TOPSHOT - Syrian government soldiers walk down a street past destroyed buildings in the town of Hazzeh in Eastern Ghouta, on the outskirts of the Syrian capital Damascus, on March 28, 2018. / AFP PHOTO / STRINGER
Syrian government soldiers walk down a street past destroyed buildings in the town of Hazzeh in Eastern Ghouta, on the outskirts of the Syrian capital Damascus, on March 28, 2018. AFP

Will anyone be prosecuted for war crimes in Syria?



A new UN initiative offers some hope for Syrians who have worked to collect evidence of atrocities committed in the country’s ongoing civil war, but doubts remain on anyone ever standing trial.

Investigators have begun to sift information as part of an “International, Impartial and Independent Mechanism” created by the UN in 2016 to compile files that could be used by any jurisdiction — domestic or international — capable of prosecuting alleged perpetrators of war crimes in Syria.

"We are faced with unprecedented volumes of information," Catherine Marchi-Uhel, the French judge leading the investigation, told reporters in Geneva.

She added that her team was setting up IT systems capable of managing the vast amounts of data.

Jalal Al Hamad, who heads Justice for Life, a non governmental organisation focused on eastern Syria, said: “This mechanism opened a door of new hope, even though it is a small door, of holding criminals in Syria accountable.”

Mr Al Hamad has since 2012 up until last year collected evidence of massacres, deaths under torture and other crimes.

Collection of evidence was often taken at great personal risk.

For Mr Husam Al Nahhas — a doctor who helped collect evidence of potential chemical weapons use by government forces in northern Syria from 2012 to 2015 — the danger did not just come from warring factions but also from the nature of the evidence he was collecting.

“With no protection inside Syrian territory, I was responsible for myself,” he said. “I also had to take personal protection measures against exposure to chemical agents or secondary contamination.”

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Judge Marchi-Uhel was appointed last July and published her first report this week. She said her team was still at the data gathering and sorting stage, but that it was already clear it was "not going to be in a position to investigate each and every crime”.

“That would be an impossible task,” she said. "Exercising our discretion when selecting cases is going to be a crucial aspect of the work.”

Judge Marchi-Uhel said the team would focus on where it is possible to "establish responsibility of high-level perpetrators" and on those involving sexual and gender-based crimes as well as violations against children.

"We are looking for individual criminal responsibility," she added.

Both Mr Al Hamad and Judge Marchi-Uhel, however, acknowledge that despite their work, the options for prosecuting perpetrators in Syria's conflict remain slim.

The UN Security Council has ignored repeated calls to refer the Syria case to the International Criminal Court, while using Syria's domestic courts is not an option.

The window for evidence collection could also be closing. Mr Al Hamad and Mr Al Nahhas said that the greatest challenge was collecting evidence in areas controlled by the government of Syrian President Bashar Al Assad, whose forces have retaken significant amounts of territory from rebel groups in the last year.

Even as the UN begins to examine the evidence of past crimes, it appears impotent in the face of new ones. At a security council meeting on Tuesday, members traded blame over their unheeded demand for a 30-day ceasefire in Syria.

"History will not be kind when it judges the effectiveness of this council in relieving the suffering of the Syrian people," said US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley, adding that it "should be a day of shame for every member”.

The call for a ceasefire is a response to an intense Syrian government campaign, backed by Russian air power, against rebel-held areas in Damascus that has left more than 1,600 people dead since late February.

The Syrian government’s recent offensives have kept Mr Al Hamad and his group busy.

“We have issued a report containing many testimonies that the forces of the Syrian regime and its Russian and militia allies committed horrific massacres in the second half of 2017 and displaced hundreds of thousands and killed hundreds of civilians as a result of indiscriminate shelling of civilian areas,” Mr Al Hamad said.

Though the Syrian government is believed to be the most significant perpetrator of atrocities in the conflict, Mr Al Hamad said his team had also documented crimes by groups fighting the government, including some of the largest rebel groups in the country.

