Observations from Afar: Occupied Afrin [Journal Entry]

Every day that Afrin remains occupied is another day of suffering for those living within the region. It is saddening to hear the reports of kidnapping, murder and general disorder. How far Afrin is from safety of prior years. There are no longer local people to take care of the land. Only blood, sweat and tears remain. Olive trees now grow from blood soaked land.

Displaced Afrini residents live in scarce conditions in neighbouring Shahba canton in Tal Rifaat. Awaiting an inevitable invasion from the occupiers of the Turkish state whose desire it is to extend the occupation territory. Over a hundred thousand displaced and it is not enough to feed that violent war monger in Ankara. The new Sultan of Anatolia.

Al Asar IDP Camp in Shahba region.
Photo Credit: North Press Agency

The armies of Sultan Erdogan took a region where millions of war scarred civilians sought refuge and turned it into a hellscape. Forcing those same war scarred civilians to flee once again and start over. Without home or business to provide for their loved ones. Unable to return to the area without threat of violence.

There seems to be no one that cares to stand up to Erdogan and his autocratic regime. The ones expected to are acquiescing to his demands for territory and offering up more territory under the guise of maintaining a fractured alliance. These ‘negotiations’ take the form of a proposal by the United States for a ‘safe-zone’ in Syria’s northeast. One running along Turkey’s southern border.

The United States under Trump does not currently possess a back bone. There does not appear to be anyone in Washington bold enough to act in the manner demanded by the highest office. Well Trump lampoons his critics with barrage after barrage of tweets, he cosies up to the Sultan and sends James Jeffrey to strike an appeasement deal. A deal that would trade blood for Ankara’s good graces.

US Special Envoy James Jeffrey.
Photo Credit: Reuters.

Stretching from Kobani to the border crossing between Rojava and Bashur at Faysh Khabur and with a depth of five kilometres, this ‘safe zone’ would see civilians as well as Kurdish militants expelled from Turkey’s southern border. A reasonable idea to anyone with any cursory knowledge on the region but a ludicrous one to those with a proper understanding of the lives living there. There are over a million people that live in that region. That is a million plus people who will be forcefully displaced. Where will they go?

This ‘safe zone’ is nothing but a noose around the neck of the people living in the northeast. It is a death zone not a safe zone. Jeffrey is trying to convince the international community to endorse this zone and send troops to monitor it. The problem with such a plan is that disinterested parties, notably European states are not guaranteed to maintain a long term presence nor stand up to the Sultan’s armies should he decide to march them south.

Neville Chamberlain declares, ‘Peace in our time’ after returning to Great Britain from Negotiations with Hitler over Czechoslovakia in 1938. War would erupt across Europe a couple months later.
Credit: History.com

The very fact that such a proposal is being made shows what era the world is in. Autocrats, whether they be moustached racist zealots to Revolutionary despots, should not be appeased. Hitler was handed Czechoslovakia through appeasement and still ended up annexing most of Europe as well as starting a world war. After most of the free world closed up that Pandora’s box, again, many nations banded together and declared, ‘never again!‘ Nearly eighty years later and you would think that ‘never again’ was declared in jest.

Since then, dictator after dictator has continued to rampage regions, creating mass violence and suffering in their wake. And, as was done in the past, someone put pandora’s box aright. One can only hope that the chaos wrought by Erdogan’s regime in Syria will be put back in its place before more suffer. I sincerely hope so or else there will be more blood.

Written by Anthony Avice Du Buisson (16/07/2019)


Trouble in the South Pacific: The case of the Solomon Islands – [JCU Essay]

The Australian government’s role in the stabilisation of the Solomon Islands in the early 2000s was crucial to the restoration of law and order in the state. A diplomatic peace initiative through the ‘Pacific Islands Forum’ allowed for the Howard government’s brokering of negotiations amongst warring militias. Subsequent military and political assistance in the wake of political instability through the ‘Regional Assistance Mission to Solomon Islands’ initiated a peace building process. This would lead to the disarmament of militias and the peaceful resolution of ethnic tensions in the state. Allowing for the Solomon Islands to re-establish law and order and provide for a benefit to Australia’s national security in the South Pacific. Through the analysis of the ethnic tensions between Malaitan and Guadalcanalese peoples in the Solomon Islands and Australia’s bilateral relations with the Solomon Islands’ government during ‘the Tension’ period, a greater understanding of the reasons leading to the ‘Townsville Peace Agreement’ will be established. Following from this analysis, there will be an analysis of Australia’s national security concerns in the South Pacific with emphasis placed on lessons learnt from former interventions in the region, specifically the intervention into East Timor in 1999. Finally, there will be an examination of the Regional Assistance Mission t0 Solomon Islands and the assistance that was provided by the Australian Federal Police, Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade and other principal participating agencies in the restoration of order in the state. The purpose of this essay is to show the success of Australia’s intervention into the Solomon Islands helped benefit the state and secure Australia’s role as an important regional played in the South Pacific.

Increased ethnic rivalries created from disputes over land, movement and immigration in the Solomon Islands created political instability resulting in the necessity of foreign diplomatic intervention and a peace settlement in form of the ‘Townsville Peace Agreement’ (TPA). The Solomon Islands are an archipelago in the South Pacific region consisting of more than 900 islands, with two Islands being populated predominantly – Malaita and Guadalcanal (Gyngell & Wesley 2007, p. 227). During the late 1990s, the political process in the Solomon Islands deteriorated and corruption created civil disturbance as the Guadalcanal people (the Guale) and Malaitans engaged in disputes over land. For the Guale, lack of infrastructure development to the north coast, perceived disregard for customs and increased dominance of Guadalcanal by the Malaitan immigrants caused ethnic resentment to the Malaitans (Moore 2018, pp. 165-167). This ethnic resentment escalated into conflict with the formation of armed militias in 1998, first with the formation of the ‘Istabu Freedom Movement’ (IFM) that started dispossessing Malaitans of land and then the formation of the ‘Malaita Eagle Force’ (MEF) by Malaitans with the backing of Malaitan sectors of the ‘Royal Solomon Islands Police Field Force’ (RSIPF) in retaliation [see Appendix, figure 1.1 & 1.2] (Ibid, p. 166). The period that followed from 1998 is referred to as the Tension (1998-2003) as the Solomon Islands’ capital Honiara and surrounding areas were subject to clashes between the militias resulting in political instability and disorder (Ibid, p. 169).

