In 1953, on this day a breakaway zone in the rebellious south-eastern Oriente region of Cuba was liberated by a surprise attack on the Moncada and Bayamó military barracks executed by a tiny revolutionary force under the command of Fidel Castro and his brother Raúl (pictured with Che Guevara).
M 26-7The commanders had careful planned their revolutionary movement (Movimiento 26 Julio abbreviated to "M 26-7") by striking in a remote, rebellious region far from the centre of power - Moncada lies closer to Haita and Jamaica than Havana. And of course the significance of the Moncada Barracks was the naming after General Guillermón Moncada, an iconic hero of the War of Independence, because Fidel was hoping to imprint his own revolutionary profile in the Cuban mind. An associate Alfredo Guevara (no relation to Che) had commented that Castro was "a boy who will be José Marté or the worse of the gangsters."..
Aged only twenty-six, he was sufficiently cynical to have already concluded that the only difference that lies between the two was an ideology. But in fact he had been diverted from the path to becoming an elected official in the Chamber of Deputies and might well have achieved national leadership through democratic means if not for the coup orchestrated by Fulgencio Batista. Because on March 10, 1952 he and his officers had simply walked unchallenged into the army's Camp Columbia in Havana.
Batista recognized that Castro had pulled a similiar stunt himself, and realising the serious challenge to his authority, appealed to the Organization of American States (OAS) for military assistance. This move, supported by hard evidence that Castro was a communist proven a masterstroke that encouraged the United States to dispatch a Korean-style multi-national policing force that prevented Batista from being portrayed as an American stooge.
In 1994, while driving to the airport in Damascus, Basil al-Assad, the eldest son of the President of Syria was critically injured in a car accident that slowly drained him of his health and finally took his life during the "Arab Spring".
Physician, Heal ThyselfOnly thirty-one years of age, the true extent of the injuries had not been fully revealed by the time his father passed away on June 10th, 2000. Nevertheless Hafiz al-Assad had taken the precaution of interjecting his hardass younger brother Maher into the Syrian power structure. A decade later, he was already running the government in all but name, and when his elder brother finally died he made his move.
Meanwhile their second brother, Bashar had fulfilled his father's dream of becoming a doctor. After graduating with a medical degree from Damascus University in 1988, he worked briefly as an army doctor before moving to England in 1992 for postgraduate studies in ophthalmology at the Western Eye Hospital in London. During this time, he also married Asma Akhas, a Syrian raised in London.
His brothers struggled to play the dangerous and delicate game of high politics, sometimes funding terrorists in Lebanon, at other times, permitting the United States to send terror suspects to Syrian prisons for interrogation and torture. Bashar managed to remain out of this madness, and his own involvement in high politics was limited to a lobbying role in London's bid for the 2012 Olympics.
However Maher's ascendancy, combined with the Arab Spring, changed everything. As a middle-aged academic returning to Syria for his elder brother's funeral, he was secretly contacted by Arab Spring activists. Acting on behalf of Sunni opposition figures, they explained that they wanted him as their front man for a new, interim administration that could manage a smooth transition and head-off the revolutionary potential of the new youthquake.
In 1917, on this day Lenin's sealed train Locomotive Hk1 #293 was intercepted by a unit of the Czech Legion evacuating northwards to the Baltic Ports via Finlyandsky Rail.
White Knights intercept Bolshevik Virus
By Ed, Jackie Speel and Scott PalterFormed in August 1914 by orders of the Russian General Staff, the Czech Company (as it was originally known) was intended to be a small intelligence-gathering unit that recruited Czechs and Slovaks who had settled in Russia before the war. However, the capture by the Russian army of an estimated 250,000 Czech and Slovak soldiers from the Austro-Hungarian army created a manpower pool that Czech émigré politicians wanted to use as the nucleus of a future Czechoslovak army.
But by 1917 the front was deteriorating fast and some rogue units were keener to build that future Czechoslovak army now rather than remained trapped in Russia. In short, they wanted to go home by evacuating north before the Baltic ports could be seized by the advancing German forces.
As fate would have it, the unit that intercepted Locomotive Hk1 #293 was a cadre of the original intelligence specialists, and being high on alert for agent provacateurs, their suspicions were immediately raised. An extensive search of the train revealed a sealed carriage which contained a political scientist whose long journey from Geneva could only have been permitted and funded by the Imperial German Government. Just like Trotsky's arrest by British immigration officers in Halifax, Nova Scotia, it was the huge sums of cash that betrayed the ultimate purpose of their mission - wrecking funds to undermine and sabotage the Policy of the Provisional Government to continue Russian participation in the Great War. Both the British and Czech officers were single-minded in purpose, and would not allow the agent provateurs to proceed in their journey. But the Czechs were on a fast schedule and so they executed him by the railroad sidings.