“They and other factions had secret prisons and tortured detainees,” he said.

*Additional reporting by Ahmed Barakat in Turkey

The Roundup : No Way Out

Director: Lee Sang-yong
Stars: Don Lee, Lee Jun-hyuk, Munetaka Aoki
Rating: 3/5

Springtime in a Broken Mirror,
Mario Benedetti, Penguin Modern Classics

 

Company profile

Company name: Fasset
Started: 2019
Founders: Mohammad Raafi Hossain, Daniel Ahmed
Based: Dubai
Sector: FinTech
Initial investment: $2.45 million
Current number of staff: 86
Investment stage: Pre-series B
Investors: Investcorp, Liberty City Ventures, Fatima Gobi Ventures, Primal Capital, Wealthwell Ventures, FHS Capital, VN2 Capital, local family offices

SPECS

Engine: 4-litre V8 twin-turbo
Power: 630hp
Torque: 850Nm
Transmission: 8-speed Tiptronic automatic
Price: From Dh599,000
On sale: Now

BOSH!'s pantry essentials

Nutritional yeast

This is Firth's pick and an ingredient he says, "gives you an instant cheesy flavour". He advises making your own cream cheese with it or simply using it to whip up a mac and cheese or wholesome lasagne. It's available in organic and specialist grocery stores across the UAE.

Seeds

"We've got a big jar of mixed seeds in our kitchen," Theasby explains. "That's what you use to make a bolognese or pie or salad: just grab a handful of seeds and sprinkle them over the top. It's a really good way to make sure you're getting your omegas."

Umami flavours

"I could say soya sauce, but I'll say all umami-makers and have them in the same batch," says Firth. He suggests having items such as Marmite, balsamic vinegar and other general, dark, umami-tasting products in your cupboard "to make your bolognese a little bit more 'umptious'".

Onions and garlic

"If you've got them, you can cook basically anything from that base," says Theasby. "These ingredients are so prevalent in every world cuisine and if you've got them in your cupboard, then you know you've got the foundation of a really nice meal."

Your grain of choice

Whether rice, quinoa, pasta or buckwheat, Firth advises always having a stock of your favourite grains in the cupboard. "That you, you have an instant meal and all you have to do is just chuck a bit of veg in."

Specs: 2024 McLaren Artura Spider

Engine: 3.0-litre twin-turbo V6 and electric motor
Max power: 700hp at 7,500rpm
Max torque: 720Nm at 2,250rpm
Transmission: Eight-speed dual-clutch auto
0-100km/h: 3.0sec
Top speed: 330kph
Price: From Dh1.14 million ($311,000)
On sale: Now

How to wear a kandura

Dos

  • Wear the right fabric for the right season and occasion 
  • Always ask for the dress code if you don’t know
  • Wear a white kandura, white ghutra / shemagh (headwear) and black shoes for work 
  • Wear 100 per cent cotton under the kandura as most fabrics are polyester

Don’ts 

  • Wear hamdania for work, always wear a ghutra and agal 
  • Buy a kandura only based on how it feels; ask questions about the fabric and understand what you are buying
The line up

Friday: Giggs, Sho Madjozi and Masego  

Saturday: Nas, Lion Bbae, Roxanne Shante and DaniLeigh  

Sole DXB runs from December 6 to 8 at Dubai Design District. Weekend pass is Dh295 while a one day pass is Dh195. Tickets are available from www.soledxb.com

Ukraine

Capital: Kiev

Population: 44.13 million

Armed conflict in Donbass

Russia-backed fighters control territory

Unresolved crisis

Russia and Ukraine have been locked in a bitter conflict since 2014, when Ukraine’s Kremlin-friendly president was ousted, Moscow annexed Crimea and then backed a separatist insurgency in the east.

Fighting between the Russia-backed rebels and Ukrainian forces has killed more than 14,000 people. In 2015, France and Germany helped broker a peace deal, known as the Minsk agreements, that ended large-scale hostilities but failed to bring a political settlement of the conflict.

