Hezbollah, Assad and Syria’s Uncertain Future

The recent decision from The White House to remove Hezbollah from the terror list, coupled with statements from John Kerry regarding possible future negotiations with Bashar al-Assad, should worry and enrage us all.

In the world of geopolitics everything is connected, and nothing occurs in a vacuum. Israel’s recent presidential election, and US negotiations with Iran over nuclear energy, show that actions taken in the Middle East can have far-reaching impacts. In our globalised world even a phone call taken privately in one country can be heard on the other side of the globe.

With this complex web of connected activity ever shifting and changing, and with the US intent on being at the centre of everything, it is their actions which we should take most notice of. Though recent developments with Cuba are cause for optimism, their actions on the topics of Venezuela, and in the case of this article, Hezbollah and Syria are cause for concern.

At face value it seems these issues are not connected and they are separate policies with no relation to one another, but for those of us that have a better understanding of the events in Syria, the dots begin to connect themselves.

On the 15th of March, as the Syrian conflict entered its fifth year, John Kerry gave an interview expressing the thoughts of the US and the Obama administration. Kerry spoke frankly, declaring that the US hopes to “re-ignite a diplomatic outcome”. He continued by saying that “everybody agrees there is no military solution; there’s only a political solution.”

When asked whether the US would be willing to negotiate with Assad, Kerry responded by saying: “well, we have to negotiate in the end.”

Assad, for those that have been hiding under a rock for the last five years, is the man responsible for the ongoing war in Syria. A war that has caused the deaths of roughly 250,000 people, has seen almost four million refugees flee the country whilst seven million more are displaced internally, and has been the reason why 1.5 million civilians have been seriously wounded.

It is a war whereby Assad and his regime have been guilty of indiscriminate targeting of civilians through their use of barrel bombs, torture, and the multiple uses of chemical weapons. All of which are human rights violations and constitute war crimes. The most recent example of Assad’s fondness for brutality came just a few days ago when chlorine gas was used in the town of Sarmin killing six people and injuring many more.

Regardless of these facts it seems that the US is softening in its approach to Assad, with Kerry’s recent declarations proving to be more in line with diplomacy and appeasement, than the non-negotiable opposition that tyrants deserve and indeed require.

Just days after Kerry’s statements on the possibility of future negotiations with the Assad regime in Syria, a report was published by the Senate Armed Services Committeewhich failed to include either Hezbollah or Iran under its “terrorism” section, something the report had done in previous years.

Iran is one of Assad’s major supporters, and Hezbollah soldiers are frequently active in fighting inside Syria itself. As recently as February The Guardian reported that “Hezbollah, backed by fighters from Iran and the Assad regime, took control of the hills of al-Sarja and al-Arous in the south-western countryside of Damascus.”

Hezbollah are a political and militant movement who are based in Lebanon, though as their excursions into Syria show, they are not opposed to getting involved in conflicts in other nations. Ever since its formation in 1982, the organisation has had close ties to both Syria and Iran, and represent a long-time enemy of Israel who they fight on a regular basis. As well as participating in conflicts across the Middle East they are also responsible for a number of terrorist attacks against Western and Israeli targets.

With Iran and Hezbollah being removed from the terror list, and with Obama administration personnel expressing the view that an end to the fighting in Syria can only be achieved through negotiations with Assad, those opposed to the regime may well feel betrayed.

They have every right to be. As if the world’s silence and inaction were not enough, now it seems their demands for a free Syria, without Assad, are being ignored as well.

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This article was originally published here, at Cultured Vultures on 25/3/15

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Walls Continue to Divide: East Berlin to the West Bank

In November of 2014 the world celebrated the 25th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall. Across Europe and around the world celebrations occurred and tributes were given to the brave and passionate citizens who united to bring the wall down.

The Berlin Wall was representative of everything that the world was fighting against at that time; oppression, division, and conflict. For many it was the physical manifestation of the Cold War between the USA and the Soviet Union. A separation of worlds that drove friends and families apart and kept them divided for decades.

The tumbling of the Wall represented the dawn of a new era, or as Francis Fukuyuma prophecised, “the end of history”. It was hailed as the final, and permanent nail in the coffin of Communism. Neo-Liberal Democracy fuelled by its economic model of capitalism had triumphed as the reigning sole ideology in the world.

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WWE: Stereotypes, Racism and International Politics

In my youth I was an avid fan of World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE), or World Wrestling Federation (WWF) as it was known back then. The characters, the action, the storylines, the glitz and the glamour, the shocks and surprises, the backstabbing and betrayal, everything about it was designed to connect with an audience, and it had me hooked. It is no wonder that “Entertainment” was chosen as the new brand once the WWF title had become impossible to continue. (For those that don’t know, this was because of a dispute with the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) who legally forced a name change).

It is not until you mature, or actually begin to look beneath the surface though, that you actually see the reality of what WWE does, and how it conducts its business.

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Black Gold: US Foreign Policy and Its Relationship With Oil

I remember talking to some Syrian officials whilst I was in the Turkmen mountains. They were asking me why nobody was doing anything about the situation that was unfolding in their country. Why were the US not interfering, and preventing the slaughter of thousands of innocent civilians? The only answer I could give was based on my limited knowledge of American foreign policy.

I told the Syrians that the US cared little for the people of Syria because the US had little to gain from the country. Unlike in Iraq, there were no oil fields and so the US would not risk their own men, and spend their own money, if they were going to get nothing but thanks in return.

I walked away from these meetings content with my answers, but wondering if perhaps I was being a little too simplistic. Surely making decisions in the White House was a more complex procedure than simply asking: “What can we gain?”

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Leave The House

It was Thomas Hobbes, in his book Leviathan, that declared without a state man is in a constant climate of struggle and fight. He called this the “state of nature” whereby it is a “war of all against all”. He makes a compelling argument for the coming together of all peoples, and the creation of a civil society and state. This society, and this state, was intended to protect men from a life that was otherwise “nasty, short and brutish”.

People were persuaded, coerced and sometimes forced to become members of the state because it was in their own interests. Who would want to face a life out in the wilderness, struggling to make ends meet? Under constant threat, with very little security? It seemed like an obvious decision to make. Lets step inside this “state”, lets live under its roof and lets prosper, together, as a society.

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