World roundup: November 22 2021
Stories from China, Ethiopia, Russia, and more
In today’s global news:
Worldometer is tracking COVID-19 cases and fatalities.
The New York Times is tracking global vaccine distribution.
According to The Guardian, Islamic State fighters imprisoned by the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces militia in eastern Syria are being offered the chance to buy their freedom:
Syrian men imprisoned without trial can pay an $8,000 (£6,000) fine to be freed, a copy of the release form shows.
As part of the deal, the released prisoners sign a declaration promising not to rejoin any armed organisations and to leave the parts of north and east Syria under control of the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF).
On their release, the two men the Guardian met – both of whom had fought with IS until the group’s so-called caliphate collapsed in March 2019 – were reunited with their wives and children, who were also freed from al-Hawl detention camp under the deal.
The families then travelled to Idlib province, which is run by rival Islamists, and crossed the border to Turkey. Both men are now living, they believe, under the radar of the authorities in the country they have made their new home. One says that he never bought into the IS ideology, and the other that he was initially attracted to the religious component but did not realise the group would grow to be so violent.
In fairness, the option to buy your way out of jail (which the SDF, to be fair, insists does not exist) seems to be open to everyone, not just ex-IS types. The danger, of course, is that unlike the two subjects of this piece, some of these guys may not really be “ex” IS fighters. But the SDF has never been equipped to manage the detention and prosecution of thousands of IS fighters, even as the rest of the world has tried to stick them with that responsibility.