[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.]
Syria: The Need for Diplomacy and De-escalation Philip Gordon on the factors that are dividing the Middle East and why options in Syria are limited.
Russia strikes vital Aleppo water treatment plant: ‘The sight of water flowing from a faucet has become almost like a dream’ Russian airstrikes strike a water treatment plant in Aleppo, cutting off water to around 3.5 million people.
Assad Regime Cooperating With ISIS to Provide Electricity to Regime-held Areas Security sources reveal the Assad regime dispatched a technical team to ISIS-held areas of Deir-ez-Zor province to repair a crucial gas pipeline.
Aid Delivered to Rebel-Held Al-Waer Following Ceasefire City governor says relief convoys began arriving in the city as early as Saturday in cooperation with the Syrian Red Crescent.
With Few Signs Of Progress, Russia`s Putin Warns Of Long Fight In Syria Despite Russian intervention and support, Assad’s forces have yet to seize the ground they lost to rebels over the past year.
Truce in Homs Paves the Way for Regime, Russian Expansion Ceasefire reached between regime and rebels in al-Waar as Assad looks to consolidate his control over Syria’s strategic areas prior to the upcoming negotiations in Vienna.
Leaked Document Reveals ISIS Nation-Building Plans A state-building manual used by IS administrators confirms the complexity and breadth of the group’s efforts to create a functioning state, albeit one ruled by terror. In life under IS, however, many civilian services seem to be suffering.
As long as there is an Assad, there will be an Isil - he`ll make sure of it David Blair argues that getting rid of Assad will be the key to defeating ISIS in Syria.
Evaluating the Russian Intervention in Syria The Assad regime seems to have strengthened since the Russian intervention, but not become strong enough to pave the way for significant breakthroughs in Syria.
What it takes to smuggle information out of IS strongholds in Syria Shelly Kittleson reports that "Media activists in Deir ez-Zor face daily death threats by the Islamic State, but the danger is not stopping many of them from documenting what is happening in the Syrian province".
Syria air strikes: RAF jets in second wave of strikes RAF jets have carried out their second set of airstrikes in Syria since MPs backed military action against so-called Islamic State in the country.
Syria conflict: German MPs vote for anti-IS military mission Germany`s parliament has voted to send military support to the US-led coalition fighting Islamic State (ISIS) militants in Syria.
`How I was tortured in a Syrian jail` "Farah" was born in Britain but grew up in Syria. Last year, she was arrested by the Syrian government security forces, who accused her of being an opposition activist. She blames Syrian President Bashar al-Assad for the torture that followed, and sees him as a bigger menace than Islamic State.
The Arabic version of this article can be found here: بريطانية تروي فصول اعتقالها في أقبية الأسد.. تعذيب يفوق الوصف واغتصاب جماعي
U.S. Says Nyet to Allegations It Bombed Syrian Base “U.S. military official said Monday that the United States is “certain it was the Russians” who bombed a Syrian army base Sunday evening, killing at least three soldiers and wounding 13 others.”
Leaders Bombing Syria Are Ignoring Syrians. We Need Civilian Protection. Save Our Syria (SOS) "a coalition of Syrian civil society and humanitarian groups from inside and outside Syria" writes that not a single Syrian has been at the Vienna talks negotiating table--despite repeated assurances that any future transition would be Syria-led and Syrian-owned. SOS demands protection from the barrel bombs, cluster munitions and chemical weapons that suffocate, maim and kill Syrian children.
Al-Jazeera says cameraman died from injuries sustained in Syria A cameraman working for al-Jazeera news network died of his injuries on Monday 7 Dec 2015 several days after being shot and wounded in the flashpoint Syrian province of Homs, the Qatari-funded television station said.
Despite Russian airstrikes, FSA continues to confront regime Asaad Hanna reports from Idlib in Syria that "although recent Russian military strikes in Syria have provided air cover for government forces, the Free Syrian Army continues its battles against the regime."
