Tag Archives: syria

Observations of an expat: Disastrous Middle East victory

 

It looks as if the fighting in Iraq and Syria will draw to a close in 2017. We won and lost.

Isis,  Isil, Daesh, Al-Nusra, A lQaeeda, whatever name the Jihadists call themselves  have been pushed out of the remains of Aleppo and are hanging on by their blood-soaked fingertips in Mosul and Raqqa.

Also destroyed and seeking peace terms are Western-backed rebels in the Free Syrian Army and its dozens of feuding constituent parts.

The Obama Administration and its 13 allies backing air strikes could claim victory.  They may even try to do so.  And in terms of denying the Jihadists a territorial base, there are justifiable grounds for a victory claim.

However, Islamic extremism is far from defeated. Jihadists have repeatedly displayed their prowess in filling political vacuums wherever they occur, and Western intelligence agencies are issuing dire warnings of attacks on Western soil orchestrated by bitter battle-hardened extremists in full flight from the Middle East.

No, the real winners are Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, Russian President Vladimir Putin, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Iran and Hezbollah.  And the real result is a massive defeat for the democratic hopes of the 2011 Arab Spring and a  victory for tyranny

Posted in Op-eds | 22 Comments

Aleppo must be a wake up call

Amid the humanitarian catastrophe that has been the siege and fall of Aleppo, both supporters and opponents of earlier calls for military action by the West against Assad have been claiming vindication by events. Perhaps some are relieved that the TV pictures of bloodied children in rubble can be attributed to Russian bombs rather than Western ones.

And perhaps we are guilty – as the EU is supposedly guilty of welcoming closer ties with Ukraine – of seeing a potential for good in the Arab Spring. Torment nobody with the promise of freedom and democracy unless you can deliver it, at gunpoint if necessary? Don’t start a civil war you can’t win, however bad your government?

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged | 29 Comments

Assad, Appeasement, Aleppo and the Collapse of International Law

The latest ceasefire in Syria failed – and was always going to fail – due to a complete lack of will to enforce its provisions. This failure of the international community to respond to the worst humanitarian crisis of a generation is eroding the system of international laws and norms that underpin democratic societies.

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged and | 69 Comments

In which I consume news like most people…

As I wrote earlier, I properly chilled out on my holidays. Very little work, next to no reading and lots of walks,silly games and fun. I could get used to that lifestyle…

This all meant that I consumed news like a normal person rather than an obsessive who has half an eye on Twitter and the rolling news channels at all times lest something might happen in the world and she might miss it. If the news happened to be on, I’d watch it if there was no gripping Olympic action going on at the same time, but I wasn’t too fussed about it.

I didn’t totally cut myself off. My car would probably fall to pieces if it wasn’t tuned into Radio 4, after all.

So, from my rather more normal news consumption over the past week, what sparked my interest? Four stories leapt out at me.

Of course the heartbreaking photo of Omran Daqneesh would break all but the hardest of hearts. The traumatised and blood covered little boy symbolised the effects of war on children. As these things go, though, Omran was relatively lucky. Most of his family are still alive, although his brother died of injuries sustained in the same airstrike. Children suffer horrendously every single day in Syria and other war zones across the world. The previous week’s horribly distressing footage of the chlorine gas attack showed tiny babies struggling for breath. This is a horrible, relentless reality for millions of people. We must never forget that. The pictures should provoke an empathy in us that leads us to push the Government to do more to help those still in Syria and those who have escaped. They should make us all realise that those who have fled had good reason to do so and we should challenge those who suggest otherwise.

Prejudice and punishment

I’m not a fan of anyone telling women what to wear. There’s nothing like a public figure telling women that they shouldn’t wear something to make me want to wear one in sympathy. When the mayor of Cannes banned the “burquini” it made me furious that the likely effect of this would be that those women who wear such a garment, who were guilty of no crime, would effectively not be able to access their own seaside for no good reason. And if they couldn’t go, then it would be likely that their children would be restricted, too.

Garments aren’t divisive. Banning them on a whim most certainly is.

There are few cultures in the world in which women are treated with the equality they deserve. France might want to have a wee think about how its own globally renowned fashion industry has forced unrealistic and often damaging expectations on to women, for example.

Governments should be setting an example of inclusiveness, not picking on specific group of people in a manner that effectively incites prejudice against them.

Should people start seriously arguing for similar bans in this country, I’ll be first in the queue to wear one in solidarity.

Fat lot of good that was

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged , , and | 24 Comments

March with Medics Under Fire – ‘Newbie’ Saleyha Ahsan leads the way

Many Lib Dems will remember Junior Doctor Saleyha Ahsan’s rousing conference rally speech (37:45) in York, in which she joined the party ‘live on air’ and blasted Hunt for his attacks on our NHS. Of course, you may also recognise her from her work on the BBC’s ‘Trust Me I’m A Doctor’ or know her from the 2013 BBC documentary ‘Saving Syria’s Children’ in which, while working in Atareb Hospital in northern Syria she was required to help treat the dozens of casualties brought in from one of the Assad …

Posted in Op-eds | 4 Comments

As war accelerates again in Syria it’s time for us to act

“Time is running out to save Syria’s ceasefire” warned Dr Haytham Alhamwi of the Manchester-based Syrian Rethink Rebuild Society three weeks ago “otherwise Assad will get the message that he can persist with ever more egregious violations”. Now the always limited ‘cessation of hostilities’ is, in the words of UN envoy Staffan de Mistura “barely alive“.

On Thursday one of free Aleppo’s last remaining paediatricians was killed along with colleagues and patients in the “broader pattern of systematic targeting of hospitals by the government of Bashar al-Assad”. The Syrian government is doing what it always does when dragged to the negotiating table: distract, prevaricate and take the opportunity to step up repression of non-violent activists and organise a security build-up for the outright military victory Assad promised no sooner had the ceasefire been agreed.

Posted in Op-eds | 19 Comments

Five years into a revolution betrayed – Liberal Democrats need to build links with Syrians

Syrians

Note, this post contains descriptions of torture that some readers may find distressing.

Five years ago, on Friday 18th March 2011, Syrian civilians in the southern town of Deraa took to the streets to demand freedom, dignity and a fair future. The regime of Bashar al-Assad and his coterie responded immediately with deadly force, and over the following weeks more and more protesters were shot down, more and more mourners were murdered while attending funerals and more and more innocent Syrians were rounded up for torture – in many cases never to be seen again.

Posted in Op-eds | 8 Comments
Advert



Recent Comments

  • User AvatarFiona 22nd Jan - 12:09pm
    This is a big and complex one, but it is of course right to acknowledge that many of the 52% voted Brexit because they were...
  • User AvatarDJ 22nd Jan - 12:06pm
    "The Tories are not breaking up the UK. When it happens it will be the inevitable consequence of devolving power." False. The Tories were perfectly...
  • User AvatarGeoffrey Payne 22nd Jan - 12:03pm
    This is absolutely what we should be doing. I know where I live in Hackney which is a Remain stronghold that it is easy to...
  • User AvatarNick Cunningham 22nd Jan - 11:54am
    A don't understand this argument democracy should stand still because one camp has won a referendum by under 4% in their favour. Democracy does not...
  • User Avatarexpats 22nd Jan - 11:41am
    WW, Perhaps you should start with our leadership? Demanding a re-run of the referendum in every speech, because those who voted out (your 'left behinders')...
  • User AvatarRichard Underhill 22nd Jan - 11:23am
    Peston-on-Sunday's use of the word "Panglossian" without explanation, at the end of the programme, was interesting, but elite. Oxfor, Chambers, Slang and BBC dictionaries did...