city:damascus

  • [Revision] « Tell Me How This Ends » | Harper’s Magazine
    https://harpers.org/archive/2019/02/american-involvement-in-syria

    Dans cet article très USA-centré, le récit des premiers temps de la guerre en #Syrie par l’ancien ambassadeur US à Damas. (J’ai grasseyé certains passages. Le récit US passe égaleemnt sous silence la présence à Hama de l’ambassadeur français et de quelques invités...) L’histoire de ce conflit commence petit à petit à s’écrire...

    The vulnerable regimes in early 2011 were in the American camp, a coincidence that the Syrian president, Bashar al-­Assad, interpreted as proof that the Arab Spring was a repudiation of American tutelage. As Russia’s and Iran’s only Arab ally, he foresaw no challenge to his throne. An omen in the unlikely guise of an incident at an open-­air market in the old city of Damascus, in February 2011, should have changed his mind. One policeman ordered a motorist to stop at an intersection, while another officer told him to drive on. “The poor guy got conflicting instructions, and did what I would have done and stopped,” recalled the US ambassador to Syria, Robert Ford, who had only just arrived in the country. The second policeman dragged the driver out of his car and thrashed him. “A crowd gathered, and all of a sudden it took off,” Ford said. “No violence, but it was big enough that the interior minister himself went down to the market and told people to go home.” Ford reported to Washington, “This is the first big demonstration that we know of. And it tells us that this tinder is dry.”

    The next month, the security police astride the Jordanian border in the dusty southern town of Daraa ignited the tinder by torturing children who had scrawled anti-­Assad graffiti on walls. Their families, proud Sunni tribespeople, appealed for justice, then called for reform of the regime, and finally demanded its removal. Rallies swelled by the day. Ford cabled Washington that the government was using live ammunition to quell the demonstrations. He noted that the protesters were not entirely peaceful: “There was a little bit of violence from the demonstrators in Daraa. They burned the Syriatel office.” (Syriatel is the cell phone company of Rami Makhlouf, Assad’s cousin, who epitomized for many Syrians the ruling elite’s corruption.) “And they burned a court building, but they didn’t kill anybody.” Funerals of protesters produced more demonstrations and thus more funerals. The Obama Administration, though, was preoccupied with Egypt, where Hosni Mubarak had resigned in February, and with the NATO bombing campaign in Libya to support the Libyan insurgents who would depose and murder Muammar Qaddafi in October.

    Ambassador Ford detected a turn in the Syrian uprising that would define part of its character: “The first really serious violence on the opposition side was up on the coast around Baniyas, where a bus was stopped and soldiers were hauled off the bus. If you were Alawite, you were shot. If you were Sunni, they let you go.” At demonstrations, some activists chanted the slogan, “Alawites to the grave, and Christians to Beirut.” A sectarian element wanted to remove Assad, not because he was a dictator but because he belonged to the Alawite minority sect that Sunni fundamentalists regard as heretical. Washington neglected to factor that into its early calculations.

    Phil Gordon, the assistant secretary of state for European affairs before becoming Obama’s White House coordinator for the Middle East, told me, “I think the initial attitude in Syria was seen through that prism of what was happening in the other countries, which was, in fact, leaders—the public rising up against their leaders and in some cases actually getting rid of them, and in Tunisia, and Yemen, and Libya, with our help.”

    Ambassador Ford said he counseled Syria’s activists to remain non­violent and urged both sides to negotiate. Demonstrations became weekly events, starting after Friday’s noon prayer as men left the mosques, and spreading north to Homs and Hama. Ford and some embassy staffers, including the military attaché, drove to Hama, with government permission, one Thursday evening in July. To his surprise, Ford said, “We were welcomed like heroes by the opposition people. We had a simple message—no violence. There were no burned buildings. There was a general strike going on, and the opposition people had control of the streets. They had all kinds of checkpoints. Largely, the government had pulled out.”

    Bassam Barabandi, a diplomat who defected in Washington to establish a Syrian exile organization, People Demand Change, thought that Ford had made two errors: his appearance in Hama raised hopes for direct intervention that was not forthcoming, and he was accompanied by a military attaché. “So, at that time, the big question for Damascus wasn’t Ford,” Barabandi told me in his spartan Washington office. “It was the military attaché. Why did this guy go with Ford?” The Syrian regime had a long-standing fear of American intelligence interference, dating to the CIA-­assisted overthrow in 1949 of the elected parliamentary government and several attempted coups d’état afterward. The presence in Hama of an ambassador with his military attaché allowed the Assad regime to paint its opponents as pawns of a hostile foreign power.


  • UK May Reopen Its Embassy In Damascus Soon – Reports
    https://southfront.org/uk-may-reopen-its-embassy-in-damascus-soon-reports

    The United Kingdome may reopen its embassy in the Syrian capital of Damascus in a year or two, the Sunday Telegraph newspaper hinted in a report on January 6 citing a British diplomat.

    “Give it a year or two and you can bet we’ll be reopening our embassy,” the unnamed diplomat said in the what the British newspaper described it as “an off-the-cuff remark.”

    During the last two weeks, the restoration of the Syrian-British relations was discussed by several unofficial figures. On December 30, former UK Ambassador to Syria said that we may witness the return of the British and French ambassadors to Damascus during 2019.

    Le même jour : https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2019/01/05/roads-lead-damascus-world-welcoming-bashar-al-assad-cold
    All roads lead to Damascus: How the world is welcoming Bashar al-Assad in from the cold
    et
    Bashar al-Assad’s international rehabilitation has begun
    https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/monkey-cage/wp/2019/01/05/assads-long-road-to-international-rehabilitation

    #normalisation #syrie #prédiction_autoréalisatrice


  • ‘Saudi, UAE assisted Assad in detecting, killing Syrian opposition leaders’
    https://www.yenisafak.com/en/world/saudi-uae-assisted-assad-in-detecting-killing-syrian-opposition-leaders-3

    Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE), which has recently reopened its embassy in Damascus, cooperated with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, leading to the detection and killing of close to 80 leaders of the Syrian opposition.

    The locations of Jaysh al-Islam’s leader Zahran Alloush, Ahrar al-Sham leaders Hassan Aboud and Khalid al-Suri, leader of Liwa al-Tawhid Abdulkadir Salih, who all fell martyrs to the bombings of the Syrian regime, were shared by Saudi Arabia and the UAE with Assad, according to a Syrian opposition commander.

    In an exclusive interview with Yeni Şafak daily, Mahmoud Sulayman, a commander of the Mohammad Al-Fateh brigade, revealed that between the years 2012 and 2014, the Abu Dhabi and Riyadh brought hundreds of satellite phones to the front.

    “The passwords of the UAE-made ‘Thuraya’ and the British-made ‘Inmarsat’ satellite phones, which were given to group commanders by the UAE and Saudi Arabia, were shared with Damascus, thus this information led to the killings of dozens of opposition commanders,” he said.

    La source est... turque.

    Toujours se méfier des cadeaux qu’on vous fait (message valable pour les Kurdes aussi !)

    #syrie #grand_jeu #tic_arabes


  • Sic Semper Tyrannis : Two new US bases in western Iraq.
    https://turcopolier.typepad.com/sic_semper_tyrannis/2018/12/httpswwwalmasdarnewscomarticleus-builds-two-military-bases-alon

    The generals’ club is probably at work in this, seeking to limit the effect of Trump’s order for US forces to withdraw from Syria.

    The one in roumana sub-district  is the location from which US Army 155mm artillery is firing in support of continuing  SDF attacks against the hajin pocket in the SE corner of Syria.  There will be US Army GBs with the SDF adjusting these fires.  IMO those GBs will be left in Syria to do what only they do best, keep the locals in the fight.  This base will be useful as a forward staging point for any raids that SOF forces might want to make into Syria (kill Baghdadi, etc.)

    The other base is at rutbah and is positioned astride the highway from al-tanf in Syria.  In this position it will continue to obstruct the Damascus-Baghdad-Iran main ground route. 

    These two facilities will surely be supported and supplied from the al-asad air bast which Trump visited.  pl

    #Syrie #Etats-Unis #Irak


  • Kuwait latest country to reopen embassy in Syria
    https://www.almasdarnews.com/article/kuwait-latest-country-to-reopen-embassy-in-syria

    Emirats arabes unis hier, Bahrein et Koweït aujourd’hui. Hier aussi reprise des vols de Syrianair vers la Tunisie. #normalisation accélérée pour la Syrie.

    In the course of 24 hours, two Arab nations have announced their intention to reopen their embassies in Syria after a seven year hiatus.

    According to a government source in Damascus, Kuwait will reopen their embassy in Syria in the next 10-14 days.

    Kuwait’s decision comes shortly after Bahrain announced that they were reopening their embassy in Damascus after closing it more than seven years ago.

    On Thursday afternoon, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) reopened their embassy during a brief ceremony that was held in Damascus.

    • On parle aussi de la Mauritanie :

      الرئيس الموريتاني محمد ولد عبد العزيز سيقوم بزيارة رسمية إلى سوريا
      ٤-٥ يناير القادم حسب مصادر رسمية في نواكشوط

      الخليل ولد اجدود ajouté,
      عضوان الأحمري
      Compte certifié @Adhwan
      عودة العلاقات مع سوريا بشكل طبيعي مسألة وقت. عمر البشير قص الشريط، وستتبعه دول أخرى. تصريح الإمارات قبل قليل عن أن عودة دمشق للجامعة العربية بحاجة توافق عربي مؤشر جديد. كما أن رئيس السودان لم يزر دمشق دون استشارة واستنارة.
      16:15 - 27 déc. 2018 depuis Mauritania


  • Opinion | Iran & Saudi Arabia, Thelma & Louise - The New York Times
    https://www.nytimes.com/2018/11/06/opinion/iran-saudi-arabia-thelma-louise.html

    Les cons, ça ose tout, c’est même à ça qu’on les reconnaît... Après avoir chanté les louanges de MBS (Mohamed Bone Saw), Friedman vous analyse la politique extérieure iranienne !

    And how did that work out?

    Iran denuclearized, but the Revolutionary Guards used the release of pressure and fresh cash and investments from the West to further project their power into the Sunni Arab world, consolidating the grip of Iran’s proxies over four Arab capitals: Baghdad, Damascus, Sana and Beirut.

    Worse, Iran and its Lebanese Shiite mercenary army, Hezbollah, joined with Syria’s pro-Shiite regime in suppressing any chance of power-sharing with Syrian rebels and helped that regime ethnically cleanse Sunnis from key districts in Syria. Iran and its mercenaries also winked at Syria’s genocidal use of poison gas and barrel bombs, which contributed mightily to the death toll from the Syrian civil war of some 500,000 people, with 11 million people displaced.

