A Simple Graphic

This ‘simple’ graphic created by Charles Lister highlights how complex and mind boggling the conflict in Syria has become:8773-1y8pyeb.jpg

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Billions in Aid, But No Closer to the End

The largest amount of money raised in the shortest time ever for one of the worlds greatest humanitarian crisis.

World leaders pledged more than $10 billion to help Syrians affected by the conflict which has engulfed the nation for 5 years.

This was announced by David Cameron at a Syrian donors’ conference hosted in London, he said that the money will provide Syrians with, “Life saving food, medical care and shelter.”

The gathering of 70 nations was described as a great success by UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and said, “Never has the international community raised so much money on a single day for a single crisis”. Among the Countries and organisations to commit to the fund included, UK, Germany, France, USA, Australia, Belgium, Italy, Poland, Japan, the UAE, Austria, Switzerland, Estonia, Denmark and Finland, along with the World Bank and the European Investment Bank.

Loans to neighbouring countries Turkey, Lebanon and Jordan would also be given in order to support the governments and also to allow the refugees jobs and access to education in those nations.

However, despite the success of the conference, it is still an incredibly dangerous and implicated problem being faced by a country ripped apart by conflict.

US Secretary of State John Kerry said: “After five years of fighting, it’s pretty incredible that as we come here in London, the situation on the ground is actually worse, not better…If people are reduced to eating grass and leaves and killing stray animals in order to survive, that’s something that should tear at the conscience of all civilised people and we all have a responsibility to respond to it.”

The war is no closer to coming to an end and it is only likely to get worse before it gets any better.

The regime of President Bashar al Assad has used the last 10 days of London talks and diplomacy aimed at ending the conflict, to intensify air strikes by its Russian ally against rebel-held areas.

The effects on the rebels have been catastrophic. Their main supply route from Aleppo to Turkey has now been cut.

Blame for this turn of events has been laid towards the Kremlin.
David Cameron said: “We must urgently redouble our efforts to prevent the intolerable levels of violence against civilians, ensuring all parties in the conflict bring an immediate end to the ongoing violations of international humanitarian law… And we look to Russia to use its influence with the regime to end indiscriminate attacks, especially barrel bombing…Russia should support steps towards a ceasefire as envisaged by the Vienna process and mandated by the UN Security Council”

But this is only part of the bloody tapestry of Syria’s complex conflict.

Russia would be critical in bringing the Assad regime to peace talks and to getting a ceasefire ahead of effective diplomacy.

But Turkey has been blocking Kurd participation in the political process.

The Kurds are one of the most reliable partners for the American-led coalition fighting  Islamic State, and yet they are being bombed by Turkey – which is pledged to fight IS, too.

Gulf nations have given substantial humanitarian donations – yet they continue to sponsor extremist militia like the al Qaeda-affiliated al Nusra Front which is both fighting Mr Assad and seen as a terrorist group in the West.

 

The complexity and confusion regarding the war and conflict with so many different angles and perspectives is why there are no signs for an end to the conflict. Despite the generosity in funds and donations, if there can’t be a diplomatic solution then Syrians and the following refugees will continue to suffer.

ISIS are Planning more Mass Strikes in Europe

The terrorist group ISIS are planning more mass strikes in Europe and according to Europol, the law enforcement agency for the EU, Isis has set up secret training camps across Europe to prepare fighters to carry out “special forces style” attacks in the UK or other EU countries.

The international police agency said that the barbaric organisation had “smaller scale training camps in the EU and Balkan countries”. They would include survival training and sports activities to help jihadists prepare for “combat and interrogation resistance”.

And ISIS could be looking to recruit refugees who have fled to Europe to launch terror attacks in the countries that have given them shelter, the agency said.

It emerged last year that remote villages in Bosnia were being turned in to terror training camps by ISIS.

Furthermore, the threat assessment also warned that ISIS has developed a new specialist style”external actions command” to plot and carry out attacks in the West and around the world. The ‘special forces’ style means attacks in the future could be more like the kind that took place in Mumbai in 2008 and also similar to the attacks seen in Paris last year.

The terror group released a new video on Sunday which indicated the UK would be the next target because of its decision to join air strikes in Syria.

The Europol assessment said: “In selecting what to attack, where, when and how, IS shows its capacity to strike at will, at any time and at almost any chosen target.

