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Why did Turkey opt for emergency

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Western powers, trumpeting that everything is bad in Islamic countries, quickly criticized the emergency clamped by Turkey for a brief period meant to set things right and their complaint is that now the people in Turkey would not have the freedom to even to open mouths.. Strangely enough, those that criticize Turkey for its emergency are supposed to be Turkey’s close allies. They stand totally exposed as anti-Turkish and anti-Islamic nations.

They also expected entire world and global network of anti-Islamic media to follow their footsteps as usual to condemn “new” authoritarianism in Turkey. Such has been the usual strategy of the western anti-Islamic powers to belittle and insult Islamic world. After the Sept-11 the NATO rouge forces even attacked Afghanistan, among others. They don’t want Turkey to undertake measures to check any future coups by their agents in Turkey.

The failed coup officially by a section of military in Turkey was meant to dethrone or kill President Erdogan, other leaders of his government and ruling AKP party, but it reveals the hidden agenda of western powers. The coup, apparently enacted jointly by anti-Islamic and anti-Turkish sources, signaled an acute danger emanating from different directions from within and from abroad for the Islamist government in Istanbul to rise up to face it and weed out all traces of danger once for all.

No nation would allow the rogue elements to destabilize it, ransack its institutions. Neither USA, nor Germany nor their NATO was kind even to the so-called “suspected terrorists” and the way they torture the suspects is criticized as the worst form of human rights violation by the USA and NATO. But they also talk about “greatness” of their own democracy, condemn the rule of law in Muslim countries.

The power of the President to call up massive crowds of supporters has been on clear display in Istanbul’s Taksim Square every night since last week’s failed coup. “Work during the day, and come to the square at night” is the message put out by the government of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. “The threat is not over.”

Emergency is a global phenomenon

Emergency is a global phenomenon and not a Turkey special. The military coup is very serious matter, because the fence has tried to destroy the crops – Islamic crops. Turkey ahs face coups before.

Turks are no strangers to military takeovers. Turkey experienced coups in 1960, 1971 and 1980. In 1997 and 2007, there were further interventions via strongly worded memorandums from the army.

Each putsch inflicted huge damage on an already fragile democracy and led to widespread human rights violations. The 1980 coup was the worst of all — thousands were arrested arbitrarily and many tortured, while critics were sent into exile. When the governing Justice and Development party (AKP) came to power in 2001, it attracted support from liberals by promising to keep the army confined to military and security matters — the way it should be in any mature democracy.

The events of July 15-16, when the government foiled an attempted coup by elements within the military, must be read against this historical backdrop. It was a horrible night. By the time it was over at least 290 people were dead and more than 1,400 injured. It felt as if the country had gone back years.

Now the destabilization effort has been put down intelligently, President Erdogan is undertaking a series of measures to deny chances n future for such coups and to make Turkey safe and secure, ignoring all “counseling” from sworn foes enemies disguised, once again, as “well-wishers”.

To check institutional collapse

With military playing usual mischief, Turkey genuinely faces risk of institutional collapse and President Erdogan needs to set the things right so that Turkish economy is back on rails.

Turkish nation is yet to recover from the shock it was administered by the coup plotters. As AKP government was busy fighting several forces at the same time like the powerful ISIS, Kurdish forces, Syria, Israel and Russia, Turkish government possibly did not notice how the anti-Islamic forces in Istanbul sponsored by western powers were busy plotting against the Islamist government and Turkey itself in order to destabilize the former Ottoman Empire and establish, like Pakistan, Afghanistan Libya, Iraq, Egypt and elsewhere, a puppet regime in Ankara directly remote controlled by Washington.

The unexpected coup attempt by Turkey’s military establishment with a view to killing or arrest President Erdogan and his cabinet members, the AKP party leaders has been put down by person involvement by the Precedent of Turkey himself who cancelled his vacation and rushed to Istanbul. Maybe the plotters had expected President Erdogan to run away to USA, UK or some Arab nation.

Germany indirectly hinted that next time the coup in Turkey would succeed by correcting their errors in strategic planning of the coup.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan announced in order to regain full control of the nation the nation attacked by the anti-Turkey coup plotters is clamping a three-month state of emergency in the aftermath of last week’s bloody coup attempt.

Before the announcement, Erdogan convened on July 20 with his national Security Council and council of ministers, the latter of which approved the state of emergency recommendation. “The purpose of the declaration of the state of emergency is, in fact, to be able to take the most efficient steps in order to remove this threat as soon as possible, which is a threat to democracy, to the rule of law and to the rights and freedoms of the citizens in our country,” Erdogan said, according to a government translation.

Erdogan, speaking later to a national television audience, said the state of emergency was not a threat to democracy. Governors will have expanded powers and the army will be under the command and control of the governors, the President said. Erdogan guaranteed that all the “viruses” in the armed forces would be cleansed during the period. “It is very similar to a cancer,” he said. “It is like a metastasis that is going on in the body that is Turkey. And we will clean it out.”

The President praised the popular anger and reactions to the coup attempt, in which 246 people died and 1,536 were wounded. “Every member of our nation came together as one,” he said.

Enemies of Islamist state and democracy

Unexpectedly for the enemies of Islam and Islamist Turkey, the coup failed and plotters have caught. Now the sponsors from abroad are deeply worried if the plotters caught would reveal the truth about who are behind the coup. So the Western media lords, seeking to shield the coup criminals, now focus on state reaction against the plotters, criticizing the government action against the plotters. Slowly they shift their focus to freedoms and democracy and criticize Turkey for not being kind to the plotting criminal gangs.

That is how the western media efficiently inspired by the strategy of Neocons targeting Islam and Arab nations, talk filth about Muslims, and their nations.

Turkey on Tuesday formally requested the extradition of Gulen from the United States, where he lives in self-imposed exile.

US President Obama has joined his European counterparts in warning Erdogan against over-reacting, and Erdogan supporters have suggested US complicity in the coup which they saw was organized by US-based preacher Fethullah Gulen. Turkey is seeking Gulen’s extradition.

USA and EU ask President Erdogan to just forgive the criminal plotters (and move on further) who wanted to kill and jail President Erdogan and allies and destabilize Turkey and hand it over r to enemies of Islam. USA has refused to arrest the Gulen and allies in USA and hand them over to Turkish government.

