Posts Tagged ‘Israel grossman’

Nepal’s Medical Worries: Crowded Hospitals, Open Wounds

Uncategorized | Posted by Israel Grossman Attorney
May 03 2015

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Hospital staff members work at the reception area of a hospital in Kathmandu. Some 14,000 were injured in Nepal’s earthquake.

Nicolas Asfouri/AFP/Getty Images


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Hospital staff members work at the reception area of a hospital in Kathmandu. Some 14,000 were injured in Nepal's earthquake.

Hospital staff members work at the reception area of a hospital in Kathmandu. Some 14,000 were injured in Nepal’s earthquake.

Nicolas Asfouri/AFP/Getty Images

An estimated 14,000 were injured in April’s earthquake in Nepal. The caseload is overwhelming hospitals in Kathmandu, says Dr. Bianca Grecu-Jacobs, a resident in emergency medicine from California who was working in Nepal when the quake struck.

“[In] the lobby areas, patients just are on the floor waiting,” Grecu-Jacobs says via Skype from Katmandu. “They strung up IVs for patients who need them in whatever manner they can.”

Grecu-Jacobs is now helping out in a hospital with logistics, working on sanitation and trying to prevent infections. The day of the earthquake, she says, she had been enjoying a bit of a holiday, mountain biking with colleagues. Suddenly, everything changed.

“We felt it,” she tells NPR’s Rachel Martin. “The first thing that we noticed was a house: One of the walls had just fallen down in a huge cloud of dust. It was almost like an explosion happened.”

Interview Highlights

Hospitals’ biggest problems

With those crowded conditions also come concerns with sanitation and infections. Many patients have open wounds that are now being exposed to other patients with similar conditions, dirt. People … weren’t able to be properly cared for quite some time before getting to a hospital. So cleanliness is also an issue, along with space.

Many locations have power

The infrastructure in Kathmandu prior to the quake was not wonderful, so actually many homes, hotels, hospitals actually have their own independent power supplies. There are solar powers all over the city. Many places have generators.

The challenge of homeless patients

The hospital is also struggling with where to discharge patients. Even patients who otherwise don’t need the hospital have nowhere to go. They have no home; they have no clean environment, so even if they have wounds that could be cared for at home, the concern is that if there’s no home, how will they care for those wounds? Will they just come back again with another infection?

Article source: http://www.npr.org/blogs/goatsandsoda/2015/05/03/403938006/nepals-medical-worries-crowded-hospitals-open-wounds?utm_medium=RSS&utm_campaign=world

Italian Coast Guard Rescues 3,700 Migrants In Mediterranean

Uncategorized | Posted by Israel Grossman Attorney
May 03 2015

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Migrants arriving at the Lampedusa island harbor aboard an Italian Coast Guard ship early Sunday. Ships rescued 3,690 migrants in just one day from smugglers’ boats on the Mediterranean Sea off the Libyan coast, the Italian Coast Guard says.

Mauro Buccarello/AP


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Migrants arriving at the Lampedusa island harbor aboard an Italian Coast Guard ship early Sunday. Ships rescued 3,690 migrants in just one day from smugglers' boats on the Mediterranean Sea off the Libyan coast, the Italian Coast Guard says.

Migrants arriving at the Lampedusa island harbor aboard an Italian Coast Guard ship early Sunday. Ships rescued 3,690 migrants in just one day from smugglers’ boats on the Mediterranean Sea off the Libyan coast, the Italian Coast Guard says.

Mauro Buccarello/AP

Italy’s coast guard says it has managed to rescue some 3,700 migrants in a single day from smuggler’s boats off the coast of Libya in 17 separate operations designed to stem the tide of illegal immigration to Europe from refugees leaving North Africa.

The operations took place just weeks after an estimated 800 migrants were drowned when their boat capsized en route to the Italian island of Lampedusa.

Italy’s version of The Local news website said all the survivors were brought ashore in Italy and that some reached Lampedusa. It quoted the coast guard as saying rescue operations were continuing on Sunday.

