Adonis Diaries

Posts Tagged ‘Syrians

 

How US went from supporting Syrian Kurds, to backing Turkey against them – in just 9 days

US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has been left flailing as Washington desperately struggles to avoid being shut out of Syria by its own allies – following a crisis it helped provoke just days ago.

For all the backpedaling and reframing the US officials are now doing, the chronology of the volte-face from Afrin to Ankara is startlingly straightforward.

READ MORE: ‘No stepping back’ from Afrin campaign: Turkish Army takes offensive to Azaz district

January 13

US announces a 30,000-strong Kurdish YPG-led Border Security Force (BSF) to stave off a Islamic State “resurgence,”operating out of the quarter of Syria’s territory that the Kurdish minority now controls.

January 15

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan calls BSF an “army of terror” and promises to “strangle it before it is born,” saying it will imminently invade the north-western enclave of Afrin. Ankara says the US did not consult it over BSF, and insists Washington broke its promise to no longer arm YPG, whom Turkey views as separatist terrorists.

January 17

Tillerson to media: “That entire situation has been mis-portrayed, mis-described, some people misspoke. We are not creating a Border Security Force at all.” (Read a buffer zone for Turkey with Syria, as Israel want by the Golan Heights)

Meanwhile, Pentagon spokesman Adrian Rankine-Galloway says of the 8,000-10,000 YPG militiamen in Afrin: “We don’t consider them as part of our ‘Defeat ISIS’ operations, which is what we are doing there and we do not support them. We are not involved with them at all.” (Note that there are also another larger Kurdish enclave in the North-West by Iraq’s border)

January 20

Turkey attacks Afrin. If there wasn’t enough dis-ingenuousness here already, the airstrike-backed ground attack is called Operation Olive Branch. Turkey says that it will create a 30-km deep “security zone” inside the Syrian border, and announces plans to push the offensive further east.

January 21

“Turkey is a NATO ally. It’s the only NATO country with an active insurgency inside its borders. And Turkey has legitimate security concerns,” says US Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis. “We’ll sort this out.”

January 22

Tillerson to Turkey: “Let us see if we can work with you to create the kind of security zone you might need.” The kind of security zone that will operate on the same territory as the BSF? That force that was purportedly essential to the ‘Defeat Isis’ operations? Never mind all that.

Now, Tillerson deserves some sympathy.

If Al-Qaeda turned into ISIS the last time US forces abandoned the region, what will ISIS turn into? Turkish and Kurdish tensions also predate the conflict, and it’s not Washington’s fault that Ankara is its NATO ally, while YPG provided America’s most motivated force against ISIS. All in all, Washington is now trying to make the best of a bad hand.

But the entire episode is emblematic of the incoherent and doomed-to-fail strategy the US has pursued in Syria for the past 7 years.

What did the US think was going to happen after its BSF announcement? (Not the other infamous Jerusalem announcement).

Like the teenager who unexpectedly comes home with a tattoo, it didn’t tell Ankara in advance because it must have realized what the reaction would be, or perhaps underestimated Erdogan’s fury – frequent bouts of fury– before trotting out a series of implausible denials.

The bigger problem is that Washington supports actors who have few aims in common beyond their mission to destroy Islamic State – which for most of them is no longer a priority, and for some never was.

And apart from a by-now almost mythical 2011 pro-democracy movement, none of them share American aims anyway.

In fact, most are probably questioning why the US is even there.

For Syrians, this is their own conflict, Turkey borders it, Kurds have long coveted their own state, even Russia is here at the official behest of Assad.

America’s desire to pin its colors to Kurds or Turkey or anyone else in Syria shows that is raring to remain a part of the post-conflict stage, but everyone else has either greater motivation, more legitimacy, or both.

So at its current level of engagement – where it can’t even back its horses for a week – Washington is probably best-off helping quietly, and not lighting matches and then inching away in embarrassment while others wage real wars.

