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For Former Rebel in West Africa, Her Allegiance Still Lies With Russia

Press Room



BISSAU, Guinea-Bissau — When her nation wanted arms to struggle its bitter liberation struggle towards its colonizer, it was the Soviet Union that offered them.

When her nation wanted medical employees to are inclined to the struggle’s wounded, it despatched her to coach as a nurse — within the Soviet Union.

So when Joana Gomes, now a lawmaker within the West African nation of Guinea-Bissau, heard concerning the struggle between Russia and Ukraine, her allegiance was clear from the beginning: It will be with Russia, though she generally slips and nonetheless calls it the Soviet Union.

“It was with their arms that we received our independence,” Ms. Gomes, 72, mentioned on a current wet afternoon, cooking lunch at residence within the capital, Bissau. “If not for them, even right this moment we’d not have our independence.”

When Russia invaded Ukraine in February, some voices had been absent from the worldwide live performance of condemnation, a lot of them African. Sixteen of the 35 nations that abstained from the United Nations vote to sentence Russia’s actions had been in Africa, as was one of many 5 that voted no, Eritrea.


For a lot of African nations, ties with Moscow run deep. The Soviet Union supported many African liberation wars, supplying coaching, schooling and weapons to freedom fighters like Ms. Gomes. Practically six a long time later, she hasn’t forgotten.

In 1964, when she stepped off a aircraft in the united statesS.R., the very first thing Ms. Gomes’s sponsors did was hand her gloves, a hat and a heavy coat.

She was 14. Till that time, she had by no means left Guinea-Bissau, a small West African nation that received independence from Portugal in 1974 after a decade-long struggle.

However her younger life had already been stuffed with drama, violence and tragedy. Her father, an outspoken proponent of the liberation struggle, was murdered by one among his comrades when Ms. Gomes was 13.

Heartbroken, she set out for the forested entrance strains of the struggle. She had determined that the one man who might assist her receive justice for her father was Amilcar Cabral, the chief of the liberation motion and one among Africa’s most iconic anticolonial philosophers and army leaders.


Her three-day march to fulfill Mr. Cabral within the hide-out utilized by him and his guerrilla fighters paid off. The accused murderer was arrested.

However the struggle towards the Portuguese was simply starting, and Ms. Gomes was thrust into one of many continent’s most brutal independence wars.

When Mr. Cabral, a founding father of the African Celebration for the Independence of Guinea and Cape Verde, or P.A.I.G.C., despatched lots of of Guinean youth for coaching in the united statesS.R., Ms. Gomes was amongst them. When she returned 5 years later, a talented nurse fluent in Russian, the struggle had intensified.

She labored lengthy days on the entrance strains at makeshift clinics, alongside her comrades and docs from Cuba, binding troopers’ wounds and saving the lives of civilians caught within the crossfire. On one event, she pulled shrapnel from the chest of a lady who was eight months pregnant, saving each mom and baby.

One among her most unforgettable moments got here on New Yr’s Eve day, as 1972 was ending.


That morning she wore a pink gown as an alternative of army fatigues, as she anticipated a small social gathering to have a good time. She was in a village just a few miles from her base camp, ordered to retrieve a fellow soldier recuperating from a chest an infection.

However simply because the morning’s espresso was starting to boil on an open hearth, Ms. Gomes heard enemy gunfire, and she or he ran for the duvet of the forest. “Perhaps that is the time I die,” she recollects pondering to herself. However simply then, she tripped, and a small bazooka rocket zoomed above the place her head had simply been. She didn’t make it to the New Yr’s social gathering, however she did make it out of that ambush alive.

Stephanie J. Urdang, a journalist born in South Africa, spent two months reporting from the entrance strains of Guinea-Bissau’s liberation struggle and wrote “Preventing Two Colonialisms: The Girls’s Wrestle in Guinea-Bissau” concerning the contributions ladies like Ms. Gomes made within the struggle for independence.

Assigned as nurses, lecturers and transporters of meals and weapons, the ladies had been trusted to make sure that guerrilla fighters had locations to stay and meals to eat, Ms. Urdang mentioned. However their roles in garnering common assist within the countryside had been maybe much more essential.