All that European states want is as Turkey would be busy with “soul-searching” after the failed coup, the coup plotters would regroup and stage another “perfect’ coup to remove the elected Islamist government.

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said European criticism won’t stop Turkey taking steps it deems necessary after last week’s failed coup. He projected a more conciliatory tone toward the USA and Russia. “The EU is not the whole world,” Erdogan said in an interview with Al Jazeera before announcing a three-month state of emergency. “It is just 28 countries. The USA has the death penalty, Russia has it, and China has it.”

Why not punish the coup plotters?

Turkey has now fired or suspended about 50,000 people after a failed coup over the weekend as it intensifies its vast purge — battering the country’s security forces and many of its democratic institutions. In total, more than 9,400 people are being detained, the vast majority of them from the military. Teachers, journalists, police and judges alike have been caught in a net authorities are casting wider by the day, in what, according to the Western media lords, is increasingly looking like a witch-hunt to suppress dissent.

In order to present themselves as kind people on earth, USA and EU are pressing for no-punishment for the coup plotters in Turkey.

The Western powers that have murdered millions of Muslims in Islamic world calling them the terrorists want Turkish government to be very very kind to the coup plotters, betrays their secret efforts to support the coup and keep the plan very hidden from Turkey leaders.

The natural purge has gutted the leadership in the country’s security forces, with at least 118 generals and admirals detained, stripping the general-rank command of the Turkish military by a third, according to Turkish state broadcaster TRT. Authorities have also suspended 8,777 Ministry of Interior personnel, mostly police, as well as 100 Turkish intelligence service personnel, according to the state-run Anadolu news agency.

Western leaders have urged Erdogan and his government to respect democratic principles and act within the law in response to talk of reviving the death penalty and heavy-handed punishments over the coup.

The coup efforts a rent new to Turkey but last time the plotters were caught and punished. The last executions in Turkey were in the mid-1980s and the death penalty was abolished in 2004. Erdogan said restoring capital punishment is being considered because of popular pressure, and the final decision rests with parliament.

Hundreds more have been suspended from the Prime Minister’s office and government bodies dealing with religious affairs, family and social policy and development. The total fired or suspended is around 50,000 people.

Anti-Islamic US-EU opposition to Turkey

The reactions from USA and EU reveal their essentially anti-Islamic joint hidden agenda against Turkey. They seek to destabilize the former Ottoman Empire. More than 9,000 people are currently in detention and are under investigation over the coup

It is unclear how many soldiers participated in the attack, during which two of Erdogan’s bodyguards were killed, and it is unclear how loyal the troops were, given that they were briefed on the coup so late in proceedings.

Asked if the extradition request would affect wider relations with the USA, Erdogan said “putting the two issues together is not the right thing to do.” “We have a strategic partnership, and we have to continue our solidarity,” he said. On Russia, Erdogan suggested that the two pilots who shot down a Russian jet on the Syrian-Turkish border in November may have been under orders from the coup plotters. The two pilots have been detained. “The judiciary must have their doubts because they are now in custody,” he said.

In order to ensure the safety of US nukes in Turkey is duty bound to take strict actions against the plotters. Rights group Amnesty International said that authorities had canceled 34 journalists’ press cards and called on Turkish authorities to not “arbitrarily restrict freedom of expression.” “We are witnessing a crackdown of exceptional proportions in Turkey at the moment,” said Andrew Gardner, Amnesty International’s Turkey researcher.

Will Gulen be extradited?

US President Barack Obama spoke with Erdogan after the failed coup about the coup and the status of Gulen, who lives in Pennsylvania. Obama “strongly condemned” the coup attempt and “expressed his support for Turkish democracy,” a White House news release said, without explaining whether Gulen would be extradited.

US Secretary of State John Kerry has, as USA does to Pakistan, outrightly rejected the Turkish demand to extradite Gulen, saying USA wants proof. The Muslim cleric has denied any involvement in the coup attempt.

In order to be on the safe side, Gulen, in a statement released said Erdogan “once again demonstrated he will go to any length necessary to solidify his power and persecute his critics.” The reclusive cleric leads a popular movement called Hizmet, which includes hundreds of secular co-ed schools, free tutoring centers, hospitals and relief agencies credited with addressing Turkey’s social problems, now targeting Islamic rule.

USA claims that under the US-Turkey extradition agreement, Washington can only extradite a person if he or she has committed an “extraditable act.” Treason — such as that implied by Erdogan’s demand for Gulen’s extradition — is not listed as such an act in the countries’ treaty.

As Washington does not want to punish President Erdogan’s opponent Gulen, Kerry said in Washington that he told his Turkish counterpart: “Please don’t send us allegations, send us evidence; we need to have evidence which we can then make a judgment about.”

In the aftermath of the coup, the numbers of those detained, suspended or suspected has risen to the tens of thousands.

For his opponents, the fear is that it’s the start of a more sinister era of what they call Erdogan’s authoritarian rule, an opportunity to crack down further on any voice of dissent, an opening to push through constitutional and other changes that would give him greater powers.

In Greece, a court sentenced eight Turkish military personnel who fled there aboard a helicopter during the coup attempt to two months in prison for entering the country illegally.

Turkey has demanded their return to stand trial for alleged participation in the coup attempt. The eight, who deny involvement, have applied for asylum in Greece, saying they fear for their safety if they are returned.

Istanbul calm after storm

Turkey woke up to its first full day under a state of emergency on Thursday, imposed by the government the previous night. “Everything is looking normal” in the streets of Istanbul, a resident told journalists at 8 am (0500 GMT), with people commuting to work or taking coffees in the city’s cafes.

Away from the nightly Taksim Square celebrations there is a sense that people are going through the motions of daily life as if in a daze, conversations that invariably drift toward recent developments tend to still be preceded with exclamations. It appears there was a concerted effort to try to change the atmosphere of the square, even superficially, from a rallying ground for Erdogan supporters to something that stands more for the nation of Turkey itself. There are fewer political anthems lauding Erdogan’s Justice and Development Party, the AKP, and more songs that are simply patriotic or popular; there are fewer banners with Erdogan’s image fluttering in the breeze, more Turkish flags. Voices at the microphones — mostly AKP members and supporters — deliver a litany of messages about Turkey’s strength, not forgetting the price the nation paid.

