Tag Archives: Syria

Israel’s war on Gaza could spark protests that shape entire region

While media focus is on pro-Palestine protests in the US, anger in North Africa and Western Asia could boil over

By Paul Rogers. Published 5-8-2024 by openDemocracy

Iraqi cleric Sadr mobilizes thousands at Baghdad pro-Palestinian rally. Screenshot: YouTube

Though many analysts feared an uncontrolled military escalation between Israel and Iran last month, this seems to have been avoided for now at least. Many states across the world are, however, witnessing a political escalation – not least those in North Africa and West Asia, which are often overlooked in conversations about protest.

The United States is the most obvious example of state-level controversy. Pro-Palestine protests and occupations are taking place at university campuses across the country – many of which have been met by violent police-led actions – as people take issue with Joe Biden’s enabling Israel in its horrific seven-month assault on Gaza.

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US Pariah Status Grows as Finland Resumes UNRWA Funding

“Collectively punishing millions of Palestinians over allegations concerning a few individuals is never acceptable,” said one campaigner. “Other E.U. member states must follow.”

BY Brett Wilkins. Published 3-22-2024 by Common Dreams

An UNRWA staffer holds a traumatized Palestinian baby in Gaza on March 13, 2023. (Photo: UNRWA/Facebook)

As the United States doubled down on banning funds for the United Nations agency for Palestinian refugees, Finland said Friday that it would resume contributions to the lifesaving organization in an implicit rebuke of unsubstantiated Israeli claims—reportedly extracted via torture—that staff members were involved in the October 7 attacks.

Finnish Minister for Foreign Trade and Development Ville Tavio announced during a press conference that the country’s €5 million ($5.4 million) annual contribution to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) would be reinstated, with 10% of the funding reserved for “risk management.”

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Record 50 Million Children Now Displaced as Wars, Climate Crisis Rage

“When children lose their homes, they lose almost everything: their access to healthcare, education, food, and safety,” one advocate said.

By Olivia Rosane. Published 2-20-2024 by Common Dreams

Children in the area of Shangil Tobaya, Sudan. Photo: United Nations Photo/flickr/CC

The 10 biggest global crises—including Israel’s war on Gaza—forced more than 10 million children to flee their homes in 2023.

That figure likely puts the total number of displaced children at more than 50 million, a new record, Save the Children said in an analysis published Tuesday. The number of children displaced worldwide has also more than doubled from around 20.6 million in 2010. While the number of displaced people overall reached a record 114 million in October 2023, children are being pushed from their homes at an even faster rate than adults and face unique vulnerabilities.

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Millions Set to March for Gaza Cease-Fire as Threat of Regional War Surges

“It will send a powerful message not just to the Israelis but to the Western powers who are backing them that the public say, ‘Not in our name.'”

By Jake Johnson. Published 1-12-2024 by Common Dreams

Rally For Palestine, Dunedin, NZ, Sat. 11-4-2023. Photo: Mark McGuire/CC

Millions of people are expected to take to the streets worldwide on Saturday to demand a permanent cease-fire in the Gaza Strip and denounce the U.S.-led bombing of Yemen, which pushed the Middle East even closer to a full-scale regional war.

Organizers said people in over 120 cities across 45 countries are planning to join the Gaza Global Day of Action, a mass demonstration that will begin days after South Africa presented evidence before the International Court of Justice that Israel is committing genocide in the Palestinian enclave.

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Netanyahu is unlikely to listen to the West’s growing unease

The Israeli leader is emboldened by a hard-right coalition and frustrated with calls for humanitarian pause in Gaza

By Paul Rogers. Published 10-30-2023 by openDemocracy

Photo: UN Human Rights/X

Within a week of the 7 October atrocities, numerous Israeli Defence Force (IDF) units had converged on southern Israel close to Gaza. A major ground offensive was expected to start within days but the actual deployments into Gaza have not so far been substantial.

Possible factors in the delays included US president Joe Biden’s unexpected visit to Israel, negotiations with Hamas on hostage releases, and an announcement from the Pentagon that additional US air defence systems will be sent to the region. These are not specifically for Israel’s use but are primarily to offer additional protection to US personnel in bases in Iraq, Syria, Qatar, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia and elsewhere. Drone and rocket attacks against some US bases have increased in the past two weeks, especially in Iraq, and many more are expected when the IDF starts a ground assault.

