More than 2500 Syrian refugees have settled in Scotland

Syria Conflict: More than 2500 Syrian refugees have settled in Scotland

Edinburgh: Almost a fifth of Syrian refugees have settled in Scotland. Pixabay
Edinburgh: Almost a fifth of Syrian refugees have settled in Scotland. Pixabay

In 2015, the UK Government committed to taking in 20,000 Syrians driven from the country by 2020 – AIWA! NO!

stvnews//Almost a fifth of the Syrian refugees who have come to the UK as part of a special programme have settled in Scotland, according to figures revealed by the SNP.

In 2015, the UK Government committed to taking in 20,000 Syrians driven from the war-torn country by 2020 through the Syrian vulnerable person resettlement programme.

Data obtained by the party from the Scottish Parliament’s Information Centre (SPICe) shows that since 2015, 13,818 refugees have arrived in the UK.

Equalities Secretary Angela Constance meets a Syrian refugee taking part in an English class in Edinburgh (Photo: PA Wire)
Equalities Secretary Angela Constance meets a Syrian refugee taking part in an English class in Edinburgh (Photo: PA Wire)

Of those, 2,562, or 18.5%, have settled in Scotland.

The SNP said the UK Government can and should be doing more to help vulnerable refugees and unaccompanied children.

SNP MSP Ruth Maguire said: “I’m extremely proud that Scotland has risen to its global responsibilities by offering a secure home to refugee families fleeing persecution and conflict.

Syrian refugees say they are happy with Scottish life – and even like the weather

“They have been welcomed by communities across our country, bringing with them diverse skills and interests and enriching our society.

“The UK Government meanwhile has sadly neglected its moral obligations, turning a blind eye to a humanitarian crisis.

“Doing as little as they possibly can to help those in need, the Tories are forcing many of those fleeing war, persecution and terror to take dangerous and illegal routes in the search for safety.

“There is no doubt that the UK can and should do more.”

The UK Government has been contacted for comment.

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Syrian Kurds demonstrate in Qamishli against Turkish shelling of Kurdish militia posts in northern Syria, on October 31, 2018. Source: DELIL SOULEIMAN/AFP/Getty Images

Syria car bombings leave six people dead in rebel-held northwest

A fighter of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) stands guard on a rooftop in Raqqa on October 20, 2017, after retaking the city from ISG fighters.
Source: BULENT KILIC/AFP/Getty Images
A fighter of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) stands guard on a rooftop in Raqqa on October 20, 2017, after retaking the city from ISG fighters.
Source: BULENT KILIC/AFP/Getty Images

Six killed in car bombings in Syrian rebel-held northwest – AIWA! NO!

AMMAN (Reuters) – Two car bombings in two areas of northwest Syria killed at least six people on Thursday in the latest such attacks in towns held by Turkey-backed rebel groups, witnesses and rebels.

In the northwestern city of Afrin, a 10-year-old girl and a man were killed and at least 20 people were wounded when a car bomb was detonated remotely in a main street only hours after a parade by Turkish-backed security police cadets, a witness said.

Since the Syrian Kurdish YPG militia backed by Washington was driven out of Afrin by Turkey-backed Arab rebels last year, the area has seen frequent bombings blamed by rebels on the Kurdish militia.

The YPG has vowed it will not allow the Arab rebels to consolidate their control over the mainly Kurdish city.

Turkey-backed Arab rebels have said their goal is to allow tens of thousands of their kin displaced by Kurdish-led forces backed by Washington to return to their towns and villages.

Ankara considers the YPG an extension of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) that has waged an insurgency on Turkish soil since 1984.

Further east, near the city of Jarablus, along the same border stretch with Turkey, at least four members of a Turkey-backed Arab rebel group were killed while trying to dismantle a car bomb in the village of Ghandura, two sources from the area said.

Separately at least 10 people were killed and a number were wounded on Thursday when a bomb blast hit a minibus carrying workers employed in a major oil installation in eastern Syria run by the U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) led by the YPG, residents of the area said.

(Reporting by Khalil Ashawi, Writing by Suleiman Al-Khalidi, Editing by William Maclean)


The biggest BMW plant is in South Carolina not in the carmaker’s homeland of Bavaria, says German chancellor

Germany’s Merkel demolishes Trump foreign policies

Merkel speaks at 55th Munich Security Conference (Getty)
Merkel speaks at 55th Munich Security Conference (Getty)

Angela Merkel defends Nato allies after criticism from US vice president Mike Pence over Iran deal

Mike Pence and Angela Merkel pose at the conference on Saturday
Mike Pence and Angela Merkel pose at the conference on Saturday ( AFP/Getty )

German chancellor offers strong defence of nuclear agreement and multilateral cooperation –
Kim Sengupta, INDEPENDENT

AIWA! NO!| Rancor and recriminations were the order of the day with allies as well as adversaries turning on each other in one of the most important gatherings of the Munich Security Conference in recent years.

Efforts were supposed to be made, at least among western countries, to find common ground on a range of issues from the Middle East after the end of the Isis caliphate to cyber warfare, Brexit, extremism and climate change.

