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Praying For Syria

With the news that the USA has launched its first direct military action against Assad, Komal Rasheed has penned her initial thoughts and reaction.

Prayers for the civilians, the innocents in Syria who continue to suffer…from all sides!!
A few thoughts….still coming together.

1.) The US informed Russia before air strikes and Russia no doubt informed Assad.

2.) Assad is a bastard and a component of an ugly multi head monster that is plaguing Syria…if one of the other heads cut him off…it doesn’t kill the monster and make things better…it just grows a different head tied to the same monster. Regardless I can see the appeal when no other solution comes to mind.

3.) Direct military involvement in Syria by a country that continues to not want to talk about Syrian refugees…seems slightly disingenuous or rather really disingenuous.

4.) The timing of our stand against Russia on the Syrian conflict seems to benefit an administration plagued with Russian controversy, related perjury and abysmal Presidential approval ratings. To reference Dug from the movie Up, this is a mighty squirrel much like the Muslim ban (still wrong) that allows the administration to do a bunch of shady shit while the country looks elsewhere and focuses on something else. Ahem and queue …the nuclear option on the SCOTUS nominee, and Nunes.

5.) America has done this same dance before during WWII. A crazy regime was wiping out an entire ethnicity of people for several years while the US was watching from the sidelines….not caring about the human carnage that lay on the other side of the Atlantic because it wasn’t our problem….until of course it personally touched us and our interests. 6 million Jews died across Europe between 1933 and 1945. 400,000 Syrians are already dead, with 2.1 million of them as refugees. WWII was 70 years ago, when the world sacrificed, learned and pledged never again…so here we are..again….teetering in the verge with better weapons that allow us to kill remotely so we are even less sensitive to the loss of human life.

6.) I am not saying something didn’t need to happen…watching those videos break my heart…but I can’t help and think…or try to think of a time when Western military (emphasis on the military) involvement in the Middle East has yielded positive results, abroad or at home for anyone besides the war machine. I haven’t been able to come up with an example yet.

7.) Did you say we need jobs?! are you a veteran who can’t find a job, or an disenfranchised American looking to be gainfully employed?! Have you realized that factory jobs will never return to the US the way they were before? Are you an American who wants to show they care the only way that really counts? Well …WAR, huh, good God, what is it good for?! Absolutely nothing you say…nah…it’s a great way to fulfill a campaign promise, risk the lives of our finest and their families by capitalizing on their love of country, and falsely and temporarily boost the economy…win win win right? (Btw total praise for the men and women who serve our country and do so bravely and genuinely.. hats off).

After all this thinking tonight…what I can praise even if I can’t trust it’s genuineness …is the need to act…I just can’t say the act itself will yield positive results for those suffering in Syria and across the world as refugees. I can assume it will yield positive results for this administration much like a well rehearsed State of the Union speech given not too long ago by our president, that duped people and critics on a man who hadn’t changed his message but just his tone to “sound presidential”.

Duas and love ❤️ to my Syrian brothers and sisters. Remain resolute! #PrayingForSyria

By Komal Rasheed

Komal has dedicated her career to public service. She currently serves as an advisor and director at the U.S. General Services Administration (GSA) where she leads a team of analysts focused on driving efficiency within the federal government. Under the Obama Administration, Komal was part of a small team of experts responsible for the Top to Bottom reviews of the agency, which saved the taxpayer approximately $31 million annually. She was also a contributor to President Obama’s second term Presidential Management Agenda (PMA) and worked on proposals for a more effective and efficient government. In 2015, Komal was asked to come to the U.S. Department of State for a year to advise on Countering Violent Extremism (CVE) strategies and public diplomacy efforts in South and Central Asia. During her time, Komal worked on the State Department’s preparation and positions for United Nation’s General Assembly (UNGA); supported Secretary Kerry’s historic trip with all five Central Asian countries; evaluated educational, public diplomacy, CVE, and democracy, human rights and labor programming; and served as the Deputy Director of Community Engagement at the U.S. Embassy in Islamabad among other contributions. Follow her @TheKRasheed

Image credit: Christiaan Triebert
Disclaimer: the opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the original author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the website.

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War And Peace

by Anjum Peerbacos


'War & Peace'; BBC Drama aired 2016. Image credit:

‘War & Peace’; BBC Drama aired 2016. Image credit:

Nothing I like more than a period drama especially one that is steeped in history and facts and eras. Great! If you loved Downton then ‘War and Peace’ has nicely fills that Sunday evening void. The BBC knows exactly what it is doing – plugging a gap.