The Kremlin has repeatedly accused Kiev of sabotaging the deal, and Ukrainian officials in recent weeks said that implementing it in full would hurt Ukraine.

THE SPECS

Battery: 60kW lithium-ion phosphate
Power: Up to 201bhp
0 to 100kph: 7.3 seconds
Range: 418km
Price: From Dh149,900
Available: Now

Company profile

Company name: Shipsy
Year of inception: 2015
Founders: Soham Chokshi, Dhruv Agrawal, Harsh Kumar and Himanshu Gupta
Based: India, UAE and Indonesia
Sector: logistics
Size: more than 350 employees
Funding received so far: $31 million in series A and B rounds
Investors: Info Edge, Sequoia Capital’s Surge, A91 Partners and Z3 Partners

Western Region Asia Cup T20 Qualifier

Sun Feb 23 – Thu Feb 27, Al Amerat, Oman

The two finalists advance to the Asia qualifier in Malaysia in August

 

Group A

Bahrain, Maldives, Oman, Qatar

 

Group B

UAE, Iran, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia

Profile

Company name: Marefa Digital

Based: Dubai Multi Commodities Centre

Number of employees: seven

Sector: e-learning

Funding stage: Pre-seed funding of Dh1.5m in 2017 and an initial seed round of Dh2m in 2019

Investors: Friends and family 

The story of Edge

Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces, established Edge in 2019.

It brought together 25 state-owned and independent companies specialising in weapons systems, cyber protection and electronic warfare.

Edge has an annual revenue of $5 billion and employs more than 12,000 people.

Some of the companies include Nimr, a maker of armoured vehicles, Caracal, which manufactures guns and ammunitions company, Lahab

 

Miguel Cotto world titles:

WBO Light Welterweight champion - 2004-06
WBA Welterweight champion – 2006-08
WBO Welterweight champion – Feb 2009-Nov 2009
WBA Light Middleweight champion – 2010-12
WBC Middleweight champion – 2014-15
WBO Light Middleweight champion – Aug 2017-Dec 2017

UAE athletes heading to Paris 2024

Equestrian
Abdullah Humaid Al Muhairi, Abdullah Al Marri, Omar Al Marzooqi, Salem Al Suwaidi, and Ali Al Karbi (four to be selected).


Judo
Men: Narmandakh Bayanmunkh (66kg), Nugzari Tatalashvili (81kg), Aram Grigorian (90kg), Dzhafar Kostoev (100kg), Magomedomar Magomedomarov (+100kg); women's Khorloodoi Bishrelt (52kg).


Cycling
Safia Al Sayegh (women's road race).

Swimming
Men: Yousef Rashid Al Matroushi (100m freestyle); women: Maha Abdullah Al Shehi (200m freestyle).

Athletics
Maryam Mohammed Al Farsi (women's 100 metres).

Profile box

Founders: Michele Ferrario, Nino Ulsamer and Freddy Lim
Started: established in 2016 and launched in July 2017
Based: Singapore, with offices in the UAE, Malaysia, Hong Kong, Thailand
Sector: FinTech, wealth management
Initial investment: $500,000 in seed round 1 in 2016; $2.2m in seed round 2 in 2017; $5m in series A round in 2018; $12m in series B round in 2019; $16m in series C round in 2020 and $25m in series D round in 2021
Current staff: more than 160 employees
Stage: series D 
Investors: EightRoads Ventures, Square Peg Capital, Sequoia Capital India

THE BIO:

Favourite holiday destination: Thailand. I go every year and I’m obsessed with the fitness camps there.

Favourite book: Born to Run by Christopher McDougall. It’s an amazing story about barefoot running.

Favourite film: A League of their Own. I used to love watching it in my granny’s house when I was seven.

Personal motto: Believe it and you can achieve it.

