The Syrian Conflict: a Dog’s Breakfast

I live in North Cyprus which is in the eastern Mediterranean with Turkey to the North, Lebanon, Syria, Iraq and Iran to the east, and Egypt, Libya and Tunisia to the south and west. So we are in the eye of the storm which is the Syrian conflict because Cyprus has two British sovereign bases, Akrotiri and Dikelia, both of which are in Greek-Cyprus in the south. And British warplanes have been landing  in those bases (although the vote in the British Parliament has stymied military action by Prime Minister Cameron et al) while US warships are stooging around in the Mediterranean in ever great numbers.

When we were talking about moving here, some people counselled against saying it’s a dangerous region. Which is true, but you can’t live your life trying to stay in the safe zone all the time.  You take your chances and it’s in the lap of the gods what happens. You’ve just got to live your life according to your intuition and what your heart tells you.

So our hearts told us to move to North Cyprus and here we be, right in the middle of the action, so to speak. Admittedly we are not in a state of war and things are pretty peaceable here at present. Nevertheless, because we’re situated in this region, we get perspectives perhaps not seen elsewhere in the world.

I don’t want to deny the Syrian situation is appalling.  Anyone who tries to deny that is off their rockers. The scenes of children in fear, dying, people dead, people struggling for their lives are dreadful and, rightly, fill good people with pity, anger and a desire for action.

But there’s no simple answer and I have to say I’m extremely cynical about the sudden rush by the US, British and French administrations to military action supposedly over the use of chemical weapons.  For a start, despite all the hyperbole about chemical weapons, the US has its own stock of unpleasant weapons:  phosphorous and depleted uranium shells and delayed-action cluster bombs. It’s a bit hypocritical to suddenly embrace horror of chemical weapons when the US has at its disposal – and uses – pretty fearful mass weapons itself.Peace better than war

Let’s be honest, since the conflict erupted in Syria, Western nations have been circling the country trying to work out how best to get an end result which suits Western interests, particularly those of the US, and their strategic interests in this region.

So I nearly choked on my Weetbix a few days ago when I heard a spokesperson for the US administration proclaim that bombing Syria (which will kill civilians without a doubt, adding to the suffering, but if you call the deaths “collateral damage” perhaps people won’t realise you’re talking about innocent, dead people) was not intended to bring about regime change.

Oh, sure, and i just saw a few pink flying pigs wafting past!  Of course any intervention on the part of Western nations or  Arab allies is intended to bring about regime change. Everyone  – the US, France, the UK, Saudi Arabia, Iran, Iraq, Lebanon, Israel, the Arab League – all want a piece of the action in the very dangerous destabilisation of Syria. And like the illegal war in  Iraq, they seem to have absolutely no understanding of the Pandora’s box which they are likely to open. Or if they do, they’re so arrogant, they don’t care.

Moreover, why the rush to aggression? The UN investigating teams have been in Syria to examine the use of chemical weapons and will eventually report back to the UN where evidence and reports can be examined by the Security Council and other member nations.

The US of course is trying to demonise Russia and China for standing in the way of military action against Syria. But it might be pertinent to remember that it’s really a case of Western leaders shooting themselves in the foot. When the Security Council reluctantly endorsed a no-fly zone in Libya a couple of years ago, during the civil war there against Colonel Gaddafi, the US and Britain immediately used that as an opportunity to enforce regime change and get rid of Gaddafi. China and Russia felt betrayed and have not trusted the US and UK administrations ever since. Hence the impasse in the Security Council.

Like I said in the title, Syria – and the rest of the Middle East – is a dog’s breakfast.  Firstly, what we’re seeing in the Middle East is the collapse of the artificially imposed nation structures by the former colonial powers many decades ago.  Now we’re seeing Shia against Sunni; Iran backing Syria; Alawite against Shia and Sunni; the Lebanese Hezbollah backing Assad; the Saudi Arabian Royal Family backing and funding Syrian rebels to out-manoeuvre Iran and topple the Assad regime; Turkey dumping Syria and supporting the rebels; Saudi Arabia pushing the US to intervene in Syria; Saudi Arabia hating the Muslim Brotherhood and funding opponents of the Brotherhood in Egypt, squads of foreign jihadists and members of Al-Qaeda stomping in to add their two bobs’ worth to the devilish brew of the Syrian war.