(Note that US has already 8 military bases in North Syria, without the consent of Syria government.

Igor Ogorodnev for RT

READ MORE: ‘No stepping back’ from Afrin campaign: Turkish Army takes offensive to Azaz district

 

Syrians oppressed by dictators, jihadists, and bombed by the West: Who is the terrorists?

At first we didn’t recognise our friend. He had lost more than 10kg and had trouble standing up. His face was the colour of a ripe lemon, his clothes as filthy as if he had just climbed out of a tomb. Could that really be Mohammad?

Syrians have been oppressed by a dictator and jihadists, and bombed by the west – and you call us terrorists?

A week ago the 30-year-old pharmacist had been abducted in an Aleppo suburb by Islamic State. Most of his friends had assumed that Mohammad (not his real name) was gone for ever.

“No one goes into ISIS prisons and comes out alive, especially those who are accused of being secularists,” his friend Rand said. Mohammad is a devout Muslim, but for Isis a secularist is simply anyone who dares stand up to them.

Barrel bomb aleppo province

The aftermath of a barrage of barrel bombs dropped by forces loyal to Syria’s President Assad in Atareb, ia town in Aleppo province. Photograph: Abdalghne Karoof/Reuters

The irony is that while Mohammad is a dangerous secularist in the eyes of Isis, the west sees him as a dangerous Islamist.

After Isis occupied some Aleppo suburbs (Eastern part), Mohammad and many other medics decided not to leave their home town but to continue helping local people – despite the risk and personal sacrifice involved. Yet they now find themselves treated as terrorists wherever they go, simply because they have come from Isis-occupied territories.

Last month Mohammad and a group of doctors were not allowed into Turkey, although their passports are valid. A border guard told them to “go back to your Islamic State”.

In a way Mohammad is lucky. Not only did he manage to run away from an Isis prison, he also doesn’t have to travel abroad, where the entire world would treat him as a terrorist until proved innocent. “You are all terrorists to the Americans,” the manager of a bank in the Turkish city of Gaziantep told me yesterday, explaining the new ban of US dollar transfers to Syrian-held accounts

At least she bothered to explain. Last summer I received a call from the American consulate in Istanbul telling me that my two-year visa was cancelled. Apparently they were not authorised to give me the reasons why.

I travelled to the US twice last year with an organisation that is registered there, and I have an international press card, a valid visa to the UK and a track record of working for the BBC: all that didn’t save me from the suspicion of being a potential terrorist.

A friend who works in the US told me that I probably wouldn’t have faced these problems living in Turkey. “But you live inside Syria, so you are most probably a criminal in one way or another.”

When my flight landed at London’s Heathrow airport last December, police came on to the plane and called for a woman with an Arabic-sounding name. I panicked and started deleting unveiled pictures of myself on my phone. It took a few seconds to remember that I wasn’t at an Isis checkpoint in Syria.

So I closed the photo gallery and went on to delete some of the patriotic anthems on the device, in case their Islamic messages could be taken as proof of me being a terrorist. Then another reality check: the name called out wasn’t mine. Later, in the terminal, I cried my eyes out.

Well, maybe they are right, maybe I am a terrorist?

A terrorist who decided to leave her work as a broadcast journalist in a highly respected media outlet to go back home and help people under attack from Assad’s barrel bombs. I am a terrorist who is attached to life yet chose to face death on a daily basis, in the name of freedom and human rights.

I have 7  friends in Isis prisons, kidnapped long before the rest of the world took notice of this terrorist group. I lost others who were fighting Isis in January 2014, trying to kick the militants out of Edlib and Aleppo provinces.

Abo Younis, the sweetheart doctor of Bustan al-Qasr medical centre, was executed with 40 others in Aleppo’s eye hospital after it was taken as a base by Isis in 2013. In addition, there are all the great friends who have died under torture in Assad’s prisons, or while resisting his tyranny.