Related
Company Profile

Company name: Namara
Started: June 2022
Founder: Mohammed Alnamara
Based: Dubai
Sector: Microfinance
Current number of staff: 16
Investment stage: Series A
Investors: Family offices

65

Directors: Scott Beck, Bryan Woods

Stars: Adam Driver, Ariana Greenblatt, Chloe Coleman

Rating: 2/5

Electric scooters: some rules to remember
  • Riders must be 14-years-old or over
  • Wear a protective helmet
  • Park the electric scooter in designated parking lots (if any)
  • Do not leave electric scooter in locations that obstruct traffic or pedestrians
  • Solo riders only, no passengers allowed
  • Do not drive outside designated lanes
The specs

Engine: 6.2-litre supercharged V8

Power: 712hp at 6,100rpm

Torque: 881Nm at 4,800rpm

Transmission: 8-speed auto

Fuel consumption: 19.6 l/100km

Price: Dh380,000

On sale: now

What are NFTs?

Are non-fungible tokens a currency, asset, or a licensing instrument? Arnab Das, global market strategist EMEA at Invesco, says they are mix of all of three.

You can buy, hold and use NFTs just like US dollars and Bitcoins. “They can appreciate in value and even produce cash flows.”

However, while money is fungible, NFTs are not. “One Bitcoin, dollar, euro or dirham is largely indistinguishable from the next. Nothing ties a dollar bill to a particular owner, for example. Nor does it tie you to to any goods, services or assets you bought with that currency. In contrast, NFTs confer specific ownership,” Mr Das says.

This makes NFTs closer to a piece of intellectual property such as a work of art or licence, as you can claim royalties or profit by exchanging it at a higher value later, Mr Das says. “They could provide a sustainable income stream.”

This income will depend on future demand and use, which makes NFTs difficult to value. “However, there is a credible use case for many forms of intellectual property, notably art, songs, videos,” Mr Das says.

Financial considerations before buying a property

Buyers should try to pay as much in cash as possible for a property, limiting the mortgage value to as little as they can afford. This means they not only pay less in interest but their monthly costs are also reduced. Ideally, the monthly mortgage payment should not exceed 20 per cent of the purchaser’s total household income, says Carol Glynn, founder of Conscious Finance Coaching.

“If it’s a rental property, plan for the property to have periods when it does not have a tenant. Ensure you have enough cash set aside to pay the mortgage and other costs during these periods, ideally at least six months,” she says. 

Also, shop around for the best mortgage interest rate. Understand the terms and conditions, especially what happens after any introductory periods, Ms Glynn adds.

Using a good mortgage broker is worth the investment to obtain the best rate available for a buyer’s needs and circumstances. A good mortgage broker will help the buyer understand the terms and conditions of the mortgage and make the purchasing process efficient and easier. 

RESULTS

5pm Maiden (PA) Dh80,000 (Turf) 1,600m

Winner Thabet Al Reef, Bernardo Pinheiro (jockey), Abdallah Al Hammadi (trainer)

5.30pm Handicap (PA) Dh80,000 (T) 1,600m

Winner Blue Diamond, Pat Cosgrave, Abdallah Al Hammadi

6pm Arabian Triple Crown Round-1 Listed (PA) Dh230,000 (T) 1,600m

Winner Hameem, Adrie de Vries, Abdallah Al Hammadi

6.30pm Wathba Stallions Cup Handicap (PA) Dh70,000 (T) 1,400m

Winner Shoja’A Muscat, Szczepan Mazur, Ibrahim Al Hadhrami

7pm Maiden (PA) Dh80,000 (T) 1,200m

Winner Heros De Lagarde, Szczepan Mazur, Ibrahim Al Hadhrami

7.30pm Handicap (TB) Dh100,000 (T) 2,400m

Winner Good Tidings, Antonio Fresu, Musabah Al Muhairi

SPECS

Engine: Two-litre four-cylinder turbo
Power: 235hp
Torque: 350Nm
Transmission: Nine-speed automatic
Price: From Dh167,500 ($45,000)
On sale: Now


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