According to the website: “The mild spring weather and the calm summer seas are expected to push total arrivals in Italy for 2015 to 200,000, an increase of 30,000 over last year, according to an Interior Ministry projection. At least 1,750 migrants have died so far this year attempting to cross the Mediterranean Sea to Italy.”

Article source: http://www.npr.org/blogs/thetwo-way/2015/05/03/403969126/italian-coast-guard-rescues-3-700-migrants-in-mediterranean?utm_medium=RSS&utm_campaign=world

Yemen’s Descent, Through A Photographer’s Lens

Uncategorized | Posted by Israel Grossman Attorney
May 03 2015

Editor’s Note: Photographer Alex Potter arrived in Yemen in 2012 as the country was going through an uprising, part of the broader upheavals in the Arab world. She has lived in the capital Sanaa for much of the past three years, growing deeply attached to the country and the people even as Yemen has descended into chaos.

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A young boy carries a rifle in Yemen's capital Sanaa. When photographer Alex Potter arrived in Yemen in 2012, men had guns but rarely displayed them publicly. Now, as the country has collapsed into civil war, men and boys are often armed.

When I landed in Sanaa three years ago, men carrying guns on the street was a rare sight. Yes, every man owns at least one, but I rarely saw them displayed publicly, even among the more rural and traditional tribesmen. Now even young boys carry rifles, like the one in the photo above. He’s part of a generation that’s being lost to the turmoil of Yemen: a country torn by war, with no clear direction or solution at hand.

So how did Yemen get to this point?

I knew very little about Yemen when I first came and chose it partly by default. With so much unrest in the region, Yemen was one of the places I thought I could live and work in relative safety. After three years in the country on and off, I can’t imagine living anywhere else. Other countries have housed me, but only Yemen became my home. So when the ongoing troubles finally boiled over into war, my heart broke.

Yemenis were full of hope three years ago. The man who had dominated Yemen for more than three decades, President Ali Abdullah Saleh, was forced to step down though a combination of internal opposition and pressure from regional countries like Saudi Arabia.

Not many were satisfied with his replacement, Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi, the man who had been vice president. But Yemenis voted anyway in a one-sided election in 2012, hoping for a new start. For all Yemen’s problems, it was a place of enthusiastic young people, with a vibrant and ancient culture, and men and women who never seemed to give up hope. Like this crowd below, which gathered in Change Square in Sanaa on the night before the 2012 election. The mood was upbeat.

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Yemen's Descent by Alex Potter

Though Yemen is plagued by corruption, malnutrition, poverty, and many restrictions on women, the country is much more than its stereotypes. I was always struck by the generosity of the place.

When one family does not have enough to eat, neighbors share their food. When two shopkeepers work side by side, they alternate customers. When someone is out of money, the community provides.

But the drawn-out political transition in 2012-13 created many strains, pulling the country in different directions: North versus South, Youth versus the Old Guard, religious parties versus more secular ones. Still, the Yemenis remained optimistic. Tourists began to trickle back in the summer of 2012 and the following year some businesses were back in full swing. Young women comfortably engaged in a spirited discussion against a backdrop of posters for political candidates.

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Yemen's Descent by Alex Potter

My photographs are more lively from those days. They show birthday parties, chewing qat (a ubiquitous, leafy stimulant), hiking in the green mountains, and walking through the streets at night. Boys rode four-wheelers across the desert sands. Girls from southwestern city of Taiz stayed up late during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan and the Eid holiday that followed. Yemeni women in the port city of Aden gathered on Women’s Day, and took bus trips across the southern coast to Mukalla, calling for independence (there were two Yemens, north and south, before Yemen united and became one country in 1990.)

As Yemen took a turn for the worse in 2014, the country grew more insular, as did my photos. I stayed home and rarely traveled. In a place that always seemed full of light, I began to see darkness.

