Focal Points Blog

Crimea’s Tatars Persecuted by Stalin Then, Putin Now

Even though Tatars fought for Russia in World War II, Stalin deported many of them. (Photo: Turkish Press)

Even though Tatars fought for Russia in World War II, Stalin deported many of them. (Photo: Turkish Press)

Last year, Russia annexed Crimea from Ukraine, and it made international news. Pro-Ukrainian factions considered Russian actions to be unfair regional despotism, whereas pro-Russian groups considered the annexation to be justified.

Amidst all of this, one particular voice remained unheard, and it is unheard even to this day: the Tatars of Crimea are currently being marginalized and persecuted, and their plight is ignored not just by the international media, but even by Muslim states, with the sole exception of Turkey.

Such silence is deafening, especially considering the fact that the Tatars are a known minority in the region, and have even been recognized by Russia as one of the key communities to have been persecuted and oppressed during Stalin’s era. Yet, virtually the whole world remains silent on this issue.
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Bureaucracy of Death May Prove Assad’s Downfall

The Assad regime and the Nazis is not an unfair comparison. Pictured: the Syrian  Army. (Photo: the Indian Express)

The Assad regime and the Nazis is not an unfair comparison. Pictured: the Syrian Army. (Photo: the Indian Express)

Yesterday, we wrote about how Syria’s Assad regime exceeded even the demonic Islamic State in brutality. In quoting from an article titled The Assad Files in the New Yorker by Ben Taub, we even compared it to the Nazis, however tacky that is considered in light of Godwin’s Law.*

What invited that comparison was how, reminiscent of Nazi death camps, the Assad regime let the bodies of those it tortured to death pile up. In other words, it’s bloodlust overwhelmed its ability to process the results of its murderous state policies.
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Bad as the Islamic State Is, Assad Is Worse

The Assad regime has killed many more than even the Islamic State.  (Photo: Thierry Ehrmann / Flickr Commons )

The Assad regime has killed many more than even the Islamic State.
(Photo: Thierry Ehrmann / Flickr Commons )

We frequently post about the Islamic State. Bottom line: How human beings can behave that barbarically in the 21st century is an ongoing mystery. Of course, the Islamic State publicizes its crimes against humanity, which makes them difficult to avoid. Much more covert are the crimes that the Assad regime commits against its citizens. But, as a headline in the International Business Times proclaims in December 2015, Number Of ISIS Victims In 2015 Is Much Less Than Assad Regime-Inflicted Casualties. Michael Kaplan wrote:

More than 21,000 people were killed in the Syria conflict in 2015, most of them civilians, according to the Syrian Network for Human Rights, the Middle East Monitor reported. The report indicated the Islamic State group, also known as ISIS, has proved less deadly than the Syrian government this year; the regime of President Bashar Assad has been responsible for 75 percent of the casualties, according to the report.

Of the 15,748 people reported killed by government forces, a vast majority, 12,044, were civilians. Thirty-eight percent of civilian casualties were women and children, the human rights group said. For comparison, ISIS was reportedly responsible for the deaths of 2,098 people, which included 1,366 civilians, while Nusra Front, an al Qaeda affiliate in Syria, was responsible for at least 167 deaths, including 89 civilians.

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North Korea’s New Rocket Technology Looks Like It’s for Real

Sanctions and refusal to engage will not stop North Korea’s nuclear-weapons program. (Photo: AFP/AFP/Getty Images)

Sanctions and refusal to engage will not stop North Korea’s nuclear-weapons program.(Photo: AFP/AFP/Getty Images)

On April 9, it was reported that North Korea had tested a powerful rocket engine which could be used to launch rockets tipped with nuclear warheads. At the respected blog about North Korea, 38 North, John Schilling writes that “the test demonstrated that North Korea has an even greater capability at a more advanced state of development than previously anticipated.” The engine “uses high-energy propellants that would give a missile greater range than Pyongyang’s traditional mix of kerosene and nitric acid.”
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Let’s Review: Saudi Arabia Is Not Our Friend

Made public, the missing pages of the 9/11 Report could dampen U.S.-Saudi relations. Pictured: King Salman of Saudi Arabia. (Photo: AWD News)

Made public, the missing pages of the 9/11 Report could dampen U.S.-Saudi relations. Pictured: King Salman of Saudi Arabia. (Photo: AWD News)

The 28 Days Later movies chronicle the breakdown of society after a deadly virus leaks into the world. “28 Pages” is about the breakdown in national security that sowed the seeds for the worst outbreak (9/11) ever of the deadly virus of terrorism.

