Al Qaeda Regains Control in Iraq

ISIS Fighters in Mosul, Iraq

ISIS Fighters in Mosul, Iraq

Innocent Victims of Recent ISIS Attacks in Mosul, Iraq

Innocent Victims of Recent ISIS Attacks in Mosul, Iraq

Hundreds of Thousands of Citizens Fleeing the Cities Under Attack by ISIS

Hundreds of Thousands of Citizens Fleeing the Cities Under Attack by ISIS

 

 

After more than a decade of war with Al Qaeda, the United States spent billions of dollars on training programs for Iraq’s police and military forces. The plan was to train Iraq’s own citizens to protect their people and enforce the rule of law so that the U.S. could remove all remaining troops from the country. High grade military equipment, expert training and greatly improved infrastructure now belong to Iraq’s military and police forces as a result of this initiative. However, as of last year, Al Qaeda has taken advantage of the U.S. decision to remove the majority of its troops and it has started attacking Iraq’s cities once again. Each day, more cities are being overrun by the terrorist group and Iraq’s newly trained military forces are failing to maintain control. In fact, most of Iraq’s newly trained forces are abandoning their posts and leaving behind all of the weapons, vehicles and other military equipment that the U.S. gave them to protect their citizens.

Mosul, Ramadi, Fallujah and Tikrit have all fallen to the Al Qaeda run group named ISIS (Islamic State for Iraq and Syria) and Baghdad appears to be the next city in their sights. Innocent people from these cities are desperately fleeing in search of safety from the violent military attacks. Meanwhile Al Qaeda is seizing all of the U.S. purchased military equipment and using those very weapons to retake the cities that they once controlled. It seems that the U.S. is experiencing déjà vu as this is not the first time that it supplies a Middle Eastern nation with weapons to later find that those very weapons are in its enemy’s hands. With better equipment and a greater influence than before, the rebel forces threaten to undue all of the progress made by the U.S. military over the past decade.

Talks between Iraq and the U.S. government are currently underway to respond to this urgent threat. Iraqi officials say that the rebel group has grown much stronger and if action is not taken soon then Baghdad could fall as early as this week. ISIS has used Syria’s current state of chaos to transform the country into a hub for religious radicalization. Revamped support for Al Qaeda’s values and improved weaponry from constant raids have given the group enough traction to once again take control of the region. Airstrikes are currently being considered by both governments as the threat of losing the entire country to Al Qaeda’s rule is on the verge of happening.

Trillions of U.S. tax payer dollars have not only gone to waste in the Middle East, but now also gone to the enemy that it’s been fighting for years. Frustration runs high throughout the country as failed military operations have taken a serious toll on the U.S. economy. As a citizen of the U.S I feel seriously disappointed in my political leaders for failing to accomplish anything with this war. With more than a decade of military occupation in Iraq, I could understand why their citizens support any form of U.S. resistance. How would we feel if another country occupied our land, threatened our safety and tried telling us how to live? My hope is that our troops will return home sooner than 2016 and that the U.S. government will put an end to this careless waste of our resources.

What do you think about the situation in Iraq? Do you think that the U.S. should pull all of its troops before the 2016 date or do you think that we should maintain a military presence as long as possible? Can we afford to continue fighting Al Qaeda or is it time that we cut our losses and leave the fate of Iraq to its own people? Leave a comment and let me know what your thoughts are on this situation. Thanks for stopping by.

Sources

ibtimes.com

cnn.com

 

Iraq on a World Map

Iraq on a World Map

 

 

 

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Brazil Battles Protestors

Confronted with mounting protests and civil unrest, Brazil’s police force resorts to tear gas, flash-bang grenades and rubber bullets to ward off potentially violent crowds. With the FIFA World Cup just days away, authorities will do whatever they can to keep control and order in the streets. Angry protestors in São Paulo and Rio de Janiero say that they are not happy with the government’s allocation of funds. Spending billions of dollars on constructing the necessary infrastructure to support the World Cup is not seen as a priority by many Brazilians who have difficulty putting food on the table and finding jobs. Furthermore, the lack of completion of several stadiums has yet further infuriated the public as they watch their tax dollars being spent carelessly.

Subway workers at São Paulo went on strike Monday which added fuel to the fire. Construction workers desperately work as fast as possible to assure that all of the necessary infrastructure is complete before game one. After being battered by tear gas and other riot resistance weapons, the subway workers decided to call off the strike for two more days or so. They know that if they want to make their voices heard then that will be the time to do it. Authorities fear that the protests could incapacitate the city and create delays for the games.

Social media networks are buzzing with anti-FIFA sentiment. Workers Unions are taking to the streets as well as this is likely their best opportunity to take a blow at Brazil’s politicians. In Rio de Janiero, the former residents of near-by favelas are also making their voices heard. Months before the World Cup, authorities displaced thousands from their homes to make the necessary infrastructure changes to host the game. The result is hundreds of homeless Brazilians that are eager to make a statement to their government.

Each day that we get closer to game one in Brazil, everyone is wondering what will happen next. Will Brazil’s police department be able to tame the protests and assure safety for the Countries citizens and tourists? Or will Brazil’s angry citizens organize a protest so large that it could threaten the safety of the players, tourists and citizens alike?

