Tag Archives: Syria

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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‘A Blatant Violation’: Sahrawis Dismiss Pompeo’s Announcement of US Consulate in Moroccan-Occupied Western Sahara

The move comes two weeks after the U.S. became the first country to recognize Morocco’s claim of sovereignty in the illegally occupied territory.

By Brett Wilkins, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 12-25-2020

Sahrawi demonstration against the Moroccan occupation, November 2020. Photo: Nushatta Foundation/Twitter

Sahrawi independence advocates defiantly dismissed an announcement Thursday by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo that the United States would open a “virtual” diplomatic mission in Western Sahara as a first step toward establishing a permanent consulate in the Moroccan-occupied territory.

Pompeo said in a statement that the U.S. was “inaugurating a virtual presence post for Western Sahara, with a focus on promoting economic and social development, to be followed soon by a fully functioning consulate.” Continue reading

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Number of Journalists Murdered in Retaliation for Their Work More Than Doubled in 2020: Report

“The fact that murder is on the rise and the number of journalists imprisoned around the world hit a record is a clear demonstration that press freedom is under unprecedented assault.”

By Brett Wilkins, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 12-22-2020

Graphic: Committee to Protect Journalists

In what one leading advocate called “a failure by the international community,” the number of journalists murdered in retaliation for their work more than doubled in 2020, according to a report published Tuesday by the Committee to Protect Journalists.

CPJ’s annual report contains a database of 30 journalists who were killed in 15 countries during the course of the year. Of these, six died while working “dangerous assignments,” three were caught in the crossfire during the ongoing Syrian civil war, and 21 were murdered. 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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‘Horrifically Catastrophic’: Report Finds So-Called US War on Terror Has Displaced as Many as 59 Million People

“We need a reckoning. We can’t simply move on.”

By Jake Johnson, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 9-8-2020

Raghed, 7, stands among rubbish at an informal refugee settlement in Qab Elias in Lebanon’s Bekaa Valley. Photo: Sam Tarling/CRS

The ongoing U.S. “war on terror” has forcibly displaced as many as 59 million people from just eight countries in the Middle East, Africa, and Asia since 2001, according to a new report published Tuesday by Brown University’s Costs of War Project.

Titled “Creating Refugees: Displacement Caused by the United States’ Post-9/11 Wars” (pdf), the new report conservatively estimates that at least 37 million people have “fled their homes in the eight most violent wars the U.S. military has launched or participated in since 2001.” Continue reading

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Espionage and repression in the Middle East courtesy of the West

Western companies are providing surveillance tools to authoritarian regimes in the Middle East.

By Jon Hoffman.  Published 5-13-2020 by openDemocracy

Cellphone tower | Picture by Peter Bjorndal / pixabay.com. Public Domain

Regime-directed surveillance has taken new forms within the Middle East as governments have been forced to adapt to new technological and social environments. While government surveillance of its citizens is not new to the region, this old authoritarian impulse has been revamped in the attempt to subvert opposition and monitor dissidence amid widespread use of social media and access to smartphones within the region.

New forms of targeted hackings and espionage have therefore become commonplace throughout the region, and often extend across borders into the international arena. Western companies, governments, and individuals have provided extensive assistance to the surveillance efforts of these governments, often by supplying them with the necessary technology and expertise needed to conduct such sweeping operations. However, regional countries – particularly Israel – have increasingly constructed and exported their own indigenous operations and platforms designed to surveil their publics. Conducted on a mass scale and bolstered by western technological support, these new and sophisticated forms of surveillance have supplied these governments with the tools necessary to go on the offensive against all who seek to challenge the status quo. 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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With a Quarter of the World’s Population Under US Sanctions, Countries Appeal to UN to Intervene

Eight countries, representing around one-quarter of all humanity, say that Washington’s actions are undermining their response to the COVID–19 pandemic sweeping the planet.

By Alan Macleod. Published 3-27-2020 by MintPress News

The governments of China, Cuba, Iran, Nicaragua, North Korea, Russia, Syria, and Venezuela – all under sanctions from the United States – sent a joint statement to the United Nations Secretary-General, the UN’s High Commissioner on Human Rights and the Director-General of the World Health Organization calling for an end to the unilateral American economic blockade, as they are, “illegal and blatantly violate international law and the charter of the United Nations.”

The eight countries, representing around one-quarter of humanity, say that Washington’s actions are undermining their response to the COVID–19 pandemic sweeping the planet. “The destructive impact of said measures at the national level, plus their extraterritorial implication, together with the phenomenon of over-compliance and the fear for ‘secondary sanctions,’ hinder the ability of national governments” in procuring even basic medical equipment and supplies, including coronavirus test kits and medicine. It is a “hard if not impossible deed for those countries who are currently facing the application of unilateral coercive measures,” to cope, they conclude. 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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‘Bombshell’: Iraqi Officials Say ISIS—Not Iran—Likely Behind Rocket Attack Trump Used to Justify Soleimani Assassination

“Al-Qaeda attacked the U.S. on 9/11 and we went to war with Iraq. If this report is true, ISIS attacked the U.S. and we nearly went to war with Iran.”

By Jake Johnson, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 2-7-2020

Screenshot: CNBC

In a “bombshell” revelation that calls into question one of the Trump administration’s stated justificiations for assassinating Iranian Gen. Qasem Soleimani—a move that nearly sparked a region-wide military conflict—Iraqi intelligence officials told the New York Times that they believe ISIS, not an Iran-linked militia, was likely responsible for the Dec. 27 rocket attack that killed an American contractor at an air base near Kirkuk, Iraq.

The Times reported Thursday that “Iraqi military and intelligence officials have raised doubts about who fired the rockets… saying they believe it is unlikely that the militia the United States blamed for the attack” was responsible. Continue reading

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