    Iran’s imperial overstretch was halted only by the Israeli Air Force dealing a heavy blow to Iranian units in Syria when Iran sent missiles there to attack Israel.

    I thought the Iran deal was a bet worth making. No regrets. It did curb Iran’s nuclear program — a big deal — but it did nothing to moderate Iran’s regional behavior, which was never part of the pact. Indeed, it may have been the price of it, as Iran’s supreme leader seemed to compensate for making the deal with the “American devil” by allowing the Revolutionary Guards a freer hand to project their power.

    #friedman #nyt #iran


  • UAE To Reopen Its Embassy In Damascus Within Few Weeks - Report
    https://southfront.org/uae-to-reopen-its-embassy-in-damascus-within-few-weeks-report

    The UAE is going to reopen its embassy in the Syrian capital of Damascus within the upcoming two weeks, diplomatic sources told the Lebanon news outlet Debate on November 5.

    The Lebanese news outlet didn’t provide further information on the matter. However, several Syrian pro-government sources confirmed on November 7 that the Abu Dhabi embassy in Damascus is undergoing maintenance.

    #syrie


  • From refugees to entrepreneurs: How one family started over

    With just 30 days notice, the Rawas family was plucked from their temporary home in Jordan, where they’d fled the Syrian civil war, and resettled in Oakland. As refugees, they knew no one, had no job prospects and didn’t speak a word of English.

    Three years later, Mohammed Aref Rawas, Rawaa Kasedah and their four children are running a budding catering business that serves authentic Syrian food such as smoked basmati rice, falafel and fattoush salad. They’ve hired their first employee. Their clients include big tech companies. And the days when starting over seemed impossible are far behind them.

    They are among a large population of refugees who, after fleeing a homeland overrun by violence and political turmoil, started a business in the U.S., integrating quickly into the economy and life of a country that gave them a second chance. The family’s entrepreneurial approach is common among immigrants, studies show.

    An estimated 11 percent of all Syrian immigrants in the labor force are business owners — nearly four times the rate of U.S.-born business owners, according to a study by the New York-based Fiscal Policy Institute and the Center for American Progress. A significant part of that success has been the ability to master the English language, the report said.

    Meanwhile, a 2016 study by the Institute that followed Bosnian, Burmese, Hmong and Somali refugees nationwide found that they too moved up the occupational ladder and started businesses after settling in the U.S. Thirty one out of every 1,000 Bosnian refugees in the labor force are business owners, compared with 26 out of every 1,000 Burmese, 22 out of 1,000 Hmong and 15 out of every 1,000 Somalis, the study found.

    “There’s a hunger for dignified work,” said Dr. Thane Kreiner, executive director of the Miller Center for Social Entrepreneurship at Santa Clara University. Kreiner launched an accelerator program known as Social Entrepreneurship at the Margins, which helps businesses and organizations around the world run by refugees, migrants or victims of human trafficking. “There’s this element of launching businesses, but also of integrating with the new host community so the refugees become part of the community rather than the ‘other.’”

    The Rawas family started Old Damascus Fare casually, by happenstance last year though the family has entrepreneurship in their blood. Rawas owned a successful clothing factory in Syria, where he oversaw about 50 employees. The family lived comfortably in a suburb in their native Damascus. But increasing gunfire, kidnappings and the presence of military groups forced them to leave, and their temporary escape to Jordan in 2012 soon became permanent.

    More than 500,000 Syrians have died and nearly 6 million have fled during a civil war that began seven years ago with an uprising against President Bashar al-Assad. Since the Trump administration’s ban on travel from seven Muslim nations, including Syria, only a handful of Syrian refugees have been resettled in California in the past fiscal year.

    As the Rawas family settled into the Bay Area, new friends and acquaintances in the Arab community asked Kasedah to cater birthday parties and other events. By then, the family had noticed the absence of authentic Syrian food, even in Oakland’s diverse neighborhoods. Soon they were catering events for local tech companies such as Facebook and LinkedIn.

    “We got to the point where we realized it’s not only about food,” said Batool Rawoas, one of the couple’s daughters. “We are making new friends, we are hearing about new opportunities. It’s a way to share our culture with the people here.”

    They’re a powerful example of the American dream, said David Miliband, a former British foreign secretary and CEO of the International Rescue Committee, which resettled the Rawas family in 2015. “They show that these are people who want to work and not be reliant on welfare,” he said.

    Miliband visited the family recently at their catering kiosk on the UC Berkeley campus before he gave a speech, ordering the falafel sandwich and munching on appetizers that the family excitedly prepared for him. Because refugees like the Rawas’ often have to reinvent their lives, he said, that makes them resilient entrepreneurs.

    “In a way, being a refugee, having to flee for your life, having to figure out who to trust, having to figure out new ways of survival … there could hardly be a more effective job training program,” he said. “Those qualities of cooperation, determination, courage, trust are important for any entrepreneur. I don’t want to trivialize it, but it makes the point.”

    The family admits they’re still struggling. Their expenses regularly exceed their income, and they’re overwhelmed by the painstaking details of operating a business.

    “The main challenge for any refugee family is navigating how to survive in the Bay Area because it’s so expensive,” said Rawoas, who is attending community college and hopes to transfer to a four-year university to study psychology and public health. “We lived in Syria, we were from the middle class and we had a very comfortable life. We owned our own house, our own land.”

    “But we’re hoping, in the future, this will be a good thing to support us financially,” she added.

    Their next goal: to own a restaurant.


    https://www.mercurynews.com/2018/11/04/from-refugees-to-entrepreneurs-how-one-family-started-over
    #entrepreunariat #entreprenariat #USA #Etats-Unis #réfugiés #asile #migrations #travail #intégration_professionnelle #réfugiés_syriens #économie


  • U.S.-led coalition kills over 3,000 civilians since 2014: war monitor - Xinhua | English.news.cn
    http://www.xinhuanet.com/english/2018-10/24/c_137553380.htm

    DAMASCUS, Oct. 23 (Xinhua) — The U.S.-led coalition has killed as many as 3,222 civilians since its operations started in Syria in 2014, a war monitor reported Tuesday.

    A total of 768 children and 562 women were among those killed by the strikes of the U.S.-led coalition in the northern provinces of Hasakah, Raqqa, Aleppo, Idlib and the eastern province of Deir al-Zour, said the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

    #civils #victimes_civiles #Syrie #Etats-Unis


  • The Grand Refugee Hotel: The Sequel to My Grandfather’s Germany

    On a visit to one of Germany’s most radical refugee integration experiments, U.S. migration journalist and academic Daniela Gerson went in search of her family history and found an increasingly uneasy relationship between past and present.

    At the #Grand_Hotel_Cosmopolis, an African teenager served cappuccinos to European travelers below clocks telling the time in Kabul, Damascus, Grozny and other global centers of crisis.

    Lamin Saidy – sporting a style he described as “American proper” with tight jeans, lots of earrings and a big smile – was 13 when he fled violence in the Gambia. After he arrived in Germany as a refugee, he was told about this place, where tourists, asylum seekers and artists all share one building. The hotel is run by staff composed of a core group of resident German artists and a diverse team that includes volunteers who may be refugees like Saidy or local college students who want to join the experiment.

    Then, in the fall of 2016, at a meeting in Washington, D.C., on immigration, a public artist gave a presentation on cultural integration initiatives in #Augsburg like none I had seen in more than a decade of reporting on immigration in the United States and Europe.

    The artist flashed images of the migrant job center, cafe and immigrant rights organization called Tuer an Tuer, which helped convince the city to take a stance against large institutional centers. Instead, all asylum seekers in Augsburg have been housed in residences of 100 or fewer people. She also showed photos of the colorful, boundary-bending Grand Hotel. This was Augsburg? It was definitely not the city of my imagination.

    Soon after, my mother forwarded me an invitation. In summer 2017, there was going to be a gathering of Jews from Augsburg and their families to commemorate the 100-year anniversary of the synagogue. I set off, eager to explore my family’s past and to see if a city I associated with historic brutality had succeeded in building a more welcoming society as a result.
    A Welcoming Nation

    When I arrived in Munich, the Bavarian capital, I borrowed a friend’s bike and pedaled down to the vast main train station. In 2015, in what was known as the Welcoming Summer, more than 1 million asylum seekers came to Germany and the station was full of arriving migrants. There was such an outpouring of public support for them that they had to close the station to donations.

    Two years later, the backlash was mounting. Chancellor Angela Merkel’s government had taken steps to slow the tide of arrivals, limiting countries from which people are eligible for asylum and speeding up deportations of people whose applications had been rejected.

    Munich’s size has helped mask the impact of the refugee influx. Augsburg, founded more than 2,000 years ago, is a different story. With a population approaching 300,000, and a popular destination for refugees and foreign laborers, it was a contender to become the first majority minority city in Germany. Now almost 50 percent residents have a “migration background.”

    After a quick train trip an hour east of Munich, I biked across Augsburg’s picture-perfect main square of churches and beer gardens, passing by women strolling in hijabs and Chechnyan kids racing in circles on scooters. And near one of the largest cathedrals, down a cobblestone street, I found the Grand Hotel Cosmopolis. On first impression, it hardly felt grand, but rather like the 1960s old-age home it once was, converted into a lively Berlin artists’ squatter house.

    In a sun-drenched garden, I joined two of the artist founders and a refugee artist for a vegetarian lunch cooked in the communal basement kitchen. As we ate, they explained that the building had been abandoned for six years when some local artists spotted it and inquired about renting it out as a temporary exhibition space. But the owners, a Protestant social enterprise, said they had already entered into negotiations with the government to house asylum seekers.

    That’s when the idea came up to merge the two concepts, and add a hotel. The artists take care of the hotel, cafe and ateliers. The social enterprise, with government support, provides housing for the migrants.

    Three days after the first asylum seekers moved in, it became clear to the artists this was not just a utopian experiment in aesthetics and communal living when the first deportation letter for one of its residents arrived. “Many of the artists stopped their artistic work,” one of my guides, Susa Gunzner, told me. Instead, they focused all of their energies on learning about immigration laws and how to help the refugees.

    After lunch, I toured the 12 uniquely designed hotel rooms: One was bordello hot pink, another constructed to feel like a container ship, a third had a forest growing through it. My stark room, with a long wooden bench of a bed and simple, low table, struck me as a very elegant prison cell.

    Three days after the first asylum seekers moved in, it became clear to the artists this was not just a utopian experiment in aesthetics and communal living when the first deportation letter for one of its residents arrived.

