Syria: The Past. The Present. The Future?

My brief experience recently visiting Turkey has completely transformed me. With all the challenges that I faced, one of the greatest was failing to understand the sheer scale of the devastation the Syrian war has inflicted on so many innocent people. It is well known that while I have an impenetrable and staunch commitment to human rights, I am also extremely empathetic to a point that I almost feel the suffering of others and this pain has vicariously and rather deeply hurt. I felt helpless, heartbroken, desperate and unable to speak to anyone, the indifference only perpetuated the feelings I was having.

I need to understand the history and the politics of the region that has wreaked such havoc and caused so much unnecessary suffering. The civil war in Syria has seen more than half a million innocent people killed since it began in 2011, with 5.7 million refugees fleeing the country and 6.1 million internally displaced. Thousands upon thousands of people have died that have never had the respect and dignity of a burial. What happened in Syria that caused such horror?

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Saudi Arabia and Iran: The Arms Race Continues

In 2017, Donald Trump and Saudi Arabia signed a $110 billion dollar arms deal. It was clearly articulated that the purpose was to strengthen the “long-term security of Saudi Arabia and the Gulf region in the face of malign Iranian influence and Iranian related threats.” The long-term security of Saudi Arabia? According to Armed Conflict Location and Event Data Project (ACLED) in Yemen, there have been over 56,000 people killed since 2016 and complicit to this atrocity is neighbouring Saudi Arabia who – along with their allies – marketed the violence to be less intense and thus less of a concern. While they signed this deal, tens of thousands of Yemeni were suffering from starvation and malnutrition as well as well as preventable diseases.

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My Soul Aches For Bethlehem

I always wake up before sunrise, no longer needing any alarm and I rug up in my warm clothing and wander the quiet gardens as the morning beams of light penetrate the atmosphere and colour the clouds with a scarlet glow. It is a time of quiet for me to gather my thoughts, to solidify my disposition and prepare for what is often a long day at work full of meetings and people and reports. Read More

The Politics of Food: A Case Of The Falafel

Food plays a vital part in our lives and relationships, where our culinary preferences bring us communities and families together and unite us with something joyful and memorable. Steeped in tradition, chefs and anthropologists alike travel the world in search for different products and recipes, how regional differences in taste and method authenticate originality of some dishes. It is the global voice that articulates hospitality, and it can express agriculture, labour and economic systems, suffering and hunger, and even power; eating meat is a sign of wealth and masculinity, for instance.

In the Book of Job, it writes: “Their strength is consumed by hunger, and calamity is ready for their stumbling,” that the epitome of suffering and unhappiness is the loss of food, indeed Amartya Sen’ Nobel Prize winning research on famine and food distribution during Great Bengal Famine of 1943 is a clear, modern example of this calamity. Read More

I Shall Not Hate

Book Review
Izzeldin Abuelaish
I Shall Not Hate: A Gaza Doctor’s Journey On The Road To Peace And Human Dignity
ISBN: 978-1-4088-2209-8

I found myself in a fairly difficult situation when I initially encountered this book. That staunch determinism in the face of such horrendous circumstances came to me as being both admirable and inspirational in as much as it was frustrating and almost agitating. Could there possibly be any logic or reason that could make a man who experienced continuous mistreatment under Israeli occupation, who lost several of his daughters to indiscriminate bombings by the Israeli army and yet who remained dedicated to the concept of peaceful relations between the Palestinian and Israeli people? Surely something is wrong with him, something that has deluded him into occupying a mindset that makes no sense, that his idealism and optimism is an exposure of a failing psychological condition? Read More

The Ottoman Effect

The Ottoman Empire was established under the leadership of Osman I where – legend has it – he had fallen in love with a woman Malkhatun that he was unable to marry because her father refused the union. Several years of continuous rejection left him depleted and powerless, her father had already established himself as a great religious figure in the region and was completely unmoved by his pleas. It was at this time that Osman I had a powerful dream of a moon rising out from the chest of his sleeping friend – the moon itself symbolising a great love for Malkhatun – and this moon floated toward his heart before he absorbed it as the earth would a seed, at which point from his chest grew out a monumental tree that provided shade over the four great Caucasus, Atlas, Taurus and Haemus mountains.

In the dream, the wind gently blew the leaves into the direction of Constantinople, a city made of diamond set between sapphires and emeralds. He awoke believing that the dream meant that he would marry his beloved and that the city that was fashioned into a ring of precious stones was a wedding ring meant for her. The dream inspired her father enough to permit the marriage. What emerged from that love was a great dynasty that overwhelmed most of the Middle East, North Africa and Europe strengthened by centuries of leadership born out of their progeny. Read More