Friends were kidnapped, others were killed and al-Qaida grew bolder in the areas where it operates. Yemeni political leaders refused to compromise, resulting in fighting and deaths on all sides. Yet daily life carried on, adjusting slightly for political realities: children still went to school, hospitals remained open, and weddings still happened daily — though as with the woman below, fewer guest turned out than expected due to the unrest.

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Yemen's decent by Alex Potter

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Yemen's Descent by Alex Potter

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Yemen's Descent by Alex Potter

Yemen is a country that is isolated geographically. Its people are extremely independent and tend to have their own ways of working things out, whether it’s personal or political. When outsiders get involved, it has often ended badly. The Ottoman Empire tried to occupy Yemen, but never fully succeeded. Egypt sent troops in the 1960s during a civil war in what was then North Yemen, but were bogged down for years.

This history has made Yemenis, and many others, deeply skeptical about Saudi Arabia’s military campaign in Yemen. The Saudi airstrikes have been directed at the Houthi rebels, part of a minority group that has seized the capital and other areas. But civilians have been hit in both the north and the south, with bombs striking refugee camps, schools, hospitals, water and power supplies.

The danger now is that the war could escalate and spread throughout the country as it has in places like Syria, Iraq and Libya. My friends still in Yemen fear that the war will tear apart their country which, despite its many problems, has a rich culture, warm people and a magnetic allure for anyone who spends time there.

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Yemen's Descent by Alex Potter

Article source: http://www.npr.org/2015/05/03/402034806/yemens-descent-through-a-photographers-lens?utm_medium=RSS&utm_campaign=world

Conditions Slowly Improve After Nepal Quake

Uncategorized | Posted by Israel Grossman Attorney
May 02 2015

Power is on in most areas of Kathmandu and the Internet is working, but tens of thousands are homeless. NPR’s Scott Simon talks with correspondent Russell Lewis in Nepal about earthquake recovery.

Article source: http://www.npr.org/2015/05/02/403766858/conditions-slowly-improve-after-nepal-quake?utm_medium=RSS&utm_campaign=world

Novelist Ruth Rendell, Author Of ‘Wexford’ Books, Dies At 85

Uncategorized | Posted by Israel Grossman Attorney
May 02 2015

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A September 1995 photo shows Ruth Rendell, in London. The prolific crime writer died Saturday at the age of 85.

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A September 1995 photo shows Ruth Rendell, in London. The prolific crime writer died Saturday at the age of 85.

A September 1995 photo shows Ruth Rendell, in London. The prolific crime writer died Saturday at the age of 85.

Max Nash/AP

British mystery and crime writer Ruth Rendell — one of the most prolific authors in the genre, with more than 60 novels — has died at age 85 following a stroke in January, her publisher said in a statement.

“It is with great sadness that the family of author Ruth Rendell, Baroness Rendell of Babergh, CBE, announce that she passed away in London at 8am on Saturday 2 May, aged 85. The family have requested privacy at this time,” Hutchison said in the statement.

Rendell was best known for creating Inspector Reginald Wexford, a character that was later translated for television, becoming a popular series on British TV.

NPR’s Petra Mayer says: “Rendell — along with her friend PD James — pioneered the psychological thriller. Not for her the cozy mystery, Colonel Mustard in the Conservatory with the lead pipe. Her characters were dark and damaged; unraveling her stories required a psychiatrist’s couch, not a detective’s magnifying glass. Rendell told NPR in 2005 that crime itself wasn’t all that interesting.”

“I’m fascinated with people and their characters and their obsessions, and these things lead to crime, but I’m much more fascinated in their minds,” she told NPR.

The BBC says:

“Her first Wexford book, From Doon with Death, was published in 1964, beginning a series of more than 20 starring [Wexford], played in the TV series by George Baker.

“Many of her works were translated into more than 20 languages and adapted for cinema and TV, attracting worldwide sales of 60 million.”