    Gunzner, who teamed up with an Iranian artist to create the room, told me it symbolized freedom. The room is a homage to a Persian woman who moved with her family to Europe at the beginning of the 20th century and later became a spy against the Nazis. Gunzner pointed out illustrations of trees on the wall from Shiraz. “We are always trying to enrich each other and find out – sometimes through very slow processes – who the other person is,” she told me.

    Left on my own, I walked downstairs to the refugee floor, and passed a half-dozen or so baby carriages crowding the stairwell. I had been warned I was only allowed to intrude if an asylum seeker invited me in. The founders of the hotel like to say they “only have guests – with and without asylum.” I was also struck by the strangeness of putting us all in one building as fellow travelers: people on holiday rubbing elbows with people who have been running for their lives.

    Not far from Augsburg, in the aftermath of World War II, my other grandparents – on my father’s side – landed in a very different type of refugee camp, set up by the United Nations and largely funded by the United States. They were Polish Jews whose families had been slaughtered in the streets and in concentration camps. They survived the war in Siberian labor camps and in Uzbek villages, where my father was born.

    In the desperate limbo of the displaced persons camp, they created a community – my grandfather took part in local governance; my father remembers a pet dog, Blackie, a synagogue and a school. What would my grandmother have said if artists lived upstairs and American tourists stayed for a week or two, temporarily sharing her first home outside Poland, the place where my father formed his first memories? Would she have appreciated the attention, or would she have felt like a monkey in the zoo?
    The Shadow of the Past

    It was not the first time that I had traveled to Germany and discovered echoes of my family’s past in my present, as I grapple with issues of migration, persecution and intolerance today as a journalist and academic.

    A decade ago, I spent a little over a year researching contemporary guest worker policies in Berlin and Bonn. Despite my last living relative who survived the Holocaust reprimanding me that Germany was no place for a nice Jewish girl, I fell for the country’s bike and cafe culture, numerous lakes and deliberate approach to its troubled history. I almost always felt welcome as a Jew. Even my neighbor who was a neo-Nazi was dating a Venezuelan and liked to come over and chat with me. Another neighbor, whose grandfather had been active in Hitler Youth, became one of my closest friends.

    Though I was sometimes disturbed by the recent stance that Germany was not a country of immigration, as well as the focus on integration – this notion some leaders interpreted as demanding that newcomers should cede their other cultural identities – I, in many ways, felt that Germany had dealt with its past in ways that could be a lesson to all nations.

    Ten years later, I visited a Germany increasingly conflicted about its moral obligations as it confronted the refugee crisis. And in Augsburg the juxtaposition of this tolerant, generous nation and the pernicious shadow of its intolerant past were in stark relief.

    I left the Grand Hotel on Sunday morning to meet other descendants of Augsburg Jews in the glorious sanctuary of the synagogue built in 1917. The descendants of those who fled the Nazis, or had the foresight or luck to leave before the war, had traveled from South Africa, Norway, Israel and across the United States. Civil leaders turned out in large numbers to pledge “never again.” It was a familiar message. But the synagogue’s attic museum reminded me how quickly a nation can shift toward hate. For the first time, it felt less like a history lesson and more like a warning that struck very close to home.

    In Augsburg, the juxtaposition of this tolerant, generous nation, and the pernicious shadow of its intolerant past were in stark relief.

    Created in 1985, the Augsburg synagogue houses the first independent museum in Germany dedicated to Jewish history. It tells the story of how there were only 1,500 Jews in Augsburg when the Nazis came, but they enjoyed comfortable local prominence. The synagogue is a clear sign of that position. Congregants built the sanctuary – one of the most beautiful I have ever seen, with its 95ft (29m) dome and an architectural style that spans from Byzantine and Oriental elements to Art Noveau – investing in what they imagined would be a vibrant future in Augsburg.

    I was struck by a slide titled “Integration through Achievement.” The museum describes the dreams of these Jews, and it reminded me of the aspirations of many of the asylum seekers I met during my stay in Augsburg. They did not want just to live free from danger, they wanted an opportunity to be productive, successful German citizens. Chillingly, the museum concludes, the local Jewish communities were “extinguished totally.”
    Looking Back, Looking Forward

    In the year since my visit to the synagogue, I have covered U.S. authorities tearing apart asylum-seeking families as part of a larger, often vicious, crackdown. While I wish I could at least point to Germany today as a model of how to do things differently, the picture is unfortunately not so black and white.

    In German elections last fall, the far-right anti-immigrant Alternative for Germany party – whose senior member maintains that the country should be more positive about its Nazi past – won 13 percent of the popular vote. According to current polls, the party is on track to win around a similar proportion of votes in upcoming regional parliamentary elections in Bavaria on October 14.

    This year, the leader of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s sister party in Bavaria, Interior Minister Horst Seehofer, pushed her to clamp down on border policy. In the eastern German city of Chemnitz, far-right protests against immigrants in recent weeks were accompanied by xenophobic tirades.

    In August Seehofer instituted the beginning of a new plan in Bavaria that could soon transform how asylum seekers are treated. In what he described as a national model, the goal is to expedite rapid deportations. Most new asylum seekers will be transported to institutions that can house more than 1,000 people, where they will not be in contact with anyone who is not an official or a lawyer or has specific permission.

    “That’s the opposite of what we tried to do in the last years, now we are going two steps back,” said Tuelay Ates-Brunner, the managing director of Tuer an Tuer. “For people who will be rejected, nobody will see them, nobody will know them.”

    “My first impression was that I felt like I was in a new world,” Saidy told me to the beat of Afro Pop on the jukebox. “The hotel is kind of incomparable.”

    The Grand Hotel is located in Augsburg, an ancient German city on Bavaria’s tourist-trod Romantic Road. It is also the place where my mother’s father was born. He was one of the first boys to have a bar mitzvah in the ornate, domed synagogue in Augsburg – just a few years before the Jews were forced to flee or perished at the hands of the Nazis.

    Nearly a century later, I went to stay at the Grand Hotel – one of Germany’s most radical refugee integration experiments.

    Like so many inherited homelands, Augsburg was a mythical place for me, formed from family memories I had never lived – portraits of stern ancestors, the men with elaborate waxy mustaches, the buxom women with beautifully tailored clothes and lace collars. My Augsburg froze when the Nazis took over.


    https://www.newsdeeply.com/refugees/articles/2018/10/08/the-grand-refugee-hotel-the-sequel-to-my-grandfathers-germany

    #Allemagne #hôtel #réfugiés #travail #migrations #asile


  • La Russie va fournir rapidement les missiles aériens plus modernes dont la livraison à la Syrie avait été suspendue en 2013 à la demande d’Israel. Mais également meilleure intégration des systèmes anti-aériens russe et syrien et contre-mesures électroniques contre les systèmes de navigation.

    Russia to supply S-300 to Syria within 2 weeks after Il-20 downing during Israeli raid – MoD — RT World News
    https://www.rt.com/news/439190-russia-il20-downing-reaction


    FILE PHOTO : S-300 air defense system
    © Uliana Solovyova / Sputnik

    Within two weeks Russia will complete the delivery to Damascus of an S-300 air defense system previously suspended on a request by Israel as part of response to the downing of a Russian plane amid an Israeli air raid on Syria.

    Russia will supply the weapons to the Syrian side as part of response to the downing of a Russian Il-20 aircraft amid an Israeli air raid on Syrian territory, the Russian defense ministry announced.
    […]
    The system was purchased by Damascus several years ago, but never delivered.

    In 2013 on a request from the Israeli side we suspended the delivery to Syria of the S-300 system, which was ready to be sent with its Syrian crews trained to use it,” the statement said.

    The situation has changed, and not due to our fault.

    The S-300 is a relatively modern system capable of engaging targets at the range of up to 250 km. Syria’s current anti-aircraft systems are older models that didn’t stop Israel from attacking targets on Syrian territory.

    The Russian military will also supply better control systems to Syrian Air Defense Troops, “which are only supplied to the Russian Armed Forces,” defense chief Sergei Shoigu elaborated. This will allow integration of Syrian and Russian military assets, allowing the Syrian to have better targeting information. “The most important thing is that it will ensure identification of Russian aircraft by the Syrian air defense forces.” Potentially it would also expose Israeli aircraft tracked by Russian radar stations to Syrian fire.

    The third measure announced by the Russian defense ministry is a blanket of electronic countermeasures over Syrian coastline, which would “suppress satellite navigation, onboard radar systems and communications of warplanes attacking targets on Syrian territory.

    • https://fr.sputniknews.com/international/201809241038205410-russie-syrie-catastrophe

      « Je (Choigou, le ministre de la Défense) souligne qu’en 2013, à la demande de la partie israélienne, nous avons suspendu la livraison d’un complexe S-300 à la Syrie, étant prêt à être envoyé et le personnel militaire syrien ayant suivi la formation nécessaire », a-t-il déclaré en ajoutant : « Aujourd’hui la situation a changé. Et ce n’est pas de notre fait ».

    • La Russie va livrer des systèmes antiaériens S-300 à l’armée syrienne
      LE MONDE | 24.09.2018 à 12h39 • Mis à jour le 24.09.2018 à 14h24
      https://www.lemonde.fr/syrie/article/2018/09/24/la-russie-va-livrer-des-systemes-antiaeriens-s-300-a-l-armee-syrienne_535937

      La Russie a annoncé lundi 24 septembre qu’elle livrerait prochainement des systèmes modernes de défense antiaérienne S-300 à l’armée syrienne. Cette annonce du ministre russe de la défense, Sergueï Choïgou, intervient quelques jours après la destruction par erreur d’un avion russe à la suite d’un raid de l’aviation israélienne.

      « Les forces armées syriennes seront fournies d’ici à deux semaines en systèmes modernes S-300. Ils sont capables d’intercepter des appareils sur une distance de plus de 250 km et peuvent frapper en même temps plusieurs cibles dans les airs », a précisé M. Choïgou. Moscou va également brouiller les communications de tout avion voulant frapper la Syrie depuis la mer Méditerranée.

      « Nous sommes convaincus que la réalisation de ces mesures va refroidir les têtes brûlées et empêchera les actes irréfléchis constituant une menace pour nos soldats, a déclaré le ministre de la défense. Dans le cas contraire, nous réagirons de manière appropriée face à la situation. »
      (...)
      Lundi, le porte-parole du Kremlin, Dmitri Peskov, a renchéri en assurant que « les actes prémédités des pilotes israéliens sont en cause » dans la destruction de l’avion russe. « Ce qui ne peut que porter préjudice à nos relations » avec Israël, a-t-il regretté. « L’avion n’a pas été abattu par un missile israélien, Dieu merci », mais cela « a été rendu possible par les actes des pilotes israéliens », a-t-il ajouté. Il a cependant souligné que les livraisons de S-300 n’étaient « dirigées envers aucun pays tiers, mais destinées à défendre les militaires » russes.