There are more sinister reminders, too, such as one man who, standing in front of a newly erected billboard with the names of the dead, held a bullet and reminded the crowd: “This on Friday could have hit anyone of you, it could have had your name on it.”

Turkey have been through coups before, the successful ones of the past were bloodless. This one — violent — did not succeed. The anti-Islamic sources say a part of the reason for coup failure was because the authorities got wind of it just in time, and the attempted takeover was poorly executed. But arguably the key reason for failure was that the coup leaders did not take into account Erdogan’s popularity and his people power.

Erdogan’s supporters have no qualms about the government’s reaction. Erdogan is their man, they have unwavering faith in his abilities and they have proven they will lay down their lives for him. And, one could argue, they did not take into account that, whether Turks love Erdogan or hate him, the vast majority of this country does not want to have a democratically elected government brought down in a military coup. That night resulted in rare unity among Turkey’s main political party leaders and among its population.

The aims of three-month nationwide state of emergency includes end of Gulen empire in Turkey by creating a “parallel structure” of exiled cleric Fethullah Gulen, blamed for the coup, government spokesman Numan Kurtulmus said. Deputy Prime Minister Mehmet Simsek insisted the state of emergency would not curtail basic freedoms, including restrictions on movement, gatherings and free press. Parliament, dominated by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s ruling Justice and Development Party, was to meet on Thursday to review the state of emergency.

The government has rounded up or dismissed tens of thousands of civil servants, teachers, lawyers and soldiers. Government supporters have called for the death penalty for coup plotters. Istanbul Mayor Kadir Topbas told a crowd in the city’s Taksim Square this week the he had ordered a burial plot to be set aside for any dead coup plotters, to be called “the graveyard for traitors.” “Everyone visiting the place will curse them and they won’t be able to rest in their graves,” he was quoted as saying by Hurriyet Daily news late on Wednesday.

Some locals were celebrating the coup’s failure in the streets on Wednesday night, the resident said. But many people were also deactivating their social media accounts, she added, saying she thought they were afraid of a clampdown. “Three people were dismissed in my company yesterday and there are rumours of 15 more on the list,” she said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

Opposition politicians also expressed fear of reprisals. “Unfortunately, we are seeing a civilian counter-coup,” Lawmaker Ziya Pir of the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party told journalists on Wednesday. Many opposition factions “are afraid of being lynched,” he said.

Under the Turkish Constitution, the emergency measures allow the government to “partially or entirely” suspend “the exercise of fundamental rights and freedoms,” so long as that doesn’t violate international law obligations. Lawmakers can sanction a state of emergency for a period of up to six months.

In order to avoid reoccurrence of coups and escape being the target of accusations of becoming authoritarian by anti-Islamic nations, Turkey pres Erdogan has been moving strictly as per law. Turkish lawmakers declare three-month state of emergency allowing president Recep Tayyip Erdogan to ramp up his crackdown after failed coup without parliamentary approval. Parliament voted 346-115 to approve the national state of emergency, which will give Erdogan the authority to extend detention times for suspects and issue decrees that have the force of law without parliamentary approval, among other powers.

Observation

The coup is perhaps a stark reminder of how shaky Turkish nation is, of how for many a sense of security they had once taken for granted is more shattered than it already was, of how deeply July 15 — despite the failure of the coup itself — continues to unsettle this country.

Turkey has to reinvent the prestige and prowess of a big nation.

Erdogan, who had been accused of autocratic conduct even before this week’s crackdown on alleged opponents, says the state of emergency will counter threats to Turkish democracy. The main opposition Republican People’s Party, CHP, slammed the state of emergency move as going too far. A state of emergency has never been declared nationwide although it was declared in Turkey’s restive, Kurdish-dominated southeast between 1987 and 2002.

Since the July 15 coup attempt, the government has arrested nearly 10,000 people. In addition, over 58,880 civil service employees — including teachers, university deans and police — have been dismissed, suspended, forced to resign or had their licenses revoked, accused of being Gulen followers.

Turkish Deputy Prime Minister Mehmet Simsek defended the move, saying he hoped the state of emergency would be short-lived. He said it would be used to go after “rogue” elements within the state and that there would have been “carnage in the streets” had the military coup succeeded.

Turkey immediately said it was partially suspending the European Convention on Human Rights, allowing it more leeway to deal with individual cases, by invoking an article most recently used by France and Ukraine.

Countries around the world are keeping a close watch on developments in Turkey, which straddles Europe, the Middle East and Asia. German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier advised Turkey that the state of emergency should only last as long as it’s “absolutely necessary,” thereby interfering with internal affairs of Turkey

Erdogan announced a three-month state of emergency to protect Turkey’s freedom and democracy, saying Turkey will work to cleanse the “viruses” within the armed forces and other groups.

Turkey’s people are still reeling from the shocking events of the weekend and it is vital that press freedom and the unhindered circulation of information are protected, rather than stifled. There is a general incredulity, with the weight of what happened only just beginning to sink in.

It is not just funny but very dangerous that EU member states try to intervene in Turkey’s efforts to punish the culprits. Meanwhile, EU leaders have said that Turkey’s negotiations to join their bloc will be terminated if it brings back the death penalty to the coup plotting criminals and have criticized the wave of arrests that followed the failed putsch. Erdogan said the arrests were the state “doing its job” and told French Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault to mind his own business given that France also introduced a state of emergency after last year’s attacks. “For 53 years, we have been knocking at the door and the EU leaders have kept us waiting, while others have joined,” he said. Turkey has no reason now to feel any urgency to be a part of EU, which has already shown signs of breakup following the Brexit.

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and the AKP are pinning responsibility for the failed coup on a cabal within the army sympathetic to Fethullah Gulen, the exiled Islamic cleric. These accusations must be investigated and those who are culpable must be brought to justice. Gulenists were active in the police, prosecution service and judiciary, often pursuing their own agenda. Their unbridled lust for power ruined them in the end. Turkish liberals and democrats will never support the ambitions of the Gulenist army officers

Erdogan says death penalty could return to deal effectively with future plotters in Turkey, so that the people and government can surge ahead to revitalize economy and Islamic assets that are the target of the anti-Islamic forces globally.

