[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 email@example.com by Monday night of every week.]
Inside Madaya: `It feels deserted but you know there are people there` Pawel Krzysiek of the International Committee for the Red Cross describes what he has seen after accompanying an aid convoy from the Syrian town.
Assad Issues New Law on Public-Private Business Partnerships Economy minister says new law will help the private sector contribute to Syria’s reconstruction and economic development as a main and active partner.
Northern Idleb: Russian Air Strikes Kill 51 in Maarrat al-Numan Scores dead and at least 100 others injured as Russian warplanes target city courthouse and prison.
Snow and cold weather grip war-torn Syria Millions of Syrians are in dire need of immediate humanitarian assistance, aid workers say.
The Underground Route Out of Besieged Ghouta While residents in Madaya may have no way out, other areas under government siege are finding creative ways to carry on. In Eastern Ghouta, rebel groups are allowing residents to access their network of tunnels to escape or get provisions.
Before the Disaster Strikes: Aleppo`s Winter Crisis Nearly a dozen people died across Syria last January due to a fatal combination of inadequate shelter and freezing weather. Local organizations have been striving to prepare for this year.
Aid Convoys Reach 3 Syria Communities Besieged for Months Aid convoys delivered long-awaited food medicine and other supplies to three besieged Syrian communities Monday, part of a U.N.-supported operation.
Ten Areas Under Siege by Government and Opposition While the world’s attention has recently been captured by the plight of starving citizens in the besieged town of Madaya, the resort town along the Lebanese border is only one of the several areas in Syria that are suffering from debilitating blockades imposed by both sides in the conflict.
Madaya Syria: Aid convoy reaches besieged town According to the BBC, “An aid convoy has reached the besieged rebel-held Syrian town of Madaya, bringing vital food and medicines.” “Up to 4.5 million people in Syria live in hard-to-reach areas, including nearly 400,000 people in 15 besieged locations who do not have access to life-saving aid.”
Aid convoy reaches starving Syrian town of Madaya “A Damascus-based U.N. official who entered Madaya and oversaw the entry of the convoy of 44 trucks gave an eyewitness account of the plight of people in the rebel-held town of around 40,000 people.”
Besieged Madaya residents face starvation Mustafa al-Haj reports that the “residents of Madaya in the western countryside of Damascus are suffering from lack of food and medical supplies as a result of the siege imposed by the Syrian regime.”
The Arabic version of this article can be found here: مجاعةفيمضايابعدأزمةجوعلمتكسرهاهدنةأيلول/سبتمبر
As Rebel-Held Town of Madaya Starves, Syria Agrees to Food Aid, U.N. Says Anne Barnard reports that "Numerous residents of Madaya interviewed in recent days described living on grass and leaves, and seeing family members dying of hunger or killed by snipers as they tried to escape the town, which is surrounded by pro-government forces, primarily from Hezbollah, the Lebanese Shiite group that is allied with the Syrian president, Bashar al-Assad".
Amnesty: Famine in Syrian city of Madaya `the tip of an iceberg` Don Melvin reports that “In the Syrian capital of Damascus, for example, flour costs 79 cents a kilo. In Madaya, it costs $120. And in Damascus, milk costs $1.06 a liter. But in Madaya, the price is $300.”
In Raqqa, a spate of Islamic State executions of women raises questions about why Ammar Hamou and Maria Nelson report on the execution of Ruqia Hassan, a female citizen journalist by ISIS in Raqqa. “Ruqia Hassan was the fifth journalist to report on the Islamic State reported killed since October, as those who dare to speak out against IS policies continue to find themselves targeted both inside and outside Syria.”
The Ten Most Important Developments in Syria in 2015 Aaron Lund provides a list of the top ten most significant events in 2015 and where matters stand in/on Syria in 2015.
US-led airstrikes against Islamic State in Syria and Iraq – interactive An interactive map showing ISIS-controlled areas that have been targeted by the coalition’s air campaign since late summer 2014.
Is Rojava’s model the awaited solution for Syrian crisis? “ In an interview with Al-Monitor, Eldar Khalil, member of the governing body for the [Democratic Society Movement] TEV-DEM, gives an overview of the Kurds’ situation in the Rojava region, a de facto autonomous region of Syria.”
The Arabic version of this article can be found here: عضوالهيئةالتنفيذيّةفيحركةالمجتمعالديمقراطيّ آلدارخليل
Taking the October Dam: Syria’s Kurds Keep Hitting the Islamic State According to Aron Lund, if the U.S.-backed and Kurdish-dominated Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) “ step across the river [the Euphrates] and start moving on Manbij, or even seek to link up with Assad’s forces in Kweiris, the Islamic State’s forces in Aleppo will be trapped in a three front war.”
US sees Assad staying in Syria until March 2017 The Associated Press obtained a document showing an internal U.S. timeline for a best-case Syrian political transition.