And The Guardian writes: “Her novels, from A Judgement in Stone, which opens with the line ‘Eunice Parchman killed the Coverdale family because she could not read and write,’ to last year’s The Girl Next Door, which sees the bones of two severed hands discovered in a box, cover topics from racism to domestic violence. They have, her friend Jeanette Winterson has said, been ‘a major force in lifting crime writing out of airport genre fiction and into both cutting-edge and mainstream literature.’”

Article source: http://www.npr.org/blogs/thetwo-way/2015/05/02/403776298/novelist-ruth-rendell-author-of-wexford-books-dies-at-85?utm_medium=RSS&utm_campaign=world

Death Toll In Nepal Crosses 6,800

Uncategorized | Posted by Israel Grossman Attorney
May 02 2015

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A Nepali woman cries as she participates in a candle light vigil for victims of last week’s earthquake in Kathmandu, Nepal, on Saturday.

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A Nepali woman cries as she participates in a candle light vigil for victims of last week's earthquake in Kathmandu, Nepal, on Saturday.

A Nepali woman cries as she participates in a candle light vigil for victims of last week’s earthquake in Kathmandu, Nepal, on Saturday.

Niranjan Shrestha/AP

Authorities in Nepal now say the number of dead from a 7.8-magnitude earthquake that hit the South Asian country a week ago has risen to 6,841, as rescue workers recover more bodies from the wreckage. More than 14,000 are reported injured.

NPR’s Russell Lewis, reporting from Kathmandu, says thousands are still missing and some 130,000 homes and buildings have been destroyed and another 10,000 buildings have been demolished, according to the government.

“Still, across Kathmandu today more people are out on the streets, businesses are reopening and trash collection is set to resume on Sunday,” Russell reports.

But there were signs that Nepal’s bureaucracy is hampering relief efforts. The Sydney Morning Herald reports that the government on Friday exempted tarpaulins and ends from import duties:

“[But] UN Resident Representative Jamie McGoldrick said the government had to loosen customs restrictions further to deal with the increasing flow of relief material.”

” ‘They should not be using peacetime customs methodology,’ he said. Material was piling up at the Kathmandu airport instead of being ferried out to victims, McGoldrick said.”

“There was no immediate response from the government but Finance Minister Ram Sharan Mahat had appealed to international donors on Friday to send tents, tarpaulins and basic food supplies, saying some of the items received were of no use.”

Article source: http://www.npr.org/blogs/thetwo-way/2015/05/02/403779441/death-toll-in-nepal-crosses-6-800?utm_medium=RSS&utm_campaign=world

Mayor Of Turkish Capital Replaces Giant Robot Statue With T-Rex

Uncategorized | Posted by Israel Grossman Attorney
May 01 2015

Turkey’s chamber of architects wasn’t amused when the mayor of Ankara installed a giant Transformers statue. They sued, he took down the robot and instead installed a 10-foot tall T-Rex.

Article source: http://www.npr.org/2015/05/01/403474764/mayor-of-turkish-capital-replaces-giant-robot-statue-with-t-rex?utm_medium=RSS&utm_campaign=world

Villages Along Nepal’s Araniko Highway Wait For Quake Relief

Uncategorized | Posted by Israel Grossman Attorney
May 01 2015

A trip along an important road link between Nepal’s capital Kathmandu and China illustrates how hard it is to distribute aid — or even reach some of Nepal’s remote mountainside villages.

Article source: http://www.npr.org/2015/05/01/403474771/villages-dotted-along-nepal-s-araniko-highway-wait-for-earthquake-relief?utm_medium=RSS&utm_campaign=world

How Vietnam Put Picking Presidents In The Hands Of The People

Uncategorized | Posted by Israel Grossman Attorney
May 01 2015

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Tens of thousands of anti-war protesters gathered outside the 1968 Democratic National Convention in Chicago.

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Tens of thousands of anti-war protesters gathered outside the 1968 Democratic National Convention in Chicago.

Tens of thousands of anti-war protesters gathered outside the 1968 Democratic National Convention in Chicago.