With the coup having been failed, Turkey’s increasingly warm relations with Russia spell trouble for the USA at a time when the already strained ties between Ankara and Washington have been further complicated following the unsuccessful attempt to overthrow President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

Following the unsuccessful attempt to overthrow President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Turkey is on its way to effect a dramatic shift in foreign policy from USA to Russia. As ties between the two countries normalize, Ankara could green light the Turkish Stream project, an initiative that Moscow has championed and Washington opposed.

Turkey’s new policy approach is based on its economic well-being which has been the basis of the weight and influence the country has been enjoying in the Middle East. Its economy had considerably gone down over the past few years and dipped further after its direct involvement in the war in Syria and Iraq

Every nation is duty bound to take revenge if there is a coup or grave subversive move by military and why not Turkey? USA still invades energy rich Arab nations blaming one Osama‘s terror attack on USA. Turkey is not a nation displaying its resilience in the face of a terrorist attack, as Turks have done in the past. This is not a nation that can bury the dead and try to move on. This is a nation in uncharted territory.

Turkey must now know who its real friends and foes are and criticize both USA and EU directly instead of taking an indirect route by criticizing only their tool Gulen or the military. Bur the coup plotters and those who help them achieve anti-Islamic agenda. That would make some sense to people in those countries.

Middle East

From ‘Decisive Storm’ to Secret Talks: The Journey of Saudi Conquest of Yemen

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In the last days of the spring of 2015, Saudi generals were sitting around a V-shaped table in front of a newly appointed defense minister, dwelling on the answer to the rise of Houthi rebels in Yemen which had critically threatened the security of the southern border. For decades, Saudi Arabia has been known for its wise and cagey foreign policy, often following the lead of Washington, in any regional or global military conflict but this time was different.

When the 29-year-old defense minister, Muhammad bin Salman, ordered, “Send in the F-15s,” it shocked all of them. Despite having spent only eight months heading the armies of the kingdom, he was about to shape an aggressive or rather reckless foreign policy of one of the most resourceful and conservative countries in the world.

The Unresolved Conflict

After six years of war in Yemen, 233,000 lives have been ravaged of which more than 3,000 were children, 3.3 million have been displaced from their homes, 24 million Yemenis are in dire need of humanitarian support, while 16.2 million Yemenis are on the verge of food insecurity. Now, Saudi Arabia is finally looking for a way out.

“We want the guns to fall completely silent,” remarked Prince Faisal bin Farhan, the Saudi foreign minister, in March, laying out the Yemen Peace Initiative. The Houthis rejected the plan as it imparted “nothing new” according to them. “We expected that Saudi Arabia would announce an end to the blockade,” stated the Houthis’ chief negotiator, Mohammad Abdulsalam, to Reuters.

Riyadh had severed diplomatic ties with Tehran in January 2016 after the Saudi embassy was stormed by the protestors angry at the execution of Sheikh Nimr, a top Shia cleric from Saudi Arabia’s eastern province—a region known for being marginalized on the sectarian basis.

Saudi Arabia and Iran held the first official talks, brokered by the Iraqi government, in Baghdad on 9th April. The Baghdad talks canvassed the Yemen conflict as well as the political and economical instability of Lebanon to evaluate whether both countries can reach a common understanding of the situation.

The Zaidiyyah Imamate

Coming to the Yemen conflict, the rugged Yemeni mountains known for their finest coffee growing regions have a thousand-year-long history of the rule of Zaidiyyah imamate carved on them.

The Zaydism Shia sect is rooted in the unsuccessful rebellion of Zayd bin Ali, the grandson of Husayn bin Ali – the direct descendent of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) – against the Umayyad Caliphate in 740AD. Zaidiyyah’s theology differs from Iran’s Twelver Shiism and Ismaili branches in being far more tolerant towards early Islamic caliphs and in set qualifications for an imam to be a ruler.

The Creation of the Yemen Arab Republic

The imamate resisted the Romans and Ottomans to some extent for centuries but a revolution was brewing and the imams provided the catalyst themselves. Amid 1930’s modernism, Yemeni Imam Yahya Hamid al-Din stepped up from his conservative policy of not allowing foreign travel and authorized around forty boys to study abroad. He envisioned them as his “Famous Forty”—leaders of politics, military, and administration.

Until 1959, several hundred boys had gone through advanced studies from Iraq, Egypt, and Europe but they had envisioned something else. They laid the foundation of a progressive republican movement marked with several attempted coups and the assassination of Imam Yahya (1948) till 1962 when the last imam, al-Badr, was deposed by the revolutionary movement. This led to the emergence of the Yemen Arab Republic (YAR) with Abdullah Sallal as its leader and after that, Yemen was never the same.

Tracing the Root of the Saudi-Yemen Conflict

Al Saud had troubling relations with the imamate since Saudi Arabia had emerged as a kingdom in 1932. “Who is this Bedouin coming to challenge my family’s 900-year rule?” stated Imam Yahya once, which erupted the 1934 war between Saudi Arabia and Yemen, and ended up in the Treaty of Taif. The treaty demarcated the border and granted Jizan, Asir, and Najran to Saudi Arabia after the kingdom’s victory.

The Saudis then cultivated alliances within the bordering Yemeni tribes to erect a makeshift buffer zone during the 1960s civil war in Zaydi Imamate. Al Saud sided with Yemeni loyalists when the republican government tossed away the Treaty of Taif in 1962 and Egypt lined up 70,000 troops to assist the republic against Imam Badr’s guerrilla opposition.

Throughout the 70s and 80s, North and South Yemen struggled for coexistence and peace with continuous border clashes, including a bloody civil war in the South, which John Kifner aptly referred to as MassacrewithTea, that cost thousands of souls. Eventually, after 20 years of political and military turmoil, South Yemen’s Ali Salim al-Baidh joined with the North’s Ali Abdullah Saleh to sign the unification agreement of the two states on November 30, 1989.

Yet, while Ali Abdullah Salih was being declared as the president of a unified Yemen and the country was facing an economic collapse, something worse was brewing in the heights of northern Yemen.

The Houthis and the Saudi Construct

Feeling his unique sect threatened by the Saudi-funded proselytization through Salafist preachers, Hussein Badr Eddin al-Houthi, a Zaydi scholar from Maran range established a seemingly political and revivalist movement, Ansar Allah (Supporters of God)to preserve the Zaidiyyah sect, followed by 40% of the Yemeni population, which turned into an aggressive armed insurgency in no time.

