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Transnational Thursday for March 21, 2024

Transnational Thursday is a thread for people to discuss international news, foreign policy or international relations history. Feel free as well to drop in with coverage of countries you’re interested in, talk about ongoing dynamics like the wars in Israel or Ukraine, or even just whatever you’re reading.

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UN Security Council demands immediate Gaza ceasefire after US abstains

UNITED NATIONS, March 25 (Reuters) - The United Nations Security Council adopted a resolution on Monday demanding an immediate ceasefire between Israel and Palestinian militants Hamas and the release of all hostages after the United States abstained from the vote. The remaining 14 council members voted for the resolution, which was proposed by the 10 elected members of the body. There was a round of applause in the council chamber after the vote.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said the failure of the U.S. to veto the resolution was a "clear retreat" from its previous position and would hurt Israel's war efforts and bid to release more than 130 hostages still held by Hamas.

"Our vote does not, and I repeat that does not represent a shift in our policy," White House spokesperson John Kirby told reporters. "Nothing has changed about our policy. Nothing."

Following the U.N. vote, Netanyahu canceled a visit to Washington by a high-level delegation that was due to discuss a planned Israeli military operation in the southern Gaza city of Rafah, where some 1.5 million people have sought shelter.

Trump calls on Israel to ‘finish up’ the war in Gaza because it is ‘losing a lot of the world’

“You have to finish up your war ... You gotta get it done. And I am sure you will do that. And we gotta get to peace, we can’t have this going on. And I will say, Israel has to be very careful, because you’re losing a lot of the world, you’re losing a lot of support,”

The former president has refrained from issuing running commentary on the war since the Hamas attacks of 7 October and the subsequent Israeli response. The comments represent his most forceful intervention yet on the matter ahead of an expected United Nations Security Council vote later today that is expected to demand a ceasefire in Gaza.

When asked how he would have countered a rise in anti-Semitism that followed the Hamas attacks and Israel’s response, Mr Trump appeared to blame the images of Israeli bombings coming out of Gaza.

“Well, that’s because you fought back,” he said. “And I think Israel made a very big mistake. I wanted to call [Israel] and say don’t do it. These photos and shots. I mean, moving shots of bombs being dropped into buildings in Gaza. And I said, Oh, that’s a terrible portrait. It’s a very bad picture for the world. The world is seeing this … every night, I would watch buildings pour down on people.”

Seems like the Israel Palestine stuff might wind down. Both sides of the aisle now disapproving.

Israel announces largest West Bank land seizure since 1993 during Blinken visit

This is particularly jarring after Biden has made more overt moves indicating he'd like to see deescalation, most recently the (failed) UN ceasefire resolution.

Most striking to me, personally, is the overwhelmingly negative sentiment on r/neoliberal.

For those who don't know, /r/neoliberal are very pro-Biden (and anti-Trump), generally pro-free market (and hence anti-anti-capitalist), and (imo) generally see themselves as moderate Democrats. Until today I'd have characterized them as pro-Israel, but this seems like a marked change. A top 1% subreddit changing its political beliefs is pretty rare.

I want to say this foreshadows a change in broader public support, but perhaps I'm a bit late to the party -- Gallup has already shown dropping support for Israel generally:

Fifty-eight percent of Americans, down from 68% last year, have a “very” or “mostly favorable” view of Israel. This is the lowest favorable rating for Israel in over two decades. At the same time, positive opinions of the Palestinian Authority have dropped from 26% to 18%, the lowest since 2015.

(Last sentence is just to give some context: yes support for Israel has dropped, but, it's worth noting, so has support for Palestine)

And, perhaps to be expected, this is most pronounced among young people:

Young adults show the biggest decline in ratings of Israel, dropping from 64% favorable among 18- to 34-year-olds in 2023 to 38%. Middle-aged adults (those aged 35 to 54) show a smaller but still significant drop, from 66% to 55%, while there has been no meaningful change among adults aged 55 and older.

