Hard News by Russell Brown

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Hard News: This time it's Syria

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  • Moz, in reply to Bart Janssen,

    That I think that will be the conclusion that history make of this as well
    ... a senseless act precipitated ...

    I suppose I'm cynical enough to look at who has nothing to lose as well as people who have something to win. And there seem to be a few factions in that position.

    Sydney, West Island • Since Nov 2006 • 1233 posts Report Reply

  • Chris Waugh, in reply to Moz,

    Hezbollah vs Fatah in Palestine,

    Hamas vs Fatah, surely? Hezbollah is Lebanese and was founded in response to the Israeli invasion of Lebanon in... umm... 82, was it? (too lazy to check right now), and being Shiite is allied to Assad (Alawi, a branch of Shia) and Iran. Hamas, I read recently, may well be a creation of the Muslim Brotherhood of Egypt fame, and is therefore highly unlikely to ally itself with any Shiite group.

    Wellington • Since Jan 2007 • 2401 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    Meanwhile, things are turning bad again in Iraq. 44 people in mainly Shia neihgbourhoods killed in coordinated bombings.

    And: 4000 civilians killed and and more than 10,000 injured this year. 1000+ last month alone. This is 10 years after the invasion.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22848 posts Report Reply

  • Simon Grigg, in reply to Russell Brown,

    Meanwhile, things are turning bad again in Iraq

    Apart from a brief respite around 2009 it's been pretty relentlessly fucking awful there for the people who were allegedly freed since 2004 or so.

    On top of the bombings almost 3 million are still sitting in semi-permanent refugee camps in Jordan and Syria, half the schools and hospitals remain closed or operating at skeleton levels, power is patchy with Baghdad averaging 6 hours a day, a brutally thugish government with roaming paramilitaries is in power and women's and religious rights are are worse than they have ever been in an independent Iraq. That aside it all worked out well.

    Just another klong... • Since Nov 2006 • 3283 posts Report Reply

  • Stephen R,

    The US seem to be claiming that the evidence the Assad regime did it is that the US intercepted a phone call from the central control to an army unit near the front asking "WTF? You did WHAT?".

    A US intelligence official told Foreign Policy magazine that agents had intercepted "panicked" telephone calls between the Syrian defense ministry and a field officer just after the 21 August chemical attack.

    The US also saying they will make a response just "muscular" enough so they don't get mocked by the other world powers...

    Because you wouldn't want to be laughed at for not killing enough people.

    Wellington • Since Jul 2009 • 259 posts Report Reply

  • Rob S,

    Middle East is on a slow boil which could take a long time to cool down.
    Complications include religion, tribalism, population growth, oil depletion etc.
    A few Western chickens coming home to roost also. [Sykes Picot, Israel, Iran & etc.]
    I don't think anyone has a crystal ball to show how it will play out over time.
    Europe has had its own fair share of turmoil over the centuries with accompanying death and devastation.
    I see no winners only the further killing of innocents.
    How the "West" gets involved will be a task for some clear long term and rational thinking which has been largely absent as of late.
    As for NZ, steer clear of the big boys and work through the UN for whatever use that'll serve.
    My inner pessimist is coming to the fore.
    Interesting times indeed.

    Since Apr 2010 • 136 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    This on-the-ground Le Monde report seems to explain a lot more as to how and why the regime might use chemical weapons:

    A chemical attack on the Jobar front, on the outskirts of the Syrian capital, doesn't look like anything much at first. It's not spectacular. Above all, it's not detectable. And that's the aim: by the time the rebel fighters of the Free Syrian Army who have penetrated furthest into Damascus understand that they've been exposed to chemical products by government forces, it's too late. No matter which type of gas is used, it has already produced its effects, only a few hundred meters from residential areas of the Syrian capital.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22848 posts Report Reply

  • Don Christie,

    Military action should be a non resort. Where are the sanctions and other no violent options being discussed? Surely the NSA can grab all of Assad's assets?

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 1645 posts Report Reply

  • Gareth Ward, in reply to Don Christie,

    Where are the sanctions and other no violent options being discussed? Surely the NSA can grab all of Assad's assets?

    US Syrian sanctions have been in place for a while now, including the seizure of all property of the Syrian government and it's senior members.

    Auckland, NZ • Since Mar 2007 • 1727 posts Report Reply

  • Rob Coup, in reply to Don Christie,

    I suspect the US is still remembering Rwanda when it stood idly by as 300,000 people got slaughtered – ‘Clinton’s biggest regret’. Obama clearly said that ‘chemical weapons are the line’ and that’s been crossed (not conclusively by Assad, but definitely crossed).

    The EU/UK and US already have sanctions against Syria. IIRC Russia veto’d UN sanctions.

