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. Lift ‘suffocating’ unilateral sanctions against Syrians, urges UN human rights expert

    - UN News

    A UN-appointed independent human rights expert on Thursday, urged States to lift unilateral sanctions against Syria, warning that they are perpetuating and exacerbating the destruction and trauma suffered by ordinary citizens since the brutal war began there in 2011. 

  2. ‘Gaps, inconsistencies and discrepancies’ continue over Syria’s chemical weapons stance, Security Council hears

    - UN News

    The top UN disarmament official told the Security Council on Monday that “gaps, inconsistencies and discrepancies” identified in Syria’s declaration over its use of chemical weapons, in accordance with the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC). “cannot be considered accurate and complete”.  

  3. The vital role of Syrian women in resolving bitter conflicts

    - UN News

    Throughout Syria’s civil war, women have risked their security to mediate the various conflicts that have affected their communities. Since international efforts to end the fighting have stalled, their role has grown in importance.

  4. Political solution still the only path to peace in Syria: UN Special Envoy

    - UN News

    With peace in Syria still an elusive goal, UN Special Envoy Geir Pedersen appealed on Tuesday for the Security Council to support his efforts to move the parties closer towards a negotiated political solution to end the brutal 11-year conflict. 

  5. Finland: Rights of Finnish children detained in Syria camps violated

    - UN News

    Finland’s failure to repatriate its own child citizens held for years in camps under life-threating conditions in northeast Syria, is a violation of their rights, the UN Child Rights Committee (CRC) said in a ruling issued on Wednesday. 

  6. Angela Merkel awarded top UN refugee prize, for aid to Syrians fleeing war

    - UN News

    Former German chancellor Angela Merkel was named winner of the prestigious Nansen Award, for offering a haven to over 1.2 million refugees and asylum seekers fleeing violence at the height of the Syrian conflict, the UN refugee agency, UNHCR, said on Tuesday.

  7. A University for the Kurds of Syria

    - Inter Press Service

    QAMISHLI, Syria, Sep 27 (IPS) - There is a main hall as well as workshops, laboratories and, of course, a cafeteria, where the half-hour break flies by amid card games and laughs. It could well be any university if it wasn't for those men armed with assault rifles at the entrance.

  8. ‘The war on Syria has failed,’ Foreign Minister says in UN speech, denouncing the West’s hegemonic ambitions

    - UN News

    The current chaotic state of the world – from wars to the spread of terrorism and climate-induced disasters – is the result of hegemonic, wealth-hoarding countries and their ambitions to subjugate others, “which Syria knows only too well,” Foreign Minister Fayssal Mekdad said on Monday.

  9. At least 70 dead in latest ‘tragic’ shipwreck, off Syria coast: UN agencies

    - UN News

    The bodies of 71 migrants have reportedly been recovered following another shipwreck in the Mediterranean, off the coast of Syria, which heads of UN agencies described as a “simply tragic” development that demanded an international response to improve conditions for those forced to flee their homes.

  10. Syrians ‘can come together to rescue their country’ from war, Security Council hears

    - UN News

    “Progress is possible” to end more than 11 years of war in Syria, in order to produce a peaceful future for all, the UN’s Deputy Special Envoy for the country told the Security Council on Wednesday.

  11. Syria: Cholera outbreak is ‘serious threat’ to whole Middle East

    - UN News

    The official declaration of a cholera outbreak in the Aleppo region of Syria at the weekend, represents “a serious threat to people in Syria”, and the whole Middle East region, said the UN humanitarian relief coordinator for the country on Tuesday.

  12. ‘My children ask me, what is Syria?’ Za’atari refugee camp enters second decade

    - UN News

    2022 marks the tenth anniversary of the UN-run Za’atari refugee camp in Jordan. It is the largest in the Middle East – and one of the largest in the world – and home to some 80,000 Syrians. UN News spoke to some of the refugees about life at the camp, and their hopes for the future.

  13. Whole generation of Syrian children ‘might be lost’, senior humanitarian warns Security Council

    - UN News

    “Irreversible damage” is being caused to the lives of Syrian civilians due to chronic under-funding of the international effort said the UN’s Assistant Secretary-General for humanitarian affairs on Monday, who told the Security Council the future of a whole generation was at stake.

  14. Humanitarian Coordinator for Syria completes mission to northeast

    - UN News

    The UN Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator for Syria, Imran Riza, on Wednesday concluded a four-day mission to the northeast, where he visited camps hosting thousands of displaced persons. 

  15. Jordan: As vast Za’atari refugee camp turns 10, Syrians face uncertain future

    - UN News

    Ten years since Jordan’s Za’atari camp opened its doors to 80,000 displaced Syrians, poverty now affects an increasing number of residents who face an uncertain future, the UN refugee agency, UNHCR, said on Friday.

