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23 Jan

U.S. Foreign Policy And Wars

Afghan War Casualty Report: January 2020

By Fahim Abed and

Jan. 10-16, 2020

At least 13 pro-government forces and 11 civilians were killed in Afghanistan during the past week, with the total number of incidents continuing to decline compared to previous months as the Taliban offered to reduce violence in the area in its ongoing peace negotiations with American diplomats. The deadliest attack took place in the Khan Abad District of Kunduz Province, where a Taliban red unit attacked a local security outpost and killed 11 police officers. That same day, five civilians were killed in Zabul Province when an electrician’s vehicle was hit by a roadside bomb.

Taliban Offer to Reduce Violence in Afghanistan Ahead of Deal With U.S.

Jan. 16 Zabul Province: five civilians killed

An electrician’s vehicle was hit by a roadside bomb in the Sharisafa District, killing five people who worked for a private company that had been contracted to erect electrical poles on the highway from Ghazni to Zabul Province.

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GUARD: The Syrian Revolution by Yasser Munif review – an early phase of a third world war?

The murderous conflict in Syria is simplified by both right and left. This account deals with the short period of hope, when the people threw off their chains

A man in the ruins of a house following an air strike by pro-regime forces in the village of Sheikh Ahmad, on the Damascus-Aleppo Highway, December 2019.

A man in the ruins of a house following an air strike by pro-regime forces in the village of Sheikh Ahmad, on the Damascus-Aleppo Highway, December 2019. Photograph: Omar Haj Kadour/AFP/Getty Images

It is happening again. Over the last year protest movements – some of them deep and broad enough that we might dare to call them revolutions – have once more been shaking the Middle East and North Africa, ending decades-long dictatorships in Sudan and Algeria, forcing the prime ministers of Lebanon and Iraq to resign. And yet the war brought to Syria by the last wave of revolutionary upheaval – the Arab spring that began in 2011 and by 2014 had turned to something worse than winter – has not ended. It continues to be fought not only with bullets and bombs but, in a parallel battle for narrative control, with words.

In the discourses of American thinktanks and much of the mainstream media, tropes flatten the war into a conflict between, as the Syrian-American scholar Yasser Munif puts it, “western civilisation and the Islamic State’s barbarism” on one front, and between the shining freedoms of the democratic west and the dark tyrannies of Bashar al-Assad and his Russian and Iranian backers on another. Meanwhile the more Manichaean precincts of the left prefer to imagine the war as a single fight between a brave anticolonialist holdout and Islamist terrorists in league with the west. Anyone who disagrees is rewarded with a depressingly predictable slew of smears: “interventionist”, “pro-imperialist”, “regime change advocate” and so on.

It is easy, though, to look at Syria over the last eight years and see a tragedy that does not fit into either of these frames: a genuine popular uprising against one of the Middle East’s more cynical dictatorships that was hijacked and dismembered by the still more cynical interventions of the US and Europe, the Gulf states, Turkey, Hezbollah, Iran, Israel and Russia in a proxy war that has so far taken the lives of as many as half a million Syrians and pushed another 12 million others from their homes. Looking back, I will not be surprised if historians view the conflict as an early, undeclared phase of a third world war, one that Syria was unlucky enough to host.

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