Stories about Syria

The US may withdraw its troops from Syria but the war is far from over

Not too long ago, US President Donald Trump shocked the world when he made the announcement that just this once, the US would decide to act in accordance with international law. The announcement in question was that US troops stationed in Syria would now be returning home to their families. This declaration in turn shocked what has become a war-loving media that never once questioned America’s military presence in a sovereign nation to begin with. Not many Americans appear to know this (nor do they appear to care, by some accounts) but the US military has occupied approximately one third of Syria for some time now. Conveniently, the ...

Read Full Post

Bidding goodbye to a year of political turmoil, endless warfare and myopic leadership

In the blink of an eye, another year has passed. Like the previous year, 2018 has been intriguing, exciting and alarming. We have witnessed several positive, and unfortunately, an equal number or even more negative events during the year. These include SpaceX conducting a successful maiden flight of Falcon Heavy, Vladimir Putin getting elected for a fourth term as the Russian president, the United States withdrawing from the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC), and of course, France experiencing its worst civil unrest since the protests of 1968, to name a few. Would I say the world is becoming scarier with each passing ...

Read Full Post

The Pakistan International School of Damascus: The unreported and silent success story of diplomacy

Almost all the stories coming out of Syria over the last few years have been of doom and gloom. There has been much destruction to a land rooted in deep and unparalleled history, possessing two of the world’s oldest cities along with people who can easily be called the world’s most diverse set of communities coexisting peacefully; all before regional and international actors made it a battleground for proxy warfare. Before the war, Syria had the most robust state education system in the Arab world, and even the BBC did an in-depth documentary on the diversity and progressive nature of the Syrian school system. It is these real ...

Read Full Post

How the US pushed Pakistan into the arms of China and Russia

The US has always had a curious but quietly spoken relationship with Pakistan. At one point, Pakistan was the third largest recipient of US foreign assistance, receiving over $3.5 billion from the US in 2011 alone. While this aid has been steadily decreasing since the aforementioned peak in 2011, US-Pakistan relations took a sharp turn for the worse at the beginning of this year when US President Donald Trump decided to herald in the new year by launching a Twitter tirade against Pakistan. The United States has foolishly given Pakistan more than 33 billion dollars in aid over the last 15 ...

Read Full Post

Arbaeen: “If you want to see humanity living and breathing, experience this walk”

The 40th – or Arbaeen in Arabic – holds great significance in the traditions of Holy Prophet (PBUH) and Ahle Bait (AS). Arbaeen marks the completion of Ashura, the day when Imam Hussain (RA) was martyred on the planes of Karbala. Since then, his followers and lovers walk to their beloved as they feel his plight as their own. The walk particularly takes place in the memory of the return of Imam Hussain’s (RA) family from Syria, after getting freed from the shackles of Yazid. People from different parts of the world participate in this event, which remained banned ...

Read Full Post

Is Saudi Arabia “taking over” Pakistan?

Earlier this year, when the election campaign in Pakistan was running at fever pitch, I found myself listening to an old classic by The Who. The song was Won’t Get Fooled Again and the line that got me pondering was “meet the old boss, same as the new boss”. I shuddered when I heard this line while watching parties push their candidates. It was literal horse-trading as politicians scrambled to capture the number of seats required to secure the government for themselves. We are barely a few months into the new government and people are already questioning and debating the current government’s decisions. For example, take the ...

Read Full Post

Why re-electing Erdogan will be fruitful for Turkey

For the first time in history, Turkey has transitioned to a presidential system of governance. Following last year’s narrowly-won referendum with 51% votes in favour, the prime minister’s office was abolished, the powers of the Parliament curtailed, while presidential powers were bolstered. Following the June 24th election results, Recep Tayyip Erdogan is now back in the saddle with much more power in hand than ever before. He will now rule Turkey once again for the next crucial five years, which will define the fate of the country after a failed coup against his regime a couple of years back. What ...

Read Full Post

With Donald Trump’s travel ban 3.0, is America any safer?

Today, the Supreme Court allowed President Donald Trump’s revised travel ban to be fully enforced. This ban restricts visas from eight countries, including six Muslim-majority nations. The premise: ‘national security’. But does such a ban really make Americans safer? Here are five points all Americans need to understand. 1. Religious extremism, not Islam, is the real threat There is no denying the fact that religious extremists, and terrorist groups like the Islamic State (IS), pose a grave threat to the United States. These groups pervert religion for ulterior geo-political agendas. Their violent rhetoric – advocating for the killing of homosexuals, ‘blasphemers’, apostates and anyone who disagrees with ...

Read Full Post

Annihilating Raqqa while allowing thousands of IS terrorists to escape – who was the US trying to kill?

Amnesty International released an explosive report last week, which described the US-led coalition’s disproportionate and indiscriminate war in Raqqa as the US-led “war of annihilation”. The report confirmed what some people have suspected for a while but few have dared to even talk about. Namely, that the United States and its allies have completely destroyed a Syrian city, and left almost nothing but death and destruction in their wake.   In coming to its conclusion, Amnesty researchers visited 42 coalition air strike sites across the city and interviewed 112 civilian residents who had survived the ordeal. The results of their investigation ...

Read Full Post

Lesvos: From a tourist heaven to the ‘refugee island’ of drowned boats and lifejackets

I recently had the chance to visit Lesvos, a tiny Greek island located a few kilometres from the Turkish Riviera. This picturesque island, which was once a tourist heaven, is now commonly referred to as the refugee island, given the high influx of refugees since 2014 following the wars in Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan. Whilst there as a volunteer, much of my time was spent realising how borders can sometimes prove fatal.  As I visited the shores of Skala, I could see Turkey through my binoculars. While many refugee boats arrive weekly from Turkey, at one point in 2015, an average total ...

Read Full Post