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Abandoned by the world: Why was more not done to help Bosnia?

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General Mladić: “General Mladić here.”

Serbian Soldier:     “Yes, sir.”

General Mladić: “Target Muslim neighbourhoods – Not many Serbs live 

there…Shell them until they are on the edge of madness.

(An intercepted military conversation ordering the siege of Sarajevo,

 Bosnia – April 1992)

This horrific conversation ordering the massacre of thousands of innocent civilians did not take place in an era long gone, rather it occurred within the borders of Europe itself, during the span of most of our lifetimes. 

Yet when we asked our friends and colleagues about how much they knew about the conflict in Bosnia, in nine out of 10 cases, they said they had only basic or no knowledge whatsoever about it. The question that begs to be asked then, is how are we still oblivious to the atrocities and horrors committed in the Balkan War? 

We should all hope to better understand this shameful chapter in our collective history, and understand that whilst learning lessons from our past, we can be better equipped to make decisions based on justice and peace in the future.

Disintegration of Yugoslavia

Although the words Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia no longer appear on the world map, in the 1990s this nation was at the centre of the international community’s attention. A country bigger than the United Kingdom in the heart of Europe was suddenly disintegrating, creating such seismic geo-political rifts that it led to the deadliest conflict in Europe since World War II. 

Such grave violations of human rights occurred as each ethnicity pursued its own path, leaving anyone with a sympathetic heart, shaken and disturbed. For Muslims, it is an even bleaker chapter of history to come to terms with as the brunt of the ethnic cleansing that ensued was faced by the Muslim population of Bosnia and Herzegovina with no one coming to their aid till all was too late.

In order to properly comprehend this episode, it becomes incumbent on us to first delve a little deeper to understand the historical context of the conflict.    

The history

Since its inception in the aftermath of WWII, Yugoslavia was a country made up of six smaller nations: Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia and Slovenia. With the collapse of the Soviet Union and subsequently increasing nationalism in the 1980’s, cracks began to appear in Yugoslavia. Slovenia, the first to step away in June 1991, gained independence relatively peacefully. The same fate, however, did not await the other republic states.  

(Map showing the boundaries of the former Yugoslavia and the ethnic states within it)

Realising the impending threat to their power, the Serbs – the largest ethnic group in Yugoslavia – mobilised their military and paramilitary to ensure any further calls for independence would be met with force. So when the Croatians and Bosnian Muslims followed in the footsteps of Slovenia, war and bloodshed ensued.

Though the war in Croatia left in its wake an estimated death toll of 20,000, this staggering figure pales in comparison to the destruction that the Muslims of Bosnia and Herzegovina were made to endure after their announcement of independence in May 1992.

The call for sovereignty by Bosnia and Herzegovina set in motion a merciless massacre of Bosnian Muslims carried out by the Serbs. The campaign was so intense that within six weeks, a coordinated offensive brought roughly two-thirds of Bosnian territory under Serb control. The presence of ethnic Serbs in Bosnia was sustained by the full military support of the Serbian government whilst on the other hand the Bosnian Muslims had neither an army nor sufficient arms to defend themselves.  

This paved the way to the murder of almost 80,000 defenceless Muslims in a matter of three and a half years from 1992-1995. The ethnic cleansing by Serbs was so intense that up to 90% of non-Serbs who lived in Bosnia, majority of them Muslim, were forced to flee, face imprisonment, or be killed. 

The Bosnians seem to have borne the brunt of the Serbian cruelty as a result of their Islamic faith, for why else would the disparity between the destruction of the Croats and the Bosnian Muslims by the Serbs be so stark? Croatia utilized its strong cultural and historic ties with Germany to receive support in their fight for independence and subsequent development, while the Muslims failed to find any such support.   

What of the Muslim countries? None came forth with any effective response to Bosnia’s calls for help for over two years.   

Failure of the UN – what held them back?  

Despite the Bosnians making repeated pleas for action, the United Nations at the time refused to intervene, all the while maintaining its ‘impartiality’ in what it deemed a domestic ‘civil war.’ 