On the occasion of President Obama’s upcoming trip to Saudi Arabia, 60 Minutes did a segment on the infamous 28 pages that were excised from the report of the Joint Congressional Inquiry into the 9/11 attacks and then classified. Called a “void in the history of 9/11” by the New Yorker, they deal with Saudi support for the 9/11 hijackers, most of whom were Saudis. 
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The Islamic State’s Cash Flow Problems

What will fill the void if the Islamic State is forced to vacate the territory it holds? Pictured: Government building in Ramadi. (Photo: Beshr / Flickr Commons)

Not only has the Islamic State been driven out of Ramadi, but most of its citizens. Pictured: Government building in Ramadi. (Photo: Beshr / Flickr Commons)

In the process of killing 25,000 Islamic State fighters (!) — yes, we should feel sorrow for them (not to mention civilians killed) — reports the New York Times, American airstrikes have “hit at least 10 depots where the Islamic State stored hard currency” and “incinerated millions of dollars plundered by the militants.” A result:

In Mosul, Iraq, and in Raqqa, the Syrian city that is the Islamic State’s de facto capital, salaries for fighters have been cut in half since last year, according to residents and documents.

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The Moderate Opposition in Syria Lives

An opening may exist for Syrian moderates, backed by the United States. Pictured: the Free Syrian Army logo. (Photo: Wikipedia)

An opening may exist for Syrian moderates, backed by the United States. Pictured: the Free Syrian Army logo. (Photo: Wikipedia)

The Free Syrian Army, composed mostly of defectors from the Syria military, comprises an assortment of brigades and militias. It has been weakened by Russian attacks, diminishing support from Jordan, low pay, and corruption, reported U.S. News & World Report in January. But it’s time may be coming. Since the ceasefire began, demonstrators have been appearing in Syrian cities. At the National Interest, Ross Harrison finds this development encouraging.

What the street rallies may be revealing to us is that despite the dominance of radical jihadist groups like ISIS and Jabhat al-Nusra over the battlefield during the course of the war, a large swath of Syrian society sees neither these radical groups nor Assad as part of Syria’s future. This may indicate that while the jihadist groups have flourished during the most intense fighting, the future may lie with the more moderate mainstream opposition groups.

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Why Are Biological and Chemical Weapons Prohibited, But Not Nuclear Weapons?

Nuclear powers might ignore a law declaring nuclear weapons illegal, but the citizens of those states might sit up and take notice. (Photo: Wikimedia Commons )

Nuclear powers might ignore a law declaring nuclear weapons illegal, but the citizens of those states might sit up and take notice. (Photo: Wikimedia Commons )

Recently, as you may be aware, many in the nuclear disarmament field today are zeroing in on the humanitarian consequences of nuclear war. In the March 2016 Arms Control Today, Gro Nystuen and Kjølv Egeland explain that what paved the way for that was the final document of 2010 Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT) Review Conference. It called “for all States at all times to comply with applicable international law, including international humanitarian law.”

Arguing that the humanitarian dimension required increased attention, the Norwegian government invited all interested states and organizations to a conference on the humanitarian impact of nuclear weapons in Oslo in March 2013. The next year, the Mexican and Austrian governments organized follow-up conferences in Nayarit and Vienna, respectively.

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South Korea Feeling Compelled to Take North Korean Nuclear Threat in Its Own Hands

Pictured: South Koreans protesting against North Korea. (Photo: Woohae CHO / Flickr Commons)

Pictured: South Koreans protesting against North Korea. (Photo: Woohae CHO / Flickr Commons)

On the heels of North Korea announcing that it had made nuclear warheads small enough to launch on a missile, South Korea has learned that one of those missiles, the Rodang, is capable of reaching South Korea. Whether or not that is correct, in the New York Times, Choe Sang-Hun reports:

… one senior United States military commander, Adm. William E. Gortney, said at a Senate hearing last month that it was a “prudent decision” to assume that the North “has the capability to miniaturize a nuclear weapon and put it on an ICBM.”

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Trump’s Remarks Reveal Fears About U.S. Troops in Harm’s Way From North Korea

Using federal debts as an excuse, Trump would withdraw American troops from the Far East, where they would be exposed to a North Korean nuclear attack. Pictured: North Korean leader Kim Jong-un. (Photo: Huffington Post)

Using federal debts as an excuse, Trump would withdraw American troops from the Far East, where they would be exposed to a North Korean nuclear attack. Pictured: North Korean leader Kim Jong-un. (Photo: Huffington Post)

All U.S. troops — 54,000 in Japan and 28,500 in South Korea — will be withdrawn  by the time the Pentagon has been certain North Korea is in possession of nuclear warheads. It is the message implicitly conveyed by Donald Trump when saying repeatedly since late March that Japan and South Korea should have nuclear armament.

Although what Trump mainly referred to explicitly was about money — “to withdraw U.S. forces from both Japan and South Korea if they did not substantially increase their contributions to the costs of housing and feeding those troops” [Note 1], his remarks have revealed a well justified genuine under-the-table fear for the flesh and blood American soldiers in this region. Using the swelling federal debts as an excuse, Trump is speaking for each individual foot soldier’s concern of personal safety and his/her family’s worry. When any one of the missiles from North Korea could not be intercepted, many American GIs would die without mercy immediately. Trump’s words are out of lips after careful calculations.
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