Syria
syria refugees

Syria: Russia plays ‘political games’ with aid access

The UN Security Council unanimously voted to extend the sole humanitarian aid crossing into Syria‚ÄĒone day before it was set to close. The vote on the Bab al-Hawa crossing came after weeks of intense negotiations between Washington, which wants to expand the number of aid corridors into Syria, and Moscow, which had threatened to block continuation of the aid program altogether in the name of protecting Syrian sovereignty.¬†Some 1,000 truckloads of aid pass through Bab al-Hawa each month‚ÄĒand humanitarian agencies say this is insufficient to address the scale of the disaster in Syria’s north. In 2014, the Security Council approved four border crossings for aid into Syria. But Russia has since¬†used its veto¬†to restrict aid access to the rebel-held north, leaving only Bab al-Hawa open. (Photo: UNICEF via UN News)

Greater Middle East
Istanbul pride

Turkish police disperse Istanbul pride parade

Turkish riot police used tear-gas and rubber bullets to disrupt Istanbul’s annual pride parade after the the governor’s office refused to grant a permit for the event. Police arrested dozens of marchers, as well as journalists who were covering the event. The police¬†attack comes amid a period of mounting hostility¬†against the nation’s LGBTIQ+ community. The pride parade has been held annually since 2003, despite being officially banned since 2014. Videos shared on social media show hundreds of people gathered on Istiklal Ave., a popular tourist destination, chanting “Rainbow is not a crime, discrimination is.” (Image via Madonna Turkey)

Syria
Atareb

Protest WHO board seat for Syrian regime

Doctors and healthcare workers held a demonstration outside a hospital in the Syrian city of Idlib, to protest the election of the Bashar Assad regime to the executive board of the World Health Organization (WHO)‚ÄĒthe latest coup for normalization of the regime. “How can we trust WHO [when] one of its executive board members is the murderer who is killing my colleagues?” said Dr. Salem Abdan, head of health services for opposition-administered Idlib. Read a banner at the protest: “We reject that¬†he who destroyed our hospitals be represented on the executive board.” Idlib province is part of a remaining rebel-held pocket in the northeast of the country, where Assad regime warplanes have for years been bombing hospitals and clinics. (Photo of bombed hospital in northern Syria via Daily Sabah)

Syria
Aleppo ruins

Syria: controlled elections amid crisis ‚ÄĒagain

Thoroughly controlled elections were held in Syria, with predictable results. Regime officials declared Bashar Assad the winner with 95.1% of the vote. Assad ran against two nominal challengers, with another 49 candidates disqualified. State media promoted Assad relentlessly; his posters were displayed on walls and billboards throughout regime-controlled territory. Several million Syrians within the country could not vote as they are outside regime-held areas. In opposition-held Idlib province, hundreds held protests against the “fake” elections, carrying the¬†Free Syria flag.¬†In another sign of resurgent opposition even within regime-controlled territory, a group of leading tribal and social figures in Daraa governorate (where the revolution first broke out a decade ago) released a statement declaring their rejection of the elections as “illegitimate.”¬†(Photo of Aleppo ruins from UNHCR)

Syria
qamishli

Syrian Kurdish militia fire on Arab protesters

Five are reported dead after Kurdish militiamen opened fire on local Arab residents protesting against a hike in fuel prices imposed by the Kurdish-led Autonomous Administration in northern Syria. Protests were reported in several towns in al-Hasakah province, including Qamishli, al-Haddaja, al-Rashidiya and al-Haddadiya. The Autonomous Administration overturned the planned price hikes in response to the protests. However, the Syrian Democratic Forces,¬†the military alliance supported by the Autonomous Administration, issued a statement warning that “protesting activities should not be turned into means to strike at peace and security,” and implying that the demonstrations had been stirred up by “outside propaganda.” ¬†(Photo of Qamlishi protest: Ekrem Salih/Kurdistan24)

Afghanistan
Sayed ul-Shuhada

Afghanistan: schoolgirls massacred amid ‘peace’ talks

An attack on a high school¬†in Afghanistan’s capital killed at least 50 and wounded dozens more‚ÄĒmost of them girls who were leaving class. The school is in Kabul’s western Dasht-e-Barchi district, where many residents are of the Hazara ethnic minority, who were subject to genocide under Taliban rule in the 1990s. The students¬†appear to have been doubly targeted as both girls and Hazaras‚ÄĒraising further questions for the status and security of women and ethnic minorities as the power-brokers race to declare “peace” in Afghanistan.¬†(Photo of girls from the targeted school: HRW via Twitter)