As history has now proven, this inaction of the UN and the world at large under the excuse of ‘impartiality’ allowed for an entire generation of Bosnians to be wiped out with impunity in a continent as developed as Europe. 

(A Norwegian UN Peacekeeper in Sarajevo)

The little support that was sent to Bosnia by the UN was so meagre that several of the UN Peacekeeper units themselves became Serbian hostages

In fact, it was with the fear of UN peacekeeping forces being taken hostage that initial NATO airstrikes were halted in May 1995.   

Starving the Muslims, arming the Serbs – The UN arms ‘embargo’   

The indifference on the part of the international community was indeed not the only tragedy, in fact many of the decisions made by the UN from the very onset of the conflict ensured that those who wanted to help the Bosnians were unable to do so. 

This sorry state of affairs was epitomised by a UN-enforced arms embargo of 1991. The idea was to starve both sides of weaponry, thereby bringing about an end to the conflict. Hypothetically, the idea sounded credible, but in reality, the arms embargo was only truly implemented against the Muslims of Bosnia. This was because the countries bordering the Bosnian Muslims were willing to strictly implement the UN embargo, ensuring that no weapons could enter from their borders. On the other side, the channel through which the Bosnian Serbs were receiving their weapons, i.e. from Serbia, had never intended to implement the embargo against its own Serb allies in Bosnia. 

The Bosnian Serbs continued to receive an endless supply of weapons from Serbia, who had assumed control of the army and supplies of former Yugoslavia. After all, Serbia was trying to take control of Bosnia, so why would they implement an arms embargo against their other half in Bosnia? Thus, instead of an embargo, free access to heavy artillery including tanks, anti-air craft missiles and units of armed personnel were being heavily capitalised upon by the Serbs of Bosnia.

Left utterly defenceless, the Bosnians came under the boots of the Serbian military prowess and fell victim to utter massacre and unfettered assault. 

The injustice and imbalance was blatant to see, yet attempts to lift the embargo were repeatedly blocked in the UN.  

Making a heart-wrenching case for the lifting of the embargo at the UN in September 1994 – after three long years since being implemented – the Bosnian President Alija Izetbegovic pleaded at the UN General Assembly, “Justice has turned into injustice…because the aggressor had weapons – which had been stockpiled over 40 years (since the foundation of Yugoslavia after WWII) – while the victim was unarmed and its hands were kept tied.”

Some politicians spoke openly of the grave absurdity of the embargo. Even President Joe Biden, then a much younger Senator of Delaware in January 1994, spoke in the US senate and called out the injustice: 

 
“How in God’s name can we argue against lifting the embargo? For God’s sake. We put the embargo in the name of ‘diminishing bloodshed.’ Do I need to make the point any more than to submit for the record the total number of casualties that have occurred in Bosnia Herzegovina since we put the embargo on? What in the devil could have happened more? The perverse British and French argument, that if we lift the embargo, we’re going to perpetuate the bloodshed! They’re idiots. And we’re acting collectively as the free world like cowards.”

The situation on the ground became such that on 23rd April 1994, the New York Times reported that the UN had even advised against the air-dropping of basic food supplies for the Bosnians. This statement had come with the fear that “such an air-drop would only draw civilians out into the open where they will be annihilated by every type of fire imaginable.” 

https://s1.nyt.com/timesmachine/pages/1/1994/04/23/869830_360W.png?quality=75&auto=webp&disable=upscale
(Cutting of the New York Times Report of 23rd April 1994)

Every step, or lack thereof, that the international community was taking was so half-hearted that it seemed as though no option could be adopted to help the Bosnians. 

Initially, when limited NATO airstrikes began in May 1995, the Serbs took 400 UN peacekeepers as hostages. The strikes were subsequently halted at haste.       

Ivo Daalder, a former US Ambassador to NATO, described the decision to halt the airstrikes as sending “the not-so-subtle message to the Bosnian Serbs that they were now free to pursue their preferred strategy. That strategy called ‘ethnic cleansing’”.

