World roundup: January 29 2024
Stories from Jordan, Papua New Guinea, Venezuela, and elsewhere
TODAY IN HISTORY
January 29, 1258: The army of Đại Việt under the Trần dynasty defeats the Mongols at the Battle of Đông Bộ Đầu. Their defeat was so severe that the Mongols were forced to withdraw from Đại Việt altogether, marking the end of their first attempt at conquering the region. The Mongols made two more attempts in the 1280s, both of which failed, before the Trần rulers decided to make themselves vassals of the Mongols in order to spare themselves any further invasions.
January 29, 1814: At the Battle of Brienne, a French army directly commanded by Napoleon (who had only gotten to the front a couple of days earlier) defeated a combined Prussian-Russian army in the waning days of the War of the Sixth Coalition. The French victory was nearly a disaster, as Napoleon himself was almost captured by a unit of Russian Cossacks. In the end Napoleon was able to prevent this relief army from reinforcing a larger Allied force under the command of Prince Karl Philipp of Schwarzenberg, but the combined invasion of that army and Arthur Wellesley’s army from Spain was too much for even Napoleon and he was forced to abdicate in April.
The Israeli military (IDF) is taking a “one step forward, five steps back” approach to its Gaza operation. Israeli forces surged back into Gaza City on Monday, weeks after the IDF claimed that it had “dismantled” militant networks in that part of the territory. This has been building for days, as it’s become clear that Israel’s inability to significantly degrade Hamas’s military capabilities or its tunnel network—killing civilians and blowing up their homes appear to be the IDF’s real core competencies—had allowed militants to infiltrate back into the northern Gaza Strip and resume their activities (in particular rocket launches) there. It’s not clear how this setback is going to impact the overall campaign, particularly given that an extended ceasefire may still be in the offing. Qatari Prime Minister Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani told reporters on Monday that a proposal for a 45 day cessation and prisoner exchange (35 Israelis for some 4000 Palestinians) is being “relayed” to Hamas.