5 Things You May Have Never Known About The Civil War

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF TRIVIA GENIUS)

 

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5 things you never knew about the Civil War

A study of the history of the United States is incomplete without reference to the Civil War. The Civil War (1861–1865) set American against American. It has been the cause of the greatest number of documented episodes in the history of the United States.

Civil War trivia asserts that the conflict between the United States and 11 Southern States was the deadliest war on American soil. It claimed about 620,000 soldiers’ lives and about 2 percent of the total population of the time. Civil War history, historians, and aficionados have written many books, articles and reenacted battle sagas.

What caused the Civil War?

Credit: Lee Walters / iStock

This is a question many still debate in the public domain, with several schools of thought asserting their views. However, James McPherson, the Pulitzer Prize-winning author, provides a more explicit narrative of what caused the war. According to him, “The Civil War started due to uncompromising differences between the Northern States, mainly the free and slave states over the power of the national government to disallow slavery in the territories that had not yet become states.”

In the 1860 election, Abraham Lincoln ran on a pledge to block the institution of slavery in the territories. In retaliation, a Confederate States of America was created by seven Deep South states that separated from the Union. During the Lincoln Administration, the Confederate secession from the Union was invalidated, and the legality was never fully established. They feared that it would discredit democracy by creating a dangerous example that would lead to the dissolution of the United States into individual countries.

What were the bloodiest battles of the Civil War?

Credit: DenGuy / istock

The Battle of Gettysburg

  • Location: Pennsylvania
  • Casualties figure: 51,112 (U.S. 23,049/C.S. 28,063)
  • Date: July 1-3, 1863

The Battle of Chickamauga

  • Location: North Georgia
  • Casualties figure: 34,624 (U.S. 16,170/C.S. 18,454)
  • Date: September 19-20, 1863

The Battle of Chancellorsville

  • Location: Virginia
  • Casualties figure: 30,099 (U.S. 17,278/C.S. 12,821)
  • Date: May 1-4, 1863

The Battle of Spotsylvania

  • Location: Virginia
  • Casualties figure: 27,399 (U.S. 18,399/C.S. 9,000)
  • Date: May 8-19, 1864

The Battle of Antietam (Sharpsburg)

  • Location: Maryland
  • Casualties figure: 26,134 (U.S. 12,410/C.S. 13,724)
  • Date: September 17, 1862

The Battle of the Wilderness

  • Location: Virginia
  • Casualties figure: 25,416 (U.S. 17,666/C.S. 7,750)
  • Date: May 5-7, 1864

The Battle of Second Manasas

  • Location: Virginia
  • Casualties figure: 25,251 (U.S. 16,054/C.S. 9,197)
  • Date: August 29-30, 1862

What caused casualties of the Union Army during a battle?

Credit: Willard / iStock

According to Mark Hughes in The New Civil War Handbook, the causes of casualties of the Union Armies during battles are:

  • Musketry – 50.6%
  • Unknown – 42.1%
  • Cannon – 5.7%
  • Pistol/Buckshot – 1.2%
  • Saber – 0.2 %
  • Bayonet – 0.2%

How many soldiers fought and died in the Civil War?

Credit: rcyoung / iStock

The total number of soldiers deployed from both armies of the North and South were 2,128,948 and 1,082,119 respectively. By the end of the war, the total number of soldiers that died from both sides was approximately 620,000. However, a recent study put the figure closer to 850,000.

How much pay did the soldiers receive?

Credit: ivan-96 / iStock

There are discrepancies in the amounts white and black union soldiers received as salaries until 1864, when Congress rectified it. White Union soldiers collected $13 a month, while their black counterparts got $7 a month. The Confederate Army paid their soldiers $11 a month. It was common that they sometimes went for long stretches with no pay.

The United States has since remained united after the Confederates called for a ceasefire in April 1865. Civil War history reports that the total number of people that both armies lost within those four years remains the second highest in the history of the nation.

Did NATO Cause the Crisis in Libya?

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF ‘POLYGRAPH.INFO’)

                 (YES)

Did NATO Cause the Crisis in Libya?


LIBYA -- Libyan National Army (LNA) members, commanded by Khalifa Haftar, head out of Benghazi to reinforce the troops advancing to Tripoli, in Benghazi, April 7, 2019
LIBYA — Libyan National Army (LNA) members, commanded by Khalifa Haftar, head out of Benghazi to reinforce the troops advancing to Tripoli, in Benghazi, April 7, 2019
Sergey Lavrov

Sergey Lavrov

Russian Foreign Minister

“The reason for the Libyan crisis lies in NATO’s actions in 2011. Precisely since that time, Libya has turned into a failed state and a ’black hole,’ through which terrorists, the smuggling of weapons, go south, and to the north – flows of illegal migrants.”

MISLEADING

The ongoing crisis in Libya was the reason for NATO intervention

Commenting on latest escalation of fighting in Bengazi, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov accused NATO of causing the crisis, claiming Libya’s problems with terrorism, weapons smuggling and illegal immigration began “precisely” after the NATO intervention in 2011.

View image on TwitterView image on Twitter

Russia in USA 🇷🇺

@RusEmbUSA

The cause of the Libyan crisis lies in ’s actions in 2011. Since then, has become a destroyed state and a ‘black hole’ for terrorists, arms trafficking and illegal migrant flows –

▶️ https://www.facebook.com/RusEmbUSA/photos/a.493759737501088/995742573969466/ 

100 people are talking about this

Opinions about the effect of NATO’s seven-month operation in Libya vary from praising the intervention as “highly successful” to condemning it as a “catastrophic failure.”

