September 2018 — CANVAS

Weekly Report: 28 September 2018

Newly elected Maldivian president Ibrahim Mohamed Solih celebrates with a victory jump. (@abretis on Twitter) Syria This week, reports have come out about a British man named Anwar Miah, who has allegedly been living in Syria for the past four years. Miah is currently detained in a prison in Northern Syria and is being guarded by US special forces. Western Intelligence suspects that he is a member of Daesh. After questioning, Miah admitted that he is a doctor and has been working in general hospitals within Daesh territory and treating the public since his arrival four years ago. On Monday, Russia made the decision to supply Syria with a modern S-300 system which is an advanced air defense missile. This measure from Putin came after last week’s accident, where the Israeli Army shot down a Russian plane. The Kremlin claim that giving the S-300 is “not directed at any third country,” but rather a safety effort. The US National Security Advisor considers this move as a major mistake and escalation. Bolivia On Sunday, President Morales traveled to the United States to take part in the 73rd annual UN General Assembly in New York. Morales and the foreign minister traveled together and stopped in Venezuela on the way. Morales will be involved in several bilateral meetings with countries along with multilateral organizations. At Morales’ meeting with the Secretary General of the OAS, Luis Almagro on Monday, Almagro only spoke highly of the President, claiming that Evo has “political stability and social stability.” Morales seemed to present a good image of himself. There are a total of nine political parties which...

Weekly Report: 21 September 2018

Presidents Moon and Kim hold hands on Mount Paektu, believed by North Koreans to be a sacred site.  Syria On Sunday, Syria held its first election since the war broke out in 2011. Because Sunday is a typical working day for the average Syrian, voting hours were extended for another five hours. Only people in government-controlled areas are able to vote, and further, refugees and displaced Syrians are not allowed to cast a vote. For example, a person originally from Aleppo who is now living in Damascus cannot vote as a citizen of Damascus, they must go back to Aleppo if they want to cast a vote. As if this is not challenging enough, some believe that voting will not change anything. A researcher from the London School of Economics conveyed that the Syrian government is using this election for further propaganda. This way it appears as though the country is on its way towards recovery when really the elected officials are typically appointed, not elected. In an attempt to stop the bombardment of Israeli missile attacks in Syria, the Syrian regime unintentionally shot down a Russian aircraft. The aircraft carried 15 Russian servicemen, who all died in the attack. The Russian Ministry of Defense sees this act as irresponsible of Israel and claims the act was entirely their fault. On Monday, Russian and Turkish Presidents, Putin and Erdogan reached an agreement to make Idlib a buffer zone. The two presidents will demilitarize the region by October 15th and plan to withdraw all heavy weaponry and “radical fighters.” The goal of the buffer zone is to prevent the impending...

Weekly Report: 14 September 2018

Protesters call for political prisoners to be released. (Reuters) Syria On Friday, Russia and Iran declined coming to a truce about Idlib, even though there are international fears of a humanitarian disaster in the region. Further, the following Saturday, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported that government helicopters released 19 barrel bombs and Russian warplanes carried out 68 strikes. In just 2 strikes, four civilians were killed in Southern Idlib.   This weekend, the Russian government accused the United States of dropping white phosphorus bombs on the Syrian region of Deir al-Zor. Further, the alleged air strikes hit a major refuge of ISIS. The United States has firmly denied these accusations, claiming that their military units in that area are not equipped with white phosphorus. Antonio Guterres, the United Nations Secretary-General, addressed Russia, Iran, and Turkey to avoid a full-scale battle for the sake of avoiding a potential humanitarian disaster. Guterres stated on Tuesday, “I understand that the present situation in Idlib is not sustainable and the presence of terrorist groups cannot be tolerated. But fighting terrorism does not absolve warring parties of their core obligations under international law,” making it very clear that there needs to be a different solution to targeting terrorist groups. While Assad and the Russian Government claim to only be targeting rebel militant groups in their offenses, civilians are in fact at great risk in Idlib. Since the attacks in the region began last week, more than 30,000 civilians have fled the area with the only option of heading towards villages along the Turkish border. Beginning Monday, the Syrian Democratic Forces, a militant group...

Weekly Report: 7 September 2018

In Malaysia, two women cover their faces following their caning for the ‘crime’ of homosexual activity. (AFP) Syria The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported on Monday that an airstrike near a US base killed 8 pro-regime fighters. The fighters include four Syrians, one Iranian National, and three other non-Syrian casualties. There is no confirmation on who led the attack. Under a new decree established by the Assad Government, Syrian students must finish their degree in a time allotted by the government. This means that students must finish their bachelor’s degree within 3 years, and a student cannot stay in a university past the age of 25. Further, students who have put off their degree and who have not finished courses in the appointed amount of time must be deployed in the army. Because of the new decree, there have been protests from students who wish to retain the right to postpone their military service. By law, every Syrian male must serve in the army when he turns 18, but the service only lasted between 18 months and two years prior to the Syrian war. Once the war began, there was not an end date for service, and some men have been serving for 7 years. On Tuesday, Israeli air strikes were carried out against Iranian forces in Syria. Over the past year and a half, the Israeli Defense Force has struck more than 200 targets with the end goal of finding Iranian weapons convoys in Syria. According to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, Russian and Syrian warplanes struck a region right outside of the northwestern part of...

Weekly Report: 31 August 2018

Nicaraguan Refugees sleep in a San Jose church in Costa Rica. (Reuters) Syria This weekend, Iran and Syria signed a deal for Iran to continue military action within Syria in support of Assad’s government. Although the U.S government strongly advised Iran to withdraw last week, Iranian officials say that they do not have any future plans to disengage.   Since the start of the Syrian conflict in 2011, it is estimated that just under 100,000 Syrians have been disappeared. According to the Syrian Network for Human Rights, Assad’s Regime is responsible for just under 90 percent of those disappeared while the other 10 percent of people have gone missing due to rebel and Kurdish militants. This has left many families in distress as they are unaware of the whereabouts of their loved ones. Although, starting this past April, families have been requesting records from register offices and rights groups in hopes of receiving news about their family. Bolivia Over the weekend, the applicant registrations for Attorney General closed. Among the applicants, there are a total of forty-seven men and six women including former government minister Jorge Perez Valenzuela, and ex-judge Cusi. Cusi was formally dismissed from his position as a judge at the Constitutional Court due to being guilty of crimes contrary to the constitution.   On Sunday, President Evo Morales gave a speech in Cochabamba where he suggested a plan to advocate for maritime disputes at the Hague sometime between October and December. Morales has issues with the violation of Bolivia’s sovereignty, given the ongoing dispute between Bolivia and Chile. The conflict stems from Chile’s lack of recognition...