Monthly Archives: August 2013


Syria before the war and present day conditions. Source: Google Images.

Since March 2011, civil war has intensified in Syria, with the Syrian government and rebel forces blaming each other for attacks against civilians.  According to the U.N., more than 100,000 people have been killed in the conflict so far.

The rapidly escalating conflict in Syria has captured the attention of the U.N. Security Council, and has conducted a meticulous investigation of  Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s use of chemical weapons.  A decision for international military intervention has proven difficult, since “Russia, Syria’s main arms supplier, as well as China, have already vetoed three resolutions condemning Assad,” according to Reuters, for last week’s deadly gas attack  in Damascus that killed at least 1, 100 civilians.

U.N. chemical experts investigate the nerve gas attack in Damascus.
U.N. chemical experts investigate the nerve gas attack in Damascus. Source: Google Images.

However, U.S. involvement appears imminent.  U.S. President Barack Obama said the toxic gas attack on civilians had crossed the “red line.”

However, President Assad denies claims of chemical weapons use and blames the rebel fighters trying to overthrow the government for using them.

With the Syrian Electronic Army reportedly behind a cyberattack that brought down the New York Times’ website and U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel telling reporters that his country’s military is “ready to go” if President  Obama orders action in Syria, neither side seems as if they will back down any time soon.

Al Jazeera English provided a map of what possible strategic targets could look like if the U.S. goes to war with Syria:

Via Al Jazeera English: A map of current US ships and aircraft along with potential targets if the US goes to war with Syria
Via Al Jazeera English: A map of current US ships and aircraft along with potential targets if the US goes to war with Syria.

Some Twitter users disagree about whether the United States should intervene in Syria or not:

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Going to war so shortly after ending over a decade of being at war with Iraq and Afghanistan is going to be tough to make popular among the American populace, but the U.S. government wants to make clear that it will stop Syria from using chemical weapons. President Obama seems to have no doubt the Syrian government carried out chemical attacks on its civilians.  According to the New York Daily News , Obama said:

“We do not believe that, given the delivery systems, using rockets, that the opposition (Syrian rebels) could have carried out these attacks. We have concluded that the Syrian government in fact carried these out. And if that’s so, then there need to be international consequences.”

In a speech recorded from CSPAN, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry called Syria’s attack a “moral obscenity.” The speech can be seen here:

In my opinion, there is not an obvious side to align with in this conflict.  On one hand, going to war would involve working as allies with the Muslim Brotherhood and Al-Qaeda.  On the other hand, there is a government killing its own people with chemical weapons.  The U.S. will have to decide who’s the lesser of two evils because there are no good guys in this situation.

Published by: Jessica Stone


Syrian Crisis

With the discovery that chemical weapons were used against Syrian’s citizens by its armed forces, the world news outlets have not stopped printing the repercussions of what will happen. World War 3? And if an action is taken, what is all at stake are important things that world leaders need to keep in mind. As a spokesperson for the government of Great Britain said, “The use of chemical weapons by the Syrian regime is a serious crime of international concern, as a breach of the customary international law prohibition on use of chemicals weapons, and amounts to a war crime and a crime against humanity”. I feel already that too many innocent lives have been lost in this bloodshed and we should take action. As everyone is quick to point out, we always seem to be involved in every world conflict; but for once we need to put aside politics and try to help out the Syrian people. People who are getting killed by the same government they once trusted in.

The picture above is one of the regions in the northern city of Syria; Aleppo. The Syrian regime is ruthless, and if an immediate and swift action is not taken place immediately, many more innocent people will be killed. More than a hundred thousand people have died in the two year conflict, and just recently an estimated 1300 women and children are have said to have died from the recently deployed chemical weapons. With the world media not currently allowed in Syria, its hard for us to know whats exactly happening inside the country but with the backing of many UN countries we can take swift action and bring Assad to trial for war crimes.

