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In a shock for Europe, anti-Islam populist Geert Wilders records a massive win in Dutch elections

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Geert Wilders

The Dutch general election results have delivered a significant victory for Geert Wilders and his Party for Freedom. With almost all votes counted, early indications show the Party for Freedom securing 37 seats, making them the largest party in the 150-seat lower house of parliament. This represents a substantial increase from the 17 seats they won in the previous election, and sends a clear signal regarding the rising tide of populism in Europe.

The scale of Mr. Wilders’ success will undoubtedly cause reverberations across the continent, where anti-establishment movements promoting nationalist agendas have been gaining momentum. As a long-standing advocate of restricting immigration and Islam in the Netherlands, his elevation threatens to pull the traditionally tolerant Dutch political landscape further to the right.

Forming a governing coalition will now be a complex process, as mainstream parties are reluctant to align with Mr. Wilders due to his polarising stances. However, his mandate from voters strengthens his position in negotiations. The second-placed alliance between the Labour Party and Green Left signalled their unwillingness to work with parties scapegoating asylum seekers.

As such, constructing a stable administration presents a formidable challenge.

Mr. Wilders’ victory is the latest example of a trend altering the political landscape of Europe. From Central and Eastern member states to Germany, Spain and beyond, populist outsiders have both triumphed and faltered. With Ms. Meloni’s Brothers of Italy also taking power in Italy last year, critics fear values of liberal democracy and human rights may face increasing pressure across the bloc.

How the Dutch situation evolves will be closely watched. Mr. Wilders must now demonstrate an ability to govern inclusively and respect constitutional norms, rather than inflaming social divisions as in the past. Likewise, centrist parties must seek compromise if the country is to have a cohesive government addressing citizens’ legitimate concerns around issues such as the cost of living.

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AFRICA

French court jails Rwandan ex-doctor 24 years over genocide

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A former Rwandan medical doctor has been sentenced to 24 years’ imprisonment by a French court for his role in the 1994 genocide. Sosthene Munyemana was found guilty on Wednesday of genocide, crimes against humanity and conspiracy to commit such crimes by the Assize Court in Paris.

Mr Munyemana was accused of assisting in the drafting of a letter for the interim Rwandan government that oversaw the killing of members of the Tutsi ethnic group. He was also alleged to have participated in meetings organising the rounding up of Tutsi civilians in Butare prefecture, where he resided at the time.

The 68-year-old, formerly a gynaecologist, denied any wrongdoing during the six-week trial. His legal representatives have indicated they intend to appeal the verdict. The public prosecutor had sought a 30-year prison term.
Mr Munyemana moved to France in the months following the genocide. He is the sixth individual to be tried and convicted in France for involvement in the Rwandan genocide.

Separately, on Tuesday a court in Brussels found two other Rwandan nationals guilty of genocide and war crimes committed in their home country. Séraphin Twahirwa and Pierre Basabosé were determined to have carried out multiple murders and attempted murders of Tutsis and moderate Hutus in Kigali between April and July 1994. Their sentencing is scheduled for Wednesday.

WARYATV

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Houthi

EU Naval Force responds to suspected pirate hijacking of MV Ruen near Somalia

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A Spanish navy frigate from the European Union’s Operation ATALANTA is heading towards the Maltese-flagged MV Ruen, which is believed to have been hijacked by pirates near Somalia. The crew has lost control of the vessel, but they are confirmed to be safe. The responding Spanish frigate, Victoria, armed with advanced weaponry, is quickly approaching the area to assess and respond to the situation. This incident, if verified as a pirate hijacking, would be the first major act of piracy since 2019.

Operation ATALANTA, the EU’s naval mission, has played a crucial role in reducing piracy and safeguarding maritime routes and humanitarian missions. It has resulted in the apprehension of 171 pirates. However, this incident highlights the ongoing challenges in ensuring maritime safety in the region, with the MV Ruen now heading towards Somalia.