RT

@RT_com

US & NATO will always share blame for ’s re-descent into chaos

(Op-Ed by Darius Shahtahmasebi)https://on.rt.com/9rul 

28 people are talking about this

Yet, even the harshest critics agree NATO’s involvement in Libya did not cause that country’s deterioration: it was already in a civil war, with the UN and Arab League warning the regime could commit mass atrocities amid Muammar Gaddafi’s vows to “cleanse Libya.”

Mona Eltahawy

@monaeltahawy

In 1996, I was a Reuters correspondent in . I went to to cover the 27th anniversary of the “Green Revolution.”I don’t have access to the Reuters articles I wrote from but here are some opeds I’ve written about Gaddafi the dictator and the hypocrisy of the West

Mona Eltahawy

@monaeltahawy

’s quirks should never have distracted from his abysmal human rights record. Arbitrary arrests, a muzzled press, a ban on political parties and the squandering of ‘s oil wealth have never been laughing matters for Libyans. https://www.washingtonpost.com/archive/opinions/2004/07/13/warming-up-to-a-dictator/5500a4a1-1cdb-49aa-adaa-0d6d5e3a2c94/?utm_term=.27787bb19427 

Warming Up to a Dictator

washingtonpost.com

See Mona Eltahawy’s other Tweets

Thus, Lavrov’s claim that NATO caused Libya’s crisis is misleading.

The legal basis for NATO’s intervention is also in dispute.

The United Nations University (UNU) wrote in a 2011 analysis: “Whenever States decide to use force against another State, whether individually or as a group, the first question that arises is whether such an action is pursuant to the right of self-defense (Article 51 UN Charter) or is one authorized by the Security Council. In the case of Libya, Article 51 does not apply, as Libya had not attacked any NATO member State. It therefore follows that only an authorization by the Security Council could provide a sound legal basis for any military action against Libya and keep NATO action from being in violation of UN Article 2(4). The question is: Was NATO action in Libya authorized?”

UN Security Council Resolution 1973 of March 11, 2011 created a no-fly zone over the whole of Libya. This was done in order to help protect civilians. The Security Council called on “Member States that have notified the Secretary-General and the Secretary General of the League of Arab States, acting nationally or through regional organizations or arrangements, to take all necessary means to enforce compliance with the ban on flights imposed by paragraph 6.”

The UNU analysis noted: “Thus far, NATO could not have legally responded to the Security Council’s mandate issued to ‘regional organizations and arrangements’ in Resolution 1973 because, by virtue of its own treaty, the alliance is neither such an organization, nor one that could be held bound by either Article 53 or Article 54 of the UN Charter. And since NATO acted in Libya collectively, in contradistinction from acting nationally, the latter caveat in the mandate does not save NATO from being in violation.”

The UNU analysis concluded that the Libya operation revealed a “gap between the law –­ UN Chapter VIII provisions — and NATO’s increasing policy of responding to Security Council resolutions and the Security Council’s silent reception of NATO’s generosity. It would be disingenuous, to say the least, to argue that NATO should not assist in implementing Security Council resolutions just because the alliance is not one of the organizations that could adhere themselves to the enabling mandates with any legal exactitude.”

NATOSource@NATOSource

Libyan military leader order his troops to take Tripoli from backed government. remains ‘s unfinished business in North Africa. https://www.reuters.com/article/us-libya-security/eastern-libyan-commander-orders-his-troops-to-move-on-tripoli-video-idUSKCN1RG0RT 

See NATO Source’s other Tweets

Critics argue that NATO wrapped up Operation Unified Protector and left Libya when the country was still in a state of political chaos. In reality, NATO followed the UN Security Council’s resolution ending international military operations in Libya on October 31, 2011.

(Poem) Big Hill Kentucky

BIG HILL KENTUCKY

 

Big Hill Kentucky

Berea by Her side

Mountains of the divide

History of Liberal Freedoms

For Education, many have died

 

Beautiful Hills to the South and East

Grasses run north, the River divides

Society of the Past and Now collide

Liberal Arts with beautiful countryside

Nice peaceful place to live one’s life

 

Pilot Knob has seen its share of blood

Blue and Gray turned the grass dark Red

Lessons learned, to sleep easy, live in Peace

Bedrock communities we live in G-d’s Grace

Big Hill Kentucky, beauty for the Eyes, Soul and Brain

You Are A King: But Only Of Rubble And Sand

You Are A King: But Only Of Rubble And Sand

 

What are wars actually fought for? Is it the land, is it for the minerals beneath the land? Are wars fought for so-called glory by the soldiers or maybe because of the ego’s of a country’s leaders? As I am writing this I am simply thinking aloud to you my readers, contemplating these words as I type them. Really, what do you think, what do you believe? To you, what is worth fighting for, worth killing for? I have killed before and I am sure that I would have no problem killing again if I felt that it was necessary even though I am very much in my own mind, a pacifist. There are few things that I would ever consider harming another person for as I deplore all violence yet every person has to decide what their personal ‘line in the sand’ is. I know that some folks will say that there is nothing that could get them to pull the trigger on another person, but are they being honest with themselves? If people broke into your home and they were going to butcher you and your family if you didn’t stop them and the only way to stop them was to kill them, whose lives are more important to you?