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Chinese Immigrants Sue Florida Over DeSantis’s Discriminatory Law Banning Home Purchases

“All Asian Americans will feel the stigma and the chilling effect created by this Florida law, just like the discriminatory laws did to our ancestors more than a hundred years ago.”

By Julia Conley. Published 5-22-2023 by Common Dreams

Governor Ron DeSantis speaking with attendees at the 2022 Student Action Summit at the Tampa Convention Center in Tampa, Florida. Photo: Gage Skidmore/flickr/CC

Accusing Republican Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis of enacting an unconstitutional law that would not have been out of place at the turn of the last century, a group of Chinese American immigrants on Monday filed a lawsuit against the state over S.B. 264, which restricts most Chinese citizens from purchasing homes in Florida.

The law is set to take effect on July 1, but the plaintiffs and the groups representing them—including the ACLU, the Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund (AALDEF), the Chinese American Legal Defense Alliance (CALDA), and the ACLU of Florida—hope to block the measure in the courts.

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Syrian Relief Leader Urges US to Lift Sanctions Hindering Post-Earthquake Rescue Effort

“We need heavy equipment, ambulances, and firefighting vehicles to continue to rescue and remove the rubble, and this entails lifting sanctions on Syria as soon as possible,” said the head of a leading humanitarian group.

By Kenny Stancil  Published 2-8-2023 by Common Dreams

Photo: Khaled Karkout/Twitter

A disaster response expert has implored the United States to lift its economic sanctions against Syria, warning that the restrictions are hampering rescue and relief operations in the earthquake-ravaged country.

“We need heavy equipment, ambulances, and firefighting vehicles to continue to rescue and remove the rubble, and this entails lifting sanctions on Syria as soon as possible,” Khaled Hboubati, president of the Syrian Arab Red Crescent, said Tuesday at a press conference. Continue reading

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US Military Clears Itself of Blame in Syria Strike That Killed ‘Piles’ of Women and Children

“It’s the standard government line: Mistakes were made but there was no wrongdoing. But if the same mistakes were being made over and over again for years, shouldn’t someone have done something about it?”

By Brett Wilkins  Published 5-18-2022 by Common Dreams

Airstrike on Baghuz – March 2019. Photo: Voice of America {public domain}

No U.S. personnel will be held accountable for a March 2019 airstrike that killed scores of Syrian civilians including women and children, the Pentagon said Tuesday in announcing that an internal investigation into the massacre found that no laws of war were broken and that there was no cover-up of the incident as alleged in a New York Times exposé.

An executive summary of a classified investigation led by U.S. Army Gen. Michael Garrett stated that “no rules of engagement (ROE) or law of war (LOW) violations occurred” in connection with the March 18, 2019 strike near the Syrian town of Baghuz that, according to an initial battle assessment, killed around 70 people. Continue reading

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Western hypocrisy: What Joe Biden gets wrong about Russia

Those in the Middle East know the kind of destruction seen in Ukraine all too well – the West was the perpetrator

By Paul Rogers  Published 4-2-2022 by openDemocracy

Photo: U.S. Secretary of Defense/flickr/CC

Vladimir Putin’s assault on Ukraine remains in a violent stalemate. Russian forces are pausing their attempts to occupy Kyiv, having withdrawn some of their forces from around the capital, but a major retreat is highly unlikely given Russia is recruiting several thousand mercenaries from Syria.

The Kremlin’s strategy now is to concentrate on overrunning the southern Ukraine port city of Mariupol, before joining up Russian forces in Crimea with those in Donbas to take control of as much of the region as possible. Continue reading

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A wave of grassroots humanitarianism is supporting millions of Ukrainian refugees

Women offering Ukrainian refugees a place to stay in Berlin on Mar. 4, 2022.
Fabian Sommer/picture alliance via Getty Images

Elizabeth Cullen Dunn, Indiana University

Along the Poland-Ukraine border, Polish volunteers have been driving Ukrainian refugees to local train stations, or directly to cities like Warsaw.

Other Poles are doing their volunteer work online or at train stations and airports, matching Ukrainian refugees with perhaps the most generous volunteers of all: those who are hosting some of the more than 2 million Ukrainians had fled their beseiged country, in their own homes.

The largest refugee flow in Europe since the Yugoslav wars of the 1990s – has elicited an enormous volunteer humanitarian effort in Europe, particularly in Poland, as well as in Germany, Moldova and Romania. Continue reading

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