I can't imagine that whatever Israel has gained in the last year is worth the long-term cost of burning its support with the next two generations of Americans.

This is particularly jarring after Biden has made more overt moves indicating he'd like to see deescalation, most recently the (failed) UN ceasefire resolution. … I can't imagine that whatever Israel has gained in the last year is worth the long-term cost of burning its support with the next two generations of Americans.

My year-old comment:

I think Americans will have a sort of a crisis of faith when they understand that this isn't about them – that they are no longer important enough to pander to; and their changing sentiment is largely explained by this fact and their subconscious sense of being disrespected. … Democrat or Republican, if you identify with the Hegemonic Superpower Maintaining Rules-Based International Liberal Order, the paternalistic big brother watching over a seed of a fraternal culture in the hostile environment – this must sting.

My impression was that Neo-liberals have been very against the settlements this entire time and that they've been pro a two states solution.

Them being against this is no change of political beliefs but israel doing this is of course changing their opinion of Israel for the worse.

I think the Israelis realize that their favorability ratings are going to suffer a pretty big generational drop anyway when the American Boomers start dying off and are scrambling to try and get things settled for good before that happens.

Not a bad idea...under a Trump presidency. It looks like Biden might lose but it actually hasn't happened yet and he's clearly feeling pressure.

Gigantic terrorist attack at a concert in Moscow in progress. At least 140 dead probably significantly higher. The concert hall is on fire and currently collapsing. Perpetrators unknown. Multiple shooters with AKs.

Edited to add: Looks like ISIS had claimed responsibility, Putin will be making a statement soon

Second Edit Reuters and Skynews are reporting a second attack at an emergency medical center at least 28 dead there. (Third edit: this seems to be an erroneous report based on a western news outlets mistranslation of a Russian news broadcast)

Fourth edit Putin and the FSB have made statements in the past hours claiming that the concert hall attackers were attempting to flee to Ukraine and had Ukrainian assistance in entering Russia to carry out the attack

Fifth Edit FSB alleges attackers were detained 85 miles from the Ukrainian border on a near a highway heading south. Attackers indicted in Russian court. They appear to have been tortured.

Sixth Edit FSB Director Alexander Bortnikov claims in official statement that the Ukraine, the United States and the United Kingdom were behind the attack

Since it seems like all parties are incentivized to lie here I propose a test that I will call the "Budanov test" in order to eventually determine who is likely culpable. People are missing the point when it comes to ISIS claiming to have done it. ISIS isn't the same as it was during the Obama era. It's been beheaded and is just a loose collection of various Islamic extremists. These guys specifically seem to have been really low IQ hired meat, with the whole op having been planned by others and them recruited through telegram. Anyone could contract them or the people that contracted them, there is no central command. Could be actual Islamic extremists or state actors and we won't ever know. It's like 'Anon' claiming to be behind a high profile hack.

When it comes to the response even if Russia has information that it was in fact Islamic extremists they will be incentivized to point fingers at Ukraine. The same is true for the opposing parties. Ukraine will deny and so will any western country if they are involved. None of the big players are likely to reveal specifics as this could compromise their intelligence gathering with little to gain in a low-trust post fact deepfake environment.

However, if Russia does in fact have information it believes points to Ukraine their response would potentially differ from their response if it's purely being used as propaganda to further war goals. They are likely to use the attack to further support for Ukraine war yes, but it's not clear that they'd want to escalate things much beyond their current level as this risks more western support and they are currently, albeit very slowly, winning the war.

If they do have information that points to it being planned in some way by Ukraine from the logic of a state actor this is a major escalation and would require a response so as to deter similar attacks in the future and not appear weak. In this case Russia would not only be incentivized to ramp up the usual bombings they would likely target the people involved which would be Budanov or people in the intelligence agencies that are involved with Ukraine's assassinations. A response like this occurred after the dugina, and cafe assassinations. Where Russia targeted the main Kiev hq of intelligence services and Budanov went off the radar and was rumoured dead or injured for a while.

