Posts Tagged ‘ Damascus ’

Tweets Of The Week


With Twitter becoming an ever growing way of life for online users it can be difficult to keep up with all the big tweets of the week when some stories simply take over the net for a couple of days such as the recent #SlaneGirl scandal. Here at Irish News Review we aim to bring you the best tweets of the week from a wide range of sectors in our new weekly segment. Here are our selections of interest from the past seven days: Continue reading

The Beginning of the End, a Short Follow Up to the Syrian Situation as it Stands

It may have come in a brutal manner but it would seem that President Basher Al-Assad’s regime is within clear sight of its demise. Yesterday a bomb tore through the National Security Headquarters of the regime in Damascus. It left 3 top officials, and key advisors to Assad, dead, one of whom was Assad’s brother-in-law. 

The beautiful, ancient city of Damascus has seen days of intense fighting. As we speak Government forces are staging a fierce response to the assassinations yesterday. Fresh fighting has been reported all over the city. Many are fleeing the city as it becomes a war ground between Government forces and rebel fighters.

Some have come out to condemn the attacks yesterday. China has strongly condemned the bombing. In a statement from Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hong Lei, it was stated that “China opposes all forms of terrorism and violence and strongly condemns yesterday’s bombing attacks in Damascus”. The statement has left many bewildered. China has remained somewhat taciturn on the crimes committed by Assad forces in the past 15 months. Hong Lei also said that “China is deeply worried about the rising tensions in Syria and we again urge all sides in Syria to immediately ceasefire and stop the violence”. China has stood by Russia’s side twice since the conflict began in blocking earlier resolutions, so it is bewildering to many what China’s real stance on Syria is.

It is the rejection of earlier resolutions in Syria that have caused the country to descend into brutal civil war. The International Red Cross recently concluded that Syria was now in a state of  ‘Civil War’. This is important because the two sides are now subject to international humanitarian law. The law is also retroactive which means any crimes committed before the ‘civil war’ status can be considered war crimes. It is also important because it should give the non-interventionalists, like Russia and China, more incentive to vote for a resolution, which seems unlikely for Russia has already said that it will not support any intervention at this point in time.

You get the sense that it is all a little too late anyway. the fighting is entering its last, and possibly bloodiest, phase. The international bodies that are in place to serve and protect us have failed again, as they did in Bosnia. As it was in Bosnia, and as it is in Syria, with little or no help the uprising was (or seemingly is) a success, but a bloody and violent one. With a resolution a little earlier the lives os thousands could have been spared. The intrepid freedom fighters can call this one their own. As for Assad, his forces will fight until the end, wreaking as much havoc as they can before the removal of their leader.

Syrian Misery Continues

The world watches as Syria has descended into chaos. Reports by human rights groups claim there are over two dozen government torture centres open across the country. It is suggested that the scale of this torture could constitute crimes against humanity. The stories are certainly worthy of a horror movie, victims report having taser stun guns used on their genitals and being stapled in the chest and ears. We have known for months about the government’s indiscriminate attacks on populated areas. The crimes committed by the Assad regime have surpassed those committed by the Libyan government, yet the West seems much more hesitant in taking action.

There are many reasons for this. The Libyan no fly zone-cum-aerial campaign was a success for Libyan rebels and Western politicians alike. Despite months of tensions between factions and militias, Libya has recently held its first free elections. The military campaign was relatively undamaging for politicians. Their goals were achieved without the loss of pilots lives or costly ground operations. Syria however provides a different challenge.

For one, Syrian air defences amount to the most formidable in the region, possibly even surpassing Iran’s in sophistication. The Syrian military purchased advanced Russian weaponry in 2007 after an Israeli air strike which destroyed what they alleged was a nuclear weapons facility. This prompted the Syrian military to completely upgrade their hardware, also allowing them to send their 70’s Soviet-era hardware to Hezbollah. Rumors now suggest that the downed Turkish jet was shot down by a brand new SA-22 system. A retired Air Force General is quoted in the Seattle Times: “We can deal with the Syrian integrated air defenses…It is much, much more challenging than Libya”. Syria has also taken delivery of the feared S-300 missile system. This makes the possibility of pilots killed much more likely in any potential aerial campaign, and with that comes the damaging political consequences in what is an election year in the US.

The Obama adminstration would also be reluctant to become involved in another military campaign, just as it was slow to react to the Libyan situation. After Iraq and Afghanistan, the US is much less swashbuckling in international affairs. The Nobel prize winning president does not want to become involved in another drawn out conflict.

In Libya it was the European leaders who were most vocal in condemnation and most eager to take action. However it was the US who did actually become the backbone of this campaign. Even when it was French, British or Italian jets in the Libyan skies, they were often dropping US provided bombs. The Royal Navy no longer has strike jets and they instead had to await the arrival of the RAF jets to NATO bases in Italy to begin operations. This campaign can also be seen as a sign of the deterioration of European military power, as they were unable to function effectively without US assistance, right on the doorstep of Europe.

A successful campaign as in Libya also requires troops on the ground. Despite the repeated assurances from Obama, youtube videos show a limited number of Western special forces and/or military contractors were assisting rebels on the ground. These strictly camera-shy men were there in a limited role that did not draw enough attention to cause a political scandal.

A rebel delegation has arrived in Egypt to try and convince world leaders that they are a suitable governing body for Syria. However serious differences between the factions have emerged. Recently, both sides in the civil war declared their intentions to continue fighting as the best way to achieve their aims. For the time being, it seems the carnage will continue.