The point is that the current regional discord has centuries-old bad blood embedded in its roots. The Houthi movement, their substantial public support, and their military successes must be deconstructed from the local perspective, along with the regional one, to reach a better understanding of the conflict.

The Saudi-led coalition has been portraying Houthis just as an Iranian proxy, which is far from reality. In their annual policy paper, the Middle East Institute of Washington D.C stated that the current civil war of Yemen is entrenched in widespread public resentment over political marginalization, a paralyzed economy, and a corrupt and failed state.

Where Saudi Arabia’s policy of sectarian expansionism across the borderlands made the descendants of Zaidiyah Imamate, ousted from a centuries-long rule, feel more vulnerable, discrimination for Shia sects by Abdullah Saleh’s regime and corrupt practices tossed Yemen into a cycle of political upheaval and violence—all of which had nothing to with Iran.

The Houthis took arms against the Yemeni government six times from 2004-2010, a chapter remembered as the Saada Wars, long before Tehran came into the picture.

Civil War in Yemen

In the wake of the 2011 Arab Spring, the Houthi leader, Abdul Malik Al-Houthi, called countrywide demonstrations to end Saleh’s 33-year rule but after Saleh resigned and declared his deputy, Abdrabbuh Mansour Hadi, the head of state in exchange of immunity, hopes rose for peace. However, Hadi, shockingly, stepped down in January 2015 and fled the country after the National Dialogue Conference failed to agree on the division of Yemen in the UN-backed transitional process and the Houthis stormed the Presidential Palace.

After the Houthis took over Sanaa in February 2015, Jamal Benomar, the UN special envoy for Yemen, went straight to Riyadh, which highlights Saudis’ concerns over the matter. On March 26, 2015, the Saudi-led coalition launched Operation Decisive Storm, with Saudi jets targeting the military compounds around the capital overnight.

The tactical inabilities of the coalition air force manifested to reality when three days later, Saudi warplanes accidentally bombed a refugee camp killing at least 40 and injuring 200. It was the beginning of one of the most horrible bombing campaigns, a disaster from a civilian and military perspective.

As civilian casualties mounted, the United States, concerned by the human cost of the conflict, urged Saudi Arabia to reach a negotiating position as soon as possible. Riyadh ended Operation Decisive Storm on 21 April, claiming the achievements, and rolled out Operation Renewal of Hope. But the truth was, the Saudis failed to deliver a considerable blow to the Houthis’ hold of the capital.

In May and June, the first reports came of mortar and Scud missile attacks by Houthis across the Saudi border. The Houthis proved tenacious and provoked Riyadh for a ground invasion, which worked out disastrously for the Saudi-led coalition. Saudi Arabia, UAE, Egypt, Sudan, and others had deployed hundreds of ground troops by the end of the year.

Although they spawned some temporary gains in forcing the Houthis out of key southern provinces, like the vital Aden seaport in July, Zinjibar, and Al-And Airbase in August, the Houthis also inflicted heavy casualties to the coalition. In just one Houthi missile attack on a weapon depot in Marib in September 2015, 45 Emirati and Five Bahraini troops were killed.

The Kuwait Talks: A Failed Attempt at Resolving the Conflict

After a year into the war with no end in sight, reports came in March 2016 of the first Houthi delegation’s visit to Saudi Arabia, led by Mohammed Abdel-Salam, the Houthis’ senior advisor and spokesperson.

Two weeks later, the UN envoy for Yemen, Mr. Ould Cheikh Ahmed, stated that talks will circumvent the withdrawal and disarmament of militias and inclusive political dialogue. Kuwait’s emir and legendary peacemaker, late Sheikh Sabah, mediated talks between the delegations of the Houthis, Abdullah Saleh, and ousted president Abdrabbuh Mansour Hadi, who had returned to coalition controlled Aden in September 2015. Riyadh kept its distance from the Kuwait talks held in April  2016.

“Saudi Arabia seeks through the Kuwait talks to exonerate itself from its aggression against Yemen and to portray said aggression as a civil Yemeni war,” accused Yahya Saleh, a former general and Saleh’s nephew, after the Kuwait talks struck a stalemate over Houthis demanding a new consensual transitional regime while Hadi’s delegation insisted on a return to the current government, an out and out surrender for Houthis.

The peace talks were formally suspended in August 2016 when Houthis announced a new ten-member governing body to replace the interim Supreme Revolutionary Council, which had run the country since February 2015. The unilateral move was immediately denounced by Saudi Arabia and the United Nations. “Houthis, as well as their supporters, are making the search for a peaceful solution more difficult,” declared the statement issued by the group of G18 ambassadors of nations that backed the UN peace talks while tens of thousands of Houthi supporters rallied through Saana to show their support for the Houthis.

In all of this, a frangible ceasefire was held throughout the year with occasional skirmishes. In October 2016, a coalition double airstrike cremated a crowded funeral hall, killing around 140 mourners, adding to the domestic and international pressure on the US to review the billion dollars arms sales to the Saudi-led coalition.

Previously, The Guardian had concluded that each one in three Saudi strikes hit civilian targets but the coalition kept sweeping all of this under the rug. The Houthis also left no stone unturned to kill any hopes of negotiations when in March 2017, a Pro-Houthi court sentenced President Hadi and six other top officials to death in absentia for high treason. This was followed by the Burkan missile attack on Mecca in July 2017, although the Houthis claimed that it was aimed at the King Fahad airbase.

The United States’ Endless Support of Saudi Arabia

In August 2017, the Middle East Eye reported an email leak between UAE’s ambassador to Washington, Yousef Al Otaiba, and a former high-level US diplomat, Martin Indyk, which revealed that the kingdom’s de-facto ruler, Muhammad bin Salman, wanted out of Yemen but Riyadh could not withdraw without ensuring the cross-border security.

On the other hand, in a striking development, the Houthi-Saleh split went real in December 2017 amid Saleh’s attempt to switch sides with the coalition and turned up in Houthis killing the former president of Yemen, who had been the sole ruler for more than three decades.

As 2018 unfolded, the international criticism for Saudi intervention and Washington’s role in the Yemeni chapter of war crimes plummeted. Houthis were no angels either as a UNHCR report published in Aug ‘18 noted coalition hitting civilian targets, it also documented blanket use of force on the civilian population in Houthi controlled areas.

