Syria is now a failed state. The fact that Assad used Sarin against a small number of people may indicate panic by local officials, or more likely a considered policy of the gradual introduction of this new escalation. That is why all eyes are again on Washington. This is show-time; the world is watching and many habitual trouble-makers, including perhaps even the mischievous and treacherous gangster thugdom of Putin's Russia, are more amenable than they have been to support an effective intervention by the United States in Syria. If not now, when?
Children should have a UN right and even a Canadian Charter right, to an education directed by their parents, and not by intellectual elites like Alberta Liberal Leader Raj Sherman or his cohort MLA Kent Hehr, who are on record for wanting to destroy Alberta's "funding following the student", parent-directed education system.
Being a US citizen, I can't help feeling smug about choosing to live in Canada where the gun culture is not so alive and well, along with a sense of despair about how deeply entrenched it is in the US. But then, being an observer of brands and myths and icons, I wonder why this event had such a powerful impact on me, and on the rest of the world. Of course, it's a lot of people, and mainly children. But why is the killing of "innocent" children so much worse than the killing of thousands of people caught in the violence in Syria? Or young urban males shooting each other every day all over the US? It can only be that we feel those other victims are somehow partly to blame for getting killed.
As the civil war in Syria continues, a significant number of Syrians remain loyal to the embattled government of Bashar Al-Assad. One Christian friend explained to me that although they didn't like the current regime, they considered it inevitable that, should it fall, Syria would descend into a state of violent chaos reminiscent of Afghanistan or Somalia.
The other day I found myself in a 100-year-old Anglican Church in Vancouver, in a place called rather fittingly, the Sanctuary. I was there to rehearse for a benefit happening the evening of Friday December 7th for Syrian refugee relief and emergency aid to Gaza, with funds directed to Doctors Without Borders and the ICRC's Middle East fund.
The Syrian government has now established a permanent network of surveillance over the old city. One night recently I was strolling through the souq and saw a figure walking slowly ahead of me in the poorly-lit passage, an object dangling from their arm. When I drew within a few paces, he started and turned quickly to face me, watching me closely as I passed.
Recently, I was approached to give an interview by a rather right-leaning foreign news program. It may be no surprise, but our visions did not fit together. The news show, however, sent me a list of questions about the future of Syria, the Assad regime, and the prospects of the newly unified Syrian opposition. Here are my answers.
The announcement in Qatar on November 10 of the formation of the Syrian National Coalition with an elected president is an event of monumental importance, in my opinion. There will be the usual misgivings and apprehensions about the chaos that is expected to follow the collapse of any of these very long Arab dictatorships but none of that will materialize, and the Syrian nation as a whole will do quite well, with a little help from its friends.
The Sunday before last, a bomb exploded in Bab Touma Square in the middle of the morning, killing 13 people and injuring several others. While bombings of government targets and public spaces have become increasingly common over the last few months, this attack constituted the first of its kind in the old city since Syria's political crisis began in March last year.
I was one of the lucky few who was invited to attend a rare opportunity to have a roundtable discussion with former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan who was in Toronto for an exclusive speaking engagement as part of an ongoing speakers series. Annan answered our questions which covered various hot button topics including the ways towards a successful society, Iran, Romney and China. Here is what he said.