Currently in place there is a rebel force that is trying to fight back for the rights of the people, but they are overwhelmed by Syria’s government forces that are better equipped and have access to rockets, chemical weapons, and an arsenal of tanks and military air craft. While some supplies were given, the Syrian people just need someone to save them and their families from their own government. The clock keeps ticking as world leaders still ponder what and how exactly to deal with the crisis in Syria

Pleitgen, Frederik, Max Foster, and Bharati Naik. “World Must Act to Stop Syria’s Chemical Weapons Use, Cameron Says.” CNN. Cable News Network, 01 Jan. 1970. Web. 29 Aug. 2013.

Levs, Josh. “Syria ‘Red Line’ Debate: Are Chemical Weapons in Syria Worse than Conventional Attacks?” CNN. Cable News Network, 01 Jan. 1970. Web. 29 Aug. 2013.

Posted by Rohan Kohli

Islamic Republic of Iran

By Connor J. Wangler


The Islamic Republic of Iran was founded on April 1, 1979 after the Islamic Revolution ousted the government of the Shah, Mohammad Reza Pahlavi. Iran stands on the frontier of the Middle East serving as an agglomeration of Middle Eastern and Central Asian cultures. It has one of the largest populations in the Middle East at approximately 80 million people.

The Islamic Republic is led by the Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Sayyed Ali Khamenei. The President, who leads the country’s domestic and foreign policy, is ultimately responsible to the Supreme Leader and the Assembly of Experts, who elects the Supreme Leader. The current President of Iran is Hassan Rouhani.

(Source: CIA World Factbook)


Assuming office on August 3, 2013, President Rouhani is being forced to deal with the many effects of the many international sanctions placed on Iran because of its nuclear program. According to Iranian FARS News Agency, the West and its allies accuse the country of trying to build nuclear weapons instead of developing a civilian nuclear energy program. Iran is currently subject to four rounds of sanctions by the UN Security Council for turning down the West’s call to give up its program.

According to Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, “These sanctions put people under pressure, but they will not force a change in foreign policy.” However, recognizing the economic strain placed on the Iranian people, the new administration has pledged to do its best to have the embargoes lifted without altering its nuclear policy.

Official portrait of President Rouhani

Speaking to the Tehran Times, President Rouhani discussed his appointment of Reza Najafi as the new envoy to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). He will lead nuclear program negotiations with the U.N. and other international organizations. These talks are aimed at creating a structured approach document to resolve issues with Iran’s nuclear program, particularly the Parchin military site, which the West suspects of being used to build nuclear weapons. Little progress on this document has been made, however.

Grand Bazaar in Tehran, Iran

According to Euronews, however, everyday Iranians care little about the country’s nuclear program. They are, instead, concerned about President Rouhani improving the economy, which has been severely damaged by the effects of the international sanctions.

Below is a piece by Al Jazeera that details the issues that were most pressing during the recent Iranian presidential elections, most notably the sanctions’ effect on the Iranian economy.

Inside Story: Choosing Iran’s Next President


Khartoum: Jewel Of The Desert

Quick facts about Sudan (CIA World Factbook):

  • Population: 34,847,910
  • Religions: Sunni Muslim, Christianity
  • Total life expectancy: about 63 years
  • Location: bordering the Red Sea, between Egypt and Eritrea
  • Ethnic groups: Sudanese Arab (approximately 70%), Fur, Beja, Nuba, Fallata

Sudan is facing a number of problems currently, one of the largest being a poor economy. Sudan has been suffering since South Sudan separated and formed its own country in July 2011. South Sudan was the region of the country that was responsibly for approximately 75% of Sudan’s oil production, which sustained the economy.

Another large problem for Sudan is the ongoing genocide occurring in Darfur.


Darfur is composed of many different ethnic tribes, a few of which decided to rebel against the government in the early 2000’s. The government quickly responded by targeting those ethnic groups and killing their members. Today, the government continues to target the tribes, but the tribes also suffer from internal divisions that make it harder to fight as a cohesive unit ( According to the United Human Rights Council, around 5,000 people are killed each month in the conflict between the military government and people who feel the government is not protecting its citizens. The International Criminal Court has been fighting to reduce the genocide for years by launching investigations into human rights violations in Darfur. “On March 4, 2009 Sudanese President Omar al Bashir became the first sitting president to be indicted by ICC for directing a campaign of mass killing, rape, and pillage against civilians in Darfur.”