And now, with our city divided by warring factions, the skies above our heads are filled with terror too. An 11-year-old relative of mine was recently killed by a coalition air strike in Ein Shib, a suburb of the city of Edlib.

Ahmad had lost his father last year, so he and his sister were living with their grandfather, who is a high-level member of the al-Nusra Front. Since the coalition strikes started, 35 fighters from Aleppo and two big battalions from Edlib have joined Isis.

Amid all the geopolitical wranglings and fear of returning jihadists wreaking terror in Europe, it is the stories of ordinary Syrians that are being forgotten: people who were terrorised first by a dictator who wanted all those who didn’t support him dead, then by foreign jihadists coming from all over the world to occupy our country, and now by the “collateral damage” of coalition air strikes. And you call us terrorists?

 

 

 

Deadly game of poker? What is ‘this nonsense in the Syrians plight?

We knew the more peaceful we were, the more violent the government would be

In pre-2011 Syria, the word “revolution” never had a positive connotation in my head.

The military coup in which the Ba’ath party took power in 1963 is called a “revolution” in Syrian school curriculums. One of the three state newspapers was called Revolution.

The word was associated with the dysfunctional, bureaucratic and backward state Syria was – and still is.

Then a man burned himself alive in Tunisia. A revolution broke. The government was ousted.

Egypt had its revolution. Then Libya and Yemen.

All of a sudden, the word revolution obtained this new, beautiful meaning for me. It made so much sense; a Syrian revolution was surely inevitable.

Amid the anticipation for change, Syrians were sure of one thing – if this does not go well, it will go really, really badly.

Everyone knew what the Syrian government was capable of and willing to do to maintain power. Haunting stories of Hama massacres in the 1980s circulated secretly. Government brutality was common knowledge.

We thought: “We’ve got this barbaric regime that we’re trying to get rid of, we need to protest. The government is probably going to portray protesters as traitors out to provoke a civil war.”

The Syrian regime has always kept things just under boiling point, so when something like a revolution breaks out, it can easily turn it into an armed conflict. Something to be fought and won.

We knew the government would want to make things look extremely complex, so no international force would be keen on intervening, and may even prop up the status quo. We knew the more peaceful we were, the more violent the government would be.

It was a horrifically simple equation: enough of us would have to die before the rest of the world did something to help. I guess we had watched too many American films.

It was a gamble, and we didn’t have a good hand.

But taking in to consideration what happened in Libya, we felt lucky. The Assad regime being, unlike us, well versed in the reality of international politics, called our bluff. You know the rest.

Today, after five years of whatever the past five years have been, I find it very difficult to keep myself concerned with what’s going on in Syria.

I find it absurd that some people still identify as Syrians.

Statistics and numbers don’t help either. The Syrian Centre for Policy Research published a report on conflict in Syria – war has killed 470,000 people. The rest of the world and us seem not to agree on the definition of the word “enough”.

Meanwhile, the Assad regime is still allowed to continue war tactics from the Middle Ages. Besieging hundreds of thousands of civilians in their own neighbourhoods and villages. Starving them into defeat, dropping barrel bombs on them on a daily basis, and occasionally gassing them to death. While the rest of the world is busy discussing whether Islam is an evil religion in its nature or not.

The certainties, values and beliefs that I was made of have completely shattered. I think that would apply to many other Syrians today. Wouldn’t that explain the torrent of refugees who are trying to get as far as they can from that poker game they have so magnificently lost?

Note: The Syrian regime called the bluff in 2012 when it decided to let the regular army confront the opposition forces at the expense of diminishing Assad power and his clan.

 

 

 

Mother Day has always been: The first day of celebration for the New Year on April Fool Day

The French King Charles 9 declared the New Year to be on January 1st, according to the Gregorian Calendar. This was 450 years ago.

Instead of the mother, the haphazard date of Jesus birth was substituted to represent the New Year.

Charles 9 was the eldest son of Catherine of Medici, and he was pretty unstable mentally, as was her second son Henry 3.