      L’armée israélienne nie depuis le début la version russe, répondant dimanche dans un communiqué que ses avions ne « s’étaient pas cachés derrière un quelconque appareil et que les appareils israéliens se trouvaient dans l’espace israélien au moment où l’avion russe a été abattu ».

      #Russie-Israël-Syrie


  • Selon la Russie, la France participe aux bombardements israéliens en Syrie. (Wait, what ?)

    Russian military aircraft ’disappears’ during Syria strike attributed to Israel, France
    https://www.haaretz.com/middle-east-news/russian-military-aircraft-believed-to-be-shot-down-by-syria-defenses-1.6489

    Russia’s defence ministry said on Tuesday that one if its military aircraft with 14 people on board disappeared from radar screens over Syria at the same time that Israeli and French forces were mounting aerial attacks on targets in Syria.

    […]

    “At the same time Russian air control radar systems detected rocket launches from the French frigate Auvergne which was located in that region.”

    • Au moins, les Britanniques ont été prévenus :
      https://www.dailymail.co.uk/debate/article-6172483/PETER-HITCHENS-brink-war-noticed.html
      Almost everyone missed an amazing and worrying moment in Parliament last week, when Foreign Office Minister Alistair Burt gave us a glimpse of the Government’s thinking. They will go to war without waiting for the facts to be checked, and without recalling Parliament.
      In a very brief debate about the war in Syria, he was asked about plans – now being openly discussed at high levels in Washington – for a devastating attack on Damascus.

    • La France a-t-elle procédé à un tir au large de la Syrie ?
      18 sept. 2018, 10:38
      https://francais.rt.com/international/53963-france-a-t-elle-procede-tir-large-syrie

      Moscou assure avoir détecté un tir français, lancé depuis la frégate Auvergne en mer Méditerranée, au large de la Syrie, le 17 septembre au soir, alors qu’Israël procédait également à des tirs dans la région.

      Parallèlement aux tirs israéliens survenus le 17 septembre au soir en Syrie, le système de contrôle de l’espace aérien russe a annoncé avoir repéré un tir depuis la frégate française Auvergne, qui croise en mer Méditerranée au large de la Syrie, selon un communiqué du ministère russe de la Défense. (...)

    • Avion abattu par Damas : Moscou dénonce les tirs israéliens et se « réserve le droit » de répondre
      18 sept. 2018
      https://francais.rt.com/international/53961-damas-aurait-abattu-avion-militaire-russe-15-soldats-bord-moscou

      Après qu’un avion russe Il-20 a disparu des radars le 17 septembre au soir au-dessus de la mer Méditerranée, Moscou a finalement identifié la provenance de l’attaque : un tir des forces anti-aériennes syriennes.

      12h32 CET

      La Russie a annoncé qu’elle convoquait l’ambassadeur d’Israël. En Israël, un porte-parole du ministère des Affaires étrangères a refusé de commenter cette convocation, assurant n’avoir « rien à dire » à ce sujet.

      11h30 CET

      L’opération de recherche des membres de l’équipage de l’avion russe Il-20 qui s’est abîmé près de la côte de Lattaquié comprend huit bateaux, destroyers et navires d’approvisionnement de la marine russe.

      Pour l’heure, seuls des fragments de corps des membres de l’équipage et des effets personnels, ainsi que des débris de l’avion ont été repêchés à bord des bateaux russes.

      11h23 CET

      Le ministère russe de la Défense a publié une carte de l’incident retraçant ce qu’il estime être la trajectoire des différents acteurs présents dans la zone.


      La Russie a averti Israël de possibles représailles lors d’un appel entre ministres de la Défense respectifs des deux pays.

      Moscou rend directement responsable Israël de la perte de son appareil, précisant n’avoir été prévenu qu’« une minute avant le début des frappes »
      11h00 CET

      Les avions israéliens « ont délibérément créé une situation dangereuse pour les navires de surface et les aéronefs dans la région », d’après le ministère russe de la Défense.

      « En utilisant l’avion russe comme bouclier, les pilotes israéliens l’ont exposé au feu des systèmes de défense aérienne syrienne : ainsi, l’Il-20 dont la surface est d’un ordre supérieure à celle du F-16, a été abattu par un missile du complexe S-200 », a-t-il ajouté. (...)

    • https://francais.rt.com/international/53961-damas-aurait-abattu-avion-militaire-russe-15-soldats-bord-moscou

      15h30 CET

      Recevant son homologue hongrois Victor Orban à Moscou ce 18 septembre, le président russe Vladimir Poutine a répondu à une question de journaliste concernant le crash de l’avion de reconnaissance russe Iliouchine 20. « Cela ressemble à une succession de circonstances tragiques », a-t-il déclaré. « Quand il y a des gens qui meurent, c’est toujours un grand malheur », a poursuivi le chef d’Etat qui a présenté ses condoléances aux proches des 15 soldats russes qui étaient à bord de l’appareil au moment où il a disparu des radars au-dessus de la Méditerranée, au large de la Syrie.
      13h49 CET

      L’armée israélienne a réagi en disant « tenir le régime d’Assad, dont l’armée a abattu l’avion russe, pour entièrement responsable de cet incident ». Israël a ajouté que l’Iran et « l’organisation terroriste du Hezbollah » étaient responsables de ce drame.

      Israel will share all the relevant information with the Russian Government to review the incident and to confirm the facts in this inquiry.— Israel Defense Forces (@IDFSpokesperson) 18 septembre 2018

      Tsahal précise que ses avions n’étaient plus dans la zone lorsque les tirs syriens ont été effectués et que ceux-ci sont dus au caractère « imprécis » des systèmes anti-aériens syriens.

      Israël a également annoncé qu’il partagerait avec l’armée russe toutes les informations pertinentes dont il dispose pour mener à bien l’enquête.


  • UNRWA’s teaspoon of fish oil and glass of milk: The protective framework that millions of Palestinians remember
    Even if the United States and Israel manage to scuttle the refugee agency’s efforts, this assault strengthens the ties that bind Palestinians – despite their weakening political leadership
    Amira Hass Sep 08, 2018 12:40 PM
    https://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/.premium-unrwa-the-protective-framework-that-millions-of-palestinians-remem

    Gazans in their 50s still remember, with a smile and a bit of disgust, the glass of milk and the spoonful of fish oil they had to drink at UNRWA schools every morning. As adults, they’re able to appreciate the supportive framework the UN Works and Relief Agency for Palestinian refugees gave them, and which that daily dose reflected.

    A resident of the Gaza Strip’s Al-Shati refugee camp, who studied math at Birzeit University in the West Bank in the 1980s, said half the students in his class were from Gaza, and most were refugees. “It’s thanks to the omega-3 in the oil they got from UNRWA,” he joked.

    The children of Gaza’s old-time residents, who aren’t refugees, envied the refugee children because UNRWA schools were considered better than government ones and even provided free notebooks and writing implements including crayons. But the difference also apparently stems from the refugees’ aspirational mantra. After the immediate trauma of losing their land and property, they educated their children in that mantra’s spirit: Study, because now education is your land.

    Good early education (compared to their surroundings, as one graduate of the UNRWA system stressed) was the basic service UNRWA gave and still gives Palestinian refugees, alongside health care. Most UNRWA employees, some 30,000 people in several different countries, work in these two departments. When residents of refugee camps have more employment opportunities, they have less need of services like food packages. And when UNRWA has to invest in emergency services, this weakens its essential education and health services.

    Even though the United States stopped its financial support for UNRWA, the new school year opened on schedule last week in the agency’s 711 elementary schools located in Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, the West Bank and Gaza. Every day, 526,000 Palestinian students leave there homes in these diverse lands’ almost 60 refugee camps and attend schools with uniform characteristics – doors and windowsills painted turquoise, the UN flag, a few trees in the schoolyard with whitewashed trunks, photographs of the tent camps of 1949 on the walls.

    These uniform characteristics have been maintained for almost seven decades. Millions of Palestinian children became acquainted with the UN flag before that of their host country, or even that of Palestine, and before they encountered the Star of David that they learned to hate so deeply as a symbol of daily military violence. They saw the characteristic turquoise whenever they went to the refugee camp’s clinic or ate lunch in the dining hall reserved for children of unemployed parents.

    The spontaneous architectural process that these camps underwent is also similar – from rows of tents with taps and toilets at the outskirts; less organized rows of a few rooms around an interior courtyard, which stole a few centimeters from the alleys and made them even narrower; the multistory buildings that arose in the 1990s to house grown-up children. The savings of family members who found jobs made this possible (in Gaza, the West Bank and pre-civil war Syria much more than in Lebanon).

    Beyond the clan

    The refugee camps initially maintained geographic divisions among the original villages from which residents were expelled, and even subdivisions among extended families. But with time, and marriages between people from different villages, these divisions blurred.

    In a society that to this day retains both ties of loyalty and material ties to the extended family, the refugee camps created more modern communities because they expanded the bounds of foundational social loyalties beyond the ties of blood – that is, the family and the clan – to a large group of people who were living through the same difficult experience and had to make do with living spaces several times smaller than what they or their parents had before. The social and national consciousness of a shared fate that goes beyond the shared fate of family members and village members was bolstered there, beyond any doubt.

    This happened even before the Palestinian political organizations became established. Until the Palestinian Authority was created, these organizations weren’t just a vehicle for resistance to Israel and the occupation, but also a kind of super-clans that created their own internal loyalties and developed networks of mutual aid and protection.

    The Palestinian dialect was also preserved in the camps, and people from different villages or regions even preserved their own unique accents. Over time, the Palestinian accent in every host country has absorbed some of the country’s unique variety of Arabic, but it’s still easy to tell a Palestinian in these countries by his accent.

    Some refugee camps underwent a similar sociological process of absorbing poor people who weren’t refugees. That happened in the Yarmouk camp in Damascus, before the civil war destroyed it, in several camps in Lebanon and in the Shoafat camp in Jerusalem. But at the same time, anyone who could left the camps.

    Residents of the West Bank’s Deheisheh camp built an offshoot of their camp on the other side of the road, and today it’s a large, separate community called Doha (named for the capital of Qatar, which helped finance the purchase of the land from Beit Jala residents). The Shabura and Jabalya camps in Gaza also have offshoots that are slightly more spacious. But the ties to and affection for the camp – no less than for the village of origin – remain.

    The uniform framework UNRWA has provided for millions of Palestinian in the camps over the last 70 years has undoubtedly helped them retain these affinities. But had it not been for UNRWA, would they have assimilated completely into their different environments (especially outside Palestine) and forgotten that they are Palestinians, as anti-UNRWA propagandists hope or claim?

