Category Archives: Syria

Posts covering Syria.

New generation of terrorists

With the death toll well past 100,000 after nearly three years of bloodshed, its easy to see why so many young men and women from western countries want to offer their services to overthrow Assad’s regime. Whereas before the dominating group was the Free Syrian Army, now it’s mostly overrun with Islamist terror groups which have close ties with Al-Qaeda. While the groups are fighting against pro Assad fighters, their ultimate agenda is to turn Syria into an Islamist Republic ruled on basis of sharia. This obviously does not sit well with western interests, who would like nothing than the complete opposite of that with democratic ideals.

Hundreds of jihadists, some as young as 16 were traveling from all around the world to eventually make their way into Syria and the conflict. This is dangerous as while they are helping the rebel movement, the groups they are fighting for are Islamist terror groups. Influencing youth with ideals at a very young age can set kids down a path which almost always ends in a possibility of death. UK has proposed introducing legislature to strip returning British jihadists of their citizenship, even if it means leaving them stateless.

https://www.google.com/search?q=young+syrian+fighters&rlz=1C1SAVU_enUS554US554&espv=210&es_sm=93&source=lnms&tbm=isch&sa=X&ei=-1qrUrGECImL2AW_yoHACQ&ved=0CAkQ_AUoAQ&biw=1366&bih=666#facrc=_&imgdii=_&imgrc=LkYBbP4llH1EcM%3A%3BFAoCv02-n5PFmM%3Bhttp%253A%252F%252Fmagharebia.com%252Fawi%252Fimages%252F2013%252F02%252F13%252F130213Feature1Photo1-650_429.jpg%3Bhttp%253A%252F%252Fmagharebia.com%252Fen_GB%252Farticles%252Fawi%252Ffeatures%252F2013%252F02%252F13%252Ffeature-01%3B650%3B429

Once in Syria, the young fighters receive weapons, clothing, and six weeks of military and religious training before being allowed to fight. With the media, Syrian jihad is broadcast through social networking sites such as Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter thereby reaching a much broader audience. As a rebel fighter said, “we have no use for people who come here against their will”. While it’s true rebel groups will not turn away fighters, teens are driven to Syria to fight what they believe is a war against an oppressive regime.

Sources: http://www.newsmax.com/Newsfront/european-muslims-terror-syria/2013/12/09/id/540875

By: Rohan Kohli

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Doctors without Borders

Doctors with Borders is an NGO that’s familiar to us, and that’s because it reaches all over the world to help. With many NGO’s strongly condemning Syria for using chemical weapons and inflicting terror on the Syrian people, some have decided to help regardless. DWB was not granted permission to operate in Syria by authorities, and there’s a simple reason for that. DWB along with other human rights organizations who have Anglo-American interests in fact lied in regards to massacres in Syria to further fuel what was then a very likely western intervention.

Doctors with Borders however has gained access into Syria, and operates 6 hospitals in rebel controlled areas. While DWB might seem as an independent organization, the organization is being bankrolled by the same corporate interests behind Wall Street and London’s foreign policy. This includes big names like Goldman Sachs, Wells Fargo, Citigroup, Google, Microsoft, Bloomberg, and numerous others. All the corporate companies however wanted a regime change in Syria, so it’s not surprising access was denied and DWB had to sneak in. Since arriving, DWB doctors have set up shelters where they performed surgeries around the clock on innocent victims of the conflict. An estimated 7,000 children have died as result of the war, and some it left with gruesome injuries or missing limbs.

Conditions in Syria however have not been suitable for performing in. DWB doctors have performed surgeries in caves, chicken farms, and in peoples houses. While it is convenient, it isn’t the best care patients could get something that many won’t be able to see until the conflict dies down. With millions displaced from their homes and thousands injured, it becomes a global dilemma to help the Syrian people. While currently the country is overrun with Islamist fighting groups, the Free Syrian Army (western sponsored) is largely ignored as youth join groups that include Al-Qaeda.