“The group of experts is concerned by the alleged use by the Houthi­-Saleh forces of weapons with wide-area effect in a situation of urban warfare.” stated the report. It also stated that the Houthis were hitting women and children through shelling and snipers in their homes, fetching water at local wells, or traveling to seek medical attention.

On August 18, another coalition strike annihilated 40 boys, aged from six to eleven, in their school bus. As Bellingcat traced back the Mk-82 bomb, approved by the US Department of State, used in the attack to Lockheed Martin, it added to the criticism of the US’s unconditional support to the Saudi regime.

In June 2018, the Yemeni National Army backed by a Saudi-led alliance had launched an offensive to recapture the northwestern port city of Hodeidah, a significant economic hub and fourth-largest city. After six months of intense fighting, both parties agreed to a truce, total withdrawal from Hodeidah, and a “mutual understanding” in Taiz.

Blaming Iran

In January 2019, the Council of Foreign Relations and the Italian Institute of International Political Studies had listed Yemen in the Top Conflict Watch of the year. As Houthis scaled up their military capabilities, shooting down US MQ-9 reaper drone with Iranian assistance—according to CENTCOM—reports came of UAE pulling out from Aden, amid intensified tensions between the US and Iran in the Persian Gulf.

On September 14, 2019, at 3:31 to 3:42 am in morning, the heart of Saudi Arabia’s oil industry and the world’s largest oil processing facilities, Abqaiq and Khurais Oil fields in eastern Saudi Arabia, were attacked by Houthi drones, shutting down half of the kingdom’s crude output.

Despite the Houthis’ taking credit for the attack and the UN’s claims regarding the Houthis acquiring long-range drones (1200-1500km) capable of hitting Riyadh, Dubai, and Abu Dhabi, the United States and Saudi Arabia asserted that the attack hadn’t stemmed from Yemen. Instead, Iran was directly behind the “unprecedented attack on the world’s energy supply,” tweeted the US Secretary of State at that time, Mike Pompeo.

Tehran immediately refuted all such accusations. Despite this continuous rhetoric, US President Donald Trump’s statements had hinted that Washington would avoid any additional escalation with Iran which would have doomed global energy supplies further down the hill while markets hadn’t recovered from the previous attacks on Saudi facilities.

The Saudi-Emirati Rivalry in Yemen

On the other hand in a dramatic twist, the civil war turned multi-layered when the UAE-backed Southern Transitional Council (STC) separatists seized Aden’s control from coalition-supported government forces. Few days after a joint statement was released from both Saudi and Emirati foreign ministers urging for peace talks between the Yemeni government and southern separatists, the UAE struck Hadi’s forces to aid southern separatists, killing 30 Yemeni troops as per Yemeni President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi.

In November 2019, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia successfully struck the Riyadh agreement, between the southern separatists and the Yemeni government, which entailed power-sharing in cabinet and the military withdrawal of all forces from Aden, Abyan, and Shabwah. The landmark deal granted the absolute authority of southern Yemen to Saudi Arabia. Later in the same month, Reuters reported indirect talks in Oman between Saudi Arabia and the Houthis.

In January 2020, the Houthis claimed to seize 1,500 square miles of territory in Al-Jawf and the Marib governorate, and in March, they successfully captured the strategic city of Al Hazm. “Control of the capital of Al-Jawf could totally change the course of the war. The Houthis are changing the balance in their favor,” Majed al-Madhaji, executive director of Sanaa Centre, deciphered the situation to AFP. 

Bethan McKernan, The Guardian’s Middle East correspondent reported the same that Saudi-Emirati tussle had been dragging the conflict as Riyadh was already back channeling with Houthis through Oman while the UAE was pressing the attacks to keep the Saudi-backed Islah faction in check.

The One-sided Agreement

In April 2020, in light of the proposal sent by UN Envoy for Yemen Martin Griffiths, the coalition announced a unilateral ceasefire amid the globally surging COVID-19 pandemic, although the coalition forces kept violating the ceasefire with at least 106 airstrikes in just a week.

The Houthis had already called it a “ploy”, demanding the lifting of air and naval blockade of Yemen which had been depriving the population of food and medicines. It seemed like the international pressure on the coalition, and the financial strain on Al Saud was dealing with, had not gone unnoticed by those controlling most of northern Yemen.

The Houthis had released their own proposal which Elana DeLozier from the Washington Institute narrated as a “wish list”, as it had thrown all the responsibility of ceasefire on the coalition with demands of demilitarization of borders and above all, war compensations and salaries in northern Yemen for a decade, but all were non-starters for Riyadh.

The Saudis kept extending the one-sided ceasefire but things only got worse. The STC separatists withdrew from the Riyadh agreement six months after signing, announcing the establishment of self-rule in southern Yemen. The Saudi-backed Yemeni government immediately denounced the declaration while the Houthis were claiming to “liberate” 95% of the Al-Jawf governorate; this left only the Marib province in the north under the control of Hadi’s forces.

The Houthis were keenly observing and seizing the fruits of coalition infighting. Separatists moved to redirect the revenues from ports, free zones, and an oil refinery to the STC accounts as reports surfaced of the Yemeni government attacking the separatists in Zinjibar, the capital of Abyan province.

A week later, the STC president, Aidarous al-Zubaidi, landed in Riyadh to talk over the deadlock that persisted between supposedly anti-Houthi allies. The Yemeni government and STC separatists agreed to a ceasefire to begin peace talks in June 2020. In December 2020 while a freshly established cabinet of coalition-backed government arrived in Yemen after agreeing to equal power-sharing, two blasts shook Aden International Airport. With cabinet members remaining safe, 22—with most being aid workers—were killed in this fatal attack.

Coalition’s Failure in Yemen

“Incompetence, lack of unified leadership, and the absence of a military strategy by the Yemeni government and the Saudi-led coalition played into the hands of the Houthis,” stated Nadwa Al-Dawsari from the Middle East Institute. Local tribes lacked the medium-range surface-to-air ballistic missiles and other advanced weaponry on which Houthis built their tactical achievements.