Instead the US vice president Mike Pence attacked European states for not joining Washington in pulling out of the nuclear deal with Iran and failing to fully follow the American line on the Venezuelan crisis.

Angela Merkel Ruffled at Prospect of More Trump Hardball Tactics, Sources Say

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Angela Merkel rejects Donald Trump's claims that German cars are a threat
BusinessLIVEAngela Merkel rejects Donald Trump’s claims that German cars are a threat

The biggest BMW plant is in South Carolina not in the carmaker’s homeland of Bavaria, says German chancellor

Repeatedly praising Donald Trump for his allegedly “remarkable” and “extraordinary” qualities which have made “America stronger than ever before”, enabling it to “lead on the world stage again”, Mr Pence derided Nato allies.

His speech was greeted with muted cheering, with Mr Trump’s daughter Ivanka and son-in-law Jared Kushner clapping enthusiastically, but a significant number of those present staying silent and some of his remarks being greeted with whispered mockery.

18 February 2019

The criticism was not just one way.

 Angela Merkel warned of the dangers in American isolationism and staunchly defended multilateral institutions under threat from US policy.

The German chancellor defended the Iran deal, condemning Mr Trump’s decision to withdraw from it, and questioned his decision to pull troops out of Syria and Afghanistan. Ms Merkel also rebuffed US demands that her government scrap a gas deal with Moscow under which a new pipeline, Nord Stream 2, being built under the Baltic, will bring Russian gas directly to Germany.

She highlighted a statement by a US official that German cars were a security threat to America, to show the attitude to trade held by some in Washington. “We are proud of our cars and so we should be … If it is viewed as a security threat to the United States then we are shocked,” said Ms Merkel, adding that many were manufactured in the US and exported to countries like China.

Warning of attacks on international organisations of the type Mr Trump is in the habit of making, Ms Merkel commented: “We cannot just smash it, we need to cooperate … Now that we see pressure on the classic order we are used to, the question now is, ‘Do we fall apart into pieces of a puzzle and think everyone can solve the question best for himself alone?’”.

It would be wiser, she said, “to put yourself in the others’ shoes … and see whether we can get win-win solutions together”.

Germany is among international powers – along with Britain, France, Russia and China – which signed the nuclear agreement with Tehran. All these countries, as well as the UN Atomic Energy Authority, stress that the deal was working in preventing Iran developing a nuclear arsenal and that Tehran was abiding by its obligations.

European countries have organised a payment mechanism under which businesses and banks would, in theory, be able to trade with Iran without incurring American sanctions. Mike Pence said: “The time has come for our European partners to withdraw from the disastrous Iran nuclear deal and join with us as we bring the economic and diplomatic pressure. The time has come for our European partners to stop undermining US sanctions against this murderous revolutionary regime.”

When Mr Pence went on to accuse Iran of sponsoring terrorism there were some whispered comments among some in the room about Gulf states, which are major purchasers of American arms, funding extremist Islamist groups. There were also sotto voce comments about the murder of the journalist Jamal Khashoggi for which officials close to Mohammed bin Salman, the Saudi crown prince, an American ally close to Mr Kushner, have been blamed.

Mr Pence is part of the largest American delegation ever sent to the Munich conference. It includes senior Democrats like Joe Biden and Nancy Pelosi who are vocal critics of Mr Trump. Mr Biden is expected to criticise current US policy in a number of fields, including foreign policy, when he speaks at a session.

It was not surprising, in this acrimonious atmosphere, to hear the Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov round on the west for a catalogue of alleged wrongdoing past and present, from the “illegal bombing of Serbia” and “organising a coup in Kiev” to the “aggressive” stance being taken by western politicians.

British defence secretary Gavin Williamson, who had attacked Russia in a speech at the conference on Friday for its role in a number of conflicts, got a special mention. “If you listen to some people like the minister of war – sorry the minister of defence – of the United Kingdom then you might get an impression that nobody except Nato has the right to be anywhere,” said Mr Lavrov.

A political message from a political cartoonist Peter Schrank

Peter Schrank; Political Cartoonist - BREXIT

Peter Schrank; Political Cartoonist – BREXIT

For us, bad news is good news.

We cartoonists have a dilemma:  like all decent people we hope for a better world, yet we depend for our livelihood on a world of lies, deceit, broken promises and violence.

Hell, Heaven, Purgatory - and Brexit
Hugo Dixon / Jan 2019

Hell, Heaven, Purgatory – and Brexit
Hugo Dixon / Jan 2019

We wake up every morning looking for something to rail against, something to upset us, to make us righteously angry and to motivate us.
From this perspective 2016 was a particularly good year. We’ve had the humanitarian disasters of the War in Syria and the migrant crisis, we’ve had Brexit, Donald Trump and the rise of populism in the west. These events have stoked our paranoia, raised our anxieties, given us new causes and targets, and hopefully made us raise our game.

Donald Trump is the perfect example of bad news being good news for cartoonists and satirists: the prospect of a man so seemingly shallow, vulgar and objectionable, a man of such ludicrous appearance, occupying the most powerful office on the planet must fill every right thinking person with horror. Yet to satirists he’s a gift, a source of endless inspiration.

