[This is a roundup of news articles and other materials circulating on Syria and reflects a wide variety of opinions. It does not reflect the views of the Syria Page Editors or of Jadaliyya. You may send your own recommendations for inclusion in each week`s roundup to firstname.lastname@example.org by Monday night of every week.]
Regional and International Perspectives
Chemical Weapons Conversation
Special Report on Use of Chemical Weapons in Damascus Suburb in Eastern Gotas prepared by the Syrian Center for the Documentation of Violation
Doctors Recount Chaos at Syrian Clinics Farnaz Fassihi and Nour Malas collect the testimonies of some of the medical personnel who treated the chemical weapons victims.
Syria’s Opposition Considers National Rebel Army Islamists The political opposition is allegedly contemplating the idea to create a national army to counterbalance the influence if Islamists in the country.
Chemical Weapons Claims: Two Syrian Activists’ Diverging Viewpoints Their testimonies raise many debates that arose in the aftermath of the attack.
Syrian Chemical Attack Spurs Finger Pointing Inside Assad Regime Phil Sands tries to imagine how the events unfolded the day of the chemical attacks.
On the Deadliness of “Non-Lethal” Toxins and the Banality of Red Lines Hisham Ashkar and Emily Dische-Becker say “It is worth exploring whether both the significant fatalities and symptoms displayed by victims of yesterday’s attack in Eastern Ghouta could have resulted from chemical weapons not deemed “lethal.””
Another Halabja? Commentators were quick to draw comparisons between the attacks of last week and previous well-known cases in other countries such as Iraq.
Foreign Intervention Conversation
In Lebanon’s Camps, Syrian Refugees Contemplate a U.S. Strike Vijay Prashad meets with refugees on Beirut’s Syria Street, where “political views define the reaction to news that the U.S. might bomb Syria — those who detest the Assad regime are for the bombing, while those who oppose the rise of the Salafi groups or fear for the post-Assad future decry the potential bombing.”
Attacking Syria is About Saving Face, Not Saving Lives Rachel Shabi argues that “first, there is no such thing as a "surgical strike" - we must assume that civilians may be killed in any airstrikes against Syria. But more broadly, a military intervention will make the situation much worse because the terrible war within Syria is also a cynical, neo-Cold War.”
Exclusive: Intercepted Calls Prove Syrian Army Used Nerve Gas, U.S. Spies Say Noah Shachtman says the U.S. intelligence services allegedly intercepted a call of “an official at the Syrian Ministry of Defense exchanged panicked phone calls with a leader of a chemical weapons unit, demanding answers for a nerve agent strike that killed more than 1,000 people.” If true, he adds, this raises further questions about decision-making at the government level.
Syrie: Les Etats-Unis Auraient Intercepte des Conversations “Paniquees” de l’Armee Le Monde reports the same story about the U.S. intelligence services having intercepted calls of panicked official at the Syrian Minsitry of Defense.
Exclusive: CIA Files Prove America Helped Saddam as He Gassed Iran Another article published by Foreign Policy this week however shows us that intelligence services often know more than they allege in the present, and release the truth sometimes generations later.
An Attack on Syria Will Only Spread the War and Killing argues Seumas Milne, adding that “ If the US, British and French governments were genuinely interested in bringing it to an end – instead of exploiting it to weaken Iran – they would be using their leverage with the rebels and their sponsors to achieve a ceasefire and a negotiated political settlement.”
The Debate Over Intervention in Syria: Two Minds on Syria George Packer writes up a fictional dialogue between two minds opposed to the Syrian regime but disagreeing over the issue of intervention, ingeniously using various points at the heart of debates surrounding Syria, including the counterproductive use of historical analogies.
Assessing the Success of a Syria Strike Karen Leigh interviews Omar Lamrani, a military analyst at the geopolitical firm Stratfor, who speaks of “punitive actions” against Syria and embodies what many have already criticized as reinforcing the U.S.’ imperial complex.
Military Intervention in Syria is a Bad Idea Stephen Zunes argues that “even putting aside the recent historical record, however, virtually anyone familiar with Syrian politics and history can recognize the fallacy of such foreign support for the armed struggle.”
