Tag Archives: Syria

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.




By: Rohan Kohli


UN influence in Syria

From the beginning of the escalating conflict, the UN had been on the side of the people of Syria as we watched on TV the casualties rise day by day. When it seemed like nobody was going to take an action to stop Syria, the US stepped in and moved 5 destroyers off the coast of Syria while bringing in two aircraft carriers and 3 more destroyers into the red sea. This in turn sparked outrage over the US being involved in yet another conflict, but had its desired affect when Russia stepped in and a last minute deal was made.

Syria agreed to let OPCW and UN inspectors inspect and destroy their chemical weapons stockpiles and equipment, and it was agreed that chemical weapon stockpiles would be destroyed outside the country. Since then all chemical sites have been destroyed, and the only thing left to do is move the chemical weapons out of Syria. While it seems simple in concept, the chemical weapons have to be transported to the port city of Latakia so they can be transported overseas. With the current condition Syria is in, and with the uncertainty of what will happen; the chemical weapons are being stored in a safe location. This may seem like a good idea but with Islamist groups including Al-Qaeda still present in the country, even having the stockpile still in the country becomes an unnecessary risk.

Syrian rebels march during a demonstration in Idlib

The high commissioner for human rights for the UN herself said the scale of abuse in Syria “almost defies disbelief”. With the casualty costing the lives of more than 120,000, and displacing millions of Syrians, its not hard to see where human rights violations are taking place. Since Assad took office, he has failed to substantially improve the state of human rights but instead has become an authoritarian dictator who has little to no concern on the lives of his citizens. Free speech, association, and assembly was strictly controlled in Syria before the conflict, and human rights activists were tossed in jails or tortured.

While Bashar Assad is still in power, Islamist rebel groups including Tawhid Brigade, Ahrar al-Sham and the Islamic Army have joined together together with the rebels to oppose Assad’s regime. The new groups have more support than the western backed Syria Coalition and FSA, it ultimately might not lead to an outcome we want. Steven Hadley illustrates this clearly when he says, “If Assad is allowed to win it sends a message to the world that if you’re willing to kill hundreds of thousands of your people, the international community will let you stay to power. And the opposition winning … increasingly that means Islamists and al-Qaeda.”







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.


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…




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.





By: Rohan Kohli

jordan river


As I have mentioned in my previous posts, Jordan’s main concern for the past few years has been the shortage of water. This concern became so alarming that it was made its way on the agenda of many running candidates in Jordan.  This problem became the gateway to talks about environmental issues. One of the propositions in solving the water shortage is to develop new techniques that would capture the rainwater in full potential amounts and exploring other options such as looking for underground water sources. The disposal of nuclear and electronic waste properly is a hot topic and a concern for the environment. Some of the candidates claim, with the backing of scientists, that Jordan’s improper waste disposal has negative effects on the health of the Jordanian people, and it also creates heavy pollution to the land, air and environment as a whole. If the government decides to take action against this issue it would have positive results and not just for the environment. It would help out Jordan’s economy by creating new jobs to fore fill the new job positions to dispose the toxic waste.  The main environmental issue that the state of Jordan is facing is the high depleting water rates from the Dead Sea. This problem has been caused by the agricultural and industrial over uses from the Jordan River.  The sea is facing the possible threat of extinction and it has become an international effort to save the dying sea.  The Red-Dead project has been created to stop the depletion of the Dead Sea by pushing water from the Red Sea to keep the water levels above the concerning rate. The Jordan River is also highly endangered but in the sense that is overwhelming becoming polluted. This is an important problem especially since the water is being shared with neighboring countries such as Israel, West Bank and Syria.  With all of these environmental issues it appears that Jordan has finally taken mini steps in the right direction into reducing these problems.



Posted by Irina Franz

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.


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.



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