 

The first paragraph was put more as a personal decision but now I would like to discuss with you the concept of a war breaking out in your home country, in your state, your county, your town. If you are being attacked by a nations military, by their soldiers and weapons, what would you do? Would you try giving up and begging for mercy hoping that they won’t kill you and your family or that they won’t put you all in a labor camp as they burn down everything you ever worked for? Most all wars throughout history have been fought because of the leaders of nations who felt they had the right to invade another country, to try to kill their leaders and to take the treasures that country possessed. Treasures can be many things, it can be using the other country’s population for slave labor, it can be for gold, diamonds, or oil or even the other country’s abundance of timber. Yet there is the reality that all wars do not generate from outside a nations own borders, some wars are simply home-grown as in the case of most ‘Civil Wars’.

 

Here in the U.S. we had our own Civil War back in 1860-1865 that seemed to generate from the concept of slavery of Black folks. I know some Historians say that slavery had nothing to do with the starting of that war but via the different History classes I took in College I still believe that the slavery issue was the foundation of this conflict. As far as I have ever found out this war was all on us, the American White people of the day. What I mean by this is that I do not believe that another nation like England, Canada, Mexico or France were interfering inside our borders trying to cause a war. There is a good bit of evidence that the leaders of the Confederacy had thought that they could convince England to come to their aid with their Navy being that the South had no Navy but the Union did. The reason for this line of thought was that the Confederate States sold a lot of cotton to England but when the war started England simply turned to India to supply them with all the cotton they needed. Our Nations Civil War would have been to create two Nations instead of the one that existed then and now.

 

Not all Civil Wars are for the purpose of splitting one Nation in half. Some Civil Wars are an attempt to simply over through the existing government and to replace it with another form of governance like say from a Monarchy to a Democracy. Some Civil Wars are fought because of Religion as in a government that is run as a Catholic society when the majority of the people are Protestants who don’t want to be ruled by a Pope. In the Middle East there have been many Civil Wars during the past 1,400 years and basically all of them had to do with Islam. I know that there were the Crusades 8-900 years ago where the Pope ordered Catholic Armies to retake the ‘Holy Lands’ from the ‘Pagan’ Muslims just as the Muslim Armies had taken over the ‘Holy Lands’ and the whole Middle East from the Christians and the Jews back in the 6-700’s A.D.. Yet the reality is that during this past 1,400 years almost all of the Civil Wars and wars in general have been fought as a war between the majority Sunni Muslims against the minority Shiite Muslims. Their hatred in general, of each other is only surpassed by their hatred of Christians and Jews.

 

Now I would like to speak with you about what is going on in the Nation of Syria for a few moments. The Ruling family of Syria is the al-Assad’s. Hafez al-Assad took control of Syria in 1970 and he held power until his death in 2000. At this time the current ‘President’ his son Bashar al-Assad took power. So the al-Assad family has had control of Syria for the past 48 years now. Bashar did seem to try to portray himself as a ‘moderate’ to the western world up until many of his own people rose up in protest of his leadership in March of 2011. This Civil War though has had many players with much cause and effect. There are many people who believe that this war was pushed along by Hillary Clinton when she was the U.S. Secretary of State at that time. There has been a lot of outside influence showing its ugly face since the early days of this war. Among the ‘outside’ players has been Iran, Russia, Iraq, Turkey, Hezbollah, the U.S. and Israel as well as the Kurd’s. One of the other huge issues has been a group calling themselves the Islamic State, or ISIS who was trying to set up a Sunni Caliphate in eastern Syria and western Iraq. The al-Assad family belongs to a Shiite sect of Islam so the al-Assad government was able to pull in the big Shiite players of the Islamic world mainly Iran and their proxy Hezbollah out of Lebanon to help them fight and to destroy ISIS. Russia has had a Naval base in Syria for several decades and has been an ally of Syria for a long time so in 2014 President Putin of Russia started supplying Air Power to help out the Assad government.

 

My question for the everyday people of Syria who decided to try to over through President al-Assad back in 2011 is, do you believe that your efforts were worth it? Back before March of 2011, back before the shooting started weren’t you far better off that you are now? Wasn’t your Nation a better place to live then than it is now? By no means am I saying that President Assad is a good moral person but didn’t you have a better style of living then than you do today? Back before the war began the Syrian government allowed Christians, Shiites and Sunnis to all practice their faith without fear of being killed just because of your faith system. Didn’t you then have food in your markets, electricity in your homes and trash pickup on your streets? For me, looking in from the outside it looks like it was a terrible mistake going to war against the al-Assad government. Now this last part is pointed toward President al-Assad. Sir, you are still the Ruler of Syria and it is my belief that you will be for many more years, but, your Nation is in shambles, you are a President of Rubble and Sand and not much else. When this war is over as it almost is now, your Nation, your people have suffered greatly, you have no economy and it is going to take trillions of dollars and decades to rebuild back to the point you were at in March of 2011. Yes you are still the President of your Nation, but my question to you is like unto the one I asked your people earlier in this article, was it worth it?  My questions meaning is, if you could see the damage to your country as it sits today would you say that you staying in power was worth all of this death and destruction. If you could go back in time and simply have resigned as President in March of 2011 if that was what it would have taken to not have had this war, would you have stepped down?