The Arabic version of this article can be found here: صاروخ التاو الأميركيّ يحدّ من تقدّم النّظام وروسيا أمام الجيش الحرّ
When is a ceasefire not a ceasefire? ‘I am not a terrorist…I am hungry’ “In Madaya, along with other West Ghouta towns included in the ceasefire, regime promises remain largely unfulfilled, residents and activists tell Syria Direct. What makes the situation exceptionally dire in this small mountain town is the number of people crammed into it.”
Regional and International Perspectives
Naturalized U.S. citizen accused of arming rebel group in Syria Federal authorities in the U.S. arrest a citizen who was part of a conspiracy to provide military supplies to a Syrian rebel group.
Why ISIL Will Fail on Its Own Eli Berman and Jacob Shapiro argue the ideological benefits of allowing ISIL to fall on its own.
Isis is expanding its international reach. That is hardly a sign of weakness Hassan Hassan argues that ISIS is not showing any signs of weakness as they continue to expand their international network, contrary to popular belief.
ISIS Praises San Bernardino Attackers; `We Will Not Be Terrorized,` Obama Says After news emerged Friday 4 Dec 2015 that the female shooter in a deadly attack in California had pledged allegiance to ISIS, the extremist group issued a radio bulletin calling Tashfeen Malik and her husband Syed Rizwan Farook "supporters." The group did not claim to have planned or ordered the attack.
America`s Acceptance of Refugees Is a Strategic Issue Accepting more refugees wouldn`t single-handedly fix the image of the US in the world, but it would counter some of the damage while laying the groundwork for a collective strategy to end the Syrian war, writes Jacob Parakilas.
Yes, the rebels can defeat Isis - and the UK`s increased involvement in Syria will help Hassan Hassan writes that Britain should not exacerbate the situation by merely deploying jets to fly more sorties onto Isis areas. Instead, most of the time and effort should be used to encourage and prop up local forces to fight ISIS. That requires a strategy that is independent from the one currently led by Washington. The focus for the UK should be to work mostly in the background through existing and new channels to advise, network, train and provide non-military services to armed fighting groups in different parts of the country.
If Assad is not forced out, Isis never will be Kyle Orton writes that extended airstrikes against ISIS are necessary - but they must be packaged with far more support for the opposition.
Poll: Syria airstrikes make people feel less safe from terrorism The results of a poll by YouGov daily showed that 34 per cent of British people said they`d feel--after military action in Syria--less safe from a terror attack, compared to just 14 per cent who said they`d feel more safe. 43 per cent reported they would feel no difference.
Leytonstone stabbing: Suspect `shouts this is for Syria` during knife attack that leaves three injured, according to witnesses The Metropolitan police in London has confirmed it is treating a stabbing at an underground station as a terrorist incident after arresting a man who reportedly shouted ‘this is for Syria’ during the attack.
Smartphones Bring Solace and Aid to Desperate Refugees Alessandra Ram writes that: "making the 1,300-mile journey through Western Europe from Syria is a treacherous feat, and one that requires many tools: Water. Food. Almost bottomless perseverance. But the most important may well be the Internet, and, more specifically, a smartphone."
If You’re a Refugee Dreaming of America, Don’t Come to Lebanon David Kenner reports that "Syrian refugees must pass through an intensive, 20-step process to be resettled in the United States. With the U.S. Embassy unable to house visiting immigration officers — the U.S. government having made the determination that there is nowhere else in the country safe enough for them to stay — this process in Lebanon is currently stalled."
To Crush ISIS, John Kerry Urges Deft Removal of Syria’s Assad While American officials say they want to see Mr. Assad leave office, they clearly do not want to have that transition happen too quickly. An abrupt removal of Mr. Assad could create a vacuum in Damascus that the Islamic State (ISIS) would probably try to exploit.
The Rise of ISIS in Lebanon Mona Alami writes that: "According to Salafi sources, dozens of youth from Tripoli have utilized Lebanese networks to join terrorist organizations fighting in Syria and Iraq. The return of some of these fighters, combined with the presence of hardliners within the Syrian refugee population in Lebanon (9 out of 11 people arrested recently were Syrian), may explain the recent escalation of ISIS activity."
10 reasons why UK airstrikes in Syria will achieve nothing Dilly Hussain questions on what rational premise does the UK government believe that punitive airstrikes will `degrade and defeat` ISIS?
Why ISIS Just Loves Profiling Maajid Nawaz writes that the terrorists of the so-called Islamic State (ISIS) can always stay two blood-soaked steps ahead of your religious and racial profiles. Watch behavior, not beards and burqas.
ISIL is really a revolt by young Muslims against their parents’ generation Emma-Kate Symons reviews Olivier Roy`s “third way” of understanding the new globalized jihadism. Roy, a world-renowned specialist of Islam and the geo-politics of the Middle East, believes that “the underlying cause is a deep generational fracture that has sparked an international jihadi movement from France to Tunisia, and Turkey to Saudi Arabia.”
Policy and Reports
A Political Settlement in Syria? In an op-ed in the Cipher Brief, ISW`s Syria Analyst and Evans Hanson Fellow Jennifer Cafarella makes the case that “the framework for a political settlement in Syria, recently negotiated by the United States, will fail to end the Syrian Civil War” arguing that “The diplomatic track must be a partner and beneficiary of a sound military effort. It cannot be a substitute.”
Will an al Qaeda Ally Be a Peacemaker in Syria? Colum Lynch and Colum Lynch report that “World powers are grappling with whether one of Syria’s most successful rebel groups should be invited to peace talks to help build a new government”
Roots & Consequences. Further explorations into the Syrian Uprising In this new issue of Syria Studies journal you can find: a Preface by Omar Imady; Syria and the Great Powers (1946-1958): How Western Power Politics Pushed the Country Toward the Soviet Union by Jörg Michael Dostal; UK National Print Media Coverage of Sexual and Gender-Based Violence (SGBV) against Refugee Women in Syrian Refugee Camps by Özlem Özdemir; and a Book Review: Lil-Tarikh wa-al-Dhikra, Qisat Jihad wa-‘Umur (For History and Memory, the Story of a Struggle and a Life) by Badr Deen Al Challah (1905-1999 ) by Omar Imady.
Forces` charity warns of funding crisis amid Syria strikes Military action in Syria must be matched with "urgent funding" to support veterans who return with mental health problems, a charity has said.
Does arming the Kurds mean the West backs forces committing war crimes? Ian Sinclair writes that it is essential that we have a realistic picture of those the West is supporting or plan to support in the conflicts in Iraq and Syria.
Why Turkey Shot Down a Russian Jet According to Soufan Group’s analysis “As Russian, Syrian, and Hizballah forces strike hard against groups such as Liwa Jabal-Turkmen (The Brigade of the Turkmen Mountain), there is increasing risk of more direct conflict between Turkey, a NATO member, and Russia.”
Russia`s False Narrative in Syria Hugo Spaulding, ISW`s Russia and Ukraine Analyst , examines “five of the most prominent and problematic Russian myths and demonstrate why adherence to them in the West produces dangerous policy options”.
Russia Security Update: November 25-December 1, 2015 According to Hugo Spaulding and ISW Russia and Ukraine Team, “Russia is deterring Turkey from future attacks by deploying the long-range S-400 surface-to-air missile (SAM) system to its airbase in Latakia Province, equipping its bombers in Syria with air-to-air missiles, and reportedly preparing to deploy up to twelve additional air superiority fighters to escort its bombers
Documentaries, Special Reports, and Other Media
`Syria and the Great Powers (1946-1958): How Western Power Politics Pushed the Country Toward the Soviet Union` (PDF Format) Jörg Michael Dostal “reconstructs the political history of the Syrian Arab Republic from the time of the country`s emergence as an independent state in 1946 to the merger with Egypt to form the United Arab Republic in 1958." According to Dostal, “different levels of instability jointly weakened the ability of all domestic Syrian regimes between 1946 and 1958 to acquire substantial resources in the military and economic fields to back up the country’s independence. As a weak state, Syria became the object of foreign interference, while domestic actors lacked the capability to strengthen the system from within”.
Jihadi Archipelago: Blood and joy in the Islamic State. Anthropologist Scott Atran explains the revolutionary context of the Islamic State - as a dynamic startup nation, an attractor of the aggrieved, and an existential challenge to Enlightenment ideals of human rights and the secular state - and warns that Western governments are giving ISIS exactly the chaos it needs to grow.
The Fight Against ISIS: Reviewing US Strategy In this event, General John Allen, in conversation with Neil Quilliam, will share his views on the fight against ISIS and what this reveals about US foreign policy.
A new life in Europe: The Dhnie family For the last two years, the Dhnie family has been living as refugees in Jordan. In August, the family decided there was no future for them there and little prospect of returning to Syria. They packed up their lives and set off for the EU. Manveen Rana documents the twists and turns of their journey in a series of reports for BBC Radio 4’s The World at One.
"A Blemish on British Political History": Anti-War Activist Decries UK Vote to Bomb Syria This interview with Asad Rehman, former national organizer of the Stop the War Coalition in the UK, who now serves as Head of International Climate for Friends of the Earth. He notes that from 2006 to 2011, Syria suffered from five years of the worst drought ever in the country’s history, and he connects between climate change and political instability
The Internet`s battle to defeat ISIS - one meme at a time For every tweet about #supportingISIS, there are now ones suggesting #RickRollDaesh, linking to videos of pop music’s Rick Astley telling the world about how he is “never gonna give you up”
أهالي اللاذقية.. غضب عارم بسبب صفقة التبادل Nai Saleh reports about the anger of the families of the Syrian regime kidnapped army soldiers because of the regime disregard of their children cases.
د. محمد حبش: مصارحات في وجوب إصلاح المناهج الدينية …. إيمان البغا…. نموذجاً Dr. Muhammad Habash writes about the necessity of reforming the religious curriculum.
يوم قرّرتُ الخروج من الرقة Marwan shares the story of his work with Doctors Without Borders in Tell Abyad within the Ar-Raqqah Governorate and the reasons that pushed him to leave escaping ISIS threats.
آمال لسورية ومخاوف عليها... Mazen Darwish, a Syrian lawyer and free speech advocate, reflects on his experiences, hopes and disappointments after he was released from Syrian regime prisons late this summer.
«داعش»: مهاجمو كاليفورنيا من أنصارنا ISIS radio station released a statement on Saturday 5 Dec 2015 claiming that two of the group’s followers had carried out the shootings that left 14 people dead in San Bernardino, Calif.
A related article in English can be found here: Islamic State Says ‘Soldiers of Caliphate’ Attacked in San Bernardino
ضباط سوريون منشقون: لامانع من التعاون مع الجيش السوري فى مواجهة الدولة الاسلامية بعد رحيل الاسد كجزء من الحل المقترح محليا وعربيا و دوليا A number of dissident Syrian officers announced that they are ready to fight ISIS and other extremist groups if President Bashar al-Assad will leave office through a transition period as part of a solution to the Syrian conflict.
مؤتمر الرياض لن يشكّل بديلاً لـ «الائتلاف» Riyadh conference will not lead to creating a new opposition body instead of the National Coalition of Syrian Revolution and Opposition Forces.
رسالة إلى المؤتمرين السوريين في السعودية.. تحديات وعقبات Hazem Nahar explores the challenges and opportunities that face Syrians during Riyadh conference.
"داعش" يتخطىالنفط: ثروةمنالصوامعوالضرائبوالمخدرات This article highlights the current economic structure