syrian war

The Boy who started the Syrian War

We tell the story of Mouawiya Syasneh, the boy whose anti-Assad graffiti lit the spark that engulfed Syria.

10 Feb 2017 12:29 GMTWar & Conflict, Syria’s Civil War

Mouawiya Syasneh was just 14 when he sprayed anti-government slogans on his school wall in Deraa, Syria. It was February 2011, and he could never have imagined that such a minor act would spark a full-blown civil war.

More than half a million people have been killed in Syria since the start of the war. Mouawiya’s home city has been ravaged by street fighting, shelling and barrel bombing. The war has left scars that may never heal.

Now a young man, fighting on the frontline for the Free Syrian Army, Mouawiya admits that had he known what the consequences of his actions would be, he would never have taunted the country’s president, Bashar al-Assad.

His life has been transformed by that adolescent prank. He has lost friends and relatives, including his father. And Syria has been changed for ever.

The Boy who started the Syrian Civil War offers a glimpse into life in Deraa since the start of the conflict.

We meet Syrians trying to lead normal lives amid the chaos as well as those who have taken up arms against Assad’s forces.

FILMMAKER’S VIEW

by Emmy Award-winning producer, Jamie Doran

I was in Moscow recently, chatting to people you might have thought would have known better. Educated folk, among them an experienced journalist. I had asked them a simple question: how did the Syrian war begin?

They uniformly launched into the answer that has been peddled so often in recent times, that it has now become fact in certain circles: “It was the terrorists who started it all.”

The fact that ISIL in its current form didn’t even exist in Syria at the time, or that al-Nusra wouldn’t arrive until many months afterwards, appear to have been conveniently forgotten – not just in Moscow but in most media coverage around the world.

The surprise, even shock on their faces when I pulled out my laptop and showed them the trailer for our latest film for Al Jazeera, The Boy Who Started the Syrian War, was a wonder to behold. They simply had no idea.

They claimed they hadn’t been aware of how, for decades, dissenters towards government authority had faced the daily dread of a visit from the secret police, of torture, disappearance and extrajudicial execution.

They had apparently never heard about how fathers were frightened to allow their daughters to be alone on the streets for fear of abduction, rape and murder at the hands of the Shabiha, Assad-family militias that operated with virtual impunity.

And they were totally unaware that it was a mischievous prank by adolescent schoolchildren that lit the fuse that set a country ablaze.

Early in 2016, I was sitting in Books@Cafe, a hangout for liberally minded Jordanians on Al-Khattab Street, Amman, with cameraman and filmmaker Abo Bakr Al Haj Ali. He was busily puffing away on his narghile (hookah), as we discussed how Deraa, the city which had given birth to the revolution, had been virtually ignored by the media in recent years.

One of the reasons it had been overlooked was that the Jordanians wouldn’t let any Western journalists cross from their side. Almost the only other option was an official tour of government-controlled areas via Damascus that didn’t appeal to me at all, even if they had let me in, which was rather unlikely.

I’d spent the previous week sitting on the border, just an hour’s drive from Deraa, having established an agreement with the Jordanian military which would have made me the first Westerner allowed to cross over in three years.

READ MORE: Syria’s Civil War Explained

There I was, in the border compound about to leave Jordanian soil, when a call came to the post. Moments later, I was very politely placed in a saloon car … and driven back to Amman. I later found out that the representative of the British intelligence agency, MI6, in Amman had advised the Jordanian government that it would be a bad idea to let me cross … even though I was travelling on an Irish passport!

So, back at Books@Cafe, Bakr and I sat chatting about how we could make a film about Deraa without my physical presence. It’s his home town. His territory.

“So, who do you know, who was there at the very beginning?” I asked.

“I know the commander, Marouf Abood, who set up the very first people’s militia, after government troops attacked his village,” he responded.

“Interesting. And who else?”

He went on to reel off half a dozen names; commander this, commander that.

“Come on, Bakr. You must know someone else, someone different. Someone fresh,” I said.

Continuing to drag deeply on the narghile, deep in thought, he told me that there was no one else that was really very interesting.