A coup d’ etat in June of 2000 led by the MEF resulted in the forced resignation of Prime Minister Bartholomew Ulufa’alu creating increased political turmoil and a risk of destabilisation in the Solomon Islands. Concerned with preventing this disorder, John Howard’s government brokered a peace settlement through the Pacific Islands Forum in Townsville (Allen & Dinnen 2010, p. 306). This Townsville Peace Agreement (TPA) facilitated negotiations between the MEF and IFM leading to these militias disbanding with an ‘International Peace Monitoring Team’ (IPMT) set up to monitor the situation as well as collect weapons for destruction (Hegarty 2001, p. 1; Barbara 2008, p. 129; Scales 2007, p. 207). Despite the initiative of the IPMT (2000-2002) to maintain a long-term peace in the Solomon Islands, ethnic tensions in the state were replaced by lawlessness and corruption from ex-Militiamen joining government law enforcement forces – renewing political disorder and instability (Hegarty 2000, pp. 1-2). The breakdown of law and order in subsequent years after TPA’s signing resulted in an incursion led by Australia in 2003, contributing significantly to the longevity of stabilisation in the Solomon Islands.

The Australian government’s involvement in the Solomon Islands reflects a ‘risk management approach’ to the security of the South Pacific region and prevention of continued destabilisation from the arc of instability. The term arc of instability refers to security challenges facing Melanesia (the South Pacific) posed by the increase in terrorism, civil disturbances, transnational crime and political instability in the region during the 1990s onwards (Wallis 2015, p. 41). In the 1990s and early 2000s, the arc of instability was viewed with importance by Australian officials such as Prime Minister John Howard and Foreign Affairs Minister Andrew Downer. Both argued that Australia’s security in the South Pacific relied on the maintenance of stability in neighbouring states within the Melanesian arc [see Appendix, figure 1.3]. Through bilateral and multilateral involvement with these states in the form of financial aid, diplomatic and military support, it was argued that the potential risk of political and social disintegration as well as state failure could be countered – resulting in stability for states in the arc of instability and overall security for Australia (Wallis 2015, pp. 42-44; Dobell, pp. 89-93). This risk management approach to the security of the South Pacific was reflected in the Howard government’s involvement in peacekeeping missions in the South Pacific in the late 1990s and early 2000s, such as in East Timor in 1999.

The Australian-led United Nations peacekeeping mission into East Timor in 1999 reflected Australia’s perceived role as a responsible international actor for the security of the South Pacific and provided lessons to Australia of for future increased regional engagement such as with the Regional Assistance Mission to Solomon Islands (RAMSI) in 2003. In 1999, the Australian government – under authorisation from ‘United Nations Security Council’ (UNSC) Resolution 1264 – led a multilateral intervention through the multinational force of the ‘International Force East Timor (INTERFET) to provide humanitarian assistance and re-establish order in East Timor (McDougall 2009, p. 188). This intervention into East Timor was prompted by ethnic tensions within the state, human rights abuses and a breakdown of law and order. Providing over five thousand Australian Defence Force (ADF) personnel to assist in restabilisation of the state, Australia provided the bulk of troops for INTERFET (Cotton & Ravenhill 2012, p. 148). INTERFET’s objective started with police reform in within the state, before evolving into rebuilding the state’s governance structures and transitioning the state towards self-governance. This development was necessary for East Timor as it allowed for the state to return to stability with law enforcement returning to a competent capacity. The perceived success of the intervention by the Howard government set a precedent for future action within the South Pacific region (Ibid).

Australia’s approach under the Howard government was a departure to past approaches of respect for sovereignty in the region under Paul Keating’s Labour Party government (1991-1996). An increased regional engagement through interventions in the South Pacific, such as in East Timor normalised as the Australian government pursued a new role as a responsible international actor in the region (Cotton & Ravenhill 2012, pp. 148-149; McDougall 2017, pp. 461-463). This approach entailed active engagement in regional affairs in the South Pacific through diplomatic and military means and provided a new lesson for Australia:  intervention in pursuit of state-building in the South Pacific could be a viable means for regional stability and national security (Ibid). With this in consideration, the Howard government again pursued an intervention in the South Pacific through RAMSI in 2003.

The Regional Assistance Mission to Solomon Islands(RAMSI) facilitated the reestablishment of law and order in the Solomon Islands through the assistance that the mission provided to local law enforcement, government and economy – highlighting Australia’s key role in the nation’s development. With political instability, corruption and lawlessness risking the collapse of the state, the Solomon Islands’ Prime Minister Allan Kemakeza asked for assistance from John Howard’s government in 2003. This request for assistance was accepted on the condition that a formal request from the Solomon Islands’ parliament be made (Gyngell & Wesley 2007, p. 228). Thus, giving the Australian government legal legitimacy to intervene without a breach being made in local national sovereignty or international law (Ibid). Through approval and negotiations with the Pacific Islands Forum, John Howard’s initiation of RAMSI facilitated the foundations for self-governance that was needed by the government of the Solomon Islands (Gyngell & Wesley 2009, p. 230; Cotton & Ravenhill 2012, p. 148).

Operation ‘Helpem Fren’ (Helping friend in Pigeon) – another name for RAMSI – utilised the resources of multiple departments of the Australian government and other principle participating agencies such as the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT), Australian Federal Police (AFP), Australian Agency for International Development (AusAID), Defence and Treasury to engage in state [or peace] building (Ibid, p. 229). Over 1600 ADF personnel were deployed to Honiara along with 300 AFP to assist in the training of RSIPF, with the objective of eliminating the lawlessness, corruption and instability (McDougall 2009, p. 296-298; Cotton & Ravenhill 2012, p. 148; Barbara 2008, p. 132-133). RAMSI’s state building mission in the Solomon Islands was crucial for the development of the nation’s governance and infrastructure, with $840 million being invested by the Australian government between 2003-2006 into the project (Gyngell & Wesley 2007, p, 230). This investment allowed for the training of local law enforcement that helped to maintain law within Malaita and Guadalcanal by the dismantling of weapons and crackdown of criminal organisations [see Appendix, figure 1. 4]. Fundamentally allowing for the rebuilding of the machinery of government and democracy in the state (Moore 2018, pp. 172-174). Operation Helpem Fren completed its mission in 2017, playing a key role in the maintenance of peace, reestablishment of law and order and development in the Solomon Islands (Ibid, p. 175).

