SyriaSource

  • Syria, Israel, and the Golan

    In mid-November 2018, the United Nations General Assembly voted overwhelmingly for a resolution demanding, among other things, “that Israel withdraw from all the occupied Syrian Golan . . .” With only Israel and the United States voting “no,” 151 members of the General Assembly told Israel to withdraw from territory occupied since June 1967 and (in effect) to do so in the midst of civil strife that has all-but-wrecked Syria, leaving a murderous regime propped up by Iranian-commanded militias to preside (in name) over much of the wreckage. The “yes” voters communicated not only callous disregard for Israel’s security, but cold contempt for the suffering of millions of Syrians at the hands of a rapacious regime.

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  • Raed Fares: In Remembrance

    For days I’ve been trying and failing to write something about the violent and unjust passing of a good man—Raed Fares—and his colleague, Hammoud al-Jneid. In nearly eight years of witnessing Syria being eaten alive by a rapacious regime and by criminal sectarian “rebels” supported by regional states, nothing has been more demoralizing and deflating than these murders. Those who admired Raed Fares and saw in him the future of Syria now must choose: Permit all hope and effort for a successful, peaceful revolution to follow him and his colleague into the grave; or allow the example of Raed Fares to inspire renewed and unceasing work to bring about the Syria for which he gave his life.

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  • One Group's Work to Stabilize Syria

    Few major implementors currently exist in Syria developing and executing projects to rebuild the destroyed infrastructure ranging from roads, buildings, healthcare system, agriculture and irrigation systems, to the electrical grid. Though a number of reasons limit the existence of project implementors, the primary reason is the ongoing conflict and lack of stability. A lack of infrastructure is also a major barrier for entry for many implementors whose aid deliveries depend on secure roads and bridges. Despite all this, there is a major player on the ground that has implemented projects across non-government controlled parts of Syria throughout the conflict amid all the uncertainty and chaos and that is the Syria Recovery Trust Fund (SRTF).

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  • Escalation Between Turkish and Kurdish Leadership Alters Kurdish Relations with Assad

    Over the summer the Kurdish-led Autonomous Administration (AA) focused on strengthening its hand in talks with the Syrian government, in an attempt to win concessions on self-rule before a potential withdrawal of US support. Among other escalatory actions, the AA inserted itself into service provision initiatives previously left to the state, and arrested dozens of candidates for local elections organized by Damascus. 

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  • Frederic C. Hof’s Remarks on Syria at the World Affairs Council

    Below are remarks Ambassador Frederic C. Hof gave yesterday at the World Affairs Council of Greater Reading in Pennsylvannia regarding the continued importance of Syria policy and the role of the United States in the ongoing conflict.

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  • Assad Needs UN Assistance to Repatriate Refugees

    As the Syrian government and its allies extend control over a growing portion of Syria, they are accelerating demands for refugees to return to the country.

    President Bashar al-Assad’s government has a political interest in refugees coming back. The government wants international legitimacy, and significant returns would signal that it has won refugees’ confidence in its ability to protect them and rebuild the country.

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  • Regime Resurgence Endangers Local Aid Community

    When pro-government forces recaptured the southwestern rebel stronghold of Daraa province in July, Muhammad Sabsabi’s colleagues tried to bury their pasts.

    Some tried to flee. Many simply went underground.

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  • In Istanbul, Geopolitical Maneuvering But No Progress

    A summit held in Istanbul on Saturday failed to produce any breakthroughs in the core disagreements over the Syrian conflict. It did however have notable geopolitical implications that affect each of the four attendees Russia, Germany, and France, and Turkey – two of whom are new to an effort created to manage Russia and Turkish interests in Syria. Significantly, the United States took no part in the meeting despite the presence of two major European allies and NATO partner, Turkey.

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  • Strategic Change and its Challenges

    During the Obama administration, Syria was treated as a two-part puzzle divided by the Euphrates River. East of the Euphrates, the objective was to degrade and destroy ISIS (ISIL, Daesh, Islamic State). The strategy was to support the anti-ISIS combat operations of a Kurdish (eventually Kurdish-dominated) militia with weapons, ammunition, supplies, and advisors on the ground, and combat aircraft aloft. Although the Trump administration believes it can take credit for having accelerated the anti-ISIS campaign, the objective and strategy in the east have remained constant.

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  • War Games in Syria: A Lesson in Futility

    In the final, climactic scene of the 1983 film “War Games,” Matthew Broderick (David) and Ally Sheedy (Jennifer) watch as John Wood (Professor Falken) manages to get his computer program, Joshua, to play itself in a game of thermonuclear war. The stakes are high: Joshua had been hacked and was running a simulation of a nuclear showdown with Soviet Russia that risked actual missile launch. To prevent an unintended global thermonuclear war, Joshua learns after playing tic-tac-toe and then simulating different launch sequences over and over again that some games have no winner. There is no winning move in either tic-tac-toe or global thermonuclear war therefore, the only winning move is not to play. 

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