Hulton Archive/Getty Images

This week we mark the 40th anniversary of the end of the Vietnam War. On our screens and in our memory’s eye we can see the helicopters lifting the last, desperate evacuees from the roof of the U.S. Embassy in Saigon.

Today, Saigon is Ho Chi Minh City, named for the man who led communist North Vietnam to victory over the U.S.-backed regime in South Vietnam. Two generations have grown up since, and the current regime runs a hybrid economy, trades with the U.S. and welcomes American diplomats and tourists.

Much has changed in the U.S. as well. At least two generations of Americans recall Vietnam as a watershed in their lives. It surely was so for the millions of Americans who served in uniform then, and for millions more who stayed home but had their lives redirected or put on hold.

In many ways, things would never be the same. Even the way we choose our presidents would change.

In the 1960s, much of American life was in flux. Race relations were in turmoil. The civil rights movement transformed the South, schools were integrated, riots wreaked havoc on major cities. Upheavals were underway in the culture as well, in music and dance and other forms of art and expression.

But with all the disruptions and dislocations of the era, the constant source of anxiety and unease was Vietnam. It was on the news every night, on the front page every morning. It was a cloud over family gatherings, a factor in planning one’s life. Although far away in a remote part of the world, the war seemed part of everything else that was uncertain or unstable.

And before the war reached that dramatic endpoint, four decades ago this week, it would change a great deal of American life.

Many of these changes had political implications. The Vietnam War made the draft, which had been a distinct feature of American life since 1940, politically unsustainable. As a consequence, before the war was over, the U.S. had moved to the all-volunteer army it has today.

Although widely welcomed at the time, the end of conscription also closed an era in which military service was a common obligation, a shared experience that, for all its sacrifices, served as a source of national unity.

Vietnam also accelerated the enfranchisement of the 18-year-old voter. The mantra was “if I’m old enough to die for my country, I’m old enough to vote.” Similar sentiments prevailed on college campuses and fostered the growth of a youth culture featuring an array of alternative lifestyles — and a newfound interest in politics. Typically, those politics centered around the war — and around the choosing of the next president.

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A young female protester faces down armed police officers at an anti-Vietnam War demonstration outside the 1968 Democratic National Convention in Chicago.

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A young female protester faces down armed police officers at an anti-Vietnam War demonstration outside the 1968 Democratic National Convention in Chicago.

A young female protester faces down armed police officers at an anti-Vietnam War demonstration outside the 1968 Democratic National Convention in Chicago.

Hulton Archive/Getty Images

The wartime nomination struggles of 1968, when the war was at its peak, and 1972, when the American involvement was winding down, altered the presidential process for the Democrats — and ultimately for Republicans too. Running for president has never been the same.

By 1968, anti-war marches had become a familiar part of life in the United States. But perhaps the most consequential anti-war demonstration came that summer, when tens of thousands of war protestors gathered in Chicago to demonstrate at the Democratic National Convention.

The protestors considered Democrats responsible for the war because the Democrats held the White House and both chambers of Congress. President Lyndon B. Johnson had inherited the war from his predecessors, but he had also chosen to escalate that commitment to more than half a million troops, adding a devastating dimension of high-altitude bombing as well.

“Hey, hey, LBJ,” the protestors chanted, “how many kids did you kill today?”

The pressure on Johnson had grown so great that spring that he had aborted short his re-election bid and thrown the nomination open. That helped start peace talks, but did little to appease the anti-war movement at home.

That summer in Chicago, the demonstrators spilled out of Grant Park and towards the convention itself. Helmeted Chicago police set upon them with night sticks (one official investigating commission would later call it “a police riot”). TV images of the demonstrators being beaten on Michigan Avenue were seen all over the world.

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Officers from the Chicago Police Department push a protester’s head against the hood of a car after he climbed onto a wooden barricade near the Democratic National Convention and waved a Vietcong flag during anti-Vietnam War demonstrations in 1968.

