18 August 2016   Leave a comment

Images often move world politics in ways that words cannot.  In the Bosnian conflict in the 1990s, it was a video of a Serbian bombardment of the city of Sarajevo finally forced the world to mobilize and launch a humanitarian intervention.  The Aleppo Media Center has released a video of a five-year old boy, Omran Daqneesh, who was rescued from a bombing in Aleppo that may finally mobilize the world to take action in the Syrian civil war.  The video is truly heart-breaking and should remind us that most diplomatic-speak is designed to disguise the true horrors of military action.  After the release of this video, Russia announced that it would permit a 48-hour cease-fire to allow humanitarian aid to reach Aleppo.



The Russian-Ukrainian conflict appears to be escalating.  Russia has built-up its military forces in eastern Ukraine to a substantial degree over the summer and overt violence has broken out in Crimea.  These developments may be a prelude to another outbreak of war or it may just be another gambit in Russian diplomacy.  Russian President Putin may simply be exploiting the weakness in the European Union following the Brexit vote in order to get the economic sanctions against Russia reduced.  Or it may be an act of saber-rattling to mobilize support for Putin’s political party, United Russia, in anticipation of the Parliamentary elections scheduled to be held in September.

The Associated Press has analyzed thousands of recruitment documents that have been seized from Daesh (the Islamic State) in the years 2013-14.  Interestingly, the documents indicate that the vast majority of the recruits had only a very basic understanding of Islam:

“According to the documents, which were acquired by the Syrian opposition site Zaman al-Wasl and shared with the AP, 70 percent of recruits were listed as having just ‘basic’ knowledge of Shariah — the lowest possible choice. Around 24 percent were categorized as having an ‘intermediate’ knowledge, with just 5 percent considered advanced students of Islam. Five recruits were listed as having memorized the Quran.”

The analysis suggests that many of these so-called jihadis were not really motivated by religion, but rather by other, non-religious, reasons.


Posted August 18, 2016 by vferraro1971 in World Politics

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