Consequently, Charles declared April First, the former New Year day in all the western hemisphere, to be called April Fool because many still held the celebration on this day.

The dates of these celebrations were altered 3 times: When the Julian calendar was adopted, the moon calendar, and the Gregorian calendar.

Even though the dates were changed, the people in the Middle-East kept the tradition of starting the celebrating on March 21 (Nawrouz) and ending after April 1st.

Nawrouz is currently celebrated in Iran, the Kurds, Afghanistan, nIdia and many Caucasus countries.

Mother Day, or the Fertility Goddess, Ashtar (the queen of the day and night stars) had always been the first day of celebration that culminated on the New Year in April First.

Mother Day coincided with the equinox (day hours matched the night hours) and was also considered the beginning of the Spring season.

Many archaeological finds have described how the celebrations proceeded.

Syrian New Year’s eve was celebrated on the first of April 6764 years ago.

During the celebration it was prohibited to punish salves, to admonish children, or to work. Courts were not held even 10 days after Aril 1st.

The first 4 days were reserved to performing plays and recounting stories of myths. These festivities were available to all to participate.

Syrian calendar was a thousand year older than the Hebrew calendar and 500 years older than the Pharaoh’s.

The months of the calendar were named after the seasons and the corresponding main tasks performed during the month.

March (Aazar) is the month of flowers. April (Nissan) is the Spring, May (Ayyar) is the Light, June (houzayran) the harvest of cereals, July (Tammouz) the disappearance of the God Adonis (Adonis was killed in this month),  September (Ayloul) is the month of sorrow for the impotent period of fertility…

Mind you that Palm Sunday follows Mother Day and the subsequent celebration of Jesus rebirth.
Read more: Http://talaqie.net/index.php?d=34&id=345

Ashtar, Goddess of Fertility
'‎رأس السنة السورية 6764 الذي يصادف الأول من نيسان</p><br /><br /><br /><br />
<p>السوري يتقدم على التقويم العبري بألف عام وعلى التقويم الفرعوني القديم بخمسمئة عام، وأنه مرتبط بأساطير الخصب المنبثقة من أحوال الطبيعة وتعاقب الفصول. يرتبط التقويم السوري بعشتار الربة الأم الأولى منجبة الحياة، نجمة الصباح والمساء في آن معاً، الربة التي تصفها النصوص القديمة بأنها «في فمها يكمن سرُّ الحياة، ويشيع من ابتسامتها الأمن والطمأنينة في النفوس. عشتار التي تلقب في الأسطورة بـ«أم الزلف». وهي نفسها أم الزلف التي مازال الناس يغنون لها في أرياف #سورية الطبيعية: «عالعين يم الزلف زلفة يا موليا» نعم نغني لعشتار دون أن ندرك ذلك، فكلمة «زلف» تعني بالسريانية أشياء كثيرها أولها: «الثوب الموشى، الزينة، الجمال.. إلخ «أما كلمة «موليا» فتعني: «الخصب، الوفرة، الامتلاء، الإشباع... إلخ» وهذه المعاني كلها تتصل بعشتار الأم والأرض والطبيعة. كانت احتفالات رأس السنة السورية تبدأ في الحادي والعشرين من آذار. الأيام الأربعة الأولى منها تخصص لتقديم المسرحيات ورواية الأساطير. بعدها تبدأ الاحتفالات الدينية لتبلغ ذروتها في عيد رأس السنة السوري في الأول من نيسان، ثم تستمر حتى العاشر منه. وخلال كل هذه المدة كان من المحرم على الناس تأنيب الأطفال ومعاقبة العبيد أو القيام بالأعمال اليومية أو انعقاد المحاكم. ما أدهشني هو أن أسماء الشهور السورية لا تزال على حالها منذ القدم وهي متصلة بدورة الطبيعة فآذار الذي تبدأ فيه الاحتفالات هو شهر الزهر، نيسان- الربيع، أيار -النور، حزيران- حصاد الحنطة، تموز– فقدان المُخَصِّب حبيب عشتار، أيلول «أولولو» شهر الولولة على «تموز» لزوال خصبه... الخ. والحق أن الاحتفال بعيد رأس السنة السورية ظل مستمراً في بلادنا عبر آلاف السنين، تحت اسم عيد الرابع، إلى أن حجبته الضرورات الأمنية قبل سنوات، ففي الرابع من نيسان حسب التقويم الشرقي الذي يصادف السابع عشر من نيسان حسب التقويم الغربي، كانت تقام الأفراح وتعقد الدبكات، في مختلف أنحاء الساحل السوري. صحيح أن أباطرة روما عندما حكموا هذه الأرض حاولوا فرض أسمائهم على تقويمنا مثل يوليوس وأغسطس، لكن بصمتهم زالت بزوالهم. يرى صديقي أن هذا العيد قد أخذ منا ثلاث مرات، الأولى عند فرض التقويم اليولياني، والثانية عند فرض التقويم القمري، والثالثة عندما أمر «شارل» التاسع ملك فرنسا قبل أربعمئة وخمسين عاماً باعتماد التقويم الغريغوري ونقل رأس السنة من أول نيسان إلى أول كانون الثاني. فقد أطلق على رأس السنة السورية اسم April fool أي أحمق نيسان، وهي عبارة كانت تطلق على أي شخص ينسى أن رأس السنة قد تم نقله من واحد نيسان إلى 1 كانون الثاني. وما يحز في النفس هو أننا، لغفلتنا، جارينا خصومنا في الاستهزاء بتراثنا فاعتمدنا الأول من نيسان عيداً للكذب، جاهلين أنه عيدنا الذي ضيعه جهلنا!<br /><br /><br /><br /><br />
لقراءة المزيد : http://talaqie.net/index.php?d=34&id=345‎'