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https://www.google.com/search?q=doctors+without+borders&rlz=1C1SAVU_enUS554US554&espv=210&es_sm=93&source=lnms&tbm=isch&sa=X&ei=hkyrUvebOKba2AW40IGYCg&ved=0CAkQ_AUoAQ&biw=1366&bih=666#es_sm=93&espv=210&q=doctors+without+borders+syria&tbm=isch&facrc=_&imgrc=KYhdUzKJ1_qQqM%3A%3BDMotJeFXsGtx0M%3Bhttp%253A%252F%252Fwww.doctorswithoutborders.org%252Fimages%252F2012%252FMSF122461-Syria.jpg%3Bhttp%253A%252F%252Fwww.doctorswithoutborders.org%252Fnews%252Fallcontent.cfm%253Fid%253D219%3B550%3B310

http://www.ctvnews.ca/world/doctors-without-borders-aid-in-syria-needs-to-be-treated-with-same-urgency-as-chemical-weapons-1.1497387

By: Rohan Kohli

Bashar Al-Assad implicated in war crimes

With Syria cooperating with UN inspectors to rid nuclear weapons, it was able to eliminate the threat of a possible US intervention and draw the spotlight away from the violence while UN inspectors carried out their tasks. However, a UN inquiry has produced massive evidence of war crimes against humanity, and the trail leads to the head of state Bashar Al-Assad. While it was generally known Assad was calling the shots, this is the first time the UN has accused Assad directly.

With the UN coming directly out and accusing Assad, many wonder if it will affect January’s Geneva 2 peace conference to end the violence once and for all in Syria. Navi Pillay, the UN’s human rights chief herself had said the Syrian conflict had “become an intolerable affront to the human conscience” (Guardian). Faisal Miqdad, the deputy foreign minister, responded by stating, “She has been talking nonsense for a long time and we don’t listen to her” (Guardian). This just goes to show how little Bashar Assad is worried of being charged with war crimes, in a conflict that has already claimed 125,835 lives.

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While accusing Bashar Assad of war crimes is something i strongly believe in, it is not very likely that Assad will be brought to trial. The UN commission however not only accused the Syrian government of committing war crimes, but they also said rebels backed by western and Arab countries were guilty as well. In a country where both sides are fighting for control of the country, I don’t feel it makes sense for the UN to accuse both sides of war crimes shifting the blame from Bashar Al-Assad to both sides. While Assad most definitely had his hands in starting the conflict, it is undeniable as Syria’s head of state, and commander-in-chief of the armed forces he had full control of what was happening.

While Pillay has repeatedly asked for the case to be handed to the ICC in The Hague, an ICC referral requires the backing of the five permanent members; US, UK, France, Russia and China. Two of the members Russia and China have blocked any action against the Syrian government, and are not likely to change their ground. With Russia and China out, the US, UK, and France have instead focused on securing the disarmament of Syria’s chemical weapons. With the Geneva 2 peace conference to take place on January 22, it is unlikely that Assad will co-operate if he is facing war crimes charges (Guardian).

A strong point PIllay brings up is that the ongoing efforts to destroy Syria’s chemical weapons shouldn’t distract from the killings of thousands with other weapons. While chemical weapons caused the largest number of deaths in the war in a single day, conventional weapons accounted for majority of the deaths in the Syrian war. While it is unlikely that Assad will be brought to justice anytime soon, there will be a day where he has to face the crimes he committed against his own citizens. Hopefully that day isn’t too far away…

Sources

http://www.theguardian.com/world/2013/dec/02/syrian-officials-involved-war-crimes-bashar-al-assad-un-investigators

http://www.nytimes.com/2013/12/03/world/middleeast/top-un-rights-official-links-assad-to-crimes-in-syria.html?_r=0

By: Rohan Kohli

Disarmament of Chemical Weapons

The last-minute intervention by Russia in what seemed to be yet another conflict we found ourselves involved in, has resulted in progress being made in Syria. With the disposal of almost a thousand metric tons of chemical and nerve gas agents, UN inspectors have to be thorough when disposing of all of Syria’s chemical weapons.

http://www.icepn.com/home/news/world-news/2013/03/20/syria-asks-un-to-probe-alleged-rebel-chemical-weapon-use.html

Above is one of the 20+ chemical facilities in Syria, and so far UN inspectors have visited 11 and permanently disabled 6 of the sites.

The effort is a joint operation between the OPCW and UN to rid Syria of chemical and weapon stockpiles, a task which will not be easy. While the actual physical demolition of the chemicals and weapons is the responsibility of the Syrian government, OPCW inspectors monitor and verify what equipment is destroyed. OPCW hopes to have as many as 100 inspectors on the ground, a jump from the 20 inspectors that have already been surveying sites in Syria.

An image grab taken from Syrian television on October 10, 2013 shows an inspector from the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) at work at an undisclosed location in Syria. (AFP Photo)

http://rt.com/news/syria-chemical-facilities-opcw-266/

While there is relief that a conflict was avoided, Syrian’s are angry that President Bashar Assad is getting away with essentially murder. With the war costing more than 100,000 Syrian lives, and the chemical attacks killing 1400 in one day; the Syrian people want a change. A video released today asserted that with a spokesperson speaking on the behalf of 65 different groups of fighters saying that, “they feel abandoned by the political leadership and “withdraw their recognition” of the Coalition. This recent news serves as a blow to the Syrian National Coalition a group that is a Western-funded opposition; a group whose goal was to overthrow Assad’s regime.