Of course it’s based during the time of the Napoleonic wars, and of course with that comes all the bloodiness of war, which was particularly apparent during certain episodes. I did have to turn away at the point Anatole was having his leg brutally chopped, hacked- away -at, because it was incredibly lifelike realistic and extremely gory.

And then the vast landscape that was littered with corpses; bodies all left for dead.

The irony is of course that the brutality and underlying hostility and animosity that comes with war still exists today. 250 years later it doesn’t seem to have changed much. As a race, the human race we’ve not moved on at all.

Syrian Refugee Children

Syrian Refugee Children

What’s amazing about a period drama like ‘War and Peace’ is that you build up an affinity with these characters, with their feelings, their emotions and experiences? You feel what they feel and experience; however why is this not the case for the people that we are currently bombing in Syria?

Peoples’ homes are destroyed, they lose family and loved ones. And soldiers that have been lost in battles and in wars over the ages, they all had mothers they all had family ties and connections. They had feelings and emotions and experiences. Do we not feel towards them as we do towards the characters on our screens; is it because they’re far away that we don’t feel for them? Because there isn’t a close-up shots of their face as a loved one departs?

I don’t know if in conclusion I can say honestly as a human race we have really moved on. Have we made progress if people are still dying? If people are still being killed and persecuted and annihilated, and we don’t feel what they feel, we don’t experience what they experience. How can we say we have progressed? How can we say we are a civilised society?

Is it because we managed to dehumanise the other?  They ‘bunch’, the ‘swarm’? Is it because it doesn’t happen right in front of us ? Is it because we don’t make eye contact as we kill them anymore.

We just fight now because we’re not killing people and we like to think we are not killing people. We say we’re using drones, we don’t even have to see the end result. We just have to know where they are. Does that make it okay?


Anjum Perrbacos is a mother writer living, teaching and learning, in 21st century London. Of Asian origin (beige- ish), wearing a hijab – not a terrorist! A Londoner through and through and proud to be so. Currently Vice Chair of local Constituency Labour Party. Promoting Political engagement within diverse communities. You can follow her on Twitter @Mammaanji or Facebook:
Image credits: ‘War and Peace’ courtesy of Wikipedia; Syrian refugee children courtesy of IHH on Flickr 
Disclaimer: the opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the original author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the website.

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No One Can See You


Image courtesy of Oxfam International, featuring Limar  who was born on 3 August the first child of Liqaa (shown) and Bassel who currently live in Zaatari camp.


Every stranger. Every person. Every human. Every hair. Every contour. Every wrinkle. Every ignorant line.

She searched their faces in earnest, would it be him, could it be him, could it be them.

What was it that drove them to such cowardice  and evil?

She was afraid. The fear could be seen on her face, in her shoulders, in her hesitant stride.

Looking forward,  yet afraid. No longer safe in the space that she had called her own. The space she had been proud of, the space she wanted to share with love. Her conscious thoughts resisted the screaming in her heart. Screaming, searing pain.








She felt hate

She felt despair, despair made her sick. Her rights were no longer her own. She owned nothing.

Not even a voice. A  voice that had retracted and recoiled and curled up like a foetus, as it had been asphyxiated. The pain had killed it. The pain, the greed, the hate, the evil, the greed, the hate, the hate, the pain.

No one can see you . No one can hear you. If you scream I`ll strangle you.

No one can see the colour of your dreams. They see only the colour of your scarf and that you are prey.

Peregrine Falcon

You are prey, to be torn, limb from limb, sinew from sinew, as I pick apart the dreams of your ancestors. The blood coursing in your veins is not the colour of mine. You don’t deserve me. Tell me why, should your pain be healed, your children educated, your hearts operated upon by me, because,

I am a Syrian refugee.

By Anon

Image courtesy of Oxfam International via Flickr   

Disclaimer: the opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the original author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the website.

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Syrian airstrikes: why Hilary Benn’s speech left me cold

robert-downey-jr“Of course the people don’t want war. But after all, it’s the leaders of the country who determine the policy, and it’s always a simple matter to drag the people along whether it’s a democracy, a fascist dictatorship, or a parliament, or a communist dictatorship. Voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked, and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism, and exposing the country to greater danger.”