The Houthi combat units constituted 20, or even fewer men, and three trucks for higher mobility to counter the constant aerial surveillance by coalition UAVs (unmanned aerial vehicles) and the US satellites. According to Jamestown Foundation, disregard for meritocracy and skills, the weary chain of commands, and persisting corruption in Yemeni government forces due to Saudi black-cheque strategy laid the ground for coalition failures. While perpetual imprecise bombings cost thousands of civilian lives and the worst humanitarian crisis due to the air and naval blockade, the public resentment against the coalition fueled.

In the aftermath of King Abdullah’s death in January 2015, his brother Salman bin Abdulaziz ascended to rule but being 79 with speculations of dementia and Parkinson’s enabled his most ambitious son, Muhammad bin Salman, to rise as a de facto ruler of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

Reportedly he is named “little general” behind his back due to his craving for respect from Washington and turning down his advisers who predicted a catastrophic outcome from an all-out Yemeni offensive, including former foreign minister Saud al-Faisal. Saudi military failure in Yemen hatched from a “panicked reaction of an inexperienced prince with too much to prove” rather than from his desire to check Iranian influence and rescue Yemen, wrote Sophia Dingli, a lecturer in international relations from the University of Hull.

Besides all this, Washington has also altered its course with Joe Biden in the Oval Office. “The war in Yemen must end,” stated President Biden in his first significant foreign policy speech. A week later, the state department repealed the Houthis’ status of Specially Designated Global Terrorist Organization(SDGT) and Foreign Terrorist Organization (FTO) enacted a day before Donald Trump left the Oval Office.

Saltana Begum, the Norwegian Refugee Council’s (NRC) advocacy manager in Yemen, voiced that at that time “We had famine warnings where 16 million people – that’s one in two Yemenis – were close to starvation.”

Setting Terms for Peace

In June this year, the Saudi-led coalition even ceased the air raids temporarily for “preparing the political ground for a peace process in Yemen,” remarked the coalition spokesperson Turki al-Malki. The gesture came as efforts ramped up for a political settlement. The US Envoy for Yemen Tim Lenderking had visited Riyadh in the same month where he met several government officials along with UN Envoy Martin Griffiths.

Saudi and Houthi camps have been reportedly close to a ceasefire deal. The Houthis want the end of the blockade “without impossible conditions” before a “comprehensive ceasefire”, stated Houthi’s chief negotiator Mohammed Abdulsalam. As promising as it all might seem, and although Oman has been an excellent mediator with its impartial and carefully measured foreign policy, there are still a lot of bridges to cross and compromises to be made from both sides for a mutually beneficial post-war arrangement.

The Saudis would not just demand guarantees on border security from Oman and Iran but also a check to Iranian influence and even that won’t cater to the grievances of anti-Houthi factions battling alongside coalition forces. So, the peace process has to be inclusive for sustainable accords.

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Turkey’s Destruction of Cultural Heritage in Cyprus, Turkey, Artsakh

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The Mother See of Holy Etchmiadzin of the Armenian Apostolic Church has recently hosted a conference on international religious freedom and peace with the blessings of His Holiness Karekin II, the Supreme Patriarch and Catholicos of All Armenians.

Tasoula Hadjitofi, the founding president of the Walk of Truth, was one of the invited guests. She spoke about genocide and her own experience in Cyprus, warning of Turkey’s religious freedom violations. Hadjitofi also called for joint legal actions against continued ethnic cleansing and destruction of Christian cultural heritage in Cyprus, Turkey, Nagorno-Karabakh (Artsakh) and other places by the Turkish government and its regional allies including Azerbaijan.

During the two-day conference, access to places of worship in war and conflict zones, the protection of religious and ethnic minorities, and preservation of cultural heritage were among the topics addressed by many distinguished speakers.  The conference paid particular attention to the situation of historic Armenian monasteries, churches, monuments, and archeological sites in parts of Nagorno-Karabakh that have been under Azeri occupation since the 2020 violent war unleashed by Azerbaijan.

Hadjitofi presented about the situation of Cyprus, sharing her recent visit to the Cypriot city of Famagusta (Varoshia), making historic parallels between the de-Christianisation of Asia Minor, Cyprus and Nagorno-Karabakh by Turkey, and its allies such as Azerbaijan. See Hadjitofi’s full speech here.

Author of the book, The Icon Hunter, Hadjitofi spoke with passion about her recent visit to the ghost city of Famagusta, occupied by Turkey since 1974. Her visit coincided with the 47th anniversary of the occupation. She was accompanied by journalist Tim Neshintov of Spiegel and photographer Julien Busch as she made several attempts to visit her home and pray at her church of Timios Stavrou (Holy Cross).

Hadjitofi explained how her own human rights and religious freedoms, alongside the rights of tens of thousands of Cypriots, were violated when Turkey’s president Recep Tayyip Erdogan illegally entered her country and prayed at the newly erected mosque in her own occupied town whereas she was kneeling down in the street to pray to her icon in front of her violated Christian church. In comparison, her church was looted, mistreated and vandalized by the occupying forces.  

Hadjitofi reminded the audience of the historic facts concerning Turks discriminating against Christian Greeks, Armenians, and Assyrians. They also massacred these communities or expelled them from the Ottoman Empire and the modern Republic of Turkey, a process of widespread persecution which culminated in the 1913-23 Christian genocide. Hadjitofi then linked those genocidal actions with what Erdogan is doing today to the Kurds in Syria, and the Armenians in Nagorno-Karabakh by supporting Turkey’s wealthy friends such as the government of Azerbaijan.  She also noted that during her recent visit to her hometown of Famagusta, a delegation from Azerbaijan referred to Turkish-occupied northern Cyprus as “Turkish land” and a “part of Greater Turkey”. This is yet another sign of Turkish-Azeri historic revisionism, and their relentless efforts for the Turkification of non-Turkish geography.

Hadjitofi called for a series of legal actions against Turkey and its allies, reminding Armenians that although they signed the Rome Statute for the International Criminal Court (ICC), they have not ratified it. She noted that it must be the priority of Armenians if they want to seek justice. Azerbaijan and Turkey, however, neither signed or ratified the Rome Statute.

During her speech Hadjitofi also emphasized the need for unity amongst all Christians and other faiths against any evil or criminal act of destroying places of worship or evidence of their historical existence anywhere in the world. 

In line with this call, the Republic of Armenia instituted proceedings against the Republic of Azerbaijan before the International Court of Justice, the principal judicial organ of the United Nations, with regard to violations of the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (CERD).

