(TMU Op-Ed) — Turkey’s offensive into Syria bears all the hallmarks of a potential crime. It is also has the added uncertain elements of a potential regrouping of the remnants of the Islamic State’s caliphate, as thousands of prisoners could end up being freed once key positions are abandoned by Kurdish forces, or overrun by Turkey.
Yet no one seems to be asking if in fact this is one of the covert aims of the offensive, given Turkey has been heavily documented as a key backer of ISIS forces in Syria for years. Sounds absurd, but we are talking about a regime who was caught providing ISIS fighters with medical treatment.
Still, the media’s framing of this offensive seems to be part and parcel of its overall coverage of the Syrian war since 2011. We should care about the human rights of the Kurds when faced with a rapidly advancing Turkish onslaught, but when US president Donald Trump systematically brought about the death of between 9,000 and 11,000 civilians in Mosul, we are supposed to turn a blind eye. (11,000 is still a conservative estimate).
We should care about Turkey violating international law, but should not even question the United States for equally violating international law right across the geopolitical chessboard. We should accuse Donald Trump of abandoning our Kurdish allies by removing its forces from the region, yet we shouldn’t question why or how the US came to occupy sovereign Syrian territory in the first place.
Under the Trump administration, the US military came to occupy close to one third of Syrian territory, including its most oil rich region. In the process of doing so, the US razed 80 per cent of the Syrian city of Raqqa to the ground, with countless civilian deaths. Even during this offensive, both the BBC and Reuters reported that the US made a secret deal with ISIS to allow hundreds (if not thousands) of its top level commanders to escape Raqqa quite safely.
This is easily one of the biggest scandals of Trump’s legacy; yet no one even talks about it. How can it be that the mainstream media is concerned with a potential re-emergence of ISIS, without even discussing these damning reports?
Likewise, how can it be that the only scandal worth considering the impeachment of this violently law-breaking administration be a phone call with the Ukrainian leadership?
For as long as most of us can remember, the US has racked up a monumental civilian death toll in a number of ill-begotten wars across the planet. Whether Vietnam, Korea, Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, Somalia or Yemen, the US has killed millions of innocent civilians. In this period, civilian deaths have not only been normalized, but they have been accelerating under Trump’s rule, particularly in Syria. It is easy to point the finger at Turkey’s Erdogan, but we could likewise point the finger at Trump for committing massacres left, right and centre.
If the mounting death toll is anything to go by, it does appear that the US did effectively abandon its Kurdish allies after relying on them to help defeat ISIS forces. Ankara’s systemic hatred of the Kurdish independence movement means we cannot be indifferent to the suffering and violence they will be forced to undergo.
But if we are to care about human rights, we need to care about them right across the board, including and especially when it is the US launching offensives and delivering the missiles. Maybe if we did, Turkey and other parties involved in Syria might actually take our humanitarian concerns seriously.
Yemen would be the perfect place to start (which as you will note, fails to receive the headlines that the Turkey-Syria offensive appears to be receiving).
Dolphin Swims Through Louisiana Neighborhood in Aftermath of Hurricane Ida
A Louisiana family was shocked to find a dolphin swimming through their neighborhood in the aftermath of Hurricane Ida.
Amanda Huling and her family were assessing the damage to their neighborhood in Slidell, Louisiana, when they noticed the dolphin swimming through the inundated suburban landscape.
In video shot by Huling, the marine mammal’s dorsal fin can be seen emerging from the water.
“The dolphin was still there as of last night but I am in contact with an organization who is going to be rescuing it within the next few days if it is still there,” Huling told FOX 35.
Ida slammed into the coast of Louisiana this past weekend. The Category 4 hurricane ravaged the power grid of the region, plunging residents of New Orleans and upwards of 1 million homes and businesses in Louisiana and Mississippi into the dark for an indefinite period of time.
Officials have warned that the damage has been so extensive that it could take weeks to repair the power grid, reports Associated Press.
