Civil Society and Local Governance

  • Considering the Prospects for a Kurdish Alliance with Russia in Syria

    Russia’s recent intervention in the Syrian crisis will create new circumstances to which the Kurdish forces must respond and adopt a position. Whatever the Kurds decide will alter the current equation and ultimate outcome of the Syrian crisis.

    Read More
  • FSA Forces Defy the Russians as Aircrafts Shell Civilians in Northern Syria

    Aircrafts hover over the Syrian opposition-controlled territories in northern Syria, easily visible to the naked eye. Witnesses to the missile strikes shout “God is great,” expressing their feelings of shock, fear, and anxiety.

    Read More
  • A Political Solution in Syria Needs to Break the Unholy Alliance

    The intractable Syrian conflict has created the temptation to flirt with keeping in power Bashar al-Assad, the heir to the now 45-year-old al-Assad dynasty, through a political deal. But this will prove nothing more than a futile exercise of wishful thinking. The much-touted mantra of reaching a ‘political solution’ that keeps Assad in power belies the reality of a decayed governance system, ravaged by the rampant corruption that has plagued the country for decades and left the public with no choice except revolution.

    Read More
  • Civil Society and the Future of Syria

    No one can look at the horrors consuming Syria today without being tempted to think that the country is finished. Some who yield to this temptation try to shoehorn their feelings into a specific historical context, often portraying Sykes-Picot as an original sin requiring expiation in the form of new national boundaries. Others tend to project current conditions indefinitely into the future, seeing Syria as a sort of Somalia or South Sudan, but stripped of anything that might be construed as positive or hopeful. Few will resist the “Syria is finished” temptation and see the possibility of a united, functioning republic featuring citizenship, consent of the governed, rule of law, pluralistic inclusivity, and, above all, political legitimacy. Although nothing remotely this positive will happen in the absence of monumental effort, to dismiss it as a valid objective is to mandate the inevitability of something far worse.

    Read More
  • Syria: A Welcome but Incomplete Shift in US Strategy against ISIS

    The US-Kurdish alliance to dislodge the Islamic State (ISIS or ISIL) from Syria has been successful only inasmuch as US and Kurdish interests align—the United States wants local partners who will fight ISIS; the Kurdish People’s Protection Unit (YPG) will oblige as long as they can reclaim their own territories. However, the YPG is unwilling to fight further south and take the fight to ISIS in its self-proclaimed capital of Raqqa. Recent changes in US strategy show an understanding that to finish the fight with ISIS, the United States needs to find local Arab partners who want to reclaim territory from ISIS in Raqqa. The new strategy’s success will hinge on how well the United States can find partners who prioritize fighting ISIS over fighting the Syrian regime.

    Read More
  • Of Barrel Bombs and Jeans

    The people of Deir Ezzor, Syria live under both regime bombardment and Islamic State (ISIS) oppression, with neither side willing to concede this key city. Deir Ezzor is strategically important—it not only contains oil wells, but also serves as the gateway to Ramadi and Raqqa, the latter which ISIS calls its capital. Meanwhile the civilians of Deir Ezzor languish under wanton killing and oppression.  

    Read More
  • The Baathist Colonization of the Syrian

    Syrians stood up against the Assad regime’s tyranny, many sacrificing their lives to bring freedom to their country. However, the near half-century of endemic corruption has left its mark on Syrians and their attitude toward government and private institutions. The corruption that the Assad regime sowed to keep itself in power has permeated Syrian society. To finish their revolution Syrians need to rid themselves of it.

    Read More
  • ISIS’s Cup is Half Full

    “Ali” is a former Islamic State (ISIS or ISIL) fighter. Before joining ISIS, he was a university student known among his friends for his kindness and friendliness. His joining has bewildered his friends, especially since ISIS killed a close relative of his. His uncle said of him, “I was responsible for raising Ali. I know him well, he has a good heart and would never even harm a cat. I was shocked to hear he had joined [ISIS]. Ali would never take on that extremist thought and he doesn’t need money. However, the brainwashing and the violations that the Kurdish militias committed against the Arabs were major reasons for his joining.”
    Read More