رأس السنة السورية 6764 الذي يصادف الأول من نيسان

السوري يتقدم على التقويم العبري بألف عام وعلى التقويم الفرعوني القديم بخمسمئة عام، وأنه مرتبط بأساطير الخصب المنبثقة من أحوال الطبيعة وتعاقب الفصول. يرتبط التقويم السوري بعشتار الربة الأم الأولى منجبة الحياة، نجمة الصباح والمساء في آن معاً، الربة التي تصفها النصوص القديمة بأنها «في فمها يكمن سرُّ الحياة، ويشيع من ابتسامتها الأمن والطمأنينة في النفوس. عشتار التي تلقب في الأسطورة بـ«أم الزلف». وهي نفسها أم الزلف التي مازال الناس يغنون لها في أرياف ‫#‏سورية‬ الطبيعية: «عالعين يم الزلف زلفة يا موليا» نعم نغني لعشتار دون أن ندرك ذلك، فكلمة «زلف» تعني بالسريانية أشياء كثيرها أولها: «الثوب الموشى، الزينة، الجمال.. إلخ «أما كلمة «موليا» فتعني: «الخصب، الوفرة، الامتلاء، الإشباع… إلخ»

وهذه المعاني كلها تتصل بعشتار الأم والأرض والطبيعة. كانت احتفالات رأس السنة السورية تبدأ في الحادي والعشرين من آذار. الأيام الأربعة الأولى منها تخصص لتقديم المسرحيات ورواية الأساطير. بعدها تبدأ الاحتفالات الدينية لتبلغ ذروتها في عيد رأس السنة السوري في الأول من نيسان، ثم تستمر حتى العاشر منه.

وخلال كل هذه المدة كان من المحرم على الناس تأنيب الأطفال ومعاقبة العبيد أو القيام بالأعمال اليومية أو انعقاد المحاكم.

ما أدهشني هو أن أسماء الشهور السورية لا تزال على حالها منذ القدم وهي متصلة بدورة الطبيعة فآذار الذي تبدأ فيه الاحتفالات هو شهر الزهر، نيسان- الربيع، أيار -النور، حزيران- حصاد الحنطة، تموز– فقدان المُخَصِّب حبيب عشتار، أيلول «أولولو» شهر الولولة على «تموز» لزوال خصبه… الخ.

والحق أن الاحتفال بعيد رأس السنة السورية ظل مستمراً في بلادنا عبر آلاف السنين، تحت اسم عيد الرابع، إلى أن حجبته الضرورات الأمنية قبل سنوات، ففي الرابع من نيسان حسب التقويم الشرقي الذي يصادف السابع عشر من نيسان حسب التقويم الغربي، كانت تقام الأفراح وتعقد الدبكات، في مختلف أنحاء الساحل السوري. صحيح أن أباطرة روما عندما حكموا هذه الأرض حاولوا فرض أسمائهم على تقويمنا مثل يوليوس وأغسطس، لكن بصمتهم زالت بزوالهم.

يرى صديقي أن هذا العيد قد أخذ منا ثلاث مرات، الأولى عند فرض التقويم اليولياني، والثانية عند فرض التقويم القمري، والثالثة عندما أمر «شارل» التاسع ملك فرنسا قبل أربعمئة وخمسين عاماً باعتماد التقويم الغريغوري ونقل رأس السنة من أول نيسان إلى أول كانون الثاني. فقد أطلق على رأس السنة السورية اسم April fool أي أحمق نيسان، وهي عبارة كانت تطلق على أي شخص ينسى أن رأس السنة قد تم نقله من واحد نيسان إلى 1 كانون الثاني. وما يحز في النفس هو أننا، لغفلتنا، جارينا خصومنا في الاستهزاء بتراثنا فاعتمدنا الأول من نيسان عيداً للكذب، جاهلين أنه عيدنا الذي ضيعه جهلنا!
لقراءة المزيد : http://talaqie.net/index.php?d=34&id=345

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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.

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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
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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
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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
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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
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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
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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.

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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

Since the Syrian upheaval: New Lives in Lebanon

Bars and clubs in Lebanon’s capital city Beirut aren’t just for locals.

They also provide a distraction for some young Syrians who can’t go home.

They were forced to leave the country, which borders Lebanon, following the civil war that has raged since 2011, and others have come to study or work.

The life of the Syrians in Beirut can be difficult, many feel this small country can’t cope with the huge numbers that have arrived since fighting began in 2011.

Almost 200,000 Syrians have lost their lives in the conflict between forces loyal to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and those who are against him being in power.

For examples:

Nasser Shorbaji AKA Chyno, 30, Hip hop

I was looking for a new life, I left in 2011, the beginning of all the drama in Syria.

Nasser Shorbaji AKA Chino

It really sucks that I can’t go back home right now, because I feel like that’s the base for me and my family and it’s not there any more. I think the biggest thing my family has lost is the connection with each other.

My grandmother had passed away six months ago… I couldn’t go back for the funeral.

I felt it was so shallow of me to just forget about what’s going on. When I do rap in English, I can reflect what’s going on in my country to the people in the west.

I’m super-proud to be Syrian. Now with this situation happening, with this civil war, it doesn’t make me less proud, it makes me sad.

I can return back to Syria in the future but it’s not the way I remember it any more. That beautiful relationship between the people, it’s not there any more.

Lynn Khouri, 19, student

Lynn Khouri, 19, student

I didn’t know anybody here and felt alone.

You feel guilty when you’re having fun here and are safe and everybody at home is in danger.

You get used to it though because the conflict has been going on for so long. I return to Syria three or four times a year.

It’s changed so much. There is destruction everywhere. The military is all over the place.

People’s personalities have also changed. They’re worried, they’re depressed, they’re scared.

At first I used to watch TV here and be surprised that people are dying at home. But now you just see it and flick the channel. I’ve got used to it.