  16. Syria: Australian teen’s death in prison was ‘utterly preventable’, rights experts say

    - UN News

    Australian authorities must speed up the repatriation of their nationals held in detention centres in Syria following the recent confirmation of the death of a Sydney teenager at a facility in the northeast, UN human rights experts said on Monday.  

  17. Syria: Security Council extends cross-border aid delivery for six months

    - UN News

    The UN Security Council has adopted a resolution to extend lifesaving aid deliveries into northwest Syria from Türkiye for a further six months following a vote on Tuesday. 

  18. Syria’s needs are at their highest ever, says top rights probe

    - UN News

    Syria’s humanitarian needs are at their highest ever and any move to block aid from reaching the war-torn country should be resisted strongly, a top UN Human Rights Council probe said on Wednesday. 

  19. Syria: Decade of brutal war left nearly 307,000 civilians dead

    - UN News

    Between 1 March 2011 and 31 March 2021, 306,887 civilians were killed in the on-going war in Syria - the highest estimate yet of conflict-related deaths in the country, according to a new report published by the UN rights office (OHCHR) on Tuesday.

  20. Syria: Guterres underlines ‘moral imperative’ to continue cross-border aid operation from Türkiye

    - UN News

    With humanitarian needs in Syria at their highest levels since the start of the civil war more than 11 years ago, UN Secretary-General António Guterres appealed on Monday for the Security Council to renew a resolution on delivering lifesaving aid to millions in northwest Syria, through cross-border operations from neighbouring Türkiye. 

  21. UNDP steps up efforts to keep Syrians off the daily breadline

    - UN News

    As the Syria war enters its 12th year, the impact that the war in Ukraine is having on food security, is being felt by the most vulnerable Syrians, the UN Development Programme (UNDP) said on Wednesday.

  22. UN Syria Commission: ‘unconscionable to consider closing last border crossing’

    - UN News

    The UN Syria Commission of Inquiry said on Thursday that not extending current cross-border aid to Syria along the remaining route, would be a “failure of the highest order”. The warning to the Security Council comes as humanitarian needs throughout Syria are at their highest, since the start of the devastating 11-year war.

  23. Syria: ‘Largest-ever number’ in need, warns UN relief chief

    - UN News

    A story from UN News

    With a scorching summer fast approaching, food prices rising and access to water and electricity limited in many parts of Syria, donors must make good on $4.3 billion in humanitarian pledges committed at last week’s Brussels funding conference, the UN’s senior humanitarian official told the Security Council on Friday.

  24. What the Russian Invasion Means for Syria

    - Inter Press Service

    ISTANBUL, May 20 (IPS) - Moscow’s decision to intervene militarily in Syria in 2015 effectively preserved the Assad regime in Damascus. Russian air power and intelligence support, along with Iranian-backed militias on the ground, allowed the regime to beat the opposition and brutally reassert its control over much of Syria.

  25. Syrian refugees in Iraq, risk losing access to basic food supplies

    - UN News

    Syrian families living in refugee camps in Iraq are facing new and alarming levels of food insecurity, according to figures released by the World Food Programme (WFP) and UN refugee agency, UNHCR, on Tuesday.

  26. UN launches joint appeal for Syria: ‘Apathy is not an option’

    - UN News

    As Syria begins 12 years of conflict amidst soaring humanitarian needs, UN agency heads launched during a European Union conference on Tuesday, a joint appeal for $10.5 billion.

  27. New international partnerships needed to boost healthcare in Syria

    - UN News

    As the protracted conflict in Syria continues to push millions deeper into poverty and increase their vulnerability to health risks, UN agencies and their partners met on Friday to spur action to revitalize the country’s embattled healthcare system. 

  28. Don’t lose focus on Syria, UN envoy tells Security Council

    - UN News

    Although the war in Syria may not be making headlines lately, the international community must remain focused on achieving a comprehensive political solution to the conflict, UN Envoy for the country, Geir Pedersen, said on Tuesday in his latest briefing to the Security Council in New York. 

  29. Rights chief highlights urgent need for action over thousands missing in Syria

    - UN News

    Twelve years into the war in Syria, thousands of families “remain in the dark” when it comes to the fates of their missing relatives, UN human rights chief Michelle Bachelet told the General Assembly on Friday. 

  30. Syria: Rights experts call for humanitarian access to detained children

    - UN News

    Humanitarians must have full and unimpeded access to children arbitrarily held in detention centres in northeast Syria, a group of independent UN human rights experts said on Friday. 

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  • by Anup Shah
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