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Rocket strike reported near U.S. Embassy in Baghdad

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Three rockets struck near the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad on Monday, according to multiple reports, making it the third rocket attack in Iraq against Western targets within a week.

Iraqi Security Forces announced that three rockets fell in the Iraqi-controlled Green Zone and destroyed four vehicles, but did not result in casualties. Security Forces also reported that Baghdad Operations Command found missile launchers.

The rockets, according to reports, were of the Katyusha variety.

Monday’s rocket attack follows one that happened Saturday night, when at least four rockets hit Balad Air Base and wounded one person. According to Politico, the U.S. defense company Sallyport has a presence at the base and is contracted to provide support to Iraq’s fleet of U.S.-made F-16 fighter jets.

Moreover, about a dozen rockets last week struck coalition forces outside Erbil International Airport, killing one non-U.S. contractor and injuring nine other individuals, including five Americans.

Despite the Shia militia group that took credit for the first attack being widely known for having close ties to Tehran, as Politico pointed out, the Biden administration has refrained from pointing fingers.

U.S. officials, according to the publication, said the intelligence does not yet point to a clear culprit and indicated they would let the Iraqis spearhead the investigation and any military response.

Local reporters, per American Military News, have posted photos to Twitter of what appear to be burning cars that were hit by the latest attack.

One unconfirmed video seems to show black smoke rising from the site of the attack, with the video’s tweet claiming the smoke is coming from inside the U.S. Embassy’s compound.

You can follow Douglas Braff on Twitter @Douglas_P_Braff.

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REPORT: China has vast network of covert police stations around the world

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China has a vast network of covert police stations abroad, according to a recent report by Safeguard Defenders, an NGO that focuses on human rights violations in China and other Asian countries. These police stations serve consular functions, but are also used by China to crack down on what the CCP deems “illegal” activity of Chinese nationals abroad. The police stations include at least 38 run by the Fuzhou City police, and 22 run by the Qingtian City police. Cities housing these police stations include New York, Toronto (which has three stations), London (two), Paris (three), Buenos Aires, Rio De Janeiro, and Tokyo.

Key findings of the report are below.

“Persuaded to return”

According to China, China has “persuaded to return [to China]” 230,000 Chinese nationals living aboard from April 2021 to July 2022 alone to face charges of fraud and telecommunications fraud. A Yangxia police station set up in Mozambique, for example, persuaded a Chinese national to return to China after being accused of stealing money from his employer. Chinese authorities also put pressure on the accused family to convince the accused to surrender.

Roughly 54,000 Chinese nationals were persuaded to return from northern Myanmar alone, in the first nine months of 2021. In July 2022, the government of Wenchang City warned that its citizens living in northern Myanmar must check in with their local police stations or face multiple penalties including blocking their children from attending urban schools back in China. Similarly, in February 2022, the government of Liayang City stated that Chinese “illegally staying” in northern Myanmar must return or the bank accounts of their immediate family members could be frozen.

The Nine Forbidden Countries

China has claimed that nine countries contain serious levels of fraud and telecom fraud perpetrated by Chinese nationals. Since November 2021, China has declared that Chinese citizens living in these nine countries must return to China immediately unless they have an “emergency reason” or a “strict necessity” to travel or stay in those countries. Those countries are: Myanmar, Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, Malaysia, Indonesia, the Philippines, the UAE, and Turkey. However, the report questions whether these countries are truly awash in such fraud, as most of China’s oversees police stations are in the West, and only one of the nine countries (Cambodia) has such a police station. Chinese staying in the nine forbidden countries, as well as threats to family members as stated above, creates a “guilt-by-association” atmosphere intended to repatriate the Chinese nationals.

Conclusion

According to the report, Chinese police stations abroad serve to bypass “bilateral extradition treaties or other mechanisms of judicial cooperation” to cooperate with CCP-linked NGOs which effectively “[sets] up an alternative policing and judicial system within third countries.” Instead of using international judicial cooperation, which establishes due process, the presumption of innocence, and the right to a fair trial, China uses the above “persuade-to-return” methods and transnational police stations to circumvent international law and coerce Chinese nationals to return to China for trials. These policies show the power of China’s long-arm oppression over its own subjects.

You can follow Steve Postal on Twitter @HebraicMosaic

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