[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.]
Lavrov: Russia`s Anti-Terror Response Has `Turned the Tide` in Syria Russian air force operations against terrorists in Syria have drastically altered the situation on the ground.
What’s Behind de Mistura’s Insistence on Involving Civil Society in Geneva Talks? The UN envoy appears to be preparing an alternative plan if his attempts to change the opposition negotiation delegation fail by promoting the need to involve civil society organizations and women in the peace negotiations.
ISIS Bombings in Homs Kill 19, Injure Over 100 Homs governor says death toll expected to rise following Tuesday’s bombings in Zahraa district. Cold Spell Kills 20 People in Northern Hassakeh Province This is an unprecedented number of deaths due to the cold, due to a convergence of poor health and immunity resulting from malnutrition.
Rebels in North-Western Syria Buckle under Russian Bombardment Aron Lund claims that “Russian intervention and offensives by the Syrian Arab Army and its Shia allies seem to have left the insurgents exhausted.”
Syria`s government says no new concessions in future peace talks The government will refuse concessions as its army makes gains in different parts of the country, official says.
Syrian pro-government forces retake key town in west ahead of planned talks Syrian pro-government forces recaptured a key rebel-held town in coastal Latakia province on Sunday 24 January 2016 building on battlefield advances in the area ahead of planned peace talks this week in Geneva between Damascus and Syria`s opposition.
`Resistance Of A Million` In IS-Held Raqqa A Syrian activist tells Sky News that the civilian population in Islamic State`s self-proclaimed capital are shunning the group.
Syrian army seizes strategic town in Deraa province: monitor According to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, the Syrian army on Monday 25 January, 2016 recaptured from insurgents a strategic town in the southern province of Deraa after fierce fighting, securing its supply routes from the capital to the south
Dutch parliament now backs bombing IS targets in Syria A majority of MPs now support the involvement of Dutch armed forces in bombing IS targets in Syria. Dutch bombers are currently involved in missions over Iraq but the government has so far resisted calls for a direct role in Syria.
Regional and International Perspectives
Putin Has Won Big in Syria, Europe is Embracing Him Juan Cole looks at Russian president Vladimir Putin’s major military and diplomatic successes since entering in the Syrian fray.
UN talks on Syria due to begin despite disagreement on key issues Staffan de Mistura, UN envoy for Syria, plays down expectations for Geneva talks, predicting “a lot of posturing and walkouts.”
Syrian civil war: Why the endless conflict is at a decisive point Talks in Geneva may produce little of substance, but winners and losers are starting to emerge in the atmosphere of gloom.
Assessing the Road to the Syrian Peace Talks A Q&A with Philip Gordon on what the Syrian peace talks aim to achieve.
Syrian opposition`s Manna says no peace talks without Kurds “Deciding who among Syria’s fractured opposition should attend the talks has become the main stumbling block to the first attempt at a peace negotiation in two years.”
U.S. Relies Heavily on Saudi Money to Support Syrian Rebels “The joint arming and training program, which other Middle East nations contribute money to, continues as America’s relations with Saudi Arabia, and the kingdom’s place in the region, are in flux.”
IRAQ PULSE It’s official: Sunnis joining Iraq`s Popular Mobilization Units Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi has announced that 40,000 Sunnis will join the mostly Shiite Popular Mobilization Units, fueling speculation that the new balance could lead to formation of a National Guard.
Letter From Damascus Salam Kawakibi writes about the policy of starvation and other tactics used by the Syrian regime and its paramilitary allies since March 2011 against their opponents. He urges the EU to take its place on the political stage of the Syrian conflict.
Norway sends Syrian refugees back to Russia The Norwegian authorities have begun sending the first of around 5,500 mainly Syrian refugees who’ve been housed in a transit camp in the north of the country, back to the Russian border they crossed last autumn.
Joe Biden Presses for Expansion of Turkey’s Role in Fighting ISIS In Istanbul, the initiatives, pushed by Vice President Joe Biden on Saturday 23 January 2016 in more than seven hours of meetings with Turkish leaders, are designed to expand Ankara’s role in the fight against Islamic State. It also backed Turkey’s fight against the PKK.
Are This Week`s Geneva Talks on Syria Doomed to Fail? Geneva III negotiations seek a political solution to the Syrian crisis, but the parties can`t even agree on who should participate.