And then he added: “Well, I suppose there’s the boy who scrawled the anti-Assad graffiti on his school wall that started the war.”

It was one of those moments where you could have knocked my 90 kilos over with a feather.

The boy who started the Syrian war! Think about it. It wasn’t ISIL, nor al-Nusra, nor any other terrorist group. It was an act of defiance, a moment of youthful rebelliousness, if you like, that led to an uprising which has seen more than half a million people killed and a country torn to shreds.

It wasn’t, of course, the fault of this 14-year-old boy and his three friends who joined him in this moment of adolescent disobedience – a prank which would have enormous consequences beyond their understanding. But when they were arrested by the police and tortured in a most horrendous way, a line was crossed from which there would be no turning back.

When their parents and families arrived at the police station to plead for their freedom, they were told: “Forget these children. Go home to your wives and make some more. If you can’t manage, send us your wives and we’ll do it for you.”

Anger rose. The fuse had been lit and, when police started randomly killing marchers in the demonstrations that followed, armed resistance became an inevitability.

READ MORE: The Syrian conflict does not end here

For me personally, this film has taken on an importance beyond many that I have made in the past. To be able to remind (and, in some cases, inform) a massive global audience of the true origins of the Syrian civil war, is an enormous privilege for a filmmaker.

For those directly involved in those origins, however, our film has provided an opportunity for reflection. So many have suffered greatly and sacrificed so much for a revolution which, by any calculation, is and will remain incomplete, no matter what the outcome of negotiations.

Mouawiya Syasneh, The boy who started the Syrian War, is now a young man who, like so many other young men in Deraa, carries a Kalashnikov rather than a satchel these days. As viewers will discover, his own family has paid a dreadful price for the events that followed his actions back in February 2011.

His own reflections are now a matter of record for the first time.

Article from: http://www.aljazeera.com/programmes/specialseries/2017/02/boy-started-syrian-war-170208093451538.html

Video from Al Jazeera English:

Published on Feb 10, 2017

SPECIAL SERIESSYRIA’S CIVIL WAR
The Boy Who Started the Syrian War
We tell the story of Mouawiya Syasneh, the boy whose anti-Assad graffiti lit the spark that engulfed Syria.
09 Feb 2017 10:22 GMT Syria’s Civil War, War & Conflict

Mouawiya Syasneh was just 14 when he sprayed anti-government slogans on his school wall in Deraa, Syria. It was February 2011, and he could never have imagined that such a minor act would spark a full-blown civil war.

More than half a million people have been killed in Syria since the start of the war. Mouawiya’s home city has been ravaged by street fighting, shelling and barrel bombing. The war has left scars that may never heal.

Now a young man, fighting on the frontline for the Free Syrian Army, Mouawiya admits that had he known what the consequences of his actions would be, he would never have taunted the country’s president, Bashar al-Assad.

His life has been transformed by that adolescent prank. He has lost friends and relatives, including his father. And Syria has been changed forever.

The Boy Who Started the Syrian Civil War offers a glimpse into life in Deraa since the start of the conflict.

We meet Syrians trying to lead normal lives amid the chaos as well as those who have taken up arms against Assad’s forces.

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Syria is on the brink of partition – here’s how it got there

By Scott Lucas
Professor of International Politics, University of Birmingham

After nearly six years of uprising, conflict and chaos, the partition of Syria is imminent. President Bashar al-Assad will of course rail against it; his crucial ally Iran will probably resist too, and the marginalised US won’t even acknowledge the prospect. But the lines are nonetheless being drawn.

With pro-Assad forces back in control of Aleppo city, a newly co-operative Turkey and Russia are ready to pursue partition as a short-term resolution. The Syrian opposition and many rebels will embrace it as their best immediate option, and the leading Kurdish political and military groups will settle for whatever autonomy they can get. If things continue shaping up this way, by the end of 2017, Syria will quite probably become a country of four parts.

The Russia- and Iran-backed Assad regime is set to hold much of the south and west, and most of Syria’s cities. There’ll most likely be a Turkish/rebel area, effectively a “safe zone”, in parts of northern Syria; the Syrian opposition will probably control Idlib province and possibly other pockets of territory in the northwest; while the Kurds will have some form of autonomy in the northeast.