Will Turkey’s Parliament Back Attack on Syria? Following Turkey’s Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu’s statement that if a coalition against Syria is created Turkey might take part to it, Semih Idiz argues that his “remarks represent a break with Ankara`s long-standing tradition of extreme caution in the face of any potential or actual intervention in the Middle East by Western-led forces.”
Syria Evacuates Army Buildings in Damascus: Residents reports Khaled Yacoub Oweis.
Growing Pressure on the U.S. To Respond to Events in Syria An hour-long radio program with guests David Schenker, Joshua Landis and Susan Glasser.
In Foreign Policy, The Moral High Ground is Only an Occasional Destination Michael Doyle provides ample historical examples that prove that “foreign policy calculations are invariably cold-blooded, notwithstanding moral declarations. Stirring words can be worn like a new cloak during a campaign, then set aside for action.”
Chemical Attacks and Military Interventions In light of the recent chemical attack in Eastern Ghouta, Omar Dahi asks: ”What should be the response to these events? The answer for those who care about the fate of Syrians is the same as it has been to the ongoing violence previously, which is to push for a political settlement and an immediate cessation of violence coupled with humanitarian aid for Syrians.”
The Fog of the Syrian Civil War Jaisal Noor from The Real News interviews Omar Dahi, who addresses various themes surrounding a U.S.-led intervention in Syria, including the legality aspect of this move as well as the consequences the attack might have.
US Strike on Syria Would Help Jihadists, Not Secular Opposition Skeptical at the idea that the US truly intends on launching an attack on Syria, Mohammad Ballout suggests that “The Americans may have already achieved several aims by conducting an intensive media campaign, led by the news of sending warships to the Syrian coast, without firing one missile.”
Loose Lips on Syria An article suggesting that an attack on Syria is imminent, but according to White House Press Secretary Jay Carney it is “not about regime change.”
On Interventions and the Syrian Revolution Darth Nader writes : “I oppose Western intervention because it will work against the struggle for self-determination, that is, against the Syrian revolution.”
Interview with Gilbert Achcar, who suggests that the latest decision of the U.S. to attack Syria is part of a credibility campaign tied to its previous statements to act if the “red lines” were crossed. He maintains however that the goal is not to oust the regime. Also available in English and Arabic.
Should we Give up Syria to the Lovers of Napalm and (Freedom)? Pierre Abisaab asks : “Do they believe that the US and its allies have nothing to do but to offer our people humanitarian services as they did in Iraq and Libya? That they are intervening in order to reinforce the “democratic alternative” to the Assad regime? Does anyone really believe that the future of Syria will be any better in a year or even a decade due to Western military intervention?”
Here’s Why Obama is Giving Up the Element of Surprise in Syria Max Fisher suggests that the media campaign announcing the U.S.’ planned attack was to minimize civilian casualties and reflect the government’s “modest goal” to punish the Syrian government.
Should the Use of Chemical Weapons Prompt a US Attack on Syria? Joshua Landis reiterates Syria Comment’s position and opposes military intervention on Syria.
It’s Time to Cast Off the Iraq War Mindset Brian Whitaker explains some ways in which the Syrian and Iraqi cases differ.
As Syrian Rebels’ Losses Mount, Teenagers Begin Filling Ranks Taylor Luck claims that many youth from Zaatri are leaving the camp to go fight in Syria, as a way to sustain the rest of the family.
The Life and Work of Anarchist Omar Aziz, and His Impact on Self-Organization in the Syrian Revolution Leila Shrooms provides a profile of the late man whose “name may never be widely known, but he deserves recognition as a leading contemporary figure in the development of anarchist thought and practice.”
Les Eternels Oublies Marie Peltier on the potential of peaceful resistance, the future of Syria and Father Paolo Dall’Oglio
Do’s and Don’ts For Progressives Discussing Syria Ramah Kudaimi lists 10 items on her list of Do’s and Don’ts, including relying heavily on historical comparisons and not recognizing the still existing Syrian-ness of the uprising.
