[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
The Islamic Front Aron Lund’s useful collection of articles and reports on its emergence in Syria, written for various outlets including the Swedish Institute of International Affairs, Syria Comment, Foreign Policy, and the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace of International Affairs.
The Everyday Experience of Humanitarianism in Akkar Villages Estella Carpi’s report on the implosion of humanitarian assistance in Akkar and the “ethnicization” of the needs and services provided to the Syrian refugees.
Understanding racism against Syrian refugees in Lebanon Mohamad Ali-Nayel and Bassem Chit advise civil society organizations to “be mindful of the prevailing discourses that shape people’s opinions about refugees”.
A Late-Night Phone Call Between One of Syria’s Top Extremists and His Sworn Enemy Mike Giglio reports on a phone conversation between a leader from ISIS and a rebel who is fighting this jihadi group, providing an insight into the fragmentation of the armed opposition.
What Do Syria’s Rebels Want From the West? Vera Mironova, Loubna Mrie and Sam Whitt reiterate the major findings of their survey with “nearly 200 interviews completed, which include over 60 active combatants in the rebel Free Syrian Army (FSA) as well as 80 civilians within FSA-controlled territory and 50 refugees from a border camp in Kilis, Turkey.”
Thaw in Iranian-Saudi relations pacifies Lebanon, but what about Syria? Sami Kleib reports: “According to information obtained by Al-Akhbar, the tension between Iran and the Saudi Kingdom are expected to thaw in the event that preliminary contacts lead to an agreement on some common points.”
Kuwait Minister Nayef al-Ajmi Resigns in Syria Terror Funding Row “Kuwait`s justice and Islamic affairs minister Nayef al-Ajmi, accused of fundraising for terrorist groups in Syria, has resigned citing health reasons.”
John Kerry, U.S. Military Clash on Approach to Syria`s Rebels Adam Entous and Julien Barnes write: “The newest fault line is over a menu of options backed by the State Department that range from military strikes to a revamped plan to use special-operations forces to covertly train moderate Syrian rebels in Jordan and possibly another country in the region. That would supplement a limited program run by the Central Intelligence Agency.”
Warily, Jordan Assists Rebels in Syrian War “When rebels want to return to Syria to fight, Jordan’s intelligence services give them specific times to cross its border. When the rebels need weapons, they make their request at an “operations room” in Amman staffed by agents from Jordan, Saudi Arabia and the United States”, reports Ben Hubbard.
Bashar al-Assad: a costly card for Iran? Majid Rafizadeh claims that “while Iranian leaders continue to support Assad’s government economically, Iran’s domestic economy has inflicted itself with high levels of inflation”
PLO Official: Al-Qaeda To Target Lebanese Christians Jamie Dettmer reports that “Mahmoud Abdul-Hamid Issa, the former top security official for the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) in Lebanon, says the camps are at “boiling point”, including Ain el-Hilweh”
The Refugee Crisis
Assessment of the Impact of Syrian Refugees in Lebanon and their Employment Profile A report by the International Labor Organization “finds that low wages, high unemployment and lack of labour market regulation pose serious challenges to livelihoods for both residents and refugees in host communities”
The Refugee Children Forced to Work Muhannad Nader for The Syrian Observer explains how children are used to help support their family financially.
Syria’s Lost Generation Khaled Hosseini writes a passionate account of his encounter with Syrians in an Erbil refugee camp.
Iraqi refugees in Syria: Between a rock and a hard place Yazan al-Saadi writes a useful piece on the lives of the Iraqi refugees who arrived during the war in Iraq.
The bullying of Mohammed Kharouki: Lebanese racism in its crudest form Firas Abou-Mosleh on the bullying of Syrians in Lebanese schools.
Fears that Regime Sleeper Cells Return to Zaatari After Riot According to Al-Hayat, “there are fears the camp has been infiltrated by agents working for the Syrian regime” (translation by the Syrian Observer).
The Assad Regime: Winning on Points Yezid Sayigh concludes: “The Assad regime has survived through brutal resilience in wartime. But it will prove fatally brittle in the aftermath.”
A Melancholy Perspective on Syria Yazid Sayigh argues that “the democratic revolution remains a reality for which many Syrians continue to struggle. Yet, any new potential might not be able to materialize until the existing political opposition and armed rebellion have lost the battle. This is a melancholy perspective indeed. But the time when Assad might have been defeated by a truly inept opposition leadership and fragmented rebel movement has passed.”
