Adonis Diaries

Posts Tagged ‘Lakhdar Brahimi

Story of another civil war: Syrians on their knees?

Almost 200,000 Syrians have lost their lives in the escalating conflict between forces loyal to President Bashar al-Assad and those opposed to his rule.

Syria’s bloody internal conflict, which started in 2011, has destroyed entire neighbourhoods and forced more than 9 million people from their homes.  The UN declared that 11 million Syrians (out of 20 million) need urgent aids to survive this catastrophe.

This is the story of the civil war so far, in eight short chapters.

1. Uprising turns violent

Syrian protesters

Pro-democracy protests erupted in March 2011 in the southern city of Deraa after the arrest and torture of some teenagers who painted revolutionary slogans on a school wall. After security forces opened fire on demonstrators, killing several, more took to the streets.

The unrest triggered nationwide protests demanding President Assad’s resignation. The government’s use of force to crush the dissent merely hardened the protesters’ resolve.

By July 2011, hundreds of thousands were taking to the streets across the country.

Opposition supporters eventually began to take up arms, first to defend themselves and later to expel security forces from their local areas.

line break

2. Descent into civil war

Grieving Syrian man and injured girl

Violence escalated and the country descended into civil war as rebel brigades were formed to battle government forces for control of cities, towns and the countryside. Fighting reached the capital Damascus and second city of Aleppo in 2012.

By June 2013, the UN said 90,000 people had been killed in the conflict. However, by August 2014 that figure had more than doubled to 191,000.

The conflict is now more than just a battle between those for or against President Assad. It has acquired sectarian overtones, pitching the country’s Sunni majority against the president’s Shia Alawite sect, and drawn in neighbouring countries and world powers. The rise of the jihadist groups, including Islamic State, has added a further dimension.

Syria death toll chart
line break

3. War crimes

Barrel bomb victim

A UN commission of inquiry, investigating alleged human rights violations since March 2011, has evidence that those on both sides of the conflict have committed war crimes – including murder, torture, rape and enforced disappearances. Government and rebel forces have also been accused by investigators of using civilian suffering, such as blocking access to food, water and health services, as a method war.

In the city of Aleppo, an estimated 3,000 people have been killed by barrel bombs dropped by the regime on rebel-held areas since December last year. The UN says that in some instances, civilian gatherings have been deliberately targeted, constituting massacres.

The jihadist group, Islamic State, has also been accused by the UN of waging a campaign of fear in northern and eastern Syria. Its fighters have beheaded hostages and carried out mass killings of members of the security forces and religious minorities.

We’re just living on the edge of life. We’re always nervous, we’re always afraid

Mother-of-nine, Mariam Akash, whose husband was killed by a sniper
Getty Images
line break

4. Chemical weapons

Syrians in masks

Hundreds of people were killed in August 2013 after rockets filled with the nerve agent sarin were fired at several agricultural districts around Damascus. Western powers, outraged by the attack, said it could only have been carried out by Syria’s government. The regime and its ally Russia blamed rebels.

Facing the prospect of US military intervention, President Assad agreed to the complete removal or destruction of Syria’s chemical weapons arsenal as part of a joint mission led by the UN and the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW). The destruction of chemical agents and munitions was completed a year later.

Despite the operation, the OPCW has since documented the use of toxic chemicals, such as chlorine and ammonia, by the government in attacks on rebel-held northern villages between April and July 2014.

Map showing alleged chemical weapons attacks in Syria in 2013
line break

5. Humanitarian crisis

Syrian refugees

More than 3 million people have fled Syria since the start of the conflict, most of them women and children. It is one of the largest refugee exoduses in recent history. Neighbouring countries have borne the brunt of the refugee crisis, with Lebanon, Jordan and Turkey struggling to accommodate the flood of new arrivals. The exodus accelerated dramatically in 2013, as conditions in Syria deteriorated.

A further 6.5 million people, 50% of them children, are believed to be internally displaced within Syria, bringing the total number forced to flee their homes to more than 9.5 million – half the country’s population.

An estimated 10.8 million are in need of humanitarian assistance inside Syria, with 4.6 million living in areas under siege or hard to access.

The UN launched its largest ever appeal for a single crisis in December 2013, seeking $6.5bn (£4bn) to provide medical care, food, water, shelter, education and health services.