“Individuals within the villages knew what the Portuguese had been doing to them. They knew it by means of their incapability to promote their crops at a simply value, they knew it in the best way they had been taken for compelled labor,” Ms. Urdang mentioned.


“So when the P.A.I.G.C. got here in and had been going to do away with these oppressors, after which once they noticed colleges being constructed, well being facilities being constructed and literacy campaigns for folks, only a entire lot of providers had been offered that weren’t there earlier than — there was severe mobilization,” Ms. Urdang mentioned.

After the struggle was received, thanks partly to that mobilization, Ms. Gomes went again to the Soviet Union, the place she educated as a health care provider earlier than returning to Guinea-Bissau in 1987 to work in native hospitals.

She turned director of the nationwide bodily rehabilitation middle and later labored as an inspector of well being amenities for the Ministry of Well being, a begin to her authorities expertise.

Then, just a few years in the past, she determined to as soon as once more deploy her medical information on the entrance strains — of politics, this time, not struggle.

In 2019 within the nation’s rural southwest, throughout her marketing campaign for a seat in Parliament, Ms. Gomes oversaw an effort to ship dozens of recent beds to a small hospital. She wished to indicate she was decided to do one thing concerning the dire well being care system in Guinea-Bissau, whose residents have a median life expectancy of 58.


Ms. Gomes received her election, however her efforts to enhance a well being care system that sits close to the underside in world rankings have run into endemic obstacles.

Since independence, Guinea-Bissau has struggled to search out its footing amid each inside combating and international pressures. There have been 4 coups and lots of extra tried.

On this nation so dominated by water, mangroves swamps and islands, it could actually appear as if residents are at all times ready for the tide to alter to allow them to get someplace — the bodily tide or the political one.

Ms. Gomes’s small concrete residence in Bissau is in a continuing state of destruction and reconstruction. So is her nation, the place residents should cope with unreliable hospitals, colleges and infrastructure.

Then in Could, the president, Umaro Sissoco Embaló, dissolved the Nationwide Meeting, deepening the nation’s cycle of political instability.


Together with her parliamentary work attempting to enhance the nation’s well being care system now on maintain, Ms. Gomes has had extra time to replicate on the struggle between Russia and Ukraine.

Her nurse coaching was in Kyiv, then a part of the Soviet Union, and she or he mentioned she is sympathetic to either side.

“I spent my youth in Ukraine, I’ve associates there, I don’t need folks to undergo. I want there could possibly be an understanding between Ukraine and Putin,” she mentioned. “I used to be in a struggle, I do know what struggle is, I do know what it’s to undergo in a struggle.”

However for all of the day by day struggles which might be nonetheless a part of life in Guinea-Bissau, one hard-fought achievement continues to be intact: independence.

And the Kremlin’s function in that’s nonetheless gratefully remembered, and she or he disagrees with the various who take into account the struggle an act of unjustified Russian aggression.


“Ukraine, why did they wish to be part of NATO?” Ms. Gomes requested. “Russia doesn’t settle for that.”

NATO, she famous, “is an enemy of the Soviet Union. If somebody is my enemy and I inform my father I’m going to their home — to my enemy’s home — is that good?”

In her assist of Russia, she is much from alone in Guinea-Bissau, or certainly the broader area, the place a complete era received liberation from colonial oppressors with Soviet support.

Manuel dos Santos, a former freedom fighter in Guinea-Bissau who has served in varied ministerial posts, was additionally clear about his assist. “If I needed to take sides on this second — and I don’t should — however let’s say I needed to, I might say that Russia had been provoked in each approach,” he mentioned.

Not removed from the Nationwide Meeting constructing in downtown Bissau, on the Guinea-Bissau Nationwide Liberation Museum, many Soviet-supplied weapons are displayed.


“I used to have a Kalashnikov. The Portuguese had American weapons,” Mr. Dos Santos mentioned. “It’s so simple as that.”

“I perceive the sense of dedication due to what the Soviet Union did,” mentioned Ms. Urdang, the author. “However that was the Soviet Union. Russia is totally different now.”

Whichever aspect they’re on, folks in Guinea-Bissau have felt the struggle’s results firsthand.

Strains at gasoline stations had been worst this spring, when gas shortages meant drivers spent hours ready to replenish. However only in the near past, costs for buses and taxis elevated due to increased vitality prices.