Are you from Brazil or are you traveling there for the games? I want to hear what you have to say about these protests. Have they reached you? Do you see chaos in the streets or do you see more press then protestors? Please leave me a comment or send me a message. Thanks for stopping by.

 

 

World map of Brazil

World map of Brazil

 

 

Bowe Bergdahl, The Big Trade-Off

Taliban leaders that we released to get Bowe Bergdahl back.

 

Abdul Haq Wasiq

Abdul Haq Wasiq

Mullah Mohammad Fazl

Mullah Mohammad Fazl

Khirullah Said Wali Khairkhwa

Khirullah Said Wali Khairkhwa

Mullah Norullah Noori

Mullah Norullah Noori

Mohammad Nabi Omari

Mohammad Nabi Omari

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

If you have been watching the news lately then you must have heard about the release of Bowe Bergdahl, the American soldier who was held captive for 5 years in Afghanistan. The United States negotiated with Taliban forces for the release of Bowe Bergdahl in exchange for five high ranking Taliban leaders. The Taliban leaders were being held in Guantanamo Bay before their release to Qatar. Their release was contingent upon the constant supervision of their activities and a one-year restriction to remain in Qatar. Despite the relief felt by so many for Bergdahl’s release, there are now rumors that Bowe abandoned his squad. These new reports are challenging the legality and morality of the decision that was made with the Taliban in exchange for Bergdahl’s release.

After hearing all of the buzz I had to look more into the situation to understand what exactly was going on here. According to Bowe Berdahl’s old squad members, he abandoned his post and left a note saying that he did not agree with the war and because of that reason he was leaving the military. Another report said that a soldier was killed while on a mission to rescue Bergdahl. If both are true, then I could only wonder why a squad would pursue a “deserter”, as Bergdahl has been called, in the first place. Secondly, why would the U.S. negotiate with the Taliban, which they have never done before, in exchange for a soldier who is so controversial? Furthermore, we gave the Taliban five detainees and they only gave us one, a trade that seems awfully one sided to me.

While the exact details of the story will likely remain a secret, there are some facts that we could observe like the identity of the five terrorists who were released to Qatari officials. Listed above, these five terrorists were all high ranking officers in the Taliban. People are saying that it is likely that these men will return to their terrorist activities as soon as their one year probation is over. However, I wonder if the real problem is that they return or that their release was the direct result of negotiation with a well-known terrorist cell in Afghanistan.

I wonder what all of the people calling Bowe Bergdahl a “deserter” would do if they were dropped into a war that they knew was wrong. Would they continue to kill people for reasons that they themselves cannot explain? I ask this question because I hear so many people saying that Bowe Bergdahl should have been left to die in captivity instead of released. The courts are pondering whether or not to put him on trial for those crimes. However, I doubt that half of the people saying these things have been put in a situation like his. Maybe the real question that should be asked is why are U.S. soldiers doubting their responsibilities in Afghanistan in the first place? Maybe, just maybe, these soldiers don’t want to kill the Afghans anymore. Maybe they know that we never should have invaded and occupied a country for the reasons that we did.

I’m not defending either side but I do like questioning everything. If you heard about this story and have your own opinion on what happened then leave a comment. I would love to hear back from you guys and know what you think should be done.

 

Bowe Bergdahl

Bowe Bergdahl

 

Slave Labor in Qatar?

Transporting new migrant workers to Doha, Qatar

Transporting new migrant workers to Doha, Qatar

How far would your country be willing to go in order to host the World Cup? Well, if your country is Qatar, then you could say they are willing to kill for that opportunity. Amnesty International, a transnational human rights organization, reported that over 568 workers have died since January 2012 while preparing for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar. As more light is being shed on the issue, Qatar has been pressured to reform its current labor laws. While talks are underway to discuss the situation, the fact remains that nothing has been done to protect these migrant workers.

Currently Qatar has a labor law that allows corporations to control their employees’ exit visas. What this means is that by law, an employer could deny its employee the right to leave the country if they wish to do so. Recently I wrote a post on the migrant workers of Dubai, who suffer from a similar policy. Apparently, these construction corporations seek out poor immigrants from neighboring countries, mostly India, and then offer them an opportunity to provide for their families back home. These companies charge them what is known as a visa fee to cover their flight and work visa expenses, though they charge much more than necessary. Since their target employees are extremely impoverished people, the corporations offer a loan program to cover the visa fee.

Once the migrant workers arrive in Qatar, they find that they receive only a portion of their promised wage. The companies apply absurd interest rates on their visa fee loans and then withhold the promised wages so that these employees are not able to generate any real income. If they request their exit visa to return back to their country, the companies deny their request. The result is a slave workforce that is subjected to terrible living and working conditions. The companies responsible for this tragedy benefit from the free labor while Qatar benefits from the revenue of those very same companies. The fact that this is happening today in the year 2014 is beyond my comprehension.