Map showing Syrian refugee numbers across the region
line break

6. Rebels and the rise of the Islamists

Nusra Front fighter

The armed rebellion has evolved significantly since its inception, with as many as 1,000 groups commanding an estimated 100,000 fighters. Secular moderates are now outnumbered by Islamists and jihadists, whose brutal tactics have caused widespread concern and triggered rebel infighting.

Capitalising on the chaos in the region, Islamic State (IS) – the extremist group that grew out of al-Qaeda in Iraq – has taken control of huge swathes of territory across Iraq and Syria. Its many foreign fighters in Syria are now involved in a “war within a war”, battling rebels who object to their tactics as well as Kurdish forces.

In September 2014, a US-led coalition launched air strikes inside Iraq and Syria in an effort to “degrade and ultimately destroy” IS.

In the political arena, rebel groups are also deeply divided – with rival alliances battling for supremacy. The most prominent is the moderate National Coalition for Syrian Revolutionary and Opposition Forces, backed by several Western and Gulf Arab states. However, the coalition’s primacy is rejected by other groups – including the powerful Islamist alliance, the Islamic Front – leaving the country without a convincing nationally supported alternative to the current Syrian regime.

Map showing Islamic State territory across Iraq and Syria
line break

7. Peace efforts

Peace talks on Syria

With neither side able to inflict a decisive defeat on the other, the international community long ago concluded that only a political solution could end to the conflict in Syria. However, a number of attempts by the Arab League and the UN to broker ceasefires and start dialogue have failed.

In January 2014, the US, Russia and UN convened a conference in Switzerland to implement the 2012 Geneva Communique, an internationally-backed agreement that called for the establishment of a transitional governing body in Syria formed on the basis of mutual consent.

The talks, which became known as Geneva II, broke down in February after only two rounds.

The then UN special envoy Lakhdar Brahimi blamed the Syrian government’s refusal to discuss opposition demands and its insistence on a focus on fighting “terrorists” – a term Damascus uses to describe rebel groups.

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon says the organisation’s long-term strategic objective remains a political solution based on the Geneva Communique.

The new UN special envoy Staffan de Mistura has also proposed establishing a series of “freeze zones”, where local ceasefires would be negotiated to allow aid deliveries in besieged areas.

line break

8. Proxy war

Rebel fighter

What began as another Arab Spring uprising against an autocratic ruler has mushroomed into a brutal proxy war that has drawn in regional and world powers.

Iran and Russia have propped up the Alawite-led government of President Assad and gradually increased their support, providing it with an edge that has helped it make significant gains against the rebels. The regime has also enjoyed the support of Lebanon’s Shia Islamist Hezbollah movement.

The Sunni-dominated opposition has, meanwhile, attracted varying degrees of support from its main backers – Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and other Arab states along with the US, UK and France. However, the rise of radical Islamist militia in rebel ranks and the arrival of Sunni jihadists from across the world has led to a marked cooling of international and regional backing.

The disappointment caused by the West’s inaction created a fertile recruiting ground for extremists, who told those who had lost their loved ones that they were their only hope

Majed, a 26-year-old civil society activist

What Israel did bomb lately in Syria? And How to stop the bloodshed in Syria?

The motives behind Israel’s attack on Syria on Wednesday are still as obscure as the nature of the target.

Did Israel destroy a research scientific institution?

Did Israel bomb a chemical infrastructure?

Did Israel target a convoy of missiles to be delivered to Hezbollah?

Did Israel wiped out a battery of ground to air sophisticated missiles?

As the smoke is lifted, it turned out that Syria outsmarted Israel’s operation of  the “Deadly Mirage“.

Syria brought in 14 containers to the reseach center in Hemraya, accompanied by military convoys and flying aircraft to convince Israel that chemical weapons are being displaced. Hezbollah was also participating in that deceitful maneuvering, which prompted Israel to issue gas masks.

At midnight, Israel military jets launched 8 special missiles on these containers with the intention of spreading the deadly gas to the western sections of Damascus.

Syria managed to catch Syrian Generals and high ranking officers who were in close connection with Israel operation and dismantled old spy rings.

And yet, western analysts claim that this bombing was related to Israel’s long war with Hezbollah in Lebanon rather than any desire to intervene in the fighting in Syria.

What is clear is that Israel has further alienated the people in the Arab world by reminding them of its old habit of humiliating their national pride.

Even Turkey Erdogan lambasted Israel action.

Yet the attack was also a reminder that Syria’s turmoil is having dangerously unpredictable consequences across the region.