The United States Is Waging 2 Contradictory Wars in Syria James Carden writes that the US funding and support are simultaneously aiming to topple Assad, and to destroy ISIS—and those goals are in conflict.
Policy and Reports
Origins of the Syrian Democratic Forces: A Primer Aron Lund provides an in-depth look at the Syrian Democratic Forces, their overall political agenda, the group’s masked connections to the Kurdistan Worker’s Party and what he believes to be their impending inclusion in the Geneva III talks.
Six Bad Options for Syria Dan Byman outlines the spectrum of U.S. policy choices on Syria.
Putting an end to atrocities in Syria Kenneth Roth, the executive director of Human Rights Watch, writes: “As the Geneva talks recommence, negotiators should not treat the atrocities as a sideshow, as the Vienna declaration did. Instead, they should use their substantial collective influence to insist on an end to them now.”
Report: Syria`s al-Nusra `more dangerous` than ISIS New report says al Qaeda affiliate in Syria, al Nusra Front, is "more dangerous to the U.S. than ISIS" in the long term.
The Miserable Afterlife of Michel Aflaq Aron Lund provides an in-depth analysis on the rise of the Baath Arab Socialist Party through Arab nationalist philosopher Michel Aflaq.
Daring human smugglers use social media to lure migrants fleeing Syria Shira Rubin writes that: "a crackdown on smuggling Syrian migrants from Turkey to Greece has pushed the human trafficking business underground and onto social media, often with deadly results: At least five more migrants died making the journey on 26 January, 2016."
Documentaries, Special Reports, and Other Media
Syria conflict: Russia`s build-up looks long-term Steve Rosenberg has been embedded with Russian troops and has documented his four-day visit in Syria.
Unraveling the Syria War Chessboard // Empire_File017 The war in Syria is an unparalleled crisis. Having gone far beyond an internal political struggle, the war is marked by a complex array of forces that the U.S. Empire hopes to command: Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Kurdistan, Iran, Lebanon, Iraq and more. To simplify this web of enemies and friends in the regional war, Abby Martin interviews Dr. Vijay Prashad, professor of International Studies at Trinity College and author of several books including “The Poorer Nations", "A People’s History of the Third World” and "Arab Spring, Libyan Winter".
Why Syrian refugee children still draw pictures of hope For the children stranded in the Jordanian desert camps, the trauma of warfare is raw - but they believe in a brighter future.
بلا قيود مع رجل الاعمال السوري المغترب أيمن أصفري BBC Arabic interviews Ayman Asfari a Syrian-born British businessman on his political views and humanitarian role in the Syrian conflict.
نعسان آغا: كيري طالبنا بمنافسة الأسد في الانتخابات Riad Nassan Agha, the official spokesman for the High Negotiating Committee, shares his perspective in relation to Geneva III negotiations.
هجمات باريس: تنظيم الدولة الإسلامية يبث فيديو للمهاجمين أثناء التجهيز ISIS has released a gruesome new propaganda video that purports to show final messages from the Paris attackers.
التفاوض على سوريا: حول «علمانية» الدولة و«مدنيتها» Emile Jabbara discusses Syria negotiations and focuses on the possibility of a future secular, civil state scenario.
تهديدات كيري للمعارضة السورية: الشروط الروسية -الإيرانية بصياغة أميركية Amin Mohamed discusses John Kerry`s recent threats to Syrian opposition and the Russia-Iran conditions that the US constructed.
الأردن: حرس الحدود يقتل 12 شخصا حاولوا عبور الحدود من الجهة السورية Jordanian border guards have shot dead 12 people who tried to cross into the country from Syria.
لن تستطيع روسيا صنع السلام بعين واحدة Burhan Ghalioun shares his perspective on the Russian role in the recent peace efforts to end the Syrian conflict.
العراق وسورية... حرب الهوية Iyad al-Dulaimi writes about the current identity conflict and national identity politics in Syria and Iraq.
سكان الرقّة.. تحت الإقامة الجبريّة! This article reports on movement restrictions that ISIS impose on people in Al-Raqqah, Syria.
صمت سوري حتّى يوم الجمعة: «جنيف 3» نقطة انعطاف جديدة Ziad Haider analyze aspects of the Syrian government position on Geneva III peace talks.