Syrian civil war

The Syrian civil war is a conflict with several sides, mainly four.

  • The Syrian Arab Republic, backed by Hezbollah, Iran and Russia
  • The Syrian opposition, backed by Turkey and several other smaller groups
  • ISIS
  • The Democratic Federation of Northern Syria (SDF)


The protests that led to the civil war began in March of 2011 with protesters in Damascus. They marched for democratic reforms and the release of political prisoners. Security forces set out by the government of Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad opened fire against the protesters, which led to an escalation of the situation. After several people had been killed, protesters demanded the resignation of the president, but he refused to leave. This led to even more protests and several armed militias were organized beginning in July of 2011.


Between April 2012 and December 2013 there were several ceasefire attempts, but none of them lasted. In the end of this period the intensity of the conflict increased and during the end  of the period ISIS became more involved in the conflict. The opposition in Syria suddenly had to fight two enemies, both ISIS and the Syrian government forces. The Syrian government forces also fought against ISIS and the Syrian opposition, and they managed to block rebel supply routes from Lebanon. This meant that the Syrian opposition had huge difficulties fighting against their two opposing sides.


An election was held in 2014, where Bashar al-Assad won 88.7% of the votes. After the election the fight against ISIS intensified, and although it took several years, ISIS is now defeated. Russian forces backed Bashar al-Assad and executed several air strikes against both ISIS and opposition forces in the fall of 2015. In 2016, the Turkish military involved themselves in the conflict, and backed the opposition. They intervened because the SDF won several important cities, and as the Turks see the Kurds as a threat, president Erdogan decided to get involved to crush ISIS and Kurdish “terror groups”.


The US got involved in the Syrian civil war in September 2014. At first they supplied the Syrian rebels with non-lethal aid, but eventually they began training some of the opposition groups, as well as giving them cash and intelligence information. The main goal for the United States has been to remove Bashar al-Assad as leader of Syria, but in the beginning they intervened because they saw ISIS as a threat and decided to take military action to ensure that ISIS would be exterminated. The US forces used drones to attack ISIS targets, which proved effective. When al-Assad decided to use chemical weapons against his own people in 2018, president Donald Trump decided to launch attacks on Syrian cities Damascus and Homs which led to six soldiers and three civilians being injured. After the attacks, hundreds of protesters went out in the streets waving Russian, Syrian and Iranian flags. President Trump called the attacks “a perfectly executed strike”.






To be continued


Today we watched the movie Selma. Selma is a movie about Martin Luther King Jr. and the fight for the right to vote. In 1964, black americans got the right to vote in theory, however, they had to pass a very difficult test before they were given that right. Usually their attempt to register was prevented by the voter registrar. The movie shows the fight that black people fought against racism, injustice and for the right to vote. Martin Luther King Jr. was a minister, and the most visible spokesperson and leader in the civil rights movement in the 1960s

Northern Ireland – Trouble and conflict.

By Sara Kamsvåg and Sondre Bakker


Northern Ireland and Ireland has had a complicated and troubling past. Ireland is an independent country, but Northern Ireland is on the other hand a part of Great Britain. The roots of the conflict go back til 1541 when Henry 8. conquered Ireland and introduced a protestant regime. The government started to give rewards to those landowners who established north of the country. This drove the original population south. In 1922, Ireland resigned from the United Kingdom. It was a hard fight, and six counties remained under British control. It formed Northern Ireland, and its inhabitants were looked at as a lower class. Today there is a split in the Northern Ireland population were one half want to stay as a part of the United Kingdom and the other wants to join the rest of Ireland.


The split has led to conflicts between the catholics in Ireland and the brits. After the Northern Ireland population started a political protest in 1969 the Great Britain sent military to keep order in the province. Among other things, the IRA – which had long led an anonymous existence – revitalized as a powerful military organization, which in the 1970s and 1980s, ran regular military activity against the British forces, in addition to a series of terrorist acts in Britain. The time between 1968 and 1997 is in Ireland called The Troubles, because of the terror during that time.


One of the most cited episodes in the conflict is called The Bloody Sunday, and occurred January 30th 1972, when British soldiers shot at civil right demonstration which killed 13 people and injured 16. This made the relationship between the catholics and the brits even more hateful.


The Good Friday Agreement in 1998 was hailed as one of the former British Prime Minister Tony Blair’s greatest accomplishments. A cease-fire was agreed upon by most of the political parties in Northern Ireland and the British and Irish Government. They committed themselves to use only democratic and peaceful means. In spite of some dissident groups that continue the fight, the Belfast Agreement in 1998 seems to be the most effective effort to end decades, and even centuries of conflicts and disagreements.


