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Syrian soldiers in Eastern Ghouta on April 11
Syrian soldiers in Eastern Ghouta on April 11
Marie-Hélène Miauton

-OpEd-

Tensions are reaching a bursting point over Syria! Just as Saddam Hussein's (hypothetical) possession of weapons of mass destruction led U.S. President George W. Bush to invade Iraq, the (alleged) use of lethal gases on Douma, a district in Syria's Eastern Ghouta controlled by Islamists, now allows Donald Trump to announce harsh reprisals.

Once again, a coalition of the "good" is forming against the "axis of evil," embodied in this case by Russia — which supports Syria, whose president is "a Gas Killing Animal who kills his people and enjoys it," as Trump tweeted with his trademark sense of moderation. Failing to learn the lessons of the past, the Western world is therefore trying to overthrow a secular regime in Syria, just as it did in Iraq, a move that allowed the emergence of this Islamic state that they claim they want to annihilate. Nonsense!

What Trump and others want to destroy in Syria is the regime in place supported by Moscow, which is definitely taking on far too much importance at the moment. This land thus becomes the battleground for monumental geopolitical and economic interests.

Nonsense!

Incidentally, Russia has become the second largest arms exporter in the world after the U.S. Although Russian exports are four times smaller than those of the U.S., the American hawks must be thinking that it cannot be allowed to last! This is why the aircraft carriers are on the move, as are the submarines and the war planes ... preparing for the full-scale demonstration of the superiority of the F-22 over the Sukhoi-24, or of the U.S. military's "nice and new and ‘smart""" — as Trump put it — missiles, over the new Sarmat, which, according to Putin, are "capable of striking targets both via the North and South Poles."

What are we playing at here, under the watchful and totally useless eye of the United Nations? Have we forgotten everything already? The justifications given for invading Iraq, with the aim of supposedly "establishing democracy and pacifying the Middle East by way of an example effect"? Saddam Hussein's alleged ties with terrorist networks when he was actually actively fighting them?

Have we forgotten Colin Powell's incredible claim that Saddam Hussein "investigated dozens of biological agents causing diseases such as gas gangrene, plague, typhus, tetanus, cholera, camelpox and hemorrhagic fever"? Or the false statement of a pseudo-Kuwaiti nurse paid by the U.S. to claim she had seen Iraqi soldiers loot the maternity ward of a hospital in Kuwait and "take babies from the incubators and kill them mercilessly by throwing them to the ground"?

Have we really forgotten everything?

What about the luxurious press service that was stationed in the desert and tasked with feeding the international media with war and technological exploits? Don't we remember that? Or the so-called "surgical war" that actually killed over a million people? Have we really forgotten everything?

It is astonishing to see that Donald Trump, whose unpredictability, recklessness and ridicule are unanimously and constantly denounced, regains his former glory as soon as he proposes to pound Syria, or what's left of it. That Theresa May, whose strategic and tactical weakness is largely deplored, is showing no hesitation in pushing Britain, entangled in the Brexit negotiations, to play war games with its American big brother. That France, which used to know better, is joining the club of good intentions while its trains are on strike, its university campuses blocked by protesters, its reforms badly accepted.

While these heads of state are often judged poorly when it comes to their domestic programs and governing ability, they're considered instantly credible, for some reason, when making major international decisions. And yet, those decision could very well lead to a world conflict or, at the very least, a new bloodbath in the Middle East. Go figure!

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Coronavirus

Chinese Students' "Absurd" Protest Against COVID Lockdowns: Public Crawling

While street demonstrations have spread in China to protest the strict Zero-COVID regulations, some Chinese university students have taken up public acts of crawling to show what extended harsh lockdowns are doing to their mental state.

​Screenshot of a video showing Chinese students crawling on a soccer pitch

Screenshot of a video showing Chinese students crawling

Shuyue Chen

Since last Friday, the world has watched a wave of street protests have taken place across China as frustration against extended lockdowns reached a boiling point. But even before protesters took to the streets, Chinese university students had begun a public demonstration that challenges and shames the state's zero-COVID rules in a different way: public displays of crawling, as a kind of absurdist expression of their repressed anger under three years of strict pandemic control.

Xin’s heart was beating fast as her knees reached the ground. It was her first time joining the strange scene at the university sports field, so she put on her hat and face mask to cover her identity.

Kneeling down, with her forearms supporting her body from the ground, Xin started crawling with three other girls as a group, within a larger demonstration of other small groups. As they crawled on, she felt the sense of fear and embarrassment start to disappear. It was replaced by a liberating sense of joy, which had been absent in her life as a university student in lockdown for so long.

Yes, crawling in public has become a popular activity among Chinese university students recently. There have been posters and videos of "volunteer crawling" across universities in China. At first, it was for the sake of "fun." Xin, like many who participated, thought it was a "cult-like ritual" in the beginning, but she changed her mind. "You don't care about anything when crawling, not thinking about the reason why, what the consequences are. You just enjoy it."

The reality out there for Chinese university students has been grim. For Xin, her university started daily COVID-19 testing in November, and deliveries, including food, are banned. Apart from the school gate, all exits have been padlock sealed.

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