The Australian government’s involvement in the Tension period through the brokering of a peace settlement in 2000 and subsequent peacebuilding mission in 2003 during the Regional Assistance Mission to Solomon Islands was highly significant for the development of peace in the Solomon Islands. The Townsville Peace Agreement allowed for a peaceful resolution of ethnic tensions between the Guale and Malaitan militias – the Istabu Freedom Movement and Malaita Eagle Force. The disbanding of these militias along with the establishment of an Australian-led International Peace Monitoring Team to dismantle weapons and monitor the situation allowed for a temporary peace. The Melanesia arc of instability altered Australia’s approach to the South Pacific, with a more interventionist Australia arising through peacekeeping and state building projects in places like East Timor. Lessons learnt from East Timor allowed Australia to pursue increased regional engagement leading to intervention into Solomon Islands through RAMSI. RAMSI’s training and development of the Solomon Islands allowed for the reestablishment of law and order, elimination of corruption and rebuilding of the mechanisms of self-governance. This intervention into the Solomon Islands highlights Australia’s key role in the development of peace in the nation and stabilisation of the South pacific region.

Reference List:

Allen, M & Dinnen, S 2010, ‘A North Down Under: antinomies of conflict and intervention in Solomon Islands’, Conflict, Security & Development, vol. 10, no. 3, pp. 299-327, viewed 10 May 2019, < https://bit.ly/2WbbVjD>.

Barbara, J 2008, ‘Antipodean Statebuilding: The Regional Assistance Mission to Solomon Islands and Australian Intervention in the South Pacific’, Journal of Intervention and Statebuilding, vol. 2, no. 2, pp. 123-149, viewed 11 May 2019, < https://bit.ly/30mUThX>.

Bohane, B 2000, A group of well armed guerrillas soldiers, members of the Isatabu Freedom Movement (IFM), stop…,awm.gov.au, viewed 10 May 2019, < https://bit.ly/2WceIZK>.
Bohane, B 2000, Masked and armed Malaita Eagles Force (MEF) guerrillas gather on the outskirts of Honiara. This…,awm.gov.au, viewed 10 May 2019, < https://bit.ly/2VFRUCm>.

Cotton, J & Ravenhill, J 2012, ‘Australia, the Pacific Islands and Timor-Leste’ in J Cotton & J Ravenhill (eds), Middle Power Dreaming: Australia in World Affairs 2006-2010, Oxford University Press, Melbourne, pp. 147-164.

Dobell, G 2007, ‘The ‘Arc of Instability’: The History of an Idea’, in R Huisken & M Thatcher (eds), History as Policy: Framing the debate on the future of Australia’s defence policy, ANU Press & Strategic and Defence Studies Centre (SDSC), Canberra, pp. 85-104, viewed 12 May 2019, <https://bit.ly/2HymdRz>.

Geocurrents.info 2014, Is There an Arc of Instability?, Geocurrents.info, viewed 13 May 2019, <https://bit.ly/30t1gAj>.

Gyngell, A & Wesley, M 2007, ‘Case Study: The Regional Assistance Mission to Solomon Islands’, Making Australian Foreign Policy, 2nd edn, Cambridge University Press, Melbourne, pp. 227-231.

Hegarty, D 2001, Small Arms in Post-Conflict Situation – Solomon Islands, State, Society and Governance in Melanesia Project, Pacific Islands Forum, viewed 11 May 2019, < https://bit.ly/2Q5iyOW>.

McDougall, D 2009, ‘Southeast Asia: Indonesia’, in L Caiazzo, C Cooper, F Eden & J Whitton (eds), Australia Foreign Relations: Entering the 21st Century, Pearson Education Australia, Frenchs Forest, pp. 160-203.

McDougall, D 2017, ‘Peacekeeping from Oceania: Perspectives from Australia, New Zealand and Fiji’, The Round Table: The Commonwealth Journal of International Affairs, vol. 106, no. 4, pp. 453-466, viewed May 14 2019, <https://bit.ly/2Q6Fuxt>.

Moore, C 2018, ‘The End of the Regional Assistance Mission to Solomon Islands (2003-2017)’, The Journal of Pacific History, vol. 53, no. 2, pp. 164-179, viewed 10 May 2019, < https://bit.ly/2W8Npj5>.

Scales, I 2007, ‘The Coup Nobody Noticed: The Solomon Islands Western State Movement in 2000’, The Journal of Pacific History, vol. 42, no. 2, pp. 187-209, viewed 11 May 2019, < https://bit.ly/30rznIQ>.

Stephen, D 2003, Sergeant Adam Gilles of 2nd Battalion, the Royal Australian Regiment (2RAR), holds a rifle from a…, awm.gov.au, viewed 18 May 2019, < https://bit.ly/2JKcKJw>.

Wallis, J 2015, ‘The South Pacific: ‘arc of instability’ or ‘arc of opportunity’?’, Global Change, Peace & Security, vol. 27, no. 1, pp. 39-53, viewed 12 May 2019, <https://bit.ly/2VwfmwX>.

APPENDIX:

Figure 1.1 & 1.2 (Above from Left to Right):
Istabu Freedom Movement (IFM) guerrillas stop a vehicle in the outskirts of Honiara in 2000 (Bohane 2000). Malaita Eagles Force (MEF) guerrillas amass on the outskirts of Honiara in 2000 (Bohane 2000).


Figure 1.3 (Above):
Nations within Melanesia considered part of the arc of instability (Geocurrents.info 2014).

Figure 1.4 (Below):
Australian Defence Force soldier in front of a truck load of confiscated weapons. These weapons would be later dismantled (Stephen 2003).

Written by Anthony Avice Du Buisson (20/05/2019)

Submitted to James Cook University unit PL3250.


Martyrs Never Die – [Jerusalem Post Piece]

The flag of the Syrian Democratic Forces flies high over the last conquered area of the Islamic State’s proto-state, signalling a military defeat to the organisation. This comes nearly five years after Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi – leader of the organisation – took to a platform in al-Nuri Mosque in Mosul’s heart to declare the establishment of the proto-state, rallying thousands of Salafist-Jihadists to fight for the self-declared Caliphate. Coming from across the globe to kill and spread carnage, thousands of fighters once eager to expand Baghdadi’s vision now surrender en masse to the Coalition and Syrian Democratic Forces, while Baghdadi – once commander of a proto-state that stretched from Raqqa to Mosul – flees to evade capture in the region. He leaves a crumbled Caliphate behind.