    There are hundreds of thousands of Palestinians in South America who aren’t refugees (they mostly emigrated voluntarily) and never lived in refugee camps. But they haven’t abandoned their Palestinian identity. It has even strengthened among the second and third generations, along with their political consciousness. And if they don’t speak Arabic, they’re trying to learn it now.

    Collapse of traditional political system

    Without UNRWA, would the Palestinian refugees not have maintained their emotional ties to their towns and villages of origin? Would they not have made this the basis of their political demand for a right of return?

    Anyone who thinks so is confusing the framework with the content. Even if the United States and Israel manage to destroy the framework, UNRWA, this political and material assault is merely strengthening the ties that bind Palestinians to one another. This is happening despite, and in parallel with, the collapse of the traditional political system of the past 60 years that united Palestinians wherever they lived, inside and outside the refugee camps.

    The parties that comprised the PLO are either nonexistent or weak, divided and strife-ridden. The PLO itself has lost its virtue of being an organization that nurtured Palestinian identity and culture and tried to create a system of social and economic solidarity. It has become a thin shell of gray, anonymous bureaucrats and is completely dependent on the Palestinian Authority.

    The PA, as Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas admitted, fulfills its purpose of coordinating with Israel on security issues. It’s a provider of jobs pretending to be a political leadership. It’s also feuding with its rival, Hamas, and that group’s government in Gaza.

    Hamas is even weaker financially. And it maintains its image as a resistance movement mainly in the eyes of those who haven’t experienced the results of its military adventures and delusions on their own skin – that is, people who don’t live in Gaza but in the West Bank or the diaspora.

    In this situation, the framework that U.S. President Donald Trump and former Labor MK Einat Wilf want to destroy remains what it has been for 70 years – an economic and, to some extent, social stabilizer.

    UNRWA’s budget totals $1.2 billion. Its regular budget is $567 million, of which $450 million goes for education, and another $400 million is an emergency budget, of which 90 percent goes to Gaza. That enormous sum reflects the state of this tiny coastal enclave and the ruinous impact of Israel’s assaults and, even more, its restrictions on movement and trade that have left half the workforce unemployed. The rest of UNRWA’s budget is earmarked for various projects (for instance, in Lebanon’s Nahr al-Bared camp, or what remains of Gaza’s reconstruction).

    Eight months ago, when the United States first slashed its contribution by $300 million, UNRWA’s budget deficit was almost $500 million. With great effort, and with countries like Saudi Arabia, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates contributing $50 million each for the first time, the deficit has shrunk to $270 million.

    UNRWA had to immediately cut its emergency services, of which one of the most important is the Cash for Work program that provides temporary jobs for unemployed Gazans. Other emergency projects were also suspended: psychological treatment for people traumatized by Israeli attacks; help for the Bedouin in Area C, the part of the West Bank under full Israeli control; help for farmers whose lands and income are imprisoned on the other side of the separation barrier; mobile clinics. What is still being funded is the distribution of food and sanitary products such as diapers to 1 million Gazans once every three months.

    Because of the cuts, UNRWA couldn’t renew the contracts of 160 temporary workers in Gaza. It also reduced the salaries of several hundred people employed on its emergency projects.

    The big question is what will happen to its 2019 budget, and whether UNRWA will have to cut or even close its education and health services.


  • Did IDF admit giving weapons to Islamists in Syria? Explosive Israeli news report vanishes — RT World News
    https://www.rt.com/news/437677-israel-weapons-jerusalem-post-idf

    One of at least seven groups believed to have received weapons from Israel, Fursan al-Joulan, or ‘Knights of Golan,’ reportedly participated in the Israeli-led operation to evacuate hundreds of members of the controversial White Helmets group out of Syria. The group is also believed to have received upwards of $5,000 per month from Israel.

    The deleted report comes on the heels of another major disclosure: On Monday the IDF announced that Israel has carried out more than 200 strikes in Syria in the past year and half.

    The Israeli military usually declines to comment on missile strikes attributed to Israel, although Tel Aviv has repeatedly claimed that it has the right to attack Hezbollah and Iranian military targets inside Syria. Damascus has repeatedly claimed that Israel uses Hezbollah as a pretext to attack Syrian military formations and installations, accusing Tel Aviv of “directly supporting ISIS and other terror organizations.”

    Le lien vers l’article en cache : https://webcache.googleusercontent.com/search?q=cache:5JDOiVV-EgUJ:https://www.jpost.com/Israel-News/IDF-confirms-Israel-provided-light-weapons-to-Syrian-reb

    #israël #syrie

    • Le Wall Street Journal en parlait l’an dernier,
      https://www.wsj.com/articles/israel-gives-secret-aid-to-syrian-rebels-1497813430

      Report: Israel Gives Secret Aid to Syrian Rebels | Israel Defense
      http://www.israeldefense.co.il/en/node/30036

      “Israel stood by our side in a heroic way,” a spokesman for the rebel group #Fursan_al-Joulan, or Knights of the Golan, Moatasem al-Golani, told the Journal. “We wouldn’t have survived without Israel’s assistance.”

      Abu Suhayb, a nom de guerre of the commander who leads the group, told the newspaper he receives approximately $5,000 a month from Israel. According to the report, the group made contact with Israel in 2013 after a raid on regime forces and turned to Israel for help with its wounded. The group said it was a turning point as Israel then began sending funds and aid, assistance soon extended to other groups.

      In response to the Wall Street Journal report, the IDF said Israel was “committed to securing the borders of Israel and preventing the establishment of terror cells and hostile forces… in addition to providing humanitarian aid to the Syrians living in the area.”


  • Heat: the next big inequality issue | Cities | The Guardian
    https://www.theguardian.com/cities/2018/aug/13/heat-next-big-inequality-issue-heatwaves-world

    But air conditioning will remain out of reach for many, even as it increasingly becomes a necessity. In 2014, Public Health England raised concerns that “the distribution of cooling systems may reflect socioeconomic inequalities unless they are heavily subsidised,” adding that rising fuel costs could further exacerbate this. And when we need to use less energy and cool the planet, not just our homes and offices, relying upon air conditioning is not a viable long-term plan – and certainly not for everyone.

    ‘In Cairo everything is suffocating’


    Most of the research into heatwaves and public health has focused on western countries; Benmarhnia says more studies have been done on the city of Phoenix, Arizona, than the entire continent of Africa. But the problem is global, and especially pronounced across urban slums such as the ashwiyyat in Cairo, where temperatures during the city’s five-month-long summers have peaked at 46C (115F).

    Traditionally Egyptians built low buildings close together, forming dense networks of shaded alleyways where people could keep cool during summer. But the rapid construction of high-rises and decreasing green spaces have made one of the fastest-growing cities in the world increasingly stifling. Subsidy cuts have brought about a rise of 18-42% in electricity costs, affecting many poor residents’ options for cooling down.

    Um Hamad, 41, works as a cleaner and lives with his family in a small flat in Musturad in the city’s north. Though he considers them lucky to live on the relatively cool first floor, “in Cairo everything is suffocating”, he says. Hamad use fans and water to keep cool inside, but the water bill is becoming expensive . “There’s always that trick of sleeping on the floor, and we wear cotton clothes ,” he says. “The temperatures are harder to deal with for women who wear the hijab, so I always tell my daughters to wear only two layers and to wear bright colours.”

    In a tight-knit cluster of urban dwellings in Giza, to Cairo’s south, Yassin Al-Ouqba, 42, a train maintenance worker, lives in a house built from a mixture of bricks and mud-bricks. In August, he says, it becomes “like an oven”. “I have a fan and I place it in front of a plate of ice so that it spreads cold air throughout the room. I spread cold water all over the sheets.”

    Compounding the threat posed by the changing climate is the refugee crisis. The two are intimately linked, with extreme weather events often a factor in social, political and economic instability. A paper published in the journal Science in December found that if greenhouse gas emissions were not meaningfully reduced global asylum applications would increase by almost 200% by the end of the century.

    On a plain north of Amman, some 80,000 Syrians live in the Za’atari refugee camp, a semi-permanent urban settlement set up six years ago and now considered Jordan’s fourth-largest city. Hamda Al-Marzouq, 27, arrived three years ago, fleeing airstrikes on her neighbourhood in the outskirts of Damascus.

    Her husband had gone missing during the war, and she was desperate to save her young son and extended family. Eight of them now live in a prefabricated shelter, essentially a large metal box, which Al-Marzouq says turns into an oven during the summer.

    It’s suffocating. We soak the towels and try to breathe through them

    Hamda Al-Marzouq, Za’atari camp resident
    “It’s a desert area, and we’re suffering,” she says by phone from the camp. “We have different ways of coping. We wake in the early morning and soak the floor with water. Then we sprinkle water on ourselves.” There is no daytime electricity, so fans are useless. When power does arrive at night, the desert has already cooled.

    Many days, her family will wait until the evening to walk outside, wrapping wet towels around their heads. But the biggest problem are sandstorms, which can arrive violently during the summer months and engulf the camp for days. “We have to close the caravan windows,” she says, adding the room then gets hotter. “It’s suffocating. We soak the towels and try to breathe through them.”

    Al-Marzouq’s five-year-old son suffers respiratory problems and keeps getting infections, while asthma is rife across the camp.

    Water has also been an issue, with demand in northern Jordan – one of the most water-scarce countries in the world – surging following the refugee arrivals. A Unicef-led operation will see all households connected to a water network by October, which Al-Marzouq says has been a significant help.

    “We used to collect water with jerry cans and had to carry it for long distances. Now, with the water network being operational, things are much easier. We don’t have to fight in a long queue to get our share of water. Now there is equity.”

    #climat #Amman #Le_Caire #réfugiés


  • China to allegedly assist Syrian Army in Idlib - report
    https://www.almasdarnews.com/article/china-to-allegedly-assist-syrian-army-in-idlib-report

    China will allegedly assist the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) in their upcoming battle in southwestern Idlib, the Chinese Ambassador to Syria, Qi Qianjin, told Al-Watan this week.

    According to the Al-Watan, Qianjin told the Syrian daily that the Chinese military is prepared to ‘somehow’ take part in the upcoming Idlib offensive, especially because of the large presence of Uyghur fighters near Jisr Al-Shughour.

    “The Chinese military has played an imperative role in protecting sovereignty, security and stability of China. At the same time, it (China) is wanting to take part in peacekeeping operations,” Qianjin told Al-Watan.

    Tiens ! Les Chinois aussi en #syrie.


