Artificial Protest: Unrest in Eastern Ukraine Coordinated by Russia


Armed pro-Russia protesters prepare for the battle with Ukrainian police special team on the outskirts the eastern Ukrainian city of Slavyansk on April 13, 2014. Ukraine on Sunday launched an “anti-terrorist operation” in the eastern town of Slavyansk, where pro-Russian gunmen have seized police and security services buildings, Interior Minister Arsen Avakov said. AFP PHOTO / ANATOLIY STEPANOV

The Kyiv Post, among other outlets, is reporting that the seperatist movements in Eastern Ukraine are being coordinated by Russian paramilitary troops. The Post has reported that there is a bevy of evidence linking the unmarked troops to Russia, including communications, special Russian military, their resemblance to the troops that were involved in the Crimean Crisis, and the clear coordination of the attacks.

Artificial protest is a dangerous tool used by states across the world. Recent examples of artifical protest are the pro Al-Sisi rallies in Egypt, pro-Assad rallies in Syria, and of course the scenario that recently unfolded in Crimea. Although in Eastern Ukraine there is a large amount of pro-Russian sentiment, it is clear that the coordinated attacks and occupation of government buildings across Eastern Ukraine are not an organic revolution but rather the mechanations of an increasingly aggressive Russia. 

Assessing the potential for this conflict to escalate into outright war between Ukraine and Russia is difficult given the recent events in Crimea. It seems clear that the Ukrainian government will not stand to see a repeat of the Crimean annexation in Eastern Ukraine. It also seems clear that Russia feels as if it can get away with a similar situation. With the Ukrainian government set to take military action against the “terrorists,” the potential for conflict is quite high. Russia, with its claims of protecting ethnic Russians, could move against the Ukrainian military and initiate an active war.

All of these events are unfolding in the face of peace talks scheduled in Geneva for the 17th of April. Ukraine has pledged that it will present concrete evidence of Russian involvement at this time. However, it is possible that the conflict could go hot before the Geneva talks happen. 

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Vladimir Putin: Rationalist?



Below is a statement made by President Vladimir Putin of Russia. I think that everyone should read this . There are a number of extremely relevant and interesting points made in relation to the ongoing debate on Syria.


MOSCOW — RECENT events surrounding Syria have prompted me to speak directly to the American people and their political leaders. It is important to do so at a time of insufficient communication between our societies.

Relations between us have passed through different stages. We stood against each other during the cold war. But we were also allies once, and defeated the Nazis together. The universal international organization — the United Nations — was then established to prevent such devastation from ever happening again.

The United Nations’ founders understood that decisions affecting war and peace should happen only by consensus, and with America’s consent the veto by Security Council permanent members was enshrined in the United Nations Charter. The profound wisdom of this has underpinned the stability of international relations for decades.

No one wants the United Nations to suffer the fate of the League of Nations, which collapsed because it lacked real leverage. This is possible if influential countries bypass the United Nations and take military action without Security Council authorization.

The potential strike by the United States against Syria, despite strong opposition from many countries and major political and religious leaders, including the pope, will result in more innocent victims and escalation, potentially spreading the conflict far beyond Syria’s borders. A strike would increase violence and unleash a new wave of terrorism. It could undermine multilateral efforts to resolve the Iranian nuclear problem and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and further destabilize the Middle East and North Africa. It could throw the entire system of international law and order out of balance.

Syria is not witnessing a battle for democracy, but an armed conflict between government and opposition in a multireligious country. There are few champions of democracy in Syria. But there are more than enough Qaeda fighters and extremists of all stripes battling the government. The United States State Department has designated Al Nusra Front and the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, fighting with the opposition, as terrorist organizations. This internal conflict, fueled by foreign weapons supplied to the opposition, is one of the bloodiest in the world.

Mercenaries from Arab countries fighting there, and hundreds of militants from Western countries and even Russia, are an issue of our deep concern. Might they not return to our countries with experience acquired in Syria? After all, after fighting in Libya, extremists moved on to Mali. This threatens us all.