A settlement like this has been a long time coming. Neither the Assad regime nor its enemies will settle for just a part of Syria, and both have survived years of intense conflict. The opposition and rebels still control territory from the north to the south; Assad clings on with the help of Russian aerial bombardments and Iranian-led ground forces. All the while, the Kurdish Democratic Party (PYD) and its YPG militia are still defending territory against both IS and the Assad regime.

If the lines of a potential partition were clear some time ago, what stood in the way of recognising them was the challenge of Aleppo city. Without recapturing it, the Assad regime had no hope of claiming an economic recovery (however disingenousouly) in the areas it controlled, let alone in the entire country. But the city was surrounded by opposition-controlled territory; Assad’s military was far too depleted to change the game, and even with outside support, its campaign would be protracted.


The deal

The turning point came in August 2016 when Turkey and Russia began to reconcile. The two countries had always been on opposite sides of the conflict, Turkey supporting the opposition and rebels and Russia Assad. Their relations had been tense since November 2015, when Ankara’s jets shot down a Russian warplane near the Syrian-Turkish border. But within a year, both saw the advantages not only of reconcilation, but of agreeing on what their respective spheres of influence in Syria should be.

A deal was quickly established: Turkey would accept the reoccupation of all of Aleppo city by pro-Assad forces, supported by Russian-Syrian siege and bombing tactics, while Moscow would accept a Turkish military intervention alongside rebels in northern Syria, including much of Aleppo province.

Bashar al-Assad visits his soldiers. SANA/EPA

Bashar al-Assad visits his soldiers. SANA/EPA

Which is where we are now. Civilians and rebels have been evacuated from or allowed to leave the last opposition holdouts in eastern Aleppo city. The Turkish-rebel offensive continues to push back IS, although it is facing difficulties in its assault on al-Bab, the group’s last major position in Aleppo province.

A national ceasefire, brokered by Turkey and Russia in the last days of 2016, but pro-Assad forces are breaking it in offensives near Damascus. The two countries are trying to arrange political talks between the regime and the Syrian opposition later this month in Kazakhstan.

As Andrey Kortunov, director of a think tank close to the Russian Foreign Ministry, summarised it to Reuters: “There has been a move toward a compromise … a final deal will be hard, but stances have shifted.” The same story quotes a “senior Turkish government official” explaining that the convergence “doesn’t mean we approve of Assad. But we have come to an understanding. When Islamic State is wiped out, Russia may support Turkey in Syria finishing off the PKK.”

So can the Turkish-Russian initiative win over (or put down) everyone else who has a stake in the outcome?

The obstacles

The biggest immediate challenge is in the opposition-controlled areas near Damascus. The Assad regime has already taken back many of the suburbs, but two key areas are still beyond its control: Wadi Barada to the northwest, and East Ghouta and Douma to the northeast.

Wadi Barada is home to the al-Fijah springs, which provide more than 60% of Damascus’s water. Since mid-December 2016, the Assad regime’s forces and Hezbollah have been trying to overwhelm it with bombing, shelling, and ground assaults. In the process, the pumping station for the springs has been damaged, cutting off or limiting water to about 5.5m people.

Damascus faces a water crisis. EPA/Youssef Badawi

Damascus faces a water crisis. EPA/Youssef Badawi

At the same time, the Syrian Army and its allied militias are trying to take more territory near Douma, which is the centre for the leading rebel faction Jaish al-Islam. Turkey is critical of the offensive, Russia is staying silent, and the Iranian government and possibly its military are backing it.

Then there’s the Syrian Kurdish movement. The PYD would like to unite its area in the northeast with a Kurdish canton in the northwest, while Turkey would like to push back any Kurdish zone of influence and elevate other Kurdish groups over the PYD. With the Assad regime opposed to Kurdish autonomy of any sort, the only agreeable option may be containment: Turkey will probably accept a Kurdish area east of the Euphrates River, limiting any zone of control or potential military advance. The PYD, knowing it has no powerful backing, will accept the offer, even if it isolates the Kurdish area in and near Aleppo city.