Syria
qamishlo

Syria: Kurdish forces take Qamishli from regime

The local Kurdish Asayish militia announced that it has¬†taken control of the last contested district of the northeast Syrian town of Qamishli from pro-regime forces. An Asayish statement said that after several days of fighting, al-Tay neighborhood is to be in their hands under terms of a truce with the pro-regime National Defense Forces (NDF), enforced by Russian troops and the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF).¬†The Qamishlo District Council, an organ of the Rojava autonomous administration, issued its own statement, charging¬†that NDF attacks on Asayish checkpoints were “evidence of their desire to inflame the discord among the components of the region…in particular the Kurdish and Arab.”¬†(Photo of Qamishlo District Council reading statement:¬†ANHA)

Europe
Dardanelles

Strategic strait at issue in Turkish naval purge

Turkish prosecutors issued arrest warrants for 10 senior navy officers a day after 104 officers¬†released a letter defending the Montreux Doctrine‚ÄĒa 1936 agreement protecting passage of international shipping through¬†the straits of the Bosphorus and Dardanelles.¬†The letter was critical of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdońüan‚Äôs Istanbul Canal project, a plan to construct a waterway between the Black Sea and the Sea of Marmara, running parallel to the Bosphorus. Erdońüan¬†insists that the new canal would not be subject to the Montreux Doctrine. The officers were¬†arrested on charges of conspiring¬†to commit “a crime against the security of the state.” (Map: French Navy via PopulationData.net)

Greater Middle East
Turkey Coup

Turkey: 200 soldiers arrested for alleged G√ľlen ties

Turkish security forces arrested 203 soldiers in nationwide raids targeting military personnel accused of links to an exiled Muslim cleric, Fethullah G√ľlen, accused by Ankara of being behind a 2016 coup attempt against President Recep Tayyip Erdońüan. The 2016 episode¬†led to crackdowns and mass arrests, resulting in more than 250 deaths. Thousands of soldiers were rounded up in the wake of attempted coup. The new raids targeted personnel across ranks and regions of the country. Authorities alleged that the arrested soldiers are linked to the Fethullah Terrorist Organization (FETO), a supposed network infiltrating the police and security forces. The suspects are accused of communicating with G√ľlen’s “covert imams” via payphone. “Covert imams” is a term used by the government to refer to senior FETO operatives. Tens of thousands of people have been detained on similar grounds since the coup attempt. (Photo of pro-Erdońüan rally:¬†Mstyslav Chernov via Jurist)

Greater Middle East
Selahattin DemirtaŇü

Kurdish leader sentenced for insulting Erdogan

Kurdish left-wing politician Selahattin DemirtaŇü was sentenced to three years and six months in prison by a Turkish court for insulting President Recep Tayyip Erdońüan. Demirtas, a leader and co-founder of the Peoples‚Äô Democratic Party (HDP), was given the maximum punishment for the offence. He has been imprisoned since November 2016 along with several other HDP leaders. The European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) has ruled twice in favor of Demirtas‚Äô immediate release, concluding that his continued pre-trial detention has an “ulterior purpose of stifling pluralism and limiting freedom of political debate, which is at the very core of the concept of a democratic society.”¬†(Photo:¬†DemirtaŇü’¬†presidential campaign launched outside Edirne prison where he is incarcerated, May 2018, via Wikipedia)

Greater Middle East
Istanbul Convention

Turkey drops treaty on violence against women

Turkey withdrew from the Council of Europe’s convention on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence, popularly known as the Istanbul Convention, by presidential decree. The Istanbul Convention is the first legally binding instrument in Europe to combat violence against women. Turkey was the first country to sign the convention the day it was launched in the city of Istanbul in 2011.¬†The withdrawal comes as femicides and domestic violence cases are on the rise in Turkey.¬†Thousands immediately took to the streets in protest of President Recep Tayyip¬†Erdońüan’s decision. (Photo via Twitter)

Syria
syria betrayed

Ten years after: the Syrian Revolution betrayed

Ten years after the Syrian Revolution began with peaceful anti-regime protests, the UN Human Rights Commission released a report finding that actions by the Assad regime and its Russian allies over the course of the Syrian war have likely constituted “crimes against humanity, war crimes and other international crimes, including genocide.”¬†The UN and human rights groups have issued such findings repeatedly‚ÄĒto little media coverage. The charge of genocide officially requires the world to act under the Genocide Convention. But the world is no longer even paying attention. (Image:¬†Delawer Omar)