How Sections of the Left Came to Abandon Syria Martin Pravda somewhat echos those thoughts in a longer piece, in which he argues that it is possible to be against further intervention, and at the same time not be against those who desperately seek a Syria without this deadly dictatorship. An “anti-war” position that does not condemn the massacres in Ghouta neither makes sense nor is credible. “
Syria: The Fate of a Nation A video recording of a Chatham House conference with guests Lina Sinjab (BBC correspondent), Dr. Christopher Phillips and Lord Williams of Baglan.
How Syria’s Jihadists Win Friends and Influence People On how “Syrian jihadist groups have been busy not only fighting the regime, but also erecting state-like institutions and publicizing their own charitable acts.”
Drought Called a Factor in Syria’s Uprising An interesting, often unaddressed aspect of the uprising, tackled by David Arnold.
A Search for Loved Ones Between Mass Graves Razan Zaitouneh recounts the events in Eastern Ghouta “in the hope of bursting into tears as any “normal” person is supposed to do.”
Syrian Activist on Ghouta Attack : “I Haven’t Seen Such Death in my Whole Life” Razan Zeitouneh is on Democracy Now to discuss what she saw in Eastern Ghouta.
Divided Damascus Apprehensive, Hopeful Over Western Strike A few Syrians met in Damascus are apprehensive about what is about to happen, but are allegedly in favor of the strike if it reaches its military installations.
When War Comes Calling Do you Just Pack up and Leave? Rym Ghazal provides another outlook on the situation and writes: “frantic, confused and worried is how almost everyone living in Syria feels now. Those living in the capital and near military sites are evacuating their homes to safer grounds. Some Syrian families I know will be moving into their basements which they have started filling with canned food, medicine, blankets and whatever they can find.”
Two and a Half years Later; Inside ‘Liberated’ Syria Reem Salahi’s visit to rebel-controlled Syria, where she witnesses the animosity between Syrians and the foreign fighters controlling some cities.
Syrians in Capital Hoard Food, Seek Shelter as Strike Looms “At grocery stores, shoppers loaded up on bread, dried goods and canned foods, fearing they may face shortages if a strike hits the city. The items most in demand were batteries and water.”
Battle For Syria A film about the fighting in Aleppo.
Arts and Social Media
Youssef Abdelke Free, Resolved to Stay in Damascus One month and three days after his kidnapping, the artist was released by the authorities and his back in his studio in the Sarouja district, according to the authors.
Operation Stage Whisper Qifa Nabki offers a satirical piece with an imagined transcript of a press briefing attended by White House Press Secretary Jay Carney, mocking the highly overt statements about a possible attack on Syria.
A Beautiful Video From Syria Murtaza Hussain on a video widely circulated where a father from Zamalka is reunited with his young son whom he thought was dead.
Claims of Opposition DIY Weapons Used in This Week’s Alleged Chemical Attack Brown Moses responds to those who claimed that the attacks were perpetrated by the opposition, using videos circulating on social media.
Are These Munitions Used in Today’s Alleged Chemical Weapon Attack? Brown Moses compares some of the weapons used last week to one used in previous weeks.
Lesson Plans: Teach Syria Teach Deeply, Syria Deeply’s educational arm, has posted its educational tool for teachers to use as a resource to teach about the conflict.
This Interactive Infographic Shows the Death of the Syrian Resistance Jay Cassano looks at the Syrian Resistance infographic and highlights some of its most interesting elements.
Panorama of Destruction: The Story Behind the Aerial View of Homs “In a conflict where information is as heavily contested as Syria, photo agencies ought to investigate, verify and provide consumers with information about the origins of images, rather than opting for a generic disclaimer and surreptitiously cropping out indications of how an image was taken.”
Desert Surreality: Plight of Syrian Refugees Magnified Outside Zaatri Michael Friberg and Benjamin Rasmussen on their photo project in Zaatri.
