How the Islamic State Became So Powerful

Islamic State Militants with a scud missile at a parade

Islamic State Militants with a scud missile at a parade

Lately the U.S. news networks have all been covering the Islamic State militant crisis in Iraq and Syria. The situation has progressed so quickly that the U.S. has “had to” authorize airstrikes in Iraq to halt the Islamic State advance. Each day we find out more information about this group and their horrific acts against humanity. U.S. Congressmen and women talk about the need for a greater military presence to stop this “cancer” from spreading any further into the already unstable region. President Obama has made remarks about increasing this airstrike campaign in Iraq in order to combat the terrorist organization. All the while everyone seems to have forgotten how this group got to be so influential and powerful in the first place.

Islamic State Militants with a Tank at a parade

Islamic State Militants with a Tank at a parade

How did a group of radical Islamic State militants get the necessary firepower to overrun two countries almost simultaneously? They got their weapons from the most powerful military in the world of course, the United States. Our U.S. military spent trillions of tax dollars on creating, training and arming Iraq’s military with the most modern military equipment. The plan was to leave Iraq’s own people in-charge of their military so that terrorist organizations (like the Islamic State) could not overrun their country again. However, shortly after leaving Iraq’s military in charge of security, the Islamic State militants began attacking their bases and acquiring all of their weapons. Iraq’s military abandoned their posts at the first sign of conflict and of course, left behind all of their brand new U.S. military equipment.

Islamic State Militants hauling away abandoned military equipment

Islamic State Militants hauling away abandoned military equipment

But why does the Islamic State even exist? Didn’t the U.S. destroy all of the terrorist networks in the Middle East over the past decade? No, obviously they didn’t. Here’s what they did do. The U.S. spent trillions of dollars and more than a decade occupying the Middle East only to find that it is the main source of funding for the very terrorists it has been fighting. Airstrikes, drones and other military assets that were used against the people of the Middle East for the sake of ending terrorism have only caused resentment and anger towards the U.S. The result of this campaign has been the creation of a monster. Islamic State militants are now terrorizing their country and undermining everything that the U.S. has done. It seems to me that occupying a foreign nation and battering it with military equipment is not the best solution to ending terrorism after all.

Now I hear that Obama is authorizing airstrikes in Iraq and possibly Syria in the future. I can’t help but wonder why. How is it that this country has not learned from its mistakes? The longer that we occupy the Middle East with our military, the stronger the resistance becomes. The more military equipment that we send to the Middle East, the more powerful the resistance becomes. After more than a decade of war I wonder if we are still fighting terrorists. Or is it possible that now we’re fighting people who are just sick and tired of our occupation of their country. People who have been so battered by our military that they will do anything necessary to get rid of us. The next time that we hear about the Islamic State being a “cancer” in the Middle East, maybe we should ask what caused that cancer in the first place.

Thanks for stopping by. Happy Monday everyone.

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The Terrorist Breeding Grounds of Aleppo, Syria

Crisis continues in Syria as President Bashar al-Assad continues to wage war against his countries citizens. In 2011, several students were tortured by the government regime because of their anti-government demonstrations. Peaceful protests were held shortly after the news broke and Bashar al-Assad’s government opened fire on the citizens. Since then the crisis in Syria has escalated to outrageous proportions as the government uses any resources possible to silence the opposition to his rule. Today Syria has become a breeding ground for Al Qaeda militants as the current state of chaos gives them the foothold they need to radicalize an angered Syrian youth.

Aleppo, Syria’s most populous city, lies in ruins as Bashar al-Assad’s military bombards the Syrian Free Army on a daily basis. Chemical weapons were used against the Syrian people causing an uproar in the international community which led to the destruction of those weapons. However, Bashar al-Assad has since replaced his chemical arsenal with a new type of weapon known as a barrel bomb. Highly inaccurate and ultimately destructive, these barrel bombs are hurled by the military from their airplanes on a daily basis. Innocent citizens are being murdered by these barrel bombs which serve solely to intimidate and further suppress the Syrian people.