A Kurdish YPG fighter in northeastern Syria. EPA/Mauricio Morales

A Kurdish YPG fighter in northeastern Syria. EPA/Mauricio Morales

As for Assad himself, the Syrian opposition continues to demand that he step down – but few others are bothering any more. The US effectively gave up the cause in 2012, Saudi Arabia and the Gulf states have gone quiet, and Turkey seems not to care much. He may one day be offered the chance to step down peacefully when elections are arranged, but in the meantime he will stay where he is.

Confronted with the increasingly effective Turkish-Russian axis, a US official opted for condescencion: “So this country that essentially has an economy the size of Spain, that’s Russia, is strutting around and acting like they know what they are doing. I don’t think the Turks and the Russians can [negotiate] without us.”

This is pure bluster. For three years now, Russia has been feigning co-operation with the US, and in the process has deftly manoeuvred its Western rival onto the sidelines. If Washington pushes back too hard, it could wreck its relationship with Turkey – which grants it access to key airbases – and end up framed as the main obstacle to a major breakthrough.

The events of the last seven months have only reconfirmed what’s been clear for some time: there is no optimal solution to the Syrian crisis. Partition is far from ideal, and it may only be short-term — but at this point, it’s the only viable alternative to endless slaughter, displacement, and destruction.

Article from: http://theconversation.com/syria-is-on-the-brink-of-partition-heres-how-it-got-there-70825

Why Syrians are fleeing to Europe


15 Syrian refugees, including 18 months old baby, rescued by Turkish fishermen in the Aegean Files. Published on Oct 23, 2015

Why are so many more refugees undertaking the long journey to Europe? UNHCR’s Melissa Fleming explains

1. The war in Syria shows no signs of ending. People continue to flee, and refugees in neighbouring countries are now losing hope that they can return

Inside Syria, the situation has continued to worsen, with fighting intensifying in all regions and the economy and services in a state of general collapse. This is driving yet more people to leave, but is also having a profound impact on those who have already escaped to neighbouring countries.

When people flee from war, they usually do so hoping to return soon. So they move nearby, perhaps to family or friends in a nearby town, or just across the border, where they can keep an eye on their homes and livelihoods. But after more than five years of conflict, many Syrians have now abandoned that hope. Their homes have been devastated, their families torn apart, and there is little prospect for peace. With nothing left, and their places of exile under increasing strain, hundreds of thousands of people are now ready to travel much further to find the security they so desperately need.

2. Living as a refugee in neighbouring countries is untenable for many refugees, who are not permitted to work and are sliding deeper into poverty

For millions of Syrians, their first place of safety was a neighbouring country – like Lebanon, Jordan, Turkey, Egypt and Iraq. But few refugees can continue to pay rents at all, even on tiny and crowded rooms. Many refugees face eviction from their places of shelter.

In most countries, refugees are not allowed to enter the labour market formally and face sanctions if caught. In Jordan, for example, they risk being returned to the camps; in Lebanon, they are forced to sign a pledge not to work if they wish to renew their residency status.

Without income, people are forced, first, to spend their savings, and then to take on debt. Even worse options may then lie in store. After years of gruelling costs, many are simply no longer able to pay for rent, food or basic items.

3. There is not enough international aid to help refugees in the region

Normally, refugees might turn to aid agencies like UNHCR, which are running many programmes to help them survive. But the scale of the problem is so large, and it has been going on for so long, that donors are struggling to find the money to pay for these schemes. When the numbers of Syrian refugees arriving in Europe surged last month, UNHCR began to receive new donor pledges to increase aid in neighbouring countries. Even so, this year’s international appeal for Syrian refugees is just over half funded. Recently, World Food Programme vouchers were cut for thousands of refugees, forcing many into “negative coping strategies”, including begging and child labour.

In Jordan, many refugees have also lost free access to healthcare. Almost 60% of adults with chronic conditions are now forced to survive without medicine – up from 23% in 2014. Refugees in Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon and Egypt say cuts like these are the last straw, leaving them little choice but to leave.