The Strands of the Military Opposition in Syria: An Interview with Yasser Munif (Part 2) In Part II, Yasser addresses the remaining divisions of the military opposition, with focus on Jabhat al-Nusra and ISIS and the battles between them. He also addresses the implications of these battles and the deleterious effects of both “jihadism” and internal conflicts within the opposition.
Seeing the women in revolutionary Syria Razan Ghazzawi narrows in on the role of women since the beginning of the uprising.
Alternative Left Perspectives on Syria “Here, collected in one place, are some of the key texts of this dissident left camp. Emphasis on some of the key texts – this list is by no means exhaustive. It’s limited to English-language sources.”
The Fighting in Abu Kamal (Albukamal): Background and Analysis “Maps put out in mainstream media outlets (e.g. the BBC) have frequently color-coded Abu Kamal as an ISIS stronghold. As demonstrated previously, this characterization is highly inaccurate. One need not repeat at length what has already written, but to recap for convenience: the town itself is controlled by six different factions,” explain Aymenn Jawad Al-Tamimi and Cedric Labrousse.
The one certainty about Syria`s looming election – Assad will win Martin Chulov explains how “Bashar al-Assad`s real opponents won`t be able to stand as candidates, and more than half the population won`t be eligible to vote”
Syria`s political opposition urges U.S. action after Aleppo `genocide` “The assault on the city intensified in December with the Syrian military hitting civilian areas with scores of barrel bombs - oil drums packed with explosives and shrapnel - drawing international condemnation but no decisive action.”
The roots and grassroots of the Syrian revolution (Part 2 of 4) Joseph Daher “dispels the myths used by the Syrian regime to legitimise itself. Is anything left of the regime`s rhetoric of socialism, secularism and anti-imperialism?”
Containing the security threat Tony Badran examines Hezbollah’s agenda in Syria and its impacts on Lebanon.
All Quiet on the Western Front? “Assad`s advances in Qalamoun could improve Lebanon`s security situation,” according to Asharq al-Awsat (translated by the Syrian Observer).
Yarmouk Camp: Another Home Lost for Palestinians Yahya Alous explains why it was “impossible for the Palestinian factions to remain neutral in the Syrian conflict”
Opinion: The Battle for the Coast Michel Kilo writes: “victory cannot and should not be in the coastal region. The struggle against the regime should also go through two stages. First, the battle should spread to the rest of Syria in order to undermine the regime’s ability to continue fighting. Doing so would protect the coastal region from the regime’s evil policies. Second, the people of the coastal regions should have a role in the struggle against the regime, and when signs of its collapse appear, they will be enough to convince its supporters to abandon it.”
Seyda: Opposition Lacks Political Vision, Favoritism Rife “In an interview, Abdul Basset Seyda, a member of the political committee of the Syrian National Coalition criticizes the opposition for not being able to draw a political vision for the revolution”
“Who Was Hilal al-Assad?” By Mohammad D., who profiles a member of the Assad family killed in battle last month.
The Desert Falcons: An Elite Pro-Assad Force Aymenn Al-Tamimi comments on the emergence of this new force on the Assad side (on Joshua Landis’ Syria Comment blog)
Poison Gas Claims Complicate Syrian Civil War “Both sides in Syria`s bloody civil war said Saturday that a rural village fell victim to a poison gas attack, an assault that reportedly injured scores of people amid an ongoing international effort to rid the country of chemical weapons.”
The Red Line and the Rat Line Seymour Hersh accuses Turkey of helping the Syrian rebels in conducting the sarin attacks last August.
Syria Special: There is No Chemical Weapons Conspiracy — Dissecting Hersh’s “Exclusive” on Insurgents Once More Scott Lucas from EA Worldview responds to those allegations.
Seymour Hersh`s Volcano Problem Eliott Higgins, on his Brown Moses blog, writes: “Seymour Hersh fails to address how eight to twelve 2 meter long perfect copies of Volcano rockets were produced and transported from Turkey to Damascus, along with hundreds of litres of Sarin precursors, and the required equipment to mix it and pour it into the warheads. When accusing the Turkish government of participating in a horrific chemical attack as the pretext to invading Syria, these sort of details aren`t something that can just be hand-waved with "well, they could do anything if they put their mind to it", as some commentators have attempted.”