From the outset, Russia has advocated peaceful dialogue enabling Syrians to develop a compromise plan for their own future. We are not protecting the Syrian government, but international law. We need to use the United Nations Security Council and believe that preserving law and order in today’s complex and turbulent world is one of the few ways to keep international relations from sliding into chaos. The law is still the law, and we must follow it whether we like it or not. Under current international law, force is permitted only in self-defense or by the decision of the Security Council. Anything else is unacceptable under the United Nations Charter and would constitute an act of aggression.

No one doubts that poison gas was used in Syria. But there is every reason to believe it was used not by the Syrian Army, but by opposition forces, to provoke intervention by their powerful foreign patrons, who would be siding with the fundamentalists. Reports that militants are preparing another attack — this time against Israel — cannot be ignored.

It is alarming that military intervention in internal conflicts in foreign countries has become commonplace for the United States. Is it in America’s long-term interest? I doubt it. Millions around the world increasingly see America not as a model of democracy but as relying solely on brute force, cobbling coalitions together under the slogan “you’re either with us or against us.”

But force has proved ineffective and pointless. Afghanistan is reeling, and no one can say what will happen after international forces withdraw. Libya is divided into tribes and clans. In Iraq the civil war continues, with dozens killed each day. In the United States, many draw an analogy between Iraq and Syria, and ask why their government would want to repeat recent mistakes.

No matter how targeted the strikes or how sophisticated the weapons, civilian casualties are inevitable, including the elderly and children, whom the strikes are meant to protect.

The world reacts by asking: if you cannot count on international law, then you must find other ways to ensure your security. Thus a growing number of countries seek to acquire weapons of mass destruction. This is logical: if you have the bomb, no one will touch you. We are left with talk of the need to strengthen nonproliferation, when in reality this is being eroded.

We must stop using the language of force and return to the path of civilized diplomatic and political settlement.

A new opportunity to avoid military action has emerged in the past few days. The United States, Russia and all members of the international community must take advantage of the Syrian government’s willingness to place its chemical arsenal under international control for subsequent destruction. Judging by the statements of President Obama, the United States sees this as an alternative to military action.

I welcome the president’s interest in continuing the dialogue with Russia on Syria. We must work together to keep this hope alive, as we agreed to at the Group of 8 meeting in Lough Erne in Northern Ireland in June, and steer the discussion back toward negotiations.

If we can avoid force against Syria, this will improve the atmosphere in international affairs and strengthen mutual trust. It will be our shared success and open the door to cooperation on other critical issues.

My working and personal relationship with President Obama is marked by growing trust. I appreciate this. I carefully studied his address to the nation on Tuesday. And I would rather disagree with a case he made on American exceptionalism, stating that the United States’ policy is “what makes America different. It’s what makes us exceptional.” It is extremely dangerous to encourage people to see themselves as exceptional, whatever the motivation. There are big countries and small countries, rich and poor, those with long democratic traditions and those still finding their way to democracy. Their policies differ, too. We are all different, but when we ask for the Lord’s blessings, we must not forget that God created us equal.


Vladimir V. Putin is the president of Russia.

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Iraqi Jailbreak Has Regional Implications


Unfortunately, BBC does not allow for their videos to be copied to other pages (to my knowledge) but the above link is to a video that provides some interesting analysis , on the regional instability in the Middle East. The title to the video is misleading for the most part, but there is some solid analysis to be gleaned from the dialogue.

The video uses a large jailbreak in Iraq as a sounding board for a discussion of the regional instability, and outlines several scenarios including regional war and the impact that a number of failed states would have. Sharmine Narwani,  who is a middle east expert at St Anthony’s College, Oxford, provides some insight into the issue.



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UN Compares Syrian Refugee Crisis to Rwandan Genocide


“We have not seen a refugee outflow escalate at such a frightening rate since the Rwandan genocide almost 20 years ago”

Antonio Guterres, UN High Commissioner for Refugees


The number of refugees fleeing Syria has risen to 6000 per day in 2013, according to the same source. The number of Syrian refugees has tripled since the beginning of the year, rising to a UN registered 1.8 million individuals. There continues to be little movement by the international community to reach a consensus on Syria, with Russia in particular not interested in budging.