4. Children are going too long without an education

Syrians prize education highly. But in Jordan, Egypt, Lebanon and Turkey there are simply not enough opportunities for Syrian children to be educated. In Jordan, 90,000 Syrian children are going without a formal education, and 20% of refugee children have abandoned school in order to work. Many girls are losing out after being forced into early marriage, another survival mechanism. Even in Lebanon, where education is free for Syrian children, transportation costs are prohibitive and many have to miss classes in order to support their families; 200,000 will be out of school this year, and young people looking for a university education have almost no options at all. If they are to get the skills to live a productive life, to go back home and rebuild after the war, parents of Syria’s refugee children arriving in Europe say education is crucial.

5. Countries in the region hosting four million refugees, without commensurate international support, have imposed new restrictions

Neighbouring countries have not been compensated for welcoming huge refugee populations, which has put an enormous strain on their infrastructures. In tiny Lebanon, host to well over one million Syrian refugees, the government has resorted to imposing new regulations making it harder for Syrian refugees to gain asylum. Most people fleeing Syria can only enter Lebanon if they show border guards an air or ferry ticket to Turkey. Refugees already in Lebanon must pay the equivalent of £130 per year to stay, as well as pledging not to work. In Jordan, the government requires all Syrians living outside of camps to get new identity documents to access services, but their cost (£27) is simply too high for many to afford.

6. The portrayal of a welcoming Europe on television and social media

Syrians inside and outside the country avidly follow the news. News stories of difficult journeys across the Mediterranean and through the Balkans end in Austria and Germany with scenes of refugees greeted with applause, flowers and teddy bears. For Syrians, the idea that they could seek asylum in a country offering the combination of safety, work prospects and education was worth the steep smugglers’ fees and the danger of getting there. Many also fear the gates will close soon and the only time to travel is now.

So what is the solution? Obviously, all countries with influence must step up efforts to end to the Syrian war. But until there is peace, the countries hosting four million refugees must receive the infrastructure and development support they need while fully funding UNHCR and partner organisations to provide for the basic needs for refugees. We continue to advocate for employment schemes to allow refugees to earn and contribute to local labour markets.

At the same time, refugees must be offered more legal avenues to reach safety in the world’s richer countries through increased resettlement quotas, more flexible family reunification schemes and humanitarian and student visas. Syrian refugees would certainly then think twice before leaving their region and risking their lives on a journey to Europe.

For more information:
http://data.unhcr.org/syrianrefugees/regional.php

WHY DOES THE WORLD IGNORE THE SYRIANS’ ORDEAL?

Published on Jul 17, 2015

WHY DOES THE WORLD IGNORE THE SYRIANS’ ORDEAL?

No one could have foreseen that the war in Syria would last this long or that it would have caused so much pain to so many people. 200,000 people have lost their lives, 9.5 million were forced to leave their homes, and 10.8 million are in need of humanitarian assistance inside Syria. The nation has been so thoroughly destroyed, it is hard to say that there is even the semblance of a country left; there is only rubble and clashing forces shooting at each other from amongst it.

Since the start of the war, some 1.6 million Syrians fled to Turkey and were welcomed with an admirable hospitality. In Turkey’s high-standard refugee camps, the pain-stricken Syrians found some relief. However, there was only so much a single country can do and the camps – and the funds – quickly became insufficient as the numbers of arrivals increased ever further. The camps were only designed for 220,000 people and the rest had no option but to make their way into metropolitan areas with hopes of finding some sort of shelter; these ‘urban refugees’ face immense difficulties everyday. Most of the time, these are families with vulnerable children and the elderly, and it doesn’t matter if they were wealthy, respected families or lived in affluent neighborhoods before: They are now homeless, jobless and without guidance. Many of them have turned to begging and it is not an uncommon sight to see Syrians with their babies clinging to them, begging for money on Turkish streets.

Turkey has spent $5.2 billion so far on Syrian refugees. Lebanon, Jordan and Iraq are also struggling to deal with the refugee influx. But, as these countries struggle with the consequences of Syrian war, what is the rest of the world doing? Not very much. The Gulf countries didn’t offer to take even a single refugee. Russia and China have also failed to offer any assistance. Except for Germany and Sweden, which accepted only 100,000 asylum applications, the EU has pledged to resettle only 0.17 percent of the total number of refugees.