Syria: Kessab`s battle and Armenians` history Vicken Cheterian explains how “the takeover by anti-Damascus rebels of an Armenian village in northern Syria, near the border with Turkey, has triggered a propaganda war which focuses on the position of Syria`s Armenians. This highlights core aspects of Armenians` experience since the 1915 genocide.”
Kasab vs. #Kessab, and propaganda on Syria’s coast Marlin Dick addresses the misinformed social media campaigns surrounding the events in Kessab.
Jihadist infighting in Syria is `sedition`: Zawahiri “Al-Qaeda chief Ayman al-Zawahiri has told rival jihadists in Syria to accept independent Islamic arbitration to end three months of infighting, saying in an audio message Friday the violence is ‘sedition’.”
One Year of Jihadi Civil War Aron Lund suggests a brief overview
The Muslim Brotherhood in Syria: a ‘centrist’ jihad? Raphael Lefevre “provides an overview of the group`s history, before moving on to analyze its military influence in the current Syrian crisis”
The Mujahidden Army of Aleppo Aron Lund provides an overview of the group and its various forces.
Syria army launches assault in besieged Homs “Syrian army troops backed by pro-regime militiamen entered rebel-held neighborhoods of the central city of Homs on Tuesday after laying siege to the districts for nearly two years.”
Syrian forces retake Maaloula: official “Syrian forces retook the ancient Christian hamlet of Maaloula in Damascus province on Monday, four months after mainly Islamist rebels overran it, a security official told AFP.”
On the Syrian Revolution and the Kurdish Issue Joseph Daher interviews Kurdish-Syrian activist Shiar Nayo (the interview was translated into English by Saroujah Sakran)
In A Syrian Neighbourhood, Rocket Fire Becomes The New Normal Marcell Shehwaro’s account of daily life in Aleppo: “For us, it was just a normal day of living with explosives. My friend corrects me: this time it wasn`t explosives, but rockets. Please accept my apology for the error: it was just a normal day with rockets.”
Long a Survivor in Syria, a Dutch Priest Is Slain Anne Barnard profiles Rev. Frans van der Lugt and the circumstances surrounding his murder last week.
A journey through Syria’s Daraa Firas Choufi drives through the Syrian province and reports that “although most of the Daraa governorate is under the control of various armed groups, the army controls around 60 percent of the city of Daraa. Out of 135 cities, villages, and towns in the governorate, the army controls 30 directly and 10 indirectly, meaning that the army can stop militants from seizing them.”
Regime Missiles Cause Massacre in Crowded Market in Douma “The strikes hit a crowded market packed with mostly women and children,” reports the Syrian Observer.
Tartus in the Present Crisis: A Mirror of the Syrian Regime Kheder Khaddour asks: “How much has the city evolved and in what ways during the current crisis? Why is the image of a quiet and unified city important for the regime of President Bashar al-Asad and how should this be interpreted? What is particular about the outlook and attitude of residents of Tartus?”
Abu Mariam Activist Wael Ibrahim was allegedly killed in an ISIS prison last week.
Islamic law comes to rebel-held Syria For more about Ibrahim, Liz Sly wrote about him last year, while reporting about the growing influence Islam had amongst rebel ranks
The Latakia Front: An Interview on the Rebel Side Aymenn Jawad Al-Tamimi translates an interview from “Izz ad-Din al-Qassam, a division of the Moroccan muhajireen group Harakat Sham al-Islam, which has played an important role in the ongoing rebel offensive on Latakia”
Opposition and Regime Forces Split Idlib Province after ISIS Withdrawal According to the Damascus Bureau “Currently, anti-ISIS armed opposition factions are spread out around Idlib, while regime forces still control important cities and strategic locations”
Jihadi Group ISIS Publicly Torched Cigarettes and Booze in Syria reports Vice
Activist: ‘Quneitra’s Revolutionaries Have Met the Call of Latakia’
In Barzeh, ‘Siege Left Rebels With No Choice But to Accept Reconciliation’ Syria Direct speaks with “Waseem Mahmoud, a 25-year-old opposition activist based in Barzeh. He tells Syria Direct’s Firas Abd that Barzeh’s truce has held ‘because of the long planning that went into it.’”
