[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
Jihadist Conversation (Since January 3)
The Battle between ISIS and Syria’s Rebel Militias Joshua Landis provides an update of the latest developments whereby rebel factions drove out ISIS in some parts of Northern Syria.
Pushing Back Against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant: The Path to Conflict Aron Lund speculates on why this might be happening, only a few days ahead of the Geneva II Peace Conference.
Has sahwa hit the fan in Syria? Michael Weiss also discusses the timeliness of the events.
Breaking Syria`s Reign of Terror Hassan Hassan suggests that “now that the fear barrier has been broken, ISIS will not be the same -- nor will be other radical groups that have so far managed to maintain an image of tolerance.”
Syria’s New Rebel Front Charles Lister writes: “Whether this latest offensive was pre-planned or simply opportunistic, ISIS’s offensive reaction has so far been relatively minimal, at least in terms of what it is potentially capable. Its threat on the evening of January 4 to pull its forces out of 18 active battlefronts in Aleppo in order to launch a counter-attack against Jaish al-Mujahideen, the SRF, and the IF should be borne in mind.”
Syrians Protest Assad and Islamist Militants Robert Mackey uses social media to track down the developments, specifically focusing on the protests led by civilians against the militants.
Syrian opposition turns on al-Qaida-affiliated Isis jihadists near Aleppo Martin Chulov reports on the latest developments, focusing on Aleppo.
Rebel Infighting Spreads to an Eastern Syrian City Anne Barnard and Rick Gladstone say that “if confirmed, its expulsion from Raqqa would be a setback for the group, known by the initials ISIS, in its effort to assert supremacy over the nearly three-year-old insurgency in Syria, which has devolved into a splintering of militias with no universally recognized authority.”
Idleb Liberated From ISIS The Syrian Observer translates this update from Zaman al-Wasl, which views the developments in a rather optimistic light.
How Syria’s War Is Dividing the Egyptian Jihadi Movement Jerome Devron says “the Syrian war is reshaping the radical Salafi-jihadi landscape of the Middle East.”
Blind: five factors influencing the foreign fighter impact The author presents “five variables or broad sets of questions that would need to be answered in some form or other to determine with more precision the impact of foreign fighters from Syria. These questions or research areas are all inter-related. Some of these areas have seen more research work than others.”
Saudis Back Syrian Rebels Despite Risks Robert F. Worth meets with a Saudi foreign fighter who expresses his concerns over the crimes committed by some of his fellow fighters in Syria.
Abbas Khan`s mother: why did the Syrians murder my son? A profile of the British doctor who died in a Syrian prison.
4-year-old Syrian Was Raped by Family Friend: ‘Father’ This incident occurred in South Lebanon.
Syria’s Conflict Told Through a Caustic Wit Liam Stack speaks with Raed Fares (the man behind the team producing the Kafranbel posters) and Razan Ghazzawi (a well-known Syrian activist).
The Massacre in Syria That Wasn’t Regarding the alleged massacre in Adra, James Miller writes: “There is only one problem — it has been more than three weeks since this report aired, and there is not a single piece of evidence that supports the claim that Islamic radicals massacred anyone in Adra.”
Islamists, Salafists, and Jihadists: Friends or Foes of the Revolution? The blog “Democratic Revolution, Syrian Style” presents a piece responding to the following question: “How should supporters of the democratic revolution understand the Islamist trends that have emerged as part and parcel of the Arab Spring upheavals?” Its editors conclude: “our allegiance will always be to the laboring classes and oppressed peoples; that absolute loyalty will condition any and all momentary alliances we enter into during the long, many-stage fight to establish a society without rulers and ruled, exploiters and exploited, oppressors and oppressed.”
The Syrian Double Revolution and the Euro-Leftist Double Impotency Leil-Zahra Mortada writes: “Refusing to support certain anti-regime actions or groups that do not meet our politics is needed and important, but this should not be mistaken for a support to the regime forces or undermining rebellious efforts of other groups and individuals.”
Silence continues over abduction of Syrian human rights lawyer Andrea Glioti reports on Razan Zaitouneh’s adbuction and writes: “There is a shared belief that the minor brigades present in the area might be responsible for the episode and a common understanding — supported by the Army of Islam — that the importance of Zaitouneh`s work has to be belittled.”
Who`s who: Jawdat Said Yahia al-Ous profiles this “influential cleric and an advocate of non-violence.”
White House sees a partner in Assad Tony Badran says that “for if last year marked Washington`s official abandonment of the Syrian opposition, this may well be the year the White House begins the process of re-engaging Bashar al-Assad.”
Why are Shiites fighting in Syria? Rodger Shanahan says that “the involvement of the region’s Shiite actors – Iran, Lebanon’s Hezbollah and Iraqi groups – is often presented in religious terms. But the motivations of Shiite fighters in Syria (or at least of those states or groups who send them) are nuanced and owe more to factors such as geopolitics, a sense of self-preservation and defense than it does to clear-cut sectarianism – as it is often presented.”
Syrians Have Decided Assad Should Run in Elections: Minister “Syria`s Information Minister said on Tuesday the Syrian people have decided President Bashar al-Assad should be nominated for another term and would pressure him to stand in elections this year.”
5,000 Young Men Flee Recruitment in Tartus The Syrian Observer translates this update by Rozana Radio.