The Saudis, by the way, are deeply involved in pushing the US to intervene in Syria. Prince Bandar, of the Saudi Royal Family, used to be ambassador to the United States. His voice was one of the loudest urging the United States to invade Iraq in 2003. In the 1980s, he became mired in the Iran-Contra scandal in Nicaragua. For months, according to a report in a British newspaper, as the now director general of the Saudi Intelligence Agency, he has been applying pressure on the White House and Congress over Syria and is believed to have been working with the CIA in training Syrian rebels in Jordan close to the Syrian border.  He is also accused of providing chemical weapons to an Al Qaeda terrorist group which may have been used in the recent chemical weapons attack.

This is the same Saudi Arabia which embraces the deeply conservative Wahhabism sect of Muslims, where women are treated like crap, where beheadings are common, lashings are also common, and where a filthy rich Royal family uses religion as a tool of oppression. And you might also recall that leading lights from Saudi Arabia were flown home from the US to Saudi Arabaia after the 9/11 Twin Towers tragedy without being questioned in any shape or form.

As you can see, it’s a seething cauldron of conflicting interests and who’s doing what to others or funding whom or backing whom is anybody’s guess because it’s such a complex situation and it changes from day to day.

End of EmpireQuite apart from what’s going on between Middle East nations, forces and factions, when Western military nations want to go to war, they suddenly find their compassion basket overflowing as they parade pictures of human suffering in places like Syria. However, we know a few Pakistani people here and they are contemptuous of the crocodile tears shed by President Obama and other senior members of the US administration.

“One militant might get killed when a village is bombed by a drone”, they say. “And in order to do so, the men, women and children of that village get wiped out. Only you don’t see their photos because it’s not in US interests.” These aren’t militant people, by the way, but individuals who are deeply angry at the hypocrisy of seeing innocent deaths in their own country ignored, while the Syrian bodies are laid out because it suits Western governments in fuelling their war plans.

In Afghanistan, civilian villagers are regularly killed by drone strikes and, while it’s for the most part nicely swept under the carpet or simply denied, resentment of foreign occupation forces (which is how US and other military forces are viewed) is growing rapidly.  This was compounded in the past week when a US soldier convicted of killing 16 Afghan civilians received a life sentence, another soldier who killed 13 fellow soldiers was sentenced to death. I’m not in favour of the death sentence, but to Afghanis, it’s a perceived leniency for killing Afghanis in relation to the response to US deaths.

What have been airbrushed from sight are reports that the Assad regime is moving to a more favourable position vis-a-vis the rebels, and so now there is a rush to intervene to tip the balance in support of the rebels. And if we are going to talk about rebels, what exactly do we mean by that term?

Peace not TerrotWhen it comes to nations like Syria or Iran, with stragetic resources like oil and strategic positions vis-a-vis eastern Europe and onwards to China, anyone who bobs up and calls themselves a “rebel”, is welcomed with open arms by US, British and other European leaders. But what about rebels who want to take a nation backwards?  In Syria, for example, there is conflict between those who want a modern, secular society and those who want a traditional, religious society, who want the “old ways” to prevail. Running around among the “rebels” are now fighters from other countries who have decided they too want to wage jihad against the Assad regime yet who have no real connection with Syria.

So who’s to say who’s right? What’s the official “rebel” cause to back?  Who knows?  Only the people of that country.

Yes, it does seem hard to sit back and take no military action against Syria. But it isn’t hard when you consider the propaganda floating around, the use of smoke and mirrors to peddle inflammatory stories, and the likely end result that taking military action against Syria is likely to open a Pandora’s box in the Middle East of conflict the like of which would make the Iraq war look like a walk in the park.

Former US President Jimmy Carter had the right idea when he proposed a peace conference and action through the United Nations which meets with the approval of all members of the Security Council.  It might not be the rush to military action that Western nations want (and won’t that be disappointing for the big armaments manufacturers who make a motza through warfare), but long-term negotiations for the good of the majority of Syrian people far the rush to military action which is only for the strategic interests of the US, its allies and all those in the Middle East with an agenda for their own purposes rather than those of the Syrian people.