With hindsight, after having witnessed what the same superpowers who felt ‘helpless’ against Serbia did in such well-established countries such as Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya, it makes one question: Was it really the case that the great militaries of France, Britain, Germany or the United States were left ‘helpless’ or was it simply indifference? Were they truly cornered by the Serbs and unable to take substantial actions for months on end or were these lax efforts simply the result of doing the bare minimum and merely trying to save face.

The fall of Srebrenica

This cruel amalgamation of events and misplaced priorities led to the Srebrenica massacre of July 1995, where over 8,000 Bosnian Muslim men were slaughtered in 10 short days. 

The Human Rights Watch, an NGO, made a special report on the human rights violations titled “The Fall of Srebrenica and the Failure of U.N. Peacekeeping”. They summarised the atrocities and the state of the international response in their report published in October 1995 in the following bleak terms:

“The fall of the town of Srebrenica and its environs to Bosnian Serb forces in early July 1995 made a mockery of the international community’s professed commitment to safeguard regions it declared to be “safe areas” and placed under United Nations protection in 1993. United Nations peacekeeping officials were unwilling to heed requests for support from their own forces stationed within the enclave, thus allowing Bosnian Serb forces to easily overrun it and — without interference from UN soldiers — to carry out systematic, mass executions of hundreds, possibly thousands, of civilian men and boys and to terrorize, rape, beat, execute, rob and otherwise abuse civilians being deported from the area.” 

The fact that the killings continued not for days or months, but for years, begs the question as to what held the international community back? As Europe enjoyed what is often said to be the best decade in living memory, thousands of families in Bosnia were lined up to be slaughtered. 

In such an era of advancement, in which the world witnessed the advent of the internet, the end of Apartheid in South Africa, and the booming golden years of the American economy, the people of Bosnia were victims of a modern-day Holocaust but were met with nothing but a blind eye. 

‘Why?’ is a question that still demands an answer from those who could have made a difference. Whilst the fires of the Bosnian war were still ablaze, perhaps Joe Biden at the time explained the reason well: “If these were not Muslims, the world would be reacting. Just like if it were not the Jews in the 1930’s. Shame on the West.” 

Too little, too late

What truly puts the picture in context is that just a year prior to the war against Bosnia, major Muslim countries claiming to be ‘upholders of Islam’ passed Fatwas, an Islamic ruling, declaring the Gulf War against Saddam Hussein to be a ‘Jihad’. That call for Jihad supporting a non-religious geo-political endeavour was totally unjustified, yet the Muslim countries mobilised their wealth and militaries and every possible support for the US-led war. However, when it came to Bosnia, the same Muslim-majority countries were nowhere to be seen.

After more than 100,000 people needlessly lost their lives, the conflict finally came to an end as a result of long-overdue pressure from Muslim countries, the arrival of NATO military intervention, and a US-brokered peace-treaty, dividing Bosnia into two self-governing entities. 

The suffering continues

The conflict may have officially come to an end in December 1995, but the suffering and pain continues to this day. 

As the widows of Bosnia still live and breathe and as the horrors still burn fresh in the minds of its victims, some of those same mass murderers continue to walk free and even masquerade as politicians and leaders of the people in Serbia. 

Not only do such criminals continue to escape the grasp of justice and deny the very existence of this monstrous extermination, they are commemorated and celebrated as heroes, with institutions of learning and roads wearing their name as a twisted mark of honour.  

In the words of Serger Brammertz, the former chief prosecutor of the UN International Criminal Tribunal which was tasked with bringing the war criminals of the Bosnian conflict to justice:

“A number of alleged genocidaires have fled to Serbia and found safe haven there, including political leaders and military commanders…I have witnessed the pain of the survivors who must face the reality that some of those alleged to have murdered their loved ones can still walk the streets freely….War criminals convicted by the ICTY [UN International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia] are often hailed as heroes by prominent figures, while victims’ suffering is ignored, denied and disparaged.”

