Syrian refugee artist donates work in Scotland

This video from England says about itself:

27 August 2014

‘Syria’s Apex Generation’, an exhibition featuring recent works by artists Nihad Al Turk, Abdul Karim Majdal Al-Beik, Othman Moussa, Mohannad Orabi, and Kais Salman. Curated by art historian and Ayyam Gallery Artistic Director Maymanah Farhat, the exhibition will spotlight a new school of Syrian painting in the midst of expansion despite the disintegration of the Damascus art scene, its original centre. This multi-venue group show will be held at Ayyam Gallery’s London location from 7 August until 12 September.

From daily The Morning Star in Britain:

Syrian artist donates work to thank supporters

Thursday 23rd March 2017

A SYRIAN artist who came to live in Scotland as a refugee has donated some of his work to a charity auction to thank those who helped him.

Nihad Al Turk, who had won awards for his artwork in Syria, came to Edinburgh in 2015 on the first flight for refugees from Lebanon.

With support from The Leith School of Art (LSA), Mr Al Turk created a mural to mark Refugee Week.

His work features mythological creatures, used as metaphors for his experiences of war in Syria.

Speaking through an interpreter, he said: “I worked hard for many years to build my career as an artist at home. But the war meant all that was lost and it became too dangerous to stay there.

“My aim is to start all over again and build my reputation in this new country that has been so kind to us.”

He has donated three works to an auction to raise funds for LSA outreach programmes.

Trump’s air force kills Syrian civilians

This video says about itself:

27 October 2016

Around 300 civilians were killed in eleven airstrikes conducted by the US-led coalition in Syria, which Amnesty International investigated for its latest report. Amnesty says the US must come clean about the civilian toll of its fight in Syria.

Translated from Dutch NOS TV:

More than thirty civilian deaths in air strike on Syria

Today, 10:02

In an airstrike on Monday at least 33 refugees were killed in northern Syria, who were housed in a school building. This reports the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights …

The Syrian state news agency Sana also reports the massacre was in Mansur, an area in ISIS hands. According to the Observatory, the coalition led by the US against ISIS is responsible for the attack.

Usually, the Observatory is pro-NATO countries’ military intervention in Syria, against the Damascus government.

In the school are said to be housed forty families fleeing the war. Among the victims are women and children. …

And in Afrin [in Syria] ten Kurdish civilians were wounded after Turkish troops had fired at several villages in the region. Turkey considers the Syrian Kurdish fighters to be terrorists, although they – like Turkey – fight extremist organizations like ISIS.

Turkish Erdogan regime opposition to ISIS and similar jihadists is very recent, as the regime used to be allies with them. Unfortunately, not only the Erdogan regime considers Syrian (and Turkish) Kurds to be ‘terrorists’. Turkey being a NATO member state, NATO supports Turkish armed forces violence in Syria, and other NATO governments consider Kurds to be ‘terrorists’ as well.

British drones killing Iraqi, Syrian civilians

This British military video says about itself:

RAF drone kills Afghan civilians 06.07.11

It’s emerged that four Afghan civilians were killed and two wounded when an RAF drone targeting insurgent leaders fired on two trucks in Helmand province. … The incident occurred in the Nowzad District of Northern Helmand in March earlier this year.

By Steve Sweeney in Britain:

British drones may have killed 1,000s of civilians

Tuesday 28th February 2017

SECRET British armed drone strikes may have contributed to thousands of civilian deaths in Iraq and Syria, a new report revealed yesterday.

Drone Wars UK has gathered information regarding British air strikes against Isis in Iraq and Syria and found that Britain had carried out 1,200 air strikes against Isis — launching over 2,500 missiles in 2015 and 2016.

The figures were uncovered through Freedom of Information requests to the MoD over a two-year period.

The campaigners also revealed that armed British Reaper drones secretly crossed into Syria just weeks after a 2014 parliamentary vote limited military action against Isis to strictly within Iraq.

Officials claimed this did not amount to military action, but intelligence gathered by the drones was used by coalition forces to launch air strikes in Syria.

The report suggests that 22 per cent of Britain’s 726 air strikes in Iraq and Syria in 2016 were carried out by Reaper drones.

It shows weapon launches by British Reaper drones increased by 30 per cent from 274 in 2015 to 358 in 2016.