The numbers are staggering when you realize the Syrian conflict has killed more than 100,000, forced 2 million to seek shelter abroad, and has displaced 5 million in Syria. Whats left is fighting between Kurdish fighting groups and Al-Qaeda backed ones from Southern Syria; recent violence which has left as many as 41 dead.

Sources

http://www.foxnews.com/world/2013/10/06/un-official-says-chemical-weapons-inspectors-begin-destroying-syrian-stockpile/

http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-202_162-57607786/syria-chemical-inspectors-destroy-critical-weapons-equipment/

http://rt.com/news/syria-chemical-facilities-opcw-26

By: Rohan Kohli

Does music exist in Syria?

Music in Syria is composed of traditional music, rock, and there is even a rap influence such as Refugees of Rap; a group whose songs are about the struggles of living in a refugee camp. Syrian’s love music, and many educated residents in the city attend concerts ranging from classical European, classical Arabic, Indian pop, and even folk music.

The group comprised of four members as their name says live in a refugee camp in Syria, and the Syrian government is not allowing the band to release their new album due to the fact it criticizes the Assad regime.

A popular musician for traditional music in Syria is Omar Souleyman whose played at countless weddings and those performances were taped and sold. Omar also tours extensively, and is popular in many middle east countries. The music that is traditional is more favored by the regime as the Syrian Government doesn’t get any negative publicity. Due to that traditional music has a wide audience in Syria, and other groups get nowhere near as much coverage.

On the far other spectrum i found the band Tanjaret Daghet which literally translates to “pressure cooker”. As many musicians in Syria, Tanjaret Daghet fled Syria to Lebanon to escape military service, and be open to a more vibrant music scene. The band stays away from political issues in Syria, but often talk about their life in Syria through their songs.

Syrian movies consist mainly of documentaries about life in Syria, the revolution, and the struggle of being a refugee everyday. Occasionally Hollywood films are shown in Syrian cinemas, and these are mainly aimed at the younger audience. One of the most popular watched shows in the Arab region Bab Al-Hara is watched by millions of people, and the show chronicles the life the daily happenings and family dramas in a neighborhood in Damascus, Syria in the inter-war period under French rule when the local population yearned for independence. Although the show got canceled for a new season, at its peak it had a viewing audience of 50 million members intermixed of Muslims, Jews, and Christians from nearby states.

A scene from Bab Al-Hara (season 3)

In their leisure time, Syrians love to go on walks in the streets and parks at night and try to wear their best clothing. During the summer in Syria, ice-cream shops are popular ways to escape the local heat, and for those with money shopping is a favorite pastime. Other hangout spots include bath houses, coffeehouses, and smoking hookah is considered a tradition.

Sources

http://books.google.com/books?id=p9PGuw8LKGsC&pg=PA111&lpg=PA111&dq=leisure+time+in+syria&source=bl&ots=x29Q2afp9E&sig=y-SrTyG-aNp1T9IZ3LvMCNGyyT0&hl=en&sa=X&ei=_nNTUrDBLYi-qAGD8YDwAQ&ved=0CCsQ6AEwAA#v=onepage&q=leisure%20time%20in%20syria&f=false

http://www.imdb.com/country/sy

http://mtv.com.lb/Bab_El_Hara

By: Rohan Kohli

Dealing with Environmental Issues in Syria

Desertification, polluted drinking water, and the drought in Syria have lead to a dire need for change to occur for the Syrian People. The SEPS (Syrian Environmental Protection Society) became the first environmental movement that had been founded and publicly announced in Syria; something that many saw as a step forward but still today the current situation in Syria requires more than just the help of one organization. With the SEPS being a NGO (non-governmental organization), it has little say in the Syrian government itself and can only try to illustrate the problems that not taking any steps would cause.

The drought in Syria combined with the mismanagement of the countries natural resources by President Assad, and bad irrigation techniques lead to serious devastation in the region. When Assad decided to subsidize water-intensive crops such as wheat and cotton, he inadvertently displaced 1.5 million people in Syria who lost everything due to the drought and climate conditions. It’s not only the crops that the drought is affecting, its livestock in the region as well. It’s estimated around 75 percent of farmers experienced total crop failure, and farmers lost up to 80 percent of their livestock. The above picture shows a region that looks barren with not a sight of a body of water; it illustrates what much of the country looks like.

https://i2.wp.com/www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/wonkblog/files/2013/09/hoerlingetalfig1b_300.jpeg

As seen in the above picture, Syria is illustrated in red which just shows how severe drought conditions are in Syria. Dry soil and not enough water has rendered much of the region useless. Syria is a part of the UN Millennium Development Goals, and according to the most recent one published in 2013, the number of people uprooted by conflict and persecution has been at its highest level in 18 years, something that’s finally being taken care of as Syria is appearing to be complying with UN demands.

