6:28 pm in Uncategorized by Phoenix Woman
Things are getting more “interesting” (and when I say “interesting” I mean “scary”) in Syria:
Russian military advisers are manning some of Syria’s more sophisticated air defences – something that would complicate any future US-led intervention, the Guardian has learned.
The advisers have been deployed with new surface-to-air systems and upgrades of old systems, which Moscow has supplied to the Assad regime since the Syrian revolution broke out 21 months ago.
The depth and complexity of Syria’s anti-aircraft defences mean that any direct western campaign, in support of a no-fly zone or in the form of punitive air strikes against the leadership, would be costly, protracted and risky.
Air strikes against chemical weapon depots would potentially disperse lethal gases over a vast area, triggering a humanitarian disaster. US and allied special forces have been trained to seize the air bases where the warheads are kept, but it is unclear what the next step would be. It would be physically impossible to fly the hundreds of warheads out of the country, while it would take thousands of troops to guard the arsenal for what could be many months.
Chemical weapons potential: Check.
Smaller nations and rebel groups used as proxies by Great Powers: Check.
Potential for other nations to be sucked into the conflict: Check.
All that’s missing is for somebody to wear the Pickelhaube and someone to wear the poppy. Read the rest of this entry →
7:40 pm in Uncategorized by Phoenix Woman
Demonstrators attend a protest against Syria's President Bashar al-Assad as they hold pictures of two Turkish journalists whom activists say are missing in Syria, in front of the Syrian Consulate in Istanbul March 15, 2012.
As a result of the Richard Engel incident, I’ve been witnessing a lot of debate over the question of whether to cover the kidnapping of journalists, but it’s hard to imagine a statement that could top this piece by the Christian Science Monitor‘s Jeremy Scahill.
Here’s a taste:
Attempting to maintain a news blackout after an abduction has long been a common practice, both for journalists and other people working in war zones. The idea is generally that a frenzy of questions and attention can make a quick negotiation for release tougher, either by spooking captors, or by raising their perception of the financial or propaganda value of their captive.
In some cases too much silence can be dangerous. If kidnappers know they’ve got someone high profile, like Engel, and then there’s no news, they can get to wondering if their captive is actually a spy working under journalist cover. In others, obviously, publicity can be very dangerous. Every situation has its different particulars. In this instance it appears that people working with the situation on the ground were seeking to buy time for rebels to find the group before they were moved to a part of Syria under government control.
And while Engel did end up being freed, there are other journalists still being held captive in Syria:
For now, this story has a happy ending for Kooistra, Balkiz, and Engel. But it’s a partial one. Austin Tice, an American freelancer, has been missing and presumed captive in Syria since August. There are others who are missing whose cases have been kept more quiet. And the bloody Syrian civil war, with tens of thousands of civilian Syrians dead already, has also been rough on journalists. In a report out today, the Committee to Protect Journalists says 23 journalists were killed in combat situations this year, the highest number since 1992. Syria, and the proliferation of citizen journalists there, were responsible for that number.
More on Austin Tice can be found here.
Read the rest of this entry →