Also in Slidell, a 71-year-old man was attacked by an alligator over the weekend while he was in his flooded shed. The man went missing and is assumed dead, reports WDSU.
Internet users began growing weary last year about the steady stream of stories belonging to a “nature is healing” genre, as people stayed indoors and stories emerged about animals taking back their environs be it in the sea or in our suburbs.
However, these latest events are the surreal realities of a world in which extreme weather events are fast becoming the new normal – disrupting our lives in sometimes predictable, and occasionally shocking and surreal, ways.
Mom in LA Suburbs Fights Off Mountain Lion With Bare Hands, Rescues 5-Year-Old Son
A mother in Southern California is being hailed as a hero after rescuing her five-year-old son from an attacking mountain lion.
The little boy was playing outside his home in Calabasas, a city lying west of Los Angeles in the Santa Monica Mountains, when the large cat pounced on him.
The 65-pound (30 kg) mountain lion dragged the boy about 45 yards across the front lawn before the mother acted fast, running out and striking the creature with her bare hands and forcing it to free her son.
“The true hero of this story is his mom because she absolutely saved her son’s life,” California Department of Fish and Wildlife spokesman Captain Patrick Foy told Associated Press on Saturday.
“She ran out of the house and started punching and striking the mountain lion with her bare hands and got him off her son,” Foy added.
The boy sustained significant injuries to his head, neck and upper torso, but is now in stable condition at a hospital in Los Angeles, according to authorities.
The mountain lion was later located and killed by an officer with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, who found the big cat crouching in the bushes with its “ears back and hissing” at the officer shortly after he arrived at the property.
“Due to its behavior and proximity to the attack, the warden believed it was likely the attacking lion and to protect public safety shot and killed it on sight,” the wildlife department noted in its statement.
The mountain lion attack is the first such attack on a human in Los Angeles County since 1995, according to Fish and Wildlife.
The Santa Monica Mountains is a biodiverse region teeming with wildlife such as large raptors, mountain lions, bears, coyote, deer, lizards, and snakes. However, their numbers have rapidly faded in recent years, causing local wildlife authorities to find new ways to manage the region’s endemic species.
Video Shows Taliban Taking Joyride in Captured US Blackhawk Helicopter
The rapid fall of Kabul to the Taliban has resulted in a number of surreal sights – from footage of the Islamist group’s fighters exercising at a presidential gym to clips of combatants having a great time on bumper cars at the local fun park.
However, a new video of Taliban members seemingly testing their skills in the cockpit of a commandeered UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter shows the chilling extent to which U.S. wares have fallen into the hands of a group it spent trillions of dollars, and exhaustive resources, to stamp out.
In the new video, shared on Twitter, the front-line utility helicopter can be seen taxiing on the ground at Kandahar Airport in southeastern Afghanistan, moving along the tarmac. It is unclear who exactly was sitting in the cockpit, and the Black Hawk cannot be seen taking off or flying.
It is unlikely that the Taliban have any combatants who are sufficiently trained to fly a UH-60 Black Hawk.
The helicopter, which carries a $6 million price tag, is just a small part of the massive haul that fell into the militant group’s hands after the country’s central government seemingly evaporated on Aug. 14 amid the withdrawal of U.S. and coalition troops.
Some 200,000 firearms, 20,000 Humvees and hundreds of aircraft financed by Washington for the now-defunct Afghan Army are believed to be in the possession of the Taliban.
The firearms include M24 sniper rifles, M18 assault weapons, anti-tank missiles, automatic grenade launchers, rocket-propelled grenades and mortars.
Taliban fighters in the elite Badri 313 Brigade have been seen in propaganda images showing off in uniforms and wielding weaponry meant for the special forces units of the Afghan Army.
The U.S. is known to have purchased 42,000 light tactical vehicles, 9,000 medium tactical vehicles and over 22,000 Humvees between 2003 and 2016.
The White House remains unclear on how much weaponry has fallen into Taliban hands, with National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan admitting last week that the U.S. lacks a “clear picture of just how much missing $83 billion of military inventory” the group has.