contents
Your weekly briefing on the state of 
humanity
SEE ALL ISSUES
EDITOR'S LETTER
The people decide
NEWS FEATURE 1
Raising the stakes: Trump and Kim edge closer to nuclear war
NEWS FEATURE 2
Facebook's identity crisis
DIGEST AMERICAS
The arrests of two fugitive governors arouse suspicion in Mexico
DIGEST AMERICAS
Will the Odebrecht corruption scandal bury Lula’s legend?
DIGEST EUROPE
France’s four-horse election race leaves Europe in the balance
DIGEST EUROPE
Britain gears up for a snap Brexit election
DIGEST ASIA-PACIFIC
Trump signals lethal intent with the ‘Mother of All Bombs’
DIGEST ASIA-PACIFIC
Vigilante justice reigns strong in Pakistan
DIGEST AFRICA
Road rage in Zambia: Opposition leader faces treason charge
DIGEST AFRICA
A report adds to the controversy over Ethiopia's Oromo protests
DIGEST MIDDLE EAST
Palestinian prisoners go on mass hunger strike
DIGEST MIDDLE EAST
Syria’s ‘four towns’ evacuation deal turns into a massacre
THE PICTURE
A baptism of fireworks
GOOD NEWS
Tropical diseases are being treated at an unprecedented rate
Rain for famine-struck Somalia
THE  INFOGRAPHIC
Where on Earth did that come from?
IN SCIENCE
Can drugs really take you to a higher state of consciousness?
IN MEDICINE
Three-foot ‘giant worm’ discovered in Philippines
IN TECHNOLOGY
On a frozen Saturn moon, the ingredients for life
www.theguardian.com
Chechens tell of prison beatings and electric shocks in anti-gay purge: ‘They called us animals’
www.middleeasteye.net
For women only: Coffee, billiards and cards in Gaza cafe
www.bbc.co.uk
Living with the dead - BBC News

Trump signals lethal intent with the ‘Mother of All Bombs’

US Foreign Policy
See 4 more
A man searches through the rubble of a house in the aftermath of the MOAB strike on April 15.
Zabihullah Ghazi/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images
A man searches through the rubble of a house in the aftermath of the MOAB strike on April 15.
O n April 13, the US military dropped the largest non-nuclear bomb in history on a mountainous stronghold of a South Asian Islamic State (IS) cell.
Dubbed the ‘Mother of All Bombs’, the Massive Ordnance Air Blast (MOAB) struck caves and bunkers sheltering Islamic State-Khorasan Province (IS-KP) fighters in the remote Spin Ghar Mountains of eastern Afghanistan. The strike reportedly killed at least 90 insurgents in Nangarhar province, with no reported civilian casualties.
Mohammad Shahzadah, a resident living 2.4 km away, told The Guardian’s Afghanistan correspondent the bomb’s aftershock felt “as though the heavens were falling down.”
US and Afghan government estimates say there are between 700 and 1,500 IS-KP fighters in the country, wielding most of their influence in the remote, mountainous regions on the Pakistani border. 
Tom Hussain, a journalist and regional affairs specialist based in Pakistan, told The World Weekly that reaction to the MOAB bombing among local civilians was largely positive, as the significant death toll weakened the militant group. “The positive response echoes a desire to live in peace,” he said. “The alternative would be living in a war zone, caught between multiple combatants.”
Developed for use in the Iraq War and first tested in 2003, President Donald Trump’s approval of the MOAB deployment after 14 years in hibernation is indicative of what some see as a wider foreign policy trend. Elected on the promise to “totally destroy” IS, in the three months since his inauguration Mr. Trump has reportedly explored ways to dismantle Obama-era restrictions on military operations.
MOAB weighs 9,797kg. It is the equivalent of 11-tonnes of TNT, and cost the US $314 million to produce.
Introduced in 2013, President Barack Obama’s Presidential Policy Guidance required high levels of interagency vetting on strikes before they could be approved, with the aim of restricting civilian casualties. However, President Trump has backed two Pentagon requests to designate large areas in Yemen and Somalia as ‘areas of active hostilities’, granting American forces greater freedom to conduct air strikes and counter-terrorism raids in both countries.
In Iraq and Syria, the main theatres in the fight against IS militants, civilian casualties have spiked. According to Airwars, a watchdog group, 477 civilians were reportedly killed in Iraq and Syria in March alone, despite a decrease in airstrikes over the same period.
Mr. Hussain described MOAB’s use as much about “political signalling as a tactical military measure.”
Alastair McCready
The World Weekly
20 April 2017 - last edited 6 days ago