— Herman Goering at the Nuremberg trials

So earlier this week, our illustrious leaders decided to go ahead with airstrikes in Syria. I woke up the morning after hearing the news, feeling broken, deflated and hopeless. As I glanced at my three-year-old son, all I could think about was the innocent children and civilian casualties that will suffer as a result of this hasty, ill-thought-out military campaign.

The sheer hypocrisy and lack of human empathy in this whole situation is infuriating and staggering. I listened to Hilary Benn’s so-called “electrifying” speech in the House of Commons, but failed to understand why the media was raving about words that seemed so empty, so disingenuous, and so well-rehearsed. It is the rhetoric of Tony Blair all over again.

Almost two weeks ago, in an interview with the Independent, Benn argued against bombing Syria. So it is difficult for me to really believe in the weight of his words, since he seemed to change his mind pretty quickly about the whole situation.

This is politics without principle; without humanity and without empathy. In his speech, Benn spoke of the recent attacks in Paris, noting that: “If it had happened here, they could have been our children.” This is the rhetoric of pro-war propaganda. There should be no such thing as “our children” and “their children”. It should just be about our shared humanity. Does it matter who these children belong to, or which nation they happen to be born in?

The language used seems to imply that certain lives are just deemed less important than others. When talking about civilian casualties, Benn sought to distance himself from ISIS, saying: “Unlike Daesh, none of us today act with the intent to harm civilians. Rather, we act to protect civilians from Daesh, who target innocent people.”

The fact that this needs to spelled out is telling and worrying. Not having the intention to kill innocent civilians is empty and meaningless when you know  that military action will inevitably harm them. It is truly shocking that civilian casualties are talked about in such a flippant and casual way, as if their lives are somehow expendable.don't bomb syria

If the government was truly concerned about the civilian population of Raqqa, they would formulate a coherent military strategy to not only minimise the loss of life, but also have a long-term plan to deal with the consequences of airstrikes. It is blindingly obvious that nations that carry out military activity have a responsibility for the fallout and must know how to deal coherently with the aftermath of war. But what we’re hearing from our politicians is only about the immediate airstrikes with no consideration of what happens next.

Our politicians feel that they have to be seen to be doing something, anything, without really thinking about the effectiveness of airstrikes against Isis. As Labour MP, Gerald Kaufman, said in his speech to the Commons: “If what the government were proposing today, would in any way, not simply or not totally get rid of Daesh, but weaken them in a significant way so they would not go on behaving in the abominable fashion we see, I wouldn’t have any difficult in voting for this motion today. But there is absolutely no evidence of any kind that any kind that bombing Daesh, that bombing Raqqa, will result in an upsurge of other people in the region to get rid of them.”

In fact, there is mounting evidence that going to war is playing into the hands of Daesh and giving them exactly what they want. The French journalist, Nicolas Hénin, who was held hostage by Mohammad Emwazi, said that military action was a trap that would only strengthen and benefit Isis.

During the Iraq war, politicians talked about winning the hearts and mind of the Iraqi people, though it never really developed much further than talking. It’s clear that a military solution hasn’t been effective in the past, so maybe it’s time to try something else. Hénin argues that the surest way to defeat Isis is to engage with the Syrian people, stating that “as soon as the people have hope in the political solution, then Islamic State will just collapse. It will have no ground any more. It will collapse.”

Today, The Independent reported that at least five Syrian children have been killed in an airstrike on a school in Raqqa. If you needed any more evidence of the emptiness of politicians’ intentions not to harm civilians, here it is. Despite assurances from Cameron, it is obvious that in such a densely populated area such as Raqqa, children and innocent people will inevitably be killed.

Some ten years ago, I joined a million people to protest against military action in Iraq. It was one of Britain’s largest anti-war demonstrations to date. The casual dismissal by the government of the voice of the people helps to explain some of the apathy and cynicism we see in politics today.

Today, as back then, it seems that politicians are not interested in listening to the British people. It’s a tragedy that Britain has learnt nothing from its mistakes of the past; today the British government will do what it has always done; bullishly enter a conflict without a coherent military strategy and without due consideration of the loss of life and resulting humanitarian crisis. It really does seem as if nothing changes.

“The creatures outside looked from pig to man, and from man to pig, and from pig to man again; but already it was impossible to say which was which.”

— George Orwell

Image credits: Neil Schofield via Flickr;
Disclaimer: the opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the original author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the website.