World roundup: June 14 2023
Stories from China, Sudan, Belarus, and elsewhere
TODAY IN HISTORY
June 14, 1325: A young Moroccan man named Abu Abdullah Muhammad ibn Battuta sets out from Tangier on the Hajj, a journey that typically took about 16 months round-trip. But Ibn Battuta spent the next 24 years traveling throughout the world, visiting Turkey, the Balkans, Central Asia, India, Southeast Asia, and China. After returning to Morocco briefly in 1349 he spent five years traveling through Spain and the Sahel. These journeys would make Ibn Battuta the most widely traveled pre-modern explorer, assuming he actually made all of them. Scholars have questioned the historicity of segments of his journey but his later written account, The Rihlah, became an important account of the period that is still widely read today.
June 14, 1821: Badi VII surrenders Sudan’s Sennar Sultanate to Egyptian forces under the command of Ismail Pasha. Sudan would remain Egyptian until it gained independence in 1956, though to be fair after 1899 it was really governed more as a separate British colony than as part of Egypt.
June 14, 1830: The French army lands at Sidi Fredj, beginning France’s invasion of Ottoman Algeria. Algiers fell on July 7 and France formally annexed the country, though it would take decades for French colonial rule to really take hold. Algeria gained its independence in 1962.
In today’s global news:
Worldometer is tracking COVID-19 cases and fatalities.
The New York Times is tracking global vaccine distribution.
The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees office issued its latest report on displacement on Wednesday, estimating that some 110 million people are now either refugees or internally displaced worldwide. That’s a projection based on the 108.4 million people who were categorized as displaced by the end of last year and is unsurprisingly a record so…we did it? Some 35.3 million of those are refugees, most of them coming from three places—Afghanistan, Syria, and Ukraine. The conflict in Sudan is quickly becoming another major driver of displacement (more on that later).
An Israeli missile strike on targets near Damascus early Wednesday morning wounded at least one Syrian soldier, according to Syrian state media. The attack also caused material damage to what the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says are arms depots used by Iranian-aligned militias. Elsewhere, the Turkish military said on Wednesday that it has “neutralized” (killed, presumably) 53 Kurdish militia fighters in drone and artillery strikes in northern Syria since the weekend. The Turks characterized these strikes as their retaliation for an attack on a police checkpoint in southern Turkey.