Posted in Analysis

Secretary of State John Kerry’s Remarks on Egypt



Press Statement

John Kerry
Secretary of State
Washington, DC
July 6, 2013



The United States is deeply troubled by the violence across Egypt. We strongly condemn any and all incitement to violence or attempts to divide and provoke, rather than unite, all Egyptians. The United States strongly condemns the violence by all parties and urges calm. At the same time, we firmly reject the unfounded and false claims by some in Egypt that the United States supports the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood or any specific Egyptian political party or movement. The United States has always been and remains committed to the democratic process, not to any party or personality. We want Egyptians to make their democracy work for the good of all Egyptians. At this sensitive moment, we call on all Egyptian leaders to condemn the use of force and prevent further violence among their supporters and we urge all those demonstrating to do so peacefully.

The United States wants to see Egypt’s ongoing transition succeed for the benefit of the Egyptian people. The Egyptians themselves must come together and make the tough decisions necessary for that to happen. As I said in March when I was in Cairo, the United States supports the people of Egypt in their continued transition to a stable, sovereign Egyptian democracy. The only solution to the current impasse is for all parties to work together peacefully to address the many legitimate concerns and needs of the people and to ensure Egypt has a government that is responsive to the aspirations of the millions of Egyptians who have taken to the streets to demand a better future. Lasting stability in Egypt will only be achieved through a transparent and inclusive democratic process with participation from all sides and all political parties. This process must also ensure that the rights of all Egyptian men and women are protected, including the right to peaceful assembly, due process, and free and fair trials in civilian courts.

The Egyptian people seek and deserve an honest, capable and representative democratic government. As President Obama has said, “no transition to democracy comes without difficulty, but in the end it must stay true to the will of the people.” The longstanding partnership and friendship between the United States and Egypt is of great importance to the United States, and we will continue to support the Egyptian people to ensure that Egypt’s transition to democracy succeeds.

The Office of Website Management, Bureau of Public Affairs, manages this site as a portal for information from the U.S. State Department.
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Posted in Analysis

What is Going on in Egypt? (Part II)

Egypt Protests 2013 AP.preview

With President Mohamed Morsi ousted by the military on Wednesday, Egypt has quickly slid back into a state of chaos. Some claim the military has started a new era of dictatorship. Some claim they removed Morsi from office for democratic reasons. Accusations are flying, and it is clear that the vast majority of what the media can get their hands on is hearsay at this point.

While keeping in mind that we should take everything we read on the topic with a grain of salt, here is what we do know:

President Mohamed Morsi was deposed from his position by the military, who claimed that they were responding to the wishes of the people.

Adly Mansour, formerly the leader of the Supreme Consitutional Court, has been named interim President, and has promised to hold elections (no date has yet been announced.)

An estimated 51 people were killed and another 435 injured in clashes between the Muslim Brotherhood and the military near a barracks in Cairo. The Brotherhood has claimed it was a massacre, whereas the military has claimed it was in response to an attack.

The Freedom and Justice Party, who won more than half of the parlimentary seats in the elections held in 2011, has been quoted as saying that they fear the situation could devolve into “a new Syria.” Even if the situation in Egypt does not reach the status of a civil war, the chaos and power struggle that is occurring will still have a substantial impact on regional and international geopolitics. However, the killings that have occurred are clear evidence that this will be a much more violent transition of power as compared to when Mr. Morsi came to power on the back of (mostly) peaceful protests in 2011.

Ricky Schneider

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The People of Syria



The above link is to a BBC article/series of videos. These videos are brief interviews with people who live in Syria, and there are 6 short videos in total. Watching these videos is an excellent way to see that these are not just events that are happening in some backward country or to people who we don’t know or care about. These Syrians are people just like me and you, and are trying to go about living their lives in the middle of a war. Understanding the fact that these events are happening to real people can be difficult at times. However, understanding the link of humanity that we all share should put the conflict in Syria in a different context for you.

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