Civil Society and Local Governance

  • Isolation of the Kurds in Syria

    As a result of the political and military changes in Syria after March 2011, Kurds now control three major territories in Syria: Kobani, Afrin, and Hasaka. However, they face political difficulties due to the many schisms among the Kurdish parties, Turkey’s fear that Syrian Kurds will unite their cantons in northern Syria, and deteriorating relations with the Arab groups in the Syrian opposition. Without resolving at least some of these issues, Syrian Kurds will find themselves surrounded by hostile countries.

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  • #5YearsWeFled: Cutting Ties to the Past

    This is the second part of a series of interviews with the lawyer Ayman Jalwan. It highlights the difficult choice that Syrians face—dying in the war zone that Syria had become, or fleeing the land they love. Last year, Ayman Jalwan and his wife said goodbye to their families and joined the wave of citizens leaving the country. First they had to make it to Turkey. Then they needed to cross the cold Mediterranean to Greece. After that, they would have to deal with human traffickers in Eastern Europe to reach one of the few nations willing to welcome them: Germany. In this blog series, Ayman Jalwan explains the decision to leave, the trials he and his wife encountered along the way, and the consequences of their decision.

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  • #5YearsWeFled: How Our Journey Began

    This series is from interviews with the lawyer Ayman Jalwan. It highlights the difficult choice that Syrians face—dying in the war zone that Syria had become, or fleeing the land they love. Last year, Ayman Jalwan and his wife said goodbye to their families and joined the wave of citizens leaving the country. First they had to make it to Turkey. Then they needed to cross the cold Mediterranean to Greece. After that, they would have to deal with human traffickers in Eastern Europe to reach one of the few nations willing to welcome them: Germany. In this blog series, Ayman Jalwan explains the decision to leave, the trials he and his wife encountered along the way, and the consequences of their decision.

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  • Protests Sweep Across Syria During Ceasefire

    Anti-Assad protests are back all over Syria as the second week of the ceasefire starts. The opposition territories saw more than 100 protests, with protestors waving revolution flags and calling for freedom. The largest numbers of protests was in Idlib province, where Friday witnessed protests across province. The southern city of Busra al-Harir also saw peaceful protests, which turned into ‘festivals’ calling for the ouster of Assad. The city of al-Dameer in central Syria had one of the largest protests.

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  • The Impact of Air Strikes and Military Operations on ISIS’s Economy

    After conquering eastern Syria, the Islamic State (ISIS) focused on building a central economic system to control its resources. Its economy includes revenue earned from oil and gas, levying taxes on trade movement, price fixing, and fines collected from people violating laws.

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  • Russia and the Regime’s War on Civilians in Deir Ezzor

    The Syrian regime and its Russian ally are waging war against civilians, not only with light, heavy, and indiscriminate munitions, but also with economic weapons, as they demonstrated in Deir Ezzor these past two months.

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  • Afrin and the Race for the Azaz Corridor

    For the last five years Afrin (Kurdish: Efrîn) was the most tranquil of the three Kurdish enclaves in Syria. As in the other two Kurdish cantons, Kobane and Jazira (Kurdish: Kobanê, Cizîrê), the Syrian regime army pulled back from the region in spring 2012 and left it to the control of Democratic Union Party (PYD) forces, the Syrian sister-party of Turkey´s Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK). As in Kobane and Jazira, the PYD and declared Afrin’s autonomy in January 2014. Unlike Jazira, there were no regime forces in Afrin, and unlike Kobane, the Islamic State (ISIS) never attacked Afrin. Afrin only had frontlines with the regime enclave in Nubl and al-Zahra and a variety of different rebel groups.

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  • Aleppo, Azaz, and Failed US Syria Policy

    Aleppo and Azaz are two cities in northern Syria that represent the result of US Syria policy. After five years of half measures, false starts, broken red lines, and bouts of funding for Syrian aid and development projects, we have now entered a new phase: uncoordinated pieces of the US intelligence and defense community supporting opposing Syrian actors who are now engaged in a bitter armed struggle for control of northwestern Aleppo province and Aleppo city.

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  • The Humanitarian Crisis in Northern Aleppo

    The recent regime advances in northern Syria have caused a new wave of people to head for Turkey seeking refuge from the fighting. However, the political maneuvering is worsening the humanitarian situation for Syrians in northern Aleppo. Turkey has begun building camps inside of Syria for those fleeing the violence in northern Aleppo, but this policy is trapping thousands of civilians in an active war zone.

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  • Military Conscription: A Tool to Strengthen the Baathist State

    On November 3, 2012, I took a cab headed to the Lebanese capital of Beirut. I carried a light bag in preparation of repetitive searches through numerous regime checkpoints. I fled Syria because the Syrian army had drafted me for service. I choose to flee my homeland instead of fighting my countrymen.

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