       
   

EVEN MORE CHANGES!

In my last post, I talked of the changes I was making in my office. Well, I have made even bigger changes since then.

I have decided to write my book as a blog.  It is far more flexible, more fun and allows me to post photos or videos and other inter-active material as and when I want and when it’s appropriate.

Here’s the link to my book blog, The Crazy Crone – Living a Wild & Adventurous Life  if you’d like to follow it:

http://thecrazycrone.wordpress.com/

And if you’re a fan of Facebook instead, here’s my  new Facebook page for my book:

https://www.facebook.com/pages/The-Crazy-Crone-The-Book/401530049950813

I love creating digital art so I’ve also decided to focus on that. My conventional art gear is packed up and I shall be selling it all in due course.

Digital art suits me down to the ground because it lets me get all the ideas out of my head which I haven’t been able to create on canvas. At the same time, due to degeneration in spinal damage and increasing hip pain, I can spend less time sitting at my desk so it’s not so painful. Office - tidy, Aug 25 2013

And because North Cyprus is fairly isolated, I don’t have to worry about buying supplies overseas which would then need to be mailed here adding to cost. And instead of high costs to post any art orders overseas, I can simply post images on the European Artflakes art sales outlet, and on Fine Art America which is a similar outlet, where people can place orders, the two art sites organise printing and mailing, and I receive a commission on sales.

Moving on: in the spirit of clearing out, I’ve got rid of my spare table and unpacked my remaining crystals as I’ve also renewed my link with rocks, crystals and stones. It feels great to be able to pore over my little crystal buddies again and my workroom feels charged by their presence.

Cyrstal collectionI just admit that this upheaval has really come out of the blue but it just feels right so I’m going with my gut feeling.  I do feel heaps better and lighter and I’m enjoying the space in my workroom now. Not only does it look far less cluttered, I can indulge in my love of dancing which is a great way for me to exercise and loosen up.

Onwards and upwards, teacups!

All Change

When I started the 22-day intuitive art course I’m following, I decided to create an altar for The Empress andThe Empress this is the result. But it’s a case of first you get a little, then you get a lottle!  I have my favorite crystals set up in a cupboard with the doors taken off. And as I cleared the lowest shelf for the altar, I decided I’d re-arrange all my crystals  which then led to me re-arranging my whole study!

In the main I’ve had my worktables lined up against the wall in a line by the window overlooking the Besparmak Mountains  to keep an open space in my workroom. But this time I decided that I was fed up shuffling back and forth between the tables and the shelving with my art materials on it, when I’m creating art. So I moved one of the tables at right angles beside my art materials which means I can just reach for them as I need them.  Much more useful!

Then I had a set of shelving baskets left plus some candles, so they were moved to the window, with the candles on top and at the front my singing bowl from Tibet.  I’ll just have tot keep an eye on the candles, though, as they’re near the hot window and I don’t want them to  melt and droop, although they are pretty solid so I’ll keep my fingers crossed they survive the summer heat okay here in North Cyprus.

Crystal collectionHere are the results:

Study  Office 1 - Aug 2013Office 2 - Aug 2013

 

Being Truthful

I’ve been taking part in a 22-day on-line intuitive art course which follows the 22 archetypal images of The Major Arcana of The Tarot.

It’s been an interesting process because my art has involved not only painting, buThe Emperort creating an altar for The Empress, photography and, now, a dream and a Tarot spread in relation to The Emperor and The Hierophant.  I decided with The Emperor that it was time to assert my authority so created this digital image of myself.  I felt the need for a power necklace so used one I’d bought recently at a market here in North Cyprus, played with Photoshop and Picasa, and really enjoyed stamping “Emperor” on the final photo.

However, this image seemed to open the floodgates and yesterday morning, just before I work, I had a dream which left me feeling emotionally drained all day.  In the dream I was driving along a freeway when I stopped for a break but drove away leaving my driving licence behind. I realised what had happened but a couple had found it and took it to a very cluttered office where they dropped it and lost it.  I hunted around in the office, feeling desperate and asking people for help as my grandmother was dying that night and I had to get back to see her. No-one helped, they all ignored me, and eventually, to my relief, I found the driving licence pinned neatly on a clip with other papers.

