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WORLD & NATION
Arab League suspends Syria, imposes sanctions
By Charlotte Cloyd
Unrest, protests and violence continue
in the Middle East. On Nov. 12, the Arab
League threatened to suspend Syria until
its government, headed by president Bashar
al-Assad, ceased violent attacks on anti
government protestors. In an emergency
meeting held on Nov. 16, the Arab League
confirmed the suspension.
Government loyalists protesting the
suspension by the Arab League stormed
the Saudi Arabian and Qatar embassies as
well as the French and Turkish consulates,
according to A1 Jazeera. The Turkish
government decided to promptly withdraw
Turkish citizens stationed in Syria.
The Arab League has suspended Syria
because of the extremely violent crackdown
on anti-government protests that has
resulted in an estimated total of over 3,500
deaths since March, according to CBC News.
Syrian president Assad, who has held
office since 2000, has been criticized greatly
by the international community for the
violence that has taken place in Syria.
According to The New York Times, on
Nov. 18, the Arab League decided to send
500 civilian monitors to Syria in order to
check on the country's promise to end cruel
and violent treatment of protestors. This
decision was a surprising follow-up on their
decision earlier in the week to suspend Syria
altogether from the league.
The peace deal the Arab League extended
to Syria on Nov. 16 offered to delay the
suspension, on the condition that the
government halt its violent crackdown on
protestors and remove troops and tanks
In a New York Times article, reporters
Aida Alami and Nada Bakri illustrated the
Arab League's attempts to stop the rising
number of deaths in Syria through extension
of a peace deal.
"The draft resolution condemns the
'systematic' human rights violations by the
Assad government, including 'arbitrary
executions, excessive use of force and killing
and persecution of protesters and human
rights defenders, arbitrary detention,
enforced disappearances, torture and ill-
treatment of detainees, including children,"'
the New York Times reports.
In order for the Arab League to consider
ending the suspension, Assad must end the
human rights violations that his military is
currently carrying out.
Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip
Erdogan issued a call for Assad to step
down from office. He challenged Assad to
consider history and recognize the deaths
of dictators because of their violent rulings
against the people of their countries.
"If you want to see someone who has
fought until death against his own people,
just look at Nazi Germany, just look at
Hitler, at Mussolini, at Nicolae Ceausescu
in Romania," said Erdogan in a televised
speech. "If you cannot draw any lessons
from these, then look at the Libyan leader
who was killed just 32 days ago."
Breakaway groups of protestors in Syria
have admitted to engaging in violent
disputes. Most recently, the Free Syrian Army
— made up of army deserters — assumed the
blame for attacking an intelligence station in
a city outside of Damascus. In addition, on
Nov. 14, government troops and military
deserters engaged in a violent exchange
that resulted in the death of several dozen
According to Mark C. Toner, a State
Department spokesman in Washington,
D.C., the U.S. does not have detailed or
thoroughly accurate information on the
violent unrest in Damascus and across the
country, but the U.S. still publicly opposes
the violence occurring in Syria.
"We don't condone (the violence) in any
way, shape or form, but let's be very clear
that it is the brutal tactics of Assad and his
regime in dealing with what began as a
nonviolent movement (that are) now taking
Syria down a very dangerous path," said
Toner to the New York Times.
According to A1 Jazeera, U.S. Secretary
of State Hillary Clinton spoke about the
increase in violent disputes between army
defectors and the national military.
"I think there could be a civil war with
a very determined and well-armed and
eventually well-financed opposition that is,
if not directed by, certainly influenced by
defectors from the army," said Clinton.
The Arab League issued a statement to
President Assad indicating that he had until
midnight on Nov. 19 to cease attacks and
withdraw troops from cities.
On Nov. 26, the Arab League passed
pending sanctions on Syria. The sanctions
impose constraints on flights into the
country, as well as putting a hold on the
movement of money in banks and limiting
the travel of Syrian officials.
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Nuclear weapon development in Iran raises new fears
By Travis Linville
Weapons of mass destruction. Speculation and fear. Threat to
the United States. Increasing tensions.