I find it very upsetting that this situation is not making the news. My hope is that whoever reads this post and my other post on Dubai will spread the word about this. As of today, it’s estimated that 1.4 million migrant workers are constructing the 2022 World Cup stadium and surrounding structures in Qatar. If these companies continue their enslavement practices and Qatar does nothing to stop them, then who will? How many more will have to die or suffer for the World Cup before action is taken? If you’re an avid soccer fan and were planning on attending this event, you should know that the stadium was built on the blood, sweat and tears of enslaved migrant workers.

Are you from Qatar or India? Have you ever heard about these practices? Leave me a comment and let me know what you think about this situation. Thank you for stopping by and if you like this post or any others make sure to subscribe to my blog.

Article Sources:

1.

http://gulfnews.com/news/gulf/qatar/qatar-pressed-to-protect-world-cup-workers-1.1327507

2.

http://www.amnesty.org

World map of Qatar

World map of Qatar

Migrant workers in Qatar resting on site

Migrant workers in Qatar resting on site

 

Migrant workers in Doha, Qatar

Migrant workers in Doha, Qatar

Map of Qatar

Map of Qatar

Cannibal Warlord, General “Butt Naked”

Do you remember the last time that you ate a child’s heart so that you could be invincible in battle? Can’t recall ever doing so? Well take a look at this documentary that I found on youtube.com. The documentary was produced by Vice News, a news agency that does in depth reporting across the globe. In this documentary Shane Smith, Vice News co-founder and field correspondent, travels to the west African nation of Liberia to investigate the so called Cannibal Warlords that live there. Let me warn you that the documentary has some strong content.

After exploring several parts of Liberia, Shane Smith lands a shady interview with former General “Butt Naked.” The general, who gave himself the name “Butt Naked”, explains the origin of his name to Shane. He tells the reporter that he chose this name because of his combat strategy during Liberia’s civil war. A strategy in which he would instruct his rebel soldiers to strip down completely before battle. Once fully nude, he would have his soldiers bring an innocent child to him for ritualistic purposes. He would then cut the child’s heart out of his/her chest, while still alive, and have each of his soldiers consume a piece of it. General “Butt Naked” explained to his soldiers that this sacrifice would bring them magical powers in combat and make them invincible. Only then would the General and his soldiers go into battle, while still completely nude I should add. This ritual of sacrifice was repeated before every single battle, thus causing the needless slaughter of hundreds of innocent children during the war.

Today General “Butt Naked” spends his days preaching to his community. He converted to Christianity after the war and now preaches at churches around Liberia about his struggle with his violent past. Former victims of his cannibal rituals say that he converted to Christianity only to avoid punishment for his war crimes. So the former general’s life is now in constant danger of attack from people affected by his military past. According to him these are false accusations. He says that the reason he converted to Christianity was so that he could be a better person and more importantly a better father to his young daughter. Though he takes the full blame for his actions, he recognizes that if his parents would have raised him instead of abandon him, then he might be a different man today. That thought is what motivates him to be a better father and a better person with the help of Christianity.

I tried to put myself in his shoes and imagine what life must have been like for him in Liberia. I wonder what kind of trauma he experienced before deciding that killing children and eating their hearts was the right thing to do. Maybe he’s just a psychopath with no remorse, incapable of distinguishing right from wrong. However it seems odd to me that a person who is incapable of knowing right from wrong would choose to devote the rest of his life to Christianity seeking forgiveness for his sins. The question of whether or not this man should be executed for his crimes remains a mixed issue. Does punishing a person’s ignorance with death solve the issue of ignorance? Does not punishing this man solve the issue of ignorance? I’m not sure what the solution is, if there even is a solution, but what I do know is that this country and its people are completely foreign to me. I will pray for them and hope that change comes sooner than later…

I would love to hear from someone living in Liberia. If you are from there or have family that lives there, please reply to this blog post. I want to hear your story and know what it is like for you as a citizen of Liberia. I look forward to hearing back from you soon.

Post Sources

cia.gov

youtube.com

Liberia in Africa Liberia with neighbors

Source (Picture 1)                                                                              Source (Picture 2)

 

 

15 Quick Facts about Liberia

Official Language: English (Though only 20% of the population exclusively speaks English)

President: Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, since 2006 (She was reelected in 2011 with 90.7% of the total vote in her favor)

Religion: 85.6% Christian, 12.2% Muslim

Total Population: 4,092,310

Capital: Monrovia

Median Age of Population: 18 years old (U.S. median age: 37 years old)

Sanitation Facility Access: 18.2% of the total population (81.8% with no access to restrooms or sewage infrastructure)

Health Expenditures: 19.5% of GDP

Physician Density: 0.01 Physicians/1000 people (Whatever you do don’t get sick in Liberia)

Education Expenditures: 2.8% of GDP

Total GDP: $2.89 Billion U.S. Dollars (Mark Zuckerberg’s Net Worth: $26.6 Billion U.S. Dollars)

Average Annual Income (Per Person): $700.00 U.S. Dollars (Qatar’s average is the highest at: $102,100 U.S. Dollars)

Privately Owned T.V. Stations: 3

Total Internet Users: 20,000 people (That’s less than 1% of the entire population)

Transnational Issues: Human Trafficking, Drug Trafficking, Civil Unrest, Refugee Disputes with Neighboring Countries