As Baghdadi evades detection, the remains of his vision are being cleared out by the Syrian Democratic Forces and US-led Coalition. Thousands of Syrians gave their lives in the fight against the Islamic State. These ‘martyrs’ – as they are more commonly referred to as – consist of fighters from Kurdish, Arab, Assyrian and other ethnic as well as religious communities across northern Syria. Each community gave up sons and daughters in the war against the Islamic State (ISIS), all in the cause of liberating areas that ISIS controlled. Since the battle of Kobane in 2014 and going forwards, eleven thousand lives are estimated by the Syrian Democratic Forces’ press office to have fallen in pursuit of the cause, highlighting the large list of martyrs that died in pursuit of peace in northern Syria.

These martyrs include Kurdish fighters from the People’s Protection Units (YPG) and Women’s Protection units (YPJ), the backbone of the Syrian Democratic Forces and the original combat force that has operated since the start of the war against ISIS. Syriac communities who fought with these Kurdish fighters gave lives to the cause too, especially from the Syriac Military Council (MFS) and Bethnahrain Women’s Protection Units (HSNB). Arab tribes from the north of Syria sent forces to fight in conjunction with this growing multi-ethnic coalition of militias in defiance of ISIS, sending Sanadid Forces and forming ranks with contingents of the Free Syrian Army (FSA), such as the Northern Sun Battalion – later known as the Manbij Military Council (MMC). Each force gave sons and daughters in the fight against ISIS.

The list of martyrs includes internationalists that ventured from across the globe to join the Syrian Democratic Forces. They were people who took up arms in the same spirit as the internationalists of the Spanish Civil War over seventy years prior, each holding different beliefs but sharing a desire to eliminate what they perceived to be a modern-day tyranny invested in taking the lives of the innocent. Leaving relatively safe homes and joining local Syrians, these internationalists fought gruelling battles in a faraway land called Syria. Internationalists such as British volunteers, Anna Campbell and Jac Holmes; American volunteer, David Taylor as well as many, many more would not return home alive, dying instead on the battlefield.

Across northern Syria (Rojava), hundreds of monuments dedicated to those who fell in the war against ISIS have been erected. Decorated with the portraits of thousands of martyrs, these locations provide a sad reminder for locals and visitors of the cost of this war. (Each portrait shows the individual’s face, along with the force that they fought in. For example, David Taylor’s portrait shows his face with the background of the YPG.) Cemeteries are also found across the north, where families, friends and loved ones still travel frequently to mourn. These graves contain the bodies of fighters and civilians alike, including humanitarian workers and local journalists such as Dilishan Ibish – a Kurdish journalist who perished in an explosion in 2017. 

In Kurdish there is a proverb used to remember those that perished. The proverb is, “Shaheed namirin” and it translates in English as, “martyrs never die”. Connected to the culture of martyrdom that is common but not exclusive to communities in the Middle East, the proverb evokes an understanding of dying in pursuit of a noble cause. This can be best understood for those unfamiliar with martyr culture by reading Mary Elizabeth Frye’s poem, “Do Not Stand At My Grave And Weep”. The poem speaks about the nature of death and how the spirit of those that perished lives on in the world. If the last line of Frye’s poem were to be repurposed to better understand the martyr culture of northern Syria, it would read something like this:

‘Do not stand at my grave and cry; While Rojava lives, I did not die.’

Over thirty thousand foreign volunteers joined the Islamic State to fight for Baghdadi’s vision. This vision included the mass slaughter of local indigenous people, from Yazidis to Arabs and thousands of others, a violence that robbed thousands of their homes and lives. In response to this mass violence that swept across Syria and Iraq, people took up arms in defiance of the organisation, giving their lives to destroy the vision that Baghdadi sought to implement. And as the dust settles five years later with the deaths of over ten thousand anti-ISIS fighters, the cause that each fought for still goes on. Only now over forty thousand hands are doing that work and building the society for tomorrow’s generation.

Plenty of work remains ahead now for the Syrian Democratic Forces and US-led Coalition, as the next phase of the war begins. With liberated areas in need of reconstruction and ISIS sleeper cells active in both Syria and Iraq, it is important to note that the elements that led to the formation of the Islamic State are still present. If those elements continue to remain, so too will the organisation’s appeal. Saying this, however, there will be people always ready to take up the struggle against ISIS and preserve all that makes life worth living. As long as there is resistance to tyranny, there will always be another dawn for humanity.

Written by Anthony Avice Du Buisson (07/04/2019)
Original article can be found here:
https://www.jpost.com/Opinion/Martyrs-never-die-585962


Take Them Back – [Jerusalem Post Piece]

US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces recently announced the final push to take Baghouz in Syria’s northeast from Islamic State fighters. This move comes months after a concerted effort by anti-ISIS coalition forces to take the neighbouring city of Hajin. As the ISIS self-professed caliphate collapses, more fighters and their families continue to be captured, and increasingly consist of foreign volunteers from northern countries such as France and the United Kingdom. The question now is whether these countries will repatriate their citizens, or leave them to face retribution from local authorities, such as in Iraq.

Forty thousand volunteers from over a hundred countries flocked to join ISIS during its rise. Crossing the border from places such as Turkey into Iraq and Syria, these foreign fighters fortified the organisation and aided in its expansion. Notorious individuals such as British foreign volunteer Mohammed Emwazi – aka Jihadi John, conducted beheadings to spread the network’s terrorism. Other volunteers such as British medical student Mohammed Fakhri Al-Khabass assisted with the recruitment of volunteers and used their skills to abet the organisation, highlighting a vast network utilised by ISIS to solidify control in Syria and Iraq.

Women flocked from across the world – voluntarily – to join the self-declared caliphate, marrying local fighters and raising children to further the ISIS ideology. These female volunteers indoctrinated the youth in Salafi-jihadist ideology, normalising violence against victims of the caliphate and preparing those youth to one day join and fight for the organisation. The result of this indoctrination is evident in the propaganda videos produced by ISIS from places like Deir ez-Zor, where prisoners were executed by young children. Given the totalitarian nature of ISIS ideology, all individuals under the proto-state’s control are used to further the expanse of the organisation.

