The book "Background to the crisis in Syria and perspectives on human rights & humanitarian law violations" of Yana Ballod (intern for Democracy at Foundation Max van der Stoel) has recently been published by Wolf Legal Publishers (WLP). This book is a result of an effort to gather all the pieces of the crisis in Syria together. This to provide a clear picture of what has been happening and what are the legal implications to it. Besides, it expresses frustration with the currently existing system of international decision-making and impotence when it comes to fulfilling its most important function: protecting human lives and dignity.
Balkan countries have undergone an upsurge in the number of its citizens joining the ranks of the Islamic State (IS) in recent months. Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) and Kosovo are in the front line of the phenomenon after several of their compatriots either died in Iraq or were arrested on their way to jihad. These events underline the reticular organisation of the Islamic State, which attracts more and more European Muslims to join the fight for the caliphate.
Militant Sunny rebels in Syria’s northern Raqqa province have hailed the change of name by Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) into Islamic State and the declaration of a new Calipahte on 29 June. After the deceleration by Islamic State spokesman Abu Mohammad al-Adnani, Sunny rebels held a parade and cheered the leader of the Islamic State, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, as new Caliph. The promulgation came after the organization conquered a large part of Iraq to add to its territory.
The rapid conquest of large parts of Iraq by the radical Sunny Islamist al-Qaeda splinter group, Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), has a destabilizing effect on the entire region. ISIL fighters aim to establish a Sunny caliphate along the Iraqi-Syrian frontier, mirroring the eight century Abbasid caliphate. ISIL fighters pride themselves on their brutality and have massacred hundreds of Shiite troops, who they consider heretics. The emphasis on the Sunny – Shiite divide spikes fears for sectarian violence that could spread across the entire region
This week Syrian President Bashar al-Assad won a new seven-year term with nearly 90 percent of the vote. The elections were only held in the areas that are controlled by the government which are mostly in the north-west of the country, centred around the city of Hama and Damascus. Tens of thousands took to the streets in government-held areas even before the results were announced on 4 June, waving portraits of Assad and the official Syrian flag. The EU has condemned the elections saying that they are “illegitimate and undermine the political efforts to find a solution to this horrific conflict.” They noted people in rebel-held areas could not vote and that state media promoted the incumbent Bashar al-Assad.
On Tuesday 13 May the Secretary-General of the United Nation, Ban Ki-moon, announced that the Special Envoy to Syria, Lakhdar Brahimi, will step down by the end of May. Brahimi expressed his regret for his inability to forge an international response to the violence in Syria. The 80-year-old Brahimi threatened to resign almost from the start of his mission in 2012. He succeeded Kofi Annan, who quit after six months and slammed the UN Security Council for failing to unite behind his efforts.
Syrian President Bashar al-Assad term ends on 17 July, which means elections need to be held. On 21 April the date has been set: 3 June. Assad is expected to run again to win another seven-year term in office.
After a ten month political stalemate, Lebanon’s designated Prime Minister, Tammam Salam, announced the formation of a government of national unity. The announcement was made on Saturday 15 February and on 18 February the newly formed government met for the first time. The 24-member government unites the Shia Hezbollah party, the Sunni Future Movement and the Christian Kataeb party.
On 13 February Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov said Russia had presented two U.N. Security Council draft resolutions on humanitarian aid access and the fight against "terrorism" in Syria. Russia counter-offered an earlier draft resolution backed by the West and the Syrian opposition, which Russia called biased against the government of Assad. Russia’s calls for a resolution condemning acts of "terrorism" are in tune with rhetoric of the Assad-regime.
After the assassination of the Free Syrian Army (FSA) commander Kamal Hamami on July 11 by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), tensions between the two rebel factions have increased. Hamami, a leading rebel commander and member of the FSA’s Supreme Military Council, was assassinated at a checkpoint near Alatakia manned by fighters of the Al Qaida linked ISIL faction, after he had been meeting the Islamist to discuss battle plans.