Jonathan Steele published on Jan. 31, 2013 in The Guardian

Finding a viable political solution is all the more urgent. So it was good to hear that Moaz al-Khatib, who leads the Syrian National Coalition – the group of exiles who support armed intervention against the Syrian government and are backed by western and Gulf Arab states – now advocates talks with Basher al-Assad’s people.

This is not the view of French, British and US leaders or most of Khatib’s Syrian colleagues, who talk vaguely of a political outcome but only mean Assad’s unilateral surrender.

The former colonial powers in the region unrealistic line was on display again on Monday, when France hosted the so-called Friends of Syria.

Its analysis was gloomy. State institutions are collapsing, Islamist groups are gaining ground, more and more Syrians are dying, and there is no breakthrough in sight. “We cannot let a revolution that started as a peaceful and democratic protest degenerate into a conflict of militias,” said Laurent Fabius, the French foreign minister, even as he talked of more aid on the battlefield.

Several civic groups that reject the armed struggle were equally pessimistic at a meeting in Geneva. Theirs is the voice of Syria’s secular intelligentsia, who oppose foreign military intervention and favour a ceasefire and a negotiated solution on the lines like that of Lakhdar Brahimi,

The UN/Arab League mediator, Lakhdar Brahimi is trying to broker. Because they do not support the western line, they tend to be ignored by foreign politicians.

Many live in Syria. Indeed, their contingent in Geneva would have been more impressive if the Swiss had not denied visas for almost 60 people.

Rajaa al-Nasser, a Syrian lawyer from the National Co-ordination Body for Democratic Change, says a Swiss official told him the reason was political.

Haytham Manna, (manaa3) the leader of the NCB’s foreign wing, believes France asked the Swiss to block insiders who might puncture the myth that the west’s clients represent all Syrian opinion. The Swiss foreign ministry was not available for comment.

Assad’s non-violent opponents agonise most over whether to accept his recently renewed offer of a “national dialogue”.

Several have spent years in prison and distrust the government. But as casualties go on rising, those oppositionists who favour negotiations won out in Geneva, calling for talks on a new constitution and a transitional government.

Meanwhile to everyone’s surprise, on Wednesday, the Gulf states – not normally big aid-givers – came up with most of the cash to fund a UN appeal for $1.5bn to help homeless Syrians in the country and in refugee camps abroad. Britain added $50m.

Important though this is, British ministers have been as silent as their friends in the Gulf on the real cause of the humanitarian disaster. To listen to them one would think the Syrian government bears all the blame.

In 2011, Syrian forces fired live ammunition at unarmed demonstrators, and their use of artillery and aerial bombing has frequently been disproportionate, as Russian ministers have also said. But the crisis has deepened because of the weapons and logistical help given by Arab and western governments.

William Hague may proclaim that Britain only supplies “non-lethal equipment“, but this is sophistry. By supporting one side in an armed uprising and aiding militarisation through field radios and satellite equipment, Britain has blood on its hands.

Giving generously to feed and house homeless civilians will help, but Syrians would be better served by intelligent politics than charity – an embargo on arms to either side, and serious efforts to persuade rebels and government that military victory is a delusion. The Syrian National Coalition depends on foreign support.

Isn’t it about time for the Western States to tell its friends to work with Brahimi on a ceasefire, and for Russia and Iran to make the same case to Assad?

Two ceasefire attempts made little headway last year because the rebels and their sponsors did not take them seriously. A far more sustained effort is needed now.

For example,  the latest floods that hit the Syrian refugee camp near the Lebanese town of Al-Faour on 8 January, 2013, and in Jordan pressured the Arab Gulf Emirates and Saudi Arabia to extend  the cash to fund a UN appeal for $1.5bn to help homeless Syrians. Britain added $50m …

The Syrians would be better served by intelligent politics than charity.

Note: What do you think is happening in Aleppo, the sectors under the foreign jihadist Wahhabi Nusrat Front?

A mother of 7 children had her husband killed fighting with the Nusrat, and she had no grown up girls or boys. She demanded her ration for food and was denied, on account that she does not fulfill the conditions. She was not appealing enough for sex and had no girls to satisfy the libido of the “moujahideen”


adonis49

adonis49

adonis49

April 2021
M T W T F S S
 1234
567891011
12131415161718
19202122232425
2627282930  

Blog Stats

  • 1,466,259 hits

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.adonisbouh@gmail.com

Join 803 other followers

<span>%d</span> bloggers like this: