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Blog 3- Syria’s Suffering: Baskin Robbins of Death

By now just about anyone who isn’t living under a rock has heard about the tragedy that is Syria. Using Human Rights Watch as our source for the first evaluation, we begin taking a closer look at events leading to the global concern for the Syrian people. Commencing with the first apparent use of chemical weapons against the population in August 2013, the Assad regime was accused of unleashing this devastation. Though vehemently denied, hundreds of people were killed in Damascus (East and SW, see map “Damascus Attack”) through Sarin gas, though Assad had been forewarned using chemical attacks was a “red line” to not be crossed according to the Obama Administration. This later became the hollow threat heard around the world. It didn’t end there, 2014-2015 saw continued chemical attacks via chlorine barrel bombs in Idlib Province. This, however, continued to be a blameless situation, whereby the regime and Russia blamed opposition forces, and the West (US, GB, FR) blamed the Assad regime. However, also in August 2015, Islamic State militants, who have been taking advantage of the Syrian instability, has also been accused of using chemical weapons by way of mustard gas as they try to advance their agenda. Naturally, this has generated casualties and caused even more to flee, which has resulted in a refugee crisis predominantly felt in Europe and Middle East.

Another direct cause in the refugee crisis is the Assad regimes known and continued ghastly murders of imprisoned detainees in Saydnaya (see map icon “Saydanya”). According to Amnesty International, Assad has this down to a science, assassinating imprisoned civilians who have opposed the regime or alleged to have opposed. Reports claim civilians are tortured, hanged, and ultimately meet their demise. A slaughterhouse, as dubbed by Amnesty International. The victims deprived food, water, and medical care are later buried in mass graves, which human rights orgs like AI deem too massive for the government to not be aware, and or directly authorizing said the atrocities. Human Rights Data Analysis Group has it tallied at “17,723 people killed in government custody between March 2011 and December 2015,” or 300 monthly.

 

Assad does not seem to be following a balanced or humane approach toward his own people, taking actions that would legitimize his government. Considering the five perspectives, the only one I could possibly imagine he is using would be Political Realist; doing anything at all cost for the sake of preserving the state. Sadly, this approach is not only alienating his regime from Western powers, but it is more importantly allowing forces like IS to deepen divisions and openly try to advance their agenda. All the while, the Syrian people are dying or fleeing; void of any other option. The Trump administration appears willing to entertain joining the table with Russia to find “common ground” but who is to know where this strange new alliance will take the Syrian people and the American military.

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Blog 2 – “Home” – The Kurdish Longing

What’s in a name, place, or feeling of “home?” Some would say it is the shared familiarity, culture, language . . . a common threading of identity in a place or location where one could trace roots to and have a right to exist. Kurds are the fourth largest ethnic group in the Middle East, one would think numbers alone warrant a place for them; outlined, definitive, and sovereign. As seen in the map below, “The Kurdish Presence,” the hiking icons show the millions of Kurds inhabiting these nations:

  • 2 million in Syria
  • 5 million in Iraq
  • 8 million in Iran
  • 18 million in Turkey

These indigenous peoples of the Mesopotamian Plains have the largest presence in Turkey (15-20%), and as a result have been largely marginalized and met resistance from the Turkish government. This is where we will focus today’s question of human rights as it relates to statehood.

It is a war zone; snipers included. The Turkish government has levied what some in the international community would consider harsh and inhumane conditions on this portion of their population. According to the Amnesty International, Kurds have been subject to 24 hour curfews, denial of burial rights according to custom, “severe electricity, water and food shortages in curfew areas, . . . unable to safely leave their neighborhoods to access healthcare, and ambulances have been denied entry by security forces.” The infighting in South East Turkey has seen about 400,000 Kurds displaced. Additionally, the Kurdistan Worker’s Party (PKK) have been outlawed, making Kurdish concerns in a way nationally and legally banned. The US and the European partners have been seen by the Kurdish people as oblivious, willfully, toward the plight of these stateless people. But why don’t they have a home when in the 1900s Kurds initiated the consideration of a homeland, referred to as “Kurdistan?” It seemed likely when after WWI, upon the defeat of the Ottoman Empire, Western allies allocated a provision for a Kurdish state within 1920 Treaty of Sevres. Yet today, they are still stateless even though Kurds have been successful aiding the war against ISIS/ISIL (PKK, YPG, and PYD). Their efforts have not been rewarded despite their willingness to defend their presence, which has been helping the US-led coalition. Turkey is a globally recognized sovereign state who has shown interest in joining the EU for many years, but the human rights violations prominently continuing against the Kurds is at conflict with EU principles. This places the Kurds in a dire position of perpetual limbo; their plight is known, the sentiment is there, but they are still waiting for action that can result in a realistic location in the Middle East for them. They have had a continued historical and regional presence; the longer this statelessness continues, the higher the probability of conflict that leads to unnecessary deaths on both sides (though mostly Kurdish). With this many people displaced trying to survive in other nations, it seems like it is the right time to persuade Turkey, Iran and Iraq to cede a portion of their border-crossing for the creation of a Kurdish state (they have the largest distributions after all). Iran not being an ally will bring peculiar engagement, but if creating Jews a home was of major importance to the global community after WWII, so should be the effort for a sovereign Kurdistan. These predominantly muslim nations will have more to gain than to lose, if the West and Arab allies work together toward an incentive plan. Until then, the statelessness continues.

 

This gentleman is in a place, willing to fight for it, but when will this Kurd have a place to call home?