The blood of Bosnia has stained the pages of our history, but until and unless we remember, and learn lessons from the horrors of our past, we will forever run the risk of witnessing them again in our future. 

All views expressed in this editorial are solely that of the author, and are not expressed on behalf of The Analyst, its affiliates, or staff.

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1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. Fahim Anwer

    6 July 2021 at 5:51 pm

    A very thought provoking article for those not familiar with this conflict that occurred well within most of our lifetime. Such were the atrocities committed under the eyes of a watching Europe that the European politicians of the time must bow their heads in shame for allowing this dark period in modern history to occur.
    Just 50 years after the last genocide in Europe, were there no lessons learnt? Had the Western Nations become so arrogant that such horrors and violations could not possibly happen within their midst again that they were caught totally off guard resulting in calamitous decision after calamitous decision?
    For sure not enough of this catastrophic period is widely known, if anything it seems to have been brushed under the carpet, almost forgotten, further adding to the shame of Europe.
    While similar tragedies are still taking place in other parts of the world we can only hope and pray that the spirit of humanity rises above rhetoric and political debate enabling true justice to prevail.

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The United Kingdom faces food and labor shortages due to Covid-19

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Around 50,000 new cases are discovered every day in the UK, and a new NHS Test and Trace programme sends out “pings” to those who have been in close contact with an infected individual, prompting the situation to be labelled a “pingdemic.” Around 520,000 people have been notified since 1st July. With new Coronavirus cases approaching 50,000 per day — the highest rate of infection since January — and hundreds of thousands more people being told to isolate by the app, businesses are urging the government to loosen restrictions for fully vaccinated people much sooner than next month.

The app is designed to notify people who have had close contact with infected people and advise them to self-quarantine for 10 days. The government claims it is not compulsory, but it is urging people to comply.

This is directly impacting the food and gas industries. As numbers of individuals increase, a shortage of staff in the food and retail industries is dragging on the economy. Major supermarket chains and other industries are also facing an employment shortage, forcing some to close temporarily.

According to official data released on Thursday, nearly 620,000 people in England and Wales were advised to isolate in the week leading up to 14th July, with the vast majority living in England. This came after just one day after a meat industry body warned that Britain’s food supply chains are “right on the edge of failing”.

BP, a British oil and gas company, declared that it is experiencing fuel shortages and will be temporarily closing a number of sites. The company attributed the fault to the truck drivers shortages caused by workers staying at home due to Covid-19.

The oil industry said that due to a lack of unleaded gasoline and diesel, a “handful” of its UK facilities had to close temporarily. BP stated that the closure of distribution is terminal, due to staff being told to isolate last week. They said: “Our supply chain has been impacted by the industry-wide driver shortages across the UK, and was exacerbated by the temporary closure of our Hemel Hempstead fuel distribution terminal last week because of necessary Covid-19 isolations amongst staff. The terminal is now operating as normal once again.”

All views expressed in this editorial are solely that of the author, and are not expressed on behalf of The Analyst, its affiliates, or staff.

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Malaysia plunges into deeper crisis as residents hoist white flag for help

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When the first wave of Covid-19 hit the region, the Malaysian government’s efforts to contain the spread of the virus was lauded on a global scale. But with the advent of the third wave, things began to look bleak, especially for the economically vulnerable population of the country. 

As the entire nation went into the third movement control order (MCO) which later transitioned into a full lockdown in June, several thousand small businesses faced the threat of total shut down. The situation, exacerbated by vague communication from leaders and uncertainty on the vaccine rollout, led to a large group of Malaysians being unofficially declared as ‘Malaysia’s new poor’

Whilst rates of unemployment rose, people found themselves struggling for basic necessities. Most families had exhausted their savings in the first and second MCOs, and were completely unprepared for what was to come. In a state of helplessness, many were forced to put up a white flag outside their homes, signifying a cry for help. 

https://www.thestar.com.my/news/nation/2021/07/01/businesses-pledge-support-for-white-flag-campaign 

While help did come, it came from unexpected sources. Locals took it upon themselves to help the ones in need by opening several foodbanks, delivering groceries, purchasing from small, home-based businesses to keep them running. A host of companies, NGOs and welfare organisations soon joined them to mitigate scarcity. The white flag campaign – otherwise known as #BenderaPutih on social media – gained recognition quickly. 