Syria: The Perfect Storm To Ignite A Huge Chapter In This Current WW-3

Syria: The Perfect Storm To Ignite A Huge Chapter In This Current WW-3 

(THIS ARTICLE WAS FIRST WRITTEN ON FEBRUARY 14th, OF 2016 BUT I HAVE ADDED 2 EXTRA PARAGRAPHS AT THE END)

Today Syria is primed to be the location where the pot boils over and this World War that we are currently all living in gets a new very nasty twist in pure violence. The Syrian civil war has turned into a continuance of the 1,400 year old Islamic civil war between the Sunni and the Shiite. The president of Syria is a Shiite so he is an ally of the government of Iran who is the biggest Shiite player in the world. Also there is the fact that the country of Iraq is now led by a Shiite government and its geographical location is as the bumper between the two. First ISIS joins the fight as the major Sunni group against the Syrian government and now Russian president Putin has joined the fight on the side of Iran and Syria. Soon we see if our Nations Leaders are actual leaders, or idiots and fools.

 

Today I picked up off of CNN a story within an interview being done by reporter Ms. Amanpour with the Saudi Foreign Minister while he was in Munich Germany  yesterday. I am going to type out a couple of the Saudi Foreign Ministers quotes and then I am going to ask you a couple of questions to see the level of understanding we each have. Quotes—“The Syrian President must go. If the political process fails then force must be used”. Yet he says that the Saudi’s will only send troops into Syria if…”we are part of a multi-national force lead by the U.S.”.  There is another important quote of his on this matter, “Syria’s President will leave–have no doubt about it. He will either leave by a political process or he will be removed by force”.

 

I am looking at this from an American persons view, those of you reading this from other parts of the world may have different view points than I do or what most Americans may have as a view, if so, please leave comments.  The Saudi Foreign Minister says that the Syrian President will leave “have no doubt about it”. Yet he say that the Saudi’s will only put boots on the ground in Syria if they are “part of a U.S. led force”. So, does he have some secret knowledge of an undercover deal with our President? Reality is that the only way the Syrian President gets removed is if he is assassinated or if the U.S. puts thousands of troops on the ground to fight against the Shiite side and for the Sunni side of this 1,400 year civil war. This Syrian conflict is indeed a Civil War but it is mostly a civil war between the Shiite and the Sunni. Russian President Putin has stuck his foot in up to his rear-end on the side of Iran and Syria if the U.S. puts boots on the ground they will be fighting on the side of the Sunni nations. There is this other absolute fact, all these people hate us and our military, they will applaud every time an American or Russian blood is spilled on Syrian sand. The Saudi Foreign Minister did say one accurate quote when he said that “you can not take, then hold ground from the air alone”. The question now is whose boots will it be, whose blood will it be?

 

(TODAY’S DATE IS APRIL 17th OF 2018)

 

Okay, it is now two years and two months since the Saudi Foreign Minister said that Syria’s President Assad would be removed one way of another, to me, it looks like he was wrong.  About the only way now that I can see President Assad being removed is if someone assassinates him. Will the Saudi’s go that far as to send an assassin into Syria to kill him? Personally I doubt it, it would be to risky for them to do that. It looks to me that because of the help of Russia’s President Putin and the help Mr. Assad is getting from Iran and Hezbollah that he will remain the president of this destroyed hunk of ground. Even if all fighting were to stop inside the borders of Syria today, it would take many trillions of dollars and several decades to rebuild the infrastructure that was in place there seven years ago.

 

As far as Syria being the location of a huge proxy war involving the militaries that are still operating inside their borders the risks are still very high. I personally believe that the U.S. should get out of Syria as quick as is humanly possible. We said we went in there to destroy ISIS, this mission is at least 95% finished. The government of Syria has made it very plain that they do not want any U.S. military inside their borders so we should leave and let Russian, Syrian, Iranian, and Hezbollah troops finish the mop up work on ISIS. The longer we are there the greater chances that we will get directly involved with the killing of Russian, Iranian and Syrian troops thus dragging us into a much wider and bloodier war with them directly.  There is also the reality that Syria will be the location of a direct shooting war between Iran and Israel, and Hezbollah. If Iran attacks Israel will the U.S. stand idly by? If we back Israel will Russia jump in to help Iran? You can bet your last nickel that if Iran attacks Israel that Syria, Iraq and Hezbollah will also attack Israel, so what is the U.S. going to do? What is Russia going to do, come to think of it, what is Saudi Arabia going to do? This article is all just fodder for your thoughts, what do you think is about to happen, full-out WW-3, or maybe nothing? China would probably love the U.S. to get tied up in an all out war in the Middle-East as this would give them free rein to totally dominate all of the Asian Countries. Also it would give China the green light to enforce their will over all of the South China Sea and to invade Taiwan. As I said, just trying to get you to think.

Trump Finally Gets Something Right: Syria

Trump Finally Gets Something Right: Syria

 

The folks that read my articles know, I am not a fan of President Trump. Personally I believe that he is the biggest scumbag to set in Our Oval Office since Andrew Jackson, Our Nations 7th President back in the first half of the 1800’s. To me this is saying a lot since in my own lifetime we have had some very despicable men for Presidents, the likes of Lyndon Johnson, Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford, Bill Clinton and the two Bush’s. Yet this clueless ego maniac we have now is such an idiot and habitual liar that he is a total disgrace to Our Country. Yet, even the most ignorant person in the world can upon a rare occasion get something right and I believe that he is correct concerning the U.S. getting our military out of Syria.

