Category Archives: Kurds and Kurdistan

UN Human Rights Expert Urges US to Lift Sanctions That ‘May Exacerbate the Already Dire Humanitarian Situation in Syria’

After nearly a decade of war, the special rapporteur noted, Syrians are living with “extensively damaged houses, medical units, schools, and other facilities.”

By Jessica Corbett, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 12-29-2020

A study published last year by Amnesty International found that the U.S.-led bombing campaign on Raqqa, Syria in 2017 killed an estimated 1,600 innocent civilians while leveling the city. (Photo: Amnesty International)

A United Nations human rights expert on Tuesday called for the removal of unilateral U.S. sanctions targeting the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, warning that despite claims by the Trump administration and congressional leaders that the measures aren’t intended to harm the people of war-torn Syria, they may do just that.

“The sanctions violate the human rights of the Syrian people, whose country has been destroyed by almost 10 years of ongoing conflict,” said Alena Douhan, U.N. special rapporteur on the negative impact of the unilateral coercive measures on the enjoyment of human rights. “The conflict and violence have already had a dire impact on the ability of the Syrian people to realize their fundamental rights, having extensively damaged houses, medical units, schools, and other facilities.” Continue reading

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‘Insane and Pathological’: Head of Iran’s Central Bank Says US Blocking Covid-19 Vaccine Purchases

The Trump administration is allegedly using sanctions to thwart Iran’s efforts to obtain vaccine stock through the WHO’s COVAX program.

By Brett Wilkins, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 12-7-2020

Coronavirus patients at the Imam Khomeini Hospital in Tehran, Iran in March 2020. Photo: Fars News Agency, CC BY 4.0

The head of Iran’s central bank on Monday accused the U.S. government of actively blocking the country from purchasing stocks of coronavirus vaccine through the World Health Organization’s COVAX program.

Al Jazeera reports Abdolnasser Hemmati said on Instagram that it should be “recorded in historical memory” that crippling U.S.-led sanctions against the Islamic Republic are preventing the country from buying vaccines against the potentially deadly virus through COVAX, the WHO-led global initiative to fast-track development, production, and equitable worldwide distribution of a coronavirus vaccine. Continue reading

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Washington Post Publishes Names and Details of 1,400 Civilians Killed in US-Led Bombings of ISIS

The Post report relies heavily on figures from the airstrike watchdog  Airwars—without stating the group’s actual casualty numbers.

Aftermath of US led air strikes in Raqqa (Photo: @Raqqa_SL/Twitter)

By Brett Wilkins, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 11-19-2020

The Washington Post on Wednesday published an extraordinary interactive report that names hundreds of civilians killed by coalition airstrikes during the U.S.-led war against the so-called Islamic State.

The report, which contains harrowing survivor testimonies, draws upon data from the U.S. military and the U.K.-based journalistic monitor group Airwars to name each victim, as well as when and where they were killed. The paper mentions “thousands” of civilian casualties since President Barack Obama launched the war against ISIS militants in Iraq and Syria in 2014, but focuses only on the approximately 1,400 deaths acknowledged by both the Pentagon and Airwars. Continue reading

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Though ‘Children Need Peace Now More Than Ever,’ US and Russia Block UN Efforts to Impose Global Ceasefire

American and Russian diplomats have publicly praised calls for a global ceasefire, but say they cannot sign on to a blanket agreement.

By Julia Conley, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 4-20-2020

Anti-war demonstration, 4/15/2018, Oakland, CA at Oscar Grant Plaza. Photo: Alex Chis/flickr/CC

The U.S. and Russia are reportedly standing in the way of an international agreement for a global ceasefire called for by the United Nations, claiming their militaries must retain the ability to attack enemies even as countries around the world face thousands of coronavirus cases.

The Trump administration is reluctant to agree to a universal ceasefire, Foreign Policy reported Friday, because of U.S. counterterrorism operations and partially because a ceasefire could impede key ally Israel’s ability to conduct military operations throughout the Middle East. Continue reading

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‘Inhumane’ and ‘Reckless’: Amnesty International Condemns Greece’s Measures to Block Migrants at Turkish Border

“People seeking asylum are once again being used as bargaining chips in a callous political game.”