  • The world isn’t flat - Opinion
    The dangerous nation-state law declares the intention of its authors: To teach generations of Israeli Jews that the world is flat and entrust them with the mission of expelling and wiping out a nation

    Amira Hass
    Jul 24, 2018

    https://www.haaretz.com/opinion/.premium-the-world-isn-t-flat-1.6310944

    From a balcony in Ramallah, surrounded by friends and acquaintances, the nation-state law shrinks to its proper ludicrous proportions. The creationists erased a nation from the written text.
    And yet, nine indisputable representatives of that nation sat and joked, turned serious, reminisced, traded political gossip about senior Palestinian Authority officials, voiced fears and concerns, made predictions and retracted them. What a privilege it was for me to sit among them and enjoy what is so natural to them that they don’t even categorize it — a rootedness and a belonging that don’t need verbal trappings; a zest for life; unimaginable strength and courage.
    They were born in a village that was destroyed; in a refugee camp in the Gaza Strip; in Damascus, Jaffa, Nablus, Ramallah, Nazareth, Acre. They’re the first, second and third generations of the 1948 refugees. Some are third-class citizens — fifth-class, now — of the state that robbed them of their homeland. Some returned to their homeland after the Palestinian Authority was established in 1994 and settled down in the West Bank, subject to Israeli military orders.
    >> Planted by Netanyahu and co., nation-state law is a time bomb exploding in Israel’s face | Analysis ■ By degrading Arabic, Israel has degraded Arabs | Opinion ■ Israel’s contentious nation-state law: Everything you need to know >>
    All are members of the same nation, regardless of what is written on their identity cards. They escaped Israeli bombings in Beirut and in Gaza; they lived under Israeli-imposed curfew, siege and house arrest; they were jailed in Israeli prisons for political activity; they were interrogated by Israel’s Shin Bet security service; they raised themselves from poverty; they wandered, studied, worked in left-wing organizations.

    All of them have lost relatives and close friends, killed by Israel or in civil wars in the Arab countries where they used to live. All of them treasure the silent, pained gazes of their parents, who told them about the home that was lost 70 years ago.
    Some of them also became bourgeois. Which doesn’t spare them the checkpoints; the Israeli expressions of racism and arrogance; the forced separations from relatives who cannot go (from the Gaza Strip) or come (from Syria); the fears for the future.

    Not far, yet very far from there — under a lean-to in Khan al-Ahmar — women sit on thin mattresses placed on the ground and talk about the attack by police officers two weeks ago and a wedding party that is scheduled for this week. The strength and courage of these women from the Jahalin Bedouin tribe are equally evident. There, in those heartbreaking shelters, Israel’s greedy racism is also an immediate issue, broadcast by the spacious houses of the settlement of Kfar Adumim.
    How do they live like this, with nonstop threats and aggression from bureaucrats, soldiers, policemen and settlers who covet the little that remains to them? Where do they get the strength to live in crowded conditions that are hard to get used to, without electricity or running water — which are the minimum conditions for community life — with shrinking pasturage and shrinking income, and yet not give in to the expellers’ orders? Their strength comes from that same rootedness and natural sense of belonging, which the deniers of evolution, the drafters of the nation-state law, are incapable of understanding.
    For over a month, this community, which is threatened with a new expulsion, has been hosting mass public events — press conferences, rallies, speeches, delegations. There’s an element of exploitation and ostentation here on the Palestinian Authority’s part. Yet at the same time, another process is taking place, one that is very political: Palestinians from both urban and rural communities are liberating themselves from the alienation they used to feel toward the Bedouin.


  • Patrick Cockburn · The War in Five Sieges · LRB 19 July 2018
    https://www.lrb.co.uk/v40/n14/patrick-cockburn/the-war-in-five-sieges

    The decision to defend certain areas, or to besiege them, was often determined by sectarian or ethnic allegiances. Both the government (dominated by the Shia Alawi sect) and the opposition (dominated by Sunni Arabs) would play down the fact, but divisions between communities were at the heart of the Syrian civil war. These divisions decided the location of the military frontlines that snaked through Damascus and Homs, much as they had once done in Belfast and Beirut. The government-held districts were inhabited by the minority groups, Alawites, Kurds, Christians, Druze, Ismaili and Shia, which together make up about 40 per cent of the population. A businessman in Damascus told me that the weakness of the anti-Assad forces was that ‘the exiled opposition leaders have not developed a serious plan to reassure the minorities.’ Opposition enclaves were overwhelmingly Sunni Arab, though the Sunni community was itself divided between rich and poor and between rural and urban areas. Well-off secular Sunnis in government-held West Aleppo didn’t feel much sympathy for the poor, religiously minded Sunni in the rebel-held east of the city.

    #Syrie #classe #religions #environnement


  • How a victorious Bashar al-Assad is changing Syria

    Sunnis have been pushed out by the war. The new Syria is smaller, in ruins and more sectarian.

    A NEW Syria is emerging from the rubble of war. In Homs, which Syrians once dubbed the “capital of the revolution” against President Bashar al-Assad, the Muslim quarter and commercial district still lie in ruins, but the Christian quarter is reviving. Churches have been lavishly restored; a large crucifix hangs over the main street. “Groom of Heaven”, proclaims a billboard featuring a photo of a Christian soldier killed in the seven-year conflict. In their sermons, Orthodox patriarchs praise Mr Assad for saving one of the world’s oldest Christian communities.

    Homs, like all of the cities recaptured by the government, now belongs mostly to Syria’s victorious minorities: Christians, Shias and Alawites (an esoteric offshoot of Shia Islam from which Mr Assad hails). These groups banded together against the rebels, who are nearly all Sunni, and chased them out of the cities. Sunni civilians, once a large majority, followed. More than half of the country’s population of 22m has been displaced—6.5m inside Syria and over 6m abroad. Most are Sunnis.

    The authorities seem intent on maintaining the new demography. Four years after the government regained Homs, residents still need a security clearance to return and rebuild their homes. Few Sunnis get one. Those that do have little money to restart their lives. Some attend Christian mass, hoping for charity or a visa to the West from bishops with foreign connections. Even these Sunnis fall under suspicion. “We lived so well before,” says a Christian teacher in Homs. “But how can you live with a neighbour who overnight called you a kafir (infidel)?”

    Even in areas less touched by the war, Syria is changing. The old city of Damascus, Syria’s capital, is an architectural testament to Sunni Islam. But the Iranian-backed Shia militias that fight for Mr Assad have expanded the city’s Shia quarter into Sunni and Jewish areas. Portraits of Hassan Nasrallah, the leader of Hizbullah, a Lebanese Shia militia, hang from Sunni mosques. Advertisements for Shia pilgrimages line the walls. In the capital’s new cafés revellers barely notice the jets overhead, bombing rebel-held suburbs. “I love those sounds,” says a Christian woman who works for the UN. Like other regime loyalists, she wants to see the “terrorists” punished.

    Mr Assad’s men captured the last rebel strongholds around Damascus in May. He now controls Syria’s spine, from Aleppo in the north to Damascus in the south—what French colonisers once called la Syrie utile (useful Syria). The rebels are confined to pockets along the southern and northern borders (see map). Lately the government has attacked them in the south-western province of Deraa.

    A prize of ruins

    The regime is in a celebratory mood. Though thinly spread, it has survived the war largely intact. Government departments are functioning. In areas that remained under Mr Assad’s control, electricity and water supplies are more reliable than in much of the Middle East. Officials predict that next year’s natural-gas production will surpass pre-war levels. The National Museum in Damascus, which locked up its prized antiquities for protection, is preparing to reopen to the public. The railway from Damascus to Aleppo might resume operations this summer.

    To mark national day on April 17th, the ancient citadel of Aleppo hosted a festival for the first time since the war began. Martial bands, dancing girls, children’s choirs and a Swiss opera singer (of Syrian origin) crowded onto the stage. “God, Syria and Bashar alone,” roared the flag-waving crowd, as video screens showed the battle to retake the city. Below the citadel, the ruins stretch to the horizon.

    Mr Assad (pictured) has been winning the war by garrisoning city centres, then shooting outward into rebel-held suburbs. On the highway from Damascus to Aleppo, towns and villages lie desolate. A new stratum of dead cities has joined the ones from Roman times. The regime has neither the money nor the manpower to rebuild. Before the war Syria’s economic growth approached double digits and annual GDP was $60bn. Now the economy is shrinking; GDP was $12bn last year. Estimates of the cost of reconstruction run to $250bn.

    Syrians are experienced construction workers. When Lebanon’s civil war ended in 1990, they helped rebuild Beirut. But no such workforce is available today. In Damascus University’s civil-engineering department, two-thirds of the lecturers have fled. “The best were first to go,” says one who stayed behind. Students followed them. Those that remain have taken to speaking Araglish, a hotch-potch of Arabic and English, as many plan futures abroad.

    Traffic flows lightly along once-jammed roads in Aleppo, despite the checkpoints. Its pre-war population of 3.2m has shrunk to under 2m. Other cities have also emptied out. Men left first, many fleeing the draft and their likely dispatch to the front. As in Europe after the first world war, Syria’s workforce is now dominated by women. They account for over three-quarters of the staff in the religious-affairs ministry, a hitherto male preserve, says the minister. There are female plumbers, taxi-drivers and bartenders.

    Millions of Syrians who stayed behind have been maimed or traumatised. Almost everyone your correspondent spoke to had buried a close relative. Psychologists warn of societal breakdown. As the war separates families, divorce rates soar. More children are begging in the streets. When the jihadists retreat, liquor stores are the first to reopen.

    Mr Assad, though, seems focused less on recovery than rewarding loyalists with property left behind by Sunnis. He has distributed thousands of empty homes to Shia militiamen. “Terrorists should forfeit their assets,” says a Christian businesswoman, who was given a plush café that belonged to the family of a Sunni defector. A new decree, called Law 10, legitimises the government’s seizure of such assets. Title-holders will forfeit their property if they fail to re-register it, a tough task for the millions who have fled the country.

    A Palestinian-like problem

    The measure has yet to be implemented, but refugees compare it to Israel’s absentees’ property laws, which allow the government to take the property of Palestinian refugees. Syrian officials, of course, bridle at such comparisons. The ruling Baath party claims to represent all of Syria’s religions and sects. The country has been led by Alawites since 1966, but Sunnis held senior positions in government, the armed forces and business. Even today many Sunnis prefer Mr Assad’s secular rule to that of Islamist rebels.

    But since pro-democracy protests erupted in March 2011, Syrians detect a more sectarian approach to policymaking. The first demonstrations attracted hundreds of thousands of people of different faiths. So the regime stoked sectarian tensions to divide the opposition. Sunnis, it warned, really wanted winner-take-all majoritarianism. Jihadists were released from prison in order to taint the uprising. As the government turned violent, so did the protesters. Sunni states, such as Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Qatar, provided them with arms, cash and preachers. Hardliners pushed aside moderates. By the end of 2011, the protests had degenerated into a sectarian civil war.