People’s aggravation and frustration has been inflamed by the silence of the government. Although the infection rates are not as high as neighbouring country Indonesia, the repercussions of the slow national vaccination program are far-reaching; the effects mirrored by the constantly rising cases despite stringent control measures.  Malaysia has procured large doses of the Oxford-AstraZeneca and Pfizer vaccines, and is beginning to get its hands on more Sinovac doses as well. But only about 12.4% of the population has been fully vaccinated, as of 16th July 2021.  In this absurd state of affairs, citizens are rightly demanding accountability. 

If the circumstances weren’t dire enough, the political blame game being played by the ruling coalition, Perikatan Nasional (PN) and opposition parties has only fuelled the anger further. Leaders of PN have called the white flag movement  “political propaganda” and have asked Malaysians “not to admit defeat”.  What they fail to realise is that this crisis has already spread far beyond the scope of public understanding and patience. 

The Prime Minister Tan Sri Dato’ Muhyiddin Yassin announced on 27th June – which was supposed to be the end of the full lockdown – that it will be extended for an unspecified amount of time until daily cases fall below 4,000. In addition, he declared provision of funds to help relief measures in low-income households. However, the statement does not dispel the despondency of the people, as the first tranches of monetary aid will not be disbursed until August. 

In an ironic twist, this June the World Bank released its report on the Malaysian economic monitor, declaring that the economy was expected to rise by 4.5% this year. A lot of it attributed to increasing exports which have expanded by 18.2%. This begs the question  –  why was one sector of the economy impacted in such a destructive way while the other continued to thrive during the same period of the pandemic? This disparity sparks controversial opinions about the government’s inability to protect the internal economy. The current condition does not only underscore the existing gaps, but further worsens it for the sector that was already at risk of collapsing before Covid, leaving families distressed, starved and foraging for answers. 

As Muslims around the world welcome Eid-ul-Adha, for Malaysians, desperation is the predominant flavour this year in this festive celebration. The government’s Covid exit plan that was built on predictions of lowering cases below a significant level by the end of the year looks, at best, improbable if not impossible. The vaccination program is picking up pace, and the ministry of health is doubling up on attempts to restore public faith. How that affects the economic developments in the coming months remains to be seen.

All views expressed in this editorial are solely that of the author, and are not expressed on behalf of The Analyst, its affiliates, or staff.

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Spy software “Pegasus” accused of targeting world leaders

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Pegasus is software that was developed by the Israeli cyberarms firm, to act as spyware. It was developed by the NSO Group and can be installed on mobile phones, of both iOS and Android. Recently it has been accused of spying on journalists, activists, and even world leaders. Knowing how advanced today’s technology is, it is not that far-fetched of an accusation.

The NSO Group behind this spyware has, however, denied the accusations and claim that they only target extreme terrorists and serious criminals. Spying through a person’s phone is a very easy thing nowadays, and almost every government has the ability to do so. Moreover, Israel has always been a country with a lot of cyber-power and strong surveillance capabilities. This, of course, doesn’t immediately mean that they are spying on everyone, although there has been proof of Pegasus targeting 15 world leaders from around the world. Some of the known targets of this spyware are the French President Emmanuel Macron, King Mohammed VI of Morocco, Imran Khan of Pakistan, Saad Eddine El Othmani of Morocco, and Mustafa Madbouly of Egypt. The world leaders have denied access to their mobile phones for forensic testing to be sure of this breach, but there have been signs of a breach or attempted infection on up to 37 mobile phones.