The southern Red Sea is witnessing a resurgence of violence similar to the Somali piracy crisis from a decade ago. In response to this volatile situation, the US is reportedly preparing to establish a special multinational task force in the Red Sea to support merchant shipping.

In another incident, the Hapag-Lloyd containership, Al Jasrah, was hit by an aerial projectile while passing through the Bab Al Mandab Strait. The vessel sustained damage and a container fell overboard, causing a deck fire. Fortunately, there were no injuries among the crew. This attack follows a close encounter involving the MSC Alanya near Yemeni waters, where evasive maneuvers were necessary. The Maersk Gibraltar also narrowly evaded a missile attack while passing near Yemen. These series of attacks, carried out by the Iranian-backed Houthis, have increased in frequency, targeting various merchant ships.

The Houthis have connected their maritime campaign to the Israeli offensive in the Gaza Strip. They have expressed their commitment to disrupt ships heading to Israeli ports in the Red Sea until essential supplies reach Gaza. The Houthi military spokesman, Brig. Gen. Yahya Saree, claimed responsibility for the attacks on the MSC Palatium III and Alanya, although Al Jasrah was the intended target. These incidents raise concerns about regional maritime security and impact critical shipping routes between Europe and Asia.

As the conflict between Israel and Hamas continues, global shipping faces escalating threats. In a notable incident in November, the Houthis seized an Israel-linked vehicle transport ship in the Red Sea near Yemen. An Israeli billionaire’s container ship also experienced a suspected Iranian drone attack in the Indian Ocean. The situation highlights the need for heightened vigilance and security measures in the maritime domain.

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Houthi

USS Mason Foils Houthi Attack on Tanker in Southern Red Sea

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Unveiling the High-Stakes Battle for Control in the Strategic Maritime Region

In a daring display of military prowess, the Arleigh-Burke class guided-missile destroyer USS Mason (DDG 87) successfully defended the Marshall Islands-flagged tanker Motor Vessel Ardmore Encounter from a Houthi attack in the southern Red Sea. The incident unfolded at approximately 0830 (Sanaa time) on December 13, when the Mason responded to a distress call from the tanker, which was under assault by Houthi forces.

The Houthi forces initially attempted to board the tanker using skiffs but were thwarted by the crew’s resolute defense. Undeterred, the Houthi-controlled areas of Yemen launched a pair of missiles at the vessel in a desperate bid to inflict damage. However, both missiles missed their target, thanks to the swift and decisive actions of the USS Mason.

While engaged in protecting the tanker, the Mason detected an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) launched from Houthi-controlled areas, hurtling towards the destroyer. In a remarkable display of self-defense, the Mason swiftly neutralized the threat by shooting down the UAV. Miraculously, no injuries were reported among the personnel, and no vessels suffered any damage during the engagement.

The successful defense of the Ardmore Encounter highlights the critical role played by the USS Mason in safeguarding maritime security in the Red Sea. This incident serves as a stark reminder of the ongoing battle for control in this strategically significant region, where Houthi forces continue to pose a threat to international shipping.

The United States Central Command has reaffirmed its commitment to ensuring the freedom of navigation and protecting vital trade routes in the Red Sea. The incident involving the USS Mason underscores the need for heightened vigilance and robust military capabilities to counter the evolving threats posed by Houthi forces.

As tensions persist in the region, it is imperative for international stakeholders to collaborate closely and share intelligence to effectively counter Houthi aggression. The United States, along with its allies, remains resolute in its determination to maintain peace and stability in the Red Sea and will not hesitate to respond decisively to any further provocations.

The battle for control in the Red Sea continues, and the USS Mason’s successful defense of the Ardmore Encounter serves as a testament to the unwavering commitment of the United States and its partners to protect global security and ensure the uninterrupted flow of commerce through this vital maritime corridor.

Kasim Abdulkadir
editor@waryatv.com

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