And Yarmouk, already suffering due to an ongoing blockade by Assad’s forces, is facing even more pain after the capture of the area by IS. As a Palestinian refugee camp since 1957, the site had previously hosted 160,000 people, which dropped to 18,000. The area is completely blockaded by the Assad regime, leaving out much needed food and medical supplies. Scores of people, including babies, died of hunger and cold last year and the situation is called ‘beyond inhumane’ by the officials.
The UN Security Council urgently called for the evacuation of people and it is reported that 2,000 people have been already evacuated but there are still 16,000 people waiting and thousands of them are children. The world is once again being inexplicably indifferent to the ordeal of the innocent civilians.

But it wasn’t like this when other disasters hit: For example, $9 billion was raised for the Haiti earthquake, £19m has been donated by the British public for Syria, compared to £392m raised for the tsunami in Indonesia in 2004. Moreover, the UN recently decided to cut food aid for Syrians due to insufficient funds.

One can’t help but wonder; would the nations of the world be as indifferent if it were another country? Would people accept such apathy if it were they and their family running from bombs? Or if it was their baby that was crying for food? Or if it was their families wandering around in a foreign country, trying to find shelter, a warm place and some food?

As human beings, we have to open our minds and hearts and we have to remember that there are millions of innocent people, women, children and the elderly, suffering in every waking hour. Think about the difference one dollar a day from one million people could make for these people. They truly need our help and if we don’t do everything in our power to help them, more children, more women and more innocent people will continue to suffer and die needlessly.

You can watch live interviews of Adnan Oktar from A9 TV http://en.harunyahya.tv (english simultaneous interpretation)

You can reach to Adnan Oktar’s works from http://www.harunyahya.com and http://www.harunyahya.fr/

6 Years Old Syrian Boy was Killed by Assad Sniper

Douma: 10 years old boy injured & his 6 years old brother was killed by Assad’s sniper! (15-4-2012)

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Baby Terrorists

#RightOfReturn #Unity #Justice #Siege #Starvation #Nakba67 #Nakbaday #FreePalestine #Siria #SyriasChildren #UAE #imagineEtreUnSyrien #Rights365 #childrenofsyria #childrights

Angelina Jolie Makes Plea for Syrian Refugees at UN Again

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#whatdoesittake #ChildrenofSyria #syrianlivesmatter #Syriacrisis #YarmoukCamp #Syria #SpeakUp4SyrianChildren #childrenofsyria #NoLostGeneration #SaveTheRestOfSyrianChildren #Aleppo_Genocide #save_aleppo #TortureReport #syrianchildren #Yarmouk #Assad #AssadCrimes #AssadWarCrimes #SaveYarmouk #TortureReport #humanity #childrights #withsyria #stopshelling #HumanRights #Syrian #SyriaCivilWar #howmanymore #warcrimes #warcriminals

Syria Assad Regime Gruesome Torture Photos on Display at UN

Graphic exhibition of photographs showing the victims of atrocities carried out by Assad regime goes on display at UN headquarters.

The photographs were part of a cache of 55,000 smuggled out of Syria on flash drives last year by “Caesar”, the code name given to a former Syrian military photographer who defected. Caesar had been tasked with taking pictures of the corpses of those who died inside facilities run by the Assad regime. The thousands of images were taken between 2011 and 2013, and according to forensic analysis depict 11,000 deaths. Caesar and his team recently began posting photos from the cache of victims’ faces on Facebook, to help families and prosecutors identify their missing relatives.

syria assad torture photos on display at UN

syria assad torture photos on display at UN

syria assad torture photos on display at UN

syria assad torture photos on display at UN

syria assad torture photos on display at UN

syria assad torture photos on display at UN

syria assad torture photos on display at UN

syria assad torture photos on display at UN

syria assad torture photos on display at UN

syria assad torture photos on display at UN

syria assad torture photos on display at UN

syria assad torture photos on display at UN

syria assad torture photos on display at UN

syria assad torture photos on display at UN

syria assad torture photos on display at UN

Article from:
http://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/mar/11/images-syrian-torture-shock-new-yorkers-united-nations#