Wednesday, November 25, 2015

The chaos of war in Syria: What is going on here?

Syria is a classic proxy war for many groups and governments. With all the different groups fighting plus those who are providing financing, the complexities have become a real monkey fist of a knot. There will always be tensions of violence when competing interests clash. At the moment, there is a complete lack of understanding as to what the interests are of every group involved in the Syrian war. As the groups talk and seek paths of co-operation within Syria there are outside pressures also being fought under the Syrian war banner. In absolute truth there is no such thing as a new war. As always, there is a deep history of issues being brought to this war. For simplicity sake the world has taken the Arab Spring movement as the initial point of the Syrian war. A request for a change in government, an opportunity to take land and a strong grasp to both hold on to power and grab power. That sentence is exactly what is taking place in Syria at its most simplistic essence. From there we can mix in politics, religion and human rights. Mix into the issues (why are groups fighting), there is very little trust or understanding of each others goals or reasons why the fight has taken place. Due to that lack of trust, understanding and knowledge, tensions are boiling over. This is how we have a Russian bomber shot down by Turkey. As crazy as it sounds, we now have to add disrespect within the context of the Syrian war. One of the little known issues being waged deals with the area known as Kurdistan. This is a long standing claim of sovereignty rights. The most notable people are known as the Pashmerga and the Parti Karkerani Kurdistan (PKK). The territory span includes the eastern half of Turkey, northern Syria, northern Iraq and western Iran. As you can imagine, these countries are not willing to give much support to the idea of a sovereign Kurdistan. With that opposition, there are going to be some uneasy background issues. This background story is indeed complex. In the realm of international law, the people who are seeking an independent Kurdistan to have a legitimate claim. Sadly having a legitimate claim does not mean anyone will listen or determine what will happen. Furthermore, the very act of fighting (war) to stake that claim can be viewed as a terrorist act since Kurdistan is not a recognized country. The government of Turkey has fought the PKK for decades. Due to this, Turkey has worked very hard to get the PKK listed as a terrorist group. The drama of this war is very interesting. Who knows where it will take us. I do feel that there is no one in control at the moment.

Friday, November 20, 2015

The Daesh offensive begins

How to defeat Islamic State The only way to defeat Islamic State in the long term is through education. Building peaceful and strong communities starts with education of a peaceful life. In the most simple ideology, it starts with a do no harm outlook. From there the educational programs of how to live a peaceful life begins. That is the long term strategy. The irony in that strategy is that every terrorist group uses the same strategy. Instead of do no harm they call for a do harm strategy. Also, instead of education the communication is called indoctrination, others call it radicalization. Whatever term used the reality remains that an educational format is used to bring in people. In another simplistic ideology we all know that hate is taught so peace must be taught. At this very moment we are engulfed in a war where hate has brought us to the point of maddening horrors. In the short term the path to peace is currently bringing the world through hell. There is no other way through with the current realities as they are. Large scale war that has millions of soldiers on the ground in the Middle East is taking place. We are in this fight and as a result we must expect to get hit and get hit as hard as the opponent can hit. This is what war is and we have been at war with these people for decades if not centuries. Sadly we are locked in a physical battle and we are going to get hit. Already the pain is heavy in my heart as I know that many brave and wonderful people are paying the ultimate price for peace. We did not ask or want this but we have work to do. We must understand what we are being asked to do. Our task is to return peace and that involves a great many methods. As mentioned above the physical war is already waged. How much attention we put to that physical effort is now our decision. The ultimate question is - What does it mean to be all in? Once the physical battle is over the mental (educational) battle rages on. This battle takes place in every single person and is why such will never end. This war is not about religion it is about hate, fear, control and power. It rests in the hearts of each individual that is lost then fueled by a desire of revenge. Again, in simplicity, we are in a battle similar to Fascism and Nazism. As engage in the educational and humanitarian efforts we have to keep a strong focus on culture. Religion is a major factor in this battle which Islamic State has brought to the world. Since they have used the religion of Islam in their name religion is a factor we must deal with. Ironically, religion is not really part of the battle since Islamic State is the farthest thing from what Islam preaches. To be fair each religion has similar factions that have created war based upon false pretenses. So here we are. After four years of doing nothing the elite military powers are finally going to work together. Now the physical fight is looking more likely to begin. This should be interesting.