Tarot reading - driving licence,grandmother dream

I had a bit of an idea what this dream meant but felt I needed deeper insight, so did a Tarot spread.  As I’ve said before, you can break a dream down into sections, then draw a card for each section. So this is the result and here’s how the breakdown works: 

The Essence of the Dream: 8 of Cups. Leaving something behind, time to move on, healing from past issues and feelings of abandonment.

Driving on Freeway & Forgetting Licence: King of Wands. Feeling confident in present position, but looking for new experience and frustrated with current role.

Couple stopping to pick up licence: 3 of Pentacles.  Intervention to raise awareness of need for practical knowledge and spiritual awareness, to produce work of highest level.

Looking for licence and getting no help: 3 of Swords. Pain from family and conflict in past relationships, understanding the past and letting go.

Finding Licence: The Chariot. Success through strong Will and Determination. Sorting out path to follow.

Grandmother Dying – 2 of Cups. Healing old wounds from past relationships. Stop over-caring for others and nurturing myself to come into balance. New flow of emotional, satisfying energy.

Outcome: Knight of Pentacles. Hard-working, diligent, confident of direction and work.

So to sum up, the dream is telling me that I need to move in a new direction but before doing that, I need to heal past issues.  I’ve been rather fixed about what I want to do but I need to be more flexible.  The current upheaval with the art course is to raise awareness of my need to combine my practical kn owledge and spiritual awareness, to focus on new directions: art and teaching through my writing.  Before I can move forward, however, I need to release pain from family and relationship conflict, to get an understanding of the past and why I’ve reacted the way I have, and to let go.  I can find success through strong will and determination, but also by sorting out my direction and getting focused instead of trying to work on lots of issues.   By sorting out the past I can stop over-caring for others, look after myself better and then a new flow of emotional, satisfying energy will open up. And in so doing, it will lead to hard work, which I’ll enjoy, and feeling focused instead of flailing around in all directions.

Breaking chainsSo having had this dream, I realised I had to address something which has dogged my life – an incident which happened when I was 4.5 involving my parents and being left with feelings of uncertainty, non-acceptance, not being okay, always on the outer, needing approval, over-caring for others to make sure I’m not deserted.  I’m not going into the details of what I can see now what a huge over-reaction by my parents to a minor transgression on my part. But my parents held it over my head until I got to the age of 14, when my father threatened to give me a hiding again – one of his control methods – and I told him that if he touched me, I’d leave the house and never return. He knew I meant it and never raised that threat to me again.

Stuff from childhood can really hang around and it doesn’t matter if it’s minor, if it’s left you with issues, then it’s major for you.  Don’t compare your lot with others who may well be worse off, but it still means you have to deal with what causes you pain because it affects you.

So today I finally shoved my nice, good girl outside on the verandah while, inside in my study, I finally felt it was okay to feel rage towards my father at his treatment of me – the bullying, the verbal assaults which left me feeling like I’d been flattened by a bulldozer, the undermining of my self-confidence, the baiting of me, the casual malice, never being told I was loved and never being hugged. For years I’ve made excuses for my father but today I admitted that I feel RAGE at my treatment over the years and that I hate my father for the way he treated me.  I feel quite awkward using the word “hate” because I’ve always been so nice, but admitting it is honest, particularly in acknowledging his selfishness, manipulation and appalling behaviour as he sank into full-scale, destructive alcoholism.

So what’s happened as a result of all this clear-out? I decided to be realistic about what I can and can’t do.  I have mobility problems which have got worse since I’ve had several falls in the past few months, so I’ve decided that I can’t be as active as I’d like in social justice issues. I’ve also been concerned that I sounded like I was whingeing too much of the time. And I’m also aware that able-bodied people can do a lot more than I can.  So I’ll continue to support social justice causes via donations, signing petitions and posting comments. But now I’m focusing on what feeds my own heart – which is art and teaching through my writing, workshops and courses. 

I feel very good about this, as if I’ve finally whacked my way with a machete through the undergrowth and finally cleared a path for myself which makes me feel very happy when I contemplate the way ahead.

Dream Big