Below is a documentary produced by BBC about the ongoing genocide in Darfur and China’s involvement.

One of the most recent issues in Sudan has been immense flooding that has displaced thousands. The Sudan Tribune reported, in conjunction with the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, that the heavy rains have affected 530,000 people across Sudan and destroyed or damaged 74,000 homes. The Guardian is reporting that 48 people are dead after the recent floods.

MDG : Floods in Sudan : A Sudanese homeless family rest on the side of a highway in Khartoum

The World Health Organization “has expressed concerns that heavy rains and floods may aggravate outbreaks of communicable diseases, particularly diarrhoea, malaria, dengue fever and Rift Valley fever.” This could be increasingly dangerous in an area such as Sudan with poor sanitation and lack of healthcare. There is a possibility water-borne illnesses could spread even faster due to the large amounts of standing water on the ground.

Posted by Courtney Doll


By Congrong Zheng


Libya, one of the most popular countries in 2011, caught most people’s eyeball because of the assassination of a special leader Muammar Qadhafi. Libya is lightly larger than Alaska with a very dry and hot climate. 90 percent of Libya is desert and semi desert.  The land is mostly barren and depression. There are about 6 million people lived in this country and life expectancy is about 75.83 years old. Majority of them are Arab.

lybia dessert

Libya was controlled by Italy until the end of World War two. At 1951, Libya achieved independence after passed by UN.  Around 1969, Muammar Qadahfi established the his leadership with a combined socialism and Islam. With the revenue from oil and natural gas, Qadahfi has tried to promote his ideology to other parts of the world, by supporting terrorism activities. After UN sanctioned punishment to Libya, Qadahfi had tried to normalize the relationship with Western world. 2011 Qadahfi was killed during the civil war  in Libya. Right now Libya has elected new government and prime minister.

Libya Herald, an independent Libya news agency could be a source to find out what is going in Libya right now.


The latest news from Libya Herald,Developers threaten UNESCO World Heritage site, mentioned that a two thousand-year old necropolis at Cyrene was badly damaged by residents who tried to claim the ownership of land. “local farmers have reportedly brought in excavators and diggers to clear and flatten those areas they plan to sell to developers for future building projects.” This necropolis was one of the five UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) World Heritage sites in Libya.


Saudi Arabia

Saudi Arabia

Quick Facts:

Population: 29,195,895 (est. 2012)
Government: Unitary Islamic absolute monarchy
Major Export: Petroleum Oil
Language: Arabic
Religion: Muslim

According to The New York Times, “Saudi Arabia has recently emerged as the foremost supporter of Egypt’s military rulers, explicitly backing the violent crackdown on Islamists and using its oil wealth and diplomatic muscle to help defy growing pressure from the West to end the bloodshed in search of a political solution.”

The United States has discussed cutting aid to Egypt, but Saudi Arabia has come forward to state that they will make up any reduction should it take place. This would effectively neutralize all leverage the West has over Cairo that would help negotiate a compromise.

                                         Posted By Brittany Lintner


Downtown Amman, Jordan

Quick Facts about Jordan from CIA:

  • Population: 6,482,081
  • Ethnic Groups:      Arab 98%, Circassian 1%, Armenian 1%
  • Religions: Sunni Muslim 92% (official), Christian 6% (majority Greek Orthodox, but some Greek and Roman Catholics, Syrian Orthodox, Coptic Orthodox, Armenian Orthodox, and Protestant denominations), other 2% (several small Shia Muslim and Druze populations) (2001 est.)
  • Government Type:  Constitutional Monarchy

According to The Jordan Times, on Friday hundreds of protesters took to the streets of Amman to express their unhappiness and disapproval  with the latest economic policies , failure on the government for not including the opposition representatives and not providing unity throughout the government to reflect a the larger  representation of the Jordanian society.  As of right now Jordan has been one of the countries where the Arab Spring has not affected them and it is going to be interesting to see if this protest will spread and create a further impact to the point where the government will take actions against the protesters.                                                                                  Posted by Irina Franz