Should the West intervene in Syria to stop Assad?
The severe humanitarian impact of the Syrian Civil War was on display once again this week in Aleppo where a government offensive backed by Russian airstrikes pushed deeper into the opposition’s last urban bastion, displacing thousands of people. One UN humanitarian spokesman said it looked like a “complete meltdown of humanity in Aleppo”. Emboldened by the latest successes on the battlefield, President Assad now seems determined to recapture all of the northern Syrian city. As the death toll of the war, according to some estimates already at around half a million people, keeps rising around the country, the pressure on the West to act increases. Mr. Assad’s backers say he is fighting terrorism, whereas those opposed view him as the head of a murderous regime. While Western countries such as the US have backed the armed rebellion over the last years, some have criticised the Obama administration’s approach as too hesitant; others saw it as the right step after Washington’s deadly entanglements in Iraq and Afghanistan. Should the West intervene more forcefully in Syria to stop Assad?
A storm of controversy has been stoked after photographs emerged of police in Nice ordering a Muslim woman on the beach to remove items of clothing following a burqini ban in 15 French towns. But is it right for governments to decide what a woman should, or should not wear? Some, especially in Western society, see the burqa as a tool of oppression against women. But for others, governments banning the clothing some Muslim women wear is an infringement of personal freedoms and, in Western society, an Islamophobic measure. Should it be up to the state to decide?
Three years after promising a referendum, Prime Minister David Cameron announced in late February that Britain will go to the polls on June 23 to answer the question: "Should the United Kingdom remain a member of the European Union or leave the European Union?" If voters opt to leave, it will have profound consequences not only for the UK but for the EU and transatlantic relations. The EU is already embattled and a divorce with its second-largest economy and second most populous member state - albeit one which has always had a troubled relationship with the bloc - could inflict grave damage. The US has declared a "profound interest" in a very strong UK staying in a strong EU. Within Britain, the debate is already fierce and being fought on five main fronts: Migration, the economy, security, Britain's global influence and sovereignty.