SyriaSource

  • "Sawa'id Al-Khair" Interferes with Humanitarian Work in Idlib

    The rebel group Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham (HTS) regularly intervenes in Syrians’ public affairs in Idlib and imposes its authority on the education centers. Additionally, they also disrupt hospitals and other humanitarian facilities through the "Sawa'id al-Khair" or “Goodwill Corps,” affiliated with the morality police, that patrol public areas in HTS-held territory, known as the Hisba.

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  • The Danger of US Assistance to the UN, Rewarding Assad

    In his recent testimony to the House Foreign Affairs Committee, former United States Ambassador to Syria, Robert Ford, called on Congress and the US administration to consider cutting assistance to United Nations humanitarian aid programs in Syria. He followed up with an op-edin The Hill explaining his controversial stance: for years the Assad government has impeded or entirely blocked aid to opposition-held areas, effectively causing the US government, through the UN, to subsidize the Syrian government with one-sided humanitarian aid. This legitimizes and enriches the very apparatus responsible for the genesis of the conflict in Syria and the prolonged suffering of millions. Ambassador Ford is not alone in his call for a re-evaluation of the current US...
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  • In Syria, the Messenger Shoots You

    A medieval fortress overlooks the small predominantly Sunni Muslim town of Madiq Castle in Hama, Syria, situated on the Orontes River and along the fertile al-Ghab plain, under opposition control today. To the south, there lies Suqaylabiya, a predominantly Christian town under regime control. Alawis live in both locations, though mostly in regime-controlled areas. When war came to this part of Hama, clashes between regime and opposition forces ended in a truce that has largely held until today. Amid dramatic offensives in Eastern Ghouta and Afrin, the Russians issued a threat to 13 villages in the area, including Madiq Castle, demanding that residents accept their entry into the region—or else. This threat against civilians demonstrates a heightened level of complicity with the Assad regime in its attacks on noncombatants in Syria, one that should warrant an immediate response from those who wish to protect the most vulnerable in Syria.

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  • Syria at Seven: Part Two

    The bewildering complexity of a conflict in Syria about to mark its seventh anniversary causes eyes to close and heads to shake among political leaders and their constituents throughout the West. The unanswerable question—How does this end?—plunges even the best of brains into darkness and despair.

    Russia and Iran—for separate but compatible reasons—have cut through the fog and confusion by holding to two objectives: keep Bashar al-Assad in power; and then demographically blackmail the West into paying for the rebuilding of Syria under the auspices of a corrupt and incompetent regime. As the West ties itself in policy knots, objecting loudly but impotently to Assad regime war crimes while trying to end (at long last) a three-plus-year war against a collection of armed rapists, pickpockets, and bank robbers in eastern Syria, Moscow and Tehran attend to business.

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  • Decree 66 and the Impact of its National Expansion

    Ongoing discussions regarding the now famous Syrian legislative law, Decree 66, continue and its recent expansion and approval by parliament in January 2018, is waiting to be officially implemented to the rest of the country. Decree 66, which entered into law as of September 2012, allowed the government to "redesign unauthorized or illegal housing areas" and replace them with "modern" real estate projects with quality services. The possible expansion of Decree 66 could have important consequences on the reconstruction process and the consolidation of the political and economic power of the regime through crony capitalist linked to it, while providing foreign allies with a share of the market to reward them for their assistance.

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  • The Smoke and Mirrors Effect of Lebanese Banks Exiting Syria

    Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s regime appears encouraged by the modest growth that the economy has finally begun to display. Those tasked with resuscitating the decimated economy have had to contend with an annual GDP drop of whopping 16 percent each year since the beginning of conflict in 2011. Compare this figure to the academic literature on the impact of civil wars on national economies, which posits that annual GDP growth typically slows by 2 percent.

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  • Speaking, Acting, and Unintended Consequences

    If one were to write an account chronicling, analyzing, and critiquing the unintended negative consequences of American policy toward Syria since March 2011, it would be a long and depressing read. If this writer were to highlight the deadliest and most damaging of unintended consequences, it would be this: the Assad regime’s interpretation of the Obama-Trump ‘red line’ on the use of deadly chemical weapons as a green light for it to use everything else at its disposal to commit mass homicide against Syrian civilians. The inevitable if unintended horror is then routinely compounded by over-the-top rhetoric drawing attention to the abomination, plaintively pleading with the world to do something about it, and thinking that eloquent words equal substantive deeds.

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  • Dreaming of a Syria Free of Tyranny

    The past few weeks have produced a number of new developments in international and regional dynamics in the Syrian conflict. Opposition forces downed a Russian bomber in Idlib countryside; the United States conducted air strikes against forces loyal to the Syrian regime east of the Euphrates River; Kurdish forces took out a Turkish helicopter near Afrin, north of Aleppo; and an Israeli F-16 fighter destroyed an unmanned aircraft over the Golan. Turkey has also opened a new battlefront against the Kurds in ​​Afrin (Operation Olive Branch) and extremist groups have launched attacks against government forces. The United Nations is struggling to reach a sustainable ceasefire for Ghouta while the situation continues to deteriorate. Despite Russian President Vladimir Putin's announcement (during his visit to the Russian base of Hmeimim late last year) on the withdrawal of Russian troops after what he called “the defeat of the strongest international terrorist groups,” Islamic State...
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  • Eastern Ghouta: Voices from a Bombed-Out City

    Eastern Ghouta is a suburb of Damascus. Before the war, it was an expanding part of the commuter belt where families would settle and travel the short 10 kilometers (6.2 miles) into central Damascus city for work. The original inhabitants from the area would sell their produce from their small farms. In the years since the war began, control of the area has shifted from a mix of opposition forces, and the Syrian regime besieged it in late 2013. Since November 14 2017, the regime escalated its attacks on the population of 400,000 people. Death and starvation now haunt the suburb, with an estimated 11.9 percent of children under five suffering from acute malnutrition because of the drastic lack of food supplies. Although Eastern Ghouta is so close to the capital, the...
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  • Eastern Ghouta: Will Resolution 2401 Stop the Slaughter?

    The unanimous vote in the UN Security Council for a well-meaning resolution demanding “a durable humanitarian pause for at least thirty consecutive days throughout Syria” may turn out, for the besieged 400,000 souls in Eastern Ghouta, to be the emptiest of gestures. It lacks an enforcement mechanism and contains a loophole all-but-inviting ongoing mass homicide. Unless Russia demonstrates the will and ability to put a choke collar on its criminal client, it will inescapably fall to the United States to exact a price for mass murder, if any is to be exacted at all.

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