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What if the Syria no-fly zone won’t fly?

(((James North))) on
F 16 fighter plane of the sort shot down over Serbia when US imposed a no-fly zone in the Balkans

The foreign policy elite in Washington seems to be united on imposing a no-fly zone over Syria. But two veterans with hundreds of combat missions between them contend that Assad’s anti-aircraft capabilities are far too robust to permit such an intervention without significant losses and billions in expenditures.

Marc Lynch warns against the U.S. escalation in Syria

(((James North))) on
Marc Lynch's new book, The New Arab Wars

Advocates for U.S. escalation in Syria will make a bad situation worse, warns George Washington University Professor Marc Lynch; and President Obama’s resistance to increased intervention may be reversed by his successor.

Meet the Palestinian volunteers on the frontline of Europe’s refugee crisis

Michaela Whitton on
Humanity Crew team members accompany children for a swimming lesson on the Greek island of Lesbos. (Photo: Michaela Whitton)

Millions of refugees are fleeing war and risking their lives on unequipped boats to reach European shores. In response, volunteers from all of the world are offering their aid and support to the biggest global displacement crisis since the Second World War, and Palestinians are no exception. Michaela Whitton talks with members of Humanity Crew, a Palestinian-led humanitarian organization at the forefront of the crisis.

‘Either Assad or we’ll burn the country’ – An excerpt from ‘Burning Country: Syrians in Revolution and War’

Robin Yassin-Kassab and Leila Al-Shami on
Cover of Burning Country: Syrians in Revolution and War

Read an an excerpt from the new book ‘Burning Country: Syrians in Revolution and War’ by Robin Yassin-Kassab and Leila Al-Shami. The book tells the story of how Syrians took to the streets in 2011 to demand the overthrow of Bashar al-Assad’s regime, and the political and humanitarian nightmare still unfolding today. This excerpt explores how the regime responded with overwhelming violence to the initial non-violent protests, and the choices facing grassroots activists as the revolution militarized.

‘Say Hello to Zenobia’: A report from Palmyra rising from the ashes

Jeff Klein on
A photo of the Temple of Bel taken on March 14, 2014, in front of the remains of the historic temple. The monument was destroyed by Islamic State jihadists in October 2015. This photo was taken by Joseph Eid for AFP, all other photos for this story are by the author or other members of the delegation.

Jeff Klein reports on the horrific devastation left in the wake of the ISIS occupation of the world-famous ancient city of Palmyra and the neighboring Syrian town of Tadmor. He traveled there with a delegation that was the very first group of international civilians to view the site in the aftermath of the battle that took place there.

British Parliamentarians pay homage to Dick Cheney during debate over ISIS

Nu'man Abd al-Wahid on
Former Vice President Dick Cheney looks at his bust on December 3, 2015 in Washington, D.C. (Photo: Keith Lane)

On December 3rd 2015 a statue was unveiled in honor of Richard “Dick” Cheney at the United States Capitol. Coincidentally, the previous day witnessed the British parliament, specifically the House of Commons, inadvertently honor Cheney in the debate on whether to extend the military intervention aimed at ISIS in Iraq into ISIS’s supposed heartland in Syria.

The Obama administration needs to own up to the quagmire in Syria

Annie Robbins on
Screenshot: State Department spokesperson Admiral John Kirby Sept 21, 2015

The crisis in Syria is still in full throttle. President Obama pretends to be a powerless bystander in Syria when in fact US policy has played an important role in creating the quagmire now playing out. For example, the events of this past weekend present a microcosm of how US policy has failed and it’s time […]

Could Syria’s revolution have been different?

Charles Glass on
Syrian anti-regime protesters carry a picture of President Assad that reads, "Leave. We don't trust you. You will leave and we will stay because Syria is ours. Enough of injustice and killing," during a rally in the southern suburb of Maadamiya, Damascus, Syria in July 2011. (Photo: AP)

Read an excerpt from Charles Glass’s new book Syria Burning from Or Books. In it, Glass puts the failure of the Syria revolution into a broader historical context where the United States, with its European and Arab allies, have manipulated and subverted movements for change in the Middle East for decades.

A guide to the worst refugee crisis since WWII

Ben Norton on

The world is witnessing the largest refugee crisis since the horrors of World War II. There are close to 60 million war refugees, according to the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, an all-time high, as people from Syria, Iraq, Libya, Afghanistan, and Yemen are fleeing violence in their countries. Human rights organizations warn the Gulf states, Israel, Iran, and Russia—all of whom have taken zero refugees—along with the US, Canada, and Europe—which have taken few—are not doing enough. Ben Norton presents a guide to the refugee crisis and how every country you need to know about is responding.