In its application, Armenia stated that “[f]or decades, Azerbaijan has subjected Armenians to racial discrimination” and that, “[a]s a result of this State-sponsored policy of Armenian hatred, Armenians have been subjected to systemic discrimination, mass killings, torture and other abuse”.

Hadjitofi said that “Armenia’s lawsuit against the government of Azerbaijan is a positive move in the right direction and more legal actions should be taken against governments that systematically violate human rights and cultural heritage. I’m also in the process of meeting members of the Armenian diaspora in Athens, London, and Nicosia to discuss further joint legal actions. But the most urgent action that Armenia should take is the ratification of Rome Statute of the ICC,” she added.

Other speakers at the conference included representatives of the main Christian denominations, renowned scholars and experts from around the globe, all of whom discussed issues related to international religious freedom and the preservation of the world’s spiritual, cultural and historical heritage.

Baroness Cox, a Member of the UK House of Lords and a prominent human rights advocate, was among the participants. She has actively defended the rights of the Armenians of Nagorno-Karabakh and Armenia through her parliamentary, charity and advocacy work.

Meanwhile, the organizing committee of the conference adopted a joint communiqué, saying, in part:

” We re-affirm the principles of the right to freedom of religion or belief, as articulated in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and subsequent international and regional human rights treaties. We claim this right, equally, for all people, of any faith or none, and regardless of nation, history or political circumstances – including for those Armenian prisoners of war still illegally held in captivity by Azerbaijan, for whose swift release and repatriation we appeal and pray, and for the people of Artsakh/Nagorno-Karabakh whose rights to free and peaceful assembly and association necessarily implicate the sacred character of human life.”

On September 11, the delegates of the conference were received by the President of Armenia, Armen Sarkissian, in his palace in Yerevan where they were thanked. The guests also visited the Armenian Genocide Memorial-Museum (Tsitsernakaberd), where Hadjitofi was interviewed on Armenian national TV. She said:

“I read about the Armenian Genocide and I am glad that more countries recognize it as such but I am disappointed that politicians do not condemn actions of Turkey and its allies in their anti Christian attitude towards Cyprus and Nagorno-Karabakh. I see an interconnection between the genocide and the adopted politics of Azerbaijan, when the ethnic cleansing takes place, when cultural heritage is destroyed, gradually the traces of the people once living there are eliminated and that is genocide”. 

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After 10 years of war in Syria, siege tactics still threaten civilians

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The future for Syria’s people is “increasingly bleak”, UN-appointed rights experts said on Tuesday, highlighting escalating conflict in several areas of the war-ravaged country, a return to siege tactics and popular demonstrations linked to the plummeting economy.

According to the UN Commission of Inquiry on Syria, the country is not safe for refugees to return to, after a decade of war.

The panel’s findings come amid an uptick in violence in the northwest, northeast and south of the country, where the Commissioners highlighted the chilling return of besiegement against civilian populations by pro-Government forces.

“The parties to the conflict continue to perpetrate war crimes and crimes against humanity and infringing the basic human rights of Syrians,” said head of the Commission of Inquiry, Paulo Pinheiro. “The war on Syrian civilians continues, and it is difficult for them to find security or safe haven.”

Scandal of Al Hol’s children

Professor Pinheiro also described as “scandalous” the fact that many thousands of non-Syrian children born to former IS fighters continue to be held in detention in dreadful conditions in Syria’s north-east.

“Most foreign children remain deprived of their liberty since their home countries refuse to repatriate them,” he told journalists, on the sidelines of the 48th session of the Human Rights Council in Geneva.

“We have the most ratified convention in the world, the Convention on the Rights of the Child, is completely forgotten. And democratic States that are prepared to abide to this Convention they neglect the obligations of this Convention in what is happening in Al Hol and other camps and prison places.”

Some 40,000 children continue to be held in camps including Al Hol. Nearly half are Iraqi and 7,800 are from nearly 60 other countries who refuse to repatriate them, according to the Commission of Inquiry report, which covers the period from 1 July 2020 to 30 June 2021. 

Blockades and bombardment

The rights experts also condemned a siege by pro-Government forces on the town of Dar’a Al-Balad, the birthplace of the uprising in 2011, along with “siege-like tactics” in Quineitra and Rif Damascus governorates.

“Three years after the suffering that the Commission documented in eastern Ghouta, another tragedy has been unfolding before our eyes in Dar’a Al-Balad,” said Commissioner Hanny Megally, in reference to the siege of eastern Ghouta which lasted more than five years – and which the commissioners previously labelled “barbaric and medieval”.

In addition to the dangers posed by heavy artillery shelling, tens of thousands of civilians trapped inside Dar’a Al-Balad had insufficient access to food and health care, forcing many to flee, the Commissioners said.

Living in fear

In the Afrin and Ra’s al-Ayn regions of Aleppo, the Commissioners described how people lived in fear of car bombs “that are frequently detonated in crowded civilian areas”, targeting markets and busy streets.

At least 243 women, men and children have been killed in seven such attacks over the 12-month reporting period, they said, adding that the real toll is likely to be considerably higher.

Indiscriminate shelling has also continued, including on 12 June when munitions struck multiple locations in Afrin city in northwest Syria, killing and injuring many and destroying parts of al-Shifa hospital.

Insecurity in areas under the control of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) in northeast Syria has also deteriorated, according to the Commission of Inquiry, with increased attacks by extremist “remnants” and conflict with Turkish forces.

Division remains

The Commissioners noted that although President Assad controls about 70 per cent of the territory and 40 per cent of the pre-war population, there seems to be “no moves to unite the country or seek reconciliation. On the contrary.”

Despite a welcome drop in the level of violence compared with previous years, the Commission of Inquiry highlighted the dangers that continue to be faced by non-combatants

The senior rights experts also highlighted mounting discontent and protests amongst the population, impacted by fuel shortages and food insecurity, which has increased by 50 per cent in a year, to 12.4 million, citing UNFPA data.

“The hardships that Syrians are facing, particularly in the areas where the Government is back in control, are beginning to show in terms of protests by Syrians who have been loyal to the State,” said Mr. Megally. They are now saying, ‘Ten years of conflict, our lives are getting worse rather than getting better, when do we see an end to this?’”

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