Sources

http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/wonkblog/wp/2013/09/10/drought-helped-caused-syrias-war-will-climate-change-bring-more-like-it/

http://mdgs.un.org/unsd/mdg/data.aspx

http://environ.chemeng.ntua.gr/ineco/Default.aspx?t=207

By: Rohan Kohli

Environmental Issues in Syria

Much of Syria’s natural forests and vegetation has been depleted by cutting trees for wood and construction material, livestock grazing, and farming. What thick forests used to be in Western Syria are have considerably decreased, and the result of that is desertification. Also due to the repeated foresting and livestock grazing, the soil is not what is used to be causing a loss to farmers and corporations of 300 million dollars! On the other hand we also have two booming industries in Syria which are oil production and refining. Waste from the refining process coupled with the raw sewage from urban centers has degraded and depleted a lot of Syria’s fresh water. Syria had been working with the UN and had ratified international agreements to help protect the ozone layer, endangered species, wetlands, and biodiversity. It has also signed treaties that limit the pollution in bodies of water and safer disposal of hazardous waste. With the current state of the bodies of water that surround Syria, the pre-treatment process for converting it into safe drinking water is quite extensive and expensive. There are ideas in place to reduce the price of producing clean safe drinking water in the region but it hasn’t been currently implemented yet.

With the current state of Syria, many wonder if the climate conditions would get worse as Syria has continued to not listen to the UN, and Bashar Assad has almost taken a threatening position towards other world countries. UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon called the attacks that President Obama wanted to initiate against Syria “outrageous”; he believed that it would destroy any chance of negotiation. With the recent wars of Iraq and Afghanistan, and our uncanny ability to get involved with any major conflict; people are sick of the US being involved in world conflicts. Recent polls taken by CNN show that the majority of the American people do not want to be in another conflict. 69 percent of American’s do not think it is in the national interest of the US to be involved in the conflict in Syria. And when asked if the US launched strikes against Syria would it achieve significant goals for the US, 72 percent believe it would not.

http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2013/images/09/09/6a.poll.syria.pdf

http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/wonkblog/wp/2013/09/10/drought-helped-caused-syrias-war-will-climate-change-bring-more-like-it/

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Geography_of_Syria

Sources

Steinhauser, Paul. “CNN Poll: Public against Syria Strike Resolution.” CNN. Cable News Network, 01 Jan. 1970. Web. 17 Sept. 2013.

“INECO – Syria.” INECO – Syria. N.p., n.d. Web. 17 Sept. 2013.

“Encyclopedia of the Nations.” Environment. N.p., n.d. Web. 17 Sept. 2013.

By: Rohan Kohli

Syrian Government and Economy

Syria is part of the UN, IMF, and WTO. With the current reaction of the world to Syria’s attacks on its on people, it seemed like a strike by the US was inevitable. New sources today report that Syria has struck a deal with Russia to put their chemical arsenal under international control. While yes that solves the problem with the chemical weapons that Syria posses, it still has enough military presence in form of helicopters, jets, submarines, ships, and the stockpile of missiles and rockets it posses. With a 55 percent opposition to the war, the American people will definitely be able to breathe a sigh of relief . Following World War 1, the French controlled a portion of northern Syria. It was granted independence in 1946, and in 1958 they combined to form the United Arab Republic.

http://www.foreignpolicy.com/files/fp_uploaded_images/120806_067.jpeg

In 2011 the Syrian GDP was 107.6 billion dollars and 12 percent of the population is below the poverty line. Crude oil, minerals, petroleum products, fruits and vegetables, cotton fiber, textiles, clothing, meat and live animals, and wheat are all exports of Syria, and it imports machinery, food and livestock, and chemical products.

http://www.fao.org/docrep/006/y4890e/y4890e06.htm

Sources:

Steinhauser, Paul. “CNN Poll: Public against Syria Strike Resolution.” CNN. Cable News Network, 01 Jan. 1970. Web. 09 Sept. 2013.

“Central Intelligence Agency.” The World Factbook. N.p., n.d. Web. 09 Sept. 2013.

By: Rohan Kohli

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