Beyond the Bricks: Week of 3/4
by Abby Bratton | published Mar. 21st, 2019
Conflict Between India and Pakistan in Kashmir
On Feb. 26, 2019 India launched air strikes into Pakistan, allegedly targeting the site of a camp for the militant group Jaish-e-Mohammed, The Associated Press reports. The militants had previously claimed responsibility for a terrorist attack carried out against India on Feb. 14, 2019 killing at least 40 soldiers in the India-controlled section of the disputed Kashmir region. Kashmir is partially administered by both countries, with the areas administered by Pakistan and India divided along the “Line of Control.”
On Feb. 27, 2019 Pakistan retaliated against India’s actions with air strikes of their own. The conflict culminated in an Indian fighter jet being shot down over Pakistan-controlled Kashmir. According to BBC News, downed pilot Abhinandan Varthaman was taken into custody by the Pakistani military and returned across the border on March 1, 2019. Fighting broke out along the border shortly afterward, with at least six civilians and two Pakistani troops killed.
On March 4, 2019 a train service between the two countries that was suspended due to the escalation of events along the border was reopened, which The Associated Press noted as a sign that tensions have eased. The next day, India announced the arrest of 44 suspects in the terrorist attack from Feb. 14, 2019.
House of Representatives Votes on Resolution Against Intolerance
The U.S. House of Representatives passed a resolution on March 7, 2019 condemning intolerance and bigotry. While the resolution emerged amidst debates on anti-Semitism, the final version of the document spoke out more broadly to denounce white supremacy and hatred aimed at “African-Americans, Native Americans, and other people of color, Jews, Muslims, Hindus, Sikhs, immigrants and others,” as quoted by The New York Times.
The conversations leading to the resolution were initiated by a comment from Congresswoman Ilhan Omar on Israel. BBC News recounted her statement regarding "the political influence in this country that says it is O.K. for people to push for allegiance to a foreign country.” The quote echoes historical anti-Semitic accusations of “divided loyalties,” according to members of both major political parties, cited by BBC News.
While House Speaker Nancy Pelosi addressed the comment to say that she “[does] not believe it was intended in an anti-Semitic way.” Omar has not released any formal apology.
Objections were raised against the broad nature of the resolution from those who sought a more specific stand against anti-Semitic rhetoric. Others wanted a direct apology from Omar or felt the discussion should be expanded to examine racial commentary made by the Trump administration, The Associated Press reported. Ultimately the resolution passed at a vote of 407 to 23.
Changes to Requirements for Reporting Drone Strike Deaths
The Trump administration revoked a 2016 executive order from former President Barack Obama that required U.S. intelligence agencies to report the number of civilian deaths from drone strikes outside of war zones. Specifically, the order called for the head of the CIA to release an annual report summarizing U.S. drone strikes and all resultant deaths.
BBC News quoted an official's statement that "this action eliminates superfluous reporting requirements, requirements that do not improve government transparency, but rather distract our intelligence professionals from their primary mission.”
Trump’s executive order does not affect any reports mandated by Congress. According to The Washington Times, the National Security Council said that reporting requirements within active war zones will remain unaltered.
BBC News reported that 2,243 drone strikes have been conducted by the United States since Trump took office.