Syria Unrest

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  • by Anup Shah
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  1. Introduction
  2. News stories from IPS

Introduction

Syria is one of the oldest places where civilization has thought to have started. Its capital, Damascus, is one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world. Throughout history it has seen many changes, violent and otherwise.

Today it is comprised of a number of ethnic groups, mostly Arab, though a reasonable number of Kurds, Armenians are also present. There have also been a number of Iraqi refugees and the main Arab group are themselves from different sects and denominations.

Around January 2011, following on from the Arab Spring where protests against ruling regimes erupted in a number of Middle East countries, protesters in Syria came out demanding President Bashar al-Assad and his government step down. In response, Assad sent in troops with some cities and regions being besieged for weeks and months. Both pro and anti-government protest gatherings have at times been large.

Image: Demonstrations in Hom. Credit: Bo yaser

Criticism of Syria’s crackdown has been quite widespread. The Arab League has responded by suspending Syria’s membership. Syria claims that it is fighting an insurgency that is terrorist by nature and claimed Al Qaeda is involved. It has not been possible to verify that claim so many see it as a cynical excuse.

The ruling regime is a sect of Shia, so has support from Iran and Lebanese Hezbollah, while the opposition is largely Sunni, thus receiving support from other Middle East countries, such as Saudi Arabia and others.

Thousands have been killed — civilians and armed combatants. Some are asking the West for a military intervention like there was in Libya, but the US in particular is not keen on another military intervention even though they have been openly hostile and critical of the Syrian ruling regime for many years.

Image: Pro-Assad Rally. Credit: Newtown grafitti

China and Russia also have close ties with Syria and to date have not been keen on any action condemning Syria and have even vetoed some actions. Some papers have reported Iran and others helping Syria with weapons, while others also mentioned the opposition being armed by the West.

Mainstream media coverage is of course part of the issue; understandably the brutal regime crackdown has been met with shock, horror, etc. But the coverage has also been one-sided in the sense that similar types of violence committed by US-led coalition forces in Afghanistan and Pakistan do not receive similar criticism, but much flatter and measured reporting instead. Media Lens covers this point in much more detail pointing out many propaganda problems in mainstream media coverage and is worth reading.

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News stories from IPS

Below is a list of stories from Inter Press Service related to the Syrian uprising

  1. Conviction of top Syrian intelligence official ‘a landmark leap forward’

    - UN News

    UN human rights officials have welcomed the “historic” conviction on Thursday by a German court of a former senior Syrian intelligence officer, for crimes against humanity. 

  2. UN disarmament chief urges Syria to come clean on chemical weapons

    - UN News

    Syria’s declaration of its chemical weapons programme cannot be considered accurate due to gaps, inconsistencies and discrepancies, the High Representative for Disarmament Affairs told the Security Council on Wednesday. 

  3. UNICEF: Grim start to new year as 2 children are killed, 5 injured, in Syria

    - UN News

    Warring parties should never attack children or the services they rely on, a senior official with the UN children’s agency, UNICEF, said on Tuesday, following recent violence and disruption in Syria. 

  4. UN envoy outlines ‘possibilities for progress’ in Syria next year

    - UN News

    Now is the time to explore whether a political process in Syria can meaningfully move forward in 2022, UN Special Envoy Geir Pedersen told the Security Council on Monday. 

  5. Syria: Conflict, COVID and rising costs, ‘pushing people beyond their limits’

    - UN News

    World Food Programme (WFP) Executive Director David Beasley concluded a three-day visit to Syria on Friday, warning that more people there are in the grips of hunger than at any time during their country’s decade-long conflict.

  6. Landmine casualties ‘exceptionally high’, Syria and Afghanistan worst-hit

    - UN News

    Global casualties from anti-personnel landmines were “exceptionally high” last year, with Syrians and Afghans worst-hit, a UN-backed civil society report said on Wednesday

  7. Syria: Progress still possible, following ‘disappointment’ over constitutional talks

    - UN News

    Although the outcome of the latest meeting of the Syrian Constitutional Committee was “a disappointment”, members must continue their vital work, the UN Special Envoy for the country said in a briefing to the Security Council on Wednesday. 

  8. 'Big disappointment' over lack of Syria constitution agreement

    - UN News

    The process of drafting a new constitution for Syria has been “a big disappointment” UN Special Envoy for Syria, Geir Pedersen concluded on Friday. Following the end of discussions in Geneva, a consensus on how to move forward was not achieved, he added.

  9. Bringing Quality Education to Syria’s Most Vulnerable, Crisis-Impacted Children – Their Education Cannot Wait

    - Inter Press Service

    DOMINICA, Oct 21 (IPS) - In war-torn Syria, the support of Education Cannot Wait (ECW) – the United Nations global fund for education in emergencies and protracted crises – is bringing positive, life-changing educational opportunities tailored to children like 11-year-old Ali.

  10. Four children killed on their way to school in northwest Syria

    - UN News

    Four children – three boys and a girl - were killed on Monday morning while travelling to school in northwest Syria, along with a teacher, the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) said on Wednesday.

  11. UNHCR chief urges better support for 13 million 'exhausted' and displaced Syrians

    - UN News

    UN High Commissioner for Refugees, Filippo Grandi, has urged greater international support for the more than 13 million Syrians who’ve been displaced in the past 10 years. 

  12. Football star Didier Drogba signs with WHO, as new Goodwill Ambassador

    - UN News

    Football legend Didier Drogba on Monday was named the World Health Organization’s (WHO) new Goodwill Ambassador for Sport and Health. 