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Officers from the Chicago Police Department push a protester's head against the hood of a car after he climbed onto a wooden barricade near the Democratic National Convention and waved a Vietcong flag during anti-Vietnam War demonstrations in 1968.

Officers from the Chicago Police Department push a protester’s head against the hood of a car after he climbed onto a wooden barricade near the Democratic National Convention and waved a Vietcong flag during anti-Vietnam War demonstrations in 1968.

APA/Getty Images

The spirit of melee even invaded the convention floor. There were shoving matches and shouting matches and at one point the presiding officer was not able to keep order. In the end, however, the convention nominated Johnson’s vice president, Hubert Humphrey, who had not won a single primary. Anti-war delegates and their candidates were rebuffed by the party establishment, which still controlled most of the delegates – regardless of the primaries.

Humphrey’s nomination was the doing of the system, but it also did in the system. In the years that followed, as the war dragged on under a new president (Republican Richard Nixon), Democrats formed a commission to rewrite their rules for selecting delegates to the national convention. The commission would tie the selection of delegates to the results of primaries.

Under the new rules, the anti-war activists who had been shut out in 1968 were able to organize and dominate the nominating process in 1972, turning back a comeback attempt by Humphrey.

Since that time, the Democrats have retooled their rules several times. But they have not disturbed the basic commitment to a grass-roots process that empowers activists and populists and the kind of candidates who can motivate them.

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The 1976 nominating struggle between Ford and Reagan, seen here speaking at the Republican National Convention in Kansas City, showed the growing appeal of putting the nomination in the hands of “the people” – meaning the people who participate in primaries and caucuses.

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The 1976 nominating struggle between Ford and Reagan, seen here speaking at the Republican National Convention in Kansas City, showed the growing appeal of putting the nomination in the hands of the people  meaning the people who participate in primaries and caucuses.

The 1976 nominating struggle between Ford and Reagan, seen here speaking at the Republican National Convention in Kansas City, showed the growing appeal of putting the nomination in the hands of “the people” – meaning the people who participate in primaries and caucuses.

Hulton Archive/Getty Images

It did not take long before the Republican Party followed suit. While their process in 1972 was traditional, the 1976 nominating struggle between incumbent President Gerald R. Ford and challenger Ronald Reagan showed the growing appeal of putting the nomination in the hands of “the people” – meaning the people who participate in primaries and caucuses. In the decades since, the GOP has moved ever closer to the Democrats in their nominating rules, emphasizing the power of the primaries to select the nominee.

It has often been observed that the candidates chosen by these more egalitarian processes have not necessarily been superior to their historical predecessors – either as candidates or as chief executives.

But it is difficult to see how either party can now dial back on its commitment to letting the people – at least those people active in party voting – be the deciders of presidential nominations. That die was fatefully cast almost half a century ago, in the struggle to end the war in Vietnam.

Article source: http://www.npr.org/blogs/itsallpolitics/2015/05/01/403507851/how-vietnam-put-picking-presidents-in-the-hands-of-the-people?utm_medium=RSS&utm_campaign=world

Is Bashar Assad Just Losing Some Ground … Or His Grip On Power?

Uncategorized | Posted by Israel Grossman Attorney
Apr 30 2015

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People gather around a helicopter reportedly belonging to Syrian government forces that crashed in March in Jabal al-Zawiya in northwest Syria. Islamist rebels captured four crew members, while a fifth was killed, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. Opposition fighters have made a number advances in recent weeks.

Ghaith Omran/AFP/Getty Images


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People gather around a helicopter reportedly belonging to Syrian government forces that crashed in March in Jabal al-Zawiya in northwest Syria.  Islamist rebels captured four crew members, while a fifth was killed, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. Opposition fighters have made a number advances in recent weeks.

People gather around a helicopter reportedly belonging to Syrian government forces that crashed in March in Jabal al-Zawiya in northwest Syria. Islamist rebels captured four crew members, while a fifth was killed, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. Opposition fighters have made a number advances in recent weeks.