    Early on, minorities lowered their profile to avoid being targeted. Women donned headscarves. Non-Muslim businessmen bowed to demands from Sunni employees for prayer rooms. But as the war swung their way, minorities regained their confidence. Alawite soldiers now flex arms tattooed with Imam Ali, whom they consider the first imam after the Prophet Muhammad (Sunnis see things differently). Christian women in Aleppo show their cleavage. “We would never ask about someone’s religion,” says an official in Damascus. “Sorry to say, we now do.”

    The country’s chief mufti is a Sunni, but there are fewer Sunnis serving in top posts since the revolution. Last summer Mr Assad replaced the Sunni speaker of parliament with a Christian. In January he broke with tradition by appointing an Alawite, instead of a Sunni, as defence minister.

    Officially the government welcomes the return of displaced Syrians, regardless of their religion or sect. “Those whose hands are not stained with blood will be forgiven,” says a Sunni minister. Around 21,000 families have returned to Homs in the last two years, according to its governor, Talal al-Barazi. But across the country, the number of displaced Syrians is rising. Already this year 920,000 people have left their homes, says the UN. Another 45,000 have fled the recent fighting in Deraa. Millions more may follow if the regime tries to retake other rebel enclaves.

    When the regime took Ghouta, in eastern Damascus, earlier this year its 400,000 residents were given a choice between leaving for rebel-held areas in the north or accepting a government offer of shelter. The latter was a euphemism for internment. Tens of thousands remain “captured” in camps, says the UN. “We swapped a large prison for a smaller one,” says Hamdan, who lives with his family in a camp in Adra, on the edge of Ghouta. They sleep under a tarpaulin in a schoolyard with two other families. Armed guards stand at the gates, penning more than 5,000 people inside.

    The head of the camp, a Christian officer, says inmates can leave once their security clearance is processed, but he does not know how long that will take. Returning home requires a second vetting. Trapped and powerless, Hamdan worries that the regime or its supporters will steal his harvest—and then his land. Refugees fear that they will be locked out of their homeland altogether. “We’re the new Palestinians,” says Taher Qabar, one of 350,000 Syrians camped in Lebanon’s Bekaa Valley.

    Some argue that Mr Assad, with fewer Sunnis to fear, may relax his repressive rule. Ministers in Damascus insist that change is inevitable. They point to a change in the constitution made in 2012 that nominally allows for multiparty politics. There are a few hopeful signs. Local associations, once banned, offer vocational training to the displaced. State media remain Orwellian, but the internet is unrestricted and social-media apps allow for unfettered communication. Students in cafés openly criticise the regime. Why doesn’t Mr Assad send his son, Hafez, to the front, sneers a student who has failed his university exams to prolong his studies and avoid conscription.

    A decade ago Mr Assad toyed with infitah (liberalisation), only for Sunni extremists to build huge mosques from which to spout their hate-speech, say his advisers. He is loth to repeat the mistake. Portraits of the president, appearing to listen keenly with a slightly oversized ear, now line Syria’s roads and hang in most offices and shops. Checkpoints, introduced as a counter-insurgency measure, control movement as never before. Men under the age of 42 are told to hand over cash or be sent to the front. So rife are the levies that diplomats speak of a “checkpoint economy”.

    Having resisted pressure to compromise when he was losing, Mr Assad sees no reason to make concessions now. He has torpedoed proposals for a political process, promoted by UN mediators and his Russian allies, that would include the Sunni opposition. At talks in Sochi in January he diluted plans for a constitutional committee, insisting that it be only consultative and based in Damascus. His advisers use the buzzwords of “reconciliation” and “amnesty” as euphemisms for surrender and security checks. He has yet to outline a plan for reconstruction.

    War, who is it good for?

    Mr Assad appears to be growing tired of his allies. Iran has resisted Russia’s call for foreign forces to leave Syria. It refuses to relinquish command of 80,000 foreign Shia militiamen. Skirmishes between the militias and Syrian troops have resulted in scores of deaths, according to researchers at King’s College in London. Having defeated Sunni Islamists, army officers say they have no wish to succumb to Shia ones. Alawites, in particular, flinch at Shia evangelising. “We don’t pray, don’t fast [during Ramadan] and drink alcohol,” says one.

    But Mr Assad still needs his backers. Though he rules most of the population, about 40% of Syria’s territory lies beyond his control. Foreign powers dominate the border areas, blocking trade corridors and the regime’s access to oilfields. In the north-west, Turkish forces provide some protection for Hayat Tahrir al-Sham, a group linked to al-Qaeda, and other Sunni rebels. American and French officers oversee a Kurdish-led force east of the Euphrates river. Sunni rebels abutting the Golan Heights offer Israel and Jordan a buffer. In theory the territory is classified as a “de-escalation zone”. But violence in the zone is escalating again.

    New offensives by the regime risk pulling foreign powers deeper into the conflict. Turkey, Israel and America have drawn red lines around the rebels under their protection. Continuing Iranian operations in Syria “would be the end of [Mr Assad], his regime”, said Yuval Steinitz, a minister in Israel, which has bombed Iranian bases in the country. Israel may be giving the regime a green light in Deraa, in order to keep the Iranians out of the area.

    There could be worse options than war for Mr Assad. More fighting would create fresh opportunities to reward loyalists and tilt Syria’s demography to his liking. Neighbours, such as Jordan and Lebanon, and European countries might indulge the dictator rather than face a fresh wave of refugees. Above all, war delays the day Mr Assad has to face the question of how he plans to rebuild the country that he has so wantonly destroyed.


    https://www.economist.com/middle-east-and-africa/2018/06/30/how-a-victorious-bashar-al-assad-is-changing-syria?frsc=dg%7Ce
    #Syrie #démographie #sunnites #sciites #chrétiens #religion #minorités

    • Onze ans plus tard, on continue à tenter de donner un peu de crédibilité à la fable d’une guerre entre « sunnites » et « minoritaires » quand la moindre connaissance directe de ce pays montre qu’une grande partie des « sunnites » continue, pour de bonnes ou de mauvaises raisons, mais ce sont les leurs, à soutenir leur président. Par ailleurs, tout le monde est prié désormais par les syriologues de ne se déterminer que par rapport à son origine sectaire (au contraire de ce qu’on nous affirmait du reste au début de la « révolution »)...


  • The Angry Arab News Service/وكالة أنباء العربي الغاضب: The Israeli former minister spying for Iran: much bigger than Elie Cohen of Damascus
    http://angryarab.blogspot.com/2018/06/the-israeli-former-minister-spying-for.html

    Notice that intelligence successes and breakthroughs of Israeli enemies never get any coverage of hype that alleged Israeli successes get. There were some four movies and plays about Elie Cohen (whose tale was largely fictitious and whose contributions were very highly exaggerated and whose exploits were really invented by the Mossad to cover up their failures) and I doubt that there will be one movie about this Israeli spy for Iran.  Notice how muted the Western coverage of the case has been.  This is the biggest but certainly not the only intelligence penetration of the Israeli military-political establishment.  The New York Times in its coverage today made the story about the great Mossad adventure in...arresting the guy and not in Iran’s recruitment of the former Israeli minister.


  • THE BATTLE OF DARAA IS HAPPENING : AL-RIDWAN, HEZBOLLAH’S SPECIAL FORCES WILL PARTICIPATE.
    https://ejmagnier.com/2018/06/19/the-battle-of-daraa-is-happening-al-ridwan-hezbollahs-special-forces-will

    The Syrian command ignored the US and the Israeli requests to exclude Hezbollah and the Iranian allies from being present in Daraa. Thus, the Syrian President Bashar al-Assad asked Hezbollah al-Ridwan Special Forces to take positions in Daraa and around it to participate in the forthcoming attack.

    Sources on the ground believe the US is not expected to pull out of al-Tanf crossing between Syria and Iraq – as requested by Damascus in exchange of Hezbollah and Iran absence in Daraa – because Israel believes the battle is not going to take place. Therefore, the Syrian government has decided to engage in the Daraa’ battle and remove all jihadists from the south to regain total control of the territory or even impose a negotiation by force to reached a withdrawal of the US forces from al-Tanf.

    The Syrian Army is also aiming to end the southern battle so it can move all offensive forces to the north and al-Badiya afterwards, to attack the remaining ISIS forces present in that part of Syria.

    The US faces a dilemma with thousands of trained, supported and funded Syrian proxies militias in the border area between Syria and Iraq. These militias can be a burden if the US decides to withdraw because they are Arab and non-Kurdish forces.


  • ’Nothing is ours anymore’: Kurds forced out of #Afrin after Turkish assault

    Many who fled the violence January say their homes have been given to Arabs.
    When Areen and her clan fled the Turkish assault on Afrin in January, they feared they may never return.

    Six months later, the Kurdish family remain in nearby villages with other Afrin locals who left as the conquering Turks and their Arab proxies swept in, exiling nearly all its residents.

    Recently, strangers from the opposite end of Syria have moved into Areen’s home and those of her family. The few relatives who have made it back for fleeting visits say the numbers of new arrivals – all Arabs – are rising each week. So too is a resentment towards the newcomers, and a fear that the steady, attritional changes may herald yet another flashpoint in the seven-year conflict.

    Unscathed through much of the Syrian war, and a sanctuary for refugees, Afrin has become a focal point of a new and pivotal phase, where the ambitions of regional powers are being laid bare and a coexistence between Arabs and Kurds – delicately poised over decades – is increasingly being threatened.

    The small enclave in northwestern Syria directly reflects the competing agendas of four countries, Turkey, Syria, Russia and the US – though none more so than Ankara, whose creeping influence in the war is anchored in Afrin and the fate of its peoples.

    Turkey’s newfound stake has given it more control over its nearby border and leverage over its arch foe, the Kurdistan Workers’ party (PKK), which had used its presence in Afrin to project its influence northwards.

    But the campaign to oust Kurdish militias has raised allegations that Ankara is quietly orchestrating a demographic shift, changing the balance of Afrin’s population from predominantly Kurdish to majority Arab, and – more importantly to Turkish leaders – changing the composition of its 500-mile border with Syria.

    Ahead of the January assault, the Turkish president, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, said: “We will return Afrin to its rightful owners.”

    Erdoğan’s comments followed a claim by US officials that it would help transform a Kurdish militia it had raised to fight Islamic State in northeastern Syria into a more permanent border force. The announcement incensed Turkish leaders, who had long feared that Syria’s Kurds would use the chaos of war to advance their ambitions – and to move into a 60-mile area between Afrin and the Euphrates river, which was the only part of the border they didn’t inhabit.