  13. Process to draft Syria constitution begins this week

    - UN News

    The process of drafting a new constitution for Syria will begin this week, the UN Special Envoy for the country, Geir Pedersen, said on Sunday at a press conference in Geneva.

  14. UN launches initiative to support returnees trapped in Syria camps

    - UN News

    When the extremist militant group ISIL, or Da’esh, collapsed in Iraq and Syria, thousands of foreign nationals were hastily detained in prisons and camps. At least 42,000 foreign women and children, most under the age of 12, currently remain in squalid and overcrowded conditions inside camps in northeast Syria.  

  15. Now is the time to push for political resolution in Syria: UN envoy

    - UN News

    Following a decade of appalling suffering and losses in Syria, and amid a current period of relative calm, now is the time to push for a political process to end the fighting, UN Special Envoy Geir Pedersen told the Security Council on Tuesday.

  16. Syria committed to ‘combating and eradicating terrorism’, General Assembly hears

    - UN News

    In his speech to the high-level debate at the UN General Assembly on Monday, Fayssal Mekdad, Minister for Foreign Affairs and Expatriates of Syria, reaffirmed his country’s commitment to combat terrorism and aim to ‘restore security and stability’.

  17. Syria: 10 years of war has left at least 350,000 dead

    - UN News

    A decade of war in Syria has left more 350,200 people dead, High Commissioner Michelle Bachelet told the Human Rights Council on Friday, noting that this total was an “under-count of the actual number of killings”.

  18. Syria ‘caught in a downward spiral’ UN relief chief tells Security Council

    - UN News

    The UN humanitarian affairs chief warned on Wednesday that Syria, after more than a decade of war, remains “caught in a downward spiral” and that “the country will continue to be a place of tragedy, so long as the conflict continues.” 

  19. After 10 years of war in Syria, siege tactics still threaten civilians

    - UN News

    The future for Syria’s people is “increasingly bleak”, UN-appointed rights experts said on Tuesday, highlighting escalating conflict in several areas of the war-ravaged country, a return to siege tactics and popular demonstrations linked to the plummeting economy.

  20. Syria: Prevent ‘entire generation from being lost’, urges UN humanitarian chief

    - UN News

    Some 13.4 million Syrians throughout the beleaguered country are in need of assistance, the UN humanitarian office said on Saturday, calling for “greater access and expanded funding”, to better help them.

  21. Increased Syria violence prompts largest civilian displacements in a year, as gridlock stymies political talks

    - UN News

    Progress towards resolving Syria’s decade-long conflict has reached an impasse, the chief United Nations mediator told the Security Council on Tuesday, as an uptick in fighting throughout the country led to some of the largest civilian displacements in a year.

  22. Refugee Paralympic Team ‘will change people’s lives’, says Bayern Munich player and UN Goodwill Ambassador

    - UN News

    Ahead of the opening of the Paralympic Games in Tokyo on Tuesday, Alphonso Davies, footballer for German league champions Bayern Munich and Goodwill Ambassador for the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR), has offered words of encouragement for what he called “the world’s most courageous sports team”.

  23. Palestine refugees face ‘dire’ humanitarian conditions amid ongoing clashes in southern Syria: UNRWA

    - UN News

    Some 30,000 Palestine refugees registered with the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) in south Syria have become increasingly vulnerable, following recent clashes in and around the Dera’a Governorate, the UN agency warned on Sunday.

  24. Civilians in southern Syria ‘under siege’ – UN human rights chief

    - UN News

    The top UN rights official once more sounded the alarm on Thursday over the plight of civilians in Syria, as intense fighting and indiscriminate shelling by Government forces and armed opposition groups paralyze neighbourhoods in and around the southern city of Daraa. 

  25. Work still remains on Syria chemical weapons destruction, Security Council hears

    - UN News

    Identifying perpetrators of chemical weapon attacks, and holding them accountable, must remain a priority, a senior UN official said on Wednesday during the latest Security Council meeting on Syria. 

  26. Syria: UN chief welcomes Security Council extension of vital cross-border aid operation

    - UN News

    The UN chief has welcomed a decision on Friday by the Security Council to extend the UN cross-border aid operation in northwest Syria for another 12 months, providing a lifeline for more than 3.4 million people in need, including some one million children.

  27. First Person: ‘Syrians still have ambition and hope’

    - UN News

    As a witness to the impacts of Syria’s internal conflict over the last decade, Bassel Al-Madani, a young engineer and former volunteer with the UN, was inspired to set up Entrepioneers 2030, a group that rallies youth to get involved in shaping the future of their country. 

  28. Syria: ‘Gulf of mistrust’, complex realities, prevent political progress

    - UN News

    Progress towards resolving Syria’s decade-long war is unlikely, given the ‘gulf of mistrust’ among parties and complexity of conditions on the ground, the chief UN mediator for the country told the Security Council on Friday, as he urged delegates to unite around elements of resolution 2254 (2015) and called for a new international dialogue to achieve a breakthrough.

  29. Syria’s last cross-border aid lifeline must stay open, insist UN humanitarians

    - UN News

    The imminent closure of the last cross-border aid lifeline to northwest Syria must be postponed beyond the 10 July deadline, UN humanitarians said on Friday, noting that no cross-line supplies had reached Idlib from Damascus, in 11 months.

  30. UN officials appeal for extension of lifesaving cross-border aid operations into Syria

    - UN News

    Humanitarian convoys from Turkey that bring lifesaving aid into northwest Syria must continue, UN Secretary-General António Guterres told the Security Council on Wednesday. 

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Author and Page Information

  • by Anup Shah
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