Fighters of the caliphate were not the only ones that engaged in violence towards local indigenous populations. Wives of fighters participated in sexual, physical and emotional abuse of enslaved individuals, such as the Yazidis. Lebanese journalist, Jenan Moussa of Al Ann TV conducted an interview with an ISIS female volunteer and wife in 2017, where Jenan noted the lack of remorse for victims by the interviewed volunteer. In the interview, the woman explains in detail the process of selling and acquiring slaves – showing a lack of empathy, understanding and moral conscious for why such things are wrong.

Another interview conducted by the French journalist James Andre for France 24, highlighted a group of captured female volunteers living in a refugee camp in Syria’s northeast after being freed from places like Hajin and Baghouz. They were segregated from the rest of civilians freed from the organization’s control. In that interview, volunteers from France, Canada, Brazil and elsewhere express regret for joining the organization, emphasizing the horrible nature and alleged deceit that coerced them into joining. However, whether these ‘confessions’ are genuine is another question, as radicals amongst these volunteers still cling to ISIS ideology and harm individuals that speak out against it.

The response to the capture of foreign volunteers by the international community has been mixed. Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) – a multiethnic coalition of militias leading the fight against the Islamic State – currently hold thousands of foreign ISIS volunteers and fighters in captivity. Coalition countries who are involved in supporting the SDF are reluctant to take back their citizens that joined ISIS. Fearing the risk these individuals pose at home, these nations – except for the United States and France – are slow to repatriate their renegade citizens and prefer that justice be delivered by the local authorities, regardless of the problems that arise from this policy.

The problems that occur from refusing to repatriate ISIS volunteers are two-fold. The first is the lack of international judicial oversight in trials in local countries such as Iraq. Islamic State volunteers who were handed over to Baghdad receive short trials that result in life sentences or death. This is despite the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) launching an investigation into ISIS’s crimes under resolution 2379 in 2017. There is a lack of proper legal course in trials that are governed by retribution rather than law. At first glance, this may not prove a problem to those who wish to see ISIS volunteers ‘get what they deserve’, but does it not serve to undermine justice for victims of the organisation’s brutality?

When the Bosnian war waged across former Yugoslavia in the 1990s, the UNSC passed resolution 780. This resolution created the International Criminal Tribunal for Yugoslavia (ICTY). The ICTY was tasked with the prosecution of perpetrators of human rights and international law violations. Under the ICTY, dozens were prosecuted for crimes against humanity, genocide and various other war crimes. Not only did it set a legal precedent in international law, but also verified the gravity of the crimes perpetrated by those convicted, leading to the classification of the massacre in Srebrenica – for example – as a genocide. The same process should be adopted for the prosecution of ISIS volunteers.

There is not just a legal precedent to be set, but a moral one too. Unless international support and oversight is provided to local authorities, then the system of justice that is delivered will not suffice to solidify in the public consciousness what happened to the many victims of ISIS. Ensuring an effective legal prosecution that highlights the extent of the group’s barbarism, as well as giving gravitas to the stories of victims will aim to preserve international law and human rights both in the present and the future. In turn, this will set a legal precedent and a standard from which to judge future atrocities by.

The second issue that arises from a refusal to repatriate ISIS volunteers is the security threat that these individuals pose to the longevity of the organization. There are thousands of fighters held in captivity in Syria by the SDF. Without continued support and military oversight, the maintenance of prisons which contain fighters will be challenged. With the withdrawal of the US from the region, concerns are rising over what will happen to these volunteers. These concerns are also exacerbated by the prospect of increased instability from threats of a military incursion into the area by Turkey, which is could result in a resurgence of ISIS.

As this phase of the war against the Islamic State ends, the question arises as to whether countries should repatriate their ISIS citizens or leave them to the fate of local justice. The poor quality of justice offered in those countries which currently holds ISIS volunteers, increase doubts over the effectiveness of local authorities to impartially prosecute these members. Waning military support coupled with weak infrastructure in Syria do not create confidence in the long-term security concerns of nations or for stability in the region. These concerns place the burden of responsibility on the international community in order to deal with the aftermath of ISIS. Western nations must take back that responsibility.

Written by Anthony Avice Du Buisson (20/02/2019)
Original version available at Jerusalem Post:

https://bit.ly/2IykI9J




A blood-soaked olive: what is the situation in Afrin today? – [Region Piece]

[Listen to the SoundCloud version well you read:
https://soundcloud.com/anthony_avice/blood-soaked-olive]

Afrin Canton in Syria’s northwest was once a haven for thousands of people fleeing the country’s civil war. Consisting of beautiful fields of olive trees scattered across the region from Rajo to Jindires, locals harvested the land and made a living on its rich soil. This changed when the region came under Turkish occupation this year.

YPG in Afrin.

Operation Olive Branch:

Under the governance of the Afrin Council – a part of the ‘Democratic Federation of Northern Syria’ (DFNS) – the region was relatively stable. The council’s members consisted of locally elected officials from a variety of backgrounds, such as Kurdish official Aldar Xelil who formerly co-headed the Movement for a Democratic Society (TEVDEM) – a political coalition of parties governing Northern Syria. Children studied in their mother tongue— Kurdish, Arabic, or Syriac— in a country where the Ba’athists once banned Kurdish education. The local Self-Defence Forces (HXP) worked in conjunction with the People’s Protection Units (YPG) to keep the area secure from existential threats such as Turkish Security forces (TSK) and Free Syrian Army (FSA) attacks.

This arrangement continued until early 2018, when Turkey unleashed a full-scale military operation called ‘ Operation Olive Branch’ to oust TEVDEM from Afrin. The Turkish government views TEVDEM and its leading party, the Democratic Union Party (PYD),  as an extension of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) – listed as a terrorist organisation in Turkey. Under the pretext of defending its borders from terrorism, the Turkish government sent thousands of troops into Afrin with the assistance of forces from its allies in Idlib and its occupied Euphrates Shield territories. This forced the Afrin Council into exile and pushed out Afrin’s residents as well as its defenders. TSK and Turkish-backed FSA (TFSA) bombarded the region and eventually took control of Afrin city on March 18th – claiming victory.

During the bombardment campaign that was committed by Turkish artillery and aircraft, thousands of people lost their homes. Many civilians fled to nearby regions, mainly Shahba, to seek refuge away from the fighting. YPG and HXP defended what areas they could, but made a tactical decision to withdraw in order to protect civilians. Those fighters who stayed are resisting the occupation, with some forming groups like the ‘Afrin Falcons’ to assassinate targets within the TFSA.