Mass migrations of Syrian citizens have led to an overabundance of misplaced people who struggle to survive in neighboring nations. Aleppo itself has lost over 70% of its population since the attacks began and now what’s left is mostly sick, elderly and young citizens who were incapable of escaping the battlegrounds they once called home. Al Qaeda capitalizes on the war torn cities of Syria and has increased their support by the thousands. Offering protection, food, shelter and an opportunity to fight their corrupt government regime, many find it difficult not to join Al Qaeda’s growing forces. This build-up is now spilling over into Iraq, as newly reinforced rebel fighters take control of its cities daily.

Al Qaeda now boasts an increasingly more powerful rebel force as several raids in Iraq have equipped the group with U.S. purchased military equipment. A region wide crisis is underway and the people of Aleppo have been forgotten and overshadowed by the chaos currently taking place in Iraq. The video that I posted above shows just how hostile Aleppo has become and the daily struggle of its remaining population. Ambulances and hospitals are overwhelmed by Bashar al-Assad’s barrel bomb weapons and the destruction that they cause. With little to no coverage on these events, it’s likely that Aleppo will only continue to be the largest recruitment location for Al Qaeda’s rebel forces.

Are you from Syria or do you have family from Syria? Did you leave the country or are you still living there? I would love to hear from anyone who has any insight on the situation. Leave me a comment and let me know what you think about this and as always thanks for stopping by.

 

World Map of Syria

World Map of Syria

Syria's major cities

Syria’s major cities

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

Dubai, A City Built by Slaves?

Dubai Skiing Resort

Dubai Skiing Resort

Largest Hotel in the World

Largest Hotel in the World

Dubai's Artificial Island

Dubai’s Artificial Island

 

 

 

 

Chances are that you’ve heard something amazing about the city of Dubai. Maybe you’ve heard that they built an indoor mountain of snow for skiing in the middle of the desert. Perhaps you’ve heard that they constructed an island for luxury hotels or that they built the largest structure in the world. All of these things are true. However another fact that I’m pretty sure most people haven’t heard about Dubai is that the majority of low wage workers who erected these new structures, are modern-day slaves. Though the words “low wage workers” imply that these men and women make a salary, the truth is that they are slaves from the moment that they arrive. Let me explain what I learned.

After watching a Vice News documentary on youtube.com titled, “Slaves of Dubai” I discovered how these workers become slaves to their employers. The first step is recruiting the future workers in their country of origin. They are told that if they pay a small fee, then they could have the opportunity of working in Dubai. The “small fee” is referred to as a visa fee which supposedly covers the future workers permission to enter Dubai and their air fare. However the truth is that this visa fee is much more than the cost of the plane ticket and that the sole purpose of this fee is to get these future workers to take out a loan. After arriving in Dubai, the workers find that they get half of their promised pay and sometimes, they do not get paid at all.

What’s more, if you complain about the poor living conditions or lack of money, then your passport is revoked. You may find that your wage no longer reaches you but you still work long hard hours in the beating desert sun. The companies charge their “employees” for their living quarters which usually consist of about eight people to one room and forty five people to one bathroom. Most of the workers are paid so little that they find themselves stuck in Dubai with no means of returning home and escalating debt. Though these conditions are illegal in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), they continue to occur. The video that I watched showed a man crying out of desperation, unable to provide for his family back home and unable to return to them. It’s just not right.

Do you live in Dubai or in another city within the UAE? I want to know what your take is on this situation. Do the people in your city recognize this problem, or is it hidden from them and never discussed? Have you ever spoken with a worker from one of these companies? I would love to know if these realities have reached your neighborhood and if anything is being done to stop this. Please let me know what you think.

 

Slave workers in Dubai being transported to their temporary homes outside of the city

Slave workers in Dubai being transported to their temporary homes outside of the city

Slave workers in Dubai living in close proximity

Slave workers in Dubai living in close proximity

Slave workers sleeping in their company provided rooms

Slave workers sleeping in their company provided rooms

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