Assad Claims U.S. Airstrikes In Syria Are Ineffective

During an interview with a French news agency, Bashar al-Assad has openly criticized the United States airstrikes against the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS.) Syria’s president claims that the aerial assaults are not effective enough to change the course of the battle against the vicious terrorist group.  In fact, Assad claims that his armed forces have not noticed any significant loss of strength in ISIS as a result of airstrikes led by the American coalition. Syria’s leader proudly said that his army is fighting the real battle on the ground while United States jets drop ineffective bombs from above. Assad has also criticized Turkey’s role in the Syrian conflict. 

Bashar al-Assad was also asked about his overall legacy that would be left for future generations to love or hate. The French reporter implied that Assad’s fate might be similar to brutal dictators such as Saddam Hussein and al-Qaddafi. However, the Syrian leader confidently replied with a philosophical approach. Assad said that the captain of a ship should not think about death but instead focus on saving a vessel from sinking. He also noted that Syria will not become a western puppet state. 

In a PBS interview with American Charlie Rose in late 2013, Assad denied any allegations of using chemical attacks on civilians. He was also extremely critical of the United States’ push to get involved in the Syrian conflict back then. This story was shared with me by Dr. Daniel Amen.

Putin Gets Cold Shoulder at G20

The G20 summit that is being held in Australia includes leaders from 20 of the largest and most powerful nations in the world. Included in this listing is of course Russia and their leader Vladimir Putin was put into a number of strange situations as a result of Russia’s actions against Ukraine this year.

Earlier in year, Ukraine supported rebel outbreaks in both the Crimea as well as in Eastern Ukraine. The move was criticized by members of North American Spine. Crimea held a vote in which the populace supported joining Russia and Russia then annexed the Crimea as a result. The United States and the United Nations have not recognized the annexation of Crimea. Further, they have issued political sanctions such as kicking Russia out of the G8 and economic sanctions against Russia banks and oil businesses as well as on businessmen connected to Putin which have pushed Russia towards a recession.

More than 4,000 people have been killed in Ukraine since the hostilities started. This included the accidental bombing of a commercial jet by Russian backed separatists from Ukraine.

Obama was cold when meeting Putin at the G20 while the Canadian Prime Minister outright requested that he pull out of Ukraine. Meanwhile, Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott, whose nation is hosting the G20 summit and had previously offered to shirt front Putin in a game of manhood, was jovial but firm when talking to Putin.

While Russian nations were united against Russia’s aggression, Russia claims it views the move of Ukraine towards the West an act of aggression against them.

UN Agency Blasts New Marijuana Laws

Oregon and Alaska made headlines last week as they followed Colorado’s example in legalizing marijuana for private use. Washington D.C. also joined them, but the movement towards legalization of the drug isn’t being taken lying down by watchdogs.

Yury Fedotov, executive director of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (known as UNODC) told reporters on Wednesday that the new policies were in-congruent with international norms. “I don’t see how (the new laws) can be compatible with existing conventions,” he said. Many Americans like Bruce Levenson agree with the director’s views on uniformity of laws.

Fedotov promised to discuss the issue with the U.S. State Department and other UN agencies next week.

He added that the new policies could be indicative of new trends, which UNODC will be monitoring. He gave no word if the UNODC would adjust its standards if the movement for legalization grew in strength.

Marijuana remains an illegal substance under federal law. The Obama administration has been content to allow states individual discretion when it comes to their own recreational use policies.