Secretary General of Amnesty International, Agnes Callamard, stated that “The unprecedented revelation should send a chill down the spine of world leaders”. There could be many lawsuits and potential charges for the NSO Group by many powerful people – such as Facebook for targeting the WhatsApp application if these claims are proved right. The clients with the largest share of information from the NSO Group list includes Mexico and the Middle East. The people that the NSO Group hacked were not all politicians – as even the members of the royal family, human rights activists, and business executives were included. The NSO Group has already been under scrutiny once in 2016, for their incredible spyware technology and, since then, many people have accused Pegasus of targeting mainly journalists and activists from around the world. Although, only recently were these accusations against Pegasus taken seriously.

If the accusations are true, then this is a serious breach of privacy. Not only can anyone be spied upon very easily as we humans are now dependant on mobile phones with all our personal information but this also means that anyone can be a spy with little to no effort. 

All views expressed in this editorial are solely that of the author, and are not expressed on behalf of The Analyst, its affiliates, or staff.

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Lebanon close to trying political figures for Beirut explosion

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In August 2020, an explosion in Beirut killed over 200 individuals and injured over 5,000 more. Hundreds of tonnes of ammonium nitrate explosives were stored in a hazardous manner, causing the explosion. At the time, no one had officially claimed responsibility for the blast or explained how a stockpile of explosives had been left unattended in the Beirut harbour for six years.

Prime Minister Hassan Diab pledged a thorough inquiry, but the case had fallen to a 60-year-old judge, with a low public reputation, Fadi Sawan. As the investigation progressed, Judge Sawan was forced to confront a number of prominent figures, confirming that a handful of officials had been notified about the ammonium nitrate but had failed to have it removed or protected.

The political establishment was outraged by Judge Sawan’s verdict by charging four powerful politicians with criminal neglect causing death. The list of those being tried is as follows: caretaker Prime Minister Hassan Diab, former Finance Minister Ali Hasan Khalil, former Public Works Ministers Ghazi Zeiter and Youssef Finianos, and former Interior Minister Nouhad Machnouk.

After a plea from two of the former ministers he charged, Ali Hassan Khalil and Ghazi Zeaiter, a Lebanese court decided to remove Judge Fadi Sawan from the case as he was getting closer to obtaining justice. This shows that, although being on the correct track, Sawan’s mission to obtain justice was cut short by the higher power.

After Sawan being replaced by Judge Tarek Bitar in this investigation, Bitar requested for the lifting of immunity for numerous political figures and former and current security personnel so that he can prosecute them for criminal negligence and homicide with proven intent in connection with the blast.

A judicial source told Al Jazeera that parliament will most likely vote to transfer the case to the Supreme Council but said that legislators could impede the next step, which would require two-thirds of Parliament to vote for the Supreme Council to summon them.

“It’s clear that this is an attempt to obliterate the investigation,” the source said.

Families of the victims have expressed their indignation at the fact that the case’s result is now determined by the Supreme Council’s vote. “We totally reject and condemn this cover-up of the crime of the century,” Mahdi Zahreldine, 21, whose brother Imad was killed in the blast, told Al Jazeera.

However, as a source said, “Judge Tarek Bitar will not stay silent about this.” There is still hope that justice will be served.

All views expressed in this editorial are solely that of the author, and are not expressed on behalf of The Analyst, its affiliates, or staff.

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Presidential elections in Peru won by a left-wing former teacher

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Pedro Castillo, who is a 51-year-old former teacher, won the election in Peru. This left-wing teacher was used to teach elementary school children in the poor Andean region. He won the election after a long wait of more than a month as his opposite right-wing candidate, Keiko Fujimori alleged electoral fraud. Most people who voted for Castillo were from the poorer and the rural areas.

Castillo won the election on Monday, by just 44,000 votes, and in a turn of events, his rival Fujimori has now been accused of corruption and therefore can be charged. The Elections Chief, Jorge Salas stated: “I proclaim Pedro Castillo as president of the republic and Dina Boluarte as first vice president”, on Monday night in a television ceremony. After hearing this news, the right-wing candidate, Keiko agreed to recognise the result of the presidential election, “because it is what the law and the constitution that I have sworn to defend, mandates. The truth is going to come out anyway”.

