Category Archives: Middle-East

Endgame

Hello readers, it’s good to be back at the keys and even better to be resuming the dissection of varying international circumstances. When examining the Syrian conflict I tend to first place a spotlight on Assad: Can he run? Will his funds save him? Is there an option for Assad outside of simply winning or losing the war? The answer to each of these questions: No. Assad has more money, arguably more military might, but an even worse international standing than former Libyan dictator Muammar al-Gaddafi, and as you may recall he received no asylum in his final days. It is certain this thought haunts Assad each night before he sleeps and every morning he awakes.

His desperation has led him to seek help from abroad via a strategy now commonly utilized on the international stage: the portrayal of opposition as a terrorist force. His portrayal of the FSA as terrorists serves to invite anti-sunni extremists from over the borders to engage in a “Holy War” against the Sunni majority, for Assad’s Alawaite sect makes up roughly 12% of the islamic population in Syria. Assad needs the conflict to be portrayed as a holy war against terrorists lest he be overwhelmed by sheer numbers. Declaring the FSA as a terrorist organization isn’t entirely accurate however, while the FSA has fought alongside terrorist groups such as Jabhat al-Nursa the FSA is not linked to al-Qaeda. Further, if and when Assad falls, the groups maintain polarizing views on what direction Syria will head in post-Assad, which will likely lead to further years of civil strife. Had the FSA been armed early on by the United States, Al-Nursa’s involvement would not have been needed by the FSA for military support against the Syrian Government Army, and thus the call to global jihadists and international mercenaries would have likely been weak if present at all. The mess the United States feared of Syria should the rebels be armed: it being a state supporter of terrorism, supporter of Iran, have a grudge against Israel and the U.S, that human rights violations could occur within the borders amidst political distrust and corruption, yet these are all aspects of present Syria with the Assad regime. Had the rebels been armed before their desperation lead them into Jihadist hands it can be argued that the FSA’s influence would have remained prominent and allowed Al-Nursa no time to establish itself as a prominent force in the nation. Had Nursa not grown and the United States stepped in as it did in Libya, the conflict likely would have concluded hastily and with less bloodshed.

If terrorist influence has finally grown to the point where the U.S. believes the situation should be reevaluated, this could be the last opportunity to aid the FSA before the conflict spirals further into civil conflict corrupting international volunteers and spitting them back out as hardened soldiers of fortune, possibly bent on wreaking havoc abroad. The United States has an obligation as a world superpower to help where needed, yet it is common for nations in such a position to do so only when personal interest is being served. In this case personal interest would have been served with aid to the FSA and their eventual victory possibly leading to a strong bond with the new Syria and an additional ally in the region, yet for once when the right thing was to get involved we didn’t. The nations track record of interjecting, ranging from Honduras, to Vietnam, to Iran is despicable yet eerily consistent, but when the time comes to really provide needed and requested help, particularly on a military scale, the United States somehow falls through. My hope is that some kind of foreign power, if not the United States, will aid the FSA before its dwindling influence fades to nothing, allowing for Nursa to become the primary force battling Assad, opening the door for a much more likely Jihadist home base when Assad topples. -Shivite12

Polio and the Syrian Crisis

Polio and the Syrian Crisis

In the past couple months there has been a news spotlight on the Polio outbreak taking place in Syria and Iraq, an outbreak some have dubbed “the most challenging in history,” but why the challenge? It would seem any populace, despite whatever political or idealogical differences may be present, would have the common goal of eliminating catastrophic disease from the pool. Yet as conflict rages, both in Syria and Iraq, Polio continues to creep upon the population. The Syrian government has been accused of refusing aid to civilians in rebel held cities, aid that could make the difference for starving and infected individuals uninvolved with the conflict, yet Assad’s forces wish to use this as a siege tool, effectively crushing the opposition forces by allowing innocents to die with no access to food, medical aid, and sometimes even fresh water. Villages in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan controlled by militant forces also have a difficult time obtaining international aid as well due to the negative stigma that comes with foreign involvement, particularly in Middle Eastern nations with colonization history. So Polio rages, big deal? If this outbreak cannot be dealt with properly, and soon, generations of Iraqis, Syrians, and even more nations, could face a polio bug greater than man has had to battle since the 1900’s. Below I’ve included multiple organizations who are working to stifle this outbreak despite threats from government forces such as Assad’s in Syria, to militant groups such as Al-Qaeda in Iraq. Please take a moment to visit their pages. -Shivite12