Saturday, November 7, 2015

Peace education from youthful wisdom.

Lasting peace has one very singular and paramount strategy. That one strategy is to educate youth as to what a peaceful mind and world is. The reality must be understood that peace is just like every other skill we pass from generation to generation. When we teach children to be peaceful and reinforce that education with actual life experiences, peace will take root and expand. That ideology is not a hypothesis, it is a well known fact. When we look at rebuilding any society (post-conflict) there is a strong need to educate everyone. Peace is embedded in education and for peace to last it can never be taken lightly or stopped. Furthermore, peace education must take place in the camps where children are forced to take refuge. Strong connections to community has to be retained and children must be given the tools to rebuild both their lives as well as their families, communities and countries. Such a thought is not too much to ask of youth. They often have the same capacity as adults to come up with solutions to rebuild, when given equal supports and opportunity. I have just read a report title I am Here, I Belong: the urgent need to end childhood statelessness. This report was created by a United Nations High Commission on Refugees. For me it really pointed to the need for education programs on the topic of peaceful communities. Although the report looked at youth from war torn areas, the information can be equated to other youth as well. Youth who are feeling left out due to economic factors, racism, body image slander, etc… can also benefit from this report. More important at this time, adults should learn a great deal from this report. The crucial point is the underlying call for youth to belong and pin that point to any youth that is left alone. This report reminds me of another report written about youth in conflict zones. That report was title Listen. It is a collection of stories from youth in conflict zones about what it is like to a youth and what they wish would happen for peace to become a reality. From these reports we can take a great amount of information as to how peace can be achieved over time and sustained. These youth are telling us the hard truth of life and show us a way to end the brutality of war. What is needed is the willingness and courage of adults to take up the challenge of peace. We have to begin somewhere.

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Break the violence in Syria

We are well aware that bringing peace to a chaotic situation can be a very difficult task. In Syria, the task of bringing peace is difficult yet has been delayed. That delay is due to a strong unwillingness of the main actors to work with each other in the common goal of peace. In the past few weeks there has been a shift in the willingness to work together. Why? As Islamic State fighters recruited young people from around the world, the countries that these recruits came from became fearful. Again the spiral of chaos started in other areas of the world such as Europe, Australia, Canada and others. Hostage takings became a daily news headline as Syria increasingly crumbled. As the world trembled in fear Syrians ran anywhere they found the smallest evidence of safety. Then the turning point of the Syrian war has been the body of a three year old washing up on a beach. That single event brought great shame on the entire world for doing very little. The shame was so great that the collective heart of the world bled to reveal the core needs of what it takes to be peaceful. The core needs for peace to take hold are true for the single person’s life to an entire world. Both the single person as well as the entire society there is a challenge to enact patience, kindness, compassion, understanding and the ability to let go of past wrongs. Looking at the Syrian war we can see how these core needs gave way to old wounds. Old wounds kept the world as well as the individuals from rising to the challenges of enacting the core needs of peace. The old wounds have been unhealed for thousands of years. Also there are conflicts only decades old at play. These conflicts have allowed the world to let Syria fall into hell. Meeting after meeting was held to give the perception that something was being done. In reality we were being lied to. These lies fueled the pain of the old wounds. Further to the old wounds, newly inflicted wounds are being cut. Here we are in a turning point as a group begins to break through the old wounds. The break down of the old wounds has put the world in a position where the New World Order hope of the late 80’s and early 90’s can be restarted. Before too much hope is put upon the table of the Syrian peace efforts we must recall the core needs of peace. Patience allows us to work through the vital/priority tasks which (singularly) is bringing peace to the communities of Syria. The path to peace has been written about so many times in my previous articles yet there is one path that needs to be reviewed. The one path is the building the connections of communities from refugee camps, internally displaced camps and those living in destroyed communities. This path is very much an education/communication program and one I have written about in a previous article. There is a great opportunity to break the violence in Syria. What we do know is that the battle of peace never ends.