Ghaith Omran/AFP/Getty Images

The past few weeks have brought almost daily news of rebel victories in their four-year old battle against Syria’s President Bashar Assad.

There was the capture of the crucial Nassib border crossing with Jordan – a key trade route and source of government taxes. And some of the biggest rebel victories have come in the northern province of Idlib, where the opposition recently captured the provincial capital, Idlib City, as well as military bases and other key towns.

“Thank God, after the liberation of the provincial capital there was a big wave of hope,” said a jubilant rebel spokesman in Idlib, who uses the nickname Abu Yazeed for fear of regime reprisals.

Speaking via Skype, he said the main reason for that victory was a newfound unity among the diverse rebel factions that have sometimes fought each other as much as the Assad regime.

Lina Khatib, director of the Carnegie Middle East Center, says the main backers of the opposition, Turkey, Qatar and Saudi Arabia, used to be at odds.

“In the past, Saudi Arabia and Qatar, because of their political rivalry, had seen in the Syrian context the opportunity to increase their influence in the region in general and so they both supported different groups,” Khatib said.

This contributed to fragmentation and infighting among the rebels. But in March a new grouping called the Army of Conquest was unveiled. It includes a range of mainly extremist Islamist groups, including the al-Qaida affiliated Jabhat al-Nusra and extremist Ahrar al-Sham.

“Now that there have been political conversations taking place between Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Turkey, this is resulting into further co-operation between rebel groups,” Khatib says.

These forces are sometimes welcomed by local citizens, who have suffered under Assad, and sometimes greeted with suspicion and fear amid concerns that they want to implement a strict version of Sunni Islam that considers non-Sunnis to be infidels.

Fighters from a coalition of Islamist forces stand on a huge portrait of Syrian President Bashar Assad in March in the Syrian city of Idlib in the northwest part of the country. The capture of Idlib was one of several significant victories by the opposition in recent weeks.

Zein Al-Rifai/AFP/Getty Images


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Nonetheless, their gains are tangible. In addition to their strengths, Assad’s forces also seem to be getting weaker, according to analysts and fighters on both sides. One French scholar and author on Syria, Fabrice Balanche, says maybe 50,000 Syrian government soldiers have been killed and recruitment is sluggish.

“It’s very difficult for the government to bring new soldiers. And after four years of fighting, the soldiers are tired,” Balanche says.

NPR spoke with people across Syria who described army checkpoints that are looking for men who may be dodging military service. The core support for Assad comes from about 10 percent of Syrians who share his Alawite faith. But Balanche says even Alawites are refusing more often.

In Beirut, former Lebanese Gen. Hisham al-Jaber says fighting a guerrilla war has been devastating.

“I think the Syrian army, the power – you know – military power of the Syrian army still working at between 60 percent and 70 percent,” he says.

In a northern Syrian town, where most residents are Christian or Alawite, one man told NPR that there’s been a soldier’s funeral wending its way through the town – with patriotic chants and shooting in the air – at least once a week throughout the four years of fighting.

More On Syria

The man says he’s afraid of the regime and would only give his last name, Elias. He says that Syrian patriotism is slipping away and last week residents shot at recruiters trying to take men away for military service.

In the past, Iranian commanders have led foreign fighters and Syrian paramilitaries to bolster Assad’s troops. There is no immediate sign that will stop but they did not prevent the recent losses and some analysts see a reluctance to conduct high-profile military operations.

Khatib, the analyst with Carnegie, thinks Iran is holding back now because it doesn’t want to jeopardize the nuclear negotiations taking place with world powers.

“At the moment Iran is doing the minimum possible to keep the regime alive,” she says.

Alive, but weak. Meanwhile, the rebels continue their bloody push forward.

Article source: http://www.npr.org/blogs/parallels/2015/04/30/403055744/is-bashar-assad-just-losing-some-ground-or-his-grip-on-power?utm_medium=RSS&utm_campaign=world