No, this is not Iraq circa 2003, but its Middle Eastern neighbor:
On Nov. 8, the International Atomic Energy Agency issued a
report stating that Iran, claiming only to want nuclear-generated
electricity, has taken steps toward developing nuclear weapons.
The report has created fear and speculation among many
However, after the long-lasting Iraq war, Americans are less
likely to support another war over a nuclear threat. Robert
Duncan, visiting assistant professor of political science, spoke
about the potential for a U.S. military attack against Iran.
"Not going to happen," said Duncan. "No way. Nada. Zip.
Zero. Zilch. No chance. The Israelis? Yes, maybe."
Israel distrusts Iran's motives. This distrust and the IAEA's
recent report have resulted in Israeli and American efforts to halt
Iran's program through economic sanctions. If the sanctions fail,
Israel may pursue military action, said The New York Times.
"Right now, it seems like Israel or the United States is going to
attack Iran for their potential to develop nuclear weapons, and
that's not a legitimate reason," said Joe Cole, visiting assistant
professor of philosophy. "It's not legitimate unless they actually
have nuclear weapons and are planning to use them against
someone. Only then is there a just cause for war."
Under the principles of Just War Theory, there must be a
legitimate cause for war, such as a nation's self-defense against
an immediate attack, a humanitarian crisis like genocide or
starvation that shocks our moral conscience, or the support of a
legitimate revolutionary or independence movement.
"The rhetoric of, 'They have nuclear weapons,' is used to
scare the public," said Cole. "But that doesn't pass muster in
international law. That's where double standards come in. We
have nuclear weapons; we found out Israel has them, and they
haven't signed the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. ... If we
have our own, it's unfair for us to tell other countries that they
can't have nuclear weapons."
Senior Claire Massagee, political science and information
technology major, detailed the politics of nuclear weapon
"I do not feel happy about the creation of any more nuclear
weapons," said Massagee in an email interview. "However, I
understand the motivations for wanting a nuclear weapon of
one's own. Some countries feel threatened by other nuclear
powers, or perhaps they want extra leverage on the world stage."
However, several countries want to prevent Iran from gaining
According to The New York Times, the U.S., Britain and Canada
have implemented economic sanctions against Iran to weaken
their potential for further nuclear development. Historically,
however, issuing sanctions carries severe consequences.
"Sanctions against Iraq in the '90s — after we pushed the
Iraqis out of Kuwait — put misery and suffering on the people,"
said Cole. "It's estimated that one million people died — half of
them children — as a result of the sanctions and the bombings of
hospitals, roads, and water-treatment facilities."
Governments opposed to Iran's nuclear program have
supported the economic sanctions. The U.S. fears that sanctions
could drive up the price of oil, increasing costs for U.S. consumers,
netting eventual profits for oil-rich Iran. Because of this, Iran has
not yet been placed under crippling sanctions.
However, there have been other setbacks to Iran's nuclear
One example was sabotage in the form of the Stuxnet
computer virus in 2010, likely created by Israel and/or the U.S.
The virus disrupted Iran's nuclear program but did not stop it
completely. Massagee, working on a thesis project on Stuxnet,
explained the worm and the potential for similar strategies.
"Similar forms of sabotage seem unlikely in the near future,"
said Massagee. "Stuxnet had many different versions, but once it
was discovered, Iran likely took the necessary steps to eradicate
it from the system to prevent further infection. And Iran is likely
much more wary of such an attack. This worm took 10,000 man
hours to create, according to folks at Microsoft. It is unlikely an
even more advanced and sneaky worm could have yet been
The Stuxnet worm only set back Iran's efforts. Iran will
continue to develop their nuclear program, even amid increasing
pressure from other nations.
It s a cosmic conundrum, said Duncan. "They are on the
path to developing nuclear weapons, and they're going to do
that come hell or high water. As long as it's possible, they will
keep pushing to develop them. That's the thing about (Iranian
President Mahmoud) Ahmadinejad — he doesn't care what the
international community thinks of him; he's immune to that
For an update on the recent developments in Syria and Iran
see the News in Briefs, found on page 5. "