Forces fight for strategic Syrian gateway to south Khaled Atallah reports that “The Syrian opposition incurred heavy losses during a recent regime attack on the key city of al-Shaykh Maskin, but it is already regaining ground as power quickly shifts from one side to the other.”
The Arabic version of this article can be found here: الشيخمسكينبوّابةالنّظاموالمعارضة
A Most Critical Turn in the History of the Syrian Revolution Walid al-Bunni writes that “The US retreat from the Middle East, Russian expansionism in the region, and an increase in Tehran’s influence in Syria and the region has led the pro-Assad camp to dominate the Syrian file as we witness a decline of other influential regional and international players from the scene”
Syria`s Refugees Brave Another Winter in Exile Manuel Langendorf reports that as "winter descends upon the Middle East, neighboring countries bearing the brunt of the Syrian refugee crisis, such as Lebanon, are scrambling to put pre-emptive measures in place to ensure refugees survive freezing temperatures, despite fuel shortages and inadequate housing"
Wounded Syrian fighters and civilians evacuated under UN deal “Under the terms of the deal, which was implemented by the ICRC, the UN and the Syrian Arab Red Crescent, 338 individuals were evacuated from Fua and Kefraya over the border into Turkey and then flown to Beirut. Meanwhile, 126 people were evacuated from Zabadani and Madaya by land to Lebanon and then taken to Beirut where they were flown to Turkey.”
Double Bombing Kills at Least 19 in Syrian City of Homs “... a parked vehicle packed with nearly 440 pounds of explosives blew up on a busy road in Al-Zahra. A suicide bomber on foot then hid among the crowd that gathered at the scene and detonated his bomb shortly after the initial blast”
Most Popular Texts on Syria in Crisis in 2015 Aron Lund, Editor of Syria in Crisis, provide a list of the five most read pieces from 2015.
The Last Friends of Sednaya Prison “In May 2011, following Syria`s popular uprising, around 1,500 detainees were released from the country`s most notorious prisons under presidential decree. Four of these detainees would later go on to form some of Syria`s most radical Islamist factions, and fundamentally change the course of the revolution”
An Arabic version of this article can be found here: آخرأصدقاءسجنصيدنايا
I WANT TO BE WHERE I WANT TO BE: HERE OR THERE Mariam Haid writes about her experience in detention in the prisons of the Syrian regime. “There are some dates, memories and even events that are unforgettable. They may be very different from one another, but pleasurable or painful, they take up permanent residence together in our memory, never to be evicted. One of my indelible memories is the date of my arrest: January 10 2014. It was a Friday morning.”
An Arabic version of this article can be found here: أريدأنأكونحيثأريد.. هناأوهناك
Comment la Syrie tente de sauver son patrimoine face à l`Etat islamique An interview with Dr. Maamoun Abdulkarim, Syria`s director- general of antiquities and museums, who reflected on the impact of war on Syria`s archaeological sites and damage prevention efforts.
Regional and International Perspectives
Iran won’t surrender militias that conduct Assad’s war Iran rejects inclusion of foreign Shi’a militias on UN list of Syria’s non-state armed groups.
Faced with mounting debts, Syrian refugees have no way of leaving Lebanon “While other host countries that have taken in large numbers of Syrian refugees have established refugee camps, Lebanon has not – so refugees must fed for themselves, paying for accommodation and other basic needs.”
Syrian opposition coordinator says U.S. clearly backtracked over Syria The U.S. has softened its stance on Syria, including the future of Bashar al-Assad to accommodate Russia, says Syrian opposition coordinator.
Was Syria intervention worth it for Russia? “While Moscow`s military involvement in the Syria crisis has led to an increasingly important role for Russia in regional and global politics, critics wonder whether or not the costs will outweigh the benefits.”
Are scientists easy prey for jihadism? According to Paul Vallely, the "terrorists’ black and white worldview appeals to an ‘engineering mindset’, a study suggests. A broader education would give vulnerable students the tools to question authority"
The Arabic version of this article can be found here: طلابالطبوالهندسة.. لماذايصبحونفريسةسهلةللجهاديين؟
ISIS Oil Vijay Prashad reports on ISIS oil and the tanker routes from Iraq and Syria to the Mediterranean port of Ceyhan.
What did we achieve in the fight against ISIS in 2015? Haid N Haid examines the impact of the war against ISIS in 2015 and how the latter successfully adapted its strategies and tactics to minimize its losses.
How to Defeat ISIS James F. Jeffrey argues that “Once Washington treats “defeating ISIS” and “the aftermath” as two separate, albeit linked, operations, then the cost and benefits of using U.S. ground troops to defeat ISIS can be soberly assessed.”
The Expert View: The Saudi–Iran Rift Over Syria “In the wake of the most recent fallout between Saudi Arabia and Iran, Syria Deeply gathered together a group of experts to discuss the potential consequences for Syria, both on the ground and at the negotiating table. The big question: Could this mean the end of the Syrian peace talks known as the Vienna Process?”