So tl;dr if Budanov is still in Ukraine and no major attempt or escalation has been made towards him and/or Ukrainian intelligence within the next couple months, it was probably just run of the mill extremism. If we see some ramped up attempts at Budanov or targetted attacks on Ukrainian intelligence agencies then Russia at least suspects it was Ukraine.

I suppose there is also the case they suspect it was western backed, seems less likely to me. There could be retaliation via an islamic terror attack in the US or a western country, but given the upcoming elections and the geopolitical stakes for the great powers in an election between maximalist and isolationist parties, the state of the US border, and also the current turmoil in the middle east... it's probably not a useful indicator. An attack is too likely in the lead up to the election and too many groups are incentivized here.

If someone is looking for overly bigbrained consipracy theories, then false flag by Russia is far more reasonable than Ukrainians wasting any resources at all on this.

I think "random jihadis did it, Putin's framing Ukraine because never waste an opportunity" is more likely than either; yeah, the capability exists to go do a false-flag, but it seems like a lot of effort for little benefit.

"random jihadis did it, Putin's framing Ukraine because never waste an opportunity" is more likely than either

oh definitely, that is one of more reasonable one (rather than overly bigbrained conspiracy theories).

If it would be intended to frame Ukraine then they would probably bring yellow-blue and red-black flags and so on.

Putin probably came to power through false flag attacks, so it wouldn't be beyond him.

This is also the unproven rumor about Ukraine's leadership.

Zelensky came to power on a reconcile-with-Russia platform after people tired of Poroshenko, what false flag are people accusing him of?

I mean the actual leadership. Western control of Ukraine came about after Maidan, the false flag theory is that the Maidan shootings were Ukranian ultra-nationalist or Western false flag. The various figureheads after that like Zelensky haven't mattered anymore than the previous Russian figureheads mattered.

This has not been proven.

Russia: ISIS did it.

America: ISIS did it.

ISIS: We did it.

Internet people with all their big brained realpolitik and stuff: Ukraine and the CIA did it.

Russia: ISIS did it.

Where? I can't find anything to the effect on RIAN or further down the human centipede of news.

Hell, I just saw a Twitter shitpost where Russia repeatedly claims Ukraine or someone else did it, and not ISIS. If Russia is accepting that it was ISIS, that's apparently not being signal-boosted.

I kind of doubt that the Kiev government is responsible. Right now Western public support for giving Ukraine unlimited aid is wavering - so the Kiev government would have to be kind of insane to risk the absolutely horrible optics of launching a jihadi-style mass killing of random civilians.

It would be going way beyond things like incorporating open Nazis in the ranks, blowing up Nord Stream 2, shelling Belgorod, trying to kill Dugin and killing his daughter by mistake, or blowing up Vladlen Tatarsky at a cafe.

One can sort-of justify the Nazis through Ukraine's desperate need for military personnel and the fact that the Nazis are largely fighting against uniformed Russian soldiers (and Western media is unlikely to focus too much on any other things the Nazis might engage in, like maybe some suppression of dissidents), most Westerners don't really care about Nord Stream 2, shelling Belgorod is easily justified by Russian attacks on Ukrainian cities, and the assassinations were launched against specific Russian pro-war targets.

Attacking completely random civilians in a jihadi style that reminds Westerners of recent attacks against their own countries carries such terrible optics if exposed that I really struggle to believe that the Ukrainian government would be stupid enough to do it given the lack of benefit. The Nazis at least actually provide a good bit of benefit to the Kiev government's war-making capability even if their optics are terrible... but killing 100 completely random Russian civilians does what exactly? Makes Putin look weak? Anybody who reads about the history of war a bit will realize that such actions are more likely to solidify support for the country's leader, not hurt it.

Of course governments do not always make decisions rationally, but given the cost-benefit analysis as it seems to me, I think that the level of irrationality necessary to attempt something like this would be significantly greater than anything I've seen from the Kiev government so far.