 

By what all the Generals had been saying up until this past week, ISIS has been at least 90% destroyed in Syria and ISIS is supposed to be the only reason that we went into Syria in the first place. Technically when a Nation sends their military into another country without the permission of the government of that country you have committed an act of war against that country. Yet even though the government of Syria has not declared an act of war against the United States for our actions in their country they have told us very plainly that we are not welcome there and that they want us out. Syria is and has been quite the ‘dance floor’ ever since the U.S. sent in troops and started bombings there. Syria’s government with the help of their allies Russia, Iraq, Iran, Turkey and Hezbollah from Lebanon have won this Civil War there. Even though we may not like it President Assad is going to stay in power there and we have no right to be there. The only real allies that the United States has had there has been the Kurdish people whom we have used and betrayed over and over again. We have spent a lot of effort to not get into a direct fighting war with Syria or any of her allies and it is now past time to get our military out of Syria before we do get into a shooting war with Russia or Iran, or even with our supposed NATO ally Turkey. Honestly one has to wonder if a lot of the top military brass at the Pentagon as well as our Security Agencies like the CIA and the NSA are wanting a shooting war with these countries. Besides, you know that the Military Contractors that build the War Machines would love it, more billions of dollars for their bank accounts. Quite honestly, wars help a nation’s economy, it keeps people employed and off of the unemployment lines.

 

So, I believe that in this case President Trump is correct about getting our military out of Syria. We, our government, has committed an act of war against the nation of Syria simply by being there unasked and unwanted. We, the people of the United States are very fortunate that the government of Syria and all of her allies have not declared war on us yet. Though, if we continue to stay there this is going to happen, there is no way that it can be avoided. One of the issues that has irked me since George W was our President is the fact that Our Nations National Guard and even members of Our Coast Guard are off fighting in these foreign wars, this should never ever have happened. Right now on our southern border with the Nation of Mexico President Trump is talking about sending Our Military to the Border to ‘defend’ it from civilians crossing into Our Country. I have a couple of thoughts on this for you to consider. One, if the President is going to do this, it should be National Guard Units going there, not our regular military. Two, tell me, once we put thousands of Military Personnel on the Border, what are they going to do? Are they going to start shooting all of these unarmed men, women and children? I can’t tell you that I know the answer to every thing, I wish I could, but I can’t. This article is like most that I write, I am just trying to get you to think about the issue that I have brought up for your consideration. Thank you for your time folks, I appreciate you stopping in.

(A Sad Reality Poem) Peace, No Peace—Ever

PEACE, NO PEACE—EVER

 

A rock to the head, the beginning of the listed dead

Once the sins had entered in blood stained Royal Red

Gentiles filled the world with hate, letting of innocent blood again and again

Kings and Peasants fight for food, land, and water rights to rewrite human truth

King against King, Nation against Nation, forever we Serfs and Pawn’s fight on

 

 

So much blood spilled in WW I, WW II, and now again in today’s WW III

Nation against Nation, Religion Sect against Religion Sect, the whirlwind begins

We hate, we slander, we rob, and we kill, all with a smile and a ‘Godly’ grin

Weekends we gather, say a little prayer or two and all our weekly sins forgive

 

Presidents of the U.S, Russia, and China, with noses stuck so high in the air

Little Tyrants, once fully played, swinging with their heels in the gallows air

Do you understand the Prophecies about what lies ahead or a mystery to you

There will be no peace ever as Civil War is raging throughout the Middle East

 

 

Upon all Western Shores the Spores of Hate has now been buried so deep

Our children we say we love so dear, their future days all filled with fear

Human Beings are so ignorant, so naive, we’re just putty in the Devils hands

So sad, no peace forever, we now live in the full-blown beginning of WW III

Two Years on, the Stakes of Russia’s War in Syria Are Piling (Op-ed)

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE MOSCOW TIMES)

 

Two years ago, on Sept. 30, 2015, Russian warplanes launched their first airstrikes in Syria, plunging Russia into a civil war that had already been festering for four years.

Moscow intervened in Syria vowing to fight Islamic State and Jabhat al-Nusra, terrorist groups banned in Russia. Its objective was to transform its relationship with Washington and Brussels by disarming an imminent threat to the West after it had hit Russia with sanctions for the Kremlin’s “adventures in Ukraine.”

Days before the airstrikes began, Putin delivered a speech at the United Nations General Assembly calling for a united front against international terrorism, framing it as the modern equivalent of World War II’s coalition against Hitler.

But two years later, Russia’s hopes of winning concessions in Ukraine for its campaign against Islamic State have come to very little. Putin’s strategic alliance with the United States never materialized.

Russia, however, has met two less lofty goals. One was to rescue the Syrian regime of Bashar Assad, Moscow’s longtime ally, from the inevitable defeat at the hands of an armed Sunni rebellion.

Moscow leveraged its ties with Iran, another regime ally, to deploy Shia militias from Lebanon, Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan to fight the Syrian rebels. This allowed Moscow to send a modest ground force to Syria — artillery and some special operations forces — without a large footprint.