On the other hand, the newly elected President of Peru addressed his gathered supporters, saying “Dear compatriots, I bring here an open heart for each and every one of you” in his headquarters of Peru Libre. Castillo’s victory, announced at a virtual ceremony, was celebrated by hundreds of supporters who had spent weeks outside the JNE headquarters to support him. In addition to that, one of his 27-year-old supporters, Rosa Huaman chanted “finally, we have a president” while the crowd roared in agreement. Castillo, who has now an immense support group, will be sworn in on 28th July. Moreover, Castillo is the first left-wing president elected in more than a generation, along with being the first president who lived most of his life as a ‘peasant’.

Although his electoral victory has greatly divided the country, he still promises to have greater outcomes for people in poverty which has become a huge issue in Peru, especially due to Covid-19. However, Castillo, who once pledged to redraft the constitution and hike taxes on mining farms has now softened his rhetoric and wants a more moderate approach. While the presidential election’s left-wing candidate, Fujimori, still firmly believes that the votes were won through fraud.

Lastly, huge congratulations to the new president of Peru, Pedro Castillo and let’s hope that he keeps his promise to help the poor people in Peru. 

All views expressed in this editorial are solely that of the author, and are not expressed on behalf of The Analyst, its affiliates, or staff.

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Spyware used to monitor thousands of phones, including Khashoggi’s wife

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An investigation into a major data breach has led to a discovery of authoritarian governments targeting high profile individuals such as human rights activists, politicians, journalists and the wife of the murdered Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi. It is done using a hacking software which has been created and sold by none other than the NSO spy group of the Israeli government. 

Pegasus is known to be the most dangerous military grade spyware ever developed. It has been licenced to several governments across the globe to track terrorists and criminals. Further, it was namely successful in hacking 37 smartphones from a list of 50,000 numbers, amongst which Hanan Elatr, the wife of Jamal Khashoggi was included. 

Throughout the time period in which Elatr and Khashoggi were speaking and meeting up at various locations, it is determined that Pegasus was keeping track of all their movements. In an interview with the Washington Post, Elatr mentioned regarding Pegasus that “It makes me believe they are aware of everything that happened to Jamal through me.”

The Washington Post confirms that over 1,000 people on the list were identified “spanning more than 50 countries through research and interviews on four continents: several Arab royal family members, at least 65 business executives, 85 human rights activists, 189 journalists, and more than 600 politicians and government officials — including cabinet ministers, diplomats, and military and security officers. The numbers of several heads of state and prime ministers also appeared on the list.”

There is no way of being able to identify who created this list, who added these numbers to the list and why. However, this Pegasus can be installed into Android and iOS remotely. ”Pegasus infections can be achieved through so-called “zero-click” attacks, which do not require any interaction from the phone’s owner in order to succeed.” This malware can convert your phone into a real time surveillance device which can retrieve copies of all your communication (emails, text messages, etc.), it can retrieve your images and record your calls. This software is able to turn your mobile device’ camera on and record you discreetly and/or activate the microphone and listen in on your conversations. It can also pick up on all activities that you do in a day, your current location and past locations. It is also able to pick up on any data on your device including contact information, credit/debit cards, passwords and other personal information.

The amount of effort, money and intelligent minds that were used to create Pegasus had made the software sophisticated enough that if the phone turns down, there is no trace of Pegasus found. The biggest threat that Pegasus poses to high profile individuals is that is can be used to exploit vulnerabilities, hence even the most cautious individuals cannot prevent Pegasus from taking over their phones. 

Unfortunately, there is really no way to prevent anyone from installing Pegasus into your device because zero-click attacks are not visibly detected and there is no knowledge of data packets.

All views expressed in this editorial are solely that of the author, and are not expressed on behalf of The Analyst, its affiliates, or staff.

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