Seven months on from the completion of Turkey’s military operation, Afrin remains under Turkish occupation. Thousands of former residents are displaced and now live outside the region in refugee camps, such as the camps in Shahba. Deprived of basic necessities, such as running water, and cut off from electricity, life for these displaced civilians is hard. They are unable to return to their homes because the fighters that took Afrin either destroyed the houses during the process of invasion or are outright looting and occupying them.

Under the Turkish government’s watchful eye, these TFSA fighters occupying Afrin are taking personal items left by fleeing civilians. After looting the homes, the fighters then settle in with their families. Adding insult to injury, the Turkish government rewards them with Turkish citizenship and helps facilitate the safe passage of fighters of Jaysh al-Islam and other opposition forces, escaping places like East Ghouta, into Afrin.

Hundreds of thousands of families from Syria’s southwestern Ghouta and Daraa regions accompany these fighters. Through the Turkish government’s ‘resettlement policy’, thousands of Syrian refugees within its borders are being resettled in Afrin and Euphrates Shield territories. This resettlement policy has impacted upon the once predominantly Kurdish Afrin canton. Kurdish homes are now filling with Arab families in what appears to be a concerted effort by the Turkish government to shift the demographics of the region.

Schools that once taught Kurdish along with other languages as part of the curriculum now are reducing access to the learning of the language. Kurdish teachers are being replaced by Arab ones. In schools in places like al-Caviz, the Kurdish language is no longer taught. Children are instead taught an Arab-centric curriculum reminiscent of the Baath regime’s curriculum system. However, praise of Assad has been replaced with praise of Erdogan – as evident in the Turkish propaganda videos coming from the school.

Internally Displaced People in Shahba.

Ethnic Cleansing in Afrin:

During the initial days of the operation, Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan made clear that his government would resettle Syrian Arab refugees living in Turkey:

“The whole issue is this: 55 percent of Afrin is Arab, 35 percent are the Kurds who were later relocated, and about seven percent are Turkmen. [We aim] to give Afrin back to its rightful owners…. We house about 3.5 million Syrians [as refugees]. We want to send them back to their land in no time…”

Afrin’s population consists of predominantly Kurdish inhabitants who have lived in the region for centuries— long before the existence of the Turkish state. However, the Turkish president’s statements are meant to revise history and justify state policy. Erdogan is not the first Turkish leader to revise history to justify state policy, especially when that policy is aimed at Kurds. When this revisionism is used to justify the displacement of thousands of people of a group from their original homelands, then there are grounds for claiming such action as ‘ethnic cleansing’— a war crime.

History tells us that when there are signs of ethnic cleansing occurring, genocide is soon to follow. For example, during the Bosnian war, the Republic of Srpska forcefully displaced thousands of Bosnian Muslims and expelled these individuals from their homelands. In the following months, the occupation by Serbian forces in places such as Srebrenica turned violent and resulted in the deaths of thousands in what is classed today as a ‘genocide’. Afrin is not near this stage yet, but it is important to keep in mind where ethnic cleansing often leads.

Turkish and Free Syrian Army flags in Afrin city.

Turkish State Chauvinism

Demonstrating a disregard for facts and the original inhabitants of the region, Erdogan spent weeks—  in preparation for the election no less— rallying the country behind the costly operation. Exploiting the fervour of the nation, Erdogan legitimised violence against critics by uniting ultranationalists and enforcing strict censorship laws within the country. This demonstration of Turkish chauvinism in the form of ultranationalist legitimation was frightening. Even more frightening was the sheer extent to which critics within the country were locked up. Those daring to criticise the government’s operation found themselves either arrested under charges of ‘abetting terrorism’ or beaten by ultranationalists.

Turkish chauvinism did not stop at the country’s borders, but extended to the front lines as well. Soldiers on the front lines demonstrated their sense of eagerness for the operation through nationalist songs and displays of ‘Grey Wolves’ hand signs. Others displayed their pride through sadistic pleasure in the filming of tortured Afrin civilians and the draping of Turkish flags over conquered buildings. Some even burnt Kurdish flags on camera – a sign of anti-Kurdish sentiment that Erdogan claimed was not present.

When TFSA and TSK soldiers entered Afrin city, the Kurdish statue of blacksmith Kawa that had long been at the heart of the city was torn down, under claims that it was a statue of imprisoned PKK leader Abdullah Ocalan. Even ancient structures were not spared in the offensive, with the temple of Ain Dara facing damage by Turkish aircraft. The level of destruction brought upon monuments of once great ancient civilisations in Syria throughout this Syrian war is saddening. US Senator Hiram Johnson was once purported to have said the line, ‘the first casualty, when war comes, is truth.’ One might add that the second casualty of war is history.

Turkish Occupation:

After expelling the locally elected Afrin council and TEVDEM’s government from Afrin, the region has come under new administration. Considered to fall under the control of the Hatay province in Turkey’s southwest, officials appointed by the Turkish government are running the region in accordance with state policy. Each appointee placed in control of the canton is paid in Turkish Lira and is under supervision of TSK.

A ‘local’ interim council formed prior to the invasion are jointly administering the region with the Turkish government. This model of joint control has been adopted by other Turkish occupied areas such as those incorporating territories in ‘Euphrates Shield’ (Jarabulus-al-Bab pocket). The model shares similarities to the model adopted by Turkey and France for the Republic of Hatay in the 1930s. That was, of course, before the annexation of the state by Turkey in 1939. It would not be surprising if a ‘Turkish Republic of Northern Syria’ were to form, in the same vein as the ‘Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus’ and other occupied areas when Turkish control is finally consolidated.

The annexation of Afrin by Turkey reflects the ideology of neo-Ottomanism that is supported by a large segment of Turkish nationalists within the country. There is a longing by thousands of Turkish citizens for the reestablishment of Turkey as a global power. A desire for Turkey to reclaim its history and establish control over former Ottoman states in the Middle East. This sense of nationalism extends to religious institutions, with Turkish imams— and Erdogan— attempting to ‘persuade’ the Islamic world that Turkey is its protector and sole representative.

Military institutions were not left untouched by this ideology. Turkish foreign policy for the last couple decades in areas like Cyprus and Syria reflects this. The construction of military bases for long-term occupation under the guise of ‘combating terrorism’ and the establishment of an administration that does not reflect the local populace’s wishes suggests that there is something more sinister at play. When the Turkish-backed administration is taking orders from Ankara, considered essentially to be a de-facto part of Turkey, paying its employees in Turkish lira and giving fighters citizenship, what is really on display is imperialism. The development of Turkish infrastructure in Afrin only demonstrates this further.