Airwars, a journalist-led organisation which monitors reports of civilian casualties from air strikes in Iraq and Syria, estimates that between 1,959 and 2,898 people were killed in coalition air strikes in 2015 and 2016.

An MoD spokesman told the Star: “We can’t completely eliminate the risk of civilian casualties but we carefully mitigate that risk through strict targeting procedures.

“The evidence from detailed assessments of each strike is that we’ve avoided any civilian casualties so far in this conflict.”

Airwars has called for an independent review of the MoD’s assessment process.

Campaign Against Arms Trade spokesman Andrew Smith told the Star: “This is an excellent piece of work and exposes the dangerous lack of transparency and accountability that surrounds drones.

“There must be a far greater scrutiny of attacks and strikes being undertaken by the armed forces and the work for Drone Wars is vital in that debate.

Drone attacks often have devastating consequences and have killed thousands of civilians around the world.”

Stop the War national officer Chris Nineham said the report showed that Britain was “fighting almost completely unreported wars” in Syria and Iraq.

He said: “Not only is there a virtual media blackout on this activity, but the MoD is still peddling the ridiculous line that no civilians have been killed in these attacks.”

The MoD refused to reveal the number of British Reapers deployed on operations in Iraq and Syria.

As Iraqi government forces press further into the densely populated areas of western Mosul, the key role being played in the advance by US-led air strikes and artillery barrages is becoming clear. The brutal offensive on Iraq’s second-largest city has already displaced upwards of 200,000 civilians, including 8,000 over the past week: here.

USA: The group released a statement Friday morning: “Four drone resisters, James Ricks, Daniel Burns, Brian Hynes, and Ed Kinane, from the 2015 big books action were found innocent of all charges at 11 p.m. at the Dewitt Town Court. After deliberating for only about a half hour, the jury returned with a verdict of not guilty on all charges. Applause erupted in the courtroom upon the jurors’ announcement of the verdict. The four were charged with obstruction of government administration, disorderly conduct, and trespass and faced a year in jail. Following the rendering of the verdict, a juror approached Brian Hynes and said ‘I really support what you are doing. Keep doing it.’: here.

More dead Iraqi, Syrian civilians under Trump?

This video from the USA says about itself:

500,000 Iraqi Civilians Died In Iraq War

17 October 2013

New research on the human cost of the war in Iraq estimates that roughly half a million men, women and children died between 2003 and 2011 as a direct result of violence or the associated collapse of civil infrastructure.

Other estimates are over a million dead Iraqi civilians.

By Bill Van Auken in the USA:

Pentagon prepares for bigger, bloodier war in Iraq and Syria

25 February 2017

The Pentagon has prepared recommendations to be submitted to President Donald Trump at the beginning of next week for a major escalation of the US military intervention in Iraq and Syria.

According to unnamed US officials cited Friday by the Wall Street Journal, the proposal is expected to include “sending additional troops to Iraq and Syria” and “loosening battlefield restrictions” to “ease rules designed to minimize civilian casualties.”

The new battle plans stem from an executive order signed by Trump on January 28 giving the Pentagon 30 days to deliver a “preliminary draft of the Plan to defeat ISIS [Islamic State] in Iraq and Syria.”

According to independent estimates, as many as 8,000 civilians have already died in air strikes carried out by US and allied warplanes against targets in both Syria and Iraq, even as the Pentagon routinely denies the vast majority of reported deaths of unarmed men, women and children resulting from US bombings. The new policy to be rolled out next week, which the Journal reports is aimed at “increasing the number and rate of operations,” will inevitably entail a horrific intensification of this bloodletting.

Speaking before the Center for 21st Century Security and Intelligence at the Brookings Institution in Washington on Thursday, the chairman of Joint Chiefs of Staff, Marine General Joseph Dunford, said that the Pentagon would be presenting Trump with a “political-military plan” to deal not only with ISIS in Iraq and Syria, but to “advance our long-term interests in the region.”

Referring to the intense contradictions besetting the US intervention in the region, which has relied on the use of Kurdish militias as proxy ground troops in Syria, even as Washington’s NATO ally, Turkey, has intervened to militarily counter their influence, Dunford insisted that Washington “can’t be paralyzed by tough choices.”