    Ankara denies it is attempting to choreograph a demographic shift in Afrin, insisting it aimed only to drive out the PKK, not unaffiliated Kurdish locals.

    “The people of Afrin didn’t choose to live under the PKK,” said a senior Turkish official. “Like Isis, the PKK installed a terrorist administration there by force. Under that administration, rival Kurdish factions were silenced violently. [The military campaign] resulted in the removal of terrorists from Afrin and made it possible for the local population to govern themselves. The vast majority of the new local council consists of Kurds and the council’s chairperson is also Kurdish.”

    Many who remain unable to return to Afrin are unconvinced, particularly as the influx from elsewhere in Syria continues. Both exiles and newcomers confirmed to the Guardian that large numbers of those settling in Afrin came from the Damascus suburb of Ghouta, where an anti-regime opposition surrendered to Russian and Syrian forces in April, and accepted being transferred to northern Syria

    Between bandits, militiamen, and wayfarers, Afrin is barely recognisable, say Kurdish locals who have made it back. “It’s not the Afrin we know,” said Areen, 34. “Too many strange faces. Businesses have been taken over by the Syrians, stores changed to Damascene names, properties gone. We feel like the Palestinians.

    “The Syrian government couldn’t care less to help us reclaim our property, they won’t even help us get back into Afrin. We want to go back, we couldn’t care less if we’re governed by the Kurds or Turks or Assad, we just want our land back.”

    A second Afrin exile, Salah Mohammed, 40, said: “Lands are being confiscated, farms, wheat, furniture, nothing is ours anymore; it’s us versus their guns. It’s difficult to come back, you have to prove the property is yours and get evidence and other nearly impossible papers to reclaim it.

    “There is definitely a demographic change, a lot of Kurds have been forcibly displaced on the count that they’re with the PKK when in fact they weren’t. There are barely any Kurds left in Afrin, no one is helping us go back.”

    Another Afrin local, Shiyar Khalil, 32, said: “When the Kurds try to get back to their house they have to jump through hoops. You cannot deny a demographic change, Kurds are not able to go back. Women are veiled, bars are closed; it’s a deliberate erasing of Kurdish culture.”

    Umm Abdallah, 25, a new arrival from Ghouta said some Kurds had returned to Afrin, but anyone affiliated with Kurdish militias had been denied entry. “I’ve seen about 300 Kurds come back to Afrin with their families in the past month or so. I don’t know whose house I am living in honestly, but it’s been registered at the police station.”

    She said Afrin was lawless and dangerous, with Arab militias whom Turkey had used to lead the assault now holding aegis over the town. “The Turks try to stop the looting but some militias are very malicious,” she said. “They mess with us and the Kurds, it’s not stable here.”

    Both Umm Abdallah and another Ghouta resident, Abu Khaled Abbas, 23, had their homes confiscated by the Assad regime before fleeing to the north. “The Assad army stole everything, even the sinks,” said Abbas.

    “These militias now are not leaving anyone alone [in Afrin], how do you think they will treat the Kurds? There are bad things happening, murder, harassment, rapes, and theft. They believe they ‘freed’ the land so they own it now.”


    https://www.theguardian.com/world/2018/jun/07/too-many-strange-faces-kurds-fear-forced-demographic-shift-in-afrin
    #Kurdes #Kurdistan #occupation #dépossession #Syrie #déplacés_internes #IDPs #destruction
    cc @tchaala_la


  • US Condemns Syria’s Decision to Recognize 2 Breakaway #Georgia Regions | Asharq AL-awsat
    https://aawsat.com/english/home/article/1284956/us-condemns-syria%E2%80%99s-decision-recognize-2-breakaway-georgia-regions

    The United States condemned on Wednesday the Syrian regime for recognizing two breakaway regions in Georgia and establishing diplomatic ties with them.

    “The United States strongly condemns the Syrian regime’s intention to establish diplomatic relations with the Russian-occupied Georgian regions of #Abkhazia and #South_Ossetia,” US State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said in a statement.

    It added that it fully backed Georgia’s independence and reiterating its call for Russia to withdraw from the area.

    “_These regions are part of Georgia. The United States’ position on Abkhazia and South Ossetia is unwavering,” the statement said.

    On Tuesday [29/05/18], Georgia said it would sever diplomatic relations with Syria after Damascus moved to recognize the two regions as independent states.

    With this act the Assad regime declared its support for Russia’s military aggression against Georgia, the illegal occupation of Abkhazia and (South Ossetia) regions and the ethnic cleansing that has been taking place for years,” Georgia said.

    Russia, Nicaragua, Venezuela and Nauru previously recognized the independence of Abkhazia and South Ossetia, both of which broke away from Georgia following the collapse of the Soviet Union.


  • Russia says only Syrian army should be on country’s southern border with Israel

    Israel believes Russia may agree to withdrawing Iranian forces and allied Shi’ite militias from Israel-Syria border

    Noa Landau and Reuters May 28, 2018

    https://www.haaretz.com/middle-east-news/syria/russia-says-only-syrian-army-should-be-on-country-s-southern-border-1.61198

    Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on Monday that only Syrian government troops should have a presence on the country’s southern border which is close to Jordan and Israel, the RIA news agency reported.
    Lavrov was cited as making the comments at a joint news conference in Moscow with Jose Condungua Pacheco, his counterpart from Mozambique.
    Meanwhile, Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman will leave on Wednesday for a short visit to Russia. He is scheduled to meet with his counterpart, Russia’s Defense Minister Sergei Shvigo, the ministry said in a statement on Monday. Lieberman is expected to discuss with his hosts the recent events in the Middle East, primarily the tension between Israel and Iran over the Iranian military presence in Syria.
    Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu spoke at the Knesset Monday, saying that “there is no room for any Iranian military presence in any part of Syria.”
    Lieberman said that “these things, of course, reflect not only our position, I can safely say that they reflect the positions of others in the Middle East and beyond the Middle East.”
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    On Sunday, Haaretz reported that Israeli political and military officials believe Russia is willing to discuss a significant distancing of Iranian forces and allied Shi’ite militias from the Israel-Syria border, according to Israeli officials.
    The change in Russia’s position has become clearer since Israel’s May 10 military clash with Iran in Syria and amid Moscow’s concerns that further Israeli moves would threaten the stability of Syrian President Bashar Assad’s regime.
    Russia recently renewed efforts to try to get the United States involved in agreements that would stabilize Syria. The Russians might be willing to remove the Iranians from the Israeli border, though not necessarily remove the forces linked to them from the whole country.
    Last November, Russia and the United States, in coordination with Jordan, forged an agreement to decrease the possibility of friction in southern Syria, after the Assad regime defeated rebel groups in the center of the country. Israel sought to keep the Iranians and Shi’ite militias at least 60 kilometers (37 miles) from the Israeli border in the Golan Heights, east of the Damascus-Daraa road (or, according to another version, east of the Damascus-Suwayda road, about 70 kilometers from the border).

    FILE – Iran’s Army Chief of Staff Maj. Gen. Mohammad Bagheri, left, in Aleppo, Syria, in photo provided October 20, 2017/AP
    According to Israeli intelligence, in Syria there are now around 2,000 Iranian officers and advisers, members of the Revolutionary Guards, around 9,000 Shi’ite militiamen from Afghanistan, Pakistan and Iraq, and around 7,000 Hezbollah fighters. Israel believes that the Americans are now in a good position to reach a more effective arrangement in Syria in coordination with the Russians under the slogan “Without Iran and without ISIS.”
    The United States warned Syria on Friday it would take “firm and appropriate measures” in response to ceasefire violations, saying it was concerned about reports of an impending military operation in a de-escalation zone in the country’s southwest.
    Washington also cautioned Assad against broadening the conflict.
    “As a guarantor of this de-escalation area with Russia and Jordan, the United States will take firm and appropriate measures in response to Assad regime violations,” State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said in a statement late on Friday.
    A war monitor, the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, reported on Wednesday that Syrian government forces fresh from their victory this week against an Islamic State pocket in south Damascus were moving into the southern province of Deraa.
    Syrian state-run media have reported that government aircraft have dropped leaflets on rebel-held areas in Deraa urging fighters to disarm.
    The U.S. warning comes weeks after a similar attack on a de-escalation zone in northeastern Syria held by U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces. U.S. ground and air forces repelled the more than four-hour attack, killing perhaps as many as 300 pro-Assad militia members, many of them Russian mercenaries.
    Backed by Russian warplanes, ground forces from Iran and allied militia, including Lebanon’s Hezbollah, have helped Assad drive rebels from Syria’s biggest cities, putting him in an unassailable military position.


  • Liens : *https://www.syrianarchive.org/en/collections/chemical-weapons*
    *https://syrianarchive.org/en*

    Activist group publishes database of Syria chemical attacks | Nation/World | starherald.com
    http://www.starherald.com/news/nation_world/activist-group-publishes-database-of-syria-chemical-attacks/article_d913d0e3-d784-5f52-8280-0f4e032d01e6.html

    An activist group on Tuesday published a database of information on suspected chemical attacks in Syria , adding to a growing collection of videos and images documenting alleged war crimes during the seven-year conflict.

    The Syrian Archive, which works with human rights groups such as Amnesty International, said it has verified 861 videos covering some 212 attacks — most of them believed to have been carried out by government forces.

    The material comes from 193 sources and much of it was uploaded to social media by ordinary Syrians, the group’s co-founder, Hadi al-Khatib, told an audience in Berlin.

    Al-Khatib, who has lived in Germany since 2014, said the group wants to preserve sensitive material from disappearing , so that it might eventually be used to bring those responsible for war crimes to trial. But the team, which is spread across Europe and the Middle East, also wants to “add value” to the raw material, such as by determining the location where a video was taken and, most importantly, verifying that it shows what is claimed.

    The Syrian Archive cooperates with the open source journalism site Bellingcat that has made a name for itself forensically examining footage from war zones.

    While most of the chemical attacks documented by the group are alleged to have been carried out by forces loyal to President Bashar Assad, including most recently in the town of Douma near Damascus, a handful have been attributed to rebel forces and the Islamic State extremist group, said Abdulrahman al-Jaloud, one of the Syrian Archive’s researchers.

    Al-Khatib said he and fellow activists try not to get disheartened by the fact that efforts to bring those responsible for war crimes in Syria to trial have so far been unsuccessful.

    “That doesn’t mean we should stop,” he said. “We are looking forward to the day when we can use this material, because the reconstruction of Syria must include acknowledging, investigating and prosecuting crimes.”

    #syrie #attaques_chimiques #syrian_archives