For now my chances of returning to Syria are gone. I’m hoping to go to Europe instead but I have no plans because everything has changed.

Samer Saem Eldahr AKA Psychaleppo, 25, DJ

Samer Saem Eldahr AKA Psychaleppo is a DJ

I left for lots of reasons, my parents wanted me to leave to start my career or continue my studies in fine art.

Life was very easy, you knew what you were going to do for the next two years, here you don’t know what’s going to happen tomorrow.

Life is totally more difficult right now, you have to work harder. I don’t mind, but at some points it gets really intense. I really wish to play back in Syria one day, that’s the dream.

Forat Al Hattab, 23, charity worker

Forat Al Hattab, 23, charity worker

I’ve lived here since 2009 when I came here to study.

The first few years of my studying in Beirut was kind of ok but when I graduated the crisis in Syria started.

Life in Beirut became harder for Syrians here.

A lot of people have a rage about how many Syrian refugees are living here. The fact that you are Syrian, some people might be racist against you.

It became a little bit different to be a Syrian here. Sometimes when I go to rent a house, if you’re a Syrian the rent is higher. These small details make a difference to your daily life.

I miss my real home. I never feel settled here. I miss that feeling of security of having your own home.

We had a nightlife, we had a social life back in Syria but you can’t enjoy anything when there is war. Every day I hope to go home.

Naya, 20, Student

I’m currently studying at American University of Beirut. I left Syria two and a half years ago, it wasn’t as bad as it is now.

I went back last year for two days only. I noticed a very big difference, there was barely anyone on the streets.

People went home early, it was pretty bad. It was really depressing, I just wanted to come back here, I was really sad.

Everyone has been saying stuff and nothing has really been happening so I really don’t know what will happen but I’m hoping for the best.

What I like most about Damascus is that we all lived in a small community, it was safe, everyone knew each other. Of course, I hope to get my life back.

 

What do I think of Syrian and the Syrians

Syria has a new refurbished army, liked and supported by the Syrians.

Since 1974, the Syrian soldiers and lower ranked officers were trampled, humiliated, and abused by the Assad regime.

The soldiers were used as slaves to the high ranking officers, working to increase the wealth of the officers and the political structure of the Baath and Assad oligarchy.

The brave and steadfast Syrian soldiers were dispatched to fight outside their borders, in Lebanon and Iraq, without any good reasons and without the modicum of dignity.

The Syrian soldiers were left uncovered beside their tanks and air missiles, and harvested by Israeli fighter jets like sitting ducks.

The Syrian soldiers were assigned in freezing mountain tops, wearing sandals and thread bare blankets.

This is history. The new Syrian army has its own patriotic structure, honored and respected by the citizens and enjoying the confidence and support of the people who experienced unimaginable horrors and miseries.

All the recent victories against the terrorist armed factions have nothing to do with the standing power of Bashar Assad.

Bashar is just a figure head, a symbol of continuity for the State against the belligerent hateful neighbors and western powers.

The Syrian people suffered since 1974 from multiple indignities.

They were shackled, intimidated from expressing their opinion, denied the right to demonstrate their individual private entrepreneurship, to open up to foreign experiences… A people under the close surveillance of the Mukhabarat (secret services agents) and cowed into silence.

There were over 200,000 Kurds, born in Syria, who were denied even an Identity Cards.  They were the “invisible” Syrians who could not secure a passport to leave, living in “No State” recognized by the UN.  They were afraid of taking a bus to another city in order to avoid being checked by a security or a police man.

These Kurds have since secured “full citizenship” since the revolution started, as many minorities left incognito because no one dared to demand his rights.

These same Kurds are now fighting the extremist factions in the Kameshly and Hasakeh provinces by the Iraqi and Turkish borders. The terrorist factions want to secure an outlet for the stolen oil extracted in the region and sold to Turkey.

The brave Syrians lived in silence, in exchange of free primary and secondary schooling and for a national health care, low cost of medication and affordable basic foodstuff and clothing.