Regardless of her appreciation for the united statesS.R., Ms. Gomes didn’t embrace its atheism. On a current Sunday, she obtained able to attend one of many three evangelical church buildings the place she worships.


Whereas there, she deliberate to hope for an finish to Guinea-Bissau’s political crises.

She famous she had been combating for her nation since she was a youngster. However now, it felt like all she might do was look forward to the tide to alter.

“I really feel ache, as a former liberation fighter. What did we struggle for?” she requested. “Guinea-Bissau, it’s with out a authorities, with out something proper now.”

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Lebanon’s dwindling rain leaves farmers struggling for water

Press Room



HARF BEIT HASNA, Lebanon (AP) — Farmers in a small city perched on a northern Lebanese mountain have lengthy refused to just accept defeat whilst the federal government deserted them to a life off the grid.

Harf Beit Hasna receives nearly no fundamental companies. No water or sewage system, no streetlight or rubbish assortment. The one public college is closed. The closest pharmacy is a protracted drive down a winding mountain street.

“We dwell on one other planet,” mentioned Nazih Sabra, a neighborhood farmer. “The state has fully forgotten us, and so have the politicians and municipalities.”

Its round 2,500 residents have gotten by due to an ingenious answer: They dug trenches, lined them with plastic and use them to gather rainwater. For many years, the rainwater enabled them to develop sufficient crops for themselves, with a surplus to promote.

However the place authorities neglect didn’t kill Harf Beit Hasna, the mix of local weather change and financial catastrophe now threatens to.


In recent times, rainfall in Lebanon has decreased, straining even probably the most water-rich nation within the Center East. On the identical time, the nation’s financial system has fallen aside the previous two and a half years; households whose livelihoods have been wrecked battle to afford fundamentals as costs spiral.

Harf Beit Hasna, on a distant mountain plateau above steep valleys, has taken delight in making it by itself with its rain-water swimming pools. The city is dotted with them, most of them the dimensions of a yard swimming pool.

Sabra mentioned he remembers in his childhood how his grandfather and different farmers may elevate livestock and maintain a good residing.

However latest years have gotten tougher. As rain declined and temperatures warmed, farmers tailored. They grew much less of water-demanding produce like tomatoes and cucumbers and planted tobacco, a extra drought-resistant plant.

Now they’ll barely develop sufficient to get by.


“If there isn’t rain, you employ no matter you will have left saved and work with a deficit,” Sabra mentioned. “You possibly can’t even afford to farm anymore.”

Sabra’s discipline is barren and dry, avoid wasting tobacco crops and potatoes. He tried to plant a small patch of tomatoes for his household’s use. However to avoid wasting water, he needed to allow them to die. The rotting tomatoes swarm with pests.

“There’s nothing we are able to do with them”, Sabra mentioned, earlier than taking a protracted drag off his cigarette.

He has a small patch of eggplants surrounded by barren, cracking soil. He hopes he can promote them within the close by metropolis of Tripoli to purchase extra potable water for his household this month.

“These eggplants wouldn’t have been there with out the ponds,” he says with a smile. His pool, which might maintain round 200 cubic meters of water, was solely a couple of quarter full. The water was inexperienced, as a result of he’s been drawing on it slowly, making an attempt to ration out what’s left.


From his discipline, Sabra can see the Mediterranean Sea on the horizon and, under him, a valley the place there are freshwater springs. However gasoline is simply too costly for him to drive each day to get water from there. He struggles to afford college for his kids. His house hasn’t had electrical energy for weeks as a result of no energy comes from the state community, and he can’t afford gas for his private generator.

Authorities companies and infrastructure throughout Lebanon are decrepit and faltering. However Harf Bait Hasna’s scenario is especially unhealthy.

It’s distant and laborious to achieve. Administratively, it’s caught between two completely different municipalities, neither of which needs to cope with it. And, residents say, it has no political patron — an important want for any group to get something in Lebanon’s factionalized politics. Sabra and different farmers say politicians for years have ignored their requests for a properly or a connection to the state’s water community.

At Harf Beit Hasna, authorities neglect and local weather change have mixed to depart “an space very challenged with water safety,” mentioned Sammy Kayed, on the American College of Beirut’s Nature Conservation Heart.

