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Friday, October 28, 2016

UN: More Than Two Million Have Fled Syria

UN: More Than Two Million Have Fled Syria

DAMASCUS (AFP) – More than two million Syrians have now fled their country, the UNHCR said Tuesday, as top US officials pressed a robust bid to secure Congress’ support for military strikes against the Damascus regime.

The UN refugee agency’s grim statistics come as Syrian President Bashar al-Assad warned that Western military action against him risked igniting a regional war and bringing chaos across the Middle East.

The UNHCR, in a statement released in Geneva, lamented that the number of Syrian refugees had increased nearly ten-fold from a year ago.

“Syria is hemorrhaging women, children and men who cross borders often with little more than the clothes on their backs,” the statement said, pointing out that on September 3, 2012, it had registered just 230,671 Syrian refugees.

In addition to the two million Syrians living as refugees, some 4.25 million people have been displaced within the devastated country since the conflict began in March 2011, according to UN figures.

“Syria has become the great tragedy of this century,” UN High Commissioner for Refugees Antonio Guterres said in a statement, describing the situation in the country as “a disgraceful humanitarian calamity with suffering and displacement unparalleled in recent history.”

Correspondents and witnesses have reported an even greater exodus of Syrians into neighboring countries since U.S. President Barack Obama warned last week he was ready to launch military strikes on Assad’s regime over its alleged use of chemical weapons.

Obama shocked Washington and the world on Saturday when he decided to seek support for military action in Syria from Congress, putting his plans on hold and effectively giving more time for civilians to leave the country.

As part of White House strategy to persuade skeptical lawmakers to back what Obama said would be “limited” and “narrow” action in Syria, the U.S. secretaries of state and defense were to go before a Senate panel on Tuesday.

In what will be one of the most high-profile political set pieces in Washington in weeks, John Kerry and Chuck Hagel will testify to the Senate Foreign Relations committee.

Kerry will argue that failing to act in Syria “unravels the deterrent impact of the international norm against chemical weapons use,” a senior State Department official said on condition of anonymity.

Inaction also “endangers our friends and our partners along Syria’s borders… and risks emboldening Assad and his key allies – Hezbollah and Iran,” the official warned.

France, which backs Obama in his determination to launch a military intervention in Syria, on Monday released an intelligence report which said Assad’s forces carried out a “massive” chemical attack last month.

Based on military and foreign intelligence services, the report said the regime launched an attack “combining conventional means with the massive use of chemical agents” on rebel-held areas around the capital Damascus on August 21.

It said that based on videos, French intelligence had counted at least 281 dead but that reports of up to 1,500 killed were consistent with such heavy use of chemical weapons.

“The attack on August 21 could only have been ordered and carried out by the regime,” the report said.

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Copyright 2013 The National Memo
  • Dominick Vila

    The United States has no choice but to intervene. The use of weapons of mass destruction is opposed by the entire civilized world and represents a litmus test between acceptable norm of conduct and genocide at a grand scale. Bashar al-Assad, like his father, will do whatever is necessary to stay in power, including financing Hezbollah, nearly destroying Lebanon, serving as a proxy for Iran, financing and planning attacks against Israel, and by so doing being one of the most destabilizing forces in the Islamic world. The actions taken by al-Assad have little to do with Islam, it is pure and simple nihilism and despotism, and it can no longer be ignored.

    • CPAinNewYork

      Is the United states the policeman of the wortld? Don’r you see how we’re being taken advantage of? All you need is for every other nation to decide to do nothing, which is the case here, and you fall into the trap of wanting to commit the United States to preventing a disaster.
      How naive can a human being be? The answer is Domenick Vila, everybody’s go to guy. W. C. Fields had it right when he said that there’s a sucker born every minute.
      The fact that these people are Muslims, the very people who rejoiced when they received news of the World Trade Center tragedy and the death of more than 3,000 Americans, means nothing to you?
      I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. If you feel so strongly about what’s going on in Syria, go there and put your life on the line to stop it. Everybody I talk to is against our intervention. Since when did a minority voice arrogate to itself the power to say that we “have no choice”? You make me sick.

      • John Pigg

        I’m pretty sure you could have made most of the points you made without being verbally condescending.

        • CPAinNewYork

          You’re right. i could have, but Domenic Vila’s posting angered me to the point where I want him to know that I despise what he wrote. He says that we have no choice but to intervene.

          To me, that’s a gross insult to the American people. We have no obligation to the Syrians, who are Muslims and America’s sworn enemy.

          • John Pigg

            Then Disqus it, as far as I am concerned your arguments are far more credible. But your tone is not.

            Political discussions aren’t designed to be about how we feel. They are designed to serve public debate and discourse, and shift our ideas related to policy.

            If you want to argue with people and despise what they write I highly recommend National Review. Honestly, you will have much more fun. 🙂

          • CPAinNewYork

            Passion and emotion have no place in political debate? is that what you’re saying? I disagree.

    • Garmin Woods

      “The United States has no choice but to intervene.”

      I find this statement utterly disheartening. We really have no choice? I don’t believe it. I have to believe that declaration of war is not our only response. And I find the rest of this post non-factual. Not false, per se, but certainly opinion, generalization and speculation, all of which are wretched foundations on which to build a rationale to commit our country to war.

    • lilmuse

      IF Assad used chemical weapons and IF there was proof of that, yes … we would STILL have a choice.

      We are not the world police.
      They are a sovereign nation in a civil war. It is NOT our place to intervene.
      If someone felt the need perhaps the Arab League would be more appropriate. They have 57 states/nations.