Doctors Without Borders

UNHCR

UNICEF

Save The Children

#notabugsplat

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I came across this blog the other day via the news, and I must say this deserves a spotlight like no other. Predator drone strikes are a terror not only new but particularly horrifying. Envision yourself walking down a road, you spy another pedestrian on the other side of the street and within a moment the silhouette is replaced by a strong explosion. You learn after the fact the individual was no state threat, rather just a father on his way home to his kids. The target the drone pilot was after was only a few meters away, but was missed, thus the enemy continues his movement whilst the victim does not. Everyday citizens of Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iraq, Yemen, and so on must live in fear of being wiped from the face of the earth by a robot buzzing above, on the hunt for the approximate location of supposed enemy activity. In the name of saving our own troops from perishing, the civilians make the sacrifice being caught in the crossfire. I recommend the support of the #NotABugSplat movement, for the violation of sovereignty and human rights committed in drone warfare absolutely deserves conversation. -Shivite12

The Cold Shoulder

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Today a friend and I discussed the humanitarian crisis in Syria. As we delved deeper into the labyrinth of government kidnapping and extremist jihad ideologies, frustration at the desperation of the situation began to reveal itself on his face. He asked me finally, “why is the rest of the world getting involved then? Even its neighbors attack(Israel and as of yesterday Turkey) when the conflict spills in the slightest, why don’t we just let them eliminate each other within their borders secluded from the rest of the world?” I was awestruck at the notion. The answer I gave was pitiful.
“Because that isn’t the right thing to do.” What a joke. Well now I wish to address this question after some time letting it bounce around in my head.

1. Why isn’t that the right thing to do? When a nation experiences prolonged and costly turmoil, the road to recovery tends to be a long one fraught with despair reminiscent of the conflict itself, as was seen with the fallout of the Spanish Civil War. A steady simmer, as evidenced by the current protests taking place in Spain, remains present among the populace and wears on their nerves considerably. Allowing this to happen in Syria, then the next country and the next, only furthers the precedent of insubordination among the cooperating international community.

2. So what? The strongest countries will prosper. A domino effect of countries experiencing civil strife fueled by mercenary forces can spread easily, and despite any interest in war games, civilians are forced to handle the fallout. Why allow Syria to continue to fall deeper into conflict until a nation and a race are practically wiped from the Earth? Further, no country is immune to civil strife and eventual downfall, as even the most powerful nations have internal problems only further stoking the fire.

3. What kind of fallout could be so bad from a civil war that it calls for international intervention? Picture an entire generation of people with missing families, limbs, education, money, homes, trapped in eternal poverty in their war ravaged home, in a prolonged humanitarian crisis that could have been avoided. Then to add to the problem, millions of Syrians will flood the world in a bid to escape a horrific experience on the home front. While I personally couldn’t blame them for wanting to escape such atrocities, its recognized that many countries wouldn’t be quite so receptive to a flood of refugees, atop those that have already ran from the conflict. Why allow things to spiral to such a height? The world powers must address this conflict and come up with a prompt and reasonable solution, for this blasphemous slaughter has dragged on long enough. So why isn’t ignoring the problem the right thing to do? Ignorance is only bliss as long as your conflict isn’t the one being ignored. Is enjoying brief ignorance and avoidance worth letting the fire spread to our allies, let alone ourselves. Action now can prevent greater action later.
-Shivite12

 

The Pit; Syria’s Freefall

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While perusing the news yesterday I came across this article in The New York Times, touching on a concern I’ve had in recent months: how has the conflict in Syria lasted as long as it has? The reasons vary from the religious zeal of extremist ideology to the steadfast pursuit of power by the Syrian government lead by Bashar Al-Assad. In high school I recall learning about the tragedy of the Holocaust, and in my own case the plight of my Native American ancestors(though the information was substantially minimal I don’t mind noting.) When we were educated about these falls of man the underlying theme seemed to be that as a people we had a responsibility to never again let such travesty befall our fellow being. Yet here we stand idly by as a nation burns, children are left homeless, dead, or diseased in a conflict that’s no longer able to find a unifying cause outside of the lawlessness that plagues the land. As explained by Anne Bernard:

“It is not as if the world has no evidence of Syria’s ordeal, which has killed an estimated 150,000 people. Syrians have issued a sustained, collective cry for help from what is now probably history’s most-documented manmade disaster. They capture appalling suffering on video and beam the images out to the world: skeletal infants, body parts pulled from the rubble of homes, faces stretched by despair, over and over. Despite that, to the bitterness of Syrians, the world’s diplomatic attention is drifting. Even as Syria’s epic suffering is remaking the human geography of the Middle East and beyond, initiatives to ease the crisis have sputtered and failed to offer effective help. Already tenuous hopes for an internationally brokered peace settlement have further faded as Russian-American relations worsen.” -Anne Bernard, The New York Times