Pointing to the regional scope of the planned US military escalation, Dunford echoed earlier bellicose rhetoric from the administration against Iran, listing it alongside Russia, China, North Korea and “transnational violent extremism” as the major targets of the US military.

The US military commander stated that “the major export of Iran is actually malign influence across the region.” He said that the US military buildup against Iran was designed to “make sure we have freedom of navigation through the Straits of Hormuz, and that we deter conflict and crisis in the region, and that we advance our interest to include our interest in dealing with violent extremism of all forms.” All of these alleged aims are pretexts for continuous US provocations aimed at countering Iran’s regional influence and furthering the drive for US hegemony in the Middle East.

In relation to Iraq, Dunford signaled US intentions to maintain a US military occupation long after the campaign against ISIS is completed. He referred to a “dialog about a long-term commitment to grow the capacity, maintain the capacity of the Iraqi security forces,” adding that Iraq’s Prime Minister Haider Abadi had spoken of “the international community continuing to support defense capacity building.”

Dunford’s comments echoed those of Secretary of Defense James “Mad Dog” Mattis during a trip earlier this week to Baghdad. While disavowing Trump’s crude comments last month—“We’re not in Iraq to seize anybody’s oil,” Mattis said—he also suggested that plans are being developed for a permanent US military presence in the country.

“The Iraqi people, the Iraqi military and the Iraqi political leadership recognizes what they’re up against and the value of the coalition and the partnership in particular with the United States,” Mattis told reporters Monday. “I imagine we’ll be in this fight for a while and we’ll stand by each other.”

Currently, Washington has more than 5,000 US troops in Iraq and another 500 Special Forces troops operating inside Syria. These forces are backed by tens of thousands of military contractors as well as other military units that are rotated in and out of the region. The plan to be presented next week will likely involve the deployment of thousands more US combat forces.

Trump has repeatedly indicated his support for establishing “safe zones” in Syria, an intervention that would require large numbers of US soldiers backed by air power to seize and control swathes of Syrian territory. It would also entail threats of military confrontation with Russian warplanes operating in support of the Syrian government.

As the Pentagon prepares its plans for military escalation in the region, US ground forces have reportedly entered Mosul, operating on the front lines with Iraqi forces in the bloody offensive to retake Iraq’s second-largest city from ISIS. American Special Forces “advisers” joined Iraqi troops Thursday in the first incursion into western Mosul, with the retaking of the Mosul International Airport as well as a nearby military base. The operation was conducted with close air support from US warplanes.

The airport and the base, located in the southern part of western Mosul, are to be used as the launching pad for a major assault into the most densely populated area of the city, where an estimated three quarters of a million civilians are trapped with no means of escape.

The International Rescue Committee warned that this stage of the offensive would represent the “most dangerous phase” for civilians.

“This will be a terrifying moment for the 750,000 people still in the west of the city, and there is a real danger that the battle will be raging around them for weeks and possibly months to come,” said Jason Kajer, the Iraq acting country director for the humanitarian group.

Referring to the increasingly desperate plight of civilians in western Mosul, the International Committee of the Red Cross’s field coordinator in Erbil, Dany Merhy, said: “Supply routes have been cut from that side of the city and people have been facing shortages of food, water, fuel and medicine. We can only imagine the state people will be in.”

As in previous US-backed offensives against Fallujah and Ramadi, Mosul faces the prospect of being reduced to rubble. It is in this city where the proposed changes in the “rules of engagement” will find their first expression in the elevated slaughter of Iraqi civilians.

Syrian student hit by Trump’s travel ban

This video from the USA says about itself:

Deported Arizona Woman Vows To Fight On

13 February 2017

Guadalupe García de Rayos became the first victim of Trump’s immigration crackdown, she vows to fight on.

By Zac Corrigan and Kevin Martinez in the USA:

Interview: Syrian student in US separated from family by Trump’s travel ban

13 February 2017

R is an undergraduate student at San Diego State University [SDSU] in Southern California. She was born in Syria, and is the only member of her family living in the US. Last month, President Trump signed an executive order restricting travel to and from the US for citizens of seven Muslim-majority countries. She attended a rally to defend immigrants and refugees held by the International Youth and Students for Social Equality, and later met with World Socialist Web Site reporters.

WSWS: Can you tell us your story?