      We have NO business overthrowing their leaders.
      We have NO business funding, training and arming those who choose to be our enemies. (been there, done that)

      Why in the world would we have no choice?
      I don’t know who told you that, or why you choose to believe them, but it simply is not true!

  • howa4x

    The terrible thing is that the middle east is going through what Christianity did last century, namely religious wars. It is playing out in Iraq with Sunni Vs Shia, Lebanon with Sunni Vs Shia vs Christian. Now it’s Syria with Alawaithe(Shia) Vs Sunni. The last intervention we had caused a terrible strategic result. While Saddam was in Iraq he held Iran at bay. Now the Shia government there is funneling Iranian arms to Assad, and contributing to the slaughter. When we backed and armed the Mujahedeen in Afghanistan to fight the Russians, they later became Al Qaeda. We helped free the Libyans and for that their militias killed our ambassador.
    There is no right way to intervene successfully. At best we should shoot a few missiles and give food and shelter to the displaced. Only fools don’t learn from history.

  • John Pigg

    This publication loves to snipe Republicans over a variety of issues. One common criticism I read on here which I actually agree with is that the U.S. should cut its bloated military budget.

    Syria is a perfect example of why this is simply not possible. If you think the US has a duty to intervene in foreign nations civil wars and ethnic conflicts then you must be supportive of a large military budget. If we are the best and most Democratic and strongest we have a duty to assist the world in spreading Freedom and Democratic institutions, or so the idea goes.

    If you favor cutting the military budget you, by default you favor using the military less often. Focusing on domestic national concerns and attempting to fix here what we know is broken. I am a conservative, not a Fox News conservative, but a real one. I favor a military that is used for defensive wars. What message do you think we are sending the world? What do you think an Egyptian thinks when he is looking down the barrel of a US tank? What do you think a Kurd or an Allowite or any Syrian minority thinks after we leave and they are looking out into streets controlled by Islamists with US weapons.

    When did it become crazy to think that we shouldn’t bomb other countries unilaterally? When did it become crazy to think that the President should ask congress to declare war (especially when no US lives are involved)?

    If you believe the Military Industrial complex exists, then it shouldn’t be a stretch to believe that it has its supporters among the Democratic Party, albeit for different reasons.

    • charleo1

      John, in my opinion, you make one of the best cases for staying out I’ve
      read anywhere. Very sharp, very true. That’s why it’s one of those issues
      that cuts across the usual political strongholds. I believe if we think with
      our heads, we probably stay out for now, and take another tact. If we
      let our hearts lead, the children and the cruelty of Assad, call on a more
      civilized man to act. But again, just a great piece of writing!

      • John Pigg

        Extremely kind,

        And you are right some of these issues are oddly bipartisan, with progressives and tea partiers voicing the same concerns. I believe that this issue will really define candidates and parties for the next several years.

        Oh, I remember you regretted the lack of competition in the House. This is one such issue where Republicans in safe districts could be weak. Given a choice between a Democrat who stands against the President, and a Republican who authorized the use of force in an unpopular war, I think Republican voters might jump ship on some people. Sadly, I think those supportive of intervention have too much strength within the Democratic Party to consider this strategy.

        • charleo1

          Well, there no doubt politically, and morally, it’s a nightmare.
          I myself have written four or five heartfelt pieces both for, and
          aganist intervention. And meant all of them! But, I thought your
          piece tied it all together very nicely. Personally, I like Obama.
          I believe he’s a good man, trying to do the right thing. So,
          naturally, I want to support him. But, he’s not infallible. And,
          in this case, I think he let his emotions overrule his head. He
          thought, I think Cameron though, he could deliver the Brits.
          Now, he’s really out there on this political limb, all by himself.
          So, I don’t envy the Democrats in the House. They are going
          to be under extreme pressure to provide the votes to get a
          majority, or leave their President twisting in the wind. And,
          that could very well be the case. But, it’s not about politics,
          it’s about what’s right for the Country. Another point you
          managed to bring front, and center. Something that too
          many of us often lose in the back, and forth.

          • John Pigg

            I think Obama is a decent person as well. But there are people in the government that see this as an opportunity to enhance American prestige.

            These people use words like “geo-political concerns”, “client state”, “non state actors”. I am absolutely convinced that bombing Syria has little if anything to do with humanitarian concerns but that is how they will sell it to the American people. Which is why most of the discussions related to it will be done behind closed doors.

            If this is honestly about humanitarian action then it cannot be done without “War in the classic sense”. If the world wants the bodies to stop falling then the only way is to ship thousands of troops to Syria as peacekeepers maintaining peace.

            Nobody wants to do that, least of all the US. So instead we are talking about bombing a country to send a message. But if his situation changes drastically and he begins to lose, will that not make him more erratic and more likely to use chemical weapons.

            Like what you said, I really don’t think this decision is the best for the nation. Hence the lengthy monologue.

    • lilmuse

      It did become crazy. Too many went global. Meanwhile, our borders are wide open and legal citizens pay the price in dollars and rights.

      Our military is for our country and citizens. We are not global lapdogs. Anyone who believes we are needs to sign up ASAP and/or breed so your children can be sacrificed in war that is not in the U.S. interests.

      • John Pigg

        I beg to differ, this war is in U.S. interests. I believe there are numerous Geo-political reasons that the US would pursue a conflict to better control its regional power.

        Problem is, trying to manipulate and control the region, is exactly why their is animosity between Muslims and the US.

        It makes far more sense to stop thinking in terms of the Cold War and simply worry about getting this country back together.