An injured Kurdish boy.

Silence and Violence:

The international community has been silent about Turkey’s military operation and occupation of Afrin. Calls of ‘deep concern’ were repeatedly uttered throughout the conduct of the operation, but little was done. No emergency United Nations Security Council meeting was held, nor did any nation prevent Turkey. Overall, the international community was complicit in Turkey’s operation. This was not surprising given the strategic ‘importance’ of Turkey as a member of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO). Continuing a long trend by western governments in remaining silent about the injustices committed by their allies, well condemning those of their enemies. Protesters across the world took to the streets to do what their governments would not do.

Resistance continues in Afrin to oust the occupation army from continuing to control the region. The attacks continue to target those abetting the occupation forces, which extends to those officials assisting Turkey. Explosive mines left from the fighting also continue to kill TSK and TFSA forces. The YPG has sworn to retake Afrin from Turkey, although this occupation is unlikely to end any time soon. With the Idlib offensive on the horizon for the regime in Damascus, Turkish forces are being spread out across the occupation zones, from Idlib to al-Bab.

The relationship between the guarantors of Syria— Russia, Turkey and Iran— continues to fluctuate as Turkey gambles on what to do in Idlib. The occupation of territories within Syria has been costly on Turkey and the prospect of an offensive against Idlib only exacerbates the situation. Erdogan wants to remain perceived as a ‘strong leader’ externally with the spread of military might, well simultaneously clamping down on increasing dissent internally. This arrangement will not last forever.

The war in Syria is now in its seventh year. Hundreds of thousands of people are dead and more than two million people have been displaced. The world continues to watch as humanitarian crisis after humanitarian crisis continues, unchallenged and without clear sign of ceasing. Dictators continue to control the country with little response from the international community. The blood of Syria’s people continues to be shed.

Despite the death, destruction and devastation wrought upon the country, there are signs of development and progress. In northeastern Syria, people are building up communities and choosing to live. There might be the threat of invasion by Turkey to the north and a regime invasion from the south, but this does not deter the spirit of these people. Children play in the streets of Kobane – a city once devastated by Daesh – with joy, Arab and Kurdish families in Manbij coexist with one another. These are flashes of light in the darkness. These lights are sometimes all that are needed to establish hope for the future.

Kids from Kobane smile for the camera.

Written by Anthony Avice Du Buisson (06/10/2018).
Original Region version: https://theregion.org/article/13161-a-blood-soaked-olive-what-is-situation-afrin-today


The Legal Mechanisms of Human Rights – [JCU Law assessment]

INTRODUCTION:

The legal mechanisms available to the international community for the prosecution of human rights (HR) violations such as crimes against humanity are extensive. Taking the form of international courts and ad hoc tribunals established on statutes set up through the approval of the United Nations Security Council (UNSC), these legal mechanisms have been used to hold perpetrators of HR violations accountable. The application of these legal mechanisms in the prosecution of high ranking Serbian personalities for HR violations during the Bosnian war (1992-1995) by the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY) is one such example. Bound legally through established international conventions and monitored through HR treaty-based bodies, United Nations (UN) and member states that make up the international community are obligated to adhere to human rights law in the prevention of HR abuses.

UNITED NATIONS SECURITY COUNCIL:

The international community – including the UN – uses the UNSC to authorise enforcement mechanisms that address HR violations such as crimes against humanity that are committed by state and non-state actors. The UNSC is the principal security body of the UN that has powers under the UN charter to establish subsidiary organs for the maintenance of peace and security.[1] UNSC responds to matters of international security and passes resolutions that can be binding on member states.[2] When nations violate international law conventions – whether in war or peace – and threaten international security, the UNSC acts in accordance with the UN charter and under the deliberation of  the council to address those violations.[3] Utilising a variety of mechanisms to deter state actors and mitigate violations, the UNSC authorises these mechanisms to enforce international law.[4] Some of these mechanisms take the form of ad hoc tribunals such as the ICTY.

INTERNATIONAL CRIMINAL TRIBUNAL FOR THE FORMER YUGOSLAVIA:

One subsidiary body established by the UNSC in response to gross HR violations was the ICTY. The ICTY was established by the UNSC during the Bosnian war in 1993 under resolution 827,[5] as a legal mechanism to bring perpetrators of HR violations in the regions consisting of the Former Yugoslavia to trial.[6] The former Yugoslavian regions of Bosnia and Herzegovina in the Balkans were embroiled in an ethno-nationalist conflict during the early 1990s resulting in gross HR violations being committed by military forces upon civilian populations.[7] One notable HR violation occurred in 1995 with the killing of over 3000 Muslim Bosnians by the Serbian army in the town of Srebrenica.[8] The ad hoc tribunal’s statute (including UNSC authorisation) granted the ICTY jurisdiction to bring public as well as military officials of the Former Yugoslavia to trial at the Hague.[9] During the trial of one of these military officials [Radovan Krsitć] in 2004,[10] the ICTY determined that the massacre in Srebrenica was genocide and found the official guilty of crimes against humanity.[11] This ICTY judgement was based on the tribunal’s statute that was set up in accordance to international law conventions such as the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide (Genocide Convention)[12]. Throughout the 1990s-2010s, more than ninety individuals connected to atrocities in the former Yugoslavia have been convicted by the ICTY and sentenced to imprisonment for long periods of time.[13] The ICTY is no longer in existence as of December 2017 but the decisions of the tribunal are still used by intergovernmental judicial bodies like the European Court of Justice and International Criminal Court.[14] The ad hoc tribunal of the ICTY provides just one example of a legal mechanism available to the international community that has set a precedent for the prosecution of HR violators.

THE INTERNATIONAL CRIMINAL COURT:

The International Criminal Court (ICC) was established five years after the creation of the ICTY as a permanent international tribunal for the prosecution of individuals for war crimes, crimes against humanity, crimes of aggression and genocide.[15] Founded on the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court (Rome Statute) created by the UN General Assembly in 1998, the ICC is an intergovernmental legal mechanism that transitioned the legal strategy of concurrence and primacy found in the ad hoc tribunal systems to one of concurrence and complementarity.[16] Aiming to set a permanent entity for the conviction of international law violators, the UN and member states of the international community use the ICC as a court of last resort when a nation’s internal legal system is not functionable or hostile to international law.[17] The ICC works with the UNSC and other organs of the UN to bring individuals to justice. The ICC is currently still in existence as of July, 2018.

