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Sinn Féin Leader Michelle O’Neill Is the First Minister of the North of Ireland

 

On February 3, in a major development in the North of Ireland, Sinn Féin leader Michelle O’Neill was named as the First Minister as part of a power-sharing agreement that ended a two-year-long political impasse.

The political legislature, the Stormont, was in limbo for over two years due to a Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) boycott over a disagreement with the UK government’s post-Brexit trade agreement, the Northern Ireland Protocol (NIP). Paul Givan, the then-first minister from the DUP, resigned on February 3, 2022, in protest against the NIP.

In the elections for the Stormont held shortly after, on May 5, 2022, Sinn Féin emerged as the largest party with 27 seats, ahead of the DUP, which slid to second place with 25 seats.

Since then, the DUP, in a bid to save face, has decided not to participate in talks on government formation until the Tory government passed the Northern Ireland Protocol Bill in the UK Parliament. The pro-UK, loyalist DUP desperately pressed the Conservative national government to make legal interventions to bypass parts of the NIP, which came into effect as part of Brexit.

Emma Little-Pengelly of the DUP was nominated as deputy first minister, and former DUP leader Edwin Poots was elected as Speaker of the Northern Ireland Assembly. Matthew O’Toole from the Social Democratic and Labor Party was confirmed as leader of the official opposition.

O’Neill is the first Irish nationalist to lead the United Kingdom-controlled territory since it was partitioned from Ireland in 1921.


U.S. and UK Carry Out Dozens of Airstrikes in Yemen

 

U.S. and British forces carried out nearly a dozen airstrikes inside Yemen on February 4, targeting the capital Sana’a and the Hudaydah port. The fresh round of attacks followed dozens of strikes on February 3, and deadly attacks on Syria and Iraq on February 2.

Yahya Sare’e, the spokesperson of the Yemeni armed forces, said that on February 3, at least 48 airstrikes targeted locations in Sanaa, Hudaydah, Taiz, and Saada, among other places in the Ansarallah-governed areas of the country.

U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM) acknowledged the February 4 attacks inside Yemen, claiming that “these actions will protect freedom of navigation” and announced that their forces had identified Yemeni missile launch sites and determined that they presented an imminent threat to “U.S. Navy ships and merchant vessels in the region.” Earlier, CENTCOM stated that 36 strikes were carried out on 13 different locations inside Yemen on February 3.

Sare’e warned that the Yemeni armed forces would retaliate. He also reiterated the Yemeni position that no amount of attacks by the U.S. and the UK would dissuade them from their “moral, religious, and humanitarian stance in solidarity with the resilient Palestinian people in Gaza.”

Ansarallah has been targeting Israel-bound ships passing through Bab-al-Mandab and the Red Sea since November, following the start of the Israeli offensive against Gaza. It has repeatedly stated that it would not end the attacks on Israel-bound ships until the war on Gaza stops.


The Paris Proposal and Its Drawbacks for the Palestinian Resistance

 

In the last weekend of January, intelligence officials from Israel, the U.S., and Egypt, along with Qatari authorities met in Paris to discuss a proposal for a truce between Israel and the Palestinian resistance.

The Paris proposal is not a ceasefire, but a humanitarian pause. The first phase would see a 45-day pause in all hostilities along with the release of all Israeli hostages in Gaza who are under the age of 19 or wounded, in exchange for an agreed-upon number of Palestinian prisoners.

The number of days of the pause in the second phase has not been determined, but it envisages the release of Israeli military personnel, in exchange for an agreed-upon number of Palestinian prisoners, and an increase in the amount of aid flowing into Gaza. Reportedly, there has also been talk of the second phase including the withdrawal of Israeli forces from dense residential areas, the creation of a no-fly zone in Gaza, and a guarantee for the return of displaced Palestinians in Rafah to Northern Gaza and Gaza city.

The focus of the third phase is to be on the exchange of bodies of the dead for the release of more Palestinian prisoners. This phase would also include a provision to begin dialogue to potentially reach a permanent ceasefire.

The demands outlined by Hamas over the past four months and ratified by other Palestinian resistance factions are disregarded in this proposal. These demands include an end to Israeli aggression in Gaza, the withdrawal of Israeli forces, the lifting of the 18-year siege, and the unlimited entry of aid.


Communists in Kenya Stand in Solidarity With Haiti

 

“We will fight in the streets of Nairobi for our brothers and sisters in Haiti,” if Kenya’s government proceeds to deploy its police to the Caribbean nation, Booker Ngesa Omole, National Organizing Secretary of the Communist Party of Kenya, told Peoples Dispatch.

Despite the prohibition by Kenya’s High Court, Kenyan policemen “can be deployed to Haiti as soon as next week,” President Willian Ruto said on January 30. He spoke from Rome, where he was wooing European investors at the Italy-Africa summit.

“Any decision by any state organ or state officer to deploy police officers to Haiti… contravenes the constitution and the law, and is therefore unconstitutional, illegal and invalid,” Kenya’s High Court had ruled only days ago on January 26.

The ruling dealt a setback to the planned U.S.-sponsored intervention in Haiti, to which Kenya is to give an African face by deploying a thousand police personnel to lead the mission. The latter’s purported objective is to restore security by ridding Haiti of the menace of criminal gangs.

Omole alleged that the “biggest killer of young people in Kenya today is not malaria or any other disease, but the police.”

 

Credit Line: from the Peoples Dispatch / Globetrotter News Service

Note to Editors: This is a selection of news wire reports that have been edited to be relevant for audiences for the next two weeks. You are welcome to select and publish individual items or the whole stack.

 

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