An Interview with the Head of the Elected Local Council in Douma Soua Khibyeh says “the election of a local council in Douma, in the Ghouta suburb of Damascus, is a pioneering experience, although it follows previous failures”
Relative Calm in Parts of Syria Is Deceptive says Anne Barnard, reporting from Damascus.
In Damascus, Everyone Comes to the Zeriab Cafe Joshua Hersh meets with Bernar Jomaa, whose coffee shop offers a sheltering environment away from the war.
Syrian government blocking aid to millions of refugees Lama Fakih reports from Bab al Salam camp in Syria.
Arts and Social Media
1915 Bidayyat releases a new short film by Gerard Agabashia, in which he “tells the story of the Syrian-Armenian opera singer Kevork who fled to Lebanon to find a safe place in this difficult and painful time, trying to smile in spite of all the sadness. “From Armenia to Syria to Lebanon, the road is full of obstacles, but we’re going to continue our journey until everything becomes the way it should be" says the young film director.
Khalid Khalifa: Staying in Syria Gives me Courage Aliaa al-Atassi speaks with this Syrian author who shares his views about the revolution.
Fighting in Syria sparks new cultural scene in Damascus according to Syrian scriptwriter Rami Kousa
Syrian Artists Set Guinness Record By Building World`s Largest Mural Out Of Recycled Goods (PHOTOS)
Syria: Stupid management of state-run media and censoring of useful media A piece by Ibrahim al Amin -translated from Arabic- in which he strongly critizes Syria state media.
The Syrian filmmakers aiming to change your view of the war A profile of Charif Kiwan and the collective of Syrian filmmakers called Abounaddara.
Adunis, Mistranslated (Part One) Sinan Antoon reviews Khaled Mattawa’s translation of Adunis’ poetry writing “a serious conversation about the criteria and methods by which literary translations from Arabic are evaluated in the Anglophone world is long overdue.”
Syria Bans al-Manar, Al-Mayadeen “Within opposition circles, the ban on the pro-regime channels is more about them promoting Iran and Hezbollah’s victories at the expense of the regime.”
Surviving Syria`s Civil War With Heavy Metal Daniel J. Gerstle profiles Monzer Darwish, who spent the last year filming a rockumentary in Syria.
A call for autonomous media Lara Bitar writes: “Through Syria, the Arab media landscape finally dropped what remained of its façade of engagement in ethical journalism.”
The People Want to Bring Down the Regime An online issue from Rote Fabrik about Art in the Revolution, Women in Syria, Watching Syria’s War and O.T.
Drastic Shortage of Psychiatrists Amid Substantial Surge in Number of Patients “Dr. Mohammad Ramadan Mahfouri, the director of the psychological health program at the Health Ministry, says that the number of psychiatrists in public and private sectors in Syria has dropped from 70 before the crisis to around 35 psychiatrists today, only 20 of whom work in the public sector, while the rest work in private clinics.”
The Risks of Pathologizing Syrian Refugees: Towards a Collective Social Suffering Approach Hala Kerbage writes: “The health conditions of displaced Syrians in Lebanon seem to be deteriorating and to pose risks to the health of the host community, while threatening to overwhelm the host country’s national health system.”
800 dead from hunger, illness inside besieged Aleppo prison “At least 800 prisoners, trapped in a Syrian jail for more than a year as army officers inside and surrounding rebels battle, have died as a result of starvation and illness, according to a former prisoner, a current prisoner and an organization documenting the prison’s conditions,” reports Dania Akkad
Report: Syria’s Disabled Refugees Find Themselves Doubly Victimized
Policy and Reports
Hezbollah in Syria The Institute for the Study of War published a report on Hezbollah’s involvement in Syria since the beginning of the war.
Month-by-Month Summary of Developments in Syria (Updated) International Crisis Group’s April update.
Patrick Seale, Syria specialist and former Observer correspondent, dies aged 83
Open Wounds: Torture and Ill-Treatment in the Syrian Arab Republic A report by OHCHR published on 14 April, 2014.
Economy and Agriculture
Syria`s Drought and the Rise of a War Economy Omar Dahi says “these changes imply a bleak future for the Syrian countryside and suggest that the millions who have been displaced from the rural areas may never return there.