While the world watches Crimea, and the newfound Russo-US relations that are bound to follow, what will come of the chemical weapons disposal deal brokered by Russia and the US? What will come of Putins support for the totalitarian Syrian Government, let alone the United States’ for a rebel movement now principally inhabited by Jihadists? Whatever your poison, raise a glass in the hopes Russia and America can once again settle things amicably without having to dredge up cold war diplomacy. Evolution only moves forward right? -Shivite12

(Title link leads to Anne Bernard’s stunning piece on the Syrian crisis)

Assad VS. “Terrorists,” Frontlines

(WARNING: Graphic violence)
When examining this video one thing stood out in particular:The disparity between how the government made the conflict look and feel versus the people trapped within. We see the governments’ portrayal of the casualties inflicted as a positive one in the quest for a supposed “reimplementation of the state,” in which it is likely Bashar al-Assad will once again run for President. Should he attain power at its fullest once more all the lives lost to remove him from the seat of power will have been for not, and the state of Human Rights in the nation will likely not improve. Despite the image trying to be projected of Assad being a “People’s President,” tasked with ridding the nation of terrorist threats, his military has been ruthless and closed to negotiation as of late, particularly in his air assault and ground campaigns. While I will concede to Mr.Assad the terror wings of the Free Syrian Army(i.e. Jabhat al-Nursa; ISIS) are a national and international security issue with their training and sending home of various volunteers, easily influenced by extremist ideology. Despite this risk, however, the absolute bludgeoning of ones own people in the name of security is unjustified and devoid of empathy. This is a man considering to run for leadership again? Despite a large margin of the country’s people fighting and dying, that he may never again be able to hurt the Syrian people again? In contrast to the video’s message of military glory, slain but well respected freelance photographer Molhem Barakat paints a dark picture of not just an air raid on Aleppo, but the harshness of life on the frontlines in such a conflict. -Shivite12

LINK: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2527992/Teenage-photographer-haunting-images-native-Syria-circulated-world-killed-capturing-battle-rebel-regime-forces-hospital.html

A look at economic consequence

When examining the Syrian conflict we often become enamored by the bullets flying and the mess of politics that surround it. I was particularly drawn to this video due to its portrayal of a lesser known victim: those burdened with the economic fallout. Jordanians find themselves trapped in a paralyzing economy clogged by a massive influx of Syrian refugees, pouring into Jordan to escape a likely demise. The conflict in Syria shows little to no signs of losing momentum, a foreboding sign of only greater casualties and human rights violations to come. Let us once again hope for an end to this strife before 2015. -Shivite12

You can donate to SaveTheChildren here: http://www.savethechildren.org

Second a Day; Save the Children UK

Heartbreaking video by Save the Children UK. Touching on a previous point it is easy in the west to distance ourselves from conflicts abroad, yet as is portrayed in this video even places like the UK can fall to the plight of man. Take a second to watch and consider the consequences when events like this are continually escalated with no intervention by the international community in states such as Syria. If the destruction won’t end now, then when? -Shivite12
SaveThe ChildrenUK: twitter.com/savechildrenuk
http://www.savethechildren.org.uk/

3 Years

3 Years

Let us not forget as this three year anniversary of the Syrian tragedy comes around. Over 100,000 have perished in this conflict. Countless have been displaced and fled into neighboring countries as the conflict continues to tear the country asunder. In the west we often put countries in the Middle East and their conflicts out of our minds, yet the people are no different than us. Let’s not allow this conflict to pass into 2015. -Shivite12

Dispute among the ranks VS. Syrian Govt.

The conflict in Syria has devolved from what was widely viewed as a fight for freedom against the tyranny of a dictatorial family line, into what many Western and Eastern powers consider being between a rock and a hard place. The rebel movement has become dominated by Al-Qaeda sympathizing groups, namely Jabhat al-Nursa and its’ recently renegade and more extreme offshoot: The Islamic state of Iraq and Syria(ISIS). Commenting on the situation CNN national security analyst Peter Bergen stated: “Al-Zawahiri is clearly fed up with ISIS’s open rejection of his overall leadership of the al Qaeda network. Moreover, he is likely quite concerned about how ISIS is alienating ordinary Syrians by a brutal campaign that has involved the public beheading of opponents and the imposition of Taliban-style rule on the population, including the banning of smoking, music and unveiled women in public.” With one side of the conflict being lead by a genocidal tyrant and the other by a dangerous and unstable terror group unprepared for a conflict, or Holy War, of such magnitude. Observing states debating aid are left with the choice of who to support, and also must consider the future of Syria should their supported side victor or collapse. -Shivite12

(title link leads to HuffPost article with elaboration on this struggle among world observers)

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