More than 3m have fled Syria – UN

August 29th, 2014 No comments

The UN says Syria is now “the biggest humanitarian emergency of our era” with more than three million Syrians living outside the country as refugees.
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There are Still Yazidis Stranded on Jabal Sinjar

August 29th, 2014 No comments

Despite claims that  a combination of  Iraqi and Kurdish forces and US bombing had “broken the siege” of Mount Sinjar earlier this month, there are sill Yazidis stranded on the mountain. Two weeks ago, Pentagon Press Secretary Rear Admiral John Kirby acknowledged this:

On the estimate of refugees on Mount Sinjar, it’s difficult to provide an exact figure, but we think it’s somewhere between 4,000 and 5,000. I’d also add that a number of them, perhaps up to 2,000 or so — and, again, this is an estimate — reside there and may not want to leave. It’s home to many of them. So not all of them will necessarily be looking to leave the mountain. That’s our best estimate right now, based on the assessment team’s visit there.

More recent reports nd published satellite photos confirm that there are still significant numbers on the mountain, This report from The Guardian notes:

Satellite images taken on 21 August by the firm ImageSat International and interviews with members of the Yazidi religious minority still on the mountain indicate a humanitarian emergency continuing to unfold. While thousands have fled down the mountain’s north face, making a dangerous trek into Iraqi Kurdistan through Syria, those on the southern side remain in crisis.

There has not been a US airdrop of food, water or medicine since 13 August, after a reconnaissance team of US special operations forces that had briefly been on the mountain reported that conditions were not as dire as Washington initially thought.

Survivors of the Islamic State (Isis) siege describe leaving behind their elderly and infirm relatives. The younger Yazidis who have stayed behind talk of fighting Isis until they either liberate Sinjar city below or they die.

I would add a reminder that those Yazidis who were “rescued” from the mountain are in refugee camps in the Kurdish regions of Iraq or Syria, or in Turkey; hey may not be starving, but they are refugees in a region where massive displacement of minorities has taken place, and a burden on their hosts. And that does not address the numbers already killed by the Islamic State, or the reports of women being captured and sold.

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The Political Magic of Roads

August 29th, 2014 No comments

Is real democracy possible without highways?
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UN: Islamic State group threatens Syria aid access

August 29th, 2014 No comments

In this photo provided by the United Nations, the U.N. Kyung-wha Kang, Assistant Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Deputy Emergency Relief Coordinator, briefs the U.N. Security Council on the humanitarian situation in Syria, Thursday, Aug. 28, 2014, at U.N. Headquarters. She told the Security Council that the Islamic State group is taking violence against civilians in Syria "to a new level," threatening the cross-border humanitarian aid operations recently approved by the Security Council and that both the extremists and the al-Qaida-linked Nusra Front are advancing on border crossings with Turkey "and could hinder additional cross-border operations." (AP Photo/United Nations, Loey Felipe)UNITED NATIONS (AP) — The Islamic State group is taking violence against civilians in Syria "to a new level," threatening the cross-border humanitarian aid operations recently approved by the Security Council, a top U.N. aid official said Thursday.

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Just How Far Will the Empire Strike Back?

August 29th, 2014 No comments
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The Pretender to Pakistan’s Throne

August 29th, 2014 No comments

Imran Khan’s populist protest movement is on the verge of taking down Pakistan’s corrupt, sclerotic government. How did such a lightweight get so far?
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Obama tamps down prospect of strikes in Syria

August 28th, 2014 No comments

This May 3, 2013 file photo president Barack Obama responding to a question about the ongoing situation in Syria during a news conference in San Jose, Costa Rica. One year ago, President Barack Obama was barreling toward airstrikes in Syria when he abruptly announced that he first wanted approval from congressional lawmakers. The move threw his policy into confusion and the strikes were eventually scrapped. Now, as Obama again contemplates military action in Syria, the White House is suggesting it may not be necessary to get a sign-off from Congress. While cautioning that Obama has made no final decisions, officials say there is a difference between last year’s effort to strike Syria’s government in retaliation for chemical weapons use and a bombing campaign against Islamic State militants that is now under consideration. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais, File)WASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama tamped down the prospect of imminent U.S. military action in Syria on Thursday, saying "we don't have a strategy yet" for degrading the violent militant group seeking to establish a caliphate in the Middle East.

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IS militants ‘behead Kurdish man’

August 28th, 2014 No comments

The Islamic State group releases a video appearing to show militants killing a Kurdish man as a warning to forces fighting it in northern Iraq.
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Obama says ‘no strategy yet’ as IS executes Syrian troops

August 28th, 2014 No comments

An image made available by Jihadist media outlet Welayat Raqa on June 30, 2014, allegedly shows a member of the Islamic state militant group parading in the northern Syrian city of RaqaUS President Barack Obama admitted Thursday that he still did not have a strategy to fight Islamic State jihadists in Syria, as the militants boasted they had executed scores of Syrian troops — the latest in a string of atrocities that have shocked the world. Dampening hopes of imminent air strikes in Syria, Obama said he was still developing a comprehensive plan to defeat for good IS, which has also overrun large swathes of Iraq. The civil war in Syria has killed some 191,000 people since it erupted in March 2011 with President Bashar al-Assad's bloody effort to put down an uprising. The chaotic situation on the ground was underlined by the seizing by rival Islamist rebels, led by Al-Qaeda affiliate Al-Nusra Front, of 43 UN peacekeepers on the Golan Heights — part of a mission that has monitored an armistice between Syrian and Israeli troops on the strategic plateau for decades.

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More on Libya

August 28th, 2014 No comments

A piece by Mary Fitzgerald at Foreign Policy offers some insights into the domestic political implications of the alleged Egypt/UAE strikes: “Libya’s New Power Brokers.”
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