The Syrian Emergency Task Force is Starting its Own Syria Media Roundup
Policy and Reports
Go Strategic in Syria Hussein Ibish argues that “a strategic intervention designed to shift the balance of power on the ground – away from both the regime and the more extreme rebel groups – and toward more nationalist, rational, and acceptable rebel forces is required.”
How to Oust Assad Michael Weiss provides policy advice to the government, arguing, “Two or three days’ worth of airstrikes that are not geared toward regime change would do little to prevent the emergence of a Congo on the Mediterranean.”
Full Text: Kerry’s Pointed Remarks on Syria
Letter for Representative Engel U.S. army general Martin Dempsey reassures representative Engel: “We are experienced in complex conflict, realistic about the cost we incur in blood and treasure when we apply the military instrument of national power and we are pragmatic about the limits of military force”
Architect of Syria War Doubts Surgical Strikes Will Work Some near the government are having second thoughts about the ability of the U.S. to conduct a “surgical” operation that would effectively punish the Syrian regime for its alleged chemical weapons attack, especially since the U.S. seems to be lacking strategic objectives.
MSF-Backed Hospitals Treated Syria ‘Chemical Victims’
Turkish Fighters in Syria, Online and Off The North Caucasus Caucus provides an insight into the involvement of Turkish fighters in Syria.
Regime Regains Ground on the Coast Isabel Nassief provides a military analysis of developments in Latakia, and argues that “unlike other areas, where regime forces have been forced to redeploy to deal with rebel incursions, in Latakia the regime was able to rely on air power and local paramilitary forces to effectively isolate and reverse the offensive.”
بصدد التدخل العسكري المحتمل في سورية
The Republic for the Studies of the Syrian Revolution warns against the anticipated foreign military intervention in the country and argues that this strike would not target the regime per se and will only serve to prolong the impasse.
خيارات الرد الإيراني على طاولة المرشد
Ali Hashem argues that Iran will never let go of Syria and that the plans for an Iranian response are being discussed on the table between Ayatollah Khamenei, Damascus, and Hezbollah.
الثورة السورية - يا روح لا تحزني - فرقة رام
A video showing pictures of the struggle and the suffering in Syria from the videographer’s perspective.
(Neshama) Ya Mahlaha Al-Horia يا محلاها الحرية نشامى
This is a sample song from the Syrian musician Wael al-Qaq’s album “Neshama”, in which he reproduces revolutionary songs from Syria.
!الشعب السوري لن يركع
Joseph Daher writes: the Syrian people continue to fight against all the developments that have been occurring over the past two and a half years and the revolution continues.
أين يقع “جنيف ٢” على خريطة السلاح الكيميائي؟
Mohammad Ballout argues that the Western publicity campaign about military intervention as a response to the regime’s use of chemical weapons serves only to interrupt Assad’s army’s “military successes” over the armed opposition and prolong the impasse, while creating new conditions for “Geneva 2.”
تحولات المشهد السوري
Maataz Hisso on the developments and the complexities that have turned the scene in Syria to a bloody struggle with sectarian dimensions.
نار سوريا و هشيم لبنان
Sherazad Adel al-Yazidi on the recent bombings in Dahieh and Tripoli and the spillover of the struggle in Syria.
عاصفة التوظيف تضرب المنطقة
Amer Sabaileh offers another analysis of American foreign policy in terms of Syria and the anticipated western military intervention in the country.
سورية: خطاب الحرب و خطاب التسوية
Rajaa AnNasser on the rhetoric of war that the regime uses and its willingness (or lack thereof) to engage in a political settlement.
Saad Allah Mazaraani on lethal violence and power.
حول استراتيجية “القاعدة” في سوريا
Maher Masoud uses a published booklet by Islamic Strategic Analyst Abdallah Bin Mohammad in order to present the alleged strategy of “Al-Qaeda” in Syria.
يوسف عبدلكي عاد إلى محترفه في ساروجة
As one of the rare good news coming from Syria these days, here is a series of articles about Yousef Abdelki’s release.
موتوا كي نصوركم
Joy Salim on the normalization of death and the dehumanization of those bodies whose pictures have spread across the internet and in the news after the massacre in Eastern Ghouta.