The catastrophe within the city is “far more profound (as a result of) you will have a whole group that’s reliant on rain-fed agriculture” however can now not depend on rain, he mentioned.


Kayed, the co-founder and managing director of the Conservation Heart’s Atmosphere Academy, is looking for donors to fund a solar-powered properly for the city and to attract officers’ consideration to get it related to the state water community.

Throughout Lebanon, durations of rainfall have shrunk and the variety of consecutive days of excessive temperatures have elevated, mentioned Vahakn Kabakian, the U.N. Improvement Program’s Lebanon local weather change adviser.

A latest report by the United Nations Meals and Agriculture Group mentioned water shortage, air pollution, and inequitable water utilization add to the difficulties of Lebanon’s agricultural communities. The agriculture sector quantities solely to a tiny fraction of the nation’s financial system and so is usually neglected, and it like the remainder of Lebanon’s producers and shoppers are scuffling with skyrocketing prices.

In Lebanon’s breadbasket within the japanese Bekaa Valley, farmers say their work is disrupted by unusual climate patterns due to local weather change.

“Rain has declined in its regular interval, and we’re seeing our soil dry up and crack. However then we by some means obtained extra rain than regular in June,” Ibrahim Tarchichi, head of the Bekaa Farmers Affiliation instructed the AP. “We haven’t seen something like this earlier than within the Bekaa.”


He doesn’t count on something from Lebanon’s politicians. “Right here, you’ll be able to solely count on assist from God.”

The federal government for years has pledged to diversify its financial system and make investments extra within the ailing agriculture sector. However for the reason that financial system fell out, the divided ruling clique has hardly been capable of formulate any insurance policies, failing to move a 2022 price range to date and resisting reforms demanded for an Worldwide Financial Fund bailout.

Within the meantime, Sabra takes some water from one in all his ponds and sighs. He has nearly run out of water from the final wet season within the winter. That is his solely lifeline to final till the rains come once more.

“There’s nothing left for us however the ponds,” he mentioned.

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Iran protesters insist Islamic regime ‘does not represent’ the people in exclusive interview

Press Room



Iranian protesters spoke solely to Fox Information Digital to precise their outrage towards the Islamic regime of their nation in addition to the need to take away Ayatollah Khamenei as supreme chief of Iran for the reason that man “doesn’t characterize the individuals.”

“We wished to exhibit not solely to the regime but in addition need individuals the world over [to know] — the Iranian individuals reject this regime, and so they need it overthrown,” Mashhad, a 42-year-old trainer in Iran, defined.

“Our final objective and supreme want and demand is the overthrow of the regime in its entirety, and we’re very, very decided to convey this about,” she continued. “We would like our voices to be heard, and I guarantee you that we’ll convey down this regime. Now we have completely little doubt in our minds that we will do it.”

Protests began on the funeral for Mahsa Amini, 22, after her demise whereas within the custody of the morality police, who declare that she merely fell right into a coma following her arrest. Her household and a few witnesses as an alternative stated they noticed proof that the police had crushed her.



As of Thursday night time, the protests reportedly unfold to 164 cities, with 300 individuals killed and 15,000 extra arrested, in accordance with the Folks’s Mojahedin Group of Iran (MEK). Fox Information Digital couldn’t confirm these numbers, however different shops have reported not less than 100 cities with protests and dozens useless as of this week.

Protesters in downtown Tehran make hearth and block the road throughout a protest over the demise of a lady who was detained by the morality police.
(Related Press)

Iran has seen an growing variety of protests over the previous few years, however the protests that began with Amini’s demise really feel completely different to the residents — each in scope, with girls taking a extra distinguished position, and within the severity of the regime’s response.

“It was a lot, a lot harsher, way more extreme,” stated Reyhaneh, 19, from Tehran. “Not solely within the numbers of the forces that they had — the morality police, safety pressure, plainclothes brokers and others — but in addition their therapy. They had been very vicious, very brutal, way more brutal earlier than.”



“What I’ve seen the final two days in Tehran, they’ve risen up. I actually have taken half in these protests … what I’ve seen is exemplary bravery and braveness, particularly as a result of the rebellion is being led by girls,” she added.

“We wished to exhibit not solely to the regime but in addition individuals the world over: the Iranian individuals reject this regime.”