Russia helped Assad recast the civil war and the popular uprising against his regime as a fight against jihadi terrorists by focusing its airstrikes over the last two years on moderate Syrian rebel groups, while paying little attention to Islamic State.

This rendered the conflict black and white — a binary choice between Assad and jihadists. It allowed Moscow to sell its intervention as support for Syria’s sovereignty against anarchy and terrorism. Russia made clear that it saw the path to stability in the Middle East as helping friendly autocrats suppress popular uprisings with force.

At home, the Kremlin sold its Syrian gambit as a way of defeating terrorism before it reached Russian soil. Russia, after all, needed to prevent Russians and Central Asians who joined Islamic State from returning home to wreck havoc at home soil.

Moscow was also able to use Syria as a lab for its newest weaponry.

By workshopping newly-acquired precision cruise-missile strikes, Russia joined the United States in an exclusive arms club. Showcasing military prowess, while keeping casualties figures low — some 40 Russia servicemen died in Syria — it was able to win public support at home for the intervention.

But perhaps most importantly, the Kremlin’s intervention in Syria has reaffirmed Russia’s status as a global superpower which is capable of projecting force far from its own borders.

Andrei Luzik / Russian Navy Northern Fleet Press Office / TASS

While Moscow may have been offended by former U.S. President Barack Obama’s dismissive description of Russia as a “regional power,” it impressed Arab leaders with its unwavering support for Assad, which was important at a time when U.S. commitment to allies’ security and the stability in the region was in doubt.

Moscow’s backing of Assad ensured it had channels with Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Qatar, despite their support for Syrian rebels. It was even able to convince the Gulf to wind down its support for the opposition as a Russia-led victory for the regime became inevitable.

Russia’s alliances with Jordan and Egypt proved useful in setting up direct lines to armed opposition groups to reach de-escalation agreements. And even as it fights alongside Shia Iran, Moscow has avoided being drawn into a sectarian proxy war with Sunni Arab states.

Russia’s most stunning diplomatic coup was to change Turkey’s calculus in the war from a proxy adversary into a major partner in securing the decisive victory in Aleppo. Through the Astana process, Russia alongside Turkey wound down fighting with moderate rebels.

Russia’s victory in Syria was helped by Washington’s decision not to immerse itself into Syria and a war by proxy with Russia. Instead, the U.S. focused its military operations on defeating Islamic State in eastern Syria.

Now, with de-escalation in western Syria, regime forces and Russian airpower are turned to defeating Islamic State, which has brought them into contact with the U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) advancing from the northeast as part of their offensive to liberate Raqqa from Islamic State.

The potential for a U.S.-Russia kinetic collision in Syria with unpredictable consequences is escalating. This highlights the looming endgame in Syria and the choices Moscow and Washington will have to make moving forward.

Washington needs to decide whether it wants to stay in Syria for counterinsurgency operations to prevent the re-emergence of Islamic State. It may also decide to block Iran from establishing the “Shia land bridge” from the Iraqi border to the Mediterranean.

But this entails supporting the SDF and helping them control sizeable real estate northeast of the Euphrates river and blocking regime forces and Russia from advancing east.

Moscow needs to decide whether it wants to be dragged into Assad and Iran’s strategy of ensuring a complete military victory in Syria and preventing the opposition from exercising any autonomous self-rule. That could see Russia pulled into a nasty proxy fight with the Americans.

Two years after Russia intervened in Syria, the war may be winding down. But the stakes for Moscow and Washington are stacking.

The views and opinions expressed in opinion pieces do not necessarily reflect the position of The Moscow Times.

Related

Myanmar: The Civil War With All Of Its Ethnic Killing Continues With No End In Sight

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF TIME)

‘This Will Be the Worst War’: Fears of Mass Displacement as Thousands Flee Conflict in Myanmar’s Northeast

1:27 AM Eastern

A steady stream of men, women and children arrive by the hundreds at Mansu Monastery in rural northeastern Myanmar. Each day brings a fresh wave of people fleeing a new outbreak of conflict that threatens to derail the country’s already fragile peace process. Powdered with red dust after hours on open-air flatbed trucks through mountain roads, they enter Lashio, the largest city in Myanmar’s Shan state. New arrivals walk into the monastery quarters carrying bundles of belongings and stories of violence from the streets and surrounding suburbs of Laukkai, capital of the Kokang Special Administered Zone bordering China.

Just before dawn on Monday, members of a Kokang-based armed group called the Myanmar National Democratic Alliance Army (MNDAA) attacked a hotel in Laukkai and several outposts of Myanmar police and armed forces, known locally as the Tatmadaw. Government figures estimate that there were at least 30 fatalities, including at least five civilians, and about 20 of the deceased were burned beyond recognition. “I can’t live there anymore, there’s too much shooting,” Than Naing Tun, a 35-year-old sugar-cane farmer, tells TIME as he waits at the monastery to board a truck back to his hometown in Magwe.

Next Generation Leaders: Wai Wai Nu
Wai Wai Nu, 30, spent 7 years in jail in Myanmar as a political prisoner. She is now a lawyer and the founder of two NGO’s that promote peace and justice in Myanmar.