CONCLUSION:

The legal mechanisms utilised by the international community for the prosecution of human rights violations are wide-ranging. Ad hoc tribunals and international courts established on United Nations Security Council authorisation are the primarily international form of legal defence to human rights existing. As highlighted in the organisation of the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia and International Criminal Court in pursuing prosecution of individuals for crimes against humanity, there are international judicial mechanisms available to the international community to persuade individuals and states to adhere to human rights.

Written by Anthony Avice Du Buisson for LA1027, assessment task 3 (07/09/2018)


[1] Charter of the United Nations art 29.

[2] Ibid art 49.

[3] Carrie Booth Walling, ‘Human Rights Norms, State Sovereignty, and Humanitarian Intervention’ (2015) 37(2) Human Rights Quarterly 383, 387.

[4] Simon Chesterman, ‘I’ll Take Manhattan’: The International Rule of Law and the United Nations Security Council’ (2009) 1(1) Hague Journal on the Rule of Law 67, 70.

[5] SC Res 827, UN SCOR, 48th sess, 3217th mtg, UN Doc S/RES/827 (25 May 1993).

[6] Statute of the International Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia art 1.

[7] Adam Mcbeth, Justine Nolan and Simon Rice, The International Law Of Human Rights (Oxford University Press, 2nd ed, 2011) 359.

[8] Ibid.

[9] Statute of the International Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia art 8 & 9.

[10] Prosecutor v Krsitć (Appeal Judgement) (International Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia, Appeals Chamber, Case No IT-98-33-A, 19 April 2004) [37].

[11] Ibid.

[12] Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide, opened for signature 9 December 1948, 78 UNTS 277 (entered into force 12 January 1951) art 2.

[13] United Nations International Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia, History, < http://www.icty.org/sid/95>.

[14] Ibid.

[15] Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, opened for signature 17 July 1998, 2187 UNTS 90 (entered into force 1 July 2002) art 5(1).

[16] Hassan B Jallow, ‘International criminal justice: reflections on the past and the future’, (2010) 36(2) Commonwealth Law Bulletin 269, 277.

[17] Ibid.


Homage to the unsung heroes fighting ISIS – [Region Piece]

The last phase to uproot the ‘Islamic State of Iraq and Syria’ (ISIS) is underway in Syria’s Euphrates River Valley as ‘Syrian Democratic Forces’ (SDF), assisted by artillery and air support of the ‘US-backed Coalition’, push against the last remnants of ISIS’ proto-state.

With ‘Operation Jazeera Storm’ – the name of the operation – intensifying in Syria and Abu Al-Baghdadi’s hiding spot found in near the Iraqi border, in Hajin, Syria, it is not hard to have many heavy emotions rushing through one’s body. It was not even four years ago when ISIS was building its proto-state in Iraq and Syria, slaughtering thousands of Arabs, Yazidis and Kurds. Now that proto-state has lost over 95% of its territory in the span of a couple years – a huge blow to the organisation’s attempt at building a caliphate.

Thousands have lost their lives at the hands of this ‘cult of death’. Millions more have been displaced by its political-religious pursuit of dominance. Journalists, aid workers, soldiers and civilians – all targeted during this conquest. I think of the journalists, such as American James Foley who were brutally beheaded. I think of the Yazidis at Sinjar forced out of their homes and massacred – raped, abused and enslaved. The children indoctrinated. The survivors left with trauma and PTSD. I think of the large-scale suffering, destruction and torment wrought at those who loved death more than life itself – a modern evil. Millions are unable to return home because of the destruction caused by ISIS. Many who have lost loved ones – daughters, sons, fathers and mothers – and who will never see the joy of their lives again.

A Yazidi girl on Sinjar mountain in 2014

However, despite all the suffering that flashes when I think of the years that have passed, I still remember heroes who gave their lives to save thousands. I think of the fighters in Iraq and Syria – the Kurds, Arabs, Syriacs and so on – who refused the barbarism of ISIS. Who said, “no” to the injustice and inhumanity. I think of the sacrifice of Abu Layla, a man whose smile is captured in the below photo. (Abu died during the liberation of the city of Manbij in 2016.) The Love for life that this smile shows will never leave me.

Abu Layla.

The survivors of ISIS who carry their scars and use their experiences to help others inspire me, normal heroes who are doing extraordinary work. The people, who are fearless, brave and want to create a better world. The work of Nadia Murad and Lamiya Aji come immediately to mind. Both are Yazidi survivors of ISIS’ brutality that refused to remain silent, choosing to instead speak out and help those still carrying scars. There are thousands of these heroes around the globe. Helping survivors to rebuild and tell others about the horror of ISIS, educating the next generation and fighting those militants left defending the remnants of a dying caliphate. Rojda Felat is an example of one of the commanders in the Syrian Democratic Forces who has sacrificed heavily in the fight against ISIS.

Left to right: Nadia Murad and Lamiya Aji.

In July 2017, Iraqi Security Forces liberated Mosul – ISIS’ defacto capital in Iraq – and the place where Baghdadi announced, three years prior, a caliphate. Iraqis celebrated the defeat of an organisation responsible for so much loss and destruction. In October 2017, Syrian Democratic Forces liberated Raqqa – ISIS’ de-facto capital in Syria. Liberating large swaths of territory and helping to crumble the caliphate across Iraq and Syria. Whenever I think of the years of suffering that ISIS wrought on the world, I cannot but also think of the love and heroism of normal people put in difficult situations. I cannot help but think of how much evil as humans we are capable of, but also how much beauty is in us.

Kurdish fighter kisses a man’s forehead during the liberation of Manbij in 2016.

Artillery pieces provided by the Americans and French are currently shelling ISIS positions, well Syrian Democratic Forces and Iraqi forces advance steadily in the Deir Ezzor governorate. Operation Jazeera Storm will take months to complete as the Syrian border is cleared of remaining fighters. Whether Baghdadi is captured alive by SDF or killed in the crossfire is yet to be known, but what is known is that his vision of an Islamic caliphate has failed. And with that failure, so too the dreams of ISIS.

Written by Anthony Avice Du Buisson (01/06/2018).
Region version: https://theregion.org/article/13189-homage-to-unsung-heroes-fighting-isis