By for Common Dreams. Published 3-2-2020

Photo: Gizli Muhafiz/Twitter

Amnesty International on Monday condemned “inhumane” measures that Greek authorities have taken toward migrants since Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan announced last week that Turkey would no longer stop refugees and asylum-seekers—many of whom have fled the ongoing war in Syria—from crossing by land and sea into Greece.

Turkey eased restrictions at the western border it shares with Greece in response to thousands of migrants from Syria who have poured into Turkey in recent days amid a Russian-backed Syrian government offensive into Syria’s Idlib province and escalating violence between Syrian and Turkish forces. Continue reading

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Top Syrian Official Says US Has ‘Absolutely No Right’ to Occupy or Plunder Nation’s Oil Fields

“He’s talking about stealing it,” Bouthaina Shaaban said of U.S. President Donald Trump, who has kept troops in Syria to guard that country’s oil fields.

By Jake Johnson, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 12-26-2019

An oil refinery in Homs, Syria. Photo: High Contrast Wikimedia/CC

Citing U.S. President Donald Trump’s openly stated plan to maintain a troop presence in Syria with the sole purpose of plundering the country’s oil reserves, a top Syrian government official said America has “absolutely no right” to the nation’s natural resources and warned of “popular opposition and operations” against foreign occupiers.

“It is our oil,” Bouthaina Shaaban, a political and media adviser to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, told NBC News in an interview Tuesday. Continue reading

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Pentagon Claims US Authority to Shoot Any Syrian Govt Official Who Tries to Take Control of Syrian Oil

“This is not a new mission.”

By Andrea Germanos, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 11-8-2019

An M-ATV used by U.S. forces near [[Manbij]], [[Syria]], July 2018. Photo: Public domain

Pentagon officials asserted Thursday U.S. military authority over Syrian oil fields because U.S. forces are acting under the goal of “protecting Americans from terrorist activity” and would be within their rights to shoot a representative of the Syrian government who attempted to retake control over that country’s national resource.

The comments came from Pentagon spokesperson Jonathan Hoffman and Navy Rear Admiral William D. Byrne Jr. during a press briefing in which the two men were asked repeatedly about the legal basis the U.S. is claiming to control Syrian oil fields. Continue reading

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Could Congress reverse Trump’s decision to pull troops out of Syria?

U.S. forces are still in Syria, but their role has changed substantially in recent weeks. AP Photo/Baderkhan Ahmad

Sarah Burns, Rochester Institute of Technology

The political and humanitarian outcry condemning President Donald Trump’s decision to pull U.S. troops out of Syria came soon after he made the announcement.

Trump’s actions paved the way for Turkish troops to attack U.S.-allied Kurdish forces that had been fighting the Islamic State group. In reaction, on Oct. 15, the U.S. House of Representatives passed a nonbinding resolution opposing his move, with strong bipartisan support. Continue reading

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Trump’s Stated Plan to Loot Syria’s Oil Reserves ‘Would Be a War Crime,’ Critics Say

“He’s pulling back that curtain and just telling you the truth.”

By Julia Conley, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 10-28-2019

An oil refinery in Homs, Syria. Photo: High Contrast Wikimedia/CC

While announcing that ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi had been killed over the weekend, President Donald Trump made explicit the longstanding U.S. military policy of securing oil reserves in the Middle East regardless of the human lives that are lost in the process, a number of critics said Monday.

Trump told reporters in his Sunday press conference that the U.S. is entitled to Syria’s oil following the withdrawal of troops from the northeastern region of the country bordering Turkey. The president pulled soldiers out of the area earlier this month, while deploying troops to other parts of the country to protect oil fields from ISIS. Continue reading

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Why the US has nuclear weapons in Turkey – and may try to put the bombs away

A B-61 bomb, like the ones stored at the US Incirlik Airbase in Turkey. Flickr/Kelly Michals, CC BY-SA

Miles A. Pomper, Middlebury

As the Syrian crisis pits Turkish troops against former U.S.-allied Kurdish forces, Pentagon officials have been reviewing plans to remove 50 nuclear bombs stored at a U.S air base in Turkey.

A congressional directive to the Pentagon to quickly assess alternative homes for U.S. “personnel and assets” currently stationed at Incirlik Air Base is part of a broader bipartisan bill, still being debated, that proposes sanctions against Turkey. President Donald Trump has been forced to issue public reassurances that the weapons are secure. Continue reading

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