Equally the brexiteers with their deceitful pre-referendum campaign… a disaster for the UK and the EU, but delicious inspiration to us.

So cartoonists and satirists are a little like vultures: we depend on death, deceit and destruction for the survival of our profession. 

However, there is another side to this. I believe the cartoonist  has a moral obligation.
He should, with his sharp pointy pen as a weapon, be ready to ride to the rescue of the downtrodden, the repressed  and the dispossessed. Satirists should always be on the side of the afflicted, those who can’t help themselves, and  should ultimately remain impartial, judicious, fair. I think it’s wrong to attack a politician for the sake of it, to automatically suspect corruption and self interest. We should give those in power the benefit of the doubt, save our scorn for after they’ve let us down.

One of the problems with world affairs, particularly in the west, is an all-encompassing cynicism, the kind of thinking that, for example, claims that Trump and Clinton are as bad as each other. Lazy thinking, almost comforting. Why bother, everything is going to hell anyway. This is a dangerous fallacy, which cartoonists, satirists and all professional cynics must not help to perpetuate. Particularly in a world where even the truth and facts are contested. However much we exaggerate, blow things out of proportion, strain for a laugh, we must still stick up for the truth.

Perhaps some of this sounds pretentious. What are we talking about here? A little drawing buried in the back pages of a newspaper or a website. Drowned out by all the noise of rolling news,  endless chat, tweets and blogs. Something to briefly smirk or chuckle over, only to move on and instantly forget. After all it’s funny, and funny is not serious.

But it’s still a job to be taken seriously. And a job, which is a lot of fun, in spite of all the gloom.

Peter Schrank

U.S. Troops Killed By Blast In Syria; Islamic State Claims Responsibility

President-elect Donald Trump calls on a reporter during a news conference in the lobby of Trump Tower in New York, Wednesday, Jan. 11, 2017. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)
President-elect Donald Trump calls on a reporter during a news conference in the lobby of Trump Tower in New York, Wednesday, Jan. 11, 2017. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

|AIWA! NO!|NPR|American troops were killed in an explosion in northern Syria, the spokesperson for the U.S.-led coalition against the Islamic State says. The ISIS extremist group has claimed responsibility.

“U.S. service members were killed during an explosion while conducting a routine patrol in Syria today. We are still gathering information and will share additional details at a later time,” Col. Sean Ryan, a spokesman for Operation Inherent Resolve, said in a statement.

NPR’s Tom Bowman: Now that the U.S. is leaving – and no one is offering a timetable, by the way – the concern is that the Arab and Kurdish forces won’t be able to finish the job on their own. They just don’t have the strength. So ISIS could expand. That’s the main concern. And – or there could be some sort of power struggle among the rebels, maybe ethnic cleansing, a possible bloodbath, one official told me.

NPR

NPR’s Tom Bowman: Now that the U.S. is leaving – and no one is offering a timetable, by the way – the concern is that the Arab and Kurdish forces won’t be able to finish the job on their own. They just don’t have the strength. So ISIS could expand. That’s the main concern. And – or there could be some sort of power struggle among the rebels, maybe ethnic cleansing, a possible bloodbath, one official told me.

Reuters, citing an unnamed U.S. official, reports that four U.S. troops were killed in the attack in Manbij. U.S. forces with the international coalition routinely patrol in and around the town.

A local news site reported that a huge explosion erupted in the city center near a girls’ school and a restaurant. The site reported that both civilians and troops were killed and wounded. ANHA, a news agency in the Kurdish areas in Syria, showed the restaurant’s windows blown out, with the twisted metal frame of an awning hanging off the building.

The U.K.-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights group says that a suicide bomber probably carried out the attack.

The Islamic State claimed responsibility for the attack. Hassan Hassan, an expert on the Islamic State, says the group has identified the bomber as Abu Yasin al-Shami.

White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said in a statement: “The president has been fully briefed and we will continue to monitor the ongoing situation in Syria.”

The explosion comes shortly after President Trump announced in December that the U.S. would withdraw forces from Syria. The announcement put him at odds with some of his advisers and worried U.S. allies. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis and the U.S. envoy to the coalition fighting the Islamic State, Brett McGurk, resigned in response to the decision.

At the time, the president claimed the fight against the Islamic State was nearly finished and that U.S. allies could complete the job.

“And by the way, we’re knocking the hell out of ISIS,” Trump said. “We’ll be coming out of Syria, like, very soon. Let the other people take care of it now.”

The Pentagon says the U.S. has begun withdrawing troops, NPR reports.

About 2,200 American troops serve in Syria, working with Arab and Kurdish rebels to defeat the Islamic State, reports NPR’s Tom Bowman:

Now that the U.S. is leaving – and no one is offering a timetable, by the way – the concern is that the Arab and Kurdish forces won’t be able to finish the job on their own. They just don’t have the strength. So ISIS could expand. That’s the main concern. And – or there could be some sort of power struggle among the rebels, maybe ethnic cleansing, a possible bloodbath, one official told me.

NPR’s Lama Al-Arian and Jane Arraf contributed to this report.