the president claimed was constitutional, as an attempted coup. Later on Monday, Saied issued decree suspending work in public institutions and local administrations for two days starting Tuesday. He also imposed a night-time curfew between 7 pm to 6 am until August 27. In a meeting with the heads of syndicates and unions, Saied reiterated his rejection to the accusations that he staged a coup. „This is an implementation of the constitution. Article 80 gave the president the right to take the necessary measures in case of imminent danger,“ he said, in a video of the meeting published by the presidency. He said the danger was already present, threatening the economic and social situation in the country. He mentioned slow roll-out of the vaccination campaign as proof of one of the threats to citizens. The United Nations (UN) called on all parties in Tunisia to exercise restraint, refrain from violence and ensure that the situation remains calm. Turkey said it was deeply concerned by the suspension of the Tunisian parliament’s activities. A spokeswoman for the German foreign ministry told reporters that Germany hoped Tunisia would return as soon as possible to constitutional order.
washingtonpost.com, dpa-international.com, reuters.com, time.com, aljazeera.com
Fighting in Afghanistan: Civilian casualties hit record high amid US withdrawal, UN says cnn.com
Welthungerhilfe (World Hunger Aid): Humanitarian situation in Tigray is a disaster deutschlandfunk.de
Taliban advance in Afghanistan: Biden authorizes $100 million in emergency funds for Afghan refugees reuters.com
Spyware Pegasus: Israel defense minister to visit France to discuss NSO, Iran reuters.com
Lebanon: Lebanon names telecoms tycoon and former prime minister Najib Mikati as new prime minister dw.com
NUMBER OF THE WEEK
80% of UN personnel from peacekeeping missions are deployed in climate hotspots.
Tigray conflict in Ethiopia: Special forces and militias from a number of Ethiopia’s regions are mobilizing to back the federal government’s military operations in Tigray, signaling a widening of the conflict. Regular forces from Amhara — a large region abutting the south of Tigray — have been fighting alongside federal troops ever since Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed launched the military offensive in Tigray last November. But now regular and irregular combatants from six regions not previously involved in the conflict are joining, including from Oromia, Ethiopia’s most populous region, as well as Sidama, Somalia and the Southern Nations, Nationalities and Peoples. The mobilizations come amid reports that Tigray rebels are making incursions into Amhara-occupied areas of Tigray, as well as into the Afar region, which borders Tigray to its east. Tigrayan fighters crossed into Afar on Saturday and Afar forces and allied militias were still battling them on Monday, Afar spokesman Ahmed Koloyta told Reuters news agency. „It’s a very dangerous situation that’s evolving when you have so many groups who are fighting and they have their own issues and their own agendas,“ US-based Ethiopia analyst Yohannes Woldemariam said. „This looks like a recipe for something really catastrophic. … It may make Rwanda look very small. That’s my fear,“ he said, referring to the genocide in Rwanda in which some 800,000 people died.
Russian authorities block dozens of websites belonging to Kremlin critics: Russian authorities have restricted access to the website of imprisoned opposition leader Alexei Navalny and to dozens of sites run by his close allies, Navalny’s team said Monday. The action came amid mounting government pressure on opposition supporters, independent journalists and human rights activists in Russia ahead of the country’s parliamentary election. President Vladimir Putin, who has been in power for more than two decades, pushed through constitutional changes last year that would potentially allow him to hold onto power until 2036.
Women in Afghanistan fear Taliban takeover: The radical Islamist Taliban could soon take power in Afghanistan again. Human rights activists report dramatic oppression of women and girls in the conquered territories. Life in Afghanistan as a woman has never been easy, but now it’s hard to sleep soundly at night, says Saleha Soadat from Kabul. In an interview with German media, the Afghan women’s activist says she fears that the Taliban will soon take control of the Afghan capital of Kabul as well. After the withdrawal of international troops, the Taliban are on the rise again. Every day, Soadat observes a large gathering of people in front of the municipal administration in Kabul who want to apply for passports. Faced with the Taliban offensive, the Kabul government imposed a nighttime curfew in all cities last Saturday. However, negotiations between government officials and the Taliban have so far been inconclusive. Neither human rights nor women’s rights play a role in the peace negotiations between the government and the Taliban, says Soadat. She is in contact with many women nationwide, she says, and they are desperate and have little hope. The Afghan Independent Human Rights Commission in Kabul confirmed in mid-July that the Taliban had closed girls‘ schools and banned women from leaving the house unaccompanied by a male relative. The Human Rights Commission also confirmed reports of forced marriages to Taliban fighters. Soadat, like many other people in Afghanistan, fears that the Taliban will rejoin the government in the future. That could set back the fight for women’s rights by decades.
„I want to give those who helped us so much a real way out.“
German Chancellor Angela Merkel in reference to local forces in Afghanistan that are now at risk after the international troop withdrawal.
Man was stalked by a bear for a week in Alaska’s wilderness: A man has been rescued after spending a week fighting off a grizzly bear in the Alaskan wilderness. With injuries to his leg and torso, and running on a mixture of adrenaline, sleep deprivation and just two remaining rounds of ammunition for his pistol, he was finally spotted by a Coast Guard pilot, Lieutenant Commander Jared Carbajal. The unidentified man, in his fifties or sixties, told the US Coast Guard that he’d arrived at the camp on July 12th. Some days later, near the mining camp, he encountered the grizzly, which dragged him to a nearby river. He managed to escape the bear’s clutches, sustaining injuries to his leg and chest, and found his way back to a hut at the camp, where he treated his wounds. “He said that the bear kept coming back every night and he hadn’t slept in a few days,” Commander Carbajal told The New York Times. That the Coast Guard spotted the man at all was sheer luck, since Commander Carabajal’s helicopter crew, flying out of Kodiak, had been on its way to a mission elsewhere when it changed course by about a mile to avoid a patch of bad weather. “If we would have been in the next river valley over,” Commander Carbajal told the Times, “we would have totally missed him.”