Syria’s War Economy In this policy brief, Jihad Yazigi “argues that against the backdrop of armed conflict we see the spread of a war economy, which both feeds directly off the violence and incentivises continued fighting.”
Will Drought Worsen the Impact of Conflict on Food Insecurity? A report by the World Food Programme
The economic consequences of the conflict in Syria Ella Wind and Omar Dahi argue that “a lack of political liberalization and accountability contributed to the Syrian uprising, which has been followed by a dramatic decline in the country’s economy as violence has intensified. Syria’s fragmentation has also given rise to warlordism and local economies based on theft and smuggling”
PM Says Economic, Trade Ties With China to be Bolstered
Expert Explains Regime Economic Survival Strategies Samir “Seifan said that regime has used many methods to achieve this, including observation and control of exchange offices to prevent manipulation of exchange prices. This has extended to arresting people working in currency exchange and closing the non-abiding offices.”
Climate Change-Fueled Droughts Are About to Make Syria Even More Hellish “The tragic thing is, the drought season is likely to be worse, not better, by the time the conflict is finally resolved” writes Brian Merchant.
Syrian Refugees Information System (SRIS) “The Syrian Refugees Information System is information and data hub concerning the conditions and interventions related to Syrian refugees in Lebanon.”
LA Event--The Political Economy of the Syrian Uprising: Whither the Business Class? (2pm, 8 April, UCLA) A lecture by Bassam Haddad
النساء والثورة السورية
Razab Ghazzawi provides a glimpse on the role of women in the Syrian revolution.
أوقفوا إرهابكم عن الجامعات السورية
Maataz Hisso criticizes the targeting of educational institutions by the “terrorist jihadist takfiris”... while forgetting to mention the regime’s attacks on the university campuses in Damascus and Aleppo.
حروب الآخرين في سوريا
Sleiman Taqi Addin on what he decribes as a pseudo-civil war which intersects with proxy wars that have “destroyed the Syrian social fabric.”
سياسة أميركا وروسيا بين كييف ودمشق
Mohammad Sayyed Rasas on Russian politics and its politicies in Kiev and Damascus.
Samir al-Aitah argues that Syria today faces a phase of “time wasted” since, according to his views, no military or political solution is in the horizons for Syria.
الفيلم الوثائقي: حكايات من شرق العاصمة
Al-Arabiya features a documentary entitled “Stories from the East of the Capital” which recounts the stories of the families living and working in “Al-Mash-ham”, the place where bodies are prepared for burial in Joubar, East of the capital.
سوريا تحتاج 30 سنة لاستعادة اقتصادها.. بعد وقف الحرب
Al-Arabiya discusses a UN report that says that Syria would need 30 years after the end of the war to restore it economy.
النقد والتنويرفي الفضاء العربي المقهور
Al-Quds al-Arabi on the importance of criticism and critical thinking on events and situations.
مآلات النزف البطيء: وداعاً سورية دولة مركزية
Ibrahim Hmeidi is pessimistic about the development of events regarding Syria and the Western and international politics towards the issue.
الغوطة الشرقية بين هجوم الجيش وخيارات المسلحين
Tareq al-Abed on the fighting in Eastern Ghouta.
!أنت َمع روسيا أم مع أميريكا , و ... للنّاس فيما "يثورون " مذاهِب
Someone from inside Syria critically assesses the current situation and the “opposition” strategies for Syria.
(2) الثورة السورية و النساء
Joseph Daher interviews a female Syrian activist and rescue worker to discuss her role in the Syrian revolution.
سوريا والقرم... وحدة الصراع والمصير
Ahmad Fakher on events in Crimea and Syria and the connection between them.
الإسلاميون ومفهوم الدولة
Hussein al-Awdat on Islamists and their idea of the “state.”
سوريا الى أين؟
Ali Abdallah wonders where Syria is headed.
"خدعة "أصدقاء سوريا
Omar Qaddour on the illusion of “friends of Syria.”
السوريون.. أكثر الشعوب حزناً
Haifa Bitar recounts the sad stories from Kassab and the Latakia region and says that “Syrians are the saddest people.”
الأب فرانسس.. السلام لروحك
Video tribute to Father Frans who was shot dead in Homs.