Why Saudi Arabia Escalated the Middle East’s Sectarian Conflict According to Marc Lynch “The implications of the Saudi sectarian escalation for the region’s high politics are likely overstated, but the new forces unleashed by the Arab uprising may make it far more difficult to deescalate these sectarian passions than it has been to inflame them.”
Policy and Reports
Exclusive: Inside IS Terror Weapons Lab “Experts describe the footage obtained by Sky News of a "jihadi technical college" as an intelligence gold mine.”
U.N. Push for Ceasefires in Syria Achieves Results, but Empowers Regime According to Jennifer Cafarella, Katie Menoche, Genevieve Casagrande, and the ISW Syria Team, “a U.N.-led push for localized ceasefires between pro- and anti-regime forces in Syria has achieved notable results, but may not actually make a negotiated settlement in Syria more likely.”
Why `No-fly Zones` or `IS-free Zones` Are Not a Solution in Syria According to Hrair Balian, director of the Conflict Resolution Programme at The Carter Center, “An external military intervention to establish such zones, even with the good intention of protecting civilians, is likely to precipitate more chaotic fighting and further harm civilians”
The Vienna Path: the Chances of a Solution and the Challenges for the Syrian Opposition According to The Policy Analysis Unit at the Arab Center, “The Vienna declarations, and particularly the latter declaration, represent a new phase in the Syrian crisis and may lead to the onset of a political process. Yet the ability of influential regional and international powers to derail the process exists, since the fate of Assad remains a point of heated contention, as are his role in the transition, and the means by which to deal with terrorist groups”
Documentaries, Special Reports, and Other Media
Inside Story - Starvation as a tool of war in Syria Mouin Rabbani, Wael Aleji , and Fadi Al-Qadi provide their insight into the unfolding famine in the besieged towns of Zabadani and Madaya.
ISIS: Finding Ground Zero “The video is a dispatch report by ANA Press crew from Aleppo, it consists of a documented trip from central Aleppo to the northern outskirts to where Syrian rebel groups are stationed in opposition to ISIS. “
Israel Key Link in Exporting ISIS Oil According to Vijay Prashad "ISIS oil is smuggled through Turkey to Israel and is a major source of ISIS funding"
Current Conversations, Syria Special: Dr Joshua Landis “Robert Con Davis-Undiano discusses the latest issues in Syria with Dr. Joshua Landis.”
"أطباءبلاحدود": 33 شخصاً قضواجوعاً فيمضايا According to the medical charity Doctors Without Borders 33 people have died of starvation at a clinic the group supports in Madaya since Dec. 1.
ناشطولبنانيدفعون "حزبالله" لتبريرحصارهمضايا Lebanese activists criticize Hezbollah`s reported role in the siege of Madaya.
«الأخبار» فيمضايا: جوع «أمراء» الحرب Elie Hanna reports on the dire situation in Madaya and the role of warlords in exacerbating the human crisis.
وثيقةسرّية: الأسديرحلفيآذار 2017 According to a leaked administration timeline for regime change in Syria, President Bashar al-Assad relinquishes presidency in March 2017 and his inner circle departs.
المركزالعربيّ يعلننتائجاستطلاعالمؤشّرالعربيّ According to a study conducted by The Arab Center for Research and Policy Studies, %89 of the participants in an opinion poll conducted in several Arab countries are opposed to the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL).
بوتينمطلوبفيدمشق “A group of activists in the Syrian capital Damascus distributed leaflets in different neighborhoods of the city and its countryside to denounce the Russian intervention in Syria. The posters were stamped with a photograph of Putin depicted as Dracula and saying, "Wanted, Syrians` Killer" on it.”
A similar report in English can be found here: ‘Wanted! Putin, Syrians’ Killer’ posters distributed in Damascus
الشرقالأوسطالجديدكيفيتشكّل؟ Mohammed Sayyed Rassas writes the formation of New Middle East following the increasing involvement of Russia in the Syrian conflict.
اللاجئونالسوريونفيتركيابينالحدودوالقوانين Senay Ozden writes about the situation of the Syrian refugees in Turkey in the light of the new Turkish laws regarding Syrians.
ثلاثةأنواعرئيسيةللجهاديين Hammad Sheikh provides an insight into three main types of Jihadist groups and the motivations that drive them to violence.
منذرمصرييكتب: هلكلّ السوريينفيالخارجخائنونوفيالداخلموالون؟ Monzer Masri criticizes the simplified categorization of Syrians as pro-regime within Syria and traitors outside it.
راتبشعبويكتب: هلمنتسويةسياسيةوشيكةفيسورية؟ Rateb Shabo discusses the possibility of `political solution` in war-torn Syria.
السوريونفيلبنانالشقيق Sabr Darwish writes about the dire situation that Syrian refugees are experiencing in Lebanon.
أبورسولالنجار Khalifa al Khidr reflected his experience in ISIS custody.
ماضيالمرأةالسوريةومستقبلها Noor Al-Qadi writes about the experience of Syrian women, particularly Muslim women in Aleppo, in the past and future.