When it comes to the Northern Irish – Irish border after Brexit, nobody really knows what will happen. On one hand you have people that would like to keep an open border between Northern Ireland and Ireland, but on the other hand you have people that would reinstate the former border. People of older generations in both Ireland and Northern Ireland would not want to see border crossings be reinstated, they remember The Troubles and would not want to be reminded of the destruction that took place during that time. Not only would it remind people of The Troubles, it would also be time consuming, and expensive. Simply, every civilian moving between Ireland and Northern Ireland would have to be checked every day, both time consuming and expensive for both countries. Another question that is likely to be asked is what will happen with people working on the opposite side of the border (i.e. Irish citizens working in Northern Ireland and vice versa)? Both the Irish and UK governments, as well as the President of the European Council has said that they do not wish for a hard border between the United Kingdom and Ireland, and they want to keep the Common Travel Area agreement. The Northern Irish economy will be severely damaged if they return to a hard border. Their largest trading partner is Ireland, 33.4% of all exported goods are exported to Ireland, which means that Ireland accounts for more than £2 billion of the Northern Irish GDP. Ireland is also Northern Ireland’s largest import partner.


Not going back to a hard border is difficult to say the least. When Brexit is complete, the Irish border will suddenly be the external border of the EU. This means that there almost has to be checks. There is no way that the UK can keep the Irish border open, because if they leave one border open they have to keep borders to all countries open, according to rules set by the World Trade Organization. This is not an option, as the UK would see cheap import goods being sold on their market, and not their own UK-produced goods. An open border would also mean less taxation on goods flowing into the country, which would result in a loss of income for the UK government. If the UK had decided to still be a part of the free market or remain in the customs union, things would have been a lot easier, but the current government has decided that they are opting to leave the single market and customs union when they leave the EU. It seems that the only option is a hard border, although this is not suitable due to the history on the island, or for the economy of Northern Ireland. If the solution to the border question was easy, it would simply have been solved by now. However, this is not the case and it will be interesting to see what the solution will be.



Gender equality


Global Goals have been a topic of focus in a class for a very long time now. Whenever we have a possibility, we try to relate to them in our lessons and be reminded of how important it actually is to make changes. Today, we focus specifically on goal number 5, which in our opinion, should be prioritized and taken into account as first.


Global Goal 5


“Women’s status in society has become the standard by which humanity’s progress toward civility and peace can be measured”- Mahnaz Afkhami


Everyday, women and girls all over the world are exposed to discrimination, many forms of violence, and even harmful practices, such as child, early and forced marriage. None of this should be happening now in the modern world in 2017. Therefore, me and my group are focusing on specifically this goal, to take part in eliminating gender inequality, and to help provide women and girls with equal access to education, health care, decent work, and representation in political and economic decision-making processes.


Even in industrialized countries, as of 2017, there is inequality between men and women. In the United States Congress, only 20.3% of the members are women, according to the Congressional Research Service. Furthermore, there are less female CEOs than there are male CEOs, women tend to be in lower-paying jobs, but the situation in the developing world is worse. From a young age, it seems that girls are less likely to get an education, many cultures practice patrilocality, which means that when a man and a woman get married, they tend to stay close to the man’s family, and the woman is considered more a member of her husband’s family than her own birth family. In several cultures the property and name pass on to the male descendant, so a widow will not inherit her husband’s properties, that goes directly to the son. The widow then has to rely on her son to maintain her standard of living. This increases the probability that both men and women would want a son more than a daughter. This is also a reason to why many parents seem to invest more time and money in their sons rather than their daughters.

Developing countries do not have a strong economy, and depend heavily on agriculture and other sectors that relies on physical attributes, rather than services, which require brain power and not muscle power. Physiologically speaking, men are stronger than women, and they can easily get jobs in sectors like agriculture. This results in men earning money, and women staying at home looking after the children and because the culture in developing countries tend to favorize boys getting education, the girls stay at home, so the mother’s will look after the girls and teach them to be a housewife


Therefore, spreading awareness is our main and biggest target. We will try to achieve that by writing about it, making videos, and informing others. Together with a class in New York, at Lindenhurst High School, we collaborate in order to spread the word and make a difference together.


Written by Sandra, Sondre and Leon

Theresa May’s Brexit problem

This is a translation of an article from the Norwegian newspaper Aftenposten


Brexit splits Theresa May’s conservative party, and it can only get worse, no matter what the solution is. The divorce between the EU and Britain has been complicated since the beginning, mostly because of British cloudiness, but also because Brussels has shown little interest in finding a satisfying solution for the British.