Most, if not all, of the displaced people arriving in Lashio — about 100 miles southwest of Laukkai— are migrant workers from Myanmar’s central plains. Attracted by the somewhat higher wages on offer in Kokang, many labor in the fields or work at recycling plants. “Our families found out from watching TV, and all of the phone lines [in Laukkai] were cut,” Than Naing Tun says, “they were so worried, they thought we were dead.” While the migrants try and make their way back to central Myanmar, the Kokang people, who are ethnic Chinese, have mostly fled across the border into Yunnan province in China. Humanitarian agencies and local aid workers estimate that more than 10,000 people have made their way over the border.

Read More: ‘We Cannot Believe Aung San Suu Kyi’: Why Many in Burma Are Losing Hope of Peace

Several of those who fled to Lashio tell TIME that almost everyone in Laukkai is attempting to leave, as the sounds of gunfire, and what they believe were mortar shells, have resumed each nightfall since the early hours of Monday morning. Myint Kyi, 44, seated beside her 14-year-old daughter, says she heard gunfire and explosions for several hours before daybreak on Monday. When the sun rose and the sounds died down, she walked to a nearby hotel about 50 m away from her apartment, where the fighting first broke out. There she says she saw four dead bodies — three men and one woman — still lying on the ground outside. She decided to leave with her family. “We left everything behind,” her daughter San San Maw says. “We left so fast we didn’t even bring our slippers.”

But leaving has not been easy for many. Unable to enter the town of Laukkai , convoys of trucks are waiting in nearby towns for the thousands of people trying to head towards Lashio and on into central Myanmar. Meanwhile, bus drivers in the town are charging passengers 10 times the normal fare to leave — about $73 instead of the usual $7.30 — several arrivals tell TIME, consistent with accounts in local media. Myint Kyi says that “almost everyone” wants to leave, but most do not have enough money to pay the exorbitant fare.

This week’s outbreak is the deadliest escalation of conflict in Kokang since early February 2015, when the MNDAA launched an attack on Myanmar forces in an effort to reclaim control of the territory. The group’s presumed leader, Peng Jiasheng, was ousted by the Myanmar government in 2009, forcing him and his supporters to retreat into the remote and forested hills of Yunnan. When they re-emerged, the Tatmadaw fiercely fought off their surprise comeback, imposed a four-month period of martial law and ultimately sent the MNDAA back into hiding.

Read More: David Miliband: How to Bring Peace to the World’s Longest Civil War

Monday’s escalation sparked fears of a repeat, and concerns about the humanitarian cost. Myint Kyi, the mother TIME met at the monastery, says the city’s residents worry that “this time will be worse than the last,” which left hundreds of soldiers dead on both sides of the conflict and caused an exodus of tens of thousands of civilians, mostly to China. “I heard that the Tatmadaw will take down all of the MNDAA, they will get them all, and this will be the worst war,” she tells TIME.

The abbot of Mansu Monastery, Padanna Pone Nay Nanda, tells TIME that well over 1,000 migrants have already passed through his compound since Monday. Upon our visit on Wednesday morning local time, hundreds were loading up on trucks and leaving, while more trickled in. Another 300 were expected to arrive throughout the day. The Mansu complex is known far and wide as a refuge, having welcomed displaced populations many times over Padanna’s 28 years as a monk there, and he coordinates with local aid workers to provide for the displaced. “This is only the start, it’s hard to know what will happen over the next week,” he tells TIME, recalling the thousands that transited through during the previous conflict.

Read More: Burma’s Transition to Civilian Rule Hasn’t Stopped the Abuses of Its Ethnic Wars

Myanmar, which was ruled by a brutal military junta until 2011, has suffered one of the world’s most protracted and complex civil wars, with more than 20 nonstate armed groups fighting the Myanmar army for political autonomy over the course of nearly six decades. The new civilian government, led by Nobel laureate and now State Counselor Aung San Suu Kyi, has pledged to make peace a priority as it struggles to rebuild a nation devastated by conflict, corruption and poverty. In late 2015, a cease-fire was reached between government forces and eight of the rebel armies, though several groups abstained and others were categorically excluded from the process. Among those denied a seat at the table were the MNDAA, along with three other armed groups with which the Kokang have now formed a coalition. The Brotherhood of the Northern Alliance, as it is known since its inception last year, includes the MNDAA, the Arakan Army, the Ta’ang National Liberation Army, and some parts of the Kachin Independence Army.

Suu Kyi released a statement condemning Monday’s attack and called for an immediate cessation of hostilities, warning that continued attacks can bring “nothing but sorrow and suffering on the innocent local tribes and races,” urging actors to join the national peace dialogue. The Tatmadaw, however, has repeatedly stated that it will not allow the concerned groups to participate in the peace process unless they immediately disarm. Having withstood previous cease-fires with the Myanmar army that later disintegrated, their leadership is disinclined to do so.

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Democracy Lebanon Style

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF AL-AWSAT NEWS AGENCY)

Opinion

Opinion: When Lebanese Democracy Talks

The controversy surrounding the election of Donald Trump as US president made many outside America have another look at how its electoral system works. However, controversy is surely not limited to America; it extends to Lebanon, a faraway small country that boasts being an ‘institutional democratic’ state built on consensus and entente.

Many pose questions about the logic behind the American political system which values the electoral votes of individual states more than the direct popular votes of the electorate. The fact is that the USA is a federal country, thus its political representation needs to reflect two fundamental principles without which no healthy democracy can survive:
-The first is simple direct democracy whereby the numerical majority has the advantage over the numerical minority; and this is embodied in the House of Representatives where each state is represented by a number of congressmen relative to its population.
-The second is respect for national unity in a diverse society, where an individual in a populous state must enjoy no advantage over another individual from a less populous state before the federal law which must treat all Americans equally. The principle of national unity is enshrined in the Senate where all states, regardless of population, are equally represented by two senators each.