It also suggested that, after the Paris attacks- where 130 people were killed, there is “every reason to expect that Isis will undertake a terrorist attack somewhere in Europe again… intended to cause mass casualties amongst the civilian population”.

ISIS Fighters get a Pay Cut

It seems the coalitions’ air strikes and fighting being carried out by ground forces are starting to take a toll on ISIS. At least, on their source of income.

A document produced by the vicious terrorist organisations financial arm, says that it has been forced to cut the salaries of its murderous fighters by 50%. With indications that the group is struggling to make ends meet after losing territory and oil revenue.

It is reported that Islamic State generates around $80 million dollars a month through tax, oil sales and trading illegal drugs.

The US-led coalition has been mainly focused on targeting the Islamic State’s oil income – which makes up about 43 per cent of overall revenue, alongside this RAF air strikes have significantly degraded the group’s refining capacity, and ability to transport oil via tanker convoys. These tactics are now beginning to show signs of fruition.

A “cash distribution centre” reportedly used to pay fighters was recently bombed by the international coalition in Mosul, destroying millions of dollars stored there.

According to the document released by the Treasury Ministry of ISIS, fighters will now get just £100 a month because of these “exceptional circumstances”.

 

The news that ISIS is beginning to show struggle over it’s finances is a small, but important step to suggest that the attacks on the death cult are working.

Cuts to fighters’ salaries, price hikes on electricity and other basic services, and the introduction of new agricultural taxes will surely start to harm the groups influence and popularity as it attempts to establish itself over it’s claimed territories.

 

£100k Missiles?

Brimstone missiles, the jewel of the RAF.

Cost: £100,000.

Times Used in Syria: 4

The targets: Cranes and a truck…

The Brimstone missile is ‘the most accurate, precision strike product on the market’, it is one of the RAFs most prized assets, with only Saudi Arabia being the other country to have them in their arsenal.

Having a greater degree of accuracy, especially when aimed at moving targets, as well as having a low risk of collateral damage, these missiles were one of the key arguments as to why the UK should be involved with other countries in air strikes on Syria.

However, so far in the air strikes in Syria they have only been used against a few cranes and trucks, and this to me is not enough justification of dropping £100,000 each time.

I am 100% for using these in the battle to fight ISIS and extremism, however I feel the use of Brimstone Missiles should be reserved for more high profile and ‘rewarding’ targets…

 

Hebdo, A year on.

JE SUIS CHARLIE…

This phrase was one of the most symbolic and unforgettable of verses that was repeated in an act of solidarity in the aftermath of the attacks on the satirical magazines headquarters.

Today, marks the anniversary of those horrific events, where 11 employees of the company were killed, plus a policeman, and then 5 more over the next two days.

The deadliest attack on French soil for 50 years, at the time, marked the start of a kind of ‘new era’. A time where hatred began to stir and fear was beginning to creep in. And perhaps for the first time, the values of the west were being undermined by Islamist extremists.

However, there was something different about this attack. And something particularly different in comparison to the Paris attacks in November. Usually, it seems when a terrorist attack is carried out, the victims are not specific and the violence is indiscriminate. Yet, there was a specific purpose to this act, to seek out and kill those who publicly defame the image of Islam and the Prophet, in this case in the form of satire. The attackers, in their eyes, were protecting their faith.

Since then it has been ISIS who have sprung into their step and now dominate international affairs, a year on from those attacks, and it seems to me that it is this new age of extremists who have emerged stronger and more defiant, and not the rest of the international community and the West.

 

 

IS Has Bombs, NK Has Bigger Bombs

Yesterday, ‘Footage Exclusively obtained by Sky News’ depict the potential and capabilities that IS has in terms of armed weaponry and extremist attacks. With a so-called ‘Jihadi University’ training jihadists on how to carry out ‘professional’ and ‘sophisticated’ attacks on the west. And scientists and experts who have the ability to develop and create weapons and missiles, like no other terrorist group before them has been able to.

And today, it has been claimed by North Korea that they have managed to successfully trial a Hydrogen bomb, a bomb with a potential strength 5000 times greater than the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima. If these claims are true then this could be one of the most defining, and significant moments in the nuclear development programme of the state, and perhaps across the world. It would put North Korea amongst the most advanced nuclear states. It must, however, be noted that these are claims from a state known for its empty rhetoric.

These two news stories which have surfaced over the last two days pose a potentially significant threat to populations across the world. These are two very different, yet very real developments in international affairs.