The EU has proven to be costly for conservative Prime Ministers, as the last three conservative PMs have lost their job because of the issue; Margaret Thatcher, John Major and David Cameron. And now it seems it’s Theresa May’s turn. Let’s just talk about Cameron for a moment. If Cameron hadn’t announced a Brexit referendum – which wasn’t necessary, as there was no request from the people – he would have been the British Prime Minister today. But he chose to announce a referendum anyway (which he was sure to win) and he lost, and resigned as Prime Minister. This opened the door for Theresa May, and she was off to a good start. Her inaugural address was one of the best inaugural addresses ever held by a British Prime Minister. When Theresa May announced a snap general election in June to strengthen her position in the Brexit negotiations, she was leading with 20 percent in the polls. However, the Tory campaign was a disaster, and they lost their majority in the parliament. To ensure a majority in the parliament they have to collaborate with the DUP.


Theresa May wanted to resign after the June 8 general election, but the conservative party begged her to remain as Prime Minister, simply because there is no alternative that has a unified support. Theresa May lost all of her authority after the general election, and she has stopped saying “Brexit is Brexit” and all those types of statements. Now she wants a longer transition period, and she also wants an ambitious economic partnership that involves the will of the British people and the four freedoms of the EU. A solution that is supported by a majority of the British people, but might split the conservatives.


If May should resign, or if 48 conservative MPs demand it, there will be an election within the conservative party to elect their new leader. The conservative MPs will nominate a number of people and they will vote on them until there are only two nominees left. When there are only two nominees left the party members will elect their new leader. The next leader might be Boris Johnson. Johnson will almost definitely win if he is one of the two nominees in the final round. Johnson is highly unpopular with the conservative MPs, and he is often accused of having a much harder and tougher Brexit policy than the government’s official policy. Johnson claims that after Brexit, Britain will be the greatest country on earth. Johnson is also criticised for being too much of an egotist.


Another candidate is Jacob Rees-Mogg. He is the son of William Rees-Mogg, editor of The Times. Rees-Mogg doesn’t want anything to do with the EU, tweets in Latin and gives his children quite odd names. He is also a remarkably polite and sympathetic man, but it is hard to imagine that a reactionary eccentric will bring young voters back to the conservative party, but who knows? – in Donald Trump’s, Bernie Sanders’ and Jeremy Corbyn’s world.


Bilderesultat for brexit

Gerrymandering and UK Politics

Gerrymandering is when a political group changes voting districts to create an unfair advantage for themselves, or an unfair disadvantage for their political opponents. This is a huge issue because, for example, if republicans do gerrymandering, and create an unfair advantage for themselves, they ensure that the congressional seats that are up for grabs will remain in republican control. The republicans will simply create voting districts with a small majority of republican voters and create a few voting districts where a vast majority of the voters tend to vote democratic. The Supreme Court is currently pondering if gerrymandering has gone too far, and as one British MP said when he was overseas: “This is not voters choosing their representative, this is representatives choosing their voters”. The Supreme Court will decide if gerrymandering should be legal or not. There are no laws in the United States constitution saying gerrymandering is illegal, and also there are no laws stating that the party with the most votes will win.


The British MPs are voted into parliament in an easier way. In Britain the MP is voted into the parliament by a first-past-the-post-system, meaning that the candidate with the most vote in one of the 650 voting districts (constituencies) in the UK. This system is much easier, although the popular vote might differ from the number of representatives from different parties because of the amount of votes you get in one voting district compared to another. The DUP will certainly gain more votes in Northern Ireland than in London, and the SNP will gain more votes in Scotland than in Brighton. If a third party, like the Lib Dems gets 49% of the votes in voting districts where either the SNP or the DUP gets 51% of the votes, the Lib Dems will not get a single representative from these constituencies, but will still have a large percentage of the vote.


The two major parties in the UK today are the Labour Party and the Conservative Party. The leader for the Labour Party is Jeremy Corbyn, whilst the leader of the Conservative Party, and the prime minister, is Theresa May. Theresa May called for a general election on the 8th of June because she thought she would get more seats in the parliament, and therefore make the process of Brexit, Britain leaving the EU, much easier. The result ended in a major disappointment as the Conservatives lost many seats, and now has to reign with the DUP from Northern Ireland. The Conservatives even had a majority of the seats alone, but still Theresa May thought it would be easier with more Conservative MPs, which is in any way true, but the fact of the matter is that the Labour Party, led by Jeremy Corbyn, ran a very strong campaign and won many seats from the Conservatives.