View across the Outer Harbour of Stornoway

Friday, 7 October 2016

School art

The primary schools of the Western Isles have once again excelled themselves in painting up boards to celebrate the Royal National Mod, which is held in Stornoway later this month. The Mod, a celebration in competition of Gaelic music and culture, is held in a different town in Scotland each year. It was last held in Stornoway in 2011. I post the collection of pics of the boards.

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Monday, 3 October 2016


As is well reported in the various news media, the Syrian city of Aleppo, or at least parts that are not controlled by the Assad regime, are being heavily bombarded from the air, by the airforces of Syria and Russia. It would appear that particularly hospitals and other humanitarian facilities are being targeted under the pretext of attacking Islamic State. Whilst that organisation is particularly nefarious, its outrages are nothing in comparison to what Syria and its ally Russia is currently perpetrating in Aleppo. I am grimly relieved that extensive media coverage is now being given to the war crimes and crimes against humanity that are taking place there.

It begs the question why. There are, to my mind, several answers. Firstly, the Syrian president Bashir al-Assad will stay in power at any cost. He will do, as he has the backing of Russia's leader Vladimir Putin. Putin has geopolitical considerations in mind, as Syria is his only full ally in the Middle East.

More to the point, it also shows to the world what the Russian military apparatus is capable of nowadays. The munitions used by the Russian airforce are more powerful than those used by their Syrian counterparts, and are referred to as block busters. They can penetrate a building to the basements, where they explode. Nice one.

The attitude shown in Russian foreign policy is increasingly confrontational, seeking to attribute all that goes wrong in the world to the actions of the West. Whilst a lot of the problems of the Middle East are attributable to Western foreign policies of the past, the propaganda makes all the current problems the West's fault, whether justified or not. The interview by Russia's foreign minister Sergey Lavrov last weekend said it all. In spite of being confronted by incontrovertible evidence, he flatly denied any accusations of wrong-doing in Syria.

The people of Aleppo are shown what Russia in war-mode will be like. Adversaries will be pommelled into the ground, and no quarter will be given. We know Vladimir Putin is a bully, and we also know how to deal with bullies. But, let's face it. The muddle that is Syria is a crashing failure of Western foreign policy. Not just of this year. But going back over a century.