If it is true that the perpetrators were apprehended along the highway to Ukraine, that can potentially be explained by the fact that realistically, attempting to cross the Ukraine border despite having no ties to the Ukraine government could have been their best chance of survival. If they tried to go to Tajikistan, the long arm of the FSB would probably not find it too hard to follow them there.

I struggle to figure out how exactly they would have crossed the border without being discovered given that the border is, presumably, pretty well defended from the Russian side. Not that "pretty well defended from the Russian side" is saying much, given the length of the border and the mediocre quality of the Russian military (probably even more mediocre among troops stationed on a relatively peaceful part of the border). But it still would be running a gigantic risk. However, the theory that they were under orders from Kiev and had pre-arranged contacts with the Ukrainians suffers from the same problem... they would still have to figure out how to cross the border somehow.

It would be going way beyond things like incorporating open Nazis in the ranks, blowing up Nord Stream 2, shelling Belgorod, trying to kill Dugin and killing his daughter by mistake, or blowing up Vladlen Tatarsky at a cafe.

You are saying that now, but many posters here said the same thing to argue that Ukraine would never blow up Nord Stream 2, before the articles saying it was likely them started appearing - it was all about how it would be stupid of them to engage in a terrorist attack against the infrastructure of one of their most important backers, and people in Germany would never forgive them if that turned out to be true, all for dubious benefit. Then the articles came out, and it was predictably crickets; ask anyone here or in Germany now and they'll affirm that surely Ukraine can't be faulted for protecting its interests like that (and are you really sure it was them anyway?).

People consistently overestimate how much they would actually be willing to apply principles if it turns out those principles favour the enemy team over their own. Condemning your in-group is painful, and people will be looking for any excuse to not do so, and anyhow we have the best excuse-printing machines in the world. If hypothetically this attack was actually ordered from Ukraine, is there any evidence that Russia could realistically obtain and present that would convince you of that, assuming Western media and governments just stuck to the line that it was independent ISIS adherents? Any statement procured from the perpetrators themselves can easily be dismissed as the product of torture or bribery, and supplying money and weapons untraceably in a country like Russia is trivial. Knowing this, though, any hypothetical Ukrainians considering to orchestrate such an attack would not need to include Western displeasure in their risk calculus at all - as long as governments and media in the West stay broadly on their side, no such displeasure can possibly manifest over this.

You are saying that now, but many posters here said the same thing to argue that Ukraine would never blow up Nord Stream 2

I was commenting (maybe here) that Ukraine blowing NS is unlikely - but due to lack of ability to do this, not due to lack of motive. (add to that inability to keep secret)

before the articles saying it was likely them started appearing

were there any worth anything? And not written by that journalist which is spiralling into insanity for some time?

and are you really sure it was them anyway?

AFAIK nothing clear appeared and I am confused how this topic died. I would expect at least Russia to keep talking about this and release something if anything close to actual proof would appear.

If hypothetically this attack was actually ordered from Ukraine, is there any evidence that Russia could realistically obtain and present that would convince you of that, assuming Western media and governments just stuck to the line that it was independent ISIS adherents?

In this case it is relatively tricky. And it is price they are paying for very low quality of courts.

Though for NS providing some evidence should be feasible.

There was this cluster of reports carried by the WaPo and most major German papers. The Russian reaction at the time was that this is a lizard-cutting-off-its-tail release meant to pin it on "rogue elements in Ukraine that nobody with agency can be held responsible for" and the operation was actually executed with US backing. The reaction was mokusatsued in Western media.

If hypothetically this attack was actually ordered from Ukraine, is there any evidence that Russia could realistically obtain and present that would convince you of that

Maybe, but it would have to be something that cannot be faked or coerced, like a confession from a Ukrainian planner made while he and his family are in safety, not in Russia. Other than that... well, suffice it to say that I do not trust either the Kiev government or the Moscow government when they say anything that is less obvious than "the sky is blue" or "2 + 2 = 4".

