SyriaSource|Amplifying Syrian voices

SyriaSource
sFacebookTwitterInstagramYouTube


The base of the Islamic State’s (ISIS, ISIL, Daesh) power is in Raqqa and Mosul and is connected with each side deploying fighters across the border in mass. But while the United States and the Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF) took back Mosul, the same cannot be said of Raqqa, which continues to deplete the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), despite support by international coalition air strikes and the recent deployment of Apache helicopters. The battle for Raqqa continues for a number of reasons, both tactical and political.

Read More

Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham’s (HTS) military dominance in Idlib has not been translated into total popular support. Today, the province is split between those who accept the extremist group and those who are pushing back against its rise to prominence. 

Read More

As the Syrian crisis enters what could be its final phase and the battle between the regime and the opposition appears to have frozen, discussion is growing around options for a political solution for the country, different parts of which are controlled by disparate forces. A federal regime, as proposed by Russia and welcomed by the Kurds, appears to be the model most likely to be adopted, despite objections from both the regime and the opposition.

Read More

For a fleeting moment on the 10th of August the high wall of media apathy over the war in eastern Syria and its connection to American national security interests was breached. A reporter asked an American military spokesman about the anti-terror implications of permitting Iranian-led, Shia foreign fighters and armed elements of the Assad regime into Sunni eastern Syria to take over from ISIS (ISIL, Daesh, or the Islamic State) in places like Deir Ezzor. Might ISIS eventually resurrect itself in areas taken over by bad actors like Iran and Assad? The spokesman’s response: “That is not an immediate concern of ours, but I don't know if we have looked into that more deeply. Again, I told you where our focus is now and where our efforts are concentrated.” That focus and those efforts are on the city of Raqqa and the killing of ISIS: full stop.

Read More

Syria is one of the most water poor countries in the world. The United Nations Development Program reported that in 2009, just three hundred cubic meters per year of freshwater were available per person. This is a stark comparison to a yearly global average of at least one thousand cubic meters per individual. The war in Syria has destroyed key water infrastructure and made Syrians even more water-insecure through the destruction and bombing of pipelines, sewerage, and major reservoirs along with irrigation networks.

Read More

Although the United States government has yet to officially become involved in the reconstruction conversation, it will, with little doubt, be involved in some capacity in Syria’s reconstruction. Postponing the how, when, and where will only weaken America’s position vis-à-vis other actors in the country. In a press conference in May, special envoy Brett McGurk said that the US is not planning to pursue “long term reconstruction where projects are chosen by outsiders often with no connection to the local community,” but he did not say what type of reconstruction it will consider. McGurk alluded to US hesitance to become involved in reconstruction until a political settlement has been reached with Assad. Currently, the United States funds a number of programs focusing on humanitarian, relief, and stabilization projects, and some of these activities resemble reconstruction activities, but the US government has not officially changed its mandate to focus on reconstruction. Nonetheless, there are important takeaways that can be applied to future reconstruction projects.

Read More

Hezbollah is turning its successful military operation in Arsal in East Lebanon against Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham (HTS, a coalition of Islamist militias including the former al-Qaeda affiliate the Nusra Front) into a major victory for the Lebanese militant group. The campaign, which ended with the transfer of some eight thousand Syrian refugees and a few hundred fighters back to northern Syria, gives credibility to Hezbollah’s “resistance against Takfiris” narrative, anchoring its position further within its mainly Shia constituency, and extending its reach outside its traditional base to Christian and Sunni communities. The Arsal campaign appears to be a calculated move for Hezbollah to consolidate its power in Lebanon and within the Lebanese government. 

Read More

This fourth and final part of a series on American objectives and strategy for Syria aims to suggest parameters of a strategy to achieve the following objective (from part three):

We seek a Syria that poses no national security threats to the United States, its allies, and its friends; a country pacified enough to permit the rapid dispatch of humanitarian aid to all in need; a stable country where legitimate governance rooted, at the national and local levels, in the consent of the governed precludes the rise of terrorism, extremism, and armed rebellion; an independent country free of terrorist groups and external suzerainty, one whose territorial integrity is respected and one rid of foreign military forces except those mandated internationally or agreed to bilaterally by a legitimate national government; an economically viable country where reform, reconciliation, reconstruction, accountability, and the protection of civilians permit the return of refugees and the internally displaced to their homes.

Read More

Parts one and two of this series discussed the difficulties of officials thinking strategically about Syria, given the policy catastrophe bequeathed to the Trump administration by its predecessor. It then offered a list of outcomes the United States might nevertheless try to achieve. Although seeking nothing is an option, American disengagement would be a roll of the dice.

Read More

Observers are focusing increasing attention on the coming battle for Deir Ezzor, which will come next after the battle for Raqqa, the latter having been launched by the Syrian Democratic Forces on June 6, 2017.

Read More