R: I was born in Latakia, Syria [population 300,000], on the coast [of the Mediterranean Sea]. When I was young, my family and I moved to Dubai, because of my father’s job. After high school, I applied to colleges and I got in to SDSU. So I came to the US in 2015. At that point, the war in Syria had been going on for four years.

My parents moved from Dubai to London last summer. In Dubai if you don’t have a job for two months you’re deported, so it wasn’t very stable. But I can’t go to London, because I’m not a minor and my parents can’t sponsor me. I applied for a [UK] visa, but they rejected me twice, because they thought I would try to take refuge there.

So I’m here in the US on a two-year visa, which is about to expire, even though it takes four years to graduate from college. A visa allows you to leave and enter the US as you wish. They gave it to me for two years instead of four, and they said, “Just renew it!”

And now with this [executive order], I can’t renew it. And my family’s US visas are also canceled, according to the ban, so they can’t come visit me. For now, I can legally reside in the US until 2019, but if I leave I can’t come back. I can be here and continue school, but I’m separated from my family.

WSWS: So what are you going to do?

R: Well, I’m applying to colleges in Canada for next semester. But I go through stress that most 19-year-olds don’t have to deal with. Just thinking, where are my parents going to be if my dad lost his job? If I get kicked out [of the US or Canada], where would I go? I would have to go back to Syria.

WSWS: What would happen if you had to go back to Syria?

R: In Syria, it’s not like, “Oh, I’m gonna go back, I’m gonna start over.”

My grandparents still live in Latakia. They have no electricity and no water service. They buy car batteries to charge their lights. And imagine if you need medicine! When my grandfather got sick, I had to buy medicine here, and send it to someone, who then sent it to him in Syria. He’s 82! It wasn’t like this before the war. It wasn’t a rich city, but it didn’t have the kind of poverty, violence and drug problems that it has now. There are so many homeless now. There is basically no system there.

Syrian refugees have become cheap labor. I did a research paper about Syrians working in Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan—Syrians who fled through the borders and needed a job. In Lebanon, for example, there is a ban for Syrians, controlling what jobs they can have. You can’t be a manager, or work in certain industries. There are people who were college professors now working as janitors. It’s hard on your ego, but you have to feed your family.

A whole generation of children that were seeing all this violence, parents killed, living with bullets everyday … They are going to have mental and emotional problems.

WSWS: How difficult is it to become a refugee in the US?

R: Well, before the ban, if you wanted to take refuge in the US, or seek political asylum, you went to a lawyer and filled out an application. And it’s not cheap. You’d pay the lawyer more than $1,000 for just one person. Then, it can take up to three years to get accepted—it depends on your language proficiency, how much money you have, and so on. After another year, you can get a green card. And then it’s about four years to become a US citizen. Total, it can take 7-10 years, and it can be canceled at any moment. That’s what has happened to people I know. They were years through the process when they were rejected, and they had to go back.

In the airport they now have the right to check through your phone and laptop and ask you for your social media, and go through that, and interrogate you. My friend who came back from winter break was kept for five hours at the airport. And he’s Saudi, which is not one of the seven countries [banned by Trump’s executive order].

I saw on the news that a Mexican man at the airport had a joke about Trump on his phone and they canceled his visa! Isn’t that kind of like a dictatorship?

WSWS: Is it different for the rich?

R: What a lot of rich Syrians did is they bought passports. There has become a market for this. A passport to a safe country can cost half a million dollars or more. Or there are other ways. If you can afford to buy a house in Greece, for example, you can just become a permanent resident there.

WSWS: What do you think about the actions of the US military in Syria?

R: On the news, they’re reporting that the US is supporting a revolution, for freedom and democracy! But what’s happening is that they’re coming in with troops, and Russia is coming in with troops. Russia has been Syria’s ally and they don’t want to lose any more authority to the US, like what happened in Ukraine and in Cuba. So it’s a power struggle. On the ground in Syria, there is no revolution, it’s US versus Russia.

The US’s role … some people say that it was a conspiracy, that there never was any revolution. That it was proven that there were agents sent in to spark this. [The official story is that] there is a war between Alawis and Sunnis. But my family is half and half. You think they’re fighting all day? No.

WSWS: What do you think about the claims of Trump that the ban on refugees and immigrants is needed to protect the US from terrorists?