The ladies spoke to Fox Information Digital after Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi spoke earlier than the United Nations Basic Meeting. Raisi allegedly helped perform the 1988 “demise fee” that led to the deaths of hundreds of political dissidents.


Mashhad requested why Western governments allowed Raisi to talk to the U.N. and didn’t present they had been “standing with the individuals of Iran.”


“The place is … freedom and assist [in] supporting this legal? And [has] the blood of hundreds on his arms, particularly in 1988, the bloodbath,” she stated. “Why do not they … prosecute him and maintain him accountable?”

Mashhad first joined protests two years in the past, however she feels this one is completely different as a result of individuals have seen how “shameless” the Ayatollah and his regime are, resulting in individuals of many ages and backgrounds throughout the nation to take to the streets.

Reyhaneh stated there are examples of earlier protests that led to regime change and that the individuals haven’t any cause to imagine this one can’t be similar.

“We in our battle … have put our lives in our arms, prepared to sacrifice our lives, and we are going to struggle to the very finish to result in freedom in Iran and already dramatic fundamentalism,” she stated.


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Climate change gets ‘highest priority’ in US, Pacific agreement

Press Room



New partnership deal signed by 14 nations follows historic summit on the White Home and comes as China extends affect within the area.

The US and Pacific island nations have signed as much as a brand new period of cooperation, making local weather change the “highest precedence” and promising to work collectively to make sure a peaceable area the place “democracy is allowed to flourish”.

The Declaration on US-Pacific Partnership, signed by 14 Pacific island nations, got here on the finish of an unprecedented two-day summit in Washington, DC, which passed off 5 months after a safety deal between the Solomon Islands and China raised concern about Beijing’s rising affect within the area.

“We honored the historical past and values that our nations share and expanded our cooperation on key areas that can profit our folks for years to return,” US President Joe Biden wrote on Twitter after the summit concluded.

The 11-point declaration included a dedication to financial and infrastructure growth, strengthening regional cooperation — with the US promising to deepen ties with the Pacific Islands Discussion board — in addition to maritime safety and “the sustainable use of the Pacific Ocean primarily based on the rule of regulation”.


Of explicit concern to the Pacific Islands, which danger being submerged beneath rising seas, was an specific dedication to tackling local weather change.

“We take the local weather disaster as the very best precedence of our partnership, for it stays the only best existential menace to the livelihoods, safety, conventional and customary practices, and wellbeing of individuals within the Pacific area,” the declaration stated.

Leaders and representatives endorsing the declaration included Solomon Islands Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare, who had been reported earlier to not be planning to signal. Kiribati, a state of 115,000 which didn’t ship a consultant, was not on the record. It was certainly one of two Pacific international locations, the opposite being the Solomon Islands, that switched diplomatic relations from Taipei to Beijing in 2019.

The US is courting the Pacific island nations as Beijing turns into more and more lively within the area. Some leaders have expressed concern about Beijing, which was unable to safe a regional safety settlement, however they’re additionally apprehensive they could be caught in the course of the growing rivalry between the 2 superpowers.

The declaration agreed on the summit was signed by leaders and representatives from 14 Pacific island states [Jonathan Ernst/Reuters]

As leaders gathered in Washington, DC, the US introduced it could make investments greater than $810m in expanded programmes to assist the islands, on prime of greater than $1.5bn offered over the previous decade.


The renewed largesse from the US, which has been criticised for neglecting the area, was largely welcomed.

“It’s true that the USA is just a little late,” Robert Bohn, adviser to Vanuatu’s international minister and a former legislator within the island nation, advised Al Jazeera. “That being stated, monetary help is rarely too late. Our primary want is infrastructure. Australia and New Zealand are our associates, however they’ve been concentrating on the mushy components of presidency. We want roads, airports, maritime infrastructure.”

The declaration additionally addressed US atomic testing within the Marshall Islands from 1946-1958, saying Washington would take care of the islanders’ environmental and public well being issues.

Per week in the past, the Marshall Islands suspended talks with the US on renewing the 2 international locations’ strategic partnership, often called the Compact of Free Affiliation Settlement, over the difficulty.

“World Struggle II ended practically 80 years in the past, however its scars stay within the Pacific,” the declaration stated. “We, too, acknowledge the nuclear legacy of the Chilly Struggle.”

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