aylan kurdi

2015 Year in Review: the year when Syrian Civil war and terrorism expanded outside Syria & Iraq

In 2015 Isis’s expanding reach brought mass murder to Kuwait, Lebanon, Turkey, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Libya, Tunisia and Paris. A quick return to the facts that marked 2015.

In the French capital the 2015 started with the spread of terror in Paris at the headquarters of  Charlie Hebdo,a  satirical newspaper in Paris where two brothers killed 12 people. This attack was organized by Al-Qaeda and its “martyrs” operating in Yemen and the year in Paris began with an attack on a kosher supermarket by a man who had declared allegiance to Isis(the Charlie Hebdo attacks were claimed by an al-Qaida affiliate in Yemen), and drew to a close amid the carnage of another, even more murderous assault in the French capital in November.

In France while addressing a rare joint session of both houses of parliament, while addressing a rare joint session of both houses of parliament, Mr Hollande called for the state of emergency to be extended to three months and for new authority to strip French citizenship from people involved in terrorism.

A wave of solodarity for Beyrouth and Paris attacks’ victims took place the days the days after these attacks as we’ve never seen before.

For Guardian from the ungoverned spaces of northern Nigeria and eastern Syria to the cruel shores of Greece and Turkey, from the streets of Paris to the holiday resorts of Tunisia and Egypt, from the waters of the South China Sea to the icy sea-lanes of the North Atlantic, 2015 was a year of tumult, terror and transition. More than ever, it was a year of living dangerously.

Outside Syria and Iraq, Libya has proved to the most promising ground for ISIS expansion with the group entrenching its control of the former Gadhafi stronghold of Sirte in recent months and over a hundred miles of coastline bordering the city. The group also retains a presence in eastern Libya where it is in a pitched contest with al Qaeda affiliated groups.

Important dates

 

In March, a Saudi-led alliance started to bomb Yemen-one of the Middle East’s poorest countries. The bombing continued throughout the year.

In June, a gunman raided a beach hotel in Sousse on Friday, killing 38 people. CNN reported that thirty of the people killed in the Tunisia beach massacre last week are UK citizens.

The year 2015 will be remembered as a turning point in World War III, wrote Jerusalem Post columnist Amotz Asa-El this weekend.

By September the UN had recorded 2,204 civilian deaths and 4,711 civilian injuries in a conflict in which 93 percent of deaths have been civilians.

Yet despite the high casualty rate, there has been a strange and mystifying silence from western ‘liberal interventionists’ – who are usually so quick to remind us of the ‘Responsibility to Protect’ civilians under attack.

Where are the calls for No Fly Zones to be imposed in Yemen to protect civilians from those who called for them to be imposed in Libya (in 2011) and Syria? Where were those editorials in neocon newspapers calling for ‘Something to be Done’ to save people threatened by the Saudi-led attacks in Yemen? What the UN has called the ‘virtual silence’ on Yemen is, I’m sure you‘ll agree, very confusing.

In September, Russia intervenes militarily in Syria with air strikes against ISIS and al-Qaeda affiliates. The people in the west who been all in favor of intervention in Syria don’t welcome the Russian action – but in fact criticized it – saying it would make things worse. All of a sudden those who had shown next to no concern over civilian casualties caused by the US bombing of Syria (and indeed casualties in Yemen) became terribly concerned about civilian casualties. One month after, a Russian passenger plane, carrying tourists coming back home from holiday in Egypt, comes down over the Sinai, killing all 217 people on board.

On November 24, a Russian fighter jet taking part in anti-terrorist operations in Syria is shot down by Turkey. One pilot is killed. Turkish authorities say the plane strayed into their country’s airspace for all of 17 seconds. So can we take it that Turkey takes incursions into other countries airspace very seriously?

Here’s where it gets confusing. It was revealed that Turkey violated Greek airspace 2,224 times in 2014 alone.

Turkey has also violated the airspace of Syria and Iraq repeatedly.
In 2012, Turkey accused the Syrian authorities of shooting down a Turkish F4-Phantom after the plane had entered Syrian airspace.

“A short-term border violation can never be a pretext for an attack,” the Turkish leader Recep Tayyip Erdogan declared. The NATO general secretary was also angry, saying that the attack was “another example of the Syrian authorities’ disregard for international norms”.

Yet in November 2015, Erdogan clearly thought the opposite. And NATO did not call the Turkish action an example of that country’s ‘disregard for international norms’. How very confusing.

Refugee crisis

Refugees and migrants fleeing to Europe by sea this year have passed one million, according to figures just released by the UN refugee agency, many on perilous trips aboard inadequate vessels run by people smugglers, with at least 3,735 more believed drowned.

As of last night, the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) said 1,000,573 people had reached Europe across the Mediterranean, mainly to Greece and Italy, in 2015, half a million of them Syrians escaping war in their country, with Afghans accounting for 20 per cent and Iraqis for seven per cent.

Recently, three in five EU citizens told pollsters that they do not approve of migrants coming from outside the continent. With more than 1 million arriving in 12 months, rising tension is finding outlets at the ballot box and on the street.

Historically, the socially-oriented Nordic states have been a prime destination for asylum seekers, with Sweden regularly receiving more applications per 100,000 of the population than any other European country, and Finland and Norway not far behind.
But these are also some of the most homogeneous, cohesive societies in Europe, and the mass arrival of migrants has been highly noticeable, and has divided communities.

The anti-immigration Sweden Democrats have consistently polled in first or second place, all the while being branded“xenophobes” and “racists” by the respectable media. Each of their major demonstrations – including a gay pride march through a Muslim area in August – is followed by a counter-demonstration by radical left-wing activists, often forcing the police to break up the two.

With Marine Le Pen’s sights set on the Elysee Palace, the National Front’s 2016 presidential election frontrunner has bigger priorities than chasing single causes. But immigration and opposition of Islam remain fundamental tenets of her party’s appeal, with France’s two shocking terrorist attacks, both executed by Islamist extremists, adding to the party’s popularity.

One of the most antagonistic and direct protests took place in Corsica (France), which enjoyed a turbulent Christmas of demonstrators chanting “This is our home!” and “Arabs get out” before setting fire to the Koran.

Hungary’s Prime Minister Viktor Orban and his forthright opposition to multiculturalism and desire to defend Hungary’s own heritage and borders saw him portrayed as an outcast of the European project.For RT.com as other countries began to experience hundreds of thousands of refugees on their soil, some began to view him as a pragmatist, and even a visionary.

Sources: RT.com, CNN, The Guardian.co.uk and twitter

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