Today's D Brief: Bloody days in Myanmar; China-Iran pact; COVID cases edge up; Suez ship freed; And a bit more.
It’s getting ugly in Myanmar, where the military is conducting airstrikes along a portion of its border with Thailand as more than 2,000 villagers fled amid a crackdown on dissent in the troubled Southeast Asian nation, the Associated Press reports from Thailand. “The bombings may have been in retaliation for a reported attack by the Karen National Liberation Army in which they claimed to have captured a Myanmar government military outpost on Saturday morning,” AP writes, noting that KNLA group “is fighting for greater autonomy for the Karen people.”
That’s not the only bad news: Myanmar’s soldiers and police killed more than 100 people across the country on Saturday — during the 76th Armed Forces Day, no less — as protests continue against the Feb. coup. At least seven children were among those shot dead, Hannah Beech of the New York Times reports in a feature that takes readers inside some of the military’s deserters particularly disturbed by what’s happened in the past two months.
AP called Saturday “the bloodiest single day since the takeover.” And to date, more than 460 people are believed to have been killed by Myanmar’s military and police, according to metrics maintained by the Assistance Association of Political Prisoners.
BTW: “[A] great number” of protesters died “from being shot in the head,” AP reports, “suggesting they have been targeted for death.”
America’s Joint Chiefs joined the military leaders from nearly a dozen other countries to condemn the violence Saturday by Myanmar’s Armed Forces.
Uniting in condemnation:
- the Netherlands
- New Zealand
- South Korea
- the UK
- and the U.S.
Their message to Myanmar’s junta: “As Chiefs of Defense, we condemn the use of lethal force against unarmed people by the Myanmar Armed Forces and associated security services. A professional military follows international standards for conduct and is responsible for protecting — not harming — the people it serves. We urge the Myanmar Armed Forces to cease violence and work to restore respect and credibility with the people of Myanmar that it has lost through its actions.”
FWIW: Even Russia is “worried” about the spike in violence, Kremlin spokesman Dmetri Peskov said today in Moscow.
Meanwhile in Myanmar, protesters are back on the streets again today, Reuters reports. And so far, three people have been killed by security forces, including one man who was shot in the head.
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Welcome to this Monday edition of The D Brief from Ben Watson with Bradley Peniston. Send us tips from your community right here. And if you’re not already subscribed to The D Brief, you can do that here. OTD in 1865, a final series of battles between the Union Army and the Confederacy (now known as the Appomattox campaign) began after U.S. Army Lt. Gen. Ulysses S. Grant expanded what was a mere railroad raid into a major offensive to cut the rebels’ supply lines from Petersburg and their capital city in Richmond. More than two decades later, Union Col. Alfred Pearson would be awarded the Medal of Honor for his bravery and leadership during the Battle of Lewis's Farm on this day.
Developing: The Suez Canal is about to be open for business once again now that the massive freighter Ever Given has been refloated and sent along its way, AP and Reuters report from Egypt.
Tugboats and a high tide helped dislodge the 220,000-ton ship, which is among the world’s largest, and whose dramatic problems helped shed a light on both history and economics, as Queen Mary University of London Professor Laleh Khalili explained in the Washington Post on Friday.
Some $9 billion in global trade was being held up by the Ever Given, and “At least 367 vessels, carrying everything from crude oil to cattle, have piled up on either end of the canal, waiting to pass,” AP reports. More here.
Says Russia: The Northern Sea route looks pretty appealing right about now, eh? Reuters has that quick one, here.
China and Iran say they’ll work together for the next 25 years, forming a “permanent and strategic” partnership that spans politics and economics, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi announced Saturday.
One reason this matters: “The accord brings Iran into China’s Belt and Road Initiative, a multi-trillion-dollar infrastructure scheme intended to stretch from East Asia to Europe,” Reuters reports.
Influence watch: China is warning H&M, Burberry, Nike, Adidas “and other Western brands” against speaking out about how Chinese authorities have treated their own Muslim citizens in Xinjiang province, Reuters reported Sunday from Beijing.
Where that comes from: “Chinese social media users last week began circulating a 2020 statement by H&M announcing it would no longer source cotton from Xinjiang.” Read on, here.
“U.S. nuclear weapons are aging quickly. With few spare parts, how long can they last?” The spare parts in question are the non-nuclear items, everything from command-and-control wiring to the elevators that allow crews to service ICBMs, Tara Copp — soon to join Defense One — reports for McClatchy. One surprising thing we learned: “All of the non-nuclear parts of any of the warheads rely on just one place, the Department of Energy’s Kansas City National Security Campus.” Read on, here.
For your ears only: Review chemical weapon use in Syria in a new interview podcast from the Iran-watchers at the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies think tank in Washington. Joby Warrick of the Washington Post joins FDD’s “Foreign Podicy” podcast to discuss his new book, “Red Line: The Unraveling of Syria and America’s Race to Destroy the Most Dangerous Arsenal in the World,” which was published in late February. That hour-long discussion begins here.
And finally today, here’s another incentive to go get a COVID-19 vaccination: free stuff. And that free stuff includes donuts, cheesecake, fries, chips and salsa — even $5 in free arcade tokens (yes, those places are still around), according to the Wall Street Journal.
Participating businesses so far include Krispy Kreme, burger and taco chains in San Francisco, a Brooklyn-based bakery, and more. All you gotta do is get that vaccine and then show your CDC card upon payment. Read on here.
By the way: Please continue to maintain your vigilance — masks, distancing, etc. — because case counts are still rising in some portions of the U.S. According to CNN, “More than two dozen states are reporting at least a 10% increase of new cases compared to the previous week.”