It’s not really about religion, it’s about the power of nations

So far it has felt like a Cold War between Saudi Arabia and Iran, but people are fearful it might soon turn into an open conflict. The Independent reports how the greatest threat to world peace coming from the Middle East is not terrorism but the wider Sunni-Shia religious conflict.

‘This is not really about religion, any more than the wars of religion of the 17th century, or the conflict in Northern Ireland, or the bloodshed in Bosnia. In almost all great so-called religious conflicts, what lies behind the shouting of the clerics is a contest between the power of nations. This one is, in reality, a contest for dominance in the Middle East between Riyadh (Saudi Arabia) and Tehran (Iran).’

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The Guardian also reports on the mounting tension in Lebanon, due to the power struggle between Saudi Arabia and Iran.

‘Now, more than at any point in modern history, Iran and Saudi Arabia are squared off against each other as a race to consolidate influence nears a climax from Sana’a (in the Yemen) to Beirut (in Lebanon).’

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Coal Industry Silently Killing People in Bosnia

There are severe levels of pollution in Bosnia because they’ve switched back to coal in their power plants rather than importing more expensive oil from Russia. A 2 minute video from the BBC explains the danger to life due to this decision.

Bosnia-Herz

It’s a shame when Bosnia is such a beautiful country. We briefly discuss Bosnia in our lessons when we consider all of the conflicts in the last one hundred years. It’s incredible that some students have never heard of Yugoslavia or the conflict from 1992-95.

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Massacre in Burma or is it Myanmar?

A group of people, the Rohingya (Muslim), have been fleeing their homes in their thousands this week and sharing stories with refugee, government and new agencies about their mistreatment in Burma/ Myanmar (majority Buddhist).  More than 160,000 of Burma/ Myanmar’s 1.1 million ethnic Rohingya minority have fled to Bangladesh, bringing with them stories that they say describe ethnic cleansing.

Ethnic cleansing – the mass expulsion or killing of members of one ethnic or religious group in an area by those of another.

FCO 303 - Bangladesh Travel Advice [WEB]

The leader in Burma/ Myanmar is Aung San Suu Kyi, a Nobel Peace Prize winner who said in 1991: “Wherever suffering is ignored, there will be the seeds of conflict, for suffering degrades and embitters and enrages.” There is a petition that she is stripped of her Nobel Prize for not stopping and condemning the attacks on the Rohingya.

News agencies are being cautious with their language when reporting the story as there have also been reports of Rohingya terrorists attacking and killing Buddhists and Hindus. So when they report on a massacre against the Rohingya they use language like the Guardian cannot independently corroborate the villagers’ accounts to protect themselves if the stories do turn out not to be true.

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Only know about the conflict in Syria? Don’t forget the Yemen.

The United Nations believe that over 10,000 have been killed in the two years that conflict has resided in the Yemen. And that 3 million people have been displaced by the conflict.

The United Nations are urging the two sides to bring this conflict to a peaceful end so that the huge humanitarian costs can stop. So who is fighting? The Houthis group, backed by Iran, overthrew the president of Yemen two years ago and took over the capital. The Saudi Arabian backed president fled to the south of the country and is now being supported with the military might of Saudi Arabia. Adding to that, the Saudis are hugely supported by the US and UK.

When it comes to killing innocent civilians both sides can be found guilty. You can also add to the mix child soldiers and over 80% of the Yemen population requiring humanitarian aid to survive.

Isn’t it sad that nobody really talks about it; that so few people really know about it?

Syria’s Banksy

A Syrian rebel fighter has been likened to Banksy for his politically motivated street art around Syria. The artist Abu Malik al-Shami has created some striking wall murals which send a strong political message.

This one made me remember talking about agape with Year 10 students…

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What’s your interpretation?

Heard of the war in the Yemen? Thought not.

You may never have even heard of the Yemen which is just south of Saudi Arabia. So it is therefore highly unlikely you’ve ever heard of the war which has been taking place in the Yemen since September 2014. When rebel troops took over the capital city and ousted the President, Saudi Arabia tried to set up a coalition of countries to fight back and re-instate the old Present because they were fearful that Iran and Shia Islam would rise to dominance.

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In March 2016 the BBC published a report which clearly explains who is involved in the war, and showed that the British were selling weapons to the Saudi troops. When those weapons are used like they were this weekend, killing a funeral party of 140 people, questions should be asked on whether a trade embargo should be put in place against the Saudi kingdom. Amnesty International provide a thorough analysis of the conflict so far.

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UN humanitarian co-ordinator for Yemen, Jamie McGoldrick, condemned Saturday’s strikes on the funeral gathering as a “horrific attack”. He said that aid workers who arrived at the scene had been “shocked and outraged”.

How do long conflicts finally come to an end?

It looks like Colombia’s 52 year conflict will finally come to a peaceful end. It’s rarely made big headlines in the UK but is interesting for students of RE and PSHCE because the end of the conflict sees lots of things happening which we would expect to find at the end of a bloody conflict.

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First up there’s been a peace deal between the insurgents (rebels) and the government. This is going to be voted on by the people of Colombia in a referendum. The Farc rebels have also said they will pay reparations to the victims of this last Cold War conflict. There are thought to have been 260,000 people who died and up to six million people internally displaced by the conflict. With the end of the conflict the Farc rebels are also expected to stop their heavy involvement in Colombia’s drug trade too.

peace deal – an agreement between two or more hostile parties, usually countries or governments, which formally ends a state of war between the parties.

referendum -a general vote by the electorate on a single political question which has been referred to them for a direct decision. Britain had a referendum on leaving or staying in the EU in 2016.

reparations -the compensation for war damage paid by a defeated state/ group. At the Treaty of Versailles Germany was made to pay reparations for the damage caused in WWI. It was one of the reasons the Nazi Party was able to rise to power because the payment of the reparations crippled the Germane economy and people were annoyed at having to pay back so much.

internally displaced -a person who is forced to flee his or her home but who remains within his or her country’s borders. They aren’t allowed to be called refugees as the legal definition of a refugee has to see the person fleeing over the border to another country.