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Posts Tagged ‘ Syria ’

News in Brief-Tubridy Fails,Councillors Peed Off Over Loo And Adams Shows His Intellect

Adams: Simple and Effective

Kite flying in the late summer sun sounds like fun to me, that’s why Eamon Gilmore is raining on our parade. The Tanaiste was though referring to “budget kite flying”. This slightly strange turn of phrase, comes to dampen a potential split in the Labour party after a disagreement concerning the suitability of their upmarket meeting venue in the recession. As the cost of living soars it’s not surprising party members feel a bit awkward drinking champagne from a shoe. Gilmore’s creating enough of his own wind to fly a kite.

One politician who doesn’t mince his words is Gerry Adams who has notably replied to calls by the governments economic advisors for tougher budgets than those set out by Michael Noonan. What was the Sinn Fein leader’s response? “Get lost”. Well said.

In international news Angelina Jolie is also a whizz with words. The other half of Brangelina has recently visited Syria, not baby shopping but doing that other thing she does, saving the world! Whilst there she commented there was “much to be done” and called on the international population  to “do everything they can”. Thanks Ange.

More intelligent responses came from students in their Junior Cert, the results are in! In general Maths results were up but languages were lacking, could this signal an insular Ireland to come, separatism from international monetary markets and the ability to count just how much money we actually have in the bank?

With population figures taken into account Ireland came fourth in the Paralympics and earned a total of sixteen medals across London 2012. Not too shabby and a source of great pride to the whole country who welcomed our champions home with great ceremony and celebration. First stop the Late Late Show where the host managed to make a mockery of the whole thing and get Adam Nolan’s name wrong, repeatedly. He certainly wouldn’t want to meet the boxing champion in the ring after calling him Andy throughout the show causing Adam to take to Twitter to endorse the return of Pat Kenny. And the gold medal for prize prat goes to Ryan Tubridy.
Gluten free food for coeliac sufferers will no longer be paid for by the HSE. As the government continue to claw back the cash in cuts (€3.6m they estimate in gluten-free food), those who become ill from gluten in foods will be forced to cough up the cost themselves. With nothing to eat for energy it is unlikely coeliacs will mount the high-profile protest outside Leinster House that followed cuts to carers of the disabled.

Lady Gaga has a new hairdo and Robbie Williams has a new clothing line and luckily for us they’re both in Ireland this weekend! Gaga has flown in to perform her Born This Way tour whilst Robbie is stopping off at Brown Thomas to launch his ‘Jack Farrell’ label before playing the 02. Tickets to see Gaga will cost up to €96 while Robbie’s launch is invite only but of course both assure us they LOVE Ireland.

More exciting in Mallow Town in County Cork is the news that a public toilet is no nearer completion and starting to pee off councillors. Work began on the loo last October and is still not completed. “It’s not like we’re building the Taj Mahal,” commented one councillor.

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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.

Pro Assad Forces Bring More Bloodshed To War Ravaged Syria

Shocking reports of yet another massacre have reached us today from Syria. Early yesterday morning Government troops loyal to Bashar al-Assad descended upon the village of Al-Treimseh, west of the city of Hamah.

Residents of the village have said that the town was bombarded by tanks and helicopters in the early hours of Thursday (12/07) morning. As villagers tried to flee the attack members of the pro-Assad militia group, the much feared Shabiha, ruthlessly shot and executed many of them. Activist groups have said the death toll is over 200, with numbers expected to rise. The devastation is enormous. After what will be the 5th, and bloodiest, massacre this year alone, the death toll will rise above 500. The first massacre occurred on the 3rd of February in Homs, with around 55 people losing their lives. It was this massacre that really attracted attention from around the world. But all the attention and condemnation didn’t stop another four from happening since. On the 3rd of April Assad’s military murdered approximately 59 in Idlib. The two massacres preceding the one yesterday occurred on the 25th of May and the 6th of June and were all the more distressing and saddening to learn that most that had perished were women and children. 187 people were slaughtered.

What people don’t realise is that the men have mostly all joined in the fighting and the revolution and have left the home. The towns and villages that are being destroyed contain the wives, children, and sisters of those intrepid men fighting for the freedom of their country. It is feared that yesterday’s massacre will be no different from the two that preceded it.

The state news agency, run largely by and through pro-Assad followers, blamed the killings on the revolutionaries. The dignity and integrity of the claim is questioned by the sheer weight of evidence against the Assad regime. They claim that the ‘terrorist’ revolutionary group carried out the massacre to sway public opinion with the upcoming UN Security Council meeting, although these claims will not be met with any serious scrutiny.

The Syrian Observatory of Human Rights have posted a graphic video showing the bodies of a number of Syrian civilians following the massacre. They also report that intense and violent clashes have occurred between rebel fighters and Syrian troops in the city of Deir Izzor following the news of what has happened in Al-Treimseh. The death toll quoted by the SOHR is 160.

The Syrian National Council (SNC) has urged the Security Council, which meet on Sunday, to put an end once and for all to the crisis. They have said that “To stop this bloody madness which threatens the entity of Syria, as well as peace and security in the region and in the world, requires an urgent and sharp resolution of the Security Council under Chapter VII (UN Charter), which protects the Syrian people”. The chapter states that the Council can “determine the existence of any threat to the peace, breach of the peace, or act of aggression and shall make recommendations, or decide what measures shall be taken…to maintain or restore international peace and security”, (Article 39).

The charter clearly states UN countries should be protected from this horrific murder and aggression, so it begs the question, why hasn’t anything been done up until now?

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.

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