This armed civil war that was concocted and planned years ahead on Syria was never to fight and bring down the Assad regime: It was to ruin and humiliate the Syrians and the nation of Syria.

This nation that remained self-sufficient, even in the darkest periods in history. This people who was among the wealthiest among people throughout history.

What we have now is a “guerrilla State” so that the foreign States that hate the Syrian people stay in the dark of plans and objectives of the war in progress.

A guerrilla State intent on wiping out all the external extremist terrorist Islamic factions, particularly the Al Qaeda Nusra Front that pay allegiance to Zawahiri.

The Syrian people got the message clear and loud: they know exactly who are their nemesis and why they hate the Syrians as a people.

Syria is “The Arab”, the Arab culture, language, resistance, soul and spirit.

Without Syria there is no Arabic roots, culture and civilization.

Bashar will be re-elected, and not because he is loved, but in defiance as a symbol of continuity of the institutions.

Bashar will ultimately bow down to the determination of the Syrians to start a new beginning, and he will graciously fade away once a political settlement is achieved.

And the negotiations will be carried out with the new refurbished “Free Syrian Army” opposition, after it let go of and discard all its leaders who closely cooperated with Israel, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and France.

The Syrian people have pinpointed their nemesis:

1. Israel who has known from its inception that Syria is the sole danger for its existence and that the Syrians will never acknowledge this foreign implanted State in the Near East.

2. Monarchic Wahhabi Saudi Arabia that knows that Syria is the main obstacle to the widespread of its obscurantist sect in the Near East. Actually, the main ally to Israel is Saudi Arabia.

3. Turkey and regardless of who is in power: the military of the current Moslem Brotherhood. Turkey has made it a strategy to regularly humiliate, threaten, blackmail and antagonize the Syrian people.

Turkey wants to cut-off the water supply of the Euphrates River to Syria by building more and more dams without any serious negotiation with Syria. And Turkey has occupied the north-western province of Alexandretta during the French mandate in 1936.

4. The previous mandated power of France has been the arch traitor to Syria’s interests since it vacated its troops in 1936 and has been trying to destabilize this State at every opportunity.

The French political system actually hate the Syrian people and totally and unconditionally support the Zionist State of Israel. since its inception in 1948. France was the main weapon provider to Israel for 2 decades and built Israel nuclear power plant and aided in its atomic bombs.

5. Germany is another State that staunchly aided Israel in all kinds of financial aids and nuclear submarines. Germany was the main supplier of weapons to the armed Syrian factions and reeked plenty of money from Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Qatar and the Gulf Emirates in order for the civil war to linger.

There are about 1, 25 million Syrian refugees in Lebanon and will reach 1.5 million by the end of this year: A third of Lebanon’s population and they are constituting a huge burden on the capability of this tiny State that is suffering from economic downturn for 2 successive years and struggling with internal and external political pressures and conflicts.

The able Syrians have demonstrated entrepreneur talents and are opening side businesses and getting involved in the civil work construction. It is the Syrian kids, women, the elderly and the handicapped who are not receiving the proper care and facilities for education and health care. And only 17% of the promised $1.7 billion have been forthcoming.

The Syrian refugees have started their journey back home.

The regions of 16 million Syrians  have been liberated from the extremist factions, and only the second city of Aleppo (the industrial hub) is still not fully secured.

This extended calamity has toughen the Syrians up to resist any other kinds of oligarchy to sneak in the cracks of intimidation and political maneuvering.

Syria will regain a glory that was denied her and will keep resisting any foreign meddling in its business of extending dignity to all its citizens.

Democracy and civil laws will prevail in Syria: The true revolution in the Arab world.

Note: What they said of the Syrian soldier https://adonis49.wordpress.com/2014/05/10/leaders-said-on-the-bravery-of-syrian-people/


adonis49

adonis49

adonis49

October 2020
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