I am pretty neutral in this war, so I feel that for whatever my intuition is worth, it is at least probably not much biased by partisanship. And in the absence of strong evidence that Ukraine either did it or that someone else clearly is behind planning it, I default to my cost-benefit analysis, which says that it makes no sense for Ukraine and it does not really fit their usual modus operandi (as far as I know, they usually find Slavs instead of people of Muslim ethnicities for assassinations in Russia, probably precisely because that is much much easier to present or spin as a case of "disaffected freedom fighter wants to strike a blow against Putin's regime" than using Muslims would be, since it would be a very hard sell to present Muslim militants as being chiefly driven by the kind of liberalism that Westerners like).

Of course nations do not always behave rationally, and you make a good point about Nord Stream 2. I would never have thought that the Ukrainians would risk doing something like that. However, I still think that a jihadi-type attack on civilians, without even the shred of a plausible military target, has significantly worse optics in Western eyes than either blowing up Nord Stream 2 or killing civilians as part of an assassination that targets some Russian pro-war figure.

That said, I never thought Russia would invade in 2022 to begin with because I overestimated the degree to which Putin would be deterred from such a course by the risk of losing the gas and oil trade with Europe. And as I already mentioned, I did not think that the Ukrainians would risk something like the attack on Nord Stream 2. So my track record is bad and I seem to have a tendency to underestimate people's risk tolerance.

For now, I can at least say that all presented evidence pointing at the Ukrainians is not sufficient to convince a neutral observer like myself, and my intuition is "this doesn't seem like the Ukrainians' typical style". But who knows.

but killing 100 completely random Russian civilians does what exactly? Makes Putin look weak?

Also, if you could make terrorist attack in Russia then why they would waste it on this? For example with drones they target refineries, air bases and so on. There is still more of that in Russia.

If it is true that the perpetrators were apprehended along the highway to Ukraine

Note that it does not even imply they were trying to get to Ukraine. Maybe they were going to Belarus, running away randomly or trying to get to prepared hideout.

The telegrams are now showing footage that purports to be questioning one of the guys they caught. The core claim seems to be that he was recruited on Telegram after following some preacher, was offered about $5k with half transferred as an advance, and the weapons were provided by the recruiter.

Considering the timing and the guy's demeanor, I think the "legitimate ISIS" story should be losing a lot of probability mass, unless you postulate this is not really one of the shooters - leaving the Ukrainian intelligence and Russian intelligence strategy-of-tension explanations as the two most likely. The speed with which the Americans committed to the ISIS story speaks in favour of Ukrainian involvement a bit. The option that they were larpers can't be quite dismissed yet either - in that scenario I guess the guy being interviewed was previously beaten and/or bribed into giving this story off screen.

The speed with which the Americans committed to the ISIS story speaks in favour of Ukrainian involvement a bit.

I’m not sure why US intelligence is supposed to be slow to confirm this — the Islamic State claimed responsibility for an attack that the CIA has been waiting for them to conduct for a month (the US had issued a public warning that US citizens should avoid Russian crowds).

ISIS also claimed responsibility for Stephen Paddock’s mass shooting in Las Vegas so you can’t always take them at their word

The Americans offering advanced warning to Russia militates against American/Ukrainian direct involvement. Though it wouldn't surprise me to find out that Ukraine did facilitate or did little to prevent an attack on Russia by a 3rd party.

The warning, as far as I remember, didn't name any potential perpetrator and was so conspicuously broad and scarce on details that it's actually hard to read as something that would help the addressees and hinder the terrorists.

But Ukraine has never done something like this before. They occasionally shell Russian cities and assassinate the wrong person by mistake sometimes and damage infrastructure. They don’t kill 100+ random people in Moscow.

Besides which, IS claimed responsibility, and it is their MO to do stuff like this. I think Islamic state in Chechnya and Islamic state in Central Asia both view Russia as one of their main adversaries.

assassinate the wrong person by mistake sometimes

For what it's worth, I don't think it makes a huge difference whether they hit Dugin or his daughter, and Fomin was clearly the intended target (with the 42 other injuries being considered acceptable, considering the MO of bombing a public appearance in a closed room). You might argue that hitting anti-Ukrainian agitators and their audience does not imply willingness to hit random civilians, but few people would have been willing to make that distinction e.g. for the Charlie Hebdo attack (plus I heard diffuse statements that at least one of the concerts yesterday may also have been linked to some anti-Ukrainian agitation).

IS claimed responsibility

There are plenty of historical examples of them claiming responsibility for things they didn't do (some parallel comment brought up the Las Vegas shooting). Not that they wouldn't have the motive and means, but the details here so far don't seem to line up - above all, I can't think of Islamic terrorist attacks consistent with the pattern of perpetrators running and, upon being caught, claiming they were anonymously hired to do it for money, while this is the general pattern for Slav-on-Slav terrorism in Russia including in particular the cases that have been attributed to Ukraine beyond doubt. If all we have in favour of the ISIS theory is "perps are vaguely Muslim", "ISIS claimed responsibility" and "main backer of an alternative suspect agreed with the ISIS claim", that is not particularly strong evidence.

By the same token, Russia blaming Ukraine and the attackers breaking for the Ukrainian border doesn’t mean very much either, and this is much more IS’s MO than Ukraine’s.

Russia blaming Ukraine indeed adds little information, but I don't see how you arrive at the conclusion that them making a break for the UA border doesn't mean much. We have plenty of non-ISIS cases where terrorism was committed by Muslim-aligned peoples and where ISIS claimed responsibility, and while the constellation of details is too rare for concrete precedent of "true perp backers claimed ISIS", surely it's a common pattern for more general crimes. On the other hand, do we have precedent of non-UA-backed terrorists running to UA?

Also, what do you rest your claim that it is "much more IS's MO" on?

Ukraine is probably not too worried about apprehending people who killed Russians, and while they might get around to arresting these guys(or shanghaiing them into the army), they'd have to get around to it, and it's a badly run country losing an existential war and with a big chunk of its security establishment controlled by actual literal Nazis who think Russians are subhuman so going there probably buys a little bit of time to plan out an escape to some tiny IS controlled shithole.

And slaughtering completely random people in person is simply not the sort of thing we've seen Ukraine do. Either bombings with missiles and drones, or assassinations clearly directed at a specific target? Sure. Ukraine does those things. But random concert goers are not a specific target.

and with a big chunk of its security establishment controlled by actual literal Nazis who think Russians are subhuman

[citation needed]

EDIT: Also, actual literal Nazis would consider Ukrainians to be subhuman. People sometimes hold insane beliefs, but there are limits how many will seriously demand to be genocided.

US intelligence concurs that ISIS was responsible, and this attack definitely fits the MO of Islamic terrorism in Russia and previous ISIS attacks more than anything Ukraine could or would want to pull off (so far mostly kamikaze drone strikes on military targets).

It appears that the Afghan branch of ISIS has been gaining in strength since the Taliban takeover and is now fighting the same kind of insurgency against them that they did against the American occupation. Say what you will about the Taliban, but at least they don't dream of world domination like many other jihadist groups. I suppose it's a pipe dream to wish for a foreign policy discerning enough to pick out and empower isolationist Islamic extremists at the expense of their interventionist brethren, but it sure would let the rest of the world sleep a little easier.

It kind of fails to meet the MO of either of the two attacks you linked in that instead of taking hostages or doing anything else that implies indifference towards their own survival, the attackers hopped into a car and made a dash for the Ukrainian border. Ukraine has previously recruited assets inside Russia for terrorist attacks (Dugin's daughter, Fomin) with the promise of helping them escape and rewarding them afterwards; it seems quite plausible that they could've picked up some ambitious Tajiks too.

As for the motive - it might just be plain hatred of the enemy, but I also suspect that their leadership still believes that broad Russian support for Putin is predicated on him delivering stability and prosperity and would collapse if this perception were to fall apart (see also the recent nontrivial investment of scarce materiel to bring heat to Belgorod). As with the Nordstream case, they might correctly assess that as long as a minimum of deniability is maintained, the Western media and hence public is exceedingly unlikely to turn against them over it.

(That being said, I don't think it's implausible that it was actually a bunch of high-fidelity ISIS larpers that just unilaterally decided to run for Ukraine because they figured it was the place most likely to give them a heroes' welcome, either. To be bona fide Islamists, though, their MO is way too divergent; the ISIS responsibility claim, if it's actually authentic, is more likely to be their usual throwing shit at the wall to see what sticks tactic.)

the attackers hopped into a car and made a dash for the Ukrainian border.

While most Islamist terrorists do commit suicide (either directly or by cop) during or after their attacks, some do have a last minute change of heart, panic, or have a moment of cowardice and decide to flee. In Europe quite a few have run away after their attacks.

The one successful attack in Sweden (so far) had the terrorist run away and ultimately surrender for example.

Losers in conventional warfare often resort to unconventional warfare

Yeah but... how does this help Ukraine? If anything, this helps Putin, by giving him an excuse to officially declare war and activate the reserves. Or just a general "rally around the flag" effect to raise moral.

People here underestimate the power of hatred.

Elements from both sides do all kinds of unhelpful terror bombing - Ukraine had drones attack random office buildings in Moscow. They tried to blow up Dugin. They torture eachother. There's a rather infamous video of somebody castrating a prisoner. They dehumanize eachother: orcs, hohols.

Kate Middleton announces she has cancer.

This is a win for conspiracy theorists and "reading a wide array of primary sources and performing [your] own synthesis." I saw numerous mainstream media sources during the speculation frenzy flat out state that Kate Middleton did not have cancer, but the fine print of the sources they were basing these statements on did not say that.

This really takes the wind out the sails, doesn't it? It's much more fun to speculate why they're using body doubles and releasing doctored pictures, but cancer and chemo just deflates everything.

I hope she recovers. Cancer at any age is sad, but at her age is a tragedy.

The US has apparently been kicked out of Niger after a failed diplomatic gambit.

A U.S. official, speaking on the condition anonymity, said senior U.S. officials had "frank discussions" in Niamey earlier this week about the trajectory of Niger's ruling military council - known as the CNSP.

(Per Yes Minister, 'frank discussions' is about as bad as it can get. Only thing worse is 'frank, bordering on direct')

Since seizing power in July last year, the Niger junta, like the military rulers in neighbouring Mali and Burkina Faso, have kicked out French and other European forces, and turned to Russia for support.

There were about 1,100 U.S. troops in Niger as of last year, where the U.S. military operates out of two bases, including a drone base known as Air Base 201, built near Agadez in central Niger at a cost of more than $100 million.

"In light of all the above, the government of Niger, revokes with immediate effect the agreement concerning the status of United States military personnel and civilian employees of the American Department of Defense on the territory of the Republic of Niger," Abdramane said.

Some people on the right have pegged the case as 'USA sends girlbosses to lecture Islamic African strongman regime on human rights, inevitable consequences ensue'. The mission was led by Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs Molly Phee.

Per the Intercept, apparently they already rebuffed Victoria Nuland, who is not someone I'd want to cross if I lived in a coup-prone country. The Intercept also says that a fair few of the putschists were US-trained:

Another failed US gambit. The French are undoubtedly laughing because the US vetoed their moves toward overthrowing the coup’s leadership early on, thinking they could deal with the new management.

Started construction in 2016 with a budget of $50 million, delays caused construction to drag into 2019 (?) with a cost of $100 million and now we have to leave. That was money well spent.