One month under ISIS: Starvation, typhoid and the burning of musical instruments in Yarmouk

Jafra Foundation for Youth Development and Relief on
Yarmouk refugee camp, April 2015. (Phot: Jafra Foundation)

After two years of siege and nearly one-year of rampant starvation, fighters from the Islamic State (ISIS) and an al-Qaeda affiliate, al-Nusra Front, overran Yarmouk refugee camp in Syria on April 1st, 2015. The militants launched a surprise midnight attack and beheaded three Palestinians during their first raid. Today they control an estimated 80% of the camp. In this area arrests, killings, and even the burning of musical instruments—which are considered sinful under the austere salafi group’s interpretation of Islam—are common.

Future of Yarmouk unclear as PLO abandons aid convoy to besieged refugee camp

Allison Deger on
ISIS fighter holds flag inside of Yarmouk refugee camp, Syria. (Photo: Hamshaq/International Business Times)

This week a horrific scene unfolded in Syria as a besieged Palestinian refugee camp fell under attack by ISIS and al-Nusra Front, another extremist Salafi group. When the fighters gained control of Yarmouk in Damascus, harrowing reports circulated of ISIS’s iconic beheadings and executions. This time it was Palestinian refugees who were victim and amid the chaos 18,000 Palestinians and Syrians were stranded and starving behind ISIS sharpshooters. In response, Palestinian leaders in the West Bank announced they were planning to coordinate a major convoy that would truck humanitarian aid inside of Yarmouk. Then yesterday, the Palestinian officials reversed their decision.

Yarmouk-based NGO chronicles week of ISIS attacks on the Palestinian refugee camp in Syria

Jafra Foundation for Youth Development and Relief on
Funeral of two killed by shelling inside of Yarmouk refugee camp in Syria, April 2015. (Photo: Jafra Foundation for Youth Development and Relief)

On April 1, 2015 armed groups belonging to the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) launched an attack on Yarmouk refugee camp in Damascus, , which is the largest Palestinian refugee community in Syria. The Jafra Foundation for Youth Development and Relief which operates on the ground in Yarmouk compiled this timeline of the attack from people who witnessed the unfolding events first hand.

In Their Own Words: Four residents of Yarmouk speak

Talal Alyan on
Palestinian residents of the besieged Yarmouk refugee camp line up to receive food supplies, March, 2014. (Photo: AP)

Four Palestinian residents of the Yarmouk refugee camp in Syria reflect on the state of the camp, what Palestine means to them now after what they have experienced and what they would want to say to Palestinians outside of Syria.

End the silence — Support Palestinian refugees in Yarmouk

Mariam Barghouti on
Yarmouk refugee camp. (Photo: Rami Al-Sayyed/UNRWA Archives)

The case of Palestinian refugees is a prevailing topic when discussing Palestine and liberation, but when Palestinian refugees are being besieged and slaughtered in Syria there is a piercing silence towards them. Yarmouk refugee camp in Damascus has been under siege for nearly 550 days and counting. Over 1,020 Palestinians have died in the camp by torture in regime jails, execution, and bombing.

Hamas is ISIS for dummies

Philip Weiss on
Boteach ad in New York Times

As you are surely aware, the gruesome murders of American journalists by the Islamic state group in Iraq and Syria have been seized on by demagogues to argue that the US must go to war in the Middle East. Chris Matthews has championed a “nationalistic response” to the killings and faulted Barack Obama for not […]

Interminable Nakba: Syrian Palestinians return to the unknown

Ahmad Diab on

Before it was a refugee camp, Al-Yarmuk was long known as the battle that consolidated Syria under Arab rule after the landmark defeat of the Byzantine Empire in 636 C.E. From now on, however, it will symbolize a different event. Al-Yarmuk now stands between Tel Al-Za’tar – the Palestinian refugee camp in Beirut that was […]

‘The clash of civilizations’ theory is absolutely and completely dead

(((James North))) on

It is far too early for a conclusive historical verdict on the wave of uprisings that have swept across the Middle East since a street vendor in Tunisia named Mohamed Bouazizi protested his unfair life by burning himself to death in December 2010. A half dozen Arab nations have been torn by massive popular uprisings, […]

The US charade in Egypt, Syria and Palestine

Marc H. Ellis on

This is part of Marc H. Ellis’s “Exile and the Prophetic” feature for Mondoweiss. To read the entire series visit the archive page. The Syrian talks went nowhere. As expected. Everyone knew they were show and tell. In Geneva, there was no breakthrough but there were accusations and yelling galore. Along with the fear of […]

Death toll rises in Yarmouk as siege and bombings continue

Allison Deger on

A week ago the world rejoiced when food trucks finally arrived to Yarmouk refugee camp in Syria to alleviate mass starvation, after nearly 200 days of siege and over 50 dead. Parcels of lentils, oil, sugar, rice and noodles were distributed. People gathered in the streets to cook a coffee-table-sized pot of soup. But an […]

Rejecting collective punishment from Gaza to Syria

Omar Chaaban on

Let us suppose for the sake of argument that Syria’s Assad regime does enjoy a considerable amount of legitimacy, and that their concerns of an armed insurgency designed specifically to advance Western imperial interests are acceptable. Let us also accept, for one second, that the revolution in Syria is the main bastion of extremism and […]