R: You have to look at the facts. The US comes in with its military, and destroys the Middle East, Afghanistan, and then accuses anyone who fights against them of being a global terrorist. But when [the US] comes into the Middle East with troops and weapons, what do they get? Obama got a Nobel Peace Prize! How? He’s killed and deported so many people.

New England Patriots players plan to boycott meeting with Trump: here.

Drowned Syrian boy Aylan’s aunt speaks

Aylan (L) and his brother Ghalib Kurdi (photo courtesy of Tima Kurdi)


West ‘did nothing’ to end war in Syria, says aunt of drowned Syrian boy

Published time: 13 Feb, 2017 10:31
Edited time: 13 Feb, 2017 17:19

The Western countries have done nothing to resolve the Syrian crisis, pursuing their false narrative instead, while the real situation in Syria stays underreported, the aunt of a Syrian refugee toddler who drowned in 2015 on his way to Europe told RT.

Our country is being destroyed by outsiders,” said Tima Kurdi – a Syrian-born Canadian lawyer and the aunt of Aylan Kurdi, a three-year-old Syrian boy who died in September 2015 en route to the Greek island of Kos from Turkey – adding that “Western countries are not doing anything” about that.

She said the death of her nephew became “a wake-up call to the world, a message from God, who told us [that] enough is enough,” adding that the Syrian people “were suffering for four years [at that time] and Syria was crying out to the world for help but nobody was hearing” to these pleas, as “there was not enough media coverage until” the picture of the body of her nephew washed ashore in Turkish resort city of Bodrum made global headlines.

That image prompted politicians in many Western countries to open their borders and take in refugees. However, “months later, they started to forget that image and just got back to their everyday business, but the suffering [of the Syrian people] continued,” Kurdi said.

She went on to say that the West not only did “nothing to end this terrible war,” but also conducted a “terrible” regime change policy in Syria that actually only made the situation even worse. The Western funding of the so-called moderate rebels only prolongs the suffering of the Syrian people, Kurdi stressed, adding that “there are no moderate rebels in Syria.”

“When [Western governments] fund the ‘moderate’ rebels, their [aid] somehow eventually ends up in the hands of the most powerful groups on the ground, which are Al-Nusra Front and Islamic State [IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL],” she said.

The military solution would never work in Syria, Kurdi said, and “we will just see more suffering and more people will die.” She added that she does not take any side in this conflict and supports neither Syrian President Bashar Assad nor the opposition, but she had talked to many Syrians who live in refugee camps in Turkey, and believes that the Western media coverage of the Syrian conflict is biased.

The Western media report that “only President Bashar [Assad] kills his own people,” she said, adding that this sounds absurd to the Syrians. “I want people to understand one thing: if President Assad wants to stay in power in his country, he has to fight for his country but he would not kill his own people as he needs their support.”

The reports in the West on Syria “do not make sense,” as “there is more than just the [Syrian] government and Russia there, there are many rebels, who are fighting and killing my people,” she said, adding that “nobody [in the West] reports about rape” committed by the rebels and stressing that those stories are “terrible.”

Tima Kurdi admitted that Assad’s forces “did hurt the Syrian people,” but did so unintentionally. She also stressed that Syria was “peaceful and safe” before the war.

“Most Syrian people were just living their lives before the war and did not get involved in any politics,” she said, adding that “all kinds of religions” co-existed peacefully in Syria. “Sunni, Shia, Druze, Alawites, Christians – we all lived together and respected each other,” Kurdi, who was born and initially lived in Damascus, told RT, adding that “most Syrian people did not want to leave their homes” when the war came.

She then addressed the issue of the refugee crisis and said that the only way to stop it is to put an end to the war in Syria.

“I encourage the governments of each country to help find a political solution and [to stop violence] in my country. Bring peace to Syria so that you won’t need to see those refugees anymore,” she told RT.

Kurdi also asked people around the world to be more compassionate towards refugees.

“We need to help those suffering refugees. They have a right to be protected and they are peaceful people, like me and you. There is no difference. We need to help them rebuild their lives and welcome them with open arms until their country is safe to go back,” Kurdi said.

“I want people around the world to understand one thing: what will you do if you will be forced to leave your country one day and leave everything behind? What would you want the others to do for you? Do it for my people!” she added.