Syrians Facing “Coldest” Winter Yet With No Diesel
Snowstorm Freezes Life in Idlib Province
Minister Says Government Working to Deliver Aid to Yarmouk
Arts and Social Media
"99°" Bidayyat’s Rawad Alzaqout produced this short film “an appeal to freedom for all prisoners in Syria, whether they are in the hands of the Syrian regime, the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levante (ISIS) or any other oppressor.”
The Whisper Strategy (Drama and Power Relations in Syria): An Interview with Donatella Della Ratta
Al-Qaeda Leaks: Baghdadi and Golani Fight Over the Levant Emirate Radwan Mortada takes a closer look at the Twitter user @wikibaghdadi, who “is exposing what he calls "the secrets of Baghdadi`s state," revealing the hidden affairs of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi’s rule.”
Interactive: Moving Syria`s chemical weapons A useful infographic prepared by Mohammed Haddad and Basma Atassi
Photoblog: Snowstorm Sweeps Qamishli
The Trials of Being a Journalist in Aleppo “Reporter describes harsh conditions for all those living amid conflict in Syrian city.”
Policy and Reports
Syria`s Raging Health Crisis Adam P. Coutts and Fouad M. Fouadjan provide an update on the public health crisis unfolding in Syria.
Raphaël Pitti : « La Syrie est un camp de concentration » An interview with a doctor who just came back from a trip to the Lebanese-Syrian border, where he created a training center for doctors operating in Syria. In this interview, he describes the “human catastrophe” he witnessed.
Report documenting casualties of the siege on Yarmouk Camp/Syria “Unofficial estimates suggest the number of Palestinian refugees in Yamouk camp to be around 200-220 thousand, while official figures from UNRWA (2012) put the number at 162 thousand. There are currently no more than 50 thousand people (Syrian and Palestinian) in Yarmouk camp."
NGO: Car bomb kills 18 in Syria’s Hama province
Dire deprivation in Syria`s Yarmouk camp “Chris Gunness, a spokesman for the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), told Al Jazeera that women were dying in labour due to malnutrition and that residents have been reduced to eating animal feed.”
Economy and Agriculture
Syria’s War Economy Samer Abboud comments on the worsening economic situation in Syria, where “unemployment has balooned to 60% and government coffers are empty; oil production is down to 20,000 barrels per day, from 380,000. Oil sanctions and sabotage have cost the government at least $13 billion by its own reckoning. Farming, trade and manufacturing are running at less than a third of pre-war levels. The Syrian pound has tumbled from 47 to the dollar when fighting broke out to around 250 today. In Beirut UN experts reckon that 19% of Syrians now live below the poverty line, compared with less than 1% before the war.
The Regime Prohibits Subsidized Bread in Damascus Restaurants The Syrian Observer translates this update by Iqtissad which says that “Al-Watan newspaper, owned by Rami Makhlouf, the cousin of Bashar Assad, reported from the director of Internal Trade and Consumer Protection office in Damascus that consumer protection units have been instructed about a new procedures that prohibits the supply of thr normal bread to Damascus restaurants, including fast food shops.”
Syria: ICRC president in Damascus to press for greater humanitarian access
Pass it On: Grants for Syrian Artists Living in Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Turkey, or Iraq
«تفكيك النظام السوري بدءاً من «جنيف2
Monther Khaddam reiterates: the Assad regime cannot fall using outsider or inside force; the regime needs to be disintegrated, which is, according to Khaddam, what Geneva 2 will help achieve.
محمد ملص: الثورة ليست رقصاً على الجثث
Dialogue between al-Hayat’s Vicky Habib and famous Syrian Filmmaker, Mohammad Malas, about his newest controversial film “Ladder to Damascus.”
هل يلقى أردوغان مصير عدنان مندريس؟
Mohammad Sayyed Rasas wonders if Turkey’s meddling in the current state of affairs in the region will lead Prime Minister Erdogan to the fate of previous Turkish Prime Minister Adnan Mendris in the early 60s.
...هكذا يغنّون للأسد
Oras Shukr writes about and analyzes the types of propaganda “Assadist” songs sung in mid-2011.
الحرية لسميرة الخليل و رزان زيتونة و رفاقهما
A video tribute to activists Samira al-Khalil, Razan Zeitouna and their comrades, demanding their release!
رشّ عليّ كيماوي
Dima Wannous on the release of the disturbing song “Spray Me With Chemicals” (the original song was referring to Chemo therapy as a treatment for cancer) right after the chemical massacre that happened in Eastern Ghouta.
ريف دمشق: هل تتوسع اتفاقيات التسوية؟
Tarek al-Abed on the current situation in Rif Damascus.
الإعلام الرسمي السوري: نظرة من الداخل
Ziad Ghusn provides internal insight on the office Syrian media.
اليسار الاسمي في قضية فيروز
Omar Hussni on the leftists’ reaction to the news about famous Lebanese Singer Fairouz’s feelings towards Hezbollah and its leader Hassan Nasrallah.
بعض أسرار الصراع السعودي القطري
Salam Abboud reveals secrets of the struggle between Saudi and Qatar.
الإعلام والنقابة والدور الوطني
Saadallah Mezeraani on the coverage of the recent explosion in Hureik quarter in the Lebanon south.
حلب تقهر الموت بالمسرح
Sohaib Anjarini writes, “Aleppo overcomes death through theatre.”
حرب ضد «داعش» .. من الأنبار إلى حلب
Mohammad al-Balloot on the advancement of ISIS in Syria.
اللاجئون السوريون.. إحدى أكبر الأزمات الإنسانية في التاريخ الحديث
A report on one of the biggest humanitarian crises of today, the Syrian refugee crisis.