This great vision has helped make the American political system as a whole, one of the fairest and most advanced in the world. It has sustained an ever growing and geographically expanding country since the 16th century, attracting wave after wave of immigration; and through the years each American state based on its topography, natural environment, and economic resources had specific attributes and qualities despite free and smooth inter-state movement.

Of course Lebanon is far too small compared to the USA. Its ‘democratic’ experience is also pretty modest to compare with that of America’s ‘Founding Fathers’ and the legislations and agreements they adopted, even though these legislations and agreements failed to prevent the American Civil war (1861-1865), some vestiges of which remain until today. In fact, Lebanon too had a civil war in 1860 that helped create its almost ‘independent’ status; and as in America’s case, the vestiges of the war remain, while its borders have changed.

Still, size and global influence aside, there is another major difference between the American and Lebanese examples, which is that the Americans have learnt from their experiences, respected their institutions, and stopped bluffing themselves, which is not the case with the Lebanese.

In the USA no less than five presidents trailed their opponents in the popular votes, but abiding by the Constitution, the process led them to the White House. Moreover, despite the huge diversity in a country of 320 million inhabitants, there remains a good deal of healthy co-existence. We don’t hear people calling every day for a new electoral law that enhances the share of his or her ethnicity or religious sect. Nor do we hear of people calling for foreign intervention in their favor in the light of changing international policies.

Lebanon’s case, however, is totally different. Here, even the Lebanese constitution does not deal with its people as citizens but rather as members of sectarian flocks. The constitution which recognizes 17 sects, has “permanently” allocated each sect what has been deemed as its fair share of governmental position although population changes are continuous as are political disagreements.

Another interesting fact is that any Lebanese may spend his/her lifetime within the confines of his/her sect without interacting with other sects, beginning with birth, death, inheritance and marriage registries, and ending with education, health and employment. Thus, religious sects in Lebanon are de facto quasi-independent ‘states’, that have their own leaders, political parties, schools, universities, hospitals, and even sport clubs!

Given this situation and bearing in mind the vestiges of the past, the Lebanese have two living obsessions: the first is the ‘unfairness’ lamented by the Muslims who believe they are the majority that is long prevented from enjoying what it deserved under the French Mandate (1920-1943); and the second is the ‘fear’ felt by the Christians towards the ‘sea of Muslims’ surrounding them. The latter, led at first to separating Mount Lebanon from its surrounding area in 1861 and giving it the status of an ‘autonomous district’, i.e. “Mutassarrifiyya”, under the joint rule of the Ottoman Government and the European Powers, in order to ensure the ‘protection’ of the Christians. Then in 1920, it led to the creation of the current Lebanon (Grand Liban) under a Christian president, and a 6 to 5 parliamentary representation in the Christians’ favour that lasted until the ‘Taif Agreement’ in 1989.

Now, after ending ‘the presidential vacuum’ and forming the new cabinet, all that remains is electing a new parliament to replace the current one. The latter ended its four year term in 2013, but due to ongoing disagreement the scheduled elections were cancelled and its term extended. Still, disagreements continue regarding under what electoral law the forthcoming elections should be conducted, noting that almost all political parties and blocs refuse to carry on under the current multiple seat constituency law, popularly known as ‘The 1960 Law’.

There are many alternatives being put forward by parties and blocs ranging from full ‘proportional representation’ as preferred by Hezbollah and followers – which is understandable given its virtual armed hegemony – to the ‘Greek Orthodox Law’ whereby each sect elects its own members of parliament, including different ‘mixed’ versions combining direct vote and PR.

One alternative, however, that seems to be intentionally and stubbornly dismissed is the one calling for a bi-cameral parliament comprising: A Senate or Upper House elected by each sect, whereby all religious sects are equally represented and enjoy a ‘veto’ on issues adversely affecting their interests; and a House of Deputies or Representative, elected with no sectarian quota, with Lebanon as a single constituency, thus encouraging proper issue-based political parties after ridding the country of the two obsessions, i.e. the Muslims with ‘unfairness’ and the Christians with ‘fear’!

Why the idea of a Senate looks like being rejected out of hand, is not really surprising, if one keeps in mind the Lebanese eternal gamble in external forces and changes of regional and international balance of power. This remains the case despite the fact that the Lebanese Constitution, as adopted in Taif, called clearly for ‘wide decentralization’ and a ‘senate’.

Indeed, it has become a habit of Lebanon’s factions to demand justice and fairness when they are the underdogs, but seek hegemony when they feel they are winning.

Given such a mentality, any authority devised to curtail the ambitions of the powerful and defended the rights of the weak, has no chance of being accepted; as every faction hopes one day to be powerful enough to monopolize the country, and obliterate the others. Even the one who may be weak today would rather hope for an opportune moment to gamble again, and settle old scores.

In short, this is ‘electoral democracy – Lebanese Style’!

Eyad Abu Shakra

Eyad Abu Shakra

Eyad Abu Shakra is the managing editor of Asharq Al-Awsat. He has been with the newspaper since 1978.

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