    Still a mess.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2009 • 18 posts Report Reply

  • Rob Coup, in reply to Gareth Ward,

    Can't see any UN sanctions at http://www.sanctionswiki.org/Syria - just a resolution to send in observers and some talk:

    The Security Council today condemned the widespread violation of human rights in Syria and the use of force against civilians by the country’s security forces, calling for an end to the violence and urging all sides to act with restraint and refrain from reprisals, including attacks against State institutions.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2009 • 18 posts Report Reply

  • Gareth Ward, in reply to Rob Coup,

    I was referencing US sanctions. Unsure what the usual extent of UN sanctions are?

    Auckland, NZ • Since Mar 2007 • 1727 posts Report Reply

  • Rich of Observationz,

    Somewhere between 250,000 and two million people died after Britain withdrew from India/Pakistan in 1946. Should they have stayed on as colonists in an attempt to avert this? Would it have done any good?

    Back in Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 5550 posts Report Reply

  • Matthew Poole, in reply to Gareth Ward,

    Unsure what the usual extent of UN sanctions are?

    Nonexistent when a rogue regime has a permanent member of the Security Council in their pocket. It's why Israel's economy hasn't been ground to dust as a consequence of their war crimes. In Syria's case, Russia vetoes everything.

    Auckland • Since Mar 2007 • 4097 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to Rich of Observationz,

    Somewhere between 250,000 and two million people died after Britain withdrew from India/Pakistan in 1946. Should they have stayed on as colonists in an attempt to avert this? Would it have done any good?

    That's not a good comparison with Rwanda, where the US (and the UN) had explicit forewarning of a campaign of literal genocide. They knew who was doing it and who would be killed, but they dithered. It does seem that for want of a few thousand peacekeeping troops a million people were murdered in a relatively short time. I don't think "just leave them to it" was the correct moral response in that case.

    But that's not a good comparison with Syria, either.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22848 posts Report Reply

  • Chris Waugh, in reply to Russell Brown,

    They knew who was doing it and who would be killed, but they dithered.

    I would suggest the Brits had a fairly good idea of the communal tensions in India in '47 too. I do sometimes idly wonder if the Kashmir issue was left unresolved at least partly out of spite...

    Wellington • Since Jan 2007 • 2401 posts Report Reply

  • Rob Coup, in reply to Chris Waugh,

    I would suggest the Brits had a fairly good idea of the communal tensions in India in ’47 too.

    Whether they did or not, there wasn’t much left of Britain after WW2. They were flat broke, their economy had been converted almost entirely to war effort, and they were dependent on US loans for everything. India wanted independence and the UK wasn’t in a position to say no, so it happened.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2009 • 18 posts Report Reply

  • Ross Mason,

    Maps of Middle East:

    Before

    After

    All before Cut and Paste.

    This set of maps makes interesting looking. A whole series of maps around Palestine with commentary on some about hows and whys of partitioning.

    And what happened to Palestine.....


    Thank you Fwancth and Gweat Bwitain. Thertainly know how to FTU.

    Upper Hutt • Since Jun 2007 • 1590 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    On a lighter note, you can test yourself against the rest of the internet in this find Damascus on a map game.

    I was 64 miles away, which I thought was okay on such a small map.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22848 posts Report Reply

  • Rich of Observationz,

    So the UK parliament has refused to assent to UK miitary action. That's pretty unprecedented.

    Back in Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 5550 posts Report Reply

  • Rob S, in reply to Rich of Observationz,

    Somewhere between 250,000 and two million people died after Britain withdrew from India/Pakistan in 1946. Should they have stayed on as colonists in an attempt to avert this? Would it have done any good?

    Maybe they shouldn't have been there in the first place?
    Don't know how much planning went into an orderly withdrawal but the assumption is that our man Mountbatten wanted to get out as quickly as possible at minimal cost and loss of face presumably.
    What's Latin for I came, I conquered, I fucked it up?

    Since Apr 2010 • 136 posts Report Reply

  • Gareth Ward, in reply to Russell Brown,

    I was 64 miles away

    63. In your face ;)

    Auckland, NZ • Since Mar 2007 • 1727 posts Report Reply

  • Kumara Republic, in reply to Rob S,

    What’s Latin for I came, I conquered, I fucked it up?

    Never studied Latin, but Google seems to have all the answers…

    Veni, vici, delinqui.

    The southernmost capital … • Since Nov 2006 • 5441 posts Report Reply

  • Rich of Observationz, in reply to Rob S,

    I don't think one can really apply today's standards to the 17th century.

    Back in Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 5550 posts Report Reply

  • Chris Waugh, in reply to Russell Brown,

    78 miles. That map is way too small and clicking on the most accurate spot you can way too fiddly.

    Wellington • Since Jan 2007 • 2401 posts Report Reply

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